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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
July 2, 2004

Vice President's Remarks at Clay Reception
Edgar HR Wilson Convention Center
Macon, Georgia
July 1, 2004

6:10 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. And I appreciate the warm welcome. It's good to be back in Georgia. I'm proud to stand with the next congressman from this district, Calder Clay. (Applause.) And it's a pleasure to bring greetings to all of you from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Now, it's always a pleasure when I get a chance to have Lynne travel with me, as she is today. We've spent a lot of time over the years involved in political events. But our -- we actually owe our marriage to an election victory by Dwight Eisenhower back in 1952.

In 1952, when Eisenhower ran, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska. And my dad worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eisenhower got elected; he reorganized the Agriculture Department; and we moved to Casper, Wyoming. That's where I met Lynne, 13 years old at the time. And we went to high school together, grew up together. In August, we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.)

I explained that to a group the other night, that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's victory in 1952, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) No doubt in my mind that that's true. (Applause.)

But I also have a special guest traveling with me today because earlier today, I gave a speech over in New Orleans at the National D-Day Museum over there -- foreign policy and national security policy. It was more of a nonpartisan event, but I was privileged to have company today for that event, and he's here today as my guest -- P.X. Kelley, former Commandant of the Marine Corps. (Applause.)

The President and I are tremendously grateful to all of our friends here in Georgia for the support you've provided over the years. We were proud to carry this state in the last election. And we know that working together, Georgia is going to be part of a nationwide victory on November 2nd. (Applause.)

As President of the Senate, I also want to say a word about Georgia's fine senators. The only job I have is President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. They got down to the end of the convention, the Constitutional Convention, they decided they hadn't given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they gave him the right to preside over the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes and so forth. So I get to spend a lot of time up there in that body. And I've gotten to know very well the senators and the delegations from various states. And I've known Saxby Chambliss since he was a member of the House. He's doing a superb job serving all Georgians in the United States Senate. (Applause.) And of course, as you know, Saxby's colleague is Zell Miller, a distinguished American. And the President and I are enormously grateful to Zell for heading up Democrats for Bush. (Applause.)

The elections this November will decide critical questions about our country's future. Every race on the ballot is important, and that's why it's so vital for you to send Calder Clay to the House of Representatives.

Calder is a seventh generation Georgian. He understands the priorities of his district, from lower taxes to a productive agricultural sector, to a strong national defense. He's a decent, honest man, and an experienced public servant. And when he makes a commitment, you can be absolutely certain he'll keep his word.

I was proud to campaign with Calder two years ago. He ran a tough, smart race, and came very close to victory. He's going to run even harder this year, and the outcome is going to be different, because this year Calder Clay is going to be the next Congressman for the third district of Georgia. (Applause.) I might say we're proud to be on the ticket together, when we carry -- have a deep interest in the outcome of this year's election.

Calder understands that these are challenging times for our nation, and we are meeting every challenge with strength and resolve. And today, the American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and a nation that is more secure, because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. Since 9/11, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed some 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

With the President's leadership, we are fighting and we will win the war on terror. We've captured Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, the operational planner behind the 9/11 attacks, and we have destroyed much of al Qaeda's senior leadership. Those still at large are on the run, we know they're on their trail -- they know we are on their trail.

In Afghanistan, we removed the brutal Taliban from power and destroyed the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. In Iraq, America and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a gathering threat to our peace and security. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and the future of almost 25 million people. Today, Saddam Hussein stands arraigned in an Iraqi court where he will face the justice he denied to millions. (Applause.)

Because we acted, he will never again brutalize the Iraqi people, never again support terrorists or pursue weapons of mass destruction, and never again threaten the United States of America.

We still face serious challenges in those liberated countries, yet we have reason to be hopeful about their future. Earlier this week, the world witnessed the arrival of a free and sovereign Iraqi government. Iraqis saw a peaceful transfer of power take place in Baghdad, as Prime Minister Allawi and his Cabinet took full governing responsibility for their nation. After three decades of tyrannical rule, Iraq is back in the hands of its rightful owners -- the Iraqi people.

We're making progress in Afghanistan as well. An interim government is operating, a constitution has been written, and later this fall, free elections will be held. And last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke before a joint session of Congress to thank the American people for liberating his country.

The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in the heart of the Middle East, are crucial setbacks for international terror. Because we are strong and resolute, Iraq will never go back to the camp of tyranny and terror. 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 firefighters, police, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)

This nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. Many of our armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq deployed from bases in Georgia, including Robins Air Force Base. Our servicemen and women are proving every day that when we send them to defend our country, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.)

One of the most important commitments George W. Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need and all the respect they deserve -- and we have kept our word to the United States military. (Applause.)

From the beginning, America has sought -- and received -- international support for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the war on terror, we will always seek cooperation from our allies around the world. But as the President has made very clear: There is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. The United States will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another, the next. Calder understands that, and so do the people of Georgia. We need a commander in chief of clear vision and steady determination, and that's just what we have in our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

The President's opponent, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts -- (Laughter.) You think this is the good part of the speech. (Laughter.) He comes at things a little differently. Sometimes his position on an important issue depends on when you ask him. When Congress voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, he voted yes. This year, when it served his purpose, he described himself as an opponent of the war.

When it came time to fund our troops in Iraq, he managed to take both sides of that issue as well. Last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing vital funding for the troops -- for body armor and other vital support for our military, such as hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel and spare parts. The legislation passed overwhelmingly, with a vote in the Senate of 87 to 12. Senator Kerry voted "no." He then gave one of those explanations we've all come to expect from him. He said, and I quote, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) Well that sure clears things up. (Laughter.)

There is no doubt that great events will turn on the outcome of this election. The leader who sits in the Oval Office -- and the men and women who represent you on Capitol Hill -- will set the course of the war on terror, and set the direction for the American economy. Strong, consistent leadership is required, both on our actions overseas and our policies here at home.

By the time the President and I took office three-and-a-half years ago, the economy was sliding into recession. Then, just as our economy was ready to recover, terrorists struck our nation on 9/11 and shook the economy once again. President Bush took strong steps to get the economy growing. Working with our allies on Capitol Hill, the President 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 put the death tax on the path to extinction.

Across the nation, the results of the President's policies are clear. The economy added 248,000 new jobs in May alone. We have added more than 1.4 million new jobs since last August. Manufacturing jobs have increased for four straight months. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Productivity is high. Incomes and wages have been rising. Economic growth over the last year has been nearly 5 percent, with GDP growth since last summer rising at the fastest three-quarter annual rate in nearly 20 years. There's a simple reason for our growing prosperity: the Bush tax relief is working. (Applause.)

Just as we expected, the American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and Congress was right to let them keep it. (Applause.)

Some look at all the economic growth and the efforts of workers across America, and somehow can find only cause for pessimism. And their idea for cheering up the country is to raise our taxes.

The President's opponent has promised to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts within his first 100 days in office. This isn't surprising when you consider his record. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people -- including the biggest tax increase in history. That's an average of a vote for higher taxes every three weeks for the last 20 years. At least the folks back in Massachusetts knew he was on the job. (Laughter.)

For the sake of long-term growth and job creation, we need to do exactly the opposite of what the economic pessimists propose. We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

Under the strong economic leadership of President Bush -- and with the help of Calder Clay -- this nation is going to continue moving forward with an aggressive, optimistic, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.

One item on the top of our list is to end lawsuit abuse, to protect small businesses from junk lawsuits and to curb needless regulation. (Applause.) America's entrepreneurs should be able to hire productive workers, instead of hiring lawyers.

Our country needs medical liability reform to control the costs of health care. Here in Georgia and across the nation, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Our country needs a comprehensive energy plan. It's time for Congress to pass the common-sense plan President Bush submitted three years ago, and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Calder also understands the importance of defending our society's fundamental rights and values. And so it's also time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) Far too many of the President's nominees are forced to spend months, or even years, waiting for a hearing and up-or-down vote. A number are still being filibustered. That is unfair to 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 another reason we need to send more people like Saxby Chambliss and Zell Miller to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, on issue after issue, the choice on November 2nd is very clear. It's a choice between our progress and optimism, and our opponents' pessimism. On national security, it's a choice between our confidence, and their confusion. On the economy, it's a choice between those who took action and led America to days of progress and opportunity -- and those who would take us back to the days of malaise. That's a contest we welcome, and that's a contest we can win.

President Bush has a clear vision for the future of this nation. Abroad, we will use America's great power to serve great purposes -- to protect our homeland by turning 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.

Calder shares that vision, and once he's in Congress, he'll be a key ally in helping carrying it out. The President and I are proud to stand with him today, and we look forward to working with him for many years to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:30 P.M. EDT