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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
May 29, 2008
Vice President's Remarks At The New York Republican State Committee Dinner
New York Sheraton Hotel and Towers
New York City, New York
7:04 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. A welcome like that is almost enough to make me want to run for office again. (Applause.) No, no, no. I said, almost. (Laughter.) But I -- Joe, I appreciate your kind words, and I'm grateful to all of you for the warm welcome. I notice that Joe did not mention that the junior senator from New York has begun calling me Darth Vader. (Laughter.) I asked my wife recently if it didn't bug her when people called me that. She said, "No, it humanizes you." (Laughter.)
Let me thank all of you for the chance to join you this evening. I also want to acknowledge the party officials and officeholders who are here, including my good friend, Congressman Peter King -- (applause); of course Assembly Leader -- Minority Leader Jim Tedisco -- (applause); and our Majority Leader in the Senate, Joe Bruno -- (applause). It's always a pleasure to see my longtime friend and former colleague from the Ford administration - a great mayor, one of the great Americans, our friend, Rudy Giuliani. (Applause.)
I'm grateful to everyone who worked so hard to put this event together tonight. And with your support, we'll build a strong foundation for Republican victories come November. (Applause.) And I want to thank all of you for pitching in - and I bring greetings to one and all from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
It was right here in Manhattan, of course, that the President and I were nominated for a second term in 2004. And New York certainly knows how to throw a party. We have fond memories of that week - the great hospitality, the superb convention, and the momentum that brought us to an historic re-election victory.
Now, of course, we've begun to focus on another big election. And if we all put our shoulders to the wheel between now and November, I'm confident we'll see John McCain as the next President of the United States. (Applause.)
President Bush and I look forward to helping our candidates, up and down the ticket, throughout the important election year. And the stakes are very high. Whether the issue is the economy, or energy, or the federal courts, or national security, the right answers for our nation are not coming from Democrats, but from Republicans. (Applause.)
Right now, with the economy going through a rough patch, some in Washington view it as an excuse for expanding the size and scope of the federal government. Republicans believe that when Americans are facing tough times, the first thing we should do is let them keep more of their own money. (Applause.) That's why the President proposed and signed a stimulus package with immediate, direct relief to the American taxpayer.
Both parties came together on the stimulus package. As a result, families are going to find it a little easier to pay their bills. Yet as we look down the road, there's still more work to be done on the subject of taxes. Without action by the Congress, most of the Bush tax relief of the past seven years will be taken away. If that happens, the death tax, which is being phased out now, would suddenly return, at rates that top out at more than 50 percent. Taxes would go up on capital gains and dividends. The tax rate for every single income tax bracket would be increased. For taxpayers in the lowest bracket, the rate would increase by 50 percent. And the child tax credit would drop from $1,000 to $500 per child. The overall effect would be average tax increases of $1,800 a year in the tax bill of some 116 million Americans.
This is going to be one of the major dividing lines between the two parties in this election year - and we need to make sure that every voter in the country knows the difference. Remind your friends that whenever they hear Democratic politicians pledging to get rid of the Bush tax cuts, what they're promising is a major tax hike for working families. And they wouldn't have to move a muscle to do it, because under the law, that tax cuts simply expire a few years from now. That means it is all more -- all the more critical to elect a Republican Congress to make the tax cuts permanent - and a Republican President to sign them into law. (Applause.)
Americans are certainly concerned as well about energy, because everyone's paying higher prices at the pump. Our administration has worked with the Congress and private sector to increase the efficiency of cars and trucks, and to promote alternative fuels. But that's not enough to meet the demands of the country - we also have to produce more oil and gas inside the United States. (Applause.)
Part of the problem in Washington is that a lot of our Democratic friends year after year have tried to stand in the way of more energy production. The plain truth is we can get a lot more energy here in America, and we can do it in an environmentally sound and friendly way. And it's not just crude oil or natural gas production that's being held up. Amazing as it may sound, we haven't built a new refinery in the United States in 30 years - so now we have to import ever larger amounts of refined product and gasoline. Republicans believe more of the refining ought to be done right here in the United States, at American refineries, by American workers. (Applause.)
You and I belong to the party of low taxes, limited government, and free enterprise. We understand that government exists not to be the people's master but rather the people's servant. We understand the Constitution and the separation of powers - and that's why we believe in putting good judges on the bench like John Roberts and Sam Alito. (Applause.)
Above all, ladies and gentlemen, we believe in protecting the United States of America - in defending our security, our values, and our way of life. (Applause.) President Bush has never lost sight of that responsibility. And for that reason, many Democrats who believe in a strong defense have stood by the President in the war on terror. Four years ago at Madison Square Garden, our keynote speaker was Senator Zell Miller of Georgia - a lifelong Democrat. Senator Miller spoke passionately about the Democratic Party that has lost its bearings on national security; a party that regards our own country as a negative force in the world. Senator Miller said, quote, "Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator." And he added a thought that no citizen of this country should ever forget, quote: "Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. And, our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home." (Applause.)
In that same election year, another prominent Democrat known to all of you gave his endorsement to George W. Bush. This Democrat said that the President was, quote, "the only one running who appreciated the threat of Islamic terrorism to American values and Western civilization and was prepared to wage a war to defend those values." Those are the words of Mayor Ed Koch. (Applause.)
And yet another Democrat of national standing has been appalled by the direction his party has taken on national security. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is a statesman whose Democratic credentials could not be more impeccable - (applause). After all, he ran against me for Vice President in 2000. (Laughter.) Yet in his most recent campaign, Joe was targeted for political extinction by his fellow Democrats. One by one, they turned their backs on him. Joe's old running mate, Al Gore, abandoned him. His Connecticut colleague and best friend in the Senate, Chris Dodd, campaigned against him. In a tough political fight, Joe Lieberman was dropped by his own party simply because of his firm stand in the war on terror - a stand he has consistently held, in good times and bad. (Applause.)
In an article last week, Joe Lieberman wrote about the Democratic Party that he grew up in. It was, he said, "A party that was unhesitatingly and proudly pro-American, a party that … understood that either the American people stood united with free nations and freedom fighters against the forces of totalitarianism, or that what we -- that we would fall divided. That's the way it used to be. But today, Senator Lieberman points out, the Democratic Party is "further to the left than it has been … in the last 20 years." He finds no evidence that the party leadership will stand up to the left wing - and so Joe has proudly endorsed our nominee, John McCain. (Applause.)
As I said earlier, the stakes are high in this election. We're in the midst of a war against a determined enemy - an enemy that showed its faces in this very city on September 11th. After the attacks of that day, President Bush told the nation to prepare for a struggle that would not be easy, or brief, or predictable in its course. He pledged never to grow tired in his own work as leader of the country and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces. He has honored that pledge in full. (Applause.)
Since 9/11, our administration had to make a lot of tough decisions on national security. As a result, the enemies of the country have been kept off balance. I don't think the terrorists put their feet up after 9/11 and said, "Well, let's not hit the United States again." They wanted to hit us. They planned on it. They tried to do it. And now that we've gone more than six and a half years without another 9/11 is no accident. (Applause.) It is an achievement. And the credit goes to some very dedicated Americans in intelligence, law enforcement, and the military; to vital new laws passed by Congress; and strong leadership by the President of the United States. (Applause.)
From the beginning, we've understood that this war is a battle of ideas. So when we confronted terror states and outlaw regimes, we didn't just remove the dictators and leave the people to their fate. We've stood with them to build institutions of freedom and democracy - the very institutions that overcome the ideologies of hatred and murder. The work goes on - and our strategy in Iraq, with a surge of operations begun more than a year ago is succeeding brilliantly. The only way to lose this fight is to quit. (Applause.) But that would be an act of betrayal and dishonor - and it is not going to happen on our watch. (Applause.) Two months ago I was in Iraq and spoke to several thousand of our troops deployed there at Balad. Our men and women are dedicated to victory. And I remember the strong response the troops gave on one point in particular - when I said that we are going to get this job done right, so that another generation of Americans doesn't have to go back and do it again. (Applause.)
Against that background, this election year poses one fundamental question on national security: Who is serious about fighting and winning the war on terror, on every front? The choice is going to be very clear. On one side is the Democratic Party - led by the likes of Senator Harry Reid, who said more than a year ago that the war in Iraq was lost. A Democratic Party whose leaders in Congress permitted a vital surveillance law to expire, leaving the United States more vulnerable to terrorist attack. A Democratic Party that operates in tandem with MoveOn.Org, a fringe group that ran a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking the character and the courage of General Dave Petraeus. A Democratic Party that has, in Joe Lieberman's words, "kowtowed" to the opinions of the far left rather than challenging them.
On the other side of this divide is the Republican Party - whose leaders have supported the war on terror, regardless of what the polls say or the pundits declare. A Republican Party whose presidential nominee has served this nation with courage, a nominee committed to victory for freedom's cause, a nominee who speaks of idealism, and backs it up with good judgment, consistency, a record of achievement, and genuine American heroism. (Applause.)
Faced with that choice, and with the options laid out clearly before them, there's no doubt in my mind that the American people are going to choose Republican leadership on November 4th. (Applause.)
In a little over seven months, we'll turn our responsibility over to others. But this evening, ladies and gentlemen, with much yet to do at home and abroad, President Bush and I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve this nation. We're grateful to all of you for your support, not just for us but for our party here in New York. In the weeks and months ahead, with an economy to strengthen and a war to fight, we'll stay focused on the business of the people, and we will come to a strong finish. With your help, we'll leave our jobs in good hands. And with your help, we'll see many Republican victories across New York and this great country come November.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 7:21 P.M. EDT