The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 15, 2004

Remarks by the Vice President at a Victory 2004 Rally
Deltaplex Entertainment & Expo Center
Grand Rapids, Michigan

5:00 P.M. EDT


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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I accept. (Applause.) Well, it's great to be back in Michigan again. And from the enthusiasm I see here today, there is no question Grand Rapids is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)

Now, it is true Lynne has known me since I was 14, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I explain to people that we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. Because in 1952, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, 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 election victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) No doubt in my mind.

But like most of you, Lynne and I watched the debate Wednesday night and thought the President did a fantastic job. (Applause.) And now, with 18 days to go the choices in the election are very clear. The stakes are 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: Today, we've been traveling through Michigan by bus. We started this morning in Berrien Springs, been to Kalamazoo, and stops in between -- and we are delighted to finish out our trip here today in Grand Rapids. And I can't think of a better place for a campaign rally than the hometown of a fine President, Gerald R. Ford. (Applause.) As many of you know, I had the honor of working for President Ford during his years in the White House, and I'm fortunate to count him among my close friends. It's also where I met Pete Secchia. (Laughter.) But I won't tell you that story.

But I've been privileged to see the President and Mrs. Ford several times recently, and they're both doing great. He just celebrated of his 91st birthday this past July. And we just marked the 30th anniversary of his becoming President in August. I've always thought of the Ford family as the embodiment of Midwestern values. You simply won't find two more decent, people -- committed public servants than Jerry and Betty Ford. (Applause.)

I want to thank Ambassador Secchia for his kind words. And I also want to mention your Congressman Vernon Ehlers. He does a superb job for the members of the third district, and I know he's on his way to another term in Washington, where he'll do a superb job as he has in the past. (Applause.)

This is no ordinary time for America. The last three-and-a-half years have brought some serious challenges. We're 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 that is more secure because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Let me go back to Wednesday's debate for a minute, because I thought what you saw was the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. He sets clear goals, and he 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.

You saw something quite different in the President's opponent. You saw a man --

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: This speech is going to take a long time to get through. (Applause.) I haven't even gotten to the good part yet. (Applause.) But in John Kerry, you saw a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause. And of course, this is nothing new. A year ago this weekend, John Kerry turned his back on the troops he voted to send into combat because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry, you'll remember, voted in favor of using force to oust Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary season when it came to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, spare parts, and fuel, Senator Kerry voted no.

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation for his action, saying, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: But the real reason he turned his back on our troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the antiwar candidate and Dean was surging ahead in the polls in the Democratic primaries. And so John Kerry, in order to advance himself turned his back on our troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat is never a complicated question. (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. And most of all, he will try to disguise his 20-year Senate record, which clearly shows him to be a tax-and-spend, soft-on-defense liberal.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Only John Kerry could make Ted Kennedy the most conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Applause.)

On the campaign trail, Senator Kerry talks about helping families and delivering a middle-class tax cut. But he doesn't mention that President Bush has already delivered a middle-class tax cut, increased the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, and established a new 10-percent bracket. All of these measures left money in the hands of taxpayers who earned it. All of these measures passed with bipartisan support in Congress. Yet when they called the roll, Senator Kerry voted "no."


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry doesn't mention these details, so we're going to have to do it for him. (Applause.)

And the President did a fine job in the debate, I thought, of pointing out John Kerry's record. He noted that the Senator voted 98 times to raise taxes; against tax reductions 126 times; and voted to break the budget caps 277 times. The President also pointed out that in 20 long years in the Senate, Senator Kerry has introduced hundreds of bills, yet only five became law. The Senator denied it on the spot, but the President was correct. He had the correct record. To be fair, however, Senator Kerry has earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal Magazine analyzed his record and named him the most liberal member of the United States Senate.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: But John Kerry is trying very hard to hide that, making promises he can't keep about health care and being totally deceitful when it comes to medical liability reform. He says he has a plan to reform the medical liability system, but you know what his plan is? Put the trial lawyers in charge.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Bush has a better idea: let's keep medical decisions in the hands of doctors and patients not personal injury lawyers. (Applause.)

The record John Kerry is trying hardest of all to hide is the one 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 we 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 sending American troops to expel him. He voted against Operation Desert Storm.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: In the first debate, this year, Senator Kerry said America had to meet some kind of "global test" before we could take military action. Now, the President and I know better than this. We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls. Our job is to defend America. (Applause.)

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

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter and applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right, what are you guys doing for the next 18 days? (Laughter and applause.)

You saw John Kerry Wednesday night trying to back off that idea of a "global test." That notion fits with his whole career, but he doesn't want us to know about his whole career. He is trying to hide it, to cover it up by using a little tough talk during the course of this campaign. But you can't do that. It won't work. To use a phrase that we like in our home state of Wyoming, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. (Applause.)

What Wednesday night so clearly revealed is that John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a President. He is not a steadfast leader. And our President is. 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 terrorism. Because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he has led us well. At the Republican Convention, former Mayor Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11, he turned to Bernie Kerik there in New York and said, "Thank God, George Bush is our Commander-in-Chief." (Applause.)

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. (Applause.) In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Eighteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Tonight, he sits in jail. (Applause.)

We're 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 -- (Applause.) I'm for women voting, too. It's a good idea. (Applause.) Elections were held last Saturday -? the first in the 5,000-year history of that country -- and the first voter in the election was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.) In January, the people of Iraq will vote as well. The world is better as these countries move towards self-government. As free societies rise in the broader Middle East, millions of men and women will live hopeful lives. The terrorists will suffer a defeat, and every free nation will be more secure. (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, 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 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. And the world is 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.)

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 that matter was removed this past weekend, by comments Senator Kerry made in The New York Times. The Senator said he wanted to lead America back to the place where we were -? to a time when terrorism was, in his words, a "nuisance" like illegal gambling or prostitution.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's the comparison he made -- a nuisance like illegal gambling or prostitution. When I read that, I thought to myself when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it four years ago, when the USS Cole was attacked and we lost 17 sailors and nearly lost the ship? Was it six years ago when they destroyed two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Was it a nuisance 11 years ago, when they first attacked the World Trade Center in New York?


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 truck bomb in a truck loaded with explosives hit a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 Marines?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. (Applause.) There never can be a time when terrorism is a nuisance. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat terror -? and with George Bush as our President, America will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 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.)

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, their families, and all the veterans with us here today for all that they have 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, the economy was sliding into recession. Then on 9/11 terrorists struck and shook our economy once again. We had a basic decision to make ?- 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 our economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months -? a total of over 1.9 million new jobs -? including almost 100,000 in the last month alone. (Applause.) 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.

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 manufacturing. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.)

We plan to double the number of workers trained through the federal government's job training programs. We've proposed a quarter of a billion dollars to help more workers train at our nation's outstanding community colleges. And we'll improve math and science education in our public high schools, so every high school graduate gets the quality education they deserve, and the foundation they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century. (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 and pro-jobs agenda. We will work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. And to help families and small businesses -- (Applause.) And to help families and small businesses, we will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.

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. And we will 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. (Applause.) America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

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 our nation is "one nation under God." (Applause.) And we believe Americans ought to be able to say so when we pledge allegiance to our flag. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There shouldn't be any question about this -? and there wouldn't be if we had more reasonable judges on the federal bench. 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.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: They are hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen because we are 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 use government to empower people. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think that 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 spreading 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 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 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. And together, on November 2nd, we'll to see our cause forward to victory.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 5:31 P.M. EDT

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