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JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, shoring up the economy: President Bush was in Florida today to boost that state’s struggling economy. This afternoon he fielded questions from people involved in tourism and related businesses at a town hall meeting in Orlando. Here are some excerpts.
STUDENT: My name is Adam Halsman. I’m a seventh-grader at Shelley Boone Middle School in Haynes City, Florida. I’d like to know what the children in the… And the young people in America, how can they help the economy?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Listen to your mother. I’m still listening to mine. I’ll tell you what you can do. I’ll tell you how you can help the economy. Study hard. Learn a skill. Have ambition. Make the right choices in life so that when you get old enough you’re a productive citizen. That’s the absolute best thing you can do.
MAN: What is being done to encourage travel? I’ve seen a few commercials not just within the country, but abroad where a great place to come…
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There’s a marketing plan and, you know, one of the things if you notice how I start off my talk here I’ve got a rather large microphone these days and I’ve been encouraging people to travel.
But the federal government can help by making sure things are more secure and people feel safe. It’s really our fundamental responsibility right now is the safety of the American people. I know a lot of people have got some concerns about how safe we can make the country and if we’re doing… Are we doing things within the Constitution. I want to talk about a couple of things to put your mind at ease. I’ll ask myself a question. Why are you having the opportunity to have a military tribunal?
What happens if in the course of this war that we apprehend or capture an enemy, and we want to bring him on justice, and in the course of bringing him to justice, what if the information necessary to bring him to justice would compromise our capacity to keep America safe?
In the court of law, there would be all kinds of questions that might compromise our ability to gather incredibly important intelligence to prevent the next attack from happening to America.
STUDENT: Our family wants to help out our country. We think that making families strong will make our country strong. My parents believe that eating meals together will do that. Is this something that you did when you were a kid and that you and Mrs. Bush believe in?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I did eat with my family so long as my mother wasn’t cooking. (Laughter and groans) Wait a minute. Just kidding, mom. She was one of the great fast food cooks of all time. Just kidding, mom. We ate a lot together. We did. I think it’s important to do that. I think… That’s a very interesting question. You know, we live in a society that’s a busy society.
We live in a society where it’s so easy to forget the fundamentals, but one of the really positive things that has come out of the evil of 9/11 was that people are beginning to ask, you know, what’s important? What’s important? I think you touched on something really important, and that’s family.
And the idea of a mom and dad prioritizing family is all about not only enhancing the quality of life of their children but collectively making America so much stronger and so much better after the evils. This country is a fabulous country. They thought they hurt us, the evil ones. They have made us stronger, more real and a better land.