Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Rochester, Minnesota
Olmsted County Fairgrounds
3:55 P.M. CDT
TH VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, good to see everybody. (Applause.) Well, thank you very much for that warm welcome. It's great to be back in Minnesota. And I see from the crowd here and the enthusiasm today, this must be Bush-Cheney country. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Bush-Cheney rules! Bush-Cheney rules! Bush-Cheney rules!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Laughter.) But 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 everybody we got married because Dwight Eisenhower got elected President of the United States. (Laughter.) In 1952, when he ran for President I was a youngster living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks. Dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Eisenhower got elected, reorganized the federal 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 a few weeks ago celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) And I explained to a group the other night that if it hadn't been for Eisenhower's 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.) They all understand, but it's absolutely true.
But we're delighted to be here today. And we had the opportunity like I think all of you did to watch the debate last Friday, and thought the President did a fantastic job. (Applause.) We're looking forward to the debate tomorrow night and the final three weeks of campaigning until November 2nd. And the choices in this election could not be more clear -- the stakes are very high, both at home and abroad. And I believe three weeks from today, the American people are going to make George W. Bush President for four more years. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's a real pleasure to be in Rochester, especially during the city's 150th anniversary -- I'm told. (Applause.) I had the privilege briefly of serving on the board of the Mayo Clinic, and then had to give it up when I became Vice President. It's a superb institution, something you all can be enormously proud of.
And the President and I have been in Minnesota many times over the past several years. We appreciate the strong support we've gotten in this state, and throughout the state – from the cities, and farms, and the suburbs, and the Iron Range, all the way north to the Canadian border. This state is filled with hard-working, patriotic, independent-minded people. You've also got a great leadership tradition, and I want to thank the voters of Minnesota for sending Norm Coleman to the United States Senate. (Applause.) It's a privilege today to share the stage not only with Norm, but also with your outstanding Congressman, Gil Gutknecht. He does a superb job. (Applause.)
I served in the House of Representatives for 10 years, and Wyoming only had one congressman. It was a small delegation. (Laughter.) But it was quality. (Laughter and applause.) But I've got a feel for the House, and I've got to tell you, Gil does do a superb job of representing all of you. (Applause.)
And I've also gotten to know your fine governor, Tim Pawlenty. He does a superb job for the state. (Applause.)
As the election draws near, Minnesota is drawing attention as one of the crucial states this year. The state is trending strongly in the President's favor. That's because Minnesota voters understand the importance of steady, principled leadership in the White House. This is no ordinary time for America, and the last three-and-a-half years have brought some serious challenges to our country. We're meeting those with strength and resolve. And today, people in Minnesota and across the land can be confident of a better future; a stronger economy; and a nation more secure thanks to the character and the leadership of our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)
Of course, as Vice President, I have an opponent of my own. (Laughter.) I got to debate him a week ago today. People tell me Senator Edwards got picked for his charm, his good looks, his sex appeal, his great hair. (Laughter.) And I said, "How do you think I got the job?" (Applause.)
But in all seriousness, this is a very serious election this year, serious business we're about. And the election could not come at more crucial time in our history. Today we face an enemy every bit as intent to destroy us as were the Axis powers 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 President George Bush as our Commander-in-Chief, that is exactly what we are doing. (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. Tonight, he sits in jail. (Applause.)
We're also helping the people of Iraq and Afghanistan to build representative governments. In Afghanistan, 10 million people registered to vote, nearly half of them women. Elections were held just two days ago on Saturday. (Applause.) This was the first time there's been a free election in Afghanistan in the 5,000-year history of that country. (Applause.)
In January, there will be elections in Iraq, as well. The world is better off as these countries move towards self-government – and we are safer because freedom is the best antidote I know to terror. (Applause.)
The President's determination in the war on terror and what we did in Afghanistan and Iraq sent a very clear message around the world. Just five days after Saddam Hussein was captured, the government of Libya agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program and turn all those 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 – and a very important one – is that the black-market network that supplied nuclear weapons technology to Libya, to North Korea, and to Iran has been shut down. (Applause.) The world's worst source of nuclear proliferation is out of business, and we are 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 international efforts, but as the President 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.)
America faces a choice on November 2nd between a strong, steadfast President and his opponent, who seems to adopt a new position every day. In the second presidential debate, Senator Kerry managed to adopt two positions within a matter of minutes, saying first that Iraq under Saddam was a threat and then declaring that it wasn't. In the first presidential debate, Senator Kerry said that before America acts we must pass a "global test," but the President and I know better. Our job is not to conduct international opinion polls, but to defend the American people. (Applause.)
When John Kerry suggests a global test, he goes right back to his beginnings in politics, when he ran for Congress the first time and said we should only deploy U.S. 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. And in 1991, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, Senator Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You guys want to travel with me this week? (Laughter and applause.)
Now, we've occasionally heard some bold talk from the Senator but tough talk during a 90-minute debate cannot disguise a 30-year record of coming down on the wrong side of every issue. (Applause.) He's consistently taken the wrong side of virtually every major national security issue, and it's absolutely essential we remind him of that, and the American people of that during the course of this election.
The position Senator Kerry adopted most recently seems to be that he would not have supported the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein's regime – even though he voted for it originally -- and that removing Saddam has somehow weakened our national security. But nine months ago when Howard Dean took a similar position during the Democratic primaries, Senator Kerry jumped all over him and said, and I quote: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be President or the credibility to be elected President." (Applause.) The only thing I have to say to that is, I'm Dick Cheney and I approve this message. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All the shifts Senator Kerry has made are troubling, but there is one that really stands out. It starts with Senator Kerry and his running mate, Senator Edwards, voting in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein. But then, 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, Senators Kerry and Edwards voted no. Only 12 members of the United States Senate opposed the funding that would provide vital resources for our troops. Only four senators voted for the use of force and against the resources our men and women needed once they were in combat. Only four. Senators Kerry and Edwards were two of those four.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: At first Senator Kerry said he didn't really oppose the funding. He both supported and opposed it. And of course, he said, and I quote, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Well that certainly clears things up. (Laughter.) Lately he's been saying he's proud that he and John Edwards voted no, and he explains that his decision was "complicated." But funding American troops in combat should never be a complicated question. (Applause.) We need a President who will back our troops 100 percent, and that's exactly what we've got in George W. Bush. (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 this 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 -- and this is a direct quote: "Back to the place we were, to a time when terrorism was" -- in his words -- "a nuisance" -- like illegal gambling and prostitution.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's the comparison he made. When I read that, I thought to myself, when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it a nuisance over four years ago today, October 12, 2000, when the USS Cole was attacked and we lost 17 of our sailors?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Was terrorism just a nuisance 11 years ago when the World Trade Center was first bombed?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 16 years ago when Pan Am Flight 103 was blown out of the skies over Scotland?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Or 21 years ago when a truck bomb hit a barracks in Beirut and killed 241 American Marines?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, there never was a time when terrorism was just a nuisance. 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 terror, 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 who 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 ?- 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.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: President Bush knows that our dedicated servicemen and women and their families represent the very best of the United States of America. And I want to thank them and all the veterans with us here today for what you have done for all of us. (Applause.)
On Iraq, Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. (Laughter.) His back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message of confusion. But 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 stood on the inaugural platform on the west front of the Capitol and took the oath of office, our economy was sliding into recession. Then 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 our economy. We've created jobs for 13 consecutive months – a total of 1.9 million new jobs during that period – including almost 100,000 new jobs in the last month alone. Here in Minnesota, more than 28,000 jobs have been created since a year ago June. Mortgage rates, and interest rates, and 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. (Applause.)
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. But this is a strong, growing economy. The Bush tax cuts are working. (Applause.)
Our accomplishments these last 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, or to waste 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 with unwavering purpose. He's made hard choices; he's kept his word; and that's exactly how he will continue to lead the nation for the next four years. (Applause.)
In our second term, we'll 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. (Applause.)
We will work to end lawsuit abuse. We know it's a lot easier for America's businesses to hire workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.) And we will work for medical liability reform because we know the cost of malpractice insurance is creating a crisis, not only in Minnesota, but across the nation. (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 voted to squeeze another $2,000 per year from the average family. He is opposed to reform of our legal system, and he is against medical liability reform. And now Senator Kerry is proposing massive increases in federal spending. His big idea for the economy: raise our taxes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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 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. (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 are 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.)
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 is a tax-and-spend liberal; President Bush is 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. (Applause.) Here at home, we will 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 judgment of the American people. The signs are good ?- here in Minnesota, 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 to our many friends across the great state of Minnesota. I want to thank you for the welcome. 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 4:23 P.M. CDT
Richard B. Cheney, Vice President's Remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally in Rochester, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/282093