[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 40, Number 35 (Monday, August 30, 2004)]
[Pages 1673-1679]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks in Las Cruces, New Mexico

August 26, 2004

    The President. Thanks for coming. Vamos a ganar. Thanks for coming. 
It's great to be here. I am proud to be traveling with my friend Rudy 
Giuliani. This is a part of the world, Rudy, where the boots outnumber 
the suits. Nice to be in country where the cowboy hats outnumber the 
    I appreciate so many people showing up. I'm here to ask for the 
vote. I believe it's important to get out and ask for the vote. I 
believe it's important to travel this great State and our country 
talking about where I intend to lead the country. And I'm so proud to be 
traveling with a man who is a strong leader, a man who brought calm to 
the citizens of New York City during a tragic day, a man who helped lift 
the spirit of that important part of our country, Rudy Giuliani.
    I told Rudy, I said, ``Rudy, we're in good country here in Las 
Cruces.'' I said, ``I know this part of the State well.'' You might 
remember I used to be the Governor of your neighbor. I told Rudy, I 
said, ``I've been to Las Cruces a lot, and here in Las Cruces, you're 
going to find some really fine people.'' And after here, we're off to 
Farmington and then back down to Albuquerque. We're taking this State 
seriously. With your help, we'll carry New Mexico. With your help, we'll 
carry the country in November.
    I'm sorry Laura is not here.
    Audience members. Aw-w-w!
    The President. No, I understand. I kissed her goodbye in Crawford 
this morning, and I said, ``I've got to go to work.'' [Laughter] She 
said, you get over to New Mexico, and you remind them that her kinfolk 
were raised right down the road in Anthony. I'm proud of Laura. She's a 
great mom, a wonderful wife. I'll give you some reasons why I think you 
ought to put me back in, but perhaps the most important one of all is so 
Laura is the First Lady for 4 more years.
    I'm real proud of my runningmate, Dick Cheney. He is a fine man. I 
picked him not necessarily because he's the prettiest face in America. 
[Laughter] I picked him because he can get the job done. I picked him 
for his experience and his judgment. And I'm proud to be running with 
him, proud to call him friend, and proud to call him runningmate.
    I'm also proud to be working with a great United States Senator in 
Pete Domenici. Pete is a--he's a close friend. He's a great New Mexican. 
He's a wonderful person. He is on vacation. I wish he and Nancy a well-
deserved rest. I'm proud also to be here with the United States 
Congressman, Steve Pearce. I'm glad you brought Cynthia. It's good to 
see you both, proud to work with you.
    I'm glad the mayor is here, Bill Mattiace. Mr. Mayor, thanks for 
coming--fill the potholes.
    I appreciate Ted Scanlon and los Desperados for playing here today. 
I appreciate Mariachi Espuelas de la Plata. I'm glad they were here. 
Thank you all for coming.
    Most of all, I want to thank the grassroots activists who are with 
us today. I want to thank Al Solis, who is the party chairman from Dona 
Ana County. I want to thank the people who put up the signs and make the 
phone calls. I ask you to register your friends and neighbors to vote.
    We have a duty in this country to vote. We have an obligation in a 
free society to show up to the polls. Please do your duty and get people 
to vote. Get them into those polls. Obviously, when you're working to 
gather the vote, I've got a preference. [Laughter] In order to keep this 
country safer, stronger, and better, put Dick and I back into office.
    We've been through a lot together in the last 4 years, and we've 
accomplished a great deal. But there's only reason to look backward at 
the record, and that is who best to lead us forward. That's what I want 
to talk about. I want to remind you, we have much at stake in this 
election, and we have more

[[Page 1674]]

to do to move America forward. We have more to do to create jobs and 
improve our schools. We have more to do to fight terror, to protect the 
homeland. We have more to do to spread freedom and peace. We've made 
much progress. I'm here to tell you I'm ready for the job. I'm ready to 
accomplish more for the American people.
    We have more to do to make America's public schools the centers of 
excellence we know they all can be so no child is left behind. You might 
remember when we came to office 3\1/2\ years ago, children were being 
shuffled from grade to grade, year after year, without learning the 
basics. So we challenged the soft bigotry of low expectations. We've 
raised the bar. We believe in local control of schools. But we believe 
in accountability so we can determine whether every child is learning to 
read and write and add and subtract.
    We have more to do. I understand this is a changing world we live 
in, and therefore, the jobs of the future will require more knowledge. 
We've got to expand math and science in our high schools. We need early 
intervention programs to make sure high school kids can read, write, 
add, and subtract. We want to make sure the high school diploma means 
something. Over the next 4 years, a rising generation will have the 
skills and confidence necessary to realize the American Dream.
    We have more to do to make quality health care available and 
affordable. Listen, when we came to office, too many older Americans 
could not afford prescription drugs, and Medicare didn't pay for them. 
You might remember those old debates about Medicare: ``Oh, just elect 
me. Something is going to get done.'' But year after year, those 
promises were empty. We got the job done. We've strengthened Medicare 
for our seniors.
    There's more to do. We've expanded quality care through community 
health centers for low-income Americans. We've created health savings 
accounts so families can save tax-free for their own health care needs. 
When it comes to making--giving Americans more choices, more control 
over their lives, we're making progress. We're not turning back.
    There's more to do over the next 4 years. Most people get their 
health insurance through small businesses, and yet, small businesses are 
having trouble providing health coverage. To help more Americans get 
health insurance, we must allow small employers to join together to 
purchase insurance at the discounts that big companies get in America.
    We'll use technology to reduce costs and prevent mistakes. We'll 
expand research to seek new cures for deadly diseases. And to make sure 
you've got affordable and available health care here in New Mexico, we 
need medical liability reform. These frivolous lawsuits are running up 
the cost of health care, and they're running good docs out of business. 
See, I don't think you can be pro-patient and pro-doctor and pro-trial-
lawyer at the same time. I think you have to choose. My opponent made 
his choice, and he put him on the ticket. I made my choice: I am for 
medical liability reform.
    We have more to do to make this economy stronger. Listen, we've been 
through a lot in this economy. Think about it. We went through a 
recession. The stock market declined. We've been through attacks. We've 
had corporate scandals. But we've overcome these obstacles. We've 
overcome them because the American workers are the best in the world. 
We've overcome it because our farmers and ranchers know what they're 
doing. We've overcome it--we've overcome these obstacles because the 
entrepreneurial spirit is strong and the small-business sector of our 
economy is vibrant. I also think we've overcome it because of well-timed 
tax cuts.
    When you're talking to your friends and neighbors, remember to tell 
them we've helped American families by raising the child credit. We've 
helped America's families by reducing the marriage penalty. By the way, 
the Tax Code ought to encourage marriage, not penalize marriage. We 
helped small businesses. And this time the check actually was in the 
    Because we acted, our economy since last summer has grown at a rate 
as fast as any in nearly 20 years. Because we acted, we've created about 
1.5 million new jobs over the past 12 months. Because we acted, the 
national unemployment rate is 5.5 percent. Because we acted, the 
unemployment rate in

[[Page 1675]]

your great State is 5.3 percent. Because we acted, the people of this 
country are working.
    There's more work to be done. In order to make sure American jobs 
stay here in America, we need less regulations on our employers. You ask 
your small-business neighbor what it's like to fill out the paperwork. 
They'll say it's quite onerous. My problem is I can't promise anybody in 
Washington has ever read the paperwork.
    We need tort reform to keep jobs here in America. To make sure 
people can find good work here at home, we need an energy policy. We 
need to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. In order to 
keep jobs here at home, we've got to make sure other nations treat us in 
trade the way we treat them. Our markets are open for other--for 
products from other countries because it's good for consumers. And all 
we're saying is, ``Just make sure you open up your markets.'' We can 
compete with anybody, anyplace, anywhere with fair rules.
    Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
    The President. In order to make sure jobs stay here, we've got to 
make sure our workers gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 
21st century. That's why I believe so strongly in our community college 
system, to make sure that there's money available, that the colleges are 
affordable for people all across America to be able to match their 
desire to work with the skills necessary to fill the new jobs.
    In order to make sure we keep jobs here in America, we've got to 
keep your taxes low. And we've got to be wise about how we spend your 
money. I'm running against a fellow who has already made over $2.2 
trillion worth of new promises. And we're just getting started. We're 
coming down the stretch. You know how tempting it is to get out in front 
of people and make promise after promise, but he hasn't told us how he's 
going to pay for it. Well, he said he's just going to tax the rich. 
You've heard that kind of language before, haven't you?
    Audience members. Yes!
    The President. Yes. Just remember why we've got all those 
accountants and lawyers out there. There's not enough money to tax the 
rich to pay for all his promises. If he gets elected, he's going to tax 
you. But the good news is we're not going to let him get elected.
    We have more to do to wage and win the war against terror. We have 
more to do to keep this country secure. See, our future depends on our 
willingness to lead in the world. If America shows uncertainty and 
weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will 
not happen on my watch.
    The world changed on a terrible September morning, and since that 
day, we have changed the world. Before September the 11th, Afghanistan 
served as the home base of Al Qaida, which trained and deployed 
thousands of killers to set up cells all around the world, including our 
own country. Today, because America acted, Afghanistan is a rising 
democracy. Over 10 million people have registered to vote in that 
country. Afghanistan is an ally in the war on terror. Many young girls 
now go to school for the first time, because we acted. And America and 
the world are safer.
    Before September 11th, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia didn't take Al 
Qaida seriously. Today, they are allies in the war on terror, and 
America and the world are safer.
    Before September the 11th, Libya was spending millions to acquire 
weapons of mass destruction. Because America and our allies sent a 
strong and easy-to-understand message, the leader of Libya abandoned his 
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and America and the world are 
    Before September the 11th, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of 
America. He was defying the world. You might remember, he was firing 
weapons at American pilots who were enforcing the world's sanctions. He 
purchased and used weapons of mass destruction. He invaded his 
neighbors. He had harbored terrorists. He subsidized the families of 
suicide bombers. He murdered tens of thousands of his own citizens.
    Audience member. He's not doing it anymore!
    The President. He was a source of great instability. I saw a threat. 
One of the lessons of September the 11th that we must always remember is 
that we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize. 
Remembering that lesson, I went to the United

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States Congress. I said, ``I see a threat.'' They looked at the 
intelligence. They looked at Saddam's history. They came to the same 
conclusion I did, including my opponent.
    I went to the United Nations because this country must always try 
diplomacy first. I went to the U.N. I said, ``We see a threat.'' They 
looked at the same intelligence. They remembered the same history of 
Saddam Hussein. And as they had for over a decade, they demanded a full 
accounting, a disposal of his weapons and weapons programs, or face 
serious consequences. That's what they said. The world spoke.
    As he had for over a decade, Saddam Hussein defied the world. He 
said, ``I don't care what you say.'' We then sent inspectors into his 
country. He systematically deceived the inspectors. So I had a choice to 
make. Do I forget the lessons of September the 11th and trust the word 
of a madman or take action to defend America. Given that choice, I will 
defend our country every time.
    Even though we didn't find the stockpiles we expected to find, 
Saddam had the capability of making weapons. And he had the willingness 
to pass that capability--or he could have had the willingness to pass 
that capability on to our enemy. It's a risk we could not afford to take 
after September the 11th. Knowing what I know today, I would have made 
the same decision. America and the world are safer.
    Now, almost after--2 years after he voted for the war in Iraq and 7 
months after switching positions to declare himself the antiwar 
candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the 
right decision to go into Iraq. After months of questioning my motives 
and even my credibility, my opponent now agrees with me that even though 
we've not found the stockpile of weapons we all thought were there, 
knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq 
and remove Saddam Hussein. I want to thanks the Senator for clearing 
that up. There's still a little over 60 days for him to change his mind 
again. [Laughter]
    I'm running because I understand we have more to do. We will 
continue to work with our friends and allies around the world to 
aggressively pursue the terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq and 
elsewhere. See, you can't talk sense to these people. You cannot 
negotiate with them. You cannot hope for the best. We must engage them 
around the world so we do not have to face them here at home.
    America will continue to lead the world with confidence and moral 
clarity. We have put together a strong coalition to help us defeat 
terror. There are nearly 40 nations involved in Afghanistan, some 30 
nations involved in Iraq, 60 nations involved in the Proliferation 
Security Initiative. I'll continue to work to build alliances and work 
with our friends for the sake of freedom and peace. But I'll never turn 
over America's national security decisions to leaders of other 
    We'll keep our commitments to help Afghanistan and Iraq become 
peaceful, democratic societies. Those two nations are now governed by 
strong leaders, people committed to the aspirations of their people. We 
have a clear goal in those two countries, to help them develop a 
peaceful, democratic country that will be an ally in the war on terror. 
It's in our national interest that they become peaceful, free countries. 
And to help them meet that goal, we're training Afghan forces and Iraqi 
forces so they can do the hard work of securing their country, so they 
can fight the terrorists who want to stop--[applause].
    Our military will complete this mission as quickly as possible so 
our troops do not stay a day longer than necessary. The thing about our 
troops in these crucial times, our commitments are kept by the men and 
women who wear our Nation's uniform. At bases across our country and 
around the world, I've had the privilege of meeting with those who 
defend our security and defend our freedom. I've seen their great 
decency and their unselfish courage. I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, 
the cause of liberty is in great hands. I want to thank the veterans who 
are here today for setting such a great example for those who--
    I made a commitment to our troops and to the families of our troops, 
that they will have the resources they need to fight and win the war on 
terror. Last September, while our troops were in combat in Afghanistan 
and Iraq, I proposed supplemental funding

[[Page 1677]]

to support them in their mission. The legislation provided funding for 
body armor and vital equipment, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, 
fuel, and spare parts for our military. We received great bipartisan 
support for that important spending. Matter of fact, the support was so 
strong that only 12 Members of the United States Senate voted against 
it. Two of them are my opponent and his runningmate.
    Audience members. Boo-o-o!
    The President. The Senator tried to explain his vote by saying this: 
``I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.'' 
Now, he's offering a different explanation. Recently, he said he was 
proud of the vote. And then when pressed, he said it was just a 
complicated matter. There's nothing complicated about supporting our 
troops in combat.
    In the long run, our security is not guaranteed by force alone. We 
must work to change the conditions that give rise to terror, poverty and 
hopelessness and resentment. A free and peaceful Iraq, a free and 
peaceful Afghanistan will be powerful examples in a neighborhood that is 
desperate for liberty. Free countries do not export terror. Free 
countries do not stifle the dreams of their own citizens.
    By serving the ideal of liberty, we're bringing hope to others, and 
that makes America more secure. By serving the ideal of liberty, we're 
spreading peace. By serving the ideal of liberty, we're serving the 
values we hold dear to our heart. We understand that freedom is not 
America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every 
person in this world.
    We have more to do to protect America. There are enemies out there 
that still are plotting to harm us. See, my opponent said something I 
thought was--showed the contrast between our visions. He said that the 
war with the terrorists is actually improving their recruiting efforts. 
I think the logic is upside-down. I think it shows a misunderstanding of 
the nature of these people. See, during the 1990s, the terrorists were 
recruiting and training for war with us, long before we went to war with 
them. They don't need an excuse for their hatred. I think it's wrong to 
blame the actions of this country for the evil of the killers. You don't 
create terrorists by fighting back. You defeat the terrorists by 
fighting back.
    We have more work to do, as the 9/11 Commission report said. It said 
America--the actions we've taken have made America safer but not yet 
safe. I agree. And that's why we're pushing hard for reforms in 
Washington, DC--intelligence reforms. That's why we created the 
Department of Homeland Security, so agencies talk better, so that 
Washington now talks better with New Mexico, and New Mexico talks better 
with Las Cruces--the great first-responders here in this part of the 
world. We passed the PATRIOT Act, which is a vital tool for our law 
enforcement to disrupt terrorist cells before they attack in America.
    There's a lot of good people working on your behalf to secure the 
homeland. I want to thank them--continually thank them for their hard 
work. We're working hard to achieve reform in Washington, but it's not 
easy over there in Washington to achieve reform. There's a lot of 
entrenched interests. There's a lot of people willing to defend the 
status quo. It's not enough to advocate reform, you have to be able to 
get the job done.
    When you're out there campaigning on my behalf, remember, when it 
comes to reforming schools to provide excellent education for every 
child, we're getting the job done. When it comes for health care reforms 
to give our families and our seniors more access and more choices, we're 
getting the job done. When it comes to improving our economy, we're 
getting the job done. When it comes to better securing our homeland, 
fighting the forces of terror, and spreading freedom and peace, we're 
getting the job done. Remind your friends and neighbors that when it 
comes time to elect a President, put somebody in there who can get the 
job done.
    This is a time of rapid change for our country, and it's an exciting 
time to be an American. Change can sometimes create instability, and 
Government ought to recognize that and stand side by side with workers 
and families. The role of Government is not to give you orders. The role 
of Government is to help you have the tools necessary to be able to 
realize your dreams. And one way to do that is to continue to promote an 
ownership society in America. We want workers

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to be able to own their own health care accounts, so they can take them 
from job to job if they change jobs.
    Listen, I see a lot of younger folks here. I want to thank you all 
for coming. You ought to be listening very carefully to the debate on 
Social Security. Baby boomers like me are just fine when it comes to 
Social Security. Younger workers need to be concerned about the fiscal 
sanity of--fiscal stability of Social Security. I believe younger 
workers ought to be able to own a personal retirement account they call 
their own, so they can pass it on from one generation to the next.
    We want to create the conditions so more people own their own 
business. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in America. I intend to 
keep it that way. Listen, one of the great statistics of the modern era 
is more people--the homeownership rate in America is at an alltime high. 
We want to encourage--we want more people owning their own home. There's 
nothing better when somebody opens the door and says, ``Welcome to my 
home.'' I believe in encouraging ownership because I know if you own 
something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country.
    In this changing world, there are some things that will not change, 
our belief in liberty and opportunity and the nonnegotiable demands of 
human dignity. I believe in the individual values we try to live by, 
courage and compassion, reverence and integrity, hard work and duty. I 
believe in the institutions that give us purpose and direction, our 
families, our schools, and our religious congregations.
    We stand for institutions like marriage and family, which are the 
foundations of society. We stand for a culture of life in which every 
person matters and every person counts. We stand for judges who 
faithfully interpret the law instead of legislating from the bench.
    We stand for a culture of responsibility in America. The culture of 
this country is changing from one that has said, ``If it feels good, do 
it,'' and ``If you've got a problem, blame somebody else,'' to a culture 
in which each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we 
make in life. If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, 
you're responsible for loving your child with all your heart and all 
your soul. If you're worried about the quality of the education in the 
community in which you live, you're responsible for doing something 
about it. If you're a CEO in corporate America, you're responsible for 
telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees. And in this 
responsibility society, each of us is responsible for loving our 
neighbor just like we'd like to be loved ourselves.
    I'm running for 4 more years to continue to rally the armies of 
compassion which exist all across our country. I'm running because I 
understand the role of Government is limited. See, Government can hand 
out money, but it cannot put hope in a person's heart or a sense of 
purpose in a person's life. That's done when a loving soul puts their 
arm around somebody that hurts and says, ``I love you. How can I help 
you?'' See, I believe strongly American society can change one heart, 
one soul, one conscience at a time, by rallying the true strength of 
America, which is the hearts and souls of the American people.
    For all Americans, these years in our history will stand apart. 
There are quiet times in the life of a nation when little is expected of 
its leaders. This isn't one of those times. This is a time where we need 
firm resolve, strong belief in the values that make us a great nation.
    None of us will ever forget that week when one era ended and another 
began. On September the 14th, with Rudy by my side, I stood in the ruins 
of the Twin Towers. It's a day I will never forget. There were workers 
in hardhats yelling at me, ``Whatever it takes.'' A fellow just came out 
of the rubble. He had bloodshot eyes. He looked at me right in the eye 
and said, ``Do not let me down.'' He took that day personally. 
Everybody--I wake up every morning thinking about how to better protect 
our country. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it 
    We've come through much together. The last years, we have come 
through a lot. We have done a lot of hard work. There's more to be done. 
We will spread opportunity and ownership to every corner of America. We 
will pass enduring values of our country to

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another generation. We will lead the cause of peace and freedom. And we 
will prevail.
    Four years ago, I traveled your great State and our country, when I 
was asking for the vote. I made a pledge to our fellow Americans that if 
you honored me with this great responsibility, I would uphold the honor 
and the dignity of the office to which I had been elected. With your 
help--and with your help, I will do so for 4 more years.
    Thanks for coming, and God bless. Thank you all. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:15 a.m. in the Pan American Center at 
New Mexico State University. In his remarks, he referred to Rudolph W. 
Giuliani, former mayor of New York City; Nancy Domenici, wife of Senator 
Pete Domenici; Cynthia Pearce, wife of Representative Steve Pearce; 
Mayor William Michael Mattiace of Las Cruces, NM; entertainers Ted 
Scanlon and the Desperados, and Mariachi Espuelas de Plata; and Col. 
Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi, leader of Libya.