Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave these remarks in New Hampshire on June 15, 2012.
[Editor's Note: Click here for more CFR 2012 campaign resources, which examine the foreign policy and national security dimensions of the presidential race.]
Thank you for that warm welcome. It's great to be back in Stratham. And I'd like to thank Doug and Stella for welcoming us once again to their beautiful farm.
Ann and I visited this farm a year ago when we launched our campaign for the Republican nomination. It was a beautiful day, and the start of a remarkable journey.
Over the past year, it's become clear that good things begin here, so today we're back, with a few more friends and closer to the goal. Every day our campaign grows as more and more Americans realize that we don't have to settle for these years of disappointment and decline.
America can do better – and with your help, we will. Together, we're going to take this campaign all way to the White House.
Since last June, we've been to towns, big and small. We've visited businesses – some generations old, others quite new, every one of them trying to make the best of a bad economy. Across the country, people have welcomed us into their homes. We've enjoyed long talks about family and country in break rooms and backyards, in diners and on factory floors.
Everywhere I go, I meet people who represent the best of America. They are hopeful, hard-working, determined and proud. But they are also worried and anxious. They are tired of being tired.
And they are tired of a detached and distant President who never seems to hear their voices.
When Americans rose up and demanded, "Stop borrowing money and sticking our kids with the bill," the President wasn't listening. He was on the line with China, taking out another loan.
When Americans went to town halls and said, "We don't want Obamacare," the President ignored us, and spent fifteen months ramming his health-care bill through Congress on a party-line vote.
And when we asked, "Where is the recovery we were promised?" this President lectured us saying "The private sector is doing fine."
For so many Americans the distance between their town and the city of Washington has never seemed so far. The federal establishment has never seemed so hostile or remote – so disconnected from economic reality, and yet so willing to use restrictions and regulations, taxes and fines, commissions and czars to direct our daily lives.
The President's plans have Americans wondering whether our future can be as bright as our past. But that lack of faith in our future is a bridge to despair that we cannot cross.
That's why, from now until November, our campaign will carry a simple message: America's greatest days are ahead!
Washington's big government agenda should not smother small-town dreams. In the America we love, every town counts. Every job counts. And every American counts!
We're here today to launch a campaign bus tour that will take us from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania, then to Ohio and on to Iowa, Wisconsin and, finally, Michigan.
In the days ahead, we'll be traveling on what are often called the "backroads of America." But I think our tour takes us along much of the "backbone of America."
This is the America known for thriving farms and factories. For prosperous towns and cities and great colleges and universities. For solid communities and churches. All of them born out of American optimism; nourished and sustained by hard work and a belief that the American future is one of limitless possibilities and that opportunity is an American birthright.
We will travel through the industrial heartland of America. This was once a model to the world for mining, manufacturing, and innovation. Many of the greatest commercial enterprises in the history of the world were born here. They gave birth to an extraordinary middle class which never questioned their ability to build a better life for their children.
But in these past few years, too many of these Americans have been struggling and in distress.
But even where factories have closed and jobs are too few, the spirit of enterprise -- the spirit that powered the engines of America's remarkable economic growth and prosperity -- that spirit still lives strong. And it is the goal of this campaign -- and will be the mission of my presidency -- to nurture that spirit and to see it flourish once again.
The world knows the names of great cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. These were the arsenals of democracy, the forges of freedom, the melting pots of America. Their resilience and indomitable energy are a cornerstone of America's future.
But we should never forget that some of America's biggest dreams were also born in our smallest communities. Our small towns have given us great writers, great thinkers, and great leaders.
Before they were literary giants who dazzled the world, great American writers like Mark Twain and John Steinbeck were kids playing in wide-open spaces, dreaming up the stories they would tell.
Before they were pioneers, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers looked out into the dark night and up at the clear blue sky, imagining great inventions that would someday change the world. And, no, Mr. President, they were not dreaming of a government loan.
And small towns gave us Lincoln and Truman, Eisenhower and Reagan – and so many sons and daughters who have sacrificed to defend our freedom on battlefields far away.
The vision and the values, the character and the can-do spirit that you find in our small towns have made America great. In these places, you also find a special sense of community and a deep commitment to our country.
These Americans are quiet heroes. They raise strong families, run our factories, and grow our food. They coach Little League and soccer. They serve on the PTA. They volunteer to help their neighbors. And they dream big dreams – sometimes for themselves, but mostly for their kids.
Every town counts because the families who have lost a job, faced a foreclosure, or been forced to spend the money they were saving for college just to make ends meet are not statistics – they are our fellow Americans.
In recent years, they have shown great determination and real bravery. These men and women do the hard things that others say aren't worth trying. They keep pressing on, even when government bureaucrats and regulations keep getting in their way. They have talent and creativity – and they aren't about to let their family or our country down by letting their dreams go. They are the backbone of America.
Yesterday the President gave a speech. A Very. Long. Speech.
You might have thought that it would be a moment when he would acknowledge his policy mistakes and suggest a new course. But no. He promised four more years, of more of the same. Four. More. Very. Long. Years.
That's really the divide in this race. The President thinks we're on the right track and his policies are working.
And I...I believe with all my heart that we can -- that we must -- do better!
So let me ask where you stand. Do you believe America can do better? Do you believe that with new leadership and a new president our greatest days are still ahead? Do you believe we can take back the White House and reclaim the greatness of America?
Somewhere in that long speech, President Obama spoke of giving people a "fair shot." I couldn't agree more.
President Obama isn't giving our students a fair shot when they graduate and only half of them can find jobs or work that matches their skills.
And he isn't giving the middle class a fair shot when wages keep going down and prices keep going up. Under Barack Obama, more Americans are living in poverty than under any President in history. That's a tragedy, not a fair shot!
He didn't give the children of Washington, DC a fair shot when he proposed to end their scholarships to go to better schools.
And when he bows to the demands of the teacher's unions, he isn't giving a fair shot to kids across America.
He isn't giving entrepreneurs and job creators a fair shot when he picks winners and losers, rewarding campaign donors with tax dollars in scandals like Solyndra.
Barack Obama isn't giving a fair shot to our children and grandchildren when he saddles them with trillions of dollars of debts.
If there has ever been a president who has failed to give the middle class of America a fair shot, it is Barack Obama.
I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. And I know what we must do to truly give our fellow Americans a fair shot...and a better chance.
I see an America where free enterprise is nurtured and celebrated, not attacked, because freedom and free enterprise is what creates jobs, not government. I see an America with a growing middle class, with rising standards of living. I see children even more successful than their parents -- some successful beyond their wildest dreams -- and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it. We must not allow the desperation of a failing Presidency to divide this great country.
I see an America that is fundamentally fair, that cares for those who cannot care for themselves, that never wavers from our commitment to our seniors, and that gives our veterans the respect and care they richly deserve.
In the America I see, character and choices matter. And education, hard work, and living within our means are valued and rewarded. And poverty will be defeated, not with a government check, but with respect and achievement that is taught by parents, learned in school, and practiced in the workplace.
This is the America that was won for us by the nation's Founders, and earned for us by the Greatest Generation. It is the America that has produced the most innovative, most productive, and most powerful economy in the world.
As I look around at the millions of Americans without work, the graduates who can't get a job, the soldiers who return home to an unemployment line, it breaks my heart. This does not have to be. It is the result of failed leadership and of a faulty vision.
I am running for President because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. I am offering a real choice and a new beginning.
We can't afford four more years of failed policies and weak leadership.
Starting on Day One, I will do what it takes to get America back to work.
Obamacare will end.
We'll open markets around the world, and make sure that countries like China finally play by the rules.
We'll get the Keystone Pipeline built and we'll send a message to the world that a new era of energy independence has begun right here on our continent.
We'll replace the Obama job killing tax policies with sweeping tax reform to jumpstart job creation.
The government regulators who are strangling small business will finally learn that job creators are our friends, not our enemies.
And once again, the Era of Big Government will be over!
No wonder Bill Clinton and so many other mainstream Democrats are revolting against the backward direction President Obama is taking his Party and our country!
Let us make today the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years.
Let us make today the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.
For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job … for every grandparent who can't afford the gas to visit the grandkids… for the mom and dad who never thought they'd be on food stamps … for the small business owner desperately cutting back just to keep the doors open one more month...
To all of the thousands of good and decent Americans I've met who want nothing more than a better chance, a fighting chance, to all of you, I have a simple message: Hold on a little longer. A better America begins today!
Today the hill before us is a little steep but we have always been a nation of big steppers.
Many Americans have given up on this President but they haven't ever thought about giving up. Not on themselves. Not on each other. And not on America.
In the days ahead, join me in the next step toward that destination of November 6th, when across America we can give a sigh of relief and know that the Promise of America has been kept. The dreamers can dream a little bigger, the help wanted signs can be dusted off, and we can start again.
And this time we'll get it right. We'll stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.
There was a time – not so long ago – when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world.
Those days are coming back. That's our destiny. Join me. Let's walk together, every day until November 6th.
We believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are still ahead. We are, after all, Americans!
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.