The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
February 9, 2004

VP Remarks at Missouri Republican Party Event
Remarks by the Vice President at Missouri Republican Party EventRenaissance Grand Hotel
St. Louis, Missouri
February 7, 2004

6:25 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Good evening. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you. Thank you all very much. That was a great dress. (Laughter.) I remember it fondly.

But I often explain to people that Lynne and I actually have a Republican marriage. Because in 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower ran for and got elected President of the United States, my dad was working for the Department of Agriculture, and we lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. And Eisenhower came in, reorganized the Agriculture Department, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming --which is where I met Lynne and that famous red dress. And we went to high school together, grew up together, and come August, we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this year. (Applause.)

I explained that to a group of people the other night, that if it hadn't been for that great Republican victory in 1952, I never would have moved to Wyoming and Lynne would have married somebody else. And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) There's no doubt in my mind. (Laughter.)

I want to thank Ann, as well, for her kind words tonight. We get to see a lot of Ann because of the fantastic job she does as the co-chairman of the Republican Party. You're all extraordinarily fortunate that she's from Missouri. But she does a superb job for all of us. So, Ann, thank you for what you do for all of us. (Applause.)

It's great to be back in St. Louis. I was in the state just a couple of months ago to campaign for Secretary of State Matt Blunt, who will be the next governor of the state of Missouri. (Applause.) And I want to thank the state legislators and party leaders who are with us tonight, as well as our Bush-Cheney state finance chairman Sam Box (ph), and our Bush-Cheney state chairman Bucky Bush (ph). (Applause.)

I also want to recognize your representatives in Congress. You've got a superb delegation -- Todd Akin, Sam Graves, Jo Ann Emerson, Kenny Hulshof, and Roy Blunt. And they do a great job for all of us. (Applause.)

Now, I served in the House of Representatives for 10 years from Wyoming. And Wyoming only had one seat in the House of Representatives. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.) But I came to value the talent of people who serve in the Congress and represents their states. And you've got a lot of it from Missouri here. In my current role as the presiding officer of the United States Senate, I can confirm that Kit Bond and Jim Talent are one of the finest teams serving today in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

Lynne and I got to campaign for Jim in the last election, as a matter of fact, coming in here the last weekend of the campaign to help to pull him over the top. And I've known Kit Bond now for, I guess, close to 30 years. Kit, we've done a great deal of work together. He does a superb job, not only for Missouri but for the entire nation. And President Bush and I will be extremely proud this fall to serve on the same ticket with Kit Bond, who's going to win reelection for another term in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

And I want to bring you good wishes tonight, everybody supporting the Republican Party here in Missouri, and bring you good wishes from the President and the First Lady, George and Laura Bush. (Applause.)

Now, in 2000, the President and I were very grateful for the support we got here in Missouri. And this year, with your help, we're going to carry the state of Missouri for the Bush-Cheney ticket. (Applause.) All of you will be part of the effort, and we genuinely appreciate your commitment to the cause.

The President and I are now beginning the fourth year of our administration, a period defined by serious challenges and hard choices. When we were sworn in three years ago, no one could have predicted what lay ahead for America. But we came to office with a clear understanding of our responsibilities. We were determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We wanted get to the new opportunities for reform. We wanted to get beyond the old debates that had stood in the way of progress.

And today, as we look ahead to this year's election, we believe we've 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 our new era because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

In this time of testing, our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. (Applause.) Even though it has been more than two years now since 9/11, we should have no illusion that the danger has passed.

Terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. We see them for what they are: killers who will not be stopped by negotiations or a treaty, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience. In the war on terror, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

Inside our country, where the war began, we must continue to give homeland security and law enforcement personnel every tool they need to defend us. And one of those essential tools is the Patriot Act, which authorizes federal law enforcement to share more intelligence information, to track terrorists, disrupt their cells, and seize their assets. We use these same tools to catch embezzlers and drug traffickers, and we need to have these tools available to hunt down terrorists, as well.

As the President said in his State of the Union Address, parts of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year, but the terrorist threat they were designed to combat will not expire on that schedule. Our law enforcement needs the Patriot Act, and Congress needs to renew it. (Applause.)

Today, we have over 140,000 members of our armed forces deployed overseas and around the world to fight the war on terror. And in almost 29 months since 9/11, we, and our friends and allies in many countries, have inflicted heavy losses on the al Qaeda's leadership and on their foot soldiers, tracking them and finding them in hiding places from Pakistan to Indonesia. Those not yet captured or killed live in fear, and their fears are well founded.

We are also working with governments on every continent to take down the financial networks that support terror, the hidden bank accounts, the front groups, and the phony charities that have helped them to function. And our government is working closely with intelligence services all over the world, and our own intelligence officers continue to be engaged in some of the most perilous and sensitive intelligence work ever carried out.

This work has brought many successes, including the discovery of terror plots that we were able to stop in their tracks. Americans can be grateful every day for the skillful and the daring service of our nation's intelligence professionals. (Applause.)

On the night of September 11th, President Bush declared that the United States would no longer make a distinction between the terrorists and those who support them. This principle -- (applause) -- this that's principle has come to be known as the Bush doctrine is now understood by all. Any person or government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be brought to account.

The first -- (applause) -- the first to see its application were the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan by violence, while turning that country into a training camp for terrorists. With fine allies at our side, we took down the regime and destroyed the al Qaeda camps. But our work there continues. We have over 13,000 members of our armed forces in Afghanistan as part of an international security force now that includes 37 nations and a major role for NATO, as well. This force is on the hunt for the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda members. We're helping to train a new Afghan army and we're helping to provide security as the new government takes shape.

Under President Karzai's leadership, and with the help of our coalition, the Afghan people are building a decent and a just and a democratic society, and a nation fully joined with us in the war on terror.

In Iraq, the United States and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator and rid the world of a menace to our future peace and security. (Applause.) A year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of nearly 25 million people, tonight he's in jail. (Applause.)

He will never again brutalize his people, never again support dangerous terrorists, and never again threaten the United States of America. America has shown that we are serious about removing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. We know that Saddam had the capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. He had the science and the technology he needed. We know that he had the necessary infrastructure because we found the labs and the dual-use facilities that could be used to produce chemical and biological agents. We know that he was developing the delivery system, ballistic missiles, which the United Nations had prohibited. We know that Saddam had the intent to arm his regime with weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam Hussein had something else -- he had a record of using weapons of mass destruction against his enemies and against innocent Iraqis. There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq. (Applause.)

The gravest threat to America is the possibility of cooperation between terrorist groups and outlaw regimes developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction. As the President has said, we faced the choice: either take the word of a madman, or take action to defend the American people. Faced with that choice, George W. Bush will defend America every time. (Applause.)

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq, terrorists who are targeting the very success and the freedom that we are providing for that country. But terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people.

With determined allies at our side, we are helping Iraqis build a free country, which will make us all the 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. America will finish what we have begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained a great deal of support. Yet, as the President has made clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)

America is the nation that is always ready to work and sacrifice for peace. The use of force is always a last resort. 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 the uniform of our services 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. Members of the active duty armed forces, of the National Guard, and of the reserves 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. They reflect extraordinary credit on the United States of America. And our entire 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 principle concern of President Bush. 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'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'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 the administration. (Applause.)

Americans took those dollars, and put them to work, driving the economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the second half of last year was 6.1 percent, the fastest in almost 20 years. New home construction last year was the highest in 25 years. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Inflation is low. Interest rates are low. Exports are growing. Productivity is high. Since August the economy has created 366,000 new jobs, and unemployment is at a two-year low. These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and Congress was right to return it. (Applause.)

As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes we hear those voices on the evening news. (Laughter.) But in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what the economy needed, and they have now set us on the path to long-term growth and job creation. And to keep us on that path, Congress needs to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, from national security to economic growth and trade, to improving our public schools, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. One of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people he's bought into the administration. From Don Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice, to Colin Powell, to Missouri's own John Ashcroft, we've got an outstanding team serving the American people. (Applause.)

All of us in this administration, and our Republicans allies 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 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 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 good record of achievement. We will continue our pro-growth economic agenda, so that we can continue to create jobs. We must improve our health care system through medical liability reform. Doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits from trial lawyers. (Applause.)

And we need a national energy policy because consumers and businesses need reliable supplies of energy to make our economy run. 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'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 Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters, denying some of these nominees an up-or-down vote for months or even years. 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, because of the Democratic filibuster. That is unfair to the nominees, and it's an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and that's another reason we need to reelect Kit Bond in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

The campaign season is underway. And President Bush and I will be proud to present our vision to voters in every part of this great land. We will 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 good fortune to work with other Presidents I greatly admire. 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 judgement, 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 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 the commitment to the cause we all share. The President and I are deeply grateful to our friends here in St. Louis, and all across Missouri. And now, together, we're going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:45 P.M. CST

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