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Phil Bryant's Neshoba County Fair Speech

Location: Neshoba County, MS

Thank you! God Bless you for being here.

This morning I saw a friend of mine, William Head, had a t-shirt on. You may have seen it. On the back of it is a picture of our beloved Ronald Reagan, and it said, "It began here." Ladies and gentlemen, this victory begins here.

I've had a little lady travel the state with me. You all know her -- she's been working the Fair. Last night I had to go and get a little bit of rest and I said, "Baby, you need to come on and go with me," and she said, "I've got 26 more cabins to go." She's been my first lady for 35 years, and pretty soon I hope she is going to be yours: Deborah Bryant.

In 1986 I had the opportunity to go to the White House and meet my hero Ronald Reagan. I was in the Jaycees. Some of you may remember that organization. We were there in the Roosevelt room. If you don't know, it's just off the Oval Office. We had waited an hour, maybe an hour and a half. It seemed like an eternity waiting for our hero -- our President of the United States. He finally walked in and up to the podium and said, "Well, I'm going to tell you like Liz Taylor told her fifth husband -- Don't worry, I won't keep you long." That was quintessential Ronald Reagan. He had us there. Then he began to talk to us. You see, I was younger back in '86, and he said, "You've got to rise above your self-interest, young men." I was in the corporate world back then, and I was climbing the corporate ladder and had a company car, a 401K, and life was good. I was making more money than I had ever made in my whole life, but then I heard the calling of Ronald Reagan saying that you have to rise above your own self-interest. We need to make sure that we are building the shining city on the hill. The president said, "You and I have a rendezvous with destiny."

I came home and told Deborah, "I know we are doing good. I know I'm making good money. I know that." We had been offered a job at the service center in Dallas, Texas, my company's largest service center. Oh, we were on our way up, but only to see how we weren't making a difference. I came home and told her I have got to do something. I have to join the Reagan revolution. I can't quit where I'm at.

Five years later I was elected to the State House of Representatives. Ladies and gentlemen, I was the first Republican ever elected into District 59. Five years after that, a good friend of mine named Kirk Fordice, who I had campaigned for in Rankin County, called me and said, "Phil I need you to be State Auditor." I remember when Kirk Fordice was standing here on this stage and said, "Only positive Mississippi spoke in here." And if y'all don't mind, I'm going to keep my talk positive.

I was elected into the House of Representatives with Kirk Fordice as our leader, and we did some great things. We did away with a marriage tax. In those days they would tax you if you got married. I didn't think that was working too well, so we got rid of it. We had a capital gains tax on Mississippi investments, and I said we needed to get rid of that also. It was the only tax cut Governor Fordice had the opportunity to sign. I love that picture hanging on my wall. You can come into the Lieutenant Governor's office, and there it is with Kirk and me.

So we moved on and Governor Fordice said, "I need you to be State Auditor." And for eleven years I did that job. Let me tell you, that is an apolitical situation where you make sure you take care of your job. And I think we did a pretty good job. We recovered twelve million dollars of your money. We arrested or indicted over 200 corrupt state employees and government officials. Now, that's a hard job. I think our current auditor is doing a good job. But I don't think that job is climbing the political ladder. That is fighting for the people. That's what I have done all my life.

In 2007 I looked and I thought, "I have seen what happens when a Democratic Lieutenant Governor is there and a Republican Governor is trying to finish his second term, and I sure don't want that for Haley Barbour." So I ran for Lieutenant Governor. The first day we were there we opened up the Senate and the House of Representatives -- the House followed after a while -- and we made sure that we had webcasting and put cameras in there so you could see what was going on. Leaders of the House did the same. I tell people that it is kind of like C-SPAN except it's not quite as exciting. I could see farther. You see, I could see a day when children in the classroom are sitting there watching the great debates that are going on. I could see the day when tax cuts in the House of Representatives would help those with businesses. Six different times we cut taxes for businesses! We cut taxes on farming equipment, fuel, and forestry equipment. If y'all will notice, this weekend you will get a tax cut holiday, and you don't have to go to Robertsdale, Alabama, to get throwed rolls to do it. You can go anywhere in the state of Mississippi and buy anything up to $100 without paying sales tax. We will have holiday type crowds in our stores. We cut taxes on CO2. You say, "What in the world is CO2, and why are you cutting taxes on it?" It's that chemical that they put in the ground to reclaim oil. It's called tertiary oil recovery. That means three. I had to find that out from an engineering friend of mine. Now we are the largest tertiary oil company state east of the Mississippi River. Just last week the Fraser Institute said Mississippi is the best spot in the world for oil and gas investment. Their words, not mine. Look it up: Fraser Institute, the best spot in the world to invest in oil and gas.

Thanks, Haley. He is going to be here right after me. The greatest joy in my life is being Lieutenant Governor behind Haley Barbour. I tell people it is like being the assistant coach to Bear Bryant -- just watching the best in action. We got in there and said we were going to create the best business environment in America. We saw the fruits of that, with Kior, Severstal, the growing and expanding electric power companies around the state like Southern Power and their clean coal gasification plant in Kemper County, in the past two years. The very first day in Mississippi Legislature, we passed a business incentive that brought companies to Mississippi -- the very first day. That is the Lieutenant Governor I have been, and that is the type of Governor I will hopefully continue to be.

We are going to reach out to advanced manufacturing. No longer is Mississippi going to be the state where they think we have strong backs and weak minds and low wages. You see now we are leading technology. We are leading the nation in energy. It's just like yesterday when the Governor and I -- I am not going to steal his thunder. I know he wants to tell you about it. How exciting it was to be there yesterday with him in Jones County as GE announced their second new plant in Mississippi. We are going to build jet engines that are moving people around the world. I was in Marion County yesterday. They build parachutes for the United States Military. Four-hundred Mississippians work there. The parachute that is landed on the surface of Mars is made in Marion County. We are high tech and we are moving ahead. Those are good paying jobs.

The medical industry: we are going to push hard, and I am talking about one thousand new physicians in the field by 2025. Why? Because now, each doctor that goes into your community brings $1.5 million dollars with him. Those are nurses, assistants, and those are new clinics. Think about a thousand new physicians and what our health care cost would be. Look around baby boomers, we are all getting a little older, aren't we? We've driven this economy since hula hoops. And now we are going to drive the medical industry, because we are going to need them, and Mississippi is going to lead the way with a new medical city. We are going to have a new medical school. We are going to have healthy Mississippians, but don't get me wrong, I believe your health care starts with you. I'm not responsible for keeping you well. I'm not responsible to make sure your children are not obese. That's your job. I'm also not responsible to make sure that the children in this state don't get pregnant as teenagers. That is the parent's responsibility. We are going to start calling on them. We need to bring in an era of individual responsibility again.

We are going to have career schools, because in my day, we went to high schools and you were expected to come out and have a trade. My dad would always say, "Son, have a trade." He was a diesel mechanic, and people still tell me he was the best in Mississippi. I don't think there is anything wrong with being a plumber or electrician or carpenter. We need those. We are going to have high schools that can teach those skills and teach high-tech manufacturing jobs, creating work force development programs at a community college, because I can see far ahead.

I know where we can be. After Katrina I saw far ahead. After the tornado in Smithville and the floods of the Delta, I saw far ahead -- where we could go. Mississippians, we have to see ahead to rise. A new day has come and we have a firm foundation built by the best Governor this state has ever had. We need to frame it up, put a roof in it, and build it up for all Mississippians.

If I have seen far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants -- Ronald Reagan, Kirk Fordice, Haley Barbour. Mississippians, it is time we all stand together. God Bless you.

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