Good morning. Over the past four years, I have brought a straightforward approach to the presidency. I tell you what I'm going to do, and I keep my word. When I came into office four years ago, the economy was sliding into recession. Then terrorist attacks cost our nation nearly a million jobs in three months. To help families and to get this economy growing again, I pledged to reduce taxes, and I kept my word.
Now the results are clear. Over the last three years, America's economy has grown at the fastest rate of any major industrialized nation. The home ownership rate is at an all-time high, and we have added more than 1.9 million new jobs in the past 13 months.
My opponent has a different approach. Over the last 20 years, he has voted to raise taxes 98 times. Now he is promising over $2.2 trillion in new spending, and paying for it would require broad tax increases on small businesses and the middle class.
I have a better plan. I will continue to be wise with taxpayers' money and I will keep your taxes low.
When I came into office, too many of our children were shuffled through school without learning the basics. I pledged to restore accountability and end the soft bigotry of low expectations. And I kept my word. Now our children are making sustained progress in reading and math, and we are closing the achievement gap for minority students.
My opponent has pledged to weaken the No Child Left Behind Act (search). His proposals would undermine the accountability we worked so hard to pass. I have a better plan. We will keep demanding results for all our children, and we will leave no child behind.
When I came into office, Medicare (search) wasn't paying for the prescription drugs that can reduce health costs and save a lot of lives. I pledged to strengthen and modernize Medicare for our seniors, and I kept my word. Now seniors are saving money with drug discount cards, and in 2006, all seniors will be able to get prescription drug coverage.
On health care, my opponent has a history of opposing needed reforms. He voted against the Medicare bill, even though it was supported by the AARP (search) and other seniors groups. He has voted 10 times against medical liability reform, and now his health care proposal calls for bigger, more intrusive government. Eight out of 10 people who get health care under his plan would be placed on a government program.
I have a better plan. I will protect doctors and patients from junk lawsuits, help employees in small businesses afford health coverage, make sure every poor county has a community health center. And I will make sure health decisions are always made by patients and doctors, not by officials in Washington, D.C.
In this time of change, some things do not change. Those are the values we try to live by — courage and compassion, reverence and integrity. I stand for a culture of life in which every person matters and every being counts. I stand for marriage and family, which are the foundations of our society. I stand for the appointment of federal judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.
My opponent says he supports the institution of marriage, but he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which Congress passed by an overwhelming majority and my predecessor signed into law. My opponent has voted against sensible bipartisan measures, like parental notification laws. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion.
On issues that are vital to this nation's future, all Americans know where I stand. I'm a compassionate conservative. I believe in policies that empower people to improve their lives, not try to run their lives. I believe in helping men and women find the skills and tools to prosper in a changing world. I have worked to help all Americans build a future of dignity and independence. And that is how I will continue to lead this nation for four more years.
Thank you for listening.