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 Home > News & Policies > October 2003

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

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Bush-Cheney 2004
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
Starlight Roof
New York, New York

12:50 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well thank you very much. It's nice to be back in New York. It's a warm welcome today, and I deeply appreciate the Governor being here and his kind words. I can't think of anyone who could of done a better job or was better qualified to lead the state of New York through some very trying times over the last couple of years. It's been a great delight for the President and me to work with George Pataki. He has done a superb job, not only for New York City and for the entire state, but, obviously, for the entire nation. George, we're proud to share this with you. (Applause.)

I want to thank all of you for being here today to sign on to support the reelection of President George W. Bush. (Applause.) And I plan to be on the ticket, too. (Laughter and applause.)

Three years ago, when the President asked me to be his running mate, he said it wasn't because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) He had 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming. But I explain to him every once in a while, those three electoral votes came in pretty handy. (Laughter.) And I like to remind people of that because from time to time in politics, there's a certain amount of cynicism creeps in, and people say, well, what does it matter what I do? I'm just one person. It really doesn't matter whether I get actively engaged or not. And of course, if you want to have proof that that's a false proposition, all you have to do is look back at the 2000 election and remember how close that election was, how it was ultimately decided by a few hundred votes in the state of Florida, that every single dollar that was contributed, every hour of volunteer time that went into it, was enormously important. It all mattered.

We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the fact that many of you and others all across the country were willing to make that commitment. And I especially appreciate your willingness to be here today, more than a year in advance of the next election to help us get off on the right foot for this campaign. So thank you all very much for signing on. We're delighted to have you here, and appreciate very much your willingness to be part of the overall effort.

We are looking forward to the next campaign, in part, because we're going to come back here to New York to accept re-nomination, come next September. (Applause.) I can't think of a better place for us to begin that campaign from next fall than right here in New York City.

The President and I look forward to carrying the campaign all across the country. We went to Washington to try to solve problems rather than simply pass them on to future generations. We wanted -- (Applause.) It's all right. (Laughter and applause.) We wanted to get on with the opportunities for reform and to get by some of the debates that, for all too long, had led to deadlock in Washington.

Today, I think, as we look forward to the 2004 election, that we have a good deal to show for our efforts. We haven't solved all the problems by any means, but we've made some significant progress. And I think the American people, thinking about the future, can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of our new era, because of the character and the leadership of our President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

In the weeks following 9/11 and those terrible attacks on America, 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, a focused, and a relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our citizens on that day.

Not long after September 11th, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." It's pretty clear that terrorist didn't know what he was talking about. (Applause.) It's clear they failed to understand the strength and the resilience of our nation, and they did not understand the determination of our President.

As we stand here today, a great many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear, and their fears are well-founded, because we're 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, one of the bloodiest dictators of the 20th century, cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, and he had ties to al Qaeda, and his regime is no more. (Applause.)

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 military have performed their task with enormous skill and courage. As a former Secretary of Defense -- and I know you join me in this sentiment -- I've never been prouder of the United States military. (Applause.)

These 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've made in helping the people of Iraq emerge into a new era of self-rule and stability. The men and women of our 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 that they undertook after World War II when they brought help and hope to the people of Europe and Japan. Now, in the Middle East, they're earning the trust of the people they've liberated.

One of the most important commitments that George Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the Armed Forces would be given every resource they need and all of the respect they deserve, and we've kept our word. (Applause.)

Making sure that our nation is secure has been a principal concern of this administration. And so has the economic well-being of our nation. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession, and to get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief. And we have done this because we believe that when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn.

This administration has delivered the largest tax relief package since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we're beginning now to see strong economic growth as a result. As you know, there are some voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. I hear these voices occasionally on the evening news. I don't want you to think I'm hanging out with them. (Laughter.) But now is exactly the wrong time to be raising taxes just as we've come out of recession. In fact, the tax cuts brought us out of the recession. But the President and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants a job can find a job. (Applause.)

George W. Bush has made education reform a matter of the highest priority, and 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 and to hold those schools accountable for results.

Education has been one of those issues that there has been a lot of talk about 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 new markets for America's farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers. On issue after issue, the President has led the way in making progress for the American people.

All of us in this administration -- and the Republicans in the House and Senate -- recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interest of this nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they 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. In the Holy Land, America is committed to the security of Israel as a Jewish state, and we are firmly committed to the safety of the Israeli people. (Applause.) We will continue to work to implement the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living at peace with each other and every other nation in the Middle East.

Progress towards peace requires the active participation and support of states throughout the region. And progress towards peace requires the rejection of terror. (Applause.) The President's speech of June 24th of last year marked a milestone in establishing that there must be new and different Palestinian leadership not tainted by terror before there can be progress towards peace. (Applause.) America will stay engaged in the Middle East because peace and stability in that region are vital to our own security, and because we believe in the right of all people to live in freedom. In that region and beyond, all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom and against terror 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're nearing major reform on Medicare, reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. We must also improve our health care system through liability reform. Doctors, here in New York and across America, should be able to spend their time healing patients, not 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. Our strategy also includes measures to help prevent future blackouts by requiring mandatory reliability standards for power plants, and encouraging new investment in the electricity grid. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we must modernize our energy infrastructure, and make this nation less dependent on foreign oil. (Applause.)

We have achieved a great deal during our time in office. But there's still a great deal left to be done in Washington and around the world, and because the nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course. And when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. We understand 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 that 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 I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw Gerald Ford restore confidence in government by the sheer decency and force of his character. As a congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and the moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the cabinet, Secretary of Defense under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in its purest form and came to know a leader of honor and integrity.

Along the way, I learned a few things about the presidency, and the kind of person it takes to do that job well. It takes the finest qualities of character: conviction, personal integrity, good judgment, 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 your commitment to the cause we all share.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 1:04 P.M. EDT