- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

The following are excerpts of Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech to the Republican National Convention as prepared for delivery last night at Madison Square Garden in New York:

Mr. Chairman, delegates, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: I accept your nomination for vice president of the United States. …

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. I am also mindful that I have an opponent of my own.

People tell me that [Democratic vice-presidential nominee] Senator [John] Edwards got picked for his good looks, his sex appeal, and his great hair. I say to them — how do you think I got the job? …

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. Businesses are creating jobs. People are returning to work. Mortgage rates are low, and homeownership in this country is at an all-time high. The Bush tax cuts are working. …

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 determined enemies.

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, 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.

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 great and 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 nuclear weapons.

Just as surely as the Nazis during World War Two and the Soviet communists 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. Firm in our resolve, focused on our mission, and led by a superb commander in chief, we will prevail.

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.

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.

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.

In Iraq, we dealt with a gathering threat, and removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. Seventeen months ago, he controlled the lives and fortunes of 25 million people. Tonight he sits in jail.

President Bush does not deal in empty threats and half 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. Tonight, uranium, centrifuges, and plans for nuclear weapons that were once hidden in Libya are locked up and stored away in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, never again to be a danger to Americans. …

The president’s opponent is an experienced senator. He speaks often of his service in Vietnam, and we honor him for it. 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.

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.”

During the 1980s, Senator Kerry opposed Ronald Reagan’s major defense initiatives that brought victory in the Cold War. In 1991, when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait and stood poised to dominate the Persian Gulf, Senator Kerry voted against Operation Desert Storm.

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,” as though Al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side. 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 and, faced with an enemy who seeks the deadliest of weapons to use against us, we cannot wait for the next attack. We must do everything we can to prevent it — and that includes the use of military force.

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. …

George W. Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people. …

In his years in Washington, John Kerry has been one of a hundred votes in the United States Senate and, very fortunately, on matters of national security his views rarely prevailed. 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. …

Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas. It makes the whole thing mutual — America sees two John Kerrys. …

“George W. Bush is a man who speaks plainly and means what he says. … 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. …

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.”

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 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. 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.

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.

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