The Note

They certainly stood out among the men and women in dark suits and young adults in professional attire, but that was the intention of the Traditional Values Coalition, which was there to represent "traditional marriage." The group was one of dozens of conservative political groups on hand at the hotel to spread its message and rally its supporters for the election in November.

Though Vice President Cheney did not bring up the issue of marriage in his speech, he did highlight the Bush Administration's "record of accomplishments" that will soon become a regular part of the stump speech.

"The campaign season is on its way, and President Bush and I will be proud to present our record to the voters in every part of the country. We will run hard and take nothing for granted," Cheney said.

Speaking before a crowd comprised mostly of younger voters, Cheney addressed a broad variety of issues, including the war on terrorism, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the importance of making the Bush tax cuts permanent, the improving American economy, and the need to renew the Patriot Act.

After emphasizing that the Bush Administration's "greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people," Cheney also borrowed from this week's State of the Union and delivered the most well-received line of his entire speech: "America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country."

The large, enthusiastic crowd interrupted the Vice President numerous times during his speech, excited to have him kick off the three-day conference that will also feature BC04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman and RNC chairman Ed Gillespie as speakers on Friday. Most wore "Bush-Cheney '04" pins, buttons, or stickers and after greeting Cheney with a loud standing ovation when he walked to the podium, the Vice President acknowledge the support of the audience in the 2000 election and said "And from the sound of things, I think you're fired up and ready for victory in 2004, as well."

House of Labor:

The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes that with union membership and influence on the decline, it's not a surprise that AFL-CIO chief John Sweeney and others are devoting their time and energy to politics.

"As the shrinking labor movement has lost clout in the real economy, unions have turned to politicians to preserve the status quo."

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