Thank you. I want to start this morning by making a few remarks about our Republican Party, the party that has been my political home since I entered public life. I am proud of that affiliation for I have always been proud of the beliefs of our great party: our belief in personal freedom and personal responsibility; our belief in a strong national defense and vigorous and capable world leadership; our belief in small, but effective government and in fiscal conservatism.
Most important, I believe in our party because underlying all our party's conservative principles is our respect for the nation's greatness and our appreciation for the ennobling political and social values from which our greatness is derived.
Thus, I have always felt quite comfortable describing myself as a proud conservative, a proud Reagan conservative, and as a member of Congress I have compiled the record of a proud conservative.
I have fought many battles for small government and low taxes; for personal freedom and responsibility; for a strong defense of our national interests and values.
I have fought against wasteful spending whether its patrons were Democrats or Republicans. Moreover, I have proudly defended the sanctity of life and the values that make families strong and our country great. I have fought these battles in good times and bad for our party, and I will fight them for as long as I have the strength to fight.
Throughout my presidential campaign I have remained true to our conservative principles. It is conservative to pay down the national debt; to save Social Security and Medicare. It is conservative to insist on local control of our children's education. It is conservative to expose the pork barrel spending practices of both political parties. It is conservative to seek to improve the lives of our servicemen and women, and the means with which we ask them to defend us. And it is conservative to demand that America keep its promises to our veterans.
I run for President, my friends, because I believe deeply in the greatness of America's destiny.
We are the world's lantern of freedom and opportunity . . . the bright beacon of hope that our fathers fought to bequeath us and our children were born to inherit. But I know that unless we restore the people's sovereignty over government and their pride in public service; unless we reform our public institutions to meet the demands of a new day and unless we renew our sense of national purpose, we will squander our destiny.
Toward that end, I have called for the reform of campaign finance practices that have sacrificed our principles to the demands of big money special interests. I have spoken against forces that have turned politics into a battle of bucks instead of a battle of ideas. And for that, my friends, I have been accused of disloyalty to my party.
I am also proud to help build a bigger Republican Party, a party that can claim a governing majority for a generation or more, by attracting new people to our cause with an appeal to the patriotism that unites us and the promise of a government that we can be proud of again. And for that, I have been accused of consorting with the wrong sort of people.
Well, my friends, I have always acted in what I believe to be the best interests of my country. And I always believed that what is good for America is good for the Republican Party.
I don't believe it's loyal to suggest that the Republican Party cannot stand on its own feet and fight for public opinion without six and seven figure contributions from people with interests before government but not necessarily ideas to sustain our country's greatness. I don't believe it's loyal to suggest that the Republican establishment is more important to save than a Republican majority. I believe it is the height of foolishness to build a wall around our Party in fear that we are so narrowly defined that new faces and fresh ideas in accord with our basic principles will jeopardize our values.
America is more than the sum of its divided parts and so our Party should be.
America is more powerful than its established power centers and so our Party should be. America is greater than the accumulation of wealth and so our Party should be.
This is my message to my party and my country. It is an honest Republican message that threatens none of our Party's principles or the social values of any constituency in our party. On the contrary, it is an inclusive, but principled message that trusts in the people to guide our nation in this new century.
I am a conservative, my friends, a proud conservative, who has faith in the people I serve. But those who purport to be defenders of our party, but who in reality have lost confidence in the Republican message are attacking me, they are people who have turned good causes into businesses.