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 Home > News & Policies > October 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 29, 2004

Vice President's Remarks in Dimondale, Michigan
The Summit at the Capital Centre
Dimondale, Michigan

1:15 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: This is a downright rowdy crowd. (Applause.) Obviously must be Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, it's good to be back. (Applause.) We're delighted to be here today in Eaton County, Dimondale, Michigan.

And it's true that Lynne has known me since I was 14, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I explain to folks that we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. (Laughter.) In those days I was a youngster living in Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected; reorganized the government; Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, and that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's great victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) She said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) And I'm sure it's absolutely true.

We're coming down to the closing days of the campaign. It has been a great campaign. Lynne and I appreciate your support, and we appreciate the fact that all of you are here this morning. It's great to be in the Midwest, and I bring you good wishes from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Of course, the President has been out campaigning extensively all across the country. I noticed Senator Kerry was out last week in Ohio, goose hunting. He's a serious goose hunter. (Laughter.) The Senator was wearing a new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which made me wonder just how often he goes goose hunting. (Laughter.) My personal opinion is that his camo jacket is an October disguise. (Laughter and applause.) It's an effort to hide the fact that he goes against gun-owner rights every chance he gets. But we all know that the cover-up isn't going to work because you and I know that the Second Amendment is more than just a photo opportunity. (Applause.)

With four days left in this campaign, the choices in the election could not be more clear. The stakes are very high, both at home and abroad. And I believe on November 2nd, the American people are going to make George W. Bush President for four more years. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Lynne and I love this part of the country. Of course, the President was in Saginaw yesterday. He and I both have a good feeling about this area, and about the state, and we're going to carry Michigan on Election Day. (Applause.)

I want to thank your candidate for Congress -- he'll make a great member, Joe Schwarz, for being here today. (Applause.) Nick Smith has been a good Congressman for this district, and Joe will be a fine successor. And I also note the presence of a good friend and colleague -- Mike Rogers is with us today. (Applause.)

I want to thank all of those who have been helping in the campaign, putting up yard signs, making phone calls, helping turn out the vote. Grassroots activism is an absolutely essential part of our campaign. And the President and I are grateful for your support.

Michigan voters understand the importance of steady, principled, consistent leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America. Our country faces some serious challenges, so we are meeting every one of those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, people in Michigan and across the land can be confident of a better future; a stronger economy; and a nation more secure because of the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Over the course of the last four years, I think people have seen very clearly the character and the vision of our President.


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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Treat them -- treat them with kindness. Treat them with kindness, maybe they'll see the light. (Laughter.)

He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. He sets clear goals, and works with members of both parties to achieve them. He puts the country first and his deepest commitment is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure. (Applause.)

During the course of this campaign, we've seen something quite different in the President's opponent. He is a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause.

Just over a year ago, John Kerry did something truly unthinkable for a man who aspires to be Commander-in-Chief; he turned his back on the troops that he had earlier voted to send into combat because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm getting to that. (Laughter and applause.)

Senator Kerry, you will remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary season when it came time to vote funds that would provide our men and women with the body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts they needed, Senator Kerry voted "no."


THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation which, frankly, I believe will go down in the history of American politics. He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.)

But the real reason he turned his back on the troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the antiwar candidate; Dean was surging ahead in the polls; and so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primary, turned his back on the troops.

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated -- (Applause.)

John Kerry will say and do anything in order to get elected. He will attack the Patriot Act -- after he voted for it. He will attack the No Child Left Behind Act -- after he voted for it. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft ?- when he knows that the only people who supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party. Nobody but a couple of Democrats wants to change the all-volunteer force because it is the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)

John Kerry will say and do anything to get elected. Most recently, he's launched an assault on the capability and the competence of our troops and commanders in Iraq, charging that American forces did not do enough to protect a weapons facility in Iraq, with the result that some 300 plus tons of explosives disappeared. This is an entirely bogus charge, and John Kerry made it not because he'd gathered the facts, but because he thought it was in his political advantage.

The numbers he's been using appear to be inaccurate. Moreover, less than an hour ago, Major Austin Pearson, of the 24th Ordnance Company of the 24th Support Group, reported at a news conference at the Pentagon that he was sent to the site with his crew on April 13, 2003. They seized and destroyed some 250 tons of ammunition, which included in that amount some significant portions of the explosives in question. Our troops were doing their job then, they're continuing to do the right thing all along.


At the same time, they've been building schools, training Iraqi forces, and fighting an insurgency, they've seized 400,000 tons of munitions and are in the process of destroying them. These brave men and women deserve better than to have their actions called into question by a political candidate so ambitious, he can't wait for the facts. (Applause.)

John Kerry is playing armchair general, and he's not doing a very good job of it. (Laughter.) This shouldn't surprise us given his weak record on national security. He first ran for Congress advocating the idea that we should deploy American troops only under the authority of the United Nations.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: He ran for the Senate on the platform that he should dismantle most of the major weapons systems that Ronald Reagan used to keep the peace and win the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, John Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: And in the first debate this year, Senator Kerry said that America had to meet some kind of global test before we could take military action.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President and I know better than that. (Applause.) We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls, our job is to defend America. (Applause.)

Now, in the closing days of this campaign, John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness on national defense. But he can't do it. It won't work. As we say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig. (Applause.) That's one of my favorite lines. (Laughter.)

John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a President. He is not a steadfast leader. Our President is. (Applause.)

And let me tell you why that matters. A country can never know what a President will be called upon to do. Think of the last four years; think of the challenges of 9/11 and the global war on terror, and because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he has led us very well. (Applause.) At the Republican Convention in New York, you remember Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11, he turned to Bernie Kerik, his police commissioner, and said, Thank God, George Bush is our Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

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

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Forty more years.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Under the President's leadership -- forty more years. (Laughter.) I think he's talking about us. (Laughter.) All right. I'll take it under consideration. (Laughter.) I got to focus on my efforts here, and my -- (Laughter.) My work.

Under the President's leadership, we have reached around the world to capture and kill thousands of al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, and the Taliban driven from power.

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat. We removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Nineteen months ago -- (Applause.) Nineteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, he sits in jail. (Applause.)

We are also helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build representative governments. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. Elections were held there three weeks ago tomorrow, the first in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.) In January, the people of Iraq will vote, as well. And we will be safer as a result. One of the lessons that history teaches is that institutions of self-government turn the energies of people away from violence to the peaceful work of building better lives. Freedom is the best antidote to terrorism. (Applause.)

Because of President Bush's determination in the war on terror, leaders around the world are getting the message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Moammar Ghadafi of Libya --

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Moammar Ghadafi of Libya agreed to abandon his 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 trade and transfer of these deadly technologies. The most important result thus far is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons material to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down. And the world is much 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 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. (Applause.)

The clearest, most important difference in this campaign is simple to state: President Bush understands the war on terror and has a strategy for winning it; Senator Kerry does not.

All doubt on the matter was removed when Senator Kerry said recently that he wanted to lead America back to the place where we were -- to a time when terrorism was, in his word, a "nuisance," like illegal gambling or prostitution. That's the comparison he made.

When I read that, I thought to myself, when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it a nuisance four years ago, when the USS Cole was attacked and we lost 17 sailors and nearly the ship? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they simultaneously bombed two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 11 years ago, when the World Trade Center in New York was first bombed?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 16 years ago, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie Scotland?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 21 years ago, when a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with explosives drove into a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 Marines?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: My friends, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. (Applause.) There never can be a time when terrorism is just a nuisance. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat terror, and with George Bush as President, that's exactly what we will do. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds; or who fail to understand the nature of the struggle we're in. 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 prevail. 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.)

President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. (Laughter.) I want to thank them, I want to thank their families, and all the veterans with us here today for what they've done for all of us. (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 terrorists struck on 9/11 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 cuts for the American people not once, not twice, but four times in four years. (Applause.)

Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the Bush tax cuts -? and so has the economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months ?- a total of 1.9 million new jobs during that period. (Applause.) Mortgage rates, and interest rates, and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident; businesses are investing; 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's good for the entire nation.

We know there are still challenges. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. But our economy is a growing. It's a changing economy. We're going to expand job opportunities and job training to help people find new jobs. We're also investing in the nation's fine community colleges, so they can prepare more citizens for the jobs of the 21st century. The President and I will stand with America's workers. (Applause.)

Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. 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.) And to help families and small businesses, we'll lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. (Applause.)

We'll work to end lawsuit abuse because we know it's easier for America's businesses to hire workers if they don't have to hire lawyers. (Applause.)

We'll continue to work to help parents and teachers improve our public schools so all our children receive the world-class education they deserve. (Applause.) We will work to make it easier for small businesses to provide health insurance for employees and for families to meet their health care needs ?- and we'll do this in a way that will keep health decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not the hands of Washington bureaucrats. (Applause.)

We'll work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Michigan, but across the nation. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

In order to make sure this economy grows, we've got to use our resources wisely. That starts with keeping the Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes Basin. (Applause.) You might remember what Senator Kerry said earlier this year about Great Lakes water diversion. He said it would be a delicate balancing act. That sounds just like him. The President's position is clear: We're never going to allow diversion of Great Lakes water. (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 reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment and 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 -- and we believe Americans ought to be able to say so when we pledge allegiance to our 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 bench. They're 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: My friends, the differences between the President and his opponent are as sharp as they can possibly be, and the consequences for the country are enormous. On vital matters of national security, Senator Kerry offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose and resolute action, and a strategy for victory. (Applause.) Senator Kerry wants to empower government; President Bush will empower the citizens of this great country. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think all the wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)

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'll continue building a prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child in America has a chance to rise, to learn, and to succeed in the world. (Applause.)

The President and I are honored by your commitment to the cause we all share. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the American people. The signs are good -? here in Michigan, 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 Michigan. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. (Applause.) Together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 1:40 P.M. EDT