Gilmore spoke from a lectern with his wife standing to his left. The lectern had a Gilmore 08 sign on front of it and there was a Gilmore 08 banner behind him as well as an American flag and an Iowa flag. The campaign presented Gilmore's speech in live webcast and followed it with a live online chat.
Ladies and gentlemen, I announce here today that I am a candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States in 2008.
I run for president because of an abiding concern for the national security of this country, the economic security of the American people, and concern that America faces today grave challenges and grave risks that I believe I am in the best position to respond to by virtue of my background, my public record, and the principles upon which I will run.
I believe I am that candidate, having looked at the field, having looked at the race, and having examined both the candidacy in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and other places across the country.
Now I announce today that I am a candidate for president of the United States. I do so because I am convinced that America is not prepared for the challenges that we face in terms of homeland security.
As many of you know, I chaired the national commission for the United States government on terrorism and homeland security for five years. I was asked to chair that commission beginning in 1999. We did three reports prior to the 9/11 attack and after the commission was extended two reports thereafter. In order to prepare this country for the inevitable attacks that will come we must have an entire community of preparedness--federal, state, local, private sector community leadership.
Even after leaving the Governor's office I formed a nonprofit organization, the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness, and I worked with that for years and years now in order to push forward properly the ideas for homeland security and to get this country prepared, and yet we sadly see that at any particular moment in time we may very well see an attack in this country, whether its by a terrorist organization or even by a deranged individual.
Just this past week, we saw a terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, within my home state; Virginia Tech, a school that I have a great deal of affinity with. Roxanne and I know one of the young ladies who was in fact shot that day and she survived, I'm pleased to say, but our heart goes out to the mothers and fathers that day who lost children. I can't imagine how a mother and father would deal with that kind of tragedy. I hope that through faith and their family strength they're able to find ways to cope with those challenges.
But it points out to me and should point out to everyone the dangers inherently that we face at this particular moment in time.
Based on my track record and experience I believe I'm prepared to deal with those issues.
I was the Governor of Virginia during the 9/11 attack. Even after having worked with these issues for years and years and reporting to the Congress and the President the dangers that were involved, then the 9/11 attack occured. Roxanne and I were together that morning in the governor's mansion. We saw on television what all of you saw. The first tower of the World Trade Center in flames. We watched as the plane went into the second tower. And then I did my job.
I was Governor of Virginia at that time, and I was concerned, based on experience and everything I was seeing that something had to be done immediately. I immediately picked up the phone and activated the emergency operations center. I immediately picked up the phone and notified the state police if there was evidence of gunplay anywhere in Virginia that it should be reported to the central headquarters. I picked up the phone and called and activated the National Guard, put the National Guard on alert immediately. And went across Capitol Square just in time to find that the second state attacked that day was Virginia, because the Pentagon is in Virginia.
Based on the experience that I had seen already with the Commission, we supported the local response community as they went in--police, fire, rescue, who did the wonderful job that they did in order to respond at the Pentagon. We watched the response also in New York City, and sadly enough terrible things happened in New York City. One of the members of our Commission as a matter of fact died at the World Trade Center that day because the fire people did not have the radios they needed and it was a sad, sad situation.
Nonetheless, this is a concern that I have and [the?a] principle reason why I'm running. We understand the challenge that the United States faces in a changing world in which we see resentment and anger growing all across the world, and we're trying to cope those issues, they are in a post-Cold War era.
I have a degree in foreign policy from the University of Virginia. I am an Army veteran. I bring a [inaud.] perspective to the campaign; I'm also a veteran of the United States Army intelligence community as well. I have traveled all throughout the world on behalf of the state of Virginia in diplomatic issues and trade issues, 12 countries on three continents. I chaired the National Commission, as I said, on Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I've had the 9/11 experience. I've been an envoy to the United Nations as a citizen advisor to our delegations there. I formed a nonprofit on homeland security; I understand these issues that we face and I know that we have to defeat these people who are using this anger and resentment in order to attack Western civilization and people even within their own communities. We must win this war on terror. We have to do that.
And people who as a matter of faith and religion believe that they have a right to destroy their fellow citizens and Westerners and Americans, we have to simply defeat these people. And in a larger sense we have to make sure that they are denied the resources of others around the world, which means America must use all of its powers of diplomacy and economics and the moral high ground to make sure that others around the world are not drawn to that cause but instead to the cause of liberty and freedom and advancement and progress around the world.
Secondly we have to deal with the issue of border security. This is a problem that has been a chronic problem; its been allowed to go and to get completely out of hand. As early as 1999 when I was chairing the terrorism commission, which became known as the Gilmore Commission, we addressed the issue of porous borders and saw it as a serious national security issue. We have to do something [?for] our borders and we can.
...with systems and personnel and management and technology we can control our borders and get control of this situation to begin with. We should not have an amnesty that talks again, once again about an automatic path to citizenship. This is not a proper policy. Instead, what we should do is say to people who are here illegally that the borders are now sealed, you need to come in and register with us and tell us that you're here and then we'll determine what needs to be done, and if you don't come into register you remain in illegal status and you may very well be captured and sent back.
We have to do something in order to address these kinds of issues with employers employing people who are illegal aliens and driving down wages for regular working people. We have to address this issue as a security basis; it is dangerous that we keep our borders on North and South open and porous. It's a danger to the United States.
Americans expect all of us, each other, to obey the law. I have been an elected prosecutor. I've been a courtroom lawyer; I've been an elected prosecutor. I've tried murder cases myself, I've handled other cases and handled lawyers who prosecute thousands of felony cases. I've been the Attorney General of the state of Virginia, and I know what Americans expect. They expect that we will obey the law, and that our children and our neighbors will obey the law, and they will not tolerate the idea that people can come into this country illegally and break the law and somehow that's okay.
Thirdly, energy security. We have to form a whole new program for energy independence in this country, a program that I would entitle "American Energy Freedom," and begin to have a serious conversation with the American people about the nature of this challenge that we face. The American people understand that the security of our children and our grandchildren and the national security of this nation is in the hands of people who do not share our national interest or our national desires for liberty and freedom. And they're nervous about that. We have to...talk to the people about additional sources of energy...independence. That means...and do more on nuclear power and do more on biomass and natural gas and ethanol and other types of sources--clean coal--the entire array has to be part of a national program towards energy independence for this country. Only then do we empower ourselves and we can act more ...ly across the world, as we should.
And then, finally we have to talk to the American people about energy usage and let them know that when they save and conserve energy, it's not just a matter of saving a few dollars in their pocketbooks, it's a matter of the national security of the United States. All of us together, we can advance the cause of America and the world and the safety and security of our people.
And finally, economic security here at home. We have developed a culture that says that people should not be as independent as I think they should be. We have to empower people to be more independent in their own lives and to gather up opportunities, to create more wealth and opportunity for themselves. It's not a matter of just teaching people that they should prepare to be dependent upon government programs, which is breaking the back of the taxpayer as we try to support it. And the challenge is forthcoming about how we're going to fund these programs, and the national discussion has only just begun about how we're going to do that.
The best way [?at it/?out] is to give people more of their own money back by controlling spending and the size of government. Classic Reagan principles. Control the size of spending in government, reduce taxes on people so they can have more of their own money to invest and create opportunities, and meet their obligations around the kitchen table, issues about how you're going to meet these high tuitions, how you're going to deal with the issue of high mortgages, what are you going to do about the obligations that people have, and meanwhile all their money's being taxed away. We have to empower people by giving them better education and more opportunity to become more independent in life.
So these are the principles that we have, and we're going to talk more about this in this campaign, and we're going to do it a lot through the web page. We're going to do it a lot by direct webcast[?ing] and talking directly to people. We will talk to people through the press to be sure, in the traditional way; we will also talk directly to people. And I hope that people will go to gilmoreforpresident.com so we can begin to get their e-mail addresses and engage them in this national conversation.
This campaign needs a candidate who is a true Reagan conservative. And I've been that my whole life. When I started politics when I was 17, I entered into conservative politics. As far back as 1976, I was an alternate delegate to the national convention for Reagan at the national convention in Kansas City. I have run as a conservative candidate, I have been elected by a broad majority of Virginians--a very diverse state--and I've governed as a conservative.
And finally, maybe the last and fourth point. You have to have a candidate who will do what they say they're going to do, who will keep their word and be genuine and honest about who they are and what they are. Where you have been is probably where you're going to go. And that's true for the Republican candidates and it's true for the Democratic candidates.
I have a genuine track record and I am a genuine conservative. I have kept my word, and I do what I say I'm going to do. And I think the American people are looking for that, and that's why I'm in this race, as a consistent conservative that the American people can count on, someone who won't waffle, waver, change, or pretend they're something else in order to get this nomination and in order to become president of the United States. People need someone that they can count on and who will be reliable, and where I've been is where I'm going to go. And these are the principles that I'm running on, and this is why I'm a candidate and have chosen to come into this race. And if together we push forward this candidate based upon these values and these principles, I believe we will create an America that is safe, that is confident and self confident, that is more independent and preserves all of our freedoms at home and around the world. Thank you for the chance to be here today. Thank you for coming to this event. [applause].