Speeches from the 2008 Republican National Convention
Remarks to the 2008 Republican National Convention
St. Paul, Minnesota
Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens, I will be honored to accept your nomination for vice president of the United States.
I accept the call to help our nominee for president to serve and defend America. And I accept the challenge of a tough fight in this election against confident opponents at a crucial hour for our country.
And I accept the privilege of serving with a man who has come through much harder missions, and met far graver challenges, and knows how tough fights are won, the next president of the United States, John S. McCain.
It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.
With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost, there was no hope for this candidate, who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. But the pollsters...
The pollsters and the pundits, they overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off. They overlooked the caliber of the man himself, the determination, and resolve, and the sheer guts of Senator John McCain.
The voters knew better, and maybe that's because they realized there's a time for politics and a time for leadership, a time to campaign and a time to put our country first.
Our nominee for president is a true profile in courage, and people like that are hard to come by. He's a man who wore the uniform of his country for 22 years and refused to break faith with those troops in Iraq who now have brought victory within sight.
And as the mother of one of those troops, that is exactly the kind of man I want as commander-in-chief.
I'm just one of many moms who will say an extra prayer each night for our sons and daughters going into harm's way. Our son, Track, is 19. And one week from tomorrow, September 11, he'll deploy to Iraq with the Army infantry in the service of his country.
My nephew, Casey, also enlisted and serves on a carrier in the Persian Gulf.
My family is so proud of both of them and of all the fine men and women serving the country in uniform.
So Track is the eldest of our five children. In our family, it's two boys and three girls in between, my strong and kind- hearted daughters, Bristol, and Willow, and Piper.
And we were so blessed in April. Todd and I welcomed our littlest one into the world, a perfectly beautiful baby boy named Trig.
You know, from the inside, no family ever seems typical, and that's how it is with us. Our family has the same ups and downs as any other, the same challenges and the same joys.
Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge. And children with special needs inspire a very, very special love. To the families of special-needs...
To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message for you: For years, you've sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. And I pledge to you that, if we're elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.
And Todd is a story all by himself. He's a lifelong commercial fisherman and a production operator in the oil fields of Alaska's North Slope, and a proud member of the United Steelworkers union. And Todd is a world champion snow machine racer.
Throw in his Yup'ik Eskimo ancestry, and it all makes for quite a package. And we met in high school. And two decades and five children later, he's still my guy.
My mom and dad both worked at the elementary school in our small town. And among the many things I owe them is a simple lesson that I've learned, that this is America, and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.
And my parents are here tonight.
I am so proud to be the daughter of Chuck and Sally Heath.
Long ago, a young farmer and a haberdasher from Missouri, he followed an unlikely path -- he followed an unlikely path to the vice presidency. And a writer observed, "We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty and sincerity and dignity," and I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.
I grew up with those people. They're the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, and run our factories, and fight our wars. They love their country in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America.
I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA.
I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
So I signed up for the PTA because I wanted to make my kids' public education even better. And when I ran for city council, I didn't need focus groups and voter profiles because I knew those voters, and I knew their families, too.
Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involved.
I guess -- I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.
I might add that, in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they're listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening.
No, we tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.
As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes and whoever is listening John McCain is the same man.
Well, I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I've learned quickly these last few days that, if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone.
But -- now, here's a little newsflash. Here's a little newsflash for those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country.
Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason and not just to mingle with the right people. Politics isn't just a game of clashing parties and competing interests. The right reason is to challenge the status quo, to serve the common good, and to leave this nation better than we found it.
No one expects us all to agree on everything, but we are expected to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear convictions, and a servant's heart.
And I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States.
This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau, when I stood up to the special interests, and the lobbyists, and the Big Oil companies, and the good-old boys.
Suddenly, I realized that sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power-brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve.
But with the support of the citizens of Alaska, we shook things up. And in short order, we put the government of our state back on the side of the people.
I came to office promising major ethics reform to end the culture of self-dealing. And today, that ethics reform is a law.
While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over-the-top.
I put it on eBay.
I love to drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef, although I got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her.
I came to office promising to control spending, by request if possible, but by veto, if necessary.
Senator McCain also -- he promises to use the power of veto in defense of the public interest. And as a chief executive, I can assure you it works.
Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending, nearly $500 million in vetoes.
We suspended the state fuel tax and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress, "Thanks, but no thanks," on that Bridge to Nowhere.
If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves.
When oil and gas prices went up dramatically and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged: directly to the people of Alaska.
And despite fierce opposition from oil company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way that they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources. As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people.
I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence.
That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are open, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.
The stakes for our nation could not be higher. When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we're forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And families cannot throw more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil.
With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.
To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of the world's energy supplies, or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, or that Venezuela might shut off its oil discoveries and its deliveries of that source, Americans, we need to produce more of our own oil and gas. And...
And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: We've got lots of both.
Our opponents say again and again that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems, as if we didn't know that already.
But the fact that drilling, though, won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we're going to lay more pipelines, and build more nuclear plants, and create jobs with clean coal, and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources. We need...
We need American sources of resources. We need American energy brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.
And now, I've noticed a pattern with our opponent, and maybe you have, too. We've all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers, and there is much to like and admire about our opponent.
But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform, not even in the State Senate.
This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting and never use the word "victory," except when he's talking about his own campaign.
But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot...
When that happens, what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet?
The answer -- the answer is to make government bigger, and take more of your money, and give you more orders from Washington, and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.
America needs more energy; our opponent is against producing it. Victory in Iraq is finally in sight, and he wants to forfeit. Terrorist states are seeking nuclear weapons without delay; he wants to meet them without preconditions.
Al Qaida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights.
Government is too big; he wants to grow it. Congress spends too much money; he promises more. Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them. His tax increases are the fine print in his economic plan.
And let me be specific: The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, and raise payroll taxes, and raise investment income taxes, and raise the death tax, and raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars.
My sister, Heather, and her husband, they just built a service station that's now open for business, like millions of others who run small businesses. How are they...
How are they going to be better off if taxes go up? Or maybe you are trying to keep your job at a plant in Michigan or in Ohio...
Or you're trying -- you're trying to create jobs from clean coal, from Pennsylvania or West Virginia.
You're trying to keep a small farm in the family right here in Minnesota.
How are you -- how are you going to be better off if our opponent adds a massive tax burden to the American economy?
Here's how I look at the choice Americans face in this election: In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers, and then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change.
They are the ones whose names appear on laws and landmark reforms, not just on buttons and banners or on self-designed presidential seals.
Among politicians, there is the idealism of high-flown speech- making, in which crowds are stirringly summoned to support great things, and then there is the idealism of those leaders, like John McCain, who actually do great things.
They're the ones who are good for more than talk, the ones that we've always been able to count on to serve and to defend America.
Senator McCain's record of actual achievements and reform helps explain why so many special interests, and lobbyists, and comfortable committee chairmen in Congress have fought the prospect of a McCain presidency from the primary election of 2000 to this very day.
Our nominee doesn't run with the Washington herd. He's a man who's there to serve his country and not just his party, a leader who's not looking for a fight, but sure isn't afraid of one, either.
Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate ... he not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, "I can't stand John McCain."
Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man.
Clearly, what the majority leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain and that is only...
... that's only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate, put him in the White House.
My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of personal discovery.
This world of threats and dangers, it's not just a community and it doesn't just need an organizer. And though both Senator Obama and Senator Biden have been going on lately about how they're always, quote, "fighting for you," let us face the matter squarely: There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you.
There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you in places where winning means survival and defeat means death. And that man is John McCain.
You know, in our day, politicians have readily shared much lesser tales of adversity than the nightmare world, the nightmare world in which this man and others equally brave served and suffered for their country.
And it's a long way from the fear, and pain, and squalor of a six-by-four cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office.
But if Senator McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made. It's the journey of an upright and honorable man, the kind of fellow whose name you will find on war memorials in small towns across this great country, only he was among those who came home.
To the most powerful office on Earth, he would bring the compassion that comes from having once been powerless, the wisdom that comes even to the captives by the grace of God, the special confidence of those who have seen evil and have seen how evil is overcome. A fellow...
A fellow prisoner of war, a man named Tom Moe of Lancaster, Ohio...
... Tom Moe recalls looking through a pinhole in his cell door as Lieutenant Commander John McCain was led down the hallway by the guards, day after day.
And the story is told, when McCain shuffled back from torturous interrogations, he would turn towards Moe's door, and he'd flash a grin and a thumbs up, as if to say, "We're going to pull through this."
My fellow Americans, that is the kind of man America needs to see us through the next four years.
For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words. But for a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.
If character is the measure in this election, and hope the theme, and change the goal we share, then I ask you to join our cause. Join our cause and help America elect a great man as the next president of the United States.
Thank you, and God bless America. Thank you.
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