Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Bush-Cheney '04 in Cleveland, Ohio

November 24, 2003

Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio

6:20 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. It's nice to be back in Ohio. And I appreciate the Governor's kind introduction. I think Bob is one of the great governors in America. He does a superb job for all of you here in Ohio, as well as on a national basis. And I'm delighted that he's agreed to sign on once again and be chairman of our efforts here in Ohio. Bob, thank you very much for what you're doing for us. (Applause.)

I want to thank Tim Timkin (ph) and Mel Nixon (ph) -- and the others have been an important part of this effort today. And we've got many distinguished guests. But most of all, I want to thank all of you for being here this evening, for your willingness to sign on early in support of our campaign, and for your generous support here today.

I've been grateful to serve the nation as Vice President, and all of us are very proud to be friends and supporters of our President, George W. Bush. We're looking forward to 2004, and I'm especially looking forward to coming back to Cleveland for the vice presidential debate next October. (Applause.)

I don't know if anything will ever match the Cheney-Lieberman debate of 2000. (Laughter.) All that charisma and electricity in the air. (Laughter.) But we're going to try. But it -- those are special events, obviously. And they take on great significance -- they have -- in our presidential campaigns. And so that will be one of the highlights of next year's campaign. I'm glad it's going to happen right here in Cleveland.

The President and I remain very grateful to all of you in Ohio for your support for us three years ago. We didn't need a recount here in Ohio. (Laughter.) And we're going to work very hard, as well, to carry Ohio in 2004. And we'll be honored to run on a ticket led by your former mayor, former governor, and current senator, George Voinovich. (Applause.)

And as President of the Senate, I've enjoyed working with George. I have lunch with the Senate Republicans every Tuesday. Of course, that's really my only job. (Laughter.) When they wrote the Constitution -- when they wrote the Constitution, they got down to the end of the convention, and they decided they hadn't given the Vice President anything to do. So they cobbled together this post of the President of the Senate, and I get to preside over the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes. And as I say, that's, under the Constitution, my only real job.

My predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, also had floor privileges. He got to leave the chair and go down into the well and participate in the debate. And he did that a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) Unfortunately, they've never been restored. So I can't talk, but I can preside. And I can cast that tie-breaking vote. But I get the great opportunity doing that, of course, to work with your superb team from Ohio. Mike DeWine has been a friend of mine for a long time. We served together in the House. The two of them, George and Mike, do a great job in the Senate.

And of course, in the House, you've got many great Republicans from Ohio. But I especially want to mention my old friend Ralph Regula, who's here tonight. Ralph and I served together in the House for all 10 years that I was there. He does a superb job, one of the key operators, vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee. And I'm confident he'll have another term in Washington, as well, too.

I loved my time in the House of Representatives. I was the congressman from Wyoming for 10 years. And Wyoming only has one seat in the House. It's a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter.) And it was a special privilege to serve there and to be a part of the Congress. And now to come back as part of the Senate, you begin to be a judge, if you will, of congressional horse flesh -- if I can put it in those terms. And what it takes in order to be effective in those jobs is somebody who never forgets where they came from and who elected them; who has a good fundamental set of values that they operate by, does a good job of representing the state or district, but always keeps the national interest in mind, as well, too. And men like Ralph Regula, Mike DeWine, George Voinovich -- you've got some superb members in the Congress. And I'm delighted to serve with them.

The President and I will be proud next year to bring our message to voters in Ohio and all across America. The President came to Washington three years ago determined that he wanted to solve problems, rather than simply pass them on to future generations. We were determined to seize new opportunities for reform, rather than get bogged down in some of the old debates that had 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. The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security against the dangers of this new era because of the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

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 the conduct of our President. From that day to this, he has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America that morning 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 the terrorist did not know us. It's clear that the terrorists who attacked us did not understand the strength and the resilience of this country. And they, clearly, did not understand the determination of our President.

As we stand here today, many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are living in fear -- because we're on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population; they harbored al Qaeda -- and that regime is no more. In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists and had 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 their people. Terror attacks on innocent civilians will not intimidate Americans, and they will not intimidate the Iraqi people.

Iraq has now become the central front in the war on terror. And we will roll 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, so we do not have to face them on the streets of our own cities.

We're calling on other nations to help us and help the Iraqis to build a free country, which will make all of us more secure. We're standing with the Iraqi people as they assume more responsibilities for their own security and self-government. These are not easy tasks, but they are absolutely essential. And as the President has said many times, and no one should doubt it, "We will finish what we have 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 United States have performed with enormous skill and courage. As a former Secretary of Defense, I have never been prouder of the United States military than I am tonight.

These fine 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're earning the trust of the people they've liberated. One of the most important commitments that the President made during the 2000 campaign was that the armed forces would be given every resource they need, and all of the respect they deserve. And he's kept his word to the United States military.

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. And to get it growing again, we've delivered significant tax relief to the American people. And 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.

This administration has delivered the largest tax relief since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and we are now beginning to see strong economic growth as a result. The figures for the third quarter show that 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, and the Bush tax cuts are working.

As you know, there are some few voices in the land who want to roll back the tax cuts. Sometimes I hear these voices on the nightly news. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts brought us out of the recession. They are helping bring down unemployment; they've set the economy on the path towards long-term economic growth. The last thing we want to do as we come out of the recession is to raise taxes. And 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. And one of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people that 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. 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 this administration -- and our Republican allies 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 this nation requires that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they may 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 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, as well. After many years of inaction, we are close to accomplishing major reform in Medicare -- reform that strengthens the system, and provides America's seniors with prescription drug coverage. This legislation will pass in the next few days, and it's a credit to the Congress and to the leadership of our President, who proposed it and will sign it into law.

Going forward, we must also improve our health care system through liability reform. In Ohio and across America, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, instead of fighting off frivolous lawsuits.

The House also passed a comprehensive energy plan last week, which a minority of senators has now filibustered. But for the sake of our economic security and our national security, the Senate needs to pass this bill, as well.

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 even years. Senate Democrats have taken to waging filibusters against certain nominees who don't meet their litmus test. This means that even though these nominees may have a majority of senators supporting them, that is more than 50 votes, 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. Every nominee deserves a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. And that's another reason we need more Republicans in the Senate like George Voinovich and Mike DeWine.

We've achieved a great deal over the last several years. But there's still a great deal left to do in Washington. And 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 we'll 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 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.)

I want to thank all of you for being here today and for your willingness to sign on and support our campaign. The President and I are both honored by your confidence, and by your commitment to the cause we all share. We're proud to have so many friends in Cleveland and across the great state of Ohio. Your support in November of 2003 will help assure victory next year, in November of 2004. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:36 P.M. EST

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

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