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Congressman Gephardt Gives Weekly Democratic Party Radio Address

Aired September 22, 2001 - 11:00   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Watching and waiting -- getting ready to respond but when and how?

And good morning once again. Welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of America's New War. In New York, once again, I'm Bill Hemmer. John King is also with us. He's in Washington. John, good morning, again.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, to you, Bill. A $15 billion airline bail out package is on its way up to Camp David for the President's signature. And the president's deliberations include what the federal government can do next to help the economy in the wake of these terrorist attacks.

HEMMER: John, thank you. We heard the president's radio address last hour. We expect Dick Gephardt to make his address momentarily. We'll have that for you.

Meanwhile, back here in New York City for the first time this morning the sun is starting to peek through the fog that was quite thick for the past five or six hours. The perspective from across the Hudson -- looking back at Lower Manhattan -- not at ground zero -- as the rescue operation continues at this time.

Close to 80,000 tons of rubble and debris have been removed from the site of the former World Trade Centers. Much more from New York momentarily but to Donna Kelley with us again in Atlanta. Donna, good morning.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Bill, good morning to you. Thank you. And good morning to you. Here are the latest developments in America's New War.

President Bush is planning strategy at Camp David, Maryland. He is teleconferencing today with his national security team. And, as Bill mentioned, we'll give you a little bit more now that.

The president's radio address was heard last hour right here on CNN.

We will hear the democratic response at six minutes after 11:00 Eastern Time so, of course, that's just minutes from right now. In Afghanistan tensions are rising. Taliban fighters are re- enforcing the nation's borders and reports say that residents are fleeing the capitol of Kabul. The Taliban say that they shot down a plane today but there are conflicting reports on the type of plane and the nation that it comes from.

The Pentagon has issued a second deployment order for aircraft -- this one for support planes to back up the bombers and fighters that are headed for the Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Military special operations could play a major role in any military response and we have a report on Special Ops coming up for you. John?

KING: Well, Donna, as you mentioned, we're standing by for the democratic radio address. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt to deliver that in just a few minutes. Let's check in now, first, though, with our Kelly Wallace, standing by in Hagerstown, Maryland, near Camp David. Kelly, what's the president up to this morning?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the administration continuing to focus on two challenges -- preparing the nation for this war against terrorism -- at the same time trying to take steps to prevent the U.S. economy from slipping into a recession.

Now President Bush came up to the presidential retreat at Camp David yesterday afternoon. He started this day chairing a meeting via video conference with his National Security Council advisers. Most of his advisers back in Washington but some advisers with him at Camp David including Chief of Staff Andy Card, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and also CIA Director George Tenant. Going over, of course, the military planning -- diplomatic efforts as well.

At the same time the president delivering his weekly radio address. This administration was very concerned about the economy even before the deadly terrorist attacks -- the president saying that those attacks have given the economy quote "a shock." He expressed concern about the thousands who have lost their jobs. But in an effort to boost consumer confidence he says that the American economy is quote "fundamentally strong."


GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can look forward to an improved business climate in America in the years ahead. The Federal Reserve as done its job of keeping our financial system strong and stable, cutting interest rates in half in the last eight months. Energy prices have remained steady -- in fact, they are lower now than they were in the spring.


WALLACE: And the president also saying that he and democratic and republican members of Congress working together to get the economy going. The administration releasing $5 billion of that $40 billion package that Congress approved to help New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Also, Mr. Bush expected to sign very soon a $15 billion measure to help the struggling airline industry and also the message is that the president and Congress will continue working on an economic stimulus package -- talk of increased government spending, additional tax cuts.

John, and a sign of the bi-partisanship here -- the president's speech writers and the speech writers for House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt talking together -- both wanting to get the message out to the American people that the president and Congress are trying to do everything they can to strengthen the economy. John, back to you.

KING: And, Kelly, very quickly -- one item in that emergency spending package raising eyebrows, is it not?

WALLACE: Absolutely. You must be talking, of course, about $25 million, which would provide reward for those providing information helping to apprehend those terrorist suspects responsible for the attacks now 11 days ago. John?

KING: Kelly Wallace tracking the president at Camp David, Maryland. Thank you very much. She'll be with us throughout the morning. We are just moments away from the democratic radio address.

Congressman Richard Gephardt often appears critic of this president. Over the past 11 days, though, we have seen a great spirit of bi-partisanship and unity here, as Kelly noted. The Democrats working with the Republican White House on the language to be used as both leaders, the president and Mr. Gephardt, try to reassure the American people that Washington will do all it can to try to give the economy a boost in the wake of these terrorist attacks.

A remarkable scene after the president spoke to Congress the other night. He walked down on the floor of the House of Representatives chamber -- gave the Senate Democratic Leader, the Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle a big hug. Walked up to Congressman Gephardt, who we will hear from in just a few seconds, shook his hand and then gave him a little tap on the cheek.

I've been on the receiving end of one of those. They're always playful -- not also so gentle. Let's listen to Congressman Dick Gephardt.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D-MO), MINORITY LEADER: Good morning. This is the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt. I'm speaking to you today less than two miles from the Pentagon where rescue workers are still working through the day and night to recover victims from last week's terrible tragedy. Like you, my heart aches for the families and friends of those lost whose lives will never be the same.

All of us pray that they will be able to find some measure of comfort through this unspeakably difficult time.

History tells us that on the day John F. Kennedy was killed a tailor in New York hung a sign that read "Closed due to a death in the family." That's how September 11th felt to all of us.

More than 5,000 people were killed in these senseless attacks but more than 220 million Americans and billions more around the world were wounded. The first reports out of New York were met with horror and confusion. The stunned faces and desperate cries we saw on the street left most of us sick and bewildered. We had no idea what was happening. We had no idea where they would strike next.

That's exactly how the terrorists wanted it. They felt Americans were weak and spoiled and thought we would fold in the face of it.

But then something extraordinary happened -- person by person confusion gave way to courage. Everywhere in acts large and small people rallied to help.

A man on the 84th floor of Tower One, one floor below where the plane hit, picked up a disabled woman he didn't even know and carried her down 84 flights of stairs to safety.

Elementary school teachers in the shadow of the towers put children on their shoulders and led more than 8,000 students through smoke and debris to safety.

At the Pentagon a young Navy doctor squeezed through a narrow opening, crawled through smoke and freed a man trapped under a burning desk and then moved him to safety just as the office burst into flames.

Above the skies of Pennsylvania, passengers who knew they were going die fought back and took on their hijackers even before they could take the lives of others. Before they did one husband called home in his last moments to say, "Be brave and I love you."

Millions of poems have been written about love but none more powerful than that.

By striking at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the terrorists thought they would be striking at the heart of America but they knew nothing about the heart of America.

We saw the heart of America at blood centers that were overwhelmed by would be donors. We saw it in the hundreds of citizens who carried food and water and blankets down to emergency sites. At prayer services and candlelight vigils.

At a variety store in San Francisco a large crowd rushed the front door. The owner said, "We figured people were coming in for batteries and emergency supplies but all they wanted were flags."

As one American said, "If the terrorists wanted us to respect their cause they just damned their cause. If they wanted to make us fear them they just steeled our resolve. If they wanted to tear us apart all they succeeded in doing was bringing us together."

And now America and our allies around the world will respond. We will not tire of this cause. We will not falter and we will not fail. Those of us in Congress will work with the president to do what ever is necessary to bring our enemies to justice as quickly as possible. There is no place for partisanship here. We are not Democrats first or Republicans first, we are Americans first. And as Americans we will work together to do what needs to be done.

Here at home we will work to make the broken places right again. We will rebuild New York. We will work on a bi-partisan package to strengthen the economy. We will help unemployed workers in the airline, aerospace, tourist and other industries effected by the attacks. We will stabilize the airlines and improve security, assist other industries damaged by last week's horror and help unleash the full potential and creative genius of the American people.

Finally, we will do everything we can to make sure our military and our military families have all the support and tools they need to protect and defend the cause of freedom.

We will also do all we can to protect the rights that make America such a special place. We will not adopt the characteristics of those who attacked us. If we begin to compromise the civil liberties of our citizens the terrorists will have won.

In light of these traumatic events, I've heard reports of Americans who have attacked other Americans simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion or clothes. These attacks must stop. This is not a war against Islam -- it is against terror.

Those who did this are murders not martyrs. They cannot get to heaven by unleashing hell. The American Muslim community has said this loudly and repeatedly.

Just as terror is not Islam, we must say to anyone who would lash out against Muslims, "This is not American."

In the weeks and months to come as Americans we will weep, we will mourn and we will rise to defend all we cherish and all we hold dear.

The terrorists wanted to teach us a lesson. They wanted us to know them. But these attacks make clear they don't know us. They don't know what we will do to defend freedom. And they don't know what they've started but they're about to find out.

I'm Dick Gephardt. Thank you for listening and God bless America.

KING: Congressman Dick Gephardt there, Democrat of Missouri, Leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representative. His radio address promising resolve as the United States prepares a military response to the terrorist strikes. Mr. Gephardt promising to work with the Republican President George W. Bush.

A bitter budget battle was brewing before these terrorist strikes. Remarkable unity in the congress now. You see the president here after his speech to the nation the other night making his way through, shaking hands and greeting. He will come upon Congressman Gephardt as he makes his way out and offered him a hearty handshake as well as a tap on the cheek there.

Mr. Gephardt in that speech also promising he would work with the administration to develop a new economic stimulus plan. Obviously the economy just one of the urgent concerns -- military planning another. U.S. military air crews busy this morning -- again, deploying overseas.



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