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 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 12, 2004

VP's Remarks in Battle Creek, Michigan
Lake View High School
Battle Creek, Michigan
August 11, 2004

6:06 P.M. EDT

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) I accept. (Laughter and applause.) Well, it's great to be back in Michigan. And I really appreciate that warm welcome. I was up in Lansing a few weeks ago with John McCain, having a tremendous campaign event up there, as well. Some people call Battle Creek the Breakfast Capital of the World, by the looks of things, I'd say Battle Creek is the capital of Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)

It's an honor today to share the stage, as well, with Congressman Nick Smith. (Applause.) I know Nick is going to be retiring at the end of this term, and we all appreciate his superb service to the state and the nation. (Applause.) It's also my great privilege today to bring greetings to all of you from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

I had a remarkable experience earlier this week that relates to Michigan. I really got to know Michigan when I worked for Gerry Ford. (Applause.) And I don't know if many of you are aware, but it was 30 years ago Monday that Gerry Ford became President of the United States when he took over the presidency at a very, very difficult time in our history, probably the toughest constitutional period in terms of the constitutional crisis since the Civil War. And he always considered himself the member from the fifth district in Michigan. He loved the people of Michigan -- very important to him. And I always understood why. And it was a privilege to work for him, and we had a tremendous reunion dinner for him on Capitol Hill on Monday evening. And it wouldn't be proper for me to come back to Michigan today and not mention what a deep debt of gratitude all Americans owe Gerry Ford to taking over at a moment of crisis and doing a superb job. (Applause.)

President Bush and I are tremendously grateful for all our supporters across the state. We ran hard in Michigan back in 2000. This year, we're going to work even harder to earn the votes of the people all over this state, from here in Battle Creek, to the Motor City, to the Upper Peninsula. And come November, with your help, Michigan is going to be part of a nationwide victory for the Bush-Cheney ticket. (Applause.)

Now, Lynne has known me -- she's claimed she's known me since I was 14. Truth be known, she didn't pay any attention to me until I was 17. (Laughter.) But I often explain to people that the reason we got married was because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. Okay, where is he going with that story? (Laughter.) The fact was in 1952, when Eisenhower ran for President, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for Soil Conservation Service. Somebody from Lincoln over there. (Laughter.) But Eisenhower got elected, he reorganized the Agriculture Department, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, and that's where I met Lynne. And we went to high school together, and we'll later this month mark our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) But I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's election victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.)

Some of you may have noticed there was a little political gathering up in Boston here a few weeks ago.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, some people watched it. You didn't have to like it. (Laughter.) But it's now official -- I have an opponent. No, I really do. I have an opponent. People keep telling me Senator Edwards got picked because he is good looking, charming, sexy, has great -- has great hair. I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Laughter and applause.) Once I'd like to tell that story, Lynne, and nobody would laugh. (Laughter.)

But this is an extraordinarily important election. November 2nd may well mark a milestone in American history. It comes at a crucial time 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 Cold War. This enemy, in the words of the 9/11 Commission report released recently, is "sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal."

What this enemy wants, as the 9/11 report explained, is to do away with democracy, to end all rights for women, and to impose their way of life on the rest of us. And as we saw on the morning of 9/11, this enemy is perfectly prepared to slaughter anyone -- man, woman, or child -- who stands in their way.

This is not an enemy we can reason with, or negotiate with, or appease. This is, to put it simply, an enemy that we must destroy. (Applause.) And with President George W. Bush as our Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great pride and comfort in the conduct of our President. They saw a man calm in a crisis, comfortable with responsibility, and determined to do everything necessary to protect our people.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) This is a man who had developed weapons of mass destruction, who had used weapons of mass destruction against the Iranians and against the Kurds, a man who had started two wars, and who had over the years provided safe harbor, safe haven, sanctuary for terrorists. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and future of nearly 25 million people. Tonight, he's in jail. (Applause.)

Freedom still has enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, but we will defeat those enemies. The rise of democracy in that troubled region of the world will be a crucial setback for the terrorists. Because we have been strong and resolute, these nations will not go back to the camp of tyranny and terror. (Applause.) And America will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11.

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. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We've gone on the offense in the war on terror because that's the best way to defend America, but the President's opponent, Senator Kerry, seems to object. He has even said that by using our strength, we are creating terrorists and placing ourselves in greater danger. But that is a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the world we live in works. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. (Applause.) Because we took the fight to the enemy, the terrorist training camps are closed. Because we took the fight to the enemy, we have been able to uncover critical information about terrorists' plots, including preparations they have made to try to attack the United States again. The specific terror alert that Secretary Ridge recently issued came in large part from information we obtained in our operations abroad. Our fight against the enemy overseas improves our security here at home. (Applause.)

Our nation is extraordinarily fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.) These members of the armed forces who are defending our country represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) I note we have a number of veterans with us today, and I want to thank them for all they've done for all of us. (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.)

We do have some important differences with the folks you saw at that political gathering in Boston last week. There's one story that makes that just about as clear as anything could be. It starts with Senators Kerry and Edwards voting yes when the President asked the Congress to authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein. But then, when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts, Senators Kerry and Edwards voted no.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Only 12 members of the United States Senate opposed the funding that would provide vital resources for our troops. Only four Senators voted for the use of force and against the resources our men and women in uniform needed once they were in combat. Only four. And Senators Kerry and Edwards were two of those four.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: At first Senator Kerry said he didn't really oppose the funding. He both supported and opposed it. (Laughter.) He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." That certainly clears things up. (Laughter.) But lately he's been saying he's proud that he and John Edwards voted no, and he explains that his decision was "complicated."

But funding American troops in combat should never be a complicated question. (Applause.) It's simply wrong to vote to commit our troops to combat and then refuse to provide them the resources they need. We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's exactly what we've got in George W. Bush. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another, the next. Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true for our policies here at home. When President Bush and I stood on the inaugural platform on the west side of the Capitol and took the oath of office, the 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 hard-earned money for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and delivered tax savings to the American people -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)

Thanks to the Bush tax cuts, consumers are confident, businesses are investing, and families are taking home more of what they earn. Mortgage rates, and interest rates, and inflation are all low. America has created jobs for 11 consecutive months -- about 1.5 million new jobs since last August. Here in Michigan, your unemployment rate is 6.5 percent -- down more than a full point since December, and moving in the right direction. We know there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. But this is a strong economy, and it's growing stronger. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

These past four years have brought historic progress in other areas as well. Under the President's leadership, we passed Medicare reform, and gave senior citizens more affordable access to modern medicine and prescription drugs. Under the President's leadership, we have acted to bring high standards and measurable results to our schools so that no child will be left behind. We are demanding accountability, empowering Presidents -- excuse me --empowering parents, and making sure that folks here in Michigan are in charge of Michigan's public schools. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we have also taken unprecedented steps to strengthen our defenses here at home. To give law enforcement the tools they need to track down terrorists, we passed the Patriot Act. (Applause.) To focus our government on the mission of protecting the American people, we created the Department of Homeland Security. To fund cutting edge drugs and other defenses against a potential biological weapons attack, we passed Project BioShield. Today, under the President's leadership, every American can be certain we are doing everything in our power to defend against a terrorist attack on our homeland. (Applause.)

Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. They also demonstrate something about the character of our President. He didn't go to the White House to mark time, or to spend his energy on small goals. He went to take on the big issues, and to make serious reforms. He has led with confidence, with clear vision, and with unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and kept his word. And that's exactly how he will lead this country for the next four years. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: In our second term, we will keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We will work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. We will work to help end lawsuit abuse because we know that it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to hire lawyers. (Applause.)

We will work for medical liability reform. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off lawsuits. (Applause.) In our second term, we will continue to move forward on a comprehensive energy policy to make the nation less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Our opponents have a very different vision for the country. They talk about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They opposed our tax relief, and now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: They helped block the energy plan in the Senate. They oppose effective reform of the legal system. They're against medical liability reform. Their big idea for the economy: raise your taxes.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: What we're hearing from the other side is the failed thinking of the past, and we're not going back. (Applause.)

President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment, and we will defend the individual right of every American to bear arms. (Applause.) We believe that our nation is "one nation under God." (Applause.) And we believe that Americans ought to be able to say "under God" when they pledge allegiance to their flag. (Applause.)

There shouldn't be any question about this, and there wouldn't be if we had more reasonable judges on the bench. (Applause.) But we have a situation in the United States Senate now where Democrats -- including Senators Kerry and Edwards -- are using the filibuster to block the President's sensible, mainstream nominations to the judiciary.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Democrats have used their obstructionist tactics to block six of the President's superb nominees from the state of Michigan. They recently blocked a nominee from my part of the country, Bill Myers, a man I've known for many years with broad bipartisan support for his judicial temperament, his legal experience, and his personal integrity. If Bill Myers had made it to the floor of the Senate, he would have been confirmed to the Ninth Circuit. He has over 50 votes supporting him. The Ninth Circuit is the circuit that decided recently that we shouldn't be able to say "under God" when we pledge allegiance to the flag.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sounds to me like we could use some new judges on the Ninth Circuit. (Applause.) And all of this should remind us why it's so important to send more Republicans to the United States Senate. (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 and defeating the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom around the world. (Applause.) Here at home, we'll continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world. (Applause.)

The President and I are honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Michigan. I want to thank you for this tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. And together, on November 2nd, we're going to see our cause forward to victory.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:28 P.M. EDT