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  Transcripts

Special Event

George W. Bush Holds Campaign Rally in Duluth, Georgia

Aired March 1, 2000 - 9:40 a.m. ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to a live event happening right now just north of Atlanta. George W. Bush just walked into the Gwinnett Cultural & Convention Center, and he's now explaining to the crowd why he walked in with some spring in his step.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank Holly (ph) for her kind introduction. I'm going to spend a little time talking about education, but I want to make a couple of introductions before I do.

One of the things that has pleased me most is I've attracted a lot of votes of the veterans, people who served our country, men and women who nobly stood up when they heard the call.

We've got a great veteran with us today; a Medal of Honor recipient. Please welcome General Ray Davis (ph).

Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

You changed your immigration policy and allowed Charlie Norwood, Congressman Norwood, from the eastern part of the state to come in and say hello. As we say in Texas, Charlie's all right. I'm proud to call him friend. I'm looking forward to working with you, friend to make sure America -- the hope and promise of America extends to everybody.

There's one introduction I wish I could make, who I can't, unfortunately, because she's not with me today, and that is my wife. I want you to know, you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm keeping great company with Laura Bush. She was born and raised in Midland, Texas. She was a public school librarian when I married her. She didn't particularly care about politics or people who gave speeches. As a matter of fact, I said, will you marry me? She said, only if I don't have to give any speeches. Fortunately, it's a pledge I broke because she is a fabulous speaker. She speaks from her heart. But she speaks to something that I know is important and you and I both know is important. It's this: Our most important job is not governor or first lady. Because we have children, our most important job is to love our children with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might. Our job as your future president and first lady, one of our jobs is to remind America that if you have a child, we must love our children to make sure the hope of America extends it's reach to every single body who's lucky enough to be in America.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to share with you some thoughts, and look forward to answering some questions.

The American dream must touch every willing heart as we head into the 21st century. I'm running because I don't people feeling left behind. I don't want people feeling left out of this great American experience. One way to make sure that happens is to make sure that every child gets educated in America and no child gets left behind.

One way to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart is to make sure that we have high standards and high expectations, that we say we expect every child to be an educated child in this great land. I want to make it clear to you I'm not running for federal superintendent of schools.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe strongly that the people who care more about the children of Georgia are the citizens of Georgia. I will work with the Congress to pass power out of Washington, D.C. with no -- with few strings, few requirements so that the people of Georgia can make the right decisions for the children of Georgia. I believe in local control of schools.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe in early childhood development, so I think at the federal level we need to change Head Start from something more than a health and human resource agency to a reading program, an education program to make sure the youngest of our children have the building blocks necessary to be a productive citizen. I believe we ought to trust parents in society to make choices for their children, so we ought to expand education savings accounts from $500 to $5,000 per taxpayer per year.

(APPLAUSE)

But I have seen what works. You see, in my state, I said to the people of Texas, give me a chance. Give me a chance to set high standards. Give me a chance to put an accountability system in place that says, we can learn and we want to know whether are children are. Give me a chance to provide opportunities for educational entrepreneurs and parents like charters and choice. Give me a chance to lead us to a better tomorrow. I'm proud to report that, because of the work of a lot of people, Republicans and Democrats, because we've set the highest of high standards, because we now ask the question in Texas, what do you know? not how old you are. What do you know? And if you don't know what you're supposed to know, we're going to make sure you do early before it's too late.

I'm proud to report our test scores, particularly amongst our African-American youngsters and Hispanic youngsters, are some of the best in the nation.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to take this attitude of reform to Washington, D.C. I'm going to say, if we spend federal money out of Washington, if we spend money like we do on the so-called disadvantaged student, we want to know. We want you in the state of Georgia to show us whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. We want to know with certainty whether the very folks we're trying to help can have access to the American dream, whether they can learn. And so there needs to be a bonus plan.

But if not, in order to make sure that high standards are met, accountability must have a consequence. In order to make sure children aren't left behind and simply shuffled through the system, there has to be a consequence. I'm going to say that if you receive Title 1 money, no matter what state you're in, if you can't show us that the children can read and write and add and subtract, the money will no longer go to fund mediocrity. The money will go to the parent so the parent can be liberated.

(APPLAUSE)

You mark my words, by setting high standards and high expectations, our children are going to learn, and America will be better off for it. And this approach stands in stark contrast, incredibly enough, to my opponent in the Republican primary, and my future opponent in the general election, both of whom have said, no, we have a plan like this, it's going to ruin public schools.

Incredibly enough, Vice President Gore came to Texas prior to me giving this speech about how to save lives. You know what his speech was on? His speech was on building more buildings, his speech was on bricks and mortars. Our Republican Party needs to have somebody who can stand up and say, this plan saves lives. They can talk about bricks and mortars, we're going to talk about saving the lives of children in America.

(APPLAUSE)

No, this party better have someone who hasn't been silent on the subject of education reform for 17 years in Washington, D.C. This party needs to have a nominee who's willing to lead our education system to make sure nobody's left behind.

We're having a tax debate in this primary, and that's healthy. I'm glad we are. It shows up big differences between my opponent and me, and big differences between the administration's attitude about your money and my attitude about your money.

We have a surplus in America. We have a surplus, which means we got more money than the government needs. That's the definition of a surplus. There's a fundamental difference in the primary. You see, I understand that surplus isn't the government's money, that surplus is the people's money.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

They say it's risky. I laid out a plan that says, of the $4 trillion in surplus, about a quarter of it ought to go back to the people; $2 trillion of it ought to go to secure and save Social Security and pay down debt; nearly a trillion of it ought to be -- serve as a cushion or emergency spending or more debt repayment. But I laid out a plan that said a quarter of it ought to go back to the people who pay the bills. They call that risky. You know what's risk? I'll tell you what's risky: leaving unspent surplus in Washington, D.C. That's the definition of risky.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a plan that is fair, it is realistic, it is reasonable. It's a plan that I intend to get both Republicans and Democrats to support. You know why? Because I'm going to go in front of Congress with the will of the people. I'm going to say, the people have spoken. This isn't one of these so-called targeted tax cuts, a plan that picks out the favorite and the few that get relief. This is a plan that says everybody, everybody in the state of Georgia and everybody across America who pays income taxes should get some relief. This is a plan that says if you're a -- if you're a family of four making $50,000 a year in the state of Georgia, you get a 50-percent cut on your income taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

This is a plan that says it is conservative to cut taxes. It is compassionate to trust people with their own money. It's compassionate to trust people to say...

(APPLAUSE)

This is a plan that simplifies the code, makes it easier to understood. This is a plan that makes the code more fair. The death tax is unfair. The death tax is unfair to farmers and small business people, and we need to get rid of the death tax in America.

(APPLAUSE)

The marriage penalty is unfair, the earnings test on Social Security recipients is unfair. My plan corrects it.

But I want to tell you what else is unfair. I'll tell you what else is unfair. It's unfair not to be listening to the voices on the outskirts of poverty as well. My plan not only encourages entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial growth by cutting all marginal rates, my plan also hears the voices of people like the single mom, who is working the hardest job in American trying to raise her children. That's the hardest job in America. My plan...

(APPLAUSE)

My plan understands this painful fact in the tax code, justified by people in our own primary, supported by the current administration. This tax code, which understands that if you're making $22,000 a year and you're a single mom trying to raise your children, for every additional dollar you put on the table, for every additional dollar you earn doing your duty as a mother, you pay a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone making $200,000 a year, that's the current tax code. And this Republican Party better hear someone who not only hears the voices of the entrepreneurs, we better nominate a standard bearer who can go all across America and talk about the unfairness of the tax code in terms of the single mothers of America as well. My plan not only addresses the issue, it recognized that there's a tollbooth to the middle class. I want to knock the tollbooth down completely so everybody can realize the American dream of providing for their family

(APPLAUSE)

I'm running to keep the peace. I appreciate you all bringing your children. I want to say loud and clear to the moms and grandmoms and people all across America, I want to keep the peace. I want to be a president who when it's said he left office the world was more peaceful. But I'm a cold-eyed realist when it comes to the world. I see it the way it is, not the way people would hope it would be. The post-Cold War era is more uncertain than people ever dreamt. It's uncertain. But what we are certain of in an uncertain world is there are people who cannot stand America's success. Even though the Evil Empire has passed, there's evil that still remains: dictators, terrorists, there's missiles and mad men. An uncertain world requires a sharpened sword, so I will rebuild the military power of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thanks for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

Under this administration, moral is dangerously low for the men and women who wear our uniform. After all, we've got men and women who wear our uniform on food stamps. It's not right. I will make sure our troops are better paid and better housed. I will lift moral by respecting the men and women who wear our uniform.

(APPLAUSE)

If you talk -- if you talk to relatives or friends who are in the military, they will tell you our troops are over-deployed and under- trained. For those of us who've been in the military, it's called TDY fatigue: temporary duty assignment fatigue. Young couples are separated for lengths of time. Moral is low because the mission isn't clear. I'm going to say to our friends overseas, we will work together as allies and friends to keep the peace, we will work together as allies and friends to promote freedom in the marketplace and democracy, but where there's conflicts in the regions around your neighborhood, you get to put the troops in the ground to keep warring parties apart, you get to be the peacekeepers. America will be the peacemakers.

(APPLAUSE)

I will seize the moment, I will seize the moment of our relative superiority -- military superiority. I'm going to have a top-to- bottom review of our plans and our future in the military. I'm going to say to the military experts, design a plan that we can present to Congress as to what the military ought to look like in the future. Our military ought to be lighter, our military ought to be more lethal, our military ought to be harder to find, the movements of the past must not be the troop movements of the future. You see, this country has a chance, if we're wise, about how we spend our dollars, if we're wise about how we focus our resources, if we have a leader who understands the importance of strategic thought and strategic have a chance to redefine how war is fought and won and therefore how the peace is kept. I'm going to seize the moment and lead the world to peace as the leader of the greatest nation of all the nations on the Earth.

(APPLAUSE)

I understand my job. I've been a leader. I know what it means to have been a chief executive officer, somebody who is judged by not only the results achieved, by the tone that is set. I know my job. My job is to set a political agenda and get it done -- a policy agenda, I mean, and get it done. My job is to set an agenda that will make America better. My agenda is pro-growth; you've heard parts of it. That includes free trade and tort reform. My agenda is keeping the peace. My agenda is an education program that sets high standards and local control of schools. My agenda is to keep the commitment to the elderly with the Social Security system that is safe and secure for our elderly today and a Social Security system that will trust younger workers to be able to manage their own younger people manage their own personal savings accounts so we have a social security system tomorrow.

(APPLAUSE)

That's the policy agenda that I set, but there's a bigger agenda, and that's to lift the spirit of America, that's to lift our sights so that this country can usher in the responsibility era, a culture that will stand in start contrast to the last few decades which is clearly said to America: if it feels good, do it, and if you've got a problem, blame somebody else. We must usher in a -- we must usher in a different time in America, one that says each of us, loud and clear, each of us are responsible for the decisions we make in life, each of us are responsible. (APPLAUSE)

Each of us are responsible, each of us are responsible for loving the children we bring into this world. Each of us are responsible for worrying about the quality of life in the community in which we live. We've got to understand as a society that if there's an issue of the quality of education don't be looking to Washington, D.C., for some magic solution. The solutions to many of the problems in the communities are found in the hearts and souls of our citizens. And each of us must understood in order to usher in the responsible area we must hear the call, the universal call to love our neighbors just like we'd like to be loved ourself.

Government can help. I understand the role of government. Government can help. We can pass laws that say to people we're going to hold you accountable for actions you take in life. We're going to hold you accountable for decisions you make. If you commit a crime with a gun, if you commit a crime with a gun there needs to be certain accountability. We need to call that accountability jail time.

(APPLAUSE)

But the great false hope of the past, the great false hope is all we got to do is have government pass a law and everything will be fine. All we need is some subcommittee to finally get a report out and maybe make it to the resolutions committee, which makes it to the floor. That's the legislative mindset that we oftentimes deal with. All we got to do is pass some law. But you know something? Government can't make people love one another. While government can hand out money, it cannot put hope in our hearts or a sense of purpose in hour lives. This is found from a higher calling; much higher than government and mankind. This is found in our faith-based institutions. This is found in our charities that warm the cold...

(APPLAUSE)

The great strength of America, the great strength of our country, the great fabric of our nation lies in the hearts and souls of out citizenry, not in the halls of government. So to usher in the responsibility era, to make sure the American dream touches every willing heart, two things will be -- that I must do.

First is to rally those armies of compassion which exist all across Georgia and all across America; to rally the folks who've heard the call, I want to help a neighbor in need; to rally those who are involved in our drug and alcohol treatment programs who understand that changing hearts will change lives; to rally the mentors all across America so they can envelop children who wonder whether America is meant for them, to say we love you and the American dream does belong to you, to work closely with people who want to narrow the gap of hope in America.

Now, the great strength of our country lies in our citizens, and I will do everything in my power to lift our spirits, to set our sites, to rally the armies so people feel wanted in America. But the responsibility era requires one other thing. It requires leadership who understands that it's important to behave responsibly in office in order to usher in the responsibility era.

(APPLAUSE)

And so let me -- before I answer some questions, before I answer some questions, let me conclude by saying this: One, I want your vote; two, thanks for coming; and three, go to work.

(LAUGHTER)

Next Tuesday is the time to vote here in this big state. Next Tuesday is the time people get to begin the process of who our -- get to really kind of be a middle part of the process, to decide who the nominee is going to be, to get to be an integral part of making this decision next Tuesday: The people in this important state stand up and get to express their opinion.

When it's all said and done, after all the balloon drops and debates and finger-pointing -- when it's all said and done, if the people accept my positive and hopeful and optimistic vision for this country, they trust my judgment to find people from all walks of life who can serve our nation for the right reason -- when it's all said and done, if the people trust my judgment when I'm the one swearing in, I want to tell you, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the integrity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you all very much. Thank you very much.

HARRIS: And we've been listening to George W. Bush speaking at a rally in Duluth, Georgia this morning, speaking there to an energized crowd, full of a lot of young people there in that crowd this morning. And he began by mapping out his philosophy on education and education reform. And -- but biggest applause lines he received this morning -- standing ovations, in fact -- when he talked about the surplus in Washington how he wants to return a quarter of that surplus back to the people in the form of tax cuts. He also said he wanted to rebuild the military power of the U.S., an important issue for a part of the country that receives a lot of the federal government's military budget dollars. And he also called upon faith-based institutions to take an increased role in meeting social needs in the country.

He's now taking questions from the audience.

BUSH: Let me explain. His question is, how can a person like me, who values life and is pro-life, support the death penalty? And it's the difference between innocence and guilt. It's the innocence between innocence and guilt.

(APPLAUSE)

My job will be to lead America to understand the value of life. We ought to have the goal that every life born or unborn should be protected by law and welcomed to life. That's the goal. And while I recognize people may disagree with that goal, I believe I have a good chance of convincing people of the value of life. I believe we can explain the preciousness of life. There will be some opportunities for me, hopefully, upon swearing in to be able to make -- express my sentiments by signing law. I will sign a ban on partial-birth abortion.

(APPLAUSE)

I will be active at promoting adoptions. I believe its important for us...

(APPLAUSE)

I believe it's important for us at the federal level to provide access for states -- opportunities for states who want to access money for abstinence education to be available. I think it's important to have a leader who can lead in terms of the death penalty. Obviously that's a difficult issue for a lot of people, and I understand that. It's a difficult issue. But I support the death penalty if it's administered swiftly, surely and justly because I believe it saves lives. I think it sends a chilling signal: Don't kill a neighbor.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: In your speech...

BUSH: Hold on a second. Let him go first.

Thank you.

He's giving me a suggestion on who my vice presidential candidate ought to be.

(LAUGHTER)

My mother's not available.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Thank you.

QUESTION: In your speech, you spoke of the low morale in the military.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: What's your position on the reinstatement of the draft?

BUSH: I know, I think we ought to have a volunteer army. I believe the volunteer army is the best way to go, and I think we got to make sure that we boost the pay in order to retract and retain. I've got a billion dollars. I'm oftentimes asked, how can you boost pay in the military and advocate tax relief? Well, I want the remind you that the definition of surplus is money available after growth of the budget. That's $4 trillion with a "T." I'm talking about one billion with a "B" to increase the military pay. This is a balanced approach that recognizes if we don't pay and retain, highly skilled troops are going to go elsewhere.

Now, pay is part of the issue. Clearly defining the role of the military is another issue. And the role of the military needs to be to fight and win war and prevent -- therefore, prevent war from happening in the first place. That is the role of the military.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: Governor, OPEC has a stranglehold on the United States.

BUSH: Yes.

QUESTION: How would you deal with OPEC to open up the spigots and just bring the prices down? It's getting out of control.

BUSH: Great question. He speaks about two issues, one the price of refined products in America coupled with a national security issue. Today, as you know, OPEC has now got supply and demand in alignment to the point where price of crude is going up, which then causes the price of refined product to go up, which we're now beginning to see reflected in the gasoline pumps or heating oil prices around the country. The president ought to be on the phone working with our friends in OPEC, reminding them that this policy could hurt our economy which would, in turn, hurt themselves, that the spigots ought to be open.

The best way to get the price of crude oil down, which is to affect the price of refined product, is to increase the supply of crude oil on the market today. The Saudis and the Kuwaitis and friendly nations ought to be opening up the spigot.

However, the issue speaks to a longer-term issue, and that is: Can we -- do we have the will and the capacity to become less reliant upon foreign sources of crude oil? Less reliant upon -- and we should, and let me explain how.

(APPLAUSE)

Here are some ideas. One, we ought to be exploring in Anwar (ph), which is in Alaska. We have technology to available to protect the environment and at the same time open up these vast reserves so that the U.S. will have more supply on hand.

Secondly, we ought to encourage the use of natural gas. Natural gas is hemispheric in nature. It cannot be affected by prices of OPEC and by the whims of OPEC. Natural gas, which is hard to transport, is now easier to get or move around the country because of ferck (ph) deregulation during Reagan/Bush time, in other words the deregulation of the transportation of gas. Natural gas is clean to burn.

Thirdly, we ought to be using our research and development to determine whether or not we can effectively use biomass fuels, fuels grown in the ground. Ethanol a good example of taking products that have been grown and converting it into a fuel source. We ought to be thinking long term. We ought to be using our vast technological expertise which is going to change the face of medicine, it's going to change the face of how to keep the peace, by the way, with antiballistic missile systems, it ought to change the face of how we burn fuels for the future.

And so we need to become less dependent. It's another wake up call to America. But step one is to make sure that our allies and friends and OPEC understand the damage that could be done if they continue to run the price of crude up.

Yes, ma'am, you've got a question. I can tell it.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) to ask you -- welcome to Georgia. Forscha Scott (ph) from Atlanta Georgia. I wanted to ask you about child safety. You know what happened yesterday in Michigan...

BUSH: Yes, I do.

QUESTION: ... and we just passed an education bill here in Georgia where it really doesn't address child safety and it also erodes local school board control, so how do you -- what's your program (OFF-MIKE)?

BUSH: Yes, let me -- I appreciate that. There's a couple of issues. One, it's -- I think you have to separate what happened yesterday from classroom discipline. Let me talk about two. One, it's obviously sad. Yesterday is incredibly tragic. Somehow a six- year-old boy ended up with a weapon and needlessly killed a child. I'm sure all of us grieve for the child's parents. I mean, it just -- it breaks our collective hearts in America. The parents -- I don't know the facts, but how did this boy get a gun? What happened? What happened?

HARRIS: We've been listening to George W. Bush. He's been speaking to a crowd north of Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia. And if you want more on the candidates and their whereabouts today, just check on our Web page at CNN.com/allpolitics.

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