The President’s Wilkes-Barre Speech

President Bush gave a major speech in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania today. He covered both domestic and foreign policy issues, and attacked John Kerry fairly aggressively. The transcript is available here. These are a few excerpts:

We have built a broad and solid record of accomplishment. In the past year, the United States of America has added about 1.7 million new jobs. (Applause.) More than Germany, Japan, Great Britain, Canada and France combined. (Applause.) Real tax — real after-tax income — that’s the money in your pocket to spend on groceries or house payments and rent — is up more than 10 percent since I took office. (Applause.) Home ownership is at an all time high in America. (Applause.) Farm income is up. Small businesses are flourishing. The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in the United States of America. (Applause.)
My opponent agrees with all this — except when he doesn’t. (Laughter.) Last week in our debate, he once again came down firmly on every side of the Iraq war. (Laughter.) He stated that Saddam Hussein was a threat and that America had no business removing that threat. Senator Kerry said our soldiers and Marines are not fighting for a mistake — but also called the liberation of Iraq a “colossal error.” He said we need to do more to train Iraqis, but he also said we shouldn’t be spending so much money over there. He said he wants to hold a summit meeting, so he can invite other countries to join what he calls “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.” (Laughter and applause.) He said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border, but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the war on terror. (Laughter.) You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face. (Laughter and applause.)
The Senator speaks often about his plan to strengthen America’s alliances, but he’s got an odd way of doing it. In the middle of the war, he’s chosen to insult America’s fighting allies by calling them, “window dressing,” and the “coalition of the coerced and the bribed.” The Italians who died in Nasiriyah were not window dressing. They were heroes in the war on terror. (Applause.) The British and the Poles at the head of the multinational divisions in Iraq were not coerced or bribed. They have fought, and some have died, in the cause of freedom. These good allies and dozens of others deserve the respect of all Americans, not the scorn of a politician. (Applause.)
Instead, the Senator would have America bend over backwards to satisfy a handful of governments with agendas different from our own. This is my opponent’s alliance-building strategy: brush off your best friends, fawn over your critics. And that is no way to gain the respect of the world. (Applause.)
I have a record in office, as well. And all Americans have seen that record. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It’s a day I will never forget. There were workers in hard hats yelling at me, “Whatever it takes.” I remember trying to console people coming out of that rubble, and a guy grabbed me by the arm, and he looked me in the eye and said, “Do not let me down.” These men and women — (applause) — the men and women there took it personally. You took it personally. I took it personally. I have a responsibility that goes on. I wake up every morning thinking about how to make our country more secure. I have acted again and again to protect our people. I will never relent in defending America, whatever it takes. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

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