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 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
January 14, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at Reception for the Republican Party of Oregon
Embassy Suites Hotel
Portland, Oregon
January 13, 2004

6:18 P.M. PST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Greg. We appreciate your kind remarks. And, Lynne, you didn't do bad on the introduction. (Laughter.) I explain to people lots of times that Lynne and I have a Republican marriage -- that was a hell of a red dress, by the way. (Laughter.) I mean, it was unfair to unleash that on a 16 year old boy. (Laughter.)

In 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower ran for President, my family was living in Lincoln, Nebraska, where dad worked. And Eisenhower got elected, he came in, reorganized the Agriculture Department, dad got shipped to Casper, Wyoming. That's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together -- and in August, we'll mark our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.)

And I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for that tremendous Republican victory in 1952, I would never have moved to Wyoming, and Lynne would have married somebody else. She said, "Right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States." (Laughter.) I love that story. (Laughter.)

But we are delighted to be back in Oregon, and appreciate the warm welcome. We've got some great Republican leaders here. Of course, I got to see Governor Vic Atiyeh earlier today, I've known Vic for a long time. (Applause.) I love working with Greg in Washington. And, of course, we've got an outstanding state chairman now in Kevin Mannix. And we appreciate you taking on that very difficult assignment and responsibility, Kevin.

I know Senator Smith is traveling abroad and couldn't be here today. But as the President of the Senate, I can report to you that he does an outstanding job for the people of Oregon and the people of the nation in Washington.

You know, my only job is as the President of the Senate. And when they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. But they got down to the end of the constitutional convention, they remembered they hadn't given him anything to do. And so they made the Vice President the President of the Senate, made him the presiding officer, gave him the right to cast tie-breaking votes. And my predecessor, John Adams, even had floor privileges -- that is, he could go leave the chair, go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the issues of the day. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been restored. But I do have that privilege of participating from time to time in the Senate, especially when there are tie votes. And it's been a real privilege. And as I say, I think in Gordon Smith that we've got an outstanding colleague who's doing a superb job. (Applause.)

We've been looking forward to our visit to Portland. Being from Wyoming, I thought I knew a thing about big snow and cold weather -- but apparently it's nothing compared to what happened to all of you last week. But it looks like you dug out pretty well.

It's my honor, as well, to join all of you in supporting the Republican Party of this great state. And I bring good wishes to everybody tonight from the President of the United States, The Honorable George W. Bush. The President and I are very grateful for the tremendous support we received in Oregon in 2000. We came within some 6,800 votes of carrying Oregon. This is traditionally a high turnout state, and because Oregonians vote by mail, some of the first ballots of the election are going to be cast here. And with your help, we're going to have a solid, effective effort throughout this election year, and we look forward to carrying the state of Oregon for the Bush-Cheney ticket. (Applause.)

Next Tuesday night, the President will deliver his annual State of the Union address to the Congress and the entire nation. Next Tuesday also marks the third anniversary of our inauguration on January 20, 2001. I think on that day no one could have predicted all that lay ahead for America. But President Bush and I took office with a clear understanding of our responsibilities. We were determined to solve problems instead of simply passing them on to future generations. And we were determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond the old debates that had all too often stood in the way of progress.

Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we have a record of accomplishment, I believe, 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 our 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 that morning and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

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 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, he gave support to terrorists, and defied the demands of the civilized world -- and that regime is no more.

At the beginning of 2003, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of some 25 million people. At the beginning of 2004, he's in jail. (Applause.) Never again will he brutalize his people, never again will he support dangerous terrorists, and never again will he 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 the American people, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people. With good allies at our side, we are helping the Iraqis build a free society, which will all of us more secure. 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 can doubt -- we will finish what we've begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

We're also working hard to oppose the proliferation of deadly weapons around the world. And last month, after some nine months of talks with the United States and Britain, the leader of Libya voluntarily committed to disclose and dismantle all his 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. The success in Libya is directly related to the strong leadership the President provided in policies that we've pursued in Afghanistan and Iraq, and has had a decisive result. Leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons will find an open path to better relations with the United States of America.

In all they have done and continue to do, the men and women who wear this nation's uniform have performed with incredible skill and courage. (Applause.) Active duty service members from here and across America, along with a great many National 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 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 in 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 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. (Applause.) We're leaving more money in the hands that earned it -- because when Americans have more take-home pay, they have more to spend, to save, and to invest. We've reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. And 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 the economy grew at an annual rate of 8.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Business investment, manufacturing, 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 at night on the evening news -- emanating from Iowa and other locales. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what this economy needed, and they have now set us on a path to long-term growth and job creation. And we're going to stay on that path. President Bush is absolutely determined that we will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.)

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, 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 is proposing a new temporary worker program that matches willing foreign workers to willing American employers, when no American citizens can be found to fill those jobs. In addition, we would offer legal status to temporary workers already in the country, provided they have a job.

The President's proposal is good for the economy, because it would allow needed workers to come into the country under an honest, orderly, and 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 the 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 -- last two years, with 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.)

On issue after issue -- from national security, to economic growth and trade, to improving our schools -- President Bush is leading the way and making progress for the nation. All of us in this administration -- and our Republican friends in the House and Senate -- recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but, rather, to keep adding to that record.

Abroad, the fundamental interests of this 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 the 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, as well. 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, we've delivered the greatest advance in health care coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare. (Applause.)

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, D.C., 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's 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 cannot get confirmed unless they get a super-majority of 60 votes. That's unfair to the nominees, and it's an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate -- and that's why we need more Republicans in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

The campaign season is on its way, and President Bush and I will be proud to present our record to voters here in Oregon and all across the country. We'll run hard and take nothing for granted. And we'll continue making good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.

Long before I took my current job, I had the good fortune to work with other Presidents I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I watched Gerald Ford restore confidence in government by the sheer force of his character and his decency. 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 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 that 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, ladies and gentlemen, we have all of those qualities and more in President George W. Bush. (Applause.) I count it a privilege to serve with a President who's 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 the commitment to the cause we share. The President and I are deeply grateful to our many friends in Portland and all across Oregon. We'll be back -- and we look forward to a great victory on November 2nd.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:35 P.M. PST