America Must Come Together and Get to Work Solving Problems, Building Country
Former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said today he is exploring a run for President because we need to start building America again with common sense solutions for the common problems facing American families.
The son of a small-town grocer, Thompson said his unifying brand of common sense conservatism and strong track record of accomplishment is what America needs as it faces unprecedented challenges domestically and abroad. America must rely on its ingenuity to develop innovative initiatives that address its challenges and a unified determination to get the job done, he said.
"Let's bring America together again. And together, let's start solving the tough problems and creating greater opportunity," Thompson said. "Americans are tired of the cynicism and divisiveness that too often stymies progress. We need to get back to work solving their problems and building on the great hopes they have for their families and their country.
"Despite some real challenges, America still enjoys the highest quality of life. There is nowhere in the world where a newborn child will be afforded more opportunity and freedom than the United States of America. We need to rise up to meet the great expectations we have always held for our future generations."
Thompson would bring to the GOP presidential primary a proven track record of innovation and accomplishment that is unrivaled by other potential candidates. Thompson's reform programs on welfare, education, health care, crime and the environment have come to serve as national models of success. As HHS Secretary, he worked to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. And his global work on medical diplomacy, HIV/AIDS, trade, bioterrorism and health crises have made a positive mark on the international stage.
"This campaign needs to be about ideas. It needs to be about solving some of the toughest problems America has faced in generations," Thompson said. "More importantly, it needs to be about how we're going to come together as a nation to get things done. My entire career, I've brought people together to tackle some of society's toughest issues with innovative programs that made a lasting difference in people's lives."
Thompson said he will be spending a great deal of time in Iowa over the coming months talking about his ideas for America. Thompson, who grew up roughly 80 miles from the Iowa border in Elroy, Wis., has already visited Iowa often since Labor Day and is building a strong campaign structure in a state he frequented often as Governor.
Steve Grubbs, a highly respected former Iowa State Representative and Iowa Republican Party Chairman, has joined the Thompson Exploratory Committee as senior advisor. Grubbs previously served as GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole's Iowa Caucus Chairman in 1996 and senior advisor to candidate Steve Forbes, who finished second in the Iowa Caucus in 2000 behind President Bush. Brian Dumas, who works with Grubbs at Victory Enterprises, also has joined the Thompson team. Thompson also will be visiting with residents of New Hampshire in coming months and is building an exploratory organization there as well.
Thompson said his ideas for the future will focus on the pocketbook issues affecting the everyday lives of Americans: health care, energy and education. The rising costs of health care, fuel and school are threatening the economic health of families and the nation. He also will forward ideas on Iraq, defense and foreign policy in coming months.
"Washington is talking quite a bit right now about a new way forward in Iraq. And, indeed, that is needed," Thompson said. "But just as importantly, we need a new way forward in America. It's time for Washington to get back to work addressing the challenges Americans face in their everyday lives - pocketbook issues that have been put aside for too long by political posturing."
On health care
Thompson wants to build an affordable and accessible health care system centered on preventive medicine rather than curative, based on the belief that it would cost less to prevent illness than to cure illness - not to mention it is better for the patient's health. Information technology needs to be integrated into the health care system to reduce costs and medical errors, ultimately making the system more safe and efficient as well as cost-effective for employers and individuals. Thompson began pursuing these initiatives as HHS Secretary.
Thompson also wants to explore ideas to require Americans to have health insurance, which would ultimately reduce health costs while increasing health coverage. He believes innovative programs like the BadgerCare program he created in Wisconsin, which allowed low-income working families to buy into the state health insurance system, can be a basis for developing a health care requirement or a market-based health coverage system for all Americans.
Thompson believes America must become independent in its energy needs, breaking reliance on foreign and often unstable governments for oil. Thompson wants more meaningful investments in ethanol and other alternative energy sources, providing greater incentives for industry to shift to these sources. America also must aggressively take on global warming - a goal that can be accomplished in a manner that doesn't provide false choices between environmental stewardship and economic progress. American industry and environmental interests must come together in the common interest of restoring global health.
Thompson is co-chairman of the Committee on No Child Left Behind, which will be forwarding recommendations for taking the next step with President Bush's hallmark program. Thompson believes schools and students must be held to high standards and encourages competition between schools, as well as choice of schools for all families, in order to push both schools and students to higher achievement levels. Thompson also wants to work with states on new ideas to make college more affordable as well as elevate the importance of technical college as a meaningful option for students.
Thompson said it is time for the Iraqi people to step up and claim their country if they truly want to live as one Iraq - or the United States should support a course that divides Iraq into separate nations or states.
Thompson said the United States needs to look at the lessons from the former Yugoslavia, which was ultimately divided into separate nations after a bloody civil war and a greater peace was achieved between warring ethnic and religious groups.
"Common sense - and history - says that you can't force people who hate each other to live together. It's a recipe for violence, genocide and ruthless dictatorships - and ultimately a breeding ground for more terrorism," Thompson said. "So the Iraqis need to step up and choose to live as one nation, or we need to look at dividing Iraq. We need to start taking meaningful, measurable steps to bring resolution to Iraq and greater stability to that region. We must move off the status quo."
On foreign policy
Thompson said America must lead by bringing the world together to address global challenges, and it must do so by reaching out to other nations to achieve common goals. Thompson would position America as a proactive and innovative leader in global affairs impacting America and its allies. An example of one novel way to reach out would be expanding American medical diplomacy throughout the world - a concept Thompson developed as Secretary of Health and Human Services. America could use its medical expertise and resources to bring better health care and modern medicines to needy nations across the globe. This effort in humanity and compassion is just one way to begin winning the hearts of foreign nations and their people.
Thompson believes America must rebuild its military - creating the capacity to dominate any war or conflict it must enter as well as the capability to execute a multiple-front war. Thompson said the current military is stretched too thin.
To achieve success on each of these issues, America must draw upon the ideals and principles that founded this nation and led it through its toughest times.
"America is the great idea - an idea of our forefathers. Now we must bring our best ideas to bear in order to build America for a new century," Thompson said. "And we must do so in the manner our forefathers wanted: Together. One nation. Under God. Indivisible."