"First-in-the-Nation Primary Kick Off Dinner"
May 2, 1999
Thany you very much. I really appreciate the warm welcome. This is an incredible night for me as the son of a janitor and maintenance man to be here as we begin the process to pick the next president of the United States.
Let me begin by asking you a question: Do you believe in God? Well don't get confused or concerned--I know this isn't a church service; it is a political gathering. I bring up this question to you because about two weeks ago that haunting question was asked to a 17-year old American girl in Littleton, Colorado. You've read about her since I'm sure; her name was Cassie.
She was a good girl. She wore a bracelet on her wrist that said, "What would Jesus do?" She spent her weekends feeding drug addicts and prostitutes in Denver, Colorado. She told some of her friends that she was going to cut her long blond hair in a couple of days; she found out that she could give it to an organization that would make it into wigs that would then be given to children that were having chemotherapy.
Cassie was the kind of girl that we need a million of. And that day in Littleton, Colorado she was in the library studying like she usually is. And the door flew open and a couple of thugs walked into the room. She knew both of them; they went to school with her. There was a moment there when one of them made eye contact with her. I've thought a lot the last two weeks about the horror of that moment--just having made eye contact with one of those boys with their sawed off shotguns. And the one boy looks at her and he posed the question that I have asked you. He said, "Cassie do you believe in God?"
I would love to be able to tell you now that I'm a politician that if I was in that position, well I would have had no hesitation whatsoever. That I would have stood right up and said what my beliefs are. I don't know what I would have said. I don't think any of us know unless you're in a situation like that. All I know is that a 17-year old American girl, who had to know what the consequences were, paused for a few moments and looked at that killer and said, "Yes, I believe in God." And he said, "Why?" And before she could answer he killed her on the spot.
And then you and I saw the incredible pictures on television, things that we thought we would never see. American children running out of a school with their hands above their heads, running for their lives. Unbelievable pictures, not in Kosovo, but in Colorado.
And it struck me as I read of the confrontation between Cassie and these two thugs that that confrontation is the decision we've got to make in America about where we're going. And we've got things upside-down. These two boys with their Nazi insignia and their Heil Hitler salute coming to school every day, these boys with the web sites preaching hate and violence, these boys that did a video that was a preview of what they were going to do in that school, a video that their teacher accepted, gave them a grade on—the evidence indicates that they were never called on the carpet, they were never sent home, their parents were never asked to come in for a student-parent conference. And yet if a teacher in that school had hung up the Ten Commandments in her classroom, she would have been fired.
Ladies and gentlemen, America is a great country. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is near 11,000. We're making more millionaires than at any time in the history of the country. But if we do not remember that America was built on God, that he is the father of our liberty, that he is the only one that can guarantee it to us in the next century, nothing else will matter. [applause].
You know we need to teach all of our children that central idea; it's right there in the Declaration of Independence—all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Lincoln and Reagan, the two great heroes of our party, talked about that ideal all the time, that this was a nation built on God. Lincoln stood on the steps of Constitution Hall and he said: This is the principle that founded the nation. I would prefer to die than give it up. And indeed he did die for it. And Cassie died for it in Littleton, Colorado. And we must have the courage to live for it, and to teach every child, black and white, rich and poor, that that is where their liberty comes from and that that liberty is what America has been built on.
You know politicians give you many promises and in the seven minutes that we have tonight there's not going to be much time to tell you about Kosovo, and about China, [inaudible] Social Security reform and all the rest of it. But I will do this evening. I will make to you one central promise. That if by the grace of God the American people choose me to be the next president, I will devote every waking hour of my presidency to making sure that every American child is welcomed into the world and protected by law. I will [inaudible] every ounce of my presidency to make sure that our children will never again in America have to die for their faith. And I will promise you that the judges I put on the courts of America will hang up the Ten Commandments in every courtroom chamber so that the ACLU won't know who to sue next. [applause].
I believe, ladies and gentlemen if our party will not only stand for lower taxes, smaller government, family values and respect for life, but will also remind the American people that we're a shining city on a hill precisely because of the fact that we build the nation under God, that we will have done something, our party will have done something that America will thank us for the next hundred years. God bless you all. [applause].