Missouri Republicans say they’re mobilized for this election year following the party’s annual Lincoln Days gathering in St. Louis. The weekend event – an annual opportunity for Missouri Republicans to boast of their accomplishments and to rally the party faithful – featured input from Senators Christopher Bond and Jim Talent, House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Senate Leader Peter Kinder, Secretary of State Matt Blunt, and a host of party officials. The main event of the weekend was a speech from Vice President Dick Cheney in which he defended the U.S. action in going to war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. A receptive audience applauded the Vice President when he said America will never seek a permission slip from any nation to defend this country. Cheney again played to the crowd as he praised President George W. Bush for his appointments – including that of Missouri’s former Governor and U.S. Senator – Attorney General John Aschroft. Cheney also talked up the Patriot Act, saying it is a valuable tool in the war against terrorism and calling on Congress to extend it. [Photo by Bill Greenblatt, UPI].