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 Home > News & Policies > November 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
November 1, 2008

Vice President's Remarks at a Wyoming Victory Rally
Laramie High School
Laramie, Wyoming

11:48 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I appreciate the warm welcome. It's great to be home. With a welcome like that, it's almost enough to make me want to run for office again. Almost. (Laughter.) The problem is that I'd have to travel with Al Simpson, and I wouldn't want to do that. (Laughter.) But no, it's great to be back home again, and I get to spend a little bit of time with Al. And all those stories he told are absolutely true about campaigning. Even when I ran for Vice President he'd come out on the road and keep me company, and get me in trouble with the press; and we did all of that together. Al and I, of course, arrived in Washington together in 1978, after we both ran for the House and the Senate for Congress, that was our first year there.

And we served together for ten years, and have shared some tremendous experiences, whether at home, in D.C., or campaigning all across the country. In all his years as Senator, Al was exactly the same person, taking his job seriously, but always keeping his humility. And in that humor that he spreads so liberally about the landscape were always a few words of wisdom. And one of my favorites was that, "Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington are not bothered by heavy traffic." (Laughter.) Al is a great statesman, and one of the truly great sons of Wyoming, and one of my best friends. And it's great to be with you today. (Applause.)

Campaigning here brings back a lot of very good memories for Lynne and me. Our friends and neighbors in this state have been extremely kind to us over the years. With your help, I was honored to win six races for Congress and two for Vice President.

This year, of course, I'm not on the ballot. So I'm here to ask you to vote -- I'm not here to ask you to vote for me, but I do want to join my daughter Liz, who's with me today, and join us in casting your ballots for John McCain and Sarah Palin. (Applause). Our country cannot afford the high-tax liberalism of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. (Applause.)

Senator McCain is leading a terrific Republican ticket in our home state. You and I have the honor of voting for both our U.S. senators: Mike Enzi and John Barrasso. And on Tuesday we'll be electing a brand new United States Congresswoman in Cynthia Lummis. (Applause.)

Having Liz today here with us is a special treat. Lynne and the girls started campaigning with me back in 1978, when I first ran for Congress. Liz was 12 years old. (Laughter.) She's a little older now, and the mother of five of my grandchildren. (Applause.) Time after time over the years, the family set aside other activities in order to join me on the road. They handed out Cheney for Congress buttons, went on bus tours, helped me plan national campaign strategy, and reminded me for years to smile for the cameras. (Laughter.) The girls have also made me a grandfather six times. I've had a long career in politics, though today, looking back, it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. But at every stage I've been lucky to have the love and support of my wonderful wife and daughters.

We've come home this weekend to stand proudly and strongly beside Wyoming's Republican ticket. We know them well, we know their excellent record of service to our state. Our senior senator, Mike Enzi, has earned one of the finest reputations in Washington since we first sent him there in 1996. (Applause.) Mike and I, of course, have many things in common, we've both run businesses, we've both been elected statewide in Wyoming, we both got the same dynamic, charismatic personality. (Laughter.)

There's not a senator in Washington who is better liked or more respected than Mike Enzi. He's effective, he works in a spirit of bipartisanship, and he never forgets where he came from. Let's give this good man another term in the U.S. Senate. (Applause.)

And I'm also very proud of Mike's colleague, John Barrasso. John came to the office after the unfortunate passing of our dear friend Senator Craig Thomas, who we miss very much. (Applause.) Coming into the Senate in mid-session, John had to get up to speed right away, and that's exactly what he did. He's worked hard, stayed in close touch with the folks back home, he's earned the respect and admiration of members of both parties in the Senate. For many years we've known him as Wyoming's Doctor, and now we're proud to call him Wyoming's Senator -- (applause) -- two senators who worked side by side with our at-large Congresswoman, Barbara Cubin; and we're all grateful to Barbara for her years of service in the House of Representatives. (Applause.)

Come Tuesday, we need to keep our standards high by electing Cynthia Lummis as our new Congresswoman. (Applause.) Cynthia is a superb candidate, and someone our family has known for a long time. She was elected to both houses of the Legislature, served two terms as State Treasurer. Coming from a ranch in Laramie County, Cynthia is well-known and highly regarded throughout the state. She's tough, she's smart, she's experienced, and principled; and she's perfectly in tune with the people of Wyoming. She'll stand firm for lower taxes, for spending discipline, and for a strong national defense. She'll be a respected voice on energy and mineral issues, which are still vitally important to our state's economy. And she'll be a credit to our state, she'll uphold a long Wyoming tradition: Our House delegation may be small, but it's all quality. (Applause.)

With Mike and John in the Senate and Cynthia in the House, the people of Wyoming will continue to have a powerhouse team in Washington. They'll work together the way I did all those years ago with Al Simpson and Malcolm Wallop. Yes, we are a small state, all the more reason why we need a delegation in Washington that works well together. On all those key issues, from taxes to energy policy to the federal budget, we need a delegation that puts Wyoming interests first, and brings to the national debate a good dose of Wyoming values and Wyoming common sense. (Applause.) Rarely does any state get to choose its entire congressional delegation in a single election. And rarely does a state have a ticket with the talent, the clout, and the energy of Enzi, Barrasso, and Lummis. They are on the way to a great victory next Tuesday. (Applause.)

Now being here today brings back a lot of many fond memories. I believe John Deti is in the audience today. And when I was in high school, what I remember is that we used to beat you guys regularly in football. (Laughter.) When Lynne and I got married, our first home was in student housing on campus: 46 North Soule, Apartment 275. Lynne was an instructor in the English department, and I was an undergraduate. And of course, we've campaigned through here many times since that first run for Congress 30 years ago.

I can't help but think of all that I have to be grateful for over a long career. I've often noted that the best things that happen in life come along because somebody helped you out along the way. It can make all the difference in the world when someone gives you a piece of good advice, a word of encouragement, or that first job that sets you on your path.

That has certainly been true in my own life, and I owe a deep gratitude to some fine friends and mentors. One of the first that comes to mind is Governor Stan Hathaway. When Stan was the state Republican chairman, he got me a job as a legislative intern in the State Capitol. He even set me up with a stipend of $300 for 40 days work. That worked out to less than a dollar an hour, but that's about all I was worth. (Laughter.)

During those years I also got to know another Wyoming statesman named Cliff Hansen. Our governor in the mid-'60s, he went on to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate. I've always admired Cliff and have benefited from his wisdom many, many times over the years. He was a giant in Wyoming politics; in fact he still is. And a month ago Cliff celebrated his 96th birthday. (Applause.)

Cliff Hansen retired from public office back in 1978, and that was the year I decided to get into the election game on my own. So once again I sat down with Stan Hathaway to talk about serious politics. He asked me what I was thinking about doing. I said well, I'm was thinking about running for Cliff Hansen's Senate seat. Stan listened to that. And then he said, "well, you could do that." But he said, "of course if you do, Al Simpson's going to kick your butt." (Laughter.)

I took the advice to heart and ran for the House of Representatives. And sure enough, Al did run for the Senate. And sure enough, somebody else got their rear-end kicked. (Laughter.) I didn't admit that to Al until after we both retired from Congress. (Laughter.)

Stan Hathaway's early confidence in me back in the '60s led directly to a series of other jobs in politics. Not long after leaving Wyoming I had the privilege of working in the White House, thanks to a good friend and mentor named Don Rumsfeld, and later took over Don's job as White House Chief of Staff, and had the tremendous honor of serving with a great American who was a friend and mentor of mine until the last day of his life, President Gerald Ford.

Another person who was very good to me was former President George Bush, who chose me to lead the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense. And then of course, in the year 2000, another opportunity came along when Governor George W. Bush asked me to be his running mate. It was a decision I thought about long and hard; and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. It's been a privilege to serve two terms in office with a great President.

When President Bush and I came into office, we promised to reduce taxes, get better results from the public schools, appoint good judges, and rebuild the strength and morale of our armed forces; and I believe we've kept our word. (Applause.) We understand the greatness of America lies in her people, and that government has a duty to keep our citizens free: free to work and worship as they choose, free to use their God-given talents, and free to build an ever-brighter future. We understand that government's duty, above all, is to protect the nation and to preserve our security.

More than seven years have passed since our country suffered a merciless attack on 9/11. The collapse of the Trade Towers in New York, the smoking rubble at the Pentagon, and the loss of thousands of innocent people left our country shaken that day. In that terrible time we looked to our leader, and we found new strength. In the aftermath of 9/11, few would have guessed that our nation would go this long without another attack, but we have. (Applause.) And that success is due to some wise decisions by the President, as well as the outstanding work of people in law enforcement, intelligence, homeland security, and the United States military. In my years as White House Chief of Staff, as congressman, as Secretary of Defense and now Vice President, I have had no greater privilege than working with the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, in Iraq, and around the world, they are fighting and sacrificing to defend the rest of us. We can never thank them enough. (Applause.)

In these decisive years, we've seen above all, the importance that leadership can make by making a decision and setting a course, and putting the interests of the nation ahead of any partisan agenda or personal advantage. Our nation has been fortunate to have that kind of leadership when we've needed it most. And in three days, we'll choose a new steward for the Presidency, and begin a new chapter in our history. It's the biggest decision that we make together as Americans, a lot turns on the outcome. I believe the right leader for this moment in history is Senator John McCain. (Applause.)

John is a man who understands the danger facing America, he's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched, he's a man who is comfortable with responsibility, and has been since he joined the armed forces at the age of 17. He has earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him Commander In Chief.

I'm delighted to support John McCain, and I'm pleased that he has chosen a running mate with executive talent, toughness, and common sense: our next Vice President, Governor Sarah Palin. (Applause.)

Today, as we get ready for the final push in the campaign here in Wyoming, I want to express once again my deep gratitude for the privilege of serving our state in public office. It's a responsibility that has taken me far from the familiar sights of Laramie, Casper, Cheyenne, or Jackson Hole. I've been humbled by the honor. I've been awed by the splendor of America, and by the character of its people: honest, enterprising, patriotic, and resilient. We have so much to love in this country, so much to pass on to our children and grandchildren, so much to value and protect.

And I want you to know that of all the privileges I've had serving as an elected official, the first will always carry special significance. When you're a member of the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House calls on you not by name, but according to your state. And for better than a decade, I proudly answered to the title of "the gentleman from Wyoming" -- (applause) -- for that, I will always be indebted to the people of this state.

Now I have one more request. In these remaining hours of the campaign, go out and do everything you can to turn out to vote for our Republican ticket. Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Cynthia Lummis are not taking anything for granted, and neither can we. The stakes are high, and it all comes down to the donors and the volunteers at the grass roots -- your energy, your commitment, your time in the field will make all the difference -- it'll pay off in a big way on Tuesday night. And with your help, we'll see a great victory for the team that is right for Wyoming.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:07 P.M. EDT