Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
Press Conference
Des Moines, Iowa
December 20, 2007
[DEMOCRACY IN ACTION partial transcript; assistance of Iowa Public Radio gratefully acknowledged; see also statement]

You might have though that I was coming here to make some really important announcement.  I thought I was too, but I come to find out it was just my staff's way of getting everybody together as a surprise party for my birthday, and that of Bay Buchanan, who's also having a birthday today.  So thanks for coming.  This is great.

But I guess we shall also proceed to the business at hand.

You know for the past ten years I have dedicated my public life to warning the nation of the perilous consequences of massive uncontrolled illegal immigration.  And while the people across this great country have come to understand the real and present danger that our open borders policy creates for us, this message unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears in the highest office in the land.  And without a president who is committed to securing the nation, we will always of course remain in jeopardy.  And so, in spite of what we knew at the time were incredibly long odds, I made the decision to become a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America.  And as I admit, it was certainly then and we've always known, the odds were enormous against that happening, but nonetheless I felt committed to pursue that particular agenda.

And I am happy to say, I am ecstatic about the fact that we can say we have made remarkable progress along those lines.  And I have to thank every single person who has worked on this campaign from day one through all the miles that we've traveled together throughout Iowa and New Hampshire and states in between.  It's really been my pleasure, my deep and abiding pleasure and something I will always treasure, the fact that so many good folks have worked so hard in this endeavor.  And we have made, as I say, great progress.

In fact, according to Newsweek, "The Tancredo campaign has already won."  And just this month, The Economist, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and even the New York Times have grudgingly accredited our campaign with forcing the issue of immigration to the forefront of the national debate, and more importantly with forcing nearly every Republican presidential candidate to commit themselves to an immigration plan that calls for securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws.  And even the Democrats, by the way, are tortured by the fact that a misstatement on the issue--like for instance suggesting support for Gov. Spitzer's plans to give driver's licenses to illegal aliens--will cost them dearly at the polls.  Who would have thought this could have happened six months ago, a year ago; I mean it's beyond anybody's wildest expectations that we have been able to, with the help of America really, get our national leaders to pay attention to the issue.

As I say, I am indeed pleased as to how this issue has ripened.  But for the same reason that I launched the campaign, I must now end it.  While several of the candidates appear to be committed to our cause, there are others whose records as public servants are abysmal on this issue.  They have been on the other side of the battle for years and encouraging and even inviting in a way illegal immigrants into the country.  I fear that remaining in the race, one I know I cannot win, could contribute to the nomination of one of those candidates.  We have done too much, we have come too far, the stakes are way too high for me to allow that to happen.

Once I determined that it was best for the cause that I step down, the question became should I endorse another candidate?  I made the decision to do so.

There's a candidate who meets several criteria that are critical from my point of view.  First, he will secure our borders.  Second, he will prosecute employers who create the magnet that draws so many millions of illegal aliens into the country.  Third, he'll require those who are presently here illegally to return home.  He also has, by the way, a solid record that matches his rhetoric.  He has also I think committed to the idea that sanctuary cities should be stopped, should be penalized and dealt with accordingly.  And finally, and very importantly, he can go the distance.

I'm also gratified to know that in, on the defining geopolitical issue of the 21st century, which is the war with Islamic fundamentalism, we do find common ground.

This morning I met with Gov. Mitt Romney, and although we are not in agreement on all issues, I am convinced that he is committed to the principles I have outlined.

And so today I am doing two things that I believe are in the best interests of this cause, and that cause is of course a secure America.  I am withdrawing from the race and I am endorsing Gov. Romney for President of the United States.

Throughout the campaign, I've learned a great deal about the candidates.  I've certainly been impressed with Gov. Romney's ability to solve very complex problems and I believe he is a man of personal integrity and great character.  I think he would bring honor to the Oval Office.  So I am happy to do this thing in two parts today, and hope that we will continue the momentum that we have developed over the last year and a half throughout this campaign.

Again it is with every ounce of sincerity that I have in my body to say to the people who have worked so hard that I love you and I believe with all my heart that we have made a difference in America.  And this is a great thing, you guys.  We--you know all the miles we travel, all of the speeches you give, and all of the time you spend away from your family, you say is it worth it?  I know I'm not climbing in the polls.  I that know that it's going to be tough.  I know that others will take the issue, and of course that was in a way what we were hoping would happen.

But if you look at it, if you think about it, it's enormous the amount of progress we have made.  Something I must admit to you that stuns even me at this time.  And it's because of you.  It is because of you and your dedication and I love you all for it, I really do, and I appreciate it with all my heart.

So anyway, thank you very much for your time and attention, for coming here today and I'll be happy to try to address any question you might have.

QUESTION (off mic):  Congressman, what will you be doing for Mitt Romney?  Will you be campaigning in Iowa for him?

I know that we will be in some way supporting the effort.  I do not know at this point in time exactly what that will be.  Frankly it has not been discussed.

QUESTION (off mic): Congressman, you and I have had several interviews over the last several months where you have pointedly criticized Mitt Romney, questioning many times whether he was flip-flopping on other issues and also questioning whether his rhetoric on this issue was really matched by what was in his heart, I think that was your term.  What has changed...?

Well it is undeniable, the fact that we have met, that we have talked and that you know, you've got to do this.  Again.  Go through the criteria.  Establish what it is that you are looking for in a president.  And as I say, I am convinced that he will do the things he said he will do, in the areas, specifically in the areas that I pointed out.

And there are things that we still disagree on, M.E., but you know what, there are things that I wish I could have gotten all the candidates to agree with me on and that's not there, I mean so if you look at it the way I presented it, if you go through the criteria, I think you come to the conclusion, certainly I have, that I believe he will now, I believe that he'll do what he says he'll do.  I'm not asking him to do more.  I'm not asking him to do things that he is opposed to.  I'm just asking him and I believe he will do the things that I have laid out here.

And remember the last part of that criteria is very important.  Can go the distance.  I mean somebody's going to win this race.  You know, somebody's going to be president of the United States.  It's not going to be me so...