Bush’s ‘Significant Speech’ in Pennsylvania

WaPo has the Text: Bush’s Speech in Pennsylvania. The early part is very much his standard stump speech, much of which I’ve heard before. I don’t quite see what was so “significant” about it, although it’s a solid performance.

A mildly amusing early line:

I am sure many of you stayed up to watch the vice presidential debate last night. (APPLAUSE) America saw two very different visions of our country and two different hairdos. I didn’t pick my vice president for his hairdo, I picked him for his judgment, his experience…

Otherwise, it was just a pretty solid reworking of the stump speech and some new material answering things that Kerry brought up in the first debate.

Update: Bush Attacks Kerry on Security, Economy (William Branigin, WaPo)

President Bush today delivered his sharpest attack to date on his Democratic challenger in the Nov. 2 election, charging that John F. Kerry has a “20-year record of weakness” in the U.S. Senate and would “paralyze America” in the war against terrorism if elected.

In a speech before supporters in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., that the White House billed as a major address on domestic and national security issues, Bush returned to familiar themes of his reelection campaign, but used harsher language as he sought to rebound from what was widely considered a lackluster performance in his debate with the four-term Massachusetts senator last week. Bush also lashed out at Kerry’s running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who debated Vice President Cheney in Cleveland last night. While attempting to sharpen the differences between himself and Kerry, Bush invoked nationalistic arguments, accusing Kerry of wanting to give foreigners a say in U.S. actions abroad in defense of national security.

In a lighter vein, Bush also alluded a couple of times to his own debate performance, in which he repeatedly said the presidency was “hard work” and showed irritation when Kerry was speaking. “It wasn’t easy for my opponent to become the single most liberal member of the Senate,” Bush said. “You might even say it was hard work.”

Describing what he called “the real difference” in the campaign, Bush said, “My opponent is a tax-and-spend liberal. I’m a compassionate conservative. My opponent wants to empower government. I want to use government to empower people.”

The Kerry campaign labeled the speech “Bush’s debate mulligan,” accusing him of trying to make up for deficiencies in his encounter with Kerry last Thursday in Florida.

That strikes me as about right. I haven’t seen or heard the speech but it does read well. The self-deprecating lines are especially good. One hopes this will translate into a stronger performance in the second debate.

Update (10/6 0836): Fred Kaplan agrees: “You Call That a Major Policy Address?”

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, Terrorism, The Presidency, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I wonder if Mr. Kerry’s advantage in the domestic-topic debates may not be quite so great as has been assumed. Aren’t there two pretty obvious lines of attack on each and every issue:

    1. Bush has had four years in office; Kerry has had twenty years. Kerry has never introduced a health care bill, education bill, or environmental bill.

    2. Over the years Kerry has voted against a substantial proportion of the bills that have eventually passed.

    Leadership or obstruction?

  2. Anjin-San says:

    I am reasonably sure that Bush has yet to veto a single spending bill, in spite of the out of control deficit. Why do you buy his charatization of Kerry as a “spender”? Or of himself as a conservative? He does not even pratice fiscal prudence, much less conservatisim. The fact is the goverment has increased greatly in size under Bush. If we had homeland security that was not a joke, it might be worth it. 30 Billion for homeland security this year?? We spend that much money in Iraq in a month.

  3. Elrod says:

    I hope Bush brings the whole speech up tomorrow night. Really. Because he will get eviscerated. Cheney has no problem lying with a straight face – he’s done it for years. But Bush at least thinks he’s honest. And when he gets called on any and all of the lies in this speech he’s going to ask for 30 more seconds of stammering silence. I do have to wonder, though, when CNN and MSNBC will show a live broadcast of one of Kerry’s stump speeches. It’d only be fair for the viewers to compare what the two say to their most fervent supporters.

  4. carpeicthus says:

    Actually Bush has never issued any sort of veto as president. An interesting side-effect of his style of governance and near-total Republican control of government.