Congressman Duncan Hunter (D-CA)
Announcement Speech
Spartanburg Marriott at Renaissance Park
Spartanburg, SC
January 25, 2007
[prepared remarks]

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.  The reception you have given me and Lynne warms our hearts.

The genius of the founding fathers is that they put together a government that can be run by ordinary people.  I’m a very ordinary guy, but folks, I have a very extraordinary family.  I had a very average tour of duty in the military and didn’t do anything special, but my son, Duncan, quit his job and joined the Marines after 9-11 and served two tours in Iraq.

I was a less than average student, but my brothers Bobby and John are world class physicists and Jim is a great civil engineer.  My son Sam, just graduated from San Diego State University a few weeks ago.

I was a pretty average lawyer on the San Diego waterfront, but my sister Bonnie is a superb lawyer.

I was blessed in having a Mom and Dad who together embodied character and love.

I will tell you what I was great in though, I was great in marrying over my head to the most wonderful girl in the world, Lynne.  We’ve been lucky to have two  sons in whom we could not be prouder.  They have added to our family two lovely daughter-in-laws Theresa and Margaret and four grandchildren whom we dearly love, Duncan 3, Sissy and Sarah, Marin.

This morning at 7:22 A.M. the first rays of sunrise illuminated the Stars of David and crosses on the markers at Arlington Cemetery.

Within a few minutes the East Coast was covered with the morning light.  As dawn moved across the cities and towns of the Eastern U.S. it revealed what we’ve always called: “the Arsenal of Democracy.”

America’s Arsenal of Democracy is reflected in the thousands of factories, plants and businesses that make domestic products in peacetime, but can be called on to make military equipment in a time of war.

Three times in the last century we saved the world for freedom: WWI, WWII and the Cold War.

In World War II, our manufacturing base made more than: 100,000 tanks; 2.4 million vehicles; 36 billion yards of cloth; 3 million rifles; 41 billion rounds of ammunition; and 41,000 artillery pieces.

The Arsenal of Democracy carried Eisenhower’s forces to Berlin and paved the way for the Marines in the Pacific as they pushed the Japanese back to their mainland.  This great arsenal, our industrial base, was important to collapsing the Soviet Empire and the Berlin Wall because it provided the strength in Ronald Reagan’s stand against the forces of evil.

Today my friends, the Arsenal of Democracy is being pulled away.  Massive production of textiles, steel and machine tools are no longer found in South Carolina, or Ohio, or Pennsylvania, nor dozens of other states.  In fact, as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, when I sent my team to get more steel to protect troops against roadside bombs in Iraq, they found only one company in the U.S. making armor plate grade steel.

When a Swiss company cut off the critical component for our smart bombs only one U.S. company remained which could supply it.

Now, if you want to find where our Arsenal of Democracy has gone, you must look in places like Korea, France and, perhaps more ominously, China.

China is cheating on trade.  They are piling up over 200 billion U.S. dollars each year as a result and they are buying ships, planes and missiles with American trade dollars.

They have purchased Russian Sovreignny Class missile cruisers designed to destroy American aircraft carriers.

They have built between 750 and 1,000 medium range ballistic missiles and they have 17 submarines under construction.

How are they cheating?  China gives 17% tax rebate to their exporters and a 17% penalty to our businesses who export to them.  In addition, they maintain a 40% currency devaluation just to make sure the U.S. business doesn’t win.

This is not free trade.  This is not fair trade.  It’s cheating and if we put up with it, then we are disserving not only business and workers, but also our security.

If this was a football game, it means China has put 74 points on the score board before the opening kick-off.

Our own head of the Federal Reserve Board, Mr. Bernanke, went to China a few weeks ago and wrote a speech describing China’s currency manipulation as a “subsidy.”   Then he pulled those words out so as not to anger his Communist hosts.

I thought Republicans didn’t believe in appeasing Communists.

This isn’t a game.  It is pulling apart American’s Arsenal of Democracy which has saved the world three times in the last century and will be called on to do so again.

As President, I will make sure that our businesses and workers get a level playing field.  I will do this because our security is at stake.

We will be able to do this because we still have the most important thing in a trade deal: we have the market, and to reach our market other nations will have to make a deal that gives our citizens a chance to win.

Today starts a time for choosing for every American manufacturer and worker.  Choose to give in to China’s cheating, to the one-way street that takes good profits, businesses and jobs and makes us a debtor nation to a country which has never shown mercy.

Or, choose to join me to enforce fair trade with a two-way street that gives every business and worker the chance to succeed.

Will you join me?

Now our businesses and workers need more than fair trade to prosper.  They also need freedom.  When government leaves a few dollars in the pocket of a businessman and he’s able to expand his business, buy new machinery and hire new workers: everyone wins.  The new workers pay taxes and revenues increase.

Workers and businesses need something else, they need government to cut the massive regulation that keeps businesses from opening and workers from jobs.

In lots of places it takes longer than it took to win WWII to subdivide 10 acres of land for businesses or homes.  Throughout America good creative people are waiting for months and years for bureaucracy to move.

I’ll have a new motto to move the federal bureaucracy out of the way.  Our motto will be: “Get them their permits while they are still young.”

This morning, an hour after the American sunrise first appeared at Arlington Cemetery, it began illuminating a little town in Texas called Kingston. Kingston is the birthplace of Audie Murphy, our most decorated soldier in WWII.  349 miles away that same sunrise shines on Cuero, Texas, the home of Sgt. Roy Benavidez, the Special Forces Sgt who, during the Vietnam War, went on a rescue mission of his comrades armed only with a bowie knife.  And 1,697 miles from Benavides’s town is Scio, New York, the home of Marine Corporal Jason Dunham who gave his life to save his buddies in Iraq.

These three men are all tightly bound to each other and us by this: they all won the Medal of Honor for Heroism and they all fought for the American interest of expanding freedom.

In WWII, we prevailed and brought freedom to millions of people in dozens of countries.   In Vietnam, we failed to expand freedom.  In Iraq, our success hangs in the balance, but the proposition that expanding freedom is an American interest cannot be questioned.

Who can argue that it is not in our interest to have a free and democratic Japan on the other side of the Pacific?  That it is not in our interest to have nations like Poland as U.S. allies today.

When Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall, we freed hundreds of millions of people from behind the Iron Curtain.  That was in our interest.

Now, it is in our interest to expand freedom in a difficult and dangerous places called Iraq and Afghanistan.  In each nation we are following the basic pattern we’ve used for many years: 1. We stand up a free government; 2. We stand up a military capable of protecting that free government; and 3. The Americans leave.

In both nations we are in the second, difficult phase of standing up a security apparatus.  The toughest challenge is in Iraq.  The President with his military advisors has put together a plan for Operation Baghdad, which is being executed by moving 21,500 reinforcements to the theater.  I’ve seen the plan.  It has a good chance to work.  It joins two to three Iraqi battalions with one American battalion in a back-up and mentoring role.

I support the plan.  When we are in a shooting war and reinforcements are being called up by the Commander in Chief and the commanders on the ground, no political party should ever stand in their way.  If Democrats move to cut off supplies, our troops and our people should never forgive them.

We have a debt to Audie Murphy, Sgt. Roy Benavidez, Corporal Jason Dunham and the more than 600,000 Americans who gave their lives in the last century for us.  Our obligation is to stay strong and remember George Washington’s warning: “The best way to prevent war is to prepare for it.”  And Ronald Reagan’s policy of achieving peace through strength.

For the past 26 years on the House Armed Services Committee, the last four as its Chairman, I have endeavored to make us strong.  Over the last eight years we’ve increased pay of our uniformed personnel by 40%; we’ve enlarged the Army by 30,000 and the Marines by 5,000; we’ve brought medical coverage to the National Guard and their families and we’ve modernized our forces.

Since the Clinton Administration stepped out of the White House, I have worked with the current administration to more than double the precision firepower of the U.S. military.  Let any would-be-terrorist or wrong thinking nation know: if you believe media reports that the U.S. military is unable to handle another threat along with Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t bet your life on it, because you’ll lose.

Lots of security challenges remain for our nation.  Iran appears committed to the development of a nuclear weapon and North Korea already has some and is racing to build missile delivery systems.  China is emerging as a military super-power, stepping into the shoes of the former Soviet Union.

We must continue to develop broad military capability for the U.S.

We must be able to fight conventionally as well as prosecuting the war against terror with an emphasis on intelligence and special operations.

We must remain strong and build new strengths in space and cyber-space.

Today we have the first missile defense in our history.  It’s a limited capability.  As President I will build on it, so that if one day missiles are fired at our cities we can stop them.

Two and a half hours after the sunrise first touched  Arlington Cemetery, the first rays reveal the Southwest border.  There a thin green line of U.S. Border Patrolmen guard a vast 2,000 mile border.  They need reinforcements and they need a border fence.

In San Diego, we built the double fence that reduced the smuggling of hundreds of thousands of people and tons of drugs by more than 90%.  The fence works and the new fence law that I wrote extends the San Diego fence more than 700 miles across the Arizona, New Mexico and Texas borders.

As President, I will complete the border fence from start to finish in six months.  The “mission impossible” crowd who runs Washington, DC is trying to stop it, but we will overcome them.

We need more agents, we need the fence.  I’ll tell you why.

Since 9-11, border security has become national security.  In 2005, we stopped 155,000 people coming across from Mexico who weren’t citizens of Mexico.  They came from nearly every country in the world, including from Communist China and Iran.

You know, for all the critics, America has the most generous legal immigration system in the world.  I call that the front door.  And as President, I will have a message for folks who want to come to our wonderful country: “Knock on the front door because the fence will be up and the back door will be closed.”

There is another message here: it takes more than walking across a border to be an American.  It takes the willingness to serve your country when called.  It takes the commitment to be honest in your work and the heart to help your neighbor.  To be a person like Wendell Cutting, who in January 2005 was discovered to be missing from his sick-bed where he lay with terminal cancer. “Where is Wendell?” we asked.  Then we got our answer, he was on a plane to the center of the tsunami disaster scene.  There, sick with chemo-therepy, he aided the victims with his beloved Rescue Task Force.  “God re-energized me,” he told me later.

What’s most special about Wendell was he was not alone.

Millions of Americans help across our nation and across our globe.  To our international critics I say: When you had floods the Americans were there.  Asking for nothing, taking nothing, only helping.  When you had fires and earthquakes and tsunamis, the Americans were there.  When you had disease Americans brought medicine, when you were hungry, the Americans brought food.  When you were attacked, Americans left the safety of their homes to defend you.  Sometimes the Americans came under their government, but many times they just came because of the goodness of their hearts.  America is great because America is good.

The reason our citizens are good is because of our faith and because we believe that all mankind is endowed by our creator with inalienable rights. We believe in the value of the human soul.  When we appoint judges, we are handing great power, the power of life and death, to individual people.  As President, I want judges with discernment.  If a judicial candidate can look at a sonagram picture of an unborn child and not see a human being worthy of protection, I will not give him an appointment to the court.  I will, however, get him an appointment with an  optometrist for a set of eye glasses.

This country spends millions of dollars a year searching for life on distant planets.  We should be able to see it easily in the beating heart of an unborn child.

I said at the start of this speech that the first rays of sunlight lit up Arlington Cemetery at 7:22 this morning.  In 2 and a half hours from then the sunrise will spread across America and reaches another national cemetery 3,000 miles from here on the Pacific Ocean. That cemetery, Rosecrans National Cemetery, stands guard over the entrance to San Diego Bay.

In 1945, a young Marine returning home from the South Pacific to San Diego wrote these words:

“I think that just to be able to live with your wife and be able to take care of them every day is the greatest privilege a person can enjoy.”  61 years later another Marine returned to San Diego from a place called Fallujah and wrote: “At some point in a dangerous environment you forget about your own safety and you try to keep your men safe and place your own life in the hands of God, but your family, your wife and kids never leave your mind. Families lift our country up. They support us with fidelity, morality, faith in God, and raising the next generation of Americans.”

The first Marine was my dad, R.O. Hunter, to whom I owe all that I am or ever will be.  The second was my son Duncan, here today.  These letters over 60 years apart reflect the truth of America: God still loves this nation. We are still a people of character and strength and kindness.

My fellow Americans, with the support of our families, with faith in God and with confidence in the goodness of the American people, let’s begin this race for the Presidency.  Let’s win.

...came back from two tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine, the last tour serving in Fallujah, Duncan Hunter, and he's sitting right over here; another Duncan.  [applause].  And he's holding Sarah.  And today Sarah said "da-da" and we are very proud.  [laughter].

You know I also was an average student, but I have a great son with us today, Sam, who just finished and just completed his work and graduated from San Diego State University about two weeks ago.  Sam Hunter right over here.  [inaud., applause].

And I've got to tell you I've got two brothers back home who are world class physicists, and I'm not going to tell you what my grade point average was.  I told Sam that I kept it down so that he would gain confidence as he surged past me.  [laughter].  And he did.

I was a storefront lawyer on the waterfront in San Diego and I wasn't a great lawyer, kind of an average lawyer, but I have a sister who is a superb lawyer and she's going to found the Republican Trial Lawyers of America and both of them will be meeting soon.  [laughter, applause]  You know we do need trial lawyers in the campaign.

You know this morning at 7:22 a.m. the first rays of the sunrise illuminated the stars and the crosses of David at Arlington Cemetery.  And as that great morning sun came across the East Coast it illuminated what we've always called the "Arsenal of Democracy."

The Arsenal of Democracy is reflected in the thousands of factories and plants and businesses that make domestic products in peacetime but they can be called on to make military weapons in time of war.  And I can tell you as a former chairman of the Armed Service Committee, the Arsenal of Democracy is very important to me.

You know in World War I, World War II and the Cold War we saved the world three times for freedom, and we did it with this Arsenal of Democracy.

Let me tell you what we made.  We made 100,000 tanks in World War II, 2 1/2 million vehicles, 36 billion yards of textiles, and 41,000 artillery pieces.  That Arsenal of Democracy carried Eisenhower's forces to Berlin, it carried the Marines across the Pacific in pushing the enemy back to their homeland, and I can tell you, that the industrial base that we had carried also Ronald Reagan's philosophy and policy of peace through strength that culminated in bringing down the Berlin Wall.  The Arsenal of Democracy, our industrial base, was a strength in peace through strength.

Well today my friends the Arsenal of Democracy is being pulled away, and we don't see massive production of textiles, steel and machine tools in places like South Carolina, Ohio or Pennsylvania or other states.

In fact I can tell you as chairman of the Armed Services Committee when we were trying to find high grade armor steel to buttress our up-armored humvees against roadside bombs in Iraq, and I sent my teams out from the Armed Services Committee, we found one company left in America that made that high-grade armored steel.  And when a Swiss company cut off the tiny component, it's called a crystal, in the guidance system of perhaps the most important weapon [inaud.] we found one company left in America that can make it.

Now if you want to find the Arsenal of Democracy today, you've got to go to places like Korea, France, and I think most ominously China.

China is very clearly cheating on trade.  [recording problems]

...because it's pretty simple.  They give their exporters a 17 percent subsidy; they rebate them all their taxes at the water's edge if they're going to sell to the United States.  The give our importers, who are sending products to them, a 17 percent penalty that we pay at the water's edge going into China, and then they devalue their currency by 40 percent.  That means before the opening kickoff, before you compare any other costs of production, China has 74 points on the scoreboard if this was a football game.

Unfortunately it's not a football game; it's a very important competition and the industrial base and the security of America is at stake.

And you know a couple of weeks ago Mr. Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve Board, went to China and he wrote a speech in which he said that this manipulation of currency was a subsidy, which of course is illegal under international trade laws.  Well he pulled that word out.  The press got the speech, but he pulled the word out before he made the speech to China's leaders.  He didn't want to upset them. 

You know ladies and gentlemen, I thought that Republicans didn't appease communists; and that's what we did.  [applause]

Now let me tell you, there are a couple of things that a commander in chief has to do that are almost solely his province.  One important point of leadership is making arms control agreements.  Another important point is making trade agreements.

And we have made a trade agreement in which every major trading nation in the world gets major advantages...