2004 Republican National Convention Address
delivered 30 August 2004, Madison Square Garden, New York
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[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]
Welcome to the capital of the world.
New York -- 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 -- Well they heard from us.
They heard from us in Afghanistan and we removed the Taliban.
They heard from us -- 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 Qaddhafi abandoned his weapons of mass destruction.
They're hearing from us -- They're hearing from us in nations that are now much more reluctant to sponsor terrorists or terrorism.
So long -- So long as George Bush is our President, is there any doubt they will continue to hear from us?
We -- We -- We owe that much and more to the loved ones and heroes that we lost on September 11th.
The families -- The families of some of those we lost on September 11th are here with us. To them, and to all those families affected by September 11th, we recognize the sacrifices your loved ones made. We recognize the sacrifices that you're making.
You're in our prayers and we are in your debt.
This is the first Republican convention ever held here in New York City. In fact, I've never seen so many Republicans in New York city. It's great! Great! I finally feel at home!
And you know something? Mayor Blumberg, Governor Pataki -- all of you that worked so hard in bringing you this convention to New York -- our President, and the Party that decided to have it here, above 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!
(This is getting to be like a Yankee game -- I don't know, with all that shouting)
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!!
From -- 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 -- But -- But, seriously, 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!
These are times -- These 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 5 or 6 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 had never, ever faced before. We had never been confronted by 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'll 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 -- of Lower Manhattan.
Our people were so brave in their response.
At the time -- At the time -- 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 -- I grabbed the arm of -- of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and I said him, "Bernie, thank God George Bush is our President.”
I say it -- I say it again tonight -- I say it again tonight: Thank God that George Bush is our President.
And thank God -- 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 -- On -- (Thank you. Absolutely. Absolutely.)
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 -- 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 has already earned a place in history as a great American President!
But -- you -- you and I -- you and I, we're not going to wait for history to present the correct view of our President. Let's 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 our way of life.
Terrorism didn't start on September 11, 2001. It started a long time ago and t 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!
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.”
And worse -- 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 just be on defense against global terrorism. We must also be on offense.
On September 20th -- On September 20th, 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 -- The President announced the "Bush Doctrine" when he said: “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it doesn't 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 -- And since September 11th -- And since September 11th, President Bush has remained rock solid.
It doesn’t matter -- It doesn't matter to him how he's demonized.
It doesn’t matter to him what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeated [sic] 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 -- Some -- Some call it stubbornness. I call it "principled leadership."
President Bush -- 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 -- One of my heroes, Winston Churchill, saw the dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as a war-mongering 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's -- But it's important and critical to see the contrast in approach between these 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 -- even on important issues.
Now, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf war. Ah! But he must've heard you're booing, because -- because -- because later he said he actually supported the war.
Then -- 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 dollar supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.
He even, at one point, declared that himself as an antiwar candidate. And now he says he’s a 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 -- 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 -- maybe this explains John Edwards’ need for two Americas: One -- One -- One -- One where John Kerry can vote for something and another one where he can vote against exactly the same thing.
Yes, people in public office at times change their minds, or they realize 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.”
The contrasts -- The contrasts are dramatic -- 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 the risk 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 -- 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 will now allow -- will now [not] allow countries that appear to have ignored the lessons of history and failed for over 30 years to stand up to terrorists -- he won't allow them to stop us from doing what's necessary in the defense of our country. He -- He's not going to let them set the agenda. Under President Bush, you can be certain America will lead, not follow.
Remember -- 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 -- I remember the days following September 11th, 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 14th, 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 -- In fact, if you -- if you -- if you promise to keep this between us -- because if...I mean if I, I could get in trouble for this. (But I get in trouble all the time -- I was Mayor of New York, so....)
It's my opinion that when President Bush came here on September 14th, 2001, the Secret Service was not really happy about his -- about his remaining in the area so long. With buildings that 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 he talked to everyone -- to the firefighters, to the police officers, the health care workers, the clergy. But the people that I believe -- this is my opinion, now, from observing it -- the people who 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 and -- but I know the ones in New York really well. And they were real heroes that day, like, like many others.
But I gotta tell you, they're big. They're 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, like, give him advice. I think like his Cabinet -- Mr. Vice President gives him advice. That would like tell him, in their own language, exactly what he should do with the terrorists.
I -- I can't -- I can't -- 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. He really -- 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 -- they look at it 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, this, 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 -- I didn't know to say. I was kind of a little shook when the Se -- and I said...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 -- I also remember, on that same day -- as I'm sure Governor Pataki does -- the heart-wrenching visit that President Bush made to the families of our firefighters and our police officers at the Javits Center. I'm sure some of you remember. I remember receiving all of 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'm eternally grateful to President Bush. He helped to get me through it.
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 Sock [Sox] game, in the 7th inning, there was a sign that read, “Boston loves New York.” You're not going to see it now with a 4 and 1/2 game -- you know -- spreading out between the two teams, but....
And then, one of the most remarkable experience[s] 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 that the support we have and I thank all of you for it, because you all gave us support -- Republicans, Democrats, everyone.
And as we look -- as we look beyond this election -- you know as we look beyond this election and realize that elections do accentuate differences -- yeah, let’s make sure that we rekindle that spirit that we had, that we're one America. We're united to end the threat of global terrorism as one people.
Certainly -- 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, 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 acts of 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, to 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 forces should be proud. They did something wonderful! They did something that history will give them great credit for.
President Bush -- 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 the 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 doesn't relieve the plight of even one woman in Iran. It doesn't 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 -- Have -- Have faith in the power of freedom. People who live in freedom always prevail over people who live in oppression. That's the -- 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.
We -- 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, 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, as 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 -- 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's -- That -- 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 20th of 2001, it will take a long-term determined effort to prevail.
The war on terrorism will not be won in a single battle. There'll be no dramatic surrender. There'll will be no crumbling of a massive wall. But we'll know it.
We’ll know it as accountable governments continue to develop in countries like Pakistan and 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 11th to return to ground zero, or to the Pentagon, or to Shanks Ville 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'll 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'll -- We'll 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 -- 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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