Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Congressional Candidate Judge Louis Gohmert in Longview, Texas

May 21, 2004

Maude Cobb Convention Center
Longview, Texas

6:28 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you for that introduction, Louie, and thank all of you for that warm welcome back to Texas, and Longview. This is my third stop in Texas today. It doesn't take quite as long to hit all the congressional districts in my home state of Wyoming. Wyoming only has one congressman. And I was that congressman for 10 years. It was a small delegation, but it was quality.

And it's a pleasure to be back in Texas. And of course, Lynne and I spent five years here in Dallas. And we love Texas very much. It's always a great place to come back, and I want to, as well, bring good wishes to all of your today from your former governor, President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

Texas gave us 32 electoral votes the last election, in 2000. We don't take anything for granted, but I do think our chances look pretty good down here. (Applause.) And I don't imagine we'll need a recount. (Laughter.)

When the President asked me four years ago to sign on as his running mate, he said it wasn't because he was worried about carrying Wyoming. We got 70 percent of the vote there. But I also remind those three electoral votes came in pretty darn handy.

I know all Texans are especially proud not only of our President ?- also our outstanding First Lady, Laura Bush. (Applause.)

As Louie mentioned, my only real job in Washington is as the President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution, they created the post of Vice President. They got down to the end of the Constitutional Conventional and decided they hadn't given him anything to do. So they decided, well, we'll have him preside over the Senate -- preside over the Senate, cast tie-breaking votes.

My predecessor, the first Vice President, John Adams, also had floor privileges. He could actually go down into the well of the Senate and engage and participate in the debate. Then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. Those have never been restored, but I get an opportunity to work closely with the Senate. I'm up there every Tuesday for lunch with the Senate Republicans, and I can tell you that Texas has a superb Senate delegation -- Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn. They do a great job. (Applause.)

The reason we're gathered here tonight is to make absolutely certain Louie Gohmert is the next congressman from the first district of Texas. (Applause.) Louie has got an exceptional record of public service, from his years on the Smith County District Court, to his time as the Chief Justice of Texas's 12th Court of Appeals. He has dedicated his career to upholding Texas law and values -- and he'll fight hard every day for those values in the House of Representatives.

Send this man to Washington, and you'll have a strong voice on the issues that matter most. Louie is committed to low taxes, job creation, and a well-trained, well-equipped military. Anyone who has seen Louie in the courtroom knows his remarkable work ethic, and his dedication to the public interest. Serving in the House is a big job, and Louie Gohmert has everything it takes to do the job right. The President and I are behind him all the way. And come November, the people of the first district are going to make him your next representative in the United States House of Representatives. (Applause.)

These are challenging times for Texas, and for our nation. Those of us in public office have serious responsibilities. And today, as we look forward to November, I believe we've also 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 our new era, because of the character and leadership of President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

This is a period in history defined by serious challenges, and the need for decisive action. And the greatest responsibility of our government is clear: We must protect the safety and security of the American people.

The attacks of September 11th, 2001 signaled the arrival of an entirely new era in our history. We suffered massive civilian casualties right here on our own soil. And we awakened to dangers even more lethal -- the possibility that terrorists could gain chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons from rogue regimes and possibly turn them against us.

More than two-and-a-half years have now passed since 9/11, yet it would be a grave mistake to assume the threat to our country and the world has passed. As we have seen in attacks all over the world since 9/11 – in Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Karbala, Mombasa, Bali, Jakarta, Najaf, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Madrid ?- terrorists are determined to intimidate free countries, and even to try to influence the outcome of elections. We have to assume they will make further attempts inside the United States. And every American can be certain: The President and I are doing everything we can to prevent another terrorist attack on America.

We created the Department of Homeland Security, and brought together 180,000 federal employees from 22 different agencies with a single purpose -- to protect America. Congress also passed the Patriot Act, to give law enforcement the tools needed to catch terrorists inside the United States. And this week the Senate passed the President's Project BioShield Initiative, which will better prepare the nation to defend against biological attack. This is urgent work – yet a good defense is not enough. The war on terror must be won on the offensive, so we are taking the fight to enemy. (Applause.)

We're dismantling the terror networks, and the financial networks that fund terror, and we are going after the terrorists wherever they plot and plan. In Afghanistan, we removed the brutal Taliban from power and destroyed the al Qaeda training camps. In Iraq, America and our allies rid the Iraqi people of a murderous dictator and rid the world of a gathering threat to our peace and security. Just over a year ago, Saddam Hussein controlled the lives of some 25 million people. Tonight, he is in jail. (Applause.) Because we acted, he will never again brutalize the Iraqi people, never again support terrorists or pursue weapons of mass destruction, and never again threaten the United States of America.

We still face serious challenges in Afghanistan, and on the ground in Iraq. Thugs and assassins are desperately trying to shake our will ?- and they have made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. The terrorists understand the stakes of our mission in Iraq – and so do we. The defeat of tyranny and violence in that nation, and the rise of democracy in the heart of the Middle East, will be a crucial setback for terror everywhere. As President Bush has said from the start, we will do what is necessary to succeed in Iraq – destroying the terrorists, transferring sovereignty to the Iraqi people on the 30th of June, and helping them build a stable, self-governing society. We will finish what we have begun ?- Iraq will be a free nation, and its people will be free of tyranny and terror. (Applause.)

America will never go back to the false comforts of the world before 9/11. Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the perception of weakness. (Applause.) This nation has made a decision: We will engage the enemy, facing him with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq today, so we do not have to face him with armies of firefighters, police, and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)

From the beginning, America has sought – and received – international support for our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the war on terror, we will always seek cooperation from friends and allies around the world. 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.)

Our nation is extremely fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. The misconduct of a few does not diminish the honor and the decency that our servicemen and women have shown in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Applause.) They have seen hard duty, long deployments, and fierce fighting. They've endured the loss of friends and comrades. And they are unwavering in their mission. They are proving every day when we send them to defend this nation, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, saying one thing one day and another the next. We need a Commander-in-Chief of clear vision and steady determination ?- and that's just what we have in President George W. Bush. (Applause.) That same standard should be applied to the candidate who now opposes him in this year's election, the Junior Senator from Massachusetts.

A while back, Senator Kerry informed us that he has met with unnamed foreign leaders who support him. Not long after, a voter asked Senator Kerry directly who these foreign leaders are. Senator Kerry said, "That's none of your business." But it is our business when a candidate for President claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders. This election will not be decided by unnamed foreign leaders – it will be decided by the voters of America. (Applause.)

Senator Kerry has also asserted that our troops in Iraq are not receiving the materiel support they need. May I remind the Senator that last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing funding for our troops -- for body armor and other vital support, such as hazard pay, health benefits, ammunition, fuel and spare parts. Senator Kerry was asked whether he would vote against the President's request. He said, quote, "I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops. That's irresponsible." End quote. Within weeks, the legislation passed overwhelmingly, with a vote of 87 to 12 in the Senate. Senator Kerry voted "no." As a way to clarify the matter, Senator Kerry said, quote, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." End quote. The Senator, obviously, is free to vote as he chooses, but he should be held to his own standard. It is irresponsible to vote against vital support for the United States military. (Applause.)

On the broader picture, Senator Kerry has questioned whether the war on terror is really a war at all. He said, I don't want to use that terminology. In his view, opposing terrorism is far less of a military operation and far more of a law enforcement operation. As we have seen, however, that approach was tried before, and proved entirely inadequate to protecting the American people from terrorists who are quite certain they are at war with us.

I leave it for Senator Kerry to explain, or explain away, his inconsistent votes and his statements about the war on terror, about our cause in Iraq, and the needs of the American military. Whatever the explanation, it is not an impressive record for someone who aspires to become Commander-in-Chief in this time of testing for the nation.

The American people will have a clear choice in the election of 2004 -- on national security as well as on policies here at home.

When the President and I took office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then, just as the economy began to recover, terrorists struck and the economy was shaken once again. President Bush took strong, confident steps to get the economy growing again. Working with strong allies on Capitol Hill, the President signed into law significant tax relief for millions of American families and businesses. We doubled the child tax credit, decreased the marriage penalty, cut tax rates across the board, and put the death tax on the path to extinction.

Since President Bush took office, more than 7.3 million taxpayers in Texas have seen their income tax bills reduced. (Applause.) 2.3 million married couples in Texas are benefiting from marriage penalty relief; and more than 1.9 million families have benefited from the increase in the child tax credit. More than 1.6 million business owners in Texas have seen their federal tax burden go down, allowing them to invest in new equipment, expand facilities, and hire additional workers.

Across the nation, the results of the President's policies are clear. The economy added 288,000 new jobs last month, 600,000 jobs in the past two months, and more than 1.1 million new jobs since August. Manufacturing jobs have increased now for three straight months. As we learned just this morning, the Texas unemployment rate declined from its peak of 6.9 percent a year ago 6 percent last month. Over the past year, the economy has grown at a rate of 4.9 percent -- the fastest pace since Ronald Reagan's first term in the White House and the fastest of any major industrialized nation in the world. (Applause.)

Our economy is growing stronger in other ways as well. The home ownership rate is the highest ever. Interest rates and inflation are low. Real incomes and wages are growing. Productivity is high. Business investment and factory orders are rising. There's a simple reason for our growing prosperity: The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

Not surprisingly, the American people are using their money far better than the government would have – and as Louie Gohmert agrees -- Congress was right to let them keep it. There are some voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. To choose just one at random, there is the Junior Senator from Massachusetts.

If elected, Senator Kerry has promised to repeal most of the Bush tax cuts within his first 100 days in office. This isn't surprising when you consider his record. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people – including the biggest tax increase in American history. That's an average of a vote for higher taxes every three weeks for 20 years. At least the folks back in Massachusetts knew he was on the job.

For the sake of long-term growth and job creation, we should do exactly the opposite of what Senator Kerry proposes. We should continue spending discipline in Washington, D.C., and we should make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

Under the strong economic leadership of President Bush, this nation is going to continue moving forward with an aggressive, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.

Our nation needs legal reform, to protect small business owners and employees from frivolous lawsuits and unnecessary regulation. (Applause.)

We need to control the costs of health care by passing medical liability reform. Here in Texas and across the nation, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. (Applause.)

As you understand here in Texas, Congress also needs to pass energy legislation. (Applause.) Three years ago, the President sent Congress a sound energy plan to modernize our electricity system, increase conservation, expand the use of alternative fuels, and increase domestic exploration and production in America. If Congress had acted on our energy plan three years ago, today we would be well on our way to increasing our domestic oil supply. The House has passed legislation -- it's hung up in the Senate. It's time for Congress to pass our energy plan, so we can make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

It's also time for the United States Senate to get about the business of confirming President Bush's judicial nominees. (Applause.) The recent agreement by Senate Democrats to stop obstructing votes on 25 of the President's nominees is a welcome step. Yet far too many nominees are still being forced to spend months, or even years, waiting for hearings and up-or-down votes. That is unfair to judicial nominees, and 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 to send more Republicans like Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

On issue after issue – from economic growth to a strong national defense – President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. Louie is with us on these issues -- and we look forward to having him on Capitol Hill.

President Bush has a clear vision for the future of our country. Abroad, we will use America's great power to serve great purposes ?- to turn back the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom throughout the world. Here at home, we will continue building prosperity that reaches every corner of the land, so that every child who grows up in the United States will have a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the cause we all share. It's an honor to help with Louie's outstanding campaign. He's going to be a outstanding Congressman, and President Bush and I look forward to working with him for a good many years to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 6:50 P.M. CDT

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at a Reception for Congressional Candidate Judge Louis Gohmert in Longview, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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