I thank you for the honor and privilege of speaking to you today in this august chamber.
We have many of the same traditions in the United States Senate - we too receive a chaplain's blessing before we go about our business.
Having been on the campaign trail for months now, I have a prayer of my own - first uttered by a fellow Arizonan who was no stranger to this state, the late Mo Udall.
"O Lord, help me to utter words that are tender and gentle . . . for at some future time I may have to eat them."
My friends, I'd like to talk about the future - by first reminding you of the past, and our tradition as free men and women. I can think of nothing more appropriate in the state whose motto is "live free or die".
Henry Luce called the 20th century the American Century. So confident was he in the greatness of America that he coined this phrase on the eve of World War II, in a nation mired in depression, and in a world threatened by the twin evils of fascism and communism. Like Luce, I am optimistic about America's future. I believe America remains an unfinished nation.
We are all still part of a great experiment: that people who are free to act in their own interests will perceive their interests in an enlightened way, and will gratefully accept the obligation of freedom to make of our wealth and power a civilization for the ages, a civilization in which all people share in the promise of freedom.
The Good Lord and Chairman Greenspan willing, America in 2001 will remain in the midst of a great expansion.
When Luce made his call to American greatness, America was preparing herself war and trying to escape the deprivations of the depression.
The challenge in 2001 will be keeping our forces maintained and ready to defend a peace that was bitterly earned from Korea through Kae San, Kuwait and Kosovo.
But despite the many differences between yesterday and tomorrow, the America that was built on the faith of our fathers is the same America that you and I hope to pass on to our children.
We continue to struggle against those who would deny men and women the right to speak and worship openly. We seek to lift those who live in despair or poverty.
But the new millennium brings with it a new set of challenges to our nation that will test our virtue and vigilance.
First, we must address the public cynicism about politics and government.
When our politics are perceived as corrupted by money and lies trust is lost to cynicism.
When our government has been taken from us by special interests and big-dollar donors - as it has been - pride is lost to shame.
When one of the founding tenets of our nation -- that the government closest to the people governs bestis flouted by a self-aggrandizing Washington elite who find it more politically advantageous to usurp authority, than to honor the Constitution's reservation to the states of all powers not delegated to the federal governmentour principles are lost to selfish ambition.
When the halls of Congress echo with the footsteps of special interest lobbyists and others line up for their share of the pork barrel, those echoes ring in these halls and in the chambers of state legislatures throughout the land who must pick up the tab for federal mandates because resources are diverted to special interests rather than our national obligations.
While we waste billions on helicopter carriers that the Navy didn't request; chicken litter power plants favored by powerful members of Congress; highway projects that don't even appear on the state's priority list and billions of dollars in pork of every kind, you don't receive the money needed to make good on the federal promise of funding for special education; you don't receive the money you need to fund federal mandates in health care, immigration and the environment; and you are forced to fight the federal government to retain the money you won by taking on the big tobacco companies.
You are the victims of the pork barrel politics of Washington, and it must stop.
I will refuse to sign any pork barrel bill that crosses my desk. And if Congress tries to make me waste your money, I will make sure you know who they areevery single one of them.
And, when dared to veto a pork laden bill, I will take up the veto pen and invoke the words of Ronald Reagan"Go ahead, make my day."
My friends, we have a choice. We can continue to watch as the American people grow ever more alienated from the practice and institutions of democracy. We can continue to tolerate a government that has become little more than a spectacle of selfish ambition . . . a government auctioned to the highest bidders in Beijing and Buddhist temples.
Or we can take a stand.
"New Hampshire" and "patriotism" are synonymous. In this election, I've called upon the American people to join me in a New Patriotic Challenge. It is a challenge - a call to arms - against the pervasive cynicism that is debilitating our democracy, cheapening our public debates, threatening our public institutions . . . and, ultimately, our private happiness.
We must take the cynical and corrupting influence of special interest money out of politics. If we do that, we restore honesty to our political system. And we create a gateway that makes all other reforms possible.
As President, reform of our public institutions to restore the confidence of the people we are sworn to serve will be my first priority. Just as the Commander-in-chief has a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to carryout national security policy, I will appoint a cabinet level official in my administration to serve as a "reform czar" who will help me implement the changes in the institutions of government we must make if we are to restore a government of, by and for the American people as intended by our founding fathers whose vision of was guided by hope, not tainted by cynicism.
Our second great challenge is to increase opportunity - and in America, opportunity begins with the assurance that no child is deprived of a quality education.
There is not a politician in America who does not talk about education, quality education, and education reform. You've all heard those buzzwords. They may be talking about schools and our children, but they're not necessarily talking about freedom, schools and our children.
I have sat through too many debates in Washington where education was discussed in dollars only, and not results. That must change. We have to stand up to a liberal education orthodoxy that has a Bart Simpson mentality: "underachiever, and proud of it."
Schools must be free from Washington bureaucrats and teachers' unions that stifle innovation and defend what is so clearly an unacceptable status quo.
Local school authorities must be free to weed out bad teachers and reward the good ones.
And if a school fails at its core mission of providing a sound learning environment, then we have no choice but to allow every child and parent the freedom to find a better school.
Democrats treat "vouchers" as if it were a four-letter word. Well, so is "hope".
I support school vouchers because vouchers . . . means choice . . . and choice means more
freedom. Our children deserve no less.
The beauty of America is found in her decency and simplicity - an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, equal rights and protection under the law. We are a nation built on the principals of good faith and deserved reward.
Every April tax day, the federal government puts your faith to its test. I think it's time Washington showed that it understands your burden, and helps you share in this prosperity.
On Tuesday I unveiled what I call a "21st Century Family Security Plan" - a tax and economic agenda that is as responsible as it is conservative with your money.
My plan is fair to the mother who wants to stay home with her children, or the working couple that's trying to save for the future. We'll stop punishing couples by eliminating the marriage penalty; and we will reward men and women who serve in our military overseas by exempting them from income tax.
But as we help more Americans move ahead, we have to be equally vigilant to assure that no American is left behind.
It is our duty to keep our solemn word to those who have been promised - who have worked hard and earned it - that when they retire they will have Social Security. We do that by devoting more funds to keep Social Security solvent. We do that by giving Americans the choice to invest Social Security in private retirement accounts.
And we do it by keeping politicians' hands out of the cookie jar. Under my plan, the entire Social Security fund is hands-off from politicians. This is about America's future, not pork-barrel spending.
The fourth great challenge is to advance the cause that is dearest to my heart. It is cherished by many of you who can trace your love of liberty from the Cold War to before this was a state, to the opening salvoes of our Revolutionary War.
That is the cause our founder called "glorious" - the cause of freedom.
America in 1941 did not lack for villains: Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo.
America in 2001 will not lack enemies of freedom. The world is still home to many tyrants, dictators, haters and aggressors who are hostile to our interests and the rights of mankind.
How easily some forget this. A six-year-old boy named Elian Gonzalez risks his life to escape communist oppression - a desperate gambit that claimed his mother's life. Yet Bill Clinton and Al Gore idly stand by and allow bureaucrats to decide that young Elian would be better off in Castro's clutches than liberty's embrace. They should be ashamed for denying this boy his freedom.
America today is the world's lone superpower, yet our military today struggles in virtually every category that measures preparedness . . . 12,000 enlisted personnel are on food stamps . . . just recently, not a single Army division was rated fully mission-ready. I could go on - Apache helicopters we couldn't deploy in Kosovo, not enough carrier battle groups to patrol the oceans - but you get the point.
I believe the American public wants the simple truth - tell us the strategy to ensure our security, tell us what it will cost, and tell us how you will pay for it.
If we are to reassure the world that we are the true defenders of freedom's cause, we must no longer make idle threats. We must never send our forces into conflicts we are not prepared to win. And defense budgets must respect those who serve and their families.
For years America's security has rested on a triad of land, air and sea forces. There is a triad just as vital: every American who defends freedom's cause must and should be properly trained, properly equipped and justly compensated for the sacrifices we ask of them.
Amazingly - mercifully, some of you might say - this primary is over in less than three weeks. But the cause continues beyond February 1st.
I chose to enter this race because I want to return our government back to whom it belongs - the people.
I chose to run because I believe deeply in the greatness of America's destiny and in the goodness of our cause.
I am not seeking the Presidency to satisfy my personal ambitions.
Ronald Reagan once said: "Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings."
My purpose is to restore the people's sovereignty over government . . . to renew their pride in public service . . . to reform our public institutions to meet the demands of a new day . . . to reinvigorate our sense of national purpose and destiny.
To serve America and her great cause: freedom.
Thank you for the privilege of being here today. May God bless this great house and all who serve in it.