Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Colorado on Monday to deliver a speech designed to rally military personnel. As many as 1,000 camouflage-clad airmen gathered in a hangar at Peterson Air Force Base to welcome Mr. Cheney.
Standing at a podium, which carried a sign, “Protecting America on each side,” the vice president received a warm welcome by members of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM.
During his speech, Mr. Cheney applauded the work of the military in their efforts at protecting the country and, in particular, singled out the work of NORAD and NORTHCOM, which was set up here to coordinate the military response to North American threats following the Sept. 11 attacks.
"When President Bush proposed standing up Northern Command, he understood the enormous duties that lay ahead and he had complete confidence in the men and women who would fulfill those duties. Your mission here is nothing less than the defense of America's land, sea and airspace. In our vast open nation that is a heavy responsibility, and you meet it every day. In less than two year's time, you've turned a brand new component into a disciplined, professional and efficient command of the greatest military force in the world,” said Mr. Cheney.
He reiterated the achievements of the Bush administration in curbing the war on terror, highlighting successes in Afghanistan, Libya and in ending the regime of Saddam Hussein. He acknowledged that much work was yet to be done in Iraq, but with the help of the military, Hussein is behind bars and it is now “a rising democracy” making American people safer. He said President Bush was committed to stopping terrorist threats before they became an issue here at home.
He said that at bases here, at Pendleton and in Korea, we realize the efforts of our military family and we are grateful. He made special mention of the National Guard and reservists who put their lives on hold to defend the country and said they have earned the respect and gratitude of the country.
He said the announcement of new terror threats by Secretary Ridge shows that terror threats are very real and his administration had worked to make the homeland safer by instituting a Department for Homeland Security and creating a Patriot Act.
Last week, Mr. Cheney visited Pendleton Marine Corps base in California where he criticized Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry for not voting to fund troops fighting in Iraq. He also presented medals to troops who served in Iraq. Kerry has said he voted against the funding because he preferred rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy to help pay for the money in Iraq.
Colorado, which has two open congressional seats, has been getting more attention this election year as both the incumbent and contender John Kerry have run a series of ads in the state in an attempt to collect the nine electoral votes the state holds in the November election.