Mitt Romney delivered remarks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. Read the full transcript of his speech.
"I've been coming to this event for six years, and this is the biggest crowd yet. For that I suppose we should acknowledge President Obama. He's the conservative movement's top recruiter. Turns out, he really is a great community organizer. Although, I don't think we were the community he had in mind.
In almost every other way, President Obama has been a failure.
He faced a recession and he made it worse. He announced a recovery summer; a year and a half later, we're still waiting. 25 million Americans out of work or out of hope. Chronic unemployment is worse than at any time in recorded history. Home values and retirement funds have been devastated.
And all this didn't come cheap. In one term, he will have nearly amassed more debt than all our prior presidents combined. We needed stability and solvency but we got Solyndra.
President Obama likes to remind us of what he inherited, with one glaring exception: he forgets to mention that he also inherited a triple A bond rating.
But now the American people are starting to do some downgrading of their own.
Last November, and in special elections since then, Americans have rejected the President's agenda. Just after his inauguration, he told the Today Show that if he couldn't turn the economy around in three years, he would be looking at a one-term proposition. Well, we're here to collect!
The President has just unveiled his latest jobs stimulus, and he's furious that we aren't enthusiastic. But Mr. President, we remember your last stimulus, the one you promised would hold unemployment below 8%. It ended up costing over a quarter of a million dollars for every job you said it saved or created. A quarter of a million dollars! And we remember your cash for clunkers program; that ended up costing $24,000 for every car. At the rate you're handing out government money, every American will end up having to pay your millionaire's tax!
President Obama has proved that maxim from Ronald Reagan--it's not that liberals are ignorant, it's that what they know is wrong!
You see, I think that to be able to create jobs, it helps to have had a job!
I spent my career in the private sector. I've met a payroll, and signed the front, as well as the back, of a payroll check. I've actually saved jobs and created jobs.
And I know what it takes to get America back to work.
Let me tell you some of the highlights of what I will do.
Beginning on day one of my presidency, I will take bold action to help grow our economy and create jobs.
I will issue an executive order that directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to grant a waiver from "Obamacare" to all 50 states. Obamacare is a wolf in wolf's clothing--it's expensive, intrusive and unconstitutional. And that is why I will fight to repeal it.
I will put an end to the job-killing regulations imposed by the Obama administration.
I will open production of energy across the country. I'll remove the barriers to developing our coal, oil, and natural gas resources. I welcome renewable energy. But as an old venture capitalist myself, I can tell you this--there will be no more Solyndras!
I will promote free trade and open markets. And, for stealing our designs, patents and know-how, and for manipulating their currency to unfairly attack our industries and our jobs, I will finally clamp down on China.
I will protect the right of American workers to vote by secret ballot. And I will fight to stop union bosses from using the dues of their union members to support those bosses' favorite campaigns.
Those steps are just a start. The plan I have proposed, which you can download for free onto your Amazon Kindle or at my website, has 59 action steps. These actions will do something that is critically needed: they will make America once again the best place in the world for business, for investment, and for jobs.
Last week, the CEO of Coca-Cola said that the business environment in China is better than that here in the United States. China! If that is not an indictment of the Obama administration and of Washington, what is? It's time to let a conservative businessman take the reins of government to make sure that America, not China, is the economic powerhouse of the world!
There is a growing chorus in the country of people who believe America's day has passed. They believe that we must accommodate ourselves to a world of multiple balanced powers. But God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America must lead the world, or someone else will.
I am guided by one overwhelming conviction and passion: this century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
Let me make this perfectly clear. As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever, apologize for America.
American strength rises from a strong economy, from a strong defense, and from the enduring strength of our values. Unfortunately, under this President, all three of those elements have been weakened.
I have already spoken of the actions I will take to strengthen our economy. To strengthen our military, I will reverse the President's cuts to the defense budget. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.
I will modernize our Navy and Air Force, add active duty soldiers, restore a robust missile defense system, and give our veterans the world-class care they deserve.
And I will repair our alliances. Our friends should never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel's existence as a Jewish state. I will count as dear our special relationship with the United Kingdom. And I will begin talks with Mexico to strengthen our cooperation on our shared problems of drugs and security.
This is America's moment. I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple: if you do not want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I am not your president.
You have that President today.
The foundation needed for a strong economy and a strong military is a people of strong values.
The values I learned in my home have enriched my life immeasurably. I had a mother and a father at home. What a blessing that was. My parent's example led me to marry, to have children, and now to bask in the joy of 16 grandchildren.
For the last 42 years, Ann has been my partner and joy. And what she has done has brought more happiness and meaning to our lives than what I have done, for Ann took the lead in raising our sons.
Steve Jobs was asked whether he was glad that he had children. He said, "it's 10,000 times better than anything I have ever done."
But marriage is more than a personally rewarding social custom. It is also critical for the well-being of a civilization. That is why it's so important to preserve traditional marriage -- the joining together of one man and one woman. And that's why I will appoint an Attorney General who will defend the bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton -- the Defense of Marriage Act.
Unfortunately, when it comes to marriage, our government's policies are often out of step with our values. If a couple has a baby, the government will actually give them more support--in the form of food stamps, welfare, or other benefits--if they do not marry than if they do. Our safety-net programs penalize the decision to marry, instead of rewarding it. That's just wrong. And that's why I will eliminate these marriage penalties. And I will hold fathers financially responsible for their child, whether or not they have married the mother.
Our values must also encompass the life of an unborn child. There are, of course, strong convictions on both sides of the life issue. Yet, it speaks well of our country that almost all Americans recognize that abortion is a problem. The law may call it a right, but no one ever called it a good. And in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.
I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, I will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood. I will protect a health care worker's right to follow their conscience in their work. And I will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law. It is long past time for the Supreme Court to return the issue of abortion back to the states, by overturning Roe v. Wade.
Because the good heart of America knows no boundaries, a commitment to protecting life should not stop at the water's edge.
Taking innocent life is always wrong and always tragic, wherever it happens. The compassionate instincts of this country should not be silent in the face of injustices like China's One-Child Policy. And if I am president, you will never hear me or my vice president tell the Chinese government that we "understand" and won't "second guess" compulsory sterilization and forced abortion.
Almost all Americans live for a purpose greater than ourselves. Our heritage of religious faith and tolerance has importantly shaped who we have become as a people. We must continue to welcome faith into the public square and allow it to flourish. Our government should respect religious values, not silence them. We will always pledge our allegiance to a nation under God.
Our values ennoble the citizen, and strengthen the nation. We should remember that decency and civility are values too. One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line. Poisonous language does not advance our cause. It has never softened a single heart nor changed a single mind. The blessings of faith carry the responsibility of civil and respectful debate. The task before us is to focus on the conservative beliefs and the values that unite us -- let no agenda, narrow our vision or drive us apart.
The 21st century must be an American century. It began with terror, war, and economic calamity. It is our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity. My hope is that our grandchildren will remember us in the same way that we remember the last generations of Americans who overcame adversity, that fought in world wars, that came through the Great Depression, and that gained victory in the Cold War. Let future generations look back on us and say they rose to the occasion, they embraced their duty, and they led our nation to safety and strength.
The greatest generation is passing. But as their light fades, we must seize that torch they carried so gallantly at such great sacrifice. It is an eternal torch of decency, freedom and hope. It is not America's torch alone. But it is America's duty--and honor--to hold it high enough that all the world can see its light.
Believe in America.
Thank you. God Bless You, and God Bless the United States of America."