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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 17, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Bush-Cheney 2004
Radisson Plaza Hotel
Fort Worth, Texas
October 16, 2003

12:17 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. For somebody from Dallas, that's a warm welcome in Fort Worth. (Laughter.) I'm delighted to be back in Texas, in this part of Texas, in particular, and want to thank all of you for being here. Lynne and I really enjoyed the time we spent here in north Texas and living in this part of the country, and we still keep in touch with a lot of our friends that we developed over the years down here.

We've got friends, of course, here in Fort Worth, and in Dallas -- and we know some really nice folks who've got a place down in Crawford. (Laughter.)

I want to begin this morning by thanking all of you for your support for this campaign in 2004. The President and I are deeply grateful of your willingness to step up and to help. It's been a tremendous privilege for me to serve as Vice President. And all of us, of course, are proud to be friends and supporters of the former Texas governor who's making a great President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Of course, three years ago, we got the 32 electoral votes here in Texas. There was no need for a recount. (Laughter.) But we don't want to take any state for granted, obviously, and we think things look pretty good down here. Of course, there wasn't any real need for a recount up in my home state of Wyoming, either, we got about 70 percent of the vote up there. The President always told me when he put me on the ticket that he didn't select me because he was worried about carrying Wyoming -- (laughter) -- I pointed out to him those three electoral votes came in mighty handy. (Laughter.)

The President this morning, of course, left on an important trip to Asia. On the way out, he made several stops in California and, of course, had a meeting with the newest Republican office holder in America, Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, we're watching other governors races that are up this year. We've got races in Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and we've got good candidates and they're running strong. This is shaping up as a Republican year, and I'm confident that in November of 2004, the American people are going to reelect our President for a job well done. (Applause.)

I know this state is proud not only of our President, but also our outstanding First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) Texans can also take great pride in your outstanding congressional delegation. You may not know it, but my only real job in Washington is as President of the United States Senate. The Vice President actually gets paid by the Senate; I'm a creature of the Senate, about half my staff is paid by the Senate and that's my only real job. When they wrote the Constitution that created the post of Vice President, they got down to the end of the convention and they decided they hadn't given him anything to do, so they decided to make him the President of the Senate, and let me preside over the Senate and cast the tie-breaking vote, which I've gotten to do a few times now.

My predecessor, John Adams, our first Vice President, was also given floor privileges. He was allowed to go down into the well of the Senate and actually participate in the debate on the great issues of the day. And then he did a few times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They have never been restored.

But I do -- I get the opportunity, because I spend every Tuesday afternoon I go up and have lunch with the Senate Republicans. And I must say, Texas has one of the great teams in the United States Senate in Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, they do a great job for all of us.

I'm also delighted to count so many friends among the Texas Republican congressional delegation. And it looks to me like, given the recent work of righting some wrongs down in Austin, that we'll have an expanded Texas Republican delegation after the next election. That's good news for everybody.

With the responsibilities that the President and I have, it matters a great deal to us that we can count on capable partners in the United States Congress. The President and I came to Washington determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We wanted to seize new opportunities for reform, to get beyond old debates that stood in the way of progress for all too long.

And today, as we look ahead to the election next year, we believe we've got 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 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, a focused and a relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed 3,000 of our citizens on that morning.

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.

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 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 dictator armed to threaten the peace and gave support to terrorists, and his regime is no more.

On every front in the war on terror, the United States has depended on the skill and the courage of our young men and women in uniform, many of them based right here in Texas. We're grateful to all who serve, and to their families who share in the sacrifices of military life. In the fight against terror, America's armed forces have faced enemies who have no regard for the rules of warfare or morality. They've carried out urgent and difficult missions in some of the most remote and hostile territory in the world. These young Americans have done all of this with the bravery and the honor we expect of them, and they've made this nation very 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 of the respect they deserve. Working with Republicans in the Senate and the House, we've kept our word to the United States military.

Three years ago, we also promised to reduce the federal tax burden, to let workers keep more of their own money and to give a needed boost to the economy. By the time we took office, the economy was in recession, and then it was further shaken by terrorist attacks. To get the economy growing again, we delivered tax relief, because when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. After all, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money, it's the people's money. When the American people have more to spend, more to save, more to invest, our economy moves forward, and those who need work are more likely to find a job.

We expanded the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000; reduced the marriage penalty; cut taxes on dividends and capital gains, helping seniors and others who rely on investments for their retirement. Because of our actions, a married couple with two children and a household income of $40,000 will see their federal income tax bill this year fall from $1,978 to only $45. And for the sake of America's entrepreneurs and farmers and ranchers, we are also bringing the death tax to an end.

All together, we've softened the effects of recession and set a platform for sustained growth by giving the American people the largest tax relief since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

As governor of this state, George Bush made education reform a matter of the 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 the spirit of goodwill until the No Child Left Behind Act became law. Because of that milestone reform, the days of excuse-making are over. It's time for high standards and accountability for results.

Education reform is just one of those issues that lingered for years in Washington. On 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. The critical factor in every case has been presidential leadership.

On the President's initiative, we're carrying out the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, creating a Department of Homeland Security to protect the American people. And after the many failed attempts of the '90s, we now have trade promotion authority to open new markets for farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. And under the President's leadership, with help from a Republican Congress, we're going to maintain spending discipline in Washington, D.C.

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 that he's brought into government. As someone who's spent many years in public service, I can tell you I believe this is one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President of the United States.

All of us in this administration recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interests of this nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they gather. Our 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 responsibilities. There is great work in this world that only America can do. In the Middle East, we're encouraging free markets, democracy and tolerance, because these are the ideas and aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuit of peace.

Under President Bush, this nation acts in the world according both to our fundamental interest and our founding ideals. We believe in the dignity of every 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, as well. After so many years of inaction, we're 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 also nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. The President has proposed a strategy based on greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technologies and more energy production here at home. And for the sake of our economic security and our national security, we must make the nation less dependent on foreign oil.

Another urgent matter concerns our federal courts, which have been far -- having far too many empty seats on the federal bench. President Bush has chosen outstanding men and women to fill the vacancies in the courts, people of experience and proven judgment who understand that the role of the courts is to apply the law, not to invent it. Yet, a small group of senators is trying to keep some of the President's nominees -- including Justice Priscilla Owen of Texas -- from receiving an up-or-down vote. This is a disservice to the courts, it's unfair to the nominees, and it's one more reason we need to have more Republicans in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

We believe we've achieved a great deal in the three years since we took office, 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 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.

As we go forward, we also must remember that our party is called to serve great and enduring principles, principles that apply everywhere and can be stated in the simplest of terms. A book has recently been published collecting the letters by Ronald Reagan over a lifetime. In one letter addressed to the leader of the Soviet Union, President Reagan wrote this:

"The peoples of the world, despite differences in racial and ethnic origin, have very much in common. They want the dignity of having some control over their individual destiny. They want to work at the craft or trade of their own choosing, and to be fairly rewarded. They want to raise their families in peace, without harming anyone or suffering harm themselves. Government exists for their convenience, and not the other way around."

Ladies and gentlemen, Ronald Reagan's words are still a superb guide for those of us who serve in public office. It is now our job to advance those principles as he did. I am proud to serve beside a President who follows in that tradition; a President who has the commitment, the integrity, the judgment, the compassion and the courage to lead this nation in a time of testing; a President of the United States who has brought honor and dignity back 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.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:32 P.M. CDT

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