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Bush Speaks at National Prayer Breakfast in Washington

Aired February 6, 2003 - 08:10   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Awaiting the president yet again, national prayer breakfast in Washington. If and when he makes anticipated comments regarding Iraq, we'll bring it to you. We don't anticipate those comments here at the outset. But why don't we listen here for a second and see what we hear.
Here's the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all very much. Thank you all for that warm welcome. Great introduction...


... especially since you mentioned Laura.


I want to thank the speaker and Leader Pelosi. Ray, I want to thank you very much for being the chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast. I was wondering why the Grace Singers from Peoria managed to get here...


... but I'm sure glad they did.


Thank you all for coming.

It might have been the best decision you made, Mr. Chairman.


I want to welcome Michael W. Smith and his wife here. Michael W. is going to have dinner at the White House tonight. We look forward to seeing you both. They've been great friends of Laura and me and my family. It is a treat to have him here to lend his God-given talents to this important breakfast.

I appreciate the fact that Tenet and Myers will be up here at the head table. It is fitting that, in the midst of tough times that these two leaders are sharing with scripture and prayer with the country.

BUSH: I appreciate all the members of Congress here. I prayer for your wisdom on a daily basis.



I want to thank all the members of my Cabinet who are here. I really appreciate leaders from around the globe who have come to share in prayer with us today. It reminds me that the Almighty God is a God to everybody, every person.

I really am so honored that Dr. Condoleezza Rice is going to share some comments with you. I know this; that the Reverend John W. Rice, Jr. would be incredibly proud of his wise and gracious daughter.


It is fitting that we have a National Prayer Breakfast. It is the right thing to do because this is a nation of prayer. I know from first-hand knowledge that this is a nation of prayer. See, I work the rope lines a lot, and I hear all kinds of things on the rope lines.


But the thing I hear the most -- the comment I hear the most from our fellow citizens regardless of their political party or philosophy is "Mr. President, I pray for you and your family and so does my family." That's what I hear. I turn to them without hesitation and say, "It is the greatest gift you can give anybody, is to pray on their behalf." I especially feel that because I believe in prayer.

I pray. I pray for strength. I pray for guidance. I pray for forgiveness. And I pray to offer my thanks for a kind and generous Almighty God.

As Dick mentioned, we mourn the loss of seven brave souls. We've learned a lot about them over the last couple of days, and Laura and I learned a lot about their families in Houston because we met with them. My impressions of the meeting was that the Almighty God was present in their hearts. There was such incredible strength in the room of those who were grieving that it was overwhelming to be with those who had just lost their husband or wife or dad or mom and to feel the presence of the Almighty. I attribute it to the fact that they themselves are in prayer and our country prays for their strength. And we must continue to pray for those who suffer and those who grieve.

This is a testing time for our country. At this hour we have troops that are assembling in the Middle East. There's oppressive regimes that seek terrible weapons. We face an ongoing threat of terror.

BUSH: One thing is for certain, we didn't ask for these challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty because this nation has strong foundations that won't be shaken.

As America passes through this decisive period, there are things we can count on. We can be confident in the character of the American people. In the months since September 11, 2001 we have not wrought fear and fatigue or rash anger. Instead, we've witnessed courage and resolve and calm purpose. We've seen that a new generation of Americans is strong and steadfast in the face of danger, and our confidence will not be shaken.


We can be confident in America's cause in the world. Our nation is dedicated to the equal and undeniable worth of every person. We don't own the ideals of freedom and human dignity, and sometimes we haven't always lived up to them, but we do stand for those ideals and we will defend them.

We believe as Franklin Roosevelt said that men and women born to freedom in the image of God will not forever suffer the oppressors sword. We are confident that people in every part of the world wish for freedom, not tyranny, but for peace not terror and violence, and our confidence will not be shaken.

BUSH: We also can be confident in the ways of providence, even when they are far from our understanding. Events aren't moved by blind change and chance. Behind all of life and all of history there is a dedication and purpose set by the hand of a just and faithful God, and that hope will never be shaken.

In this hour of our country's history, we stand in the need of prayer. We pray for the families that have known recent loss. We pray for the men and women who serve around the world to defend our freedom. We pray for their families. We pray for wisdom to know and do what is right. And we pray for God's peace in the affairs of men.

May God bless you all.

HEMMER: The national prayer breakfast at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The president saying since 9/11 we as a country have witnessed courage and resolve. Our confidence will not be shaken. All this preceding another appearance today, in fact, an hour and 11 minutes from now, Colin Powell back on Capitol Hill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We do anticipate a number of the items talked about yesterday before the U.N. to be touched upon yet again today.


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