The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
June 24, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at the Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception
Grand Ballroom
The Jefferson Hotel
Richmond, Virginia

12:10 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Please, sit down. When they stand up like that, I'm always afraid they're getting ready to leave. (Laughter.)

Well, I want to thank you for that welcome. It's good to be back here in the capital of Virginia. With your help, the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2000 won big, and we're going to carry Virginia once again in 2004. (Applause.)

This is an impressive turnout for the number two man on the ticket. But like I always say, nothing draws a crowd like raw charisma. (Laughter.) This is new material. (Laughter.) Actually, this is the first Bush-Cheney event that I've done this year. We're now both starting -- the President just got started a few days ago, and now it's my turn. I'll finish here, I'll go on to Boston for an event up there tonight.

But we're all here today for the same reason -- although, I expect you paid a little more than I did to get in. But I'm grateful to everyone here to who worked so hard to organize the event and I want to thank all of you for being here today. Your early efforts and your generosity are laying the foundation for a strong and an effective campaign next year. And I want to thank you for your commitment to the re-election of President George W. Bush.

It's been three years now since the Governor asked me to help him find a running mate. I did my part, I gave him some ideas. And the name he settled on came as a bit of surprise to me. At the time the Governor picked me, he said he wasn't choosing me because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) I like to remind him from time to time that those three electoral votes from Wyoming turned out to be pretty darn important. (Laughter and applause.)

That decision by the Governor brought me back into public life and gave me the high privilege of serving as the Vice President of the United States. When I joined the ticket I knew the caliber of the man that I would be working for. I knew that if the American people sent us to Washington, we would not be going there simply to mark time. We were determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to the next generation. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform and get beyond the old debates that stood in the way of progress.

And today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we already have a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy and greater security against the dangers of a new era because of the character and the leadership qualities of President George W. Bush.

In the weeks following the terrorist attack on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. From that day to this, President Bush has led a steady, focused and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our citizens.

The al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters spent years plotting the attacks of September 11th. And in the time since, they've begun to realize what a grave miscalculation it was to make an enemy of this country and of this President.

To date, we've captured or killed nearly half of the al Qaeda leadership; those still at large are living in fear, and their fears are well-founded, because we are on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population; they harbored al Qaeda and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a dictator armed to threaten the peace and gave support to terrorists, and that regime is no more.

In the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan and on other fronts in the war on terror, we've depended on the skill and courage of our men and women in uniform. They've faced enemies who have no regard for the rules of warfare or morality. They have carried out urgent and difficult missions in some of the more remote and hostile parts of the world. And they've done all of this with the bravery and the honor we expect of them, and they have made this nation proud.

There was a time just a few years ago when the military was taken for granted. Readiness was faltering, morale was beginning to suffer. In the campaign of 2000, George W. Bush and I gave our word that the United States armed forces would be given every resource they need and all the respect they deserve -- and we've kept our word.

Three years ago, we also promised to reduce the federal tax burden, to let workers keep more of their own money and to give the economy a needed boost. By the time we took office, the economy was in recession and confidence was further shaken by terrorist attacks and corporate scandals. Under the President's leadership, we passed new laws to prevent and punish corporate crime. And to help create jobs and get the economy growing again, we have delivered the largest tax relief since the presidency of President Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)

As Governor of Texas, George Bush made education reform a matter of highest priority. He followed through by uniting members of both political parties behind sweeping reforms and he promised to do the same as President. Many doubted it could ever be achieved, yet, in a short time, President Bush transformed the education debate in Washington. He set forth clear principles and worked with Congress in a spirit of goodwill, until the No Child Left Behind Act became law.

Because of that milestone reform, the days of excuse-making are over and we are bringing high standards, accountability and regular testing to every public school in America.

Education reform is one of those issues that lingered for years in Washington. On so many problems the country was getting used to endless debate and not much in the way of results. Yet, things have changed fundamentally. Instead of constant gridlock, the government is actually confronting old problems and acting decisively against sudden dangers and challenges. And the critical factor in every single case has been the leadership of the President of the United States.

On the President's initiative, we're carrying out the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, with the Department of Homeland Security to protect our nation. After the many failed attempts of the 1990s, we now have trade promotion authority to open new markets for American farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. And under the President's leadership, Congress has agreed to a budget that funds key priorities while maintaining spending discipline, and we are going to hold Congress to that pledge.

On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. And one of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people he's brought into his government. When you look around the table and see people like Andy Card, Condoleezza Rice, Don Evans, John Snow, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, you know you are working with serious public servants, and one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President.

All of us in this administration know that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but rather to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interests of this nation require that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they arise. This war on terror will continue until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated. (Applause.)

Yet, overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibility toward other nations. There is great work in this world that only America can do. In the Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy, and tolerance, because these are the ideas and aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to pursuits of peace. On the African continent, the President's AIDS initiative will bring the healing power of medicine to millions of men, women and children who now live in desperate need.

Under President Bush, America acts in the world according to both our fundamental interests and our founding ideals. We believe in the dignity of life and the right of all people to live in freedom. And all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.

Here at home, we have a full agenda and some pressing business to complete. After so many years of inaction, we are nearing major reform in Medicare, reform that strengthens the system and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. Our health care system also needs liability reform, because doctors should spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

We're going to continue pressing Congress for an energy plan. The President has proposed a comprehensive energy strategy that includes greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and the production of more natural gas and other fuels here at home. For the sake of our economic security, and for our national security, we must make America less dependant on foreign oil.

Another urgent matter concerns our federal courts, many of which have empty seats on the bench. The President has nominated superb men and women to fill these vacancies, selecting people of experience and proven judgement, who understand that the role of the courts is to interpret the law, not to invent it. Yet, a small group of senators is trying to keep some of the President's nominees from even receiving an up-or-down vote. This is a disservice to the courts, and it is unfair to these well-qualified nominees. The Senate has a responsibility to give every judicial nominee a prompt hearing, and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

We have achieved a great deal in these last two-and-a-half years, but there is a great deal left to do in Washington, and across this world. The nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course. And when it does, we will run hard and take nothing for granted. President Bush and I know that the key to victory is to do the work we've been given, and to do it well. We intend to make good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.

Long before I took this job, I had the good fortune to work with other Presidents that I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw Gerald Ford restore confidence in government by his decency and force of character. As a congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the Cabinet under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in its purest form, and came to know a leader of true honor and complete integrity.

Along the way, I learned a few things about the Presidency, and the kind of person that it takes to do that job well. It takes the finest qualities of character, conviction, personal integrity, good judgement, compassion and courage in times of testing for the nation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)

I'm honored to work with George W. Bush. And he and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:25 P.M. EDT

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