Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave this speech on April 3, 2012 after winning the Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington DC primaries.
[Editor's Note: Click here for more CFR 2012 campaign resources, which examine the foreign policy and national security dimensions of the presidential race.]
REP. PAUL D. RYAN, R-WIS.
...We are united because we believe in the American idea and we believe that we have a leader that is right for this moment. And that is the man I am introducing to you as who I think is going to be the next president of the United States. Ladies and gentleman, Mitt Romney.
ROMNEY: Thank you. Hey guys. Thank you. Congressman Ryan, he's a great leader, wonderful speaker, but he's not going to take Ann's place, I'm going to tell you that.
Thank you for providing the thank yous this evening, Congressman. Thank you all -- also to Senator Johnson and Congressman Sensenbrenner, appreciate their being here, the participation they've had in this process and thank you to Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. We won them all.
This -- this really has been quite a night. We -- we won a great victory tonight in our campaign to restore the promise of America. And here in the heartland, you know you're not going to find Americans with bigger hearts than the people of Wisconsin.
You know, but as I've been traveling across the state, I've -- I've visited with far too many whose hearts are filled with anxiety about their future.
ROMNEY: So many good and decent people seem to be running harder just to stay in place. And -- and for many, no matter how hard they -- they're running, every day it seems to put them a little further behind. It's that way across so much of America, too much of America. Under this president's watch, more Americans have lost their jobs than during any other period since the Depression.
Millions have lost their homes. A record number of Americans are now living in poverty. And the most vulnerable are the ones that have been hurt the most. Thirty percent of single moms are now living in poverty.
New business startups -- and that's normally where we get job growth after a recession -- new business startups are down to the lowest level in 30 years. And of course, you know our national debt is at a record high. And when you drive home tonight and you stop by the gas station, just take a look at the prices. And then ask yourself, four more years of that?
ROMNEY: And that's why it's important to understand one extraordinary fact about this election: President Obama thinks he is doing a good job. I'm not kidding. He actually thinks he is doing a great job. He thinks he's doing an historically great job, like Abraham Lincoln and LBJ and FDR, and no, he did not say this on "Saturday Night Live," all righty?
ROMNEY: It's enough -- it's enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers, telling you that you're great and you are doing a great job, It's enough to make you think that you might become a little out of touch with that, and that's what's happened.
This campaign is going to deal with many complicated issues. But there is a basic choice that we're going to face. The president has pledged to transform America. And he's spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society. I will spend the next four years rebuilding the foundation of a opportunity society led by free people and free enterprises.
(APPLAUSE) ROMNEY: And you know, the different visions we have I think are a product of the different lives we've led, the life experiences, the values we have. When he was a community organizer and communities were hurt by plant closings, his reaction was to turn to the government for help. He saw free enterprise as the villain and government as the solution.
He never seemed to grasp the very basic point that a plant closes when a business loses money. So today, when the president attacks business, and when his policies make it more difficult for business to grow and prosper, he's also attacking the very communities he had wanted to help. Or at least that's how it works when America is working.
But under Barack Obama, America hasn't been working. The ironic tragedy is that the community organizer who wanted to help those that were hurt by a plant closing became the president on whose watch more jobs have been lost any time since the Great Depression.
In Barack Obama's government-centered society, the government has to do more because the economy is doomed to do less, because when you attack business and you vilify success, you are going to have less business and less success.
And then, of course, the debate becomes about how much to extend unemployment insurance because you've guaranteed there will be millions more unemployed. In Barack Obama's government-centered society, tax increases not only become a necessity, but also a desired tool for social justice.
In that world of shrinking means, there is a finite amount of money. And as someone once famously said, you need to have some taxes to spread the wealth around.
ROMNEY: In Barack Obama's government-centered society, government spending always increases because, well, why not? There's always someone who's entitled to something more and who's willing to vote for anyone who will give them something more.
Now, by the way, we know where that kind of -- you know, that transformation of a -- of a free society into a government-centered society leads, because there are other nations that have followed that path. And it leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt and stagnant wages. This is beginning to sound familiar, isn't it?
I don't want to transform America. I want to restore to America the economic values of freedom and opportunity and limited government that has made us the powerhouse of the world.
ROMNEY: It's opportunity. It's opportunity, not a check from government -- it's opportunity that has always driven America and defined us as Americans. Now I am not naive enough to believe that free enterprise is a solution to all of our problems. But nor am I naive enough to doubt that it is one of the greatest forces for good this world has ever known.
Free enterprise has done more to lift people out of poverty, to help build a strong middle class, to help educate our kids, and to make our lives better than all the programs of government combined.
ROMNEY: If we become one of those societies that attack success, why not come as certain there will be a lot less success? And that's not who we are. The promise of America has always been that if you worked hard, had the right values, took some risks, that there was an opportunity to build a better life for your family and for your next generation.
This means that government has to be smaller and have strict limits placed on its power. ObamaCare violates both those principles, and I will get rid of it.
ROMNEY: Taxes have to be as low as possible and in line with those of the competing nations around the world, designed to foster innovation and growth, that's why I will cut marginal taxes across the board. I want to create good jobs in this country. Let's get the taxes down for employers.
Now we, of course, understand in a free market that regulations are necessary and critical, but they have to be continuously updated, streamlined, modernized, and regulators have to see their job not just as cracking down on the bad guys but also as protecting economic freedom and promoting enterprise and fostering job creation. Washington has to become an ally of business, not the opposition of business.
ROMNEY: Now workers should have the right to join unions. But unions should not be forced upon workers. And unions should not have the power to take money our of their members' paychecks to buy the support of politicians that are favored by the union bosses.
ROMNEY: You know, out-of-touch liberals like Barack Obama say they want a strong economy, but in everything they do, they show they don't like business very much. But the economy, of course, is simply the product of all the businesses of the nation added together. So it's a bit like saying you like an omelet, but you don't like eggs.
ROMNEY: You know, to build a strong economy that provides good jobs and rising wages and that reduces poverty, we have to build successful businesses of every kind imaginable. And President Obama has been attacking successful businesses of every kind imaginable.
We have always been a country of dreamers, where dreamers can have dreams, where one dream helps launch another. And if those dreamers are rewarded with prosperity, we view that as a reason that other may be encouraged to dream big as well.
Now these last few years have been difficult, made a lot worse by the mistakes and failures of the president's leadership. But if the hill before is a little steeper, we've always been a nation of big steppers.
In this last year, I've been all over the country, from student unions to kitchen tables, from factory breakrooms to boardrooms. And I've heard frustration and anger, but rarely hopelessness. A lot of Americans have given up on the president. But they haven't thought about giving up, not on themselves, not on each other, and not on America.
ROMNEY: We have a duty -- we have a duty placed upon our shoulders by the founders of the nation, a sacred duty to restore the promise of America, and we will do it. And we will do it because we believe in America.
Tonight, I'm asking the good people of Pennsylvania, and New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut to join me. 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.
Help wanted signs can get dusted off and put in the front yard and we can start again. And this time we're going to get it right. We will stop the days of apologizing for success at home and never again apologize for America abroad.
ROMNEY: Together, we will build the greatest America we've ever known, where prosperity is grown and shared, not limited and divided, an America that guarantees that ours is the door that innovation and greatness always knocks on first.
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 had. We're Americans. That meant something different to each of us, but something special to all of us.
We knew it without question -- so did the people in the rest of the world -- those days are coming back. That's our destiny. So join me, walk together, take another step 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 this country. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. Thanks, you guys. Thanks for the victory in Wisconsin and Maryland and District of Columbia. Thanks, you guys. Thank you.