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Special Event

George W. Bush Stumps in Washington State Ahead of State Primary

Aired February 28, 2000 - 12:25 p.m. ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you out to Bellevue, Washington, now as promised. George W. Bush emerging there for his campaign event. We want to listen to some of his remarks, in particular whether there's any response to the speech made earlier today by his Republican rival, John McCain. In that speech, McCain took on what he said was the intolerant right wing of the party, in particular Pat Robertson, who has supported George W. Bush. He also criticized Bush's appearance at Bob Jones University, though indirectly.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much. Good morning.

SESNO: George W. Bush warming up at the microphones as we go to Washington.

BUSH: Thank you for coming.


OK, let's get to work.

I know I don't need to remind you, but tomorrow is voting time here in the state of Washington.


And that's why I'm here. I'm here to ask for the vote. I'm here to ask the people of this important state to send a message to the rest of America that we want somebody to lead our party who is a uniter, not a divider, somebody who's got a positive vision for the future.


Tomorrow. we have a good chance in this state to send a message to the rest of America that Tuesday is the beginning of the end of the Clinton era in Washington, D.C.


I want to thank you all for coming. Mark, I want to thank you for your kind words. I also want to thank you for being a teacher. I can't think of a more -- I can't think of a more noble profession than to be a teacher, somebody who takes time out of his life everyday to say, I want the American dream to touch every willing heart. That's exactly why I'm running to become your president. I want the American dream, this great, hopeful promise of America to touch every willing heart. I can't wait to get to Washington to work with members of your congressional delegations, starting with your great United States Senator Slade Gorton.


I think it's very interesting that to be embraced by the people who -- who know me best, a lot of Republican governors have chosen me; we know each other well. They know my record, and I know theirs. What I find interesting is that in the halls of the United States Senate it's worked the other way. In the halls of the United States Senate, over 35 members, Republican members who know us both well have stood up and said, we want George W. Bush. Over 35 Republican United States senators who's worked closely with my opponent and who knows me well have said, we want George W. to be the leader for the 21st century.


I can't wait to work with Jennifer Dunn. She is a fabulous Congresswomen from the state of Washington.


And I appreciate so much Jack Metcalf for being here as well.

Congressman, thank you so much for coming. I appreciate you being here.


Good folks, really good folks. I -- one introduction I wish I could make that I can't this morning is the first lady of Texas. I wish she were here. She is -- yes, the best decision I ever made was to ask her to marry me. Some doubt, in people's mind, as to whether or not the best decision she ever made was to say yes. But I think you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps, and I keep fabulous company with Laura Bush. She's a great first lady of Texas, and if all goes well, she will be a great first lady for America as well.


It's important for you to know the priorities of your candidate, and my priorities in my life, whether I'm running for office or not running for office, is my faith, and my priority is my family. We're the proud parents of 18-year-old twin daughters, seniors at Austin High School, Mark. They mean more to us than anything in life. And I want to share with you real quickly what that means from a leader to be able to say that. It means we better have somebody as president who can remind people that the most important job we'll ever have, if you're a mother or a dad, the most important job isn't governor or first lady -- I want the -- I want the kids here going to college here to hear me now -- if you have a child, your most important job description is not going to be where you go 8:00 to 5:00, the most important job you'll ever have is to love your children with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. That's the kind of president I will be when I become your president.


Today we had a discussion about education. It's really important that our nation get it right when it comes to educating our children. I'm honored that the educators who care about the future of your state came, and we had a fantastic discussion in front of the nation to talk about how to make sure children get educated. Let me tell you what I believe.

I believe it's important to have leaders throughout all our society who sets the highest of standards. Every child can learn, as far as I'm concerned. We must ask the question throughout society, what do you know, what do you know. And if you know what you're supposed to know, we need to praise everybody involved, particularly the teachers and parents and principals. But when we ask the question, what do you know, if we find out you're not -- don't know what you're supposed to know, it is important to correct problems early before it's too late. You see, oftentimes in society, the question is asked, how old are you, that's the question, and if you're 12 you're supposed to be here, and if you're 16 you're supposed to be here. It is a question that belies a process and gives up on people, that talks about a process -- doesn't belie a process, it talks about a process. It oftentimes just simply shuffles children through the system.

I've got a record of reform as the governor of Texas. I'm proud to report to you we put a system in place that has high standards, local control of schools, strong accountability systems. We asked the question, what do you know. Opportunities for parents and educators to do something different, charters and choice if they're frustrated with the status quo. And guess what? The test scores are up, particularly amongst our African-American students and our Hispanic students because we don't quit on children, we expect the best, and we're getting the best, and that's the kind of attitude I'm going to take to Washington, D.C.


I don't want to be the federal superintendent of schools. You got the wrong candidate if you want somebody who's going to come from the federal government and tell you how to do things. I want to be the president who works with the Congress to pass power out of Washington back to Washington state so you have the flexibility and authority to make decisions for children.


We need more education savings accounts. We need a rise in the amount of money from $500 to $5,000 per tax payer per year, per tax filer per year, so parents can make different choices if they so choose. And we need to have a president who asks this question, we need to have a president who asks this question: What are the results, what are the results. I know it may sound obvious to you, but the question is rarely asked. When it comes to the federal money, we're going to say, if you receive federal money, show us, show us that our children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. When it comes to money for the disadvantaged student in America called Title I money, show us, show us that our faces of the future are learning, and if so, there will be a bonus. But if not, after a reasonable period of time, the money will no longer go to fund mediocrity. Our tax money will not go to fund failure. It needs to go to the parents so parents can make a different choice when it comes to our children.


And you watch what happens. I've seen it with my own eyes. It can happen with the right leadership. At best, at best, the schools will rise to the challenge and our children, all children, will learn. At worst, we'll be providing scholarships for the neediest of children. At any rate, a President Bush will not accept mediocrity when it comes to our children. Everybody ought to have a first-rate education; there are no second-rate children, and there are no second- rate dreams in America.


We're having a tax debate in the Republican primary, and that's healthy. We're having a debate over what to do with the surplus. By the way, the surplus is more money than government needs, that's the definition of surplus; surplus is money left over. And we're having a debate. I want you to hear and the people of Washington state to hear what I know: The surplus is not government's money. The surplus is the people's money!


Yes, we've been told for too long that if we give people their own money back that somebody's not going to get a check, some program will be cut, somebody is going to suffer, and that's why Americans are worried about the tax cut. See, that's the justification program of Clinton-Gore. That's the justification program of John McCain. That's the justification to leave money in Washington, D.C. Here's what I believe we ought to do. I believe we ought to take half the projected surplus and dedicate it to Social Security and debt repayment. I believe we ought to take another -- nearly another quarter of the surplus and keep it available for -- as a cushion or maybe more debt repayment or emergency spending. But I know in order to keep the economy growing, I know in order to make sure that people have got the hopeful tomorrow, that we need to pass money back to the people who pay the bills and -- but let me -- isn't one of these targeted Washington tax cuts, this isn't one of these tax cuts where some people get a tax cut and other people don't, this is a tax cut that says if you're paying income taxes in the state of Washington, you get a substantial tax cut.

(APPLAUSE) Yes, if you're making $50,000 a year in a family of four, you get a 50-percent cut on your income taxes. It's conservative to cut taxes, that's conservative. It is compassionate to give people their own money back so you can save and you can dream and you can make the choices what's right for your family.

SESNO: George W. Bush in Bellevue, Washington, just outside Seattle, delivering a stump speech today, as the residents, Republicans in the state of Washington and others, prepare to vote in the state's primary tomorrow.

Now, in not a hard blast at John McCain here. About the most personal George W. Bush got was merely to observe that "it is interesting," his words, that 35 members of the United States Senate who are colleagues of John McCain have chosen to back him, that is to say George W. Bush, over John McCain. This follows McCain's very tough speech earlier today in which we invited more, including more Republicans, to join in what he refers to as the McCain majority, attacking the tired Republican establishment and the religious right of the party along the way. No specific response from George W. Bush to that, although over the weekend Bush did issue a letter, essentially, of explanation and apology regarding his latest visit to Bob Jones, or his visit during the South Carolina primary to Bob Jones University.


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