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Cheney in Minnesota to raise money, morale for Minnesota Republicans
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VP Dick Cheney vowed that President Bush will carry the state in 2004. (MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
Vice President Dick Cheney visited the Twin Cities on Monday to raise funds for President Bush's re-election campaign. Cheney highlighted the efforts of the Republican White House to fight the war on terror and revive the economy. The Bush-Cheney campaign says the vice president raised $200,000 at his downtown Minneapolis luncheon.

Minneapolis, Minn. — About 250 people turned out to see Vice President Cheney, most of them paying $1,000 each for the opportunity. Cheney told the enthusiastic group of Republicans the campaign season has begun and the vice president promised the ticket would run hard and take nothing for granted.

"I think we've got a significant record of accomplishment to run on. The American people can be confident of a better future, of a stronger economy and of greater security against the dangers of our new era because of the character and the leadership of our president, George W. Bush," Cheney said.

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Image A tour and a pinata.

Cheney said the United States was right to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and said the United States wouldn't shirk its postwar responsibilities.

"America will finish what we've begun and we will win this essential victory in the war on terrorism and Iraq, like Afghanistan, will be free," said Cheney.

Referencing critics of the the U.S. decision to invade Iraq without a U.N. resolution, Cheney told the group that the U.S. will "never seek a permission slip to defend its security."

"There is no question that America did the right thing in Iraq," he said.

Cheney also said the Bush administration's efforts to cut taxes has resulted in an economy that is growing.

"There are voices in the land who want to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Sometime I hear these voices on the evening news. But, in fact, the Bush tax cuts were exactly what the economy needed and they've now set us on a path to long-term growth and job creation and to keep us on that path Congress needs to make the Bush tax cuts permanent," he said.

After his Minneapolis speech, the Cheneys stopped at El Burrito Mercado Restaurant in St. Paul before departing for Wichita, Kan., for another $1,000-per-person reception. The Cheneys toured the restaurant, a recipient of federal small-business loans, and bought a pinata.

Bush and Cheney lost Minnesota by less than three percentage points in 2000. Two years later Minnesotans elected Republican Norm Coleman to the U.S. Senate. The White House hand-picked Coleman for the Senate race and spent considerable time promoting Coleman's campaign. That victory along with the president's showing in 2000, has Republicans taking Minnesota very seriously going into this fall's election.

There has been speculation about whether Cheney is too polarizing a figure to remain on the ticket. Cheney's critics have questioned whether his close ties to business have affected the Bush administration's energy policy and the awarding of reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Cheney has also been one of the most prominent White House figures to insist that weapons of mass destruction might yet be found in Iraq.

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Image A fan of Cheney

After the downtown Minneapolis lunch, Republicans expressed solid support for Cheney, calling the former 10-year congressman "an asset to the Bush ticket."

Mary Ann Guzy of Orono says Cheney is no liability.

"I think he belongs on the ticket. People always have allegations and speculations about things. Let's see facts and until you have facts I don't think that you can rely on those allegations and speculations and, yes, I do think he'll be on the ticket, and if he's not, I think it would be because of health issues," she said.

Given Minnesota's relatively newfound status as a presidential battleground, the state's residents can expect more visits from the White House and from the Democratic opposition.

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