The Vice President's Remarks to the Travel Pool
On Board Air Force Two
En Route Washington, D.C.
Q: Well, listen, we appreciate you taking a couple of minutes. I guess, just as an initial matter we'd like to ask you to clarify those comments that have now been in the news today concerning --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was being interviewed by a talk show host. I don't talk about techniques and I wouldn't. I have said that the interrogation program for a select number of detainees is very important. It has been I think one of the most valuable intelligence programs we have. And I believe it has allowed us to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States. I did not talk about specific techniques involved --
Q: So it was not about water boarding, even though he asked you about dunking in the water?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't say anything about water boarding. Those were all his comments. He didn't even use that phrase.
Q: He said dunking in the water.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't say anything, he did.
Q: How are things going with regard to the election? How do you feel -- you've got --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think they're going pretty well. I did the 116th event tonight, campaign event. I've got some more events scheduled next week obviously, in the run-up to the election. I feel pretty good about things. I think of the summer we were down, I would describe. I think that it picked up in September, started -- momentum came our way. The President gave some great speeches in the global war on terror. Gasoline prices came down. It was a reminder to people that the economy was in pretty good shape, then we hit a rough patch in the Foley matter. I think that's been behind us now in terms of the election. Obviously, the House is going to do whatever the House is going to do. But I say it's the last week or so that we have regained momentum both in the House and the Senate.
Q: How do you feel your and the President's pressing the terrorist issue in your campaign speeches, how do you feel that's resonating with the voters, because the polls aren't showing that issue is doing that well?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You've got to be a little careful of the polls. We always are. If I've learned anything in my time with the President, and coming back in the 2000 election, 2004, the exit surveys, so you become a bit of skeptic about the poll results, and we don't operate and we don't govern on that basis.
I think while there are a lot of people who are concerned about Iraq, for example, it's my own belief basically what they want is they have the feeling that we can win, that we can succeed, that it's not a situation in which an overwhelming majority wants us to leave without finishing the mission. I think the reason we talk about it's a global war on terror and Iraq is a part of that. The Democrats don't want to admit that. No, no, no, it's a separate deal. It's not a separate deal. It has a great bearing on the willingness of people in that part of the world to sign on and support governments like Karzai in Afghanistan or Maliki in Iraq or Musharraf in Pakistan. And the United States' ability to stay the course and get the job done is a very, very important piece of business, especially when you consider that our adversaries are betting that they can break our will, that we won't stay.
Q: But do you believe that that is actually resonating with voters because if you combine terrorism and the Iraq war, people are having problems with that -- the public, as you and the President acknowledge -- so by combining the terrorism, which actually had been your strength in previous elections, with something that is growing unpopular now, do you think that perhaps it's not resonating, as well as it did in the past.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Whether it resonates or not, we've got an obligation to provide leadership, to tell the American people what the problem is, to identify the threat, and to lay out and execute a strategy for dealing with it. The threat is there. It doesn't matter what the polls say about the threat, the threat is real.
If you spend as much time as we do, beginning first thing every morning six days a week with our intelligence brief, there's no doubt about the threat. Just a couple months ago, we had two dozen wannabe suicide bombers in England, the U.K. getting ready to get in airliners headed for the United States and blow them out of the sky. They're trying to acquire biological or chemical or nuclear weapons, if they can get their hands on them.
Anybody who thinks that's not a serious threat, or who sort of reverts back to the pre-9/11 mind set, thinks that we can withdraw behind our oceans here and be safe and secure is an idiot, with all due respect. 9/11 proved the vulnerability of the United States to the actions of a handful of terrorists. It's our job to make sure the American people are aware of the threat. We take an obligation when we're sworn in to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. If we were to shape our message to the voters -- excuse me, shape our message to the polls, and say to the voters, because they don't like to hear it, or there may be resistance there, I think there's a problem. That would be fundamentally irresponsible on our part.
And we did it in 2000. We did it in 2004. We're doing it in 2006. We're not pulling our punches. We're not trying to ignore what is, in fact, an extremely important issue. We're telling it like we see it. The President and I, neither one of us is ever going to run for office again. Our job is to be the best we can at defending the country. And I think we've done rather well since we've been able to defeat with respect to attacks now for more than five years. We know they've been trying to come at us, and they've failed. And they've failed because we went on offense. We went after terrorists. We went after state sponsors of terror. We put in place the Patriot Act, the terrorist surveillance program, the interrogation program the CIA runs. And all of those things have contributed directly to our ability to disrupt attacks against the United States.
And there's a fundamental difference between the parties. Anybody who wants can look at it. We had votes on the Patriot Act when it was renewed last year. The Senate Democrats filibustered it, and Harry Reid announced he'd killed it. He was wrong. We beat him. But they tried to kill the Patriot Act, which has been vital for our success. And we had the vote recently in the House on the Terror Surveillance Program. It was passed the House. It was pending in the Senate, but in the House, 177 Democrats voted against it. If the Democratic Party had its way, there wouldn't be a Terrorist Surveillance Program.
The third item was the military commissions, the Detainee Interrogation Program that's been up before the House and the Senate. In the House when it came up, 162 Democrats voted no. The same measure came before the Senate, 32 out of 44 Senate Democrats voted no. You may not like it, but you need to know where those parties stand on those issues. The United States is safer today. We have avoided and prevented attacks against the United States for the last five years because of those programs, and the Democrats voted overwhelmingly against them, just in the last month. So is that an issue in this campaign? Damn right. It ought to be.
The American people ought to look at that and decide whether or not they want to support an aggressive strategy that's worked, or whether they're going to opt for the Democratic view of the world, the sort of John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Jack Murtha view that says we ought to get out of Iraq. We should not be involved aggressively overseas. We ought to shut down the Terrorist Surveillance Program and the Detainee Interrogation Program and close down the Patriot Act. Those are the issues. Those are the votes. Look at the record. And I think that's the basis on which we're perfectly prepared to fight on this campaign.
Q: You talked before about the success of those programs, obviously in preventing attacks on the U.S. But I might be hearing you emphasize that a little bit more now. Is that something that you think is going to be a theme for the next couple of weeks, or however long you've got?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If you look at my speeches throughout most of the campaign, I've focused on two major issues. One is the economy -- tax policy -- and the other has been the global war on terror. And since those votes, I've obviously talked a fair amount about those, as well, too. I don't know -- if elections are about accountability, and people are going to judge government officials based on what they do while they're in office, it seems to me one of the key things you have to evaluate if you're a voter is what are the views of the candidates, the parties on how we manage the global war on terror, how we defend the nation against further 9/11s.
The record is there for anybody who wants to look at them. Now, I'm going to hang it up.
Q: May I ask one more?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Last one.
Q: Okay, thank you. To go to tax policy for a second, the Democrats, especially in the House, lately have been saying, well, we don't really have any intention of rolling back those tax cuts. Those aren't going to expire until 2010, and we don't really have any intention of going after them in the meantime in any significant way. Can you respond to that idea?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. The problem is that if the do nothing those rates are going back up and those tax cuts expire, because when we passed them. The first place, we did it through the reconciliation process. And that means that those new rates were sunsetted. So if the Democrats were to take control, they don't have to pass a piece of legislation to increase taxes. All they have to do is not act, and then as those tax cuts expire, terminate, those rates will go back up to what they were before we passed our tax program in '01 and '03. So the marriage penalty will be back. The child tax credit will go from $1,000 down to $500. The top rates will go back up. Rates on capital gains and dividends will go back up. That's because of the way the Senate rules work in reconciliation. So if you're Charlie Rangel and you're chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and you want to a big tax increase, you just don't do anything, and that will produce the tax increase. And Charlie has said he doesn't believe there's a single one of those cuts that ought to be extended. His words. So do the Democrats believe in a tax increase; I think so. I take him at his word. He would be the individual who would be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, but I don't think that's going to happen. I think we're going to prevail. And I obviously believe it's in the national interest that we succeed.
Good to have you along.
Q: Thank you very much. I really appreciate that.
Richard B. Cheney, The Vice President's Remarks to the Travel Pool Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/283232