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Bush Addresses Rally in Columbia, Missouri

Aired October 28, 2000 - 1:43 p.m. ET


GENE RANDALL, CNN ANCHOR: While we await President Clinton's arrival in the press room of the White House to talk about the budget battle with Congress, we're going to Columbia, Missouri. Texas Governor George Bush has brought his campaign to Columbia for this day's rally.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What a good man he is. I treasure our friendship. There's no better senator than you can have, besides Kitt Bond, than John Ashcroft.


I also appreciate being on the stage with the next governor of the state of Missouri.


Yes, you need a good man like Talent in the governor's chair. What a good fellow. A good, smart, capable man.

I want to tell the congressmen something: Congressmen, be patient. Help is on the way.


In less than two weeks, help is on the way.


I'm so glad you all came. I'm honored that you're here. We've had a great week. I'm fixing to head home for one night's sleep...


... spend a little time on Sunday with my family, and then head out again for the stretch run.

And there's nothing like having crowds of enthusiastic supporters to boost the spirit, and that's what I'm seeing all across the country.

So thanks for coming. I'm honored you're here. (APPLAUSE)

I have a regret. I'm so sorry that my wife isn't here with you.


BUSH: Yes, I know you are.


You'd probably have her than me.


You see, you can judge the nature of a man by the company he keeps.


And I keep very good company. When America's going to find out, they're going to love her just as much as I do. She's going to make a fantastic first lady for the United States.


I hope by now you're getting a sense or our priorities. When Laura's with me, it helps people see firsthand our priorities and our family. Our priority is our faith, our priority is our family, and our priority is the country we love more than anything, the greatest country on the face of the earth, the great United States of America.


Now I want you all to know, I came up in Texas politics and I learned a pretty good lesson there. It happened in 1978 when I came in second place in a two-man race for the United States Congress.

You notice I didn't say last -- a leader must be optimistic.

A lady walked up to me in my hometown of Midland, Texas, and she said, "George W., I didn't vote for you." I said, "Why not?" She said, "Because you didn't bother to ask for my vote."

Let it be said that here in central Missouri, I'm asking for the vote.


I want your vote. And as importantly, I want your help. This is a close election. Missouri is a swing state, and I can't win it alone. I've got to have the best grassroots organization in the country and guess what? We've got the best grassroots organization.


BUSH: I want you to join me as we charge down to the finish line to turn out this vote, to find people who may be disillusioned and tell them there's a better day ahead for America, to find those who are sick and tired of the cynicism to say we're going to give this country a fresh start, to turn to open-minded Democrats and a discerning independent.

We can do better. You'll be surprised at what you see and what you hear.

We've got people from all political parties joining this campaign because they realize there's a better day for America with the right kind of leadership, with somebody who will unite this country, not divide it, somebody who will call upon the best for America, for every American.

I'm running against a tough opponent. Make no mistake about it. He's a good campaigner, and he's got a lot of confidence. So much so that he thinks he invented the Internet.


But if the man was so smart, how come every Internet address begins with W?



Not only one W, but three Ws.


And you're out campaigning, I want you to tell them there's a big philosophical difference between what we believe and what he believes.

You know, there's been some pretty interesting moments in the campaign, some humorous moments. One of them took place during I think the third debate, if I'm not mistaken. It's when he looked in the cameras and told America, "I'm against big government."


I could barely contain myself. I knew the man was prone to exaggerations, but not to that extent. Because he's a man who's looking at that surplus and wants to spend it all, and then some. He's a person who believes that big government is the answer to this nation's problems. He is a person who has increased new spending more than Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis combined. And, folks, if you remember clearly, that's saying something. That's going a long way.

No, we have a difference of opinion. He believes in government, and as you're about to hear, we trust the people of America. We stand on the side of the working people of this country.


Ours is a campaign based upon principles that government ought to be limited. Government ought to do a few things and do them well, that we ought to trust local people. We know that government closest to the people is that which is most responsive and governs best, that all public policy must encourage our families to be strong and together, and that each of us must be held accountable for the decisions we make in life.

Those are solid principles not based upon polls or focus groups. Those are solid principles indelibly etched in my heart and will be the cornerstone of public policy should I be fortunate enough to earn the will and respect of the American people.


And the issues are on our side; the issues are on our side. Take, for example, the important issue of Social Security.

Now when I first got going in this campaign, people said, "You better not touch Social Security." It's called the third rail of American politics. Once you put your hand on it, it will shock you.

But I said, "You misunderstand me. I'm running for a reason. I don't want to just hold the office. I want to get something done once and for all with the people's retirement accounts. I want to say to the seniors, "I'm going to set all those payroll taxes for one thing and one thing only: the people's retirement."

I want it to be said that we could look the seniors in the eye and say a promise this nation has made will be a promise this nation will keep.


Now I understand it's Halloween time. I understand it's Halloween time in more ways than one. There's the Halloween Day and there's the political scare season. Perhaps you're hearing some of these ads that are trying to frighten seniors into the voting booths. But we're going to reject that kind of politics in the year 2000.

The people of Missouri and the people of Texas and the people all across this country are sick and tired of the politics that tears people down and tries to scare.

No, by the time this campaign is over, people will know a George W. Bush administration. We'll keep the promise to the seniors.

But what distinguishes this campaign is, we understand there is a problem coming down the road for younger workers. We understand there's going to be too many baby boomers retiring and not enough younger Americans to pay the bill unless we think differently.

My opponent's got a plan called Social Security Plus. It's a perfect name. Social Security plus $40 trillion of debt, Social Security plus passing on the responsibility to another generation coming down the road. That's not leadership, folks.

What this country needs is a leader who brings Republicans and Democrats together, a leader who proposes a system that not only keeps the promise for the elderly, but a system that will allow younger workers to manage some of their own money in the private markets to get a better rate of return on your money.


They don't like it in Washington. My opponent doesn't like that. He wants the federal government making every decision. But we think differently. We trust people. We trust you with your own money. It's not the government's money. It's the people's money.


I want to thank all the veterans who are here. I'm proud of your service to America.


The veterans standing here remind me we not only do we have a solemn obligation to make sure our veterans are well-treated with a medical system that is responsive, we have a solemn obligation to protect our freedoms and to keep the peace.

I want the moms and dads and grandparents here to know that Dick Cheney, my good running mate -- and what a fine man he is...


... that we'll do everything in our power to keep the peace. I can't think of a better legacy than to keep the peace.

But we want a strong hand when it comes to keeping the peace. The warning signs are on the horizon. There are troublesome signs in the United States military. They can play like they're not troublesome, up there in Washington, but there's troublesome signs. We're having trouble retaining people in the service. We're over- deployed. We're trying to be too many things to too many people. Ours is a nation not of peacekeepers but a nation of peacemakers. We will rebuild the military power of the United States of America.


And we do to keep the peace.

A huge domestic issue for America as we head into the 21st century is to make sure every single child is educated and not one child is left behind. It's a great challenge to this nation to make sure our children our educated.

But I want to assure your future governor that I'm not interested in becoming the federal superintendent of schools.


I don't want to federalize education. The people who care more about the children in central Missouri are the people of central Missouri. We believe in local control of schools.


We'll pass power out of Washington, D.C., to provide local authority and flexibility.

But I'm going to tell you something about me: I believe all children can learn. I'm going to challenge what's called the soft bigotry of low expectations. We must not have systems around the country that simply shuffle children through the schools. This nation must start asking the question: What do you know? Do you know what you're supposed to know?

And if you do, we're going to praise you; but if not, we'll challenge the status quo when we find children trapped in schools that will not teach and will not change.

We must trust parents with the children's lives. We must challenge failure and mediocrity. There are no second-rate children in America, as far as we're concerned, and no second-rate dreams.


And finally, one of our key priorities -- one of the key priorities -- and remember, a leader's job is to set clear priorities, a key priority is Medicare. This nation has made a commitment to our elderly to have the best Medicare system possible.

Here's our vision: Every senior must have access to prescription drugs, every senior. The government will help all seniors afford prescription drugs by helping the poorest seniors the most.

We've got to have seniors have additional options to choose from if they don't like the Medicare system. If they're unhappy with Medicare and it's performance, there will be different choices for our seniors to make.


But let me tell you something. You all have heard -- you've heard all the talk about Medicare, I know you have. You've heard the talk about his plan and my plan and this amount of money and that amount of money. But one thing they cannot escape from is, in 1992 they went around our country saying, "We're going to reform Medicare." In 1996, they went around the country again saying, "We're going to reform Medicare." And here we are in the year 2000, they're still saying the same thing. My opponent says, "You ain't seen nothing yet," and he's right.



Here's our message to America: We're ready to lead. They've had their chance. They have not led, and we will.


RANDALL: Republican presidential canadidate George W. Bush at a campaign rally today in Columbia, Missouri.

We'll be back with "CNN SATURDAY" in just a moment.



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