ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Vice President Dick Cheney, whose former company is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, pledged prosecution of corporate wrongdoers Thursday while campaigning for the GOP gubernatorial candidate in New Mexico.
Cheney, campaigning for John Sanchez, told GOP supporters that Congress has followed President Bush's advice to pass legislation to prosecute any wrongdoers.
The SEC has been investigating accounting practices at Halliburton Co. during a time when Cheney was its chief executive officer.
President Bush on Wednesday renewed his pledge to fight corporate scandals, saying: "There will be no more easy money, just hard time."
Cheney's appearance coincided with the Sanchez campaign's release of a new television ad Thursday, which briefly featured Bush and Sanchez walking side-by-side. Bush does not speak during the ad, which focused on Sanchez's roots as one of eight children raised by his mother and his growth as a businessman and politician.
Bush is expected to visit New Mexico later this month, his second this year.
Cheney addressed an Albuquerque crowd of about 400 who paid up to $500 a plate at the fund-raising luncheon for the Sanchez campaign, then Cheney and wife Lynne left before Sanchez spoke.
"We are all here for one reason," Cheney said, "to make absolutely sure that John Sanchez is the next governor of New Mexico."
Cheney called Sanchez, a state representative from Albuquerque's north valley, "an experienced public servant, a successful entrepreneur and a man who believes in the American dream."
New Mexico and national Republicans share a common vision, the vice president said.
Cheney also commented on the U.S. economy and the war on terrorism Thursday.
"Our economy continues to expand," he said, noting personal income rose in June, home sales reached an all-time high and mortgage interest rates reached an all-time low.
The government is working to develop a new Homeland Security Department, he said.
"The United States will act and will defeat the enemies of freedom," he said, noting there is a terrorist network spanning about 60 countries.
Quoting President Bush on terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden, Cheney said: "If he's alive we'll get him. If he's not alive, we already got him."
Al-Qaida terrorists are seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and there is a danger of terror groups joining forces, Cheney said.
"In the case of Saddam Hussein we have a dictator who is clearly pursuing his capabilities and has already used them both in his war against Iran and against his own people. The government of the United States will not look the other way as threats accumulate against us."
Cheney added: "We must pass a comprehensive energy bill that reduces America's dependence on foreign sources of oil."
A total of $500,000 was raised at the luncheon, said Jay McCleskey, Sanchez's campaign manager. About 70 percent of that money will go to the Sanchez campaign with the remainder going to the state Republican Party.
Also attending the luncheon were Republicans Gov. Gary Johnson, Sen. Pete Domenici, Rep. Heather Wilson and Rep. Joe Skeen along with other GOP candidates for several state and federal offices.
Sanchez said Johnson leaves "big shoes to fill," and "I'm honored to follow in his footsteps."
Sanchez, running against former U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, the Democrat, and Green Party candidate David Bacon -- pledged education reform initiatives to raise school standards and improve testing.
"It is morally wrong to trap children in failing schools," he said.
If elected governor, he said, he would end backroom politics that have hurt the state.
Domenici, introducing Sanchez, commented on the lawmaker's defeat of House Speaker Raymond Sanchez, who had held his state legislative leadership role for 30 years.
"He beat a very powerful Democrat in New Mexico once, and he tells me and you tell me, he wants to do it again," Domenici said to a round of cheers.