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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
May 10, 2004
Remarks by the Vice President at a Rally for Bush-Cheney '04
Building 100, Bangor International Airport
5:45 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) All right. (Laughter.) Well, that's a great welcome. It's good to be back in Maine.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No doubt about that. (Applause.) Well, this is a beautiful part of America. I might ask Peter next time around to show me a few fishing holes later on when I come back. I'm proud to be with all of you today, and I bring good wishes to all of you from a man who loves this state and its people, President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
As Vice President my only real job is as President of the Senate. I don't know how many of you know when they wrote the Constitution, they put in the post of Vice President, and they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, and they decided they hadn't given the guy anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate and gave him the right to preside over the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate.
My predecessor John Adams also had floor privileges. He was allowed to go down into the well of the Senate and actually participate in the debate. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.)
But I know a good deal about the Senate, and so I get to spend a good deal of time with your two outstanding Senators from Maine -- Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. (Applause.)
And we've got two outstanding congressional candidates this year running on the Republican ticket here in Maine, Brian Hamel and Charlie Summers. (Applause.)
I want to thank all of you for coming today, and for your continuing commitment to the cause. The President and I are tremendously grateful to all our supporters here in Maine. You worked hard for us in 2000, and we came mighty close to victory. We're going to be counting on you again this year. The most important thing you can do is register to vote, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. You can also become a volunteer for the campaign, sign up on our website. They picked a name that's easy to remember: georgewbush.com. (Laughter.) And we're going to work hard to earn the support of people across this state. With your dedication, and the strong leadership of our President, Maine is going to be part of another nationwide victory for George W. Bush come November. (Applause.)
These are challenging times for our country. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities. When President Bush and I took office three years ago, we were determined to try to get beyond old debates that stood in the way of progress. I think as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we've achieved considerable accomplishment. I believe the American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of a new era, because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
This is one of those periods in history defined by serious challenges and the need for decisive action. And the greatest responsibility of our government is clear: We must protect the safety and security of the American people. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 signaled the arrival of an entirely new era in our history. We suffered massive civilian casualties, right here at home 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 use 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 the American people from terrorist attack, and to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
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's the business at hand. (Applause.)
To make our country safer, we reorganized the government and created the Department of Homeland Security. We also passed the Patriot Act, to give law enforcement the tools needed to catch terrorists inside the United States. Every American can be certain the government is doing everything we can to prevent another terrorist attack against America.
But we've also taken decisive action to stop the terrorist threat before it reaches our own shores. 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 of some 25 million people -- tonight he is in jail. (Applause.) 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.
We still face serious challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq, but our progress has been enormous. In Afghanistan, there is a new constitution. Free elections will be held later this year. In Iraq, a new basic law has been signed. And on June 30th, Iraqi sovereignty will be placed in Iraqi hands. As the President has said, the United States will keep its word to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. 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 we are proud to serve. (Applause.)
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. I know that Bangor, Maine is often the first stop on the return trip for United States soldiers coming home, and no matter what time of day it is, residents of this city and state turn out to give them a hearty welcome. (Applause.)
That's a wonderful way of showing the people of our military just how much they mean to us. They are men and women of courage and honor. 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.) Let me also say we have an absolutely outstanding Secretary of Defense in Don Rumsfeld. (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 same standard should be applied to the candidate who now opposes him in this year's election, 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.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: A voter -- (Laughter.) I'm not going to repeat that. (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. (Applause.)
Senator Kerry has also asserted that our troops in Iraq are not receiving the materiel support they need. May I remind the Senator that last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing funding for body armor and vital supplies for our military. Senator Kerry 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".
THE VICE PRESIDENT: As a way to clarify the matter, Senator Kerry recently said, and again I quote, "I actually did vote for the 87 billion dollars before I voted against it." (Laughter.) 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. (Applause.)
In one respect, Senator Kerry's record on defense is consistent: He has repeatedly favored cuts or outright cancellations of vital weapons systems for our military. The MX missile, cancel; the B-1 bomber, cancel; anti-satellite system, cancel; strategic defense initiative, cancel; the AH-64 Apache Helicopter, cancel; the Patriot air defense missile system, cancel; the F-15, cancel; the F-14, cancel; the Phoenix air-to-air missile, cancel; the Sparrow air-to-air missile, cancel. He also proposed canceling the Aegis Cruiser -- made right here in Maine at Bath Iron Works.
AUDIENCE: Booo! (Inaudible.) (Laughter and applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't know who that guy is, but he's going with me when I leave here. (Laughter.) At numerous times, Senator Kerry has voted against funding weapons systems vital to fighting and winning the war on terror, as well -- such as the Blackhawk helicopter and the Predator drone.
On the broader picture, Senator Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. He said, quote, "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. But as we've seen that approach was tried before, and it 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 the country. (Applause.)
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 our economy was ready to recover, terrorists struck our nation and shook the economy once again. President Bush has taken strong, confident steps to get the economy growing again. Working with strong allies on Capitol Hill, the President has signed into law significant tax relief for millions of American families and businesses.
Across the nation, we are seeing the results of the President's policies. In the first quarter of this year, the economy grew at a strong rate of 4.2 percent. Over the last three quarters, the economy has grown at a rate of 5.5 percent --- the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's first term in the White House. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Interest rates and inflation are low. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Productivity is high. Business investment and factory orders are rising.
Last Friday we got more good news confirming the growing strength of our economy. The economy added 288,000 new jobs in April alone, and we have added more than 1.1 million new jobs since August. (Applause.) Manufacturing jobs in America have increased for three straight months. And here in Maine, your unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, down from 5.2 percent at the beginning of the year, and below the national average. The Bush tax relief is working, and jobs are on the rise. America's economy is moving in the right direction -- don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Applause.)
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.)
To strengthen that recovery, we're going to continue 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 Maine and across the nation, good doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
We need to protect our environment, including an effective wetlands conservation policy, as President Bush discussed here in Maine last month. 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. That's unfair to the judicial nominees, and 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 more Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins in the United States Senate.
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. 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 a 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 Bangor and across this great state. And now, together, we are going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:04 P.M. EDT