President Bush's Remarks at Victory 2004 Luncheon
September 17, 2004
Grand Hyatt Washington
America and the world are safer. This progress involves careful diplomacy, clear moral purpose and some tough decisions. And the toughest came on Iraq. I knew Saddam Hussein's record of aggression and his ties to terror. When people say, what ties to terror, remind them about Abu Nidal, the killer of Leon Klinghoffer, and his organization. Or Zarqawi. He's the person who beheads people, trying to shake our conscience and shake our will. He was in and out of Baghdad, as were some of his cohorts. Or the fact that Saddam Hussein paid the families of suicide bombers. He had a history of using weapons of mass destruction. It's important for the President and the country to always remember one of the lessons of September the 11th is that we must take threats seriously before they fully materialize. (Applause.)
My administration saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. I went to the Congress; they looked at the same intelligence I looked at, remembered the same history I remembered, came to the same conclusion we came to -- Saddam Hussein was a threat. And members of Congress authorized the use of force. My opponent looked at very same intelligence I looked at, and having looked at it, concluded that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and voted "yes" when it came time to authorize the use of force.
Before the Commander-in-Chief commits the troops into harm's way, he must try all options before the military. I was hoping diplomacy would work, so I went to the United Nations. And the United Nations looked at the same intelligence we did and remembered the same history we remembered, and concluded, with a 15-to-nothing vote in the U.N. Security Council, that Saddam Hussein must disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. I believe when international bodies speak, they must mean what they say. I believe when the President speaks, he must mean what he says.
We got a great military. I'm proud to be the Commander-in-Chief of a fantastic military. It's been my honor to have met many who wear the nation's uniform. These are extraordinary citizens of great courage and great decency, and they deserve the full support of the federal government. That's why, last September, I went to the Congress and asked for supplemental funding of $87 billion to support our troops in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan. And this was an important request. It was for ammunition, spare parts, body armor. It was for fuel, hazard pay, health benefits. This was an important piece of legislation -- so important, support was overwhelming in the United States Congress. So strong that only 12 members of the Senate voted against it -- two of whom were my opponent and his running mate. (Applause.) Do you realize this? Do you realize that four members of the Senate voted to authorize the use of force, and then voted against funding the troops? Only four of 100 -- two of whom were my opponent and his running mate.
So they asked him why, and he said, I actually did vote for the $87 billion -- right before he voted against it. (Laughter.) And he said he was proud of the vote. And finally he just said, it's just a complicated matter. (Laughter.) There's nothing complicated about supporting our troops in harm's way. (Applause.)
A President must be clear and a President must mean what he says. During the course of this campaign, my opponent has, I think seven, or maybe eight different positions on the war in Iraq. He was for it, but didn't fund the troops. Then he became the anti-war candidate. Then I think it was at the edge of the Grand Canyon that he said, well, knowing everything we know today he still would have voted for it. Then he said we're spending too much money, and he was on a national talk show earlier that said, we weren't spending enough money. And then he did a radio interview two days ago to try to clear it all up. (Laughter.) And here's what he said: There were no circumstances -- none -- under which we should have gone to war, although his own vote to go to war is the right one and it was right to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. (Laughter.)
Even the radio talk show guy said, I can't tell you what he said. (Laughter.)
Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send our troops in the field, to the Iraqi people, to our allies, and most of all, to our enemy. (Applause.)
I love this part of the President's speeches. He continually updates and fine tunes the speech to represent Kerry's many waffles on the Iraq issue. I truly cannot wait until Kerry is made to answer for his flip flopping (hopefully) in the debates. I think Bush is going to mop the floor with Kerry on Iraq.
If you would like to read the rest of this speech, or any of the President's other remarks, transcripts can be found at whitehouse.gov.