Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Dinner for Bush-Cheney '04 in Buffalo, New York

November 17, 2003

The Lane Restaurant
Buffalo, New York

6:16 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Well, thank you all very much. Couldn't we get a few more people in here? (Laughter.)

That was great, Governor. And I appreciate very much the fact the Governor has traveled with me throughout New York today. He's done a superb job for the people of New York. He's one of the President's closest friends. And I'm delighted to have the opportunity to share the platform tonight. He does a great job not only for New York, but for America. (Applause.)

And of course, it's a special privilege, as well, to spend some time up here in Buffalo with two of my very good friends from Congress -- Congressman Tom Reynolds and Congressman Jack Quinn. (Applause.) They do a great job for the folks in this part of the state, this part of New York State. But they're also leaders in the House of Representatives, exactly the kind of individuals that we need to have representing us in Washington.

I have a special interest in the House because I served in the House of Representatives for 10 years. I was actually elected six times. I was the congressman from Wyoming. We only had -- there's somebody back there -- it must be Wyoming County. (Laughter.) He's a little confused. (Laughter.)

But I -- of course, the state of Wyoming was the smallest -- big state, but we had the smallest population. So we only have one congressional seat in the House. It's a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.). And I loved my time in the House. It was great to be a congressman from Wyoming.

I love to tell the story about my last campaign for Congress. It was the sixth time I'm running. Of course, by then, after 10 years, your name has been in the newspaper, picture is on television. You've done all the door-to-door work and the rallies and the barbecues. You understand -- believe everybody knows who you are.

But we had a tradition, we always finished up the campaign in a little farming community of Torrington, down along the Wyoming-Nebraska border. The farm groups would have all the candidates out to talk to the folks, tell them what you were going to do if you get elected. And before it was my turn to speak at that last rally, I went out to work the crowd and make sure I'd personally greeted every voter there. I walked up to one old cowboy with his back up against the tree, cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes, reached out and grabbed him by the hand, and I said, hi, I'm Dick Cheney. I'm running for Congress, and I'd like your vote.

He said, you've got it. That fool we got in there now is no damn good. (Laughter and applause.)

And I'm sure that's never happened to Tom or Jack. (Laughter.) But I want to thank all of you for being here this evening. This is an extraordinarily important campaign coming up. Lots of times people say, well, what difference does it make whether or not I do anything? It doesn't really matter what I do as an individual. There are millions of people out there. Why do I have to participate? I remind them of the last election, when the outcome in terms of who was President of the United States was decided by a handful of votes in Florida -- clearly an election where every dollar that was contributed, every volunteer that worked all across the country, all of the effort that went into that campaign on a national basis was absolutely vital to our success.

Now, when the President put me on the ticket, he said it wasn't because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) He got 70 percent of the vote there. But I point out to him every once in a while, those three electoral votes came in pretty darn handy. (Laughter.)

But that's the message, thinking about 2004. This is going to be an extraordinarily important election. And we deeply appreciate your willingness to be here tonight. As the President says, we're loosening up for the campaign, getting ready. We're delighted that we'll be able to come to New York and accept renomination from the convention in New York City. And we're planning to do everything we can to carry this state come next November. (Applause.)

And we know the next 11 months are going to be pretty busy as the political season draws near. And recently, of course, we've had some indication of how the Americans feel -- people feel about Republican candidates. We've won three out of four governors races in the last couple of months. And of course, just before I came over today, I had the television turned on, and I watched them swear in the new Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Applause.) And next year, I'm convinced the American people are going to reelect our President for a job well done. (Applause.)

The President and I went to Washington determined to work on problems and not simply pass them on to future generations. We wanted to seize opportunities for reform and not get bogged down in the debates that had all too often prohibited progress in the past.

I think, as we look forward to next year, we've got a good record to run on. And I think the American people can be confident of a better future, of a stronger economy, and of greater security against the dangers of the era we now live in because of the character and leadership of our President, George W. Bush.

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took comfort and pride in the character and conduct of our President. From that day to this, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America on 9/11 and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

Not long after September 11th, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." It's pretty clear that terrorist didn't know what he was talking about. It's pretty clear the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the fundamental strength and resilience of our country. And they, clearly, did not understand the determination of our President.

As we stand here today, many of al Qaeda's known members are captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear, and their fears are well founded -- because we're on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population and harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator, one of the bloodiest dictators of the 20th century, cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists. He developed a relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. These terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we're providing to the Iraqi people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, nor will they intimidate the Iraqi people.

Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror. And we are going to roll back that terrorist threat at the very heart of its power in the Middle East. We are aggressively striking the terrorists in Iraq, defeating them there, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.

We're calling on other nations to help Iraqis build a free country, which will make us more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more responsibilities for their own security and move toward self-government. These are not easy tasks, but they are absolutely essential. As the President has said many times, and no one should doubt, "We will finish what we've begun, and we will win this essential victory in the war on terror." (Applause.)

In all that they've done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of the U.S. military have performed with enormous skill and great courage. As a former Secretary of Defense, I have never been prouder of our men and women in uniform than I am tonight. (Applause.)

These young Americans deserve our wholehearted support. They're playing a classic role, one that they undertook after World War II, when they brought help and hope to the people of Europe and Japan. Now, in the Middle East and Central Asia, they are earning the trust of people they've already liberated. One of the most important commitments President Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given all of the resources they need, and the respect they deserve. And we've kept our word. (Applause.)

The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies, has been a principal concern of the President's. And so has the economic well-being of our citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession. And to get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief for the American people. We've done this because we believe that when families and small businesses are hurting, the best way to help them is to let them keep more of what they earn. Because the money we spend in Washington is not the government's money -- it's the people's money. (Applause.)

This administration has delivered the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan lived in the White House, and we are beginning to see the results of that in strong economic growth. The figures for the third quarter showed 7.2 percent increase in economic activity in the country, in GDP -- that's the fastest growth in nearly 20 years. Exports are expanding, business investment is rising, housing construction is booming, jobs are being created. And the Bush tax cuts are working.

As you know, there are a few voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometimes you'll hear these voices on the evening news. (Laughter.) But in fact, the Bush tax cuts are what brought us out of recession and are going to bring us long-term economic growth. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job.

On issue after issue, from national security, to economic growth and trade, to improving our public schools, President Bush has led the way for the nation. One of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people he's brought into government. I believe he's assembled one of the finest teams ever put together by a President of the United States.

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 rather to keep adding to that record.

Abroad, the fundamental interest of the country requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and our security wherever they gather. Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibilities. In the Middle East, we're going to encourage free markets, and 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 and some pressing business to complete. After many years of inaction, we are nearing major reform in Medicare -- reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. We must also improve our health care system through liability reform. In New York and all across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Thanks to the President's leadership, the Congress is nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. One that, for the sake of our economic security and our national security, will modernize our energy infrastructure, as well as hopefully make the nation less dependent on foreign oil.

Also on Capitol Hill, 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 some of these nominees have been denied up-or-down votes for months, or even years. The Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against certain nominees who don't meet their litmus test. This means that even though these nominees have a majority of senators supporting them, that is they get more than 50 votes in the Senate, they cannot get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. That's fundamentally unfair to the nominees, and we believe it's an abuse of the constitutional process. It's time to give every nominee a prompt up-or-down vote on the floor of the United States Senate. (Applause.)

We've achieved a great deal in these last years. But there's still a great deal left to do in Washington. And around the world, the nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course, and when it does, President Bush and I will run hard and take nothing for granted. We understand that the key to victory is to do the work we've been given, and to do it well. And we intend to make good use of every day we have the honor of serving the American people.

Long before I entered my current job, I had the good fortune to work with other presidents I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw Gerald Ford restore confidence in government by the sheer force and decency of his character. As a congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and the moral courage of Ronald Reagan. And as a member of the Cabinet under former President Bush, I saw the ideal of public service in one of its purest forms and came to know a leader of honor and integrity.

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 judgment, compassion, and courage in times of testing for the nation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)

President Bush and I are honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitments to the cause we all share. We're proud to have so many friends in Buffalo and across this great state of New York. And your support in November of 2003 now will help assure victory next year in November of 2004. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:32 P.M. EST

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at a Dinner for Bush-Cheney '04 in Buffalo, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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