"Mr. President, thank you very much. As I told you, we'd like to have some tough and challenging questions."
Transcript from the White House Office of the Press Secretary January 11, 2006, the president speaking at the Kentucky International Convention Center, Louisville, Kentucky:
THE PRESIDENT: How old are you?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. That's good. (Laughter.)
Q How can people help on the war on terror?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's the hardest question I've had all day. (Laughter.) First of all, I expect there to be an honest debate about Iraq, and welcome it. People can help, however, by making sure the tone of this debate is respectful and is mindful about what messages out of the country can do to the morale of our troops. (Applause.) I fully expect in a democracy -- I expect and, frankly, welcome the voices of people saying, you know, Mr. President, you shouldn't have made that decision, or, you know, you should have done it a better way. I understand that. What I don't like is when somebody said, he lied. Or, they're in there for oil. Or they're doing it because of Israel. That's the kind of debate that basically says the mission and the sacrifice were based on false premise. It's one thing to have a philosophical difference -- and I can understand people being abhorrent about war. War is terrible. But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections, is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy. So that was a good question. Thank you. (Applause.)
See also Don't Question Me, Too Many Changes, You Stupid Earth People! Your Stupid Minds!, Ming the Merciless, Accidental Truth