Excerpts that make for a long post, but it's well worth reading.
I also want to acknowledge a man who is not here -- Vice President Dick Cheney spent the day campaigning in Minneapolis and Wichita, but he's recently completed another important assignment. Once again I put him in charge of my vice presidential search committee. He tells me he's reviewed all the candidates, and he's come back with the same recommendation as last time. In fact, I made the choice myself, and I have taken the measure of this man. They don't come any better, and I am proud to have Dick Cheney by my side. I guess that means no Condi for VP, then
We meet during the presidential primary season. We're witnessing a clear trend -- it looks like we have a winner in the Republican primaries. The other party's nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions: For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that's just one senator from Massachusetts. Good joke
The last three years have brought serious challenges. We've given serious answers, and the strong leadership these times of extraordinary change demand. We came to office with an economy heading into recession. We delivered historic tax relief, and the consumer spending and investment that resulted helped lift our economy back to growth, so that people are getting hired again. At a time when competition is not just across town, but across borders and continents, America's productive workers have made this economy the fastest growing of any major industrialized nation. A little bragging but you can't deny he's given us very strong leadership
We saw war and grief arrive on a quiet September morning -- and from that day to this, we have pursued terrorists across the world. We've captured or killed many of the key leaders of the al Qaeda network, and the rest of them know we're on their trail. There is no cave or hole deep enough to hide them. Amen
Our opponents have not offered much in the way of strategies to win the war, or policies to expand our economy. So far, all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger. Anger is not an agenda for the future of America. We're taking on the big issues with strength and resolve and determination, and we stand ready to lead this nation for the next four years.
Our opponents have their own plan for these tax cuts -- they plan to take them away. They will use that money to expand the federal government. I have a better idea: To keep this economy growing, we will have fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C. To keep this economy going, the tax cuts must be permanent. Nice words, now how about actually cutting some government spending? You gotta walk the walk if you're gonna talk the talk
We must do more to keep this economy growing. We need to protect small business owners and employees from frivolous lawsuits and needless regulation. We need to control the costs of health care by passing medical liability reform. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. We need to pass sound energy legislation, to modernize our electricity system, and to make America less dependent on foreign sources of oil. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. Darn right.
When people have solid assets to call their own, they gain independence and security and dignity, and more control over their future. I believe in private property so much, I want everyone in America to have some.
On issue after issue, the American people have a clear choice. Our opponents are against personal retirement accounts, against putting patients in charge of Medicare, against tax relief. They seem to be against every idea that gives Americans more authority and more choices and more control over their own lives. We'll hear them make a lot of promises over the next eight months -- and listen closely because there's a theme: Every promise will increase the power of politicians and bureaucrats over your income, over your retirement, over your health care, and over your life. It's that same old Washington mind-set -- they'll give the orders, and you'll pay the bills. I've got news for them: America has gone beyond that way of thinking, and we're not going back.
I trust the people, not Washington politicians, to make the best decisions for their own money, their own health, their own retirement, and their own lives.
September the 11th, 2001 taught a lesson I have not forgotten. America must confront threats before they fully materialize. In Iraq, my administration looked at the intelligence and saw a danger. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence, and they saw a danger. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a danger. The previous administration and Congress looked at the intelligence, and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country. We all knew Saddam's history well. He waged aggressive wars against neighboring countries, and aspired to dominate the Middle East. He cultivated ties to terrorists. He built weapons of mass destruction. He hid those weapons. He used chemical weapons against thousands of Iraqis and Iranians.
In 2002, the United Nations Security Council yet again demanded a full accounting of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. 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 take action to defend America and the world. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time. Listen up, folks, this is the reason why America went into Iraq.
On national security, Americans have the clearest possible choice. Our opponents say they approve of bold action in the world, but only if no other government disagrees. I'm all for united action, and so are the 34 coalition partners we have in Iraq right now. But America must never out-source America's national security decisions to the leaders of other governments. Amen
We also know that the greatest strength of this country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens. We're strong because of the values we try to live by -- courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. We're strong because of the institutions that help to give us direction and purpose -- families, and schools, and religious congregations. These values and institutions are fundamental to our lives, and they deserve the respect of our government.
We stand for a culture of life in which every person counts, and every person matters. We will not stand for the treatment of any life as a commodity to be experimented upon, or exploited, or cloned.
And we stand for a culture of responsibility in America. We're changing the culture of America from one that said, "if it feels good, do it," and "if you've got a problem, blame someone else," to a culture in which each of us understands we're responsible for the decisions we make. If you're fortunate enough to be a mother or a father, you're responsible for loving your child with all your heart. If you're concerned about the quality of the education in your community in which you live, you're responsible for doing something about it. If you're a CEO in America, you're responsible for telling the truth to your shareholders and your employees.