Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave these remarks in New Hampshire on April 24, 2012, the night of the Republican primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.
[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 Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York! And tonight I can say thank you, America. After 43 primaries and caucuses, many long days and more than a few long nights, I can say with confidence – and gratitude – that you have given me a great honor and solemn responsibility. And, together, we will win on November 6th!
We launched this campaign not far from here on a beautiful June day. It has been an extraordinarily journey.
Americans have always been eternal optimists. But over the last three and a half years, we have seen hopes and dreams diminished by false promises and weak leadership. Everywhere I go, Americans are tired of being tired, and many of those who are fortunate enough to have a job are working harder for less.
For every single mom who feels heartbroken when she has to explain to her kids that she needs to take a second job … for grandparents who can't afford the gas to visit their grandchildren … 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 tonight.
Tonight is the start of a new campaign to unite every American who knows in their heart that we can do better! The last few years have been the best that Barack Obama can do, but it's not the best America can do!
Tonight is the beginning of the end of the disappointments of the Obama years and the start of a new and better chapter that we will write together.
This has already been a long campaign, but many Americans are just now beginning to focus on the choice before the country. In the days ahead, I look forward to spending time with many of you personally. I want to hear what's on your mind, hear about your concerns, and learn about your families. I want to know what you think we can do to make this country better…and what you expect from your next President.
And I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I'll probably start out talking about my wonderful wife Ann – I usually do – and I'll probably bore you with stories about our kids and grandkids. I'll tell you about how much I love this country, where someone like my dad, who grew up poor and never graduated from college, could pursue his dreams and work his way up to running a great car company. Only in America could a man like my dad become governor of the state in which he once sold paint from the trunk of his car.
I'd say that you might have heard that I was successful in business. And that rumor is true. But you might not have heard that I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people. You might not have heard that our business helped start other businesses, like Staples and Sports Authority and a new steel mill and a learning center called Bright Horizons. And I'd tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson. And after 25 years, I know how to lead us out of this stagnant Obama economy and into a job-creating recovery!
Four years ago Barack Obama dazzled us in front of Greek columns with sweeping promises of hope and change. But after we came down to earth, after the celebration and parades, what do we have to show for three and a half years of President Obama?
Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?
If the answer were "yes" to those questions, then President Obama would be running for re-election based on his achievements…and rightly so. But because he has failed, he will run a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions. That kind of campaign may have worked at another place and in a different time. But not here and not now. It's still about the economy …and we're not stupid.
People are hurting in America. And we know that something is wrong, terribly wrong with the direction of the country.
We know that this election is about the kind of America we will live in and the kind of America we will leave to future generations. When it comes to the character of America, President Obama and I have very different visions.
Government is at the center of his vision. It dispenses the benefits, borrows what it cannot take, and consumes a greater and greater share of the economy. With Obamacare fully installed, government will come to control half the economy, and we will have effectively ceased to be a free enterprise society.
This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He's asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.
We've already seen where this path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it's supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty. Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.
I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.
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 even beyond their wildest dreams – and others congratulating them for their achievement, not attacking them for it.
This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends' businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
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 the 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. We will restore the promise of America only if we restore the principles of freedom and opportunity that made America the greatest nation on earth.
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.
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.