Senator Richard Lugar's Announcement Speech

Presidential Announcement, April 19, 1995

Twenty-eight years ago, I came to you, my friends and neighbors in my home town, to say that I would like to serve as your mayor to unite the real city of Indianapolis, and to forge a new standard of excellence that would inspire a nation whose cities were in crisis.

Today, surrounded by so many achievements of great Hoosiers who shared our vision and built to fulfill those dreams, I come to you with a new vision for our country.

I come to declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States.

As President of the United States, I will establish a new foundation for American optimism and strength. Together, we will exercise and enjoy the American Advantage. That advantage is our unique ability to build a new economic future for ourselves and our families; to assert strong and creative American leadership in the world; and to reinvigorate our traditional values of religious faith, of family, honesty, and integrity.

Americans want a leader they can trust.

The essence of presidential leadership is to make important changes in our country without dividing our country. Our nation remains a place of hope, freedom, and opportunity. American prosperity requires that America be secure. To achieve this, we must again have a President who understands and knows how to deal with the world around us; a President who can and will act decisively to use American power and influence to ensure America's safety well into the new century.

American prosperity and security, if they are to last and have meaning, require American spiritual renewal. We must rediscover and recommit to the values of faith and family, of integrity and personal responsibility. We must teach these to our children by what we say and by how we act.

The President must lead the way, by his own words, by his own commitment, and his own example.

These are the things we must do. These are the reasons I run.

These changes will never happen under President Clinton. These changes will happen under President Lugar.

Let me be just as candid about frequent comments on my candidacy. The conventional wisdom of generous columnists seems to be that Dick Lugar would be a good President. That he is intelligent, has broad experience, exercises courage and prudence appropriately. But that such a person is rarely nominated or elected.

A part of the conventional wisdom I gratefully receive. The conclusion, however, is a severe miscalculation of the wisdom of the American people. At bottom, it says that Americans will not elect the person they find best qualified for the Presidency.

I absolutely disagree. If I didn't, I wouldn't be running.

My candidacy is grounded on faith that Americans care deeply about their country. Faith that Americans know that the Presidency is not entertainment.

Faith that Americans are not only willing but eager to support a Presidential candidate who offers straight talk and serious action on the issues that affect their lives and their children's futures.

And that is exactly what I am going to do.

Under Republican leadership, the nation is rediscovering the vision that inspired the Founders. The vision of a free and independent people, with a Government carefully limited in its size and scope and in its power to control our lives.

As the standard bearer of my party, I will be committed to renewing this vision.

With the election of Republican majorities in the House and Senate, we have glimpsed it. Now we must secure it.

We must understand that the 1994 elections were not the "Republican Revolution" -- any more than the Declaration of Independence and the skirmishes at Concord and Lexington were "Revolutions."

Revolutions are hard fought and harder won. What lies ahead are Trenton on Christmas morn, and the snows at Valley Forge, and finally Yorktown.

The rhetoric of revolution need be hot; the first skirmishes must be won.

But now the Nation must be rallied to unite. To weather the winter that revolution may bring. And to embrace the revolution not for revenge on the old order, but for the promise to our children of the new order - a modern day return to the Founders' vision of limited government in a society lit bright by freedom and responsibility.

With the battle to renew that vision now joined, Americans will rally if united by leadership that sees them as one.

Opposing us, President Clinton and his advisers see Americans as many separate groups, each defined by its own narrow self-interest, each competing with the others for "its" share of the Federal budget, and each hooked on this or that Federal program.

That's what they think government is about. That's why they think Americans will bitterly resist spending cuts and deficit reduction. That's why the defenders of the old order seek to divide Americans by class or race or gender or geography.

That's why all those who cling to the old ways believe that someone who talks straight to the American people doesn't have a chance.

But they are wrong.

I believe that most Americans share a common allegiance to our country. A common commitment to our future, that transcends narrow self interest.

I believe that today, as throughout our history, most Americans want a President who will call on the better angels of our nature, and will unite the nation to face our common challenges head on. My vision for America sees a typical American family that actually enjoys better job prospects and more real income. Our paychecks will be bigger, our savings will be greater, and our hopes for the future will abound.

Most Americans are now trapped in a box that offers little chance for escape.

Our current economic framework of big federal deficits and an income tax that discourages savings, investment, and productivity traps most of us.

The Federal Reserve is trying to hold down real economic growth to two and a half percent annually by raising short term interest rates. That growth is simply too small to meet the hopes and dreams of most Americans. It is too small to meet our competition abroad.

In due course, the current trend of interest rate hikes will lead to declining growth and higher unemployment long before middle-Americans have a feeling of confidence about the future.

Presidential campaigns offer an opportunity for the American people to make a substantial change in course. Americans want a President who will offer strong and bold programs. I will work to adopt and enforce in the future a federal budget plan that offers a clear and reasonable path to balancing the federal budget in the next seven years.

We must be serious about cutting spending and balancing the federal budget. Every program in the federal government must be reviewed. That is what I have been doing as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and what I will do as President.

There will be hard choices. Waving your arms all around and making broad promises, pandering to this group and that, will not do.

As an Indiana farmer, I have advocated cutting farm subsidies by $15 billion. Farmers want to and should plant for the market, and not for the government. The government should not dictate the economy, the market and individual goals should.

The younger members of our families will have diminished hopes each year if we continually pile up more national debt and obligate more and more of our annual national budget to simply pay interest on an ever increasing mountain of debt.

In addition to balancing the budget, I favor abolishing the federal income tax and all of the Internal Revenue Service apparatus which has grown to collect and enforce the income tax.

Specifically, I propose to abolish completely the federal individual and corporate income taxes, capital gains taxes, gift taxes, and inheritance taxes all at the same time. And with them all of the tax loopholes which have been created for special interests.

This means for every American that the money you earn will be yours. You may save it or you may spend it, but your paycheck will be bigger without the automatic income withholding deduction. You need not account for it, report it or hide it. If you spend it, you will pay a national retail sales tax.

You regain your privacy. You are no longer guilty until you prove your innocence to the IRS.

You regain the freedom of your time and labor. You will stop worrying about whether the family farm or store will have to be sold to pay estate taxes because there won't be gift or estate taxes anymore.

With savings and investments no longer taxed, Americans will enjoy an economic boom. There will be increased productivity, higher wages, and new investment from around the world attracted by our policy of no income taxes. American exports will surge because our competitive prices will be down sharply. This will mean hundreds of thousands of new productive jobs.

The problems of low and middle income citizens will be met simply and clearly. The new plan will not be more regressive.

The bottom line is new liberty for Americans and dynamic new growth in our job and income prospects.

We should achieve this goal in 1997 and be prepared to save, invest, and to grow for many years to come.

I am also determined to address national security and America's role in the world.

I know what some pollsters and pundits say. They contend that many Americans no longer care what happens beyond our borders and don't want to hear about it.

I've been told that my campaign for President is at a disadvantage because many believe I have the most experience and expertise in leading national security and foreign policy, subjects in which supposedly there is little voter interest.

Americans know better. Americans know that their President must be a skilled statesman precisely because what happens abroad can have a major impact at any time on what happens at home. Americans understand that their President must know what he is doing on national security. Otherwise he'll find himself making it up as he goes along, bouncing from one crisis to the next.

Americans understand that their President must know what he's doing as Commander-in-Chief. The price of inexperience when it comes to that Presidential duty will ultimately be paid in the blood of our sons and daughters.

In the Lugar Administration, Americans will have confidence that their President is up to the job. Americans will rest easier in the knowledge that the President standing watch over our country's safety and security is someone who actually knows what it means to stand a watch.

We are also going to take advantage -- for our children, and their children, and generations of Americans yet unborn -- of the unique window of opportunity presented by our victory in the Cold War. This is a special moment in history when American power and influence could be at their peak. A moment that cries out for leadership that understands how that power and influence can be harnessed and used to preserve our freedom and security well into the dawning new century.

We now have an opportunity to rid America and the world of the prospect of nuclear terror. Hundreds of warheads are even now being dismantled in the former Soviet Union because of a bipartisan initiative I spearheaded with Senator Sam Nunn. Now while that window of opportunity remains barely open, we must act to keep the weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists the world over.

Peoples from around the world regard the United States as a force for good and a refuge from the tragedies that afflict so many of their homelands. But even as the meaning of what it is to be an American still shines brightly, the moral and family values that have been the basis for our success have shown signs of erosion.

The results of this erosion can be seen throughout our society. One million adolescent women become pregnant every year. One in four babies delivered in America are born to unwed mothers. About 12 percent of American students drop out of school before completing a high school degree. Since 1988, teenage boys have been more likely to die from gunshot wounds than from all natural causes combined. And the typical child will watch 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence on television before finishing elementary school.

The tragedy of these trends is felt by every American. We must learn anew and teach our children -- by what we say, and by how we act -- what we know to be right and what we know to be wrong.

The keys to a life of fulfillment are personal responsibility, not pleasure seeking. Integrity and faithfulness, and not their opposites.

Self-discipline, not self-indulgence.

I will work tirelessly with community leaders, with clergy of all faith, with those in the media and entertainment, and all who must be enlisted in our endeavor.

A president must rise to the challenge of reinvigorating American moral character, just as presidents in the past have used their inherent power to lead the nation through other crises of national spirit.

We remember the steadfast resolve imparted by Abraham Lincoln to the nation as it weathered the calamity of national division. In the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt used his persuasive voice to build hope and confidence. And Ronald Reagan gave us confidence that we would prevail against a totalitarian communist evil empire.

No president, alone, can repair the damage done to our national morale. But the President has the visibility, the symbolic assets, and a national mandate to lead a campaign for moral and family values, teaching by precept and example. This I will do.

As president I will work from my experience with state, county and municipal leaders to encourage innovative solutions where they really count -- in local communities and neighborhoods.

I will use the bully pulpit to promote a national atmosphere of personal responsibility to family and community. I will set a moral example as a good parent, a good spouse, a good neighbor, and a good citizen. I have been optimistic, resilient, and inclusive in building teams that share my idealism.

All of my life's experiences have prepared me for this challenge. I have been blessed with a strong, loving family. My mother Bertha, who nurtured me is with me here today. My late father, Marvin, whose strong counsel I still cherish instilled in me a sense of personal responsibility. My wife, Charlene, my loving partner for 38 years. My four sons -- Mark, Robert, John and David -- and seven grandchildren. They are my foundation.

I have been a lay minister in the Methodist Church. I believe in the sanctity of life. I was an Eagle Scout, and I pledged, "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country."

As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, I went to the American Embassy in London and enlisted in the United States Navy. I served as an intelligence briefer for Admiral Arleigh Burke, and I returned home to Indiana to help manage my family's farm and business.

With my brother, Tom, I helped those businesses to meet a payroll, make a profit, and find ways to grow and expand through exports.

I served on the Indianapolis School Board. I know government at its most local and important level.

While mayor of Indianapolis for eight years, we cut property tax rates five times, and served on the front lines of fighting crime, building neighborhoods, and founding health clinics.

For the past 18 years in the United States Senate, I have dedicated my best efforts to ensuring that American security and American interests in the world are guaranteed, and that the American economy prospers.

Our risks are too great, and our opportunities too many, not to have a President with the experience, character, and the resolve to lead this great country at this important time.

My vision for America is constant, constructive, hands-on American leadership in the world guided by presidential strength and wisdom.

A strong and growing economy in which average Americans see bigger paychecks, larger savings, and liberation from the current straight jacket of income taxes and federal deficits.

Belief in America's traditional values of family, honesty and responsibility.

That is the foundation of my vision for America.

This will be a long campaign. This will be a successful campaign. I have always been a long distance runner. This time, I plan to run for America.

And I plan to win for all Americans.

Thank you.

Source: Lugar for President 1996 Web Site