[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 38, Number 43 (Monday, October 28, 2002)]
[Pages 1827-1833]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in Bangor, Maine

October 22, 2002

    The President. Thanks a lot for coming. Thank you all.
    Audience member. We love you, George!
    The President. I'm glad I came. Thank you.
    Congressman, thank you for that kind introduction.
    I'm here for a couple of reasons. One, I always like to come to 
Maine. Sometimes I come to get instructions from my mother. [Laughter] 
Every time I come, I've enjoyed being here. It's a beautiful place. I 
thank you for your hospitality. I thank you all for coming out. I thank 
you for your deep concern for our country, and thanks for your 
participation in the political process.
    I'm here because there's no question in my mind, Kevin Raye will 
make a great United States Congressman. I'm here because I have learned 
a lot about Susan Collins. There is no doubt in my mind, she is a great 
United States Senator. And for the sake of Maine and for the sake of the 
United States, you need to send her back to the Senate. I'm here because 
I firmly believe that Peter Cianchette will make a great Governor for 
    I am here because I want to talk about how we can work together to 
make America a safer, a stronger, and a better country. I mean a safer 
and stronger and better country for Republicans, for Democrats, for 
people who don't give a hoot about politics.
    First, I want to apologize and tell you, you drew the short straw. 
Laura was tied up--[laughter]--so you got stuck with me. I want to tell 
you, she's doing great. Many of you have--some of you have told me, I 
bet many of you feel this way, that you say prayers for Laura and me and 
the family. I want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for that. 
It means a lot. And we're doing well.
    You know, when I married Laura she was a public school librarian.
    Audience member. Oh, yeah!
    The President. There's always one in every crowd--[laughter]--a 
special breed, I might add. She didn't like politics, wasn't too keen on 
politicians either. [Laughter] Now here she is, the First Lady of the 
United States and a fabulous one at that. She's calm. She's steady. 
She's got a great smile. She cares deeply about our children. The people 
of the country now understand why I asked her to marry me. A lot of them 
are wondering why she said yes. [Laughter]
    But she sends her best, as do I, as do I to not only Susan Collins 
but to a really fine lady who represents Maine, a United States Senator 
who's got a lot of class, a lot of wisdom, a lot of power, somebody with 
whom I enjoy working, somebody who is making a difference for America, 
and that is Olympia Snowe.
    We've got a man up here who wants to be one of my mother and dad's 
Congressmen. He's got him one in Houston, and he's got one in Maine, and 
he hopes to have a new one. And the guy's name is Steven Joyce, running 
for the U.S. Congress. My only advice, Steven, is that when you win, you 
make sure you answer their mail.
    I'm so proud to be here with Kathy Watson, who is the chairman of 
the Republican Party for Maine. Jan Staples, who is the national 
committeewoman for Maine. I want to thank our high school choir and high 
school band who are here today.
    But most of all, I want to thank you all for coming. I want to thank 
the grassroots activists who are here. I want to thank the people who 
take time, who work hard to make sure that the democracy is strong. I 
want to thank you very much for your efforts on behalf of all 
candidates. I want to thank you for what you have done. I want to thank 
you for what you're going to do, and that is to turn out the votes for 
these candidates on November the 5th.
    When I say that I understand Susan Collins, I do. I've worked 
closely with her. I've worked with her on key issues that face the 
country. There was no stronger supporter for the No Child Left Behind 
Act than Susan Collins. You see, we passed a meaningful piece of 
education reform. I want to describe to you right quick the key 
ingredients on this piece of legislation, and you'll understand why I'm 
so proud of the work that she did, along with Olympia.
    First of all, the bill challenges what I call the soft bigotry of 
low expectations. You see,

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what we understand is, if you have low standards and low expectations, 
you're going to get lousy results in our schools. We must have a system 
that sets the highest of high standards. You must believe every child 
can learn. But also we believe you've got to trust the local people. 
See, we understand the people of Maine are more competent in charting 
the path for excellence than the people in Washington, DC, are for the 
Maine children.
    One of the key components of the No Child Left Behind legislation is 
what we call the Reading First Initiative. Susan Collins was 
instrumental in helping to write that part of the law. It tripled the 
amount of money available for reading programs. But as importantly, it 
said we must base our reading programs on what works, not what sounds 
good, that there is a science to teaching children how to read, and that 
all across the country we must dedicate ourselves to making sure that we 
challenge that soft bigotry of low expectations by insisting that every 
single child in America becomes a good reader.
    I thank Susan Collins for her leadership on that issue. Not only--
not only did we insist upon high standards and local control of schools, 
we increased the amount of money available for education, the largest 
expenditure of Federal dollars and education ever. There's $200 million 
of Federal monies coming to Maine this year.
    But we also said, ``In return for receiving this new money, we 
expect you to deliver results. In return for money, we want to know 
whether or not our children are learning to read and write and add and 
subtract.'' And when we find out they are, we'll praise the teachers. 
And for those of you who are teachers out there, thank you, on behalf of 
our collective hearts. It's a noble profession.
    But the reason we have demanded accountability is because we want no 
child left behind. When we find our children trapped in schools which 
will not teach and schools which will not change, we better have the 
courage to challenge the status quo. Every child counts in America, and 
no child should be left behind.
    Now, I appreciate Susan a lot. She has delivered on behalf of Maine, 
and she has delivered on behalf of the country. I also appreciate her 
working on Medicare. You see, medicine has changed, and Medicare hadn't. 
Medicare is modern--medicine is modern, and Medicare is stuck in the 
past. It needs to be changed. We need to make sure there is a 
prescription drug program for our seniors. Susan Collins can get the job 
done on behalf of Maine, people in Maine.
    I like to say when you find a good one, you've got to send them back 
to office, and you've found a good one in Susan Collins. I'm proud to 
call her friend, and I hope you're proud to call her United States 
    I'm also proud to be here for Kevin Raye. He's going to make a fine 
Congressman if for no other reason than he worked for Olympia Snowe for 
all these years. I appreciate his strong principles. I appreciate his 
good judgment. I appreciate his independent spirit. I appreciate his 
common sense. I look forward to working with him on doing what's right 
for Maine and doing what's right for America.
    He knows what I know: There's too much name calling in Washington, 
DC; there's too much finger-pointing; there's too much zero-sum 
politics. This is a man who's going to bring dignity to the office. 
He'll work with both Republicans and Democrats to get the job done. He's 
no-nonsense. He's also clear-eyed. He understands the threat the United 
States faces. He's not going to be one of these folks that is naive 
about the threats we face. I need somebody in Congress with whom I can 
work to make sure that we do the job of keeping America safe and strong, 
and that person is Congressman Kevin Raye.
    And finally, you'd better get you a Governor with whom we can work 
on this education reform, somebody who's got one special interest in 
mind, and that's the children--somebody who cares deeply about the 
children of the State, and that Governor is going to be Peter 
    He knows what I know: Education is to a State what national defense 
is to the Federal Government. The number one priority of any Governor 
must be the education of every single child. I know he will challenge 
the soft bigotry of low expectations. I know he'll work with the 
teachers. I know he believes in local control of schools. I know he'll 
work with parents. And most importantly, I

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know he'll challenge failure when he finds it. Every child matters to 
Peter, and no child will be left behind.
    No, I want to thank you all for coming today to give me a chance to 
tout these candidates. Again, I urge you to make sure you work hard to 
turn out the vote. They're counting on you. They're counting on you to 
go to the coffee shops. They're counting on you to go to the community 
centers. They're counting on you to talk it up, and make sure when you 
talk it up, just don't talk it up to Republicans. There's a lot of 
Democrats who are wise enough to vote for these candidates. And make 
sure you talk it up with independents and people who don't care. Turn 
them out to the polls. It's an important election, and we need these 
candidates to win.
    We've got some big challenges ahead of this country. That's why I've 
taken a keen interest in these elections. I look forward to having a 
Congress with which I can work to meet the challenges facing America. 
And we've got some big challenges. It doesn't matter how big they are, 
as far as I'm concerned, though. See, there's nothing we can't 
accomplish in this country. This is the greatest country on the--finest 
country on the face of the Earth, no doubt in my mind.
    One of the challenges we have is to make sure people can find work. 
Any time somebody is looking for a job and can't find work means we've 
got a problem. The foundations for growth are strong: interest rates 
low; inflation is low. We've got the highest productivity in the world 
amongst our workers and our farmers and our ranchers. No, we're strong 
in America. But still too many people can't find a job. So I look 
forward to working with Congress to expand jobs opportunities.
    And there's some things we can do, starting with making sure people 
have got more money in their pocket. See, here's the textbook I've read 
from. It says, if you let a man or woman have more of her own money or 
his own money, they're going to demand a good or a service. And when 
they demand a good or a service in the marketplace, somebody is going to 
produce the good or service. And when somebody produces that good or 
service, somebody is more likely to find work. That tax relief plan we 
passed was good for the American economy.
    As a matter of fact, over the next 10 years, that tax relief plan 
will mean over $5 billion for Maine residents. That's 5 billion 
additional dollars of your own money that you will be able to choose how 
to spend, $5 billion that you can use to invigorate the economy.
    But the problem is, some in Washington don't see it that way. Some 
in Washington want this tax relief plan not to be permanent. Some in 
Washington want this tax relief plan to go away. It doesn't make any 
sense. Either you trust the Government, or you trust the people. We 
trust the people.
    I look forward to working with Congress to make sure we get a 
terrorism insurance package that rewards hardhats and not trial lawyers, 
that gets our construction people back to work. I look forward to having 
an energy bill which encourages alternative uses, renewables, increased 
conservation, but at the same time makes us less dependent on foreign 
sources of crude oil.
    I look forward to working with people like Susan and Olympia and 
Kevin, who understand that when they talk it up in Washington, they say, 
``The Government's spending the Government's money here, and the 
Government's spending the Government's money there,'' that we recognize 
we're not spending the Government's money. We're spending the people's 
money, and therefore we need to be fiscally sound with the people's 
    Now, there's a lot of things we can do to work together to make this 
economy grow. And I look forward to working with Congress and won't rest 
until people who are looking for work can find work.
    We've got a big job as well to make sure we protect America. I was 
amazed when Kevin told me that in the course of a debate, he said one of 
the two in the race didn't believe we were still under a threat. That's 
just not the case. I wish it were true, but it's not true. There's still 
an enemy out there that's acting. There's still an enemy which hates 
America. They hate America because of what we love. We love freedom. We 
love the fact that people can worship an almighty God any

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way they see fit in America. We love the freedom for people to speak 
their mind. We love a free press. We love every aspect of our freedom, 
and we're not going to change. And therefore, there's an enemy out there 
which hates what we love. And so we've got to do everything we can to 
protect the homeland.
    My most important job is to protect American life, to protect 
innocent life. I mention that because you've got to know something about 
these people we fight. Unlike us, they don't value life. See, we think 
every life is precious. Everybody counts. Everybody matters. We face an 
enemy which has hijacked a great religion and are nothing but a bunch of 
coldblooded killers, and therapy won't work. [Laughter]
    We learned a tough lesson on September the 11th. See, it used to be 
oceans could protect us, and if there was a war on another continent, 
we'd make the choice as to whether or not we would join that war, that 
we were safe and secure as a nation because oceans could keep us safe 
and secure. But the harsh reality of the 21st century came home. Oceans 
no longer protect us. Threats overseas are threats that we must 
recognize here at home and deal with them.
    That's why I asked the United States Congress to have a dialog on 
Iraq. That's why I asked the Congress to seriously consider, along with 
the administration, as to whether or not we should deal with a true 
threat to our country.
    I want to remind you that we're dealing with a man who has used 
weapons of mass destruction on his own people, on people in his 
neighborhood. This is a man who has defied the United Nations 16 times 
over an 11-year period. The world has said, ``You must do what you said 
you would do, Saddam Hussein, and that is disarm.'' And 16 times the 
United Nations, over and over and over again, has written resolution 
after resolution, saying, ``Mr. Saddam Hussein, you must disarm.'' And 
he has defied an international body.
    So I gave a speech, and I said to the world, ``For the sake of 
peace, for the sake of peace at home, for the sake of peace in the 
Middle East, for the sake of determining whether or not that 
international body is going to be the League of Nations or the United 
Nations, Saddam Hussein must disarm, and we expect you, the world, to 
disarm him.'' For the sake of peace, for the sake of security for our 
country. It's his choice to make. ``You said you would disarm, disarm. 
The United Nations has asked you to disarm.'' They need to work together 
to disarm. But my fellow Americans, if they won't act, and if Saddam 
Hussein won't act, for the sake of peace, for the sake of our security, 
we will lead a coalition to disarm that man.
    And so we face true threats at home. And I went to Congress to ask 
them to join me in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. I 
did so because I wanted to take the agencies involved with securing our 
homeland and put them under one Cabinet Secretary, so we can set clear 
priorities, the priorities to protect you, the priorities to do 
everything we can to protect you. And therefore, I thought it would be 
wise for us to have a Department of Homeland Security so we could better 
coordinate, better facilitate, better prioritize, if need be, change 
cultures within agencies, so this becomes the primary focus of a lot of 
good people who are working on your behalf.
    And by the way, there are a lot of good people working on your 
behalf. We understand the stakes now. We see the reality clearly. We 
know there's an enemy lurking around. We're aware of Bali, Indonesia, 
where people just--innocent lives were just destroyed as a result of 
these coldblooded killers. We know the stakes. People are working hard 
on your behalf. Any time we're getting a hint, any time we're getting a 
scintilla of evidence, any time we think somebody is fixing to do 
something to the American people, we're moving; we're disrupting; we're 
denying. We're doing everything we can.
    But we can be more effective, and that's why I asked Congress to 
join me in the creation of a homeland defense, department of homeland 
defense. The House acted, and the United States Senate is stuck. And 
it's not because of the two U.S. Senators on this stage, I might add. 
They're struggling in the Senate because of special interests. They're 
struggling because they're trying to get me to pay a price for a 
homeland security bill. And I want to describe the price that they want 
me to pay.

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    Every President since John Kennedy has had the ability to act in the 
interests of the country for national security purposes. Every President 
has had the capacity to suspend some labor rules if those rules get in 
the way of national security concerns. Listen, I strongly support the 
right for people to bargain collectively, if they choose to do so. But I 
also am going to hold dear to that right Presidents have had to be able 
to suspend some work rules for the sake of national security.
    I'll give you an example of what I'm talking about. After September 
the 11th, the Customs Service wanted to quickly assign its best, most 
qualified inspectors to the northern border. See, we were worried about 
our borders. We're still worried about our borders. We need to know 
who's coming into the country, what they're bringing into the country, 
and if they're leaving the country when they say they're going to leave 
the country. That's what we want to know. So we wanted to move the best 
inspectors up there. But the leaders representing this part of the 
workforce said, ``No way. See, we're not going to let you do that. You 
have to bargain over these assignments.''
    Now, that's not right. We asked inspectors to wear radiological 
detection devices so that they may be able to sniff out a weapon of mass 
destruction. They said, ``No. No, we've got to have collective 
bargaining over that.'' It took us 4 months of negotiations with the 
head of the union to be able to get that done.
    Now, see, I need the right to be able to put the right people at the 
right place at the right time to protect America. And I'm not changing, 
because I understand what's at stake. What's at stake--we've got to make 
sure we do it right, to make sure that this President and future 
Presidents can protect the homeland. And I say ``future Presidents'' 
because in my judgment, this deal isn't ending any time soon, that even 
though we're making progress, we still have got a long way to go.
    And I want to remind you all that the best way to protect the 
homeland is to hunt the killers down, one person at a time, and bring 
them to justice. And that's what this country is going to do. And we're 
making progress. In the old days, you know, you could measure progress 
based upon the number of tanks you destroyed, or whether or not 
somebody's navy had fewer ships, or whether or not the air force wasn't 
able to fly. But this is a different kind of war, see. We're facing 
these kind of people that hide in caves or move around in the dark 
corners of some of these cities in the world; they send youngsters to 
their suicidal deaths. It's a different kind of war.
    But we're making progress. The doctrine that says, ``Either you're 
with us or the enemy,'' it still stands. There's a lot of good people 
around the world working hard too. We've hauled in a couple of thousand; 
like number weren't as lucky. None of them are a threat anymore. The 
other day, a guy named bin al-Shibh popped his head up. You don't have 
to worry about him. He was the man who wanted to be the 20th hijacker. 
He was lurking around Pakistan, figuring out a way how to hurt America 
again. And we found him, and he's now in custody.
    Slowly but surely, we're dismantling the Al Qaida terrorist 
network--slowly but surely. And as we do so, we're spreading freedom. I 
want you to remind your kids and any other child you come in contact 
with that amongst all this war talk, that this great country never has 
conquered anybody. We're liberators. Thanks to the United States and our 
friends and allies, many young girls go to school for the first time in 
Afghanistan. We will never be conquerors. We believe in freedom. See, 
when I say, ``Every life counts; everybody has worth; every individual 
matters,'' I don't mean just Americans. I believe that way for 
everybody. I believe freedom is universal. It's just not an American 
ideal. It's a God-given ideal. It's a universal ideal, and we love 
freedom in America.
    Tomorrow I'm going to sign a defense appropriations bill. I want to 
thank Senator Snowe and Senator Collins for working on that bill and 
getting it to my desk. It's the largest increase in defense spending 
since President Reagan was the President. I'm going to tell you the two 
reasons why. Any time the United States of America sends our youngsters 
into harm's way, they deserve the best pay, the best training, and the 
best possible equipment. We owe that to our troops, and we owe that to 
the loved one of our

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troops--you loved ones out there of your troops. I've got great 
confidence in the United States military. I have great confidence in the 
ability of our United States military. I'm incredibly proud of those who 
wear our uniforms.
    And the second reason the defense bill had the size it did, it sends 
a message to friend and foe alike: It doesn't matter how long it takes 
to defend freedom; we'll do it. There's no calendar on my desk that 
says, by such and such a date, we're going to have to haul the troops 
home, such and such a date, we're going to quit. That's not the way 
America thinks. That's certainly not the way I think. We love peace, and 
we love freedom, and it doesn't matter how long it takes to secure both.
    History has called us into action. History has called us to action. 
We have a duty to future generations of Americans to make this land 
secure. That's an obligation we have. It's an obligation we won't--from 
which we will not shirk.
    I can't imagine what was going through the minds of the killers when 
they hit America. Oh, they must have thought we were so materialistic 
and selfish, so self-absorbed that after September the 11th, we'd file a 
lawsuit or two. [Laughter] They didn't understand. They just didn't get 
it. They don't understand that this great nation will defend that which 
we love. They don't understand that as a nation we see opportunity out 
of the midst of the terrible evil.
    See, I do believe this: I believe the stronger we are, the more 
resolved we are, the more clear-sighted we are, the more likely it is 
we'll not only achieve peace for ourselves, but we can achieve peace in 
the Middle East; we can achieve peace in South Asia.
    No, out of the evil done to this great country can come incredible 
good. I truly believe that staying the course, speaking clearly, 
fighting terror where it exists, spreading freedom in a humble way, we 
can achieve peace. And I also know here at home that we can achieve a 
better America.
    And Government can help. We talked about education initiatives and 
health initiatives. There's a lot of ways Government can help. But we've 
got to remember that Government can hand out money, but what it can't do 
is put hope in people's hearts or a sense of purpose in people's lives. 
In order to eradicate the pockets of despair and loneliness and 
hopelessness which exist in this great land, which has got to be a 
national cause, we want everybody in this country to recognize and 
realize the great promise of America. See, when one of us hurts, we all 
hurt. In order to eradicate those pockets of despair, we must love a 
neighbor just like we'd like to be loved ourselves. Each of us can make 
a difference in making sure the American experience is available to all. 
Each of us can love a neighbor like we'd like to be loved ourselves.
    America can and will change, one conscience, one heart, one soul at 
a time. Not one person can do everything, but each of you can be 
somebody doing that something to make America a better place. Mentor a 
child. Feed the hungry. Find shelter for the homeless. No, the enemy hit 
us, but they didn't know who they were hitting. The enemy hit us, and 
out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good.
    There's no doubt in my mind we will be a better society, a more 
decent society, a society in which we understand that being a patriot 
means more than just putting your hand over your heart. Being a patriot 
means helping somebody in need. Being a patriot means serving a cause 
greater than yourself.
    No, they hit us, and out of the evil done to America is going to 
come a more peaceful world, a more--better America, no doubt in my mind, 
because this is the greatest country, full of the finest people on the 
face of the Earth.
    Thank you for coming. May God bless you all, and may God bless 

Note: The President spoke at 3:26 p.m. in Hangar 12 at Bangor 
International Airport. In his remarks, he referred to Kevin Raye, 
candidate for Maine's Second Congressional District, who introduced the 
President; Steven Joyce, candidate for Maine's First Congressional 
District; President Saddam Hussein of Iraq; and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, an 
Al Qaida operative suspected of helping to plan the September 11, 2001, 
terrorist attacks, who was captured in Karachi, Pakistan.

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