Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Ft. Myers, Florida
Florida Gulf Coast University
Fort Myers, Florida
12:38 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. There's a sign back there says, Casper, Wyoming, NCHS -- (Laughter.)
MRS. CHENEY: That's our high school.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's the high school Lynne and I attended when she knew me when I was 14 but wouldn't go out with me until I was 17. (Laughter.) I like to tell people that we actually got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States -- because 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 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.) Certainly true.
Well, I can see by the looks of this crowd today, Fort Myers must be Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
Like most of you, Lynne and I watched the debate last night and thought the President did a fantastic job. (Applause.) And now with 19 days left in the campaign, the choices in this election are very 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 Bush President for four more years. (Applause.)
This state has been through a lot in recent weeks -- Hurricanes Charley, Jeanne, Frances, and Ivan. I was here in Fort Myers just a week ago, and, of course, President Bush has toured the damaged areas many times. We want you to know that the federal government is doing absolutely everything possible to help the people of Florida recover from those storms. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you. We love you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: This very arena -- you want to say that again? (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, I won't -- never mind. I've got -- I got to concentrate on my speech here. (Laughter.)
This very arena provided shelter for hundreds of residents during the hurricanes and for evacuees. And right here in Fort Myers, FEMA opened two of its Disaster Recovery Centers. Personnel at these centers are helping families and businesses apply for grants, for low interest loans, and other assistance. President Bush has now approved $13.6 billion to help Florida recover, including $11.6 billion in additional funds just yesterday. (Applause.)
The whole nation has been impressed by the way Florida residents have pulled together. It's a story of endurance, compassion, and in many cases great courage. Florida has been well served by state and local officials, by FEMA personnel, by members of the National Guard, and first responders. And the state has been fortunate, as well, to have a superb executive in charge in Governor Jeb Bush. (Applause.)
The President and I have been to Florida many times over the last few years, and we appreciate the strong support we have throughout the state. Florida has a first-class tradition of representation in Washington. Congressman Porter Goss, a close friend of mine, has served your state well for the last 16 years. (Applause.) And the President and I are now delighted to have him on our team as the new director of Central Intelligence. (Applause.) What the 14th district needs now is another representative who shares the President's commitment to keep America safe and to keep our economy strong. And the man for that job is Connie Mack. (Applause.) Connie has a trusted name in Florida politics, and I'm so old I got to Congress before his dad did. (Laughter.) But I want to thank him for his kind words today. He is an experienced public servant who knows the district. He is ready to stand up for your values in the Nation's Capital. The President and I look forward to working with him when he arrives in Washington as your new congressman. (Applause.)
And we're also proud to be on the ballot with your Senate candidate, Mel Martinez. (Applause.) I campaigned with Mel last Saturday, and come January, I will as President of the Senate, swear him in as the new Senator from Florida. (Applause.)
Now, let me go back to last night's debate for just a minute because I thought that what you saw last night was the character and the vision of our President. He's a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and who means what he says. He sets clear goals and carries them forward. He puts the country first, and his deepest commitment is to making us safer, more prosperous, and more secure.
And you saw something quite different in his opponent. You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I am not speaking just as a father here -- though I am a pretty angry father -- but as a citizen. (Applause.) I've watched over this election campaign as John Kerry has turned his back on the troops he voted to send into combat because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so. Senator Kerry, remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary, when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, spare parts, Senator Kerry voted no.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He offered a ridiculous explanation for his action saying, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
AUDIENCE: Flip-flop! Flip-flop! Flip-flop!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But the real reason -- the real reason he turned his back on our troops was Howard Dean. Dean was the anti-war candidate, and Dean was surging ahead in the polls. And so John Kerry, in order to advance himself in the Democratic primaries, turned his back on our troops.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He said his vote was complicated, but, my friends, supporting American troops in combat should never be a complicated question. (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. And most of all, he will try to disguise his 20-year Senate record which clearly shows him to be a tax-and-spend, soft-on-defense liberal.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President did a superb job last night of pointing out John Kerry's record. (Applause.) The President noted that the Senator has voted to raise taxes 98 times; voted against tax reductions 127 times; and voted to bust the budget cap 277 times. Not what I'd call a fiscal conservative. (Laughter.)
John Kerry has talked a lot about middle class tax relief, but President Bush has provided it. (Applause.) Our tax package increased the child tax credit and reduced the marriage penalty, provided a new 10-percent bracket -- all significant reductions for the middle class. And Senator Kerry voted against them.
Senator Kerry tries to make it sound like he's in the mainstream, but as the President pointed out last night, the Senator is really on the "far left bank." (Applause.)
Because -- because of John Kerry, Ted Kennedy is the most conservative senator from Massachusetts. (Applause.) John Kerry is trying very hard to hide that, making promises he can't keep about health care, 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.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The record John Kerry is trying hardest of all to hide is the one on national security. He first ran for Congress advocating the idea that we should only deploy American troops 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 allowed Ronald Reagan to win the Cold War.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: In 1991, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Gulf, John Kerry voted against America sending 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 quote, "global test" before we could take military action. The President and I know better than that. We know that our job is not to conduct international opinion polls -- our job is to defend America. (Applause.)
You saw John Kerry last night trying to back and fill on the idea of a global test. Now that notion fits with his whole career, but he doesn't want us to know about his whole career. He's trying to hide it, to cover it up by using a little tough talk during the course of this campaign. But you can't do it. It won't work. To use a phrase that we like in Wyoming, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. (Applause.)
What last night so clearly revealed is that John Kerry is not a man of strong character. He is not a steadfast leader. Our President is. (Applause.) And let me tell you why that matters. A county 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 the global war on terror, and because our President is a man of strong character and steadfast determination, he's led us very well. (Applause.) At the Republican Convention -- at the Republican Convention, Rudy Guiliani told the story of how on 9/11 he turned to Bernie Kerik, his police commissioner and said, thank God George Bush is our Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.) I know that all of you here know exactly what he meant.
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, and the Taliban driven from power. In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Eighteen months ago, he controlled the lives of 25 million people. Today he sits in jail.
We are also helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan build representative governments. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. (Applause.) And just last Saturday, they held elections – the first in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.) In January, there will be elections in Iraq. And the world is better as these countries move towards self-government, and we are safer because freedom is the best antidote to terrorism. (Applause.)
President Bush's determination in the war on terror has sent a very clear message. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, the government of Libya agreed to abandon its 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 these deadly technologies. The most important result thus far is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, as well as to Iran and North Korea, has been shut down. The world's worst source of proliferation is out of business. (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 international efforts, but as 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. All doubt on that matter was removed this past weekend, by comments Senator Kerry made to The New York Times. The Senator 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. That's the comparison he made. When I read that, I thought to myself: When was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it a nuisance four years ago this week when the USS Cole was attacked; we nearly lost the ship and we did lose 17 sailors? Was terrorism just a nuisance 11 years ago, when the World Trade Center was first bombed in New York? Or maybe 16 years ago, when flight -- Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland? Or maybe 21 years ago, when a truck bomb hit our barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American servicemen? Ladies and gentlemen, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. (Applause.) There never can be a time when terrorism is a nuisance. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level. Our goal is to defeat it. And with George W. Bush as President, America will stay in the fight until the fight is won. (Applause.)
These are not times for leaders who shift with the political winds, or fail to understand the nature of the struggle we are 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 ?- and fortunately on matters of national security, his views rarely prevailed. 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. I want to thank them and all of the veterans with us here today for all they've done for us. (Applause.)
Our country requires strong and consistent leadership for our actions overseas, and the same is true for our policies 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 on 9/11, terrorists struck 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 our economy. (Applause.) We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months – a total of over 1.9 million new jobs during that period – including almost 100,000 new jobs last month alone. Here in Florida, more than 300,000 jobs have been created since December of 2001. Mortgage rates, interest rates, inflation are all low. Consumers are confident, businesses are investing, and families are taking home more of what they earn.
We're seeing record exports for farm products. Farm income is up. Our farm economy is strong and that's good for the entire nation.
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. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these past four years have made America safer, stronger, and better. In our second term, we will keep moving forward with a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. We will work to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. And to help families and small businesses, we will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.
We will work to end lawsuit abuse. (Applause.) We know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers.
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. (Applause.) 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 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 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.
AUDIENCE: Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 good Republicans 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 are 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 and resolute action, and a strategy for victory. 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.)
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 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.
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 judgment of 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. (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 for our many friends across the great state of Florida. I want to thank you for this tremendous welcome this morning. 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 1:04 P.M. EDT
Richard B. Cheney, Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Ft. Myers, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/282123