[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 38, Number 34 (Monday, August 26, 2002)]
[Pages 1411-1415]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at a Luncheon for Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Simon in 
Stockton, California

August 23, 2002

    Thank you all very much for coming. I'm glad to be back in 
California. It's an honor to be back in Stockton, California, I might 
add. It's wonderful to be in a part of the world where we grow a lot of 
things and help feed not only our own people but feed the world.
    I'm also here to--I was up in Oregon yesterday to talk about 
sensible policy, to make sure that we don't allow our forests to burn. I 
flew over the Biscuit fire there in Oregon--it's a huge fire--and was 
briefed by the experts about, you know, how that fire got started. It 
was a lightning strike. But because of poor forest management, we 
allowed kindling to build up, and we allowed it turn into just a giant 
pile of ready-to-burn material.
    I saw those firefighters that are spending hours trying to protect 
people and wildlife and habitat, and heard one after another say, ``Mr. 
President, bring some common sense. Bring some common sense to our 
forest policy. Let's thin the forest so that they don't serve as giant 
piles of kindling to burn and ruin the legacy of good forests.'' That's 
what I was here to talk about, some commonsense policy.
    And that's what you need in Sacramento, California, is some 
commonsense thinking, somebody who can lead this State. And that's why 
I'm honored to be back to work on behalf of the next Governor of the 
State of California, Governor Bill Simon.
    And Laura did report, Bill, that she had a great trip. You drew the 
long straw with her, and you got the short straw with me. [Laughter] But 
she sends her very best to you and Cindy. She was impressed by your 
speech, and your--caliber of the campaign you're running. People are 
beginning to take notice here in California that something different's 
happening, got a little different attitude when it comes to politics and 
the Governor's office. She picked up on that. And so she sends her very 
    I talked to her this morning. She's in Crawford, Texas. She is--
[applause]--there you go; one person from Crawford. [Laughter] You've 
got 1/600th of the city here. [Laughter]
    But yesterday, she had the high honor of having an elementary school 
named after her in Leander, Texas. I share that same honor of having one 
named after me right here in Stockton, California.
    But I do want to herald the next first lady of California, a fine 
lady, a great mom, smart person, and that's Cindy Simon. Good to see 
you, Cindy.
    Alex Spanos told me the funniest thing. He said, ``This is an 
airplane hangar.'' It doesn't look like one to me. [Laughter] Alex, I 
want to thank you for your hospitality. What a fine American Alex Spanos 
is. I kind of needled him in front of, I guess, maybe 3 or 4,000 people 
at the Civic Center down there. I said I love being around an optimist. 
He told me with a straight face that the San Diego Chargers were going 
to win the Super Bowl this year. [Laughter] Of course, that's what he 
told me last year. [Laughter]
    But I love Alex. My family loves Alex. I know you love Alex. He's a 
wonderful contributor to the fabric of our society, and we appreciate 
you, Alex, and Faye, and your fantastic family. And thank you for your 
    I surround myself with good people. I pride myself on the fact that 
my administration has got some good, honorable, decent, hard-working, 
smart people. And I've got some of them with me today. First, I've got a 
National Security Adviser right here from the State of California who is 
really doing a good job, and that's Condoleezza Rice.
    And secondly, when I picked somebody to be the Secretary of 
Agriculture, I wanted somebody who knew something about agriculture. And 
it made sense to find somebody from this part of the world, so I picked 
a lady from Compton, California. Ann Veneman is doing a fantastic job 
for America.

[[Page 1412]]

    I told her the other day that I wanted to make sure that agriculture 
wasn't treated as a stepchild when it came to international trade. You 
see, when you're good at something, that ought to be the cornerstone of 
public policy. And we're really good about growing crops and raising 
cows and raising chickens and hogs. We're good at that in America. We're 
so good at it, we don't have to worry about bringing it in from another 
country. We're self-sufficient in food, and that's important from a 
national security perspective.
    But it's also important, if that's the case, to use our leverage to 
help our producers by opening up markets for U.S. products. And today 
Ann announced the fact that the Russians, our friends the Russians have 
finally honored the agreement to not only contract for our chickens but 
to honor the contract for American chickens. She's doing a fantastic job 
on behalf of the American farmer.
    We've got two fine United States Congressmen here with us today--
one, the Congressman from this area, Richard Pombo. Richard, thank you 
for coming. I know Richard's wife and son is here as well. And of 
course, there's Doug Ose from right up north of here. Doug and his 
family is here as well. Thanks for coming, Doug.
    I want to thank State Senator Dick Monteith for coming today. He's 
going to be the next Congressman from the adjoining district. Thank you 
for coming, Dick.
    My friend big Jim Brulte is here. He's a State senator from down 
south. He's got a lot of judgment and wisdom, and he's trying to keep 
the fiscal house in order until a new sheriff arrives in town, in 
Sacramento, California. And I appreciate Big Jim being here, too. Thanks 
for coming, Brulte.
    And finally, I want to thank your mayor, Gary Podesto, for his 
hospitality, his kind introduction down at the civic center, and for the 
great job he's doing for the people of Stockton, California. Thank you, 
Mr. Mayor.
    I want to thank you all for helping the next Governor. I want to 
thank you for your talent and your time. I want to thank you for what 
you're going to do. You see, in order for this good man to win, he not 
only needs your financial support; he needs you to start helping turn 
out that vote, to start talking to your neighbors about why you need a 
change in Sacramento and why he's the man to bring that change.
    In Texas, at least in the Crawford area, we call that ``coffee shop 
talk.'' You've probably got a few of them around here. It makes sense, 
when you get into that coffee shop, to extol the virtues. When you find 
a good candidate, you've got to support that candidate. It's important 
for this great State that you do, because you've got some problems and 
you need somebody to solve the problems.
    It starts with having the right kind of attitude. The attitude is, I 
want to work with people to make things better for everybody. You don't 
ask the question, you know, I'm going to work for people to make sure 
that this so-and-so has got the right party registration. That's not the 
right attitude for government. The attitude in the 21st century, the one 
that makes sense to me, is how can I work together with people from all 
walks of life to make things better? You need somebody in Sacramento 
who's got that kind of attitude, somebody who's willing to put aside all 
the typical old-style politics to bring a breath of fresh air, to bring 
new life into a stagnant situation. And the answer for the breath of 
fresh air for Sacramento, California, is Bill Simon.
    I also appreciate a man who doesn't have to take a poll to figure 
out what to believe. I like Bill's ideas. I like the fact that he set 
education as his number one priority. And that ought to be the priority 
of any Governor. The most important thing a State needs to do is to make 
sure that every child--not just a few or some--every child gets a good 
    And it starts with having high expectations. It starts with the 
belief that every child can learn. See, if you believe only certain 
children can learn, those that you kind of exclude won't learn. That's 
just the way it is. If you have low standards, you're going to get low 
    Bill understands every child can learn. He also knows what I know, 
that it's important to have flexibility in the public school system. You 
can't--one size doesn't fit all. You've got

[[Page 1413]]

to trust local folks to chart the path to excellence. The bill I signed 
says that we're going to set high standards, but we're going to trust 
local people; we're going to let people design a path to excellence that 
    But also, what's important in education--if you believe every child 
can learn, then you need to ask the question: Is it working? Is every 
child learning? And see, that's why I am such a strong supporter of 
accountability. And Bill joins me. We need to know. We need to know if 
every child is learning. See, if you believe they can, then you're 
willing to measure. If you don't believe that every child can learn, 
then you don't measure. If you believe every child can learn, then you 
use an accountability system to say thanks to the teachers where 
children are learning, and to say to schools that aren't teaching, ``You 
need to change, because every child counts in the State of California.''
    That's the kind of policy that's needed here in California. You need 
a policy that says every child can learn. When we find children who 
aren't, we're going to correct problems early, before they're too late 
to regain confidence in the school system. That's what you need to do in 
this great State, and this good man can do that.
    We're getting ready to write a new welfare law in Washington that 
says work is the cornerstone of freedom, that we're going to help people 
work. We need to have a Governor in this State who understands the 
dignity that comes with work but who also understands, like I know, 
there are people--there are pockets of despair and hopelessness in this 
State, just like there are around the country. There just are.
    And one way to help address each person is to unleash the great 
faith-based programs which exist all around the country. The Federal 
Government and the State government must not fear programs who change 
lives but must welcome those faith-based programs for the embetterment 
of mankind.
    Bill understands that. You see, government can hand out money, but 
it cannot put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's 
lives. That's done when loving Americans love their neighbor just like 
they'd like to be loved themselves. It's a breath of fresh air you need 
in Sacramento, California.
    You also need somebody who can make the budget work. [Laughter] 
That's what you need. You need somebody who's willing to make tough 
decisions and set priorities with the people's money. It starts with 
understanding when a government spends money, it's not the government's 
money, it's your money. And you better have somebody who understands 
that, that concept. And somebody who watches the budget carefully.
    Bill Simon is a proven businessman who can get that done. And that's 
what the State of California needs, and that's why I'm so proud to be 
here to embrace his candidacy and urge the good people of California to 
work on behalf--for the State's interests, that this man get elected.
    I want to thank you all for your support of his candidacy. And 
before I leave, I want to tell you we've got some tasks at hand at the 
Federal level too that we're going to meet. There's no bigger task than 
protecting the homeland of our country. That's my most important job. I 
spend a lot of time thinking about it. Not only do I spend time thinking 
about it, I act on it.
    You need to know that your Government is doing everything we can to 
run down every hint, every piece of evidence, every whisper about 
somebody that might be doing something to America. And we're chasing 
down every lead. A lot of good folks are working really hard on your 
behalf. And I'm proud of them. I'm proud of them at the Federal level; 
I'm proud of them at the State level; and I'm proud of them at the local 
    You probably have heard that I have asked for there to be a 
reorganization of the Federal Government in order to make the homeland 
more secure. I didn't run--and I readily concede this--on the platform: 
Vote for me, I want to make the Federal Government bigger. [Laughter] I 
ran on: Let's make it work better. If it's got a responsibility, let's 
see to it that it works better. And so the idea of the Department of 
Homeland Security is not to create new bureaucracy but to make those 
bureaucracies and those agencies which have got some responsibility in 
homeland security work better.
    There are over 100 agencies in Washington that have something to do 
with protecting you. And it seemed like to me they

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ought to be under one umbrella, so there's accountability in the system. 
The problem is, is that I worry about a Senate bill--I don't worry about 
it, because I'm not going to accept it--a Senate bill which wants to 
micromanage, that wants to decide every kind of rule there is, that is 
more worried about protecting their own turf than protecting the 
American people.
    But we're going to get a good Department. I want you to know we're 
doing everything we can to secure the homeland.
    But the best way to do so is to hunt the killers down, one person at 
a time, and bring them to justice, which is what we're going to do.
    And we're making some progress, and we have to make progress. After 
all, they are still out there, and they still hate. They hate what we 
stand for. I want you to tell your sons and daughters that we seek 
justice, not revenge, and we do so because we love freedom.
    This country values every person. Every life is important. We value 
the ability to worship freely, and we hold those values dear. And when 
somebody wants to take them away, we're going to respond. And we'll 
respond in a forceful way. And force--we'll use every asset at our 
disposal to protect the people of this country but also to protect the 
values that we hold dear. It is our responsibility.
    History has called us into action. And so long as I'm the President, 
this country is not going to blink. We will be steadfast and strong in 
our desire to make the world more free.
    And we're making some pretty good progress. We've got this coalition 
of freedom-loving countries and people who understand the threats to 
civilization that terrorism poses, that are helping to share 
intelligence and to cut off money and haul them in, as I say, rather--it 
means arrest, incarcerate them. We've got over a couple of thousand of 
them--these are the big shots, the leaders. We're pulling them in, and 
slowly but surely, we're decimating their army.
    But this is a different kind of war. See, that's what makes it not 
very appealing to all the air time that they've got out there, because 
you can't see tanks and aircrafts and ships and convoys and all, the way 
that wars used to be fought. Remember, we're out there chasing down 
these people that hide in caves. They find the darkest cave possible. In 
the meantime, they're sending some youngster to their suicidal death.
    They've hijacked a great religion. That's what they've done. It's a 
different kind of enemy. But we're figuring them out. And there's no 
cave deep enough.
    We've got a fantastic United States military. We've got a great 
coalition. We've got a people that understand the task at hand. And so 
we're making progress.
    But there are some other hills we've got to climb in order to make 
the world more peaceful. There just are. As our fellow citizens, you've 
just got to understand that there's going to be more combat, more 
missions. We'll do everything we can to continue to enforce the doctrine 
that if you harbor one of these people, you're just as guilty as they 
are. You'll see that doctrine enforced. You'll see the doctrine that 
says, ``Either you're with us, or you're with them,'' enforced.
    You'll understand clearly, as time goes on, why I feel strongly that 
we cannot allow the world's worst leaders to develop the world's worst 
weapons, to hold America or our friends and allies hostage. We just 
can't do that.
    History has called us into action. History has shined the spotlight 
on this great land, and we will show the world that we love human 
values, universal values. And we will show the world that we love 
freedom. That's the task at hand.
    And by being strong and patient and deliberate, we're going to make 
the world more peaceful. That's the objective. The objective is for our 
children to grow up in peace. The objective is to achieve peace in parts 
of the world where the people have given up on peace.
    See, I think it's possible to achieve peace in the Middle East. I 
think it's possible to achieve peace in South Asia. I believe that out 
of the evil done to America can come some great good, if we remain 
strong and focused and diligent and tough when we need to.
    And I believe here at home we can achieve a more compassionate 
country, too. You see,

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out of the evil done to America has come a new culture, one that says 
serving something greater than yourself in life is part of being--part 
of being a patriotic American.
    People say, you know, ``How can I help? What can I do?'' You know 
what you can do? You can love your neighbor just like you'd like to be 
loved yourself. You can understand what I know, that one person can't do 
everything to make America a more hospitable place, a more decent place, 
a more loving place; but one person can do something, and America can 
change one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
    And all of us have a responsibility to help make that change. And it 
doesn't take much. Mentoring a child on a regular basis will change 
lives. Helping people who need--who are shut in will change lives. 
Feeding the hungry will change lives. Helping find shelter for those who 
lack shelter will change lives.
    See, America is changing, one person at a time. The evil people, 
they thought they were hitting a weak country. They thought they were 
hitting people that were so self-absorbed, so materialistic, that all we 
might do was file a lawsuit or two. [Laughter] But they realized this 
country is a country of courage and character and compassion and 
decency. After all, we are the finest country on the face of the Earth.
    May God bless you all, and may God bless America.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. at the A.G. Spanos Jet Center. 
In his remarks, he referred to Mayor Gary A. Podesto of Stockton; Cindy 
Simon, wife of candidate Bill Simon; and Alex G. Spanos, founder and 
chairman, A.G. Spanos Companies, and his wife, Faye.