Iowa Straw Poll
August 14, 1999
Thank you so much ladies and gentlemen. You know when you run for president of the United States I think it's very important to look your fellow Americans in the eye and tell them what you believe. And certainly you want to know and you deserve to know that the person you're going to support for president, the person who will be the next president of the United States, whoever she may be [cheers] right!--she will say what she means and mean what she says. [cheers]
You know I've worked hard in my life but I've truly been blessed. It's a privilege and an awesome responsibility to serve as a commissioner on Federal Trade Commission, to serve as an assistant to President Reagan on his White House staff, as Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Labor, and for eight years as president of one of America's largest corporations, the American Red Cross. [cheers]. Thank you.
My 30-year record of service to the public is one that's filled with tearing down barriers, speaking my mind, and fighting the tough battles to make a difference, a positive difference in the lives of others. And as I travel America today, I find that Americans yearn for a leader who will call America to her better nature. [cheers].
We've been lulled by the Clinton-Gore White House into a sense that the health of our national economy is actually a barometer of the state of our society as a whole. I don't agree. Let me be clear. An increase in the leading economic indicators is not an indicator of the state of our society, ladies and gentlemen. [cheers].
While we've hit record highs on the stock market, we also had record highs in drug use among our young people.
While we preach the virtues of the free market around the world, we've forgotten those virtues at home where we're paying the highest taxes in 50 years.
And while we work to guarantee order and civility in Kosovo, we're not able to maintain and guarantee order and discipline in our own schools in America. [cheers].
And while we've eliminated the federal deficit, we've virtually ignored, haven't we, the deficit in our basic American values--values like honesty, integrity, personal responsibility, civility, respect for one's fellow man.
I'm running for president because I believe that we can expand economic growth and opportunity for every American and at the same time have a rebirth and a reaffirmation of those unique values that make us Americans. [cheers]
No one is perfect, ladies and gentlemen, but we've worked so hard to be a politically correct society--not offending any person or any organization--that we're losing touch with that universal set of rights and wrongs on which our country and our culture were built. [cheers].
I believe there are things worth fighting for, don't you? [cheers] There are things worth fighting for.
I believe it's wrong when the government takes nearly 40 percent of your income in taxes. That's wrong.
And I believe it's wrong when we're spending more on education than ever before and yet one in four high school students--seniors is considered functionally illiterate.
I believe it's wrong when we continue to coddle countries that are pipelines for illegal drugs into this country.
And I believe it's wrong to use federal funds to allow our children access to pornography on the Internet in public schools and libraries. That's wrong. [cheers].
And I believe it's right when we teach our children to show respect for their fellow man, despite age or race or religion or sex.
I believe it's right to teach our children that honesty is not just the best policy, it's the only policy. [cheers].
And I believe it's right to teach our children that integrity is not like some passing fashion fad. Integrity never goes out of style. It never goes out of style.
I'm willing to use that bully pulpit to lead America to her better nature. To help our country promote what is right and to help our country change what is wrong. I'll provide that leadership; I'll use that bully pulpit.
And speaking of the bully pulpit, President Clinton has not used that bully pulpit to emphatically say to our young people: drugs aren't cool; they kill. Drugs are not cool; they kill. Clinton and Gore have been A.W.O.L. in the battle to stop illegal drugs from entering this country and the brains of our children. [cheers].
When I was head of the United States Coast Guard we arrested 31,000 drug traffickers and we seized over $12 billion in illegal drugs. But this year alone Clinton-Gore has cut such funds by $400 million. Now I say let's reinstate those funds, let's throw the book at drug traffickers using all the latest technology so they never have a chance to bring that poison into our country. [cheers]. We've got to fight this with a crusade across America.
And when 60 percent of the illegal drugs are coming in through Mexico, I say, I'm a believer in the good neighbor policy, but enough is enough. And as president, yes, as president I would use everything in my power to force those Mexican officials to shut down that pipeline of drugs into this country. [cheers]. If they're unable or unwilling to do so, then I would certainly use my powers as president to shut that spigot off myself. [cheers].
And I believe that our education system is failing our children as well. When I was completing my Master's degree in education and teaching 11th grade history, the United States had the best education system in the world. Today the money for education goes up, and the test scores continue to go down.
Now let's begin by putting teachers in charge of their classrooms again so they can restore discipline. [cheers]. We've got to give teachers the authority to remove or discipline disruptive students so the others can learn in a safe environment. [cheers]. And ladies and gentlemen there's no way that we can manage the public schools by remote control from Washington, DC. We've got to return control to the states, the local school districts, to the parents. As we put computers in every classroom, let's put the parents back in every classroom as well. [cheers]. And as president I'll fight to return 90 cents out of every dollar that the federal government spends to the local school districts for the classrooms and the students of America. [cheers].
And to make sure the American dream is alive and well for future generations we must reverse the never-ending appetite that politicians have to increase our taxes. It's abominable that the average wage-earner has to work five months for the government just to pay his taxes. So as president I'll put the IRS on a very short leash; I'll rein in the IRS. I'll give you real tax relief. I can't wait to get the IRS out of your lives and our of your pockets, ladies and gentlemen. [cheers].
I believe that government has grown too large and spends too much or your hard-earned money. There's waste in the federal budget and anybody who says there's not is just plain wrong. So as president I will stop wasteful spending dead in its tracks and make Congress justify every red cent of your taxpayers dollars they spend. [cheers].
And if we're to lead the free world, continue to lead the free world, protect our vital United States interests and promote democracy, then we need to beef up our military preparedness. If it becomes essential at some point to send our young men and women into harm's way they must have the best equipment, the best weapons and highest morale. [cheers]. Yes our defense spending is at the lowest percent of our gross domestic product in fifty years, so beefing up our military preparedness is essential. And also funding and building a missile defense system. That's essential. [cheers]. If any terrorist organization or rogue nation would dare to test our resolve I say to them right now: We will leave no stone unturned to track you down. You will have a vigorous foe; we will aggressively defend United States interests and you will not succeed. [cheers].
That's why I'm running for president. To make America stronger, to expand our economy, provide opportunity for every American, to stop illegal drugs from reaching our borders, to restore order to the classroom and restore our schools to greatness again, and strengthen the fabric and the values of our society.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've been called a courageous conservative, and I will certainly accept that label proudly, for I will always say what I mean and mean what I say.
And I thank you very much for this opportunity to share views with you. Thank you very much. [cheers, Bob Dole joined Elizabeth on stage.]