Saddam Hussein ignored the demands of the free world. This wasn't the first resolution he ignored. I think it was 17 resolutions -- 17 times the free world spoke. He wasn't paying attention, because he was hoping we would look the other direction, because he was hoping we would forget. As a matter of fact, it is documented that he systematically deceived the inspectors the United Nations sent in. Diplomacy wasn't working. The world had given Saddam Hussein a chance, a last chance to listen to the demands of the free world. And he made the decision -- and so did I. I had to either trust a madman, or forget the lessons of September 11th, or take the touch decision to defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Thank you all. Today, my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind, with new contradictions of his old positions on Iraq. He apparently woke up this morning and has now decided, no, we should not have invaded Iraq, after just last month saying he still would have voted for force, even knowing everything we know today. Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison.
THE PRESIDENT: Today he said, "We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure." He's saying he prefers the stability of a dictatorship to the hope and security of democracy. I couldn't disagree more. And not so long ago, so did my opponent. (Laughter and applause.) Last December, he said this: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe we are not safer with his capture don't have the judgment to be President or the credibility to be elected President." (Applause.) I could not have said it better. (Applause.)
He also changed his mind and decided that our efforts in Iraq are now a distraction from the war on terror, when he earlier acknowledged that confronting Saddam Hussein was critical to the war on terror. And he's criticizing our reconstruction efforts, when he voted against the money to pay for the reconstruction.
Forty-three days before the election, my opponent has now suddenly settled on a proposal for what to do next, and it's exactly what we're currently doing. (Applause.) We're working with the international partners, we're training Iraqi troops, we're reconstructing the -- reconstructing the company, (sic) we're preparing for elections. They're going to have elections in January. (Applause.)
Our work in Iraq is hard work. There are people there who want to stop the march to democracy, that's what they're trying to do. They want us to leave. They want us to quit. Our work in Iraq is absolutely essential -- Iraq -- essential for our country's security. For our children and grandchildren to grow up in a safer world, we must defeat the terrorists and the insurgents, and complete our mission in rebuilding Iraq as a stable democracy. (Applause.)
I'm going to New York after this, and in the next couple of days I'll be meeting with Prime Minister Allawi, the Prime Minister of Iraq. (Applause.) He is a strong and determined leader. He understands the stakes in this battle. I hope the American people will listen carefully to his assessment of the situation in his country. We must show resolve and determination. Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to the enemy. Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to the people in Iraq. Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to our allies. And mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to our troops in combat. (Applause.)
A couple of other points I want to make. Any time we put our troops into harm's way, they need to have the full support of the United States government, the full support. (Applause.) And that's why I went -- and went to the Congress, and said, we need $87 billion of money to support our troops in harm's way. These were for troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And I was pleased to get strong support. Bass and Bradley, they were strong in their support. Sununu and Gregg were strong on that support. (Applause.)
The support was so strong, that only 12 members of the Senate voted against it, two of whom were my opponent and his running mate. When you're out gathering the vote, when you're out there gathering the vote, remind people of this fact: Four people in the United States Senate voted to authorize the use of force and did not vote to fund our troops -- two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.
So they asked my opponent, why, why did you make that vote? He said, I voted for the $87 billion, right before I voted against it. That's not the way people talk here in New Hampshire. He went on, and said, well, he said he's proud of the vote, and finally he said, it's a complicated matter. There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
Let me tell you what else I believe -- I'm kind of winding down here, getting ready for questions. Let me tell you what else I believe. I believe that liberty can transform nations from places of hopelessness to hope, from places of darkness to light. We're seeing that in Afghanistan today. Ten million people registering to vote is a phenomenal statistic. It is such a hopeful number, isn't it? In spite of the fact that the Taliban were pulling women off buses and killing them because they were trying to register to vote. People want to be free.
I believe liberty can transform enemies into friends, because I've seen it firsthand when I've talked with Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. I want you to think about this, now, as you're contemplating the historic opportunity we have in the world today. It wasn't all that long ago in the march of history that we were fighting the Japanese as the sworn enemy, sworn enemy. My dad, your dads and granddads were fighting the Japanese. Yet after World War II, Harry Truman, Harry S. Truman believed that we should work to help Japan become a democracy. He believed that liberty could transform societies. There was a lot of skeptics then, a lot of people who doubted whether or not the hard work that went into that -- to changing Japan was worth it. You can understand that. First of all, there are skeptics in every society. And secondly, a lot of people in this country's (sic) lives had been turned upside down as a result of the war we had just fought, and they had trouble realizing that an enemy could become a friend.
But there were some people in this country who just refused to yield to the value that we know, that liberty is a powerful, powerful part of everybody's soul. And today I sit down at the table with Prime Minister Koizumi -- I'm going to be doing so here in the next couple of days in New York, too --as a personal friend, but we're talking about keeping the peace. We're talking about how to make this world a more peaceful place. We're talking about the peace that we all long for. Think about that. Here I am talking to the head of a former enemy, working together to make the world a better place.
And that not only means helping Iraq get up on its feet, that means feeding the hungry. Do you realize, our country feeds more empty -- empty stomachs than any country in the world, by far? That means -- (applause) -- that means helping those poor souls on the continent of Africa deal with HIV/AIDS. We're, by far, the most generous nation when it comes to helping people ravished by the pandemic of AIDS. We're working with people together to make this world a better place. (Applause.)
Someday -- we will succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan by being firm in our beliefs, unyielding to the demands of those who want us to quit, those terrorists who are trying to kill people to get us to leave. That's what they're trying to do. We'll be successful. Everybody longs to be free. And when we are, we'll be able to look back and say, the world is better off. Someday, an American President and an Iraqi leader are going to sit down, talking about keeping the peace, talking about how to make a part of the world that is so desperate for freedom become a more peaceful place. And our grandchildren and our grandchildren's children will be better off for it. (Applause.)
I'll tell you what -- (applause) -- not yet, not yet. The stakes are high. These are historic times. I clearly see where I want to lead this country. I know what we've got to do the next four years to make this country a safer place and the world a more hopeful place. And I appreciate you giving me a chance to come and explain why I'm running again.
Now, let me answer some of your questions, and then -- yes, sir?