The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
July 27, 2004

Vice President's Remarks at Ashburn Luncheon
Kern County Fairgrounds
Bakersfield, California

12:50 P.M. PDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much for that warm welcome. It's great to be back in the Central Valley, and to stand next to the next congressman from 20th district of California. (Applause.) Roy.

I'm also honored that our Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate is with us today, Bill Jones. (Applause.) And I know you'll send Roy and Bill to Washington on November 2nd. (Applause.)

I always -- well, I'm always a little nervous when Lynne introduces me because I never know for sure what she's going to say. (Laughter.) But I -- when I think of Bakersfield, it's a lot like our hometown of Casper, Wyoming. We've got a fair amount of agriculture -- been heavily involved in the oil and gas business over the years, and a lot of similarities, if you will. One of my best friends during my time in Congress was Bill Thomas, because we went to Washington together and have done a lot of business together over the years. It's always a delight to be back in Bill's part of the world, as well.

Lynne and I were just back in Casper a couple of weeks ago to mark our 45th high school reunion, which was great fun. Some of them remembered us. (Laughter.) There were a few there who said, gee, what ever happened to you, Cheney? (Laughter.)

But we had a great time. And I often explain to people that Lynne and I got married because of a great Republican victory in 1952 when Dwight Eisenhower got elected President. In 1952, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, he reorganized the Agriculture Department, Dad got shipped to Casper, Wyoming. And that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together, and we'll mark our 40th wedding anniversary next month. (Applause.) And I explained to a group the other day that if it hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's victory in 1952, Lynne would have married somebody else. She said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) So it's always important to remember you get put in your place.

But we're having a great week. We're traveling around the West, this part of the country. Yesterday, we were in Oregon and Washington. Today, we've been here in California, started the morning down at Camp Pendleton with the United States Marines. And I've got to tell you there's -- (Applause.) There's no more inspiring group of people than the men and women in the United States Marine Corps who put their lives on the line every day for each and every one of us. We're enormously fortunate that they've answered the call. Later today, I'll be over in Riverside to do an event for Bill Jones. Tomorrow, we'll be in Utah. Thursday, we'll take the day off and be home in Jackson, Wyoming, and then back on the road again the end of the week in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico before the week is over with. Lynne said it sounds like fun, and it is.

But I want to bring good wishes to all of you from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.) We're grateful for our many supporters in this state. And it's an honor, as well, to be in the state led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Applause.)

I'm really looking forward to the campaign this year, especially now that I know who my opponent will be. (Laughter.) People keep telling me that Senator Edwards got picked because he was good looking, sexy, charming. And I said to them, "How do you think I got this job?" (Laughter and applause.) It always worries me, Lynne, when they laugh at that line. (Laughter.) Why is it funny?

But we're here today for one very special reason, and that's to make absolutely certain that Roy Ashburn is your next representative in the United States Congress. (Applause.) Roy is a distinguished public servant, with experience in both houses of the California state legislature, and long service as a Kern County Supervisor. Over the years, people here have come to know Roy for a work ethic that reflects well on everyone in the district. He's been a reliable friend of the Valley's farmers, growers, and entrepreneurs. And he knows how to grow the economy here in Bakersfield. He believes in keeping taxes low, regulations reasonable, and water rights in the hands of California farmers. And you can be sure Roy will work for those priorities every single day in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Send Roy Ashburn to Congress, and you'll also get a strong supporter of our military and our veterans, a firm believer in a quality education for every child, and a fierce advocate for job growth. Roy is perfectly in tune with the values of the people here in the 20th District, and he has everything it takes to serve you well in Washington. President Bush and I are behind him all the way. And come November, I have no doubt that the voters of California's 20th congressional district will send him to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

This country needs people of Roy's caliber serving in the Congress as we take on one of the greatest challenges in our history. Today we face an enemy every bit as intent on destroying us as the Axis powers were in World War II, or the Soviet Union during the days of the Cold War. This enemy, in the words of the 9/11 Commission report, issued just last week, is "sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal." What this enemy wants, as the 9/11 report explains, is to do away with democracy, end the rights of women, and rid the world of religious pluralism. And in pursuit of its goals, this enemy is perfectly prepared to slaughter anyone -- man, woman, or child -- to advance its cause.

This is not an enemy we can reason with or negotiate with or appease. (Applause.) This is, to put it quite simply, an enemy that we must vanquish. (Applause.) With President George W. Bush as our Commander-in-chief, that is exactly what we will do. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the training camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. Under the President's leadership, we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein -- (applause) -- a man who cultivated weapons of mass destruction, used them against his own people, and provided safe harbor and sanctuary for terrorists. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and the future of almost 25 million people. Today, he is in jail. (Applause.)

The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in that troubled region of the globe, 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. 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. President Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of the United States of America. (Applause.)

Today, every American can be certain we are doing everything in our power to defend against a terrorist attack on our homeland.

Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. As I saw again today at Camp Pendleton, the men and women who are defending the country represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments that George W. Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve, and we have kept our word to the U.S. military. (Applause.)

The President and I have some important differences with the folks gathering in Boston. This is the good part of the speech. (Laughter.) When Congress voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, Senators Kerry and Edwards voted yes. But when it came time to fund the troops doing the fighting in Iraq, it was another story. 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, 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 Senators Kerry and Edwards.

Recently, Senator Kerry told us that his decision to oppose funding for our military personnel was "complicated." But as Roy understands, funding American troops in combat should never be a complicated choice. (Applause.) We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's exactly what we've got in George W. Bush. (Applause.)

At every level of the ballot, great events will turn on the outcome of 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. Strong, consistent leadership is required, both on our actions overseas and our policies here at home.

When President Bush and I took office, 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 the American people's tax dollars for the government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and delivered tax savings to the American people -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)

The Bush tax cuts have now helped our national economy create jobs for 10 consecutive months. We've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. Here in California, more than 136,000 people have gone to work at a new job in the last 11 months. Our economy is strong and growing stronger. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

These past four years have brought great progress in other critical areas, as well. With No Child Left Behind, the President has brought high standards, accountability, and measurable results to public schools across the country. With his leadership, we passed Medicare reform -- after years of inaction -- and now senior citizens have more affordable access to modern medicine and prescription drugs. And we passed a responsible environmental law called the Healthy Forests Act to improve forest health and to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire across the West.

Our accomplishments these past four years demonstrate something about the character of our President. President Bush did not come to Washington to mark time, or to spend his energy on small goals. He came to take on the big issues, and to make serious reforms. He has led with confidence, and clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made the hard choices, and kept his word. And that's exactly how he plans to lead this nation for four more years. (Applause.)

Roy shares our hopeful, optimistic vision for the future, and we look forward to working with him to accomplish great goals. We need Roy in Congress to help us keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We need Roy in Congress to help us make the Bush tax cuts permanent. We need Roy in Congress to help us end lawsuit abuse. It's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.) And for the good of our health care system, we need medical liability reform. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Our country needs a comprehensive energy policy. It's time for the Democrats in the United States Senate to allow passage of the President's plan to make the United States Senate (sic) less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Our opponents have a different vision for the economy. They talk about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They have opposed our tax relief, and now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending. They helped block the energy plan in the Senate. They oppose effective reform of our legal system, and they're against medical liability reform. Their big idea for the economy: to raise our taxes.

In fact, the team meeting this week in Boston would repeal many of the Bush tax cuts during 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 recognize a clear pattern. Their plans would increase the power of the Washington bureaucracy, increase the clout of the trial lawyers, increase the size of government's claim on the American people's paycheck. And they would not create jobs, nor 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.)

On issue after issue, President Bush has a clear vision for the future of the nation. Abroad, we will use America's great power to serve great purposes, to protect our homeland by turning back the forces of terror, and spread hope and freedom around the world. Here at home, we will continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child born in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.

Roy has the same great goals for the state of California. And with your help, he'll start carrying them out next year as your congressman. I have tremendous confidence in this man, and in his leadership, and the leadership he'll bring to the people of the 20th district. I'm grateful to all of you for your hard work and your commitment to the cause we all share. The President and I are looking forward to the months ahead, and we're looking forward to working with Roy Ashburn for a good many years to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 1:10 P.M. PDT

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