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Inside Politics

Bush pledges to make America safer

President defends national security record, war in Iraq

President Bush speaks during an "Ask the President" event at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
George W. Bush

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) -- President Bush told a cheering Iowa audience Tuesday that he had made America and the world safer and that the country would be even safer if he is given four more years in office.

The speech at Kirkwood Community College covered the bases of his usual campaign rhetoric, from his rationale for invading Iraq to his economic policies, which he said "have cut taxes on regular Americans."

Beginning with the "lessons of September 11," the president declared that "these terrorists, who use terror to frighten us, are nothing but a bunch of cold-blooded killers."

"You cannot talk sense to them," he said. "You cannot negotiate with them. They must be brought to justice in order to make the country more secure."

Bush said he had no desire to be the "war president," preferring to be the "peace president."

But, he said, "when we see a threat, we must deal with it before it fully materializes." That, he said, was the reason behind the invasion of Iraq.

"Saddam was a sworn enemy of the United States of America," he said. "He'd used weapons of mass destruction on his own people.

"Everybody knew he was a danger. I looked at the intelligence and it said Saddam was a threat to the United States," he said.

"Give me four more years and America will be safer."

Bush also introduced small business owners who said the Bush tax cuts had benefited them.

He told his audience that his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, would raise taxes on those people with his plan to restructure taxes to target those with higher income.

Instead, he said, Congress must make his tax cuts permanent.

"Some of those cuts are getting ready to expire," he said. "When you hear expire, you need to think tax increase."

"We've got a plan to make sure this country is a better place," Bush said. "And I need your help to reach people of all walks of life: Republicans, discerning Democrats and wise independents."

Bush ran through a litany of his accomplishments during his term as president, including the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq; the Medicare bill, which includes a prescription drug benefit; and the No Child Left Behind Act, an overhaul of the nation's public schools. (Interactive: No Child Left Behind Act)

Then he said he would push for more change during his second term to make the United States "an even stronger country," including so-called "tort reform," which among other things would seek to limit monetary awards in personal injury, malpractice and class action lawsuits.

"No one's ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit," he said "Ask your doctors what it's like to have the legal system look like a lottery.

"It doesn't do the consumers any good. It doesn't do the providers any good. It doesn't do small-business owners any good to have a legal system that is not fair and balanced."

Bush also said his programs are "feeding the hungry," are "taking care as best we can of the victims of HIV/AIDS," and have "opened our markets up to foreign goods."

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