Thursday, October 07, 2004

Text of the President's Wilkes-Barre, PA Speech

The morning after the the Vice Presidential debate, President Bush traveled to Wilkes-Barre, Pa and delivered a campaign speech. It was by far his best campaign speech to date, and it was a primer for Friday night's debate. He used Kerry's inane foreign policy ideas to strike blow after blow on Kerry. Read the transcript of the speech here. Excerpts of the highlights:

-We have built a broad and solid record of accomplishment. In the past year, the United States of America has added about 1.7 million new jobs. (Applause.) More than Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and France combined. (Applause.) Real tax — real after-tax income — that's the money in your pocket to spend on groceries or house payments and rent
— is up more than 10 percent since I took office. (Applause.) Home ownership is at an all-time high in America. (Applause.) Farm income is up. Small businesses are flourishing. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the United States of America. (Applause.)

-My opponent was against all of our middle class tax relief. He voted instead to squeeze another $2,000 per year from the average middle class family. Now the Senator is proposing higher taxes on more than 900,000 small business owners. My opponent is one of the few candidates in history to campaign on a pledge to raise taxes. (Laughter.) And that's the kind of promise a politician from Massachusetts usually keeps. (Laughter and applause.)

-The Senator and I have different views on another threat to our economy — frivolous lawsuits. He's been a part of the Washington crowd that has obstructed legal reform again and again. Meanwhile, all across America unfair lawsuits are hurting small businesses. Lawsuits are driving up health care costs. Lawsuits are threatening OB/GYNs all across our country. Lawsuits are driving good doctors out of practice. (Applause.) We need a President who will stand up to the trial lawyers in Washington, not put one on the ticket. (Applause.)

-He has a different vision. Under his health plan, 8 million Americans would lose the private insurance they get at work, and most would end up on a government program. Under his plan, 8 out of 10 people who get new insurance will get it from the federal government. My opponent's proposal would be the largest expansion of government-run health care ever. And when government pays the bills, government makes the rules. His plan would put bureaucrats in charge of dictating coverage, which could ration care and limit your choice of doctor. Senator Kerry's proposal would put us on the path to "Clinton-care."

-The Senator and I have different views on government spending. Over the years, he's voted 274 times to break the federal budget limits. And in this campaign, Senator Kerry has announced more than $2 trillion in new spending. And that's a lot of money even for a senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter and applause.) During his 20 years as a senator, my opponent hasn't had many accomplishments. Of the hundreds of bills he submitted, only five became law. One of them was ceremonial. But to be fair, he's earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate. And when the competition includes Ted Kennedy, that's really saying something. (Laughter and applause.) I'm telling you, I know that bunch. (Laughter.) It wasn't easy for my opponent to become the single most liberal member of the Senate. You might even say, it was hard work. (Laughter and applause.) But he earned that title — by voting for higher taxes, more regulation, more junk lawsuits, and more government control over your life.

-We've had many victories in the war on terror, and that war goes on. Our nation is safer, but not yet safe. To win this war, we must fight on every front. We'll stay on the offensive against terrorist networks, striking them before they come to America to hurt us. We'll confront governments that support terrorists and could arm them, because they're equally guilty of terrorist murder. (Applause.) And our long-term victory requires confronting the ideology of hate with freedom and hope.

-My opponent agrees with all this — except when he doesn't.
(Laughter.) Last week in our debate, he once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. (Laughter.) He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that America had no business removing that threat. Senator Kerry said our soldiers and Marines are not fighting for a mistake — but also called the liberation of Iraq a "colossal error." He said we need to do more to train Iraqis, but he also said we shouldn't be spending so much money over there. He said he wants to hold a summit meeting, so he can invite other countries to join what he calls "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." (Laughter and applause.)
He said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border, but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the war on terror.
(Laughter.) You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face. (Laughter and applause.)
My opponent's endless back-and-forth on Iraq is part of a larger misunderstanding. In the war on terror, Senator Kerry is proposing policies and doctrines that would weaken America and make the world more dangerous. His — Senator Kerry approaches the world with a September the 10th mind-set. He declared in his convention speech that "any attack will be met with a swift and certain response." That was the mind-set of the 1990s, while al Qaeda was planning the attacks on America. After September the 11th, our object in the war on terror is not to wait for the next attack and respond, but to prevent attacks by taking the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)
In our debate, Senator Kerry said that removing Saddam Hussein was a mistake because the threat was not imminent. The problem with this approach is obvious: if America waits until a threat is at our doorstep, it might be too late to save lives.

-The Senator speaks often about his plan to strengthen America's alliances, but he's got an odd way of doing it. In the middle of the war, he's chosen to insult America's fighting allies by calling them, "window dressing," and the "coalition of the coerced and the bribed." The Italians who died in Nasiriyah were not window dressing. They were heroes in the war on terror. (Applause.) The British and the Poles at the head of the multinational divisions in Iraq were not coerced or bribed. They have fought, and some have died, in the cause of freedom. These good allies and dozens of others deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician.

-Senator Kerry assures us that he's the one to win a war he calls a mistake, an error, and a diversion. But you can't win a war you don't believe in fighting. (Applause.) In Iraq, Senator Kerry has a strategy of retreat; I have a strategy of victory. (Applause.) We've returned sovereignty to the Iraqi people ahead of schedule. We've trained about 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, police officers and other security personnel, and that total will rise to 125,000 by year-end. We've already allocated more than $7 billion for reconstruction efforts, so more Iraqis can see the benefits of freedom. We're working with a coalition of some 30 nations to provide security. Other nations are helping with debt relief and reconstruction aid for Iraqis. And although the terrorists will try to stop them, Iraq will hold free elections in January, because the Iraqi people want and deserve to govern themselves.

-Unfortunately, my opponent has been known to waver. (Laughter.) His well-chosen words and rationalizations cannot explain why he voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, and then voted against money for bullets, and vehicles and body armor for the troops on the ground. He tried to clear it all up by saying, I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it. Now he says he "made a mistake" in how he talked about the war. The mistake here is not what Senator Kerry said; the mistake is what he did in voting against funding for Americans in combat.
(Applause.) That is the kind of wavering a nation at war can never afford.
As a candidate, my opponent promises to defend America. The problem is as a senator for two decades, he has built a record of weakness. The record shows he twice led efforts to gut our intelligence service budgets. The record shows he voted against many of the weapons that won the Cold War, and are vital to current military operations. And the record shows he has voted more than 50 times against missile defense systems that would help protect us from the threats of a dangerous world.

If the President uses this speech as a springboard for the debate Friday night, he will do a fine job of presenting the Senator from Massachusett's as what he is: a weak on defense tax and liberal. That is John Kerry's record, that is his legacy as a public serveant.

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