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East Grand Forks, Minn. — For a few hours, the Cabela's sporting goods store in East Grand Forks was closed for business. The store was open, to invited guests only. Vice President Dick Cheney used the location for what was billed a town hall meeting. The vice president spoke for about 45 minutes to hundreds of people who packed into the store.
Cheney toed the party line during his second appearance in Minnesota in a month. He told the audience the Bush administration deserves a second term. He says the president has delivered on his promise to cut taxes.
"We did it (cut taxes) not once, not twice, but three times," Cheney said. "We reduced the marriage penalty, we doubled the child tax credit, we created the ten percent bracket. We cut rates across the board. We increased the expensing deduction for small businesses from $25,000 to $100,000."
Cheney told the crowd he believes the strongest approach to restoring a healthy the economy is to let people keep as much of their money as they can and he says that approach is working.
"If you look at the numbers we've added, over 1.5 million jobs since last August," Cheney said. "1.2 million (jobs added) since the first part of the year. We've got interest rates and inflation and mortgage rates at historic lows. Home ownership is at an all-time record high. Economic growth over the course of the last year has been nearly five percent."
Cheney's comments were popular with the Republican crowd. He was interrupted by cheering and chants of "Four more years," several times. The loudest ovation came when the vice president said the administration will continue to aggressively go after suspected terrorists. Cheney says President Bush deserves credit for his approach to fighting the war on terror.
"But he'd be the first to say, that the people who really deserve credit for what we've been able to do are our troops, the men and women in uniform, who have done a fantastic job," Cheney told the crowd.
While the vice president was speaking, about two dozen protesters gathered outside with signs and a drum to protest the Bush administration's environmental record and stand on the war.
John Brockmeyer was one of the protestors. He says the Bush administration's record on environmental issues is horrible.
"There are no more standards on herbicide and pesticides now," Brockmeyer said. "The EPA has no power to regulate. The EPA is a joke thanks to the Bush administration."
Police say there were no violent confrontations between protestors and Bush supporters. The vice president's visit comes one day after President Bush visited southern Minnesota. The most recent polls show President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry in a dead heat in Minnesota.