Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R-VA)
Republican Party of Iowa
Abraham Lincoln Unity Dinner
Des Moines, Iowa
April 14, 2007
Well good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I'm delighted to be back once again in Iowa to have an opportunity to speak to the Iowa Republican Party.  I've been here several, many times before.  I was here for your original caucus meeting a year ago.  I've been in for candidates ever since and I'm honored to have a chance to come back now and speak to all of you once again.

I want to congratulate you.  In a time of great political tumult in this country, when we're moving primaries up, it seems like the entire nation still respects the Iowa caucus.  I congratulate you for preserving it.  [applause].

Steve thank you very much for the nice introduction.  I think the Republican Party of Iowa wants to know who they're talking to and who the person is who is coming and seeking the possibility of running for the presidency.  Our exploratory committee is up and running.  We're going to come back next week and may have something to say once again here in Iowa about this candidacy for the presidency.

I want to tell you a little bit about some of the things that Steve talked about.  I grew up in Richmond, Virginia.  My mother was a church secretary.  My father was a meat cutter--worked for a grocery store for forty years.  I was raised in the United Methodist Church.  I went to the public high school.  I went to the University of Virginia and studied foreign policy during the 60's during a time in which there was great change in this country and change across the entire world, change that continues even to this very day.  I joined the College Republicans at that time.  Many of you want to know whether a person's a johnny-come-lately to the Republican Party.  Well I'm not.  I joined the College Republicans in 1967.  That was a long time ago.  [one applause].  Oh.  That's okay.  That's all right.  [scattered applause].

Folks let me talk to you.  After that I went and joined the United States Army.  Became a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army intelligence.  Served in West Germany during the time of the Cold War.  Then from there I went to the University of Virginia law school and became a attorney practicing in the courts, just representing people.  Going before judges, arguing cases, standing on the law and standing on principles.  And then after that became the Attorney General of the State of Virginia.  Along the way, in 1976, I went to the Kansas City Convention as an alternate delegate for Ronald Reagan. 1976--a long time ago.  I was a conservative and remain a conservative even to this day.

My wife and I met while I was in law school.  She was at the undergraduate school of UVA.  This year we will celebrate our 40th anniversary, Roxanne and myself.  [applause].  We have two fine sons.  One boy, 23, working in Washington, DC; the other is a first year man at the University of Virginia even right now.

After being a courtroom attorney for 10 years, I was elected to be the chief prosecutor.  Many people you know will tell you, well you know what we really want is somebody who's played a prosecutor on TV.  [laughter].  Well I don't think so.  I think the American people would rather have the real thing, somebody who's actually stood up in a courtroom and stood up for the people as a real prosecutor.  After that of course Attorney General and then Governor, Governor of the State of Virginia, a major state, a substantial state, and one that I'm very proud of.

I've also enjoyed seeing people in this room, and many of you have friends and neighbors and relatives in Virginia and people who have visited Virginia.  I'm proud of my state and I think it is a good representative of this country.

At the time that I was governor, I was called on by the United States Congress to chair a commission on the Internet and sales tax issues.  And you know what?  This commission was actually intended to be a commission, honestly folks, that was supposed to issue a report saying there should be taxes on the Internet--sales taxes, bits and byte taxes, access taxes and all of that.  Well a funny thing happened on the way to the pro-tax Internet commission.  I became chairman and together with a lot of other substantial people we issued a report that said that there should not be taxes on the Internet, and it remains tax free to this day.  [applause].

I was also called on by the United States government to chair the National Commission on Terrorism and Homeland Security.  That Commission began in 1999.  It was a very substantial commission.  Who was on it?  Not your wise men from DC.  Police, fire, rescue, emergency services, health care providers, some retired general officers, some retired intelligence people, people who would actually have to understand what homeland security was about.  We did this work in the year 1999, when we assessed the threat and warned that the danger was very real.  In the year 2000 we proposed that there be a national program, a national plan to respond to the potential for an attack here on the homeland.  In the year 2001 we finished the work and defined exactly what that report should be, and then the 9-11 attack occurred.

I was Governor of the state of Virginia during the 9-11 attack.  That morning I watched the World Trade Center in flames.  I found out the next day that one of the members of our commission, Ray Downey of the New York City Fire Department, had been in those World Trade Center towers.  His radio didn't work, couldn't communicate with the police, the warning couldn't come, and Ray Downey died when the World Trade Center collapsed.

I went across Capitol Square that morning to find that the second state attacked that day on 9-11 was Virginia, because the Pentagon is in Virginia.  And I did what was necessary in those days.  I talked to the press.  I addressed the people of Virginia.  I made sure that the resources were going into the emergency operations center, commanded the National Guard, warned the State Police to look out for evidence of gunplay in the state of Virginia, visited people in the hospital who were burned and listened to their stories, visited the Pentagon while it was still on fire, which it was for a week.

I understand what it is to be on the firing line when the war on terror is visited upon our communities.  The commission went on two additional years.  I think maybe it's some of the best work that I ever did.  But you know folks, everything that is necessary to make this country safe still has not been implemented even to this day.  And what is needed is a true federal-state-local partnership with private sector leadership and that's what I formed, a non-profit to do out of the private sector, to continue, to continue the work on homeland security issues even though I was out of office.

I've chaired the Board of Visitors of the United States Air Force Academy.  I have chaired the Republican National Committee at the request of the president, and I am a board member of the National Rifle Association, where I stand up for 2nd Amendment rights.  [applause].  Well, actually, actually I stand for all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights as a matter of fact, all of 'em; I stand up for them every day.

Why would I want to seek the office of the presidency of the United States?  Why would anybody want to do that?  Because of a belief that you can make a contribution.  When you've been a person who's been in public life your entire life--oh private life to be sure I've had some success in that--but when you're a public servant, you want to try to do what's right for your community, for your state and for your country.  And I believe that this country is at a critical moment and a critical time and life has prepared me to do this work on behalf of the people of the United States and to bring them through what is a commandingly difficult situation.

Domestically, here at home, we absolutely have to have conservative leadership on the issues of government spending and government taxation.  We must have a conservative to do that, and I am that conservative.  [applause].

Friends, we absolutely have to control spending and the size of government.  You must do that.  I have already done major budgets in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I did four major budgets and I know how this works.  If you let spending go completely out of control, there's only one of two things that can possibly happen and that is increased deficits or increased taxes, and that is the simple reality.  We must absolutely control spending.  And there is a tendency among people in public life to really believe that if they just spend more and more pork barrel money they'll get re-elected.  That seems to be the culture in which we live today.  I ask you this question.  If you could spend someone else's money to do what you want to do for your priorities, when would you stop?  When would you stop?

The truth is that discipline must come from within, the discipline must come from within, that says that we will remember the value of each and every human being in America as a taxpayer and understand that we drain more and more money from people all the time.  Many people will come to you and they will say these nice things about controlling spending and making sure we control the size of government and that they're a conservative.  My record points it out.  When I ran for governor of Virginia, I ran on cutting taxes, cutting the car tax in Virginia, and in fact we were elected on it, the people of Virginia rallied to it, and then against all opposition and fights and struggles all through those four years, I kept my word and we cut that car tax and we delivered a tax cut to the working people of Virginia.  And that is what we should do in the United States.  [applause].

Don't be fooled by people who come to you lately and say that they're conservatives.  I can assure you, ladies and gentlemen, Rudy McRomney is not a conservative and he knows he's not a conservative.  [nervous audience reaction].

Now the second critical issue that faces the nation is one of national security, and I assure you of that.  Terrorism and homeland security--a very challenging time for us, but really it's been going on for quite a long time.  We've seen it year after year.  Terrorism and homeland security.  I am a veteran of the United States Army and United States Army intelligence, and I say to you that this is a time when we have to stand tall and we have to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and stand by them.  [applause].

The people who as a matter of faith believe that they must destroy us and destroy Western civilization must be dealt with strongly and harshly and that is the reality that we have to face and that is the truth.  [applause].

Secondly, homeland security.  I am confident that we can make this country safe in its homeland so that we can get on about the agenda of this nation.  We can do this with a complete partnership of federal, state and local people, private leadership in the corporations and the private community.  We can do these things.  And ladies and gentlemen, we don't have to surrender the civil rights and civil freedoms of our people while we're doing it.  We can have security and we can protect our freedoms in this country, and that's what Republicans stand for and that's what I stand for.  [applause].

Another element of national security is the border issues.  As far back as 1999 my official commission addressed the issue of border control and we pointed out that it's a security issue to have people able to come across the border any time they want to.  We simply cannot have an amnesty program.  We simply cannot have an amnesty program.  We should control our borders, make sure that they are secure, use all resources at our disposal to do that, of technology and personnels and people everywhere on the northern and southern borders.  We cannot be a sovereign nation unless we control our borders.  We should be harsh with people who break the law and hire people illegally.  Now I have no interest in sending a message of hatred or anger to anyone.  When I was Governor of Virginia I believed that it should be a time for all Virginians, and I tell you that this coming time should be a time for all Americans.  But the truth is that we have to have a sovereign control over our country.  That's who we are and what we are and we're entitled to do that and to say that it is the righteous and a correct thing to do.  We have to have the law obeyed.  People who are here illegally have got to come in and register in some way, but we cannot have a path to citizenship.

And finally, energy independence.  It is absolutely essential to the security of this nation that we move towards energy independence.  The American people are concerned, they are frustrated, they are angry and they are nervous about their children and their grandchildren living in a world in which there are people who control the essential energy resources of this world who are not in our best interests, and that is the reality.  We will have to use every piece at our disposal to gain more and more control over our future and that means everything, folks, that means nuclear power, it means better use of clean coal technology, it means ethanol, it means additional drilling, it means other resources as well, and we have to have an honest and frank conversation with the American people, and every sacrifice that they make, every one that they make on energy is in the national interest.  That is what we must communicate.

And finally, thirdly folks, why would I want to run for office?  Because I absolutely believe that the people of the United States, just as you, are entitled to someone who will be truthful and give you real integrity.  Someone who will say that he's going to do something and then will do it.  And that has been my track record.  I said to people that I would cut the car tax and cut taxes in Virginia and I did it.  I kept my word.  If Jim Gilmore says he's going to do something, he does it or dies trying, and that is the reality that we need.  A consistent conservative.  Someone who's always been a conservative, not someone who has come just recently to the cause.

I believe that you look to where people have been and what their lives have been like and what they have said in order to determine where they're going to be.  Isn't that the great test in reality.  Where you have been indicates where you are going to be.

Well let's look at the Democrats.  I'm running on my record, not away from it.  Look at our Democrats.

Hillary Clinton.  Front page of the New York Times today, talks about Hillary Clinton and how radical she was when she was in college.  And the first chance that she had to play a national role under her husband's administration, she sought to take all of health care and put it under the control of the state.

Barack Obama.  Well he's not running away from anything because he hasn't got anything that I'm aware of.  [laughter, applause].  Barack Obama simply articulates and says the classical standard liberal things that a Democrat always says.  He simply stands on the shoulders of other liberals and radicals who have developed these kinds of proposals in the past.  At least they were sincere and thoughtful about it, even though thank goodness they have not often succeeded in the United States of America.

John Edwards, a man who wishes to create class warfare, a man who wishes to say the rich versus the poor.  I can assure you of this.  He will not come forward with an idea that empowers anybody who is poor in this country.  The Democrats always have one solution--increase taxes and more money for more programs, and that's the reality that we will see from John Edwards as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you this.  People say to us that we can't win this coming time.  I've heard it over and over again--this is not going to be the Republicans' year.  As the former governor of Virginia, a person who's dealt in major federal issues, a person who has led our party, a person who is steeped in the law and understands what it is to obey a law, to have others obey the law, I'm telling you we can win and we will win if we stick to our Republican principles.  We will win.  [applause].  But it doesn't mean that we now turn at this point and decide that we're going to have a nanny state which is just going to tell us what to do and then make us our lunch.  That is not what Republicanism is.

Republicanism is about the empowerment of people, not leaving people out on their own, but with good education, with good solid cultural change, understanding that people can in fact do for themselves, and giving them an opportunity to understand and to have more of their own capital and stop taking so much of their tax money away from them so they can have some of their own money and create a job and create some businesses and create some independence in life so they don't have to feel like they're subject to the government all the time.  These are the fundamental principles, and they deal with the issue of the real, genuine honest liberty of the American people.

That is what we are as Republicans.  And ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that if we stand for freedom and empower and safety and security for all Americans then we will win this race and we will win it for all Americans and for all of our posterity.  Thank you very much for the chance to be with you tonight.  [applause].

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Time: 18:05