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 Home > News & Policies > August 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 24, 2004

Vice President's Remarks at a Kobach Breakfast

9:19 A.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you all very much, thank you for that welcome. And, Kris, thank you that introduction. It's great back at Overland Park and the Kansas City area. Of course, this area is the home to great people, great barbecue, and the Kansas City Chiefs. (Applause.) I know the President stopped by in Wisconsin recently at the Chiefs' training camp, but I one-upped him last night, I went to the -- watched them beat the St. Louis Rams. (Applause.) Of course, we won't talk a lot over in St. Louis. (Laughter.)

This area is a proud and growing part of the Heartland. And next year, Overland Park is going to be having a great congressman to represent them because the people of the third district are going to elect Kris Kobach to the United States Congress. (Applause.)

It's a privilege this morning for me to bring greetings to all of you from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.) The President and I are grateful to our many supporters across Kansas. We're going to work hard to earn the support of people all over this state. And come November, I have no doubt that Kansas will be part of a great nationwide victory. (Applause.)

Kansas is fortunate to have outstanding leaders serving in Washington. We're all looking forward to seeing Kris join the superb House delegation of Todd Tiahrt, Jerry Moran, and Jim Ryun. And as President of the Senate, I can tell you that Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback are doing a superb job for the people of Kansas and the United States. (Applause.)

We're all here today to talk about the upcoming election. As you might have noticed, there was a bit of a political gathering in Boston a few weeks back. It's now official -- I have an opponent. (Laughter.) People keep telling me Senator Edwards got picked because of his good looks, his charm, his great hair. I say to them, "How do you think I got the job?" (Laughter.)

But I spend a lot of time on the campaign trail with men and women running for Congress, and I can tell you that Kris is one of the best candidates on the ballot anywhere in the country this year. (Applause.) He's a family man with strong roots here in Kansas. He knows the people of Wyandotte, Johnson, and Douglas counties. He shares your values. And he has exactly what it takes to stand up for your priorities in Washington, D.C.

As your Congressman, Kris will work hard to keep taxes low. He'll also apply his experience in national security to help defend America. As a White House fellow, and in his role at the Department of Justice, Kris worked on tough, critical issues vital in the war on terror. He understands that keeping people safe in Kansas requires us to improve our nation's defenses. In Congress, he'll focus his intelligence, his talents, and his dedication on that task. That's exactly the kind of person we need in Congress. And come November, I'm confident the people of the third district are going to make Kris Kobach the next representative in the U.S. House. (Applause.)

This election could not come at a more 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, is "sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal." What this enemy wants, as the 9/11 report explains, 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.

Kris understands 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. And with Kris Kobach in Congress and 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 attack on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride 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.

Under the President's leadership, we have driven the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. Under the President's leadership, we rid the world of a gathering threat by eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein. Seventeen months ago, Saddam controlled the lives and futures of some 25 million people. Today, he is in jail. (Applause.)

A year ago, Libya had a secret nuclear weapons program. But after our coalition ousted Saddam, Libya's leader, Colonel Moammar Ghadafi, had a change of heart. He turned control of Libya's program over to us, and today the uranium, the centrifuges, and the designs for weapons are in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under American lock and key. (Applause.)

We've also shut down the secret network that was based in Pakistan that was the world's most dangerous supplier -- that is the network was the most dangerous supplier of illegal nuclear weapons technology. We've put terrorist financiers out of business, dismantled terrorist cells worldwide. Most of the planners of the 9/11 attacks have been captured or killed -- including Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11.

We could not have succeeded in these efforts without the help of dozens of countries all over the world. We will always seek international support for international efforts, but as President Bush has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. We will never seek a permission slip to defend the United States of America. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we have taken unprecedented steps to protect the American people here at home. We passed the Patriot Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to track down terrorists. We created the Department of Homeland Security to focus our government on the mission of protecting the American people. And we passed Project BioShield to fund cutting edge research and defenses against a potential biological weapons attack.

But a good defense is not enough, so we have also gone on the offense in the war on terror -- 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 are living in works. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. (Applause.)

America faces a choice between our President and a man calling for us to fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. As Kris understands, America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being "sensitive." America's great wartime leaders -- like Lincoln, Roosevelt and Truman -- did not seek to fight a "sensitive war," they fought to defeat our enemies decisively and with honor. (Applause.)

I listened to what Senator Kerry had to say in Boston, and, with all due respect to the Senator, he seems to view the world in the pre-9/11 period. The job of the Commander-in-Chief, as Senator Kerry said in his convention speech, is to use America's military strength to respond to attacks. But September 11th showed us, as surely as anything can, that we must act against gathering dangers -- not wait to be attacked. (Applause.)

That awful day left some 3,000 of our fellow citizens dead, and everything we have learned since tells us the terrorists would do worse if they could, that they would use chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons against us if they acquire them. In the world we live in now, responding to attacks is not enough. We must do everything in our power to prevent attacks -- and that includes using military force.

In his convention speech, Senator Kerry invited us to judge him by his record. That seems like a good idea. (Laughter.) Senator Kerry frequently reminds people that he was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. What was Senator Kerry's record on the committee as the terrorist threat gathered around the world? Well, to begin with, he did not even bother to show up for 75 percent of the intelligence committee's public meetings. After the first attack on the World Trade Center, Senator Kerry missed every public meeting of the committee for the next year.

We also have important differences with the Kerry-Edwards record when it comes to providing for our men and women in uniform. There's one story that makes that about as clear as anything could be. It starts with Senators Kerry and Edwards voting yes when the President asked 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, Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards voted no. 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 combat needed once they were in combat. Only four. And Senators Kerry and Edwards were two of those four.

At first Senator Kerry said that 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." (Laughter.) Well, that certainly clears things up. (Laughter.) 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.) As Kris understands, it's simply wrong to vote to commit the troops 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 President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. And I want to thank them and all the veterans here today for all that they have 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.)

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 United States Capitol and took the oath of office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck our nation and shook our 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 he delivered tax savings to the American people -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)

Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the Bush tax cuts, and so has our economy. For the last 11 consecutive months, we've created jobs, and since last August we've added about 1.5 million new jobs. Here in Kansas, more than 12,000 jobs have been created since February. Your unemployment rate is 4.6 percent -- down a full point from this time last year. Mortgage rates, interest rates, and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident, businesses are investing, and families are taking home more of what they earn. 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, it's growing stronger. The Bush tax cuts are working. (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, clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and he's kept his word. And that's exactly how he will lead this country for the next four years. (Applause.)

Kris shares our hopeful, optimistic vision for the future. He'll be a valuable ally on Capitol Hill, and we look forward to working with him to accomplish great goals. We need Kris in Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. We need Kris in Congress to help end lawsuit abuse. We know that it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire more workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.) We need Kris in Congress to work for medical liability reform. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. And we need Kris in Congress to move forward on a comprehensive energy policy to make this nation less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

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

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

With Kris in Congress, 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." And we believe Americans ought to be able to say "under God" when they pledge allegiance to the flag. (Applause.)

There shouldn't be any question about this -- and there wouldn't be if we had more reasonable judges on the bench. But we have a situation in the U.S. Senate now where Democrats -- including Senators Kerry and Edwards -- are using the filibuster to block the President's sensible, mainstream nominations to the judiciary. Recently, they used their obstructionist tactics to keep the Senate from voting on four of the nominees put forward by the President. One of them was Bill Myers, a friend of mine, a fine man with widespread bipartisan support for his personal integrity, his judicial temperament, and his legal experience. If Bill had made it to the floor for an up-or-down vote, he had the votes to be confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, which, by the way, is the circuit that decided we should not say "under God" when we pledge allegiance to the flag. Sounds to me like they could use some new judges on the Ninth Circuit. (Applause.) What the Democrats are doing is simply outrageous, and that's why Kansas should send Sam Brownback back to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, President Bush has a clear vision for the future of our 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. Here at home, we will continue building a 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.

Kris Kobach has the same great goals for Kansas. And with your help, he'll start carrying out his vision in Congress come January. (Applause.) President Bush and I have complete confidence in Kris, and in the people of Kansas. We're looking forward to the months ahead -- and to November 2nd, when we will see our cause to victory. And we're looking forward to working with Kris in the House of Representatives for a good many years to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 9:39 A.M. CDT