Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Bush-Cheney '04 Event in Wichita, Kansas

February 24, 2004

Hyatt Regency Wichita
Wichita, Kansas

6:31 P.M. CST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Sam. (Applause.) And, Lynne, thank you for that warm welcome. It's great to be back in Kansas.

I often tell people that Lynne and I have a Republican marriage, that if it hadn't been for that great victory by that great Kansan, Dwight Eisenhower, in 1952, our lives would have turned out very differently. Because in 1952, I was living with my folks in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dad worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And when Eisenhower came in, he reorganized the Agriculture Department, and Dad had the choice of moving either to Great Falls, Montana or Casper, Wyoming. And he picked Casper, Wyoming. So we moved to Casper. That's where I met Lynne; we grew up together; went to high school together; and we'll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, come August. (Applause.)

But I explained to a group the other night, if it hadn't been for that Republican victory in 1952 things would have turned out very differently -- (laughter) -- and that Lynne would have had to marry somebody else. And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) No doubt in my mind. (Applause.)

But I'm delighted to have the privilege of working with Sam Brownback and his colleague Pat Roberts in the United States Senate. My only real job as Vice President is to preside over the Senate as President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they decided they needed a Vice President, but they got all the way down to the end of the Constitutional Convention and discovered suddenly they hadn't given him anything to do. (Laughter.) So they made him the President of the Senate, the presiding officer, gave him the opportunity to cast tie-breaking votes.

And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He could go down into the well of the Senate and actually participate in the debate. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) They've never been restored. But I can't talk, but I can cast that tie-breaking vote, which I've been happy to do.

I'm especially proud to be here tonight, as well, in Bob Dole's home state. I got to know -- (applause) -- I got to know Bob back in the days when I was President Ford's chief of staff, and we campaigned together in 1976. He's a great American. He did great service for Kansas, as are Sam and Pat. But he also married one of the more accomplished women in public life, and that's something I can relate to. (Laughter.) But he set a very high standard of service for the traditions that have been upheld, I think, subsequently by the Kansas delegation, and Jerry Moran, and Jim Ryan, Todd Tiahrt, then of course Sam and Pat. But we're delighted to be here tonight, and to get to share in this effort.

And I want to bring good wishes to all of you, as well, from the President of the United States, George W. Bush. (Applause.) The President and I are very grateful for the strong support that we received in Kansas in 2000. You gave us a 21 point margin of victory. No one had to ask for a recount in Kansas. (Laughter.) The President and I don't take a single state for granted, and we intend to earn the support of Kansas voters once again this year. And in November, with your help, we're going to carry Kansas for the Bush-Cheney ticket. (Applause.)

All of you will be part of the effort, and we genuinely appreciate your commitment to the cause because we've now just begun the fourth year of our administration. And it has, as Lynne mentioned, been a period of serious challenges and hard choices. When we were sworn in three years ago, no one could have predicted all that lay ahead for the United States. We came to office with a clear understanding of our responsibilities. The President was determined to solve problems, not simply pass them on to future generations, determined to seize new opportunities for reform, and get beyond the old debates that had all too often stood in the way of progress.

Today, as we look ahead to this year's election, I think we've got a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of a new era because of the character and the leadership of President George W. Bush.

In this time of testing, our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. (Applause.) Even though it has been more than two years since 9/11, we must have no illusions that the danger has passed.

Terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. We see them for what they are: killers who will not be stopped by negotiations, or by a treaty, by appeals to reason, or by the least hint of conscience. In the war on terror, we have only one option, and that's to take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

Today, members of our armed forces are deployed around the world to fight the war on terror. In the 29 months since 9/11, America and our friends and allies in many countries, have inflicted heavy losses on al Qaeda's leadership and on their foot soldiers. Those not yet captured are living in fear, and their fears are well founded.

On the night of September 11th, President Bush declared that the United States would make no distinction between terrorists and those who support them. This principle, the Bush doctrine, is now understood by all. Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account.

The first to see its application were the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan by violence, while turning that country into a giant training camp for terrorists. With fine allies at our side, we took down the regime and destroyed the al Qaeda camps. Our work there continues tonight. Our armed forces in Afghanistan are part of an international security force that now includes almost 40 nations, and a major role for NATO. This force is on the hunt for the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda members. We're helping train a new Afghan army, and we are helping provide security as the new government takes shape.

Under President Karzai's leadership, and with the help of our coalition, the Afghan people are building a decent, and a just, and democratic society, and a nation fully joined in the war against terror. And this year, they've adopted their own constitution, and will later have free elections for the first time in a long time.

In Iraq, the United States and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a menace to our future peace and security. (Applause.) A year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives and the future of almost 25 million people, tonight he's in jail. (Applause.) He will never again brutalize his people, never again support terrorists, never again threaten the United States of America. (Applause.) There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq. (Applause.)

The gravest threat we face these days is the possibility of cooperation between terrorist groups and outlaw regimes developing or possessing weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. As the President has said, we had a choice: either take the word of Saddam Hussein, or take action to defend the American people. Faced with that choice, George W. Bush will defend America every time. (Applause.)

From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we have gained a great deal of international support. 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. The United States will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country. (Applause.)

By acting in Iraq, we demonstrated both our strength and our resolve. America will not permit terrorists and dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most deadly weapons. And the message is getting through.

In December, after nine months of intensive diplomacy, Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of its weapons of mass destruction, including its nuclear weapons program. (Applause.)

Exposing Colonel Ghadafi's secret weapons program has also helped us uncover a global nuclear proliferation network led by a scientist, A.Q. Khan. In addition to aiding Libya, Khan's network sold critical nuclear technology to Iran and to North Korea. Together with others, we're working to ensure those nations, too, will abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons.

It's no accident that when it came time to consider what he would do in the future with respect to his weapons of mass destruction, that Colonel Ghadafi watched what we'd done in Afghanistan, saw what we were about to do in Iraq, and decided that the wise course of action was to work with the United States and Britain to dismantle his massive weapons of mass destruction program. (Applause.)

America is a nation that is always ready to work and to sacrifice for peace. The use of force is always our last resort. When that need arises, all of us are fortunate to be defended by the United States Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marines. In all they have done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the country's uniform have performed with incredible skill and courage. (Applause.)

In Iraq, as in Afghanistan, American forces have struck hard against the forces of murder and chaos -- conducting raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons, and capturing killers. Members of the active duty armed forces, members of the National Guard, and members of our reserves have faced hard duty, long deployments away from home, and the loss of comrades. They are confronting danger every day to protect all of us, and they are earning the trust of the people they've liberated. They reflect extraordinary credit upon the United States of America. And our entire nation is proud of each and every one of them. (Applause.)

The long-term security of our friends and allies has been a principal concern of President Bush, and so has the economic well-being of our citizens.

By the time we took office, as Sam mentioned, the country was sliding into recession. To get the economy growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief for the American people. We're leaving -- (applause) -- we're leaving more money in the hands that earned it, because when Americans have more take-home pay, they have more to spend, more to save, and more to invest. We increased the child credit to help parents raise their children. We helped our senior citizens and encouraged investment by reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains. And we've given small businesses incentives to expand and to invest and to create more jobs.

Now we're seeing the results of the hard work of the American people, and the sound policies of the administration. Americans took those dollars and put them to work, driving the economy forward. The pace of economic growth in the second half of last year was over 6 percent, as Sam mentioned, the fastest in almost 20 years. New home construction last year was the highest in 25 years. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Manufacturing activity is increasing. Productivity is high. Since August the economy has created 366,000 new jobs; unemployment is at a two-year low. These numbers confirm that the American people are using their money far better than the government would have, and Congress was right to return it. (Applause.)

As you know, there are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. (Groans.) Bad idea. (Laughter.) Bad idea. Sometimes we hear these voices on the evening news. There's a campaign underway out there. But in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what the economy needed, and they've now set us on the path to long-term growth and job creation. And to keep us on that path, Congress needs to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, from national security to economic growth and trade, to improving our public schools, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. All of us in this administration, and Republicans in the House and Senate, recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to keep adding to that record.

Abroad, the fundamental interest of the nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they gather. Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. In the Middle East, we are encouraging free markets, democracy and tolerance because these are the ideas and the aspirations that overcome violence and turn societies to the pursuit of peace. In that region and beyond, all who strive and sacrifice for the cause of freedom will have a friend in the United States of America.

Here at home, we have a full agenda. We will continue our pro-growth economic agenda, so that we can continue to create jobs. We must improve our health care system through medical liability reform. Doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Congress should also pass the President's energy policy, because we need to promote conservation, protect the environment, and make the nation less dependent on foreign energy. (Applause.)

And one other thing, it's time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has put forward superb nominees to serve on the federal bench -- talented, experienced men and women who represent the mainstream of American law and American values.

Yet Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters, denying some of these nominees up-or-down votes for months or even years. That's unfair to the nominees, and it's an abuse of the constitutional process. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and that's another good reason for the people of Kansas to reelect Sam Brownback to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

The campaign season has begun. President Bush and I will be proud to present our vision to voters in every part of the country. We will run hard and take nothing for granted, and we will continue making good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.

Long before I took my current job, I had the good fortune to work for other Presidents I greatly admire. Along the way, I learned a few things about the presidency and the kind of person it takes to do that job well. It takes the finest qualities of character: conviction, personal integrity, good judgement, compassion, and courage in times of testing for the nation. And, ladies and gentlemen -- (applause) -- that's exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)

I count it a privilege to serve beside a President who has united our nation behind great goals and brought honor and integrity to the White House. Once again, I want to thank all of you for the commitment to the cause we all share. The President and I are deeply grateful to our friends here in Wichita, and all across the Kansas. And now, together, we're going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:47 P.M. CST

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at a Bush-Cheney '04 Event in Wichita, Kansas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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