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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

George W. Bush Speaks From West Virginia

Aired February 9, 2003 - 11:23   ET

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

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you live to President Bush for just a moment in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. He has remarks from the GOP retreat that he is on at this time.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate your sacrifice. I know it's hard to leave a district and a state that you love. I know your spouse is working incredibly long hours. And I want you to know that I feel that you're just as important part of your spouse's mission. So on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you all very much for the sacrifices you make.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the speaker and I want to thank Senator Frist for their leadership. I am confident in their abilities. I know we can work together. And I'm proud to call them friends.

I want to thank DeLay for serving in the capacity he does. He brings a lot of Texas wisdom into the House of Representatives.

(LAUGHTER)

Texas tough. And I'm proud to call him friend as well. I've known Tom a long time. And I am confident by working together we can get a lot done.

I want to thank -- I want to thank Santorum -- Rick Santorum, that is. And I want to thank Deborah (ph) for putting on this event.

Where are you, Santorum? There you are.

I know it's not easy to herd cats. It's a lot easier when you do it in a beautiful place like the Greenbriar, though.

(LAUGHTER)

I want to thank Roy Blunt (ph) for being a good vote counter. And we're counting on you to count.

(LAUGHTER)

I -- and I appreciate -- and Jon Kyl. Thank you, Jon. I'm honored you're up here with us today. So we got some big challenges facing us. I don't exaggerate when I say this is a significant year for our country. I truly believe that.

My attitude, it doesn't matter how high the hurdle is, we'll cross it. Doesn't matter how big the obstacle is, we'll deal with it, because we represent the greatest country on the face of the earth.

(APPLAUSE)

I know there is a lot of people paying attention to what's happening overseas and so am I, but I want to begin by reminding us that we've got a domestic agenda that is positive and strong and hopeful and optimistic.

We believe strongly that if somebody is looking for work and can't find a job, then we've got to do everything we can to grow our economy. Our whole philosophy is based upon growth of the economy. We equate jobs and growth. And we know the role of government is not to create wealth, but an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes, in which small businesses can grow to be big businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

And that is why I am passionate about my plan to give people more money. The more money they have in their more pockets -- in their pockets, the more likely it is that somebody will find work.

It is also important for us never to forget that we represent the entrepreneurs of America, and that when you reduce the individual income tax rates, you're putting money into the pockets of the sole proprietorship or the limited partnership or the sub-chapter S.

The tax reduction plan that I want you to pass and I want to sign will put more money into the pockets of the entrepreneurs of America, which is good for those who are looking for work.

(APPLAUSE)

We've already passed it once. We had a pretty good battle. I see some of the soldiers in the tax-cut fight of 2001 sitting out there.

And I repeat what I said earlier: If the tax relief is good two or four or five years from now, with an economy that is not as strong as we want it to be, it is good enough today. Let us get the tax relief plan passed.

(APPLAUSE)

And while we're doing it, it makes sense to help our seniors and to make the tax code more fair. The double taxation of dividends is unfair. It is unfair to tax profits and the distribution of those profits.

And therefore, for the sake of capital formation, and for the sake of the lifestyle of the 10 million seniors who receive dividend income, let us end the double taxation of dividends.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to appreciate those who are involved with appropriations for working hard to get an appropriations bill to my desk as soon as possible. It would be nice to get the 2003 issue out of the way, as we start to deal with the 2004 budget and appropriations process.

I am serious about holding the line on federal spending. I submitted a budget to you which sets clear priorities, meets those priorities, and will enable us to say to the American taxpayer, "We are wise with your money." And therefore I look forward to working with you to pass a budget which is realistic and a budget which is responsible.

(APPLAUSE)

We will address the Medicare issue in a way which enables us to say, as a country, we fulfilled our promise to senior citizens. Medicine is becoming modern, Medicare isn't. And we have an obligation to the future of this country to modernize the Medicare system, to fulfill the promise to thousands of seniors, a system which includes more choice, more options, and prescription drugs for the senior citizens of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

We need an energy bill in America...

(APPLAUSE)

... a bill which encourages conservation and exploration.

We need a Clear Skies legislation, so that we can say our party has led to reasonable, sane environmental policy. And we need a forest policy in America.

(APPLAUSE)

A healthy-forests initiative which enables us to maintain the vast treasures, particularly of forest land in the West, and at the same time be wise about how we clear underbrush so that we don't encourage forest fires that -- some of the devastating forest fires that took place in the West this year.

(APPLAUSE)

I look forward to working with the Senate to get my judges confirmed. I'm naming...

(APPLAUSE)

I've named some really honorable people to the bench. I want to thank Senator Hatch and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for kind of putting aside all that political -- the politics that so dominated the discourse. The first test, of course, is Miguel Estrada. Fabulous story, a great jurist, a lawyer -- will be a great jurist. And I expect that he be given a fair hearing on the floor of the Senate. I expect the people of the Senate not to hold him up, not to try to talk his nomination into the ground, because Miguel Estrada not only represents the American dream, but will do us proud on the bench.

And I want to thank the senators for standing strong for this good nominee. And when the vote comes up, this guy is going to be confirmed, and America -- the bench and (ph) America will be better for it.

(APPLAUSE)

I look forward to working with you on a compassion agenda, one that recognizes that in our plenty, there are people who are hurt. There are people who need love and compassion. There are people who wonder whether or not the American experience is meant for them.

I look forward to working to get the faith-based initiative out of the House and the Senate, and I look forward to getting the Citizens Service Act, a reformed Citizens Service Act, passed as well.

I want -- and I'm going to Nashville tomorrow to talk about the compassion agenda. We've got a role in Washington, but the biggest role, of course, takes place in the neighborhoods of our country when people hear the call to love somebody like they'd like to be loved themselves, when people fully understand that one person can make a significant difference in the life of somebody who hurts.

I'm going to reiterate my call for...

COLLINS: We're going to take you away from President Bush now.

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