|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
August 15, 2006
Vice President's Remarks at a Luncheon for Arizona Victory 2006
Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa
12:25 P.M. MST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Matt and Jon. It's a pleasure to be here today, and I appreciate your kind invitation. Great to be joined also by Congressman Hayworth and Congressman Franks. It's great to see all of you. And I just came from our place in Wyoming, in Jackson Hole. I'm probably in that rare, exotic category of people who would leave Jackson Hole and go to Phoenix in the middle of August. (Laughter.) But I'm delighted to be here. And I bring good wishes to all of you from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
I've been to Arizona many times over the years, and the President and I have many friends all across this great state. We also have some tremendous memories, coming to Arizona during the last two national campaigns. We worked hard, as did many of you. And Arizona came through both times. And in 2004, you gave the Bush-Cheney ticket a ten-point victory, and the most votes ever cast for a presidential ticket in this state.
We also appreciate the very distinguished tradition of leadership here in Arizona. Over the years I've been privileged to know Arizona statesmen like Barry Goldwater, John Rhodes, Bob Stump. And now, of course, I have the great privilege of working with your Republican delegation in Congress -- J.D. and Trent, joined by Representatives Jeff Flake and Jim Kolbe, John Shadegg, Rick -- and, of course, Jon Kyl and John McCain. You've got an outstanding delegation in the United States Congress representing the state of Arizona.
I want to thank all of you for the strong support you're giving to the Republican Party, and to the victory effort that we're mounting here in Arizona. We're headed into the fall campaign, with a lot of important offices on the ballot. We have a good roster of candidates, and we need to make sure they have the resources they're going to need in order to guarantee victory in November. A strong turnout on Election Day will be good for our party, good for Arizona, and good for the country. And in the weeks ahead, we need to make sure that our fellow citizens know about our agenda for extending the prosperity of the country, and for protecting America against those who wish to harm us.
The last five-and-a-half years have been marked by a series of unprecedented challenges for the United States. We've experienced war, national emergency, economic recession, corporate scandals, and historic natural disasters. Yet we've faced up to those challenges, and in the process we've shown our many strengths as a people. Ronald Reagan once described Americans this way: He said, "We, as a people, aren't happy if we are not moving forward. A nation that is growing and thriving is one that will solve its problems. We must offer progress instead of stagnation; the truth instead of promises; and hope and faith instead of defeatism and despair."
If Ronald Reagan were with us now, he would be proud of this country, and I believe he'd be proud of the man who lives in the White House today. With George Bush as our leader, the U.S. is moving forward with confidence and with hope. We have no fear of the future, because we intend to shape it.
As Republicans we share a philosophy of how to strengthen the nation's economy. We believe the true role of government in a free society is to create an environment that gives consumers the confidence to spend, savers the confidence to save, and entrepreneurs the confidence to invest in their businesses, to expanded their businesses and to hire new employees. One of the surest ways to create that climate is to limit the growth of government and to leave as many resources as possible in the hands of the people themselves.
That's how we've operated these past five-and-a-half years. And the results of our pro-growth agenda have been extraordinary. Last year growth in America outpaced every other major industrialized nation in the world. Since August of '03, we've added more than 5.5 million new jobs. The national unemployment rate is 4.8 percent -- lower than the average of the 1970s, the 1980s or the 1990s. Productivity is strong. Household net worth is at an all-time high.
The current expansion is also translating into much higher than projected federal revenues. Recently the President announced that a projected deficit of $423 billion has dropped to $296 billion in just 12 months. There is no mystery to this. Over the last several generations, we've had three major tax cuts in this country -- in the 1960s under President Kennedy, in the 1980s under President Reagan, and now under President Bush. All three were followed by periods of sustained economic growth, more jobs, and greater wealth creation across the country. The evidence is in -- the best tax policy for America is found in the wisdom of Kennedy, Reagan and Bush. (Applause.)
Even as revenue grows, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money. Government has a duty to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, or not spend them at all. To meet that responsibility, the President signed into law the Deficit Reduction Act. In the Senate, Jon Kyl and John McCain both voted yes -- and I got to pitch in, as well, by casting a tie-breaking vote. The great thing about it is that every time I get to vote, our side wins. (Laughter.)
We have a full agenda for the rest of 2006 and beyond, and President Bush understands that every decision he makes will affect the lives of millions of Americans for many years into the future. He's going to lead the effort on immigration reform, to make the system rational, to make sure that we have control of our borders. And he will continue to appoint solid judges like Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. (Applause.)
Above all, we're going to remember our number one responsibility: to protect the American people, and to support the men and women who defend us in a time of war. There is still hard work ahead in the war on terror, and the central front of this war today is in Iraq. We can expect further acts of violence and destruction by the enemies of freedom. But progress has been steady. Iraqis have ratified a progressive, democratic constitution and voted in huge numbers to elect new leaders under that constitution. Our coalition is also helping to build an Iraqi security force that is trained and equipped. And the Iraqi forces are showing bravery and skill in the defense of their country's freedom. Last month Prime Minister Maliki came to Washington and thanked the United States and the American people. He pledged to fight terror and asked America to continue helping his country. He and his people can be certain that the United States of America will not give up the fight on terror, and will not turn our backs on a new democracy.
There's a vigorous debate taking place right now about the way forward in Iraq. A number of well-known Democrats have been talking about setting a deadline for withdrawal. That's a bad idea. Americans and our Iraqi allies need to know that decisions about troop levels will be driven by conditions on the ground and the judgments of our military commanders -- not by artificial timelines set by politicians in Washington, D.C.
Another bad idea comes from my old friend Congressman Jack Murtha. Jack was the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee when I was Secretary of Defense, and we used to do a lot of business together. He's suggested now that we can deal with the Iraqi situation by redeploying our forces to Okinawa. The Pacific Ocean is a long way from the Persian Gulf, but the most troubling aspect of Jack's proposal is this: He cited two previous instances of American withdrawal, and suggested they would be good models for us to follow now in Iraq. The first was America's exit from Beirut in 1983, and the second, our withdrawal from Somalia in 1993.
That proposal is contrary to the national interest -- and it draws exactly the wrong lessons from the examples of Beirut and Somalia. If you look back at the years before 9/11, you will see case after case of terrorists hitting America, and of America failing to respond hard enough.
In Beirut, terrorists, of course, killed 241 of our servicemen with a suicide truck bomber. In Somalia we lost 19 Americans in Mogadishu. In both cases, the United States responded to those attacks by withdrawing our forces. But by doing so, we simply invited more danger, because the terrorists concluded that if they killed enough Americans, they could change American policy -- because they had. And so they continued to wage attacks against America and American interests.
We had the bombing at the World Trade Center in New York in 1993; the murders at the Saudi National Guard training facility in Riyadh in 1995; the attack on Khobar Towers in 1996; or the simultaneous attack on two of our embassies in East Africa in 1998; and, of course, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Ultimately, all of this culminated in the attacks right here at home on 9/11, which killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens.
If we follow Congressman Murtha's advice and withdraw from Iraq the same way we withdrew from Beirut in 1983 or Mogadishu in 1993, we will simply validate the al Qaeda strategy and invite more terrorist attacks in the future.
In the decade prior to 9/11, we spent more than $2 trillion on our national security, and yet we lost nearly 3,000 Americans at the hands of 19 men armed with airline tickets and box cutters. In the case of al Qaeda we are not dealing with large armies that we can track, or uniforms we can see, or men with territory of their own to defend. Their preferred tactic, which they boldly proclaim, is to slip into countries, blend in among the innocent, and to kill without mercy or without restraint. They have intelligence and counterintelligence operations of their own. They are using the most sophisticated communications technology they can get their hands on.
In pursuit of their objectives, they have carried out a number of attacks since 9/11 -- in Casablanca, Jakarta, Mombassa, Bali, Riyadh, Baghdad, Istanbul, Madrid, London, Sharm al-Sheikh, Bombay and elsewhere. Here in the U.S., we have not had another 9/11. No one can guarantee that we won't be hit again. But the relative safety of recent years was not an accident. It's because we've waged an effort on every front -- diplomacy, finance, intelligence, homeland security, and, when necessary, military action. And we must not let up for a moment. Last week's arrests in the U.K. remind us that the threat is still very real, that our enemies will not cease in their attempts to kill innocent Americans.
It is critically important to remember that this nation is fighting a war. And I am concerned there may be a tendency in some quarters to discount the threat, to relax our guard, and to forget the true nature of the struggle we're involved in. After 9/11, President Bush told Congress and the country that this would be a different kind of war. He said we "should not expect one battle, but rather a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we've ever seen." This war may, he said, "include dramatic strikes, visible on television and covert operations, secret even in success."
That's exactly how this fight has played out, and there's still a lot to do, because we face ruthless and determined enemies. And as we make our case to the voters in this election year, it's vital to keep issues of national security at the top of our agenda. The President and I welcome the discussion, because every voter in America needs to know where we stand, as well as how the leaders of the Democratic Party view the war on terror. Their floor leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, boasted publicly of his efforts to kill the Patriot Act. The Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, said the capture of Saddam Hussein would not make America any safer. And now Mr. Dean's party has turned its back on Senator Joe Lieberman.
Senator Lieberman was my opponent in 2000 -- Al Gore's running mate, a longtime senator, and one of the most loyal and distinguished Democrats of his generation. Joe is also an unapologetic supporter of the fight against terror. He voted to support military action in Iraq when most other senators in both parties did the same -- and he's had the courage to stick by that vote even when things get tough. And now, for that reason alone, the Dean Democrats have defeated Joe Lieberman. Their choice, instead, is a candidate whose explicit goal is to give up the fight against the terrorists in Iraq -- never mind that Iraq is a fellow democracy; never mind that the Iraqi people and their elected leaders are counting on us. What these Democrats are pushing now is the very kind of retreat that has been tried in the past. It is contrary to our values, it would betray our friends, and it would only heighten the danger to the United States. So the choice before the American people is becoming clearer every day. For the sake of our security, this nation must reject any strategy of resignation and defeatism in the face of determined enemies. (Applause.)
We have to face the simple truth. The enemies that struck America are weakened and fractured, but they are still lethal and still desperately trying to hit us again. We have a duty to act against them as swiftly and effectively as we possibly can. Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not. And with George W. Bush leading this nation, we are serious, and we will not let down our guard. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, in these five-and-a-half years we've been through a great deal as a nation. Yet with each test, the American people have displayed the true character of our country. We have built for ourselves an economy and a standard of living that are the envy of the world. We've faced dangers with resolve. And we have been defended by some of the bravest men and women this nation has ever produced. (Applause.)
When future generations look back on our time, they will know that we met our moment with courage and with clear thinking. And they will know that America became a better nation -- stronger, more prosperous, and more secure -- under the leadership of our President, George W. Bush.
I want to thank all of you for supporting the Arizona Republican Party in this critical time. I want to thank you for supporting the tremendous office holders that are with us today and whose names are on the ballot this year. They do a superb job for all of us. Now it's on to victory in November. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 12:43 P.M. MST