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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 14, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at a Bush-Cheney '04 Luncheon
The Rooftop Room
New York, New York

12:20 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome. And it's great to be back in New York today, to have an opportunity to join all of you. I want to thank the Mayor for his kind words, and for the superb job he does every day for the people of New York City.

The Mayor mentioned my old friend Al Simpson, when he talked about -- when he introduced me today. And of course, I served as Wyoming's congressman for 10 years, back in the '80s. Wyoming only had one seat in the U.S. House. It was a small delegation, but it was quality. (Laughter.) But my colleague during those years was Al Simpson. Of course, what's unique about Wyoming, since we're the smallest state from a population standpoint, so the House member's seat is exactly the same as the senator's district, the geographical area.

And I love to tell the story about my first campaign for reelection when I was running to get reelected to Congress, and I was scheduled to be on a radio talk show -- you know those little radio stations every town has -- in the morning. And we were driving over down to Riverton where the radio station was located. And on my way over there, we had the car radio turned on to the station we were going to go to and the announcer was already on the air saying, we don't where Cheney is. He was due here 15 minutes ago.

Obviously, there had been some kind of scheduling foul-up. So we stepped on it, went tearing over to Riverton, and pulled down into the radio station. It was right there on the south side of town, pulled down into the gravel parking lot. I threw open the car door and went tearing up the front steps and burst into the door of the radio station. And as I went through the door, I noticed there was a person here to my left. But you know, I didn't really get a good look at him. It sort of registered somebody was standing there. And I got into the middle of the room, stopped, looked around, and I noticed it didn't look much like a radio station.

I could look over here to the left through a door, and there was a kitchen. And over here was a bedroom, with a baby crawling around on the floor in diapers. (Laughter.) And I turned around to look at this person I had passed as I came in, and it was the lady of the house. And she was vacuuming the carpet at 9:00 in the morning in her nightgown. (Laughter.) She said, I'll bet you're looking for the radio station, aren't you? (Laughter.)

I knew right away that was the right answer. So I said, yes, ma'am. She said, well, they moved last week. But they've got a new building uptown, in the center of town. And they still had the call sign up on the end of the building. They hadn't taken it down yet. So this is my home now. My family and I, we all live here.

And of course, I felt like an absolute idiot. I'd burst through the door at 9:00 in the morning unannounced. And on my way out, I had to say something to her, so I introduced myself to her at her United States Senator Alan Simpson. (Laughter and applause.) Al has never forgiven me for that, and he hates it when I tell that story.

But I want to thank the other guests who are here with us this morning, Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue, and Assembly Leader Charles Nesbitt, our Republican state chairman, Sandy Treadwell, and Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long. I appreciate the fact that all of you are here this morning. (Applause.)

And I also want to recognize the President's close friend, Ambassador Mercer Reynolds, of course, who is our national finance chairman for the Bush-Cheney Campaign. (Applause.) If Mercer gives you a call, you'll know why. And we're grateful to him for the outstanding job he's doing.

And I want to thank all of you for being here today, as well, to give support to our campaign early on. I'm tremendously grateful for the opportunity to serve the nation as Vice President. And all of us are proud to be friends and supporters of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

We're looking forward to 2004. As the President says, we're loosening up for the campaign. And we're very happy we'll be accepting the nomination at our convention right here in New York City. We know the next 11 months will be a busy time, and the political season draws near. And recently, we had some early indications about how voters feel about Republican leadership. Last week, two more states joined New York in electing Republican governors with Haley Barbour in Mississippi. And in Kentucky, Ernie Fletcher is the first elected Republican governor in 36 years. There's another election tomorrow in Louisiana. We're in a strong position there to retain the governorship. And of course next week, we'll get off to a good start on the West Coast on Monday morning when we swear in Arnold Schwarzenegger as the new governor of California.

This is shaping up to be a good year for the party. And I'm confident that next year, the American people are going to elect our President, as well, for a job well done.

The President and I will be proud to present our message to voters in New York and all across America. We came to Washington three years ago determined to solve problems, instead of simply pass them on to future generations. The President was determined to seize new opportunities for reform, to get beyond the old debates that often stood in the way of progress.

And 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 the new era because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush.

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 led a steady, focused, relentless campaign against the enemy who struck America 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's pretty clear the terrorists did not know us. It's pretty clear the terrorists who attacked did not understand the strength and the 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're on their trail.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is now more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists. And his regime is no more.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. And these terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing 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. We are rolling back the terrorist threat at the heart of its power in the Middle East. We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq and defeating them there so we do not have to face them in the streets of our own cities. We're calling on other nations to help Iraqis build a free country, which will make all of us more secure.

We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume responsibilities for their own security and move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, yet they are absolutely essential. As the President said many times, and no one can doubt, we will finish what we've begun. And we will win this essential victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

In all they've done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed with enormous skill and courage. As a former Secretary of Defense, I've never been prouder of the men and women of the United States military than I am today. (Applause.)

These young Americans deserve our wholehearted support. They 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 and Central Asia, they are earning the trust of the people that we've liberated. In their important work, American soldiers and Marines have good allies at their sides. There are 32 countries standing with us in Iraq, accepting the hardship and the danger of serving in a vital effort. One of the largest contributors to our coalition is Italy, which suffered a heavy loss this week, with the attack on the military police headquarters in Nasiriyah. I met with President Carlo Ciampi two days ago and told him of America's great respect for the friendship and the courage of the Italian people. Italy is a true friend of the cause of freedom, and an outstanding ally for the United States of America. (Applause.)

The long-term security of our nation and of our friends and allies has been a principal concern of this administration. 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. We've done this because we believe that when families and businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. After all, as the President reminds us frequently, the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money.

This 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. (Applause.)

The figures for the third quarter 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 being created. And the Bush tax cuts are working. As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear these voices on the evening news. (Laughter.) But in fact, the Bush tax cuts are what brought us out of the recession. And they're helping foster 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 improvements in our public schools, President Bush has led the way for making progress for the American people. And one of the sure signs of leadership can be seen every day in the people he's brought into government. As many of you know, I've had the privilege of holding a number of positions in public service, as White House Chief of Staff, a 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. (Applause.)

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 interests of this nation require 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 aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuits 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. We also must improve our health care system through liability reform. In New York, and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Thanks to the President's leadership, the Congress is nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we should 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 a superb list of nominees to serve on the federal bench -- talented men and women of experience who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet some of these nominees have been denied up-or-down votes 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 the nominees have a majority of senators supporting them -- that is more than 50 votes -- they can't get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. It's unfair to the nominees, and it's an abuse of the constitutional process. For the last few days, Republican members have kept the Senate in session, day and night, to highlight the abuses by the Senate Democrats. It is time to give every nominee a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. I would urge New York's United States senators to help return fairness to the confirmation process.

We've achieved a great deal over the last several years. But there's a great deal left to do in Washington. 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 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.

On the President's behalf, I want to thank you again for standing with us. We are both honored by your confidence in us, by your commitment to the cause we all share. Your support in November of 2003 will help assure victory in November of 2004.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:35 P.M. EST

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