Bush Nominates Gonzales For Attorney General
President George W. Bush announces his nomination of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as the next U.S. Attorney General during a press conference in the Roosevelt Room Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004. "I'm committed to strong, principled leadership at the Department of Justice, and Judge Al Gonzales will be that kind of leader as America's 80th Attorney General. I urge the Senate to act promptly on this important nomination. I look forward to welcoming my great friend to the Cabinet," said the President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Judge Al Gonzales to be the Attorney General of the United States. This is the fifth time I have asked Judge Gonzales to serve his fellow citizens, and I am very grateful he keeps saying "yes."
A decade ago, when I was elected governor of Texas, I asked Al to be my general counsel. He went on to distinguished service as Texas's Secretary of State and as a justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
Since I arrived in Washington four years ago, he has served with skill and integrity in the White House as Counsel to the President. I have counted on Al Gonzales to help select the best nominees for the federal courts, one of the President's most important responsibilities.
His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our policies in the war on terror -- policies designed to protect the security of all Americans, while protecting the rights of all Americans. As the top legal official on the White House staff, he has led a superb team of lawyers and has upheld the highest standards of government ethics. My confidence in Al was high to begin with; it has only grown with time.
Over the past decade, I've also come to know the character of this man. He always gives me his frank opinion. He is a calm and steady voice in times of crisis. He has an unwavering principle, a respect for the law, and he and Becky are dear friends of Laura and my -- of me, and I'm also very friendly with Graham and Gabriel Gonzales.
My newest Cabinet nominee grew up in a two-bedroom house in Texas with his parents and seven siblings. Al's mother and dad, Pablo and Maria, were migrant workers who never finished elementary school, but they worked hard to educate their children and to instill the values of reverence and integrity and personal responsibility. These good people lived to see their son, Al, study at Rice University and Harvard Law School. Maria still lives in humble Texas in the house her husband built, and I can only imagine how proud she is today of her son, Al.
Serving as Attorney General is one of the most challenging duties in our government. As the nation's chief law enforcement officer, Al will continue our administration's great progress in fighting crime, in strengthening the FBI, in improving our domestic efforts in the war on terror. As a steward of civil rights laws, he will ensure that Americans are protected from discrimination so that each person has the opportunity to live the American Dream, as Al himself has done.
With the Senate's approval, Judge Gonzales will succeed another superb public servant, Attorney General John Ashcroft. Attorney General Ashcroft has served with excellence during a demanding time. In four years, he's reorganized the Department of Justice to meet the new threat of terrorism. He's fairly and forcefully applied the Patriot Act and helped to dismantle terror cells inside the United States. During his watch, violent crime has dropped to a 30-year low, and prosecutions of crimes committed with guns have reached an all-time high. Drug use amongst our students is down. Confidence in the financial markets has been restored because the Attorney General aggressively prosecuted corporate fraud. And thanks to John Ashcroft's leadership, America has stepped up its efforts to prosecute the cruel exploitation of children by Internet pornographers. The nation is safer and more just today because John Ashcroft has served our country so well.
I'm committed to strong, principled leadership at the Department of Justice, and Judge Al Gonzales will be that kind of leader as America's 80th Attorney General. I urge the Senate to act promptly on this important nomination. I look forward to welcoming my great friend to the Cabinet.
JUDGE GONZALES: Thank you, Mr. President. I am joined today, as the President said, by my beautiful wife, Rebecca, and two of our three sons, Graham and Gabriel. And on behalf of my family, including my mom, Maria, and our other son, Jared, thank you, Mr. President, for this extraordinary opportunity.
This has been a day of conflicting emotions for me -- obviously, great humility and gratitude, but also some sadness, that, if confirmed, I will no longer drive to work every day to the White House, nor interact as closely with this remarkable White House staff, including my great team in the Counsel's Office, all led ably by my friend and inspiration, Chief of Staff Andy Card.
But I do look forward, if confirmed, to continuing to work with my friends and colleagues in the White House in a different capacity on behalf of our President, as we move forward to make America better, safer and stronger.
As a former judge, I know well that some government positions require a special level of trust and integrity. The American people expect and deserve a Department of Justice guided by the rule of law, and there should be no question regarding the Department's commitment to justice for every American. On this principle, there can be no compromise.
I am indebted to General Ashcroft, who, as the President just acknowledged, has served well during an historic time for our country. I appreciate John Ashcroft's courage and friendship, and I will work hard to build upon his record.
Finally, to our President, when I talk to people around the country I sometimes tell them that within the Hispanic community there is a shared hope for an opportunity to succeed. "Just give me a chance to prove myself" -- that is a common prayer for those in my community. Mr. President, thank you for that chance. With the consent of the Senate, God's help and the support of my family, I will do my best to fulfill the confidence and trust reflected in this nomination. Thank you, sir. (Applause.)