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and Mexican economies. The United States will benefit from the labor of 
hard-working immigrants. Mexico will benefit as productive citizens are 
able to return home with money to invest and spend in their Nation's 
    This system will be more humane to workers, who will be protected by 
labor laws and able to establish their identities. It will live up to 
the highest ideals of free nations.
    Mr. President, thank you for the excellent dialog we had today. 
Thank you for the leadership you provide for our neighbor and friend. 
And thank you for being a friend to Laura and me. Bienvenidos.
    President Fox. Good morning. I would like to thank the President and 
his wife, Mrs. Laura Bush, for inviting us here to spend some time with 
them here at the ranch at Crawford, some time for friendship and some 
time for hard work.
    We have a long tradition of relationships and meetings with 
Presidents Bush and Fox, starting with the meeting in the ranch at San 
Cristobal, where we developed a work agenda. We spoke--both Presidents 
continue to review, looking forward to what lies ahead.
    We know the value of the open relationship, commercial relationship, 
and the impact that it has had on both these nations and the 
unprecedented levels of prosperity that it brings to our people. It's a 
two-way street, a two-way commercial street. It's a buying and selling 
    I would like to point out that Mexico buys from U.S., the United 
States, in volumes that equal the volumes of Germany, Spain, Italy, and 
France. All of this creates employment. And that's why we continue to 
revise the commercial agenda, and we can see that things are going well 
in this direction.
    Immigration is a subject that is of shared responsibility between 
both our nations. But we have a shared definition about immigration. We 
have to work together to develop a legal system that is orderly and safe 
and respects the dignity of those involved. It is clear to us that the 
people who come to this country make a significant contribution to the 
American economy. And I underline the fact that I refer to those who are 
working to contribute to the economy.
    And that is why we welcome President Bush's proposal that he made in 
January. And that is why, in our meetings, we worked to advance this 
proposal, and that's what we have been doing today. We welcome the news 
that was confirmed today with regard to visitors to the U.S. from 
Mexico. We recognize the value to those who come to the United States to 
work, to study, to contribute. And we appreciate what this will do to 
the flow of visitors now that they will not have to be photographed or 
fingerprinted at the frontier for short visits to the United States. We 
appreciate what that will do the flow of people coming to this country.
    The other good news this year is the--about the NAFTA visa for 
professionals, that

[[Page 354]]

allows professionals to come and work in either country and contribute 
to both.
    We also appreciate the recent visit of Secretary Ridge, talking 
about the cooperation in security between our countries. And we 
understand that this is progressing well and we have a solid and good 
basis to move forward, always respecting the security issues that are 
essential to both countries. We have spoken about competition and 
productivity and jobs. In order to allow the initiative of the United 
States, together with Canada, this will allow us to protect jobs in the 
region, and through the North American Initiative, contribute to the 
economies and to the workforce on both sides of the border.
    In the fields of energy and industrial products, food products, 
sanitation systems, and systems for the protection of food products, the 
contributing opportunities for businesses, these are all subjects which 
are moving forward well. And we look forward to agreements with Canada 
in the near future that will contribute to the North American 
Initiative, which will benefit the three nations in this region.
    Then in the area of the international relations, specifically in the 
Caribbean, we have been revising our joint efforts in that area. And we 
will continue to work in the areas of Haiti and Venezuela, Bolivia, and 
others in the region to promote democracy and human development and 
sustainable economic systems.
    Thank you.
    President Bush. How many questions, Scott? Two questions? Dos 
preguntas por cado lado.
    Jennifer [Jennifer Loven, Associated Press].

National Economy

    Q. Thank you, sir. Senator Kerry has been hitting you pretty hard on 
job growth. And yesterday's report gave his arguments a little bit more 
traction. Can you tell the American people why they shouldn't listen to 
his arguments and vote for you?
    President Bush. The economy is getting stronger. We've overcome a 
lot. We've been through a recession. We've been through an attack. We've 
been through corporate scandals. We've been through war, and yet our 
economy is getting stronger. And the question is, who brings forth the 
best pro-growth policies. You've heard us talk about the advantages of 
trade. This Nation must reject economic isolationism. We need less 
regulation. We need tort reform. We need to make sure the tax cuts are 
permanent. Raising taxes will make it harder for people to find work. 
We've got a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-small business agenda that 
is making this economy stronger.
    Do you want to translate that? Okay. You don't have to. [Laughter]

[At this point, a translation was provided.]

    President Bush. Make sure you tell them: Don't raise taxes. 

[A translation was provided.]

    President Bush. Like some others want to do.

[A translation was provided.]

    President Bush. Okay, thank you. [Laughter]

[President Fox spoke in Spanish, and no translation was provided.]

    President Bush. Blame it on me. [Laughter]

[A question was asked in Spanish, and no translation was provided.]

    President Bush. Si, si. I understand. Comprendo.
    First of all, President Fox has made it very clear that democracy 
and transparency and rule of law are integral values of Mexico. And 
where there is corruption, there will be law and justice, no matter who 
is responsible. And that is a commitment of this President and it's a 
commitment I share, because in our own country we've had corporate 
scandals. And what's important in both countries is to deal with these 
issues through rule of law and to hold people to account when they're 
guilty of betraying the trust.
    Who do you want, Scott? Okay, how are you?
    Q. Hi.
    President Bush. Welcome. Pelo roja. [Laughter]

[[Page 355]]

September 11

    Q. Mr. President, some firefighters and families of the 9/11 
victims--of the 9/11 victims want you to pull your campaign ad focusing 
on the tragedy. Are you prepared to honor their wishes?
    President Bush. First of all, I will continue to speak about the 
effects of 9/11 on our country and my Presidency. I will continue to 
mourn the loss of life on that day, but I'll never forget the lessons. 
The terrorists declared war on us on that day, and I will continue to 
pursue this war. I have an obligation to those who died. I have an 
obligation to those who were heroic in their attempts to rescue, and I 
won't forget that obligation.
    How this administration handled that day as well as the war on 
terror is worthy of discussion. And I look forward to discussing that 
with the American people. And I look forward to the debate about who 
best to lead this country in the war on terror.
    Por fin.

Immigration Policy

[A question was asked in Spanish.]

    President Bush. Vamos a ver. Vamos a ver. Go ahead, want to 
translate? To make sure I got all of it.
    Interpreter. The question is on the immigration policy. The 
Government of Mexico wanted to know what the date certain would be for 
this new program or what proposals you have for temporary immigrants, 
and how do you believe it will affect the upcoming election process?
    President Bush. Well, we just--the President just discussed the 
border crossing cards, the issue of the border crossing cards, and he 
discussed the professional visas. And so we're making progress.
    I put forth what I think is a very reasonable proposal and a humane 
proposal, one that is not amnesty but in fact recognizes that there are 
good, honorable, hard-working people here doing jobs Americans won't do. 
And I certainly hope the Congress takes this issue up. But there's no 
telling what's going to happen in an election year, so it's very 
difficult to give a date. The date that matters to me is the date in 
which I laid out what I think is a reasonable plan, which was in 
    Mr. President, thank you.
    President Fox. Gracias.
    President Bush. Thank you all. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Attorney General Ashcroft

    Q. Any word on John Ashcroft?
    President Bush. I talked to him last night.
    Q. How is he?
    President Bush. He sounded groggy but optimistic that they'd get the 
pancreas settled down.
    Thank you.

Note: The President's news conference began at 11 a.m. In his remarks, 
he referred to White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. President 
Fox spoke in Spanish and some reporters asked their questions in 
Spanish, and their remarks were translated by an interpreter.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 355-360]
Monday, March 15, 2004
Volume 40_Number 11
Pages 349	402
Week Ending Friday, March 12, 2004
Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Dallas, Texas

March 8, 2004

    Thank you all very much. Thanks for coming. I told Louis I like a 
short introduction. [Laughter] He didn't let me down. I'm glad you all 
are here. Nothing like spending the weekend in Texas, and there's 
nothing better than being with a bunch of friends. I'm so pleased that 
you all came. Thanks for being here. If you can't count on your home 
State in politics, you're in deep trouble.
    Texas is going to be the cornerstone of the victory that Dick Cheney 
and I are going to achieve in November of 2004. And I appreciate so very 
much your loyal friendship. It just means a lot to Laura and me. 
Speaking about Laura, she is in New Orleans. She's eating lunch at 
Galatoire's, and you're stuck with me. [Laughter] But she's doing great. 
She's a fabulous First Lady.
    And Dick Cheney is a great Vice President. I'm proud to have him 
standing by my side. I oftentimes say Dick Cheney is the country's 
greatest Vice President ever. Mother says, ``Wait a second.'' [Laughter]
    I appreciate my friend Louis Beecherl. He's been a longtime friend, 
and you can count on Louis. And Louis, I want to thank

[[Page 356]]

you for being the Dallas regional finance chair.
    I'm honored to be on the stage with a man who's doing a fabulous job 
as the Governor of the great State of Texas, Rick Perry.
    Texas is blessed to have two really good, fantastic United States 
Senators in Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. I'm proud to call them 
friends. Thank you all for coming.
    I want to thank Fred Meyer and Jeanne Johnson Phillips and Roger 
Williams and all the regional chairs and all the people who worked hard 
to fill up this hall. Thank you for your hard work. I want to thank my 
friend Mercer Reynolds from Cincinnati, Ohio, who is the national 
chairman for Bush-Cheney `04. He's doing a really good job.
    I want to thank the Members of the United States Congress who are 
here, starting with Ralph Hall. Ralph, I'm for you in tomorrow's 
primary. I wish you all the very best. Thank you. Glad you're here.
    Chairman Joe Barton is with us. Joe, thanks for coming. I'm proud 
you're here. Appreciate you coming. Sam Johnson is with us today. Sam, 
thanks for coming. Good to see Shirley. I appreciate Pete Sessions. I'm 
glad you're here, Pete. Pete has got a big race. I'm pulling for him. 
Got to make sure you turn out to vote for this good Congressman.
    I appreciate Michael Burgess being here as well. Michael, thank you 
for coming. Finally, a man who is making a mark as a good freshman 
Congressman, Jeb Hensarling. I appreciate you coming, Jeb.
    I saw my friend Agricultural Commissioner Susan Combs. Thank you for 
being here. I know Victor Carrillo is with us today, railroad 
commissioner. Good to see you, Victor. Michael Williams is with us. 
Mike, good to see you. One time I was Michael's campaign chairman in the 
Republican primary in Midland County and helped him come in third. 
[Laughter] He got rid of me as his campaign chairman, and now he's doing 
big things statewide in the State of Texas. [Laughter]
    I want to thank very much the speaker of the house who is with us 
today, Tommy Craddick, from Midland. Where are you, Tommy? Thanks for 
coming. You're doing a fine job. All the members of the house and senate 
who are here, local officials.
    But most importantly, I want to thank the grassroots activists. I 
want to thank you for what you're fixing to do, which is man those 
phones, put up the signs, and turn out a huge vote. We're counting on 
    Finally, it's good to see my friend Jack Graham, who is with us, the 
pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church. I want to thank Jack for 
delivering the invocation. I want to thank you all for your prayers. It 
means a lot to Laura and me. It's a fantastic gift to give to anybody in 
public office, and for that, we're really grateful.
    Last Tuesday, I placed a call to Senator Kerry. I congratulated him 
on his victory, and I told him I was looking forward to a spirited 
campaign. It's going to be an interesting debate on the issues. My 
opponent spent two decades in Congress. He spent a long time in 
Washington, and he's built up quite a record. Senator Kerry has been in 
Washington so long that he's taken both sides on just about every issue. 
[Laughter] Senator Kerry voted for the PATRIOT Act, for NAFTA, for the 
No Child Left Behind Act, and for the use of force in Iraq. Now he 
opposes the PATRIOT Act, NAFTA, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the 
liberation of Iraq. My opponent clearly has strong beliefs. They just 
don't last very long. [Laughter]
    The voters have a very clear choice in this election between keeping 
the tax relief that is moving this economy forward or putting the burden 
of higher taxes back on the American people, a clear choice between an 
America that leads the world with strength and confidence or an America 
that is uncertain in the face of danger.
    I look forward to setting the alternative squarely before the 
American people. I look forward to this campaign. I look forward to make 
my case to the great people of this land. We've achieved great things in 
the past 3 years. Most important, we have a positive vision, an 
optimistic vision for the years ahead, a positive vision for winning the 
war against terror and extending peace and freedom throughout our world, 
a positive vision for creating jobs and promoting opportunity and 
compassion at home. I will leave no doubt

[[Page 357]]

where we stand, and we will win on the 2d of November.
    The last 3 years have brought serious challenges, and we've given 
serious answers. We came to office with a stock market in decline and an 
economy heading into recession. We delivered historic tax relief, and 
now our economy is the fastest growing of any major industrialized 
    We had to confront corporate crimes that cost people their jobs and 

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