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pd01no04 Remarks in Onalaska, Wisconsin...

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intelligence. Chairman Tom Kean and other members of the 9/11 Commission 
made thoughtful and valuable recommendations on intelligence reform. My

[[Page 2543]]

administration is already implementing the vast majority of those 
recommendations that can be enacted without a vote of Congress. We are 
expanding and strengthening the capabilities of the CIA. We are 
transforming the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping 
terrorism. We have established the Terrorist Threat Integration Center 
so we can bring together all the available intelligence on terrorist 
threats in one place.
    But other changes require new laws. Congress needs to create the 
position of the National Intelligence Director, with strong authority 
over the personnel and budgets of our intelligence agencies. These and 
other reforms are necessary to make our intelligence community more 
effective and to stay ahead of the threats. My administration has sent 
proposed legislation to Capitol Hill, and we are working with Congress 
to pass a good bill. I urge Congress to act quickly, so I can sign these 
needed reforms into law.
    The surest way to defend our country is to stay on the offensive 
against terrorists. In an era of weapons of mass destruction, waiting 
for threats to arrive at our doorsteps is to invite disaster. Tyrants 
and terrorists will not give us polite notice before they attack our 
country. As long as I am the Commander in Chief, I will confront dangers 
abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.
    My opponent has a fundamental misunderstanding of the war on terror. 
Senator Kerry was recently asked how September the 11th had changed him. 
He replied, quote, ``It didn't change me much at all,'' end quote. And 
his unchanged world view becomes obvious when he calls the war on terror 
primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation. That is very 
dangerous thinking.
    We must fight the war on terror with every asset of our national 
power. We are waging a global campaign from the mountains of Central 
Asia to the deserts of the Middle East and from the Horn of Africa to 
the Philippines. These efforts are paying off. Since September the 11th, 
2001, more than three-quarters of Al Qaida's key members and associates 
have been killed, captured, or detained. The rest of them know we will 
hunt them down.
    America faces a grave threat, and our Government is doing everything 
in its power to confront and defeat that threat. We're making progress 
in protecting our homeland and progress against the terrorists who seek 
to harm our Nation. And by staying focused and determined, we will 
    Thank you for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 7:46 a.m. on October 22 in the Cabinet 
Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on October 23. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
October 22 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast. In his 
remarks, the President referred to Thomas H. Kean, Chairman, National 
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 
Commission). The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish 
language transcript of this address.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2543-2549]
Pages 2533	2688
Week Ending Friday, October 29, 2004
Remarks in Fort Myers, Florida

October 23, 2004

    The President. Thank you all. Thank you all for coming.
    Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
    The President. It's getting close to voting time, and I am here to 
ask for your help. Get your friends and neighbors to go to the polls. 
Remind people we have a duty to vote. And when you get them headed to 
the polls--and by the way, don't overlook discerning Democrats--
[laughter]--people like Senator Zell Miller. When you get them headed to 
the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger 
America, and a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office.
    I want to thank you all for coming. It's a great way to start a 
Saturday morning, at the ballpark with a lot of great Americans. I'm so 
happy that Laura is traveling with me today. Today I'm going to talk 
about why I think you need to put me back in office for 4 more years, 
but perhaps the most important reason of all is so that Laura is the 
First Lady for 4 more years.
    My runningmate, Dick Cheney, is out working hard. Listen, I readily 
concede, he does not have the waviest hair in the race. [Laughter] 
You'll be happy to hear I didn't pick him because of his hairdo. 
[Laughter] I picked him because of his judgment and

[[Page 2544]]

his experience, and he's getting the job done for the American people.
    I'm proud of my brother Jeb. When the hurricanes hit this part of 
your State, I came by to try to lend my support, to remind people that 
the Federal Government will do everything we can do to help the people 
of this part of the world get their feet back on the ground. But your 
Governor showed great compassion and great leadership.
    I want to thank Connie Mack for joining us today. He represented 
this State and this district with such class and dignity. I'm proud that 
his son, Connie Mack IV, is running for the United States Congress. 
Nothing--there's nothing wrong with a son following in a father's 
footsteps. When you're in there voting for Connie, make sure you put Mel 
Martinez in the United States Senate.
    I want to thank my friend Congressman Mark Foley for joining us 
today. I appreciate the mayor of Fort Myers, being here. Mayor Humphrey, 
thanks for coming. I want to thank the Attorney General for joining us. 
I want to thank the House Speaker. Listen, I want to thank all the 
people who are serving for coming here today.
    I thank my friend Daron Norwood for singing to help entertain you 
before the--before we made it here.
    Most of all, I want to thank you. I want to thank the people putting 
up the signs, making the phone calls, doing all the hard work at the 
grassroots level. With your help, we'll carry Florida again and win a 
great victory.
    We've just got 10 days to go in this campaign. And voters have a 
clear choice between two very different candidates with different 
approaches and different records. You know where I stand, and 
sometimes--and sometimes, you even know where my opponent stands. 
[Laughter] We both have records. I am proudly running on mine. The 
Senator is running from his--[laughter]--and there's a reason why. 
There's a reason why. There is a mainstream in American politics, and my 
opponent sits on the far left bank. [Laughter] I'm a compassionate 
conservative and proudly so.
    This election comes down to five clear choices for American 
families, five choices on issues of great consequence: your family's 
security; your family's budget; your quality of life; your retirement; 
and the bedrock values that are so critical to our families and to our 
    The first clear choice is very important because it concerns the 
security of our country and the security of your family. All our 
progresses on every issue depends on the safety of our citizens. This 
will be the first Presidential election since September the 11th, 2001. 
Americans will go to the poll in a time of war and ongoing threats 
unlike any we have faced before. The terrorists who killed thousands of 
innocent people are still dangerous and determined to strike us again. 
The outcome of this election will set the direction of the war against 
terror. The most solemn duty of the American President is to protect the 
American people. If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this 
decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my 
    Since that terrible morning of September the 11th, 2001, we have 
fought the terrorists across the Earth, not for pride, not for power, 
but because the lives of our citizens are at stake. Our strategy is 
clear. We've strengthened protections for our homeland. We're reforming 
our intelligence capabilities. To meet the changing threats in today's 
world, we are transforming our All-Volunteer Army--I will keep it an 
all-volunteer army. We're on the offensive. We will stay on the 
offensive. And we're succeeding. More than three-quarters of Al Qaida's 
key members and associates have been brought to justice, and the rest of 
them know we're on their trail.
    My opponent has a very different approach. He says that September 
the 11th--he says that September the 11th, quote, ``didn't change me 
much at all,'' end quote.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. And that's pretty clear. He considers the war on 
terror primarily a law enforcement and intelligence gathering operation.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. His top foreign policy adviser questioned it is even 
a war at all, saying, ``It's just like a metaphor, like the war on 
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!

[[Page 2545]]

    The President. Anyone who thinks we are fighting a metaphor does not 
understand the enemy we face. You cannot win a war if you are not 
convinced we're even in one. Senator Kerry also misunderstands our 
battle against the insurgents and terrorists in Iraq. After voting to 
authorize force against Saddam Hussein, after calling it the right 
decision, when I sent troops into Iraq, the Senator now calls it the `` 
wrong war.''
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. The Senator used to recognize that Saddam Hussein was 
a gathering threat who hated America. After all, he said so. He used to 
recognize that Saddam was a state sponsor of terror with a history of 
pursuing and even using weapons of mass destruction. After all, he said 
so. He used to understand that Saddam was a major source of instability 
in the Middle East. After all, he said so. And when he voted to 
authorize force, the Senator must have recognized the nightmare scenario 
that terrorists might somehow access weapons of mass destruction. 
Senator Kerry seems to have forgotten all of that, as his position has 
evolved during the course of the campaign. You might call it election 
amnesia. I know then and I know now that America and the world are safer 
with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell.
    Senator Kerry now calls Iraq a ``diversion.''
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. But the case of just one terrorist shows how wrong 
his thinking is. It's a man named Zarqawi. He's responsible for planting 
car bombs and beheading Americans in Iraq. I want you to remember, he 
ran a terrorist camp, a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan until our 
forces arrived to destroy that camp. He then fled to Iraq. He recently 
publicly announced his allegiance to Usama bin Laden. If Zarqawi and his 
associates were not busy fighting American forces in Iraq, what does 
Senator Kerry think, that he'd be a small businessman? [Laughter] That 
he'd be living a peaceful life, making positive contributions to society 
somewhere? I don't think so. Our troops will defeat them there so we do 
not have to face them in our own cities.
    The choice in this election cannot be clearer. You cannot lead our 
Nation to the decisive victory on which the security of every American 
family depends if you do not see the true dangers of the post-September 
11th world. My opponent has a September the 10th point of view. At his 
convention, he declared that his strategy will be to respond to attacks 
after America is hit.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. That would be too late. In our debates, he said with 
a straight face, we can defend America only if we pass a ``global 
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. I'm not making that up. I heard him. He was standing 
right there when he said it. I will work with our friends and allies, 
but I will never turn over our national security decisions to leaders of 
other countries.
    I want to thank the veterans who are here. I want to thank the 
military families who are here. I want to thank those who wear the 
uniform who are here. You will have the full support of our Government. 
That's why I went to Congress and proposed $87 billion of funding. I 
want--as you gather up the vote, I want you to remind your fellow 
citizens of this startling statistic. Four Members of the United States 
Senate voted to authorize the use of force and then voted against 
funding for our troops in combat--only four Members--two of whom were my 
opponent and his runningmate.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. My opponent is a person who said he actually did vote 
for the $87 billion, right before he voted against it. He then said, 
``The whole thing was a complicated matter.'' There's nothing 
complicated about supporting our troops in harm's way.
    I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I want you to 
recognize what's happened in Afghanistan. That country has gone from 
darkness to light. Young girls couldn't go to school some 3\1/2\ years 
ago. Their mothers were whipped in the public square if they didn't toe 
the line of these barbaric Taliban. Today, because we defended 
ourselves, freedom is on the march. Millions voted in a Presidential 
election. The first voter was a 19-year-old woman. And the world is 
better off for it.
    Despite ongoing violence, Iraq has an interim government. It's 
building up its own

[[Page 2546]]

security forces. We're headed toward elections in January. You see, 
we're safer, America is safer with Afghanistan and Iraq on the road to 
democracy. We can be proud that 50 million citizens of those countries 
now live as free men and women. We must understand that free societies 
help us keep the peace. I believe strongly in freedom. Freedom is not 
America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each 
man and woman in this world.
    The second clear choice in this election concerns your family 
budget. When I ran for President 4 years ago, I pledged to lower taxes 
for America's families. I kept my word. We doubled the child credit to 
$1,000 per child. We reduced the marriage penalty. Our Tax Code ought to 
encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. We dropped the lowest bracket 
to 10 percent to help our families. We reduced income taxes for 
everybody who pays taxes. As a result of these good policies, real 
after-tax income, the money in your pocket, the money you get to use, is 
up about 10 percent since I took office.
    Our economy has been through a lot. See, that stock market was in 
serious decline 6 months prior to my inauguration. That stock market 
decline foretold a recession. And then we had some corporate scandals. 
By the way, we made it clear, we're not going to tolerate dishonesty in 
the boardrooms of this country. And then we got attacked, and those 
attacks hurt our economy. We lost about a million jobs in the 3 months 
after September the 11th.
    But our economic policies have led us back to growth, and that's 
good for American families. Our economy is growing at rates as fast as 
any in nearly 20 years. We've added 1.9 million new jobs since August of 
2003. The national unemployment rate is 5.4 percent, lower than the 
average of the 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s. The unemployment rate in 
your great State is 4.5 percent. We're moving forward.
    My opponent has different plans for your budget. He intends to take 
a big chunk out of it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. When I asked Congress to help grow this economy and 
help our American families, he voted against the higher child credit; he 
voted against marriage penalty relief; he voted against lower taxes. If 
he had had his way, the average middle-class family would be paying 
2,000 more a year to the Federal Government.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. It's kind of part of a pattern. He voted 10 times to 
raise taxes on gasoline as a United States Senator. And all told, during 
his 20 years in the Senate, he voted 98 times to raise taxes.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. Think about it. It's about five times a year he's 
voted to raise taxes. When a Senator does something that often, he must 
really enjoy it. [Laughter] And that's a warning. That's a predictable 
pattern. During the campaign, he's made a lot of big, expensive 
promises. He's promised about $2.2 trillion worth of new spending. 
That's with a ``T.'' [Laughter] That's a lot even for a Senator from 
Massachusetts. [Laughter]
    So they said, ``How are you going to pay for it?'' And he said, 
``Oh, I'm just going to tax the rich.'' We have heard that before. First 
of all, when you raise the top two brackets, you know who you're taxing; 
you're taxing job creators. Most small businesses pay tax at the 
individual income-tax rate. Seventy percent of new jobs in America are 
created by small businesses. Raising taxes on small businesses is lousy 
economic policy.
    When you talk about running up the top two brackets or taxing the 
rich, you raise about 600 billion or 800 billion dollars, depending on 
who's counting, but remember, that's far short of the 2.2 trillion he 

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