|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 6, 2003
Vice President Remarks for Bush-Cheney '04 Campaign Reception
11:56 A.M. PDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Brad. And let me thank all of you for that welcome. I appreciate very much the opportunity to come to Sacramento today and spend a little bit of time with all of you. I've been looking forward to this event and, frankly, to taking a little time off later this month at our home in Jackson Hole. Now, there's nothing like a vacation in the woods of Wyoming, sitting back, letting my mind wander, listening to the sound of silence. Occasionally, it's interrupted by strange loud noises and echoes around me -- which pretty much describes my job presiding over the U.S. Senate. (Laughter.)
Actually, that's my only official responsibility. You know when they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. And they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention, they hadn't given him anything to do, decided they needed to give him a job. So they put him in charge of the Senate, said he could preside over the United States Senate. They gave him the right to cast tie-breaking votes and also allowed him to have floor privileges, so he could actually go down onto the floor and engage in the debate.
And my predecessor, John Adams, the first Vice President, took advantage of that opportunity on a number of occasions and entered into the debate. And then they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been restored. But I've enjoyed very much my time as the Vice President, especially with this President, and the opportunity to work with George W. Bush.
We're especially grateful to all of you today for being here. And to those who worked so hard to organize the event, I appreciate very much the fact that you're willing to sign on early for the Bush-Cheney Campaign for '04. We're all here for the same purpose, although I bet you paid a little more than I did to get in. (Laughter.)
Above all, I want to thank you for your commitment to the reelection of a man who I believe most certainly deserves our support, and that's our President, President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Each and every one of you here today is absolutely crucial to the 2004 campaign. If you have any doubts about the importance of individual effort, just think back to October, November and December of 2000. Every dollar we raised was important in that campaign, as was every hour that every person worked. It was a close race -- the closest. And the stakes were very high. And I cannot tell you, how often people come up to me now and say, we're so grateful that George W. Bush is in the White House.
I think some pundits expected that having won a close election, this administration might trim its sails and adopt a timid agenda. But from the very beginning, the President made it clear that he'd gone to Washington to get something done, and to make a difference, and that we were going to do absolutely everything we could to move ahead with our priorities.
That very first year, we achieved two of our major goals: tax relief and education reform. On the tax front, we lowered income tax rates, reduced the marriage penalty, eliminated the death tax. The President also moved aggressively and successfully to build a bipartisan coalition to reform our education system. It was a milestone reform, ushering in an era of high standards and accountability -- truly, a turning point. And we hope it will set American education on the path to excellence.
But the defining moment for the President and for all of us in the administration was the unexpected attack on our country on September 11th. I think that's a day none of us will ever forget. Suddenly, we understood how vulnerable we are as a nation, how it was possible for a small group of terrorists to take advantage of our open borders and our open society and use them against us. We saw that it was relatively easy for a handful of terrorists to launch an attack, killing some 3,000 of our fellow citizens in a couple of hours in New York City and Washington and a field in Pennsylvania.
We also began to understand, particularly from the evidence that we uncovered in the caves and the tunnels and the training camps in Afghanistan, that our enemies are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. And we have every reason to believe that if they succeed, they will use them against us, launching attacks far more deadly than anything we've ever experienced.
To counter these threats, we began to work very aggressively to toughen our defenses here at home to make America a tougher target. We created the Department of Homeland Security, the most massive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, when the Defense Department was established. We focused our intelligence efforts on terrorism and established a worldwide coalition of nations to help fight the terrorists. We've gone after the terrorists' financial networks and their logistical support, and we've gone after the terrorists themselves, and after those states who sponsor terror and provide sanctuary to them.
In many ways, this is a new posture for our nation, one that recognizes that strong defenses are not enough. The problem with terrorist organizations is that even if you build defenses that are 99 percent successful, the 1 percent that gets through can kill you. And the kind of strategy that we used throughout the Cold War against the Soviet Union, where we put at risk the things they valued in order to deter them from ever launching an attack against the United States, simply does not work where terrorists are concerned. They have nothing that they value highly enough that we can put at risk to keep them from launching an attack against the United States. No treaty or arms control agreement or strategy of deterrence will end this conflict. We need to have a strategy that takes us on offense, that lets us go after those who pose a threat to the United States, or our friends and allies -- a strategy that allows us to destroy the terrorists before they can launch attacks against the United States.
I'll never forget that Friday after the attack, when President Bush went to Ground Zero in New York and stood on a pile of rubble with a bullhorn in his hand to talk to the men in hard hats who were working there. When they couldn't hear him, he responded, "Well, I can hear you. And the rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down soon will hear from all of us."
He was a man of his word. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire country. They harbored al Qaeda. And that regime is no more. In Iraq, where a brutal dictator threatened the peace and gave support to terrorists, the United States launched one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted. And that regime is no more.
In the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan, and in other fronts in the war on terror, we've depended on the skill and the courage of our men and women in uniform. They've faced enemies who have no regard for the rules of warfare or morality. They've carried out urgent and difficult missions in remote and hostile areas of the world. And they have done all of this with the bravery and the honor that we would expect of them. As a former Secretary of Defense -- and I know you join me in this sentiment -- I have never been prouder of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)
The war on terrorism continues. And it will continue, perhaps as long as we're in office, possibly even longer. We will stay in Afghanistan and Iraq to make absolutely certain that the job is done before we move on. We will stay until we've wrapped up all of the weapons of mass destruction and eliminated all of those who are enemies of the United States. Around the world, the war on terrorism will go on until those who plot against the American people are confronted and defeated.
But that is only part of our responsibility toward other nations. There is great work in this world that only America can do. In the Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy, and tolerance -- because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuit of peace.
In Africa, the President's AIDS initiative will bring the healing power of medicine to millions of men, women, and children who now live in desperate need. Under President Bush, America acts in the world according to our fundamental interests and our founding ideals. We believe in the dignity of life and the right of all people to live in freedom. And all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.
Here at home, we will continue with an active and aggressive domestic agenda. After many years of inaction, we are making progress on bringing Medicare into the 21st century. Last January, President Bush submitted a framework for Medicare reform to the Congress that would give seniors access to prescription drug coverage and offer them better choices under Medicare. Both houses have taken historic action. And now Congress must complete its work and send a bill to the President that provides seniors with better health coverage, reform of the Medicare system, and relief from the rising cost of prescription drugs.
We've made major progress on the economy. When we took office, the economy was sliding into recession. Too many people who wanted to work could not find a job. Californians have been especially hard hit by the downturn in the technology sector. To help create jobs and to get the economy growing again, we've cut taxes each of the three years we've been in office. (Applause.) In the bill we passed this year, not only did we accelerate rates, we also cut significantly the tax on dividends and on capital gains -- fundamental reforms in the tax system. We've delivered the largest tax relief since the presidency of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
Some in Congress want to repeal the tax relief and raise taxes on the American people, supposedly to close the deficit. But raising taxes will hurt the recovery and encourage more wasteful spending. Now is exactly the wrong time to be increasing taxes.
We've also had action both in the House and Senate on an energy bill. We're hopeful Congress will work swiftly to move that bill through conference and to produce a plan that will promote energy efficiency and conservation, develop cleaner technologies to help us explore more for energy in an environmentally friendly way, and most importantly, reduce our dependence on foreign oil -- a must for the sake of our national security.
We've achieved a great deal in these two-and-a-half years, but there's much left to do in Washington, and around the world. We need legal reform because the strength of our economy is undermined by frivolous and self-seeking lawsuits. (Applause.) And we need to restore dignity and civility to the judicial confirmation process by making certain that every person nominated by the President to the federal bench gets a timely up-or-down vote. While there are encouraging signs that the economy is picking up steam, the President and I will not rest until everyone who wants a job can find a job. (Applause.)
The campaign season will come in due course. And when it does, we will run hard and take nothing for granted. President Bush and I know that the key to victory is to do the work we've been given and do it well. We intend to make good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.
Long before I took this job, I had the good fortune to work with other Presidents that I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I watched Gerald Ford restore confidence in government by the sheer decency and force of his character. As a congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the Cabinet and Secretary of Defense, under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in its purest form and came to know a leader of true honor and integrity.
Along the way I learned a few things about the presidency and the kind of person it takes to do that job well. It takes the finest qualities of character: conviction, personal integrity, good judgment, compassion, and courage in times of testing for the nation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)
I'm honored to work with George W. Bush. And he and I are both honored by your confidence in us and by your commitment to this great and good country of ours, the United States of America. Thank you very much.
END 12:11 P.M. PDT