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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
President Bush Speaks in Greeley, Colorado
Aired October 25, 2004 - 12:32 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But for the time being, let's go out to Colorado right now -- Greeley, Colorado. The president of the United States is speaking. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN LIVE NEWS EVENT -- JOINED IN PROGRESS)
GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... as possible. And then, our troop will return home with the honor they have earned.
My opponent has a different view. The senator calls America's missions in Iraq a mistake, a diversion, a colossal error. And then he says he's the right man to win the war? You can not win a war do you not believe in fighting.
On Iraq, my opponent has a strategy of pessimism and retreat. He's talked about artificial timetables to pull our troops out. He has sent the signal that America's overriding goal in Iraq would be to leave, even if the job is not done. That sends the wrong message. It sends the wrong message to Iraqis who need to know that America will not cut and run.
That sends the wrong message to the troops of our coalition who need to know that we will honor their sacrifice by completing the mission.
My opponent has the wrong strategy for the wrong country at the wrong time.
On this vital front on the war of terror, protest is not a policy, retreat is not a strategy, and failure is not an option.
As long as I'm the commander-in-chief, America will never retreat in the face of terror.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Third, American leadership is indispensable to winning the war on terror. Ever since September the 11th, 2001, America has sounded a certain trumpet. We have stated clearly the challenge to civilization. We've rallied many nations to oppose it. More than 90 nations are actively engaged on the war on terror. All 26 nations -- all 26 nations of NATO have personnel in either Iraq, Afghanistan, or both.
NATO has taken leadership of an international force in Afghanistan, the first out-of-area deployment in the history of our alliance. Japan has deployed forces in Iraq, the first overseas mission in the history of their democracy.
Forces from South Korea are there. America has led; many have joined. And America and the world are safer.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
My opponent takes a different approach. He believes that instead of leading with confidence, America must submit to what he calls a global test. I'm not making that up. I was standing right here when he said it.
As far as I can tell, that means that our country must get permission from foreign capitals before we act in our own defense. As president, I will always work with other countries. I will seek their advice. But there's a world of difference between working with good allies and giving a few reluctant nations veto power over our national security.
I will never, never submit our national security decisions to veto of a foreign government.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
In addition to a global test, my opponent promises what he calls a golden age of diplomacy, to charm political governments all over the world. I don't see much diplomatic skill in Senator Kerry's habit of insulting America's closest friends.
He called the countries serving alongside us in Iraq, quote, "a trumped up coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted." Even last week, my opponent said that we have, quote, "hardly anyone with us in Iraq." That is a deeply offensive way to treat some 30 nations that are in Iraq, and especially the 14 nations that have lost forces in our cause. How can Senator Kerry denigrate the contributions of countries led by the likes of Tony Blair of Great Britain, John Howard of Australia, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland, and then expect other leaders to stand with America in the future? You cannot expand an alliance by showing contempt for those already in it.
In this time of challenge to civilization, America has found strong and responsible allies. And they deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician.
Of course, I believe that America will gain long-term security by promoting freedom and hope and democracy in the broader Middle East.
Our country -- our country needs to look ahead. In 20 years from now if the Middle East is dominated by dictators and mullahs who build weapons of mass destruction and harbor terrorists, our children and grandchildren will live in a nightmare world of danger. That doesn't have to happen.
By taking the side of reformers and Democrats in the Middle East, we'll gain allies on the war in terror and isolate the ideology of murder and help defeat the despair and hopelessness that feeds terror. By spreading freedom, by spreading liberty, the world will become a much safer place for future generations.
Progress in the broader Middle East toward freedom will not come easily, yet that progress is coming faster than many would have said possible. Across a troubled region, we are seeing a movement towards elections, greater rights for women, open discussion of peaceful reform. The election in Afghanistan this month and the election in Iraq next January will be counted as landmark events in the history of liberty.
My opponent looks at things differently. He is not only skeptical of democracy in Iraq, he has not made democracy a priority for his foreign policy. Well, what is his long-term answer to the threat of terror? Is he content to watch and wait as anger and resentment grow for more decades? Is he content to wait as more and more people are angry and hostile and turn to terrorism? Is he content to wait until radicals without conscience gain the weapons to kill without limit?
Ignoring the root causes of terror, turning a blind eye to the oppression and despair of millions may be easier in the short run, but we learned on September the 11th if violence and fanaticism are not opposed at their source, they will find us where we live.
Instead of offering his own agenda for freedom, my opponent complains that we are trying to, quote, "impose democracy on the people of the broader Middle East." Is that what he sees in Afghanistan? Unwilling people having democracy forced upon them?
We did remove the Taliban by force, but democracy is rising in that country because the Afghan people, like people everywhere, want to live in freedom.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
No one forced them to register by the millions or to stand in long lines waiting to vote. For many people, that historic election was a day they will never forget. One man in western Kabul arrived to vote at 7:00 a.m. He said, "I didn't sleep all night. I wanted to be the first in my polling station."
My fellow citizens, freedom is on the march, and it is changing the world.
BLITZER: The president of the United States speaking before a crowd in Greeley, Colorado. You probably saw Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, sitting behind him.
The president fine tuning his stump speech going after John Kerry on his positions on the war on terror, positions on Afghanistan -- or Iraq. We'll continue to monitor what the president's says.
This note to our viewers -- in the coming hour in Philadelphia, the Democratic presidential nominee will be speaking. You're looking at live pictures right now. He will be introduced by the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. CNN, of course, will bring you that live, as well. We'll have extensive live coverage of what's happening in Philadelphia.
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