Terrorist attacks like the recent train bombings in Spain show that the world is too dangerous to trust to indecisive leaders, Vice President Dick Cheney said as he championed the re-election of President Bush on Monday in Phoenix.
Cheney made only brief mention of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the expected Democratic presidential nominee, during the 20-minute speech at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa. But Kerry was clearly the target of the vice president’s remarks contrasting what he called Bush’s decisive leadership in the war on terror against those who would seek international "permission" to defend the security of the United States.
"These are not times for leaders that shift with the political wind, saying one thing one day and another the next," Cheney told about 250 people at a fund-raising luncheon for Rep. Rick Renzi, RAriz. "We need a commander in chief with clear vision and steady determination. And that’s just what we have with President George W. Bush."
Cheney defended the administration’s decisions on battling terrorism, invading Iraq and cutting taxes to stimulate the national economy, which he said was already in a slump when Bush took office and was further crippled by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Though Cheney did not specifically say that Kerry would waffle on national security issues, that portrayal echoes the image the Bush-Cheney campaign has tried to create of its chief rival.
Cheney did mention Kerry by name when he ridiculed the senator’s recent claim that he has received the secret backing of several world leaders who believe Bush’s policies are destructive. Kerry has refused to name those leaders.
"It is our business when a candidate for president claims the political endorsement of foreign leaders," Cheney said. "At the very least, we have a right to know what he is saying to foreign leaders that makes them so supportive of his candidacy."
Most of Cheney’s remarks, however, focused on the staples of the Bush presidency. Cheney said that during the Clinton administration, terrorists were treated as criminals. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, Bush has launched a global war on terrorists, Cheney said. The invasion of Iraq a year ago is part of that war, and deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had pursued weapons of mass destruction and supported terrorists who threatened the United States, Cheney said.
Kerry, who supported the congressional resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq, has since criticized the effort, pointing out that no weapons of mass destruction or evidence of direct terrorist threats against the United States have been found since Saddam was toppled.
The bombings last week in Spain re-enforce the president’s belief that terrorists "cannot be deterred, contained, appeased or negotiated with," Cheney said.
"The attacks in Spain once again reveal the brutality of our enemy, and once again show that the fight against terrorism is the responsibility of all free nations," Cheney said. "The terrorists are testing the unity and resolve of the civilized world. We must rise to that test."
The Cheney visit raised about $110,000 for Renzi’s reelection effort, campaign organizers said.