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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
September 23, 2004

Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in St. Joseph, Missouri
St. Joseph Civic Arena
St. Joseph, Missouri

3:47 P.M.CDT

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.

MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Why is it always the guys who say we love you? (Laughter.) All right. Well, I want to thank you for that warm welcome. It's great to be here in St. Joseph. And this of course --

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, too. (Laughter and applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right. Okay. (Laughter.) I'm losing my train of thought here. (Laughter.) St. Joe is famous as the place where Jesse James met his end. And by the looks of things here today, St. Joe will be the end of the Kerry-Edwards campaign. (Applause.)

Lynne has known me since I was 14 years old. She wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) And I tell folks that we actually got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President -- because in 1952, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, he reorganized part of the government, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where I met Lynne. And we grew up together, went to high school together, and a couple of weeks ago marked our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's 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.) Sam liked that one, so -- (Laughter.)

But Lynne and I have been traveling across the country talking about that tremendous convention we had in New York City. (Applause.) President Bush laid out a clear, forward looking plan to make America more hopeful and the world more secure.

The President and I are tremendously grateful for all of our supporters in Missouri. 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 Georgia's Senator Zell Miller. (Applause.) The President and I were proud to carry Missouri in 2000. We're going to work even harder to earn your support this year. We've been to Missouri many times -- and you'll be seeing more of us. With your help, we are going to win this state and we are going to win this election. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now, I had the pleasure of having your Congressman, Sam Graves, travel with me to St. Joe today. He came out with us from Washington. I know a little bit about the Congress. I was the congressman from Wyoming for 10 years. Wyoming only has one congressman. (Laughter.) It's a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Applause.)

But I've gotten to know Sam and watched him work, and he does a superb job for all of you here in Missouri. We're proud to have him in the House of Representatives. (Applause.)

And let me also say you've got two great senators in Kit Bond and Jim Talent. They're doing great work. And the President and I are proud to be on the ballot this year with Sam, with Kit, with your candidate for governor, Matt Blunt. (Applause.)

As I said in my convention speech in New York City, I'm mindful that I now have an opponent. (Laughter.) People keep telling me Senator Edwards got picked for his charm, his good looks, his sex appeal, his great hair. I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Applause.)

But in all seriousness, this is serious business this year. This is an important election -? an election that 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. From the night of September 11th to this day, America has left no doubt about where we stand. We have no illusions about the nature of this struggle, or the character of the enemy we face. The beheading of American hostages this week is another grim reminder of the evil nature of our adversaries. 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 George W. Bush as our Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what we will do. (Applause.)

I'm sure many of you heard Rudy Giuliani's remarks at the convention. He remembered the attacks of 9/11, and remembered at one point turning 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 and 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.) Eighteen months ago, he controlled the lives and the fortunes of some 25 million people. Today, he sits in jail. (Applause.)

This morning Sam and I sat in the Chamber of the House of Representatives as Ayad Allawi, the Prime Minister of a free Iraq, addressed the Congress and said, thank you America. (Applause.) He noted the struggle in Iraq was tough, and that there have been and there will be setbacks. But he also noted that there is progress not being reported in the American media. Iraqi children are in school, and Iraqi security forces are being trained. The country is on a course toward free elections. Prime Minister Allawi is a brave man. (Applause.)

Some years ago, Saddam Hussein sent assassins after the Prime Minister -- with axes. They tried to hack him to death in his own bed. He survived the attack. He's a brave and a determined leader. And I must say I was appalled at the complete lack of respect Senator Kerry showed for this man of courage --


THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- when he rushed to hold a press conference and attack the Prime Minister, a man America must stand beside to defeat the terrorists. (Applause.) John Kerry is trying to tear down all the good that has been accomplished, and his words are destructive to our effort in Iraq and in the global war on terror. As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech, and I quote, "When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence." End quote. (Applause.)

President Bush's steadfast leadership and clear determination send a very different signal. 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.)

The biggest danger we face today is having nuclear weapons technology fall into the hands of terrorists. The President is working with many countries in a global effort to end the trade and transfer of these deadly technologies. The most important result thus far -- and it is a very 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. (Applause.) The world's worst source of nuclear proliferation is out of business -- and we are safer as a result.

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 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.)

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.

AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Earlier this week, John Kerry gave us yet another position on the war in Iraq. He attacked the progress we are making and the policies we have implemented. Yet despite all the harsh rhetoric, Senator Kerry endorsed many of the same goals President Bush has been pursuing in Iraq for months. Senator Kerry also said that under his leadership, more of America's friends would speak with one voice on Iraq. That seems a little odd coming from a guy who doesn't speak with one voice himself. (Laughter and applause.)

By his repeated efforts to recast and redefine the war on terror and our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Senator Kerry has given every indication that he lacks the resolve, the determination, and the conviction to prevail in the conflict we face. The position Senator Kerry adopted most recently seems to be that he would not have supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein's regime, and that removing Saddam has somehow weakened our national security.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Nine months ago when Howard Dean took a similar position during the Democratic primaries, 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.) The only thing I have to say to that is, I'm Dick Cheney and I approve this message. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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.


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." (Laughter.) That certainly clears things up. (Laughter.) Lately he's been saying he's proud that he and John Edwards voted no, and explains his decision was "complicated." (Laughter.) But funding American troops in combat should never be a complicated question. (Applause.) We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's exactly what we've got in George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry said that leadership starts with telling the truth, but the American people know that true leadership also requires the ability to make a decision. True leadership is sticking with that decision in the face of political pressure, and true leadership is standing for your principles regardless of your audience, or who you've just hired as a political advisor. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry says he will always be straight with the American people on the good days and on the bad days. In his case, that means when the headlines are good he's for the war, and when his poll numbers are bad, he's against it. (Laughter.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next. Our troops, our allies, and our enemies must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. 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.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) And I want to thank them and all the veterans with us here today for what they have done for all of us. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments 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 United States military. (Applause.)

On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. (Laughter.) His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it is all part of a pattern. He has, in the last few years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act -- and against it. He has spoken for the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and against it. He is for the Patriot Act -- and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas.

AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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, as well as 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 has benefited from the Bush tax cuts -- and so has the economy. We've created jobs for the last 12 consecutive months -- a total of 1.7 million new jobs over the last year -- including 144,000 new jobs last month. 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're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that is good for our entire nation. (Applause.)

We know there are still challenges out there -- in our manufacturing communities, especially. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. But this is a strong, 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 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 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.)

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 it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.) We will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Missouri, but all across the nation. (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, now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending. They helped block our 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 our taxes.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Bush and I will also continue to defend society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life, and reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment, and we'll 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 Americans ought to 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.) The Democrats in the Senate have been doing everything they can -- including using the filibuster -- to keep the President's sensible, mainstream nominees off the federal bench.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Now they are hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen because we're going to win this election. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 in the Oval Office -- and make those decisions with the wisdom and humility that 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. (Applause.) Here at home, we will 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, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the judgment of the American people. The signs are good -- here in Missouri, 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 Missouri. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.

Thank you. (Applause.)

END 4:15 P.M. CDT

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