|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
July 13, 2004
Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Reception with An Introduction by Mrs. Cheney
Omni William Penn
6:25 P.M. EDT
MRS. CHENEY: Good evening. (Applause.) What a pleasure to be here with all of you. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you very much. Evans, what a kind introduction. I want to thank you for that, and I want to thank you for all you have done for the Republican Party and for the Bush-Cheney ticket. You deserve our gratitude. (Applause.)
Well, Evans mentioned that I was interested in history, and that's why I have this job of introducing the Vice President because I know his history. (Laughter.) I have known him for a very long time. In fact, I have known him since he was 14 years old and working as a janitor at the Ben Franklin store in Casper, Wyoming. Now, that wasn't his first job. Before I knew him, he'd been a paper boy. And it certainly wasn't the last job he had when he was in high school and college. I made a list today of some of the jobs he had. He clerked at a candy story. He bussed tables in a cafeteria. He loaded trucks for a dollar-an-hour. One summer he started out working in a bentonite plant, filling sacks full of a hundred pounds of bentonite and loading them on to railroad cars. Then -- and this will surprise you, he got his union ticket. (Laughter.) And as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, he spent six years, on and off, building power lines to help pay his way through school.
Well, our lives have changed a lot since then, but we have never forgotten the lessons of hard work that we learned, and the importance of friends and family and teachers who offered encouragement and support. We live in a great country when a young man with small-town roots and values and common sense can represent his state in the Congress, can become Secretary of Defense, and can serve as Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
Along the way, I would add, he has been a great husband, and a great father. And he is a fabulous, if somewhat soft-hearted grandfather. (Laughter.) When the littlest granddaughter, Gracie, who has developed quite a voice as the result of growing up with two older siblings, when Gracie comes through the front door of the Vice President's house, she usually demands in tones that can be heard through the whole three floors of the place, she demands to know, where's Dick? (Laughter.) And he is so happy to see those little girls, and they to see him. And it makes me so happy. And it is such a pleasure and honor for me this evening to introduce to you, my husband, Dick Cheney, the Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Applause.) Well, thank you very much. It's great to be back in Pittsburgh. And I appreciate Lynne's warm introduction. She and I stopped here over the Fourth of July weekend, of course, and they had a terrific event at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial here in Pittsburgh. We had the chance to spend a Sunday with Rick Santorum, who is doing a superb job, by the way, for the people of this state. (Applause.)
Lynne has been introducing me that way for some time now. She points out, I guess, Saturday we're going to be visiting our hometown in Wyoming for our 45th high school reunion, if you can believe that. I don't know what happened to 45 years. But it's been a big 10 days for us. A week ago Friday, our first grandson was born, new addition to the family. (Applause.)
And I explain to people -- one of my favorite stories is the fact that if hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's election victory in 1952, our lives would have turned out very differently. In 1952, I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska as a youngster with my folks. Dad worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eisenhower got elected, he reorganized the Agriculture Department, Dad got shipped to Casper, Wyoming. And that's where I met Lynne. And we grew up together, went to high school. And we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary here in a two weeks, August. (Applause.) Which means we didn't get married till we got out of high school. (Laughter.) People out there calculating all those numbers. (Laughter.) But I explained to a group of folks the other night, if Dwight Eisenhower hadn't won that tremendous victory in 1952, 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.
But I'm delighted to be back here this evening the President and I have a very good feeling about Pennsylvania this year. We've both visited the state many times. Of course, on Friday, he was here speaking in York, and Lancaster, and Kutztown. We've got tremendous support in this state, and with your help, Pennsylvania is going to be part of a great nationwide victory on November 2nd. (Applause.)
As you know, a lot has changed over the past week. I now have an opponent in the campaign. In fact, Senator Kerry announced his choice right here in Pittsburgh. I called Senator Edwards to welcome him to the competition, and we had a very nice conversation. Somebody said to me the other day that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks and charm. I said, "How do you think I got this job?" (Laughter.) Why is that funny? (Laughter and applause.) We're going to save the hair jokes for later. (Laughter.)
We're looking forward to a spirited contest this year, up and down the ballot. I'm proud to be helping out Republican candidates across Pennsylvania. Earlier today I had the opportunity to campaign with two of your outstanding House candidates, Scott Paterno, in Harrisburg; and Charlie Dent, down in Bethlehem. They'll make great additions to the U.S. Congress. Congressional races are always crucial, but that's even more true in times like ours, with the two parties so evenly divided in Washington. As Vice President, I've cast several tie-breaking votes in the Senate, including on vital elements of the President's tax relief program. I don't deserve any special credit for the way I voted. You can be certain that when the President sent me up to Capitol Hill those days, I got pretty clear instructions on what I was supposed to do. (Laughter.) But if we'd had even one less vote in the Senate -- or if we hadn't maintained control of the House of Representatives -- we would not have been able to pass our economic plan. And we would not have enjoyed the strong, growing economy we enjoy today. (Applause.) That's why it's so essential that we get behind Republican candidates all across America, and that why it's so essential to re-elect senators like Arlen Specter to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
These last three-and-a-half years have brought some serious challenges to our country, and we are meeting those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, the American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and a nation that is more secure, because of the character and the leadership of President George W. Bush.
In the weeks following the terrorist attacks -- (applause) -- in the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. Since 9/11, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies that struck America that morning and killed some 3,000 of our fellow citizens. With the President's leadership, we are fighting the war on terror -- and we will win the war on terror. (Applause.)
Many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are on the run, and we are going to hunt them down, one by one. (Applause.)
In Afghanistan, we removed the brutal Taliban from power and destroyed the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. In Iraq, America and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a gathering threat to our peace and security. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and the future of nearly 25 million people. Tonight he's in jail. (Applause.) Because we acted, Afghanistan and Iraq have gone from terrorist states to free, sovereign nations, and future democracies.
The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in a troubled region, will be a crucial setback for international terror. Because we are strong and resolute, these nations will never go back to the camp of tyranny and terror. And America will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. (Applause.) This nation has made a decision: We will engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq today, so we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters, police, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)
From the beginning, America has sought -- and received -- international support for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the war on terror, we will always seek cooperation from our allies around the world. But as the President has made very clear: There is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. The United States will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our nation.
We are extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. They are proving every day that when we send them to defend our country, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments that President Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need and all the respect they deserve, and we have kept our word to the United States military. (Applause.)
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another, the next. (Applause.) And that bring to mind our opponents in this campaign. (Laughter.) Many times prior the war in Iraq, Senator Kerry described Saddam Hussein as a threat to the United States. And Senator Edwards called Iraq, the most serious and imminent threat to our country.
Like our administration, other members of Congress, members of the U.N. Security Council, and member of the previous administration, Senators Edwards and Kerry reviewed the intelligence and concluded that Saddam Hussein was a threat. They voted to authorize the use of force. But now they have developed a convenient case of campaign amnesia. (Laughter.) I've watched them on TV the last few days, waffling and weaving, backing and filling. They seem to have forgotten that they looked at the same information the President did, and that they came to the same conclusion. The President made the right decision, and John Kerry is simply to rewrite history for his own political purposes. (Applause.)
In 2002, after years of defiance by Saddam Hussein, the U.N. Security Council demanded -- yet again -- a full accounting of his weapons programs. Saddam said no. So the United States had a choice to make: Either rely on the good faith of a dictator who had started two wars; used weapons of mass destruction against his own people; and provided safe haven for terrorists -- either rely on such a man, or take action to defend America. President Bush made the only responsible decision a leader of the United States could have made: Our President chose to confront the dictator and defend the American people. And he was absolutely correct to do so. (Applause.)
Defending America also means supporting the troops, especially those in combat and under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last fall, at the President's request Congress considered legislation providing critical funding for our troops for body armor, and other vital support such as: hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, jet fuel, vehicles, and spare parts. The legislation passed overwhelmingly with a vote in the Senate of 87 to 12, and that small group of 12 senators voting "no" included Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards.
AUDIENCE: Booo! (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Lynne says the crowd is getting ahead of me here. (Laughter.) Later on, Senator Kerry gave one of those explanations we've all come to expect from him. He said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) Well, that sure clears things up. (Laughter.)
The second time the issue of troop funding came up, Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards signaled their own priorities by not even showing up for the vote. Ladies and gentlemen, the last thing our nation needs is politicians who support a decision to go to war, and then try to rewrite history, and then fail to support the troops they voted to send into battle. (Applause.)
This is a time for steady leadership in the White House, for a Commander-in-Chief of clear vision and resolve. And that's why our nation needs George W. Bush for four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm going to take this crowd with me to the next stop. (Laughter.)
There is no doubt that great events will turn on this election. The leader who sits in the Oval Office -- and the men and women who represent us on Capitol Hill -- will set the course of the war on terror, and set the direction of the American economy for many years to come. Strong, consistent leadership is required, both on our actions overseas, as well as our policies here at home.
Our economy has been tested these past three-and-a-half year, and we have responded with strong, decisive action. When we took office, the stock market was declining, and our economy was sliding toward recession. Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck our nation and shook the economy once again. We faced a basic decision -- to leave more money with families and businesses, or to take more of your tax dollars for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and delivered tax relief -- not once, not twice, but three times -- resulting in substantial tax savings for the American people. (Applause.) Over the past three years, America has had the fastest growing economy of any major industrialized nation in the world.
Since President Bush took office, more than 4.6 million Pennsylvania taxpayers have seen their federal tax burden reduced; 1.5 million married couples here now pay lower taxes because we reduced the marriage penalty; and more than 1.1 million Pennsylvania families now pay lower taxes because we doubled the child tax credit. (Applause.) For individuals and families, the average savings from the President's across-the-board tax cuts topped $1,500. You are using that money far better than we would have in Washington, and we did the right thing by returning it. (Applause.)
The Bush tax relief has helped our economy create jobs for ten consecutive months, and we've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. In Pennsylvania, tax relief has helped to send over 44,000 men and women to work in the last three months, and to lower the unemployment rate to 5.1 percent from its peak of 5.9 percent early last year. The national home ownership rate is at a record high. Productivity is high. Incomes and wages have been rising. And in the last year, our economy has grown at a rate of nearly 5 percent. The American people are proving the pessimists wrong, the Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
We've seen the positive effects of tax relief, and we know how to keep a good thing going. We will work with Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)
Let me mention a few other items on our agenda. For the good of this economy, we also need to end lawsuit abuse. Junk and frivolous -- (Applause.) Junk and frivolous lawsuits can ruin an honest business. They put people out of work. They clog the courts, delaying justice for people with real legal grievances. It's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
We need medical liability reform to control the costs of health care. Here in Pennsylvania and across the nation, including our home state of Wyoming, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
Our country also needs a comprehensive energy policy. It's time for Congress to pass the common-sense plan the President submitted three years ago, a plan that would promote domestic energy production, modernize our electricity grid, promote conservation, and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)
Our opponents have a different vision for our economy. They talk a lot about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They oppose effective reform of our legal system, and, in fact, they're against medical liability reform. They've helped block the energy plan in the Senate. Their big idea for the economy: To raise our taxes.
In fact, they would repeal many of the Bush tax cuts within their first 100 days in office. This isn't surprising when you consider their record. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people -- including the biggest tax increase in American history. That's an average of a vote for higher taxes every three weeks for the last 20 years. At least the folks back in Massachusetts knew he was on the job. (Laughter.)
Listen to the other side's proposals between now and November, and you'll see a clear pattern. Their plans would increase the power of the Washington bureaucracy, increase the clout of trial lawyers, and increase the size of the government's claim on your paycheck. And they would not create jobs, nor would they drive economic growth. What we're hearing from the other side is the failed thinking of the past -? and we're not going back. (Applause.)
Under the strong economic leadership of President Bush, this nation is going to continue moving forward with an aggressive, optimistic, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.
President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based charities, so they can receive federal support for their good works. We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We believe that our nation is one nation under God, and that Americans ought to be able to say so when they pledge allegiance to the flag. (Applause.) The founders of this great nation acknowledged God in the Declaration of Independence. But we have judges now who seem to have forgotten its history. We also have a situation in the United States Senate where Democrats, including Senators Kerry and Edwards, are blocking the President's mainstream appointments to the judiciary. Senators Kerry and Edwards made sure that the Senate never got to vote on a fine man like Miguel Estrada, a man who came to this country as an immigrant from Honduras, graduated from Harvard Law School, and served as a clerk in the U.S. Supreme Court. Senators Kerry and Edwards are keeping fine people like Miguel Estrada off the bench, and it's time for this travesty to end. (Applause.)
On issue after issue, the choice on November 2nd will be clear at every level of the ballot. On national security, it's a choice between our President, a man of steadfast resolve and his opponent who wavers with the political winds. On the economy, it's a choice between our President, who has taken action and led America to days of progress and opportunity, and his opponent, who would take us backward. On the core values of this great country, it's a choice between our President, who has advocated and supported these values throughout his career, and his opponent, who is the most liberal member of the United States Senate.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: On all these issues, we welcome the contest ahead, and we know -- with your help -- it is a contest we will win. (Applause.)
The President and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're grateful to our many friends in Pittsburgh, and across Pennsylvania. We'll see you again many times before Election Day. And together, we are going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:47 P.M. EDT