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Giuliani: 'Thank God that George Bush is our president'

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
America Votes 2004

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani addressed the Republican National Convention on Monday night. This is a transcript of his remarks.

Thank you. Welcome to the capital of the world.

New York was the first capital of our great nation. It was here in 1789, in lower Manhattan, that George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States.

And it was here in 2001, in the same lower Manhattan, that President George W. Bush stood amid the fallen towers of the World Trade Center, and he said to the barbaric terrorists who attacked us, "They will hear from us."

Well, they heard from us.

They heard from us in Afghanistan and we removed the Taliban.

They heard from us in Iraq, and we ended Saddam Hussein's reign of terror.

And we put him where he belongs, in jail.

They heard from us in Libya, and without firing a shot Gadhafi abandoned his weapons of mass destruction.

They are hearing from us in nations that are now more reluctant to sponsor terrorists or terrorism.

So long as George Bush is our president, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us until we defeat global terrorism?

We owe that much and more to the loved ones and heroes that we lost on September 11.

The families of some of those we lost on September 11 are here with us. To them, and to all those families affected by September 11, we recognize the sacrifices your loved ones made. We recognize the sacrifices that you're making. You are in our prayers, and we are in your debt.

This is the first Republican convention ever held here in New York City.

I've never seen so many Republicans in New York City. It's great.

I finally feel at home.

And you know something? Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, all of you that worked so hard in bringing this convention to New York, our president and the party that decided they'd have it here, above and beyond everything else, it's a statement, it's a strong statement that New York City and America are open for business, and we are stronger than ever.

New York. New York. New York.

AUDIENCE: New York. New York. New York.

GIULIANI: This is getting to be like a Yankee game. I don't know. Watch out.

You know, we're just not going to let the terrorists determine where we have political conventions, where we go, how we travel. We're Americans, the land of the free and the home of the brave.


GIULIANI: From the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, to President George W. Bush, our party's great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world.

And our party is at its best when we make certain that we have a powerful national defense in a still very, very dangerous world.

I don't believe that we're right about everything, and Democrats are wrong. They're wrong about most things.

But seriously, neither party has a monopoly on virtue.

We don't have all the right ideas. They don't have all the wrong ideas.

But I do believe there are times in history when our ideas are more necessary and more important and critical, and this is one of those times when we are facing war and danger.

There are times when leadership is the most important.

On September 11, this city and our nation faced the worst attack in our history. On that day, we had to confront reality.

For me, when I arrived there and I stood below the north tower and I looked up, and seeing the flames of hell emanating from those buildings, and realizing that what I was actually seeing was a human being on the 101st, 102nd floor, that was jumping out of the building, I stood there, it probably took five or six seconds, it seemed to me that it took 20 or 30 minutes, and I was stunned.

And I realized, in that moment, in that instant, I realized we were facing something that we have never, ever faced before.

We had never been confronted with anything like this before. We had to concentrate all of our energy and our faith and our hope to get through those first hours and days. And we needed all the help that we could get and all the support that we could get.

And I will always remember that moment as we escaped the building that we were trapped in at 75 Barclay Street, and I realized that things outside might actually be worse than inside the building.

We did the best we could to communicate a message of calm and hope, as we stood on the pavement watching a cloud come through the cavernous streets of lower Manhattan.

Our people were so brave in their response.

At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then-Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, "Bernie, thank God George Bush is our president."

I say it again tonight. I say it again tonight:

Thank God that George Bush is our president, and thank God that Dick Cheney, a man with his experience and his knowledge and his strength and his background, is our vice president.

On September 11, George Bush had been president less than eight months. The new president, the vice president, the new administration were faced with the worst crisis in our history virtually at the beginning of their administration.

President Bush's response in keeping us unified, in turning around the ship of state from being solely on defense against terrorism to being on offense as well and for his holding us together for that and then his determined effort to defeat global terrorism, no matter what happens in this election, President George W. Bush already has earned a place in history as a great American president.

But you and I, we're not going to wait for history to present the correct view of our president. Let us write our own history. We need George Bush now more than ever.

The horror, the shock and the devastation of those attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and over the skies of Pennsylvania lifted a cloud from our eyes.

We stood face to face with those people and forces who hijacked not just airplanes, but a great religion and turned it into a creed of terrorism dedicated to killing us and eradicating us and our way of life.

Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It started a long time ago. And it had been festering for many years.

And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. That's a long time ago.

That's not yesterday.

And the pattern began early. The three surviving terrorists were arrested. And then within just three months, the terrorists who slaughtered the Israeli athletes were released by the German government -- set free.


GIULIANI: Action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn time after time that they could attack, that they could slaughter innocent people and not face any consequences.

In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro. And they murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer. They marked him for murder solely because he was Jewish.

Some of those terrorists were released, and some of the remaining terrorists -- they were allowed to escape by the Italian government because of fear of reprisals from the terrorists.

So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community, and too often the response, particularly in Europe, would be accommodation, appeasement and compromise.


GIULIANI: And worse, they also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously almost in direct proportion to the horror of their attack.

Terrorist acts became like a ticket to the international bargaining table. How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize while he was supporting a plague of terrorism in the Middle East and undermining any chance of peace?

Before September 11, we were living with an unrealistic view of our world, much like observing Europe appease Hitler or trying to accommodate the Soviet Union through the use of mutually assured destruction.

President Bush decided that we could no longer be just on defense against global terrorism, we must also be on offense.

On September 20, 2001, President Bush stood before a joint session of Congress, a still grieving and shocked nation and a confused world, and he changed the direction of our ship of state.

He dedicated America, under his leadership, to destroying global terrorism.

The president announced the Bush Doctrine, when he said, "Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."

And since September 11, President Bush has remained rock solid.

It doesn't matter to him how he is demonized. It doesn't matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him.

They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald Reagan. But like President Bush, they were optimists. Leaders need to be optimists. Their vision is beyond the present, and it's set on a future of real peace and security.

Some call it stubbornness. I call it principled leadership.

President Bush has the courage of his convictions.

In choosing a president, we really don't choose just a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or a liberal. We choose a leader.

And in times of war and danger, as we're now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.

There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.

One of my heroes, Winston Churchill, saw the dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as a warmongering gadfly.

Another one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, saw and described the Soviet Union as "the evil empire," while world opinion accepted it as inevitable and even belittled Ronald Reagan's intelligence.

President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.

John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision. This is not a personal criticism of John Kerry. I respect him for his service to our nation.

But it is important and critical to see the contrast in approach between the two men: President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts and goes back and forth; and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often, even on important issues.

Now, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War.


GIULIANI: Ah, but he must have heard your booing because -- because later he said he actually supported the war.

Then in 2002, as he was calculating his run for the presidency, he voted for the war in Iraq. And then just nine months later, he voted against an $87 billion supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.


GIULIANI: He even, at one point, declared himself as an antiwar candidate. And now he says he's pro-war candidate. At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position four or five more times.

My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words, not mine. I quote John Kerry, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas.

One is where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against exactly the same thing.

Yes, people in public office at times change their minds, or they realized they're wrong. I have, others have, or circumstances change. But John Kerry has made it the rule to change his position, rather than the exception.

In October of 2003 he told an Arab-American Institute in Detroit that a security barrier separating Israel from the Palestinian Territories was a "barrier to peace." OK.

Then a few months later, he took exactly the opposite position. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post he said, "Israel's security fence is a legitimate act of self defense."


GIULIANI: The contrasts are dramatic. They involve very different views of how to deal with terrorism. President Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we don't have to confront it, or we reduce of confronting it here in New York City, or in Chicago or in Los Angeles or in Miami or in the rural areas of America.

That's what it means to play offense with terrorism, and not just defense.

John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us no confidence that he'll pursue such a determined, difficult course.

President Bush would not allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over 30 years to stand up to terrorists, he wouldn't allow them to stop us from doing what is necessary in the defense of our country.

He's not going to let them set the agenda. Under President Bush, America will lead, not follow.

Remember, just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him.

Well, to me, that raises the risk that he might well accommodate his position to their viewpoint.

It would not be the first time that John Kerry changed his mind about matters of war and peace.

I remember the days following September 11 when we were no longer Republicans or Democrats, but we were Americans. We were determined to do everything, everything that we could to help the victims, to rebuild our city and to disable our enemies.

I remember President Bush coming here on September 14, 2001, and lifting the morale of our rescue workers by talking with them and embracing them and staying with them much longer than was planned.

In fact, if you promise to keep this between us, because, I mean, I could get in trouble for this.

But I get in trouble all of the time. I was mayor of New York.

It is my opinion that when President Bush came here on September 14, 2001, the Secret Service was not really happy about his remaining in the area so long.

With buildings were still unstable, with fires raging below ground of 2,000 degrees or more, there was good reason for their concern.

Well, the president remained there. And talked to everyone, to the firefighters, to the police officers, the health care workers, the clergy. But the people that believe -- this is my opinion now from observing it -- that the people that spent the most time with him were our construction workers.

Now, New York construction workers are very special people. I'm sure this is true all over America where you come from, but I know the ones in New York really well.

And they were real heroes that day, like many others.

But I have to tell you, they're big. They are really big. They have arms that are bigger than my legs. And they have opinions that are bigger than their arms.

So every time the president would go up to one of them, they would hold his hand a little bit longer. And they would give him advice. I think like his Cabinet, Mr. Vice President, gives him advice.

They would like tell him in their own language exactly what he should do with the terrorists.

I can't repeat -- after all this is the Republican convention -- I can't repeat what they said, but one of them really got the president's attention. The president really bonded with him. They sort of hit it off. And the guy's giving him this long explanation of exactly what he should do. And when the man finished, President Bush said in a rather loud voice, "I agree."

At this point, all of the people kind of looked at this guy, all of his buddies. And can you imagine -- I mean, you're a construction worker, and all your buddies say -- and the president says, "I agree."

The guy went up in his own estimation from his 6 feet to about 6-10.

He lost total control of himself. Forgot who he was dealing with. He leaned over. He grabbed the president of the United States in this massive bear hug, and he started squeezing him.

And the Secret Service agent standing next to me, who wasn't happy about any of this, instead of running over and getting the president out of this grip, puts his finger in my face and he says to me, "If this guy hurts the president, Giuliani, you're finished."

I didn't know what to say. I was kind of shook when the -- and I said -- the only thing I could think of, and it's the moral of the story, I said, "But it would be out of love."

I also remember on that same day, as I'm sure Governor Pataki does, the heart-wrenching visit President Bush made to the families of our firefighters and our police officers at the Javits Center. I'm sure some of you remember it.

I remember receiving all the help and the assistance and support from the president, and even more than we asked for. For that, and for his personal support of me, I am eternally grateful to President Bush. He helped to get me through.

And I remember the support being bipartisan and actually standing hand in hand Republicans and Democrats, here in New York and all over the nation.

During a Boston Red Sox game in the seventh inning there was a sign that read, "Boston loves New York."

You're not going to see it now with a 4.5 game spread between the two teams.

And then one of the most remarkable experiences was, I was driving along and I saw a Chicago police officer directing traffic in the middle of Manhattan, sent here by Mayor Daley of Chicago, who was a good friend of ours, and is. And that's what I mean about no Democrats or Republicans.

Well, the guy is directing traffic. And I got out to thank him, and I did. And then I went back in my car and all of a sudden, I had this thought: "I wonder where he's sending these people."

I think some of them are still driving around the Bronx, but it was very reassuring to know how much support we had, and I thank all of you for it, because you all gave us support -- Republicans, Democrats, everyone.

And as we look beyond this election and realize that elections do accentuate our differences, let's make sure that we rekindle that spirit that we had, that we are one America. We are united to end the threat of global terrorism as one people.

Certainly President Bush will keep us focused on that goal. When President Bush announced his commitment to ending global terrorism, he understood, I understood, we all understood that it was critical to remove the pillars of support for the global terrorist movement.

In any plan to destroy global terrorism, removing Saddam Hussein needed to be removed.

Frankly, I believed then and I believe now that Saddam Hussein, who supported global terrorism, slaughtered thousands and thousands of his own people, permitted horrific atrocities against women, and used weapons of mass destruction -- he was himself a weapon of mass destruction.

But the reasons for removing Saddam Hussein were based on issues even broader than just the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

To liberate people, give them a chance for accountable, decent government and to rid the world of a pillar of support for global terrorism is nothing to be defensive about.

It's something for which all those involved, from President Bush to the brave men of our armed services, should be proud. They did something wonderful. They did something that history will give them great credit for.

President Bush has also focused us on the correct long-term answer for the violence and hatred emerging from the Middle East. The hatred and anger in the Middle East arises from the lack of accountable governments.

Rather than trying to grant more freedom, or create more income, or improve education and basic health care, these governments deflect their own failures by pointing to America and to Israel and to other external scapegoats.

But blaming these scapegoats does not improve the life of a single person in the Arab world.

It does not relieve the plight of even one woman in Iran.

It does not give a decent living to a single soul in Syria.

It doesn't stop the slaughter of African Christians in the Sudan.

The president understands that the changes necessary in the Middle East involve encouraging accountable, lawful, decent governments that can be role models and solve the problems of their own people.

This has been a very important part of the Bush doctrine and the president's vision for the future.

Have faith in the power of freedom. People who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in oppression.

That's the story of the Old Testament.

That's the story of World War II and the Cold War.

That's the story of the firefighters and police officers and rescue workers who courageously saved thousands of lives on September 11, 2001.

President Bush is the leader we need for the next four years because he can see beyond just today and tomorrow. He can see in the future. He has a vision of a peaceful Middle East and a safer world.

Don't be discouraged. Don't be cynical. We'll see an end to global terrorism. I can see it. I believe it. I know it will happen.

You know, right now, it may seem very difficult and a long way off. It may even seem idealistic to say that. But it may not be as far away and idealistic as it seems.

Look how quickly the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Iron Curtain ripped open and the Soviet Union disintegrated because of the power of the pent-up demand for freedom.

When it catches hold, there is nothing more powerful than freedom. Give it some hope, and it will overwhelm dictators and even defeat terrorists.

That is what we've done and must continue to do in Iraq. That's what the Republican Party, our party, does best, when we're at our best.

We extend freedom, and it's our mission. It's the long-term answer to ending global terrorism. Governments that are free and accountable.

We have won many battles in this war on terror, at home and abroad. But as President Bush told us way back on September 20, 2001, it will take a long-term determined effort to prevail.

The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There will be no dramatic surrender. There will be no crumbling of a massive wall.

But we will know it. We'll know it as accountable governments continue to develop in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

We'll know it as terrorist attacks throughout the world decrease and then end and we save lives. And then, God willing, we'll all be able on a future anniversary of September 11 to return to Ground Zero, or to the Pentagon, or to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and to say to our fallen brothers and sisters, to our heroes of the worst attack in our history and to our heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the war on terror, we will be able to say to them that we have done all that we could with our lives that were spared to make your sacrifices build a world of real peace and true freedom.

We will make certain, in the words of President Bush, that they have heard from us, that they've heard from us a message of peace through free, accountable, lawful and decent governments giving people hope for a future for themselves and their children.

God bless each one we have lost, every soul, every single person, here and abroad, and their families. God bless all those who are currently at risk and in harm's way defending our freedom. And God bless America.

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