EVERETT, Wash.— George W. Bush's campaign on Saturday defended the $20 million retirement package vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney got from the energy services company he quit to run for office, saying there was nothing illegal or compromising about the transaction.
"Of course the (company's) rules allow this or he wouldn't have done it," Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes said during a campaign stop here.
She dismissed criticism that the payout means Cheney and Bush are in the debt of the oil industry. Bush worked on oil-drilling ventures as a young man, although he made his millions as part owner of the Texas Rangers professional baseball team.
"The American people should be pleased that they have a nominee who was successful in the private sector," Hughes said. "That's in stark contrast to the Democratic ticket. They both have only public-sector experience."
Bush declined to discuss Cheney with reporters accompanying him. Instead, he pledged to defend America by rebuilding the military and increasing pay and benefits for American servicemen and women.
In a 20-minute speech at the Port of Everett waterfront, the Republican presidential nominee vowed that if he were commander in chief, the United States would "be prepared to fight and win war, and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place."
Bush also indicated that he would ask other countries to play bigger roles in supplying troops for multinational peacekeeping efforts.
"We have the responsibility to uphold the peace in the world," Bush said, "but we cannot be all things to all people."
Bush's appearance in Everett was the last stop on a four-day campaign trip through California, Oregon and Washington — all states that Democrats have won in recent presidential elections. With Arizona Sen. John McCain along for three of those days, Bush courted independent and moderate voters and kept his name in the news.
The governor and his wife, Laura, flew to Arizona with McCain on Saturday for a brief campaign stop in Prescott and an overnight stay at McCain's cabin in Sedona.