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Cheney kicks up campaign dirt in Colorado

A boot-kicking, and Kerry-kicking, good time

By Leigh E. Rich

Tax breaks, the war on terror, and taking to task Sen. John Kerry topped Vice President Dick Cheney’s rally cries this week at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Like Kerry’s recent courting of Colorado, it could be said that Wednesday’s visit by the veep was a sort of homecoming for the former Wyoming representative. Wife Lynne Cheney, a graduate of two Colorado universities, even made comparisons between Jeffco’s arena and the fairgrounds in Casper, where Cheney worked as a youth.

And Cheney’s no stranger to the Centennial State. He’s visited Colorado multiple times this year alone.

Calling Colorado a “key state” in the current election, Cheney focused his campaign visit to the Republican-heavy county on keeping Colorado in the pocket of the Republicans, maintaining an offensive position with America’s enemies, and tearing down his Democratic opponents.

Cheney praised U.S. Reps. Bob Beauprez—who introduced the vice president—and Tom Tancredo as well as Gov. Bill Owens, before launching into the crux of his speech.

“I know you’re going to send Bob and Tom back to Washington,” Cheney said.

Without mentioning either Pete Coors or Bob Schaffer, contestants for the Republican ticket and Ben Nighthorse Campbell’s U.S. Senate seat, Cheney added, “Although we are sad to see Ben step down, we know you’re going to replace him with a Republican.”

Much of Cheney’s oration, however, played to the security of America, making no subtle gestures when criticizing Kerry’s platform to develop strong alliances in the world.

“Today, we face an enemy every bit as intent on destroying us as the Axis powers in World War II,” Cheney warned, emphasizing that these adversaries want to “do away with democracy, end all rights for women, and impose their (lifestyle) on us.”

“We are on the offense in the war on terror,” he added, “and the president’s opponent, Senator Kerry, doesn’t approve.”

Promising the Bush-Cheney ticket will “never seek a permission slip for the security of America,” he avowed. “Terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength. They are invited by the appearance of weakness. There is a difference between leading a coalition and submitting to the objections of a few.”

Cheney even went so far to deem Kerry’s perspective “a deep and dangerous misunderstanding” of the situation.

“Anyone who does not understand (that) going on the offense in the war on terror is vital to our defense cannot make America safer.

“This is not an enemy we can reason with, negotiate with or appease. This is … an enemy we must destroy,” Cheney declared.

The vice president pledged that he and the president would do just that, calling Bush “a man calm in a crisis,” particularly following Sept. 11.

“We’ve been through some very difficult times with our national security,” Cheney said, “(but) … we had a captain hanging onto the wheel.”

Sticking to the administration’s weapons of mass destruction story, Cheney also touted the War in Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein as evidence of Bush’s guidance.

“Under the president’s leadership, we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein,” he said. “Tonight, he’s in jail.”

This unsurprisingly received a rise from the crowd, as did Cheney’s condemnation of Kerry and running mate John Edwards’ plans for the country.

“They never explain how they would put a single American back to work,” Cheney declared, though he refrained from going into any details of his and Bush’s “pro-growth, pro-job agenda.”

“Their big idea for the economy—raise our taxes.”

Boos resounded throughout the thousand-person group at this idea and whenever Cheney mentioned Kerry’s name. He characterized the Massachusetts senator as a flip-flopper and a leader “who (shifts) with the political winds.”

“What we’re hearing from the other side is failed thinking of the past and we’re not going back.”

Instead, Cheney said his team will “make the Bush tax cuts permanent,” will work to end lawsuit abuse, will reform medical liability, and will develop a “comprehensive energy policy to make the nation less dependent on foreign oil.”

He vehemently promoted, moreover, to “reject the brutal practice of partial-birth abortion” and to continue to fight for Americans’ rights to “be able to say ‘under God’” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“We believe our nation is one nation under God,” he said, criticizing the Democratic senators who filibustered in opposition to the appointment of William Myers to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. It was the Ninth Circuit, Cheney reminded the crowd, that declared the phrase to violate the constitutional separation of church and state—a decision reversed this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“(It) sounds to me like they could use some new judges on the Ninth Circuit,” Cheney half-jokingly stated.

Believing America’s “economy was sliding toward recession” when he and Bush took office in January 2001, Cheney also told the Jefferson County crowd that Bush “proposed and delivered tax savings … not once, not twice, but three times.”

“But this is a strong economy,” he added. “It’s growing stronger. And (the) Bush tax cuts are working.”

Declaring Colorado “Bush-Cheney country” and maintaining he and Bush “were proud to carry Colorado in 2000,” Cheney ended his short trip to the metro area by pledging to deliver “a prosperity that reaches every corner of the land” and to “use America’s great power for great purposes” abroad—though without going into any details on either.

Rather, Cheney hyped his administration’s accomplishments to include Medicare reform, a “responsible environmental law” with the Healthy Forest Act, the development of the biochemical warfare-related Project Bioshield, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the passage of the “unprecedented” Patriot Act.

He also joked with the crowd about that “little political gathering up in Boston last week. Some of you may have watched it. I didn’t,” he proudly said of the Democratic National Convention.

Without any campaign slogans decking the Jeffco hall or much insight into the Bush-Cheney 2004 platform, the few positive messages Cheney told his Colorado constituents could foreshadow what’s to come at this month’s Republican convention.

Rich, L. E. (2004, August 6). Cheney kicks up campaign dirt in Colorado. The Colorado Statesman, pp. 1, 6.

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