Thursday, September 02, 2004
In Acceptance Speech,
President Bush Shares His Plan for a Safer World & More Hopeful
Republican National Convention
New York, New York
(Remarks as prepared for delivery.)
Mr. Chairman, delegates, fellow citizens: I am honored by your
support, and I accept your nomination for President of the United
When I said those words four years ago, none of us could have
envisioned what these years would bring. In the heart of this great
city, we saw tragedy arrive on a quiet morning. We saw the bravery
of rescuers grow with danger. We learned of passengers on a doomed
plane who died with a courage that frightened their killers. We have
seen a shaken economy rise to its feet. And we have seen Americans
in uniform storming mountain strongholds, and charging through
sandstorms, and liberating millions, with acts of valor that would
make the men of Normandy proud.
Since 2001, Americans have been given hills to climb, and found the
strength to climb them. Now, because we have made the hard journey,
we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges
with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness
in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful
America -- and nothing will hold us back.
In the work we have done, and the work we will do, I am fortunate to
have a superb Vice President. I have counted on Dick Cheney's calm
and steady judgment in difficult days, and I am honored to have him
at my side.
I am grateful to share my walk in life with Laura Bush. Americans
have come to see the goodness and kindness and strength I first saw
26 years ago, and we love our First Lady.
I am a fortunate father of two spirited, intelligent, and lovely
young women. I am blessed with a sister and brothers who are also my
closest friends. And I will always be the proud and grateful son of
George and Barbara Bush.
My father served eight years at the side of another great American
-- Ronald Reagan. His spirit of optimism and goodwill and decency
are in this hall, and in our hearts, and will always define our
Two months from today, voters will make a choice based on the
records we have built, the convictions we hold, and the vision that
guides us forward. A presidential election is a contest for the
future. Tonight I will tell you where I stand, what I believe, and
where I will lead this country in the next four years.
I believe every child can learn, and every school must teach -- so
we passed the most important federal education reform in history.
Because we acted, children are making sustained progress in reading
and math, America's schools are getting better, and nothing will
hold us back.
I believe we have a moral responsibility to honor America's
seniors -- so I brought Republicans and Democrats together to
strengthen Medicare. Now seniors are getting immediate help buying
medicine. Soon every senior will be able to get prescription drug
coverage, and nothing will hold us back.
I believe in the energy and innovative spirit of America's workers,
entrepreneurs, farmers, and ranchers -- so we unleashed that energy
with the largest tax relief in a generation. Because we acted, our
economy is growing again, and creating jobs, and nothing will hold
I believe the most solemn duty of the American president is to
protect the American people. If America shows uncertainty and
weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This
will not happen on my watch.
I am running for President with a clear and positive plan to build a
safer world, and a more hopeful America. I am running with a
compassionate conservative philosophy: that government should help
people improve their lives, not try to run their lives. I believe
this Nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership -- and
that is why, with your help, we will win this election.
The story of America is the story of expanding liberty: an
ever-widening circle, constantly growing to reach further and
include more. Our Nation's founding commitment is still our deepest
commitment: In our world, and here at home, we will extend the
frontiers of freedom.
The times in which we live and work are changing dramatically. The
workers of our parents' generation typically had one job, one skill,
one career ? often with one company that provided health care and a
pension. And most of those workers were men. Today, workers change
jobs, even careers, many times during their lives, and in one of the
most dramatic shifts our society has seen, two-thirds of all Moms
also work outside the home.
This changed world can be a time of great opportunity for all
Americans to earn a better living, support your family, and have a
rewarding career. And government must take your side. Many of our
most fundamental systems -- the tax code, health coverage, pension
plans, worker training -- were created for the world of yesterday,
not tomorrow. We will transform these systems so that all citizens
are equipped, prepared -- and thus truly free -- to make your own
choices and pursue your own dreams.
My plan begins with providing the security and opportunity of a
growing economy. We now compete in a global market that provides new
buyers for our goods, but new competition for our workers. To create
more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to
do business. To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and
expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation, and
making tax relief permanent. To create jobs, we will make our
country less dependent on foreign sources of energy. To create jobs,
we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American
goods and services across the globe. And we must protect small
business owners and workers from the explosion of frivolous lawsuits
that threaten jobs across America.
Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a
complicated mess -- filled with special interest loopholes, saddling
our people with more than six billion hours of paperwork and
headache every year. The American people deserve -- and our economic
future demands -- a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. In a new
term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the
federal tax code.
Another priority in a new term will be to help workers take
advantage of the expanding economy to find better, higher-paying
jobs. In this time of change, many workers want to go back to school
to learn different or higher-level skills. So we will double the
number of people served by our principal job training program and
increase funding for community colleges. I know that with the right
skills, American workers can compete with anyone, anywhere in the
In this time of change, opportunity in some communities is more
distant than in others. To stand with workers in poor communities --
and those that have lost manufacturing, textile, and other jobs --
we will create American opportunity zones. In these areas, we'll
provide tax relief and other incentives to attract new business, and
improve housing and job training to bring hope and work throughout
all of America.
As I've traveled the country, I've met many workers and small
business owners who have told me they are worried they cannot afford
health care. More than half of the uninsured are small business
employees and their families. In a new term, we must allow small
firms to join together to purchase insurance at the discounts
available to big companies. We will offer a tax credit to encourage
small businesses and their employees to set up health savings
accounts, and provide direct help for low-income Americans to
purchase them. These accounts give workers the security of insurance
against major illness, the opportunity to save tax-free for routine
health expenses, and the freedom of knowing you can take your
account with you whenever you change jobs. And we will provide
low-income Americans with better access to health care: In a new
term, I will ensure every poor county in America has a community or
rural health center.
As I have traveled our country, I have met too many good doctors,
especially OB-GYNS, who are being forced out of practice because of
the high cost of lawsuits. To make health care more affordable and
accessible, we must pass medical liability reform now. And in all we
do to improve health care in America, we will make sure that health
decisions are made by doctors and patients, not by bureaucrats in
In this time of change, government must take the side of working
families. In a new term, we will change outdated labor laws to offer
comp-time and flex-time. Our laws should never stand in the way of a
more family-friendly workplace.
Another priority for a new term is to build an ownership society,
because ownership brings security, and dignity, and independence.
Thanks to our policies, homeownership in America is at an all-time
high. Tonight we set a new goal: seven million more affordable homes
in the next 10 years so more American families will be able to open
the door and say welcome to my home.
In an ownership society, more people will own their health plans,
and have the confidence of owning a piece of their retirement. We
will always keep the promise of Social Security for our older
workers. With the huge Baby Boom generation approaching retirement,
many of our children and grandchildren understandably worry whether
Social Security will be there when they need it. We must strengthen
Social Security by allowing younger workers to save some of their
taxes in a personal account -- a nest egg you can call your own, and
government can never take away.
In all these proposals, we seek to provide not just a government
program, but a path -- a path to greater opportunity, more freedom,
and more control over your own life.
This path begins with our youngest Americans. To build a more
hopeful America, we must help our children reach as far as their
vision and character can take them. Tonight, I remind every parent
and every teacher, I say to every child: No matter what your
circumstance, no matter where you live -- your school will be the
path to the promise of America.
We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on
results. We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents and
teachers, and making sure that local people are in charge of their
schools. By testing every child, we are identifying those who need
help ? and we're providing a record level of funding to get them
that help. In northeast Georgia, Gainesville Elementary School is
mostly Hispanic and 90 percent poor ? and this year 90 percent of
its students passed state tests in reading and math. The principal
expresses the philosophy of his school this way: "We don't focus on
what we can't do at this school; we focus on what we can do -- We do
whatever it takes to get kids across the finish line." This
principal is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations, and
that is the spirit of our education reform, and the commitment of
our country: No dejaremos a ningún niño atrás. We will leave no
We are making progress -- and there is more to do. In this time of
change, most new jobs are filled by people with at least two years
of college, yet only about one in four students gets there. In our
high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help
students at risk. We will place a new focus on math and science. As
we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation.
By raising performance in our high schools, and expanding Pell
grants for low and middle income families, we will help more
Americans start their career with a college diploma.
America's children must also have a healthy start in life. In a new
term, we will lead an aggressive effort to enroll millions of poor
children who are eligible but not signed up for the government's
health insurance programs. We will not allow a lack of attention, or
information, to stand between these children and the health care
Anyone who wants more details on my agenda can find them online. The
web address is not very imaginative, but it's easy to remember:
These changing times can be exciting times of expanded opportunity.
And here, you face a choice. My opponent's policies are dramatically
different from ours. Senator Kerry opposed Medicare reform and
health savings accounts. After supporting my education reforms, he
now wants to dilute them. He opposes legal and medical liability
reform. He opposed reducing the marriage penalty, opposed doubling
the child credit, and opposed lowering income taxes for all who pay
them. To be fair, there are some things my opponent is for -- he's
proposed more than two trillion dollars in new federal spending so
far, and that's a lot, even for a senator from Massachusetts. To pay
for that spending, he is running on a platform of increasing
taxes -- and that's the kind of promise a politician usually keeps.
His policies of tax and spend -- of expanding government rather than
expanding opportunity -- are the policies of the past. We are on the
path to the future -- and we are not turning back.
In this world of change, some things do not change: the values we
try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and
purpose. Our society rests on a foundation of responsibility and
character and family commitment.
Because family and work are sources of stability and dignity, I
support welfare reform that strengthens family and requires work.
Because a caring society will value its weakest members, we must
make a place for the unborn child. Because religious charities
provide a safety net of mercy and compassion, our government must
never discriminate against them. Because the union of a man and
woman deserves an honored place in our society, I support the
protection of marriage against activist judges. And I will continue
to appoint federal judges who know the difference between personal
opinion and the strict interpretation of the law.
My opponent recently announced that he is the candidate of
"conservative values," which must have come as a surprise to a lot
of his supporters. Now, there are some problems with this claim. If
you say the heart and soul of America is found in Hollywood, I'm
afraid you are not the candidate of conservative values. If you
voted against the bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act, which
President Clinton signed, you are not the candidate of conservative
values. If you gave a speech, as my opponent did, calling the Reagan
presidency eight years of "moral darkness," then you may be a lot of
things, but the candidate of conservative values is not one of them.
This election will also determine how America responds to the
continuing danger of terrorism -- and you know where I stand. Three
days after September 11th, I stood where Americans died, in the
ruins of the Twin Towers. Workers in hard hats were shouting to me,
"Whatever it takes." A fellow grabbed me by the arm and he said, "Do
not let me down." Since that day, I wake up every morning thinking
about how to better protect our country. I will never relent in
defending America -- whatever it takes.
So we have fought the terrorists across the earth -- not for pride,
not for power, but because the lives of our citizens are at stake.
Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security
and trained half a million first responders, because we are
determined to protect our homeland. We are transforming our military
and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services. We are
staying on the offensive -- striking terrorists abroad -- so we do
not have to face them here at home. And we are working to advance
liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a
future of hope, and the peace we all want. And we will prevail.
Our strategy is succeeding. Four years ago, Afghanistan was the home
base of al-Qaida, Pakistan was a transit point for terrorist groups,
Saudi Arabia was fertile ground for terrorist fundraising, Libya was
secretly pursuing nuclear weapons, Iraq was a gathering threat, and
al-Qaida was largely unchallenged as it planned attacks. Today, the
government of a free Afghanistan is fighting terror, Pakistan is
capturing terrorist leaders, Saudi Arabia is making raids and
arrests, Libya is dismantling its weapons programs, the army of a
free Iraq is fighting for freedom, and more than three-quarters of
al-Qaida's key members and associates have been detained or killed.
We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer.
This progress involved careful diplomacy, clear moral purpose, and
some tough decisions. And the toughest came on Iraq. We knew Saddam
Hussein's record of aggression and support for terror. We knew his
long history of pursuing, even using, weapons of mass destruction.
And we know that September 11th requires our country to think
differently: We must, and we will, confront threats to America
before it is too late.
In Saddam Hussein, we saw a threat. Members of both political
parties, including my opponent and his running mate, saw the threat,
and voted to authorize the use of force. We went to the United
Nations Security Council, which passed a unanimous resolution
demanding the dictator disarm, or face serious consequences. Leaders
in the Middle East urged him to comply. After more than a decade of
diplomacy, we gave Saddam Hussein another chance, a final chance, to
meet his responsibilities to the civilized world. He again refused,
and I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval
Office -- a decision no president would ask for, but must be
prepared to make. Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take
the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country?
Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.
Because we acted to defend our country, the murderous regimes of
Saddam Hussein and the Taliban are history, more than 50 million
people have been liberated, and democracy is coming to the broader
Middle East. In Afghanistan, terrorists have done everything they
can to intimidate people -- yet more than 10 million citizens have
registered to vote in the October presidential election ? a
resounding endorsement of democracy. Despite ongoing acts of
violence, Iraq now has a strong Prime Minister, a national council,
and national elections are scheduled for January. Our Nation is
standing with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, because when
America gives its word, America must keep its word. As importantly,
we are serving a vital and historic cause that will make our country
safer. Free societies in the Middle East will be hopeful societies,
which no longer feed resentments and breed violence for export. Free
governments in the Middle East will fight terrorists instead of
harboring them, and that helps us keep the peace. So our mission in
Afghanistan and Iraq is clear: We will help new leaders to train
their armies, and move toward elections, and get on the path of
stability and democracy as quickly as possible. And then our troops
will return home with the honor they have earned.
Our troops know the historic importance of our work. One Army
Specialist wrote home: "We are transforming a once sick society into
a hopeful place ... The various terrorist enemies we are facing in
Iraq," he continued, "are really aiming at you back in the United
States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours
are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil
That young man is right -- our men and women in uniform are doing a
superb job for America. Tonight I want to speak to all of them --
and to their families: You are involved in a struggle of historic
proportion. Because of your service and sacrifice, we are defeating
the terrorists where they live and plan, and making America safer.
Because of you, women in Afghanistan are no longer shot in a sports
stadium. Because of you, the people of Iraq no longer fear being
executed and left in mass graves. Because of you, the world is more
just and will be more peaceful. We owe you our thanks, and we owe
you something more. We will give you all the resources, all the
tools, and all the support you need for victory.
Again, my opponent and I have different approaches. I proposed, and
the Congress overwhelmingly passed, 87 billion dollars in funding
needed by our troops doing battle in Afghanistan and Iraq. My
opponent and his running mate voted against this money for bullets,
and fuel, and vehicles, and body armor. When asked to explain his
vote, the Senator said, "I actually did vote for the 87 billion
dollars before I voted against it." Then he said he was "proud" of
that vote. Then, when pressed, he said it was a "complicated"
matter. There is nothing complicated about supporting our troops in
Our allies also know the historic importance of our work. About 40
nations stand beside us in Afghanistan, and some 30 in Iraq. And I
deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel of leaders like Prime
Minister Howard, and President Kwasniewski, and Prime Minister
Berlusconi -- and, of course, Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Again, my opponent takes a different approach. In the midst of war,
he has called America's allies, quote, a "coalition of the coerced
and the bribed." That would be nations like Great Britain, Poland,
Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, El Salvador, Australia, and
others -- allies that deserve the respect of all Americans, not the
scorn of a politician. I respect every soldier, from every country,
who serves beside us in the hard work of history. America is
grateful, and America will not forget.
The people we have freed won't forget either. Not long ago, seven
Iraqi men came to see me in the Oval Office. They had "X"s branded
into their foreheads, and their right hands had been cut off, by
Saddam Hussein's secret police, the sadistic punishment for
imaginary crimes. During our emotional visit one of the Iraqi men
used his new prosthetic hand to slowly write out, in Arabic, a
prayer for God to bless America. I am proud that our country remains
the hope of the oppressed, and the greatest force for good on this
Others understand the historic importance of our work. The
terrorists know. They know that a vibrant, successful democracy at
the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology
of hate. They know that men and women with hope, and purpose, and
dignity do not strap bombs on their bodies and kill the innocent.
The terrorists are fighting freedom with all their cunning and
cruelty because freedom is their greatest fear -- and they should be
afraid, because freedom is on the march.
I believe in the transformational power of liberty: The wisest use
of American strength is to advance freedom. As the citizens of
Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a
message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear
the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so
is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle
East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is
coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and
dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror. Reformers, and
political prisoners, and exiles will hear the message that their
dream of freedom cannot be denied forever. And as freedom
advances -- heart by heart, and nation by nation -- America will be
more secure and the world more peaceful.
America has done this kind of work before -- and there have always
been doubters. In 1946, 18 months after the fall of Berlin to allied
forces, a journalist wrote in the New York Times, "Germany is ... a
land in an acute stage of economic, political and moral crisis.
[European] capitals are frightened. In every [military]
headquarters, one meets alarmed officials doing their utmost to deal
with the consequences of the occupation policy that they admit has
failed." End quote. Maybe that same person's still around, writing
editorials. Fortunately, we had a resolute president named Truman,
who with the American people persevered, knowing that a new
democracy at the center of Europe would lead to stability and peace.
And because that generation of Americans held firm in the cause of
liberty, we live in a better and safer world today.
The progress we and our friends and allies seek in the broader
Middle East will not come easily, or all at once. Yet Americans, of
all people, should never be surprised by the power of liberty to
transform lives and nations. That power brought settlers on perilous
journeys, inspired colonies to rebellion, ended the sin of slavery,
and set our Nation against the tyrannies of the 20th century. We
were honored to aid the rise of democracy in Germany and Japan and
Nicaragua and Central Europe and the Baltics -- and that noble story
goes on. I believe that America is called to lead the cause of
freedom in a new century. I believe that millions in the Middle East
plead in silence for their liberty. I believe that given the chance,
they will embrace the most honorable form of government ever devised
by man. I believe all these things because freedom is not America's
gift to the world, it is the Almighty God's gift to every man and
woman in this world.
This moment in the life of our country will be remembered.
Generations will know if we kept our faith and kept our word.
Generations will know if we seized this moment, and used it to build
a future of safety and peace. The freedom of many, and the future
security of our Nation, now depend on us. And tonight, my fellow
Americans, I ask you to stand with me.
In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even
when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I
stand. You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People
sometimes have to correct my English -- I knew I had a problem when
Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it. Some folks look at me and
see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called "walking." Now and
then I come across as a little too blunt -- and for that we can all
thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there.
One thing I have learned about the presidency is that whatever
shortcomings you have, people are going to notice them -- and
whatever strengths you have, you're going to need them. These four
years have brought moments I could not foresee and will not forget.
I have tried to comfort Americans who lost the most on September
11th -- people who showed me a picture or told me a story, so I
would know how much was taken from them. I have learned first-hand
that ordering Americans into battle is the hardest decision, even
when it is right. I have returned the salute of wounded soldiers,
some with a very tough road ahead, who say they were just doing
their job. I've held the children of the fallen, who are told their
dad or mom is a hero, but would rather just have their dad or mom.
And I have met with parents and wives and husbands who have received
a folded flag, and said a final goodbye to a soldier they loved. I
am awed that so many have used those meetings to say that I am in
their prayers ? to offer encouragement to me. Where does strength
like that come from? How can people so burdened with sorrow also
feel such pride? It is because they know their loved one was last
seen doing good. Because they know that liberty was precious to the
one they lost. And in those military families, I have seen the
character of a great nation: decent, and idealistic, and strong.
The world saw that spirit three miles from here, when the people of
this city faced peril together, and lifted a flag over the ruins,
and defied the enemy with their courage. My fellow Americans, for as
long as our country stands, people will look to the resurrection of
New York City and they will say: Here buildings fell, and here a
We see America's character in our military, which finds a way or
makes one. We see it in our veterans, who are supporting military
families in their days of worry. We see it in our young people, who
have found heroes once again. We see that character in workers and
entrepreneurs, who are renewing our economy with their effort and
optimism. And all of this has confirmed one belief beyond doubt:
Having come this far, our tested and confident Nation can achieve
To everything we know there is a season -- a time for sadness, a
time for struggle, a time for rebuilding. And now we have reached a
time for hope. This young century will be liberty's century. By
promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world. By
encouraging liberty at home, we will build a more hopeful America.
Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars
to stand for freedom. This is the everlasting dream of America --
and tonight, in this place, that dream is renewed. Now we go
forward -- grateful for our freedom, faithful to our cause, and
confident in the future of the greatest nation on earth.
God bless you, and may God continue to bless America.
Paid for by BUSH-CHENEY '04,
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Vice President Cheney at the
RNC: America's Security at Stake in This Election
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four
more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
(Applause.) Thank you. I'm sure glad Zell Miller is on our side.
Mr. Chairman, delegates,
distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: I accept your nomination
for Vice President of the United States.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four
more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
I am honored by your confidence. And tonight I make this pledge: I
will give this campaign all that I have, and together we will make
George W. Bush President for another four years.
Tonight I will talk about this
good man and his fine record leading our country. And I may say a
word or two about his opponent. (Laughter.) I am also mindful now
that I have an opponent of my own.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: People tell
me that Senator Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex
appeal, his charm, and his great hair. I said, "How do you think I
got the job?" (Laughter and applause.)
On this night, as we celebrate
the opportunities that America offers, I am filled with gratitude to
a nation that has been good to me, and I remember the people who set
me on my way in life. My grandfather noted that the day I was born
was also the birthday of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And so he told
my parents they should send President Roosevelt an announcement of
my birth. (Laughter.) Now my grandfather didn't have a chance to
go to high school. For many years he worked as a cook on the Union
Pacific Railroad, and he and my grandmother lived in a railroad car.
But the modesty of his circumstances didn't stop him from thinking
that President Roosevelt should know about my arrival. My
grandfather believed deeply in the promise of America, and he had
the highest hopes for his family. And I don't think it would
surprise him all that much that a grandchild of his stands before
you tonight as Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
It is the story of this country
that people have been able to dream big dreams with confidence they
would come true, if not for themselves, then for their children and
grandchildren. And that sense of boundless opportunity is a gift
that we must pass on to all who come after us.
From kindergarten to graduation,
I went to public schools, and I know that they are a key to being
sure that every child has a chance to succeed and to rise in the
world. (Applause.) When the President and I took office, our
schools were shuffling too many children from grade to grade without
giving them the skills and the knowledge they need. So President
Bush reached across the aisle and brought both parties together to
pass the most significant education reform in 40 years.
(Laughter.) With higher standards and new resources, America's
schools are now on an upward path to excellence -- and not for just
a few children, but for every child.
Opportunity also depends on a
vibrant, growing economy. As President Bush and I were sworn into
office, our nation was sliding into recession, and American workers
were overburdened with federal taxes. Then came the events of
September 11th, which hit our economy very hard. So President Bush
delivered the greatest tax reduction in a generation, and the
results are clear to see. (Applause.) Businesses are creating
jobs. People are returning to work. Mortgage rates are low, and
home ownership in this country is at an all-time high. The Bush tax
cuts are working.
Our nation has the best health
care in the world, and President Bush is making it more affordable
and accessible to all Americans. (Applause.) And there is more to
do. Under this President's leadership, we will reform medical
liability so the system serves patients and good doctors, not
personal injury lawyers. (Applause.)
These have been years of
achievement, and we are eager for the work ahead. And in all that we
do, we will never lose sight of the greatest challenge of our time:
preserving the freedom and security of this nation against
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four
more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you
Since I last spoke to our
national convention, Lynne and I have had the joy of seeing our
family grow. We now have a grandson to go along with our three
wonderful granddaughters. (Applause.) And the deepest wish of my
heart and the object of all my determination is that they, and all
of America's children, will have lives filled with opportunity, and
that they will inherit a world in which they can live in freedom, in
safety, and in peace. (Applause.)
Four years ago, some said the
world had grown calm, and many assumed that the United States was
invulnerable to danger. That thought might have been comforting; it
was also false. Like other generations of Americans, we soon
discovered that history had unexpected duties in store for us.
September 11th, 2001 made clear
the challenges we face. On that day we saw the harm that could be
done by 19 men armed with knives and boarding passes. America also
awakened to a possibility even more lethal: this enemy, whose
hatred of us is limitless, armed with chemical, biological, or even
Just as surely as the Nazis
during World War II, and the Soviets during the Cold War, the enemy
we face today is bent on our destruction. As in other times, we are
in a war we did not start, and have no choice but to win.
(Applause.) Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by
a superb Commander-in-Chief, we will prevail. (Applause.)
The fanatics who killed some
3,000 of our fellow Americans may have thought they could attack us
with impunity -- because terrorists had done so previously. But if
the killers of September 11th thought we had lost the will to defend
our freedom, they did not know America. And they did not know
George W. Bush. (Applause.)
From the beginning, the President
made clear that the terrorists would be dealt with -- and that
anyone who supports, protects, or harbors them would be held to
account. (Applause.) In a campaign that has reached around the
world, we have captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda. In
Afghanistan, the camps where terrorists trained to kill Americans
have been shut down, and the Taliban driven from power.
(Applause.) In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed
the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) Seventeen months ago, he
controlled the lives and fortunes of 25 million people. Tonight, he
sits in jail. (Applause.)
President Bush does not deal in
empty threats and halfway 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.)
Tonight, the uranium, the centrifuges, and the plans and designs
for nuclear weapons that were once hidden in Libya are locked up and
stored away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, never again to threaten
The biggest threat we face today
is having nuclear weapons 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 it is a very important one -- 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. (Applause.) The world's worst source of nuclear weapons
proliferation is out of business -- and we are safer as a result.
In the global war we are
fighting, we owe a mighty debt to the men and women of the United
States Armed Forces. (Applause.) They have fought the enemy with
courage and reached out to civilians with compassion, rebuilding
schools and hospitals and roads. They have won stunning victories.
They have faced hard duty and long deployments. And they have lost
comrades, more than 1,100 brave Americans, whose memories this
nation will honor forever. (Applause.) The men and women who wear
the uniform of the United States represent the very best of
America. They have the thanks of our nation. And they have
confidence, the loyalty, and the respect of their
In this election, we will decide
who leads our country for the next four years. Yet, there is more
in the balance than that. Moments come along in history when
leaders must make fundamental decisions about how to confront a
long-term challenge abroad, or how best to keep the American people
secure at home. We faced such a moment after World War II, when we
put in place the policies that defended America throughout the Cold
War. Those policies -- containing communism, deterring attack by
the Soviet Union, and promoting the rise of democracy -- were
carried out by Democratic and Republican Presidents in the decades
This nation has reached another
of those defining moments. Under President Bush we have put in
place new policies and created new institutions to defend America,
to stop terrorist violence at its source, and to help move the
Middle East away from old hatreds and resentments and toward the
lasting peace that only freedom can bring. This is the work not of
months, but of years -- and keeping these commitments is essential
to our future security. For that reason, ladies and gentlemen, the
election of 2004 is one of the most important, not just in our
lives, but in our history.
And so it is time to set the
alternatives squarely before the American people.
The President's opponent is an
experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and
we honor him for it. (Applause.) But there is also a record of
more than three decades since. And on the question of America's
role in the world, the differences between Senator Kerry and
President Bush are the sharpest, and the stakes for the country are
the highest. (Applause.) History has shown that a strong and
purposeful America is vital to preserving freedom and keeping us
safe -- yet time and again, Senator Kerry has made the wrong call on
national security. Senator Kerry began his political career by
saying he would like to see our troops deployed "only at the
directive of the United Nations."
THE VICE PRESIDENT: During the
1980s, Senator Kerry opposed Ronald Reagan's major defense
initiatives that brought victory in the Cold War.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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: Even in this
post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the
world has changed. He talks about leading a "more sensitive war on
terror" -- (Laughter.) -- as though al Qaeda will be impressed with
our softer side. (Laughter and applause.)
He declared at the Democratic
Convention that he will forcefully defend America -- after we have
been attacked. My fellow Americans, we have already been attacked.
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We're faced
with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us,
and we cannot wait until the next attack. We must do everything we
can to prevent it -- and that includes the use of
military force. (Applause.)
Senator Kerry denounces American
action when other countries don't approve
-- as if the whole object of our foreign policy were to please a few
persistent critics. (Applause.) But, in fact, the global war on
terror, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, President Bush has brought many
allies to our side. (Applause.) 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. (Applause.)
George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the
American people. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator
Kerry also takes a different view when it comes to supporting our
military. Although he voted to authorize force against Saddam
Hussein, he then decided he was opposed to the war, and voted
against funding for our men and women in the field.
AUDIENCE: Booo! Flip-flop!
Flip-flop! Flip-flop! (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: He voted
against body armor, ammunition, fuel, spare parts, armored vehicles,
extra pay for hardship duty, and support for military families.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Senator
Kerry is campaigning for the position of Commander-in-Chief.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yet he does
not seem to understand the first obligation of a Commander-in-Chief
-- and that is to support American troops in combat. (Applause.)
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. (Applause.) But the presidency is an entirely different
proposition. A senator can be wrong for 20 years, without
consequence to the nation. (Applause.) But a President -- a
President -- always casts the deciding vote. (Applause.) 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: On Iraq,
Senator Kerry has disagreed with many of his fellow Democrats. But
Senator Kerry's liveliest disagreement is with himself. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: His
back-and-forth reflects a habit of indecision, and sends a message
of confusion. And it is 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. He makes the
whole thing mutual
-- America -- (applause) -- America sees two John Kerrys. (Laughter
The other candidate in this race
is a man our nation has come to know, and one I've come to admire
very much. I watch him at work every day. I have seen him face
some of the hardest decisions that can come to the Oval Office --
and make those decisions with the wisdom and the humility Americans
expect in their President. (Applause.) George W. Bush is a man who
speaks plainly and who means what he says. He is a person of
loyalty and kindness -- and he brings out these qualities in those
around him. He is a man of great personal strength -- and more than
that, a man with a heart for the weak, and the vulnerable, and the
afflicted. (Applause.) We all remember that terrible morning when,
in the space of just 102 minutes, more Americans were killed than we
lost at Pearl Harbor. We remember the President who came to New
York City and pledged that the terrorists would soon hear from all
of us. (Applause.) George W. Bush saw this country through grief
and tragedy. He has acted with patience, and calm, and a moral
seriousness that calls evil by its name. (Applause.) In the great
divide of our time, he has put this nation where America always
belongs: against the tyrants of this world, and on the side of every
soul on Earth who yearns to live in freedom. (Applause.)
Fellow citizens, our nation is
reaching the hour of decision, and the choice is clear. President
Bush and I will wade this effort -- wage this effort with complete
confidence in the judgment of the American people. The signs are
good -- even in Massachusetts. (Applause.) According to a news
account last month, people leaving the Democratic National
Convention asked a Boston policeman for directions. He replied,
"Leave here --? and go vote Republican." (Laughter and applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four
more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: 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. (Applause.) We are so fortunate, each and every
one of us, to be citizens of this great nation and to take part in
the defining event of our democracy: Choosing who will lead us.
The historian Bernard DeVoto once
wrote that when America was created, the stars must have danced in
the sky. (Applause.) Our President understands the miracle of this
great country. He knows the hope that drives it and shares the
optimism that has long been so important a part of our national
character. He gets up each and every day determined to keep our
great nation safe so that generations to come will know the freedom
and opportunities we have known -- and more. (Applause.)
When this convention concludes
tomorrow night, we will go forth with confidence in our cause, and
in the man who leads it. By leaving no doubt where we stand, and
asking all Americans to join us, we will see our cause to victory.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
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