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 Home > News & Policies > April 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 26, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Gubernatorial Candidate Mitch Daniels
Union Station Grand Hall and Conference Center
Indianapolis, Indiana
April 23, 2004

6:15 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Sit down, please. Mitch would have left you standing all the way through the speech. (Laughter.) We've been working with him, but he's still got a ways to go. (Laughter.)

But it's true, Mitch, when the President asked me to be his running mate, he said it wasn't because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) We got 69 percent of the vote in Wyoming. I point out to him every once in a while those three electoral votes came in mighty handy. (Laughter.)

But it's great to be back in Indiana, and I appreciate the warm welcome. In this political year, I spend a lot of time appearing with other candidates for office. It's a lot easier to do when you actually know the guy. And in the case of Mitch Daniels, it's even better: Not only do I know him, but I consider Mitch one of the finest public servants I've ever worked with. (Applause.)

It's a pleasure to be here today and share the stage with the next governor of the state of Indiana. (Applause.) I bring good wishes to all you from the President, George W. Bush.

The President and I are tremendously grateful for the strong support we received in the state last time around. Indiana came through for the Bush-Cheney ticket with a 16-point margin. And with your help we're going to carry Indiana again this November. (Applause.)

My only real job as Vice President is to preside over the United States Senate. When they wrote the Constitution and created the post of Vice President, they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and suddenly realized they hadn't given the Vice President any job. He didn't have anything to do. So they made him the President of the Senate, said, you get to preside over the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes.

And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He was allowed to go down into the well and actually engage in the debate of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They've never been restored.

But that give me an opportunity to work closely with the Senate. And clearly, one of the most respected members of the United States is Mitch's old boss, Dick Lugar, from Indiana. (Applause.) And it's a pleasure to have the privilege of working with him on a regular basis.

For the first two years of our administration, of course, the President and I were honored to have Mitch as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. We spent many hours together on the tough decisions that needed to be made, and he was a superb OMB director. Mitch is a natural-born executive. He's a person with an instinct for common sense and fairness, a guardian of the taxpayer dollars. We didn't call him "The Blade" for nothing. (Laughter.)

Mitch came to Cabinet with a tremendous background in public service in the not-for-profit sector, as well as from the business world. He put that experience to good use for the American people during his tour there. And now he's going to put that experience to use for the people of his home state.

He knows Indiana. He knows your people. He's covered all 92 counties. He's perfectly in tune with the ideas and the values of this great state. And at a time when Indiana families need better schools, when Indiana businesses need relief from unnecessary regulation, when Indiana communities need pro-growth, pro-jobs policies at the state level, it's time for a new governor. And Mitch Daniels is the man for that job. (Applause.)

These are challenging times for Indiana and for America. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities, and we hold the public trust. When President Bush and I took office three years ago, Mitch was part of the team that was determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond some of the old debates that stood in the way of progress. Today, as we look forward to the election of 2004, I believe the President has a record of accomplishment to show for his efforts.

The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of this new century because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush.

This is a period in history defined by serious challenges, by consequential choices, and oftentimes the need for decisive action. And the great responsibility of our government is clear: We must protect the safety and security of the American people.

The attacks of September 11, 2001 signaled the arrival of an entirely new era. We suffered massive civilian casualties on our own soil. We awakened to dangers even more lethal -- the possibility that terrorists could gain chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons from outlaw regimes and turn those weapons against the United States.

Remembering what we saw on the morning of 9/11, and knowing the nature of our enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government, we must do everything in our power to protect our people from terrorist attack, and to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

This great and urgent responsibility has required a shift in our national security strategy. For many years prior to 9/11, terror attacks against Americans were treated as isolated incidents and answered, if at all, on an ad hoc basis -- rarely in a systematic way. Even after an attack inside our own country, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, there was a tendency to treat terrorist attacks as individual criminal acts to be handled primarily as law enforcement matters.

The main perpetrator of the 1993 attack in New York was tracked down, arrested, convicted, and sent off to serve a 240-year sentence. Yet behind that individual was a growing network with operatives inside and outside the United States, waging war against our country.

In 1996, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11, first proposed to Osama bin Laden that they use aircraft to attack targets in the United States. In 1996 and again in 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States of America.

During this period, thousands of terrorists were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. And we've seen the work of terrorists in many attacks since 9/11 all over the world -- in Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Karbala, Mombasa, Bali, Jakarta, Najaf, Baghdad, and Madrid.

The President and I understand that America requires an aggressive strategy against these enemies -- not merely to prosecute a series of crimes, but to fight and win a global campaign against the terror network. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with, it can only be destroyed. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand.

In Afghanistan, we've removed the brutal Taliban from power, and destroyed the al Qaeda training camps. In Iraq, America and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a menace to our peace and security. Just over a year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of some 25 million people -- today, he's in jail. He will never again brutalize the Iraqi people, never again support terrorists or pursue weapons of mass destruction, never again threaten the United States of America.

We still face serious challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq. But our progress has been enormous. In Afghanistan, there's a new constitution. Free elections will be held later this year. In Iraq, a basic law has been developed and signed. This was an historic achievement. It's a landmark document for that region of the world. And on the 30th of June, Iraqi sovereignty will be transferred back to the Iraqis. As the President has said, the United States will keep its word to the Iraqi people. Iraq will be a free and independent country, and America and the Middle East will be safer because of it. Our coalition has the means and the will to prevail. We are standing for freedom and security, and that is a cause that we are proud to serve.

Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. Many of them have seen hard duty, long deployments, and fierce fighting. They've endured the loss of friends and comrades. And they are unwavering in their mission. They are proving every day that when we send them to defend this nation and our interests, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next. We need a Commander-in-Chief of clear vision and steady determination. And that is just what we have in our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.) And that measure should be applied to the candidate who now opposes him in the election of 2004, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts.

In one of Senator Kerry's recent observations about foreign policy he informed his listeners that he has met with unnamed foreign leaders who support him. (Laughter.) A voter in Pennsylvania asked Senator Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Senator Kerry said, "That's none of your business." (Laughter.)

But it is our business when a candidate for President claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election, not unnamed foreign leaders.

Senator Kerry has also asserted that our troops in Iraq are not receiving the material support they need. And I'd like to remind the Senator that last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing funding to support the troops for body armor, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel and spare parts for our military. Senator Kerry at the time was asked whether he would vote against the President's request. He said, and I quote, "I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops. That's irresponsible." End quote. The legislation passed overwhelmingly with a vote in the Senate of 87 to 12. Senator Kerry voted "no."

As a way to clarify the matter recently, Senator Kerry said, and again I quote: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) End quote. Obviously, the Senator is free to vote as he wishes, but he should be held to his own standard. It is irresponsible to vote against vital support for the U.S. military.

On the broader picture, Senator Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. Recently he said, I don't want to use that terminology. In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation. As we've seen, however, that approach was tried before and proved entirely inadequate to protecting the American people from terrorists who are quite certain they are at war with us.

I leave it for Senator Kerry to explain his votes and his statements about the war on terror, or our cause in Iraq, and the needs of the American military. Whatever the explanation, it is not an impressive record for someone who aspires to become Commander-in-Chief in this time of testing for our country.

The American people will have a clear choice in this year's election, on national security, as well as on policies here at home. When the President took office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then, just as our economy was ready to recover, terrorists struck our nation and shook our economy once again. President Bush has taken strong confident steps to get the economy growing again. Supported by the leadership of Mitch Daniels, the President has signed into law significant tax relief for millions of American families and businesses. We doubled the child tax credit, decreased the marriage penalty, cut tax rates across the board, and have put the death tax on its way to extinction.

Now, we're seeing the results of the President's policies. Last month, the economy added over 300,000 new jobs, and we've just created more than 750,000 jobs since August. In the second half of last year, our economy grew at an annual rate of nearly 6.2 percent, its fastest pace in nearly two decades, and the highest rate of any major industrialized nation in the world. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Interest rates and inflation are low. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Productivity is high. Business investment is rising. Incomes are growing. And America's economy is moving in the right direction. (Applause.)

The American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and Congress was right to let them keep it. As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. If elected, Senator Kerry has promised to repeal the Bush tax cuts in his first 100 days in office.

That isn't surprising when you consider his record on taxes. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people, including the biggest tax increase in American history. For the sake of long-term job growth and job-creation, we ought to do exactly the opposite of what Senator Kerry proposes: We should make the Bush tax cuts permanent and practice spending discipline in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

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

Mitch was part of the team that started the economic recovery. To strengthen that recovery we're going to move forward with an aggressive pro-growth agenda. Our nation needs legal reform to protect small business owners and employees from frivolous lawsuits and needless regulation. We need to control the cost of health care by passing medical liability reform. Here in Indiana, and across the nation, good doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. We need to pass sound energy legislation to modernize our electricity system and to make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

It is 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 talented, experienced men and women who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters, denying up-or-down votes for months, and even years. This is unfair to judicial 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 one more reason we need more Republicans like Dick Lugar in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, from national security, to economic growth, to improving our schools, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the nation. The President has a clear vision of the future for the nation: Abroad, he will use America's great power to serve great purposes, to turn back the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom throughout the world.

Here at home, we will continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child who grows up in the United States will have a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.

President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're grateful to our many friends in Indianapolis and across this great state. And we're proud to stand with Mitch Daniels in this campaign. He's one of the best candidates for any office anywhere in the country. We're looking forward to the months ahead. And we look forward to the day that Mitch Daniels is inaugurated as the 49th governor of the state of Indiana.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

END 6:35 P.M. CDT