Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Announcement Speech
Heritage Hall
Topeka, KS
January 20, 2007

Whoa, what a day.  This is great.  Thank you guys for being here.  What an exciting time.  It might be a little cold outside, but it's great and warm in here for all of you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

And I have a number of friends and associates and teachers who are surprised and family who's shocked so it's just great having you here.  I want to, give a warm welcome if you would to my wife, Mary.  She puts up with a lot through this.  Abby, our oldest, Andy, Liz, and Mark and Jenna.  We're excited and we're very thankful that you're here today to help us.

And if I could use perhaps a poor Kansas analogy, but today my family and I are taking the first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House.  A great journey.

I am declaring today my candidacy for President of the United States.

It's a great journey; it's a great journey and ours is a great nation and I make one pledge to you, to use our greatness for goodness.  That's what it's about.

We are a great nation because our greatness is built on the foundation of fundamental goodness.  If ever we lose our goodness, we will surely lose our greatness.  Our purposes, from the time of our nation's founding, have always been bigger than we are.  They must be if we are to fulfill our destiny.

But destinies are built on daily achievements.  Inch by inch, step by step, we press on to our higher callings, and today I wish to state what I believe those next steps are, for our nation and for our people.

A bit of history.  Two hundred years ago this year, a little known British parliamentarian by the name of William Wilberforce finally achieved success after a lifetime of effort to end the slave trade in the British Empire.  He was a committed Christian who believed his faith should be a force for good in Britain and around the world.  Wilberforce had two great passions: ending the slave trade and renewing the culture.  Although these goals appeared impossibly lofty, both were achieved.

He used Britain's greatness for goodness.

Our mandate today has a similar feel.  If Wilberforce were alive today, I believe he would passionately fight for the dignity of every human life everywhere, without regard to race, wealth, or status.  He would.  He would fight.  I think he would also feel compelled to take up the vital cause of renewing the family and the culture, and these are our fights today.

We must fight for the downtrodden, and for the voiceless and for the powerless.  We must fight for freedom and justice.  To do otherwise would be to betray our heritage.

But, first our land needs healing.

Our people need hope.

Our world needs help.

And we need reconciliation.

Lincoln, I believe properly observed that a house divided cannot stand long.  We are too divided and need healing.

We need to rebuild our families.  We need stronger families in this country.  We need people belonging and committed.  By doing so, we will reduce poverty, strengthen our nation and increase hope.

We need to support the foundational institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman for life.  And let me say as one engaged in that institution, we should support marriage and not tax it.  It's wrong to take away welfare benefits just because somebody gets married.  Marriage remains the best place to raise children--not the only place, but the best.

We must stop wasteful spending, absolutely, that steals a family's income and then insults them by throwing their money away on pork-barrel projects.

And we need more opportunities--not more taxes.  We need that.  And let me say here clearly I've never voted for a tax increase, and I'll certainly never sign one.

But that's not enough.  We need a different income tax system altogether.  This one, this one, and hear me, the Internal Revenue Code should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull axe.

I propose the creation of an alternative flat tax, which lets the people choose which system works for them.  You pick.  Stay with the old code or pick the new alternative flat tax.  You choose.

And we need a social security system in which all Americans are given a choice in how to prepare for their retirement; a choice they don't presently have.  No one should be required to leave the current system, and everyone must be guaranteed their current level of benefits.  Every American should be given this freedom.

We're a large nation.  Let's start embracing American-sized goals that lift us up and pull us together, and I've got one I want to put in front of you.

Let's put our energies into conquering the number one fear in America: the fear of getting cancer.  We can end deaths by cancer in ten years.  The last two years have seen a decrease in deaths by cancer, and it's time to put this killer to death.  And we can do it.  With our intense effort, we can make it a chronic--rather than a terminal--illness.  And what a gift to humanity, removal of the number one fear.

I might add to you, the second leading fear in America is public speaking.  If you're interested.

We need high-quality, affordable health care for everyone.  And here, let me step back for just a moment.  I am a conservative, and I'm proud of being a conservative.  But I'm a conservative that believes in addressing problems, not ignoring them.  We must address our health care problems with market-based solutions, not a government-run health care system.  We can do that, and we need to do that.  This topic requires our urgent attention.

And, we must become energy self-reliant in North America in the next fifteen years; we really have to do this.  At the same time we can and we will reduce our carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.  This is possible using our ingenuity, our resources, our ethanol, and our determination.  We can do this.

And let me say here too, we need judges who want to be judges, not legislators.

And for goodness sakes, the last thing we need in America is to take God out of our public lives and institutions.  We need to embrace our nation's motto 'In God We Trust,' not be ashamed of it.  Search the record of history.  To walk away from the almighty is to embrace decline for a nation.  To embrace him leads to renewal, for individuals and for nations.

Something that's difficult, but most people feel deeply in their hearts is the need for a culture of life--a culture that doesn't allow the strong to exploit the weak--a culture of compassion instead of a culture of convenience.  We all know this.  Let's start following our hearts and work to protect all innocent human life at all stages.  It's all beautiful.  It is all sacred.  It is all unique, whether it is here, whether it's in the womb, whether it's somebody in poverty, whether it's a child in Darfur, they are all sacred and beautiful and let's start protecting them.  We know in our hearts to be true.  Let's follow on through.

I can't go forward without noting that we are a nation at war.  I just returned from Afghanistan and Iraq.  Our troops--the finest, most courageous people our nation has to offer--are fighting the cause of liberty in places that have never known her.  They are fighting magnificently.  It is a long fight.  We will win.  We cannot lose our will to win.  We must win to redeem our troops' sacrifices.  Let us resolve to move forward together, to have a bipartisan strategy for the war.  We need unity here to win over there.  We need to have that.  The war is not a partisanship issue for any side, and it's time for all partisanship to leave.  Lives--and our future--is at stake.

We will achieve these goals, not through government action, but by tapping into our innate goodness as a society and working together.  This is how America has always achieved great goals.

And at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, it comes back to the basics: faith, family, and freedom.  America is great because she is good.  That goodness is not based in Washington, or New York, or even Topeka.  It is based in the hearts of the American people.  This is a goodness whose author is the divine.  A goodness that doesn't let us rest until our neighbor is at peace.  A goodness that feels the chains of another rub on our skin.  A goodness from God that demands our vigilant action.

How much better we will be as we seek to live the great commandment to love God and love one another.

Yes, we are a great nation and that's a humbling thing, for to whom much is given, much is required.

Let us, in this generation, continue our destiny of greatness by focusing on the heart, a heart full of good.  That's what I'll seek to do everyday.

So it is with sincere humility and a determination to do good that I declare my candidacy for President of the United States.

God bless you all, and may God continue to bless this great nation.

Thank you.  Thank you guys so much.  We part from here and travel to North Carolina, to Washington, to the March for Life rally, and points all around this country and I can't think of a better place or a better group to have this send off from.

Thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  Thank you from our family.  God bless you and God bless this great land.

Length of speech: about 15 1/2 minutes.

Observations:  This speech came about a month and a half after Brownback established his presidential exploratory committee and exactly two years until the next president is inaugurated.  The announcement was also just a couple of days before the March for Life in Washington; the campaign no doubt hoped for a synergistic effect from the two events.

Brownback generally stayed close to his prepared remarks.  He did add a bit about "the yellow brick road to the White House" in his opening and elaborated when speaking about a culture of life in the latter part.  In addition to members of his family, Brownback mentioned by name William Wilberforce, a British parliamentarian of two centuries ago who fought slavery, and Lincoln.

Brownback discussed the social issues for which he is most well known including marriage "as the union of a man and a woman for life" and "the need for a culture of life," but he also delved into other areas.  He called for a flat tax, declaring that "the Internal Revenue Code should be taken behind the barn and killed with a dull axe," targeted cancer, vowing, "We can end deaths by cancer in ten years," and addressed energy, stating "we must become energy self-reliant in North America in the next fifteen years."

prepared remarks