Monday, October 18, 2004

Pres. Bush Speaks in New Jersey

The President visited Evesham Township (aka Marlton) this afternoon. From what I heard of the speech on the radio, the audience was in fine fettle! It was a very strong, well-crafted speech. He visited familiar themes, and sharply contrasted his record since 9/11/01 against Senator Kerry's 20-year voting record. He also spoke about the "2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act" which he signed into law this morning:

Winning the war on terror requires more than tough-sounding words repeated in the election season. America needs clear, moral purpose and leaders who will not waver, especially in the tough times. (Applause.) And winning the war on terror requires a strategy for victory. Unlike my opponent, I understand the struggle America faces and I have a strategy to win. (Applause.)

Our first duty in the war on terror is to protect the homeland. This morning at the White House, I signed a strong law that will make our nation more secure. With the 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, we are providing essential funding for Coast Guard patrols and port security, for the Federal Air Marshal program, and for technology that will defend aircraft against missiles. We're adding new resources to patrol our borders and to verify the identity of foreign visitors to America. We need to know who's coming in and out of our country.

The new law includes vital money for first responders, and for better security of chemical facilities and nuclear plants and water treatment plants and bridges and subways and tunnels. All these measures show the unwavering commitment of our government. We will do everything in our power to protect the American people. (Applause.)

The law I signed today is part of a broad effort to defend America against new dangers. After September the 11th we created the Department of Homeland Security to make sure our government agencies are working together. We're transforming the FBI into an agency whose primary focus is stopping terrorism. Through Project BioShield, we are developing new vaccines and treatments against biological attacks. We've trained more than a half million first responders across America.

The White House transcript is here. [Update 8:30 pm] Hugh Hewitt replayed clips from the speech on his show this evening, and this speech struck me as one that is better heard than read. To that end, here are some more highlights:
We are now 15 days away from a critical election. Many important domestic issues are at stake. I have a positive, hopeful agenda for job creation, broader health coverage and better public education. Yet all the progress we hope to make depends on the security of our nation. (Applause.) America is in the middle of a global war on terror, a struggle unlike any we have ever known before. We face an enemy that is determined to kill the innocent and make our country into a battlefield. In the war on terror, there is no place for confusion and no substitute for victory. (Applause.) For the sake of our future and our freedom, we will fight this war with every asset of our national power, and we will prevail. (Applause.) [...]

In a free and open society, it is impossible to protect against every threat. So, second, we must pursue a comprehensive strategy against terror. The best way to prevent attacks is to stay on the offense against the enemy overseas. (Applause.) We are waging a global campaign from the mountains of Central Asia to the deserts of the Middle East, and from the Horn of Africa to the Philippines. (Applause.) These efforts are paying off. Since September the 11th, 2001, more than three-quarters of al Qaeda's key members and associates have been brought to justice. (Applause.) The rest of them know we're coming after them. (Applause.)

After September the 11th, we set a new direction for American policy and enforced a doctrine that is clear to all: If you support or harbor terrorists, you're equally guilty of terrorist murder. (Applause.) We've destroyed the terror camps that train thousands of killers in Afghanistan. We removed the Taliban from power. We have persuaded governments in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to recognize the enemy and join the fight. We ended the regime of Saddam Hussein, which sponsored terror. (Applause.) Iraq's new government under Prime Minister Allawi is hunting down terrorists in Iraq.

We sent a message to Libya, which has now given up weapons of mass destruction programs and handed nuclear materials and equipment over to the United States. (Applause.) We have acted, through diplomacy and force, to shrink the area where the terrorists can operate freely, and that strategy has the terrorists on the run. (Applause.)

The Courier-Post breaking story is here. (It may go stale quickly, since it's an evolving story.)

The President also talked with reporters aboard Air Force One enroute to New Jersey.

At least one of my colleagues was invited to see the President today, so I hope to get some comments tomorrow that I can post.