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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
June 4, 2004
Vice President's Remarks to the Police Officers Association of Michigan's Annual Convention
The Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
187 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan
12:10 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Im honored to be here today, and deeply appreciate the, on behalf of the President, the honor you've done us by endorsing the President and myself for this year's election. It's great to come back to Michigan, back to Grand Rapids. I was just reminiscing on the way into the hotel that I was in this hotel the night before the 1976 election when I worked for Gerry Ford. And that time, we didn't win. This time, we're going to win. (Applause.)
It's a great honor to stand with so many members of the Police Officers Association of Michigan. And I got here right on time today because we had a superb escort in from the airport. The guys did a great job.
Its a pleasure to see Congressman Vern Ehlers here, as well as Mike Rogers. They do a superb job for everybody here in Michigan. Let me also thank your president, Jim Tignanelli and your vice president Wayne Beerbower -- make sure I've got all these names correct -- Marvin Dudzinski, William Birdseye, and members of the POAM's executive board. And above all, I want to thank the rank and file of this outstanding organization. Your endorsement is an honor, and President Bush and I are proud to accept it. (Applause.)
POAM is the largest labor organization of police officers in Michigan, ten thousand strong and devoted to duty. Your leaders are police officers themselves, and theyre committed to seeing that every member is treated fairly, paid adequately, and given the respect youve earned. Its a high privilege to stand with such a patriotic and dedicated group.
President Bush is in Italy today for ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Rome, and then he'll go on to the anniversary of the 60th -- 60th anniversary of our landings Normandy on D-Day, on Sunday. He's asked me to extend his gratitude to each and every one of you.
The election is now just five months away, and theres a lot of hard work ahead. But with men and women like you at our side, were confident that the state of Michigan will be part of a nationwide victory for the Bush-Cheney ticket on November 2nd. (Applause.)
Anyone who serves as President or Vice President always feels a strong connection with people in law enforcement. You meet many of them as you travel the country, and you know officers of the law are never far away. The same is true for every citizen of this state and country. Whether you live in Grand Rapids, or Detroit, or a small town on the Upper Peninsula, you know that there is a faithful law enforcement officer on the job, watching over the neighborhood, ready for the next call. You know that if danger comes, there is someone who is ready to step in to help. The men and women who wear the police uniform have accepted a special calling, and have earned the gratitude of all of our citizens.
As you carry out your duties here in Michigan, the federal government must meet a duty of its own, to help ensure that Americas police officers have the resources you need to do the job. Police officers and other first responders have been among the primary recipients of more than $8 billion in training and preparedness grants allocated or awarded by the Department of Homeland Security over the last 14 months. Weve already trained more than 128,000 first responders in awareness, prevention, and HAZMAT response, all essential skills for police officers and those officials assisting in your efforts.
To further strengthen our police forces, the administration has requested an additional 1.4 billion in state and local preparedness grants for next year, for 2005. And to show our debt to the families of all police officers who lose their lives on duty, Congress has also passed the Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefit Act, a measure that was proudly signed into law last year by President Bush. (Applause.)
We must support our nations police and emergency personnel, because the demands of your job are greater than ever. In this period of testing for America, the people we count on for the security of our communities are also essential to the defense of our homeland.
You and I are serving during a time when America has confronted historic challenges and risen to meet dangers that we never expected to have to face. The past three and a half years have presented serious choices, with alternatives carrying profound consequences. The attacks on 9/11 signaled the arrival of an entirely new era in our history. In the span of a few hours, we saw the violence and the grief that 19 murderous individuals could inflict. And we had a glimpse of the even greater harm that terrorists wish to do to all of us. Remembering what we saw on the morning of 9/11, and knowing the nature of these enemies, we have a clear, overriding responsibility: We must do everything in our power to protect our homeland, and to prevent another terrorist attack on America. (Applause.)
The Department of Homeland Security is part of that effort, representing the largest reorganization of the federal government since Harry Truman was President in the late 1940s. We have taken decisive, focused action to improve security at our borders and our ports, and to protect travelers on commercial aircraft. We've added billions in new funding for cutting-edge drugs and technologies and other defenses against biological attack. We changed the mission of the FBI, and reassigned hundreds of agents to counterterrorism duties, to help prevent terrorist attacks before they can be launched. (Applause.)
We took another vital step in defending our homeland with the passage of the USA Patriot Act, which the President signed into law in 2001. That law solved some dramatic problems that became clear in the post-9/11 world, problems that put law enforcement at a significant disadvantage in the hunt for terrorists in America. Many provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year, including the sections that allow intelligence and law enforcement agencies to share information. And this points out a clear responsibility for the United States Congress: Congress must act to renew the Patriot Act in full. (Applause.)
The people of this country have confidence in the men and women of law enforcement, and rightly so. Americans know the kind of person who steps forward to serve as an officer of the law. We see the character and the professionalism of police in our daily lives, and we have seen it during some of the nations most desperate hours. I was in the White House on the morning of 9/11, throughout that day receiving reports on the situation in New York, and across the river at the Pentagon. There were conversations with the President, with our military commanders, and decisions to be made about civilian flights, military air cover over major cities, and disaster response. In many ways throughout our government, the attacks of that day brought out the very best in people under hard and extremely uncertain circumstances. Yet in a day filled with heroic acts, few images stand out more clearly in the minds of the American people than the actions of uniformed men and women who ran towards the danger. Seventy-two policemen were lost that day.
When the President sent our troops into Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, some of them found inspiration in reminders of why they were going to battle. On packs and planes, and even on a few bombs, they put the letters, N-Y-P-D and F-D-N-Y. The inspiration seemed to work: The people of Afghanistan have been liberated, the Taliban is out of business, and the terrorists are on the run. (Applause.)
As President Bush has made clear from the beginning, we are in a different kind of war. The terrorists hate our country and everything we stand for. They seek even deadlier weapons, and they would use them against us. In the face of this danger, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)
The Taliban were the first to see our determination, and as that country moves toward democracy, it remains dangerous for the men and women in our military who still serve there. Our forces are on the offensive, and they will stay on the hunt. They know who theyre looking for, and one by one, they will bring them to justice.
In Iraq, where a dictator cultivated ties to terror and sought to arm himself with the worlds most deadly weapons, America led a mission to make the world safe, and to liberate the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein defied the demands of the civilized world and he has experienced the consequences. (Applause.)
More than a year after that country was liberated, a collection of killers is trying to undo Iraqs progress and throw that country into chaos. These men are not just acting from blind rage. The terrorists in Iraq have a strategic goal. They want to shake our will, and show the world that America runs from a challenge. Day by day, they are learning otherwise. When America makes a commitment, America keeps its word. (Applause.)
Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. The defeat of tyranny and violence in that nation, and the rise of democracy in the heart of the Middle East will be a crucial setback for international terror. We will do what is necessary, destroying the terrorists, returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people, and helping them build a stable, self-governing nation. Because we are strong and resolute, Iraq will never go back to the camp of tyranny and terror. (Applause.) And America will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. And this nation has made a decision: We will engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq today, so we do not have to face him with armies of police, firefighters, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, long before I took office as Vice President, I had the good fortune to work with other presidents I greatly admire. I worked in the White House at the side of Gerald Ford, a great American who grew up right here in Grand Rapids. In those years, in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw President Ford restore confidence in government by his decency and force of character. Later, as a Congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and the moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the Cabinet and Secretary of Defense under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in its purest form and came to know a leader of honor and integrity.
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 judgment, compassion, courage in times of testing for the nation. And that is exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)
I am honored to work with George W. Bush, and he and I are honored by your confidence in us, by your commitment to the cause we share. On his behalf, once again, I want to thank you for the endorsement. We will carry it with pride, all the way to November, and to victory on November 2nd. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:26 P.M. CDT