Richard B. Cheney photo

Remarks by the Vice President at the Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception

June 30, 2003

Hilton Akron Fairlawn

Akron, Ohio

6:03 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much, Tim. You know, I had never really thought about that career in the Supreme Court. (Laughter.) And of course, as Tim pointed out, I'm not a lawyer. If I was, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. (Laughter.) I don't mean to offend my lawyer friends. (Laughter.)

But, no, I love to tell the story about my first campaign for Congress. I was out in the early stages, running in Wyoming. And we walked into the little town of Dubois, Wyoming. Some of you know Wyoming. That's clear back up in the mountains.

The -- I didn't know anybody in town. I went down and met the local precinct committeeman, and he agreed to walk me through town and sort of introduce me to everybody. And we went into the Ram's Horn Bar and Grille, which is where everybody gathered for lunch. It's in a town of maybe 1,000 people.

And we walked in. There were people lined up there at the bar having a beer with lunch. And one old cowboy over there with his boot up on the rail, cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes, he looked over at me when I was introduced to him.

He said, son, are you Democrat? And I said, no sir. He said, are you a lawyer? I said, no. He said, I'll vote for you. (Laughter and applause.) And that's all he wanted to know. He didn't want to know what I was for; he just wanted to know what I wasn't. (Laughter.) And we carried Dubois, too. (Laughter.)

Anyway, it's great to be here today. I want to thank Tim Timken for all the great work he's done in helping get organized for this event. We, of course, carried Ohio in 2000. And with your help, we're going to carry it once again in 2004. (Applause.)

We're also going to reelect George Voinovich to the United States Senate -- (applause) -- and some of your great Congressmen, like Ralph Regula, is an old friend of mine, who's here today. (Applause.)

This has been an impressive turnout for the number two man on the ticket. But like I always say, nothing draws a crowd like raw charisma. (Laughter.)

And we're all here today for exactly the same reason, although I expect you paid more to get in than I did. (Laughter.) But I'm grateful to everyone here who worked so hard to help organize the event. Your yearly -- your early efforts, and your generosity are laying the foundation for what I think will be a very strong and effective campaign next year. And I want to thank all of you for your commitment to the reelection of President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

It's been three years now -- just about three years ago, that the Governor of Texas asked me to help him find a running mate. I did my part, set up a search committee -- (laughter) -- and I gave him a long list of names. And, of course, the selection he made came as a bit of a surprise to me. At the time that he picked me, he said he wasn't worried about carrying Wyoming. (Laughter.) He got 70 percent of the vote there. But I like to remind him from time to time that those three electoral votes came in pretty handy. (Laughter.)

But the great thing about that decision by then Governor, now President Bush, was that he brought me back into public life, and has given me the high privilege of serving as Vice President of the United States. And I was proud to accept then, and I'm proud to be beside him now because I know the caliber of the man that I'm working for. I knew then that if the American people sent us to Washington, we would not be going there simply to mark time. And we were determined to solve problems instead of passing them on to the next generation, determined to seize new opportunities for reform and to get beyond the old debates that stood in the way of progress.

Today, as we look ahead to the election of 2004, we already have a record of accomplishment to show for our efforts. The American people are confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and greater security, because -- against the greater security against the dangers of a new era, because of the character and the leadership qualities of President Bush.

In the weeks following the terrorist attack on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. From that day to this, President Bush has led a steady, focused, and relentless campaign against the enemies who struck America and killed our citizens. The al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters spent years plotting the attacks of September 11th. In the time since, they've begun to realize what a grave miscalculation it was to make an enemy of this country, and an enemy of this President.

To date, we've captured or killed nearly half the al Qaeda leadership. Those still at large are living in fear, and their fears are well founded, because we are on their trail. In Afghanistan, the Taliban regime brutalized an entire population. They harbored al Qaeda. That regime is no more. In Iraq, a dictator armed to threaten the peace and gave support to terrorists. And that regime is no more.

In the battles of Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the other fronts in the war on terror, we've depended on the skill and courage of our men and women in uniform. They've faced enemies who have no regard for the rules of warfare or morality. They've carried our urgent and difficult missions in some of the most hostile and remote parts of the world. They've done all of this with the bravery and the honor we expect of them. As a former Secretary of Defense, I have never been more proud of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)

There was a time just a few years ago, when the military was taken for granted. Readiness was faltering; morale was beginning to suffer. In the campaign of 2000, President Bush and I gave our word that the United States Armed Forces would have the resources they needed and the respect they deserve. And we've kept our word.

Three years ago, we also promised to reduce the tax burden, to let workers keep more of their own money, and to give the economy a needed boost. By the time we took office, the economy was in recession, and confidence was further shaken by the terrorist attacks and by corporate scandals. Under the President's leadership, we passed new laws to prevent and punish corporate crime. And to help create jobs and get the economy growing again, we have delivered the largest tax relief packages since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

As the Governor of Texas, George Bush made education reform a matter of the highest priority. He followed through by uniting members of both political parties behind sweeping reforms, and he promised to do the same as President. Many doubted it could ever be achieved. Yet in a short time, President Bush transformed the education debate in Washington. He set forth clear principles, and worked with Congress in the spirit of good will until the No Child Left Behind Act became law. Because of that milestone reform, the days of excuse making are over. We're bringing high standards, accountability, and regular testing to every public school in America.

Education reform is one of those issues that lingered for years in Washington. On so many problems, the country was getting used to endless debate, and not much in the way of progress. Yet things have changed fundamentally. Instead of constant gridlock, the government is actually confronting old problems, and acting decisively against sudden dangers and challenges. And the critical factor, in every single case, has been the leadership of the President of the United States.

On the President's initiative, we're carrying out the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, with the Department of Homeland Security to protect our nation. And the many failed attempts -- after many failed attempts in the 1990s, we now have trade promotion authority to open new markets for American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers. And under the President's leadership, Congress agreed to a budget that funds key priorities, while maintaining spending discipline. And we are going to hold Congress to that pledge.

On issue after issue, President Bush has led the way in making progress for the American people. But one of the sure signs of his leadership can be seen every day in the people that he's brought to the government. When you can look around the table and see people like Andy Card, Condoleezza Rice, Don Evans, John Snow, Don Rumsfeld, and Colin Powell, you know you are working with serious public servants, and one of the finest teams ever assembled by a President.

All of us in this administration know that our job is not to rest on a record, but rather to keep adding to that record. Abroad, the fundamental interests of the nation require that we oppose threats to our freedom and security wherever they arise. This war on terror will continue until every enemy who plots against the American people is confronted and defeated. (Applause.)

Yet overcoming threats is only the beginning of America's responsibility toward other nations. There is great work in this world that only America can do. In the Middle East, we're encouraging free markets, democracy, and tolerance, because these are the ideas and aspirations that overcome violence, and turn societies toward the pursuit of peace.

On the African continent, the President's AIDS initiative will bring the healing power of medicine to millions of men, women, and children who now live in desperate need. Under President Bush, America acts in the world according both to our fundamental interests and to our founding ideals. We believe in the dignity of life, and the right of all people to live in freedom. And 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 some pressing business to complete. After many years of inaction, we are nearing major reform on Medicare. Seven months ago, President Bush submitted a framework of Medicare reform to the Congress, one that would give seniors access to prescription drug coverage and offer them better choices under Medicare.

Last week, both houses of Congress took historic action and accepted the principle of choice for seniors. Now Congress must complete its work, and send a bill to the President that not only strengthens and modernizes Medicare, but provides seniors with better health care coverage and relief from the rising costs of prescription drugs.

Our health care system also needs liability reform, because doctors should spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. The lawsuit culture is a national problem that requires a national solution. The House has passed a good bill. The Senate should do as well.

We're also going to continue to press Congress for an energy plan. The President has proposed a comprehensive energy strategy that includes greater energy efficiency and conservation, cleaner technology, and the production of more natural gas and other fuels here at home. For the sake of our economic security and our national security, we must make America less dependent on foreign oil.

Another urgent matter concerns our federal courts, many of which have empty seats on the bench. The President has nominated superb men and women to fill these vacancies, selecting people of experience and proven judgment, who understand the role of the courts is to interpret the law, not to invent it.

Yet a small group of senators is trying to keep some of the President's nominees from even receiving an up-or-down vote. This is a disservice to the courts, and it is unfair to these well- qualified nominees. The Senate has a responsibility to give every judicial nominee a prompt hearing, and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

We have achieved a great deal in these two-and-a-half years. But there is a great deal left to do in Washington. And across the world, this nation has many serious responsibilities and challenges. The campaign season will come in due course. When it does, we will run hard and take nothing for granted. President Bush and I know that 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 that we have the honor of serving the American people.

Long before I took this job, I had the good fortune to work with other presidents that I greatly admire. As a White House staffer in the aftermath of Watergate, I saw President Ford restore confidence in government by virtue of his decency and force of character. As a Congressman during the decisive years of the Cold War, I saw the conviction and 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 honor and complete 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. Ladies and gentlemen, that's exactly the kind of man we have in the White House today. (Applause.)

I'm honored to work with George W. Bush. And he and I are both honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause that we all share.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

--END-- 6:19 P.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at the Bush-Cheney 2004 Reception Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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