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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bush Speaks in Alcoa, Tennessee

Aired October 8, 2002 - 10:28   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And we go to Alcoa, Tennessee, just outside of Knoxville. Here's President Bush.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... and I want to share them with you.

The first thing on my mind is this, I know what it takes to be a good governor. I know the characteristics necessary for someone to be able to assume that high office. Van Hilleary has what it takes to be a great governor for Tennessee.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm also learning a lot about the United States Senate...

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: ... and I know we need Lamar Alexander in the United States Senate.

(APPLAUSE)

I appreciate so much Bill Frist.

(APPLAUSE)

He's a distinguished citizen.

(APPLAUSE)

He's a good friend, a good honorable man. He cares deeply about the citizens of this state. He brings a lot of expertise to the Senate. He's kind of one of those fellows who can get something done in the United States Senate. And that's the kind of attitude we need in the United States Senate. And I appreciate Bill.

I want to tell you how proud I am to be on the stage with Janice Bowling, who is going to be the next Congresswoman.

(APPLAUSE)

I appreciate my friend the Mayor, the Honorable Victor Ashe for being here.

(APPLAUSE) I've known Victor for a long, long time. We both proved that you don't have to graduate with honors from college in order to hold higher office.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: I'm really proud to be with Victor's mother. I've known Mrs. Ashe for a long, long time. I'm proud to see you, Martha (ph). Thanks for coming to say hello. I'm proud you're here.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to talk about the future of your state and the future of our country. First, let me talk about your state. It's important you get a good soul to be your governor, somebody who shares your values, your values of hard work and family, the values of service to others.

It's important you get somebody who when they speak they speak your language, who knows the soul of the citizens of the state. It's important to let somebody in who doesn't need a poll or a focus group to tell them what to think, somebody who makes decisions...

(APPLAUSE)

... somebody who makes decisions based upon a philosophy, somebody who stands tall when sometimes the winds of public opinion may be drifting in a different way, somebody you can count on, somebody, when they turn up the butane -- the political butane, you know where they stand. That person, no doubt in my mind, is Van Hilleary.

(APPLAUSE)

One of the things I like about him is he -- when the country called, he stepped up and he served in Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Then he decided that he wanted to serve in Congress.

He went to one of those districts where they said, you know, this is one district where a Republican can't possibly win. He went out and said, "Listen, I want to represent everybody. I'm not here just to appeal to a small segment of the district. I'm here to represent a philosophy and a way of life in a state I care deeply about."

And he won where people didn't think he could win. And for a while, they didn't think he could win here in Tennessee. You watch what happens on Election Day. Van Hilleary is going to be the next governor.

(APPLAUSE)

He understands agriculture, and that's important for this state. He understands budgeting. That's important for this state.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: He's been dealing with the Washington budget. If you can figure out the Washington budget, I can assure you, you can figure out the Tennessee budget.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: But the thing I like most about Van is he understands the most important priority of a state is to make sure that every single child gets educated. I like it -- when I was the governor of...

(APPLAUSE)

When I was the governor of a state that started with the letter "T" and had -- that's a university that wears orange and called UT -- I used to say that education is to a state what national defense it to the federal government: It's the priority.

And I want to tell you all something, and you need to tell your friends at the coffee shops and at your community centers, that when it came to writing one of the most comprehensive pieces of education reform ever in the history of our country, Van Hilleary played a significant role.

And let me share with you right quick the philosophy, because it's important to understand the philosophy behind educational excellence -- at least our philosophy. He mentioned challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations. In order to make sure every child learns in America, we must do that.

We can never assign any child to failure. Every child can learn. If you believe every child can learn, then you must have a governor who's willing to set high standards and high expectations.

If you lower the bar -- you see, if you believe certain kids can't learn, "Let's just move them through...

KAGAN: We've been listening to President Bush, as he speaks in Alcoa, Tennessee, listening to see if he has any more comments to make on Iraq, that very important topic that he addressed last night from Cincinnati, Ohio. Right now, it sounds like he's focusing mainly on local Tennessee issues and campaign matters there.

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