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Bush Speaks in Argonne, Illinois

Aired July 22, 2002 - 11:30   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush is in Illinois today. He's on the ground right now as a matter of fact. You are looking here at a live picture from a spot in Argonne, Illinois, which is where President Bush is going to be speaking any moment now. And that's Spencer Abraham you see there. We will be talking -- we will be going there live as a matter of fact to get his comments on homeland security. He already made some comments earlier about corporate responsibilities, so we will get those remarks turned around to you as soon as we can as well.

Live coverage of the speech is in just about 10 minutes or so.

In the meantime, a sour economy brought down one President Bush. As the markets tumble this morning, what can the current president do to keep history from repeating itself?

Let's talk about that with our senior political analyst Bill Schneider, who checks in, in Washington.

Good morning, Bill.


HARRIS: What do you make of the comparisons that were made on the talk shows over the weekend about Bush one, Bush two, and the high approval ratings because of the war, and then all of a sudden the markets tumble, the economy goes south, and that happens to be the downfall of both the Republicans in the House and Congress and then the Bush presidency itself?

SCHNEIDER: Well, most important stakes immediately are Republicans in Congress, because they are fighting to preserve their majority in the House and to gain a majority in the Senate, and things don't look very good. This is supposed to be the Democrats's strong issue, given the economic record of the Clinton administration. The Democrats are running very hard on this issue, and the Republicans are running very scared.

President Bush, well, he's not up for re-election until 2004, so he has got some time. Remember, his father's economic problems happened in the last two years of this administration. So this is coming early for the president.

HARRIS: So timing could be very important here.

We do have this tape turned around now. President Bush made these comments about corporate responsibility just a few moments ago.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From what I hear, corporate profits are improving, which means values will be available for those who invest in the market. Secondly, I fully understand some are diversified into bonds. And for those that have their portfolios are better than those who have stayed only in equity. But I'm an optimist. I believe the future is going to be bright. But, look, you are talking to the wrong guy about what stocks to buy.

QUESTION: Do you believe the country will feel the effects of today's WorldCom bankruptcy?

BUSH: I think the market has probably already adjusted for that. What I'm worried about in the WorldCom bankruptcy is employees that worked for WorldCom. You know, I'm worried people will lose work.

But the market has already -- I suspect, has already anticipated the WorldCom decision. The key is for Congress to get a bill. I talked to the speaker about it today. He's optimistic that we will get a good bill, and I meant what I said, I would like to see the bill on my desk prior to the recess.

QUESTION: ... deadline for getting homeland security bill through.

BUSH: Is it realistic? I know they made great progress in the House, and the Senate is going to will take it up in the next two weeks, and I believe there is a good chance we can get...

QUESTION: Would you rather wait and make sure it was done right, or does it have to be done...

BUSH: What you are suggesting is not done right now in the House, and I'm sure those members...

I'm sure the speaker appreciates it. But I do believe it'll be done right. We are working closely with the members, and hopefully we can get it done by September 11th. The key is to get it done.

QUESTION: Are you getting trade promotion authority.

BUSH: That's a good question. I talked to the speaker about that. I'm anxious they come together and get a bill up. It's important for our economy that we get a trade promotion authority. I know the speakers committed to getting a bill to the floor once the conference finishes it work. I met with the leaders of both, the House and Senate, both parties, and urged them to reconcile differences, and get the bill to the floor of the House before recess. We will just have to see. When I get back to Washington, I will check in. Our people are working that bill hard and working the corporate responsibility bill hard as well. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: We are going to break away from this taped replay there of comments President Bush made earlier to give you comments he is making now. He is speaking live in Argonne, Illinois.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To prevail in this war, we'll use our law enforcement and our intelligence gathering all across our country to prevent the American people from being harmed. And to prevail in this war, we will fight on the frontiers of knowledge and discovery.

In this new war, we will rely upon the genius and creativity of the American people.


And that's why I'm here, to look in the eyes of those who possess the genius and the creativity of the American people.


Our scientific community is serving on the front lines of this war, by developing new technologies that will make America safer. And as you tackle new scientific challenges, I want you to know our government will stand by your side to make your job easier. It is in our interests that we work together.

I want to thank Spence Abraham for his leadership at the Department of Energy.

I want to thank all of you for working for the fine Department of Energy.

I want to thank Tom Ridge for coming. He's the man -- I asked him, I said, "You know, you need to serve your country." He was serving as the governor of Pennsylvania. I said, "You've got a nice mansion over there."


"It's heavy lifting, but, you know, but we need you in Washington," and for the good of the country he came to help us spearhead the effort for a Department of Homeland Security.

I want to thank Dr. John Marburger, who's the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Marburger is a fine scientist who represents the best of American scientists in Washington, D.C.

I appreciate the speaker of the House being here. He's my friend. He's doing a fine job on behalf of the citizens of Illinois and the United States of America, Speaker Denny Hastert.

(APPLAUSE) I want to thank Senator Durbin and Senator Fitzgerald for coming as well. I know they've got busy schedules. Thank you all for being here.


I appreciate you coming.

I appreciate Judy Biggert, Jerry Weller and Mark Kirk, fine members of the House of Representatives from Illinois, being here today.


I look forward to giving them a lift back to Washington.


Nice way to travel. I think you all will like it.

I want to thank the governor, George Ryan, for coming. Governor, I appreciate your time. I want to thank the attorney general of Illinois, Jim Ryan, for coming as well.


I want to thank Ray Orbach, who's the director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, who led us on our tour.

And, of course, I've got to thank Dr. Grunder. If everybody had a spirit like Dr. Grunder, the world would be an incredibly happy place.


We're proud of you, Herman. Thank you for your service to the country and thank you all very much. The Argonne National Laboratory is a cutting-edge facility. You're on the cutting-edge, and you've got a great history as well. It is a direct descendant of the University of Chicago Laboratory where, in 1942 and Rico Ferreme (ph) and his colleagues, achieved the world's first controlled nuclear chain reaction. This is the place where smart people work. It is the home of some of America's greatest scientists who continue to dazzle the world with astonishing breakthroughs.

I've just come back from viewing some demonstrations of the great work done at National Laboratories, whether it be here or Los Alamos or Sandia or others.

The American people need to know we've got a lot of brain power working on ways to deal with the threats that we now face as we head into the 21st century. For example, I saw a warning and response system that will supply first-responders with timely and lifesaving information in the event of a chemical attack on a subway or any other enclosed space. I saw a project that uses new advances in genetic research to identify and understand biological agents that could be used against us. I saw computer simulations to help policymakers and first-responders anticipate the effect of an attack or natural disaster and to develop lifesaving plans.

What I saw was new technologies that our scientists are developing to help us secure the homeland.

America is grateful. It's grateful for your work, and our government must be organized and focused to support these efforts.

Right now, there are more than 100 different federal agencies that have some role in the homeland defense of our country. And despite everyone's best intentions in those agencies, this inevitably leads to a dispersal of authority. Imagine, 100 of them scattered all over Washington, D.C.

It makes it hard to have accountability when you've got 100 agencies scattered around. And it's a drain on critical resources.

So I ask Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent Cabinet-level department of homeland security with an overriding and urgent mission, with this primary focus, to secure the American homeland.


There are agencies once under -- and (ph) this new department will have other missions, no question about it, but they're primary mission is to recognize the new world in which we live. The world has changed, and so must our government change with it in order to allow all of us who have responsibility to say to the American people, "We're doing everything we possibly can to protect innocent American lives."

This department of homeland security will foster a new culture throughout our government, one that emphasizes cooperation and working together on behalf of the American people. And this department will have four primary tasks.

First, it will work to control our borders.


There needs to be much better cooperation amongst the agencies to make sure we know who is coming in the country, what they're bringing in the country, why they're coming in the country and are they leaving when they say they're going to leave the country?

(APPLAUSE) We need to work -- one of the primary responsibilities will be to work with state and then local authorities to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies. In other words, we need to be better coordinated with the brave, first-time responders. That means police and fire and EMS teams which exist all across our country.

We want to have them have the strategy necessary to respond, the tools to respond effectively, and to be coordinated, not only at the federal level, the state level and the local level.

Thirdly, we need to merge under one roof the capability to identify and assess threats to the homeland, map those threats against our vulnerabilities, and address the vulnerabilities. So prior to September the 11th, we had the CIA collecting information and we had the FBI collecting information and sometimes they weren't talking all that much. Now they talk. Now they coordinate.


When I'm there in Washington, I meet every morning face to face with the director of the CIA and with the head of the FBI. It's a way to make sure that, at least at the very top levels of government, people are communicating and we're sharing information. We need to do that throughout all our government, and at the Department of Homeland Security we need to be able to take the information, intelligence gathered from around the world, as well as at home, and understand what might or might not be happening.

One of the key tools that we need to use effectively against the cold-blooded killers who we're trying to chase down is the capacity of our nation to collect and analyze information.

And finally, we need our scientists to develop the kinds of technologies I saw today. We need to have an effective strategy of mating up our brain power with the problems we face so as to stay on the cutting edge of technological change necessary to protect the homeland.

And this last point is incredibly important point, and that's why I've come to this laboratory to make the point.


It's a perfect place to make the point.


We will harness our science and our technology in a way to protect American people. We will consolidate most federally funded homeland security research and development to avoid duplication and to make sure all the efforts are focused. You see, we need to learn to set priorities in our government. And the number one priority is to protect America from attack, because we're at war.


The Department of Homeland Security will work to create a long- term plan. And once you have the long-term plan, with the goal of securing the homeland, then we can set funding priorities. We give our scientists the resources they require. And that's important for you to know.


Resources necessary to counter the chemical and the biological and the radiological and nuclear threats that our nation faces.

And these threats are real, and therefore, we need to stay focused, not only make sure resources are spent but that critical research continues, because you all know better than anybody, when we research, we set priorities. This great nation can achieve any objective.


We're making progress. We are making progress in Washington. I appreciate so very much the House Select Committee getting a bill out, and it's going to get to the floor, and the speaker was telling me today that, it looks like they may get a vote this week.

And the Senate's working hard on it; both Republicans and Democrats are working hard at reconciling differences that may be had. It's important for people to understand, particularly in Washington, this department of homeland security is not a good Republican idea, it's not a good Democrat idea, it's simply an American idea, and they need to get their work done.


And as they do so, the new secretary of homeland security must have the freedom and the flexibility to be able to get the right people in the right job at the time so we can hold people accountable in Washington.

We need the freedom to manage. We don't need to be micromanaged, and that's sometimes what happens in Washington, D.C. The new secretary needs the ability to move money and resources quickly to respond to true threats.

I understand why that may not happen sometimes in Washington, and it's because, you know, for example, appropriators may not want the executive branch to have the capacity to make decisions necessary to make the homeland department work effectively.

But we're in new times in America, and that requires new thinking. And Congress must give us the flexibility necessary to make the right decisions to achieve our goal which is to protect the American people.

As well, this new department must have every tool it needs to secure the homeland. This new agency should include all of the departments which protect our border -- all of the departments; not just some, but all of the departments.

That includes the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the INS. INS inspectors, border patrol and customs agents must report to the same boss and work together for the same goals.


And this new department needs to be able to respond effectively to any attack that might come. So it must house FEMA in its entirety. What I'm telling you is, I understand that these changes won't be easy for some in Congress, but for the sake of the security of the American people Congress needs to give up some of its turf and recognize turf is not nearly as important as security for the people, security for the American people.

We're in new times, folks, we're in a different world.


We face an unprecedented threat, and we cannot respond with business as usual.

But I want you to know something, how I feel and what I know. I know that the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt these cold- blooded killers down one by one and bring them to justice, and that's what we're going to do.


And it's going to take a while. It's going to take a while. Unlike past wars, where you could see platoons and battalions moving here or airplane formations moving there, we're chasing down these people who are willing to hide in a cave and send youngsters to their death. That's the kind of people we're facing.

You know, these people hate. They hate America because we love freedom. They hate the fact that, as I look out here, I can see people who worship an almighty and some who don't, who worship an almighty one way and others another way. They hate that. They can't stand a society which honors freedom -- freedom to worship, freedom to speak, freedom to express our opinions. That's what they hate.

And they're going to hate us for a long time, because those are the values we'll never relinquish in America.


We believe in tolerance in America. That's what we believe in. We respect the other person.

We always don't agree, but we respect and we tolerate. And we believe everybody ought to have access to the great American experience regardless of how they're raised or where they're from. That's what we believe. And anytime anybody who tries to get us because of those beliefs, they're going to find something about America.

I don't know what was going through the minds of the enemy when they were plotting and planning. I don't know who they thought they were attacking. They must have thought this country was so materialistic, so self-absorbed that we would sit back and, you know, after the attack maybe file a lawsuit or two.

(LAUGHTER) That's not the America I know, and that's not the America you're a part of. Listen, when people come after us, we're plenty tough. We're a compassionate nation...


And so, we're on the hunt. You just need to know we're after them one by one. One by one. And so long as I'm the president of this country, we're going to chase them down one by one to make sure the American homeland is secure.


And we're making progress. As I said in a speech in front of about 10,000 of our troops and their families at Fort Drum, New York last Friday, we've hauled in thousands -- that means captured -- and another couple of thousands weren't quite as lucky. We're making progress. Sometimes it's not quite as dramatic as, you know, the news casters would like. See, they learned their lesson, by the way. They understand if they bunch up, if they get together, our military is going to find them and it's not going to be a pleasant day when our military does find them because we're good.

I'm really proud of the United States military and those who serve.


And I'm proud of you all, too. That's really what I'm here to tell you. I'm proud of you. We're depending on you to develop the tools we need to lift the dark threat of terrorism for our nation, and for that matter, the world. All of us here today, whether we're scientists or engineers or elected officials, share in a great calling. It's an honor to participate in a noble cause that's larger than ourselves.


HARRIS: At this point, we are going to step way from the president's remarks. As was heard said earlier, he is speaking in Argonne, Illinois. He has been touring in a laboratory. In his speech this morning, calling for Congress to step forward with its plan to create a single homeland security agency. He says they need to use the brainpower that's represented in laboratories like the one he just toured, to harness science and technology and protect the country.

Let's bring in our Bill Schneider, who's been listening as well.

Bill, what I find interesting here, is the president is out making this speech, and he's calling for cooperation from Congress. And as far as I know, there hasn't been resistance for the creation of this agency. Why would he need to make this kind of speech today?

SCHNEIDER: No, to the creation of the agency. But a lot of members of Congress are trying to fool around with the plan and say, we don't want this bureau or that department to be moved to the new agency, because it means we will give up our authority over that bureau or department. It is a turf battle, and the president is putting pressure on Congress, saying, you know, you are going to have to give up some power here in order to make this thing work.

HARRIS: All right, let's get back to what we were talking about, about the economy, and President Bush, and the affect it is going to have on this administration. Is there any sense at all there may be some changes to come in Bush's economic team if things don't recover soon.

SCHNEIDER: Well, his economic team is a problem, because it doesn't have nearly the stature or experience of his national security team. National security team like Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have enormous outs standing.

On the economy front, he has some interesting, good people, Larry Lindsey, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, Glenn Hubbard, Council of Economic Advisers, but the fact is, they don't have anything like the front-line experience of his national security people, and that worries an awful lot of people on Wall Street, who is the managing the economy, not clear.

HARRIS: What's interesting, though, is you know, comparison have been made, and some have been saying that the real fault lies with the Clinton administration. But I can't imagine that Robert Rubin would be almost as invisible as we have seen Paul O'Neill be in the last couple of weeks with this kind of a crisis unfolding.

SCHNEIDER: Robert Rubin had the confidence of not only Wall Street, but the world markets. And Paul O'Neill, while he's an experienced businessman, which may not be the greatest credential in this administration -- he was the CEO of a major company, Alcoa. But he is relatively unknown on both Wall Street and the rest of the world.

So he is unable to exercise the kind of influence over the markets that Robert Rubin did in the Clinton administration.




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