Vice President Dick Cheney slipped into Salt Lake City Wednesday to raise money for Republican congressional candidate John Swallow.
But Cheney's quick stump speech was as
much about rallying American voters to send President Bush back to
the White House as helping Swallow defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim
Matheson in Utah's Second Congressional District.
Normally, partisan politicians lay low
while their opponents gather at national conventions every four
years. But in a tight presidential contest this year, Cheney has
taken an unusual campaign tour of western states stopping in
Washington, Oregon and California before his two-hour stop in Utah
the same week the Democratic Party faithful gather in Boston.
In a rehearsed, half-hour speech similar
to those he delivered on earlier stops, Cheney touted the president's
fight against terror while chiding presumptive Democratic
presidential candidate John Kerry for changing votes in the Senate,
seeking greater international support for the war in Iraq and
suggesting a rollback of the Bush tax cuts.
"The president and I have some important
differences with the folks gathering in Boston," Cheney said. "What
we're hearing on the other side is the failed thinking of the past.
And we're not going back."
A crowd of more than 300 faithful
Republicans who paid $250 each for Little America Hotel's spinach
salad and chicken and the chance to listen to the vice president
interrupted Cheney with frequent applause.
But outside, about 50 protestors vented
their feelings for the Bush administration's environmental policies
and the war in Iraq. Security inside the building was stifling, with
Secret Service and Utah Highway Patrol agents checking under cars
with bomb-sniffing dogs and escorting reporters to the bathroom.
The focal point of that security, Cheney
said terrorists are as determined to destroy America as the "Axis
powers" of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II. Borrowing a
quote from the 9-11 Commission's report on the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 2001, the vice president said the terrorists are
"sophisticated, patient, disciplined and lethal."
"This enemy is perfectly prepared to
slaughter anyone man, woman and child to achieve its ends,"
Cheney said. "This is not an enemy we can reason with. This is an
enemy we must vanquish."