During a mid-day speech in Des Moines, Vice President Dick Cheney said Republicans need to ensure that national security is a top issue in the November election.

Cheney’s in Iowa to help Republican congressional candidates Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny and Mike Whalen of Bettendorf raise money. Lamberti’s noon-hour event pulled in $150,000 according to his campaign staff and featured a 15-minute-long speech by Cheney.

Cheney didn’t mention the current bombing in Israel and Lebanon, but suggested Lamberti, Whalen and other Republicans will win by focusing on national security issues. “It is critically important to remember that this nation is fighting a war,” Cheney said. “As we make our case to the voters in this election year it is vital to keep issues of national security at the top of the agenda.”

Cheney said every voter in America needs to know where every candidate for federal office stands on the War on Terror. “We have to face the simple truth: the enemies (who) struck America are weakened and fractured but they are still lethal and still desperately trying to hit us again,” Cheney said.

Cheney criticized Democrats for calling for a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, and spent a few minutes lambasting the New York Times for publishing stories which he said shared too many details of U.S. efforts to combat terrorists. Cheney concluded his campaign speech by saying it is the “duty” of America to strike the terrorists “as quickly and as lethally” as possible. “Either we are serious about fighting this war or we are not,” Cheney said.

After that Des Moines campaign speech, Cheney was shuttled out to Camp Dodge in Johnston where he spoke to soldiers in the Iowa Army and Air National Guard. “Since our country was attacked on 9/11 the Iowa Guard has mobilized and deployed over 8500 soldiers and airmen, more than any other time in modern history,” Cheney said. “They’ve done a terrific job in tough circumstances and the entire nation is grateful to them.”

This was Cheney’s first visit to Iowa since the 2004 election. Cheney has said he is not interested in running for president in 2008 and he reiterated that during his Iowa appearances. “Thank you all very much. A welcome like that almost makes me want to run for office again,” Cheney told the crowd in Des Moines. “When is that Iowa Straw Poll anyway?” Then, Cheney tamped down any doubt by emphasizing the “almost” in his first sentence, meaning Cheney is not running for president in ’08.