The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
April 30, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at a Victory 2004 Event
Pfister Hotel
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

12:36 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Well, thank you very much. All right. (Laughter.)

Well, thank you very much. That's a great welcome. It's great to be back in Wisconsin. I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with all of you today. I did, in fact, begin my early career here in Wisconsin. I met Bill Steiger when I was actually working for Warren Knowles, the Governor. The first time I was in the Pfister Hotel was the 1966 Republican Convention, as I recall. And I tell these old war stories these days around the White House where I'm now the oldest guy in the West Wing. (Laughter.) And they look at me, and they were in grade school in those days. They can't quite catch up.

But I had a great job with Governor Knowles, actually. We went to the '66 campaign, and traveled all across the state. And we used to hit small towns. And he'd always stop in and he'd see the local Republican precinct captain or county chairman, and then we'd visit a local newspaper, and then we'd hit the barbershop. After we did this for a few weeks, I asked him one day, I said, I understand why you go through the party leader, and why you go to the newspaper. Why do you go to the barbershop?

He said, look, that's the communications center for the city, for the community. Everybody has to get their hair cut -- well, most of us, anyway. (Laughter.) And they all talk politics when they're in the chair. So you want the barber on your side. And it was a very valuable lesson. It stood me in good stead later on.

But also my job was to take Polaroid pictures of everybody the Governor met. And this was the day that Polaroid was the technology. I had this monster camera I used to drag around with me, and I'd snap these shots and rip out all this paper and hand it to the voter. And they'd have to hold it for a minute till it developed, and then rip off the paper, and they had their picture with the Governor. But it was a great way to get educated. Wisconsin is a very special place. And traditions, political traditions in this state, and the Republican Party, and what public service has meant over the years were some lessons I learned at the knees of some great men like Warren Knowles and Bill Steiger. And I'll always be grateful for that.

I want to thank all of the party leaders and state legislators that are with us today, as well as the members of your outstanding congressional delegation -- Congressmen Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Petri, and Green. You've got a fine tradition of public service here, and they do a superb job representing all of you in the House of Representatives. (Applause.)

I have the privilege of serving with your former governor, a crucial member of the President's Cabinet, Tommy Thompson. He's doing a great job. (Applause.) I bring greetings from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

And I want to thank all of you who have been supporters of us here in Wisconsin. We worked very hard. You all worked hard in 2000. We came within a few thousand votes of victory here in Wisconsin. We're going to be in this state a lot this year, working even harder to earn your vote. And this November, the outcome here is going to be different. (Applause.) Wisconsin is a key target state, and with your dedication, and with the strong leadership of our President, Wisconsin is going to be part of our nationwide victory coalition on November 2nd.

These are challenging times for Wisconsin, and for this great country of ours. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities. When President Bush and I took office three years ago, we were determined to try to get beyond the old debates that often stood in the way of progress. I think today, as we look ahead to this year's election, we've got a record of accomplishment to show for our effort. 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.

This is a period in history defined by serious challenges, consequential choices, a need for decisive action. And the greatest responsibility of our government is very clear, we must protect the safety and security of the American people. (Applause.)

The attacks on September 11th, 2001, signaled the arrival of an entirely new era. We suffered massive civilian casualties on our own soil. We awakened to dangers even more lethal -- the possibility that terrorists could gain chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons from outlaw regimes and turn those weapons against the United States.

Remembering what we saw on the morning of 9/11 and knowing the nature of our enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to government. We must do everything in our power to protect the American people from terrorist attack and to keep terrorists from ever acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

This great and urgent responsibility has required a shift in our national security strategy. For many years prior to 9/11, terror attacks against Americans were treated as isolated incidents and answered, if at all, on an ad hoc basis, rarely in a systematic way. Even after the attack inside our own country, at the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, there was a tendency to treat terrorist attacks as individual criminal acts to be handled primarily through law enforcement.

Ramzi Yousef, the main perpetrator of the 1993 attack in New York was tracked down, arrested, convicted, and sent to serve a 240-year sentence. Yet behind that man was a growing network with operatives inside and outside the United States waging war against our country.

Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, in 1996, the mastermind of 9/11, first proposed to Osama bin Laden that they use hijacked airliners to attack targets in the U.S. In 1996 and again in '98, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States.

During this period, thousands of terrorists were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. And we've seen the work of terrorists in many attacks since 9/11 all over the world -- in Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Mombasa, Karbalah, Bali, Jakarta, Najaf, Baghdad, and Madrid.

The President and I understand that America requires an aggressive strategy against these enemies -- not merely to prosecute a series of crimes, but to fight and win a global campaign against a terror network. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased, or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand. (Applause.)

In Afghanistan, we've removed the brutal Taliban from power and destroyed the al Qaeda training camps. In Iraq, America and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a menace to our peace and security. Just over a year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, he's in jail. He will never again brutalize the Iraqi people, never again support dangerous terrorists or pursue weapons of mass destruction, never again threaten the United States of America. (Applause.)

We still face serious challenges in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, there is a new constitution. Free elections will be held later this year. In Iraq, a new basic law has been signed. And an interim government will be stood up by June 30th. This is an historic achievement, and a landmark document for that region of the world. And beginning on the 30th of June, Iraqi sovereignty will be returned to the Iraqi people. As the President has said, the United States will keep its word to the people of Iraq. Iraq will be a free and independent country, and America and the Middle East will be more secure because of it. Our coalition has the means and the will to prevail. We're standing for freedom and security. And that's a cause we're proud to serve.

Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. Many of them have seen hard duty, long deployments and fierce fighting. They've endured the loss of friends and comrades. And they are unwavering in their mission. They are proving every day that when we send them to defend this nation and our interests, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next. We need a Commander-in-Chief of clear vision and steady determination and that's just what we have in President George W. Bush. And that measure must be applied to the candidate who now opposes him in this year's election, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts.

In one of Senator Kerry's recent observations about foreign policy, he informed his listeners that he's met with unnamed foreign leaders who support him. A voter in Pennsylvania asked Senator Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Senator Kerry said, "That's none of your business."

But it is our business when a candidate for President claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. American voters are the ones charged with determining the outcome of this election, not unnamed foreign leaders. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry has also asserted that our troops in Iraq are not receiving the materiel support they need. But I would remind the Senator that last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation, a supplemental appropriations bill, providing funding for body armor, hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel, and spare parts for our military. Senator Kerry was asked whether he would vote against the President's request. He said, and I quote, "I don't think any United States Senator is going to abandon our troops. That's irresponsible." End quote. The legislation passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 87 to 12 in the Senate. Senator Kerry voted "no."

As a way to clarify the matter, Senator Kerry recently said, and again, quote: "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) End quote.

The Senator is free to vote, obviously, as he wishes. But he should be held to his own standard -- it is irresponsible to vote against vital support for the United States military. (Applause.)

On the broader picture, Senator Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. Recently he said: "I don't want to use that terminology." In his view, opposing terrorism is less of a military operation and much more of an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement operation.

As we've seen, however, that approach has been tried before and proved entirely inadequate to protecting the American people from terrorists who are quite certain they're at war with us.

I leave it for Senator Kerry to explain his votes and his statements about the war on terror, and our cause in Iraq, and the needs of the American military. Whatever the explanation, I don't believe it's an impressive record for someone who aspires to become Commander-in-Chief in this time of testing for our nation.

The American people will have a clear choice in the election of 2004 -- on national security, as well as on policies here at home. When the President and I took office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then just as our economy was ready to recover, terrorists struck our nation and shook our economy once again. President Bush has taken strong, confident steps to get the economy growing again. Working with our allies on Capitol Hill, the President has signed into law significant tax relief for millions of American families and businesses.

We doubled the child tax credit, decreased the marriage penalty, cut tax rates across the board, and have put the death tax on the way to extinction.

Since President Bush took office, more then 2.1 million taxpayers in Wisconsin have seen their income tax bills reduced. More than 710,000 married couples in Wisconsin are benefitting from marriage penalty relief. And over 520,000 families in Wisconsin have benefitted from the increase in the child tax credit. Over 440,000 small business owners in Wisconsin have seen their federal tax burden go down, allowing them to invest in new equipment, expand facilities, and hire additional workers.

Across the nation, we are seeing the results of the President's policies. In the first quarter of this year, the economy grew at a strong rate of 4.2 percent. And over the past three quarters, the economy has grown at a rate of 5.5 percent, the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's first term in the White House. Last month, the economy added over 300,000 new jobs. And we've created more than 750,000 jobs since August. The home ownership rate is at the highest ever. Interest rates and inflation are low. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Productivity is high. Business investment is rising. Incomes are growing strongly. America's economy is moving in the right direction. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Applause.)

Not surprisingly, the American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and Congress was right to let them keep it. As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. If elected, Senator Kerry has promised to repeal the Bush tax cuts during his first 100 days in office.

This isn't surprising when you consider his record on taxes. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people, including for the biggest tax increase in history. For the sake of long-term growth and job-creation, we ought to do exactly the opposite of what Senator Kerry proposes: We should make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

To strengthen the recovery, we're going to continue to move forward with an aggressive pro-growth agenda. Our nation needs legal reform to protect small business owners and employees from frivolous lawsuits and needless regulation. We need to control the cost of health care by passing medical liability reform. Here in Wisconsin and across the nation, good doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) We need to pass sound energy legislation to modernize our electricity system and make America less dependent on foreign energy.

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 put forward talented, experienced men and women who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters, denying up-or-down votes for months, or even years. That's unfair to judicial 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 why we need more Republicans in the United States Senate. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, from national security, to economic growth, to improving our schools, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. The President has a clear vision for the future of this nation. Abroad, we will use America's great power to serve great purposes, to turn back the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom throughout the world.

Here at home, we will continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child who grows up in the United States will have a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.

President Bush and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we share. We're grateful to our many friends in Milwaukee and across the great state of Wisconsin. And now, together, we're going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 1:00 P.M. CDT

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