Richard B. Cheney photo

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

November 17, 2003

Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Rochester, New York

12:15 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Well, it's great to be back in New York and in Rochester today. And I especially want to thank the Governor for his kind words. George Pataki has been an absolutely superb governor for New York. He's one of the President's very best friends from their days together as governors. He does a superb job, not only for the state of New York, but the United States. We're very fortunate to have him. And I'm delighted having him campaigning with us today. (Applause.)

And I can't help coming back to Rochester, and thinking about an old friend of mine, Barber Conable. I know Barber is not here today, but I know Barber represented part of this area for many, many years. He was a superb member of Congress, and I enjoyed immensely my service with him. He took my under his wing when I got elected and showed me the ropes. And I want to wish he and Charlotte (ph) the very best today.

We're also honored to be with two other members. Of course, Tom Reynolds, from Erie County, is here today. Tom has done a superb job. (Applause.) He's been in the House only a short time, since 1998, but he's risen rapidly through the ranks of the leadership, chairman of our campaign committee. And we're going to hear a lot from Tom in the years ahead. And of course, our colleague Sherry Boehlert. Sherry, chairman of a key committee, comes from New Hartford. (Applause.) Sherry and I served together in the House.

And I did -- I spent 10 years in the House of Representatives. I was just elected to my sixth term. And, of course, it was a little bit different being Wyoming's congressman than being from New York state. In New York you have 29 members, I believe, today; Wyoming only had one for the whole state. It was a small delegation, but it was quality. (Laughter.)

But I always love to tell a story about my last campaign for Congress. In a state like that, after I'd run five times before and campaigned all across the state, and your picture is on television, name is in the newspaper and so forth, we had a tradition, we always closed out every campaign with a rally down in the farming community of Torrington, down along the Wyoming-Nebraska border. The farm groups would have all the candidates -- Republican and Democrat, alike -- out to talk to the folks, tell them what you were going to do if you got elected. Before it was my turn to get up and speak at that last rally, I was out working the crowd, wanted to make sure I'd personally greeted every voter there. And I walked up to one old cowboy with his hat pulled down over his eyes, back up against a tree, and reached out and grabbed him by the hand, and 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.)

It's always a humbling experience to campaign in Wyoming. But I want to thank all of you for being here, as well, today, and for giving your generous support to this campaign early on. It's oftentimes we hear when we get into election times and campaigns, people say, well, it doesn't really matter what I do. There are thousands, millions of people out there doing their thing. And what possible difference could it make whether or not I get involved?

And anybody who has any doubts about the importance of the efforts that every single one of us makes as individuals, all they have to do is think about the 2000 presidential campaign. That boiled down to 500-plus votes in Florida in the final outcome. And if there was ever a race where every single contribution mattered, where every hour of volunteer mattered, where all of the work that party officials and volunteers and folks did out there to make all of that happen, that election should be a reminder of how enormously important that individual level of effort is, the effort that all of you signed on for here by being present, this morning, as well.

This election coming up in 2004 is enormously important. As the Governor pointed out, we've got some major issues at stake. And that's what I want to talk about some this morning. But I want to thank you for making that commitment early on to be part of this effort.

I've been tremendously grateful to have the opportunity to serve the nation and the President as Vice President. And all of us here today, I know, are tremendously proud to be friends and supporters of our President, George W. Bush.

We're looking forward to 2004. As the President says, we're starting to loosen up for the campaign. We're very happy that we will be accepting renomination at the convention in New York, and we're going to do our level best to carry this state next November for the Republican ticket. (Applause.)

And we know the next 11 months will be a busy time as the political season draws near. We recently had some early indications about how voters feel about Republican leadership out around the country. Of course, we've won three out of four governorships just in the last few weeks. And that includes, Kentucky and Mississippi. And of course, today, this very day, we'll swear in the new Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a good piece of work, I think.

This is shaping up to be a good year for our party. And I'm confident that next year, the American people are going to reelect our President, as well.

The President and I will be proud to present our message to voters all across the country, as well as here in New York. We came to Washington three years ago determined to solve problems, instead of simply passing them on to future generations. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond the debates that had for so long stood in the way of progress.

Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, I think we've got a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. And I believe 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 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 and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens on September 11th.

Not long after that day, one high-ranking al Qaeda official said, "This is the beginning of the end for America." But it's pretty clear this terrorist did not know us. It's pretty clear the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and resilience of this country. And they, clearly, underestimated the determination of our President.

We stand here today, many of al Qaeda's known leaders, killed or captured. Those still at large are living in fear -- because we are 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, had a relationship with al Qaeda -- and his regime is no more.

Freedom still has enemies in Iraq. Those terrorists are targeting the very success and the freedom that we are providing to the Iraqi people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and will not intimidate the Iraqi people.

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

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

In all that they've done and continue to do, the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States have performed with enormous skill and great courage. As a former Secretary of Defense, I have never been prouder of the United States military than I am today. (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 that President Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need, and the respect they deserve. And we've kept our word.

The long-term security of our nation, and of our friends and allies, has been a principal concern of President Bush's administration. And so has the economic well-being of our citizens. By the time we took office, the economy was sliding into recession. To get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief to 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. After all, 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 package since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are beginning to see strong economic growth as a result. Figures for the third quarter show the economy grew at an annual rate of 7.2 percent -- the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. Exports are expanding, business investment is rising, housing construction is booming, jobs are being created. The Bush tax cuts are working.

As you know, there are a few voices in the land who want to roll back the tax cuts. Sometimes you'll hear these voices on the evening news. But in fact, the Bush tax cuts are what is bringing us out of recession. And they're helping to foster long-term economic growth. The President and I will not be satisfied until every person 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 in making progress for the American people. One of the sure signs of leadership can be seen every day in the people he's brought into government. As many of you know, I've had the privilege of holding a number of positions in public service including: White House Chief of Staff, member of Congress, and Secretary of Defense. And looking at the group now serving under President Bush, I can tell you this is one of the finest teams ever assembled by an American President.

All of us in the administration -- and the Republicans in the House and Senate, as well -- recognize that our job is not to rest on a strong record, but to keep adding to that record.

Abroad, the fundamental interest of this nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they gather. Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of our responsibilities. In the Middle East, America is encourging 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, as well, and pressing business to complete. After so 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 system through liability reform. In New York and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time treating patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits.

Thanks to the President's leadership, Congress is nearing passage of a comprehensive energy plan. For the sake of our economic security and national security, we need to modernize our energy infrastructure and make this nation less dependent on foreign oil.

Also on Capitol Hill, it's time for the Senate to get about the business of confirming the President's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The President has put forward a superb list of nominees -- men and women who have experience, talent, who represent the mainstream of American law and American values. Yet some of these nominees have been denied up-or-down votes for months and even years. The Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against certin nominees who don't meet their litmus test. This means that even though these nominees have a majority of senators supporting them, they can't get confirmed unless they get a super majority of 60 votes. That's unfair to the nominees, and we believe it's an abuse of the constitutional process. It is time to give every nominee an up-or-down vote -- promptly -- on the floor of the United States Senate. And both of New York's United States senators ought to help return fairness to the confirmation process. (Applause.)

We've achieved a great deal over the last several years. But there's still a great deal left to do in Washington. Around the world, this 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 the key to victory is to do the work we've been given, and to do it well. 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 decency and force 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 its purest form and came to know a leader of true honor and integrity.

Along the way, I learned a few things about the presidency, and the kind of person that 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 both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're proud to have so many friends in Rochester and across this great state. Your support in November of 2003 now will help assure victory next year in November of 2004. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:30 P.M. EST

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

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