Vice President's Remarks in Lake City, Florida
Columbia County Fairgrounds
Lake City, Florida
12:45 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Thank you all very much. (Laughter.) Knock it off. (Laughter.) Well, I want to thank you for that warm welcome this morning, or this afternoon, I guess. We're having so much fun, we don't even know what day it is. (Laughter.) But we're happy to be in Lake City, the Gateway to Florida. And from the enthusiasm I see here today, this is Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
It's true Lynne has known me since I was 14. But she wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) And I tell people we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. In those days I lived in Nebraska, a youngster with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, reorganized the government, Dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where I met Lynne. We grew up together, went to high school together and recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) But I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's 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 and applause.) And you all know it's absolutely true. (Laughter.)
Well, with one week left in the campaign, the choices in this election could not be more clear. The stakes are very 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.)
Now, we know you've been through a lot here in Florida in the last few months. We kept trying to get in to campaign, but then a hurricane would come through so we'd have to reschedule. You've been through Charley, and Jeanne, and Frances, and Ivan. The President, of course, has approved $13.6 billion to help the people of Florida and other states recover from those damages. (Applause.)
And right here in Lake City, FEMA opened a disaster recovery center to help families and businesses apply for those grants, for low-interest loans and other assistance. Your community has played a vital role in this effort. The whole nation has been impressed by the way Florida residents have pulled together. It's a story of endurance, of compassion, and in many cases, great courage.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. (Applause.) Florida has been well served by state and local officials, FEMA personnel, members of the National Guard, our first responders and the state has been fortunate, as well, to have a superb executive in charge, Governor Jeb Bush. (Applause.)
Now, the President and I have been to Florida many times in the last several years, and we appreciate the strong support we have gotten throughout the state. We are delighted to be running alongside a solid slate of Republican candidates.
On the ballot, of course, with us today is State Senator Nancy Argenziano. (Applause.) How is that Nancy? Is that all right? All right, okay.
MS. ARGENZIANO: Whatever you say.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I want to thank her -- she says whatever I say. (Laughter.) And I want to thank her for her kind words today.
And although he couldn't be here today, I want to put in a good word for your Congressman, Ander Crenshaw. (Applause.) He does a great job representing the fourth district, and I know he's on his way to another term in Washington.
And your Senate candidate, Mel Martinez, also couldn't make it. But I'm very proud to campaign alongside Mel. (Applause.) Come January, I look forward to swearing him in as the new member of the United States Senate from Florida.
MRS. CHENEY: (Inaudible)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right. (Laughter.) I get advice in the middle of my speeches. (Laughter.) That's the only reason I'm the VP. (Laughter.)
Well, I want to mention to everyone who has put up signs or made phone calls, or helped turn out the vote, grassroots activists are an essential part of this campaign. And we're deeply grateful for your support.
MRS. CHENEY: Thank you, thank you. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I see a lot of Sportsmen for Bush signs. I don't know -- (Applause.) I don't know how many of you noticed the other day, John Kerry went goose hunting. (Laughter.) The first thing he had to do was go buy a camouflage coat. (Laughter.) Which raised questions about how often he'd been goose hunting in the past. (Laughter.) And I kind of looked on that camo coat as his October disguise. (Laughter and applause.) What he's trying to do, he's trying to hide the fact that every time he's had an opportunity from 20 years in the United States Senate to vote against gun owners, he's voted against gun owners.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He gets an F from the National Rifle Association. And now he's trying to convince us he's really just a good ole' boy with a shotgun out there to knock down geese. All right. I don't think it's going to work.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm going to get to that in a minute. (Laughter and applause.)
Florida voters understand the importance of steady, principled, consistent leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America. Our country faces some serious challenges, but we're meeting each one of those challenges with strength and resolve. Today, people in Florida and across the land can be confident of a better future; a stronger economy; and a nation that's more secure thanks to the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Over the course of the last four years, I think people have seen very clearly the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and means what he says. He sets clear goals, and works with members of both parties to achieve them. He puts the country first and his deepest commitment is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure.
During the course of this campaign, we have seen something quite different in the President's opponent. He is a man who will say and do anything if he thinks it will advance his cause.
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm going to get to that, too. (Laughter.)
Just over a year ago, John Kerry did something truly unthinkable for a man who aspires to be Commander-in-Chief; he turned his back on the troops that he had previously --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- had previously voted to send into combat because he thought it was in his political advantage to do so.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry, you will remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary season when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, jet fuel, and spare parts, Senator Kerry voted "no."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation which, frankly, I think will go down in the history of American politics. He said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." (Laughter.)
Of course, we all know the real reason he turned his back on our troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the antiwar candidate and Dean was surging ahead in the polls, and so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primary, turned his back on the troops. He said his vote was "complicated," but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated matter. (Applause.)
John Kerry will say and do anything in order to get elected. He will attack the Patriot Act -- after he voted for it. He will attack the No Child Left Behind Act -- after he voted for it. He will try to scare young people by raising the specter of the draft ?- when he knows the only people who have supported the idea of bringing it back are two members of his own party. Nobody but a couple of Democrats wants to change the all-volunteer force because it is the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)
John Kerry also tries to scare seniors by saying Social Security is threatened. He stood 10 feet from President Bush in the debates and heard the President guarantee once again that the promise of Social Security will be kept for our seniors, and it will be kept. But Senator Kerry will say and do anything, including making false charges that he knows to be false.
Most of all, John Kerry will say and do anything to disguise his 20-year Senate record, because it shows him taxing and spending and out of the mainstream.
On the campaign trail Senator Kerry talks about helping families with middle-class tax cuts, covering over the fact that when President Bush increased the child tax credit, reduced the marriage penalty, and provided a new 10-percent bracket, Senator Kerry opposed it. All these measures leave money in the hands of the taxpayers who earned it ?- Senator Kerry voted "no."
The Senator doesn't mention these details, so we're going to have to do it for him. (Applause.) John Kerry has voted to raise taxes 98 times. He voted against tax reductions at least 126 times, and voted to break the budget caps that control spending 277 times.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator Kerry has earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal Magazine analyzed his record and named him the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Because of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Laughter and applause.)
But John Kerry is trying very hard to hide all that, making promises he can't keep about health care and being totally deceitful when it comes to medical liability reform. He says he has a plan to reform the medical liability system, but you know what his plan is? Put the trial lawyers in charge. President Bush has a better idea: Let's keep medical decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not personal injury lawyers. (Applause.)
The record John Kerry is trying hardest of all to hide is his record on national security. He first ran for Congress advocating the idea that we should deploy American troops only under the authority of the United Nations.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He ran for the Senate on the platform that we should dismantle most of the major weapons systems that Ronald Reagan used to keep the peace and win the Cold War.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In 1991, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, John Kerry voted against sending America's troops to expel him. He voted against Operation Desert Storm.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In the first debate, this year, Senator Kerry said that America had to meet some kind of global test before we could take military action. The President and I know better than that. We know that it is not our job to conduct international opinion polls. Our job is to defend America. (Applause.)
Now in the closing days of this campaign, John Kerry is trying every which way to cover up his record of weakness. Just this last weekend, he tried to make himself sound like he could do a really good job of fighting terrorism because he'd written a book on the subject. (Laughter.) But this book, called The New War -- anybody here read it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I don't think it was a best-seller. But this book called The New War should, if anything, raise concerns about Senator Kerry. The book makes no mention of al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. It does mention Yasser Arafat, whom John Kerry praises as a statesman and a role model.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's not exactly how I think of Yasser Arafat.
The New War makes it clear that John Kerry thinks that law enforcement is the sole answer to terrorism. That is the approach we took before 9/11. When there was a terrorist incident, our government went after the perpetrators, but we did not, throughout the '80s and '90s, go after the networks that spawned those terrorists, and so they attacked us again and again, until finally on 9/11, they killed 3000 of us -- more than we lost at Pearl Harbor.
When terrorists kill Americans by the thousands, law enforcement is insufficient. When the greatest threat we face today is the possibility of terrorists in the middle of one of our cities armed with a biological agent or a nuclear weapon, threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands, law enforcement is insufficient. The President and I understand that the war on terrorism requires an aggressive strategy of using all our might to go after the terrorists and those who support terror: It is a war -- and we are going to win it. (Applause.)
Senator Kerry is doing his best during the course of this campaign to cover up and obscure his 20-year record in the United States Senate, and with a little tough talk during the course of presidential debates, trying to convince us that he'd be an effective Commander-in-Chief in the global war on terror. But we have a saying out in Wyoming for something like this, you can put all the lipstick you want on a pig, but it's still a pig. (Laughter and applause.)
John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a President. He is not a steadfast leader. And our President is. (Applause.)
And let me tell you why that matters. A country can never know what a President will be called upon to do. Think of the last four years; think of the challenges of 9/11 and of the global war on terror; and because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he has led us very well. (Applause.)
At the Republican Convention, former Mayor Rudy Guiliani told the story of how in 9/11, he turned to Bernie Kerik, his police commissioner, and said, "Thank God George Bush is our Commander-in-Chief." (Applause.)
Under the President's leadership, we have reached around the world to capture and kill hundreds of al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans have been shut down, the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Nineteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today, he sits in jail. (Applause.)
We're also helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build representative governments. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. Elections were held two weeks ago -- the first in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.) In January, the people of Iraq will vote, as well. And we will be safer as a result. One of the lessons that history teaches is that institutions of self-government turn the energies of people away from violence to the peaceful work of building better lives. Freedom is the best antidote to terror. (Applause.)
Because of President Bush's determination in the war on terror, leaders around the world are getting the message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, Moammar Ghadafi in Libya agreed to abandon his nuclear weapons program and turn the materials over to the United States. (Applause.)
The biggest danger we face today is having nuclear weapons technology fall into the hands of terrorists. The President is working with many countries in a global effort to end the trade and transfer of this deadly technology. The most important result thus far is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, as well as Iran and North Korea, has been shut down. And the world is much safer as a result. (Applause.)
We could not have succeeded in these efforts without the help of dozens of countries around the world. We will always seek international support for our international efforts, but President Bush has made very clear, there is a difference between leading a coalition of many nations and submitting to the objections of a few. We will never seek a permission slip to defend the United States of America. (Applause.)
The clearest, most important difference in this campaign is simple to state: President Bush understands the war on terror and has a strategy for winning it. Senator Kerry does not. (Applause.)
All doubt on the matter was removed a couple of weeks ago when Senator Kerry gave an interview in which he said he wanted to lead America back to the place where we were – to a time when terrorism was, in his word, a "nuisance" like illegal gambling or prostitution. Those are his words. That's the comparison he made. When I read that, I thought to myself, well, when was terrorism ever just a nuisance? Was it a nuisance four years ago, when the USS Cole was attacked and we lost 17 sailors and nearly lost the ship off Yemen? Was it a nuisance six years ago when they attacked two of our embassies in East Africa and killed hundreds of people?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Was terrorism just a nuisance 11 years ago, when they first bombed World Trade Center in New York?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 16 years ago, when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie Scotland?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 21 years ago, when a truck bomb hit the barracks in Beirut and killed 241 Marines?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: My friends, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. (Applause.) Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat terror -- and with George Bush as President, that's exactly what we're going to do. (Applause.)
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds; or who fail to understand the nature of the struggle we're in. Our troops, our allies, and our enemies must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate. Fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevail. But the presidency is an entirely different proposition. A senator can be wrong 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.)
President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women represent the very best of the United States of America. (Applause.) And I want to thank them, their families, and all of the veterans with us here today for what they've done for all of us. (Applause.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true here at home. When President Bush and I stood on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol and took the oath of office, the economy was sliding into recession. Then the terrorists struck on 9/11 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 hard-earned money for the federal government. President Bush made his choice. He proposed and he delivered tax cuts for the American people not once, not twice, but four times in four years. (Applause.)
Every American who pays federal income taxes benefited from the Bush tax cuts, and so has the economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months – a total of 1.9 million during that period. Here in Florida, more than 300,000 jobs have been created since December of '01. Mortgage rates, interest rates, inflation are low. Consumers are confident; businesses, investing; families are taking home more of what they earn. (Applause.)
We're seeing record imports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation. (Applause.)
We know there are still challenges. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. But this is a strong, growing economy -- don't let the Democrats tell you otherwise. (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. 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. We know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)
And we will continue to work to help parents and teachers improve our public schools so that all our children receive the world-class education they deserve. (Applause.) We will work to make it easier for small businesses to provide health insurance to employees and for families to meet their health care needs ?- and we'll do this in a way that keep health decisions in the hands of doctors and patients, not the Washington bureaucrats. (Applause.)
And we will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Florida, but across the nation. America's doctors should be able to spend their time healing patients, not fighting off frivolous lawsuits. (Applause.)
President Bush and I will also continue to defend our society's fundamental rights and values. We stand for a culture of life, and we 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 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. (Applause.) 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. They're hoping to wait the President out. But I've got news for them. That's not going to happen because we're going to win this election. (Applause.)
And a good way to deal with the problem of the Democratic filibuster in the Senate is to elect a good Republican like Mel Martinez. (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, enormous. On vital matters of national security, Senator Kerry offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose, resolute action, and a strategy for victory. (Applause.) Senator Kerry wants to empower government; President Bush will empower the citizens of this great land. (Applause.) John Kerry seems to think all wisdom is found in Washington, D.C.; George W. Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people. (Applause.)
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 Florida, and even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to a news account, people leaving the Democratic National Convention in July asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied, leave here ?- and go vote Republican. (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 Florida. I want to thank you for the tremendous welcome today. We're proud to have you on the team. (Applause.) And together, on November 2nd, we'll see our cause forward to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 1:12 A.M. EDT
Richard B. Cheney, Vice President's Remarks in Lake City, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/281020