Last night President Bush spoke to the Republican Governors Association fundraising dinner and finally gave a speech defending his record and taking on his Democratic opponents.
It was a speech for which the President’s supporters have been asking.
Was it perfect? No.
Were there items contained in the speech to which conservatives might object? Sure.
Did he go after his critics? Most certainly.
Here are some excerpts from the speech that ought to hearten GOPers concerned about the strength of the Democrats’ message:
The other party’s nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group, with diverse opinions: For tax cuts, and against them. For NAFTA, and against NAFTA. For the Patriot Act, and against the Patriot Act. In favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that’s just one senator from Massachusetts.
Come November, the voters are going to have a very clear choice. It’s a choice between keeping the tax relief that is moving the economy forward, or putting the burden of higher taxes back on the American people. It is a choice between an America that leads the world with strength and confidence, or an America that is uncertain in the face of danger. The American people will decide between two visions of government: a government that encourages ownership and opportunity and responsibility, or a government that takes your money and makes your choices.
When Dick Cheney and I came to Washington, we found a military that was under-funded and under-appreciated.
It’s the President’s job to confront problems, not to pass them on to future Presidents and future generations.
Great events will turn on this election. The man who sits in the Oval Office will set the course of the war on terror, and the direction of our economy. The security and prosperity of America are at stake.
In the next four years, we’ll keep our enemies on the run, and extend the frontiers of liberty. In the next four years, we’ll help more Americans to find their opportunities in a changing economy. In the next four years, we will stand for the values that make us a good and decent country. Our opponents have not offered much in the way of strategies to win the war, or policies to expand our economy. So far, all we hear is a lot of old bitterness and partisan anger. Anger is not an agenda for the future of America.
Our opponents have their own plan for these tax cuts — they plan to take them away. They will use that money to expand the federal government.
Our opponents talk about job creation. . . . Empty talk about jobs won’t get anybody hired.
On issue after issue, the American people have a clear choice. [Our opponents] seem to be against every idea that gives Americans more authority and more choices and more control over their own lives. We’ll hear them make a lot of promises over the next eight months — and listen closely because there’s a theme: Every promise will increase the power of politicians and bureaucrats over your income, over your retirement, over your health care, and over your life. It’s that same old Washington mind-set — they’ll give the orders, and you’ll pay the bills.
If America shows weakness and uncertainty, the world will drift toward tragedy. That will not happen on my watch.
In Iraq, my administration looked at the intelligence and saw a danger. Members of Congress looked at the intelligence, and they saw a danger. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a danger. The previous administration and Congress looked at the intelligence, and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country.
They now agree that the world is better off with Saddam Hussein out of power; they just didn’t support removing Saddam from power. Maybe they were hoping he’d lose the next Iraqi election.
On national security, Americans have the clearest possible choice. Our opponents say they approve of bold action in the world, but only if no other government disagrees. . . . America must never out-source America’s national security decisions to the leaders of other governments.
Some of our opponents are skeptical that the war on terror is really a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime — a problem to be solved with law enforcement and indictments. Our nation followed that approach after the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. . . . After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers.
We’re changing the culture of America from one that said, “if it feels good, do it,” and “if you’ve got a problem, blame someone else,” to a culture in which each of us understands we’re responsible for the decisions we make.