For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 19, 2004
Remarks by the Vice President at a Luncheon for Congressional Candidate Kevin Triplett
Wyndham Roanoke Airport Hotel
12:05 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Eat your heart out, George Allen. (Laughter.)
Well, I appreciate that introduction, that warm welcome, and it's great to be back in Roanoke. I'm proud to stand with the next United States congressman from the ninth district of Virginia, Kevin Triplett. (Applause.)
And I want to thank all the state legislators and party leaders today, as well as Congressman Bob Goodlatte. I saw Bob with us earlier. And I want to say a word about your United States senators, as well -- George Allen, who is with us today, and John Warner. My only official duty is as President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. But they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, they realized they had not given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate, the presiding officer. And you get to preside over the United States Senate, cast tie-breaking votes when the Senate is tied.
And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He could actually go into the well and engage in debate and talk about the issues of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) So I'm not allowed to talk, but I do get to vote whenever there is a tie vote.
But I've had the opportunity to observe your senators in action. And occasionally, I get a chance to come out and deliver a report card in their districts. And I'm happy to tell you that George Allen and John Warner are two of the most respected, hardest working senators in the entire country. (Applause.)
Now, last Friday, I came back to Washington after a week-long visit to the Far East. After meetings with leaders in Japan, China, and South Korea, I made my last stop in Yongsan Garrison, our major U.S. Army base in downtown Seoul, Korea. We had a tremendous event with the soldiers and their families there. We have men and women stationed, like them, all over the world. Many of them, of course, have seen hard duty, long deployments, and fierce fighting. They've endured the loss of friends and comrades. I imagine we have more than a few military families in the room today -- I know we have at least one mother of a young son recently returned from Iraq -- with a husband, wife, son, daughter, grandchild, or other family member wearing the uniform today. I know you're proud of them. Our whole country is proud of them, and they're 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.)
We're all here today to make sure that Kevin Triplett is your next congressman. Now, I also served in the House of Representatives. I was Wyoming's congressman for a decade, throughout the 1980s. Wyoming only has one congressman. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.)
But I've come to recognize good horseflesh, like Bob Goodlatte. And I think I can say with confidence that with Kevin's tremendous experience, he's done great work in terms of preparing for service in the United States Congress. As a NASCAR executive, he's shown himself to be a successful, creative leader, the kind of person who can work with colleagues from many different backgrounds on both sides of the aisle. He's optimistic. He's full of energy. And once he's in Congress, he's going to use all of it for the benefit of the people of the ninth district of Virginia.
Kevin is a family man, with strong roots here in Southwest Virginia. He understands the priorities of the people here -- from creating jobs to improving education, to supporting our military strength. He'll work hard every day on behalf of the people he serves. He'll always uphold our commonsense values in Washington, D.C. President Bush and I are behind him all the way, and we're asking the people of the ninth district to send Kevin Triplett to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
President Bush and I have now begun the fourth year of our administration. It's been a period defined by serious challenges, different choices, and the need for decisive action. As Kevin knows, there are many tasks that those of us in public service must take on, but none is more important than working to ensure that the citizens of this great country are safe and secure.
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 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. (Applause.)
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 in 1993, when they bombed the World Trade Center in New York, there was a tendency to treat terrorist attacks as individual criminal acts to be handled primarily through law enforcement.
The main perpetrator of that 1993 attack in New York was tracked down, arrested, convicted, and sent away to serve a 240-year sentence. Yet behind that man 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 hijacked airliners to attack targets in the United States. In 1996 and again in 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States.
During this period, thousands of terrorists were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. And we've seen the work of terrorists now 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 -- and Kevin understands -- 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 networks. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, cannot be contained, appeased, or negotiated with, it can only be destroyed. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand. (Applause.)
In Afghanistan, we've removed the brutal Taliban from power, 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 almost 25 million people -- today, he's in jail. He will never again brutalize the Iraqi people, never again support dangerous terrorists, or pursue weapons of mass destruction, never again threaten the United States of America. (Applause.)
We still face serious challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we have made enormous progress. In Afghanistan, there's a new constitution. Free elections will be held later this year. In Iraq, a new basic law has been signed. This is an historic achievement, and a landmark document in that region. And we're getting ready to begin to transfer sovereign authority back to the Iraqis on June 30th.
America has been extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of the men and women who wear America's uniform. This whole nation is grateful for the service and sacrifice of our military in the cause of freedom. (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's just what we have in President George W. Bush. (Applause.) And that measure must 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's met with unnamed foreign leaders who support him. A voter in Pennsylvania recently asked Senator Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Tim Russert did yesterday. Senator Kerry said, "That's none of your business."
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. (Applause.)
Senator Kerry has also asserted that our troops in Iraq are not receiving the materiel support they need. And I'd like to remind the Senator that last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing support for the troops -- funding for body armor, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel and spare parts for the military. Senator Kerry was asked whether he would vote against the President's request. He said, 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, Senator Kerry recently said, quote: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) End quote. The Senator is clearly 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 more of a 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, or explain away his votes and his statements about the war on terror, 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 the election of 2004, on national security, as well as on policies here at home. When the President and I took office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then, just as the economy began 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. Working with our allies on Capitol Hill, 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 we have put the death tax on the way to extinction. (Applause.)
Now, we're seeing the results of the President's policy. Last month, the economy added over 300,000 new jobs, and we've created more than 750,000 jobs since last 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 at the highest ever. Interest rates and inflation are low. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Productivity is high. Business investment is rising. Incomes are growing strongly. America's economy is moving in the right direction.
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 his first hundred 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 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.)
Tax cuts started this economic recovery. To strengthen it, we need 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. (Applause.) Here in Virginia, and across the nation, good doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) We need to pass sound energy legislation to modernize our electricity system and make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
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. That's 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 another reason why we need more Republicans like John Warner and George Allen 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 American people. Kevin has made his voice heard on these issues, and once he's in Congress, he's going to be a valuable partner for us in achieving these great goals.
President Bush has a clear vision for the future of the nation: Abroad, we 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, and to succeed, and to rise in the world.
Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we all share. It's an honor to join you in supporting Kevin's energetic, optimistic campaign. Kevin Triplett has the right background, and the right ideas for the ninth district of Virginia. He's going to make a great congressman, and we look forward to working with him for a good many years to come.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 12:26 P.M. EDT