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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 12, 2004

Remarks of the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney Followed by Question and Answer at a Coffee with Community Leaders
Thunder Bay Grille
Davenport, Iowa

8:05 A.M. CDT

MODERATOR: I'm the host here this morning at Thunder Bay, and obviously, it's our real pleasure to have a chance to have some breakfast this morning with the Vice President and his wife, Lynne. Thank you very much for coming once again to Iowa.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's good to be back. We're seeing a lot of Iowa. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Yes, you are.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Do you want to say anything this morning?

MRS. CHENEY: Oh, my gosh, you caught me unprepared.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's the first time that ever happened. (Laughter.)

MRS. CHENEY: No, we've just had a grand time traveling this country, seeing so many beautiful places. When I come here and I look across the river, and I think -- the wonderful view you've got, and the wonderful life you have here, and the great schools you have for your kids, I think Iowa is a wonderful place to live.

And it just reminds me again of how fortunate we all are to be Americans, and how much we have to be proud of. And I always like to say when I think of a list of things I like to be proud of, I put our President right at the top. (Applause.) He's done a wonderful job these past four years, and I like to add that the Vice President is no slouch either. (Laughter and applause.)

So with that I'll turn it over to Dick, whoever.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Old What's His Name.

MRS. CHENEY: Yes, yes. (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we're delighted to be here this morning. What we usually do at these events is I take the opportunity to make some opening remarks, to talk about a subject or two that I think is important in terms of the campaign this year, and the decision we're going to make three weeks from today. Three weeks -- but who's counting, right? (Laughter.) But -- and then we'll open it up to questions so I have an opportunity to hear from all of you, as well, too.

Maybe we might just begin initially by going around the table here and have each of you identify yourselves and your affiliation, and then I'll begin to make a few remarks. I know Mike, of course.

(Conversation inaudible.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much. Let me begin this morning, I want to spend a few minutes and talk about what I think is at the heart of this election, probably the most important decision we're going to make, and that's picking a Commander-in-Chief for the next four years. I'm one of those people who believes that periodically -- if you look back at our history, you can find times when we've come to watersheds, if you will, when we've been faced with new circumstances, new threats. We've had to reorganize ourselves, and get equipped to develop a strategy to deal with a new set of circumstances in terms of the basic threats the nation faces.

We did this right after World War II when we were confronted with the Cold War, and we created the Department of Defense, the CIA. We established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, reconfigured our military forces, developed our nuclear capabilities and pursued a strategy of deterrence -- vis-a-vis the Soviet Union -- that worked throughout the Cold War. It was followed for close to 40 years by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and that was the heart of our national security strategy.

Now we're at another time when I think, especially since 9/11 when we're faced with a set of circumstances that requires us to come up with a new strategy, a new approach, if you will, to defending the nation, because we've got a new threat, a different kind of threat than any we've faced out there before. And that's, in effect, what we've been doing for the last three plus years now.

And of course, at the heart of that effort is to do everything we can to improve our defenses here at home, so we spent a lot of time and effort creating the Department of Homeland Security, the biggest reorganization of the federal government since the Department of Defense was established back in 1947 -- took 22 different agencies, 170,000 people and put them together in a new department with a specific mission of hardening the target, so to speak, of making the United States a more difficult target for the terrorists to come after.

We've done other things -- the Patriot Act that gave law enforcement some of the tools that had already been given to law enforcement for prosecuting organized crime and drug traffickers, but now focused specifically on the terrorism threat; Project BioShield that spends money and grants authority to do a better job of developing technologies that can be used to defend against biological weapons attacks; a series of steps like that that have been vital.

But again, even if we're successful 99 percent of the time on defense, there's no such thing as a perfect defense. And the key decision the President made after 9/11 was we also have to go on offense, and that's a dramatically different posture from the way we dealt with terror in the period prior to 9/11, as a nation.

The fact of the matter was, we'd been hit repeatedly over the years prior to 9/11, and there rarely was a penalty imposed on the terrorists themselves. We'd go after individual terrorists, wrap them up, prosecute them. If we caught them, we'd put them in jail. But it was treated as a criminal problem, as a law enforceme