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 Home > News & Policies > December 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
December 15, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at An Event for Bush-Cheney '04
400 Greymont Avenue
Jackson, Mississippi
December 12, 2003

6:28 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Haley, those of us from Wyoming don't think of it as a tiny, little bitty state. (Laughter.) It's bigger than Mississippi. We just don't have very many people in Wyoming. But I remember the President from time to time, and I remind Haley tonight, those three electoral votes came in pretty darned important. (Laughter.)

I want to thank all of you for being here this evening. I'm battling laryngitis, so I'm going to be a little cautious here in terms of how forcefully I speak. But I want to thank all of you for joining us, for your willingness to sign on early to the Bush-Cheney campaign. I want to thank Haley for his kind words, Governor-elect Haley, I might add. (Applause.)

The President and I were both delighted to have the opportunity to come to Mississippi and campaign with Haley this year, and the 4th of November I think was a great day for the people of Mississippi.

This has shaped up to be a good year for our party with important victories all across the country. Of course, Mississippi was one of three states that replaced Democratic governors. Not only did we do it in Mississippi, we also did it in Kentucky. And there's now a governor in California named Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In his career, Haley has helped an awful lot of good people in their campaigns. He's done a great deal for all of us who have been involved in the Republican Party for years -- one of the best national chairmen our party has ever had. It will be absolute delight to see Haley Barbour himself take the oath of office using his talents for the good of this state come January 13th. (Applause.)

And it's good to know he'll also have a very capable and effective partner in Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck, as well. (Applause.) I've had the honor of visiting Mississippi many times over the years and enjoyed working with your outstanding congressional delegation, starting with your excellent senators Thad Cochran and Trent Lott. And the House side, of course, Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering bring superb qualities as representatives to the people of Mississippi.

Most of all, I want to thank all of you for coming this evening and for giving your generous support to our campaign. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I've been given to serve the nation as Vice President. And all of us are proud to be friends and supporters of President George W. Bush. (Applause.) I'm confident next year the American people are going to reelect our President for a job well done.

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

And today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we believe we have 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 our 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 on 9/11, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride in the conduct and character 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 3,000 of our fellow 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 this terrorist did not know us. It's 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 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. He gave support to terrorists and had relationships with al Qaeda -- 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 for the Iraqi people. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and they will not intimidate the Iraqi people.

Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we are rolling back the terrorist threat at the heart of its power. We are striking aggressively at the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.

We are calling on other nations to help Iraqis build a free country, which will make all of us more secure. We are standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more 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, we will finish what we have 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 incredible skill and courage. They've struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos, conducting heroic raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, capturing killers -- operating in some of the most difficult and dangerous parts of the world. American service members have faced hard duty, long deployments, and the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to defend all of us. As a former Secretary of Defense, I've never been more proud of the men and women in the United States military than I am today. (Applause.)

These young Americans deserve our wholehearted support. They're 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 and Central Asia, they are earning the trust of the people they've liberated.

One of the most important commitments George Bush 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 with strong support from the Mississippi delegation, 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 President. 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. And 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 package since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are seeing strong economic growth now 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 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 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 bring down unemployment, and they've set this economy on the path to long-term economic growth. (Applause.) We're going to stay on the path. President Bush 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. And one of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people that he's brought into his administration -- people like Don Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and John Ashcroft. We've got an outstanding team serving 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 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. 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 the aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to the pursuit of peace. In that region and beyond, all who strive and sacrifice in the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Here at home, we have a full agenda, and a great deal to do. Just this week, of course, the President signed into law the Medicare Act of 2003, which modernizes the program and gives seniors the prescription drug coverage they need. After so many years of inaction in Washington, we've delivered the greatest advance in health care coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare.

Going forward, we must also improve our health care system through liability reform. In Mississippi and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

In Washington, it's also 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 Mississippi's own Judge Charles Pickering, have been denied up-or-down votes for months, and even years. Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against nominees who don't meet their litmus test. This means that even though these nominees may have a majority of senators supporting them, that is more than 50 senators ready to vote for them, they can't get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. That's fundamentally unfair to the nominees, and 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 more Republicans in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

We've achieved a great deal over these last few years. But there's still a great deal left to do in Washington. And around the world, the nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course. 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. And 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 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, 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. (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 proud to have so many friends in Jackson and all across this great state. Your support in November of 2003 will help assure victory in November of 2004. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:41 P.M. CST