For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 24, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Congresswomen Anne Northup
The Seelbach Hilton Louisville
12:20 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Anne. It's great to be back in Kentucky, and I appreciate all of you coming out today.
I want to thank Anne for her kind words and for the tremendous work she does every day up in Washington on behalf of her district, on behalf of Kentucky, and on behalf of the country. She's earned another term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
I just came in from Washington, where I started the day, as we always do, with meeting the President in the Oval Office. And he asked me to bring good wishes to all of you here in Louisville from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I always will remember Kentucky as the site of the vice presidential debate of 2000, and the state that the President and I carried by some 16-vote margin -- 16-point margin, 16 percentage points. There wasn't any need for a recount here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (Laughter.) And given our experience in the last election, we appreciate that. And we remember it.
When the President asked me to be his running mate, he said at the time that he wasn't worried about carrying my home state of Wyoming. He got 70 percent of the vote in Wyoming. I explain to him that those three electoral votes came in pretty darned important. (Laughter.)
My most recent political activity in Kentucky, obviously, was in September, on a campaign stop with Congressman Ernie Fletcher, who we'll soon be calling Governor Ernie Fletcher. And with new governors -- Republican governors -- named, not only here in Kentucky, but Haley Barbour in Mississippi, and a guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, it's been a good season for Republican candidates.
We're here today on behalf of a terrific member of Congress, Anne Northup. For the last seven years now, Anne has been one of the most impressive, conscientious representatives in the Nation's Capital. I served in Congress myself for 10 years. I was the congressman from Wyoming. And of course, as the smallest state, we only had one seat in the House of Representatives. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.)
But over the years, I gained some experience in evaluating members of Congress and -- including what makes a good member of Congress. You need to work hard. You need to stay in close touch with your district, with the folks back home. And you need to speak out on those matters that -- those issues that matter most. And that's exactly what Anne does every day. She's a respected member of the Appropriations Committee -- an absolutely crucial committee assignment -- a vigorous advocate for better public schools, and for pro-growth economic policies. She arrived in Washington as an already experienced legislator. She knows how to work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the true spirit of bipartisanship. She does Kentucky proud in Washington. She's known as one of the smart, independent, effective public servants. She's got a great record to run on 2004. And if I may say so, so does our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
We're looking forward to next year's campaign. I'm confident that come November of 2004, the American people will reelect our President. I'm pleased that, here in Kentucky, the leader of our statewide ticket next year will be an outstanding senator and Hall of Famer, named Jim Bunning, who also deserves another term in Washington.
As President of the Senate -- (applause) -- as President of the Senate and an old friend of Jim's from our days together in the House, I can tell you that Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell do a superb job of representing Kentucky. I think you've got one of the strongest teams in the entire United States Senate.
And of course, as Vice President, my only job in real life is to preside over the United States Senate. When they wrote the Constitution and created the post of Vice President and made him the number two in case something happened to the President, they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and concluded they had not given the Vice President anything to do. He didn't have a real job. So they made him the President of the Senate, said he could be the presiding officer of the Senate, and cast tie-breaking votes. And so that's my job. That's what I do.
My predecessor, John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He was allowed to leave the chair, go down into the well and participate in the debates of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been reinstated.
But I have to great good fortune to work closely with Mitch McConnell and with Jim Bunning. And as I say, it's one of the great pleasures for me in returning to government and being part of this administration -- is to work with great Americans like Anne and like Mitch and like Jim. They do a superb job for all of us.
The President and I will be proud to take our message to voters throughout Kentucky and across America next November. We came to Washington nearly three years ago now. The President was determined to solve problems, not simply pass them on to future generations. He wanted to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond the old debates that had previously stood in the way of progress.
Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, I think we've got a considerable 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 the leadership of our President.
In the weeks following the terrorist attack 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, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our fellow citizens on September 11th.
Not long after that date, 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 the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and the resilience of this country. And they, clearly, 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're on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population -- 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 had a 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're providing to the Iraqi people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, nor will they intimidate the Iraqi people.
Iraq has now become the central front in the war on terror. And we will roll back the terrorist threat at the very heart of its power in the Middle East. We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so that we do not face them on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)
We're calling on other nations to help the Iraqis build a free society, which will make all of us more secure. And we're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more of the responsibilities for their own security, and as they move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, but they are absolutely essential. As the President has said many times, and no one should doubt it, "We will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror." (Applause.)
In all they have done and all that they continue to do, 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, I have never been more proud of the men and women of the United States military. (Applause.)
These young Americans deserve our wholehearted support. They're 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 and Central Asia, they are earning the trust of the people they've liberated. One of the most important commitments the President 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 working with Anne Northup and others like her, we've kept our word to the United States military. (Applause.)
The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies, has been a principal concern of President Bush's 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've delivered significant tax relief for the American people. We've done this because we believe that when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help is to let them keep more of what they earn. And the money that we spend in Washington, of course, is not the government's money -- it's the people's money.
This administration has delivered the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are beginning now to see strong economic growth as a result. The figures for the third quarter show the economy grew at an annual pace of 7.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Exports are expanding, business investment is rising, and housing construction is booming. The Bush tax cuts are working. And Congresswoman Anne Northup made it happen.
As you know, there are a few voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear these voices at night on the evening news. But in fact, the Bush tax cuts brought us out of recession. They're helping bring down unemployment, and they've set this economy on a path to long-term economic growth. The President and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job.
On issue after issue, from national security, to economic growth and trade, to improving our public schools, 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's brought into government. As many of you know, I had the privilege of holding a number of positions in public service previously. And 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.
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 -- 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.
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 in Medicare -- reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. The House, with the help of Congresswoman Northup, passed Medicare reform Saturday morning. And the Senate is poised to act today. We must also improve our health care system through liability reform. In Kentucky and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits.
The House also passed a comprehensive energy plan last week, a plan which has now been filibustered in the Senate. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, the Senate should pass this bill, as well.
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, or even years. Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against certain nominees who don't meet their litmus test. This means that even though these nominees may have a majority of senators supporting them, they cannot get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. That's fundamentally unfair to the nominees and an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. And that's another reason why we need more Republicans alongside Jim Bunning and Mitch McConnell in the United States Senate.
We've achieved 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. Like Anne, 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 we have the honor of serving the American people.
Long before I entered my current 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 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 it takes to do that job well. It takes the finest qualities of character: conviction, good judgment, compassion, 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.)
President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitments to the cause we all share. We're honored to have so many friends in Louisville and across this great state of Kentucky. And we've very grateful, as well, to the people of the third district for sending Anne Northup to Washington. She's been a steady leader in Congress, and she reflects great credit on the people of this state. We look forward to working with her for many years to come. And your early support now in November of 2003 is going to help assure victory in 2004. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:36 P.M. EST