The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 20, 2004

Vice President's Remarks in Traverse City, Michigan
Grand Traverse Civic Center
Traverse City, Michigan

1:40 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, very much. (Applause.) I accept. (Laughter.) We'll take it. Well, we're delighted to be back in Michigan. And I want to thank you for that warm welcome today. And we're delighted to be here, and I can see from the enthusiasm in this crowd, as Dave says, this must be Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)

Now, it's true Lynne has known me since I was 14 years old, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I'm not sure whether that was her choice, or her father's choice. (Laughter.) But I like to tell people we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. Yeah. Somebody here voted for him. (Laughter.) But in those days, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, reorganized the government, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together, and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) But I explained 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.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.)

Well, with 13 days left in the campaign -- who's counting? (Laughter.) The choices in this election could not be more clear. And the stakes are very high, both here at home, as well as abroad. And I believe on November 2nd, the American people are going to make George W. Bush President for the next four 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, President Bush was here in August, and you gave him a great welcome. And he and I have a good feeling about the community, about this state. And we're going to carry Michigan on Election Day. (Applause.)

I want to thank Congressman Dave Camp for the kind words, and for joining us here today. He does a superb job for all of us in Washington. (Applause.) We're delighted to be on the ticket with him, and there are two other Michigan people I want to mention today that had a big impact on my life -- one, of course, was Gerry Ford that I had the privilege of working for, for several years. (Applause.) And also Senator Bob Griffin, who was one of the great senators in the history of the nation. (Applause.)

I believe the people of Michigan understand the importance of steady, principled, consistent leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America. And the last three-and-a-half years have brought some serious challenges to our country. We're meeting every one of those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, the 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.)

In the final presidential debate last week, I think people watching saw very clearly the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. (Applause.) 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.

You saw something quite different in the President's opponent. You saw a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Of course, this is nothing new. A year ago this past weekend, John Kerry turned his back on the troops that he had earlier voted to send into combat --


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so. Senator Kerry, you may remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting 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 for his action, saying, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: What are you guys doing for the next 13 days? (Laughter and applause.)

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I haven't got anything else to do this afternoon. (Laughter and applause.)

The real reason he turned his back on our troops was Howard Dean. Dean was then the antiwar candidate and he was surging ahead in the polls. And so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primary, turned his back on our troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be 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. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft, when he knows that the only people who have supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: The all-volunteer force is the finest military the world has ever known, and nobody but a couple of Democrats are going to change it. (Applause.)

John Kerry has also tried to scare seniors by saying Social Security is threatened. We've heard that before. He knows this President had guaranteed Social Security benefits will be there for our seniors, but Senator Kerry will say and do anything including making false charges that he knows to be false.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Most of all, John Kerry will say and do anything to disguise his 20-year Senate record because it clearly shows him to be an out-of-the-mainstream, tax-and-spend, soft-on-defense liberal. (Applause.)

On the campaign trail, Senator Kerry talks about helping families with a middle-class tax cut, covering over the fact that when President Bush increased the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, provided a new 10-percent bracket -- all measures designed to leave hands -- leave money in the hands of the taxpayers who earned it -- when President Bush moved those measures through Congress, Senator Kerry voted "no."


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

John Kerry voted to raise taxes 98 times; he voted against tax reductions at least 126 times; and he voted to break the budget caps that control spending 277 times. 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. Because of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter and applause.)

But John Kerry is trying very hard to hide all 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 his 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 we should dismantle most of the major weapons systems 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 America sending troops to expel him. He voted against Operation Desert Storm.


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

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

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Somebody get that guy's name. (Laughter.)

John Kerry is trying to back off that idea of a "global test." It's a 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. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but it's still a pig. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, I'm having trouble concentrating. (Laughter.)

John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs. 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 very well. At the Republican Convention -- at the Republican Convention, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11 in New York, he turned to Bernie Kerik, the police commissioner, 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 hundreds 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.) Nineteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, 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 just over a week ago, the first elections in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.) And the first person to cast a vote in that election was a 19-year-old woman. (Applause.) In January, the people of Iraq will vote. The world is better as these countries move towards self-government. We are safe. Freedom, we know, 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, 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 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 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 of America. (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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. (Applause.)

All doubt on that matter was removed by recent comments Senator Kerry made to 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. 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 almost lost the ship and we did lose 17 sailors? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they attacked simultaneously two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people, including many Americans?


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Was terrorism just a nuisance 11 years ago, when they first bombed the World Trade Center?


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 was driven into a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American 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 President, America will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, or who fail to understand the nature of the struggle we are 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 -- the presidency -- is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years without consequence to the nation. But a President always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge -- 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 their families, and all the veterans that 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 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 our 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 over 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, 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. (Applause.)

We know there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.) So we'll move forward with job training programs that help people move to new jobs and prepared for better ones. We're going to improve math and science education in our high schools. (Applause.) No work force in the world is as good as the one we have here in the United States, and we're going to see to it that America's workers have all of the opportunities they deserve. (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'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 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. (Applause.) 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 time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

In order to make sure the economy grows, we've also got to use our resources wisely. And that starts with keeping Great Lakes water in the Great Lakes State. (Applause.) You might remember what Senator Kerry said earlier this year about Great Lakes water diversion. (Laughter.) I'm getting to that. (Laughter.) He said that would be a delicate balancing act.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: That sounds -- that sounds just like him. He was for it before he was against it. The President's position is clear: We are never going to allow diversion of Great Lakes water. (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 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. The Democrats in the Senate have been doing everything they can -? including 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 the citizens of this great country. (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 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 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 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 this afternoon. 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 2:12 P.M. EDT

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