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The President. Thank you, Senator Nickles, for that kind introduction. May I salute our State chairman, Clinton Key, and finance chairman, Ed Lawson. And I'm pleased to share this stage this morning with some of this State's finest: State Representative Larry Ferguson, Mayor Norick of Oklahoma City, Mayor Randal Shannon of Edmond, and Commissioners Watts and Bob Anthony. Welcome to all of them and, last but not least, Treasurer Claudette Henry. And I also want to express my deep appreciation to your hometown Congressman, Mickey Edwards, who couldn't be here today because he's back in Washington participating in the budget debate and helping me hold the line on Federal spending.
And may I also salute two friends of long standing, Ed and Thelma Gaylord. This square is a fitting tribute to Thelma, and I think we're all very grateful to them. And finally, let me note what a great host Terry Johnson has been today. And a special thanks to George Wesley, who we just heard doing a superb job singing the national anthem. But most of all, thanks to every one of you who got up at all hours this morning to come to Edmond, from Elk City to Enid and towns all across Oklahoma, to show your support. And a special welcome to all the students here from Oklahoma Christian. One question. One question, just one question: Is it too late to audition for the spring sing?
Well, let's talk about our country. We are in a battle for our future, and I am determined that America should leave young people like you the best possible legacy. And we want America to lead the world in good jobs with productive work. And we want to remain a force for world peace and freedom. And we are fighting -- and we will continue to -- to protect our most basic institution, which is the family. And that's why this year of decision is so important for America.
In next Tuesday's primary election and November's general election, you will hold this future of this country, your future, in your own hands. And I'm asking you to get out to vote and create a resounding mandate for transforming America. Let's nominate and elect men and women who share our values. We've got much more to do to get America on the right track. So, I'm asking you for 4 more years as your President of this great country.
Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
The President. This country was built on faith, family, and freedom, and we must renew those sources of our strength. And we must allow common sense to prevail.
For example, in our welfare system, restore the connection between welfare and work. Americans are not cold-hearted. We're a caring people. Americans support welfare and families in need. But we want to see government at every level work together to track down the deadbeat fathers, the ones who can't be bothered to pay their child support. And most important, we've got to break the cycle of dependency that destroys dignity and passes down poverty from one generation to the next. That's wrong. That's cruel. And we're working to change it. The way we're doing that is to encourage States to innovate with workfare and plans that help people break that dependency, begin learning work skills. Let's help those families.
And we will continue to fight for the parents' right to choose their children's schools, school choice. We've got a great education program, and school choice is at the heart of America 2000, our strategy to literally revolutionize American education.
Today, March 6th, is a World Day of Prayer. And I think it says something that the World Day of Prayer is observed a lot more frequently here in this community than it is in Washington, DC. You know there's something wrong when our kids cannot participate in voluntary prayer in the classrooms across this country. The Senate and the House, and they need it, I'll admit, open their sessions every day with prayer. Why can't we have a voluntary prayer in the classroom?
And let me be clear: Parents, parents, not some bureaucrat in Washington, DC, knows what is best for the kids. And that's why we worked hard to win a child care bill that provides parents the right to choose who provides the care. We know America is first as long as we put the family first.
Now, back to Congress, regrettably. For 3 years I've had to fight the liberal leadership of the Congress, one party having controlled that Congress for most of the last 50 years. And I will continue to stand for principle no matter how daunting the odds. We have fought; we've put judges on the bench who know their rule is to interpret the law, not to legislate from the Federal bench. And I'm going to keep on doing that.
And let me be clear to those here and those that are not here but might be listening: I will use the veto when I have to, to stand for principle, to stand up for family values. Sometimes even my friends said I was flirting with defeat by casting a veto instead of cutting out a deal. But we've never lost a veto fight, and I will never hesitate to use the veto when principle is at stake.
And so, here we go again. The liberal leadership of the Congress is once again on a collision course with my veto. You remember when I asked Congress to pass tax cuts and incentives to really stimulate this economy, to get it moving, to get real estate up and running, to reward risk takers who create good jobs. It's time to quit punishing people who create jobs. We ought to cut the tax on the capital gains.
But as Don Nickles knows because he's fighting against them every day, instead of passing my plan, the big spenders who control the Congress had other ideas, and they pushed through one of their own. And here's what's in it for you: a tiny temporary tax cut, 25 cents, a quarter a day for each man, woman, and child. And here's the catch: You can keep that quarter in exchange for 0 billion in new taxes. The Democrats call that new revenue, and I call it your money. And we are not going to let that happen.
If you feel the way I do, write your Congress, and then tell him to keep the change and keep your hands off of the taxpayers' wallets. Unless I haven't been clear. If they send me the bill, anything like the one that came out of the House, I'm going to veto it faster than an Oklahoma twister and send it right back.
And remember, I have set a deadline to the Congress: March 20th. And I have said to the Congress: Pass our plan, get our economy moving, set the politics aside for just a minute -- and then we can fight about it politically from now on -- and do something for the American people.
You've probably got some Will Rogers students around here, but I know Will Rogers once said it was better to have termites in your house than the legislature in session. [Laughter] But this time there's no way around it. Congress has got work, its work to do to get this country moving.
And I know full well how difficult times have been in the past few years in this State for the people in the oil and gas business, for example. And our domestic oil and gas industry is important to our national economy. It's important; it is vital to our national security. And all of us share an interest in a national energy strategy that will keep America strong and keep us competitive. And it's a commonsense plan, ours is, that will help both consumers and producers. Congress has been slow to act on our energy strategy, but finally it's beginning to move. And so, I'd like to ask all of the people of Oklahoma to join me and Don Nickles and Mickey and help us put the heat on Congress to get our energy initiatives in place.
Without getting too technical, I also want action on an issue absolutely vital to Oklahoma energy producers. This is technical, but it's important. The alternative minimum tax as applied to the energy industry is hurting our economy and helping no one. It is unfair to the independent producers. And it's costing us jobs. And Don Nickles understands this problem, and he's been in the lead to get it solved. And so, let me assure you, I will work with Don to get the Congress to reform this tax provision and restore fair treatment to our energy producers. It is in the national security interest of the United States to do this.
I am not going to sit around waiting for the congressional leadership to help the economy, though. Our administration has been reviewing what we can do under existing laws to help. And in the natural gas industry -- help that get moving again as well. And so, today we're going to announce several new actions that will eliminate some of the regulatory barriers that have hampered the gas industry. And these actions will provide significant relief to industry, but they are no substitute for prompt action by Congress to pass my energy legislation.
We're going to fight as we must, and we will win. And in the world today, if we want to succeed economically right here at home, we've got to lead economically abroad. Each day, more and more American jobs are tied to trade, to international trade. And that's the case here in Oklahoma. In the past 4 years, Oklahoma's exports have jumped by 75 percent.
And today, 75,000 Oklahoma jobs are tied to trade. And remember, every billion dollars more in manufactured exports means 20,000 new jobs here. And each extra billion dollars in agricultural exports means thousands more jobs on Oklahoma ranches and farms and in the Oklahoma agribusiness.
And so, some of my opponents are out there peddling protectionism, a retreat from economic reality. And you cut through all the patriotic posturing and the political promising and all the tough talk about fighting back by shutting out foreign goods. Well, look closely. That is not the American flag they are waving; it is the white flag of surrender. And we must not have it. That is not the America that you and I know. We don't cut and run; we compete. And never in this Nation's long history have we turned our backs on a challenge. And we are not going to let them start doing it to us now.
I put my faith in the American worker. Level the playing field, and the American worker will outthink, outproduce, and outperform anyone, anywhere, anytime. So, let's back those workers with free and fair trade.
We're strong. We're strong because we value faith, family, and freedom. We are the world's greatest power because whenever our values are threatened, we fight to defend them. And we need to keep our defenses strong. In my State of the Union Message, I proposed far-reaching but still responsible cuts to bring our Armed Forces into line with the new realities of the world. These cuts were based on recommendations from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from Colin Powell, from Secretary Cheney, all who have performed superbly. But now the liberals, true to form, want to put down this scalpel on that kind of cut and pick up a meat ax. And I am not going to let that happen. We are going to keep America strong. And you can count on it.
You see, as President, and I'm sure all of you all know this, I have a constitutional responsibility for the national security of this country. And as long as I am President, I guarantee you we will have defenses strong enough to meet our responsibilities. We were ready last year, and an unforeseen situation arose when Iraq's brutal dictator invaded Kuwait. And we will be ready when we face the next crisis. Do not let them cut the heart out of our defenses.
We must let the world know this: Whatever the challenge, America will stay strong. We are in it to win. And make no mistake about this, don't listen to these politicians on the other side who tell you we're in decline. You travel anywhere around the world, and you will find we are the undisputed, respected leader of the free world. And we're going to stay that way.
Think back to a year ago, the calm after Desert Storm. Ask any one of the proud sons and daughters of this great State of Oklahoma, ask any of the young people from this campus who became liberators of Kuwait. And they'll tell you military strength doesn't mean a thing without moral support right here at home. And let me say America is proud of the Oklahoma 45th, the 45th Brigade, and proud of the decision this week to keep that brigade in service.
Of course, there are those who didn't support us then; I can understand that. There are those who second-guess us now. But not here, not in Oklahoma. When I drew that line in the sand, you stood with me. And never would this country tuck tail and let aggression stand. And America did what was right and just and good, and America prevailed.
And we're bringing that same spirit to the fight that we face today. And so, let my opponents go out there and tell us everything that's wrong about our country. Let them try to win by tearing down our great fabric. My opponents sound the retreat, run from realities, seek refuge in a world of protectionism and high taxes and big Government. Let them drone on about what's wrong in America. We know what is right about the United States of America.
Once again, I'm proud to be on this campus. And let me close with just a couple of words right from the heart. In the first place, I think my wife is a fantastic First Lady of the United States. But we are blessed. She and I are blessed to serve this great Nation of ours at a moment when so many of the old fears have been driven away, when so many new hopes stand within our reach. And since the day I took the oath of office, I made it my duty always to try to do what is right for this country. And I've given it my level-best. And I am not done yet.
You and I have more work ahead before we've finished our mission. And it's a battle for our future. It's about jobs for your future. It's about the family. It is about world peace.
And together, I think we've made a great beginning to renew the miracle of American enterprise and to strengthen our values of family, faith, and freedom. And I am counting on Oklahomans, you young people especially, to reject the ugly politics of hate that's rearing its head again: anti-Semitism, bigotry. They have no place in the United States of America.
And now we're approaching an hour of decision next week. Don't wait until November. I'm asking you to vote on Tuesday in the Republican primary. Give me your vote in this important election next Tuesday, and help me win 4 more years to lead the fight for the values we share.
Thank you, and may God bless the United States of America, the freest and fairest and strongest country on the face of the Earth.
Thank you very, very much.
Note: The President spoke at 9:13 a.m. at Oklahoma Christian University. In his remarks, he referred to Edward L. Gaylord, president of Oklahoma Publishing Co., and his wife, Thelma; and J. Terry Johnson, president of Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts.