For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 25, 2004
Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Pottsville, Pennsylvania
Pottsville Area High School, Martz Hall
1:55 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you for that warm welcome. It's great to be in Pottsville. Lynne and I are having a great trip through Pennsylvania. We're delighted to share the stage today with one of my best friends, Rick Santorum. He does a superb job for the country. (Applause.)
We started this morning up in Wilkes-Barre, and we're on our way to Bloomsburg, with a few stops in between. And I hear it's been a while since you had a Vice President come through Pottsville. It's all right, those other Vice Presidents didn't know what they were missing out on. (Applause.) This is a beautiful, proud, hardworking part of America. You're in the heart of coal country, and the way things today, Pottsville is also the heart of Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
Now, Lynne mentioned that she knew me since I was 14 -- that's true, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) But she finally did. But I tell folks that we have a marriage that came about because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States, in 1952, because in those years I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska, with my folks -- Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service; Eisenhower got elected; Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where I met Lynne. And she eventually went out with me at age 17. And we got married, and will mark our 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Forty more years! (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, 40 more years, huh? (Laughter.) Well, I'm willing to commit for four. (Laughter.)
Anyway, it's a pleasure to be here. I know Scott Paterno is here today -- going to be the new congressman from -- (applause.) I had the privilege to do an event with Scott earlier this year. I also want you to know that your other Senator is doing a superb job, too, Arlen Specter in the United States Senate, and he deserves to return in November. (Applause.) And it's a privilege to bring greetings to Schuylkill County from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I know you take your sports seriously in this state. The Little League World Series is now going on up in Williamsport. I know you'll join me in congratulating the fine Pennsylvania athletes representing our country in the Olympics. They are making the people of Pennsylvania proud, and they're making America proud, too. (Applause.)
The President and I are tremendously grateful for our many strong supporters all across the Keystone State. We ran hard here in 2000; we came close to victory. We're going to work even harder to earn your support this year, and you'll be seeing plenty more of us between now and the election. And come November 2nd, Pennsylvania will be part of a great nationwide victory. (Applause.)
You might have heard there was a little political gathering up in Boston here a few weeks ago.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, they did, they had a meeting. And it's now official -- I have an opponent. (Laughter.) No, I really do. And people keep telling me that Senator Edwards got picked because of his good looks, his charm, he's sexy, he's got great hair. (Laughter.) I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Applause.)
This is an extraordinarily important election. It 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 and the Soviet Union at the height of 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. And with President George W. Bush as 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 pride and comfort in the character and the conduct of our President. They saw a man calm in a crisis, comfortable with responsibility, determined to do everything necessary to protect our people. Under the President's leadership, we've driven the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. (Applause.) Under the President's leadership, we rid the world of a gathering threat by eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Seventeen months ago, Saddam controlled the lives and the future of 25 million people. Today, he's in jail. (Applause.)
A year ago, Libya had a secret nuclear weapons program. But after our coalition ousted Saddam Hussein, Libya's leader, Moammar Ghaddafi, had a change of heart. (Applause.) He turned control over Libya's program to us, and today the uranium, the centrifuges to enrich the uranium, the weapons designs are now down at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under American lock and key. (Applause.)
And we've also shut down the secret network that was the world's most dangerous supplier of nuclear weapons technology. We've put terrorist financiers out of business, dismantled terrorist cells worldwide. Most of the planners of the 9/11 attacks now have been captured or killed, including Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11. (Applause.)
We could not have succeeded in these efforts without the help of dozens of countries around the world. We will always seek international support for international efforts, but as the President made 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've 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 prosecute terrorists. We created the Department of Homeland Security to focus our government on the mission of protecting the American people -- and in that effort, we have a superb leader in your former governor, Tom Ridge. (Applause.)
But a good defense is not enough, so we've also gone on offense in the war on terror. (Applause.) However, the President's opponent, Senator Kerry, seems to object. He's even said, 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.)
In this election we face a choice between our President and a man calling for us to fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. 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, Truman -- did not seek to fight a "sensitive war," they sought to defeat our enemies decisively. (Applause.)
I listened to what Senator Kennedy had to -- excuse me, I get them confused sometimes -- (laughter) -- I listened to what Senator Kerry had to say in Boston, and, with all due respect to the Senator, he views the world sometimes as if we had never been attacked on September 11th. 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 for the next attack. (Applause.)
That awful day left some 3,000 of our fellow citizens dead, and everything we've learned since tells us the terrorists would do worse if they could, that they would use chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons against us. 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. (Applause.)
We also have important differences with the Kerry-Edwards record when it comes to providing for our men and women in uniform. And 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, Senators Kerry and Edwards voted no.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Only 12 members of the United States Senate opposed the funding that provided 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. 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." Well, that certainly clears things up. (Laughter.) But lately he has been saying that he is proud that he and John Edwards voted no, and he explains 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 with the resources they need. We need a President who will back our troops one hundred percent, and that's exactly what we've got in 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 I want to thank all the veterans with us 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've 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. (Applause.) When President Bush and I stood on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol and took the oath of office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck and our economy was shaken 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 -- since last August, about 1.5 million new jobs. Here in Pennsylvania, 61,000 jobs have been created since February. Your unemployment rate is 5.3 percent, below the national average, and below Pennsylvania's average rate in the 1980s and the 1990s. Mortgage rates, interest rates, and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident, businesses are investing, 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 -- (applause) -- 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 did not go to the White House to mark time, or to spend his energy on small goals. He went to take on the big issues, to make serious reforms. He's led with confidence, with clear vision and unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and he's kept his word. And that's exactly how he will lead the nation for the next four years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In our second term, we'll keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We'll work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) We will work to help end lawsuit abuse because we know it's a lot easier -- (applause) -- we know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire more workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Laughter.) And we will work for medical liability reform. (Applause.) We know the cost of medical malpractice insurance has created a crisis in Pennsylvania and my home state of Wyoming. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
In our second term, we'll move forward on a comprehensive energy policy to make the 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're opposed to our tax relief, and now they are 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.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: What we're hearing -- 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. And we believe that Americans ought to be able to say so when they pledge allegiance to the flag. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There shouldn't be any question about this -- and there wouldn't be if we had more reasonable judges on the federal bench. (Applause.) But we have a situation in the United States Senate where Democrats, including Senators Kerry and Edwards, are using the filibuster to block the President's sensible, mainstream nominations to the judiciary. They've blocked Miguel Estrada, a fine man who came to this country as an immigrant from Honduras, went to Harvard Law School and works in the Department of Justice. They've blocked Janice Rogers Brown, the daughter of sharecroppers who worked her way through law school and became a justice of the California Supreme Court.
Recently, they used their obstructionist tactics to keep the Senate from voting on Bill Myers, a friend of mine from Wyoming. If Bill Myers had made it to an up or down vote on the Senate floor, he would have been confirmed for the 9th Circuit, he had the votes -- which, by the way, is the circuit that decided we should not say "under God" when we pledge allegiance to the flag.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sounds to me like they could use some new judges on the 9th Circuit. (Applause.) What the Democrats are doing is simply outrageous, and that's why Pennsylvania needs to send Arlen Specter back 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 spreading hope and freedom around the world. Here at home, we'll continue to build 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. (Applause.)
The President and I are honored by your confidence in us, by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Pennsylvania. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome to Pottsville this afternoon. 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 2:18 P.M. EDT