The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
May 30, 2008

Vice President's Remarks at a Reception for the Republican Party of Virginia Commonwealth Gala
Greater Richmond Convention Center
Richmond, Virginia

5:49 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. A reception like that almost makes me want to run for office again. (Laughter.) Almost, almost. (Laughter.) But thanks for that welcome.

I want to thank all of our state party officials here, and of course, especially our chairman, John Hager -- or as all America knows him, the father of the groom. (Laughter and applause.) And I bring greetings to one and all from the father of the bride, President George W. Bush. (Laughter and applause.)

I also want to thank John's wife, Maggie, as well as our highest-ranking Republicans in the state office -- Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, here with his wife Jean Ann, and of course Attorney General Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. Bob McDonnell. (Applause.)

And I appreciate the hard work of everybody who put this event together. I have the greatest respect of all of you who have come to Richmond for the Republican State Convention. You're the heart and soul of the party. And with your support, we'll build a strong foundation for Republican victories come November.

It's an honor, as well, to be joined by several members of the Virginia delegation -- Thelma Drake, Rob Wittman, Randy Forbes, Eric Cantor. (Applause.)

As some of you may know, I served in the House for more than a decade, representing Wyoming. Wyoming only has one congressman. (Laughter.) It's a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.) After being elected five times I assumed I was pretty well known throughout the state, but that wasn't necessarily the case. During my last campaign for Congress -- I always remember campaigning in a little farming community at Torrington down along the Wyoming-Nebraska border. I walked to one old cowboy leaning with his back up against a tree and cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes. I reached out and grabbed him by the hand and said, "Hi, I'm Dick Cheney. I'm running for Congress, and I'd like your vote." He said, "You got it. That fool we got in there now is no damn good." (Laughter.) I'm confident that's not going to happen to any member of the Virginia delegation. (Laughter.)

And also, of course, this November, Virginia will be electing a successor to an outstanding public servant, a colleague and friend of mine, John Warner. Senator Warner is one of the great Americans -- a World War Two veteran, Secretary of the Navy, legendary chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's been a superb U.S. senator -- and the only proper way to replace him is with a new Republican from his state of Virginia. (Applause.)

And, of course, looking to the fall campaign, I'll be there with all of you to make sure that we elect John McCain the 44th President of the United States. (Applause.)

President Bush and I look forward to helping our candidates, up and down the ticket, throughout this very important election year. And the stakes are high. Whether the issue is the economy, or energy, or the federal courts, or national security, the right answers are coming not from the Democrats, but from the Republicans.

Right now, with the economy going through a rough patch, some in Washington view it as an excuse to expand 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 is 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. And 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 a lot more work to be done on taxes. Without action by Congress, most of the Bush tax relief of the last seven years will be taken away. If that happens, the death tax, which is being phased out right 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 increases of $1,800 a year in the tax bills 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 about 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 the tax cuts will simply expire a few years from now. That means it's 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 legitimately concerned about energy as well, because everyone's paying higher prices at the pump. Our administration has worked with the Congress and the private sector to try to increase the efficiency of cars and trucks, to promote alternative fuels. But that's not enough to meet the needs of the country; we also have to produce more oil and gas inside the United States. (Applause.)

The problem up in Washington is a lot of our Democratic friends, who year after year have tried to stand in the way of increased energy production. The plain truth is we can produce a lot more energy in America, and we can do it in an environmentally friendly way. In fact the Commonwealth of Virginia has asked the administration to take steps that would permit natural gas production in an area 50 miles off the coast. We're willing to help, but the Democratic Congress has left in place rules that prevent us from moving forward. So those valuable American resources continue to be ignored. And it's not just crude oil or natural gas production that's being held up. Amazing as it may sound, we have not built a new refinery in the United States in 30 years -- so now we have to import larger and larger amounts of refined gasoline. Republicans believe more of that refining ought to be done right here in the United States, at American refineries, by American workers. (Applause.)

You and I belong with the party of limited taxes, limited government, and free enterprise. We understand that government exists not to be the people's master but rather their servant. (Applause.) We understand the Constitution and the separation of powers -- and that is 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 -- defending our security, our values, and our way of life. 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 the Republican National Convention in New York, our keynote speaker was Senator Zell Mill -- Zell Miller of Georgia -- a lifelong Democrat. Senator Miller spoke passionately about a 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: "Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier. (Applause.) Our soldiers don't just give freedom abroad, they preserve it for us here at home."

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 -- 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.

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 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 face and did great harm to this country on September 11th, 2001. 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 our country have been kept off balance. I don't think the terrorists put up their feet after 9/11 and said, "Well, let's not hit the United States again in '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, or '07." They wanted to hit us. They planned on it. They tried to do it. But they failed. (Applause.) Going more than six and a half years without another 9/11 is no accident. It's an achievement. (Applause.) The credit goes to some very dedicated Americans in intelligence, law enforcement, and our military; vital new laws enacted by the Congress; and strong leadership by the President of the United States.

From the beginning, we've understood that this war is also 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 that began more than a year ago, is succeeding. The only way to lose this fight is to quit. That would be an act of betrayal and dishonor -- and it's not going to happen on our watch. (Applause.) Two months ago I was in Iraq and spoke to several thousand Americans deployed there. 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 we're 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? And 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 is 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 word, "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.

Faced with that choice, and with the options laid out clearly before them, there's no doubt in my mind 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 our successors. 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, and to people across Virginia, for the fine support you've given to us and to the Republican Party. In the months ahead, with an economy to strengthen and a war to fight, we'll stay focused on the business of the people, and we'll come to a strong finish. With your help, we'll leave our jobs in good hands. And thanks to your energy and commitment, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation will have strong, principled, dedicated Republican leadership far into the future.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:06 P.M. EDT

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