Mr. President, None of us will ever forget the hours after September 11th, the calls to our families, the evacuations, the images on television -- and then the remarkable response of the American people as we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland.
We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It brought out the best in all of us.
That spirit of our country should never be reduced to a cheap and divisive political applause line from anyone who speaks for the President of the United States. I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. That's why is hard to believe that last night the most senior advisor to the President of the United States is twisting those days of unity to divide us, that rather than focusing attention on finding Osama Bin Laden and smashing Al Queda, he is instead challenging the patriotism of Americans every bit as committed to fighting terror as he is.
For Karl Rove to equate Democratic policy on terror to "indictments" and "therapy" is an outrageous attempt to divide the nation at just the moment we must be unified. Just days after 9/11 the Senate voted 98-0 and the House voted 420-1 to authorize President Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against terror. After the bipartisan vote, President Bush said, I quote: "I am gratified that the Congress has united so powerfully by taking this action. It sends a clear message - our people are together, and we will prevail."
Karl Rove also said last night, quote: "No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
Well, I think a lot more needs to be said about Karl Rove's motives, because they're not the people's motives, and if the President really believed his own words of unity, then he should fire Karl Rove. If the President of the United States knows the meaning of his own words, he should listen to the plea of Kristen Breitweiser, who lost her husband when the Twin Towers came crashing down: she said, "if you're going to use 9/11, use it to make this nation safer than it was on 9/11.
And that's not being done. If you're going to use 9/11, if you're going to be impassioned about the lives lost on 9/11, then do so by making us safer."
Karl Rove doesn't owe me an apology, he doesn't owe Democrats an apology, he owes her an apology -- he owes an apology to every one of those families who paid the ultimate price on September 11th.
Millions of Americans across our country are questioning whether this Administration is making us safe. Kristen Breitweiser wants to tell her daughter that she'll grow up in a country safer than on the day her father was taken from her.
Mothers and fathers spend sleepless nights worrying about sons and daughters in humvees in Iraq that aren't protected. They're asking Washington for honesty and results and leadership, not political division.
Before Karl Rove delivers another political assault, he needs to think about those families. The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. Implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection.
Until they've done the work of making America safe, don't dare question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction. Before wrapping themselves in the memory of September 11th, and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about -- that leadership isn't insult or intimidation, it's the strength of making America safe -- they should remember what their responsibility is to every American -- and start to do the work of living up to it.