Boosting the economy, fighting terrorism and speeding up judicial confirmations are why Missourians should elect Republican Jim Talent to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 5, said Vice President Dick Cheney to more than 2,000 people gathered at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport on Thursday.
Though the president was not in attendance at the rally for Talent, who is running against Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Jean Carnahan, he was a big part of the speech given by the vice president.
"I bring good wishes to everybody in Southeast Missouri from our president, George W. Bush," Cheney said. "Two years ago you delivered a tremendous victory to the Bush-Cheney ticket, and you are one of the main reasons we're in the White House today. And, five days from now, the voters in Missouri are going to elect Jim Talent to the United States Senate."
Flanked on both sides by several Boy Scouts and standing in front of an enormous American flag, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were joined on stage by Talent, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, U.S. Rep Jo Ann Emerson and Missouri Sen. Peter Kinder.
Talent, who introduced Mrs. Cheney, spoke briefly to the crowd. He mentioned her recent visit to the state about two weeks ago to campaign for him.
The airplane hangar echoed with patriotic songs from Jackson High School's marching band and a choir from Notre Dame Regional High School.
The audience was made up largely of youth and senior citizens, many holding signs of support for Talent and Cheney.
Between Cheney's change of topics, audience members clapped and cheered, but for the most part were quiet. The crowd's reaction to Cheney did not surprise Bond.
"He was Dick Cheney," Bond said. "If you know Dick Cheney, have you ever seen him rile anything up? ... Dick Cheney is a guy who speaks with great knowledge and experience and a tremendous amount of credibility. When you're listening to Dick Cheney, you don't come to jump up and down. You come to listen to a guy who knows more about defense and world affairs than anybody except the president of the United States."
With the final days of the Senate campaign intensifying, Cheney's visit to Cape Girardeau emphasized the administration's support for Talent.
"President Bush and I are very proud of Jim, we've gotten to know him during his years in the House," Cheney said. "He's one of the most effective, experienced candidates running this year any place in America. ... He gets things done in the spirit of bipartisanship and goodwill."
Cheney told the audience Talent would be a partner with the president in adding new jobs.
"Our administration will not rest until every person who wants to work can find a job," Cheney said. "... A pro-growth policy requires that Americans be allowed to keep the money they earned. And under the leadership of President George Bush, the American people have received the biggest tax reduction in a generation."
Solving judge slowdown
The vice president stressed how this election will determine faster confirmations for federal judgeships. Missourians can unclog the nominee system by electing Talent, Cheney said. His comment drew cheers from the crowd.
"We need more senators to help us put qualified, common-sense judges on the federal benches," Cheney said. The Senate has a responsibility to confirm nominees, but the system has broken down over the last two years. ... Dozens of federal judgeships sit empty. In fact, nearly 10 percent of all federal judgeships are vacant, one out of every five seats in the federal appellate court are vacant today. Yet, many of the president's nominees have gone month after month after month without even receiving a hearing on their nomination."
Fifteen of President Bush's federal appellate nominees have been forced to wait over a year for a hearing, nearly 18 months in some cases, Cheney said.
He briefly addressed what President Bush's administration has done to protect the nation from terrorism, including a reorganization of the federal government's homeland security offices.
"At the same time, we understand that wars are never won on the defensive," Cheney said. "In the fight against global terror, and in order to win the war that began Sept. 11 a year ago, we must take the battle to the enemy and, where necessary, pre-empt serious threats before they can materialize against our country. The only path to safety is the path of action. ... Either Saddam Hussein will give up his weapons of mass destruction or the United States will disarm him."
Cheney also described the president's efforts to increase defense spending and get an increase in salaries for military members.
If Talent is elected, it will show voter support for Bush and help the Republicans regain control from the "dysfunctional" Democrats in control of the Senate, he said.
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