Bush tackles national security at South Bend, Ind., rally

SBy Kate Nagengast
The Observer
University of Notre Dame

sOUTH BEND (U-WIRE) – President George W. Bush said his administration would make the United States a “safer, stronger and better nation” in his speech Thursday at the South Bend Regional Airport.

Visiting South Bend, Ind., on a two-day, $1 million tour to promote Republican House candidates, including Chris Chocola of Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, Bush spoke to a crowd of approximately 5,000 about the nation’s economic, military and spiritual resilience.

“I’ve come to talk about the problems we face as a nation of great character,” Bush said before delineating economic security, new energy sources and the war on terrorism as issues currently plaguing the United States.

“The money we spend in Washington is not the government’s money, it’s your money,” he told the crowd battling heat in the airport hangar.

Bush pushed his $1.35 trillion, 10-year tax cut as the primary solution to recession.

“For the sake of people who want to find work … tax relief is important for job creation,” the president said.

Bush mentioned corporate reform, mitigation of the marriage tax and extinction of the death tax as promising plans for economic reform.

The president also used his speech to push U.S. lawmakers to approve a broad energy bill that he said would be “good for job security, national security and encourage conservation.”

“We must do everything we can to become less dependent on foreign sources of crude oil,” Bush said.

The president’s highest priority, however, remains national security, and he acknowledged that the techniques of war have changed since the days when “you could count tanks and determine the strength of an army.

“My biggest job is to protect you and your families and secure the homeland,” Bush told a crowd he had previously noted as being full of families with children.

The president’s rhetoric consistently referred to children’s understanding of America’s enemies.

“I think there is still an enemy out there that hates us,” Bush said. “You need to tell your kids that these (enemies) hate America because of what we love. We love freedom.

“We hold freedoms dear and we’re willing to defend them. … This also distinguishes us from the enemy because we value the worth of each life; everybody matters. That’s not the way the enemy thinks. They’ve got their desires and dark, dark ambitions. But now they’ve got a mighty nation that stands between them and their ambitions.”

Bush went on to describe the necessity of a new Department of Homeland Security that would provide the president with flexibility needed to protect the American public.

“The Executive needs the capacity to move people to the right place at the right time,” Bush said. “But the bill micromanages. … Some senators are more concerned about special interests than safety.

“I will not accept a lousy bill, I will insist that Congress get it right,” he added.

Bush ended his speech within 45 minutes of Air Force One’s 1:45 p.m. runway touchdown on a note of seriousness and optimism.

Bush declared that he would not permit “the world’s worst leaders to use the world’s worst weapons” against the United States. But he also said he saw “peace by being a strong and forceful nation, and speaking about good and evil.”

The president invoked the Golden Rule twice during his speech and stressed his belief in the United States’ ability to care about every citizen individually.

BUSH ON NOTRE DAME

At the beginning of his speech, Bush thanked former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps for attending the rally and praised Notre Dame for hiring head football coach Tyrone Willingham.

“If you’re a Fighting Irish fan, be proud that this great university hired a really good man to be its head coach,” Bush said.

He added that Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and friend of Willingham is “constantly telling me to watch out for the Irish.”

Willingham had equally benevolent words for the president.

“There’s no question about his leadership skills and his ability to project our country in the right direction,” Willingham said after practice Thursday. “It’s always a great opportunity and honor to have the chance to shake the hand of the man that leads this country.”

Bush specifically acknowledged Ricardo Rios, a math and science teacher through the Alliance for Catholic Education program at Notre Dame, as an example of putting others above oneself. Rios was also invited to ride in the motorcade with the president.