Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Press Conference
San Diego, CA
October 30, 2006

...Well ladies and gentlemen, I've always stood on the waterfront and given my plans for the next couple of years.  And as you all know, under Republican rules in the House of Representatives I can be chairman of the House Armed Services for the next two years.  This is my final term coming up, and my name's on that ballot in seven days and I really need you to vote for me.  [cheers].  So I hope you will.

And in that job as chairman of the Armed Services Committee I want you to know I'm going to do everything I can to continue to make our country the strongest in the world and to make our military continue to be second to none in the world.  [cheers].  And while I'm doing that, while we're doing that together as a nation, there's something else that I'm going to be doing and that's what I wanted to talk to you today.

I believe in laying my cards on the table before the next two years.  We've always done that, and that's what I want to talk about.  You know 26 years ago I campaigned as a candidate for Congress on this waterfront, and in this harbor there were ships that couldn't sail, Navy ships, and in our carrier air wings there were aircraft that couldn't fly because of a lack of spare parts.  We had a thousand petty officers a month leaving the Navy because they couldn't pay--they couldn't feed their families with the pay that they were getting.  We had an army that was described as a hollow army.

Well I went into Congress with a guy named Ronald Reagan as the head of this great country.  [cheers].  And together, and together we rebuilt national security.  And you know we stood up to the Soviet Union.  We were in the middle of the Cold War in the 1980s and Ronald Reagan, when the Russians put SS20 missiles ringing our allies in Europe, moved in with ground launched cruise missiles and Pershing 2s.  When they tried to enter our hemisphere he stood up to them; he supported the Contras in Nicaragua and that fragile government in El Salvador.  And you know we had lots of liberals that criticized us.  The liberals had lots of strategies, mainly for retreat, just as they do now, but we stood up to the Soviets, we brought down the Berlin Wall, and we freed hundreds of millions of people.  [cheers, applause].

Well today we're bringing freedom to a different part of the world where tyranny doesn't come from the teachings of Karl Marx, it comes from a perverted notion of Islam that compels the killing of Christians and Jews and other Muslims who don't believe in that precise theory of the extremists who propound that policy.  And we're right now fighting in another part of the world that we're trying to change for freedom, in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And for those who say we don't have a plan for Iraq and Afghanistan, let me offer you the plan that we have used in many, many countries for the last 60 year and it is the plan that we're following.

It's called you stand up a free government and then you stand up a military that can protect that free government and then the Americans leave.  One, two, three.  Stand up the free government--we've done that.  Stand up the military that can protect it--we're doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And number three, the Americans leave.  Now which is it, the one or the two or the three that the liberals don't understand?  [applause].

Now you know we pursued this policy of peace through strength and with a short break in the 1990s in the Clinton administration, where we saw defense spending slashed by President Clinton, we have maintained that policy.  Today this administration, with a Republican Congress, are spending more than $100 billion more annually than the Clinton administration was.  We have increase pay for our military folks by over 40 percent over the last eight years.  We've provided new types of body armors, up-armored Humvees, new tactical gear.  We've rebuilt our intelligence community that was slashed by the Clinton administration, and we are learning to project power with precision munitions, and today we have roughly twice the precision munition capacity that we had in the Clinton administration.

So we are trying to change the world for freedom and ladies and gentlemen when we succeed in Iraq and Afghanistan we will have countries that are friends not enemies of the United States, that will not be a launching ground for terrorists, that will have a benign relationship with our country and they are located in strategic areas of the world.  And that will accrue to the benefit of generations of Americans yet to come.  [applause].

Now ladies and gentlemen let me talk a little bit about this place, this great San Diego place, this waterfront and how Lynne and I started here 26 years ago.  We had a little law office over in the barrio and that's where I gave free advice, legal counsel to young Hispanics who couldn't afford to pay, and my dad always said that they got what they paid for.  [laughter].  It's a place where I remember that my son came back from Iraq in this great Camp Pendleton, just a few miles to the north of our city, and 60 years earlier my dad came back to this same town after serving his country in World War II in the South Pacific.

Now I've got two years left as chairman of the Armed Services Committee and I'm going to be working to make sure that our troops have everything that they need in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world to fight this war against terror.  I'm going to be leading the Committee to look over the horizon at future threats, at the new armaments that are being developed by places like North Korea and Iran and the emerging superpower status that is being claimed by China in which they are buying systems from the Russians that were designed to kill American aircraft carriers.  And we're going to be looking and working to continue to rebuild America's defenses.

But here's something else that I'm going to be doing and I've always laid my cards on the table and I've always told you in October what I was going to do over the next two years.  As I finish my final two years as chairman of the Armed Services Committee and serve you, I'm also going to be preparing to run for president of the United States in 2008.  [cheers, applause].

Now.   You know.  And we are going to carry our message of a strong national defense, a strong border, and incidentally this great border fence that we built, we built this thing together, and I saw Muriel Watson in the audience, who with a group of ladies drove down and turned their headlights on and shone their lights on that open border that was a no man's land.  We built that border fence and we brought down the smuggling of people and narcotics by more than 90 percent in the San Diego-Tijuana smugglers corridor.  We did that together.  [cheers, applause].

So we're going to be working on a strong national defense.  And incidentally as we're seven days out from this election, I'm going to be going around.  And I've just returned from New Hampshire and Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Oklahoma and Arizona and we are going to be carrying the message, and it's a true message that the Republican Congress and this Republican president has given the most important legacy to the American people that they could possibly give: They have built a strong national defense that is second to none.  Peace through strength is the mantra of the Republican Party and every voter in America needs to remember that next Tuesday.  [cheers, applause].

And let me tell you I'm going to be campaigning for great candidates like Thelma Drake down in Virginia and Rob Simmons in Connecticut and Mike Sodrel in Indiana and Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania and lots and lots of other great Americans who have been serving to build that strong national security base that is the key to America's future, and I'm going to be doing that over the next several days.  And make no mistake about it, I'm going to be chairman of the House Armed Service Committee for the next two years as a Republican.  [cheers, applause].

Now let me talk just a little bit about why I'm running, and I think it's best described in two letters.  And the first letter comes from a young Marine who was returning in 1945 to his wife, returning to San Diego from the South Pacific, and he wrote these words.  He said, I think that just to be able to live with your wife and family, to be able to take care of them every day, is the greatest privilege a person can enjoy.  Those were the sentiments of the first greatest generation, that great generation that came back after World Ward II and moved into the Cold War and won it for our nation.  Well sixty years later another Marine returned from another place, from his second tour of duty in Iraq, from a place called Fallujah.  And he wrote the following words:

At some point in a highly dangerous and volatile situation you forget your own safety.  You try to keep you men safe and you place your own life in the hands of God.  But your family, your wife and your kids never leave your mind.  And I realized it all comes down to family.  Our country is built upon our families.  Our families lift our country up.  They support us with fidelity, morality, faith in God and the raising of the next generation of Americans.
Well that second letter, that letter came 60 years after Bob Hunter's letter as a young Marine lieutenant, came from another young Marine lieutenant returned from Iraq named Duncan Hunter.  [applause, cheers].  And ladies and gentlemen you're always going to have a Duncan Hunter and a second Duncan Hunter and a Sam Hunter and a Sissy [phon.] Hunter, right Sissy?  I just thought that I would leave you, that I would finish this speech with those words because I think that's what our country's all about.

Now ladies and gentlemen this is going to ba a long road, it's a challenging road; there's lots of rough and tumble, but I think it's the right thing to do for our country.  Thank you and God bless you.  [cheers, applause].  Appreciate it.  Appreciate you folks...  [applause continues].

REP TRENT FRANKS (R-AZ):  ...say a couple of things on your behalf?

REP: HUNTER:  Sure; go right ahead.  Go right ahead.

REP. FRANKS:  I'm Congressman Trent Franks from Arizona and I have the wonderful privilege of standing here with this man today.  I serve on the Committee that Duncan Hunter does and you know, Duncan, when I came here this morning, just trying to figure out where I was, I looked out over this bay, and I saw something that really touched my heart.  I saw the numbers CVN-76 on that ship out there and I realized that that's the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, and I thought how appropriate for that ship to be here this morning because Ronald Reagan not only brought [?a] magnificent resurgence of freedom in this country, he brought this man into the United States Congress.

And the reason I stand here is because I know Duncan Hunter's heart.  This is a man when you look into a smiling face that a heart of concern for humanity looks back at you.  When you see those arching eyebrows you also know that you're staring into the mind of a formidable human being that is dedicated to the cause of human freedom.  And I'm convinced with all of my heart that the positions that he holds, that the love he has for his country, for his Lord, for his family, for his grandchildren--these are the kind of things that we need in a president of the United States and it is my precious privilege to endorse Duncan Hunter for the presidency of the United States.  [applause, cheers].  Thank you all very much.

REP. HUNTER:  Okay, I got one...

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.  Listen I'd be happy to take any questions.  I'll tell you what.  We'll work from left to right here.  You're not on the left are you?  Okay good.

QUESTION:  [inaudible]

REP. HUNTER:  You know I think we've got a lot of great candidates who are going to be out there running.  Again we're making preparations to run for this thing.  Lots of wonderful candidates and I wish them all the very best and I like John McCain and I don't know all the others but he's a fine guy and we've got lots of fine people running.  I know there's a number of others that will fill out this field and there will be other people that we don't know about now who will get into this race, but I think all of us have to take our own path and my path is a path for a strong national security, for strong borders.

I think that borders now are not an immigration issue primarily; they are primarily a national security issue.  America has to know two things.  Who's coming into our country and what are they bringing with them?  And that means we're going to have to have a strong border across the South border of the United States and the northern border so that as we open that front door, which is the biggest front door in the world for folks to come in legally, we know who's coming in.

QUESTION:  Which Republican leaders did you consult with before making your decision and how did they react?

REP. HUNTER:  Well you know in typical Duncan Hunter fashion I didn't consult with any Republican leaders.  [laughter].  Except any of the folks that are in the leadership of my party, although I like them a lot and as you know I used to be in the Republican leadership, and I have great admiration for what our party has done.  We've done great things.  We've got the strongest military in the world....   continues...