|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 4, 2004
Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Congressional Candidate Larry Diedrich
Best Western Ramkota Hotel
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
August 3, 2004
6:36 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) That's a very nice welcome. It's great to be back in South Dakota. I get here very once in a while. Usually, I'm chasing pheasants instead of votes. (Laughter.) But that's all right. And today we're working on the votes for Larry Diedrich. I want to thank all of you for coming out to support your next congressman -- I think Larry will make a superb governor -- excuse me, congressman. (Laughter.) And Mike Rounds, of course, is here as your governor. (Laughter and applause.) So I want to make sure we get the right vote. That's all right. This is our -- about our fourth stop today. (Laughter.)
MRS. CHENEY: I'll remember this one.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You'll remember this one, Lynne. (Laughter.) She won't let me forget it either. (Laughter.) But it's always it's a pleasure to come back to Sioux Falls, and to touch down in Air Force Two at Joe Foss Field. I had the honor of knowing Joe Foss. As a congressman from Wyoming -- Joe had a place in Wyoming for a while. And he used to consider me his congressman, so I heard a lot from Joe. (Laughter.) He was never bashful about expressing views. But he was a superb governor of South Dakota, of course, and an outstanding Medal of Honor winner. He was a model for all of us in public service, and I had the privilege of participating in the memorial services for him at Arlington National Cemetery last year. So it's always great to come back to South Dakota. (Applause.)
And it's a privilege to pass along best wishes from another strong supporter of Larry's campaign for Congress, President George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Lynne told those stories about my youth, and she left out some of the good parts. (Laughter.) But I like to remind people that the reason we got married was because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. People say, what's that all about? We know there are far-reaching consequences for presidential elections, but that's pulling it a bit far.
But in 1952, we were living in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was with my folks, a youngster, and Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower came in and he reorganized the Agriculture Department, and Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming. And I met Lynne there. We grew up together, went to high school together there, and got married. And we'll mark our 40th wedding anniversary next month. (Applause.) But I explained to a group the other night, if it hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's election victory in 1952, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.)
President Bush and I were pulling hard for Larry on June 1st, and I know you were, too. Both Lynne and I campaigned hard for him earlier this year. And there's good reason to be confident about this coming November. Larry ran a superb campaign. He made up a lot of ground in a very short period of time, and came within fewer than 3,000 votes of victory. The people of South Dakota left no doubt that they considered Larry a principled, serious leader, with everything it takes to serve this great state in the U.S. Congress. And now he's starting the fall campaign with an experienced team, a firm base of support, and a clear plan for the days ahead. He's going to keep reminding people all over the state that he stands for low taxes, for job growth, strong families, and a prosperous agricultural sector. He's already started to rebuild his momentum. We're going to be working hard for Larry again, and come November 2nd, I'm confident the people of South Dakota will send him to the United States Congress. (Applause.)
Now, I had the privilege of representing Wyoming in the Congress for 10 years. I used to explain to people we only had one seat in Congress from Wyoming. It was a small delegation -- but I always added, Larry -- it was quality. (Laughter.) And you'll be able to say the same thing when you elect Larry to the U.S. House of Representatives. (Applause.)
You've also got a Senate election here in November in South Dakota, and some of us are following that race with considerable interest. (Laughter.) And we know John Thune from his days in the House. He's running a strong campaign all across the state. And in my capacity as Vice President, I am the President of the Senate. I get to swear in new senators, and I look forward to swearing in John Thune as the next senator from South Dakota. (Applause.)
We're all looking forward to the campaign ahead. As you might have heard, there was a bit of a political gathering up in Boston last week. (Laughter.) It's now official -- I have an opponent. (Laughter.) No, I really do. I have an opponent. People keep telling me Senator Edwards got picked because he has good looks, great charm, great hair. I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Laughter and applause.)
The 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 Two, or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This enemy, in the words of the 9/11 Commission's report that was filed just last week, 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, 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 gets 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 vanquish. And with Larry Diedrich in Congress and President George W. Bush as our Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what we will 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 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 removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the camps where those terrorists trained to kill Americans. Under the President's leadership, we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein, a man who had developed weapons of mass destruction, used them against the Iraqi people, started two wars, and provided safe haven for terrorists. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and future of almost 25 million people. Tonight, he's in jail. (Applause.)
Freedom still has enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 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. And America will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11. It's not enough to simply prosecute a series of crimes after a violent attack has occurred. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. (Applause.) This nation 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. Our broad coalition includes some 30 nations involved in Iraq; nearly 40 nations have joined us in 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 United States of America. (Applause.)
Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.) One of our soldiers from South Dakota just returned, greeted me at the airport when I got off the airplane tonight. These men and women, who are defending our 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 have the resources they need and the respect they deserve, and we have kept our word to the U.S. military. (Applause.)
You may have noticed we have some important differences with the folks you saw in Boston last week. 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 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. (Laughter.) Only 12 members of the United States Senate opposed the funding that would provide vital resources for the troops. Only four Senators voted for the use of force and against the resources our men and women in combat needed once they were there. Only four. And Senators Kerry and Edwards were two of those four.
At first Senator Kerry said that he did not really oppose the funding. He both supported and opposed it. He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) 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 Larry understands, it's simply wrong to vote to commit troops to combat and then refuse to provide them with 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.)
At every level of the ballot, events will turn on the outcome of this election of great significance. The leader who sits in the Oval Office -- and the men and women who represent us on Capitol Hill -- will set the course for the war on terror, and set the direction for the our economy in the years ahead. 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 front of the Capitol and took the oath of 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 hard-earned money for the 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.)
The Bush tax cuts have helped our national economy create jobs now for 10 consecutive months. We've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. Here in South Dakota, about 3,000 jobs have been added just in the last few months. Home ownership is at an all-time high. Mortgage rates, and interest rates, and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident, businesses are investing, and families are taking home more of what they earn. (Applause.) And over the past year, the economy has grown at a rate of nearly 5 percent. This is a strong economy; it's growing stronger every day. 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 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 parents, and making sure that folks here in South Dakota are in charge of South Dakota's public schools. 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 passed a responsible environmental law, the Healthy Forests Act, that will help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires across the West.
And under the President's leadership, we have taken unprecedented steps to protect the American people. To give law enforcement tools they need to track down terrorists, we passed the Patriot Act to give law enforcement. To focus our government -- (Applause.) Lynne loves the Patriot Act. (Laughter.) 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 catastrophic biological attack, we passed Project BioShield. And as the President announced yesterday, we will also seek enhancement of a law to create the position of a National Intelligence Director, to lead our efforts across the intelligence agencies and to serve as the principal intelligence advisor to the President. 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.
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 come to the White House 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, with clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and kept his word. And that's exactly how he will lead the country for the next four years. (Applause.)
Larry Diedrich shares our hopeful, optimistic vision for the future. He'll be a valuable ally for us on Capitol Hill, and we look forward to working with him to accomplish great goals.
We need Larry in Congress to keep moving forward with our pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We need Larry in Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) We need Larry in Congress to help end lawsuit abuse. (Applause.) 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 Larry in Congress to help work for medical liability reform. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.) And we need Larry in Congress to help us continue to move forward toward a comprehensive energy policy -- one that promotes domestic energy production; respects the environment; allows us to develop renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel. The President's energy plan does all these things. It was approved by the House, but blocked by a Democrat filibuster in the Senate. We fell two votes short of defeating the filibuster. Senators Kerry and Edwards didn't even show up for the vote.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our opponents have a very different vision for our 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 our 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 Larry 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." (Applause.) And we believe that Americans ought to be able to say so when they pledge allegiance to the flag. (Applause.)
We have a situation in the United States Senate where Democrats -- including Senators Kerry and Edwards -- are blocking the President's sensible, mainstream nominations to the judiciary. Recently, Democrats used their obstructionist filibuster tactics to keep the Senate from voting on four of the nominees the President sent forward. 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 Myers had made it to an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, he had the votes so that he would have been confirmed to a seat on the Ninth Circuit, which 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 I hope you'll keep that in mind as you work to send John Thune 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. Here at home, we will continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.
Larry Diedrich has the same great goals for South Dakota -- and with your help, he'll start carrying out his vision in Congress come January. President Bush and I have complete confidence in Larry, and the people of this state. We are 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 Larry Diedrich in the House for many years to come.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 6:59 P.M. CDT