|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
September 14, 2004
Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Blytheville, Arkansas
Staple Cotton Warehouse
10:46 A.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. This is a great welcome. It's great to be back in Arkansas. (Applause.) And I'm grateful for a chance to come to Blytheville. (Applause.) I've been traveling all over America, and it's nice to get a little Southern hospitality. (Applause.) I'm proud to be in the land of the mighty Mississippi, and I'm proud to be in Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
My wife Lynne was supposed to be with me this morning, but she's under the weather. And I told her to stay down and rest up, we've got 49 days to go in the campaign. And we want her out there on the trail with me. (Laughter.) Who is that guy? (Laughter.)
But I often tell people that we have a Republican marriage, that the reason we got married was because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States back in 1952. You're saying what is he doing with this story. Where is this going? (Laughter.) But in those years 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 transferred to Casper, Wyoming. And that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together; went to high school together; and got married, of course; and two weeks ago, celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) And I explained that 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.) She said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) Every guy in the audience knows exactly what I mean.
But I'm delighted to be here. We've been traveling across the country, talking about what a tremendous convention we had in New York last week. (Applause.) When you've got the spectrum from Rudy Guiliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Zell Miller, that's not a bad line-up. (Applause.) The President laid out a clear, forward-looking plan to make America more hopeful and to make the world more secure. He talked about the changing world we live in and the need to transform the systems of government so that all citizens are equipped, prepared and free to make choices and to pursue their dreams. He also talked about the power of liberty to transform countries and lives and bring a future of hope and peace. We're looking forward to talking about that vision over the next 49 days. And we're looking forward on November 2nd when we elect George Bush President of the United States for four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I want to thank Mike Huckabee and Win Rockefeller for being here this morning with us, as well. They do a great job for Arkansas. (Applause.) The President and I are tremendously grateful for all of our supporters in Arkansas. Here and across the country we've got strong backing from Republicans and independents. And we're proud to have the support of so many Democrats like Zell Miller who know who the best man for the presidency is. (Applause.) The President and I were proud to carry this state in 2000. We're going to work even harder for your support this year. You'll be seeing more of us here in the Natural State, and with your help, we're going to win this election on November 2nd. (Applause.)
I said in my convention speech in New York, I'm mindful that I now have an opponent. (Laughter.) No, I really do. People keep telling me Senator Edwards got his job because he's sexy, good looking, charming, and has great hair. (Laughter.) And I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Applause.)
But in all seriousness, this is an important election, a very important election. It couldn't 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. 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 George Bush as our Commander-in-Chief, that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)
I'm sure many of you heard the remarks at the Republican convention by Rudy Giuliani. He remembered -- as mayor of New York -- the day that his city was attacked, turning at one point to his police commissioner, Bernie Kerik, and saying, "Thank God George W. Bush is our President." (Applause.)
Under the President's leadership, we have reached around the world to capture or kill hundreds of Al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, and the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Seventeen months ago, he controlled the lives and the fortunes of some 25 million people. Today, he's in jail. (Applause.)
President Bush doesn't deal in empty threats and half-way measures, and his determination has sent a clear message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, the government of Libya agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program and turn the materials over to the United States. (Applause.) Today, the uranium, the centrifuges, and the plans for nuclear weapons that were once hidden in Libya are locked up and stored away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, never again to be a danger to Americans. (Applause.)
The biggest threat we face is having nuclear weapons fall into the hands of terrorists. The President is working with many countries in a global effort to end the trade and transfer of the deadly technology. The most important result thus far -- and it's an important one -- is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down. The world's worst source of nuclear proliferation is out of business, and we are all safer as a result. (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 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.)
America faces a choice on November 2nd, between a strong and steadfast President and his opponent, who seems to adopt a new position every day. Just last week, John Kerry gave us what I think is his eighth position on the war in Iraq. He said that Iraq was, and I quote, "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." Except it turns out that is really somebody else's position. It's former Democrat Primary Candidate Howard Dean's position. And nine months ago, when Howard Dean took this position during the primary, Senator Kerry said, and I quote, "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be President or the credibility to be elected President." End quote. (Applause.) That's a direct quote from John Kerry, Drake University, in Iowa, December 16th of last year. In the spirit of bipartisanship, that's one position of Senator Kerry's that I do agree with. (Applause.)
In times of great challenge, our troops, our allies and our enemies must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. But in all the national campaigns that I've watched up close, I've never seen a candidate go back and forth so many times on a single issue.
All the shifts Senator Kerry has made are troubling, but there is one that really stands out. It starts with Senator Kerry and his running mate, Senator Edwards, voting in favor of using 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. 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.
At first Senator Kerry said that he didn't 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." 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.) 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 100 percent, and that's 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 all the veterans with us here today for what they have done for all of us. (Laughter.) One of the most important commitments that the President made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve -- and he has kept his word to the U.S. military.
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next. In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate -- and fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a President -- a President -- always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge, America needs -- and America has -- a President we can count on to get it right. (Applause.)
On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it's all part of a pattern. He has, in the last several years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act -- and against it. He has spoken in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and against it. He's for the Patriot Act -- and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual -- America sees two John Kerrys. (Laughter and applause.)
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 into 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 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. We've created jobs for the last 12 consecutive months -- a total of 1.7 million new jobs over the past year -- including 144,000 jobs in the last month alone. Here in Arkansas, more than 13,000 jobs have been created since a year ago June. Mortgage rates, and interest rates, and inflation are low. Consumers are confident, businesses are investing, and families are taking home more of what they earn. (Applause.)
We're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation.
We know there are still challenges, especially in your 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, a growing economy. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these last 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 use his energy on small goals. He went to take on the big issues, and to undertake major reforms. He has led with confidence, clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and kept his word. And that's exactly how he will lead this nation for the next four years. (Applause.)
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. And to help families and small businesses, we will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. (Applause.)
We will work to end lawsuit abuse. (Applause.) We know that it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers.
We will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Arkansas, but across the nation. America's doctors -- (applause) -- America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
Our opponents have a very different vision for the country. They opposed our tax relief measures; now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending. They helped block our 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 our taxes.
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 that the American people ought to be able to say so. (Applause.) And we believe Americans ought be able to say so 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 federal 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. Recently, they used their obstructionist tactics to keep the Senate from voting on Bill Myers, a friend of mine from my part of the country, a good man. If Bill had made it to an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate, 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 outrageous, and that's why we need to send more Republicans to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
On issue after issue, President Bush has a clear vision for the future of our nation. America has come to know him, and I have come to admire him very much. I watch him at work every day. He's a person of loyalty and kindness, a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. I have seen him face some of the hardest decisions that can come to the man of the Oval Office -- and make those decisions with the wisdom and humility Americans expect in their President.
Abroad, under President Bush's leadership, 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 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. President Bush and I will engage -- will wage this effort with complete confidence in the judgment of the American people. The signs are good -- here in Arkansas, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to a news account, people leaving the Democratic National Convention in July asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, "Leave here -- and go vote Republican." (Applause.)
President Bush and I are honored to have the support of that police officer, and of Democrats, Republicans, and independents from every calling in American life. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Arkansas. Thanks for this tremendous welcome this morning. We're proud to have you on the team. And together, on November 2nd, we'll going to see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 11:09 A.M. CDT