For President Announcement
June 12, 1999
pleasure it is to visit with you, to shake your hands. Laura and I are
so grateful for your welcome, your enthusiasm, your confidence.
There will come a time for formal speeches and 10 point plans. But I
know the question on your mind: Why are you thinking about running for
president? So Iíll tell you whatís on my heart.
Iíll have a formal announcement sometime in the Fall. I have come here
today to tell you this: I am running for President of the United States.
Thereís no turning back, and I intend to be the next President of the
Iím running because our country must be prosperous. But prosperity
must have a purpose. The purpose of prosperity is to make sure the
American dream touches every willing heart. The purpose of prosperity is
to leave no one outÖ to leave no one behind. Iím running because my
party must match a conservative mind with a compassionate heart. And
Iím running to win.
Prosperity is not a given. Some in this administration think they
invented it. But they did not invent prosperity, any more than they
invented the Internet. Governments donít create wealth. Wealth is
created by Americans -- by creativity and enterprise and risk-taking.
But government can create an environment where businesses and
entrepreneurs and families can dream and flourish.
Weíll be prosperous if we reduce taxes. Iíll have a plan that
reduces marginal rates to create jobs, but a plan that also helps
struggling families on the outskirts of poverty. I believe that after we
meet priorities, all that remains must be passed back to Americans, so
it will not be spent by Washington.
Weíll be prosperous if we reduce the regulations that strangle
enterprise. And I will do what I did in Texas: fight for meaningful,
real tort reform.
Weíll be prosperous if we embrace free trade. Iíll work to end
tariffs and break down barriers everywhere, entirely, so the whole world
trades in freedom. The fearful build walls. The confident demolish them.
I am confident in American workers and farmers and producers. And I am
confident that Americaís best is the best in the world.
We must be prosperous to keep our commitments to the health and security
and dignity of the elderly. And we should trust Americans by giving them
the option of investing part of their Social Security contributions in
And we must be prosperous to keep the peace. This is still a world of
terror and missiles and madmen. And we are challenged by aging weapons
and failing intelligence.
I will rebuild our military power Ė because a dangerous world still
requires a sharpened sword.
I will move quickly to defend our people and our allies against missiles
And I will have a foreign policy with a touch of iron Ė driven by
American values and American interests.
America must seize this moment. America must lead. Because Americaís
greatest export to the world is, and always will be, freedom.
America will be prosperous and strong if we do the right things. But
prosperity alone is simple materialism. Prosperity must have a greater
purpose. The success of America has never been proven by cities of gold,
but by citizens of character. Men and women who work hard, dream big,
love their family, serve their neighbor. Values that turn a piece of
earth into a neighborhood, a community, a chosen nation.
That dream is so vivid Ė but still many are saying: The dream is not
for me. Kids who turn schoolyards into battlefields. Children who
corrupt their wills and souls with drugs, who limit their ambitions by
having children themselves. Failed schools are creating two societies:
one that reads and one that canít; one that dreams and one that
These are burdens on the conscience of a successful nation. The next
president must close this gap of hope. It is the great challenge to
Americaís good heart.
I want to be a president who sets a tone, a direction, an agenda. I will
be an activist president, who sets goals worthy of a great nation. I
wonít use my office as a mirror to reflect public opinion. And Iíll
be guided by conservative principles. Government should do a few things,
and do them well. Government should not try to be all things to all
My first goal is to usher in the responsibility era. An era that stands
in stark contrast to the last few decades, when the culture has clearly
said: If it feels good, do it. If youíve got a problem, blame someone
else. Each of us must understand we are responsible for the choices we
make in life. Weíre responsible for the children we bring into the
world. Weíre responsible to love our neighbor as we want to be loved
And we must pass this message to our children -- teach them there are
right choices in life and wrong choices in life. Drugs will destroy you.
Alcohol will ruin your life. And having a child out of wedlock is a sure
fire way to fall behind. Weíll love the babies. But the message must
be clear: It is not the definition of a man to father a child out of
wedlock and say, "Theyíre not my problem, theyíre yours."
Some people think itís inappropriate to draw a moral line. Not me. For
our children to have the lives we want for them, they must learn to say
yes to responsibility, yes to family, yes to honesty and work. I have
seen our culture change once in my lifetime, so I know it can change
What can be done? Government can help. We can write laws to give schools
and principals more authority to discipline children and protect the
peace of classrooms. We must encourage states to reform their juvenile
justice laws. We must say to our children, "We love you, but
discipline and love go hand in hand, and there will be bad consequences
for bad behavior."
But changing our culture requires more than laws. Cultures change one
heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. Government can spend money,
but it canít put hope in our hearts or a sense of purpose in our
lives. This is done by churches and synagogues and mosques and charities
that warm the cold of life. A quiet river of goodness and kindness that
cuts through stone.
So my second goal -- one of the biggest jobs for the next president --
is to rally these armies of compassion that exist in every community. To
nurture. To mentor. To comfort. To perform their commonplace miracles of
As president, I will lift the regulations that hamper them. I will
involve them in after-school programs, maternity group homes, drug
treatment, prison ministries. I will lay out specific incentives to
encourage an outpouring of giving in America. Supporting these men and
women Ė the soldiers in the army of compassion -- is the next, bold
step of welfare reform. Because changing hearts will change our entire
And my third goal. We should make a solemn commitment in this country:
That every child will be educated. That no child will be left behind.
I believe in the power of high standards and high hopes. I have seen
what works in my state. Raise the bar of expectations. Measure progress.
Insist on results. Blow the whistle on failure. Donít give up on
As president, I will give more flexibility and authority to states Ė
but encourage local folks to measure results for every child. I will
praise success Ė but shine a spotlight of shame on failure. If schools
fail, we must be bold enough to challenge the status quo. And I am going
to change Head Start Ė to teach our youngest children phonics so they
can read, and the basics, so they can add.
Everyone must have a first rate education, because there are no second
rate children, no second rate dreams.
Youíve heard me talk about compassionate conservatism. These goals are
what I mean.
It is conservative to cut taxes. It is compassionate to help people save
and give and build.
It is conservative to reform welfare by insisting on work. It is
compassionate to take the side of charities and churches that confront
the suffering which remains.
It is conservative to confront illegitimacy. It is compassionate to
offer practical help to women and children in crisis.
It is conservative to insist on education standards, basics and local
control. It is compassionate to make sure that not one single child gets
I know this approach has been criticized. But why? Is compassion beneath
us? Is mercy below us? Should our party be led by someone who boasts of
a hard heart? I know Republicans Ė across the country -- are generous
of heart. I am confident the American people view compassion as a noble
calling. The calling of a nation where the strong are just and the weak
I am proud to be a compassionate conservative. I welcome the label. And
on this ground Iíll take my stand.
It is the ground Iíve stood as governor of Texas, a job I really love.
I know it isnít the same as being president. But if Texas were a
country, it would be the 11th largest economy in the world. And Iíve
had some successes. We passed the two biggest tax cuts in Texas history.
We reformed our welfare and tort laws. We improved test scores for all
the children in our schools, especially African-American and Hispanic
Iíve learned to lead. I donít run polls to tell me what to think. I
make decisions based on a conservative philosophy that is engrained in
my heart. Trust local people to make right choices about their schools
and cities. Understand that private property is the backbone of
capitalism. Fight for American interests and American workers in the
world. Know the importance of family and the need for personal
responsibility. These are principles from which I will not vary.
Iíve learned you can not lead by dividing people. This country is
hungry for a new style of campaign. Positive. Hopeful. Inclusive. A
campaign that attracts new faces and new voices. A campaign that unites
all Americans toward a better tomorrow.
I say a better tomorrow because Iíve learned that people want to
follow an optimist. They donít respond to the message: "Follow
me, things are going to get worse." They respond to someone who
appeals to our better angels, not our darker impulses. They respond to
someone who sees better times Ė and I see better times.
I want you to imagine a campaign that carries this message. We will
defend the American dream with sound economic policies and tax cuts. But
we will also tell every American, "The dream is for you." Tell
forgotten children in failed schools, "The dream is for you."
Tell families, from the barrios of LA to the Rio Grande Valley: "El
sueno americano es para ti." Tell men and women in our decaying
cities, "The dream is for you." Tell confused young people,
starved of ideals, "The dream is for you." This is the kind of
campaign we must run.
For my part, Iím running, and Iím running hard. I know that this
race will be competitive. I know the other candidates are good and
talented people. And I know Iím late. But now that the Texas
legislative session is over, Iím taking my front porch campaign to
every front porch in this state. I will tell people exactly what I told
you here today. Face to face. Eye to eye. And I cannot wait.
It feels to me like an old era of American politics is ending -- like
Americans are waiting for new hopes, new energy, new idealism. We will
prove that someone who is conservative and compassionate can win without
sacrificing principle. We will show that politics, after a time of
tarnished ideals, can be higher and better. We will give our country a
fresh start after a season of cynicism.
We have a long way to go, but we start today. And I hope youíll join
George W. Bush for President 2000 Web Site