Presidential Campaign and Candidates


Bob Dornan 1992 Announcement

Dornan's Announcement Speech

Presidential Announcement, April 13, 1995

My fellow citizens of the greatest nation in all of recorded history, you know why I come to you today with my wife, Sallie, my beautiful family, my sons-in-law, my daughter-in-law, all nine of our grandchildren: I come to you humbly as a nine-times elected member of the people's house, the House of Representatives, the greatest legislative body in the world and, to quote George Washington, 'the theater of action'. . . especially given the last hundred and some days.

This is an awesome quest for any man or any woman, to imagine that you could possibly lead a nation of over 264 million people with the added responsibility of being the commander-in-chief of what was just months ago over 2 million men and women serving in every corner of the world, let alone dealing with the title 'leader of the free world.' I don't know anyone ever in our history that has the perfect background, or even close to the proper background, to aspire to the highest executive post in this great land. But the sheer honor and humbling spirit of even beginning the quest to lead our nation is an opportunity that any American would treasure for the rest of their life.

I chose this memorial because, like the Vietnam Memorial, it represents the commitment of brave men and women far beyond what is demanded of us in all other areas of public life, including the chief executive's job.

I feel the spirit of my mother and father with me here today, and I'm dedicating my campaign to all those friends of mine whom I flew with in peace time in the happy innocent Eisenhower years who later disappeared into the mists of Southeast Asia.

Dave Hrdlicka-no remains recovered, a known POW for over five maybe six years. He just disappeared in Laos-my best friend in the Air Force. Dave was the godfather of my oldest son, Bob, standing in for my uncle Jack Haley. Sallie and I, with Sallie holding their oldest son during baptism, we were the godparents of Dave's oldest son, David Jr., who's now flying with American Airlines with a great Naval Aviator career behind him. Dave Hrdlicka's name is on the Vietnam Memorial, as is that of my classmates in pilot training who got their wings the same day in 1955 that I did-Bernie Conklin, shot down by a MIG while he was flying an old twin-engine EC-47. In the Pentagon file, I read his last words-';They've hit our number one engine. It's burning. I guess this is it for us." We finally got back Bernie's remains, decades later. We never had returned to us the remains of the only other redhead in my class; David Allison. I saw his ID card-serial number just a few numbers less than mine-returned by Hanoi in the Central Intelligence Laboratory in Hawaii-that was it. . . one small green plastic card. Then Wayne Fulham, lost on a mission over Hanoi, handsomest man I ever saw in an Air Force uniform. When he was shot down and the North Vietnamese claimed they operated on him for several hours in a Hanoi hospital, they referred to him in their press as an all-American Boy. [Bootsie], his widow, just helped in the November election to elect one of the new freshmen Congressmen from Tennessee.

For all of those men and others that I served with, who joined all those names on the Vietnam memorial, I dedicate this race. I run also for everyone in the military service since right up to Mogadishu and those who died on October 3rd and 4th and then again the night of the 6th when 19 of the finest men that this country could ever produce, from 20-year-old Rangers to 36-year old Delta Force commandos, and two young 10th Mountain Division troops-Bob Dole's division, the 10th-and the greatest helicopter pilots to ever fly, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Special Forces out of Fort Campbell. I dedicate myself also to all of those heroes, particularly the two Nodal of Honor winners, Randy Shugart, whose dad refused to shake Clinton's hand at the White House, and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon-they both left beautiful wives. Gary Gordon also left little Ian and Brittany behind. These men gave their lives so that others would live. It s in scripture, Saint John, 1 S 1 3-"Greater love than this no man has."

[image] Warrant Officer Michael Durant, in embracing me at Fort Campbell a few days after his return, said, "I owe my life to those two men." I promised, "Michael, I'll fight that they get the Medal of Honor." They did.

On the Medal of Honor, there is only one word- Valor. On this side wall of the Law Enforcement Memorial, it quotes the greatest historian of the Roman Empire, Tacitus. He said, "In valor there is hope." And it is at this memorial and at the Vietnam memorial where we can experience hope that America's days are not ending, that our third century can be our best, that the American dream can be restored. . . rebuilt.

Opposite Tacitus' words about valor are the stirring remarks about this memorial by of the 41st president of the United States, my friend and a decent man, a Navy carrier attack combat pilot, George Bush. Listen to what he said just four short years ago when this memorial was dedicated. President Bush standing about here told our nation this, "Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve democracy and decency and to protect a national treasure that we call the American Dream.

Well, I stand her today because of that American Dream and this terrible and tragic conviction that it is disappearing before our eyes, that our culture is melting down, that moral decay is rotting the heart and the soul of our country, that Abraham Lincoln's worst fear for the nation he saved bay be unfolding. He had his only inaugural ball in this beautiful treasure of a building {National Pension Building} behind us and was dead within a few weeks in the morning hours of April 15, 1865.

Lincoln said, as a young 38-year-old man to a service club in Illinois, that American will never be conquered from without, that no despot will ever take a drink out of the Ohio River, that if America collapses as a civilization it will be because we destroyed ourselves. And I believe right now, a century and half after President Lincoln's warning to the United States, that America is poisoning herself, that we are destroying this God-blessed nation of ours, and I'm going to carry that message of warning to as many states as I can, and make sure that my good Republican friends in our primary races, every one of them a noble competitor hear and address my concerns. The eight of them stand head and shoulders in character and integrity above the occupant of the White House, but I want my friends; Bob Dole, our World War II hero, Phil Gramm, Pat Buchanan and Allen Keyes; my governor in California; Lamar Alexander, excellent former governor of Tennessee; Dick Lugar, who like me, has a deep interest in foreign affairs, and Arlen Specter- I mean- I said Allen Keyes-Arlen Specter, who like me wants a flat tax. It's new to him, I've been for it for 27 years.

All these good men, I want them to focus in on the social issues tearing our country apart. Yes we have an impending financial disaster that we approach at an ever increasing speed. Six trillion dollars of debt is absolutely a moral issue, and the debt will reach $6 trillion, by anybody's fair analysis before we begin, through a painful discipline-probably a 30 year process-to eliminate that debt.

The main focus of my announcement will be in New York City, on my 40th wedding anniversary, Sallie's birthday, this coming Easter Sunday. Before that we will be in that great Granite State with the wonderful motto 'Live Free or Die,' New Hampshire, on income tax day, Saturday the 1 5th. The Dornan family will visit two places where I will focus on moral decay at Exeter and economic collapse at Nashua.

But today on Thomas Jefferson's birthday tomorrow Good Friday will be a travel day-I am humbled to announce my declaration for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States of America. [applause]

Why do we go to New York City in three days? I was baptized in Saint Patrick's Cathedral the second month of FDR's first term. My parents were married at St. Pat's the June before Black Tuesday, the big Wall Street crash of 1929. I love my home town of my birth. I truly was born in Harlem-11Oth Street. It gives me excellent bragging rights with my friends in the Black; Caucus.

And I don't mind jumping Sallie's Easter birthday on this day because I want to take this opportunity on Thomas Jefferson's birthday, his 252nd birthday, to read for you a few perfect Jefferson quotes, before I briefly discuss our half hearted war on crime, in which not all Americans are fully engaged...not by any, measure. Most Americans are not in the fight at all We should always turn to our founders and framers in times of great change.

Thomas Jefferson, born April 13th, 1743, and one of the greatest intellects during of our first revolution, any changes I think has much to say to us in our current bloodless revolution. Quote One: "We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election"-meaning choice-';between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt"-(and we're trillions beyond Thomas Jefferson's worst nightmare)- "that we must be taxed in our meat, in our drink, in our necessities and our comforts and our labors"-that's what we call income tax- "and in our amusements" that's what we call an amusement tax-"and our calling and our creeds"-that's the effort to drop the tax deduction for religious or charitable contributions-"we will have no time to think, no means of calling our managers"-the U.S. Congress- "to account, but only be glad to obtain sustenance by hiring ourselves"-to the IRS or to the Clinton administration-"to rivet the chains on the necks of our fellow sufferers"-that of course means us the U.S. taxpayers.

"And this tendency of all human governments, a departure from principle becoming a precedent till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery. And the forehorse of this frightful team is public debt. And in trainwretchedness and oppression.

We finally have the focus of the Grand Old Party on this massive debt, on our deficit spending, on oppressive tax increases. America is living through such a new day that I not only finally speak proudly of my 27 years of support for the concept of a flat tax, but now chairman Bill Archer of Ways and Means-(who in 1970 won George Bush's seat in the U.S. House)-says ';The flat tax can be a plateau,"-a flat tax plateau period-"Until we can turn to a tax on consumption so we can abolish the IRS and send almost 11,000 agents if they want to continue to serve their country into other pursuits, or preferably into the private sector to help create jobs."

By finally making drastic changes in our tax collection, we will save our citizens billions of dollars in lawyers and tax accountants as high as $30 billion. And we can run our government with a consumerism tax, where the rich will pay more because they garner unto themselves more goods, more services, more products. And with our poor-we can set a level of protection from taxation.

But I'm not here at this memorial only to discuss Thomas Jefferson's powerful words about oppressive big government. I'm here to discuss what those words of George Bush mean - democracy and decency, the two pillars of civilization. Any civilization worthy of the respect of its citizens and worthy of being recorded in history as a great culture where families feel safe and secure is established those pillars-liberty and virtue.

You cannot have true liberty unless people are virtuous. You cannot possibly hire enough men and women to wear blue and khaki to police effectively a land devoid of virtue. You can't hire enough U.S. attorneys or district attorneys or marshals or prison guards to keep peace in a country if a people has lost virtue. If the majority of citizens steal from one another and lie, and a handshake means nothing, and contracts mean nothing, then your culture has decayed past the point of no return.

You must have a virtuous people or a free marketplace doesn't work. Capitalism is a failure up and down the line. But conversely you cannot have virtue unless a people are truly free to make decent choices, to choose a moral path in life. Our forefathers-again Thomas Jefferson concluded our Declaration of Independence with the ringing words "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives"-and some paid that full price-'our fortunes"-they were all bankrupted at the end of the 61/2 year struggle" and our sacred honor." This is the noble commitment that U.S. senators and men and women in the House of Representatives should make over and over.

When I was 19, during my first week on active duty; I took a ball pen, and in the soft vinyl of a cheap Air Force folder, dreaming about becoming an F-86 "Saberjet" pilot, carved those words into my binder-"With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence." Tourists are visiting Jefferson's beautiful memorial across the Tidal Basin at this moment during Easter vacation. Inside, around the rime of the rotunda's dome they read: 'I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal vigilance against every tyranny over the mind of man." Powerful? Yes, our founders Were committed to a nation of virtue, to the spiritual, to a respect for religion.

The First Amendment is not, a rejection of religion; religion-"the free exercise thereof' is mentioned in the amendment before freedom of speech, of the press, of the right for people to peaceably assemble and redress their government. The First Amendment starts off stating that Congress-that's me-shall respect no establishment of religion-no favoritism-and then the amendment says "or abridge the free exercise thereof." Clearly our founders and the framers of our inspired Constitution respected religion. Now we suffer a horribly polluted marketplace, a debased culture in Hollywood ridicules and assaults religion, tears valor and hope and virtue out of our country.

I'm very pleased that Bob Dole is reading over some of my speeches delivered on the House floor over the last 19 years. Bob was brilliant in Iowa this week, a wonderful kick off speech in his beautiful home Bible Belt-state of Kansas. A day later, he was excellent in Ohio, the state of presidents. I think I'm already having an effect on my competition, and I hadn't even declared until right now. [applause]

In this campaign, I'm going to insist we candidates discuss the morality crisis in our beautiful country. We are living through a meltdown of our cultures I repeat-we are witnessing advanced cultural meltdown-And we conservatives are going to reverse this tragedy. I'm an optimist about this challenge, because one of my political heroes, Winston Churchill, an inspiration to all politicians in republics? never apologized for saying that Western civilization was an example for the whole world with our representative government. And in a republic, the people rule, and can change anything, even meltdown.

[image] Ronald Reagan's last wonderful public appearance was in that building behind me, Lincoln's Pension Building. That's where he made us all laugh when he talked about "looking down at the White House, the beautiful home, the Ellipse, David Gergen-nothing has changed." That's when Margaret Thatcher reminded us again what a gift to the world Ronald Reagan was. He helped to break apart the evil empire. And isn't it beyond irony, beyond comprehension that in the same generation that conquered most of Communism, we begin to poison ourselves with rampant hedonism in the popular culture. Today's contradictions simply does not make sense.

I ask this of my fellow Republican primary voters, the focus of our primary process: please don't pick a candidate this early. Keep your powder dry. Keep your options open. Listen carefully to all nine of us. We do have a badly front-loaded primary process. The 1996 race is more like a 50-yard dash, unfortunately, than a longer more revealing contest. A long marathon would give more of a chance to the seven of us back in the pack. My pal Phil's got the early big money. Bob Dole has the name identification and big money from a wonderful, long federal career starting in Congress in 1961. They're both millionaires as are five of the remaining six. But now and then-message trumps money. Prayers are answered.

And what I say to my fellow candidates, let's make Americans proud of the Republican Party. Let's reach out, as it says in Proverbs, to the poor and to the helpless. Let's not let the media spin everything our fine Speaker Gingrich says, everything the nine of us say on the campaign trail. For example, let us explain the glory of our 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights and fight hard to restore power back to our governors...or to the people.

In Europe they refer to this country as "the States,?' not United, not America. To them, greater America is Canada, Mexico, it's all of South America. What fascinates Europeans is our concept of federalism, the power invested in our regional governors, the uniqueness of our States. Children in European schools memorize the names of our 50 states and love to recite them. Our children rarely learn the names of the nations of Europe with equal enthusiasm.

Our states are unique. Our presidential power is unique throughout all the governments of the world because every other county has opted for a parliamentary system.

Let's show our youth and let's show the world that the United States of America has its best years ahead of us. Let's try to be an inspiration to the world. Of course there is hope for our country, to stop the meltdown and recover. We honor these men and women in police work who give up their lives not just to protect our lives, but to protect our property, to give us the domestic tranquility that was mentioned in the Preamble to the Constitution, to help us reestablish the justice that is again mentioned in the Preamble as the reason to ordain and establish the Constitution.

I will walk around these beautiful grounds again today and answer your questions. There are brochures available that tell the historical background of this great memorial. May I point out that point out that my beautiful golden state of California has over 1,100 names of peace officers killed on duty on these walls. We will be adding 13 California officers' names next month. I hope the press will come to the ceremony here you'll learn something about that middle class kinship around the kitchen tables in those small villages or farms across America where a family will say to a young son or daughter ';yes, go for a career in the Marine Corps, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy. It's a fine way to serve your country. Or the family may decide a great career is serving as a marshal, a deputy sheriff-"the khaki line,X' or as a police officer-the "thin blue line." We owe a great debt to the middle class of this country, those people who are living quiet productive lives, yes lives, of virtue, the solid family people of this country. That's who I intend to reach for. I want their support so that I can proudly serve as their president.

What' s our battle cry in this campaign-it's on the signs around here? Faith. . . Family. . . Freedom.

Without faith what does a people have?

Family. That's what I'm going to accentuate and why I'm proud to have my beautiful extended family with me here today.

And Freedom. And I don't mean just freedom for this country. I say to my friends in this primary process, we have an obligation to try and extend liberty-freedom where we can, where we are able to assist, even at some loss of life to our young men and women if we can explain the vital interests involved. We must impart democracy, freedom, and virtue wherever we can around the world. But remember this-when terrorist countries refer to the United States as The Great Satan and point out our frightening crime rate, our venereal disease rate, our children shooting children, our pornography, the hedonist filth on the soap operas, the filth on the talk shows, and the blasphemous language, the debasement of our language on most of the situation comedies and on the made for TV movies, and cable television. When I spoke to the CEO of one of America's greatest communications networks last week and asked him why as an Irish Catholic he couldn't stop the filth on his own network. I explained why I wouldn't let my grandchildren watch his network. Well, here's all this Irishman could say to me with his millions of dollars, private jet, country club memberships, gated communities and special lounges at airports and railroad stations: he said to me, "Congressman, things have sure changed haven't they?"

Well, yes sir, Mr. CEO, they have. And we're going to roll this decay back. We're going to restore the American dream. [applause] I am not going to watch as things fall apart. My favorite poet, William B. Yeats, wrote these words in 1939, the year Hitler began the world's most devastating war "Things fall apart. The center cannot hold. The blood-dimmed tide is loosed. And everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned. The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.

Well, ladies and gentlemen here's one congressman that has the conviction and is passionate about it. But don't let my passion mislead you. I have never yelled at my staff and I've tried to motivate my children by example, not by harshness; I have never in subcommittee or committee or at a press conference ever shown a mean streak, only passion. On the floor of the House, in the Well, yes, I've been a tough debater, but no tougher than Patrick Henry exclaiming, "Give me liberty or give me death." I apologize for nothing when it comes to conviction or where I have been indignant in House speeches. It's not easy to be in the minority for 40 years forsaken in that political desert. My heart goes out to all my friends on the other side of the aisle who are having a little difficulty getting used to minority status.

But let me advise you; if someone today is not publicly indignant about the bankruptcy policies of the government of this, the richest country ever- a government destroying the American dream economically, and if somebody in office is not publicly indignant saying "Let's stop this," about our cultural meltdown-our moral decline, I'll show you somebody who doesn't understand the facts. I'll show you somebody who's a pathetic bystander watching the destruction of their country before their eyes.

While I fear for our country's future, I have a fighter's heart... come with me. At least wish me well, watch me, and help me participate in this great debate. Bob Dornan will probably never retire. I'll probably die with my boots on, so I don't ever apologize for being part of a pension system that I never voted for by the way. I want to meet St. Peter still swinging. Like Teddy Roosevelt, I love the arena-the political arena George Washington called "the theater of action." I love the dust. And yes, I have I bled for my country. When I was smashed in the face by a jet fighter's canopy ejecting. I came as close to death as Bob Dole did but without suffering his pain-there's no pain involved with drowning, just fear and sadness.

I have offered to put my life on the line for South Korea, for Israel, for Hungary, for Berlin, for the Dominican Republic and for Vietnam. But God never willed it so that I would have to fire at another mother's son.

This is why I have a bond of love with cops and with the men and women in the military. I know the weight of that role of leadership and what it means to be Commander-in-Chief.

My grandsons over her to my right, Kevin and Colin, helped me fly on the roof of the Capitol, 194 flags for every man killed in Somalia, 44, 30 of those killed in action. I met with the families of the two Medal of Honor winners.

I asked Randy Shugart's dad, Herb why he refused to shake Clinton's hand at the White House Medal Of Honor ceremony. Clinton told Mr. [Herb] Shugart he didn't even know the about the operation in which Randy was killed. . . that he didn't know Addid had been flown by a US Army aircraft to Addis Ababa. And Herb Shugart, the father of a Medal of Honor winner, told me, "Mr. President, you're not worthy to be Commander-in-Chief. I have nothing else to say to you." [applause] I know what is entailed with the Commander-in-Chiefs job. It's disgraceful Bill Clinton doesn't even have a clue.

I'll close on this. One of my adversaries in the press-and brother, do they love their adversarial role-said ';Congressman, your passion in the Well, is that too strong for the White House? Might you not get us involved in a conflict" I pointed out to him that warriors or those trained to be combat ready warriors do not endanger the precious lives of their brothers and sisters in uniform unless, if all other means are exhausted, we can look their parents, their brother and sisters, their widows, their children in the eyes and tell them why their young heroes was asked to risk their young lives. Clinton cannot do that because he doesn't understand the careful, moral use of the power entrusted in the presidency. If you want to see tragic American history unfold be fore your reading eyes in one heartbreaking chapter after another about evil civilian leadership, I suggest you read Robert Strange MacNamara's rotten book, as I'm doing. Never again, will a war criminal like MacNamara soil our nation's honor.

Thank you for coming today and God bless you, everyone. It's going to be a lot of fun out there on the campaign trail. If someone can't enjoy this election process, they shouldn't declare. I think the door will close next month after Senator Lugar and Governor Pete Wilson enter the race.

We've got all nine grandchildren with us to head north to New Hampshire and we're going to have a good old time. Here's my Clinton countdown watch showing 572 days until the election. Sallie, what's your counting down until the inauguration? 648! Just add 76 days to mine and you have the inauguration day. I'm counting the hours and the days until we send the Clintons packing. This is going to be a great quest and a great American experience for our family and friends.

Source: Bob Dornan 1996 Website


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