Vice President Cheney's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Batavia, Ohio
Eastern Cincinnati Aviation Hangar
2:35 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you very much for that welcome. It's great to be back in Ohio again. And it looks to me like Batavia is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
And it's true that Lynne has known me since I was 14 years old, but she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I tell people we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. True story. In 1952, I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, reorganized the government, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming. And that's where I met Lynne, and we grew up together, went to high school together, and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's great 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. (Laughter.)
Well, like most of you, Lynne and I watched the debate on Friday and thought the President did a fantastic job. (Applause.) Now, with 22 days left in the campaign, the choices in this election are very clear. The stakes are 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.)
The President and I are delighted to be running in Ohio with a solid slate of Republican candidates, first among them, of course, is your own congressman, Rob Portman. (Applause.) I served in the House of Representatives for 10 years, and I got to be a pretty good judge of congressional horse flesh. But I've got to tell you, in all my years of service, Rob Portman is right at the top of my list of competent, capable, dedicated public servants. (Applause.)
And he also makes a pretty good Joe Lieberman and John Edwards. (Laughter.) I better explain that. Because -- Rob has been great because the last two campaigns, this one and also four years ago, he turned and devoted a lot of effort to being my debating partner in the warm-up for those televised vice presidential debates. And I got to tell you, he was tougher than either one of them. (Laughter and applause.) I don't want to fault John Edwards. After all, it's pretty tough to defend John Kerry's positions when you don't know what they are. (Laughter and applause.)
But also up for reelection this year here in Ohio is George Voinovich. And I know George isn't here today, but he's served your state extremely well in the United States Senate. And he's well on his way to another term in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
And I want to mention two other old friends of mine. Mike DeWine and Governor Bob Taft couldn't be here today, but I enjoy very much and appreciate and respect their service to the nation, as well.
I had a great time debating Senator Edwards last Tuesday. (Applause.) People tell me that Senator Edwards got picked because of his good looks, his charm, his great hair, his sex appeal. (Laughter.) I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Laughter.) Why do they laugh when I say that? (Laughter.)
But in all seriousness, this is a very important election – and it could not come at a more crucial time in our history. Today we face an enemy today every bit as intent on destroying us as the Axis powers were in World War II. 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 destroy. And with George Bush as Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what we are doing. (Applause.)
Under President Bush's leadership, we are confronting the terrorists with our military, so we do not have to fight them with armies of firefighters, police and medical personnel on the streets of our own cities.
Since the attacks of September 11th, President Bush has led a clear, steady, and consistent effort to protect the American people. We are going after the terrorists wherever they train and hide. And we are confronting regimes that sponsor terrorists or give them safe haven. And in the broader Middle East, we're aiding the rise of democracy, because free nations will not be the breeding grounds of terror.
We're making progress. We have ended the Taliban regime. And Saddam Hussein is in jail. (Applause.) We have broken up terror cells around the world, and captured or killed thousands of al Qaeda. We're training security forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq and we're rebuilding schools and hospitals to improve lives. And we're helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq to build representative, democratically elected governments. Afghanistan, where almost half of the 10 million registered voters are women, held its first democratic election in history on Saturday. (Applause.) And Iraq will have democratically -- democratic elections next January. This is absolutely vital to completing the task of making certain that those nations don't ever again become breeding grounds for terror, or for the development and use of weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush does not deal in empty threats and half-way measures, and his determination has sent a clear message. Just five days after Saddam was captured, the government of Libya agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program and turn the materials over to the United States. (Applause.) Today, the uranium, the centrifuges, and the designs for nuclear weapons that once were hidden in Libya are locked up and stored away, never again to be a danger to Americans.
The President is determined to prevail in the global war on terror, but even after 9/11, John Kerry has often seemed not quite to understand the threat. From 9/11 to this hour, our principal concern has had to be that the terrorists will strike again, and that this time they will try use even deadlier weapons. We know they seek chemical, biological and nuclear capability, which means we cannot wait until we are attacked to deal with them, as Senator Kerry suggested in his speech at the Democratic Convention. Nor can we think of our goal in this war in the way Senator Kerry described it yesterday in The New York Times. "We have to get back to the place," he said, where terrorism is "a nuisance," sort of like – and these are his comparisons -- sort of like gambling and prostitution.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: This is naive and dangerous, as was Senator Kerry's reluctance earlier this year to call the war on terror an actual war. He preferred to think of it, he said, as primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation. This is all part of a pre-9/11 mind set, and it is a view that we cannot go back to.
The 9/11 attack was the worst ever on American soil. We lost more people than at Pearl Harbor. Since then, we've seen attacks all over the world -- in Madrid, Casablanca, Mombassa, Riyadh, Istanbul, Jakarta, Bali, Baghdad, Beslan in Russia, and most recently in Egypt. This is a global conflict. If we fail to aggressively prosecute the war on terror, destroying terrorists where we find them and confronting governments that sponsor terror, the danger will only increase. The terrorists will escalate their attacks, both here at home and overseas, and the likelihood will increase that they will acquire weapons of mass destruction to use against us. Ultimately the cost of dealing with this threat will be far higher than confronting it now.
Something Senator Kerry said in the first presidential debate reveals a similar mind set, the same lack of understanding of the danger we face. He said that before America acts, we must pass a quote "global test."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President and I know, even as we work to build international alliances around the world, that our job is not to conduct international opinion polls. Our job is to protect the American people. And we will never -- (Applause.) We will never seek a permission slip to defend the United States of America. (Applause.)
When John Kerry suggests a global test, he goes right back to his beginnings in politics, when he said as he ran for Congress the first time, he would only deploy troops under the authority of the United Nations.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: During the 1980s, he opposed Ronald Reagan's major defense initiatives that brought victory in the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, Senator Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm. You occasionally hear some bold talk from him, but it cannot disguise a 30-year record of coming down on the wrong side of virtually every major defense issue. (Applause.)
Perhaps Senator Kerry's most notorious vote is the one against funding for our troops. After voting for the use of force in Iraq, he voted against the $87 billion needed by our men and women in uniform for ammunition, spare parts, and fuel. The reason for his shift was simple: Howard Dean, the anti-war Democrat in the Democratic primaries, was surging ahead. Now, I have to ask: if Senator Kerry can't stand up to the pressures posed by Howard Dean, how can we expect him to stand up to the al Qaeda? (Applause.)
The other night in the debate, Senator Kerry said, and I quote, "I've never changed my mind about Iraq." (Laughter.) "I do believe Saddam Hussein was a threat." End quote. And then within minutes he changed his mind, saying that Iraq, and I quote "wasn't a threat." The Senator, who likes to say he never wavers, wavered within the course of a single debate, and that matters, because our troops, our allies, and our enemies must know where America stands. (Applause.)
The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. The Iraqi people need to know that America will always keep its promises. The terrorists need to know that we will not cut and run. And our men and women in uniform need to know that we will honor their service and sacrifice by completing the mission. (Applause.)
President Bush knows that 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 here with us today for what they've done for all of us. (Applause.) One of the most important commitments that the President made during the 2000 campaign was that our armed forces would be given the resources they need and the respect they deserve, and he has kept his word to the U.S. military. (Applause.)
In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate – and very fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. A senator can be wrong; a senator can be confused; a senator can be indecisive for 20 years without consequence to the nation. But 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.)
Senator Kerry's back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. And it's all part of a pattern. He has, in the last several years, been for the No Child Left Behind Act – and against it. He has spoken in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement – and against it. He is for the Patriot Act – and against it. Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual ?- America sees two John Kerrys. (Applause.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, as well as for our policies here at home. When President Bush and I took the oath of office on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol, our economy was sliding into recession. Then, on 9/11, terrorists struck and shook our economy once again. The President responded by delivering tax cuts four times in four years.
Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the Bush tax cuts – and so has our economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months, a total of over 1.9 million new jobs during that period. (Applause.) Mortgage rates, interest rates and inflation are all low. Consumers are confident. Businesses are investing, families taking home more of what they earn. We're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong. 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.) We plan to double the number of workers trained through the federal government's job training program. We've proposed a quarter of a billion dollars to help more workers train at our nation's fine community colleges. We'll improve math and science education in our public high schools so that every high school graduate gets the quality education they deserve and the foundation they need to fill the jobs of the 21st century.
Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. They also demonstrate something about the character of our President. He didn't go to the White House to mark time and spend his energy on small goals. He went to take on the big issues, and to make serious reforms. He has led with confidence, with clear vision, and unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices, and he's kept his word. And that's exactly how he will continue to lead the country for the next four years. (Applause.)
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 will work to end lawsuit abuse. (Applause.) We know that it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
We will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Ohio, but all across the nation. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
Our opponents have a very different vision for our country. In the Senate, John Kerry voted to increase taxes 98 times. He opposed the President's middle class tax relief, and he voted to squeeze another $2,000 per year from the average middle class family. He is opposed to reform of our legal system, and he is against medical liability reform. Now Senator Kerry is proposing massive increases in federal spending. His big idea for the economy: raise our taxes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's all right. (Laughter.) President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life and 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 reasonable judges on the federal bench. 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 are hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen. We're going to win this election. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And a good way to deal with the problem of the Democratic filibuster in the Senate is to reelected good Republicans like George Voinovich. (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 Kennedy -- excuse me. (Laughter and applause.) I keep forgetting that Senator Kerry is the more liberal of the two. (Laughter.)
The Senator offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat on defense issues. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose and resolute action, and a strategy for victory. Senator Kerry is a tax-and-spend liberal; President Bush, a compassionate conservative. Senator Kerry wants to empower government; President Bush will use government to empower people. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think that all the wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)
On issue after issue, President Bush has a clear vision for the future of our nation. America has come to know him, and I have come to admire him very much. I watch him at work every day. He's a person of loyalty and kindness, a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. I have seen him face some of the hardest decisions that can come to the occupant of the Oval Office – and make those decisions with the wisdom and the humility Americans expect in their President.
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 Ohio, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to news accounts, people leaving the Democratic National Convention in July asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, "Leave here – and go vote Republican." (Laughter and applause.)
President Bush and I are honored to have the support of that police officer, and of Democrats, Republicans, and independents from every calling in American life. We're grateful to our many friends across the great state of Ohio. I want to thank you for this tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 2:59 P.M. EDT
Richard B. Cheney, Vice President Cheney's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Batavia, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/282090