Bush campaign swings into state

Reinforcing Wisconsin's swing-state status, Vice President Dick Cheney came to Milwaukee Friday, one week after President Bush and Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) visited the state.

"Wisconsin is an extraordinarily important state," Cheney said during his visit to Milwaukee. "It's a battleground state. That's why you're seeing so much of us."

Cheney's visit was structured as a town hall-style meeting with a question-and-answer session, a popular format with the Bush campaign this year, at the Midwest Airlines Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.

He began by addressing the crowd with a defense of the Bush administration's record on the economy, national security and health care, pointing out differences between the president's plans for the future and those of his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

"This is one of those watershed elections that may change the course of the nation for years to come," Cheney said.

He argued America is facing a national security situation that would likely lead to one policy directing defense for decades, which was the case heading into the Cold War.

He defended the "Bush Doctrine" of not only going after terrorists, but also holding nations responsible for aiding and tolerating terrorists. Terrorists have no physical territories like nations do that one can threaten. Terrorists cannot be appeased and no treaty can be signed to end the terrorist threat, he said.

"All you can do at the end of the day is go out and defeat the enemy," Cheney said. "It's the only solution."

When he answered the first question, which pertained to national defense strategy, Cheney reiterated his comments.

"I would like to be able to say to everyone, 'Relax. No problem.' I can't say that," he said.

However, Cheney was adamant about the United States' ability to win the war on terror.

"This is a war we can win. There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever," he said.

An Oak Creek man offered the observation that, although Kerry has said the economy is not doing well, he looks down his block and sees "14 brand new automobiles."

"People don't buy cars in a bad economy. Tell me, what's up with that?" the man asked.

While the economy is not perfect, Cheney said, it is still the envy of the world.

"John Kerry says this is the worst economy since the Great Depression," he said, greeted by laughter from the audience. "I think he's been windsurfing too much."

Cheney laid out the administration's plans for revamping the nation's health care system. He advocated health savings accounts, which allow people to deposit money for future medical bills into accounts only they can access, as opposed to the current Medicare plan, in which the federal government takes and manages money for medical costs.

The health savings account system "gives you control over your own insurance" because the money can be spent in any way a person wants, free from restrictions imposed when the government manages the money, he said.

The crowd gave a round of applause to Brock Banks, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, after he identified himself as a member of Marquette's College Republicans.

Banks said former President Bill Clinton claims in his biography, "My Life," that the current threat America faces is not as bad as the threat faced during the Cold War.

"How do we combat liberal ideology here in the United States?" Banks asked.

"I think you elect George Bush president of the United States," Cheney said, prompting a "four more years" chant from the crowd.

Outside, about 30 protesters criticized the war in Iraq, offer support for Kerry and accuse President Bush of favoring the rich.