Richard B. Cheney photo

The Vice President's Remarks at a Reception for Bill Jones in Riverside, California

July 27, 2004

the Historic Mission Inn
Riverside, California

6:30 P.M. PDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. (Applause.) Well, thank you all very much. Thank you for the warm welcome. It's great to be back in California. It's good to see your Congressman, Ken Calvert, here. He's a colleague and a great friend. (Applause.) And it's good to stand next to the next United States Senator from California, Bill Jones. (Applause.)

I'm always a little nervous when Lynne gets up to introduce me. The fact is we were just back in Casper, our hometown, a few weeks ago for our 45th high school reunion. (Applause.) Some of them even remembered me. (Laughter.) There were a few there who said, whatever happened to Cheney? (Laughter.)

But the story I like to tell is that Lynne and I actually got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President. You may think these presidential elections don't have far-reaching consequences. But I'm here to tell you they do. In 1952, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. And Eisenhower got elected, went in and reorganized the Agriculture Department. Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together, and next month, we'll mark our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained to a group the other night if hadn't been for Eisenhower's great victory in 1952, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter.) We all know it's absolutely true.

But I also want to bring all of you today the good wishes of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.) The President and I are grateful for our many supporters in California. And it's an honor to be in the state led by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Applause.)

I'm looking forward to the campaign ahead, especially now that I know who my opponent will be. People keep telling me that Senator Edwards was put on the ticket because he's sexy, good looking, charming. I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Laughter.) I always ask -- it's a great line, but I always wonder, why do they laugh? (Laughter.)

As President of the Senate, I am not allowed to debate on the floor of the Senate. My only real job is President of the Senate. When they wrote the Constitution and created the post of Vice President, they got down to the end of the convention in Philadelphia there and decided they hadn't given the Vice President anything to do, so they made him the President of the Senate, let him preside over the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes. And my predecessor John Adams, our first Vice President, actually had floor privileges. He could go down into the well of the Senate and engage in the debate of the day, and argue for and against various propositions. And then he did a couple of times, and they withdrew his floor privileges. (Laughter.) And they've never been restored. But I get to spend a lot of time in the Senate. And I can tell you without hesitation it's time for California to send Bill Jones to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

As a former statewide office holder, Bill has experience working with Californians of many backgrounds, and many diverse points of view. He knows how to listen to both sides of an issue and to arrive at his own independent conclusions. He's the kind of leader who reaches across party lines to get things done, instead of standing in the way of progress -- and that's just the kind of senator that California needs.

Bill recognizes the tremendous opportunities available in California, but he also understands that the state faces serious challenges. California has one of the largest economies in the world, but too many employers have moved jobs out of the state. They're not being lured away by better weather. (Laughter.) In the past, they were driven away by a climate of over-taxation, over-regulation, and over-litigation. Now there's a clear course of action to make California a better place to live, work, and do business, to do that, you need to continue to support Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento, and send Bill Jones to Washington as a United States senator. (Applause.)

There are major decisions at hand on national issues, as well. Bill is a steadfast supporter of the war on terror, and he has a firm grasp on the homeland security challenges facing your Pacific state. On the fundamental matter of security, and on so many other issues, Bill is ready to confront California's problems head on. He's a thoughtful candidate with real ideas, and Californians from both parties need to give him a serious look. The President and I are going to work hard for him in this race. We believe he can win it. And next January, as President of the Senate, I look forward to swearing in Bill Jones as your United States Senator from California. (Applause.)

This country needs people of Bill's caliber serving in the Senate as we take on one of the greatest challenges in our history. Today we face an enemy every bit as intent on destroying us as the Axis powers were in World War II, or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The enemy, in the words of the 9/11 Commission report released just last week, is "sophisticated, patient, disciplined, and lethal." What this enemy wants, as the 9/11 report explains, is to do away with democracy, end the rights of women, and rid the world of religious pluralism. And in pursuit of its goals, this enemy is perfectly prepared to slaughter anyone -- man, woman, or child -- who gets in its way.

This is not an enemy we can reason with, or negotiate with, or appease. This is, to put it simply, an enemy that we must vanquish. And with President George W. Bush as our Commander-in-chief, that is exactly what we are going to do. (Applause.)

Under the President's leadership, we removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and closed down the training camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans. Under the President's leadership, we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein, a man who cultivated weapons of mass destruction, used them against his own people, and provided sanctuary and safe harbor for terrorists. Saddam Hussein once controlled the lives and the future of nearly 25 million people. Tonight, he is in jail. (Applause.)

The defeat of tyranny and violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of democracy in that troubled part of the globe, will be a crucial setback for international terrorism. Because we are strong and resolute, these nations will never go back to the camp of 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 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. 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. President Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of the United States of America. (Applause.) Today, every American can be certain we are doing everything in our power to defend against a terrorist attack on the American homeland.

Our nation is extraordinarily fortunate during these times of testing to have the dedicated service of our men and women in uniform. As I saw again today, with the United States Marines at Camp Pendleton, the men and women defending our country represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments that George W. Bush and I made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve, and we have kept our word to the United States military. (Applause.)

The President and I have some important differences with the folks now gathered in Boston. When Congress voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, Senators Kerry and Edwards voted yes. But when it came time to fund the troops doing the fighting in Iraq, it was another story. 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 Senators Kerry and Edwards.

Recently, Senator Kerry told us that his decision to oppose funding for our military personnel was "complicated." But as Bill understands, funding American troops in combat should never be a complicated choice. (Applause.) It's wrong to vote to commit our troops to combat and then refuse to provide them the resources they need. We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's just what we've got in George W. Bush. (Applause.)

At every level of the ballot, great events will turn on the outcome of 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 for the future, and the war on terror, and set the direction of the American economy. Strong, consistent leadership is required, both on our actions overseas and our policies here at home.

When President Bush and I took office, 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 the American people's tax dollars for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and he delivered tax savings to the American people -- not once, not twice, but three times. (Applause.)

The Bush tax cuts have helped our national economy create jobs for 10 consecutive months. We've added more than 1.5 million new jobs since last August. Here in California, more than 136,000 people have gone to work at a new job in the last 11 months. Our economy is strong and growing stronger. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)

These past four years have brought great progress in other critical areas, as well. With the No Child Left Behind Act, the President has brought high standards, accountability, and measurable results to public schools throughout the country. With his leadership, we passed Medicare reform -- after years of inaction. And now senior citizens have more affordable access to modern medicine and prescription drugs. And we passed a responsible environmental law called the Healthy Forests Act to improve forest health and to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the West.

Our accomplishments these past four years demonstrate something about the character of our President. President Bush did not go to Washington to mark time, or to spend his energy on small goals. He came to take on the big issues, and to make serious reforms. He has led with confidence, and clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made the hard choices, and kept his word. And that's exactly how he plans to lead the country for the next four years. (Applause.)

Bill Jones shares our hopeful, optimistic vision for the future, and we look forward to working with him to accomplish great goals. We need Bill in the U.S. Senate to keep us moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We need Bill in the U.S. Senate to help us make the Bush tax cuts permanent. We need Bill in the United States Senate to help us end lawsuit abuse. It's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.) And for the good of our health care system, we need medical liability reform. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)

Our country needs a comprehensive energy policy. It's time for the Democrats in the Senate to allow passage of the President's plan to make the United States less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

Our opponents have a different vision for the economy. They talk about jobs, yet they never explain how they would put a single American back to work. They opposed our tax relief, and now they're proposing massive increases in federal spending. They helped block the energy plan in the Senate. They oppose effective reform of our legal system, and they're against medical liability reform. Their big idea for the economy: to raise our taxes.

In fact, the team meeting this week in Boston would repeal many of the Bush tax cuts their first 100 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 our history. That's an average of a vote for higher taxes every three weeks for the last 20 years. At least the folks back in Massachusetts knew he was on the job. (Laughter.)

If you listen to the other side's proposals between now and November, you'll recognize a clear pattern. Their plans would increase the power of the Washington bureaucracy, increase the clout of the trial lawyers, and increase the size of government's claim on the average American's 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.)

With Bill's support, President Bush and I will 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." (Applause.) And we believe that Americans ought to be able to say "under God" when they pledge allegiance to the 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 that 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 via filibuster. What the Democrats in the Senate are doing is simply outrageous, and in the months ahead I want you to keep that in mind as you work to elect Bill Jones to the United States Senate. (Applause.)

On issue after issue, President Bush has a clear vision for the future of our nation. Abroad, we will use America's great power for great purposes, to protect our homeland by turning back the forces of terror, and to spread hope and freedom around the world. Here at home, we will continue to build prosperity that reaches every corner of the land so that every child born in America has a chance to learn, to succeed, and to rise in the world.

Bill has the same great goals for the state of California, and with your help, he'll bring his ideas and talent to the floor of the United States Senate next year. (Applause.) I have tremendous confidence in Bill, and in the strong, bipartisan leadership he'll bring to the people of the Golden State. I'm grateful to all of you for your hard work and your commitment to the cause we all share. The President and I are looking forward to the months ahead, and to November 2nd, when we will see our cause to victory. And we look forward to working with Bill Jones for a good many years to come.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 7:55 P.M. PDT

Richard B. Cheney, The Vice President's Remarks at a Reception for Bill Jones in Riverside, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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