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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
July 26, 2004
Vice President's Remarks at Demint Reception
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
July 23, 2004
6:23 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Jim. And thank all of you for the warm welcome. It's great to be in Myrtle Beach. This isn't a bad place to close out the work week. And later today, I'm heading for Wyoming, where Lynne and I earlier this month celebrated our 45th high school reunion. Some of the folks there still remembered me. (Laughter.) Some of them said, whatever happened to Cheney? (Laughter.) But this also was a memorable month for another personal reason: our first grandson. (Applause.)
I want to thank all of you for being here today, obviously. It's great to see so many people here in South Carolina supporting the next United States Senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint. And it's a pleasure to bring best wishes to all of you from a man with friends all over the state of South Carolina, our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
The President and I were proud to carry South Carolina last time around. We're not taking anything for granted this year, but I have a good feeling that South Carolina is going to be part of a nationwide victory come November 2nd. (Applause.)
President Bush has his opponent in this campaign, and now I have mine. A few weeks ago, I called Senator Edwards to welcome him to the contest, and we had a good conversation, a very friendly conversation. People keep telling me that Senator Edwards got picked for the job because he's sexy, good looking, charming. And I said, how do you think I got this job? (Laughter.)
But I also have an important assignment in Washington because as Vice President my only real job is to preside over the United States 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 decided they hadn't given the Vice President anything to do. So they made him the presiding officer in the Senate. That means I can go up there and sit in the chair and preside whenever I want, cast tie-breaking votes.
My predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also have floor privileges. He was allowed to get out of the chair, go down into the well of the Senate and participate in the debate of the day, and they he did a couple of times and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) But I do get to spend a lot of time in the Senate. And I'm proud to report to all of you that Lindsey Graham is doing a great job for the people of South Carolina. (Applause.)
Lindsey flew down with Jim and I today, as well as other members of your House delegation -- Gresham Barrett, Henry Brown, and Joe Wilson are all with us tonight. We all agree that Lindsey Graham needs a good colleague in the Senate delegation, and we're all here because we know that Jim DeMint is the man for that job. Jim is one of the very best candidates running for the United States Senate anyplace in America -- of virtually all of them. He's a man of unquestioned integrity, with strong roots in the state and an impressive record in the House. He's made tough decisions with foresight and good judgment, and there's no doubt that the people of the fourth district are better off now because of his efforts over the years. Jim cares deeply about the people of this state. He has an optimistic vision for the future. As your Senator, he'll work for job growth, and more individual control on health care and Social Security. President Bush and I are behind him all the way. And come next January, I look forward to swearing in Jim DeMint as a new South Carolina senator. (Applause.)
We're now just about 100 days from the election, and we're looking forward to a spirited contest, up and down the ballot. When voters here in South Carolina go to the polls come November, they're going to remember everything that has occurred since George W. Bush became President. These last three-and-a-half years have brought some very serious challenges to our country. But we're meeting those challenges with strength and resolve. And today, the American people can be confident of a safer nation, a stronger economy, and a better future because of the character and the leadership of our President.
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took pride and comfort in the conduct of our President. They saw a man calm in a crisis, comfortable with responsibility, and determined to do whatever was necessary to protect our people. Since 9/11, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America that morning and killed some 3,000 of our fellow citizens. In this war, many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are on the run, and we are going to hunt them down -- one by one. With President Bush's leadership and the strong support of leaders like Jim DeMint, America is fighting the war on terror, and America is going to win the war on terror. (Applause.)
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. Tonight he's in jail. Because we acted, Afghanistan and Iraq have gone from terrorist states to free, sovereign nations and emerging democracies, and the people of America are more secure.
The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in that troubled region of the world will be a crucial setback for international terrorists. Because we are strong and resolute, these nations 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. (Applause.) This nation has made a decision: We will engage the enemy; facing him with our military today in Afghanistan and Iraq, so we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters, police, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities.
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. President Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of the United States of America. (Applause.)
We have not only taken the fight against terror to our enemies overseas, we have also improved our security here at home. Under the President's leadership, we created a new Department of Homeland Security, merging 22 agencies and 180,000 employees into one department with one purpose -- to protect the American people.
In less than a year-and-a-half of operations, the Department of Homeland Security has made substantial progress in improving our defenses. We boosted border and immigration security, improved port security, tightened aviation security from the curb to the cockpit. Working with Jim and others in Congress, we passed the Patriot Act to give our intelligence and law enforcement officials critical new tools to defeat terrorism while safeguarding our constitutional liberties. We have also made great strides in improving our defenses against weapons of mass destruction. On Wednesday, President Bush signed into law Project BioShield, an important law to fund cutting edge drugs and other defenses against catastrophic biological weapons. Today, every American can be certain we are doing everything in our power to defend against a terrorist attack on our homeland.
Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. They 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 that George W. Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve -- and we have kept our word to the United States military.
When the voters of South Carolina make their decision this November, they're not going to be looking for leaders who shift with the political winds, taking one side one day and another the next. And that brings me to our opponents. When Congress voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, Senator Kerry voted yes. But when it came time to fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was another story.
Last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing critical funding for our troops -- for body armor and other vital support, such as hazard pay, ammunition, jet fuel, vehicles, and spare parts. The legislation passed overwhelmingly. Jim voted for it in the House, and the Senate passed it by a vote of 87 to 12, the small group of senators voting no included both Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards. Later Senator Kerry gave one of those explanations we've all come to expect from him. He said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." That sure clears things up. (Laughter.)
Last week, Senator Kerry told us he is "proud" that he and Senator Edwards voted against funding the troops. Later he explained his decision to oppose that critical funding for our military personnel was "complicated." Funding American troops in combat should never be a "complicated" choice. (Applause.) It's wrong for members of Congress to vote for sending troops into battle, and then vote against funding them. We need leaders who will back our troops one hundred percent. And that's exactly the kind of senator you'll get in Jim DeMint, and that's exactly the kind of President we have in George W. Bush. (Applause.)
At every level of the ballot, 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 us 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 actions overseas, as well as our policies here at home.
When President Bush and I took office, the economy was sliding toward recession. Then on 9/11, terrorists struck our nation and shook the economy once again. We faced a basic decision -- to leave more money with families and businesses, or to take more of the American people's taxpayer tax dollars for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed tax relief, and with the help of good legislators like Jim and the other members of the South Carolina delegation, we delivered tax savings to the American people -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)
The Bush tax cuts have helped our national economy create jobs for 10 consecutive months. We've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. Here in South Carolina, more than 34,000 people have gone back to work at new jobs so far this year. The national home ownership rate is at a record high. Business investment is growing, consumer confidence is at a two-year high, and personal incomes are on the rise. And over the past year, the economy has grown at a strong rate of nearly 5%. The American people are proving the pessimists wrong -- the Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
In all of our accomplishments, we have relied on principled legislators like Jim DeMint. And as you know, both houses of Congress are very closely divided. I've had several opportunities to cast tie-breaking votes on major pieces of legislation, that includes three votes last year -- the budget resolution, the amendment to allow reductions in the tax on dividends and capital gains, as well as final passage of the tax bill. I'm not saying that I deserve any special credit for the way I voted, after all, that morning the President gave some pretty explicit instructions on what I was to do on the Hill that day. The point is that if we'd had one less Republican senator, or if we hadn't controlled the House of Representatives, we would not have passed the tax package last year. We would not have the economic recovery now, which have been such important developments for Americans all across the nation. It's clear that every congressional seat at stake this November will carry momentous importance, especially those in the Senate. That's why it's so critical that Jim DeMint be elected your next United States Senator. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these past three-and-a-half years also demonstrate something about the character of our President. President Bush did not go to Washington to mark time, or to spend time and energy on small goals. He came to take on the big issues, and to make serious reforms. He has led with confidence, and clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made the hard choices, and he's kept his word. And that's exactly how he plans to lead this country for four more years. (Applause.)
America has a strong economy, and we're growing stronger every day. Yet we recognize there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. We need Jim in the Senate to help us keep moving forward with a comprehensive pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We've seen the positive effects of tax relief, and we know how to keep a good thing going. So we will work with Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
For the good of this economy, we also need to end lawsuit abuse. Junk and frivolous lawsuits can ruin an honest business. They put people out of work. They clog the courts, delaying justice for people with real legal grievances. It's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
America has the best health care system in the world, but costs are rising at an unacceptable rate. As Jim knows, to bring health care costs under control for families and small business owners, we need medical liability reform. Here in South Carolina 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 policy. Three years ago, President Bush submitted a plan that would promote domestic energy production, modernize our electricity grid, promote conservation, and support alternative sources of fuel. It's time for the Democrats in the United States Senate to allow passage of a comprehensive energy policy to make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
Our opponents have a different vision for the economy. They talk a lot about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They opposed all of our tax relief, and now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending. They helped block the energy plan in the Senate. They oppose effective reform of our legal system, and they're against medical liability reform. And we can't expect that to change, now that they've put a personal injury trial lawyer on the ticket. Their big idea for the economy: to raise our taxes.
In fact, they would repeal many of the Bush tax cuts within their first 100 days in office. This isn't surprising when you consider their record. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people -- including the biggest tax increase in our 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.
Listen to the other side's proposals between now and November, and you'll recognize a clear pattern. Their plans would increase the power of the Washington bureaucracy, increase the clout of the trial lawyers, and increase the size of government's claim on the Americans' paychecks. They would not create jobs or drive economic growth. What we're hearing from the other side is the failed thinking of the past, and we're not going back. (Applause.)
With Jim's support, President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based charities, so they can receive support for their good works. We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. We stand strongly for the Second Amendment, and we will defend the individual right of every American to bear arms. We believe that our nation is "one nation under God." (Applause.) And we believe that Americans ought to be able to say "under God" when they pledge allegiance to the flag. (Applause.)
The founders of this great country acknowledged God in the Declaration of Independence, but we have judges now who seem to have forgotten this history. We also have a situation in the United States Senate where Democrats -- including Senators Kerry and Edwards -- are blocking the President's mainstream appointments to the judiciary. Senators Kerry and Edwards made sure that the Senate never got to vote on a fine man like Miguel Estrada, an immigrant who came to this country from Honduras, graduated from Harvard Law School, served as a clerk at the Supreme Court, and had distinguished service in the U.S. Justice Department. Senators Kerry and Edwards are helping keep fine people like Miguel Estrada -- and dozens of other qualified nominees -- off the federal bench. These Democratic Senators are delaying justice, and they're abusing the constitutional process, and it is time for the travesty to end. That's also another good reason why need to send Jim DeMint to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
On issue after issue, 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 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 born in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.
Jim shares that vision, and I know the people of South Carolina do, as well. Now the President and I need you to send Jim DeMint to the United States Senate, so that he can help us advance those goals. I'm grateful for your hard work and your commitment. Jim is fortunate, indeed, to have you on his team, and so are the President and I. And we all look forward to November 2nd, when we will see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:43 P.M. EDT