UPDATE: THE FOLLOWING IS A PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF PALIN’S KEYNOTE SPEECH:
I’m so proud to be an American. Thank you so much for being here tonight.
Do you love your freedom? If you love your freedom, thank the vets. Any of you here serving in uniform, past or present, raise your hand. We’re going to thank you for our freedom. God bless you guys! We salute you! We honor you! Thank you! I am so proud to be American! Thank you!
Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan
Well, a special hello to the C-SPAN viewers. You may not be welcome in those health care negotiations, but you have an invitation to the Tea Party.
Very good to be here in Tennessee, the Volunteer State. It’s the home of good country music and good southern barbeque, and…Great to be at the Tea Party Convention. I guess down here, that’s some southern sweet tea. And you know, up in Alaska, we have a smaller version of Tea Party up there, and we call it ice tea. And I am a big supporter of this movement. I believe in this movement. Got lot’s of friends and family in the lower forty-eight who attend these events, and across this country, just knowing that this is the movement and that America is ready for another revolution, and you are a part of this.
I look forward to attending more Tea Party events in the near future. It is just so inspiring to see real people. Not politicos. Not inside-the-beltway professionals. Come out and stand up and speak out for common sense conservative principles.
And today, I want to start off with a special shout out to America’s newest senator. Thanks to you, Scott Brown.
Now, in many ways, Scott Brown represents what this beautiful movement is all about. You know, he was just a guy with a truck and a passion to serve our country. He looked around, and he saw that things weren’t quite right in Washington. So he stood up, and he decided that he was going to do his part to put our government back on the side of the people. And it took guts. And it took a lot of hard work. But with grass roots support, Scott Brown carried the day.
And it has been so interesting now to watch the aftermath of the Massachusetts shout out revolution. The White House blames the candidate—their candidate. And Nancy Pelosi—she blamed the Senate Democrats. And Rahm Emmanuel—he criticized a pollster. And yet again, President Obama found some way to make this all about George Bush. You know, considering the recent conservative election sweep, it’s time that they stop blaming everyone else. When you’re O for three, you’d better stop lecturing and start listening.
The only place that the left hasn’t placed the blame is on their agenda. So some advice for our friends on that side of the aisle: that’s where you got to look because that’s what got you into this mess. The Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. It’s going to leave us less secure, more in debt, and more under the thumb of big government. And that is out of touch, and it’s out of date. And if Scott Brown is any indication, it’s running out of time.
Because from Virginia to New Jersey to Massachusetts, voters are sending a message up and down the East Coast and in good places like Nevada and Connecticutt and Colorado, Michigan, North Dakota, they got the liberal left—that establishment running scared. The bottom line is this: it’s been a year now. They own this now, and voters are going to hold them accountable. Because out here in the cities and in the towns across this great country, we know that we’ve got some big problems to solve.
We’ve gotten tired now of looking backward. We want to look forward, and from here, my friends, the future—it looks really good—it looksreally good. Because if there’s hope in Massachusetts, there’s hope everywhere!
Brown’s victory—it’s exciting, and it’s a sign of more good things to come. A lot of great common sense candidates—they’re going to put it all on the line in 2010. This year, there are going to be some tough primaries. And I think that’s good. Competition in these primaries is good. Competition makes us work harder and be more efficient and produce more. And I hope you’ll get out there and work hard for the candidates who reflect your values, your priorities, because despite what the pundits want you to think, contested primaries aren’t civil war. They’re democracy at work, and that’s beautiful.
I was the product of a competitive primary where running for governor, I faced five guys in the party, and we put our ideas and our experience out there on the table for a debate, and then we allowed—of course—the voters to decide. And that is a healthy process, it gives Americans the kind of leadership that they want and deserve. And so in 2010, I tip my hat to anyone with the courage to throw theirs in the ring, and may the best ideas and candidates win.
But while I hope that you’re going to give these candidates that you chose your best effort, please understand that they’re human. There’s no perfect candidate, and they’re going to disappoint occassionally. And when they do, let them know, but don’t get discouraged and sit it out, because the stakes are too high. The stakes are too high right now, and your voice is too important. So work hard for these candidates, but put your faith in ideas.
And in that spirit, I caution against allowing this movement by be defined by any one leader or politician. The Tea Party movement is not a top-down operation. It’s a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way they are doing business, and that’s beautiful. This is about the people! This is about the people, and it’s bigger than any king or queen of a Tea Party. And it’s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.
The soul of this movement is the people—everyday Americans who grow our food and run our small businesses, and teach our kids, and fight our wars. They’re folks in small towns and cities across this great nation who saw what was happening, and they saw, and they were concerned, and they got involved. Like you, they go to town hall meetings, and they write op-eds. They run for local office. You all have the courage to stand up and speak out. You have a vision for the future—one that values conservative principles and common sense solutions. And if that sounds like you, then you probably too are feeling a bit discouraged by what you see in Washington D.C.
Now in recent weeks, many of us have grown even more uneasy about our administration’s approach to national security, the most important role ascribed to our federal government. Let me say, too—
it’s not politicizing our security to discuss our concerns, because Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats that we face and what the administration is or isn’t doing about them, so let’s talk about them.
New terms used like “overseas contingency operation” instead of the word “war.” That reflects a worldview that is out of touch with the enemy that we face. We can’t spin our way out of this threat. It’s one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved. It’s quite another to call the devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a “manmade disaster.” And I just say, come on, Washington. If nowhere else—national security—that’s one place where you got to call it like it is.
And in that we spirit, we should acknowledge that on Christmas Day, the system did not work. Abdul Mutallab passed through airport security with a bomb, and he boarded a flight hell-bent on killing innocent passengers. This terrorist trained in Yemen with Al Qaida. His American visa was not revoked until after he tried to kill hundreds of passengers. On Christmas Day, the only thing that stopped this terrorist was blind luck and brave passengers. Really, it was a Christmas miracle, and that is not the way the system is supposed to work.
What followed was equally disturbing. After he was captured, he was questioned for only fifty minutes. We had a choice in how to do this. The choice was only question him for fifty minutes and then read his Miranda Rights. The administration says then, “There are no downsides or upsides to treating terrorists like civilian criminal defendents.” But a lot of us would beg to differ.
For example, there are questions we would have liked this foreign terrorist to answer because he lawyered up and invoked our U.S. Constitutional right to remain silent…Our U.S. Constitutional rights. Our rights that you sir [PALIN ADDRESSES MALE VETERAN IN AUDIENCE] fought and were willing to die for to protect in our Constitution. The rights that my son, as an infantryman in the United States army is willing to die for. The protections provided—thanks to you sir [PALIN ADDRESSES MALE VETERAN IN AUDIENCE]—we’re going to bestow them on a terrorist who hates our Constitution and wants to destroy our Constitution and our country? This makes no sense because we have a choice in how we’re going to deal with the terrorists. We don’t have to go down that road.
There are questions that we would have like answered before he lawyered up. Like “Where exactly were you trained and by whom? You’re bragging about all these other terrorists just like you. Where are they and when and where will they try to strike next? The events surrounding the Christmas Day plot reflect the kind of thinking that led to September 11th. That threat then . . . as the U.S.S. Cole was attacked . . . our Embassies were attacked . . . It was treated like an international crime spree, not like an act of war. We’re seeing that mindset again settle into Washington. That scares me for my children and for your children. Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at grave risk. Because that’s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we’re at war. And to win that war, we need a commander-in-chief, not a PROFESSOR OF LAW STANDING AT THE LECTURN!
It’s that same kind of misguided thinking that is seen throughout the administration’s foreign policy decisions. Our president spent a year reaching out to hostile regimes, writing personal letters to dangerous dictators, and APOLOGIZING FOR AMERICA! And what do we have to show for that?! Here’s what we have to show. North Korea tested nuclear weapons and longer range ballistic missiles. Israel—a friend and a critical ally—now question the strength of our supports. Plans for a missile defense system in Europe . . . they’ve been scrapped. Relations with China and Russia are no better. And relations with Japan—that key Asian ally—they’re in the worse shape in years.
And around the world, people who are seeking freedom from opressive regimes, wonder if Alaska is still that beacon of hope for their cause. The administration cut support for democracy programs, and where the president has not been clear, I ask, “Where is his clear and where is his strong voice support for the Iranians who are risking all in their opposition to Ahmadinejad?”
Just that short list—that short list. And you know, it’s no wonder that our president only spend about nine percent of his State of the Union Address discussing national security and foreign policy, because aren’t a whole lot of victories that he could talk about that night. And that’s just a short list.
There are so many challenges in front of us, and it can seem overwhelming, but despite these challenges, we have hope that we can move things in the right direction. But it’s going to require the administration to change course. We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of the threats that we face.
We need a strong national defense. I think you would agree with me, as Reagan used to talk about that—”Peace through strength.” And in that respect, I applaud the president for following at least a part of the recommendations made by our commanders on the ground to send in some more reinforcements to Afghanistan. Now, though, he . . . we must spend less time courting our adversaries and spending more more time working with our allies. And we must build effective coalitions capable of confronting dangerous regimes like Iran and North Korea. It’s time for more than just tough talk. Ah! Just like you . . . probably just so tired of hearing the talk talk talk . . . Tired of hearing the talk!
It’s time for tough actions like sanctions on Iran. And in places in the world where people are struggling and oppressed and they’re fighting for freedom, America must stand with them. We need clear foreign policy that stands with the people and for democracy—one that reflects both our values and our interests, and it is in our best interest, because democracies—they don’t go to war with each other. They can settle their differences peacefully.
The lesson of the last year is this: Foreign policy can’t be managed through the politics of personality. And our president would do well to take note of an observation John F. Kennedy had made once he was in office: that all the world’s problems are his predecessor’s fault. The problems that we face in the real world require real solutions, and we better get to it, because the risks that they pose are great, and they’re grave.