For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
January 16, 2004
Remarks by the Vice President at An Event for Congressman Jon Porter
The Bellagio Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
12:25 P.M. PST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all, very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. And, John, thank you very much for that kind introduction.
Most people don't realize that my only real job is as the President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President, and then they got down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and realized that they hadn't given anything to do. (Laughter.) So at the least minute they cobbled together this job called the President of the Senate, and made it possible for the Vice President to actually be called the President of the Senate -- I actually get paid by the Senate; that's where my paycheck comes from -- to preside as the presiding officer of the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes when the Senate is deadlocked.
And my predecessor, John Adams, our first Vice President also had floor privileges. He could go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the day, and actually participate in the exciting debate on the major issues of the day in the Senate, itself. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been reinstated. So I'm not allowed to say anything in the Senate, but I get to preside, and wield the gavel, and cast that tie-breaking vote. But I want to tell you how valuable it is to have John Ensign in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
I served as the congressman from Wyoming for 10 years. We are little smaller in population terms than Nevada. We don't like to be reminded of that, but it's true. We only had one member in the House delegation. It's a small delegation, but it was quality. (Laughter.)
But you always appreciated, when you came from one of those big western states with just a few people, the caliber of your colleagues. And John certainly lived up, in terms of the job he does for the people of Nevada and the people for the entire country. So I'm delighted to call him colleague and to share that experience with him, as well, too.
I'm delighted to be back here in Nevada today. And of course, we're all sorry that Congressman Porter couldn't be here with us. I think John's explained the circumstances, and we all certainly understand. That's why Flore (ph). We're glad to hear that Jon is on the mend, and he will be back going full throttle in the very near future.
We're all here specifically for one reason, and that's to make absolutely certain that Jon Porter gets reelected to the United States House of Representatives come November. (Applause.)
Now, the President asked me to bring personal regards to all of you from him today, our commander-in-chief, President George W. Bush. And I'm proud to do that. And of course, we were proud to carry Nevada the last time around, and we look forward to doing it again in 2004.
John pointed that the President, when he picked me to be his running mate, wasn't worried about carrying Wyoming. He got 69 percent of the vote there. And I remind him, though, from time to time, those three electoral votes came in pretty darned handy. (Laughter.) I like to think of it as a bold, brilliant political move. (Laughter.) But these mountain West states, obviously, while they only have a few electoral votes, an election like 2000, these are the states that made all the difference. If we hadn't carried Nevada, we wouldn't be there today.
And in 2004, of course, you're going to have an extra electoral vote now since reapportionment. And we expect that the five electoral votes from Nevada will be part of a great nationwide victory for the Bush-Cheney ticket come November. (Applause.)
It's my honor to be here today to support Jon Porter's reelection, third district from Nevada. This is, of course, one of the very newest congressional districts in the nation. The voters in Clark County sent Jon to the nation's capital a little over a year ago, and you made an excellent choice. With his background in small business and city government, and in the state senate, Jon came to Congress with a great supply of experience and common sense. He's become a respected member of the committees on education in the work force, and on transportation and infrastructure. And both in committee and on the floor, Jon has won the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
I can tell you the President and I enjoy very much working with Jon. He follows the fine Nevada tradition of public service, a tradition established by people like Paul Laxalt, and John Ensign, and Jim Gibbons. And we're counting on Nevada to send him back to the United States Congress next year.
With the duties the President and I have, it matters a great deal for us to have good allies on Capitol Hill. Five days from today, the 20th of January, marks the third anniversary of the day that George W. Bush and I were sworn in as the 43rd President and the 46th Vice President of the United States. On that day no one could have predicted all that lay immediately ahead of us.
President Bush and I took office with a clear understanding of our responsibilities. The President was determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. He was determined to seize new opportunities for reform, and not to let old debates get 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 this new era because of the character and the leadership of President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
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 has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America that morning and killed some 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 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 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. (Applause.)
At the beginning of 2003, just a year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, a year later, he's in jail in Baghdad, and he will never again threaten the people of Iraq, or the people of the United States. (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 they will not intimidate the Iraqi people. With good allies at our side, we're helping the Iraqis build a free country, which will make all of us more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more responsibility for their own security, and as they move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, but 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. And last month, after talks with America and Britain, the leader of Libya voluntarily committed to disclose and dismantle all of 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. Leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons will find an open path to better relations with the United States of America. I am absolutely confident that the steps taken by Moammar Ghadafi in Libya, which began with contact he made with the United States and Britain about the time that we launched our forces into Iraq last spring, culiminating in the announcement five days after we arrested Saddam Hussein a couple of weeks ago, are a direct result of the wisdom and the polices of the President of the United States, and his willingness to do exactly what he said he would do, his willingness to take on difficult issues in that part of the world and solve difficult problems.
America is a nation that is always ready to work and sacrifice for peace. The use of force is the last resort for this country. And in all that 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.)
In all, the active duty service members from here, and across America, along with many Guard and Reserve personnel have faced hard duty, long absences from home 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 of our armed forces. I feel the same way about them now. They reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America. And our entire nation 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 for 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, more to save and more to invest.
We've reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains to encourage investment. We've given small businesses incentives to expand and to hire more 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 show that the economy grew at an annual rate of 8.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. (Applause.) 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.
As you know, there are a few voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes I hear these voices at night on the evening news, often times from Iowa and other states. (Laughter.) Not to knock the folks in Iowa, it's not their fault those candidates are advocating increasing taxes. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what this 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 because the President is absolutely determined that we'll do everything we can as long as any person out there wants to work.
America must also confront another basic fact, that some of the jobs being generated in our economy are not being filled by American citizens. Under current law, the only practical way to attract many of those workers is through a massive undocumented economy. To address the problem, 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 those jobs.
In addition, we would offer legal status to temporary workers in the country provided they are employed. 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 hard-working people out of the shadows of American life.
And the proposal would help us protect the homeland. We now have millions of people in the country, we don't know when they came in, we don't know what they're doing while they're here, we don't know when they leave. Law enforcement, under this system, would face fewer problems with undocumented workers and be better able to focus on the true threats to our nation.
On issue after issue, from national security to economic growth and trade, to improving public schools, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people.
All of us in this administration -- and members of Congress, such as Senator Ensign and Congressman Porter, recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but rather to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interest of this nation requires 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 Greater 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 pursuits 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, 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 healthcare coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare.
Going forward, we must also improve our healthcare system through liability reform. In Nevada, and all across America, doctors should be able to spend their time treating patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
In Washington, D.C., it's also time for the United States Senate to get on with the business of confirming the President's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has a responsibility to make certain that 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 a fundamental abuse to the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. That's why we need more Republicans alongside John Ensign 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 not only here in Nevada, but all across the country. We'll run hard and take nothing for granted. And we will 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 honor and the good fortune to work with other Presidents I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw 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 under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in its purest form and came to know a leader of 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, ladies and gentlemen, that's exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)
I count it a privilege to serve with President Bush because I believe he's united our nation behind great goals. And he's brought honor and integrity to the White House. Once again, we want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we all serve, and for supporting fine members of Congress, like Congressman Jon Porter. We are deeply grateful to our many friends all across Nevada and for your support for superb leaders like Jon Porter.
With your help, we'll have a great victory for the Republican ticket come November 2nd. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:46 P.M. PST