YAKIMA, Wash. – Vice President Dick Cheney (search) tried to counter the momentum of the Democratic convention by telling supporters on Friday that the Bush administration has done everything possible to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.
It was Cheney's second stop in Washington state this week. He delivered much the same speech he gave in Kennewick on Monday, but railed against Democratic nominees John Kerry (search) and John Edwards (search) by suggesting they cast contradictory votes in the U.S. Senate about the Iraq war.
Kerry and Edwards were two of only four senators who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq and then voted against spending $87 billion for U.S. troops and reconstruction, he noted.
"It's simply wrong to vote to commit our troops for combat and then vote against giving them the resources they need," Cheney told about 2,500 enthusiastic supporters.
He also touted President Bush's tax cuts, the creation of the Homeland Security Department and Bush's "healthy forests" initiative, which is aimed at reducing wildfires in national forests by increasing logging and limiting environmental reviews of proposed timber sales.
In a second term, the administration would focus on creating jobs, making tax cuts permanent, limiting medical lawsuits and establishing a comprehensive energy plan, Cheney said.
Christine Smith, 52, of Yakima, said she appreciated the message.
"Bush did exactly what needed to be done to protect the United States," she said of the president's response to 9-11. "He showed people should respect us."
Smith also said she needs a liver transplant and that the president's tax cuts helped put money in her pocket.
Both parties are campaigning hard in Washington, where voters favored Al Gore over George W. Bush by more than 100,000 votes in 2000. Both of Cheney's visits this week were to Eastern Washington, a Republican stronghold that has far fewer voters than Western Washington.
On Monday, he spoke at a fund-raising luncheon for GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, a former state senator.
"This is the kind of a week where you want to be with your friends. Clearly if the Democratic convention is taking all the energy for those who are thinking about politics, you want to be with compatible voters," said Cathy Allen, a Democratic political strategist based in Seattle.
Kerry officially accepted the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday to conclude the party's national convention.
Cheney's visit should not be confused with playing defense, said Brett Bader, a longtime Republican strategist from Kirkland. Rather, he said, it's vital that Republicans assure their supporters they are working hard to win the state.
"Washington is a battleground state," he said. "The vice president is out here to fire up the base and to make sure they are working hard to re-elect the president."
Outside the event, several labor union members handed out lemonade. They said they were trying to symbolize hard-pressed working families being squeezed by the Bush administration's policies.
The state Democratic party issued a news release accusing Bush of cutting resources for schools after pledging to improve education.
This was Cheney's fourth visit to Washington as vice president.