Presidential Campaign and Candidates



Arlen Specter


Today, I offer my ideas -- my experience -- and my energy to the American people -- to lead our great nation into the 21st Century -- as the next President of the United States.

I do so humbly -- in the presence of the monuments of America's great presidents -- especially Abraham Lincoln -- the founder of the Republican Party -- whose deep commitment to equality and opportunity I share.

With the election of a Republican Congress in 1994 -- and a Republican President in 1996, -- we have a unique opportunity to move America toward unprecedented prosperity -- and unlimited economic opportunity for all Americans.

We do so by focusing on implementing our core Republican beliefs -- smaller government, -- less spending, -- lower taxes, -- civil rights and liberties -- strong national defense -- and effective arms control -- that will unleash the full potential of the American people.

In 1994, Republican Representatives won the House with a ten point contract -- the Contract with America. In 1996, I intend to win the other house -- the White House -- with ten commitments to America:

(l) to balance the budget through spending reduction;
(2) to begin to pay off the national debt;
(3) to foster economic growth through enactment of a flat tax;
(4) to reduce violent crime;
(5) to improve education with innovations like privatization and charter schools;
(6) to reform health care through the free market;
(7) to provide strong leadership in international affairs;
(8) to contain weapons of mass destruction;
(9) to control terrorism; and
(10) to champion tolerance and freedom, including a woman's right to choose.

These commitments embody my personal core beliefs as a fiscal and economic conservative and social libertarian.

I agree with Barry Goldwater when he said we must get government out of our pocketbooks -- off our backs -- and out of our bedrooms.

My commitment to America is to balance the Federal budget by the target date -- the year 2002. By balancing the budget by 2002, - - my commitment to America is to make the first payment on reducing the national debt by the year 2003 -- during the first presidential term of the 21st Century.

My commitment to America is to reduce the Federal bureaucracy, -- by eliminating the 12,000 pages of Internal Revenue Service regulations -- and most of the 110,000 IRS employees. That could be done -- by enacting my plan for a 20% flat tax. Americans would save 5 billion hours -- and $200 billion dollars a year -- by filing their tax returns on a postcard -- with only 10 lines with only two deductions: for home mortgage interest and charitable deductions.

Taxation is the noose-knot around the throat of enterprise and opportunity. The tax system that we use in America today is a national disgrace, -- with a dedicated deduction for every interest group -- and a loophole for every lobbyist.

Our current income tax system is bizarre, burdensome, and biased against growth. The flat tax will give the American people a system which is simple, -- fair -- and pro-growth. It would increase the gross national product by $2 trillion dollars within seven years -- by encouraging savings -- with no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. I believe the flat tax is an idea whose time has come. My plan will move America towards unprecedented prosperity, -- full employment -- and economic opportunity for all Americans.

I make a simple pledge: on the date of my inauguration -- at the end of my speech --, I will deliver a flat tax bill to the leaders of the Congress on the steps of the Capitol.

My commitment to America is to improve personal security for our citizens at home -- and abroad. From my hands on experience during 12 years in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, -- I am confident that violent crime can be cut as much as 50%. No more plea bargains with violent criminals. No more career criminals set free -- because there aren't enough jail cells to hold them. No more court-ordered prison caps that make criminals' comfort more important than citizens' safety. Let's begin with an early intervention for juvenile offenders -- with job training and education -- to see if they can be led away from a life of crime. But if they can't, -- if they become career criminals, -- let's lock them up till they are too old to be dangerous.

And finally, -- I will put the teeth back into the death penalty. I believe in deterrence. The best weapon we have in the battle against crime -- is the certainty of tough sentences -- for tough criminals -- swiftly carried out. Give every defendant a fair trial and fair appeal -- but once guilt has been decided and a sentence fairly imposed, -- don't let years of court delay in carrying out the death penalty -- make a mockery of justice. My commitment to America is to retain the free enterprise system -- that provides the best health care in the world -- for 85% of the American people -- and then to target the problems of spiraling costs, -- affordability -- and coverage on change of job, -- for pre-existing conditions -- and for those now excluded from health care plans.

My commitment to America is to restore our nation to its preeminent role in world affairs. From my vantage point as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, -- I see the need for a military force able to defend our vital interests. I see the need for a president who understands and identifies those vital interests -- I see the need for a president who projects a foreign policy -- that is more than a surprised reaction to world events.

My commitment to America is to pursue an aggressive foreign policy -- to stop rogue nations from developing weapons of mass destruction. I reject the President's deal which allows North Korea a window of up to five years without inspections. Those inspections are necessary to determine whether North Korea is developing nuclear weapons.

My commitment to America is to fight the scourge of international terrorism -- illustrated by the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York -- and the nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway. At the outset of my presidency, I will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem to implement the Sense of the Senate Resolution calling for recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capitol.

My commitment to America -- is to replace a President who has been inattentive, inactive and indecisive -- when it comes to America's interests abroad.

Today I have outlined goals and priorities I see for America. Even though we have this historic opportunity for these achievements, there are those in our party who would lead us down a different path -- and squander this unique moment in our nation's history -- by using our political capital -- to pursue a radical social agenda -- that would end a woman's right to choose -- and mandate school prayer.

When Pat Robertson says there is no constitutional doctrine of separation between Church and State, -- I say he is wrong. The First Amendment freedom of religion is as important today -- as when the Bill of Rights was written.

When Pat Buchanan calls for a Holy War in our society, -- I say he is wrong. We don't need holy wars, -- we need tolerance and simple humanity.

When Ralph Reed says a pro-choice Republican isn't qualified to be our President, -- I say the Republican Party will not be blackmailed. I and millions of other pro-choice Republicans -- will not be disenfranchised.

I believe there is an important place in public life -- for people with deep religious and moral convictions. I am one of them. When I look at teenage pregnancies, -- the high crime rate, -- the fact that many high school graduates cannot read their own diplomas, -- there is no doubt that people with deep religious and moral convictions must be active in the political process. But it is not Christian, -- or religious, -- or Judeo-Christian to bring God into politics; -- or to advocate the intolerance and exclusion.

I think Jack Kemp put it best -- when he said when it comes to moral values -- we must seek to persuade rather than impose. I want to take abortion out of politics. I want to keep the Republican Party focused on the vital economic and foreign policy issues -- and leave moral issues such as abortion to the conscience of the individual. I believe abortion is an issue to be decided by women -- not by big government.

I will lead the fight to strip the strident anti-choice language from the Republican National platform -- and replace it with language that respects human life, -- but also respects the diversity of opinion within our own Party on this issue. Let me say it as plainly as I can: Neither this nation -- nor this Party can afford a Republican candidate -- so captive to the demands of the intolerant right -- that we end up reelecting a President of the incompetent left.

Let me now speak from the heart -- about my vision of America's future, -- from the lessons of the past -- lessons passed on to me by the quiet example of my father, -- Harry Specter. Everything I learned about opportunity, hard work, and sacrifice, I learned from my father. A peasant in his native land. An American in this one.

You see, my father grew up in a small town in Russia called Batchkurina, -- in a one room hut with a dirt floor -- a hut he shared with his parents, -- seven brothers, -- and one sister. As the only Jewish family in the town, -- they were a convenient target for the slurs of the villagers -- and the threats of the Cossacks.

When he turned 18, he walked clear across the European Continent -- alone, uneducated and destitute -- and sailed in steerage -- looking for a better life in America. He found that better life, but it did not come easily. He would rise before dawn and work past dusk, -- earning a living any way and anywhere he could: driving a truck in the coal fields of Pennsylvania; -- selling blankets to farmers in the winter in Nebraska; -- and peddling cantaloupes door to door in the summer in Kansas; -- finally opening a modest business -- a junkyard in Russell, Kansas. Let me tell you something: A man who has walked across Europe to escape the Czar -- and the violent prejudice of his neighbors -- knows what America's promise of opportunity really means -- and he passed that on to me.

And as much as I learned from my father, -- everything I learned about compassion and family values, I learned from my mother, Lillie Specter. It was my mother who would tell me -- that in America, -- I could be anything I wanted to be -- even President. and I listened to her and I am still listening to her. From both my parents -- I learned the virtue of education because they had so little of it. My father had no formal education -- and my mother left school in the 8th grade to help support her family. My brother, my two sisters and I have shared in the American dream because of our educational opportunities -- so I am very, very deeply committed to education and economic opportunity for all Americans.

And so I stand before you today -- to declare my candidacy -- a man no more worthy than many, a man far less worthy -- than those giants who founded the nation -- and held it fast through revolutionary and civil wars, in whose shadows we stand today. But for all that, -- I stand before you today as a man willing to work with every ounce of my energy -- and every fiber of my determination -- to renew once again the dreams of freedom and opportunity -- that for 200 years have made this nation the envy of and the example for the entire world.

To all Americans, I optimistically say: tomorrow can be better than today.

To that cause -- I pledge my total dedication; in that cause, I ask my fellow Americans for their hearts, their hands, and their help.

Source: Arlen Specter for President Web Site


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