HEADLINE: CAMPAIGN SPEECH BY SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
LOCATION: BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA
TIME: 8:41 P.M., EST DATE: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2000
SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you for this warm welcome. Thank you all for being here, all the way out in there. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you. Thank you.
We drove south, and it was rainingraining all the way. Thank you, God. I'm really grateful. It was raining very hard, and I knew that it might dampen our spirits. However, we have had the great good fortune throughout this campaign, even with the weather, and even with the people, and even with my lovely wife Cindy, who is the mother -- (applause) -- the mother of our four childrenMegan, 15; Jack, 13; Jimmy, 11; and Bridget, 8. I really, since I haven't seen them in so long, Cindy makes sure that I mention exactly them and their ages.
Thank you all for being here. This is a wonderful evening. This is a wonderful turnout. We've got one week from todayone week from today -- (applause and cheers) -- and we're going to carry this state -- (applause and cheers) -- one week from this evening, we're going to be celebrating one of the greatest victories in American political history, my friends. (Applause.)
And you know how I know we're going to do it? It's because of the incredible enthusiasm, the commitment, the love and affection that has been provided us all over the state of California, from San Diego to San Francisco and every place in between. I thank you for your commitment to our campaign. I thank you -- (applause) -- I see that, I see there are some great Americans with a copy of my book here today, some copies of my book. I see that.
Now look, I want to make sure you understand that I'm not here to hike the sales of that book. It's $24.95. It's published by Random House. You can get it, you can get it on Amazon.com or your local bookstore. God bless you, sir. Don't hold that book up like thatI'm not tryingI thank you, dear. It's number six on the Best Seller list. We'll be number three next week. Please don't think that I am -- (laughter) -- But my friends Oh, by the way, we sold the movie rights to that book. Sam Donaldson, the other morning said to me, "Senator McCain, so you sold the movie rights to your book?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Who's going to play you?" And I said, "I want Tom Cruise. My kids want Danny DeVito." (Laughter.) So, we're going to have Danny DeVito, I think.
I thank all of our friends here. I thank you for being here.
I want to talk just for a minute, if I couldwhen I wentwhere were we, Cindy, when I signed a thousand copies? You remember.
MRS. MCCAIN: We were in Columbus, Ohio.
SEN. MCCAIN: We were in Columbus, Ohio. There you go. Thank you, Cindy. God bless you. Columbus, Ohio. We signed a thousand books. People came who were veterans of Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, World War IIveterans from everywhere. Some brought pictures of themselves. Some of them brought pictures of their units. A Desert Storm veteran brought a big picture of himself and his friends on an Iraqi tank. I am now convinced we should have gone in and taken out Saddam Hussein, by the way, my friends. (Applause and cheers.) And, it's been very touching and very moving.
And I want to say a word, if I could, especially about our World War II veterans. We love and cherish all of our veterans, but thanks to the movie "Saving Private Ryan," thanks to Tom February 29, 2000Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation," we are beginning to love and appreciate their service and their sacrifice. And I want to say -- (applause and cheers) -- and I want to say especially to them, but a message to all veterans, but especially to them, because they are leaving us at 30,000 every month -- 30,000 World War II veterans are leaving us every monthI want to say to all veterans, but especially to them, it is a national scandal and a disgrace that we are not providing them with the benefits and health care we've promised them. I will change that, and that will be my priority for our veterans. (Cheers/applause.) And I am dead serious when I tell you that. They deserve it.
Could I ask our veterans, our dear old veteransI see one old geezer like me right therecould I ask you to raise your hands so that we can thank you for your service to our country? We thank you. (Cheers.) We thank you. We thank you. (Cheers/applause.) And may I say, I see a couple of people that are on active duty. Could we thank you, young Marine? We thank you, sir. And we thank all of you who are here. (Applause.) And, of course, our brave young men here, because I want to talk to you about them for a second.
We have a military that has not failed us, but an all-volunteer force that we have failed. Remember, it was the all-volunteer force that won Operation Desert Storm. Now our military has deteriorated. Now we have guns that can't shoot and planes that can't fly. The USS Enterprise left port in San Diego during the Kosovo crisis 800 enlisted personnel short.
This president and this Congress have allowed our military to deteriorate. Meanwhile, they use their bills, their appropriations bills, as a way to pork-barrel spend and get themselves re-elected. My friends, we're spending money on projects we don't need, on earmarks. We're going to spend $235 million this year for a helicopter carrier the Navy neither wants nor needs. Meanwhile, we have 12,000 proud, brave young military men and women that are on food stamps. That's a national disgrace. There will be no food-stamp Army when I am president of the United States, and I promise you that now. (Cheers/applause.)
And we're going to bring a bunch of them home, because they shouldn't be stationed all over the world, because this president conducts foreign policy as social work. Have a problem in Haiti? Send 20,000 troops and spend $2 billion. Haiti is worse off than it was for the experience. Want peacekeeping in Somalia? Send a bunch of troops, turn it into warlord hunting, and you watch. We remember seeing on our television screens the bodies of young American soldiers being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. That's a shame.
This is the first president of the United Statesthis is the first administration in the history of this country that has a president of the United States, a secretary of Defense and a secretary of State, none of whom have ever spent one minute wearing the uniform of the armed service of the United States. That's going to change, my friends. That's going to change when I'm president of the United States. (Cheers/applause.)
I want to talk to you just a minute about spending. I want to talk to you about the surplus just for a minute. You know, the surplus is your money. It's your money that there's more of in Washington now than we spend. The question is, what do we do with that surplus? Governor Bush wants to spend it all on tax cuts. I want to spend it on working families. I want to spend it on paying into Social Security so that you can invest part of your payroll taxes and investments of your choosing. I want to pay it into Medicare.
And, my friends, we have an obligation to the young Americans in this crowd, to the young Americans, and that is that we ought to pay down that debt. We ought to pay down that debt. (Cheers/applause.) And it's an obligation. It is an obligation that we have. Governor Bush has not one penny for Social Security, not one penny for Medicare and not one penny to pay down the debt.
My friends, I am a proud fiscal conservative. I am a proud Reagan conservative. But I also want to tell you, my friends, I gave a speech yesterday. I gave a speech yesterday, and it's got all to do with the direction of the Republican Party. We will not let Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson run the Republican Party of the United States of America. (Cheers/applause.)
Ours is the party of Ronald Reagan, not Bob Jones. And I say we want everyone, everyone in our party that shares our views and our values. We reach out and want those who are the Christian right in our party, but we will not accept the leadership of people who engage in the kind of activities that Pat Robertson has engaged in. That is not what our party is all about.
The Republican Party in California and the Republican Party nationally have lost the last two presidential elections. They've lost the last two congressional elections. And that's because we've lost our way, my friends. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln. We want to reach out. We're an inclusive party. We're a party of addition, not division. We are a party of inclusion, not exclusion. We are a party that says, "Join us. Join us, those of you that know that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world, that this is the noblest experiment."
And once again, once again, we will connect all the people to the government. We will continue this great crusade that began in New Hampshire, and we will make America again a beacon of hope and liberty and freedom, not only throughout the world, but a land of opportunity for all of our citizens, and we'll leave no one behind. (Cheers/applause.)
I want to tell you why I'm running for president of the United States. Cindy says it's because I suffered several severe blows to the head while I was in prison. (Laughter.) I'd like you to also remember one fundamental fact in American politics, and that is that if you're a United States senator, unless you're under indictment or detoxification, you automatically consider yourself a candidate for president of the United States, right? (Laughter.) But I'm running for presidentbefore I go into it, I forgot a very dear and close friend of mine, the first American POW held captive in Vietnam, for a lot longer than I was there, my dear friend Everett Alvarez, a fellow Californian. (Cheers.) Thank you, Everett, for being here. (Applause.)
I'm running for president of the United States because I want to reform the government. I want to reform the institutions of government. I want to reform the military, as I told you. I want to reform education. Education is critical to the future of this country. I want every parent in America to have the same ability that wealthy parents have, and that is to send your child to the school of your choice in your neighborhood. That's what we should allow every parent in America. (Applause.)
There's a growing gap. There's great prosperity in America. We are proud of that. There is also a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots in America. We can leave no one behind. We are wiring every school and library in America to the Internet. If we can combine that with good classrooms where there's discipline, good teachers, good equipment, combined with that Internet, we can provide every child in America with an equal opportunity of learning, whether they live on an Indian reservation or whether they live in downtown Phoenix. My friends, this is the great opportunity of education and this is the challenge we face as we move into this new era of prosperity ignited by this information technology.
I want to reform the tax code. It's 44,000 pages long -- 44,000 pages. Every time we pass a bill, we put in a good deal for a special interest. We put in another good deal for a special interest. And what does that do to you? Well, it's a cornucopia of good deals for the big money people. It's a chamber of horrors for average citizens. Let's take that 44,000-page tax code, tear it up, simplify it and get all the special-interest loopholes out of it and give it something that you can be proud of.
But I want to tell you, my friends, I can't make all these reforms unless we take the government out of the hands of the special interests and break the iron triangle of big money, lobbyists and legislation and give the government back to you that's been taken from you by the big money and special interests in Washington DC. (Applause.)
My friends, I'm taking on the establishment, and the establishment is taking me on. (Laughter.) I'm telling you, we're just like Luke Skywalker headed out of the death star. They're shooting at us from every direction. They hit us. We hit back. My friends, I've been hit before. In fact, I used to stay in a hotel where there was no mints on the pillow. (Laughter.) And I'm telling you right now, I love this fight. I love this challenge, because our cause is just, and that is to give you back your government. (Applause and cheers.) And that's what this is all about.
They've got all the Establishment, they got all the governors, they got the Senators and the Congressthey got 'em all, and I've got the foot soldiers right hereright here in Bakersfield. (Cheers.) I've got the foot soldiers, and I'll tell you. I never sawI never saw a sergeant or a chief petty officer that didn't outwork all the admirals and generals, I'll tell you that.
So I want to tell you. I'm happy about this fight. This is a wonderful challenge. And there is so much at stake. But I want to talk to you just for a second about the scandalous aspect of itthe reason why this is so important, to take this flawed finance system and break it, and break this Iron Triangle.
The scandal in 1996 was Monica Lewinsky, we know. The real scandal also was the debasement of the institutions of government - - of every institution of government practically by the Clinton- Gore campaign as they took in money from everywhere, whether it be China, Indonesia, wherever it is, they were taking it, my friends. And they debased the institutions of government in a shameful, shameful fashion.
The president of the United Statesare you proudare you proud when the president of the United States takes the Lincoln Bedroom and rents it out? (Shouts of "No.") Are you proud when the president of the United States takes the Lincoln Bedroom, treats it like Motel Six and he's the bellhop? (Shouts of "No.")
Are you proud when the vice president of the United Statesthe vice president of the United States, right here in California - goes to a Buddhist monastery, asks monks and nuns to renounce their vows of poverty and pay thousands of dollars in campaign contributions so that they can "spiritually commune" with him? (Shouts of "no.")
Do you believe that there should be no controlling legal authority for that kind of behavior? (Shouts of "No.") My friends, the vice president of the United Statesoh by the way, he saidin the Buddhist monastery, he said he didn't know where he was. (Laughter.) You know, perhaps the odor of incense and those folks in saffron robes might have given the guy a clue.
And you know. And then he stood in front of the American people and looked you right in the eye and he saidyou know what he said? He said "there's no controlling legal authority" for what they did. No controlling legal authority for the debasement of the institutions of government.
My friends, I'm going to give him a controlling legal authority, a controlling ethical authority and then I'm going to beat Al Gore like a drum and send him back to Tennesseeand that's what I'm going to do in this campaign. (Cheers.)
And after I do it, I'm going to give all these young Americans and all Americans a White House and a president of the United States that they can look up to and respect. (Cheers.) And my friends, once I do that, then I will be able to do what every great president in history has been able to doand that is to inspire a generation of Americans to commit themselves to causes greater than their self- interest. That's what the president of the United States is all about and that's what I can do.
Now let me justlet me just talk to you one second about what we're trying to do here. This has been a campaign of insurgency. It's been a campaign of principle and it's been a campaign that's been conducted honorably.
And yes, we have attracted people from everywhere to our campaignfrom everywhere. It's a source of enormous pride to me. I am a proud conservative Reagan Republican. But I am alsoalso proud to have those who come to our banner, who say "Let's restore a principle to government, let's reform it, let's give it back to the people. Let's have smaller government, less regulation." But really, let's have a government that can realize the full potential of its people and its principles.
And yes, independents have come. Yes, Democrats have comelibertarians, vegetarians. I know the other day, we were at a rally and several signs said "Vegetarians for McCain." I knew that we were making progress then. (Laughter.) In Sacramento in Sacramento the other day, there was a guy in a very interesting outfit, and he had a sign that said "Hippies for McCain." We want the hippie vote. We want the hippie vote. There's some great conservatives in the hippie movement, as we all know.
But the point isthe point is, aren't we supposed to be a government by the people, for the peopleof all the people in America? (Cheers.) Isn't that what beingisn't that what it's all about? I again tell youI am proud to be a conservative. I have an 18-year record. I am proud of that. But I am also proud throughout my life to have attracted the support and the love and affection of people from all over America and all parts of it. That's my source of great pride, because we can't govern we can't be a real governing body unless we represent all of the people of this country.
And my friends, this is what it's all about. In New Hampshirein New Hampshire, we won by 19 points. No one predicted that we would win by that large amount. Even one pollster predicted that I would lose. He's now delivering pizza. (Laughter.)
But they have a law in New Hampshire, called "same day voter registration." On Election Day, just a few Tuesdays ago in New Hampshire, thousands of young New Hampshire citizens went down, registered to vote, registered as Republicans and voted for me, giving us a huge victory.
Just last Tuesday night in the state of Michigan, they predicted a 500,000 voter turnout. There was 1,250,000 people turned out. Twenty-eight percent of the people that voted had never voted in their lives. If our job, if our mission is to get people involved in the political process, vote and be involved and once again serve their country, that's what we're succeeding in doing, and I can't tell you how proud I am of that. (Applause and cheers.)
And I'm proud you're here. I'm proud you would take the time this evening to spend this time with me, to be part of the political process. I want to tell you, when they said how many people are going to be here, they said "Well, we're expecting 250 to 300." They say there's well over 1200 people here tonight. (Cheers.) I want to thank you for being here. I want to thank you.
Now my friends, have no illusions as to the task. We love a good fightwe love a good fight, and we're still the underdog. He spent $70 million, the most of any campaign in history has ever raised and spent. We're the underdogdon't forget it. Don't forget it.
But we're going to win next Tuesday, and the reason why we're going to win is because our cause is just and we have ignited all over this state and all over this country an enthusiasm that cannot and will not be stopped until I am residing in the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. (Cheers.)
Soand we willwe'll beat 'em like a drum. (Laughs.) By the way, somebody showed up the other day with a drum that said "Al Gore Drum" on it. We've got to save that one, Cindy.
Again I thank you. I thank my dear old friends who served in the military, I thank the wonderful men and women who are here tonight. I thank our young people for being here -- (cheers). Hi. Thank you. Thank you very much. Restore our trust, yes, ma'am. And I want to thank all of you for being here, because this is really what America and politics is all about.
And remember my friends, I will not take the low road. My opponent wants to be president in the worst way. I want to be president in the best way, and that's the way I'm going to run this campaign. (Cheers and applause.)
So, one more week. Get out the yard signs, put on the bumper stickers, call all your friends. We want to have the greatest voter turnout in the history of the state of California. We want to show that we will send that same message all over America and all over the world that a new daya new dayis coming to America. And change is coming, and look out in the Iron Triangle and the Establishment in Washington, 'cause you can't stop us. You can't stop us, because our cause is just -- (cheers).
I want to end up by telling you a brief anecdote that has everything to do with this campaign. At the Hunter Town Hall meeting that I had at the Plymouth Armory in New Hampshire not too long agoa woman stood up at this town hall meeting, and she didn't have a question, she had a comment. But the statement she made, I think really goes to the heart of this campaign. She looked me straight in the eye and she said, "Senator McCain, it is vitally important that the next president of the United States always tell me the truth no matter what."
Now, my friends, there's gonna be times, and there already have been, when we will largely agree. There are times when we will disagree. But I promise you this: based on my principles, my life, the caution of my dear friends who I had the privilege of knowing long ago and far away, and the trust that you are placing in me, I will always tell you the truth, no matter what.
Thank you, and God bless. And thank you for coming tonight. (Cheers.) And let's go to victory next Tuesday. (Cheers.)