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Special Event

Bush Holds Town Hall Meeting on Social Security in Warrendale, Pennsylvania

Aired September 7, 2000 - 9:17 a.m. ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Live now to Warrendale, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Texas Governor George W. Bush, in what is described as a new strategy, somewhat of a town hall meeting style. The topic today: Social Security.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You didn't bother to ask for my vote. I learned a pretty good lesson. It is so important to ask for the vote.

I want to share some of my philosophy with you. Talk a little bit about a policy issue that we have been discussing in one of your conference rooms, and that is the retirement system available for people who are working for a living, and then I want to answer some questions.

First, I'm an optimist. I believe so strongly about the American story. I love what America stands for. I love in hope and promise of the American dream.

I -- I don't think government can guarantee success, but government can guarantee access with good education, reasonable tax policy. Government can encourage people of faith and goodwill and good heart to love a neighbor, just like they'd like to be loved themselves.

One of the reasons I seek the presidency is because I want this great American experience to touch every willing heart. I want people to dream and to work and to realize their dreams.

I realize the role of government is limited, at least I think it is. It is not the role of government is not to create wealth. But in an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit can flourish, in which businesses full of hard work, and in this case relatively young, smart people are able to succeed, if you're good enough.

One of my jobs is to create an environment, based upon free trade, I'm a free trader. When you hear the trade debate, I want you to think about George W. Bush as someone who says: This country, if given a level playing field, can compete any place, any time, anywhere. I supported opening up the Chinese markets, for example, not only because I want the markets to be able for U.S. products or the farm products of Pennsylvania farmers, but I also happen to firmly believe our greatest export to the world is freedom, the freedoms we understand.

And when somebody gets a taste of freedom in the marketplace, when an entrepreneur in another country gets freedom, they are going to demand other freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom to speak their mind, freedom to vote. And I, in order to have economy grow, we need to have a civil justice system, i.e. tort reform, so that we don't threaten capital with frivolous or junk lawsuits.

We need less regulation out of Washington, more freedom for people to innovate. And good tax policy, which I hope we talk a little bit about today.

Let me tell you real quick about the fiscal debate that is going on. There is a surplus in America today. Now I want you to understand the language.

The surplus exists after budgets have increased. So, for example, the Medicare budget goes from a little over 200 billion to a little over 400 billion in 10 years. And there's still surplus. Not just in that program but there is surplus available.

I think the surplus exists because of the ingenuity and the hard work of the people of America. I don't think it exists because of any great genius in the federal government.

HEMMER: Texas Governor George W. Bush speaking there in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. This coming off a day after heavy criticism with a number of prominent Republicans were published in the "New York Times" saying that the Bush campaign is not on focus, not on track.

But apparently, through the Austin, Texas office, they are trying a new approach, more of a town hall meeting style. Saying that they will adopt more of a model that says: Real plans for real people. The first of that today in Pittsburgh.

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