Remarks by the Vice President at a Victory 2004 Rally
International Falls, Minnesota
1:10 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sorry, it's afternoon. I forgot. (Laughter.) I'm having so much fun I lost track of time there for a minute.
Well, we're delighted to be back in Minnesota, and in the Land of the 10,000 Lakes, and we're delighted to be here today and can see that this is obviously Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
It's true that Lynne has known me since I was 14 years old -- she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17, though. (Laughter.) I explain to people that we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. (Laughter.) In those days I lived in Nebraska, just a youngster with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected; Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, and that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained to folks the other night that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's election victory, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) No doubt in my mind.
Of course, the President has been out on the road actively campaigning, as have our opponents. I don't know how many of you saw last week, Ohio -- Senator Kerry went goose hunting. (Laughter.) He wore a brand new camouflage jacket for the occasion, which did make me wonder, how often does he go goose hunting? (Laughter.) My personal opinion is, is that camo jacket is an October disguise. (Laughter.) And it's an effort that he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun-owner rights every chance he gets. (Applause.) My fellow sportsmen, the cover-up isn't going to work because you and I know that the Second Amendment is more than just a photo opportunity. (Applause.)
With five days left in the campaign, the choices in the election could not be more clear. The stakes are very high, both at home and abroad. And I believe on November 2nd, the American people are going to make George W. Bush President for four more years. (Applause.)
Lynne and I always enjoy visiting this scenic part of our country. International Falls is a beautiful, awe-inspiring place. I hear you have some fine fishing in this area of Minnesota. (Applause.) I've been known to wet a line a time or two in my life. The President and I have been to your state many times and appreciate the strong support we have throughout, from the cities to the farms and all the way up north here to International Falls.
The state is filled with hard working, patriotic, independent-minded people. And with your help and hard work, President Bush and I will carry Minnesota next Tuesday. (Applause.)
I want to thank Bob Lessard for those kind words and for joining us here today. And I want to put in a good word as well for Norm Coleman who does a superb job for the people of Minnesota. (Applause.) I also want to put in a good word for your Republican candidate for Congress, Mark Groettum. (Applause.)
I also want to thank all of those who have helped to put up signs, make phone calls to get out the vote. The grassroots activity is an essential part of this campaign.
Minnesota voters understand the importance of steady, principled, consistent leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America. Our country faces some serious challenges, but we are meeting every one of those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, people in Minnesota and across the land can be confident of a better future; a stronger economy; and a nation that is more secure because of the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Over the course of the last four years, I think people have seen very clearly the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. He sets clear goals, and works with members of both parties to achieve them. He puts the country first and his deepest commitment is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure. (Applause.)
During the course of this campaign, we have seen something quite different in the President's opponent. He is a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause.
Just over a year ago, John Kerry did something truly unthinkable for a man who aspires to be Commander-in-Chief; he turned his back on the troops that he had earlier voted to send into combat because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry, you will remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, and then during the Democratic primary season when it came time to vote funds that would provide our men and women with body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts, Senator Kerry voted "no."
He offered a ridiculous explanation which, frankly, I think will go down in the history of American politics. He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But the real reason he turned his back on the troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the antiwar candidate; Dean was surging ahead in the polls; and so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primary, turned his back on our troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated matter. (Applause.)
John Kerry will say and do anything in order to get elected. He will attack the Patriot Act -- after he voted for it. He will attack the No Child Left Behind Act -- after he voted for it. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft ?- when he knows that the only people who have supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party. Nobody but a couple of Democrats wants to change the all-volunteer force because it is the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)
John Kerry will say and do anything to get elected. Most recently, he's been charging that American forces did not do enough to protect a weapons facility in Iraq, with the result that some 380 tons of explosives disappeared. Now, he made this charge without knowing if it was true. Two of his senior advisors admitted as much, but John Kerry went ahead and launched an assault on the capability and competence of our troops and commanders. And now there are indications that his charge is not accurate. Last night ABC News reported on a document showing that three months before we launched our assault into Iraq, three months before Americans were even on the scene, much of the explosive material wasn't there.
And let me quote to you what Buford Blount, who was the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division had to say just today on the subject, and I quote:
"Saddam for several months before we attacked moved most of his ammunition and explosives. And he knew we were going to hit his ammunition supply points and his supply depots. And he moved tons and tons of ammunition and distributed it throughout the cities and throughout the desert. I don't think anyone at this point can say whether there was anything there of that magnitude, or whether he had already moved it. I suspect he had already moved it and moved it out into the desert someplace." End quote.
Now, John Kerry made these charges without knowing if any of the explosive material was there when American troops arrived. And there -- it's simply inexcusable in a man who be Commander-in-Chief. If I had to choose between John Kerry and General Blount, I'll go with General Blount every time. (Applause.)
Our soldiers and Marines ought to be praised for the 400,000 tons of weapons and explosives they've captured, much of it now destroyed. At the same time, they've been -- (Applause.) At the same time they've been building schools, training Iraqi forces, fighting an insurgency, they've seized 400,000 tons of munitions and are in the process of destroying them. These brave men and women deserve better than to have their actions called into question by a political candidate who is so ambitious, he will say and do anything to get elected. (Applause.)
John Kerry is playing armchair general, and he's not doing a very good job of it. This shouldn't surprise us given his weak record on national security. He first ran for Congress advocating the idea that we should deploy American troops only under the authority of the United Nations.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He ran for the Senate on the platform that he would -- that we should dismantle most of the major weapons systems Ronald Reagan used to keep the peace and win the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, John Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Don't hold back. (Laughter.)
In the first debate this year, Senator Kerry said that America had to meet some kind of global test before we could take military action.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President and I know better than that. We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls, our job is to defend America. (Applause.)
Now, in the closing days of this campaign, John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness on national defense. But he can't do it. It won't work. As we like to say in Wyoming, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but at the end of the day, it's still a pig. (Applause.) That's one of my favorites. (Laughter.)
John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a President. He is not a steadfast leader. Our President is. (Applause.)
And let me tell you why that matters. A country can never know what a President will be called upon to do. Think of the last four years; think of the challenges of 9/11 and the global war on terror, and because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he has led us very well. At the Republican Convention in New York, you remember Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the story of how on 9/11, he turned to Bernie Kerik, his police commissioner, and said, Thank God, George Bush is Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
Under the President's leadership, we have reached around the world to capture and kill thousands of al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, and the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Nineteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, he sits in jail. (Applause.)
We are also helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build representative governments. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. Elections were held two weeks ago, the first in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.) In January, the people of Iraq will vote, as well. And we will be safer as a result. One of the lessons history teaches is that institutions of self-government turn the energies of people away from violence to the peaceful work of building better lives. Freedom is the best antidote to terrorism. (Applause.)
Because of President Bush's determination in the war on terror, leaders around the world are getting the message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Moammar Ghadafi in Libya agreed to abandon his nuclear weapons program and turn the materials over to the United States. (Applause.)
The biggest danger we face today is having nuclear weapons technology fall into the hands of terrorists. The President is working with many countries on a global effort to end trade and transfer of these deadly technologies. The most important result thus far is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons material to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down. And the world is much safer as a result. (Applause.)
We could not have succeeded in these efforts without the help of dozens of countries around the world. We will always seek international support for international efforts, but as President Bush has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. We will never seek a permission slip to defend the United States of America. (Applause.)
The clearest, most important difference in this campaign is simple to state: President Bush understands the war on terror and has a strategy for winning it; Senator Kerry does not.
All doubt on that matter was removed recently when Senator Kerry said he wanted to lead America back to the place where we were -- to a time when terrorism was, in his word, a "nuisance," like illegal gambling or prostitution. That's the comparison he made.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: When I read that, I thought to myself, when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it a nuisance four years ago, when the USS Cole was attacked and we lost 17 sailors and nearly the ship? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they attacked simultaneously two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or how about 11 years ago, when the World Trade Center was first bombed in New York?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 16 years ago, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie Scotland?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 21 years ago, when a suicide bomber in a truck loaded with explosives drove into a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 servicemen?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My friends, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. There never can be a time when terrorism is just a nuisance. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat terror, and with George Bush as our President, that's exactly what we will do. (Applause.)
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds; or who fail to understand the nature of the struggle we're in. Our troops, our allies, and our enemies must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate – and fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without consequence to the nation. But a President -- a President -- always casts the deciding vote. And in this time of challenge, America needs ?- and America has ?- a President we can count on to get it right. (Applause.)
President Bush knows our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America, and I want to thank them, and their families, and all the veterans with us here today for what they've done for all of us. (Applause.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true for our policies here at home. When President Bush and I stood on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol and took the oath of office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then terrorists struck on 9/11 and shook our economy once again. We faced a basic decision – to leave more money with families and businesses, or to take more of the American people's hard-earned money for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and he delivered tax cuts for the American people not once, not twice, but four times in four years. (Applause.)
Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the Bush tax cuts, and so has the economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months – a total of 1.9 million new jobs during that period. Here in Minnesota, almost 28,000 jobs have been created since June of last year. Mortgage rates, interest rates, and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident; businesses are investing; and families are taking home more of what they earn.
We're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation.
We know there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.) This is a strong, growing economy -- don't let the Democrats tell you otherwise. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. In our second term, we'll keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We'll work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.) And to help families and small businesses, we'll lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code. (Applause.)
We'll work to end lawsuit abuse because we know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
And we'll continue to work to help parents and teachers improve our public schools so that all our children receive the world-class education they deserve. (Applause.) We will work to make it easier for small businesses to provide health insurance to employees and for families to meet health care needs ?- and we'll do this in ways that keep health decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not the hands of Washington bureaucrats. (Applause.)
We will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Minnesota, but across the nation. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
President Bush and I will also continue to defend society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We stand strongly for the Second Amendment and will defend the individual right of every American to bear arms. (Applause.) We believe that our nation is "one nation under God." (Applause.) And we believe Americans ought to be able to say so when we pledge allegiance to our flag. (Applause.)
There shouldn't be any question about this ?- and there wouldn't be if we had more responsible judges on the federal bench. (Applause.) The Democrats in the Senate have been doing everything they can – including using the filibuster – to keep the President's sensible, mainstream nominees off the bench.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: They're hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen because we're going to win this election. (Applause.)
My friends, the differences between the President and his opponent are as sharp as they can possibly be, and the consequences for the country are enormous. On vital matters of national security, Senator Kerry offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose, resolute action, and a strategy for victory. (Applause.) Senator Kerry wants to empower government; President Bush will empower the citizens of this great country. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think all the wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)
Under President Bush's leadership, we will use America's great power to serve great purposes, to protect our homeland by turning back and defeating the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom around the world. Here at home, we'll continue building a prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world. (Applause.)
The President and I are honored by your commitment to the cause we all share. President Bush and I will wage this effort with complete confidence in the American people. The signs are good – here in Minnesota, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to a news account, people leaving the Democratic National Convention in July asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, Leave here ?- and go vote Republican. (Applause.)
Just this morning, Curt Schilling, the indomitable pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, endorsed the President. (Applause.) On the "Good Morning America" television show, he told Charlie Gibson, quote, "Make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week." (Applause.)
President Bush and I are grateful to our many friends across the great state of Minnesota. I want to thank you for your tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. (Applause.) Together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 1:37 P.M. CDT
Richard B. Cheney, Remarks by the Vice President at a Victory 2004 Rally Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/281042