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'I Clearly See Where I Want to Lead' U.S.

September 21, 2004

Excerpts from remarks by President Bush on Monday at an appearance in Derry, N.H.

Another lesson of Sept. the 11th, another lesson is that we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize. Prior to Sept. the 11th, if we saw a threat, we could deal with it if we felt like it, or not, because we never dreamt it would come home to hurt us. So if we saw a gathering threat overseas, maybe it's something to pay attention to, maybe it wasn't. Today, that world changed. Today, we've got to take every threat seriously, because we saw the consequences of what can happen. We're still vulnerable.

So, I looked at the world and saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. I'll tell you why I saw a threat. He was a sworn enemy of the United States of America; he had ties to terrorist networks. Do you remember Abu Nidal? He's the guy that killed Leon Klinghoffer. Leon Klinghoffer was murdered because of his religion. Abu Nidal was in Baghdad, as was his organization. [Abu Musab] Zarqawi -- still in Baghdad creating havoc ... trying to stop the march to democracy is what he's trying to do right now, but he was there.

Saddam Hussein was paying the families of suicide bombers. That's support for terror. He was dangerous. He also used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against a country in his neighborhood. Saddam Hussein was a threat.

... 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 Sept. 11th, or take the tough decision to defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time.

... Today, my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind, with new contradictions of his old positions on Iraq. He apparently ... 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.

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.

... 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. 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.

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. 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.

I'm going to New York after this, and in the next couple of days I'll be meeting with Prime Minister [Iyad] Allawi, the prime minister of Iraq. 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.

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.

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