Presidential Announcement Speech
Manchester, New Hampshire
March 2, 1999
|Friends, it is wonderful
to come home to this state that holds so many cherished memories for Shelley
and me. I have come here to make to the good people of New Hampshire a
God willing, from today to the nation's first primary, I will raise my voice on behalf of those Americans who are not being heard, and to offer my hand to those who were not allowed to march in the great parade of American prosperity.
With this campaign, I intend to redefine what it means to be a conservative, to reshape my party into the natural home of working men and women, and the middle class, and to reclaim the destiny of our republic from an administration that has squandered our inheritance and soiled its place in history.
With each year, America becomes ever more addicted to the narcotic of cheap imports. The price of that addiction is the dismantlement of the mightiest industrial empire the world has ever seen. Piece by piece, job by job, factory by factory, it is being carted off to foreign soil.
The yellow brick road that once took tens of millions of poor and working Americans into the middle class lies in ruin.
It is not an accident. It is a direct consequence of a deliberate effort to submerge our country in a Global Economy, whence we shall never be truly free again. This highway on which we travel ends in a dangerous trail, and the toll is the death of American independence.
NAFTA and GATT have bequeathed us a trillion-dollar merchandise trade deficit. Our deficit in manufactures, $200 billion last year alone, was 12 times our shrinking trade surplus in farm goods. Taxpayers have been forced to underwrite titanic bailouts of Mexico, Asia, Russia and Brazil. This administration ran to the rescue of an Indonesian dictator, who had on his hands the blood of a quarter million Catholics, and then turned a stone face to steelworkers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, as their dreams are buried under the devalued and dumped imports of Russia, Japan, and Brazil. Heartland industries are being sacrificed to enrich a global elite that looks on workers not as fellow human beings but as pawns in a game of global chess.
What happened to the country we grew up in, where we all cared about one another, and we all went forward together?
We need a new patriotism in America that puts country first, a new conservatism of the heart that puts people first, and a new set of priorities where our party stands for something greater than the bottom line on a balance sheet. American workers, our brothers and sisters, are not here to serve the financiers of some New World Order.
To those who call me a protectionist, I say without apology: I will use the trade laws of this country and my authority as President to protect the jobs of our workers, the standard of living of our American families, the independence of my country, and the sovereignty of the United States; and no global trade authority will keep me from doing my duty.
If I am elected, America's trade and foreign policies will no longer be up for bid at White House coffees; and foreign agents of influence will not be sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom. They won't get past the Marine Guards at the White House gates.
A decade ago, when the Berlin Wall fell and freedom came to the Captive Nations, Ronald Reagan was being toasted in Moscow for having rid the world of an Evil Empire. A friendship blossomed between us. Now, on the brink of autocracy, Russia spits on the hand that tried to help it.
Meanwhile, China is the beneficiary of an administration policy of blind and craven appeasement. Though China persecutes its dissidents and Christians, threatens Taiwan, and steals our technology, it calls Beijing our "strategic partner."
China has been given our super computers and satellite technology, and allowed to run up $200 billion in trade surpluses, giving it the hard currency to build and buy the missiles now targeted at U.S. troops in South Korea and Okinawa. If, one day, American technology is used to harm the bravest of America's young, history will forever damn those who made it possible.
So let me tell you what we shall do. I will sit down with the Chinese Premier and tell him directly: If you continue to impose a 40% tax on our exports, if you continue to persecute Tibetans, Christians and dissidents, if you continue to target our sailors and Marines with your rockets, you can take your Made-in-China goods and go peddle them somewhere else.
As for a missile defense, it will be built - and we shall complete the final chapter of Ronald Reagan's legacy.
For six years this administration has been adding to America's global commitments as it slashed away at America's defense. Since 1992, we have stretched NATO to the borders of Russia, spread U.S. troops all over the Balkans, put CIA agents onto the West Bank, and proclaimed a policy of dual containment in the Persian Gulf. Not one Cold War commitment has been discarded.
Yet, as it piles commitment on commitment, and engages in noisy bombast, this administration has presided over the hollowing out of the mighty armed forces built up under Ronal Reagan and George Bush. Under Clinton and Gore, America has mothballed more warships, air wings, Army and Marine divisions than it took to fight Desert Storm.
It is time for the United States to reduce its commitments and rebuild its power. The armed forces are not some experimental laboratory for aging "60s radicals" who loathed the military then, and do not love her now.
My friends, for half a century we willfully and rightly defended Europe and Asia so that free nations could break bread at democracy's table. It is their turn, now, to start picking up the tab. Bosnia and Kosovo are in Europe's backyard, not ours; they, not we, should police that blood-soaked peninsula.
It has been said, "the greatest mistake in politics is to stick to the carcasses of dead policies." It is not natural, it is not normal, to have U.S. soldiers occupy foreign lands in times of peace. America's armed services must not become the Hessians of anyone's New World Order.
We are the leader of the free world and a light unto the nations, but America's role in the 21st century should be to become again the Arsenal of Democracy and Strategic Reserve of the West, not the policeman of the planet or the social worker of the world.
I stand here today in the foreign policy tradition of Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Quincy Adams, Lincoln and Reagan. When U.S. vital interests are threatened, or citizens attacked, or honor impugned, we ask no nation's permission to respond. But we alone, not UN councils or European bureaucrats decide when and where Americans go into battle. And when they do, they will fight only under American command.
In acting, we act not for ourselves alone, but for all mankind. Having conquered Soviet Communism, our great struggle in the new era will be for the preservation of our independence against the encroaching claims of world government. Wherever other nations stand up for the right to be free, and to be themselves, we stand with them. They, as we, have a right to preserve their unique character and identity. America, as Theodore Roosevelt said, is not some polyglot boarding house for the world; this land is our land; this land is our home.
"One nation, indivisible," is what the Pledge of Allegiance declares, and the millions of immigrants who have come here in recent decades to become part of the American family shall be welcomed as our adopted sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. But, as they have a duty to learn, we have a duty to assimilate them into the American family - to teach them our heritage, our traditions, our customs, our history, our culture, and our language.
That is not happening. America is subdividing along racial and ethnic lines. The Melting Pot no longer works its magic. Hyphenated-Americanism has returned. School children are taught in the language of the country they came from, not the language of the country they came to. Public school principals in Los Angeles are being asked to leave, because they belong to the wrong race or ethnic group. College students are resegregating and demanding graduation in ceremonies only with their own. Our politics reek of epithets as ugly as those we expunged decades ago.
It is time for these divisions to end, for, unless we all go forward together, we're not going forward at all.
We need a moratorium on immigration, and a national campaign of assimilation. To become one nation and one people again, we must insist that our newly adopted learn the language that is our mother tongue, the English language. To do otherwise robs them of their fair chance at the American dream.
All students must be introduced to American history, and our unique culture to which all who have come here have contributed. All discrimination must be rooted out of government policy and the un-American practice of hiring and promoting individuals based on race or ethnic origin must be abolished. As long as statutes decree that some are more equal than others, we are neither free nor equal.
We know from history that it is a natural tendency of government to seek power, and never to relinquish it. In our lifetime, we have seen government grow to where it consumes 40% of family income. Not long ago, that was called Socialism. In the year 2000, there is promise of a Republican President and Congress for the first time since the early Eisenhower administration.
A historic opportunity is at hand to restore the constitutional balance of power established by our Founding Fathers. The Supreme Court and all federal courts need to get back to the business of interpreting the Constitution and the law, and out of the business of rewriting the Constitution and the law. That is not their role.
In a constitutional republic, how we govern ourselves should be decided by elected leaders, not anointed judges, whether in the nation, or right here in the state of New Hampshire.
The first days of a new administration should see a return to Constitutionalism, a rollback of federal power, fewer federal regulations and lower taxes. Like welfare, poverty, housing, primary and secondary education should be returned to the states. Our Internal Revenue Code should be ripped out by its roots and replaced with a simple, fair, tax system every American can understand.
One of the great achievements of the Republican Congress was balancing the books in Washington. American's greatest deficit is no longer found in the federal budget. It is a moral deficit, and it may be found in a polluted and poisoned culture that has become the great enemy within.
The White House, where I spent eight years as an assistant to three Presidents, this temple of our civilization, has been desecrated, used to shake down corporate executives, to lie with abandon to the American people, a place to exploit women. The personal destruction of political rivals has been perfected to a high art. It is time to call the curtain on the soap opera in the White House, time to restore a measure of dignity to our national stage.
When speaking of those left out, or left behind, let us never forget the unborn, the handicapped, the sick, the elderly, these most vulnerable and dependent among us, to whom some offer only the abortionist knife, or death through the lethal poisons of euthanasia and assisted suicide. We are a better people than this. And we owe the Great Generation that brought us through World War II a more honored end to their good lives than this.
For the sake of our dignity as a nation and people, let us shut the door to this Culture of Death. As long as I have breathe in me, there will be at least one major political party in America that dares, without apology, to stand up for the rights of the unborn.
My friends, we are the heirs of a Great Generation, the generation of our mothers and fathers who brought this country safely through the Depression and World War II. I can yet recall, as a boy, seeing my father go off to work three jobs, to provide for a family that was growing to nine children - every one of whom he would send to college to get the kind of education he had been denied. I can yet recall my mothers' four younger brothers stopping by the house on Chestnut Street to say goodbye, as they went off to fight Hitler's evil empire in Europe.
They made their contributions to America's greatness and glory. And we, too, have contributed. It was our generation, all of us, who stayed the course, persevered, and prevailed in the long twilight struggle against one of the most monstrous tyrannies the world has ever known.
But we are not done yet. We have one more contribution to make. Our duty, our challenge is to fulfill America's promise - to make her one nation, under God, and one people again, where all, regardless of color, creed, gender or national origin, have a fair shot at the American Dream.
It is our calling to recapture the lost independence and sovereignty of our republic, to clean up all that pollutes our culture, and to heal the soul of America. And, to that end, I declare my candidacy for President of the United States.