The following comes from The President's Remarks at Victory 2004 Rally in West Chester, Ohio on September 27, 2004.
It's in our interests that Afghanistan be free. There's no longer training camps there. Al Qaeda can no longer find safe haven. Afghanistan is now an ally in the war on terror. And Afghanistan stands as a bright light, stands in contrast to that ideology of hatred spread by our enemies.
In Iraq, despite ongoing violence, they now have a strong Prime Minister, a national council, and national elections will be held in January. (Applause.) I met with Prime Minister Allawi. He's a strong man. I wanted to make sure he was as committed to freedom as we were. He is. I looked him in the eye; he told me, he said, Mr. President, we'll succeed if you don't let these terrorists shake your will. I told him, I said, when America gives its word, Mr. Prime Minister, America will keep its word. (Applause.)
A strong man, who knows that they can achieve their objective, which is a free society. It's in our interest they achieve a free society. It's in our interest that Iraq be free. Iraq will be an ally in the war on terror. Iraq will be standing with the nations of freedom to stop these ideologues of hate from advancing their cause. You know, when the Prime Minister was here, he received great accolades, except there was one noticeable voice. My opponent criticized Prime Minister Allawi here in the United States.
THE PRESIDENT: He criticized a brave man who's risking his life for the freedom of his country and for our security. You cannot lead, you cannot lead a coalition, you cannot convince the Iraqi people that we stand with them if, when their Prime Minister and their leader comes to U.S. soil, someone is willing to criticize him. (Applause.) He was wrong to question his credibility. America must stand with these people as they make the hard choices for freedom. It's in our interest. The world will be more peaceful when Iraq is free. And Iraq will be free. (Applause.)
And that's our mission. We will help train Iraqi citizens and Afghan citizens so they can do the hard work of defending their country against these terrorists who want to stop the march of freedom. We'll get them on the path to stability and democracy as quickly as possible, and then our troops will come home with honor they have earned. (Applause.)
Listen, we got a great United States military. I'm proud to be their Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.) And I want to thank the veterans who are here today for having set such a great example for those who wear the uniform. Thank you, sir. (Applause.) And I want to share with the loved ones of those who wear the uniform, they'll have the full support of the government. (Applause.) That's why I went -- that's why I went to Congress and asked for $87 billion to provide vital equipment and fuel and ammunition, body armor for our troops in harm's way in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This was an important piece of legislation. Matter of fact, it was so important we got great bipartisan support. Only 12 members of the United States Senate voted against the funding request, two of whom are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: When you're out rounding up the vote -- when you're out rounding up the vote, remind people of this fact: Four members of the United States Senate voted to authorize force and didn't vote to fund the troops -- only four members, two of whom are my opponent and his running mate.
THE PRESIDENT: You might remember, they asked him, how could you make that vote? He said, well, I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it. They kept pressing him. He said he's proud of his vote. And, finally, he said, the whole thing was a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in combat. (Applause.)
I appreciate the contributions our friends and allies are making in our cause. They've been helping. We've got some 40 nations involved in Afghanistan, nearly 30 in Iraq, and I thank them. I'm not going to denigrate their service, I'm going to continue to thank their service in the cause of freedom. I believe they're doing useful, important work. Over the next four years, I'll continue to work with our allies and friends, but I will never turn over America's national security decisions to leaders of other countries. (Applause.)
Later this week, I'm going to have an opportunity to debate my opponent. (Applause.) It's been a little tough to prepare for the debates because he keeps changing his positions. (Laughter and applause.) Especially on the war. I mean, after all, he voted for the use of force, but against funding the troops. He said that we're not spending enough money to reconstruct Iraq, yet now says we're spending too much. He said it was the right decision to go into Iraq, yet now he calls it the wrong war.
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
I just have to interject... how cool is that!?! The crowd is chanting Flip-flop. I love it. Anyway, here comes the zinger, the best line of the speech (as far as Kerry is concerned)
THE PRESIDENT: I think he can spend 90 minutes debating himself. (Laughter and applause.) You cannot lead if you don't know where you stand. (Applause.) I'm going to continue to speak as clearly as I can and tell the people what I believe. And I'm not going to change positions when times get tough. (Applause.)
I believe in the transformational power of liberty. I believe the wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. I like to tell the people that one of my favorite leaders is Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan. I saw him New York. I said, do you mind if I talk about you on the campaign trail? He said, fine. I said, all right, I'm going tell them you like Elvis. (Laughter.) Which he does. (Laughter.)
I want you to think about this when you're explaining to people about what I mean by the transformational power of liberty -- think about this fact, that it wasn't all that long ago that we were fighting Japan as a sworn enemy of America. Fifty-eight years ago, it seems like a long -- if you're 58 years old, it seems like a long time. (Laughter.) In the march of history, it really wasn't all that long. My dad was in the war. I suspect many people's relatives were in that war against a sworn enemy.
After we won World War II, Harry Truman, said, why don't we help the Japanese become a democracy -- because he believed in the transformational power of liberty. There were a lot of skeptics in our country then. They said, well, you know, they were an enemy. They can't be a democracy. Or why worry? They were an enemy. They inflicted too much harm on us. But, fortunately, the President and others stood their line, they believed. And today, because of that belief, I sit down with Prime Minister Koizumi, talking about how to keep the peace we all want. Think about that. (Applause.) And that's what we want. We want our children and grandchildren to be able to grow up in a peaceful world.
I believe we have that obligation to work for that peaceful world. And when we succeed in Iraq -- you see, Zarqawi has only got one weapon. He can't beat us militarily. The only thing he can do is shake our conscience because we value human rights and human dignity. We weep when we see the brutality he inflicts on TV. It breaks our -- that's the only weapon he has. We also understand that freedom will whip the Zarqawis of the world in the long-term. (Applause.) In the long-term, free societies will make this world a peaceful place. Someday, an American President will be sitting down with a duly elected leader of Iraq, and they'll be talking about the peace. And our children and our grandchildren will be able to grow up in a better world. (Applause.)
I believe the women in the broader Middle East yearn to be free. I believe that moms in every society want to raise their children in a free society. I believe that if given the chance, people in the broader Middle East will choose the -- the finest government ever devised by man, and that's democracy. I believe all these things not because freedom is America's gift to the world. I believe this because freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world. (Applause.)
Why do the feminists remain silent on the abhorrid conditions and inequalities women face in Fundamentalist Muslim countries? I thought the left was all about freedom and equality? Why is it that the only people that are trying to censor us anymore come from the left? Why is it that the only people in America supporting the Anti-Jew, Anti-Women, Anti-American Jihadists are found on the left? Who was it that called Al Sadr a "legitimate voice"? Yeah, you betcha... John Kerry, that's who. But enough of my ranting, back to the President's speech:
This young century will be liberty's century. By promoting freedom at home and abroad, we'll build a safer world and a more hopeful America. By reforming our systems of government, we'll help more Americans realize their dreams. We'll spread ownership and opportunity to every corner of this country. We'll pass the enduring values of our country to a new generation. We will continue to lead the cause of freedom and peace.
For all Americans, these years in our history will always stand apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation when little is expected of its leaders. This isn't one of those times. This is a time that requires firm resolve, clear vision, and a deep faith in the values that makes us a great nation. (Applause.)
If you were inspired and want to read the full transcript of this speech, visit: www.whitehouse.gov