For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 14, 2004
Remarks of the Vice President at a Debate Watching Party
Embassy Suites Hotel
October 13, 2004
8:20 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. This looks like Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
Well, we're delighted to be here tonight, to be back in Pennsylvania. We've spent a fair amount of time here this year, and come November 2nd, we're going to add Pennsylvania to the Bush-Cheney column. (Applause.)
This has been a great campaign. Lynne and I now have been, over the course of this election cycle in 48 states. This week alone; this is Wednesday I guess -- (laughter) --we started in Washington. We've been to New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, back to Washington -- today in Pennsylvania. Tomorrow, we'll be in Florida. The day after that, we'll back in Indiana and Michigan. So it's the closing stages of the campaign. But it's a lot of fun, in part because we get an opportunity to get out around the country and meet so many great people. And in Washington nobody ever says thank you. When you get out here on the road, people say thank you, and that's great. (Applause.)
I've been in a number of campaigns now and I've never been in one that I believe is as important as the one we're embarked on right now. I think the election two weeks from next Tuesday on the 2nd of November, may be the most important that I ever participate in. And I say that not just because my name is on the ballot. You might accuse me of a slight bias there, but because I think the decision we're going to make -- both about where we go as a nation from the standpoint of our national security strategy, how we defend America, how we deal with the threat that's clearly out there, how we guarantee the safety and security of our kids and grandkids, as well as what we do here at home, in terms of domestic policy, and the economy, and so many of the areas that Lynne touched upon, that's what is going to be decided on Election Day. And I cannot recall a time in my career, which goes back now several decades when we had as clear cut a choice as we have at present. Because when you get down to the sort of bottom-line, grass-roots evaluation, what the Kerry campaign has been all about for -- really since he began running is trying to obscure that 20-year record in the United States Senate. He never talks about it.
We haven't heard him talk about it all. And there's a reason for that, and the reason is because on domestic issues he has been rated by the National Journal, an independent, nonpartisan group, probably does the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of members' voting records of any organization in Washington, he's been rated the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Ted Kennedy --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ted Kennedy is the most conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter.) If you can believe that. (Applause.)
And with respect to national defense and security, which we've talked about a lot in this campaign, and we've seen debated on earlier nights, there's no question that John Kerry has come down on the wrong side of virtually every major national defense that he's faced while he's been in public office. We never challenge his patriotism. I want to emphasize that again here tonight. What we challenge is his judgment. And in his campaigns for Congress and for the Senate, and his conduct in the Senate, he's consistently been for limitations on the U.S. force -- use of U.S. forces. For example, when he ran for Congress the very first time, he said he would not commit forces without the approval of the United Nations.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Later on when he ran for the Senate, he ran on the platform of cutting or eliminating most of the major Reagan defense build-up programs that were vital to winning the Cold War. In 1991, when we were faced with Saddam's first invasion of Kuwait and the first Gulf War, John Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm. It's a pattern that has been fairly consistent over the years, until of course he gets up the current campaign.
But he's spent a lot of time during the course of this campaign trying to obscure the facts with respect to his record and what he believes and how he's conducted himself. Perfectly legitimate if you want to represent the people of Massachusetts -- you probably have to be pretty far over there to where he's been. (Laughter.) But it's been a long time since we had a conservative senator from Massachusetts. But the fact of the matter is that I think in terms of what the nation needs today, the kind of strong, principled leadership the President has provided -- especially in the war on terror, the outstanding job I think he's done taking on some very difficult issues. Lynne mentioned Medicare and prescription drug benefits. She said the Democrats ran on that year after year after year throughout my entire career and never once delivered. And George Bush delivered. (Applause.)
On education, the most sweeping changes we've seen in education since the federal government got into the business back in the 1960s happened on George Bush's watch with the No Child Left Behind Act -- something he put together. It was his number one priority when he arrived in Washington. It was HR 1 when we introduced it in the Congress, put together a bipartisan coalition and got it done as well, too.
And what we've done on tax policy, I think goes to the heart of the different philosophy between our administration, the President and myself and what we believe and what we stand for as a party, and I think the principles all of you share, and the Kerry-Edwards approach to how the system ought to work, basically. What the President will emphasize and has consistently is that it's very important for us to leave with the American people just as much of their hard earned paychecks as humanly possible. (Applause.)
When we were faced with a recession and the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11, we saw the significant economic impact that had on the country, the President made that key choice that the best way for recovery and to get the economy back on the right track again was to leave more money in the hands of the American people because they would spend it far better, far more wisely, far more effectively than would the government in Washington. And he was absolutely right. (Applause.)
We've got a good track record on the economy. The unemployment rate today is where it was when the Democrats hailed Bill Clinton's stewardship in 1996. We're at 5.4 percent, he was at 5.5 percent. The fact of the matter is that the economy is doing very well. We're on the right track. We've added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months. We've had a rate of growth of 4.8 percent over the last four quarters, in terms of GDP, one of the best rates of growth any time in the last 20 years. So we're headed in the right direction. The Kerry alternative will be an alternative that instead of empowering people, instead of allowing the American people to make basic fundamental decisions that affect their lives in terms of health policy and education and how to spend their hard earned dollars, the Kerry administration proposal that Senator Kerry talks about with Senator Edwards would constitute a significant increase in the size and power of the federal government. That's what he believes. That's what he voted for 20 years in the United States Senate. It would involve an increase in taxes. He voted 98 times to raise taxes during his 20 years in the United States Senate. None of that can be obscured. Those are the facts. That's the record, and I think what we'll see as we go down to the wire in this campaign that's as the American people focus in on this decision, it will be a very clear choice for them, that what we need going forward for the next four years is the principled leadership of George W. Bush as President of the United States. (Applause.)
Now, this is going to be a fascinating evening. It's going to be a very interesting evening. As I said earlier today, the President is ready for it. He's loaded for bear and raring to go. And we're going to come out of this debate tonight, and then on down to the wire for the last almost three weeks as we wrap up this campaign. And we greatly appreciate your support and all the time and effort you've put into it. And we know after the last very close election that all the work that everybody does is absolutely vital. Don't let anybody tell you that what you do as a volunteer or supporter of this campaign doesn't matter. We learned last time around, 537 votes in Florida, that every dollar contributed, every hour of volunteer time, every time you work the phone banks or ring the doorbells, or just encourage friends and neighbors to register and get out and vote, all of that matters. It all adds up and it all ultimately decides who will be President of the United States.
We're enormously blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this process. It's a unique privilege that we enjoy as Americans, and what we're going to do now is go watch the debate. But we'll back down here shortly after the debate tonight to celebrate on the way to the ultimate victory on November 2nd.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 8:34 P.M. EDT