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 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

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

Remarks by the Vice President at Reception for the Republican Party of Washington
Westin Seattle Hotel
Seattle, Washington

12:20 P.M. PST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Lynne; thank all of you, I appreciate very much your welcome and appreciate all of you being here today.

I've often explained to Lynne that -- explained to people that Lynne and I have a Republican marriage. In 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower ran for President, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked at the Department of Agriculture then, soil conservation service. Eisenhower got elected, came in and reorganized the Department of Agriculture, and we got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together -- and in August of this year, we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.)

As I explained all of that to a group the other night and pointed out that if it hadn't been for that great Republican victory in 1952, I would not had moved to Casper, Wyoming and Lynne would have married somebody else. And she said, "Right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States." (Laughter.) So there's no doubt in mind that that's, indeed, the case.

But we're delighted to be here today. I want to thank all of your great party leaders for making us so welcome, and say how much we look forward to working with them in the 10 months ahead. An outstanding State Chair, of course, in Chris Vance; Vice-Chair Brenda Alford; of course, Congressman Doc Hastings from the 4th district; former State Senator Dino Rossi, who was here earlier, who is on his way -- no, there he is -- on his way to being our next governor. (Applause.) And, of course, Congressman George Nethercutt, the next United States Senator from the State of Washington. (Applause.)

I was here just last month to campaign with George, and I'll repeat what I said then: that this is a man who will improve the quality and the tone of debate in the United States Senate. He's perfectly in tune with the values of this state, whether the issue is prescription drugs for seniors, tax relief, energy legislation to help hydroelectric dams, better public schools, new markets for American products, medical liability reform, and strong support for our armed forces. George has been a superb congressman, and I look forward to swearing him in as a member of the United States Senate come next January. (Applause.)

Many of you may not realize as Vice President, my only real job is as the President of the Senate. You know, when they wrote the Constitution, it was during the constitutional convention they decided to have a Vice President. But they got down to the end of the convention and they realized they hadn't given him anything to do, so they decided, well, we'll make him the President of the Senate. And he gets to preside over the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes. And my predecessor, John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges -- that is, he could go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the day. And he did a few times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.)

They've never been restored. But I do get to cast tie-breaking votes and I do get to preside over the Senate. And as I say, it'll be a delight to swear George in as a new member of that body.

It's my honor to join all of you today, of course, in supporting the Republican Party of this great state. And I bring good wishes to all of you from our Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush. (Applause.) The President and I are grateful for the strong support we received here in Washington in 2000. We did better than Republicans had done here in a long time. And this year, with your help, we're going to carry the state of Washington for the Bush-Cheney ticket. (Applause.) All of you will be part of the effort, and we genuinely appreciate your commitment to the cause.

Next Tuesday marks the third anniversary of our inauguration on January 20, 2001. On that date, no one could have predicted all that lay just ahead for America. But President Bush and I took office with a clear understanding of our responsibility. We were determined to solve problems instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond the old debates that oftentimes stood in the way of progress.

And today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, I believe we have a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. I think 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 Bush.

In the weeks and months following September 11th, 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 and killed some 3,000 of our fellow citizens that morning.

Not long after those attacks, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." Well, it's pretty clear the terrorist had no understanding of the American people, nor of George Bush. 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 -- and that's to take the fight to this enemy.

Terrorists hide and strike within free societies -- so we're freezing their bank accounts, disrupting their plans, hunting them down, one by one, until they can no longer threaten America and other free peoples around the globe.

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. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, gave support to terrorists, 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 in Iraq -- never again to brutalize his people, never again to support dangerous terrorists, and never again to threaten the United States of America. (Applause.)

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq -- terrorists who are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing to that country. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people. With good allies at our side, we are helping the Iraqis build a free society, a country which will make them more secure, as well as us. We are 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 have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror.

We're working hard to oppose weapons proliferation around the world. Last month, after talks with America and Britain, the leader of Libya voluntarily committed to disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction programs. 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. I'm convinced that the decision by the Libyans to give up those programs that they spent a great deal of money on is directly related to the bold leadership of the President of the United States and our key ally, Tony Blair, demonstrated in the Middle East and the wisdom that the Libyans have now displayed in deciding it was time for them to get out of the business of developing these deadly weapons.

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. And 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 have done and continue to do, the men and women who wear this country'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 raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers. Active duty service members from here 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 us all, and they are 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 our whole country is 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. And to get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief to the American people. We're leaving more money in the hands that earned it -- because when Americans have more take-home pay, they have more to spend, save, or 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're seeing the results of the hard work of the American people, and the sound policies of this administration. The figures for the third quarter growth show the economy expanded 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. 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 on the nightly news -- from Iowa and other places. (Laughter.) But, in fact, of course, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what the economy needed, and they've now set us on the 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 economy are not being filled by American citizens. These jobs represent an opportunity for workers who come from abroad -- yet under current law, the only practical way to attract many of those workers is through a massive, undocumented, underground economy. As a result, we have millions of workers who live on the fringes of our society -- fearful, often abused, frequently exploited. And the hidden labor market, fed by illegal entry across our borders, makes the task of homeland security far more difficult.

To meet all these challenges, President Bush has proposed a new temporary worker program that matches willing workers with willing American employers, when no American citizens can be found to fill these jobs. In addition, we would 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 employee, 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 of American life. 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 true threats to our nation. This would complement all of the steps we've already made to tighten border security -- with 40 percent greater funding over the last two years, and 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.

On issue after issue -- from national security, to economic growth and trade, to improving our public schools -- President Bush is leading the way to make progress for the American people. He's a man of his word, who works across partisan lines in a spirit of civility and respect. And as he said three years ago, he believes that he was elected not to serve one party, but to serve the nation -- that's exactly the kind of person we need in the Oval Office.

One of the sure signs of President Bush's leadership can be seen every day in the people he has brought into this administration. We've got an outstanding team serving 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 keep adding to that record. 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 a tremendous 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 many years of inaction in Washington, D.C., 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 this state and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off 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 has 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 test. This means that even though these nominees may have a majority of senators supporting them, they can't get confirmed unless they get a super-majority of 60 votes. That's unfair to the nominees, and an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor -- and I can't think of a better reason to send George Nethercutt to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

The campaign season is on its way. President Bush and I will be proud to present our record to voters here in Washington and all across the country. We will run hard and take nothing for granted. We will continue making good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people. For my part in this time of testing for America, I count it a privilege to serve with a President who has united our nation behind great goals and brought honor and integrity to the White House.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we all share. We're deeply grateful to our many friends in this part of the country. We'll be back -- and we look forward to a great victory on November 2nd.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

END 12:39 P.M. PST