George W. Bush
Iowa Straw Poll
August 14, 1999
Thank you very much. Thank you all very much. Before I begin I want to introduce a great lady, a woman who understands that the most important job description she'll ever have is to be a good mother--the first lady of Texas, my lovely wife Laura Bush. [cheers; Laura Bush came up on stage, they embraced, she waved and left].
I want to thank Kayne Robinson and the Republican Party of Iowa for this fantastic festival. I'm proud to be here in this grassroots exercise in democracy, and whether you support me or another one of the fine candidates who are running for office, I want to thank you for being here. [cheers]. I want to thank you for caring enough about the future of this great country to take time out of your busy lives to help elect the next president of the United States. [cheers]. For those of you who support me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hard work and loyal commitment. I've worked to earn your support; I will continue to do so here in Iowa and all across this great land.
I will speak plainly. I will talk about what's on my heart and I will share my values. Mine are the convictions of a conservative. I believe in freedom and possibilities, family and its duties, and faith and its mercies.
Today in America, freedom demands a tax cut. [cheers]. A massive surplus, a massive surplus without a major tax cut is the wrong path to bigger government and higher spending. Returning a meaningful part of the surplus to the people, Mr. President, is not an option, it is an obligation. [cheers].
I believe strongly, I believe strongly that America must keep our commitments to our elderly. We must trust Americans with the option of investing some of their Social Security contributions in personal savings accounts. All Americans should own a part of their own future. [cheers].
And because this is a threatening world, I will move quickly to protect our people and our allies against blackmail and missile attacks. And because a dangerous world requires a sharpened sword, I will rebuild the military power of the United States of America. [cheers].
I believe strongly, I believe strongly that no child should be trapped in a failed school that does not teach and will not change. I believe in the power of high standards and high expectations, and I know we must challenge education failure with charters and choice. [cheers].
And today's farm crisis requires an immediate response as well as a broader vision. Farmers need emergency help today, and we must agressively open the world markets that will sustain them tomorrow. I will build hope, I will build hope in the heartland of America. [cheers, chants]
A great country, a great country does not live by prosperity alone. Prosperity must have a greater purpose. If prosperity were enough, the wealth of Littleton would have shielded its children.
America's strongest foundation is not found in our wallets, it is found in our souls. [cheers]. It is found in our bedrock values shared by all our people--one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and with justice for all.
We must renew the promise of America for all our people in every community and in every neighborhood. We must bring discipline to our schools, strength to our families and vigor to our churches because you see the state of our character is the fate of our country. [cheers].
We must never forget that we live in a great and loving and caring nation. There are so many signs of hope. We must vigorously promote the work of charities and churches and synagogues that save and change lives. We must match our conservative mind with a compassionate heart.
And I know a generous society must protect the vulnerable and respect life--the aged, the handicapped, the unborn. [cheers]. The promises, the promises of the Declaration do not just apply to a few and the strong, they apply to everybody who lives in America.
These are the beliefs that have guided me as governor of Texas, a job I really love. I'm under no illusions; I know it is a huge step going from governor of Texas to president of the United States, but I've had some pretty good training. [cheers]. If Texas were a nation, if Texas were a nation, it would be the 11th largest economy in the world.
I've done in office what I've told my fellow Texans I would do. I told 'em we'd set priorities: educating our children, locking up people who couldn't figure out how to coexist with innocent folks, taking care of people who couldn't help themselves--but if we had money left over, instead of trying to create new and more government
I would pass it back to the people; I have fought for and signed the two largest tax cuts in the history of the state of Texas. [cheers].
We have reformed our welfare laws. We passed a strong parental notification bill in Texas and test scores are up all across the board, particularly amongst African-American and Hispanic students, because I believe in high standards for everybody and I never quit on any single child who lives in America. [cheers].
I know how to lead; I know how to lead. I don't run polls to tell me what to think. The most important and influential job in America must be the president, not the president's pollster. [cheers]. I know you cannot lead by dividing people. I reject the ugly politics of division; I'm a uniter, not a divider.
And I know this, I know this, this country is hungry for a new style of campaigning. A campaign that is positive and hopeful and optimistic, a campaign based upon ideas and a positive agenda, and a campaign that attracts new faces and new voices. America wants a candidate, America wants a candidate who will appeal to our better angels not our darker impulses, and that is exactly the kind of campaign I intend to bring all across the great country called America. [cheers].
And I know this, I know this, should I be fortunate enough to become the president of the United States that when I put my hand on the Bible I will swear to not only uphold the laws of the land, I will swear to uphold the honor and the dignity of the office to which I have been elected so help me God. [cheers].
I'm honored you all are here. Thank you for coming. God bless America. [cheers].