Bush warns nations that sponsor terrorism
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Sounding a combative note, President Bush warned Thursday that nations that sponsor terrorism or "don't hold the values we hold dear" are on his "watch list" and could face justice administered by the United States.
On the third and final stop of a three-state trip to drum up support for his budget priorities, Bush responded to those who questioned what he meant when he talked about an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address. In that Tuesday speech, he cited Iran, Iraq and North Korea as being part of that axis.
"People say, what does that mean? It means they better get their house in order, is what it means. It means they better respect the rule of law," he said, pounding on the lectern for emphasis. "It means they better not try to terrorize America and our friends and allies, or the justice of this nation will be served on them as well."
The president did not mention specific countries in his comments Thursday at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. "If you're one of these nations that develops weapons of mass destruction, and you're likely to team up with a terrorist group, or you're now sponsoring terror, or you don't hold the values we hold dear true to your heart, then you, too, are on our watch list," he said.
Bush said his speech should be viewed as a kind of warning to nations to reject terrorism.
"And so, my hope is that those nations we put on notice and other nations around the world will make the right choice," Bush said. "But they should not make any mistake about it: We will defend our national security."
The president hit on several points he has made in past speeches: the war on terrorism is just beginning, those nations that harbor terrorists will be held accountable, those responsible for the September 11 attacks will be caught and brought to justice. He also vowed to boost the nation's defense resources.
"This patient nation will stay the course until we bring the killers to justice," he said. "We seek not revenge. We seek justice."
Pressing his plans directly with citizens
The president's stop in Atlanta marked the last leg of a two-day Southern swing aimed at pressing his plans directly with the public. His next stop before returning to Washington later Thursday afternoon was a visit to Atlanta's historic Booker T. Washington High School.
Bush's road message is focusing on homeland security, economic revival, community service and the war on terrorism.
Just as he did Tuesday night before Congress, Bush warned an audience Wednesday at his first stop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that the threat of more terrorist attacks remains and that, despite victories in Afghanistan, the war on terrorism has only begun.
"The call is bigger than that. In order to make sure our children can grow up in a free world and a civilized world, we must rout out terror wherever it exists, wherever it hides," Bush said. "Our mission is to make the world free from terror, and this mighty country will not tarry, and we will not fail, in our love and our quest for freedom."
Bush later traveled to Daytona Beach, Florida, for a speech Wednesday evening.
As he did in his State of the Union address, the president alluded to possible action against countries that the United States believes are pursuing weapons of mass destruction and aiding terrorists. However, he did not directly name Iraq, Iran and North Korea as he had earlier.
"If you're a nation that's going to develop weapons of mass destruction, you too are on our radar screen," Bush said. "You too, if you've got a history of repression and violence and disregard of human rights ..., are now on notice that United States of America will do whatever it takes to defend our security."
Bush also made a pitch for his plan on improving the economy, which he said includes additional tax relief, the opening up of international markets for U.S. goods and a national energy policy to reduce dependence on imported oil.
While saying he supports legislation to provide assistance to workers displaced by the recession and fallout from September 11, Bush said, "People don't want an unemployment check -- they want a steady paycheck. And so the thing Congress is got to do is to create jobs."
Bush also offered a strong challenge to members of Congress who want to delay or defer elements of his $1.35 trillion tax cut package passed last year. Any deferral, the president maintains, would be tantamount to a tax increase.
"Thank goodness, we cut taxes when we did," he said. "For those who want to do away with tax relief, you don't know what you're talking about. ... We don't raise taxes during the middle of a recession."
He added, "The best way to help an economy recover is to let hard-working people keep more of their money."
The president also echoed the call made in his State of the Union speech for Americans to donate two years -- 4,000 hours during the course of their lives -- to community service. He also urged people who need a place to volunteer to contact the new USA Freedom Corps, which is an umbrella group for a number of service organizations.
"Part of being a responsible society is to serve your community," Bush said. "These are ways you can help. These are ways that you can be part of serving your nation."
The groups that are part of the USA Freedom Corps include the Citizen Corps, which allows people to volunteer to help their communities prepare for possible terrorist attacks; AmeriCorps, which places volunteers in community projects and groups; Senior Corps, which provides volunteer programs for, and by, older Americans; and the Peace Corps, which sends volunteers overseas.
The president also unveiled a Web site and toll-free phone number for those interested in the USA Freedom Corps: www.usafreedomcorps.gov or 1-877-USA CORP.
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
ALLPOLITICS TOP STORIES:
Karzai to U.S.: 'Stay with us'
Coast Guard joins Homeland Department
Frist offers hope to governors
Suit alleges hostility to Hispanic voters
CBS: Saddam challenges Bush to debate
|Back to the top|