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Cheney raises funds for Chocola

Beth Erickson | Friday, October 10, 2003

Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the keynote address at a fundraising luncheon held on behalf of local Congressman Chris Chocola’s reelection campaign Thursday.

Cheney remained on campus long enough to host a brief $2000 per-couple reception prior to the luncheon, and gave a 20-minute speech to a gathering of Chocola supporters, who paid $250 per-plate for lunch at the Joyce Center.

In his short appearance, Cheney endorsed Chocola for the 2004 Congressional Election and praised him as an outstanding new member of Congress. Cheney’s visit raised $200,000 for Chocola’s re-election campaign.

“The 2nd District of Indiana definitely needs this kind of support,” Notre Dame College Republican president Brandi Gill said. “We’re one of the most highly contested districts in the country, and Chocola, being that it is only his first term, can only benefit from this extra attention.”

Notre Dame’s College Democrats had a different take.

“I think Cheney’s visit shows that the Republicans are worried about this seat really early in the cycle. The district is one of the most closely divided in the nation, and Chocola is a vulnerable freshman having won with only a slight majority in 2002,” said Casey Fitzmaurice, president of the group. “The election next fall will ultimately come down to his record, not just how much money he can raise.”

Cheney dedicated most of his 20-minute address to discussion of the 2004 Presidential Election.

He told the crowd that involvement in elections is crucial, using Bush’s close victory in the 2000 election as an example.

“Never let anybody tell you that what you do in a campaign doesn’t matter. Every dollar matters, every contribution, every hour of volunteer work matters,” Cheney said.

Cheney reminded his audience of the fall of Baghdad to U.S.-led forces, which occurred exactly six months prior to yesterday’s luncheon. He defended the government’s actions in Iraq.

“The Iraqi people prefer freedom and hope to tyranny and terror,” Cheney said.

The vice president said al-Qaida had “realized what a grave mistake it was to make enemies of [the U.S.] and of President Bush.”

Cheney praised the bravery and honor of America’s troops.

“I’ve never been more proud of the U.S. military,” he said.

He did not address any questions concerning the issue of weapons of mass destruction, despite investigations being conducted in Washington and protests in front of the Joyce Center Thursday morning.

Cheney said he and Bush are “determined to solve problems” and credited Bush for “confronting whole problems and acting decisively.”

“The American people can be confident of a better future, a stronger economy and greater security because of the character of leadership of President George W. Bush,” Cheney said.

Cheney said the Bush administration’s actions have softened the effects of the recession and have produced the largest tax cut since Reagan’s presidency. The energy plan currently under discussion focuses on reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, he said.

He acknowledged that he and Bush had many challenges ahead and many goals yet to accomplish. This visit was Cheney’s second fundraising appearance at Notre Dame. His first visit was a similar engagement, held on behalf of Chocola for his 2002 Congressional campaign.