For Immediate Release
Office of the
December 4, 2001
President Meets with Displaced Workers in Town Hall
Remarks by the President in Town Hall
Orange County Convention Center
the President's Remarks
to the President's Remarks
3:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please be seated.
Thank you all very much. I'm really happy to visit
Florida. (Applause.) The weather is beautiful.
There's a lot of interesting things to do here. I
recommend people from outside of Florida to come and take a look at
Florida. (Applause.) It's a nice place to visit and a
great place to live -- one reason why is because you've got a great
I'm not very objective. (Laughter.) I also -- I'm
proud to be traveling today with two members of my Cabinet.
First, somebody who made a living and raised his family right
here in Orange County, and that's Mel Martinez -- (applause.)
There's no better person to help promote a significant part of
the American Dream, that being home ownership, than somebody who
came to our country from a country that doesn't encourage home
ownership. Somebody whose parents had the foresight to
encourage him to be extricated from a tyrannical society.
Somebody who understood Fidel Castro doesn't trust people to
own property. And that's Mel Martinez. We're working
together to make sure home ownership becomes a reality for any
citizen in America who shares that dream, regardless of where they
live or their background.
I'm also traveling today with the Secretary of Labor, Elaine
Chao. (Applause.) And there's a lot of members of the
United States Congress who have traveled here -- homegrown
Congressman Ric Keller. (Applause.) Ander Crenshaw is
with us. Thank you for coming, Ander. (Applause.)
Congressman Mark Foley, I appreciate it. (Applause.)
Congressman John Mica. (Applause.)
I recently worked closely with John and other Republicans and
Democrats to forge an airport security bill, which will allow the
federal government to supervise the security of our airports, to
make sure that those who travel are comfortable with the fact that
we're doing everything in our power to make air travel as safe as it
can possibly be.
Thank you, John, for your leadership on that issue.
Congressman Adam Putnam -- I had to check to make sure he was old
enough, but, Adam, thank you. (Applause.) Congressman
Dave Weldon -- thank you, Dave, for being here. (Applause.)
Congressman Cliff Stearns, from Florida, as well.
And finally, I want to thank the Mayor, Glenda Hood, and all
those who helped encourage you all to come so that I can answer any
questions you may have about what's going on in the country and the
Before I answer a few questions -- and I thought it was right, I
know a lot of citizens in Florida and around our country may have
some questions to the President, and I'm more than happy to answer
some. Before I do, I do want to say a few comments.
One of the other reasons I came here is to herald a program
called "Operation Paycheck." It's a program that Jeb has put
in place to help displaced workers find the training necessary to
find work. To help displaced workers around this part of the
world -- (applause) -- to help those who want to help themselves
find the training necessary to allow them to learn new skills to
find work again.
There's nothing that hurts me more than to know as we head into
the holiday season that some of our citizens and some of their
families hurt because they've been laid off as a result of 9/11.
And we have a role in the government -- in the state
government, in the federal government -- to provide immediate help
as part of an economic security package, is to provide immediate
And so one of the things I did was announce a grant for the State
of Florida to encourage programs like Operation Paycheck one-stop
centers for people to find help. And, today, I was pleased to
announce that grant on behalf of the federal government. But
there's more to be done. You probably read about the fact that
we're working with Congress. And I must say, relations with
Congress are a heck of a lot better than they have been in the past,
because congressmen and senators of both parties are interested
about what's doing right for the American people.
And part of an economic security package is to make sure that we
extend unemployment insurance benefits for those who have been laid
off as a result of 9/11, and provide money -- monies to help those
who have been laid off with things such as child care or health
insurance or transportation to a community college, to enable them
to learn a new skill.
We have a role to play. And I urge the United States
Congress to stop talking and to get an economic security bill to my
desk. (Applause.) The House has acted, and for that I'm
grateful. And there's always -- the Speaker can tell you,
there's always a difference of opinion sometimes between the House
and the Senate, whether it's at the state or federal level.
But the Senate needs to get a bill, get it reconciled, and get
it to my desk, so we can say we're doing the people's business in a
way that will make you proud.
The truth of the matter is, economic security, however, the
long-term depends upon our ability to get our economy cranked up
again, so new jobs are being created. We've got to think about
how to stimulate job creation. The question that needs to be
answered is how to create more jobs. And I've laid out a
blueprint to do just that.
I think we ought to -- and help people with more money as we head
into the Christmas season, by making sure that those who file, but
didn't pay taxes get a rebate, just similar to the rebates you all
have just recently received. That will help low and
moderate-income Americans. We ought to accelerate the tax cuts
that we have in place. More money in people's pockets mean
more economic activity. (Applause.)
We ought to reform the corporate income tax system. This
current system says that as you lose money, you begin to pay more
taxes. That doesn't make any sense if we're worried about job
creation. I don't think we ought to be looking back for a
decade, but I do think we ought to reform the system as we head
forward, to make sense. And finally, I think we ought to
provide incentives for corporate America to buy more plant and
equipment. That will encourage job creation.
We ought to ask the question in Washington, what does it take to
create more jobs, so hardworking Americans can be able to put food
on the table? That's what we ought to be asking.
Two other points I want to make before I answer your questions --
is there's no question, as well, that in order to make sure our
economy recovers and people are able to find work, we've got to do
everything we can to prevent the enemy from hitting us again.
We've got to be diligent. (Applause.) And so we're
following every hint, every lead, every possibility within the
confines of the Constitution.
My job is to provide security for the American people. My
job is to make sure that we use the assets at our disposal to ferret
out those who might hurt America and to bring them to justice.
We can protect our homeland by beefing up law enforcement, by
encouraging the FBI to focus on prevention, by working closely with
local authorities -- and we're doing that. But in the
long-term, the best way to make sure America is safe is to find
those who would commit terror against America, no matter where they
run or where they hide, and bring them to justice. And that's
exactly what we're doing. (Applause.)
For those of you who are the parents or the spouse or the brother
or sister of a member of our military, who may not be home during
the holiday season, first, I want to thank you for your sacrifice,
but let you know that the cause is just. And I know you're as
proud as I am of how our military is fighting the war on terror.
We rescued humanitarian aid workers. We're, slowly, but
surely, demolishing the government that felt comfortable in housing
and abetting and feeding and hiding those who committed murder in
America. And, slowly, but surely, we're tightening the net on
Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. (Applause.)
They think they can run, and we'll tire. They think they
can hide, and we will tire. But they have sorely misunderstood
America. They don't understand our will and our determination.
This great land is united to bring freedom to the world.
We will bring them to justice, and we will prevail.
And so I'm honored that such a huge crowd would turn out. I
want to thank you all for coming. I look forward the answering
your questions. I want to thank you for your prayers, thank
you for your love for the country. And now, if you've got any
questions, I'm here to answer them.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Since the
September 11th tragedy, many Americans with college degrees,
including myself, have been laid off. What are some of the
things you're doing to help people like me, who have been out of
work for the past few months?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, there's a lot of money
spent from the federal level to help -- to help with reeducation.
And one of the programs that I just mentioned is the use of
federal monies to empower state governments to provide opportunities
I just went by a center today. I sat next to a TWA pilot,
highly skilled, college-educated man who got laid off as a pilot.
His dream is to go back to a local community college, become
reeducated to become a computer programmer. In other words,
the idea is to mate those with skills with jobs that actually exist.
The problem with the kind of federal approach and only federal
approach is, is that we may encourage you to become trained in a job
that doesn't exist. And so the real thing is, is there money
available for job training. Is there money available from the
federal government to say to Governor Bush of Florida, here is some
dough; set up a system that will actually match people with skills
and jobs that exist.
There are jobs in Florida. And the fundamental question is,
how do we encourage those with skills, to funnel those with skills
into those jobs.
Secondly, I do believe we ought to extend the amount of time one
can receive unemployment insurance benefits. I think that's
important. And I also believe that we need to have what's
called national emergency grants, which are basically federal
expenditures to states to allow people to help, for example, make
health care payments.
And one of the things I worry about and I'm deeply concerned
about is somebody who has had a good health care plan is no longer
able to afford health care. And so we ought to help people be
able to afford those premiums and those benefits until they're able
to get back to work.
The long-term, though, is -- I keep repeating it is -- let's
stimulate job growth. The best thing for you to be able to
find a job is for there to be more jobs available. And I
believe -- I believe we're on the verge of doing just that. I
mean, we've got great tax policy in place.
We cut taxes this year; we've got taxes cut for the next years
coming, which will stimulate economic growth. Alan Greenspan
has got monetary policy in such a shape that interest rates are low.
Energy prices are reasonable. And so, we've got the
framework for growth. And, by the way, the same
entrepreneurial spirit that existed in America prior to September
11th still exists today. They can't take that away from us.
Q Mr. President, we appreciate you coming to
the community and putting a great spotlight on the tourism industry.
For the past 16 years, I own a small transportation company
here, 10 of which I operate at the Orlando International Airport.
Due to the slowdown in the economy, and certainly the events
of September 11th, I was forced to close my doors, putting 252
employees out of work, not to mention their families and others who
support my business.
We have taken advantage of some of the programs you've put into
place, such as the SBA disaster loan plan. We've been
monitoring that, and found out that the application is bogged down
in the bureaucracy of the system. What can you do to help us,
as small business, speed that process, as our window is closing
rapidly on us? Thank you for your answer.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first get your card, and find out why
your case is bogged down in bureaucracy. I can't stand
bureaucracy. (Applause.) I appreciate the hardworking
people who work for the federal government. I appreciate
people who care enough to work for the government to make people's
-- to do their job. I like that. But what I don't like
is systems that get so cumbersome that those who are trying to help
you don't get the product out.
I put a good man as the head of the SBA, and I believe that he's
doing everything he can to make sure that applications don't get
stuck in a system; that hardworking federal employees are able to
match their desires to help you with the ability to do so.
So to answer your question, I need to know your case, and I'm
going to send a man right out here to ask you. Where's Logan?
Q First of all, I'd like to thank you for
being here today, Mr. President Bush. My name is Adam
Hallsman, (phonetic) and I'm a 7th grader at Shelley Boon Middle
School (phonetic) in Haines City, Florida. I'd like to know
what the children and the small -- and the young people in America,
how can they help the economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Listen to your mother. (Applause.)
I'm still listening to mine. (Laughter and applause.)
I'll tell you what you can do; I'll tell you how you can help the
economy: Study hard, learn a skill, have ambition, make the
right choices in life so that when you get old enough, you're a
productive citizen. That's the absolute best thing you can do.
But there are other things you can do. I see women of cover
here, and I want to thank you for coming from the Muslim community
here in America. (Applause.) Right after the attacks, I
went to a mosque to send the signal that the war against terror had
nothing to do with the Muslim faith. It has everything to do
with evil, evil people. What you can do to help America beyond
the economy, is to remind people that regardless of our religious
beliefs, we're all, first and foremost, Americans. (Applause.)
And you know what else you can do? You can find somebody in
need, and give them a hand. (Applause.) I'm worried
about the fact that charitable giving in America has dropped off as
a result of 9/11. It didn't drop off because of 9/11, it
dropped off because a lot of people gave money to help the victims,
which is great. But there's an aftermath to the attacks that
we've got to worry about. There are still people in America
who hurt. They were hurting before September 11th; they hurt
And one of the things you can do as a 7th grader, and all of us
can do, is remember that, and give of time and money to help fellow
Americans in need. I can't think of any way better to make
sure our country remains strong in the aftermath of the terrorist
attack, is to help, is to ask the question: What can I do?
Is to not only honor the values of America, but honor the
values of a good neighborhood, which is neighbor helping neighbor in
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President. First
of all, it is an honor to be here with you, and we want to thank you
for your godly leadership in serving this country. (Applause.)
My name is Irma Yapur (phonetic. And my question today
is in regards, also, to small business and self-employment. As
many Americans are losing their corporate jobs and are going into
business for themselves, is the government planning to provide
assistance to the self-employed in small business who do not have
the tangible collateral and livelihood to support a loan approval?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we do. We've got an SBA whose
job it is to encourage entrepreneurial growth. Evidently, it
may be somewhat bound in paperwork, unnecessary paperwork
requirements. (Laughter.) It's good to get out of
Washington to get the real story -- (laughter and applause) -- but
the job -- but that's what the SBA is for. It's to encourage
-- and you're bogged down in paperwork, as well, I take it?
Okay. My man, Logan -- (laughter.)
Look, the government can never guarantee success in the private
sector. That's not what happens in a system based upon free
enterprise. We can help people. But there are no
guarantees about business. We're a risk and reward oriented
society. And so the best thing we can do is help you to get
your business started -- but it's up to you to have a good product;
it's up to you to understand the market; and it's up to you to
fashion a game plan that will work, and what we can do is help there
and there all kinds of ways to do that. (Applause.)
Q The first one is a thank you, from all of
our employees and many people who have worked. When the
taxpayer rebates came, for many of them they said they don't know
what they would have done if it hadn't been for those. So very
much a sincere thank you for that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q The second one is a question. What
are we doing right now to assist our allies in Israel during their
time of terrorist attacks?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. The question is about Israel.
I had the Prime Minister of Israel in my office on Sunday.
He was coming Monday, but decided to come sooner because of
the attacks. And I commiserated with him, because a lot of
innocent people had been killed or hurt as a result of terrorist
The terrorist attacks on Israel -- first of all, Israel has got
no better friend than the United States, as far as I'm concerned.
(Applause.) Israel is a democracy. We share a lot
of values with Israel. I have a dream. I can't think of
anything better than to have a dream for peace, for Israel. I
think the Israeli people want to have peace.
But we learned in such a vivid way that there are elements in the
Middle East who hate the thought of peace, and will be willing to
use terror to derail any type of peace process. And so the
spotlight now flashes on the Middle East in a terrible way,
obviously. But it also reminds people around the world that if
we want peace, that it's important for those advocates of peace to
help rout out terror and to bring it to justice. It is
incumbent upon Mr. Arafat now to respond forcefully, to rout out
those who killed. It's incumbent upon other friends and allies
of ours around the world to help bring those terrorists to justice
if we want peace in the Middle East, which I do. We've got to
bring the terrorists to justice. (Applause.)
We cannot let a few -- we cannot let a few prevent the many from
achieving a dream which is lasting peace in the Middle East. I
hope that happens. I hope it happens for the sake of Israel.
I hope it happens for the sake of the Palestinians, who suffer
because of the lack of job opportunity, and killing, and war.
I hope it happens. But first things first. We must
rid the world of terror.
Q Thank you, President Bush. It's
great to have you here in the state of Florida. I work at the
airport at the Hyatt Hotel. And I'm worried -- I have,
luckily, kept my job, but now we're getting our hours cut and stuff.
And they're trying to do the best that they can, and I'm in
jeopardy of losing my benefits. Now, I'm a single mother of
three kids, and I can't be without benefits, like health insurance,
THE PRESIDENT: Right. Well, I think that one of the
things that we need to work on during the next session is how to
make sure that the working uninsured have benefits. I proposed
a plan through the tax credit system to provide just that -- to make
sure that you don't lose your benefits if this were to happen.
Of course, the key thing -- again, I keep harking back to this --
is, we've got to grow our economy; is we've got to put a stimulus --
security package -- a stimulus package in place that encourages job
Now, the government did act quickly when it came to your
industry. After all, we provided a significant amount of loans
and grants for the airline industry to make sure the airplanes,
which were directly hit by the attacks, continue to fly. And
I hope that the measures we have put in place -- financial measures
plus the security measures -- will convince the American people to
get on airplanes and come down to Florida so that your hotel has got
Q Mr. President, I'm an educator for the
Orange County Public School System. And, first of all, I'd
like to thank you very much for your ethics and integrity, because
that's what we're all about -- (applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Q I'd like to share that I am very
appreciative of the focus that you and the First Lady have brought
to your administration on reading instruction. And we were
very happy when that took place. And we can also appreciate
the fact that since 9/11, your energy and your focus has been
diverted to issues that are to protect our country, and we thank you
very much for that.
But the reality is that 9/11 has also impacted education.
We are about to experience one of the biggest cuts that we
have experiences in many years here in Florida, and we're very
concerned about our children and about our teachers and their
future, as well. And I would just like to hear from you where
you are today with education, in terms of your focus and energy.
THE PRESIDENT: You bet. Thank you very much. I
appreciate that question. Education needs to be the number one
priority of any state. I'm convinced it's the number one
priority of this Governor here. I believe that there needs to
be a clear role for local people, state people, and a limited role
for the federal government, because I do not believe one size fits
all when it comes to educating children. (Applause.)
Now, having said that, I do believe that the federal government
has got responsibilities for providing funds for disadvantaged and
for beefing up reading programs around the country. So one of
the things that we're going to do is to work with Jeb and other
states on enhancing reading programs. There's no question
about it, that if a child can't read, all the rest of the subjects
are basically irrelevant. Reading is the absolute gateway to
knowledge, and therefore what needs to be done is a comprehensive
national reading agenda.
To answer your question, it's about to happen when the Congress
passes the education reform bill and the education bill, the funding
mechanism necessary for education. But education is a priority
not only here, but as my good wife reminded everybody on the radio,
it's got to be a priority around the world. There is no excuse
for the Taliban government to have treated women and young girls the
way they have, and not educated people. (Applause.)
Education is a domestic priority. No question about it,
it's a domestic priority. And we're increasing education
spending at the federal government to help local districts.
But we also have got to remind people around the world, if we
want peace in the world, other nations must do a better job of
treating people with respect by making sure that they are educated,
Speaking about education, you go to school, don't you?
Let's hear your question.
Q Hi. My name is Ashley -- I just
wanted to -- I don't have a comment, but I have a question.
Actually, I don't have a question, I have a comment.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. (Laughter.)
Q You've been doing a good job for the
United States. Can you shake my hand?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I will in a minute. Oh, you
want to do it right now? (Applause.) I'll do better;
I'll give you a kiss. (Applause.) You're a sweet girl.
Q Thank you very much for coming to Florida.
We love you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks. (Applause.)
Q And God bless you. This area is so
dependent on tourism. Sine 9/11, as you know, everyone knows
it's so bad. Is there anything that the government is doing to
attract other industry into our area and to other areas that are so
dependent on this?
THE PRESIDENT: I think -- I would actually get Governor
Bush to answer that question. (Laughter.) I'm afraid to
share the mike with him; he might never give it up, though.
(Laughter and applause.) Absolutely, there is a
diversification program. There is. And Jeb is wise
enough to understand that this part of the world needs to be
diversified. And tourism will always be an integral part of
the Central Florida economy. But there is a lot of interesting
diversification going on here.
Now, the federal government's role is not to tell states how to
diversify their economies; the federal government's role is to
provide an overall picture for economic vitality and growth.
Our job is to think about how best to grow the entire national
economy and let states figure out, and local districts and
communities figure out how to diversify.
One of the interesting battles we've got going in Congress is
trade. We need to be able to trade freely, it seems like to
me, in the world. We've got the best farmers in the world in
the United States -- the best farmers. It seems like it makes
sense to open up other people's markets so we can sell our products
around the world. (Applause.)
Now, that is the place where the federal government, it seems
like to me, has got to address job growth and diversification
through large national issues. I'm sure the Congress -- these
congressmen understand the value of free trade. I look forward
to working with them when it comes to trade promotion authority, if
it ever makes it to my desk. But it requires wise governors
and local officials to understand the opportunities through
diversification. And I believe you've got a good Governor -- I
keep hating to tout the guy too much, because they'll think I'm not
very objective. But, I'm not. (Laughter.)
Q Hi. President Bush, we'd like to
thank you for coming here today. And just to help you out with
her question about -- I wanted to tap our Governor on about, because
we do have a program for people that -- I'm self-employed and I
don't make a lot of money, but we do have a program in this state
for people like ourselves, who we can buy insurance through the
state for our children, in case you lose your job. So I wanted
to tap our Governor on that --
THE PRESIDENT: It's the CHIPS program.
Q No, it's Florida Healthy Kids here.
THE PRESIDENT: Same thing.
Q Right. (Laughter.) She said
she don't qualify, but if you lost your job, you would.
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
Q First of all, thank you. Second of
all, I work in a Hard Rock Hotel here in Orlando, and we love to
have people come through our doors, just as every hotel and every
theme park here does. My question is for the federal
government -- not just for Orlando, but for everywhere -- what is
being done to encourage travel? I've seen a few commercials,
not just within the country, but abroad, what a great place to come
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there's a marketing plan commercials,
not just within the country, but abroad. We're a great place
to come, and --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there's a marketing plan. One of
the things -- if you noticed how I started off my talk here -- I've
got a rather large microphone these days, and I've been encouraging
people to travel. I think the best thing we can do in America
to -- first of all, you can't make people do what they don't want to
do. I mean, if they're not interested in traveling, they're
not going to travel. On the other hand, if they're worried
about security on airplanes, we can do something about that.
That's why we've rallied guard troops all across the country in
airports. Until we have the new security plan in place, we're
putting guards in place. And we've sped up the training and
placement of air marshals on airplanes. I want the American
people to know that if you want to travel, and if that's your
desire, if you're planning to do this in your budget and you've been
thinking about it, air travel is getting safer and safer and safer.
And that's the best thing the federal government can do.
Now, we can -- we're not going to, you know, pick one part of the
region over another. I don't think that's the role of the
federal government. But -- and therefore, that's why Jeb and
other states, my old state of Texas, for example, is trying to
encourage, always trying to compete for people who want to travel to
come to our respective states. But the federal government can
help by making sure things are more secure, and people feel safe.
That's really our fundamental responsibility right now, is the
safety of the American people.
I know a lot of people have got some concerns about how safe we
can make the country, and if we're doing -- are we doing things
within the Constitution. I want to talk about a couple of
things to put your mind at ease. I'll ask myself a question:
Why are you having the opportunity to have a military
Now, I want you to remember that we are at war. The United
States of America is under attack. And at war, the President
needs to have the capacity to protect the national security
interests and the safety of the American people. (Applause.)
And so, I asked: What are all my options as your Commander
in Chief? What are the options to protect America? What
do I need to know about what might occur to make sure that I can
come in front of the folks in Orlando, Florida, and say we're doing
everything in our power, or we have every option in our power to
keep you safe?
Well, one of those scenarios is military tribunals. No one
has been tried in a military tribunal, except I, by executive order,
provided myself with the option of having a military tribunal, which
will be used for -- no American citizen will go to a military
tribunal. They would only be used for those who aren't
And let me give you one example of why it may be necessary, why
it may be necessary to use such a tribunal. What happens if,
in the course of this war, that we apprehend or capture an enemy and
we want to bring him to justice? In the course of bringing him
to justice, what if the information necessary to bring him to
justice would compromise our capacity to keep America safe?
In a court of law, there would be all kinds of questions that
might compromise our ability to gather incredibly important
intelligence to prevent the next attack from happening to America.
It seems like to me that the President of the United States
ought to have the option to protect the national security interests
of the country, and therefore, protect America from further attack.
You've probably read about the interviews that are taking place.
There are countries that we're certain of where people who
come from those countries are likely to commit a terrorist act
against America. And they're here on our soil. certain
citizens from those countries on our soil. We're a free
country. They're here because we're a great country. And
we've got liberties that we'll protect. But we're asking those
who are here as guests, enjoying our freedom, to voluntarily
participate in helping us understand how best to protect the
Nobody is being forced into an interview. People are being
-- why don't you help us? Why don't those of you who are
guests in our country help us make the land more secure? It's
in your interests, and it's certainly in our interests. If you
know somebody, or know something, help us.
We're in the business now of gathering as much information as we
possibly can gather, and we're acting on that information.
People are detained in America under material witness claims.
It's against the law, by the way, to publish the name of those
people, before they get up in front of a grand jury. We've got
people that we've pulled aside because of who they may or may not
know, and it turns out they violated their immigration status.
It turns out as we're looking for leads, we've found people
who have actually committed other crime.
All of them in America are entitled to a lawyer. All of
them in America are entitled to make phone calls. We're the
freest society in the world. That's what America is all about.
And at the same time, we're doing what's necessary to protect
the people at home. (Applause.)
Q How are you doing, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Pretty darn good. (Laughter.)
Q Thanks for coming to Florida and talking
to us. You've given billions of dollars to the airline
industry, to try to help get them stimulated and get them going.
Are you going to do any kind of grants or any type of benefits
for the hospitality industry, as we're struggling to get by?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, part of the key is, is that the first
industry deeply affected after 9/11 was the airline industry.
And without an airline industry there is no hospitality -- oh,
there may be a hospitality industry, certainly not as vibrant a
hospitality industry as we would like.
It is the first major industry affected. And so our
strategy was to make sure that we provide the industry that actually
affects hospitality directly the means necessary to stay in
business. To me, that seemed like the most important initial
leg of a strategy. And in the meantime, we're trying to help
those workers who have been affected within the hospitality
I am hopeful that as a result of an airline stimulus package, or
airline security package, as well as a safety package and an
economic stimulus package, this economy will come back, people will
have the money necessary to travel, people will feel safe to travel,
and the hospitality industry to recover.
But to answer your question directly, no, the answer is that the
first step, and we think the primary step, needed to be what we've
Q Mr. President, what about tax incentives
THE PRESIDENT: Tax incentives for travel? That hasn't
made it to my radar screen yet. (Laughter.)
Q (inaudible) -- And my wife and my
mother-in-law and friends, they're in the tourism industry.
Yes, my family has been very well affected by 9/11. But
I have a question about the youth. Is there anything that you
or your brother, Governor Bush, can do to give the youth the drive
and will to look for a better future? Because it seems like a
lot of them don't -- it seems as if they don't have anything to
lose, so they don't have anything to drive for.
THE PRESIDENT: I can think of a couple of things. One
is to remind moms and dads of America that no matter what you're
doing during the day job, your most important job you'll ever have
is to love your children, is to tell your children you love them.
Secondly, it goes to this lady's point right here, is to make
sure that every child in America is well-educated, starting with
every child learning to read. There's nothing like an
education to provide hope for people.
Part of the reason why people are discouraged is because they
lose hope. They say, well, this society isn't meant for me.
A hopeful society is an educated society. And so we've
got to make sure we get it right, we have an education -- a focus on
education, understanding that education is the gateway to such great
freedom and opportunity.
And, finally, one of my initiatives that I'm most proud of that
passed the House of Representatives and I think will have a
significant impact in America is to rally one of the great strengths
of our country, and that is the faith-based initiatives and
faith-based programs which exist all across the country.
I want to talk about one. I want to talk about a couple.
First of all, governments shouldn't worry about faith.
We ought to welcome faith. We ought to understand that
-- (applause) -- we ought to welcome those programs that exist,
because somebody will say, what can I do, what can I do to help a
neighbor in need. What can I do. And it's not a
particular faith I'm talking about.
I'm talking about the Muslim faith, I'm talking about Judaism,
and I'm talking about Christianity. No, the faith doesn't have
a lock on a certain religion. I'm talking about people who
have heard a call. And there all kinds of program all around
America based upon faith. And many of them have asked the
question: What can I do to surround a child with love?
What can I do to make sure that a child has got -- somebody
has got their arm them saying, somebody loves you.
There's a lot of children who have no love in their life.
Imagine what it would be like growing up in America, how tough
it would be if your mom or your dad were in prison. How tough
is that? The degree of difficulty for success is incredibly
hard for a person. And we've got a program that we hope to get
out of Congress -- the House passed it -- get it out of the Senate
-- that says, we want to fund, make monies available for mentoring
programs, faith-based or not, but mentoring programs, the sole
purpose of which will be to take a son or a daughter of a person in
prison and encourage some loving soul to say, I love you; America is
meant for you; this country belongs to you, get educated and go
after it with all your heart and all your soul.
So there's a lot that can be done in society. You know,
government -- government must not fear these programs that exist in
neighborhoods all around the country, based upon faith. We
must not fear. We must fear government embracing religion.
We fear state religion -- that's not what we're for. We
don't want for one government or religion. Government will
never say, this is the religion. We're a free society for
religion. But government can embrace programs started because
of faith and religion, and encourage those programs to foster in
neighborhoods all across America. I'm passionate on the
subject because I understand the power of faith in people's lives
and I understand what it can mean. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, early in your
administration there was a lot of discussion of drilling for oil in
Alaska and the Gulf. Now that prices are low at the pump, what
are you doing to ensure that?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes -- well, I'm trying to get an energy
plan out of Congress. (Laughter.) The House of
Representatives -- the House of Representatives passed a good energy
bill. It is stuck in the Senate. And I believe it is in
our national interests to have an energy plan, to have a strategy to
get us less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil.
Part of that energy plan means that we've got to enhance
conservation. We've got to encourage technologies that will
enable us to conserve better. And we can do that with the
proper incentives. And this plan of ours that passed the House
has got incentives to encourage conservation. And we're making
great strides in our society, by the way, of conserving. We're
doing a much better job, and we can do an even better job.
Part of it also recognizes that we need more supply. And
there are several places we can find supply. One is, I believe
that the nuclear industry is safe enough now to encourage more
nuclear power in America. I believe that is necessary.
(Applause.) I also strongly believe that we can explore
for natural gas in Alaska without damaging the environment.
And I believe that's necessary to do that. (Applause.)
You know, when the vote came up in the House, a lot of people
came forward to work on behalf of the vote because they understood
not only did it mean energy security, it also meant jobs. I
was pleased to report that the Teamsters, for example, led by Jimmy
Hoffa, Jr., was out campaigning for -- or lobbying, or working for
this bill, because it meant jobs.
But I've got great faith in the technology and the ability of our
country, if given proper incentive, to become less dependent and
more wise about how we develop our energy sources; I truly do.
But we need a bill, and we need to get it out of the Senate.
Energy prices are low, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't
worry about our future. Because if the economies of the world
come back, we might be in a tight again, in which case we're going
to be wondering where was the energy policy that the President was
arguing for back in the year 2001.
Q Hi, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not nervous as you are.
Q I wrote it out, because I thought I would
be nervous, and I'm here with my sister, Maggie and my family, and
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Hi, Maggie. (Laughter.)
Q And I'm Caitlin. Our family wants to
help out our country, and we think that making families strong will
make our country strong. My parents believe that eating meals
together will do that. Is it something that you did when you
were a kid, and that you and Mrs. Bush believe in?
THE PRESIDENT: I did eat with my family, so long as my
mother wasn't cooking. (Laughter.) Wait a minute.
Just kidding, Mom. (Laughter and applause.) She
was one of the great fast food cooks of all time. (Laughter
and applause.) Just kidding, Mom. We ate a lot together.
We did. And I think it's important to do that.
That's a very interesting question.
You know, we live in a society that's a busy society. We
live in a society where it's so easy to forget the fundamentals.
But one of the really positive things that has come out of the
evil of 9/11 was that people are beginning to ask, what's important.
I think you've touched on something really important, and that's
family. And the idea of a mom and dad prioritizing family is
all about not only enhancing the quality of life of their children,
but collectively, making America so much stronger and so much better
after the evils.
There has been -- this is an unbelievably great country we live
in. The values of America are so strong, the people are so
real, and so good. And 9/11 has brought out, in many
instances, the best in America. Part of that is the individual
-- the decisions individual families make about setting new
priorities in their lives. A lot of it has to do with helping
people in need.
I'll never forget the story of people in a Midwestern city,
when they heard me on TV talk about how distressed I was that
women of cover would not leave their homes, for fear of some other
American treating them harshly, and then Jewish citizens and
Christians alike, getting on the phone, and saying, we want to help
you. We want to take you to the neighborhood store. This
isn't the America we know.
No, the country -- this country is a fabulous country. They
thought they hurt us, the evil ones. They have made us
stronger, more real, and a better land. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, we thank you for coming, on
behalf of the clergy of Orlando. We're going to be having a
summit this next week, 12/12 summit, and I'm a pastor. And we
want to know what we can do -- we're praying for strategies of how
we can assist you in our government, and assist our communities.
THE PRESIDENT: First thing you can do is make sure people
of all faiths are represented at your prayer session. It sends
such a strong signal -- (applause) -- it reminds people of the
greatness of America. The evil people we fight, they don't
believe in religious freedom. They want it their way or no
way. And if you're not their way, they'll treat you harshly.
That's why, by the way, when we liberated cities throughout
Afghanistan, people lined the roads and cheered out of joy and
Secondly, you need to pray for the good Lord to protect America,
provide a shield over our country, to prevent us from harm.
Q Hi, Mr. President. I want to say,
they haven't won. I got in my car today, and I'm in the same
building with you, speaking to you. They have not won.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q And would you say hello to my son Jordan,
and my daughter Patricia.
THE PRESIDENT: Jordan and who?
THE PRESIDENT: Hi, Patricia; how are you? How old is
Q Five, and Jordan is in 3rd grade.
And Jordan has a question, if I could give him the microphone.
THE PRESIDENT: You bet. Your mother is relaying the
Mike to you, Jordan.
Q One thing, Mr. President, is that you have
no idea how much you've done for this country. And another
thing is that, how did you feel when you heard about the terrorist
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jordan. Well, Jordan,
you're not going to believe what state I was in when I heard about
the terrorist attack. I was in Florida. And my Chief of
Staff, Andy Card -- actually, I was in a classroom talking about a
reading program that works. I was sitting outside the
classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower --
the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly, myself, and I
said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have
been a horrible accident.
But I was whisked off there, I didn't have much time to think
about it. And I was sitting in the classroom, and Andy Card,
my Chief of Staff, who is sitting over here, walked in and said, "A
second plane has hit the tower, America is under attack."
And, Jordan, I wasn't sure what to think at first. You
know, I grew up in a period of time where the idea of America being
under attack never entered my mind -- just like your Daddy's and
Mother's mind probably. And I started thinking hard in that
very brief period of time about what it meant to be under attack.
I knew that when I got all of the facts that we were under
attack, there would be hell to pay for attacking America.
I tried to get as many facts as I could, Jordan, to make sure I
knew as I was making decisions that I knew exactly what I was basing
my decisions on. I've got a fabulous team. A President
can't possibly be President without a good team. It starts
with having a great wife, by the way. (Applause.)
And so, I got on the phone from Air Force One, asking to find out
the facts. You've got to understand, Jordan, during this
period of time, there were all kinds of rumors floating around.
Some of them were erroneous. Obviously -- for example,
there was a news report saying that the State Department had been
attacked. I needed to know what the facts were. But I
knew I needed to act. I knew that if the nation's under
attack, the role of the Commander-In-Chief is to respond forcefully
to prevent other attacks from happening. And so, I've
talked to the Secretary of Defense; one of the first acts I did was
to put our military on alert.
An interesting thing happened shortly thereafter.
Condoleezza Rice -- who was not with me but was with the Vice
President because they were in the White House compound -- called me
on Air Force One after that, and said that she had gotten a call
from Russia, from Vladimir Putin, who understood why we were putting
our troops on alert, and, therefore, wasn't going to respond.
That was an important phone call. Because when I was
coming up, and a lot of other older-looking people here who were
coming up with me -- (laughter) -- that would never have happened in
the past. An alert by the United States would have caused
Russia to go on alert, which would have created a complicated
situation. But that wasn't the case.
By the way, we're heading into a new era. One of the
positive things that comes out of the evil was, we're reassessing
relationships in order to make the world more peaceful. I
believe it's important for us to have positive relations with our
former enemy and to rethink the defenses of the United States of
At any rate, I knew I had a job to do. And I was quoted in
the press the other day as saying I haven't regretted one thing I've
decided. And that's the truth. Every decision I made, I
stand by. And I'm proud of the decisions I've made.
Q Mr. President, peace and blessings be unto
you. I'm representing the Muslim community of Orlando.
And I would really like to thank you for being such a great
role model, practicing what this country believes in, the higher
ideals that this country believes in, your support to the Muslim
community in combatting racism. I am an educator, I'm a
mother, and I have a strong faith. Thank you so much for
holding these values high, and trying to wipe the stereotypes that
the Taliban has been represented of Muslim women. I am an
educator educating Muslim children in this Orlando city. Thank
you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: God bless, thank you. (Applause.)
Listen, I've got a job to do. (Laughter.) I've got to
get back to my temporary home. By the way, my address is in
Washington; my home is going to be back in Texas one of these days.
But I am -- I have got to go back. I wish I could stay
and answer questions all night, but I've got -- I'll be right there,
ma'am. He's fine. I've got to get back and go to work.
I can't tell you what an honor it is to have been here. I
want to thank you all for your great questions, and for your
incredibly warm reception. It's a huge honor to be the
greatest -- to be the President of the greatest country in the
God bless you all, and may God bless America.
END 4:20 P.M. EST