THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, but we’ve been watching it pretty carefully and quietly, obviously, and there are a couple of good polls now that show that it’s an even race out there, and this is obviously a state that historically has gone for the Democrats most of the time. But we think it’s very doable this year so we worked out a way I can keep all the events I’ve already scheduled and I’ll just spend Sunday night flying to and coming back from Hawaii, and we’ll do a late-night rally out there, so it should — we think it’s a real target opportunity.
RUSH: How long are you going to be on the ground in Hawaii?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, not long. Just a couple hours.
RUSH: And where? You gonna be more than one location? You gonna be —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Probably Honolulu.
RUSH: Honolulu. I’ll bet you’re going to be greeted by a mob. I want to ask you about the Pentagon press conference today, Major Austin Pearson.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Mmm-hmm.
RUSH: This was really powerful, Mr. Vice President. Did you have a chance to see any of it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I saw part of his presentation. I didn’t see the Q&A afterwards because I had to do an event here in —
RUSH: Well, the Q&A afterwards they tried to zero in on him on whether what he destroyed is the same thing the New York Times says is missing but what struck everybody that watched this was Senator Kerry has been blaming the incompetence of the administration — and by association the military — for allowing this stuff to be looted. Here you had a very competent ordnance officer of the 3rd Infantry Division without notes, going in, explaining as is matter-of-factly as he could what he did. His job was to go in and he said that he actually took care of more than 7,000 tons of explosives and ammo. What do you think the impact of this is going to be on the campaign today?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it shows clearly that Senator Kerry didn’t know what he was talking about, nor apparently did the New York Times. The original information they put out that there was some 377 tons unaccounted for turns out that that wasn’t true, that a big chunk of it had never been there. That’s according to the IAEA’s own inventories, and then, of course, the major was I thought very effective today in saying that in fact, our guys were doing their job. They were in there within an appropriate timeline and removing or destroying munitions in part of the 400,000 tons that they’ve already seized and are in the process of destroying, and I just think it shows once again that Senator Kerry is prepared to say and do anything and ignore the facts in order to try to advance his political interests. This is the same guy who earlier voted to commit the troops to Iraq and then voted against them when they needed the resources to carry out their mission.
RUSH: You know, I really don’t mean to ask you leading questions, but it’s always an opportunity and a thrill for someone like me to be able to talk to somebody like you, the vice president of the United States, and so some of these questions may appear to be leading and I really don’t mean to do that. But, sir, it strikes me as a continuing mystery why the Democratic candidate seeks to advance his campaign by constant criticism of his own Army, his own military, his own government, his own soldiers, his own president, yet never will criticize any other institution, particularly the United Nations. Now, if it’s frustrating to me and it’s frustrating to members of my audience, we can only imagine how it affects you and President Bush.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I guess we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t expect anything better of him. His whole campaign has sort of been one long litany of complaints. You know: Nothing works in America; the health care system is a mess; the schools don’t work, and the economy is the worst since the Great Depression. He’s just got this long litany of complaints which everybody knows basically aren’t true. I think part of the problem, Rush, as I look at it, is I don’t sense any core set of beliefs there. He’s sort of motivated by the pressures of the moment or whatever audience he’s talking to right now and there’s no basic, fundamental inner core of philosophy or set of beliefs that would steer him through good days and bad, and that’s why we get all of these wild gyrations in terms of changed position as well, as I say, just a long litany of complaints. So that seems to be the story of his whole campaign.
RUSH: But it’s striking in this particular issue. Here was Senator Kerry who was saying that Iraq was not dangerous, that we needn’t have gone there, that it was a diversion from Afghanistan, and now all of a sudden if you listen to him this week, you’d have to swear that he is now saying that Iraq was very dangerous, that we might not have gone in there soon enough because these weapons are missing. It’s striking to me to hear a man who has been all year talking about how irrelevant Iraq was in the big scheme of things, now making the case that it was so dangerous. There are so many dangerous weapons. There are so many bad people that we had to do something about it and this administration didn’t. It’s striking to me.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
RUSH: It’s hard to follow.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s remarkable to follow the twists and turns of John Kerry’s record on national security. It goes back, you know, many, many years.
RUSH: Well, and you’ve been making a point of that, the 20-year record that he is not being really held accountable to, other than by you and the president in the debates, but the media has not held him accountable; the media is not offering any criticism of anything John Kerry is doing. You guys are having to answer criticism from out of the blue that’s based on lies such as from the IAEA in the New York Times that provides the template for this whole week, and yet when you look around, I’ve got a story here from Reuters quoting Karl Rove. “Of the ten main battleground states the Bush campaign’s internal tracking polls show,” quote, “we are up or even in eight of these states. We have a solid lead outside the margin of error in four of them but it’s going to be a close election.” What’s your read on where the race is? Because I remember when you are here four years ago, you were here before that dirty trick of the DUI was leaked and I asked you how you felt about the race, and you said, “Rush, I’ve been in a lot of these and this feels different.” You felt good about 2000. How do you feel about this one now?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I feel good about this one, too. Of course, I cut it a little close last time (Laughing) 537 votes in Florida.
RUSH: (Laughing.) Yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But, no. This one feels, when you’ve been out as much as I have — I think I’ve been in 48 states now, Rush, in this election cycle. A lot of that on behalf of our campaign and on behalf of a lot of congressional candidates. The intensity out there has been higher than I’ve ever seen it, and it was that way, you know, back in July. July kind of felt like October in a normal year, and just this morning I was in one of our campaign headquarters over in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We had hundreds of people showing up in a place like Eau Claire to work the phone banks and the door-to-door effort, the ground game to get people out. We’re better organized than we’ve ever been, and I just say it feels very good out there from that perspective. But obviously also the Democrats are working very hard as well, too. It’s going to be a hard-fought contest. I think that’s the only safe assumption, and we need to put out all the stops and make sure everybody gets out there and votes on Election Day.
RUSH: Can we read anything into the fact that the president and you, such as your trip to Hawaii, you’re going to states and the majority of the states the president’s going to are states that were Gore states in 2000, and even for example, when the president’s going to states that you won in 2000, he’s going into areas of those states that are promptly thought to be Democrat. He’s going into the belly of the beast. Today — I’m in Florida today — Senator Kerry was in Orlando. He’s going to be in West Palm Beach. He’s going to be in Miami. These are counties that there was no question he had, should have had, these shored up very well. Does it tell us anything about the state of the two campaigns to watch where you all are going?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think it does to some extent, and that is we have the feeling we’re battling more on their turf than they are on ours. They pull out of places like Colorado, for example. Today I’m spending in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Those are all states that went for Gore last time around, but we all think they’re very doable for us this time around — and then, of course, as you mentioned, we’ll be popping out to Hawaii this weekend on an overnight, where I can still keep all of my other scheduled commitments but we’ll get out there and do an event there and that’s because we really believe Hawaii can very easily be moved into our column. I wouldn’t go far (chuckle) if we didn’t believe that.
RUSH: True. There’s a Field Poll out of California today. I’m not suggesting that California is in play, but you and the president are only down seven in California. Back in October you were down nine or ten —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.
RUSH: — and this just shows erosion of support for Senator Kerry in his strongholds to me. But of course, that’s just me looking at the news. Can you tell us that you think that is happening?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe it is. I just saw a Fox poll that shows five-point lead for us nationally, this just came out, and so the Battleground survey also shows us with a good lead, so I think it’s moving our way, Rush, but, you know (chuckle) given the nature of this business, we’ve got three more days to go out there and we don’t want anybody to slack off so we want to make certain that nobody takes anything for granted.
RUSH: I think you’ll probably get a more energized base than anybody knows and I think it’s the whole Democrat campaign for the last nine months that’s contributed greatly to it. A quick commercial time-out. We’ll be back and continue our chat with Vice President Cheney right after this.
RUSH: And we’re back with vice president Dick Cheney for the remainder of this half-hour. Mr. Vice President, I just want to inform you: We just learned that you’re going to have a traveling companion in Hawaii, or at least someone on the ground chasing after you. Vice President Algore is being sent out there so shadow you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, good.
RUSH: Yeah. (Laughing.) I knew you’d love that. You know, we live in weird times. We’ve got a great economy going. We just had results of the third-quarter growth at 3.7%. It’s an annual rate, in the third quarter this year. Unemployment is at 5.4%. This news is actually being portrayed as bad news by the Kerry campaign. What’s your response to that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s remarkable because in ’96 when John Kerry was touting the Clinton economy as President Clinton ran for reelection, the unemployment rate then was actually a tenth of a point higher than it is today. You know, he has not been able to put together a very effective campaign and they’ve had to run around trying to badmouth the economy and tell everybody our economy is lousy and rotten, and clearly it isn’t. Obviously there’s areas out there we’re still soft, but we’ve made a remarkable comeback from the recession we inherited and from the aftereffects of 9/11, and that’s due to the hard work of the American people as well as the president’s sound tax policy. So they haven’t had anything else to talk about, and I just think it hurts his credibility for him to run around and say this is the worst economy since the Great Depression.
RUSH: What about his credibility on constantly, even to this point in the campaign, saying we are “bearing the sole burden in Iraq,” that we have “no allies,” that he’s going to “put together alliances”? What is he talking about? We have a number of allies. He voted against a huge alliance that he supposedly supports back in 1991 in the first Gulf War. That is why there’s some question that you could say that Saddam would still be in power if Senator Kerry had been president at any time in the past. But what is this business of the alliance and why has there not been a more forceful response from the Bush campaign when he says this stuff over and over again?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he does say it over and over again — and it’s wrong. We’ve talked about it a number of times. He says, you know, we’re bearing the burden “unilaterally,” and the fact is we’ve had 30 countries alongside us in Iraq with troops committed over there, a number of other nations that have suffered casualties like the Brits and the Poles and the Spaniards and the Italians, and most especially, of course, the Iraqis themselves. He refuses to account the Iraqi contribution to the struggle that’s underway, and when you do that, then they obviously are picking up close to half the total burden in terms of what the troops are going through at this point, and over time they’ll pick up more and more of it. When he talks about allies, remember this is a guy that went out and said we had an alliance “of the coerced and the bribed,” and, of course, the response to that: “Well, who was coerce and had who was bribed? Was Tony Blair bribed?” Obviously not. I mean, he’s treated our allies with a great disrespect, I think, and he chooses to ignore the facts, and the facts are that we’ve got almost the same number of countries alongside us in Iraq that we had in Desert Storm some years ago when he voted against that operation as well.
RUSH: Speaking of the allies, in the process of this, he has insulted those who are with us. This does not strike me as the way you “build alliances,” which is one of his pet phrases. But, Mr. Vice President, I have listened to the Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Kerry. I have not heard one word specifically on how he is going to improve the fight in the war on terror. I have heard no specifics. What do you, sir…? As a human being, you listen, what is he going to do? What do you think his big —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think —
RUSH: — improvement would be?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t think he’s got any improvements, Rush. I don’t think he’s really committed to the war on terror to the extent he needs to be to be an effective commander-in-chief. I look at this interview he did in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago where he talked about trying to get terrorism back to where it was just a “nuisance,” and compared it to illegal gambling and prostitution, and it struck me that that’s the mindset of a guy who doesn’t understand this is a global conflict, that they’ve struck all over the world since they hit us on 9/11, that we lost more people on 9/11 than we lost at Pearl Harbor, and that we’ve got to go all out and use full force and might to win this important struggle against global terror. This is a guy who I think still has what I call a pre-9/11 mindset, who doesn’t look, for example, at the, oh, the bombing of the World Trade Center in ’93. I guess he would find that acceptable. I’m not sure. He’s talking about a level of where it was just a nuisance some years in the past, but I can’t think of a time when it was ever just a nuance. I think back to 1983 when we lost 241 Marines in a truck bombing in Beirut. You don’t want to accept something like that. His attitude seems to be we can manage it to some acceptable level. We don’t think that’s the way to approach it at all. We’re going to approach it on the basis that we’re going to defeat it outright.
RUSH: Well, how would he “manage” it to get an acceptable level? How? What is he saying that can give anybody in the country confidence that with him at the helm, we don’t be attacked again?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, he’s never actually said. You know, he seems to try to have it both ways. On the one hand he criticizes our policy, then he says, well, but he voted for it, and then he says, well, he’d do it better. But there’s absolutely no evidence out there to indicate that. I mean, he’s got a 20-year record in the United States Senate that shows that he was on the wrong side of virtually every national security issue throughout that period of time.
RUSH: We have a terror tape that was aired yesterday on numerous networks, ABC and Fox, from a supposed American member of Al-Qaeda. The threats were profound; they were direct, and they were specific. You take this seriously? Is this a serious threat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you have to take these threats seriously. We know they’re out there trying to find some way to get at us again. We’ve broken up a number of cells in various places around the world and disrupted their planning and operation, especially by what we’ve been doing in the Middle East, but we have to — we know for a fact they’re out there still trying to figure out ways to get more shots in against us. This latest tape that you mentioned that ran yesterday, there’s still some confusion about exactly what the source is and where it comes from, but that’s being worked by the appropriate agencies.
RUSH: Another question on a domestic issue. When he was in the Senate, Senator Kerry voted to increase taxes on Social Security recipients. President Clinton authored the bill, suggested it. Senator Kerry signed it. It did so by expanding the amount of income Social Security recipients would pay tax on. He has also suggested that you have a January Surprise to remove Social Security from people, to take it away from them. Do you have any such plans, and have you had any plans to raise taxes on Social Security recipients?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. The answer to both questions, Rush, is “No.” I mean, this is an age-old threat that they trot out when they’re in trouble politically, and he’s done it again, but it’s just a scare tactic. The fact is the president’s absolutely committed to Social Security and the funds and resources are there to handle not only current recipients, but probably the next generation of recipients after that. Our concern is with the younger workers in their 20s and 30s who are legitimately concerned that there won’t be anything there when they reach retirement age 35 or 40 years down the road, and we do believe that we need to begin to address that issue. But nobody is talking about doing away with Social Security. That’s just an absolute myth. He’s peddled this in the past. It’s like the myth that somehow there’s going to be a resort to a draft, that we’re going to reinstitute the draft if we get elected again.
RUSH: Won’t happen.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s John Kerry at his worst trying to peddle fear as the motivator for people to come out and vote for him.
RUSH: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time. We are out of it. It’s always a thrill to talk to you, and all the best in the next three days and beyond.