print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
January 13, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at Bush-Cheney '04 Reception
Hyatt Regency Denver
Denver, Colorado
January 12, 2004

6:32 P.M. MST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you, I appreciate that warm welcome, and the introduction by my lovely bride. I often explain to people that Lynne and I have a Republican marriage -- some of you may have heard me tell this story before.

In 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower ran for President, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my family; I was a youngster then, about 11, 12 years old. And Eisenhower won the election and reorganized the Agriculture Department, where dad worked, and we got transferred to Casper, Wyoming. And Lynne was living in Casper, Wyoming and that's where we met and went to high school together. Next August we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I was explaining to folks the other night that if it hadn't been for that great Republican victory in 1952, I would never had moved to Wyoming and Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, "Right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States." (Laughter and applause.)

But we're delighted to be back here in Colorado. This is our first sort of official campaign event of 2004. I can't think of a better place to start this year than right here in the great city of Denver.

The President and I are very grateful for the strong support we received in the state in the election of 2000. It's been a delight to work with Governor Owens. We appreciate the work that all of you have done to help make all that possible.

Of course, we won Colorado's eight electoral votes, if you'll recall, and they did make a difference. The President explained, when he put me on the ballot, that he wasn't worried about carrying Wyoming -- (laughter) -- he got 69 percent of the vote there. But I point out from time to time those three electoral votes came in mighty handy. (Laughter.) Next time around, we're going to get nine electoral votes here in Colorado -- (applause) -- and with your help, this state will be part of a great nationwide victory for George W. Bush. (Applause.)

We've enjoyed over the years not only working with Bill Owens, but Lieutenant Governor Norton, Secretary of State Davidson, and of course, Treasurer Coffman -- Interior Secretary Norton, I might add. And I want you to know that the President and I will be proud to be on the ballot with a state ticket led next year by -- I guess this year -- by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. (Applause.) I saw Wayne here earlier today, but as the presiding officer of the United States Senate, I've become a pretty good judge of senatorial horseflesh and I think Colorado has absolutely one of the finest teams in Washington in Wayne Allard and Ben Campbell -- (applause.)

Next Tuesday is a special day, the President will deliver his State of the Union address. It also marks the third anniversary of our inauguration on January 20, 2001. And on that day, I don't think anyone could have predicted all that lay ahead for America. Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, I believe we have a significant record of accomplishments 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 this new era, because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

In the weeks and months following 9/11, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took comfort and pride in the character and the conduct of our President. From that day to this, he's led a steady, focused and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America that morning and killed some 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

Not long after those attacks, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." It's pretty clear that terrorist had no understanding of the American people. (Applause.) He clearly didn't know George Bush. (Laughter.) We see the terrorists for what they are -- men who will not be stopped by negotiations, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience. We have only one option in this fight, and that's to take the fight to the enemy.

This is a war that we fight on many fronts. As we stand here today, 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're on their trail. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. And he gave support to terrorists and defied the demands of the civilized world -- and that regime is no more.

At the start of 2003, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of some 25 million people. At the start of 2004, he's in custody -- never again to brutalize his people, never again to support dangerous terrorists, never again to threaten the United States of America. (Applause.)

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq -- terrorists who are targeting the very success and freedom that we're providing to that country. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and they will not intimidate the Iraqi people. With good allies at our side, we are helping the Iraqis build a free country, which will make them and us more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more responsibility for their own security and move toward self government. These are not easy tasks -- yet they are absolutely essential. As the President has said many times -- and no one should doubt -- we will finish what we've begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

We are working hard to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world. Last month, after talks with America and Britain, the leader of Libya voluntarily committed to disclose and dismantle all his weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.) Leaders around the world are learning that weapons of mass destruction do not bring influence, or prestige, or security -- they only invite isolation, and carry other costs. Leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons will find an open path to better relations with the United States of America. And I, for one, believe -- as I think many of you do, as well, too -- that it was firm, decisive leadership and action by our President, George W. Bush, that made it possible for the decision that the Libyans made to give up their weapons of mass destruction. (Applause.)

America is a nation that is always ready to work and to sacrifice for peace. The use of force is always the last resort for this country. When that need arises, all of us are fortunate to be defended by the United States Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Marines. In all they've done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the nation's uniform have performed with incredible skill and courage. (Applause.)

In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, American forces have struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos -- conducting heroic raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, capturing killers. Active duty service members from Colorado and all across America, along with many guard and reserve personnel, have faced hard duty, long deployments and the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to protect all of us, and they're earning the trust of the people they've liberated. As most of you know, I had the honor of serving as Secretary of Defense under former President Bush. I was grateful every day for the opportunity to associate with the people of our armed forces. I feel the same way about them now. They reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America, and on our whole country. We are proud of each and every one of them. (Applause.)

The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies, has been a principal concern of President Bush's administration. And so has the economic well-being of our citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession. To get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief for the American people. We are leaving more money in the hands that earned it -- because when Americans have more take-home pay, they have more to spend, more to save, and to invest. We're reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We've given small businesses incentives to expand and to hire new people.

And now we are seeing the results of the hard work of the American people, and the sound policies of this administration. The figures for the third quarter show that the economy grew at an annual rate of 8.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Business investment, manufacturing, and housing construction are all on the rise. And our economy has added over a quarter of a million new jobs over the last five months alone. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear these voices at night on the evening news. (Laughter.) But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what this economy needed, and they have now set us on a path towards long-term growth and job creation. And we're going to stay on that path. President Bush and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job.

America must also confront a basic fact -- that some of the jobs being generated in our growing economy are not being filled by American citizens. These jobs represent an opportunity for workers who come in from abroad -- yet under current law the only practical way to attract many of those workers is through a massive, undocumented economy. As a result, we have millions of workers who live on the fringes of society -- fearful, often abused, and frequently exploited. And the hidden labor market, fed by illegal entry across the border, makes the task of homeland security far more difficult than it would otherwise be.

To meet all these challenges, President Bush is proposing a new temporary worker program that matches willing foreign workers with willing American employers, when no American citizens can be found to fill jobs. In addition, we'd offer legal status to temporary workers already in the country, provided they have a job. Employers would have to report the temporary workers they hire, and those who leave, so we can keep track of people in the program and better enforce our immigration laws. And the employees, for the duration of their legal status, would be able to travel back and forth to their home country without fear of being denied re-entry to the U.S.

The President's proposal is good for the economy, because it would allow needed workers to come into the country under an honest, orderly, regulated system. The proposal is humane, because it would lift millions of hardworking people out of the shadows. And the proposal would help us protect the homeland. Law enforcement would face fewer problems with undocumented workers, and be better able to focus on the true threats to our nation. (Applause.) All of this would complement the steps we've already taken to tighten border security -- with 40 percent greater funding over the last two years, better technology to record and track movements of people and cargo, and more than a thousand new agents on our borders. We are acting on a fundamental belief -- America's borders should be open to legal travel and honest trade. They must be shut and barred tight to criminals, drug traffickers, and terrorists. (Applause.)

Abroad, the fundamental interests of the nation require that we oppose threats to our freedom and 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 aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies to 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, I think, a record of achievement. President Bush has now signed into law the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003, which modernizes the program and gives seniors the prescription drug coverage they need. After so many years of inaction in Washington, we've delivered the greatest advance in health care coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare.

Going forward, we must also improve our health care system through liability reform. In Colorado and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

In Washington, it's also time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has a responsibility to make sure the judicial system runs well, and he's met that duty. He 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 up-or-down votes for months, and even years. Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against certain nominees who don't meet their litmus tests. This means that even though these nominees may have a majority of the Senate supporting them, they can't get confirmed unless they get a super-majority of 60 votes. That's unfair to the nominees, and it is an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor -- and that's a good reason to re-elect Ben Nighthorse Campbell to the Senate come November. (Applause.)

The campaign season is on its way, and President Bush and I will be proud to present our record to the people of this state and to the country. And we will run hard and take nothing for granted. We intend to make good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.

On our way to Denver this afternoon, I thought about the stop Lynne and I made here in early November of 2002. We took part in a campaign rally that was hooked in by video with events in several other cities all across Colorado. Across the state, the Republican Party had gathered together volunteers in a 96-hour task force, ready to work around the clock in the final four days of the campaign to get out the vote. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd, there was no doubt in my mind how that election would come out. On Election Day, turnout was strong all across the state. The voters of Colorado re-elected Governor Owens, elected Republicans in five of the seven congressional districts, and in one of the most closely-watched races in the country, gave Wayne Allard another solid five-point victory in the United States Senate race. (Applause.)

All of the hard work and commitment paid off in that election, and I know we can count on it again this fall. The President and I will do our part, working every day to honor the trust we've been given by the American people. All of you are doing your part, with your generous support. We're grateful to our many friends in Denver and all across this great state. We'll be back -- and we look forward to a great victory on November 2nd of 2004.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:50 P.M. MST