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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
December 8, 2003
Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Congressman Randy Neugebauer
Conference Center B
December 5, 2003
6:14 P.M. CST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. It's nice to be back in Texas. (Laughter.)
Well, I appreciate all of you being here today, and I appreciate that warm welcome, Randy. The reason I'm here, obviously, is a very important proposition I want to talk about here in just a minute. But the main concern, obviously, is to make certain that Randy Neugebauer gets another term in the United States House of Representatives from the people of West Texas. (Applause.)
Now, I just came from Oklahoma today. They're still a little arrogant about that football game earlier this fall. (Laughter.) That's all right. There will be another day. There will be another day. But I started today, in my regular meetings with the President, and he asked me to be sure and bring his personal best wishes to all the people here in Abilene. So I bring you the best wishes of the President of the United States, the Honorable George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Of course, when we ran three years ago, Texas gave us 32 electoral votes. We don't take any state for granted, looking forward to the next election. But I don't imagine we're going to need a recount in Texas to figure out who won. (Laughter.)
And of course, three years ago when the President asked me to be his running mate, since I was from Wyoming, he said, he wasn't really worried about carrying the Wyoming. (Laughter.) He got 70 percent of the vote there. But I remind him from time to time that those three electoral votes came in pretty handy. (Laughter.)
But I know all Texans are proud of our President, and proud of our fine First Lady, as well, Laura Bush. (Applause.) And I know, as well, that all of you take great pride in your Senate delegation. I serve at the President of the Senate. The only real job the Vice President has is as President of the Senate.
When they wrote the Constitution, they created the job of Vice President, but they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, they realized they hadn't given him any work to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate, they said, you get to preside over the Senate. You can cast tie-breaking votes when the Senate is tied. And they also gave him floor privileges. And so my predecessor, John Adams, the first Vice President, could actually go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the day, argue his positions and so forth. And then he did that a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been restored. So I can't speak in the Senate, but I am allowed to preside and to cast those tie-breaking votes -- but also to work very closely with two absolutely outstanding senators in John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. They do a great job for all of us. (Applause.)
We're all here today, obviously, on behalf of a fine, new member of Congress in Randy Neugebauer. Randy, of course, is exactly the kind of congressman we need in Washington -- a true man of the West, an independent thinker, a person of good, solid, common sense judgment.
I served in Congress for 10 years in the House of Representatives, from a large western district, from Wyoming. Wyoming only has one seat in the House of Representatives. (Laughter.) It's a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter and applause.)
And I think during those 10 years in the House I learned a few things about what it takes to be an effective congressman, and that's exactly the kind of man we have in Randy Neugebauer. You need to work hard. You need to stay close to your constituents back home and remember who elected you. And you need to stand up for those things you believe in, and have a basic fundamental set of values that you make decisions by based on what's in the best interest of the folks back home, as well as the nation.
You can count on Randy because he understands farming and ranching and the energy business, all of which are so enormously important here in Big Country. As a former city official, he knows the importance of working with people in both parties for the good of Texas and the good of America. And he's one of the newest members of the House of Representatives, but he's already one of the best we have. And he's earned another term in the United States Congress. (Applause.)
With the responsibilities the President and I have, it matters a great deal that we have strong partners to work with us in the Congress. We came to Washington three years ago determined to solve problems, instead of simply pass them on to future generations. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform -- to get beyond some of the old debates that had stood in the way of progress.
And today, as we look ahead to the next election of 2004, I believe we've got a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. I think 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, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
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 has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens on 9/11.
Not long after that date, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, quote, "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. (Applause.)
We're fighting this war on terror on many fronts. Terrorists hide and strike within free societies, so we freeze their bank accounts, disrupt their plans, hunt them down one by one, until they can no longer threaten America and other free peoples.
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 justified -- because we're 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, developed a relationship with al Qaeda, gave support to terrorists -- and his regime is no more.
Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. These terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing to the Iraqi people. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people. (Applause.)
Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we're going to roll back that terrorist threat at the very heart of its power. We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so that we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.
We're calling on other nations -- (applause) -- we're calling on other nations to help 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 responsibility for their own security, and 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, we will finish what we've begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)
In all that they've done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed with incredible skill and courage. They've struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos, conducting heroic raids, counterattacks, seizing weapons, capturing killers. American service members have faced hard duty, long deployments in some of the most difficult parts of the world -- and dealt with the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to defend all of us. And as a former Secretary of Defense, I can say 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, as well, 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 that George W. Bush made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given every resource they need, and the respect they deserve. And working with pro-defense congressmen, like Randy, we've kept our word to the United States military.
The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies, has been a principal concern of the Bush 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've delivered significant tax relief to the American people. 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.)
This administration has delivered the largest tax relief 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 show the economy grew at an annual rate of 8.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Business investment, manufacturing, housing construction are all on the rise. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
As you know, there are some voices in the land who want us 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. They're helping to bring down unemployment, and they've set this economy on the path to long-term economic growth. The job growth of the past four months is expected to continue. And 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.
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 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 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. (Applause.)
Here at home, we have a full agenda and some pressing business to complete. After many years of inaction, we're delivering major reform in Medicare with a bill that Randy helped make possible. And on Monday morning, the President will sign a new law strengthening the Medicare system and, for the first time, providing America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. (Applause.)
Going forward, we must also 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.)
For the sake of more growth and new jobs, we also need a good energy bill. Randy helped us pass comprehensive energy legislation in the House last month, but there's still work to do because a minority in the Senate decided to filibuster the bill. But a good energy plan is important to Texas, as an energy-producing state with thousands of people working in the industry. We're going to stay focused on this legislation because a steady supply of affordable energy is vital to our economic future, and to our national security.
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 an 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 these 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. That's fundamentally unfair to the nominees, and we believe it's 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 to elect more Republicans to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
We've achieved a great deal over these last few years. But there's still a lot to do in Washington. And around the world, the nation has many serious challenges and responsibilities. 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 Randy, 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 that 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, personal integrity, 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 commitment to the cause we all share. We're honored to have so many friends in Abilene and all across the great state of Texas. And we're pleased to work with Randy Neugebauer in Washington. He's a first-class representative for West Texas, and we hope you will give him your strong support come next November. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:31 P.M. CST