For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
February 8, 2004
VP Remarks at the NRCC Event
Remarks by the Vice President at National Republican Congressional Committee Event
Donald E. Stevens Convention Center
February 7, 2004
12:20 P.M. CST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you for that warm welcome. It's good to be back in Chicago with so many friends, and to have the opportunity to share the stage together with my wife today.
I often explain to people that Lynne and I have a Republican marriage. In 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower got elected President, I was living as a youngster in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Department of Agriculture. And Eisenhower got elected and reorganized the Agriculture Department, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming. And so we moved to Casper. That's where I met Lynne when I was 13 years old. We grew up together, went to high school together. We'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary come August. (Applause.)
I explained to a group of people the other night, if it hadn't been for that Republican victory by Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, I never would have gone to Wyoming. Lynne would have married somebody else. And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) We all know that's absolutely true.
But I'm delighted to be here today with so many friends and colleagues from the Congress, and with the NRCC. I especially want to thank all of you who supported us, and you're helping to ensure our victories this year -- as Lynne said -- not only to maintain Republican control of the House, to keep Denny Hastert as Speaker, but we've got two special elections coming up that are very important, for Alice Forgy Kerr, in Kentucky, and then of course, for State Senator Larry Diedrich, in South Dakota. And those special elections in the off-year are very, very important for us in terms of maintaining control. And with your help, a year from now, we'll have a bigger majority than we do today working side-by-side with our President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I'm always delighted to have the opportunity to spend a little time with Speaker Hastert. Denny and I do a lot of work together, and with your great chairman of the campaign committee, as well, with Tom Reynolds.
As a former member of the House, I have a lot of good memories of the House of Representatives. I served there for 10 years. I just have one regret -- my great ambition as a congressman was to one day get to be Speaker of the House and get to preside over the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, I had to settle for second best and preside over the United States Senate, as the Vice President. (Laughter.)
But I do have certain official duties as Vice President, most of which involve sitting and saying nothing. That was my job just a few weeks ago, you may have remembered, when the President went up and gave his State of the Union Address. You may have noticed me back there over the President's shoulder. I tried not to draw attention to myself, but it's not easy. When you put Dick Cheney next to Denny Hastert, it's hard to contain all that charisma. (Laughter.)
By supporting the NRCC, all of you today are part of a great effort. And the President and I genuinely appreciate your commitment to the cause that we all serve. Having served for more than a decade in the House of Representatives, every single day in the minority, I never take our majority for granted.
When I joined the House, the chamber held 277 Democrats and only 158 Republicans. Reaching majority status was a very tough and long, difficult enterprise -- yet it was worth the effort. And I think all Americans can take pride in the achievements of this Republican Congress and this Republican President.
The President and I have now begun the fourth year of our administration, a period defined by serious challenges and hard choices. When we were sworn in three years ago, no one could have predicted all that lay before us. But we came to office with a clear understanding of our responsibilities. We were determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We wanted to seize new opportunities for reform, and to get beyond the old debates that stood in the way of progress.
Today, as we look ahead to this year's election, I believe we have a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people can be confident of a better future, of a stronger economy, and of greater security against the dangers of ours new era because of the character and the leadership of President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
In this time of testing, our greatest responsibility is the active defense of our nation. Even though it has been more than two years since 9/11, we must have no illusion that somehow the danger has passed.
Terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. We see them for what they are: killers who will not be stopped by negotiations or treaties, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience. In the war on terror, we have only one option, we must take the fight to the enemy.
Inside our country, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which authorizes federal law enforcement to share more intelligence information, to track terrorists, to disrupt their cells, and to seize their assets. We use these tools to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers, and we need these tools, as well, to hunt terrorists.
As the President said in his State of the Union Address, parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year, but the terrorist threat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs the Patriot Act, and Congress needs to renew it.
Today, over 140,000 members of our armed forces are deployed around the world in the fight in the war on terror. In almost 29 months since 9/11, we, and our friends and allies in many countries, have inflicted heavy losses upon al Qaeda's leadership and on their foot soldiers, tracking them and finding them and bringing them to justice in hiding places from Pakistan to Indonesia. Those not yet captured or killed live in fear, and their fears are well founded.
We are also working with governments on every continent to take down the financial networks that support terror, the hidden bank accounts, the front groups, and the phony charities that have helped them to function. Our government is working closely with intelligence services all over the globe, and our own intelligence officers continue to be engaged in some of the most perilous and sensitive intelligence work ever carried out.
This work has brought many successes, including the discovery of terror plots that we were able to stop in their tracks. Americans can be grateful every day for the skillful and daring service of our nation's intelligence professionals. (Applause.)
On the night of September 11th, President Bush declared that the United States would make no distinction between the terrorists and those who support them. This principle, the Bush doctrine, is now understood by all. Any person or government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account.
The first to see its application were the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan by violence, while turning that country into a training camp for terrorists. With fine allies at our side, we took down the regime and destroyed the al Qaeda camps. Our work there continues. We have over 13,000 members of our armed forces in Afghanistan as part of an international security force now that includes 37 nations and a major role for NATO. This force is on the hunt for remaining Taliban and al Qaeda members. We're helping to train a new Afghan army and helping to provide security, as the new government takes shape.
Under President Karzai's leadership, and with the help of our coalition, the Afghan people are building a decent and a just and democratic society, and their nation will be fully joined with us in the war against terror.
In Iraq, the United States and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator and rid the world of a menace to our future peace and security. A year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of almost 25 million people, now he's in jail. (Applause.)
He will never again brutalize his people, never again support dangerous terrorists, never again threaten the United States of America. America has shown that we are serious about removing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We know that Saddam had the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the scientists and he had the technology he needed. We know he had the necessary infrastructure because we found the labs and the dual-use facilities that could be used to produce chemical and biological agents. We know that he was developing the delivery system, ballistic missiles, prohibited by the United Nations. We know that Saddam Hussein had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein had something else -- he had a record of using weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against his own people. There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq. (Applause.)
The gravest threat to America is the possibility of cooperation between terrorist groups and outlaw regimes developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction. As the President has said, we faced the choice: either take the word of a madman, or take action to defend the American people. Faced with that choice, George W. Bush will defend America every time. (Applause.)
Freedom still has enemies in Iraq, terrorists who are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing for that country. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people.
With determined allies at our side, we are helping Iraqis build a free country, which will make all of us more secure. 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. America will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror.
From the very beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained a great deal of support. Yet, as the President has made clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek permission to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)
America is the nation that is always ready to work and sacrifice for peace. The use of force is always our last resort. And when that need arises, all of us are fortunate to be defended by the United States Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In all they have done and continue to do, the men and women who wear this country's uniform have performed with incredible skill and courage.
In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, American forces have struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos -- conducting heroic raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers. Members of the active duty armed forces, National Guard, and reserves have faced hard duty, long deployments, and the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to protect all of us, and they are earning the trust of the people they've liberated. They reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America. And our entire nation is proud of each and every one of them. (Applause.)
The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies has been a principle concern of President Bush. 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. We're leaving more money in the hands that earn it, because when Americans have more take-home pay, they have more to spend, more to save, and more to invest.
We're reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We've given small businesses incentives to expand and to hire new people. And now we're seeing the results of the hard work of the American people, and the sound policies of the Bush administration.
Americans took those dollars, put them to work, driving this economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the second half of last year was 6.1 percent, the fastest in almost 20 years. New home construction last year was the highest in 25 years. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high. Since August the economy has created 366,000 new jobs, and unemployment is at a two-year low. These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and that Congress was right to return it. (Applause.)
As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear those voices on the evening news. But in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what this economy needed, and they have now set us on the path to long-term job creation and economic growth. To keep us on that path, Congress needs to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (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. He's a man of his word.
When we look to the House of Representatives, we see outstanding leadership in men like Denny Hastert, an effective majority, and a superb record of achievement for the American people. 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, 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. Here at home, we have a full agenda, and a record of achievement. We will continue our pro-growth economic agenda, so that we can continue to create jobs. We must improve our health care system through medical liability reform. Doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers. (Applause.)
And we need a national energy policy because consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run. 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 a responsibility to make sure the judicial system runs well, and he has met his responsibility. He's 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 Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters, denying some of these nominees up-or-down votes for months or even years. Even though these nominees may have a majority of senators supporting them, they can't get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes, because of the Democratic filibuster. That is unfair to the nominees, and it is an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and that's why we need a bigger majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
The campaign season is underway. President Bush and I will be proud to present our vision to voters in every part of this great country. We'll run hard. We'll take nothing for granted, and we will continue making good use of every day that we serve the American people.
Long before I took my current job, I had the good fortune to work for other Presidents I greatly admire. 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 judgement, 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 in President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I count it a privilege to serve with a President who has united our nation behind great goals and brought honor and integrity to the White House. Once again, I want to thank you all of you for your commitment to the cause we share. The President and I are grateful for our fine partners on Capitol Hill and for our strong supporters here in room today. And together, we're going to see this cause forward to victory on November 2nd.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:40 P.M. CST