Remarks by the President at Steve Largent for Governor And James Inhofe for Senate Luncheon

Aug 29, 2002, 01:00 ET from White House Press Office

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by the
 President at a Steve Largent for Governor and James Inhofe for Senate
     Office Of The Press Secretary
     (Little Rock, Arkansas)
     Cox Convention Center
     Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
     11:25 A.M. CDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you all.  It's nice to be here in Oklahoma.  Thanks.
 I appreciate so very much the invitation to come and throw my support behind a
 fine United States Senator, and a person this state is surely going to
 reelect, and that's Jim Inhofe.  (Applause.)  And I'm also honored to be here
 with Governor Largent.  (Applause.)  It's got a nice ring to it.
     Thanks for inviting me.  There's not much that differentiates Texas and
 Oklahoma -- maybe the Red River.  A little difference of opinion about
 football. (Laughter.)  But I'm thrilled to be here to see so many friends.
 I've always felt at home in Oklahoma, and I want to thank you all for such
 wonderful hospitality.  As my friend said, he said, you got to remember when
 you're heading up there, civilization ends at the Red River.  And as my
 Oklahoma friends said, yeah, depends on which side you're coming from.
 (Laughter.)  But one thing is for certain -- people on both sides of the Red
 River love America. (Applause.)
     I want to appreciate Don Nickles.  He is a leader in the United States
 Senate.  I spent a lot of quality time with him.     There in the Cabinet
 Room, we're talking about important issues and plotting strategy on how to get
 things through the Senate that are positive for America.  Don, he loves
 Oklahoma, of course, and he always reminds me about the virtues of Oklahoma.
 But he clearly loves America, too.  He's providing important leadership for
 our country, and for that I am grateful.  And I, too, want to call you friend,
 and thanks for being here, Don.  (Applause.)
     I appreciate so very much Kay Inhofe for putting up with Jim, and for
 being such a good mom.  The Inhofes are -- got fantastic values, because they
 understand good values, first and foremost, start at home.  I'm honored to
 meet -- gosh, I don't know how many grandkids I met -- eleven of them.  Well,
 if they all get out to vote it's going to be a landslide.  (Laughter.)  But I
 want to thank the Inhofe family.  I want to thank Kay.  And I also want to
 thank the next First Lady of Oklahoma, Terry Largent, in her support for her
 husband, Steve.  (Applause.)
     All of us up here on this stage married above ourselves.  (Laughter.)  I
 had the privilege of saying good-bye for a brief period of time to our First
 Lady who's down there in Crawford.  She is -- (applause.)  She was born and
 raised in West Texas.  That's kind of like western Oklahoma, not a lot of
 native trees and not a lot of water.  But a lot of really good people.  She's
 down to earth, she's capable.  You know, when I married her, she was a public
 school librarian, and the truth of the matter is she didn't particularly care
 about politicians or politics.  And here she is.  And what a great comforting
 voice and what a great wife, and what a wonderful First Lady we have.  I am
 incredibly proud.  (Applause.)
     Anyway, she sends her love.  She sends her love and she joins me in
 thanking those of you who want to help these good candidates.  Thank you for
 what you've done, and what you're going to do, which is turn out the vote,
 which is to go to your coffee shops and your churches and your community
 centers and tell the people of Oklahoma you've got two good ones in these
 candidates.  It makes sense to send these people to their respective jobs --
 not for the good of Republicans, but for the good of all the people in the
 great state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
     I want to thank the members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation.  I
 am proud to work with them on a regular basis.  I'm proud we have worked
 together to accomplish some things on behalf of the American people.  I want
 to thank Congressman John Sullivan, who is here.  I want to thank Wes Watkins,
 and we're going to miss you, friend.  (Applause.)  Ernest Istook is here;
 thank you for coming, Ernest.  (Applause.)  Frank Lucas is here --I appreciate
 you, big Frank, for coming.  (Applause.)  And finally, another man we're going
 to miss is J.C. Watts.  I appreciate you, J.C.  (Applause.)  I'm sure you'll
 be able to figure out how to get a hold of me if you need me.  (Laughter.)
 But thank you both for your service.  And thank all the congressional members
 for being here.
     I was so pleased to see that my friend, Tom Cole, won a primary in a
 convincing way.  He beat a field of good people.  But he's going to be the
 next congressman replacing J.C. Watts.  I thank you for coming, Tom.
     I appreciate your Lt. Governor, Mary Fallin, for coming today.  I
 appreciate her long service to the great state of Oklahoma.  I appreciate her
 working with my friend, Frank Keating, who's done a fine job on behalf of the
 people of Oklahoma.  (Applause.)  I want to thank the Mayor of Oklahoma City,
 Kirk Humphreys  Kirk has done a fine job for Oklahoma City.  I'm proud to call
 him friend, and I know the people of this city are proud to call him Mayor.
     I thank Brenda Reneau, who is the head of your Department of Labor.  I
 also want to thank Chad Alexander, who's the Chairman of the Republican Party.
 And again, I want to thank you all for coming.  (Applause.)
     Most of all I want to extol the virtues of your next governor.  He's a
 solid citizen.  He doesn't need a poll to tell him what to think or what to
 believe.  (Applause.)  It's clear when you get to know Steve that he's got his
 principles indelibly etched on his heart.  He's got his priorities straight.
 He has faith foremost in his life, and his family are his two priorities.  And
 then comes government.  But it's with -- those kind of priorities are
 important for a leader.  And that's what you're trying to figure out, who's
 the best leader for the people of Oklahoma.  Who has got a vision based upon
 principle, not based upon polls.  Who, will set the right priorities for the
 people of this state. And there's no doubt in my mind that Steve Largent has
 the right priorities for the people of this great state of Oklahoma.
     And his first priority -- his first priority is to make sure every child
 in this state gets educated -- not just a few, not just some from the big
 fancy school districts, but every child.  That's his vision.  See, he
 understands what I know, that if you have low standards, you get low results.
 If you don't believe every child can learn, then certain children won't learn.
 And that's inexcusable to the state of Oklahoma.  (Applause.)
     So Steve travels this state talking about setting the highest of high
 standards with the belief that every child can learn.  He also understands
 that if the legislature micromanages the public schools, if they decide to set
 all kinds of rules that require permission slips in order for there to be
 local control of schools you won't get excellence for every child.  So, like
 me, he is a strong advocate of local control of schools.  (Applause.)
     But as well, he understands what I know, you've got to hold people
 accountable.  You see, if you believe every child can learn, then you're
 willing to say, let's see.  If you believe certain children can't learn, then
 you don't support accountability.  If you believe every child can learn,
 you're not afraid to measure, to determine whether every child is learning.
 You see, the accountability is so important to make sure no child gets left
 behind.  It's important also to make sure that you address problems, early
 before it's too late.  Steve knows what I know -- there are no second-class
 children in the state of Oklahoma.  (Applause.)
     I appreciate his attitude about the role of government and the
 entrepreneur.  The role of government is not to create wealth; the role of
 government should create an environment in which the entrepreneur can
 flourish. (Applause.)  Which means you've got to have wise tax policy.  See,
 you use your tax code in order to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.  If
 you over-tax the entrepreneur, it diminishes the capacity for the small
 business to grow and to create good, vibrant jobs.  He understands that.
     And one of the big issues that he is going to take on is to reform the
 workers compensation system here in the state of Oklahoma.  (Applause.)  He
 also knows that by far the biggest engine of job creation is small business.
 That's where most of the new jobs come from in America, and therefore, we've
 got to have policy aimed at small business.  And one thing we've got to do, in
 order to make sure small business grows, is to understand the role of the
 lawsuit in our society.  You need to have yourself a governor who's willing to
 look at the plaintiff's attorney straight in the eye and ask for, and get,
 tort reform in the state of Oklahoma.  (Applause.)
     I appreciate his values.  I appreciate his vision.  I appreciate his
 background.  I appreciate the fact that he's a winner.  And I appreciate that
 I'm on the stage with the next governor of Oklahoma, Steve Largent.
     And I appreciate being with a United States Senator who stands on
 principle, who does what he thinks is right, and has lived up to his word.
 He's a fellow that said, I'm going to Washington, I'm not going to change.
 And he didn't.  (Applause.)  I think the thing that struck me most about Jim
 in our conversation on Air Force One -- by the way, it's not a bad way to
 travel -- (laughter) -- was that when he described when his daughter was
 professor of the year.  See, he's from a family of teachers.  His wife is a
 teacher, they raised some teachers.  Jim understands the importance of
 teaching.  And for those of you who have got family members who are teachers
 or you're teachers yourself, I want to thank you from the bottom of our
 collective hearts up here for what you do.
     But he's a man who understands the importance of teaching in our society.
 Teaching not only lessons of reading and writing, but teaching right from
 wrong. (Applause.)
     He understands the role of energy, the need for an energy policy.  See,
 the people of Oklahoma also understand that.  We need an energy policy in
 America. We need a policy that encourages conservation and renewables, but we
 need a wise policy that makes sure we've got energy here at home.  It's in our
 economic interests that we promote jobs through good energy policy, and it's
 in our national security interests that we become less dependent on foreign
 sources of crude oil.  (Applause.)
     We need to get us an energy bill.  These two senators understand that.  We
 need to get that bill to my desk as soon as they get back from the August
 recess.  It's in our nation's interest that we do so.
     Jim also was supportive of the tax relief plan that I campaigned on and
 got through the Congress.  And that was important.  You see, you've got to
 remember something about our economy.  When we came in there, the economy was
 just beginning to get into a recession.  There had been slowdown, but the
 first three quarters of my administration was in recession.  That means the
 economy was going backwards.  Thankfully, the last three quarters have been
 going forward. But one of the reasons why, I'm absolutely certain one of the
 reasons why, is because we let the people keep their own money.  (Applause.)
     We read from the same textbook.  It's the textbook that says, if you let
 the people have their own money they will demand a good or service.  And if
 they demand a good or service, somebody will produce the good or service.  And
 when somebody produces that good or service, somebody is more likely to find
 jobs. The tax cut which needs to be permanent, it needs to be permanent --
 (applause) -- came at the right time for the American economy.  And I want to
 thank Jim for his strong support.
     See, he and I understand this -- when it comes time to spend the money in
 Washington, we're not spending the government's money, we're spending the
 people's money.  (Applause.)
     I want to thank Jim for his support of making sure our seniors have got
 prescription drugs and Medicare.  It's time to modernize an important system.
 The system has lagged behind reality.  Medicine has changed; Medicare hadn't.
 And we need leadership in the Senate to make sure the Medicare system meets
 the needs of our seniors, not only in Oklahoma, but all around the country.
 And I want to thank you on that, Jim, very much for your leadership.
     And finally, we need to get him back up there so he'll support some judges
 that I nominated.  (Applause.)  I found fine people to serve on our bench;
 good, honorable, honest people.  We named one, Pricilla Owen, recently.  She's
 smart, she's capable, one of the top students when she was in law school at
 Baylor. She got elected twice -- I think twice, but I know she got elected at
 least twice statewide in Texas, with overwhelming numbers.  She's a very, very
 smart and capable woman.  But somehow, some of them up there don't like her.
 I guess maybe they don't like the fact that I nominated her.  But this isn't
 right for the judicial system, for them to be playing politics with a fine,
 smart, capable woman.  And we need people like Jim Inhofe up there to defend
 my judicial nominees in Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)
     And I need him up there because he is a strong voice for the defense of
 this nation.  He's one of the leading advocates for national defense in
 Washington.  (Applause.)  We both understand that history has now called us
 into action.  History has now said to America, you must defend freedom.  And
 that's exactly what this country is going to do.
     I submitted the largest increase in defense spending since Ronald Reagan
 was the President.  And I did so for two reasons:  One, I want to make it
 absolutely clear that any time we put one of our soldiers into harm's way,
 that person must receive the best training, the best possible pay, the best
 equipment.  We owe it to our soldiers and we owe it to their families.
     And I appreciate Jim Inhofe's strong, strong support for that defense
 budget.  He's one of the leaders on the floor of the Senate.  He also
 understands that we need to send that increase up there because we want to
 make it clear to our friends and allies and foes that we're in this deal for
 the long pull.  There is no calendar on my desk that says, by such and such a
 date we're quitting.  See, when it comes to the defense of freedom, when it
 comes to the defense of the values we hold dear, this United States will be
 relentless and tough, and we will be victorious.  (Applause.)
     My most important job now is to defend innocent life in America.  The
 enemy has taken the battle to us, and they're still there.  These are haters.
 They're nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers.  You need to tell your
 kids -- people say, well, what do I tell my children -- you tell your
 children, because this nation loves freedom, they hate us.  Because this
 nation values each and every life -- see, every life is important to America.
 Every life is noble. Every life is worthwhile.  That's the exact opposite of
 the enemy.  They don't value life.  They're willing to take innocent life just
 like that.  They've hijacked a fine, fine, and important religion just to
 cover their murderous ways.
     And remember, it's a different kind of enemy.  You see, you used to be
 able to measure the strength of an enemy by counting his tanks, or airplanes,
 or ships.  These are the kind that go to a cave and send youngsters to their
 suicidal death.  That's the kind of people we're fighting.  But there's no
 cave deep enough for America, or dark enough to hide.  No matter how long it
 takes, one by one we're going to hunt them down and bring them to justice.
     And that's what that defense budget says.  That's what that defense budget
 clearly says.  And that's why, as soon as the Congress gets back, they need to
 get the defense bill to my desk and not play politics with the defense of the
 United States of America.  (Applause.)
     No, that's the best way to defend the homeland, is to hunt them down.  In
 the meantime, I've got to have a department of homeland security that more
 enables me to tell the American people we're doing everything we can to
 protect the homeland.  I mean, we need to know who's coming in the country,
 what they're bringing in the country, and if they're leaving the country when
 they say they're going to leave the country.  We need to have the capacity to
 put the right people in the right place at the right time to defend America.
     I readily concede I didn't run on the platform, vote for me, I promise to
 make your government bigger.  I did say I'm going to try to make it work
 better. And so when I got up there and realized there's over 100 agencies
 involved with homeland security I knew it would be hard to hold people account
 with that many agencies scattered all over Washington.  So I made a proposal
 to the Congress. I said, join together, and let's have a department that
     The House responded, and I want to thank the House members here.  These
 two senators have responded.  The problem is, is that there's other senators
 in Washington who want to micromanage the process.  See, they put their own
 turf ahead of the security of the American people.  They're more interested in
 special interest in Washington than the interest of homeland security.  I will
 not accept a homeland security bill that ties the hands of this administration
 or future administrations to defend the homeland against the enemy.
     My point to you is Jim understands this.  He doesn't need -- he doesn't
 need a special meeting at the White House to understand this.  See, he
 understands it right off the bat.  And that's why it's important that you
 reelect him.  He also understands that there's going to be some tough times
 ahead for America.  There just are.  If you're in this for the long pull, if
 you're fighting an enemy that hides in the shadows of the world, it's going to
 take a while.
     We owe it to our children, however, that we keep going on.  That's who we
 owe it to.  But not only to our children; we owe it to children all around the
 world.  We will enforce doctrine -- one doctrine says, you're with us or
 you're with them.  And we work hard to keep this coalition of nations
 together.  It makes it easier to share intelligence and to haul them in when
 we can find them. And by the way, we've pulled in over -- a couple a thousand
 of them, a couple of thousand al Qaeda types, and terrorist leaders are no
 longer circulating around. By the way, about equal that number weren't as
     We've got a lot of work to do.  We've got a lot of work to do to also
 enforce that doctrine that says, if you harbor one of them, you're just as
 guilty.  If you harbor a terrorist you're as guilty as the terrorist.
     So it's important to have senators and members of the House who understand
 the need for this nation to be steady and resolved and determined, and honest
 about the difference between good and evil.  It also is important to have
 leadership that understands that we must not allow the world's worst leaders
 to develop and harbor the world's worst weapons.
     I've got a lot of tools at my disposal, and I'm a patient man.  And I'm a
 patient man.  But I understand that history gives us an opportunity to make
 the world more peaceful.  See, out of the evil done to America is going to
 come some incredible good.  And you need to tell your little ones that part of
 that good is a more peaceful world; that there's going to be some steep hills
 to climb between now and then, but by being tough and strong, patient, smart
 and wise about using our assets and all the tools at our disposal, that we can
 make the world more peaceful for generations to come.
     By fighting terror where we find it, and by rallying people to join us, I
 believe the evil done to America, out of that evil will come peace.  I also
 know here at home that we'll be a better America.
     I don't know what went through the minds of the enemy when they attacked
 us.  They probably thought we were so materialistic, so selfish, so self-
 absorbed, so greedy, that all we'd do after September 11th is maybe file a
 lawsuit or two.  They didn't understand the character of this nation.  They
 didn't understand that if you try to take away our freedoms, we're going to
 respond.  See, we love -- we love freedom.  That's what they didn't
 understand. They hate things; we love things.  They act out of hatred; we
 don't seek revenge, we seek justice out of love.  (Applause.)
     They also couldn't have possibly realized that the evil done to America
 would waken a spirit of compassion in this country.  See, people say to me,
 how can I join the war on terror.  I say, just love your neighbor like you'd
 like to be loved yourself.  If you want to fight evil, do some good.  If you
 want to fight evil, put your arms around a child and say, I love you, I'd like
 to mentor you, I want to help you.  You see, in this land of plenty, there are
 pockets of despair, addiction and hopelessness.  I understand full well
 government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people's hearts.  It
 can't provide a purpose for people's lives.  No, that is done when our fellow
 citizens take the time out of their life to love somebody.  That's when that
     See, America is changing, one heart, one soul, one conscience at a time.
 Because our fellow Americans have now understood  -- understand -- that being
 a patriot is more than the Pledge Allegiance, pledging your allegiance to one
 nation under God.  A patriot is somebody who is willing to take responsibility
 for their lives; willing to love a neighbor; willing to mentor a child;
 willing to go to a shut-in and help somebody in need; willing to feed the
 hungry; willing to be a Boy Scout leader -- willing to change America one
 soul, one conscience at a time.  And that's what's happening here in America.
     America has understood that each of us can't do everything, but each of
 can do something to make our country a better place.  Perhaps that was best
 illustrated on Flight 93.  Citizens flying across the country; they realized
 their plane was going to be a weapon.  They told their loved ones they loved
 them.  They said a prayer -- a guy said, "Let's roll."  They saved lives.
 They served something greater than themselves.
     No, out of the evil done to America is going to come some incredible good:
 peace, and a more compassionate, decent, hopeful America for everybody -- I
 mean everybody -- who's lucky enough to call themselves "citizen" of this
 great country.
     We're going to succeed; there's no question in my mind.  On my wall
 there's a painting of a West Texas scene by Tom Lee.  He said, "Sarah and I
 live on the east side of the mountain.  It is the sunrise side, not the sunset
 side.  It's the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that
 has gone."  I see a day that is coming that is fantastic for America, because
 we are the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
     God bless, and God bless America.  (Applause.)
     END  11:55 A.M. CDT
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SOURCE White House Press Office