For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 31, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Congressman Phil Gingrey
Cobb Galleria Centre
12:44 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Go Dawgs. (Laughter.) I'm headed to Florida when I leave here, so please don't spread the word, all right? (Laughter.)
But I want to thank you, Phil and Saxby, for that introduction. And I want to thank all of you for that welcome. It's great to be back in Georgia, and I appreciate the many courtesies extended to me today. And I want to thank Phil, as well, and Saxby, for the tremendous job they do in the Congress every day. I know Phil had a late night last night in Washington. I hope he had a chance to catch a nap on Air Force Two on the way down. I also want to thank Saxby for flying down with us here today because the two of them are both doing a fantastic job for the people of Georgia.
We're all here today on behalf of a terrific congressman, Phil Gingrey. Phil and I campaigned together a year ago when he first made his run for Congress as a state senator. I was proud to stand with him then because I knew of his outstanding record in the legislator, and I believed he'd make a fine congressman for the 11th district of Georgia. People in the district obviously felt the same way. And in his freshman year on Capitol Hill, Phil has repaid the people's confidence 100 percent.
Now, I have a little bit of experience in the Congress myself. I spent 10 years in the House of Representatives. I was the sole congressman from Wyoming in the House. We had a small delegation, only one member. But it was quality. (Laughter.) But as a result of that, over the years I've gained some experience in understanding what makes a good member. You need to work hard. You need to stay in close touch with the folks back home in the district, and you need to speak out on the things that matter most back home, as well as around the nation. And that's what Phil does every single day.
He's a tireless advocate for better schools. A respected physician, he brings a very special insight and expertise to one of our major issues, that of health care. And as the representative of a district with significant military installations, Phil has been a very strong voice for our servicemen and women as a result of his work on the Armed Services Committee.
Phil arrived in Washington as an experienced legislator. He knows how to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship. He does Georgia proud in Washington, D.C. He's a fine public servant. He has an outstanding record to run on in 2004. And if I may say so, so does our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Here in Atlanta today, I want to say a word about Saxby's colleague in the United States Senator, Zell Miller. Senator Miller, as everyone knows is a Democrat, a Marine Corps veteran, a statewide officeholder here in Georgia for nearly three decades, and now Georgia's Senior Senator. He's a distinguished American, so I was very pleased to read the following statement, which appeared in yesterday's Atlanta Journal Constitution. I quote directly from Zell's words:
"The next five years will determine the direction of the world that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will live in. I do not want to trust that crucial decision to the current Democratic field, so I plan to vote for George Bush, to help him any way I can. This does not mean I am going to become a Republican. It simply means that in the year 2004, this Democrat will vote for George Bush." (Applause.)
I want all Georgians to know that President Bush and I are deeply honored by the support of Senator Miller, by so many fine citizens of this state, both Democrat and Republican, alike. We're grateful for the privilege of serving America in a period of historic change.
The President and I came to Washington determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to the next generation. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform, to get beyond the old debates that had stood in the way of progress. Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we 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 this new era because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush.
In the weeks following the terrorist 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's 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 for America." It's pretty clear that terrorist did not know us. It's pretty clear that the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and resilience of this country. They did not understand the determination of our President.
As we stand here today, many of al Qaeda's 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, 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 and sheltered terrorists, and his regime is no more.
Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. These terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom now being provided to the Iraqi people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans and will not intimidate the Iraqi people. Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we are rolling back the terrorist threat at the very heart of its power. We will persevere 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. As a former Secretary of Defense, and I know you join me in this sentiment, I have never been prouder 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 tremendous progress they've made in helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq emerge into a new era of self-rule and freedom. The men and women of our military are rebuilding schools, repairing medical facilities, and training Afghans and 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 for the people of Europe and Japan. Now in the Middle East, they're earning the trust of the people we've liberated.
One of the most important commitments George W. Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given every resource they need and all the respect they deserve. Working with Phil Gingrey and Saxby and Zell Miller and others, we've kept our word to the United States military.
Marking sure that our nation is secure has been a principal concern of our administration, and so has the economic well-being of our citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession. To get it growing again, we delivered tax relief -- significant tax relief. We've 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. (Applause.) After all, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money. (Applause.)
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. Figures released yesterday for the third quarter of this year showed that our economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2 percent, the fastest pace of economic growth since 1984, nearly 20 years ago. Exports are expanding. Business investment is rising. Housing construction is booming. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
As you know, there are voices occasionally in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. I hear these voices sometimes on the evening news. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts are what helped bring us out of the recession. They're helping now to foster long-term economic growth; they will help to create jobs. The President and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants a job can find a job.
President Bush has also made education reform a matter of the highest priority. He reached across the aisle to enact a program that encourages high aspirations and accountability, gives parents the information they need to know if their children's schools are marking progress. Education has been one of those issues where there's been a lot of talk 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 American 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 he has brought into government. As many of you know, I've had the privilege of holding a number of positions in public service over the years, including White House Chief of Staff, member of Congress, Secretary of Defense. Looking at the group now serving President Bush, I can tell you, it's one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President of the United States.
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 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 pursuit of peace. In that region and beyond, all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.
And here at home, we have a full agenda, and well, and pressing business to complete. We have important work to do in the health care area, an area where your congressman, Phil Gingrey, has such great and needed expertise -- very few physicians in the United States Congress.
We're nearing major reform in 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. In Georgia and all across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
Thanks, as well, to the President's leadership, the Congress is nearing passage on a comprehensive energy plan. The President proposed the strategy based on greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, more energy production right here in the United States. For the sake of our economic security and for our national security, we must modernize our energy infrastructure, and we must make this nation less dependent on foreign oil.
Also on Capitol Hill, it's time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has put forward superb nominees to serve on the federal bench, talented experienced men and women who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet some of these nominees have been denied an up-or-down vote for months and even years.
Just yesterday, Senate Democrats waged a filibuster to prevent a vote on the nomination of Judge Charles Pickering, of Mississippi, even though a solid majority of senators -- 54 to be precise -- were on record in support of his nomination. It's time for the Senate to end this unfair practice and to end all the needless delays in the confirmation process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate.
We've achieve a great deal over the last several years, but there's 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. 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 that 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.
For my part, I'm proud to serve beside a President who has the commitment, integrity, judgement, compassion, and the courage to lead our nation in a time of testing -- a President of the United States that's brought honor and dignity to the White House. (Applause.)
President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us, by your commitment to the cause we all share, and we are very grateful to the people of the 11th district for sending Phil Gingrey to Washington. Phil is a steady leader in the Congress. He reflects great credit on the people of Georgia, and I look forward to working with him for a good many years to come. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
END 1:00 P.M. EST