Richard B. Cheney photo

The Vice President's Remarks to RNC

January 31, 2003

The Mayflower Hotel, State Ballroom

Washington, D.C.

12:20 P.M. EST

Thank you, all. (Applause.) Thank you, very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) You're never going to get lunch this way. (Applause.) Thank you, all, very much. (Applause.)

Well -- (laughter) -- thank you. I appreciate very much that warm welcome. And, Ann, I want to thank you for your kind words today. And I'm delighted to have an opportunity this afternoon to spend some time with all of you. And, Governor -- Marc has done a superb job, obviously, as our RNC chairman. (Applause.) And he's got some great talent working with him in people like Ann Wagner and Jack Oliver. And they're a delight for those of us in the administration to have an opportunity to work with, as well, too.

The President and I are grateful to all of you for the tremendous effort that went into last year's campaign -- efforts that made all the difference in November elections. By your good work and by the leadership of a great President, the Republican Party is today the majority party. And now we intend to accomplish -- (applause) -- now we intend to accomplish great things on behalf of all the people of the United States. And I think after the speech the President gave on Tuesday, I know all of you are as proud as I am of President George W. Bush. (Applause.)

And as the President pointed out on Tuesday, we have a very full agenda for the nation for next year and beyond. This is going to be a consequential year in the history of our nation and in the history of freedom. We have many responsibilities, and we do not have the luxury of taking them on one at a time. We must meet them all. And under the leadership of President Bush, the government will work to build greater prosperity all across the land, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people.

This year we will honor a binding commitment to older Americans, working together to improve Medicare and to give all the seniors in the country the choice of a health plan that includes prescription drugs. The American system of quality care in the world offers the highest medical capabilities possible, and we must not undermine that quality with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. Nor should we stand by as the health care system is undermined by unfair and frivolous lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. (Applause.)

The lawsuit culture makes everyone pay more for health care. And it is causing many parts of America to lose qualified doctors. It's time to end these abuses with strong medical liability reform. It's also time for bold steps to enhance our energy independence and to improve the environment in ways that earlier generations would not have dreamed possible. The President has sent Congress a comprehensive energy plan to promote efficiency and conservation, and to develop cleaner technology and produce more energy right here in the United States. In addition, we plan to launch a major research project so that America leads the world in developing cars powered by hydrogen. With a major commitment to this enterprise, we will make the air cleaner and our nation much less dependent on foreign sources of energy.

Under President Bush, we will continue building a culture that upholds the dignity of every life. We will encourage the compassionate work of faith-based and community groups all across the country. And as a great nation, we will set a high standard for humanity by passing a law against human cloning and ending the practice of partial-birth abortions. (Applause.)

For the well being of America's families, we are working every day to set this economy on a path of rigorous long-term growth. President Bush has a very clear philosophy: We recognize that government does not create wealth, nor does it create jobs. The role of government is to remove obstacles standing in the way of economic growth.

America has faced a recession, terrorist attack, corporate scandals, stock market declines, and yet we have the strongest, most resilient economy the world has ever known. But we cannot be satisfied until everyone who wants to work can find a job. Our mission is to speed up economic growth and to add new jobs across the country.

Two years ago, Congress approved the Bush tax cut -- but held back on all of the tax relief until 2006. We believe that if tax relief is good enough for Americans several years from now, it is even better for America today. (Applause.) Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. Instead of slowly raising the child credit to $1,000 by 2010, we should raise it now and send the checks to America's families as quickly as possible. And to promote corporate responsibility and governance, immediately draw more money into the markets, to treat taxpayers fairly, and encourage savings and investment, we are asking Congress to end the unfair double-taxation of dividends. (Applause.)

Under the President's plan, Americans will receive $98 billion in tax relief over the next 16 months. Nearly half of that amount -- $47 billion -- are tax cuts for small business owners. And to help ensure that small business people, farmers and ranchers can pass along their life's work to the next generation, we want to eliminate the death tax once and for all. (Applause.)

Yesterday's fourth quarter economic growth figures, I think, underscore the need for Congress to pass the President's jobs and growth plan just as quickly as possible. The President's proposals will reduce the tax burden on the Americans by $670 billion over the next 10 years. By leaving more money in the hands of the people who earned it -- people who will spend and invest and save and add momentum to our recovery -- we'll help create more jobs and ultimately increase tax revenue for the federal government. The return path to a balanced budget is to be found in faster growth in the American economy and spending discipline in Washington, D.C. In all of these proposals -- from better care for seniors, to legal reform, to greater energy independence, to the growth of jobs -- all of this will allow people to see the kind of focus, the clarity of purpose, and the sense of duty that Americans have come to know and admire in President George W. Bush.

With those same qualities of character he has also led the nation in a time of great difficulty and danger. And he's leading the world in an urgent battle against a very difficult foe, a scattered network of killers. Great decisions and crucial hours lie ahead in this war. But let there be no doubt, we will prevail. (Applause.)

Since the attacks of 9/11, every level of our government has taken important steps to protect America against terrorism. We created the Department of Homeland Security to mobilize against a wide range of possible threats. More than 50,000 federal screeners are deployed at our airports. We've put more marshals on airplanes and stepped up security at our power plants, ports and border crossings. And we've begun inoculating troops and first responders against smallpox and are stockpiling enough smallpox vaccine for every American.

We're using new technologies to detect weapons of mass destruction. We're developing a Terrorist Threat Integration Center to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location in the federal government. We're beginning to field a defense against ballistic missiles, and we are launching Project BioShield, a comprehensive effort to develop and to make available modern, effective drugs and vaccines to protect against attack by biological and chemical weapons or other dangerous agents.

With these measures, we seek to guard our nation against new and fearsome dangers. But while the threats we face are unprecedented, our responsibilities are very familiar. Once again, we are defending ourselves and the safety and survival of civilization itself. And as President Bush said, we accept this responsibility.

Today, America leads a worldwide coalition that is sharing intelligence, hunting down terrorists and freezing the assets of terrorist groups and front organizations. We've deprived al Qaeda of its stronghold in Afghanistan. And as we have seen just this week, we continue to disrupt their efforts in that part of the world.

We've captured or killed leading al Qaeda terrorists and have disrupted their chain of command. Our law enforcement and intelligence officials are working long and hard to stop terrorist plots, both here and abroad. And while many of their successes go unheralded, I can tell you that numerous terrorist attacks against the United States and our allies have been thwarted since 9/11.

The United States and our partners have also dismantled terror cells in Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Germany, France, Singapore and Malaysia. We've frozen millions of dollars in terrorist assets and arrested more than 3,000 suspected terrorists worldwide. And we have taken out of business many of the top al Qaeda leaders responsible for murdering innocent Americans and other citizens.

We will continue to hunt for those remaining at large. Where al Qaeda and its allies are concerned, we are dealing with a network that operates in 50 or more countries; that has murdered Americans in Bali, in Kuwait, in Yemen and in Jordan; and that is determined to acquire and to use weapons of mass destruction against us and our allies.

Against such enemies, America and the civilized world have only one option: Wherever terrorists operate, we will find them; wherever they dwell, we will hunt them down. We will also continue our efforts to address the very serious danger posed by the outlaw regime in Iraq. We will not permit a brutal dictator with ties to terror and a record of feckless aggression to dominate the Middle East and to threaten the United States.

Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein agreed to disarm Iraq of all of its weapons of mass destruction. For 12 years he has violated that agreement, pursuing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons even while U.N. inspectors were in Iraq. Last fall, thanks to the leadership of President Bush, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution giving Iraq one final chance to disarm. Inspectors were sent to Iraq not to determine whether Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, but simply to confirm that Iraq truly is disarming. Unfortunately, the declaration that Iraq provided to the United Nations last month about its weapons and missiles program clearly demonstrated that Saddam has absolutely no intention of complying with the world's demands.

Some time ago, the U.N. confirmed that Iraq had sufficient material to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax, more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, and as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and VX nerve agents. We know that he had some 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents and several mobile biological weapons laboratories designed to produce germ warfare agents on the move. Yet Saddam Hussein has neither accounted for, nor destroyed these instruments of terror. And his desire for nuclear weapons is undiminished. Saddam Hussein is continuing his decade-old game of defiance, delay and deception. He's blocking unrestricted aerial reconnaissance -- as called for in the U.N. resolutions. His security agents are hiding documents and materials from U.N. inspectors. His intelligence agents are posing as scientists. And Saddam Hussein has decreed that real scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors will be killed, along with their families.

Saddam Hussein's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction poses a grave danger -- not only to his neighbors, but also to the United States. His regime aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. He could decide secretly to provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorists for their use against us. And as the President said on Tuesday night, it would take just one vial, one canister, one crate to bring a day of horror to our nation unlike any we have ever known.

That is why confronting the threat posed by Iraq is not a distraction from the war on terror, it is absolutely crucial to winning the war on terror. (Applause.) America seeks a world at peace, but we will not accept a serious threat to our country, to our friends, and to our allies. Next Wednesday, Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence to the U.N. Security Council about Iraq's ongoing defiance. Our purpose is not simply to follow a process, it is to end the terrible threats to the civilized world. As the President said the other night, the course of this nation does not depend upon the decisions of others. Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, we will defend the freedom and the security of the American people. (Applause.)

Fellow Republicans, in this critical hour all of us are proud to be part of a cause larger than ourselves. We will support our President as he confronts eveyr threat from every source that could possibly do harm to our country. We will make America stronger, better and more secure. And in all that we are called to do, we will serve the highest ideals of this nation -- liberty and justice -- in a world at peace. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:35 P.M. EST

Richard B. Cheney, The Vice President's Remarks to RNC Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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