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pd29mr04 Telephone Remarks to the South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Breakfast...

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and sacrifice, I know that justice and freedom will prevail over terror 
and tyranny.
    Thank you for listening.

Note: The address was recorded at 10:36 a.m. on March 19 in the Cabinet 
Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on March 20. The 
transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on 
March 19 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast. In his 
remarks, the President referred to senior Al Qaida associate Abu Musab 
Al Zarqawi. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish 
language transcript of this address.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 438-443]
Monday, March 29, 2004
Volume 40_Number 13
Pages 437	488
Week Ending Friday, March 26, 2004
Remarks in Orlando, Florida

March 20, 2004

    The President. Thank you all. Thanks for coming. It turns out the 
crowd is always a little bigger when Laura comes along. America loves 
her almost as much as I love her. I think she deserves 4 more years as 
the First Lady.
    No, it's great to be back in the great State of Florida again. 
There's a big election coming up, and I thought I'd come down for a 
little spring training. It's always a good chance to be with Brother. 
[Laughter] He's a great Governor of this great State. Like me, he 
married well. [Laughter] I appreciate Colu being here as well. I used to 
say that Jeb was the coolest Governor in the country. That's until 
Arnold got elected.
    Speaking about great leaders, I made a really good choice when I 
asked Dick Cheney to be my running mate. He and I are grateful for the 
many strong supporters we have here in Florida. We're going to be 
spending some quality time in this State. We're here to earn the vote, 
and we need your help. I know you're here because you do want to help. 
One of the most important things you can

[[Page 439]]

do is encourage your neighbors to vote. We want a lot of people voting 
in this country. We want people from all walks of life doing their duty 
in this country, and that is to show up to the polls. And by the way, 
when you get them headed to the polls, you might suggest what's good for 
the country, and that is Bush-Cheney for 4 more years.
    Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
    The President. And by the way, we set up a web site, so that you can 
get on to figure out how to volunteer. We need your help. That's what 
I'm here to ask for. It's not very complicated. It's georgewbush.com. 
That's an easy one for me to remember. [Laughter] With your help, we're 
going to make Florida a part of a great nationwide victory this 
    I'm so thankful for you all coming. I'm proud of the fact that two 
Members of the United States Congress is with us, Ric Keller and Tom 
    Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings is here. I appreciate the Governor 
Jennings. Tom Gallagher is a statewide official. I'm proud my friend is 
here, Tom Gallagher. I want to thank all the statehouse members, all the 
local officials. The high sheriff is with us today. And thank all the 
law enforcement people that are with us today.
    I want to thank my friend Roberto Candelario for leading the 
invocation. Roberto, thank you for coming. Thank you, Lisa Faulkner, for 
leading this great crowd in the National Anthem. I got here a little 
late. I didn't get to hear my friend Billy Ray Cyrus. Thank you, Billy 
Ray. The Katinas are with us as well. I'm proud they're here. I'm proud 
to have their support. My friend Lynn Swann is with us. He's welcome to 
come to Florida. We're a little nervous about inviting him down to 
Dallas. [Laughter] You know what I mean--a lot of Cowboy fans there. I 
appreciate so very much Footy for being here. Footy, thank you for 
emceeing this event.
    The chairman of Bush-Cheney, Marc Racicot, the former Governor of 
Montana, is with us today. Marc, thank you for coming. My friend Al 
Hoffman, who has worked so hard in this State, is with us. Carole Jean 
Jordan, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, is with us.
    But most importantly, you're with us. I appreciate you coming. I 
know many of you are getting on buses and vans today for a voter 
registration drive. Thanks for doing that. The effort is going to help 
us. It will help our entire ticket. We have a strong slate of 
candidates. We're coming into an historic election, and we're going to 
win an historic victory this November.
    The Presidential primary contest is over. I finally got an opponent.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. He's following an interesting strategy. The other 
day, here in Florida, he claimed some important endorsements from 
overseas. He won't tell us the name of the foreign admirers. That's 
okay. Either way, I'm not too worried, because I'm going to keep my 
campaign right here in America.
    Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
    The President. He's an experienced Senator, and he's built up quite 
a record. In fact, Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to 
take 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 feels strongly about each of these issues--[laughter]--so 
strongly that one position is never just enough. He demonstrated the 
technique the other day. Someone asked Senator Kerry why he voted 
against the $87-billion funding bill to help our troops in Iraq. Here is 
what he said: ``I actually did vote for the 87 billion, before I voted 
against it.'' [Laughter] End of quote. [Laughter] That sure clears 
things up, doesn't it? [Laughter]
    His answers aren't always clear, but the voters will have a very 
clear choice in this campaign. It is the choice between keeping the tax 
relief that is moving this economy forward or putting the burden of 
higher taxes back on the American people. It is a choice between an 
America that leads the world with strength and confidence or an America 
that is uncertain in the face of danger.

[[Page 440]]

    Now, I look forward to this debate. I look forward to this campaign. 
I'm looking forward to talking about what we've accomplished and what 
we're going to do. In the past 3 years, we've achieved great things, and 
most important, we have a positive vision for the years ahead: A 
positive vision for winning the war against terror; a positive vision 
for extending peace and freedom throughout our world; a positive vision 
for creating jobs and promoting opportunity and compassion here at home. 
We will leave no doubt where we stand. We will win on the 2d of 
    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 
nation. We had to confront corporate crimes that cost people their jobs 
and their savings. We passed strong corporate reforms, and we made it 
clear, we will not tolerate dishonesty in the boardrooms of America.
    We saw war and grief arrive on a quiet September morning, so we 
pursued the terrorist enemy across the world. We have captured or killed 
many of the key leaders of the Al Qaida network, and the rest of them 
will know there is no cave or hole deep enough to hide from American 
    We confronted the dangers of state-sponsored terror and the spread 
of weapons of mass destruction, so we ended two of the most violent and 
dangerous regimes on Earth. We freed over 50 million people. Once again, 
America is proud to lead the armies of liberation.
    When Dick Cheney and I came to Washington, we found a military that 
was underfunded and underappreciated, so we gave our military the 
resources and respect they deserve. Today, no one can question the skill 
and the strength and the spirit of the United States military.
    It is the President's job to confront problems, not to pass them on 
to future Presidents or future generations. It is the President's job to 
step up and make the tough decisions and to keep his commitments. And 
that is how I will continue to lead our great Nation.
    Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
    The President. Great events will turn on this election. The man who 
sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror and the 
direction of our economy. The security and prosperity of America are at 
stake. The other side hasn't offered much in the way of strategies to 
win the war or policies to expand our economy. So far, all we hear from 
that side is bitterness and partisan anger. Anger is not an agenda for 
the future of America. We will take on the big issues with optimism and 
resolve and determination, and we will make it clear to the American 
people, we stand ready to lead this Nation for 4 more years.
    A big issue for every family in America is the Federal tax burden. 
With the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was President, we have 
left more money in the hands that earned it. By spending and investing 
and helping to create new jobs, the American people have used their 
money far better than the Federal Government would have.
    Oh, I know there's some economic pessimists who refuse to accept 
good news about our economy. But I'm optimistic. I'll tell you why. I 
know what we've overcome. I've seen the spirit of the American people. 
I've seen Americans overcome economic challenges. Because of good 
policies and the hard work of the American people, our economy is 
strong, and it is growing stronger. Economic growth in the second half 
of 2003 was the fastest in nearly 20 years. Manufacturing activity is 
increasing. Business investment is rising. Disposable income is rising. 
Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Homeownership is at the 
highest rate ever. Job creation is gaining strength. We've added more 
than 350,000 new jobs over the last 6 months. The tax relief we passed 
is working.
    My opponent has a different view of tax relief. When we passed an 
increase in the child credit to help families, he voted against it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. When we reduced the marriage penalty, he voted 
against it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!

[[Page 441]]

    The President. When we created a lower 10-percent tax rate for 
working families, he voted against it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. When we reduced the tax rate on dividends that many 
seniors depend on, Senator Kerry voted against it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. When we gave small businesses a tax incentive to 
expand and to hire, he voted against it.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. We're beginning to see a pattern here. [Laughter] 
Senator Kerry is one of the main opponents of tax relief in the United 
States Congress. However, when tax increases are proposed, it's a lot 
easier to get a ``yes'' vote out of him. [Laughter] Over the years, he's 
voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people----
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. ----including the biggest tax increase in American 
history. He also supported a 50-cent gallon tax on gasoline.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. He wanted you to pay all that money at the pump and 
wouldn't even throw in a free car wash. [Laughter]
    Now, Senator Kerry is proposing a lot of new Federal spending in 
this campaign. He's going to have pay for it somehow. There's a gap 
between Senator Kerry's spending promises and Senator Kerry's promise of 
a lower deficit. It's what I call a tax gap. Given Senator Kerry's 
record of supporting tax increases, it's pretty clear how he's going to 
fill the tax gap. He's going to tax all of you.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. Fortunately, you're not going to give him that 
    Higher taxes right now would undermine growth and destroy jobs just 
as our economy is getting stronger. It's bad policy. To help grow the 
American economy and create more jobs for American workers, I have a 
better idea: We should make all the tax cuts permanent.
    We must do more to keep this economy growing to create jobs. We need 
to maintain spending discipline in our Nation's Capital. I have a plan 
to protect small-business owners and employees from frivolous and junk 
lawsuits and needless regulation. We have a plan to control the cost of 
health care and give people better access through association health 
care plans and health savings accounts. And in order to control health 
care costs and to make sure docs are available, we need national medical 
liability reform now.
    We have a strategy to make sure Florida goods are sold in markets 
all around the world. I proposed a great strategy to make sure our 
Nation has a sound energy plan, a plan that encourages conservation, a 
plan that modernizes the electricity system, a plan to make America less 
dependent on foreign sources of energy.
    They talk a lot about job creation. My opponent talks about it, but 
he's against every one of these job-creating measures. Empty talk about 
jobs and economic isolationism won't get anyone hired. The way to create 
jobs is to reelect a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, small-business 
President, and that's George W. Bush.
    Our future also depends on America's leadership in the world. The 
momentum of freedom in our time is strong, but we still face serious 
dangers. Al Qaida is wounded but not broken. Terrorists are testing our 
will in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regimes in North Korea and Iran are 
challenging the peace. If America shows weakness and uncertainty in this 
decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my 
    This Nation is strong and confident in the cause of freedom. And 
today, no friend or enemy doubts the word of the United States of 
America. America and our allies gave an ultimatum to the terror regime 
in Afghanistan. The Taliban chose defiance, and the Taliban no longer 
are in power. America and our allies gave an ultimatum to the terror 
regime in Iraq. The dictator chose defiance, and the dictator today sits 
in a prison cell.
    September the 11th, 2001, taught a lesson I will never forget: 
America must confront threats before they fully materialize. In Iraq, my 
administration looked at the intelligence, and we saw a threat. Members 
of Congress looked at the intelligence, and they saw a threat. The 
United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a 
threat. The previous administration and Congress

[[Page 442]]

looked at the intelligence and made regime change in Iraq the policy of 
our Government.
    In 2002, the United Nations Security Council yet again demanded a 
full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. And as he had for 
over a decade, Saddam Hussein refused to comply. So we had a choice to 
make, either take the word of a madman or to take action to defend 
America. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.
    My opponent admits that Saddam Hussein was a threat. He just didn't 
support my decision to remove Saddam from power. Maybe he was hoping 
Saddam would lose the next Iraqi election. [Laughter]
    We showed the dictator and a waiting world that America means what 
it says. Because our coalition acted, Saddam Hussein's torture chambers 
are closed. Because we acted, Iraq's weapons programs are ended forever. 
Because we acted, nations like Libya have gotten the message and 
renounced their own weapons programs. Because we acted, an example of 
democracy is rising at the very heart of the Middle East. Because we 
acted, the world is more free and America is more secure.
    We still face thugs and terrorists in Iraq who would rather go on 
killing the innocent than accept the advance of liberty. There's a 
reason. They know that a free Iraq will be a major defeat for the cause 
of terror. This collection of killers is trying to shake the will of the 
United States. They don't understand us. America will never be 
intimidated by thugs and assassins.
    Audience members. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
    The President. We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq. 
We're on the offensive. We will defeat them there so we do not have to 
face them in our own cities.
    Other nations are helping us to build a free society in Iraq, 
because a free Iraq will make us all safer. We're standing with the 
Iraqi people as they assume more of their own defense and move toward 
self-government. These aren't easy tasks, but they're essential tasks. 
America will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential 
victory in the war on terror.
    On national security, Americans have the clearest possible choice. 
My opponent says he approves of bold action in the world but only if 
other countries don't object.

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