|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 26, 2004
Vice President's Remarks in West Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach County Convention Center
West Palm Beach, Florida
10:12 A.M. EDT
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I accept. (Laughter and applause.)
Well, I want to thank you for that warm welcome this morning. Thank you, thank you. (Applause.) We're delighted to be in -- back in Florida, and here in West Palm Beach, especially during the city's 110th anniversary. (Applause.) And it looks to me like this is Bush-Cheney country.
Well, I -- it's true Lynne has known me since I was 14.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to ask him to repeat that. (Laughter.) But she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. And I explain to people that we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. 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, which is 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 victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.) No doubt in my mind.
But with one week left in the campaign, the choices in this election could not be more clear; and 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: Your state has been through a lot with Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, Frances, and Ivan. Palm Beach County was especially hard hit, but the residents have pulled together. It's a story of endurance, of compassion, and in many cases great courage.
The President and I applaud your efforts. We want you to know the federal government is doing everything possible to help. President Bush, of course, has approved $13.6 billion for the people of Florida and other states hit by the hurricanes. (Applause.)
Let me also add, that I think Florida has been well served by state and local officials, FEMA personnel, members of the National Guard, first responders and had the great fortune to have a superb executive in Governor Jeb Bush. (Applause.)
Let me also thank Mayor Koch for those kind words today, and for joining us today. (Applause.) The Mayor understands the connection between strong leadership and victory in the war on terror. And like a growing number of Democrats and independents, he recognizes President Bush is the best man to protect our families and to secure our homeland. (Applause.)
I want to thank all the volunteers who have put up signs, made phone calls to help turn out the vote. Grassroots activists are an essential part of our efforts, and the President and I are deeply grateful for your support. (Applause.)
Now, the President and I have been to Florida many times over the last several years, and we appreciate the strong support we have received throughout this state. We are delighted to be running alongside a solid slate of Republican candidates. I'd like to thank Congressman Mark Foley for joining us here today. (Applause.) Also Emilie Shaw -- Emilie and Clay have been friends of Lynne's and mine for 20 years. (Applause.)
And although he couldn't be here, I'd like to put in a good word for your Senate candidate Mel Martinez. (Applause.) Come January, I look forward to swearing him in as the new Senator from the state of Florida. (Applause.)
Florida 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, but we're meeting every one of those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, people in Florida and across the land can be confident of a better future; a stronger economy; and a nation that is 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. 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 -- to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure.
During the course of this campaign, we have 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.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can see you guys are going to enjoy this speech. (Laughter.)
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: 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 for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts, Senator Kerry voted "no."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation which, frankly, I think 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."
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Don't overdo it. (Laughter.)
But the real reason he turned his back on our troops was Howard Dean. Dean was 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 the troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated matter. (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 No Child Left Behind -- after he voted for it. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft ?- when he knows the only people who supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party. Nobody but those two Democrats wants to change the all-volunteer force because it is the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)
John Kerry also tries to scare seniors by saying Social Security is threatened. He stood 10 feet from President Bush in the debates and heard the President guarantee once again the promise of Social Security will be kept for our seniors, and it will be. But Senator Kerry will say and do anything, including making false charges that he knows to be false.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Most of all, Senator Kerry will say and do anything to disguise his 20-year Senate record, because it shows him taxing and spending and out of the mainstream.
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, and set up a new 10-percent bracket, Senator Kerry opposed it. All these measures leave money in the hands of taxpayers who earned it ?- but 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 has voted to raise taxes 98 times. He voted against tax reductions at least 126 times, and voted to break the budget caps that control spending 277 times.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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. (Applause.)
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 that Ronald Reagan used to keep the peace and win the Cold War.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- before we could take military action. The President and I know better than that. 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 a record of weakness. Just this last weekend, he tried to make himself sound like he could do a really good job of fighting terrorism because he'd written a book on the subject. (Laughter.) But this book, called The New War, should, if anything, raise concerns about Senator Kerry. The book makes no mention of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. It does mention Yasser Arafat, whom John Kerry praises as a statesman and a role model.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's not exactly how I think of Yasser Arafat.
The New War makes it clear that John Kerry thinks that law enforcement is the answer to terrorism. That's the approach we took before 9/11. When there was a terrorist incident, our government went after the perpetrators, but we did not, throughout the '80s and '90s, go after the networks that spawned those terrorists, and so they attacked us again and again, until finally on 9/11, they killed 3000 of us -- more than we lost at Pearl Harbor.
When terrorists kill Americans by the thousands, law enforcement is insufficient. When the greatest threat we face today is the possibility of terrorists in the middle of one of our cities armed with a biological agent or nuclear weapon, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands, law enforcement is insufficient. The President and I understand that the war on terrorism requires an aggressive strategy of using all our might to go after the terrorists and those who support terror: It is a war -- and we are going to win it. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Cheney! Cheney! Cheney!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've got some more good stuff left here yet. (Applause.)
In what may be his most desperate effort to burnish his credentials, Senator Kerry claimed in one of the debates that before he voted on the war in Iraq, he went to New York and talked to all the members of the United Nations Security Council.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Quote, "I talked to all of them," he said. He's made the same claim before, saying that he met, quote, "with the entire Security Council, and we spent a couple of hours talking about" how to deal with Saddam Hussein.
A reporter for The Washington Times decided to check on Senator Kerry's meeting. The reporter got hold of five ambassadors on the Security Council; four of them said they had never met with Senator Kerry. (Laughter.) Apparently he talked to a few individuals on the Security Council, but there never was a meeting with all of them. An official at the U.S. mission to the U.N. remarked, we were as surprised as anyone when Kerry started talking about a meeting with the Security Council. (Laughter.)
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. (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.)
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, 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 two weeks ago -- 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 terror. (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, Colonel 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 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 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 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 the matter was removed recently when Senator Kerry said he wanted to lead America back to the place where we were -? to a time when terrorism was, in his word, a "nuisance."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 off Yemen? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they attacked simultaneously two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Was terrorism just a nuisance 11 years ago, when the World Trade Center 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 driving a truck loaded with explosives hit our barracks in Beirut and killed 241 of our Marines?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My friends, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. 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 W. Bush as President, that's exactly what we'll do. (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 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 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.)
The President knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) I want to thank them, their families, and all the veterans with us here today for what they've done for all of us. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true 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 our economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months -? a total of over 1.9 million new jobs during that period. Here in Florida, more than 300,000 jobs have been created since December of '01. 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. (Applause.)
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 this is a strong, growing economy -- don't let the Democrats tell you otherwise. (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.)
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 that it's easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
We'll continue to work to help parents and teachers improve our public schools so that 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 to employees and for families to meet their health care needs ?- and we'll do this in ways that keep health decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. (Applause.)
We will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Florida, but across the nation. (Applause.) America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
My friends, the differences between the President and his opponent are as sharp as they can possibly be, and the consequences for the country, 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 that all the wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)
Under the President'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. Here at home, we will continue building 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 Florida, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to a news account, people leaving the national convention of the Democratic Party 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 -- (laughter) -- and of Democrats, Republicans, and independents from every calling in American life. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Florida. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome this morning. We're proud to have you on the team. And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 10:40 A.M. EDT