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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
December 13, 2003

VP Remarks for Matt Blunt
Remarks by the Vice President at An Event for Matt Blunt
200 West 12th Street
Kansas City, Missouri
December 12, 2003

12:20 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. And let me apologize at the outset, my voice is on the ragged edge here in terms of laryngitis. And I think I'm going to get through this okay. But if I don't speak too loud, you'll understand why.

I want to thank all of you for being here. It's great to be back in Missouri today and have the opportunity to join all of you. I want to thank Matt for the kind words, and thank all of the office holders who are here today to support Missouri's fine Secretary of State and the next governor of the state of Missouri. (Applause.)

And I know we've been joined by State Senator Matt Bartle and Committeewoman Ann Dickinson. Senator Kit Bond, of course, is not here today. But he'll also be on the ballot next year, and the President and I will be very proud to run with him. We're very grateful for the tremendous support we received in Missouri last time around. We didn't need a recount here. (Laughter.) And with your help, we'll carry Missouri again in 2004. (Applause.)

I've been to your state many times during my career, and I count a good many friends here. I paid a few visits in the last election year when Missouri had a Senate race that everyone was watching, and that campaign came out pretty well. And I was honored to administer the oath of office to Senator Jim Talent. (Applause.)

Now, you've got a great Republican delegation in Washington -- not only in the Senate, but also in the House with Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Jo Ann Emerson, Kenny Hulshof, and of course, my successor as the Republican whip, Roy Blunt. (Applause.)

Roy has given a great deal to Missouri and to America, and he's passed on his good name as well, and his ethic of public service to Matt. In three years as Secretary of State, Matt has honored his commitments to the people of Missouri and built a record of achievement. He's improved the level of service to Missouri taxpayers, and he's the rare public official who actually reduced the budget and staff size of his own office.

He came to the job as an experienced state legislator, and he's showing himself to be a strong and very capable executive. At a time when Missouri families need better schools, when Missouri businesses need relief from unfair regulation, when Missouri doctors and entrepreneurs need protection from frivolous lawsuits, and when Missouri taxpayers are feeling the burden of overspending by the state government, it's time for a new governor, and Matt Blunt is the man for that job. (Applause.)

I've got a lot of respect for Matt's record as an office holder, and also for his service to the nation as a Naval officer. He's still in the Reserves. And as most of you are aware, he is the only statewide official in Missouri history to have been called up to active duty. He served six months in Operation Enduring Freedom, and did his part at taking the fight to America's enemies. Matt, I want to thank you for your service in a time of need. (Applause.)

These are challenging times for Missouri and for this great country of ours. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities -- we hold the public trust. Standing here in Kansas City, alongside your next governor, I want to thank the people of Missouri for the honor you've given me to serve as your Vice President.

When President Bush and I took office three years ago, we were 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 had often stood in the way of progress.

And today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we've got 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 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 great comfort in the pride and the character 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 that morning.

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 no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, he gave support to terrorists, built a relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. The terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we are 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 are rolling back the terrorist threat at the very heart of its power. We are aggressively striking 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 responsibility for their own security, and move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, yet 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 they've done and all they continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed their duties 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 in some of the most remote 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. (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.

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. 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.)

It's important to remember 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 seeing 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 some 20 years. Business investment, manufacturing, housing construction are all on the rise. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

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. They're helping bring down unemployment, they've set this economy on the path to long-term economic growth, and now is exactly the wrong time to be talking about raising taxes. We're going to stay on the path that we're on. President Bush and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job.

As we work to keep this economy on track, we need good partners at the state level. We need governors who understand, as we do, that the key to more jobs is not big government, but free enterprise, low taxes, and spending discipline. That's the kind of governor Matt Blunt will be for the people of Missouri. (Applause.)

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. From Don Rumsfeld, to Condoleezza Rice, to Colin Powell, to Missouri's own John Ashcroft, we've got an outstanding team serving the American people. (Applause.) 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 the 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 in the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Here at home, we have a full agenda, as well as a record of achievement. Just this week, President Bush 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 Missouri and all across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) The lawsuit culture makes everyone pay more for health care, and is causing many parts of the country to lose fine doctors. We need to make sure that no good doctor is ever forced to leave Missouri, or any other state, simply because of the cost of insurance. There's one good way to end lawsuit abuse in Missouri, and that's to put Matt Blunt in the governor's office. (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 have been denied up-or-down votes for months, and 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, that is more than 50 votes, they cannot get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. That's fundamentally unfair to the nominees, as well as an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. And that's another reason to elect Senator Kit Bond and to keep a Republican majority in the 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, and when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. Like Matt, 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.

President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. And we appreciate our many friends in Kansas City and across this great state. We're looking forward to our visits to Missouri next year. And after the next election, we look forward to the day that Matt Blunt is inaugurated as governor of the state of Missouri. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 6:31 P.M. CST

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