Vice President Dick Cheney and former New York Mayor Giuliani at rally on Ellis Island before convention
Mike Segar  /  Reuters
"America is still the land of golden dreams,” Cheney said during his Ellis Island speech.
updated 8/29/2004 10:13:29 PM ET 2004-08-30T02:13:29

Vice President Dick Cheney arrived at the Republican National Convention through Ellis Island, tracing a route taken by millions of immigrants and staying far removed from the tens of thousands of protesters who turned out on a sweltering Sunday to urge defeat of the Bush-Cheney ticket.

Cheney arrived at Ellis Island with his wife of 40 years, Lynne, and three granddaughters on a tugboat dubbed Liberty IV. The welcome rally for the vice president was billed as a kickoff to the convention, convening Monday across New York Harbor in Madison Square Garden.

“It’s a special honor to kick things off here on this island, the gateway to America for so many people,” said Cheney, who spoke with the lower Manhattan skyline sprawling behind him. Missing were the Twin Towers that fell on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We remember what we don’t see,” New York Gov. George Pataki said.

Cheney recalled President Bush’s trip to New York in the days after the attacks and his promise to retaliate.

“He is a man of his word as the Taliban were the first to find out,” he said.

The vice president also recounted the story of an Italian grandmother who sent her son off to the United States, to pass through the buildings of Ellis Island.

“The gold you will find will not be in the streets. It will be in the dreams you realize,” Cheney quoted her as saying.

“America is still the land of golden dreams,” he said while facing the Great Hall, the centerpiece of Ellis Island, where about 22 million immigrants were processed between 1892 and 1924.

Cheney spoke to a relatively small gathering of a few hundred people, all of whom were invited by the local Republican Party. The crowd did not fill the fenced-in grassy lawn set aside for supporters, and volunteers implored people in the back to move to a spot in front of TV cameras.

Later Sunday, Cheney planned to visit the podium at Madison Square Garden, where he’ll deliver his acceptance speech Wednesday evening.

Unlike many vice presidential candidates, Cheney plans to be on hand for most of the convention, watching the opening session Monday morning and each evening’s proceedings inside Madison Square Garden.

He also plans to visit his home state of Wyoming’s delegation and the Republican Jewish Coalition, as well as meet privately with friends and donors. And he’ll be putting final touches on his speech Wednesday accepting the nomination.

In his speech, Cheney plans to offer a personal tribute to Bush and his leadership and will criticize Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s record during 20 years in the Senate, campaign spokeswoman Anne Womack said.

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Video: Cheney invokes 9/11

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