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Special Event

Elizabeth Dole Endorses George W. Bush for GOP Nomination

Aired January 4, 2000 - 8:03 a.m. ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: We go now live to Bedford, New Hampshire, where Elizabeth Dole is about to endorse Governor George W. Bush for president.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

ELIZABETH DOLE, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... In a democracy, trust is the coin of the realm. Lately that currency has been tarnished. I believe that Americans want a president who will earn their trust by putting his trust in them, trusting them -- and not Washington -- to invest their own money, choose the best schools for their children and select the best health plan for their families.

George W. Bush is just such a leader. Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

And I am honored to come back to New Hampshire to tell you why I think he should be the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

I support Governor Bush, not only because I think he can win, but because I know he can lead. I'm for him, not because of what he promises when president, but because of what he has already done during his years as governor of our second largest state. In keeping his promises, he will help America realize its promise.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, others may talk about educational reform. Governor Bush has delivered it. The Texas public school system -- once among the nation's most troubled -- is viewed today by educators as an emerging model of equity, progress and accountability -- so declared the New York Times just last spring. And the New York Times is not exactly the most reliably Republican journal in the land.

(LAUGHTER)

It was no exaggeration. When he took office five years ago, one in five Texas school children could not read. In too many classrooms, reading and writing took a back seat to rules and regulations. Working with legislators of both parties, Governor Bush was determined to transform the way kids are taught in the Lone Start State. Like any other good leader, he began by setting out clear objectives: local control, measurable goals and strict accountability.

As befitting Barbara Bush's son and Laura Bush's husband, he launched a bold...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

... he launched a bold new reading initiative to ensure that every child is literate by the third grade. He instituted a rigorous core curriculum, eliminated social promotion, encouraged the creation of charter schools, increased teacher salaries by a third and expanded the role of faith-based organizations and charities in after-school program.

Of course it's not enough to put computers in every classroom. We must put parents there as well.

The ultimate test of educational reform is not how much money Washington gives to school districts, but how much control it returns to parents and teachers. Governor Bush has already outlined ambitious plans to give states, local districts and parents more authority to set their own priorities and chart their own path to excellence and a quality alike. He would financially reward states and schools that show the greatest improvements in student performance. He would expand educational savings accounts to let parents make annual contributions of up to $5,000 per child, per student.

And for schools serving the poorest of the poor that receive special federal funding, he would demand improvement. And if it was not forthcoming after a reasonable time, give those federal dollars to the parents for tutoring or for tuition at a private or public school, freeing parents to make the best choices for their children.

In a word, he would innovate, not regulate. That's my kind of conservative.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm supporting George Bush for president because he's outlined a realistic, achievable plan to cut taxes, to guarantee the future of Social Security -- yes.

(APPLAUSE)

And to make it easier for low-income families to move into the middle class, under Governor Bush's plan, the biggest tax cuts go to families with the lowest incomes. Six million American families will be dropped from the tax roles altogether. That's compassion you can put in the bank.

At the same time, Governor Bush understands that the heart of a nation is not to be found in its gross domestic product. Behind all those cold statistics with which economists measure material success are warm-blooded people for whom crushing taxes and burdensome regulations spell the difference between renting or owning a home, starting or closing a business, realizing or denying a child's dream of college.

Our millennial election unfolds against a backdrop of extraordinary promise. For the first time in nearly half a century, mankind has stepped by from the narrow window ledge of nuclear confrontation. Some believe that we can retreat from the world, taking refuge behind two oceans, like some medieval castle sheltering within its moat.

Governor Bush and I have a different view. If the world is smaller than every before, it is also more competitive. Our greatest hope is that the competition will be peaceful.

Yet this is no time to let down our guard. Even as we meet, rogue nations threaten their neighbors, weapons of mass destruction multiply, China and Russia pose their own inscrutable challenges.

Unfortunately, American defense spending today stands at the lowest percentage of our gross domestic product in 50 years. Worse, young men and women who do honor to the uniform they wear find themselves living on food stamps, neglected by the very nation they are sworn to defend.

Governor Bush is determined to give our armed forces not only the best training and the best equipment in the world, he will give them the respect they merit and the living standard they deserve.

(APPLAUSE)

Twenty years ago another governor road out of the West, espousing a conservative philosophy that was as optimistic as it was inclusive. Ronald Reagan may have learned from the past, but he lived for the future. He made a career out of being underestimated. Indeed, the Democrat speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill, went so far as to welcome the new president to Washington by telling him that he was in the big leagues now.

(LAUGHTER)

Well, it didn't take long for President Reagan to show that he was in a league of his own.

(APPLAUSE)

(LAUGHTER)

Yes.

Under President Reagan, conservatives became agents of change, even while upholding values that are timeless. Today, we rally to another western governor, just as bold in challenging the status quo, just as resolved to restore pride in our institutions, just as determined to be himself.

In a time when civility is all but vanished from the political arena, he stands out as a leader who would much rather bridge our differences than exploit them.

Is it any surprise that he, like Ronald Reagan before him, has shown a remarkable ability to attract support from voters who have not often flocked to the GOP? Two-thirds of Texas women, half its Hispanics, nearly 30 percent of its African-American and Democrat voters, endorsed his reelection. In other words, those who know him best admire him most.

(APPLAUSE)

Ladies and gentlemen, the world watches us as we undertake the election of an American president in this year 2000. This president must be a president of all Americans -- like Ronald Reagan, who could bring people together whether they're Republicans or Democrats or independents; a president like George Bush, who marshaled a thirty- nation coalition to oppose Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Desert Storm stands as a testament to presidential leadership and American resolve in an uncertain and often dangerous world. The next president must be a person with the vision, the integrity, the executive experience to lead us.

For such a time as this, that man is the person I have the privilege of introducing today: Governor George Bush, the next president of the United States.

Thank you very much.

LIN: And there you have it officially, Elizabeth Dole endorsing George W. Bush's run for president, after she herself gave up her bid for the White House. Praising the governor for his policies on education, Social Security, and support for the armed forces.

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