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Special Event

George W. Bush Holds Campaign Rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Aired November 3, 2000 - 11:19 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Live to Grand Rapids as Texas governor has now entered the building. We anticipate his comments shortly here. And, again, all this follows the news that broke last night when the Texas governor was in the state of Wisconsin. Again, the report out of Portland, Maine that, 24 years ago at the age of 30, the Texas governor was arrested for DUI. We'll listen now.

(APPLAUSE)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all, thank you all very much.

First, let me thank all those who are inside this magnificent facility.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the leadership of the Cornerstone University, the students.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank those in the hall. I also want to thank the thousands who are outside the hall for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

I told the people outside, I said, I appreciate so very much your patience. But it's a pretty good sign. It's a pretty good sign when thousands couldn't get in this huge facility. It leads me to believe this: We're going to carry Michigan on November 7.

(APPLAUSE)

First, let me say to you, it is important -- it is important to send -- thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

It's important to send Senator Abraham back to the United States Senate.

(APPLAUSE)

This man is a good man. He's a good man. He cares a lot about the people of Michigan.

And I look forward to working with him to do what's right for America.

(APPLAUSE)

Congressman Ehlers is here. And my advice to your congressman is this: Mr. Congressman, be patient. In five days, help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm proud -- Laura and I are proud to call John and Michelle Engler our friends.

(APPLAUSE)

I know you've been proud to call him governor. What a good man. What a good man -- the Englers are.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Engy. Engy. Engy. Engy. Engy.

BUSH: Old Engy and I...

(APPLAUSE)

... we both married really well.

(APPLAUSE)

We both married Texans.

(APPLAUSE)

I think you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps.

(APPLAUSE)

I keep really good company with Laura Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

She's going to make a fabulous first lady for America.

(APPLAUSE)

We're so thrilled to be here in this important state, coming down the stretch. I want to tell you, I'm here to not only ask for the vote, I'm here to ask for your help.

For the next five days, I hope you join us in turning out as many voters as we possibly can here in western Michigan.

And if we do our job -- if we do our job, not only will Michigan be Bush-Cheney country, but you'll have a new president of the United States with the last name of Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

We are...

AUDIENCE: We want Bush. We want Bush. We want Bush. We want Bush.

BUSH: We are less than 100 hours away from the hour of decision. And whether or not you're a Republican or a Democrat or an independent, we're asking for your support. We're asking you to join our cause and join us in victory on November the 7th.

(APPLAUSE)

My opponent, our opponent...

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

AUDIENCE: No more Gore! No more Gore! No more Gore!

BUSH: I want you all to hear this. I think you'll find it interesting, for my opponent in these closing hours will be asking for the vote in Tennessee.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't know if you remember when he was saying he was trying to escape from the shadow of the president. Well, guess what? The shadow is back.

(APPLAUSE)

The president will be flying into Arkansas tomorrow to try a last-minute rescue mission. But you need to know something: I'm not worried; I'm flattered.

I figure this: If we've got President Clinton back in Arkansas, and Al Gore back in Tennessee, we must be doing something right.

(APPLAUSE)

But they've been gone from their states for quite a while, and I think they're going to find a different attitude there. I think they're going to find that in Tennessee and Arkansas, these states are like Michigan and the rest of the country, and this country is ready for change.

(APPLAUSE)

It's ready for bipartisan leadership.

It is ready for a leader who will bring this great country together. No, that's what this country wants. They want a leader who understands how to lead, how to bring folks together to achieve the people's business. As you're out campaigning for us, make sure you talk about the issues, because people when they hear it are going to find out, we stand squarely with the people.

There's a big difference of philosophy in this campaign. I'm running against a man of Washington, by Washington and for Washington. Ours is a campaign that stands squarely on the side of the people and the families and the workers of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I've laid out a positive agenda for this country. An agenda that will help people help themselves. We believe -- we don't believe in the heavy hand of the federal government; we believe in the helping hand.

Let me start by talking, however, about one of my opponents favorite phrases. He loves to go around America saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet." How appropriate those words are.

Take for example the issue of Medicare. This country is crying for reform. For eight years, we've wanted reform, and we ain't seen nothing yet.

(APPLAUSE)

It's time for a leader to bring Republicans and Democrats together to make sure the Medicare system fulfills its promise to our seniors, that the Medicare system makes sure there's prescription drugs available for all seniors. And if seniors are unhappy with the Medicare plan, they ought to be given additional options, additional choices from which to choose the plan that best suits their needs.

This stands in stark contrast to my opponent, who not only has not gotten anything done for eight years, but has proposed a massive federal plan where all decisions will be made at the federal level. He trusts the government. We trust the people.

(APPLAUSE)

This country -- this country cries for reform of the Social Security system. But after eight years, we ain't seen nothing yet.

(APPLAUSE)

After eight years of partisan bickering and name calling, reform of the Social Security system has not happened. It's time for new leadership to bring Republicans and Democrats together, to be able to say to our seniors "a promise made will be a promise kept," to reject the old-style politics that tries to frighten seniors into the voting booth, to reject all that old business of trying to tear somebody down while the issues still remains.

No, it's time for new leadership that understands that we must trust younger workers with your own money to be able to invest in the private sector to get a better rate of return. (APPLAUSE)

Today in America, there is an achievement gap in some of our public schools. And that's unacceptable as we head into the 21st century. There are some schools where our children are not learning. There are some schools that are plagued by low standards, what I call the soft bigotry of low expectations. There are some schools that will not teach nor will they change. That's unacceptable to us. We believe in setting high standards. We strongly believe in local control of schools. And we will challenge failure wherever we find it in public education.

(APPLAUSE)

This nation cries for reform of public education, but after eight years we ain't seen nothing yet.

(APPLAUSE)

As you know, there's a lot of discussion about the surplus.

Now, I want you all to understand clearly that our budgets grow over 10 years, and there's still money left over. That's why it's called a surplus.

If you listen to my opponent, listen carefully, it sounds like he thinks the surplus exists because of the ingenuity and the hard work of your federal government.

(AUDIENCE BOOING)

No. We understand differently. The surplus exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the American people.

(APPLAUSE)

We set priorities in our campaign. That's what a leader does. A leader sets priorities. You've heard of the priorities: Social Security, Medicare, education. I'm going to talk about another priority after this issue, and that's military preparedness.

But if you set priorities, and if you lead, and if you're diligent with the people's money, there is still money left over. And the fundamental question is what to do with that money.

Here's what we believe. We don't believe the surplus is the government's money. We know the surplus is the people's money. And we're going to send some of that money back to the people who pay the bills.

(APPLAUSE)

It's your money. It's not the government's money.

People all the time -- the punditry says, "Well, the people don't seem to want tax relief." And I said, "But you missed the facts." Today in America, people pay more in federal, state and local taxes than they do in food and clothing and housing. I want you to think about that.

The average family is working harder and longer hours and paying more in taxes than on the basic necessities to live. This isn't right, folks.

We need to send some of your money back to the people who pay the bills. We ought to provide tax relief for everybody who pays taxes in America.

(APPLAUSE)

In 1992, my opponent campaigned around the country saying, "We're going to have tax relief for the middle class." But here, after eight years, we ain't seen nothing yet.

(APPLAUSE)

And if you analyze his new plan called "targeted tax cuts for the middle class," targeted tax cuts, 50 million Americans won't see anything at all. Fifty million Americans are target out of tax relief.

But if you have any doubt about the difference of our opinion versus that of my opponent, I want you to hear his own words. At the Democratic National Convention he said, "If you give me a chance to be your president, I will make sure the right people get tax relief."

Think about that. Think about that, my fellow Americans. Somebody seeking the highest office of the land who says, "Elect me, so I get to determine who the right people are." That's not our vision of this great land. Everybody is the right person and everybody ought to be treated fairly.

(APPLAUSE)

Today I want to talk about another issue of significant importance to this country. I want to bring America together so that we can rebuild our military to defend our people and to keep the peace.

(APPLAUSE)

Eight years ago, the Clinton-Gore administration inherited a military ready for dangers and challenges facing our nation. The next president will inherit a military in decline. But if the next president is George W. Bush, the days of decline will be over.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: We want Bush. We want Bush. We want Bush. We want Bush.

BUSH: America's military is the strongest in the world, confident, proud and willing to carry out every mission we give them. But we've got a serious problem in our military today. And that problem is not with our men and women in uniform; it is a problem of leadership at the very top of the chain of command.

The Clinton-Gore administration has used our military too much and supported it too little. Defense spending is lower as a share of our economy than at any time since 1940, the year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet rarely has our military been used so freely -- more commitments, less resources. It is a short-sighted policy with long- term consequences.

In the Air Force, combat readiness is down. In the Army, 40 percent of the helicopter fleet was reported not up to performing its mission. In the Navy, some missions have been cut short, because they do not have the money to pay for fuel.

One retired general, a former commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf said this, he says: Our nation would have trouble today mounting another operation the size of Desert Storm.

With all these problems in our military, we've learned something else: When you don't keep faith with the men and women of our military, it's hard to keep them at all.

In a survey last year, more than half of officers and enlisted people said they were dissatisfied and intended to leave as soon as they could.

This is no way to treat young men and women giving their country the best years of their lives.

(APPLAUSE)

Those men and women have never failed us, and we must never fail them. The vice president doesn't even want a discussion on the state of our military. He says that just stating these facts is somehow running down America's military. Those are his words, "run down America's military."

So let's get something straight right now. To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that's no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.

(APPLAUSE)

Dick Cheney, my good running mate Dick Cheney and I, have a message to all of our men and women in uniform and to their parents and to their families: Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

We can never take our military for granted.

We have to remember that our country is defended by volunteers; every one of them wears the uniform by choice. Should I become the commander in chief, our country's defenders will get the support they need and the respect they have earned.

(APPLAUSE)

First, we will treat the people of our military better, so we can recruit and retain the best our nation has to offer. We will add a billion dollars in salary increases. We will improve military housing. We will improve the quality of training at our bases and national training centers, because shortfalls in training can become disasters on the battlefield.

And whenever America uses forces in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear and the victory must be overwhelming.

(APPLAUSE)

Secondly, as president, I will protect America from -- America itself from missiles and blackmail. In a time of technology and terror, the defense of our homeland must be an urgent goal.

Our main line of defense is a clear message. Every group or nation must know this: If they sponsor attacks against America, our response will be devastating.

(APPLAUSE)

We will strengthen our intelligence operations to detect terror before it strikes. And our nation must build a missile defense.

Many Americans are surprised to learn that America has no national defense against missiles. But this is a fact: This administration at first denied the need for a national missile defense. Then it delayed and pursued a program inadequate to defend our nation's friends and allies. This administration has left America undefended from missile attack. My administration will not make the same mistake.

(APPLAUSE)

If I become the president, we will waste no more time preparing to defend the American people.

Thirdly, as president, I will seize this moment of opportunity to build the military of the future. Our military is strong, but we cannot rest.

The world moves forward in technology, and we must move even faster. We will invest in -- we will invest in military technology that takes us years ahead of any challenge. Our heavy forces will be lighter. Our light forces will be more powerful. And all will be easier to move across the globe.

This will require spending more and spending more wisely.

I will commit an additional $20 billion a year for -- $20 billion to defense research and development. The best way to keep the peace is to redefine war on our terms.

Here again, there is no time to waste. No time to waste.

(APPLAUSE)

The Clinton-Gore administration has allowed spending on defense research to decline in real terms, despite warnings even from fellow Democrats.

Last summer, one senator wrote the White House that cuts in defense research were, in his words, "real and dangerous, and have slowed the development of a number of capabilities that will needed by our war-fighters in the near future."

This senator wasn't running down the military when he wrote the letter. He was pointing out a mistaken policy and failed leadership. And who was that worried senator? Well, it was Joe Lieberman. He was right then and his running mate is wrong now.

This administration's failure to support defense research is real and it's dangerous, in the senator's words. I will correct this course and restore our strength.

(APPLAUSE)

I will prepare our military not just to win war but to prevent war.

My friends, this is a great and important debate for our nation, and the American people are listening and in the end will decide.

Two decades ago, we had a similar debate in this country. The Republican challenger said we were not fully prepared for the threats and opportunities that lay ahead. It's a good thing we had that debate in 1980, because we know that challenger was right. We needed the leadership of Ronald Reagan.

(APPLAUSE)

His leadership not only prepared us for victory in the Cold War, but gave us the force that won the Gulf War. We need that same sense of responsibility today, a responsibility to build the might of our country so America will be well-prepared long after our service has ended.

Should Dick Cheney and I be elected, you have our word: We will build the military of the future to give our nation a strength beyond challenge.

(APPLAUSE)

We will have a military where men and women are proud to serve and proud to stay.

Should I become your president, I'll also work to call upon the strength of the nation. The strength of the nation lies not in the halls of government; the strength of the nation lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens.

(APPLAUSE)

A leader's responsibility is to call upon the best of the nation. A leader's responsibility is to speak plainly. A leader's responsibility is to understand that the great armies of compassion, which exist all across Michigan and all across America, must be rallied to make sure nobody gets left behind as we head into the 21st century. And a leader's responsibility is to understand that if he happens to hold the highest office of the land, there is an important responsibility with the office, so important in our lives to learn.

It's become clear to America over the course of this campaign that I've made mistakes in my life. But I'm proud to tell you, I've learned from those mistakes.

(APPLAUSE)

And that's the role of a leader, is to share wisdom, to share experience with people who are looking for somebody to lead.

Should I be the one after it's all ended, should I be the one America turns to, with your help -- I want to conclude by telling you I understand the awesome responsibilities of this job. I understand the serious undertaking. I understand that when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of this land, but to answer the calls of the mothers and dads who I see all the time around America, who come to my rallies and hold a picture of their child and look me in the eye and say, "Governor, I'm here to say, never let us down again," to hear those calls.

I will also swear to uphold the honor and the integrity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

Thank you all for coming. God bless.

(APPLAUSE)

HEMMER: After several minutes and a lot of words regarding the issue of taxes and a heavy topic regarding the U.S. military, George W. Bush did, in the final comments there, address the reports that came out last night in Portland, Maine, the reports, again, that said, 24 years ago, at the age of 30, 1976, George W. Bush was arrested for DUI near his parent's home in Kennebunkport. The Texas governor saying -- and repeating now -- quote, "it has become clear that I have made mistakes in my life, but I am here to tell you I have learned from my mistakes." After heavy applause, he continued with saying, "and that is the role of a leader."

Toward the end, you saw him again raise his right hand, as he has done many times throughout the course of this campaign.

George Bush again on the stump there in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The big story again, the fallout from the report that came out last evening. The Texas governor did address it after a rally in Wisconsin. Today, the vice president is in Kansas City, Missouri. A short time ago, CNN's Jonathan Karl caught up with the vice president, asked him if he had any comment or anything to say.

A quick clip from the vice president a few hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no comment on this. I want to talk about the issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Again, that was the extent of it. Al Gore on the stump today in Missouri; later in Iowa; as you heard George Bush say, later today in his home state of Tennessee.

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