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Special Event

Bush Campaign Holds Rally in Bartlett, Tennessee

Aired August 18, 2000 - 1:16 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The Republican presidential nominee, George W. Bush, has just been introduced in a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee. This is his first time we've seen him since the Democratic convention has wrapped up.

So we're going listen into it for a few minutes, see what's on this candidate's mind today.

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Thank you all. I'm so honored. Thank you all very much for coming.

So here's what happened. I was campaigning in Western Tennessee a while ago when the too-fabulous United States Senator said, "We think you can win the great state of Tennessee."

I said, "Well, if that's the case, why don't we just go to Shelby County, Tennessee, and see how we do."

(APPLAUSE)

They were telling me -- they were telling me that if maybe we could get a couple of hundred people to show up, it'd be a pretty good sign.

(APPLAUSE)

They forgot to tell me what it was going to be like to come to Shelby County and be able to look at 10,000 fellow Americans and say thank you for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

My advice is people shouldn't be taking any state for granted come November, looking at the size of this crowd.

(APPLAUSE)

What the size of this crowd tells me, and the one we saw in western Tennessee, is our two states are going to share a lot in common. We share a UT football team with the same colors.

(APPLAUSE)

We share two fabulous Republican senators in Texas, like you share two fabulous Republican senators in Tennessee.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're going to share one more thing in common come November, one more thing in common: This November, Texas and Tennessee are going to be in the Bush-Cheney column.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm so thankful for -- I'm thankful for my friends, Senator Thompson and Frist, and former Senator Howard Baker, one of the fine public servants that Tennessee has ever produced.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank Congressman Bryant for being here. I appreciate you all letting Congressman Roger Wicker come across the Mississippi border.

(APPLAUSE)

And here's my advice to the members of the congressional delegation: Be patient, help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight -- this afternoon, you got to see and hear from a really good man. You know, a couple of weeks ago, I was charged with what they call a presidential decision, and that's picking a running mate.

I told the people that were paying attention, I said I was going to pick somebody who if need be -- if need be -- could become president of the United States. I found that man in Dick Cheney.

(APPLAUSE)

I said that, should I be fortunate enough -- and I mean fortunate enough; it's a huge honor to be running for president, by the way -- should I be fortunate enough to earn the will of the people of Tennessee and the confidence of people around America, I would want somebody who as my vice president would be somebody's who judgment I could count on, somebody's whose friendship I could trust, somebody who'd make a really good partner. I found that man in Dick Cheney.

(APPLAUSE)

Laura and I are honored to call he and Lynne friends. You'll be proud to call him Mr. Vice President.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm sorry my wife isn't here with me. I can't tell you how proud I was the Monday of our convention, to watch this former public school librarian give a fabulous speech to the nation.

(APPLAUSE) It was a true story, true story that when I asked her -- see, she's from Midland, Texas, and so am I -- I asked her, I said, "Would you marry me?" And she said, "Only if I don't have to give any speeches."

(LAUGHTER)

I said, "OK, you don't have to." Fortunately, she didn't hold me to the promise.

I hope after that convention you all got a sense about our priorities in life. Our priorities is our faith. Our priorities are our families.

(APPLAUSE)

Our priorities is a country we love more than anything, the greatest land on the face of this Earth, the great land called America.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, the conventions are over, and the battle lines are clearly drawn. The voters have a clear choice. They got one candidate who wants four more years of finger-pointing and politicizing and blaming.

AUDIENCE: No.

BUSH: A candidate who will pit one group of people against another. A candidate who wants to wage class warfare to get ahead.

I've got a different purpose. I've got a different vision of leadership. A leadership (sic) is somebody who brings people together. A leader is somebody who finds common ground. A leader...

(APPLAUSE)

Last night we heard a laundry list of new promises, which I thought was an attempt to cover up old failures.

(APPLAUSE)

A long list of promises without priorities. A list of promises without purpose or vision.

As much as he tried to separate himself from the squandered opportunities of his own administration, the vice president's speech reminded us of the fundamental choice in this election: Will we prolong four more years of Clinton-Gore or will we give America a fresh start?

(APPLAUSE)

And I think this rally today should say loud and clear to the good folks of Tennessee and anybody else paying attention: The verdict's in. The people of Shelby County don't want four more years; they want a fresh start for this great country.

(APPLAUSE)

You can tell a lot about a candidate by his priorities. My number one priority is improving education in America.

(APPLAUSE)

Last night my opponent said his first legislative proposal would be for campaign funding reform, and that's fine, although he's a little short on credibility on the issue.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to reform our laws. I've got a good vision to do so, and I look forward to working with my close supporter and friend John McCain to do so.

(APPLAUSE)

But my first legislative priority, my first priority, will be the education of our children. I'm running because I want the great American dream to touch every willing heart. I don't want people left behind.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to assure you all, I want you all to hear me, I'm not running to become the federal superintendent of schools. I don't want to be the national principal. This campaign is rooted on the principle that we trust the good folks of Tennessee to manage the schools in Tennessee.

(APPLAUSE)

My legislative priority will be to pass power out of Washington, D.C., with maximum flexibility and authority. My legislative priority will be to convert Head Start into a reading program based upon a curriculum that works, like phonics. My legislative priority will be to give education savings accounts to parents so parents have got different choices where school fail. My legislative priority...

(APPLAUSE)

My legislative priority would be what I call the challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, a system that oftentimes just shuffles children through the system without asking whether they know what they're supposed to know. Our priorities are straight. Our priorities are right. And the education of our children will make America the hopeful country we all want it to be.

(APPLAUSE)

We will seize this moment. We will seize this moment, we will lead this country. It is time to change the entitlement systems, the Social Security system. I want the seniors of Tennessee to hear me loud and clear: Get ready. The campaign of the past is coming your way. They're going to run TV ads that I'm confident will say, "If you elect George Bush and Dick Cheney, they will take away your Social Security check." Don't believe a word of it. Here's my promise.

Here's my promise. If you're getting a Social Security check, the United States will keep its promise. We will not let you down. It is a sacred promise that the Bush-Cheney administration will keep.

But if you're a younger worker, if you're somebody coming up, if you're somebody who's wondering whether there'll be a Social Security system available for you in years coming, you'd better get a president who's willing to think differently from the status quo.

Here's my vision. We're going to trust you, it's your choice, to manage your own money, in the private markets.

(APPLAUSE)

Last night they were talking about making sure the Medicare system has prescription drugs. It's amazing they're still talking about it after seven years of power. It's time to get a president who's willing to work with Republicans and Democrats that will say there will be a prescription drug program for seniors who need it.

(APPLAUSE)

And I know we're having a debate on the budget. Let me just share with me what I think about the surplus.

The surplus means the government has got more money than it needs.

The surplus does not exist because of the ingenuity and hard work of our federal government. The surplus exists because of the ingenuity and hard work of the working people in America.

(APPLAUSE)

It is time to seize this moment, to make sure our tax code is more responsive, more fair. It is time to get rid of the death tax in America.

Just talk to your small-business owners and your farmers and ranchers about the death tax.

It's time to get rid of the marriage penalty in the tax code.

(APPLAUSE)

The Congress, Republicans and Democrats, voted to eliminate the marriage penalty, because for the right reason, we want to encourage families and marriage. The president vetoed it, the vice president seconded it. We need a new attitude when it comes to taxes in Washington, D.C. (APPLAUSE)

And I know you've heard the rhetoric, but let me tell you the facts under my plan that shares some of the surplus with the people who are paying the bills. If you're a family of four in the great state of Tennessee, whose cumulative income is $25,000, if you're a teacher, or a policeman, whose cumulative income is $50,000, under my plan, you get a 50 percent cut in the taxes you pay the federal government. I want you all to remember...

(APPLAUSE)

I want you all to remember, loud and clear: We've got a surplus because the taxes are the highest they have been on the working people as a percentage of our economy since World War II. It's conservative to cut taxes. It's compassionate to trust people with your own money so you can save and you can dream and you can build for your future.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank you all for bringing your sons and daughters. I know how great it feels to be looking at the youth of America when we stand up here. I want you all to know that we're running to keep the peace, that a mission of this administration will be to make the world more peaceful. But we'll be realists when it comes to seeing the world. We'll be realists when it comes to rebuilding alliances. We'll be realists when it comes to the state of readiness of today's United States military. I want you all...

(APPLAUSE)

Oh, I heard the words about how supposedly prepared we are, but that's not what the facts say. We're having trouble meeting recruiting goals, we're having trouble retaining captains in the United States military.

But don't ask me. Ask your friends and neighbors what morale is like in the United States military, who may be wearing the uniform. Ask the people who wear today's United States -- wear the uniform of the military, morale is dangerously low.

In order to keep the peace, this administration will rebuild the military power of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Help is on the way. Help is on the way. Help is on the way. Help is on the way. Help is on the way.

BUSH: Help is on the way.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, this is an agenda worthy of our times, but there is a greater agenda as well, and that's to lift the spirit of this nation, to set our sites higher, to call upon the greatness of America. The greatness of America lies not in our -- not lies in the halls of our governments. The greatness of America lies in the hearts and souls of our citizenry. People who have heard the call, "What can I do to help a neighbor in need?" People who've heard the universal call that we find in our churches, synagogues and mosques to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself.

Now, my great faith in the future of our country lies in my faith of the American people. My true belief that his nation, when it sets its mind to it, can accomplish anything, can accomplish any objective, can reach any goal, can make sure no child is left behind, can surround people with love.

The goal of government -- the goal of government is justice and law. The goal of our religious institutions and charities is love. We must rally love in America. We must call upon the great strength of this country in order to make sure the great American dream touches every willing heart.

It starts, though, with having leadership that understands the responsibilities of the offices to which we have been elected.

In order to change the culture from one that says to our young, "You need to be responsible for the decisions you make," it requires responsible leadership.

And so, let me conclude by, one, thanking you for coming, telling you how this huge crowd, not only warms our body, but warms our souls, telling you that Tennessee is going to be Bush country.

(APPLAUSE)

But let also conclude, by telling should this huge honor befall Dick and me, should we win, should it be the judgment of the American people that we're ready for the task, and we're ready for the task, that when I put my hand on the Bible that day, and he does the same, but when I put my hand on the Bible overlooking the majestic Mall, in January of 2001, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of this great land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

Thank you all for coming. God bless.

ALLEN: The Republican candidate, back out on the campaign trail and hitting it hard, a super-charged George W. Bush in the home state of Al Gore, taking a few jabs at Al Gore, all the while, saying, don't take any state for granted when it comes to election day, talking about his big crowd there in the suburb of Memphis, that's Bartlett, Tennessee.

And he also said of Al Gore, will we prolong four more years of Clinton-Gore or will we get a fresh start? It's a theme we've heard, this Bush-Cheney team talk about before, and he also talked issues, he talked about their differences on Social Security, the marriage penalty, he took jabs at Gore when it comes to campaign finance reform, and it looks like they're trying to rival the close of the Democratic convention there with their own good bit of confetti there in Tennessee this afternoon.

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