The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 30, 2003

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Bush-Cheney '04

October 30, 2003


October 29, 2003

Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
Washington, D.C.

6:27 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good evening. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Well, let me thank all of you very much. Julie, and let me thank you for that welcome, and the introduction. I understand the Speaker has been here. He just was on his way out the door as I was coming in. He's a busy man these days. But I can't tell you what a privilege it is for me and for the President to have somebody like Denny Hastert to work with as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Applause.)

And I want to thank all of you this evening for being here and for your willingness to sign on more than a year in advance, onto the Bush-Cheney campaign. Of course, the reelection effort is just getting underway. I was down for Haley Barbour this week. He had eight days to go and pointed out that I only had one year and eight days to go. (Laughter.)

But I appreciate especially the fact that you're here tonight to work with me and to reelect a man who has earned our support, President George W. Bush. (Applause.) And in case you're wondering -- I do plan to be on the ticket, too. (Applause.)

With the election just a little more than a year away, we've still got our work ahead of us. There are, of course, some other elections just six days from now. As I mentioned, I was in Columbus, Mississippi, Monday with Haley Barbour -- and I believe our fine former chairman of the RNC is going to become the next governor for Mississippi. (Applause.) We've also got great prospects both in Kentucky and Louisiana -- the governors races. And, tomorrow morning in my office in the West Wing, I'll greet our brand new Republican Governor about to take office in California. (Applause.) Arnold ran the ideal kind of campaign. One day he's not a candidate, then sort of like within a matter of days he's the governor of California. (Laughter.) I never had it quite that way when I was running for office.

But elections are important because they require commitments not only from candidates, but also from those of us who support the candidates and who put in all that time and effort. Each one of you is absolutely crucial in the 2004 campaign, and if you have any doubts about the importance of individual effort, just think back to what is was like in November, or December of 2000, when we had probably the closest presidential election in history. The outcome turned on a few hundred votes in Florida. And without doubt, I can say that any time anybody ever suggests to me that what you do doesn't matter, all you've got to do is look at that 2000 presidential election and know that every single dollar that was contributed, every hour of volunteer time that was donated was crucial, that the stakes were enormously high in that election, especially given all that's happened to the nation since. And every single ounce of effort helped to make that difference.

It's been more than three years now since the President talked to me about joining the ticket then, and when he asked me to sign on, he didn't tell me that he was worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) He got 70 percent of the vote there. But I like to point out to him that those three electoral votes came in pretty handy. (Laughter and applause.) But we are both --that's all right. A little applause for Wyoming is a good thing.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, all right.

But we're both looking forward to next year's campaign. We're very proud to take our message across the nation to the American people. Because when the President and I came to town, we were determined to solve problems, not simply pass them on to the next generation. And we were determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond some of the old debates that had stood in the way of progress all too long. I think today, as we look forward to next year's election, we've got a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of a new era, because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush.

In the weeks following the terrorist attack on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. From that day to this, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our citizens.

Not long after 9/11, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, and I quote, "This is the beginning of the end for America." It's pretty clear that terrorist did not know us. It's pretty clear that the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and the resilience of this country. And they did not understand the determination of our president. (Applause.)

As we meet here tonight, many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear -- and their fears are well founded, because we are on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator, one of the bloodiest dictators of the 20th century, cultivated weapons of mass destruction, harbored terrorists, and looked for the means to deliver them -- and his regime is no more. (Applause.)

Now, freedom still has enemies in Iraq. These terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing the American -- to the Iraqi people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people. Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror, and we are rolling back the terrorist threat at the heart of that power. We will persevere until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated. In these battles, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed with enormous skill and great courage. And as a former Secretary of Defense, I've never been prouder of the U.S. military. (Applause.)

These fine young men and women deserve our wholehearted support. They deserve to have their bravery in battle recognized and to have us acknowledge, as well, the tremendous progress they've made in helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq emerge into a new era of self-rule and freedom. The men and women of our military are rebuilding schools, repairing medical facilities, and training Afghans and Iraqis to provide security for their fellow citizens.

Our men and women in uniform are playing a classic role, one that they undertook after World War II, when they brought help and hope to the people of Europe and Japan. And now, in the Middle East, they're earning the trust of people they've liberated.

One of the most important commitments that George Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need and the respect they deserve -- and we've kept our promise. (Applause.)

Making sure that our nation is secure has been a principal concern of this administration. And so has been the economic well-being of our citizens. At the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession, and to get it growing again, we've delivered tax relief -- significant tax relief. And we've done this because we believe that when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. After all, the money we spend here in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money. (Applause.)

This administration has delivered the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we're beginning now to see strong economic growth as a result. Now, as you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. I hear these voices at night on the evening news. (Laughter.) I don't watch the debates of the other party. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts have helped bring us out of the recession and helped foster long-term economic growth. And the President and I won't be satisfied -- (applause) -- the President and I won't be satisfied until every person who wants a job can find a job. (Applause.)

George W. Bush has made education reform a matter of the highest priority. He has reached across the aisle to enact a program that encourages high aspirations and accountability and gives parents the information they need to know if their children's schools are making progress. Education has been one of those issues where there's been a lot of talk over the years, but under this President's leadership, talk has been turned to action. Similarly, after many failed attempts in the 1990s, we have trade promotion authority to open new markets for American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.

On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. All of us in this Administration -- and Republicans in the House and Senate --recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to add to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interest of this nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and our security wherever they gather.

Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. 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 toward the pursuit of peace. In that region and beyond, all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.

Here at home, we have a full agenda, and some pressing business to conclude. After so many years of inaction, we're nearing major reform on Medicare -- reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. We must also improve our health care system through liability reform. Doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Thanks to the President's leadership, Congress is nearing passage on a comprehensive energy plan. The President has proposed a strategy based on greater efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and the production of more natural gas, ethanol, and other energy. Our strategy also includes measures to help prevent future blackouts by requiring mandatory reliability standards for power plants, and encouraging new investment in the electricity grid. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we must modernize our energy infrastructure, and we must make this nation less dependent on foreign oil. (Applause.)

Also on Capitol Hill, it's time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has put forward superb nominees to serve on the federal bench -- talented, experienced men and women who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet some of these nominees have been denied an up-or-down vote for months, and even years. It's time for the Senate to end all the needless delays in the confirmation process, time to give every nominee a vote on the Senate floor.

We've achieved a great deal during our time in office. But there is still a great deal left to do in Washington -- and around the world this nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course, and when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. We understand that the key to victory is to do the work we've been given, and to do it well. We intend to make good use of every day that 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 the moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the Cabinet, 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 great honor and integrity.

Along the way, I learned a few things about the presidency, and the kind of person that it takes to do the 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 am honored to work with George W. Bush. And he and I are both honored by your confidence in us, by your commitment to the cause we share, and by the support you've demonstrated here tonight. Thank you very much.

END 6:42 P.M. EST

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