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Text of Tommy G. Thompson's Campaign Kickoff Speech

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Location: Clive, IA


Text of Tommy G. Thompson's Campaign Kickoff Speech

Thank you to my good friend Governor Branstad. I miss the good-old days
when we were governors of Iowa and Wisconsin, helping our states become
shining stars in the Midwest.

Bill Dix, my state chairman; Charlotte Mohr, my honorary state chair; Ron
Corbett, a senior advisor to the campaign; and Republican Party Chairman
Ray Hoffman - thank you all for joining me here today and welcoming me to
the bountiful state of Iowa.

Before I begin, I'd like to introduce you my family to you - my wife Sue
Ann, my daughters Kelli and Tommi, and my son Jason. You've been with me
for each of my campaigns, and I'm deeply grateful that you all are here
once again as we embark on this new journey. You all have given me so much
- and I'm not just talking about our five grandchildren.

It's great to be an American, and isn't it great to be a Republican!

Ladies and gentlemen, there's no better place in the world to live than
the United States of America. We know that very well living here in
America's breadbasket - the great Midwest, which feeds our nation and the
world.

And it is here, in the Midwest, where the American Dream takes special
hold - an ideal planted by our forefathers, nurtured by our parents and
set free in us as adults.

It was another Midwestern, who grew up in a neighboring state just east of
here, who came along in troubled times and reminded us about the power of
the American Dream to lift our nation to a new era of prosperity and
peace. Ronald Reagan said, "The cynics may call it corny, but this way of
life we all cherish is best summed up in three simple words: The American
Dream."

Of the American Dream, President Reagan said: "The dreams of people may be
different, but everyone wants their dreams to come true. … Everybody wants
to do something in one's life that will give him or her pride and a sense
of accomplishment. And America, above all places, gives us the freedom to
do that, the freedom to reach out and make our dreams come true."

President Reagan had great expectations for America because he had such
great expectations for the American people. He believed we were capable of
anything. So do I - and so must America once again.

So it is with the greatest expectations for the future of our nation, that
I officially announce today my candidacy for President of the United
States of America.

It's a long way for this boy from Elroy to the grand white home on
Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. But it's a journey that only a
child in America can dream of making one day. And it's a dream that could
only come true in this land of opportunity.

Yes, America is facing tough times…uncertain times. But it is time for
American to come together, roll up our sleeves and get to work addressing
the problems of our time. And roll up your sleeves is what I'm asking you
to do with me today.

Solving problems with innovation and determination is what we do best.
Throughout my career as governor of Wisconsin and later as US Secretary of
health and human services, we have taken on society's toughest challenges
and moved beyond them to a better, stronger place.

· We ended welfare and replaced it with the hope and opportunity
of a job.

· We moved our children to the head of the class, making sure
low-income, inner city parents could choose the best school so their
children could receive the best education possible.

· Together, we cut taxes, investing in entrepreneurs and workers
to build better jobs and more secure futures. I'm not afraid to veto when
spending and taxes get out of line. I cut taxes by $16.4 billion in taxes
and vetoed $287 million in spending, making sure that government lived
within the same means our families must. … That's why I will ask Congress
to give me the line-item veto, to cut earmarks and wasteful pork barrel
spending.

· In Wisconsin, we proved to a nation that economic prosperity and
environmental stewardship were not an either-or proposition - we built a
healthy economy and a healthy environment.

· We saw the promise of ethanol and renewable energy far before it
was fashionable.

· And we made affordable health care accessible to working
families and their children through innovation and efficiency.

· And in Washington, after 10 years of failed attempts, we finally
added prescription drug coverage to Medicare - and we made it affordable
by introducing private-sector competition to the government-run system.
It's been a remarkable success.

From Madison to Washington, this is the record of a reliable conservative;
one who puts principles into practice.

It is a record driven by our shared Midwestern work ethic -- we don't just
talk about solving problems, we get the job done in these parts. This is
why I have been in Iowa the past four months, talking to you about
specific ways we can address the issues of most concern to you, to your
fellow Americans, and to the future of this great nation.

And I'm going to keep talking specifics. Keep offering ideas. I want to
ignite and fuel a national debate on the best ways to get America back on
track.

Everywhere I go, the first question people ask is: "What are you going to
do about Iraq?"

We must give the Iraqi people a stake in their nation and stability in
their future. Look, the problems in Iraq go back centuries. We're not
going to miraculously change such deep-seeded animosities and hatred. We
must stop trying to force people who hate each other to live together, and
instead focus on giving these diverse cultures their own piece of Iraq and
the incentive to live peacefully within a larger nation.

I have a three step plan to create stability in Iraq so our troops can
leave sooner rather than later.

1. The Iraqi government should vote on whether they want us there. If
they do, we have greater world standing to be there. If not, that
certainly sends a strong message upon which we can base our next move.

2. As do here in America, we should work with Iraqi leaders to form
governments in 18 self-governing provinces that would operate under a
national government. What this will do is give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds
their own pieces of Iraq - their own land and their own say in how it is run.

3. We should encourage the Iraqi government to give every Iraqi a stake
in the nation's rich oil reserves. Oil revenues should be divided in
thirds among the national government, the provincial governments and
individual Iraq citizens. This will create great incentive for all Iraqis
to protect their oil reserves, while ensuring that their federal and
provincial governments govern fairly. And it will create wealth amongst
all the people, inspiring entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Taken together, these three steps will give Iraqis - both the government
and its citizens - an ownership stake in their newly free nation.

Iraq is just one front in the War on Terror, and our enemies plotting in
caves will never rest until we win the war. That is why we must recommit
ourselves to rebuilding the American military.

Our armed forces must have the capacity to dominate any war or any
conflict we must enter - all while having the capability to fight a
multi-front war. Our military is simply stretched too thin to protect
American interests overseas and at home in these dangerous times.

At the same time, our foreign policy cannot be based solely on military
might. We must reach out to the rest of the world, and a good place to
start is with medical diplomacy. My initiative would take America's great
doctors and health professionals, along with our medicines and technology,
to some of the most distraught places in the world, helping to comfort and
nurse the poor to better health. By doing so, we can begin to heal some of
the wounds with our global neighbors.

Speaking of wounds, our health care system - while the best in the world -
simply is not what it should be. The cost of health care continues to soar
- threatening the bottom line and competitiveness of American industry,
and leaving too many American families uninsured or underinsured.

We must build a system affordable and accessible for everyone. And we can
do this without government-run health care that robs our great nation of
its ingenuity in developing new cures and treatments for deadly illnesses.

And we can do it, if only we take some common-sense steps to bring our
health care system into the 21st century:

1. Build a system centered on preventive medicine, rather than
curative. In this country, we wait until people get sick and then spend
billions of dollars to try to make them well again. Why not invest up
front in keeping our families healthy in the first place? Improving our
families' health and saving money at the same time is common-sense
conservativism at its very core.

2. Use information technology to cut costs, reduce medical errors and
create a more efficient health care system. Our doctors use the latest
technology to cure your illnesses, but manila folders to keep track what's
wrong with you. We need to bring the administration of medicine into the
21st century, along with the practice of medicine. If we can put all our
financial information on a wallet-size card, and have our money at our
fingertips anywhere in the world, then we can certainly do the same for
our health information. And in doing so, cut the bureaucracy of the health
care system in half. Common sense.

3. Third, we must use the private sector and public sector to require
health insurance for all. This isn't a heavy-handed mandate. It is a basic
common sense approach to keeping people healthy and reining in health care
costs. It makes no sense for a system to force the uninsured to wait until
they get really sick or injured and then get treatment in emergency rooms
- the most expensive care there is. Especially when we can cover everyone
for a fraction of the cost.

4. We must, once and for all, make sure health care and longterm care
is affordable. For government, our Medicare and Medicaid systems will soon
break federal and state budgets at the same time families across America
are grappling with how to pay for longterm care for themselves and for
their parents. This isn't a problem that will go away if we simply ignore it.

On Education, we must hold our schools to world-class standards from
Kindergarten through college. And we must make sure all our children get a
world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they live in or how
much money their parents make. We can make No Child Left Behind stronger,
and do so without wavering on its core principles.

On the Environment and Energy, America must become independent in its
energy needs and break reliance on foreign oil. We must begin with greater
investments in renewable energy, like ethanol, so we can bring these
technologies to market faster and more efficiently. And we must come
together and deal with our changing climate.

Our economy has bounced back from the difficult days after 9/11, and the
tax cuts are a major reason why the economy is strong. That's why I'm
committed to making sure American workers keep more of their hard-earned
money. Not only that, money that Washington does take must be spent wisely
and responsibly - something that doesn't always happen in the nation's
capital, even among my fellow Republicans.

You see, Republicans went to Washington and we lost our way. We tried to
spend like Democrats, and voters saw through the act. If they want to vote
for people who will spend their money, they'll vote for the professionals
- not the amateurs - and that's what they did in the last election.

Which reminds me: We're just 11 days away from tax day, when we force
taxpayers to hand over even more of their money - and we make them jump
through countless hoops to have the privilege of doing so. That is
unacceptable. Isn't it strange that the federal government makes us
compute our taxes twice - and pay whichever amount is highest? I propose
we add a flat tax to the equation - and let our hardworking families pay
whatever amount is least. Our hardworking families should have a choice of
what's best for them, when it comes to paying taxes.

Finally, I would like to wrap up by saying a few words about my children -
and how much they inspire me.

A few years ago, my younger daughter Tommi was diagnosed with breast
cancer - just like her mother a few years earlier. Even with her cancer in
remission, Tommi couldn't conceive because of the drugs she was taking.
But she was able to save one egg, which she and her husband saved for two
years.

Two years later, my older daughter Kelli carried the baby … One egg. One
long-shot chance. And today, there is one more child in the world. A
miracle. But, as we all know, life truly is a miracle…one that must be
treasured, nurtured and protected.

Now, more than ever, our nation's bedrock culture of life is essential. In
a day where young boys and girls are being raised to brutally kill
themselves by strapping bombs to themselves and then exploding them to
murder hundreds of innocent lives. … Boy, do we need to value life and
celebrate our culture of life.

Ladies and gentlemen, there's no doubt we have an inordinate amount of
serious issues facing our nation - the type of issues that will shape
generations. I've just touched on the biggest; clearly there are more.

America is being challenged. And in the face of great challenges, America
must have great expectations.

Together, we must rise to the great expectations we have for ourselves,
our children and our future.

How do we do this? Together.

We're not going to overcome our problems by blaming American first, or by
tearing each other apart. We're going to overcome them as we always have.
By working together, as one nation, under God, with the vision, the
passion and the determination to build a better way of life.

It's time to get to work. And today, I ask you to join me as we build the
America of the 21s


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