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 Home > News & Policies > November 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 7, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Bush-Cheney '04
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
Austin, Texas

12:35 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. (Applause.) It's great to be back in Austin, and back here, of course, the city was the headquarters for the Bush-Cheney Campaign in 2000. It brings back a lot of memories. I remember many good days here, and one very long night in this hotel -- (laughter) -- three years ago today, as a matter of fact. And I've never forgotten that day because Lynne and I came down after we voted in Wyoming, then we flew down here to Austin to spend part of the day with George and Laura Bush, then the events that we anticipated that evening. And we stayed here in the hotel, great hotel, recommend it to everybody. But we'd planned to stay one night, and it turned out we didn't bring enough laundry. (Laughter.) And we were here much longer than that, but it was a remarkable series of events. And of course, it ended as we always thought it should end.

It's great to see Karen here. And I want to thank Karen for her kind introduction. Her daily presence is missed in the White House because she was a superb sort of rock in the middle of the West Wing operation in terms of her judgment, and her knowledge of the President, and the tremendous confidence that he has in her. Better than anyone else I've ever known, she has the capacity to sit and listen to argument and debate, and then understand intuitively -- because she knows the President so well -- how he'll respond to it, how he'll talk about it, how he'll describe it. But of course, we still have her number on speed dial. We get her back periodically and we look forward to her very active involvement in next year's campaign.

I'm told that many of you here this evening -- will be here this evening for an event heading -- a celebration for Bill Clements. Bill, of course, was elected Governor of Texas 25 years ago today, one of the great Texans. Bill's election was one of the great political events, I always felt, in Texas. He carried the Republican banner to victory in 1978, and that signaled a new era in Texas politics. We all admire Bill Clements for his tremendous contributions to his party, and his service to his state and the nation. I had the great benefit of Bill's wisdom when I became Secretary of Defense. One of the things I did was to call a handful of people who had played prominent roles in previous administrations in the Defense Department. And I invited Bill back because, of course, he'd been Deputy Secretary of Defense. He was superb in that role, and out of all the individuals I talked with as I got ready to take on those duties and responsibilities, none had more sage advice or greater wisdom than did Bill Clements.

1978 was also a historic election because that's the night I got elected to Congress for the first time. So I've never forgotten that. But also two of my colleagues from that era, Tommy Laffler (ph) and Ken Hance (ph) are here today. We all were elected as freshmen. Two of us had our heads properly directed in those days, and the other one eventually came around, joined the party. (Laughter and applause.)

But I loved my time in the House of Representatives. Of course, I was the congressman from Wyoming for 10 years. Wyoming had -- only had one seat in the House of Representatives. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.) And I loved those days, and they dated that same election night in 1978, 25 years ago, when we all started together.

But I want to thank you all today for your generous support of the campaign that the President and I plan to mount next year. I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity he's given me to serve as Vice President. And of all us, of course, here today, are proud to be friends and supporters of the former Texas Governor who is a great President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Now, Texas, of course, gave us 32 electoral votes in that last election, and we didn't need a recount. And I don't imagine we're going to need one in 2004. Of course, my home state of Wyoming had a contribution to make, too. I like to remind the President those three electoral votes came in pretty handy -- from Wyoming, as well. (Laughter.)

But looking to November of 2004, I think we've got a very busy year ahead of us. And this week we got some early indications of how the voters across the country feel about Republican leadership. On Tuesday in Mississippi, the sitting Democratic Governor was unseated by the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour, in a tremendous victory. In Kentucky, the voters chose Dr. Ernie Fletcher -- the first Republican Governor of that state in 36 years. And let's not forget another great victory -- just last week I had in my office in the West Wing in the White House, the Republican Governor of the state of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He's also achieved a tremendous victory. (Applause.)

I know this state is also proud, not only of the President, but also our outstanding First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.) And I can tell you as President of the United States Senate, that one of the most effective teams in Washington these days is the team of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. They do a superb job for everybody here in the state. (Applause.)

I have a special interest in the line-up in the Senate, of course, because the fact of the matter is when they created the job of Vice President at the Constitutional Convention there in Philadelphia, they got all the way through the convention and decided they hadn't given him anything to do. So they decided at the last minute that the Vice President should also preside over the United States Senate and cast tie-breaking votes whenever the Senate was evenly divided on an issue. And that's my only official job as President of the Senate. But I care a great deal about how big our margin is, obviously, in the Senate. It has a significant impact on my duties and responsibilities.

I am always reminded of the fact that my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He was allowed to go down into the well of the Senate and actually engage in the debate, participate in the discussion on the major issues of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've been restored. But I do get to preside, and, as I say, on those special occasions when the Senate is evenly divided, I get to cast the tie-breaking vote.

But with the responsibilities that the President and I have, it matters a great deal that we are able to count on capable partners in the Congress. The President and I went to Washington determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform, and to get beyond old debates that had stood in the way of progress. Today, as we look ahead to the election next year, we have a record of accomplishment, I believe, to show for our efforts. The American people, I think, can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of the 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 conduct of our President. From that day to this, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America that morning and killed our citizens.

Not long after September 11th, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." It is pretty clear this terrorist did not know what he was talking about. It's pretty clear he did not know us. It's clear that the terrorists who attacked us that day did not understand the tremendous strength and resilience of this country. And they did not understand the determination of our President.

As we stand here today, 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 ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. These terrorists are targeting the very success and freedom that we are providing to the Iraqi people. But we will persevere until every one of them is confronted and defeated. This is no easy task. But the men and women of America's Armed Forces have undertaken it with enormous skill and courage. As a former Secretary of Defense, I have never been prouder of the men and women in the United States military than I am today. (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 have 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 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 are supporting the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan as they create countries that can be part of the world community, instead of a threat to it. This is a mission that must succeed, and under this President, it will succeed. (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 citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession, and 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. And as the President reminds us frequently, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money.

Our administration has delivered the largest tax relief package since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are beginning to see strong economic growth as a result. The figures for the third quarter this year show that the economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Exports are expanding, business investment is rising, housing construction is booming -- jobs are now beginning -- are beginning to be created. Today's announcement, for example, if you've noticed, show that the unemployment rate dropped, that we added 126,000 new jobs in October, and that we'll see continued anticipated real growth in the months and years ahead. But the President will not rest until every American who wants a job can find a job.

Now, as you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear them on the evening news. In fact -- you know who I'm speaking about. (Laughter.) In fact, the Bush tax cuts are what brought us out of recession and they are helping now to foster long-term economic growth. Instead of rolling the tax cuts back, we need to do what the President has asked, we ought to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

President Bush has also made education reform a matter of the highest priority. He has reached across the aisle, just as he did here in Texas, to enact a program that encourages high aspirations and accountability and gives parents the information they need to know about their children's schools and whether they're making progress.

Education has been one of those issues where there has been a lot of talk about over the years, but under this President's leadership, talk has been turned to action. Similarly, after many failed attempts in the 1990s, we now have trade promotion authority to open new markets for our ranchers, farmers, and manufacturers.

On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in providing 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 into government. As many of you know, I've had the privilege of holding a number of positions in public service -- including White House Chief of Staff, member of Congress, Secretary of Defense. Looking at the group now serving under President Bush, I can tell you this is one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President of the United States.

All of us in this administration -- and Republicans in the House and Senate -- recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but rather 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. And it requires that we free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuit of peace. In the Middle East and beyond, 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 on Medicare -- reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. The President has proposed a strategy based on greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and more energy production right here in the United States of America. 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.

We also need to improve our health care system through liability reform. In Texas, and all across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

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, including Justice Priscilla Owen of Texas, have been denied up-or-down votes in the Senate for months, and even years. Last week, and again just yesterday, Senate Democrats waged filibusters against nominees, who would have been confirmed with a majority if the Senate had simply been permitted to vote. It is time for the Senate to end this unfair practice, and to end all the needless delays in the confirmation process. Every nominee to the Senate -- to the bench deserves a prompt up-or-down vote in the Senate floor. (Applause.)

We've achieved a great deal over these last few years. But there's a great deal left to do. Washington -- in Washington and around the world this nation has many 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.

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 the sheer decency and force of his character. As a congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I watched 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 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 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.

President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we share. Your support in November of 2003 will help assure victory in November of 2004.

Thank you very much.

END 12:55 P.M. CST