In the Spotlight

News & Features
Go to Campaign 2004
DocumentCampaign 2004
DocumentThe race for president
DocumentThe race for Congress
DocumentThe guide to legislative races
DocumentSelect A Candidate
DocumentDemocratic National Convention
DocumentRepublican National Convention
More from MPR
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
On eve of first Kerry-Bush debate, Cheney comes calling
Larger view
The hourlong event was held at a country-themed restaurant on the edge of the Twin Cities. A dozen hand-picked small business owners surrounded Cheney and his wife, Lynne. (MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
Vice President Dick Cheney made a couple of campaign stops in Minnesota on Wednesday. In the Twin Cities suburb of Lake Elmo, Cheney met with a handful of small business owners. He defended the war on terrorism and talked about ways to make health care more affordable. Later Cheney and his wife Lynne, appeared at a Town Hall Forum at a small plane manufacturer in Duluth.

Lake Elmo, Minn. — Cheney met with 13 small business owners who were picked for the morning discussion by the Bush-Cheney campaign with the help of local chambers of commerce. They gathered at a farm-themed restaurant on the south side of Lake Elmo across highway 94 from Woodbury.

Cheney spent a little less than an hour at the restaurant. Before taking questions, the vice president defended the war on terrorism, noting the battle in Iraq has been more difficult than that in Afghanistan. And Cheney warned of " a high level of violence" in Iraq and possibility in Afghanistan over the next few months as both countries move to democratically-elected governments.

Larger view
Image Waiting for a call

"The level of violence will be high during this period of time because they're desperate. They know the window's closing. They know they've either got to derail the process now or ultimately we'll succeed in our objectives," Cheney said.

Cheney told the group the November election will be a referendum on who's best qualified to lead the war on terror -- George Bush or John Kerry. Criticizing Kerry, Cheney was careful to say he questions the Massachusetts senator's judgment, not his patriotism. Cheney accused Kerry of taking at least 10 different positions on the situation in Iraq.

"I think the posture that he's taken is more often driven by his standing in the polls or the political pressures of the moment. He initially went out and voted for the use-of-force to topple Saddam Hussein and remove him and, of course, then he voted against the resources needed for the troops needed in the field. He later on said that given the choice, he would do exactly what he did when he voted to authorize and then a few days after that said nope, wrong war, wrong place wrong time. I'm waiting to see what he'll say Thursday night," Cheney said.

The first of the three scheduled presidential debates takes place Thursday evening at the University of Miami.

Kerry supporters met with reporters across the street from the Cheney event where they defended Kerry's use-of-force resolution yes vote, as something Kerry did primarily to give the White House negotiating leverage with the United Nations, not to unilaterally rush to war.

Larger view
Image The Cheneys in Duluth

The Kerry campaign has said the senator's no vote on the $87 billion supplemental defense appropriation last fall, was cast in protest of the Bush administration's handling of the war.

With Cheney telling people the nation is safer because of the war on terrorism, Mildred Coleman, whose cousin, Levi Angell, was killed last spring in Iraq, said the war has worsened conditions.

"There have been many more terrorists that have been created around the world and have made it more unsafe and also sending the Guard's people, the young people... like I said, where is our homeland security here? Who's going to take care of us here? When I watch the news I just hope and pray every night that this administration will change to be Democratic," she said.

Back at the restaurant, Cheney took questions from his tiny audience of business owners. "Does the Bush administration plan to bring back the a military draft?" someone asked.

"This notion that somehow there's a secret plan out there to reinstitute the draft is hogwash. It's just not true. It's an urban legend or a nasty political rumor but it's just not true," Cheney replied.

Many of the other questions were about containing the cost of health care. Cheney responded by promoting the Bush plan, which among other things would allow businesses to pool their insurance buying power, it would promote personal medical savings accounts and it would cap medical malpractice attorney fees and "pain and suffering" awards.

Later at Cirrus Design in Duluth, a small plane manufacturer, several hundred invited guests took part in a town meeting with Cheney.

The vice president defended the war on terrorism. Fielding some questions from the audience, Cheney also talked about a big issue in northeastern Minnesota -- balancing the use of land between preservation, industry and recreation.

Cheney, who's from Wyoming, did not give a specific answer, but indicated which side of the argument he favors.

"When you're from a public land state, or a state like Wyoming... it's a fantastic place to live and it is in great shape relative to New York or San Francisco," he said.

Cheney and his wife, Lynne, were last in Minnesota earlier this month when the two stopped by the State Fair on Labor Day.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects