|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 27, 2004
Vice President's Remarks in Kissimmee, Florida
Remarks by the Vice President at a Victory 2004 Rally
Stallion 51 Hangar
Kissimmee Municipal Airport
9:00 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning. (Applause.) You're kind of subdued this morning, aren't you? (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Welcome to Kissimmee.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's good to be in Kissimmee. We want to thank you for the welcome. (Applause.) Looks to me like Kissimmee is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
Now, it's true that Lynne has known me since I was 14 years old, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I tell people we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. In those days I lived in Nebraska, just a youngster living there 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 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.) And I'm absolutely certain that's the case.
I don't know how many of you noticed last week, the President was campaigning in Pennsylvania. Senator Kerry was goose hunting in Ohio. (Laughter.) The geese were safe, you're right. (Laughter.) The Senator wore a brand new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which made me wonder how often he really goes goose hunting. My personal opinion is that camo jacket was just an October disguise. (Laughter and applause.) It's an effort -- no, it wasn't Halloween. (Laughter.) It's an effort to hide the fact that every chance he gets a chance, he votes against gun-owner rights. But, my fellow sportsmen, this cover-up isn't going to work because you and I know the Second Amendment is more than just a photo opportunity. (Applause.)
With six days left in the campaign, the choices in this 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: Now, this is a beautiful place to visit. I know you've got some great fishing in Lake Toho. (Applause.) I've heard about largemouth bass in this area. And if I weren't so busy right now asking for your vote, I'd go catch one myself.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Then let's go fishing. (Laughter and applause.) All right.
The state has been through a lot with hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, Frances, and Ivan. This area was hit, but the residents have pulled together amazingly well. It has been a story of endurance, of compassion, and in many cases great courage. (Applause.)
The President and I applaud all of your efforts. And we want you to know the federal government is doing everything it can to help. President Bush has approved $13.6 billion for the people of Florida and other states hit by the hurricanes. (Applause.)
Florida has been well served by state and local officials, by FEMA personnel, National Guard members, first responders and the state has been fortunate to have a superb executive in charge, Governor Jeb Bush. (Applause.)
President Bush and I have been to Florida many times over the last few years. We appreciate the strong support we have throughout the state. We're delighted to be running alongside a solid slate of Republican candidates. I want to thank Congressman Dave Weldon for his kind words this morning, and for being here today. (Applause.) He does a superb job representing the 15th district. And I know he's on his way to another good term in Washington. (Applause.)
And while he couldn't be here, we're also proud to be on the ballot with 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.)
I also want to thank everyone who has put up signs, made phone calls, and helped to get out the vote. Grassroots activists are an essential part of our campaign efforts, and the President and I are extremely grateful for your support.
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 are meeting every one of those 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's more secure thanks to the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Over the course of the last four years, I think people have been very -- 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 is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure. (Applause.)
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 political interest.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm getting to the good part. (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 he voted to send into combat because he thought it was in his interest -- political interest to do so.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry, remember, voted in favor of using force to oust Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary season when it became time to vote for funds that would provide our 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."
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, so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primaries, turned his back on the troops. He said his vote -- 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 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 been criticizing the American advance into Iraq in early '03, saying that American forces did not do enough to protect a weapons facility near Baghdad with the result that 380 tons of explosives disappeared. But John Kerry doesn't know if those explosives were even at the weapons facility when our troops arrived in the area of Baghdad. The Senator's foreign policy advisor, Richard Holbrooke, admitted as much just yesterday when he said, twice, and I quote, "I don't know the truth," end quote.
John Kerry, though, is not one to let a shortage of facts bother him. (Laughter.) He rushed out to put up a TV ad saying there was a failure to secure these explosives when he has no idea if they were even there to be secured.
John Kerry will say and do anything except give our troops the backing and the praise they deserve.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: American troops in Iraq have captured and are destroying more than 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives. Let me repeat that -- 400,000 tons. But Senator Kerry doesn't talk about that, perhaps because it might remind people exactly how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and how right our President was to remove him from power. (Applause.)
John Kerry is playing armchair general, and he's not doing a very good job of it. 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 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 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 President and I know better than that. We know 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 like to 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. (Laughter and applause.) I liked that line, did you? (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.)
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, because our President is a man of character and steadfast determination, he has led us very well. At the Republican Convention in New York, former Mayor Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11, he turned to Bernie Kerik, his police commissioner, and said, Thank God, George Bush is 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. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. 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, 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 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 in 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 managing 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.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not sure. (Laughter.) I got to concentrate here on my work. (Laughter.)
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. Those were his words.
When I read that -- 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? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they attacked simultaneously two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people? 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 in a truck loaded with explosives drove into a building in Beirut and killed 241 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 Bush as our President, that's what we'll do. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You want to give this speech? (Laughter.)
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. (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.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true for our policies 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. The President 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 had steady growth now for the last 13 months -? over 1.9 million new jobs during that period. Here in Florida, more than 300,000 jobs have been created since December of 2001. Mortgage rates, interest rates, inflation are all low. Consumers are confident; businesses are investing; families are taking home more of what they earn. (Applause.)
We're seeing record exports for farm products, as well. Farm income is up. The farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation. (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.) 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. We know it's easier for America's businesses to hire 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'll 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.)
And 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. 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 our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment and we 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 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. They are 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.)
A good way to deal with the Democratic filibuster in the Senate is to elect some good Republicans like Mel Martinez. (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 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 land. (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. Here at home, we will 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.
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 Florida, 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 Florida. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome this morning. We're proud to have you on the team. (Applause.) And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 9:25 A.M. EDT