Mitt Romney today delivered remarks in Davenport, Iowa. The following remarks were prepared for delivery.
Four years ago this week, Barack Obama visited Davenport. He gave a speech down the street, and like most of his campaign speeches, it was long on promises.
He promised to bring people together.
He promised to change the broken system in Washington.
He promised to do away with gridlock.
He promised to repair the nation.
Across the nation, he promised to put Americans back to work.
He closed with these words: "this is our moment, this is our time."
Well Mr. President, you have now had your moment. We have seen the results. And now, Mr. President, it is our time.
You have failed to deliver on the promises you made here in Davenport.
Where you once challenged us to reach for our dreams, you now ask us to settle for less.
Nearly 25 million Americans are still out of work or struggling to find work. The national debt stands at a stratospheric $15 trillion. The median income has dropped 10% in four years. Soldiers returning from war have a tough time finding a decent job.
Gone is the "hope and change" candidate of Davenport. Gone is the candidate who would heal the nation. Instead, the campaigner in chief divides Americans, engages in class warfare and resorts to distortion and demagoguery.
Once, Barack Obama appealed to our better angels; today he demonizes fellow Americans.
Over the last six months, I've been traveling across America. I've listened to anxious voices in town meetings, visited with students who are frightened by bigger college loans and fewer good jobs. I've heard stories of the The Great Obama Recession, of families getting by on less, of planned-for retirement replaced by jobs at minimum wage.
Entrepreneurs and businesspeople tell me that they feel under attack by this administration. Mom and Pop businesses are struggling under a government onslaught. The job creators of tomorrow are afraid to hire today.
But even now, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, I've rarely heard a refrain of hopelessness. Americans know that these troubled days are not our destiny. We know that America is bigger than the misguided policies and weak leadership of one man.
This election is about more replacing that President; it is about saving a vision of America. It is a choice between two destinies.
I have a vision of an America not divided by our limits, but united by our ambitions. I am tired of a President who wakes up every day, looks across America and is proud to announce, "It could be worse."
It could be worse? Is that what it means to be an American? It could be worse?
Of course not. What defines us as Americans is our unwavering conviction that we know that it can be better.
It is time for this pessimistic president to step aside and let the American optimism that built the greatest nation on earth, build a greater future for our children.
President Obama says that he wants to "fundamentally transform" America. He wants to change America into something most of us wouldn't recognize. Something more like Europe. I don't want to transform America. I want to restore the founding principles that made America great.
When the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence, they said that the Creator had endowed us with unalienable rights, among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In America, we would be free to pursue happiness as we choose. Ours would be the land of liberty, and of opportunity.
In an opportunity society, people achieve their dreams through hard work, education and risk-taking. An opportunity society produces pioneers and inventors; it inspires its citizens to build and create. And as they succeed, they don't make the rest of us poorer, they make us better off.
Iowa was built by men and women who pursued their dreams. Pioneers came here for a better life. They tilled the land and planted crops. They took prairie and turned it into community. And those who followed them built great institutions of learning and industries as diverse as the nation. Iowa and America were built by free people and free enterprises pursuing happiness in their own ways.
President Obama sees America differently. He sees an entitlement society.
"Entitlement" used to mean that Americans were entitled to the opportunity to succeed in the greatest country in the world. Americans fought and died to earn and protect that entitlement. But today the new entitlement battle is over the size of the check you get from Washington.
In the kind of entitlement society that President Obama is creating, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing--the government.
The truth is that everyone may indeed be given similar rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off. No entitlement nation in history has ever achieved prosperity like that of America.
An entitlement society would imperil the very spirit of America. Envy would replace ambition. The jealousy of class warfare would poison the spirit of one nation, under God.
Before we decide who should be our next President, we must ask ourselves, "Who are we as Americans, and what kind of America do we want for our children?"
This is an election not only to replace a President. It is an election to save the soul of America. It is a choice between two destinies. One is President Obama's entitlement society, where those in government control the resources and make the rules.
I have a very different vision: an opportunity society. An America united by our ambitions, hopes and shared dreams. Where Americans have the opportunity to choose their course in life. An opportunity society that produces pioneers and inventors--a society that that inspires its citizens to build and create, lifting the rest of us, creating prosperity for all. This is the vision of the Founders, the vision that built the greatest nation in the history of the world. I believe in that America. I believe that you believe in that America.
President Obama's entitlement society demands a massive, intrusive government.
He has spent the last 35 months building a government so large that feeding it will consume a greater and greater share of your paycheck.
He pushed through Obamacare, an entitlement program we didn't want and can't afford.
He has refused to advance a responsible plan to strengthen Social Security and Medicare. When Congressman Paul Ryan had the courage to step forward, he attacked him with the petty politics that is the last resort of a failed leader.
President Obama talks about a country where everyone plays by the same rules, but when it comes to his contributors and political cronies, he makes sure the rules don't apply. He sticks us with Obamacare and gives his friends a pass with waivers. He stacks the NLRB with labor union stooges. And he has a special gift for his friends in the green energy business--he gives hundreds of millions of dollars to companies like Solyndra, Fisker, and Tesla. Won't it be nice when free markets guide the economy, rather than a President's paybacks and boondoggles?
Now we know how an entitlement society works -- those in government control the resources and make the rules. And while the rest of us stand still, they make sure that their friends get ahead.
I will take a very different path.
I will repeal Obamacare. On my first day as president, I will issue waivers from Obamacare to all 50 states.
I will strengthen Medicare by empowering the next generation of seniors to choose the solutions that are right for them. And I'll send Medicaid back to the states because they know how to serve their citizens best.
My administration will make America the best place in the world for entrepreneurs, inventors and job creators. I'll lower and simplify taxes, especially for middle-income Americans. I will repeal every unnecessary Obama-era regulation that kills jobs or hurts economic growth. I'll open up new markets for American goods. I'll open up land to fully exploit our energy resources. And I will cut and cap spending, and lead us to a balanced budget.
Now, some people have taken issue with this approach. Just last week, for example, Vice President Biden took a break from trying to convince the almost 25 million Americans who are struggling to find work just how lucky they are. You have to feel sorry for Joe Biden. Four years ago, he warned us about Barack Obama. It turns out he was right. Now, every day, he has to keep quiet about that. And you know how hard that is for Joe. So he wrote a column in the Des Moines Register. He says Republicans don't care. No, Mr. Biden, we do care that under your policies more Americans have lost their jobs, more Americans are on food stamps, and more Americans have lost their homes. Blaming others is not a plan to get America working. On January 3, Iowa will start our plan to get America working.
So, let's be clear. I am in this race because the policies of this administration have harmed the middle class. The poor have a safety net and the rich are doing just fine, but the middle class is hurting.
This President spends a lot of time apologizing for America. He should be apologizing to America.
President Obama seems to have forgotten the promise he made right here in Davenport four years ago. He told his supporters he wanted to give "every child in America . . . the same chance that somebody gave us."
There was a time when that promise meant a future without debt and an America defined by opportunity.
So, I'm making a similar promise today. The difference is, unlike President Obama, I can deliver -- because my agenda will preserve an opportunity society, and my blueprint is the Constitution of the United States.
The path I lay out is not one paved with ever increasing government checks and cradle-to-grave assurances that government will always be the solution. If this election is a bidding war for who can promise more benefits, then I'm not your President. You have that President today.
But if you want to make this election about the soul of America, about restoring American greatness, then I hope you will join me.
If you want a President who won't settle for "it could be worse" -- if you want a President who believes America can do better and Americans deserve better -- then I hope I can count on your support.
If you believe the disappointments of the past few years are a detour, not our destiny, then I am asking for your vote.
I'm asking each of you to remember how special it is to be an American.
I want you to remember what it was like to be hopeful and excited about the future, not to dread each new headline.
I want you to remember a time when you spent more time dreaming about where to send your kids to college than wondering how to make it to the next paycheck.
I want you to remember a time when you weren't afraid to look at your retirement savings or the price at the pump.
I want you to remember a time when the leader who occupied the White House reflected the best of who you are, not the worst of what Europe has become.
That America is still out there. We still believe in that America. We still believe in that shining city on a hill.
We still believe in the America that brings out the best in all of us; that challenges each of us to be better and bigger than ourselves.
This election, let's fight for the America we love.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.