Iowa Straw Poll
August 14, 1999
Thank you. Thank you very much. What a wonderful welcome and what an incredible afternoon in Ames, Iowa. You know this must be Bill Clinton and Al Gore's worst nightmare, right?
You know I obviously don't know all of you, and obviously you support many different candidates and you've got a lot of different views about the Republican party, but I believe that every one of you here is thinking about the same thing that I am, and that is that in 17 months a new president will put his hand on the Bible and take the oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and my friends if we will find our confidence, if we will find our courage, if we will find our conservative values, we can guarantee that that individual will not be Al Gore but will be somebody from the party of Lincoln and Reagan. [cheers].
My friends, so far in many ways this election has just been about partisanship, and there's been a lot of talk about how much money one guy has raised and another guy has inherited, but campaigns are supposed to be about the American people, they're supposed to be about their families and their children, they're supposed to be about their futures--that's what Ronald Reagan taught us. He taught us that our party must be a party of bold colors, not pale pastels.
We know right now as we meet here that Ronald Reagan is sitting in California suffering from a horrible disease that makes him forget the past. But we will not be forgiven if we forget what he taught us about how to be the governing party of the United States. [cheers].
We must regain our confidence about what our party should stand for. We must be the party of lower taxes and smaller government, pro-family and pro-life, rebuilding America's defenses, and standing with the average guy on Main Street in America.
Now my friends here is what I will do when I'm elected president of the United States.
We are first going to rebuild America's defenses. [cheers].
Under Bill Clinton and Al Gore our Navy has gone from 750 ships under Ronald Reagan to 325, we've gone from 18 Army divisions to 10, and we have 17,000 young men and women in the United States Army who are on food stamps because they're not being paid enough to lift them and their families above the poverty level.
That is a scandal. That has got to be stopped. We will make America strong again in order to defend liberty around the world and here at home. [cheers].
I want to take a second to say something not just about our current men and women in the armed forces, but I want to say something about our veterans. My father spent the last two years of his life in a Veteran's Hospital back in northern Kentucky. And I have to tell you my friends that right now in Washington, DC there are people, there are politicians both in the White House and even on Capitol Hill, including some in our party, and instead of cutting the fat out of Washington, DC, they're looking to make cuts in Veteran's Hospitals and Veteran's benefits.
And so I want to make my first promise this afternoon. If you are a veteran and I am president, I will keep the contract we made with you. You fought for our country. We will fight for you. [cheers].
The second thing we must do in order to make America a shining city on a hill again is to make an America that is a friendly place, a welcoming place for our children. It is unbelievable in 1999 that we still have 1.5 million abortions a year in this country. Ladies and gentlemen, we are better than this. This is going to stick in our throats until we get it right.
Twenty-six years ago--twenty six years ago--the Supreme Court of the United States took a whole class of Americans, our unborn children, and they said of them, "You have no rights that the rest of us are bound to respect." They only did this one other time, in the Dred Scott case when they said of black men and women that you have no rights that we were bound to respect. They were wrong in Dred Scott and they were wrong in Roe vs. Wade, and it has to change now. [cheers].
Now listen to this carefully. You have been told by politicians, including some in our party, that this issue will take 50 years to deal with, 40 years to deal with. No, it won't. The next American president will probably have two Supreme Court vacancies to fill. Mine must pass two tests. They cannot be bigots; this is the party of Abraham Lincoln. And they must believe that all of our children should be welcomed into the world and protected by the law and that's what my court appointments will have to believe. [cheers].
So let me make this promise as clearly as I can. In my America you will never see me sacrifice one child--black, white, Asian, Hispanic, rich or poor, born or unborn. This will be a family friendly country because that is the essence of a shining city on a hill. [cheers].
My friends when I first heard Ronald Reagan speak it was 1964; I was 18 years old. And I knew immediately that that man would be president someday and I would work for him in the White House. I turned to my dad and said exactly that, and my father said, "Gary you're nuts."
Well he visited me in my West Wing office about 18 or 19 years later and he said, "You know Gary, only in America can a janitor's son end up with an office in the West Wing." And you know guys like my dad and my mother and the other people that lived on the block, they had never voted for a Republican in their life, but they voted for Ronald Reagan twice, and they did that, they did that because they knew he stood for the little guy on Main Street, just the average American--the people that get up every day and pay their bills, try to teach their kids the right values, love this country and want to do good by her. So that's what our party has to do now.
And one of the people that we need to stand by is the farmer in this country who's being treated terribly. [cheers]. You know about 14, 15 weeks ago every American saw pictures on the television set out of Kosovo. We saw pictures of people with broken hearts, and we were moved by it. The Washington political establishment went into high gear. We went to war. We spent billions of dollars of your tax money to go to war because of pictures of broken hearts.
What about the broken hearts in Iowa tonight. There will be farm families right here in this state that will look at the numbers one more time and decide that a farm that has been in the family for generations will now have to be given up. And so I say we must stand for the broken hearts here. We must make sure that there's revenue insurance for the farmers here. We must fight to open up markets around the world. We have to make sure that the anti-trust laws are enforced so a couple of large corporations doesn't control the food supply of America. [cheers].
And let me make another promise to you ladies and gentlemen. On the first day of my administration we withdraw most-favored nation status from China. [cheers]. The time for playing us for suckers is over. If you want to dump your slave-made goods in the United States then you better open your market up to the farmers of America.
I'd like to quickly end with a story about Ronald Reagan. Michael Reagan told me this story a few months ago. He said he had never seen his father lose until 1976 when his dad failed to take the Republican presidential nomination away from Gerald Ford.
And he went to his father and he said "Dad, you've never lost anything. How do you feel? How are you dealing with this?" Ronald Reagan said, "Look Michael, the sun comes up the next day. I still have my family. I just have one regret I'm going to carry to the grave with me. I wanted to be president so that I could be at a summit meeting with the Soviet Union. You know every time with them the Soviet leader pounds on the table and he tells us all the things we're going to have to do if we want to get along with them.
"And I just wanted to be at a summit meeting like that and listen to him and then push my chair away from the table, go around to the other side and lean down in his ear and say "Nyet," the Russian word for no. And then I was going to tell him, I was going to tell him all the things they were going to have to do to get along with us. And I just regret I'm never going to have that chance."
Well Ronald Reagan wasn't much of a prophet. He found himself sitting in Iceland at a summit meeting exactly like the one he described. Gorbachev pounded on the table and said, "You cannot build Star Wars." Every one of Reagan's advisors said, "Mr. President, you've got to take his deal. You can't blow up this summit." Reagan pushed his chair away. He said, "Nyet." He walked out of that summit and there was a firestorm, but today in California, as we sit here, on Ronald Reagan's fireplace, there's a piece of the Berlin Wall. [cheers].
My friends, he knew, he knew that the Soviet Union was built on a lie, and so is American liberalism. I will expose that lie. I will fight for the truth and with you we will return honor to Washington and make America a shining city on a hill again. God bless you and thank you very much. [cheers].