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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 21, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at Reception for Congressman Jim Leach
October 20, 2003
Cedar Rapids Exhibition Center
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
6:09 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you all very much. You know, when you've been in this business as long as I have, you've been introduced a lot of times, but I've never had that amount of creativity devoted to the introduction of just the plain old Vice President. (Laughter and applause.) That's great, Jim. I appreciate it. The anti-Kafka? Is that what you called me? I've been called a lot of things. (Laughter.) Some say, well, they'll have to go home and check and see whether or not that was a favorable term. (Laughter.)
No, but I am delighted to be back in Iowa and back in Cedar Rapids, and I appreciate your warm welcome. But I am especially pleased to be here today with Jim, because Jim and I have been friends for many, many years. Lynne and I have known Jim and Deba longer than we can count. Jim and I first got to know each other more than 30 years ago -- I guess it was 1969 -- when we both went to work for a young, up and comer then, a budding politician. Jim had already worked for him when he was in the House of Representatives. He was in his mid-30s. His name was Don Rumsfeld. And he was no longer a congressman from Illinois; he was running the Office of Economic Opportunity. And Jim and I went to work for him in the executive branch some 34, almost 35 years ago.
Subsequent to that, of course, Jim had important assignments at the State Department, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. I went to work for President Ford. Eventually, in 1976, Jim got elected to the House of Representatives. In 1978, I got elected to the House of Representatives. My state of Wyoming was a little bit different than Iowa in the sense that we only had one congressman for the entire state. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.)
But, so I followed Jim by two years in the House, but one of the great privileges in the House are the friendships and the relationships that deepen as a result of your time there, and I had the great privilege of serving for ten years with Jim. And it has subsequently, obviously, been a great pleasure now to return to government, and one of the nice things about going back after I thought I'd finished my career in politics and planned to enjoy private life, to return back to Washington with the President and become part of his administration has been the privilege of renewing a lot of those old friendships and relationships with men and women that I had worked with previously, and now we've gotten back together again. And I think of people like Jim that I worked with in the Congress, and Don Rumsfeld is back at Defense. He hasn't made any progress at all in about 30 years -- same old job. (Laughter.) Colin Powell at the State Department, et cetera.
Jim, of course, is one of the most respected members of Congress. All of you know that here in the Second District in Iowa. (Applause.) His colleagues in both parties know him as a careful thinker, an independent voice, and a devoted public servant. Jim and I don't always agree on every issue, but there was never any doubt in my mind that he arrived at his views and position after careful and thoughtful deliberation, and as a matter of deep, personal conviction.
I think Jim Leach is about as fine a representative as Iowa has ever sent to the United States Congress, and President Bush and I are confident you're going to re-elect him to another term come next November. (Applause.)
Now, in the 2000 election, we noticed Iowa was pretty close in the presidential contest last time around. Of course, the national contest was pretty close, too. But in 2004, we expect to carry Iowa by a substantial margin. (Applause.)
The President and I have been honored to serve this country over the first years of the new century. It has been a time when the U.S. has faced some historic challenges, and a time when our great country has risen to meet those challenges. Americans, I think, have much to be proud of over what's been accomplished as a nation, and right at the top of the list of what we need to be proud of is our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
In the weeks following the terrorist attack on 9/11, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took comfort and pride in the character and the conduct of our President. From that day to this, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our fellow citizens.
Not long after September 11th, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end of America." It's pretty clear this terrorist did not know us. It's pretty clear that the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and the resilience of this country. And they did not understand the determination of our President.
As we stand here today, nearly two-thirds of the al Qaeda known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear, as they should be. Their fears are well founded, because we are on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists -- and his regime is no more.
We are rolling back the terrorist threat at the very heart of its power, in the Middle East. And our war on terror will continue until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated.
In these battles, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed with enormous skill and great courage. (Applause.) As a former Secretary of Defense -- and I know you join me in this sentiment -- I have never been more proud of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)
These fine young men and women deserve our wholehearted support. They deserve to have their bravery in battle recognized and to have us acknowledge as well the progress they have made in helping the people of Iraq emerge into a new era of self-rule and stability. The men and women of the military are rebuilding schools, repairing medical facilities, and training Iraqis to provide security for their fellow citizens. Our men and women in uniform are playing a classic role, one they undertook after World War II, when they brought help and hope to people all across Europe. Now, in the Middle East, they are earning the trust of the people they have liberated from tyranny.
One of the most important commitments George Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need and the respect that they deserve -- and we have kept our word.
Making sure that our nation is secure has been the principal concern of this administration. And so has been the economic well-being of our citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession, and that situation was worsened by the impact and the shock of 9/11. To get it growing again, we moved aggressively to deliver significant tax relief. We have done this because we believe that when families and small businesses and farms are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. (Applause.) It's important to remember that the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money.
This administration has delivered the largest tax relief package since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are beginning now to see the economic recovery and strong signs of future economic growth as a result. As you know, there are some who have suggested they want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. I occasionally hear these voices on the nightly news. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts are bringing us out of the recession. The President and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants a job can find a job. (Applause.)
President Bush has made education reform a high priority. It was for him when he was Governor of Texas, and it is today in the White House. He has reached across the aisle to enact a program that encourages high aspirations and gives parents the information they need to know if their children's schools are making progress.
Education has been one of those issues where there has been a lot of talk about it over the years, but under this President's leadership talk was turned to action. Similarly, after many failed attempts in the 1990s, we now have trade promotion authority to open up new markets for America's farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.
On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. One of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people that he has brought to government. As someone who has spent many years in public service, I can tell you this is one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President of the United States. (Applause.) And that barbecue smells awful good, doesn't it? (Laughter.)
All of us in this administration, and Republicans in the House and Senate, recognize our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to keep adding to that record.
Abroad, the fundamental interest of the nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they may gather. Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. In the Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuits of peace. Under President Bush, this nation acts in the world according to both our fundamental interests and our founding ideals. We believe in 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 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. We must also improve the health care system through liability reform. Doctors, here in Iowa and all across America, should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
Thanks to the President's leadership, Congress is nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. The President has proposed a strategy based on greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and the production of more natural gas, ethanol, and other energy. Energy sources such as ethanol and biodiesel are grown right here on Iowa's farms -- the safest place to meet our future energy needs. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we must make this nation less dependent on foreign oil. (Applause.)
We have achieved a great deal during our time in office. But there is still a great deal left to do in Washington -- and around the world this nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course -- obviously, it's already arrived in Iowa -- and when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. We understand the key to victory is to do the work we have 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.
For my part, I am proud to serve beside a President who has the commitment, the integrity, the judgment, the compassion, and the courage to lead the nation in a time of testing...a President of the United States who has brought honor and dignity to the White House. (Applause.)
President Bush and I are deeply honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We are very grateful to the Second District for sending Jim Leach to Washington. He has been a steady leader in Congress, and he reflects great credit on the people of Iowa. We look forward to working with him for a long time to come. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:30 P.M. CDT