Presidential Campaign and Candidates







Thank you Nancy, and good morning everyone.


Elizabeth, Robin and I are grateful to all of you for joining us today. I appreciate Senator Kassebaum's remarks. The last time we were in Kansas together was at her father's 100th birthday. Alf Landon was a wonderful man. He never lost his sense of humor, his love of learning or his joy for living. We miss him very much.


I know many of you have come a good distance, and I'm thankful for that. I also recall a time in 1976 when President Gerald Ford joined me here, and that was another great day for Russell. I enjoy showing Russell off, although it doesn't take a whole lot longer now than it did when I was a boy.


When I look out on Main Street this morning, I see the faces of people who know me best -- or their children or grandchildren -- people who have always accepted me, and believed in me.


There are people standing here who long ago put quarters they couldn't spare in this cigar box. That generosity helped reshape my life.


I remember the experience -- many years ago -- that began when I felt a sting in the shoulder. I remember the first thing I thought about was home.


The goodness of the people of Russell over the years has been the source of my inspiration and my strength. The people who settled this community, like so many others across America, were immigrants and frontiersmen and homesteaders who knew that grit and endurance and reliance on one's neighbors were needed to build a better life for their children. They were optimists and builders; they harnessed invention and hard work to carve a life out of the wilderness. I have carried the spirit of this place with me throughout my life.


That is why I have come back home today to announce before family and friends, that I am a candidate for my party's nomination to the office of President of the United States.


I offer a record, not a resume.


A track record of nearly 11,000 votes in Congress, and 27 years of leadership that says:


I can make a difference.


I have made a difference.


I will make a difference.


Sometimes it isn't easy. Sometimes the cynics tell you it can't be done.


Social Security -- It was bankrupt, they said, and you couldn't fix it. But with leadership and hard work we fixed it.


Rural America -- It was on its back. They said you couldn't save it. But with leadership and hard work, we're bringing it back.


Voting Rights -- They said we'd lost our resolve, that a consensus couldn't be forged. But with leadership and hard work, we did it because all Americans, regardless of race, color, creed or physical disability should have the right to participate in the political process without fear or intimidation.


Taxes -- They said that taxes couldn't be reduced, that loopholes for the special interests couldn't be closed. But with leadership and hard work, we did it.


I'm talking about making a difference. One person who has is Ronald Reagan. He restored America's prosperity, rebuilt our military strength and revived our spiritual wellbeing. Ronald Reagan set us on a new course, and history will be grateful. But the Reagan record is not something to stand on. It's not something to run on. It's something to build on.


I want to lead America into an even greater era of opportunity for our people and security for our nation. And so I offer a lifetime of experience and a record that shows not merely where I stand, but the hopes of a lifetime rooted here in Russell. I offer a willingness to work hard, to hang tough, to go the distance. I offer the strength and determination -- molded in America's smalltown heartland and tempered during a career of public service -- to bring common-sense answers to the complex problems facing America in its third century.


America's great heartland Presidents were plain-speaking men whose clear-eyed vision enabled them to make the tough choices: Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. My vision, like theirs, is shaped by the aspirations of shopkeepers and farmers, workers and everyday Americans. Like them, I see the opportunities before us. Like them, I see the dangers. Like them, I'm willing to make the tough choices needed to preserve opportunities for generations to come.


The Federal budget deficit is the single greatest threat to a prosperous and dynamic America. We do not expand opportunity when we burden our children with debt from our own self-indulgence. We will either sacrifice for our children or we will continue to make our children sacrifice for us. We have the privilege of choosing. Our children do not.


Since the deficit problem began, every Administration and every Congress has tried to postpone true reckoning. At no point has our government been willing to face and weight the touch choices, to act resolutely to cut spending.


My pledge today is that we will tackle the runaway federal budget head-on -- without raising tax rates.


With the single exception of programs to assist vulnerable Americans, no area of Federal spending will be off-limits. Americans are fair-minded people. They are willing to endure some changes in federal programs -- if they know everyone is sharing equally.


There's nothing complicated about what needs to be done. It requires the same common sense and discipline every responsible wage-earner uses to balance the family books. We can no longer rely on stopgap economic fixes that only reel from one crisis to the next. I will sit down with Congressional leaders during my first weeks in office and we'll stay there as long as it takes, and we will not stop until we come up with a renewed commitment to a multi-year plan -- a new compact -- that ends with a balanced budget.


I will also seen an iron-clad assurance that we will never again confront such overwhelming deficits. That goal will require approval of two long-overdue measures.


First and foremost, it's time to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. Without a Constitutional restriction, Congress will always fall back on deficit spending.


The will of the people has been ignored for too long. I will once again ask Congress to give the people what they want. But if I can't get satisfaction, I will go over the heads of those in Congress and call for a Constitutional Convention to approve a balanced budget amendment.


Just as important, the President -- whatever his party -- must have a line-item veto. Today, the Chief Executive too often is faced with a take-it-or-leave-it choice when Congress approves huge, all-or-nothing spending bills. The President is put in the position of the car buyer forced to accept an automobile loaded with options he doesn't need or want. A line-item veto would allow the President to reach within massive spending bills and strike out wasteful and unnecessary pork-barrel projects.


A thriving economy must also include a new global community linked by fair and open trade. We cannot be seduced by the delusion that if only we build trade walls high enough, we can shut out a flood of foreign-built products. But neither will we play the patsy. Our workers are the best in the world, and we will fight for their right to compete. Where we are competitive, we will insist on access. And where we find a persistent pattern of unfair trade practices, we will act.


Our Nation is not only saddled with an economic deficit. We're also facing an education deficit. And making the tough choices means reexamining our priorities. At home, education must be at the top of the list. State and local governments, communities and parents bear the main responsibility for the education of our children. But the Federal Government can stimulate school systems to improve what goes on in our classrooms.


Certainly, we must accelerate the move to basics -- back to emphasizing English, math and science -- and we have to begin during the ore-school years.


We must reaffirm our commitment to education as the great equalizer -- as the door to opportunity for millions of children who may start a step behind others.


We must carefully target our assistance to programs of proven effectiveness -- merit pay for good teachers and magnet schools that focus on students with special needs and abilities.


In the highly competitive world of the 1990's, we can't afford to squander a single talent. As a start, we must cut the drop-out rate by at least 10 percent a year, and we must reduce by 2 million a year the 23 million adult Americans who can't read or write well enough to fill demanding jobs.


We are not going to produce qualified people for the workforce of the next century until we commit to programs that emphasize technical skills and scientific knowledge. We should establish national fellowships to train outstanding teachers in the uses of technology and encourage partnership programs that allow elementary and secondary schools to tap into the expertise of universities and the private sector. And finally we must remember that learning is for everyone, and it extends through a lifetime. But it is also necessary that those who borrow Federal tax dollars must repay their debt.


While we work to improve our schools, we must also remember that our national commitment to children cannot end in the classroom. We must nurture our children in the traditional values of home and family, and dependence on God. And as President I would continue my consistent and lifelong effort to protect the rights of the unborn -- the first of which is the right to life.


Just as our children's minds constitute a vital national resource, so too is the good health of our citizens. This Nation's health care system must be judged not only by its ability to cure us, but also by its ability to keep us well. As we balance the competing priorities on our national agenda, we must be certain that we provide adequate medical care at both ends of the age spectrum -- for infants and children as well as our elderly citizens. We're still not giving our infants the fighting chance they deserve to be born healthy, and prenatal care is the key.


At the same time, the graying of the baby-boom generation -and projections of a rapidly expanding elderly population -provide the impetus for a complete review of our health spending priorities.


Today's health care system has serious gaps and leaves many of the elderly and disabled without any assistance -- and strikes terror in the hearts of those who will need long-term care.


As we make the hard choices and re-examine what is most important, we must never lose sight of the fact that our number one priority is liberty and freedom -- hence a strong national defense.


Under President Reagan, we have rebuilt our defenses, revitalized our alliances, and rekindled our hopes for real nuclear arms control.


America has become strong again, but we must keep our guard up. We will not tolerate waste or inefficiency in defense spending. But we cannot afford to short-change the defense modernization programs that keep us strong.


Keeping our alliances vibrant is also vital to our own defense and security. Long-time friends achieve that status for a good reason: We share common concerns and mutual trust. Our European and Asian allies deserve first consideration in our foreign policy deliberations. But they must also recognize that an alliance is a two-way street. It's high time for those who owe their own security to America's military might to assume their rightful role, and bear their rightful burden, in the defense of our common interests. Let us start the next administration with an alliance summit -- aimed at forging a new formula for burden-sharing: our allies can afford to pay their share -- and they should.


Today, as we prepare for a summit with our adversaries in the Kremlin, we must also remember what brought them to the table, the linchpin of President Reagan's arms control strategy -- the development and phased deployment of the Strategic Defense initiative.


The American people understand, more clearly than many in Washington, that SDI is our best insurance policy against a still-uncertain future. The Soviets are working on strategic defenses at a furious pace, and so must we. There must be no curbs on our research effort. Ronald Reagan has galvanized the nation into action on SDI -- and I will begin phased deployment when it's ready.


Our security must always include a willingness to negotiate. But any missile reduction treaty has to provide for adequate verification, ensure firm compliance and strengthen -- not undermine -- the Western alliance. Abolition of intermediate-range nuclear missiles can only be the first step toward eventual reductions in long-range strategic missiles -those that can actually strike here, on the very soil where we stand. Any treaty must also be accompanied by a restored balance of conventional forces in Europe.


But arms control is not the only item on our agenda with the Soviet Union. Whatever Glasnost turns out to be, it is not democracy. We must use every opportunity to address the plight of Soviet Jews, the Poles, Armenians and the people of the Baltic States whose basic human rights continue to be crushed. we must press the Soviets to pull back from their reckless involvement in regional conflicts in Afghanistan, Kampuchea, Angola and Nicaragua. But our commitment to freedom should not end there. We must stand in support of genuine freedom fighters who hope to escape from terrorism, dictatorship and oppression. And this I pledge: When I am President, America will never retreat from those who need our help. We will act with the knowledge that freedom is indivisible not only for Americans, but for all humanity.


I came here today because my home is at the core of everything that I believe about America. Our families, our neighbors, our communities were at the center of everything we did. We welcomed all newcomers who were willing to band together for common goals. And if it does nothing else, my campaign will make clear that our party will never practice the politics of exclusion. The Republican Party, like our Nation, has an open door.


So we must never forget that there are some people in America -- be they poor or handicapped, black or brown, veterans, farmers, the young or the old -- who may be waiting for an invitation to participate, who are looking for hope, opportunity and security like the rest of us.


And so I will be sensitive to the needs of the left-out and the down-and-out in our society as they try to fulfill their own dreams.


For the hungry and the homeless -- for older Americans whose wage-earning years are behind them -- for children who are disadvantaged or abused -- for the disabled -- we will provide care and assistance. For those racked with addiction or disease, we will provide hope and help while restoring the moral values that are our best defense.


We will do these things because this is America and because we are a good and caring Nation.


To do these things will not be easy. The choices will be tough. It will require leadership, strength and determination to summon our national will to face them.


I am often asked if there is one fundamental theme to my campaign -- one critical quality or perspective that the next President of the United States must have. My answer is this:


America must stop living for today while ignoring the long-term implications of our decisions and actions for our children and for generations to come. When Congress passes a budget, when we establish trade policy, when we set educational and health priorities, when we sit across the table from the Soviet Union and negotiate reductions in nuclear weapons -- we must extend the lines of our planning beyond the immediate future.


The President of the United States should demonstrate in his every decision a sense of history and a sense of the future -- an understanding that what is efficient and appropriate in serving our national interest today must survive the test of protecting our national interest for years to come.


Last week, on a sunny Washington afternoon, I thought about what I would say here today. I sat on a balcony of the Capitol building overlooking Washington's inspiring panorama. Above me, the awesome Capitol dome -- the symbol of our democracy. On the horizon, the monuments to Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln -people who made a difference.


Just out of sight is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and across the river, Arlington Cemetery -- and they made a difference, too.


And I looked back on my career, and thought about the step I am taking today. Was I really ready? Was I strong enough? Could I really make a difference?


Then I thought about America, and what the giants of America's history -- our past Presidents and our people -- have been able to achieve over the last 200 years. And I realized that the President gets his strength from the people.


And then I thought about you, and this place. And the fact that people are my strength.


Together we are strong enough. Together we will make a difference.


Thank you, and God bless you all.




Source: Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, The University of Kansas


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