Richard B. Cheney photo

The Vice President's Remarks at a Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Lansing, Michigan

July 16, 2004

The Lansing Center
Lansing, Michigan

1:26 P.M. EDT

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: (In progress) In short, my friends, Vice President Cheney is not just another pretty face. [Laughter.] He helped lead America in the difficult year, following the end of the Vietnam War and President Nixon's resignation. He helped end the Cold War and assist long-captive nations of the Soviet Empire recover their freedom and reap for themselves the blessings of democracy and free markets. As Secretary of Defense, he was responsible for shaping the future of our military forces in an era of profound and rapid change, helped liberate Panama from the tyranny of its corrupt self-appointed leaders and, of course, helped lead Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm to defeat Iraqi aggression that threatened the independence of other Middle Eastern countries.

Now as Vice President, he is in effect deputy commander-in-chief in the great test of our generation. He stands shoulder to shoulder with the President in this long, tough fight to vanquish international terrorism, not reduce, not change its operations, not temporarily reduce it but to vanquish and make it unmistakably clear to all the Bin Ladens of the world what a fatal mistake it is to attack the United States of America.

After a decade of failed diplomatic efforts, sanctions, and limited military pressure to compel Saddam Hussein to honor the obligations he accepted after the end of the Gulf War, the President could count on the experience and wisdom of his Vice President when he made the difficult decision to liberate Iraq from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. Whether Saddam then possessed the terrible weapons that every intelligence service on earth believed he possessed, he had used them before, and I have no doubt, was firmly determined to acquire them again for what terrible purpose we can only anticipate with dread. That was a risk George Bush and Dick Cheney knew we just couldn't afford in this new, violent age of terrorism.

To the work of many American generations who protected our interests and championed our values abroad must now be added the defense of our freedoms here at home from a clear and present danger. We are very fortunate that our President in these challenging days can rely on the council of a man who has demonstrated time and again the resolve, experience, and patriotism that will be required for success and the hard-headed clear-thinking necessary to prevail in this global fight between good and evil. That's why I'm honored to introduce to you the indispensable and very debonair Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. [Applause]

I like to tell people that Lynne and I got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President in 1952. You may think that there are not long-range consequences to elections, but I got to tell you there are. (Laughter.) In 1952, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Department of Agriculture. Eisenhower got elected, he reorganized the Agriculture Department. Dad was transferred to Casper, Wyoming, and that's where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together. As I say, we'll mark our 40th wedding anniversary in August. I pointed out to a group the other night if Eisenhower hadn't won that election, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.)

The President and I are tremendously grateful for all the support we have in Michigan. He was in the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday, up at Marquette. (Applause.) You're going to see a lot of both of us in the next 109 days. (Applause.) And with your help, Michigan is going to be part of a great nationwide victory come November. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Bush has his opponent in this campaign, and now I have mine. (Laughter.) I called Senator Edwards to welcome him to the race the other day, and we had a very friendly conversation. Somebody said to me the other day that Senator Edwards got picked because he's sexy, good looking, charming. I said, how do you think I got this job? (Laughter and applause.)

We're looking forward to a spirited contest this year. When you talk to your friends and neighbors about this campaign, ask them to remember all that has occurred since George W. Bush was elected President. These last three-and-a-half years have brought some serious challenges to our nation. We are meeting every one of those challenges with strength and resolve. And today, the American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy, and a nation that is more secure, because of the character and the leadership of George W. Bush. (Applause.)

In the weeks following the terrorist attacks on America, people in every part of the country, regardless of party, took great comfort and pride in the conduct of our President. Since 9/11, 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. With the President's leadership, we are fighting the war on terror -- and we will win the war on terror. (Applause.) Many of al Qaeda's known leaders have been captured or killed. Those still at large are on the run, and we are going to hunt them down -- one by one. (Applause.)

In Afghanistan, we removed the brutal Taliban from power and destroyed the camps where the terrorists were trained to kill Americans. 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. (Applause.) Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and future of almost 25 million people. Today he's in jail. (Applause.) Because we acted, Afghanistan and Iraq have gone from being terrorist states to free, sovereign nations -- and emerging democracies.

The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in a troubled region, will be a crucial setback for international terror. Because we are strong and resolute, these nations will never go back to the camp and tyranny and terror. And 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 today with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq, 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 our 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. (Applause.) They are proving every day that when we send them to defend our country, we are sending the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments President Bush made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given every resource they need and the respect they deserve -- and we have kept our word to the United States military. (Applause.)

These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds -- (applause) -- saying one thing one day and another, the next. And that brings to mind our opponents in this campaign. (Laughter.) Senator Kerry's position on big issues often depends on when you ask him. When Congress voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, Senator Kerry voted yes. This year, when it served his political purposes, he described himself as an opponent of the war.

When it came time to fund our troops in Iraq, he managed to take both sides of that issue, as well. Last fall, at the President's request, Congress considered legislation providing critical funding for our troops -- for body armor and other vital support, such as hazard pay, ammunition, jet fuel, vehicles, and spare parts. The legislation passed overwhelmingly, with a vote in the Senate of 87 to 12, and that small group of 12 senators voting no included Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Later Senator Kerry gave one of those explanations we've all come to expect from him. He said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.) Well that sure clears things up. (Laughter.) The second time the issue of troop funding came up, Senators Kerry and Edwards signaled their own priorities by not even showing up for the vote.

Earlier this week, Senator Kerry told us he is proud that he and Senator Edwards voted against funding for the troops. Later he explained that his decision to oppose funding for our military personnel was "complicated." Funding American troops in combat should not be a complicated choice. (Applause.) We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's exactly the kind of President we have. (Applause.)

There is no doubt that great events will turn on this election. The leader who sits in the Oval Office -- and the men and women who represent us on Capitol Hill -- will set the course of the war on terror, and set the direction of the American economy. Strong, consistent leadership is required, both on our actions overseas, as well as our policies here at home.

Our economy has been tested these past three-and-a-half years, and we have responded with strong, decisive action. When we took office, the stock market was declining and the economy was sliding toward recession. Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck our nation and shook our economy once again. We faced a basic decision -- to leave more money with families and businesses, or to take more of your tax dollars for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and he delivered tax relief -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)

Over the past three years, America has had the fastest growing economy of any major industrialized nation in the world. Since President Bush took office, more than 3.6 million taxpayers here in Michigan have seen their federal tax burden reduced. (Applause.) More than 1.2 million married couples in this state now pay lower taxes because we reduced the marriage penalty. (Applause.) And more than 900,000 Michigan families now pay lower taxes because we doubled the child tax credit. (Applause.) For individuals and families, the average savings from the President's across-the-board tax cuts topped $1,500. You're using that money far better than we would have in Washington, and we did the right thing by returning it. (Applause.)

The Bush tax cuts have helped our national economy create jobs for 10 consecutive months, and we've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. National home ownership is at a record high. Productivity is high. Incomes are rising. And in the last year, our economy has grown at a rate of nearly 5 percent. The American people are proving the pessimists wrong, and the Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

We recognize there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. That's why we'll keep moving forward with a comprehensive pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. (Applause.) We've seen the positive effects of tax relief, and we know how to keep a good thing going. We will work with Congress to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

There are a number of other important items on our agenda for the future.

For the good of the economy, we need to end lawsuit abuse. (Applause.) Junk and frivolous lawsuits can ruin an honest business. They put people out of work. They clog the courts, delaying justice for people with real legal problems. It's a lot easier for American businesses to hire more workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)

We need medical liability reform to control the costs of health care. Here in Michigan and across the nation, doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Our country also needs a comprehensive energy policy. It's time for Congress to pass the common-sense plan President Bush submitted three years ago -- a plan that would promote domestic energy production; modernize our electricity grid; promote conservation; and make us less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Our opponents have a different vision for the economy.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: This is the good part of the speech. (Laughter.) They talk a lot about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They oppose effective reform of our legal system; they're against medical liability reform; they helped block the energy plan in the Senate -- their big idea for the economy: raise your taxes.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: In fact, they would repeal many of the Bush tax cuts within their first hundred days in office. This isn't surprising when you consider their record. Over the years, Senator Kerry has voted over 350 times for higher taxes on the American people -- including the biggest tax increase in history. That's an average of a vote for higher taxes every three weeks for the last 20 years.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: At least the folks back in Massachusetts knew he was on the job. (Laughter.)

Here in the Great Lake State, every citizen can be certain that President Bush is firmly committed to protecting the waters of lakes Michigan, Superior, Erie, Huron, and Ontario. (Applause.) I saw the other day that your Governor asked the Michigan legislature to act to stop the potential diversion of Great Lakes water, out of concern that the federal government may step in and force diversion to the states.

(Interruption to proceedings.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The Governor, obviously, is concerned about the possibility of diversion of water out of the Great Lakes, and asked the legislature to step in and see to it that that didn't happen. The Governor may have had this concern because Senator Kerry recently hinted that he might support it. The Bush-Cheney Administration will never allow the diversion of Great Lakes water. (Applause.)

If you listen to the other side's proposals between now and November, you'll see a clear pattern. Their plans would increase the power of the Washington bureaucracy, increase the clout of trial lawyers, and increase the size of government's claim on your paycheck. And they would not create jobs or drive economic growth. What we're hearing from the other side is the failed thinking of the past, and we're not going back. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Under the strong economic leadership of President Bush, this nation is going to continue moving forward -- for four more years. (Applause.)

President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for the fair treatment of faith-based charities, so they can receive federal support for their good works. (Applause.) We stand for a culture of life, and we reject the brutal practice of partial birth abortion. (Applause.) We believe that our nation is one nation under God and that Americans ought to be able to say so. (Applause.) Americans ought to be able to say so when they pledge allegiance to our flag. (Applause.)

The founders of this great country acknowledged God in the Declaration of Independence, but we have judges now who seem to have forgotten this history. We also have a situation in the United States Senate where Democrats -- including Senators Kerry and Edwards -- are blocking the President's mainstream appointments to the judiciary. Senators Kerry and Edwards --


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senators Kerry and Edwards made sure that the Senate never got to vote on a fine man like Miguel Estrada, a man who came to this country as an immigrant from Honduras; who graduated from Harvard Law School; clerked in the U.S. Supreme Court and served in the United States Justice Department. Senators Kerry and Edwards are keeping fine people like Miguel Estrada off the bench, and it's time for this travesty to end. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, the choice on November 2nd will be clear at every level on the ballot. On national security, it's a choice between our President, a man of steadfast resolve, and his opponent, who wavers with the political winds. On the economy, it's a choice between our President, who has taken action and led America to days of progress and opportunity, and his opponent, who would take us backward. On the values of this great country, it's a choice between our President, who has fought for and supported these values, and his opponent, rated as the most liberal member of the United States Senate.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: On all these issues, we welcome the contest ahead, and we know, with your help, it is a contest we will win. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President and I are honored by your confidence in us, and by your commitment to the cause we share. We're grateful to our many friends across the state of Michigan. I want to thank you for your tremendous welcome this afternoon. We're proud to be part of the team with you. And together, we are going to see our cause forward to victory on November 2nd.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 1:54 P.M. EDT

Richard B. Cheney, The Vice President's Remarks at a Bush-Cheney '04 Rally in Lansing, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project