Ron Paul and the Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum

The Republican Jewish Coalition invited all major Republican candidates to their Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum with the exception of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) because of Paul applies his libertarian world-view to U.S. policy in the Middle East. The National Jewish Democratic Committee organized a similar event in 2004, but they invited all candidates including Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) despite the NJDC’s differences of opinion with Rep. Kucinich. Kucinich’s views were not well received at the NJDC meeting and there were pointed questions raised during the Q&A, but Kucinich was politely received and given an opportunity to make his case.

In November 2007, Rep. Kucinich said that if he won the Democratic nomination he would consider Rep. Paul as his running mate.

Jack Hunter writes the “Paulitical Ticker”, and posted the following commentary on Paul being locked out of the RJC Forum.

Ron Paul: Israel “Our Best Friend”

There is far more discussion of the pros and cons of current American foreign policy toward Israel in Israel than there currently is in the United States. The Republican Jewish Coalition’s decision to exclude Ron Paul from their GOP presidential candidates forum yesterday was an attempt to make sure the conversation remains one-sided. In fact, this exclusion means the RJC believes there should be no conversation: Every other Republican presidential candidate already agrees with the foreign policy status quo-it is Paul who offers the only opportunity for a real dialogue.

Paul explains in the following interview how our current policies often undermine both Israel and our interests, how American foreign aid is a net negative for Israel, and how the United States’ habitual encroachment upon Israeli sovereignty consistently undermines that nation’s defense.

It should not surprise anyone that our greatest democratic ally in the Middle East would actually practice democracy, including free speech. Here, Paul explains foreign policy views that the Israelis themselves are exposed to on a regular basis and that many of them agree with, despite how rarely they might be heard in the United States.

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Michelle Bachmann

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

I’m honored to be here today in the company of so many friends. Thank you Dan for that kind introduction. Like this organization, I have been a long-time advocate for the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. My love for Israel and its people deepened while I worked on a kibbutz just after graduating from high school.

Today, we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. On that fateful day a 19-year-old Minnesotan on board a submarine patrol in the waters outside of Pearl Harbor reported sighting a Japanese submarine, but the warning sign of the bigger calamity to come was all but ignored. The same is true today with Iran and other dangerous actors in the world. We are ignoring the warning signs, and I worry what other ‘Pearl Harbors’ might be in our future.

It seems as if lately, our president has forgotten the importance of Israel to America and thinks of our relationship only in terms of what we do for Israel. The president is more concerned about Israel building homes on its own land than the threats that Israel and America face in the region.

More after the jump.
The president was right to promise to veto the Palestinians’ bid for statehood in the U.N. Security Council. But in large part it is the president’s weakness in the Middle East that has emboldened the Palestinians to attempt to achieve statehood through the U.N. rather than at the legitimate negotiation table with Israel. Our policy has confused engagement with appeasement and has inspired Israel’s enemies.

The Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence against Israel in order to become a serious partner in peace with Israel.

My administration’s policy will be that, the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its prior agreements is the first step that must be taken to assure peace in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority must meet its existing written obligations to collect illegal weapons; pursue terrorists; cooperate with Israeli security forces; change the Fatah Constitution which still calls for the complete eradication of the State of Israel; and to stop inciting terrorism.

I stand with Israel. And aid to Israel now more than ever, is a necessity-they are our most trusted ally and the only real democracy in the Middle East. But if we are to continue to provide assistance to Israel, we must get our own fiscal house in order.

A vocal minority, called Occupy Wall Street, otherwise known as the Obama re-election team, believes that the economic problems we face are capitalism or free markets. They’re not. The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends. The problem is one set of standards for individual Americans and another set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates.

The problem is an individual tax code with 3.8 million words that’s too complicated for the average American to understand and a corporate tax code that makes America hopelessly uncompetitive at almost 40 percent when you add the federal and state taxes. And a tax code that contains loopholes that are exploited by companies large enough to hire an army of lawyers. As Investor’s Business Daily wrote, in 1981 the entire developed world had high corporate tax rates, averaging 47 percent. Then capital became mobile and rates plummeted to 25 percent and haven’t stopped falling. The United States remains stuck since 1986 in an out of date high corporate tax rate that sent companies fleeing America for a more competitive tax climate. Just ask any number of companies why they left America and they’ll tell you that between the high tax and unreasonable regulatory burden in America, other nations are now a more profitable place to do business. For your sake and your future, America, and Occupy Wall Street in particular, needs to wake up and stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians who wink at their political donors.

Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail.

It happens every day, and it has to stop. After all, we’re not a Banana Republic; we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it.

We need a system that forces large, well connected corporations to play by the same rules as small businesses and individual Americans and that protects and provides fair competition in free markets.

You see, there’s a reason our Founding Fathers decided to establish our political capital in a different city than our financial capital. It’s time for us to reaffirm the wisdom of that decision by getting Washington D.C. out of free markets. I’m running for president because I understand the difference between free markets and Bernie Madoff style government.

My administration will stop the Obama administration’s dangerous policies and delegitimization of Israel. Obama has delegitimized Israel by wrongly describing Israel as a 60-years long occupation, which displaced and caused Palestinian suffering, and by wrongly blaming Israel and settlements for the lack of peace in the Middle East.

Obama abandoned prior U.S. policy and U.N. Resolution 242’s insistence that Israel is entitled to defensible borders. The Obama administration also abrogated former President Bush’s commitments in Bush’s 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon. Bush’s letter and subsequent Congressional resolutions committed the U.S. to the policy that Israel will retain large West Bank settlement blocks, that there will be no right of return to Israel for ‘Palestinian’ refugees, and that the Palestinian Authority’s compliance with its obligations, including the Palestinian Authority’s obligation to stop inciting terror, is the first step that must be taken towards Middle East peace.

Instead, Obama improperly calls for Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines with swaps, and to then still face further demands to divide Jerusalem and allow a Palestinian ‘right of return’ to overrun the entire State of Israel. The Obama administration has also unconditionally given the Palestinians unprecedented amounts of U.S. foreign aid, and opposed Congressional efforts to condition aid on the real steps that would bring about peace.

The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return,’ would demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs who never lived in Israel, thereby turning the world’s only Jewish state into the world’s 23rd Arab state.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently once again publicly displayed this administrations disdain for Israel putting Israel on the same footing as the Palestinians and declaring that they ‘get to the damn table’ to resume peace talks. And the president derisively said Israel’s Prime Minister was someone ‘he had to deal with everyday.’ But the president’s ambassador to Belgium went even further and justified anti-Semitism because of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians, and the president should fire him for those irresponsible remarks.

Instead of defaming Israel, as the Obama administration has done, my administration will recognize that, in the words of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, Israel is a country that ‘is based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets,’ and which has ‘safeguard[ed] the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions.’

And like Israel’s Declaration of Independence, my administration will similarly call upon Israel’s neighbors to cooperate with the Jewish nation and return to the ways of peace for the common good of all.

While the president demands Israel give back land necessary to protect their existence, he has taken his eye off of the most serious threat to Middle East security, a nuclear Iran. Some 80 years ago the world saw evil rising. A mad man spoke, but the world did not listen and the world sank into an enormous conflict and millions of Jews lost their lives.

Today a mad man again speaks and once again it seems as if the world isn’t really listening though Iran’s president has made his intentions for Israel clear. He intends to wipe Israel from the face of the earth once he obtains nuclear weapons, and he will seek to use them against the United States shortly after achieving his first goal.

Consider the Iranian constitution, which states that Iran’s Army and Revolutionary Guard ‘will be responsible…for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.’

And Iran has made good on that promise over the last 30 years from the bombing of the United States Marine base in Beirut to being the leading supplier of arms to kill Americans in Iraq. Iran is at the heart of much of Israel’s problems.

Two principles must guide U.S. policy toward Iran. First, we must never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. And second, we must realize that this is as much a threat to U.S. national security as it is to Israel’s and should not outsource U.S. national security to the United Nations. This is the moment for clarity in standing with Israel and against Iran.

We can’t afford to wait until the election to change course, the president must make it the policy of the United States now to support the dissidents of the current regime in Iran to bring down the terrorist leaders and replace it with a democratic government at peace with the U.S., Israel and the free world.

The U.S. must be clear that it is the policy of the United States to stop Iran from building and deploying nuclear weapons. In leading from behind the president has been ambiguous with Iran and has given them the luxury of time to advance their nuclear weapons program without real punishment as we learned from the IAEA report last week.

The U.S. should develop and deploy comprehensive ballistic missile systems on land, at sea, in the air, and in space to protect the American people and our allies from the threat of ballistic missiles. Iran, with the help of the Chinese has obtained missile delivery systems for nuclear weapons that pose a threat to Israel, to the region and potentially the United States.

While the United States does not buy oil from Iran, Iran is a major player in the oil market and affects its price, which directly affects the United States. We need to legalize American energy production to free us from Iran’s influence through oil.

The U.S. must immediately end appeasement and weakness towards Iran and pursue decisive, common sense strategies ignored or rejected by the current administration.

We need Secretaries of State and Defense who fully support a pro-freedom and security policy towards Iran, and we need them to replace those in the bureaucracy – especially at State – who will not fully support this policy.

“We need crushing economic sanctions on Iran, including on the central bank and the oil and gas industries. We must hurt the Iranian economy more severely by doing damage to their oil revenues and their central bank.

The president stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend. The State Department should regularly expose the atrocious activities of the Iranian regime that are arresting, imprisoning, torturing and murdering innocent Iranian citizens.

We must accelerate covert operations and cyber operations in Iran and order the CIA Director to take all means necessary to stop Iran from getting the Bomb before it is too late. The Pentagon should prepare a war plan, as a last resort, should all else fail in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

But the president’s lack of leadership and the failure of the Supercommittee this week will lead to, in Defense Secretary Panetta’s words, ‘devastating cuts that will seriously damage readiness’ making a military response more difficult. President Obama has seriously damaged the security of Israel by decreasing our status as a military superpower.

Part of that plan should be to direct the Navy to make preparations for a possible blockade of Iran’s ports from all oil and gas imports and exports to cut off critical petroleum revenues from going to the regime in Tehran.

We should continue comprehensive missile defense development while moving additional Aegis and Patriot missile defense systems into the Middle East to protect U.S. citizens and assets, Israel and our allies. We must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker buster bombs, refueling tankers and other materials they need to defend themselves.

A Bachmann administration will recognize that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a vibrant democracy and America’s staunch ally. My administration will fully recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and will be the first administration to finally implement the laws passed by Congress requiring the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My administration will also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights and any settlements, which Israel, as a sovereign state, chooses to annex. Simply put, my administration will accord Israel the respect to which sovereign, democratic nations are entitled.

On the day of my inauguration as president I will announce that the U.S. Embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I do not take lightly the prospect of committing U.S. troops in an effort to stop Iran. Only a fool wishes for war. But we must be prepared to do whatever is necessary to stop the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon and massively destabilizing the region by attacking our ally Israel, and supplying those weapons to even more radical regimes or individuals that would use them to do harm to America and its way of life. I recognize that the security of America is intertwined with the security of Israel.

Hitler once famously said in justification of his order to murder millions of Jews, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Ahmadinejad is counting on the same collective memory today as he marches toward a second holocaust.

We must send him the message that – we will never forget!

God bless you and God bless Israel and God bless the United States of America.

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Rick Santorum

Former United States Senator Rick Santorum spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

He criticized President Obama’s policies toward Iran and Syria and said he would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon if elected president. After his speech he answered questions from audience members.

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Rick Perry

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

Thank you Cheryl. It is an honor to be with you today and to share my thoughts on faith, foreign policy and the free State of Israel.

It is great to see so many friends with the Republican Jewish Coalition…including two vital supporters, Dr. Jeffrey Feingold and Kirk Blalock.
As we gather today, I am struck by the coincidence that two of the American citizens being unlawfully detained abroad today are Jewish: Alan Gross in Cuba, and Warren Weinstein by al Qaida in Pakistan.
In both cases their offense was spreading political and economic freedom to better the lives of less advantaged people around the globe.
Their selfless commitment to this work is a testament to the great value America’s Jewish community has brought to our nation, and our government should be working aggressively to achieve their speedy release.

More after the jump.
The repressive Castro regime should not be rewarded with increased tourism while Mr. Gross languishes in prison, and Pakistani authorities should clearly understand the significance of rescuing Mr. Weinstein from terrorist elements within their borders if they value the foreign aid they seem to take for granted.

We have an Administration in Washington today whose foreign policy is an incoherent mess. They embolden our adversaries while isolating our allies.

There is no greater example of President Obama’s failed foreign policy than how he has undermined our historic friendship with Israel.

Israel is the oldest democracy and our strongest ally in the Middle East. Our relationship is founded on three basic principles: prosperity, security and freedom.

With a robust economy, Israel is a strong trading partner, importing our goods and supplying us with both high-tech innovations and specialized natural resources.

I am proud a Texas company, Noble Energy, is supplying a large percentage of the natural gas Israel depends upon today. Israel’s security is critical to America’s security.

We must not forget it was Israel that took out the nuclear capabilities of Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007. In both instances, their actions made the free world safer.

And Israel shares a commitment to our core principles of personal freedom. And yet President Obama has systematically undermined America’s relationship with Israel, specifically on the question of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian People.

I want to be clear I support the goal of a Palestinian state, but it should be the Palestinians who meet certain pre-conditions.
And those pre-conditions must include statehood that is directly negotiated between Israeli and the Palestinian leaders; second, a Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; and third, Palestinian leaders must renounce the terrorist activities of Hamas.

Instead, the Administration has insisted on previously unheard-of preconditions for Israel, such as an immediate stop to all settlement activity. President Obama has suggested the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations.  And he has instituted the practice of “indirect talks”, subverting the Oslo Accords.

Yet his administration seemed blindsided when this fall the Palestinians declared a new state with East Jerusalem free of any Jewish settlements as its capital, based on the 1967 borders, established through the United Nations without Israel’s involvement.

But in effect all the Palestinians were doing was taking President Obama up on the concessions he had already made. The threat posed by Iran makes our friendship with Israel all the more critical.
As the International Atomic Energy Agency report last month confirmed, Iran is marching unimpeded toward nuclear weapons.

We also know Iran has chemical and biological weapons programs, and that they are accelerating their ballistic missile capabilities so that they can deliver these weapons. The Islamic Republic has made no mystery of their intent to use these weapons against Israel, and eventually the United States.

As this threat gathers, our President has pursued a failed policy of outreach to Tehran.
This administration was silent during the Green Revolution in 2009. And they have avoided tougher sanctions that would cripple Iran’s economy. I have repeatedly called for the sanction of Iran’s central bank. Recently, the U.S. Senate vote unanimously to sanction Iran’s Central Bank. So now President Obama is isolated even from his own party on the Iranian question.

And here is why. Democrats know what we know: current sanctions may have caused “significant discussion” in Tehran as Vice President Biden recently said, but they have not actually stopped progress towards a nuclear weapon.

This increasingly leaves us with only two options: a military strike or a nuclear Iran.

Many seem to think that Israel can step in and dispense with the Iranian treat with through targeted strikes as they did in Iraq and Syria, taking the pressure off the United States.

But Iran is a much greater challenge, and Israel
would face terrible reprisals from Tehran and its terrorist proxies.  So the military option is not one that Israel would take eagerly or lightly, but only after long deliberation and in the face of overwhelming evidence that Iran is on the verge of an operational nuclear weapon.

What Israel’s military needs from the United States is our ongoing security support through hardware and guaranteed supply chains. But Israel also needs our vocal, unerring moral support in the face of what will be inevitable international condemnation if she is forced to strike.
Here’s what Israel does not need.

Israel does not need our President demanding gratitude for being the best friend Israel has ever had while his Secretary of Defense rails that Israel has to “get back to the damn table” with the Palestinians, and his Secretary of State questions the viability of Israel’s democracy, even as his Ambassador to Belgium blames anti-Semitism among Muslims on Israel’s failure to accommodate the Palestinians all of which happened in the last week alone.

This torrent of hostility towards Israel does not seem to have been coordinated, but rather is the natural expression of this administration’s attitude towards Israel.

I want you to know American-Israeli policy is not a box to be checked as part of my campaign. It is both a deeply personal issue for me, and is also a cornerstone of my larger global strategy.

I feel a special connection to Israel, dating back nearly 20 years when I first visited the Holy Land.

I have been to the Western Wall, that most sacred of symbols where Jewish pilgrims gather to pray today, and that has withstood the assaults on the Jewish People since the times of the early Romans.
I walked in the footsteps of the heroes of Massada, a fortress of defiance symbolizing their loyalty to freedom more than life itself.  

I took a group of Texas business leaders on a tour of Sderot in Gaza. We walked onto a playground built under a rocket protection shelter, a clarifying moment for each one of us as we recognized the constant threat of attack even the children of Israel live under.

And I had the distinct pleasure of sharing a meal with a former Soviet Dissident who spent nine years in a gulag, including 400 days in punishment cells – Natan Sharansky – that great champion of democracy who now calls Israel home and is a living link to the atrocities of brutal regimes.

When you visit Israel, you gain an understanding of a nation that has survived for more than 60 years despite living in a constant state of siege, but something else becomes evident about the Jewish People in Israel and around the world: a resolve to live free, and a willingness to go to any length to preserve your history, your heritage and your faith that is unsurpassed by any people on earth.

Today six million Jews live in Israel, the largest population of Jews in the world.

Whether you are old enough to remember the 1940s or not, you know the significance of that number. When we speak of the unspeakable, it is often said, “never again.”

In making this vow, we honor those who suffered the most inhumane treatment, those, like us, who were made in the Image of God.

And in making this vow, we recognize that peace and freedom are fragile enterprises that can only be preserved with determined vigilance.

It is in the spirit of those words… “never again”… that we must do everything in our power to make the world safe for freedom and democracy.

We must have faith we are in the right, and we must fight with the might of a super-power.
That is why I utterly reject President Obama’s political strategy to hold our military budget hostage unless Congress gives in to his proposed tax and spending increases.

We have already sacrificed too many of our Defense capabilities to misguided austerity that will not balance our budget, and will weaken our ability to defend ourselves and our allies.

We must demand action in Congress to block these cuts that threaten to “hollow out” our forces and prevent President Obama from using the capabilities our war fighters need as political pawns in a budgetary fight.

The men and women of our military are the greatest ambassadors for freedom the world has ever known.
In the last two decades they have repelled the forces of oppression from places like Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, no country has done more to liberate millions of oppressed people, many of them Muslim, since the end of the Cold War.

Our freedom agenda applies to all, regardless of faith, because I believe every human being was created to live free, and worship freely.
And because there are numerous countries that oppress freedom, that deny basic human rights, I am adamant that any discussion of foreign aid should start at zero.

But let me be clear. Israel is our strategic ally. America long ago ended traditional foreign aid to Israel. Strategic defense aid to Israel will increase under a Perry administration. And the money we decide to grant foreign nations should always advance American interests.

Our nation was founded on the principle of religious liberty. Like Israel, many of America’s earliest ancestors sought a safe haven from religious persecution. They came to a New World to leave behind the injustices of the Old World. They came here to live in freedom, and for many to live out their faith.

America is rooted in Judeo-Christian Values. Our laws emanate from the ancient law of the Torah.
They come to us as principles handed down from our ancestors, who fought, bled, and died to defend them. But the law is more than that. It is, as Jeremiah wrote, “a law written on our hearts.” Faith and freedom are the fiber of our union.

My favorite founding father was also a life-long champion of religious freedom…James Madison.
He wrote in the First Amendment to the Constitution that

“the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”

My faith will guide me as president.

And what I mean by that is not just faith in God’s plan for us as a nation he has blessed, time and again.

But it is also faith in the ability of our people, with his help, to accomplish the impossible, the miraculous, as they have done before and will do again.

As I travel across the country, I see the plight we are in. People without the dignity of a job, uncertain where to turn for help.

And I have turned my thoughts recently toward Nehemiah. I think of his return to Jerusalem, of finding the city walls laid to waste, the defenses crumbling, and the people dismayed. They had almost given up hope.

So he gathered the people together, and he told them what he would do. “Then said I unto them, ‘You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins, and how its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem together, that we will no longer be in disgrace.'”

Nehemiah did not do this work by himself. He did it prayerfully and seriously, because he understood the desperate need.  And when their enemies came, he urged the people on, to keep building, with a brick in one hand and a sword in the other, until the city could stand tall again.
Bringing America back starts with faith: Faith in the Almighty, who created us, faith in our friends and allies, in a time of trouble, and faith in each other, to not give up hope.

We must keep the law written on our hearts. We must put our mind to the things above. And we must set ourselves to the work that must be done.

Come. Let us rebuild together.

Thank you and God bless you.

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Jon Huntsman

Former Utah Governor and U.S Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

In his remarks he said all options should be on the table including military action to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons, He also spoke in favor of term limits for members of Congress and that the “revolving door” of former members becoming lobbyist should end. After his speech he answered questions from audience members.

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Newt Gingrich

Remarks by Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich today at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

Well, let me say first of all it is good to be back with a lot of friends.  Callista and I are delighted to be here.  And also my daughter Kathy and her husband Paul Lubbers are here, and we have so many friends in this audience, it’s amazing.

I want to pick up on what Peter said, because I think I can explain my candidacy very simply.  You know, he said we needed fundamental change, not just change on the margin.  How many of you would agree that we’re far enough off the right track that we need fundamental change?  (Applause) And how many of you would agree that even if we win the election, that the forces that got us to the mess we’re in will fight every day to stop us from the changes over the course of the next four years?

Now, I happen to think both those are true.  I believe this election is the most important election since 1860.

That’s the primary reason I’m running.  I believe we are going to be at a definitive choice, and I believe that if President Obama is re- elected after this mess, that eight years of Obama will truly make the country dramatically more difficult and have dramatically greater problems.

More including Q&A after the jump
So I think it’s a very important deciding point.  Are we in favor of  American exceptionalism, or are we in favor of Saul Alinsky radicalism?  Are we in favor of earning a paycheck, or are we in favor of giving away food stamps?  Do we want to move back towards a balanced budget, or do we want to borrow trillions of more dollars? Do we believe in rewarding and encouraging those who create jobs, or do we believe in class warfare?

I mean, it’s that big a gap.  And it applies to foreign policy. This is an administration which, frankly, should be firing the ambassador to Belgium, who gave a stunningly anti-Semitic speech. This is an administration which, frankly, should be reprimanding the secretary of defense for an insulting performance the other day.  This is an administration which should stop next week’s meeting at the State Department with those who would censor the world on behalf of Islam.  So there are huge gaps.

Now, I think the changes are so big that I don’t ask anyone to be for me; because if you say you’re for me, you’ll vote, go home and say, I sure hope Newt fixes it.  And I — I don’t believe it’s possible to get the scale of change we need just by the president, alone.  Our constitutional system doesn’t work that way, and our country doesn’t work that way.  So I ask people to agree to be with me for the next eight years:  to stand shoulder to shoulder; to insist on fundamental change; to remind the Congress of what we need to do; to remind the governors, the state legislatures, the city council, the county commission.

But I also ask people to be with me because, frankly, if you undertake change on the scale we’re describing, we’re going to make mistakes.  And if we can build feedback mechanisms so that you can tell when we’re making mistakes, or you can tell when the situation has changed or when we discover a better idea, then we are going to be dramatically better off, and then we can actually execute it.

There’s a third reason I ask you to be with me.  If we — if we implement the 10th Amendment and we shrink the bureaucracy in Washington, we have to grow citizenship back home to fill the vacuum. So we’re talking about a fairly profound series of changes.

I think in order to get to foreign policy and national security, I want to start with three fundamental questions that are — that precede it.  One, we have to get the economy growing again.  If you go and look at, we have a — the beginnings of a 21st-century contract with America, which we will finalize next September 27th. When you look at that, you’ll see that we — we basically adopted the Reagan playbook.  Reagan cut taxes, cut regulations, developed American energy and praised those who create jobs.  It’s the opposite of Obama.  And you’ll see a pattern there that I think most of you will find very exciting and very powerful.

We abolish the capital gains tax, which will lead to hundreds of billions of dollars coming into the United States.  We eliminate the death tax, so that families can focus on job creation, not tax avoidance.  We have a 12-1/2 percent corporate tax rate, which is the Irish level, which will liberate at least $700 billion in profits to come back home and will mean for the first time in a long time that General Electric will actually pay taxes, because it’ll be cheaper to pay the taxes than to hire the lawyers to avoid the taxes.

We also have a hundred-percent expensing for all new equipment, so whether you’re a factory or a farmer or running an office, we want a — we want a conscious strategy of Americans being the best equipped most productive workers in the world, which is the key to our ability to compete with China and India.

We also proposed to change unemployment compensation so that you have to sign up for a training program run by a business in order to get unemployment compensation.  So we’re using the time to rebuild our human capital.  We’re not paying people for doing nothing.

On the tax front finally, we have a proposal to create an alternative 15-percent flat tax in the Hong Kong tradition, where you can either keep all the deductions or you could give up all the deductions and just pay a simple tax on — with a one- page form, which has worked very well for about a generation and a half, in Hong Kong.

On the regulatory front, we hope to repeal “Obamacare” on day one.  We want to repeal Dodd-Frank, and we want to repeal Sarbanes-Oxley.

And my goal is to run a campaign which is designed to be a team victory on a grand scale, so that we have a big enough Senate majority and a big enough House majority and so the American people have actually voted on an agenda in a way that enables us to actually execute these kind of ideas, and doing so very rapidly.

I am for a very dramatic American energy program.  Our goal should be not just to get to energy independence, but to become the world’s reserve supplier of energy.  So if the Straights of Harmuz are closed or if the Persian Gulf disintegrates, you don’t have an industrial depression in the rest of the world.

And I think it’s very important for us to understand, an American energy strategy is both a national security strategy and an economic strategy, and it should be a very important part of what we’re doing. And it’s fundamentally the opposite of Obama.

If we do the right things with the economy, if we rebuild the arsenal of democracy, if we use science and technology, if we dramatically improve our education system, then, frankly, we don’t have to worry about China.

China cannot compete with us if we’re doing the right things.  And frankly, it’s unrealistic to think we can be stupid and ask the Chinese to be dumber.  So I think, you know, in order to compete successfully with China, we have to be smart. And this is a program to have a very high tempo, very innovative, very science and technology-based future.

I also want to apply Lean Six Sigma to the federal government, both because the people who are experts believe it saves about $500 billion a year, and also because you need a government which is much more agile, much faster, and which belongs to the world that works, not the world that fails, if in fact we’re going to remain the leading country on the planet.

That’s a background.

We need a dramatically, dramatically rethought strategy for the Middle East.  And I want to say a few things that are a little bit politically incorrect for a minute.  This is sort of the basis of what I want to do.  When Callista and I did a movie on Pope John Paul II going to Poland in 1979, called “Nine Days that Changed the World,” and we did it because we we were told by both Vaclav Havel in Prague and Lech Walesa in Gdansk that the decisive moment in defeating the Soviet Empire was the nine days that the pope came back in 1979 and the way in which he aroused the fervor of the Polish people and the religious belief, and from that point on, they fought the Soviets.

And one of the things they did, because they were fighting a dictatorship — which could imprison you, beat you up, kill you — is they put up signs that said, for Poland to remain Poland, two plus two must always equal four.  And I got intrigued with this.  And what they were saying is very profound:  that if two plus two equals four as a fact, you know have a factual basis, and that Poland was a fact.

And I went from there and I got involved.  Camus writes in his novel “The Plague” there are times that a man can be killed for saying two plus two equals four, because the authorities can’t stand the truth.

We actually have, by the way, a Solidarity sign that we got, that somebody found for us from that era that we have posted in our offices.

Orwell, in “1984,” which is written about London — remember, Orwell’s fear of totalitarianism is not Moscow; it is that the British Labour government’s centralized planning will lead to a dictatorship. And so Orwell in “1984” has the state terrorist — the state torturer say to the innocent citizen, if the state tells you two plus two equals three, it equals three; if the state tells you two plus two equals five, it equals five.  And the citizen is thinking, well, what if it really equals four, but he’s tired of being tortured, so he decides to go along?

Lincoln said, if a man can’t agree that two plus two equals four, you’ll never win the argument because facts have no base.  Now, I’m giving you this litany because I want to say a few things that are factually correct.

I gave a speech early in 2002 in which I took apart the State Department as an incompetent implementation system that cripples the capacity of the United States to effectively do things in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  I stand by that speech today.  

I wrote a paper in August of 2002 called “Operation Switch” for the Defense Department in which I said it’s fine to go in and take out Saddam.  You should be able to do it in about three weeks; turned out to take 23 days.  I said, you then want to hire the Iraqi regular army and get out of the cities as fast as you can because you don’t want to try to redesign Iraq.  That is a long, expensive proposition, and we will fail.  I will stand by that.

And in 2003, in December, I went on “Meet the Press” and I gave an interview to Newsweek, and I said that thanks to Ambassador Bremer, we had gone off the cliff, that we had fundamentally changed our mission without changing our resources and that we were trying to undertake something that we couldn’t possibly achieve.

I am very, very worried about our entire relationship with radical Islam because it’s based on a pack of lies.  It’s based on a pack of self-deception.  It’s based on a State Department which has consistently engaged in appeasement.

It is an act of dishonesty to the American people.  The fact that the Justice Department has said all of its training programs on terrorism have to take out the word “Islam” is an outrageous denial of truth.

So, let me give you a little bit of two plus two equals four.  The Secretary of Defense in his speech the other day said how proud he was that we were helping with the Iron Dome project.

Now, I want you to think about this.  Why, in a peace process, would Israel need to have a missile defense from Gaza?  I mean, can you imagine if our next door neighbor were firing missiles at us that we’d say, oh, could we come to the table? This is why his speech was so utterly outrageous the other day.  I mean, Panetta is a fine domestic politician, but his speech was outrageous.

How about saying to Hamas, give up violence and come to the table?  How about saying to the PLA, recognize Israel and come to the table?  This one-sided continuing pressure that says it’s always Israel’s fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop.

We are today, in what will turn out to be the long struggle with radical Islamists, about where we were in 1946, when we were trying to understand the Soviet Union.  We have not yet had George Kennan’s long telegram explaining the sources of Soviet power.

We have not yet had the three speeches of 1947 by Truman, Acheson and Marshall which began to create the system, we haven’t yet had the Berlin Airlift, and we haven’t had Nitze developing the National Security Council Document 68, which was the basic strategy which has sustained the United States.  We contained the Soviet empire for 45 years, until it broke.  It was a very hard, very difficult national dialogue to get to that point.

We need this conversation in this country.  We have mortal enemies who are determined to kill us.  We allow them to set up a morally indefensible, one-sided conversation.  The fact that Hillary Clinton, Secretary Clinton, would talk about discrimination against women in Israel and then meet with Saudis?  The fact that the State Department’s going to hold a meeting with a Saudi-funded group on behalf of censoring any anti-Islamic conversation and is not going to say to the Saudis, this is terrific, and as soon as you open the church and synagogue in Mecca, we’re excited about the meeting?

The one-sided moral disarmament of the Judeo-Christian civilization in the face of people who arrogantly — you know, Tehran holds a conference on terrorism.  The secretary-general sends a special envoy and a message of gratitude.  Our two so-called allies, the prime minister of Iraq and the president of Afghanistan, go to the conference.  And we are morally disarmed by a State Department incapable of articulating the cause of freedom.

So in a Gingrich administration, the opening day, there will be an executive order about two hours after the inaugural address; we will send the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as of that day.

If you will accept it, I will ask John Bolton to be Secretary of State.  

But I will only appoint him if he will agree that his first job is the complete and thorough transformation of the State Department and the replacement of the current Foreign Service culture with a new entrepreneurial and aggressive culture dedicated to the proposition that defending freedom and defending America is the first business of the State Department, not appeasing our opponents.

And I will ask the Congress to liberate the intelligence community, so we can once again go back to effective covert operations and to effective intelligence gathering, and not be forced to rely on pseudo-allies such as the Pakistanis who, clearly, had to be conspiring to hide bin Laden for eight years, since he was hiding in the national military city.

And let me be very clear.  I understand the Constitution.  I’ve been speaker of the House.  Presidents can only get so much done, unless they have working majorities in the House and Senate.

I need your help to get the nomination.  But beyond that, I need your help to make sure that we have a big majority in the Senate.  Bill Nelson has to go, Ben Nelson has to go. Let’s go down the list.

We want to pick up enough Senate seats and a few more House seats so we have an effective governing majority on that first day, and I will ask the new Congress to stay in session on January 3rd and to pass the repeal of “Obamacare,” Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley before I am sworn in, to hold it at the desk, and you know, bring it out during the inaugural so that we can finish signing it.

Let me say one last thing, and I say this with some trepidation because, after all, all of you were told in June and July that I had disappeared, and it must be a great shock to have me showing back up again.  

People talk about electability.  If I do become your nominee, in Tampa, I will, in the acceptance speech, challenge the president to seven three-hour debates with a timekeeper, but no moderator, in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition.  I will concede in advance that he can use a teleprompter.  After all, if you had to defend “Obamacare,” wouldn’t you want to use a teleprompter?  

I’m just telling you up front as a pretty good strategist.  There are three reasons he’s going to accept.

The first is he announced for president in February of 2007, in Springfield, quoting Lincoln.  The second is he’s a graduate of Columbia, a graduate of Harvard Law, editor of the Harvard Law Review, the greatest orator in the Democratic Party.  How does he look in the mirror and say he’s afraid to debate some guy who taught at West Georgia College?  

The third reason is practical.  As many of you know, I’m a student of history.  Unlike the President, I’ve studied American history.  When Abraham Lincoln announces in 1858, he’s been out of office for 10 years.  He only served two years in the House; he was a state legislator before that.  He was announcing against the most famous senator in the United States, and the presumed next president.  And he said to Douglas:  We’ve got 105 days left; why don’t we debate every day?  And Douglas said:  I don’t think so.

So Lincoln took up a pattern:  Wherever Douglas went, Lincoln would show up one day later.  And presently, Douglas began to figure out, the news coverage was always Lincoln’s rebuttal.  And so after about two or three weeks, he wrote Lincoln and he said:  All right, I’ll debate you.  There were nine congressional districts.  He said: We’re not going back to the two you’ve already been in, but I’ll debate you in the other seven.  That’s how this started.

It was widely covered by by AP back then, and printed in virtually every newspaper in the country.  Lincoln had the debates reprinted as a book the next year, which was a major step towards his winning the presidency.  I would argue that it is, since the Federalist Papers, the finest collection of discussion about the nature of freedom that you’ll see in American politics in 200 years.

So let’s remember how Lincoln got Douglas to decide.  If the president has not accepted by the time we get to Tampa, in my acceptance speech, I will announce that the White House as of that moment is my scheduler.  Wherever the president goes, I will show up four hours later and in the age of talk radio, blogs and instant television news, I doubt if they can take the pressure for more than two or three weeks.

But if they would rather have me chase him all the way to Election Day and have a country watch a man afraid to defend his own record, I think that will work equally well.  So either way.

I think we have a couple microphones.  Let me take questions for a minute or two if I could.  We’ll go back and forth.

Q:  Hello.  My name is Hyman Silverglad, and I’m the Republican district leader of the oldest Republican Club in America, founded in the 1880s.  It’s called the Progress Republican Club.  And it is sited in the East Village in Manhattan.  And we have two events of great interest to this audience.  We were the neighborhood that reclaimed Israel to life in 1848, the Bergstan Group, and Abraham Lincoln became president by his speech at Cooper Union; a nation divided cannot stand.

And my question is, we have lost our manufacturing base in this country.  Thousands of companies have moved overseas, particularly in our state, New York state, which was once called the Empire State, but some of us call it the empty state now.  And under the leadership of Ed Cox, our Republican state chairman, we’re trying to bring back business to our state.

How would you, as president, bring back the many, many businesses that have gone overseas from the seed beds for them in our country? How would you do that?

A: Well, I think what I began to describe earlier is a key step.  You have a hundred percent expensing so manufacturing firms literally can write off all their investment in one year.  You go to a 12.5% corporate tax rate.  You have zero capital gains tax, so money pours into the country because it becomes the most profitable place in the world to invest.  In addition, you have a retrained workforce because of new model of unemployment compensation combined with training.

I would replace the Environmental Protection Agency with an environmental solutions agency that has to apply economic rationale to its decisions.

You create a 21st century Food and Drug Administration whose job is to go from the laboratory to the patient as rapidly as possible, not as slowly as possible.  And you design a new model of occupational safety and health which starts with performance and basically says, if you don’t have any problems, nobody’s going to visit you, which means that you automatically eliminate most of the bureaucratic baloney.

I had a steel entrepreneur in Philadelphia who has 35 workers, a small steel mill, who said his major problem wasn’t China, it was the U.S. government.  And so I think we want a government that helps you, not hurts you.  

Q: My name is Dr. Trevor Green.  I am a dentist from Columbia, Maryland.

Many of the people here live in the bluest parts of the bluest states.  It can be extremely frustrating to know that in every race, from school board on up to Congress, your vote will not make an ounce of difference, as there is not enough Republican support to encourage good candidates to run.  If you’re chosen as the candidate, what will you do to help elect Republicans in local races in the blue parts of our nation?

A: Well, let me say first of all, it’s a very, very good question.  I’m glad you asked it.  And it’s a topic I care about a lot.

Let me say first of all, remember that my background, having been born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was that we arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia, when I was a junior in high school.  My first campaign was the Nixon-Lodge campaign between my junior and senior years, and there were no Republicans in Georgia.

So today, when we totally dominate the state, I think I’ve been through a process where we took a state that was supposedly blue and then it ceased to be blue.  And I have some knowledge of how you do this.

But for this particular campaign, I have two major breakthroughs for all of you to think about.

The first is, I want to be preaching inclusion, not outreach.  Now, all of you understand this.  Outreach is when five white guys hold a meeting and call you; inclusion is when you’re in the meeting.  And so whether you’re Korean-American, African-American, Latino-American, Native-American — whatever your background — we want to design a new model system where everybody’s in the same room.

You want to know why California’s hard to carry? Because Californian Republicans can’t figure out that there are 600,000 Koreans in Los Angeles.  Callista and I went recently and met with them.  We had six TV cameras that were in Korean.  And they were thrilled that a Republican candidate for president was actually willing to talk with them.  And you just have to do this over and over and over.  So inclusion’s half of this.

The second half is simple.  The underlying core symbol of the campaign next year — it’s very easy — modelled actually on McKinley in 1896:  On the one side, you have the best food stamp president in American history.  More people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama’s policies than by any president in history. On the other side, you have a candidate who wants to create jobs, who did create jobs with Reagan in the ’80s and who created jobs in the ’90s.  We brought unemployment down to 4.2% and created 11 million jobs in the four years I was speaker.

There’s not a precinct in America where, if you walk up to every door and say, do you want your children to have food stamps or a paycheck, that you don’t get 80% or 90% favoring a paycheck.  I mean, it’s a myth to believe that people like to be dependent.  And so I intend to go into every neighborhood.  I’m hoping the NAACP invites me to come and address their convention.  I hope LULAC and La Raza invite me.

Callista and I were in New York this week in part to make one case.  This will be a 50-state campaign, and we will seek votes in every state in the United States.  

Q:  Hello, Sarah Stern from the Endowment for Middle East Truth and the leadership of the RJC.  As you know, many people in this room had our worst fears confirmed last month when the IAEA came out with their report about how close Iran is to a nuclear bomb.  What would you do about that?

And also, we have over 4,000 Syrian dissidents who have been killed over the last eight months.  What would you do to support the dissidents that want to overthrow the brutal regime of Bashar Assad?

A:  They’re both very good questions.  I believe, on Iran, the only rational long-term policy is regime replacement, and that’s part of why you need to go back to having a covert capability. I would focus very intensely on their gasoline supply; 40 percent of the gasoline they use has to be imported.  They only have one very, very large refinery.  I’d be focused on how to covertly sabotage it every day.

Now, I would follow the Reagan play book and the Margaret Thatcher and the Pope John Paul II play book.  I would fund every dissident group in the country.  I would fund the maximize amount of communications capability for every dissident group in the country.  I would do everything I could to unnerve the regime and keep it off balance.  And you would presently break it, and replace it.

And there’s all these studies — you know, it’s amazing to me how little people study history.  You know, the IAEA says we’re about this close and we’re not this close; we have this — (inaudible).  We were totally wrong about the Pakistani and Indian nuclear weapons.  We were totally wrong in the late 1940s about the Soviet nuclear weapon.  They got it years before we thought they would.  Why would you think that we can relax?  We know they have a program.

We know they’re sincere.  Therefore, you have to assume that sooner or later they’re going to make the breakthrough.  It’s better to stop them early than to stop them late.

On Syria, the policy of the United States should be to replace the Assad regime, and we should do everything we can indirectly and covertly, but without American forces, to help the dissidents rebel and to help them defeat the Assad government.  The Assad government’s a dictatorship of a very small minority of Alawites in a country which is largely Sunni.  And I think that it would be a significant blow to Iran to lose Syria and to lose Assad.  And it’s worth the risk — I mean, we don’t have any idea what the post-Assad regime will be like, but it’s worth the risk, I think, to break up the Iranian relationship.

Q:  Hello.  My name is Ross Liebowitz; I’m a student in Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey.  And I would just like to ask about people who have concerns about your electability tend to focus not so much on your congressional record, but more on the accusations of past ethics violations.  How would you answer that in the scheme of electability?

A:  Well, I think Nancy Pelosi in the last few days has done a lot to answer it.

The Democrats filed 84 charges against me; 83 were dismissed. The only one which survived was the fact that my lawyers had written a letter inaccurately and I signed it.  The Democrats refused to compromise on that.  She was one of the three Democrats who were in the process of refusing to compromise — or it may have been five; I can’t remember the exact makeup of the committee.

But I’ll just let you decide:  If she was in the middle of it, how nonpartisan and just do you think the process was?  On every charge, the people have said recently — for example, did we as a Ph.D. in history, did I inappropriately teach a course using tax- deductible money?  Well, the IRS backed off, apologized and said they were wrong.

Did we violate the FEC rules?  They backed off and apologized and said they were wrong.

Now, those got either no coverage, or were on page 63.  But what the Democrats decided in the fall of 1995 was, they could not defeat our program, but they could defeat me.  They ran 121,000 negative ads attacking me, and they filed 84 ethics charges.  Well, if we’d been clever in retrospect, I would have immediately filed a countercharge against them for violating and abusing the ethics process, but we kept thinking:  This will be fair; this will be reasonable; we’ll knock them down.

The attrition effect on your members of that many ads and that many charges just gradually wore down people, and I gradually lost the ability to lead because, you know, I was ultimately so battered by the process.

So what I will tell people is, you go look at the record.  It’s all public record.  You go look at the total record.  You can go to, my campaign site, and you’ll see all this.  And then you make a decision. I have found so far, at least in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, it’s not much of an issue.  And I think people generally are prepared to concede that my record of achievement is vastly greater than whatever scarring the Democrats managed to do.

Q:  My turn.  Mr. Speaker, my name’s Jonathan J. Paul, I’m an entrepreneur from Houston, Texas.  Yesterday, President Obama gave one of those “two plus two equals 563” speeches.  He argued about fundamental fairness in the United States, without talking about the obstacle to fundamental fairness, which is the teachers’ union.  What would you do to narrow the education gap between wealthy and poor kids who are trapped in a system that’s failing them?

A:  No —

Q:  And failing us as a country.

A:  No, you’ve raised a good point.  Sometime in the near future, I’m going to give a speech on inequality, from a couple of angles.

One is, I believe in leveling up by giving everybody a chance to be more successful; he believes in leveling down.  I believe in wealth creation; he believes in wealth redistribution.  I believe the primary problem with the very poor is that they’re trapped in government institutions that destroy their future; he believes the problem is we haven’t sent them big enough checks while keeping them trapped.

I mean the really fundamental — this is why I want to have the debates next year.  I think the difference will be so vivid and so clear to most Americans that it’s really important.  And I want to — because I’m about to get the hook here — I want to take one minute, though, to talk about a recent example of this.

I believe that it’s really important for children to learn to work.  How many of you earned some money before you were 15?  OK.  I was with a fairly wealthy young lady two days ago, who could clearly be living on her trust, and her grandfather paid her to run errands.  And I said, how old were you when this started?  She said, 5.  

Now, why am I saying this?  The other day I said, you know — and this goes all the way back to an article that was written some 20 years ago my Joe Klein.  I think it was in New York Magazine.  If you look at the price of New York City school janitors, who are paid more than the teachers — they’re paid — the entry-level janitor is paid twice as much as an entry-level teacher, because of the unions.

My model would be to have a janitor and an assistant janitor who are full-grown adults and know what they’re doing, and then to take the rest of the money and hire lots of kids part-time.  And you could hire them part-time to be a clerk in the front office, you could hire them part-time to work in the library — (audio break) — you could hire them part-time to help in the kitchen.  There are lots of things you can do.

But what I want to do in the very poorest neighborhoods, where kids are in public housing, surrounded by people who have no experience of working.  The reaction on the left has been hysterical.

I mean, it’s exactly what happened to Moynihan — which was I was grateful for the reference — when Moynihan used common sense 30 years ago and the left went crazy — because you go at the very heart of their belief system.  If the problem is that we need to have people learn the culture of work and learn the culture of saving and learn the idea of value over time, you just made this country dramatically more conservative.  And so the left goes nuts at the idea that you’re actually going to let young kids learn.

The last example.  Jack Kemp and I used to argue for equity in public housing.  We said, people in public housing who don’t suffer from a severe mental or physical problem should have a responsibility to help take care of their apartment.  And if they take care of it well enough over time, they could gradually build up a sweat equity.  And you could even imagine over five or 10 or 15 years, they could actually acquire ownership.

I mean, there’s one great debate and Barney Frank got up and he said, do you realize if you allow poor people in New York City to actually own their apartments, that these apartments could be sold for several million dollars and they wouldn’t be poor anymore?

I’m for an America where there are no more poor because they all had a chance to rise.

Thank you all very much.  

Republican Jewish Coalition Candidate Forum: Mitt Romney

Remarks by Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) today at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidate 2012 Forum in Washington, DC.

I am grateful to the Republican Jewish Coalition for hosting this forum.

Thank you Chairman Flaum and Matt Brooks for your leadership.

And, of course, I join you in honoring the service of Ambassador Sam Fox.  Ambassador Fox has contributed in extraordinary ways to our economy, to our communities, to our nation, and to Israel.

Today, we gather as Republicans, Americans, and friends of Israel.  For us, the last three years have held a lot of change, but haven’t offered much hope.

Our debt is too high and opportunities are too few.  Almost a trillion dollars in failed stimulus and trillions more in deficits have left millions of Americans out of work.

The unemployment rate has been over 8% for 34 months.  Over the last four years, the median American income has fallen by 10%, even as the costs of food and fuel and healthcare have risen. Americans are suffering. The poor have a safety net and the rich are doing just fine, but middle-income Americans have never seen things so bad.

Internationally, we have witnessed a weakening of our military and a decline in our standing in the world.

More after the jump.
President Obama’s troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan were based upon electoral expediency, not military requirement.

He has bowed to foreign dictators.  And when the opportunity arose to defend freedom, he’s either been late to the game or failed to show up at all.

President Obama rushed to apologize for America, but he has hesitated to speak up for democracy and freedom.

He has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Iraq.  He even offered to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yet in three years, he has not found it in his interest to visit Israel, our ally, our friend, the sole Middle East nation that fully shares our values, the nation in President Truman’s words, that is an “embodiment of the great ideals of our civilization.”

No, over the past three years, President Obama has instead chastened Israel.  In his inaugural address to the United a>Nations, the President chastised Israel, but said little about the thousands of Hamas rockets raining into its skies. He’s a href=””>publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He’s insulted its Prime Minister. And he’s been a timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear Iran.

These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table. President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.

As President, my policies will be very different. I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them dearly.

I would not meet with Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. He should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the Genocide Convention. Iran’s ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel, it is a threat to the entire world.  Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve.

Today, you will hear from several of my fellow Republicans. Like me, each will acknowledge President Obama’s failings toward Israel. Like me, each will assure you of our friendship and commitment to Israel. We are not distinguished from one another by our opposition to President Obama … or even by our support for Israel.  What distinguishes us is our experience, our perspective, and our judgment.

I spent 25 years in business.  I’ve signed the front and the back of a paycheck.  I’ve helped businesses, like the Sports Authority and Staples, to grow from start-ups to international enterprises.  I’ve served as governor of a state and the steward of the Olympics.

My perspective is informed by those experiences and by the defining constants in my life: my 42-year marriage to my wife, Ann; the life we’ve built with our five sons; and the faith that sustains us.  My family, my faith, and our freedom – these are enduring truths in my life. My commitments are firm, and they do not falter.

When I was young, I had the opportunity to live abroad.  I recognized that the greatest advantage my parents had given me was being born in America.  I am passionate about the principles that have made this nation the land of opportunity and a shining city on a hill.

I believe in America. I believe it is the greatest nation in the history of the earth.  I believe that the next century must be an American century. Our highest priority must be to maintain a people, an economy, and a military so strong that no nation would ever risk challenging it.

My faith in America stems both from my faith in the American people, and from the principles that have made our people strong. We are a people from all parts of the world and all walks of life, but we are strengthened by our nation’s unique founding principles. It is not accident or luck that made America the greatest nation in the world – it is the power of our values and beliefs.

We weathered a Great Depression.  We emerged victorious from two world wars.  We faced down an Evil Empire.

Today, as we face new challenges and threats, I have every conviction that the American people, edified by American principles, will rise to the occasion again, securing our safety, our prosperity, and our peace.

One of these principles is a merit-based society.  In a merit-based society, people achieve success and rewards through hard work, education, risk taking, and even a little luck. The founders considered this principle to be one endowed by our Creator, and called it the “pursuit of happiness.” We call it opportunity, or we call it the freedom to choose our course in life.

A merit-based, opportunity society gathers and creates a citizenry that pioneers, that invents, that builds and creates.  And as these people exert the effort and take the risks inherent in invention and creation, they employ and lift the rest of us, creating prosperity for us all. The rewards they earn do not make the rest of us poorer, they make us better off.

American prosperity is fully dependent upon our opportunity society. I don’t think President Obama understands that. I don’t think he understands why our economy is the most successful in the world. I don’t think he understands America.

He seeks to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society.  In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people to enjoy truly disproportionate rewards are the people who do the redistributing-the government.

Entitlement societies are praised in academic circles, far removed from the reality of a competitive world. Opportunity is replaced by the certainty that everyone in an entitlement society will enjoy nearly the same rewards. But there is another certainty: they will be poor.

In an entitlement society, the invigorating pursuit of happiness is replaced by the deadening reality that there is no prospect of a better tomorrow. Risk-taking disappears, innovation withers, and small business is replaced by large, government enterprises.  And the result is a nation that stagnates, that declines, that cannot defend itself.

I am convinced that this is where President Obama’s “fundamental change” is leading America. And it informs aspects of his foreign policy. Internationally, President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy. Appeasement betrays a lack of faith in America, in American strength, and in America’s future.

Like others among the Washington elite, he believes that America’s role as the leader of the world is a thing of the past; that this will be a post-American century, perhaps an Asian century. American strength, he imagines, will eventually or possibly be eclipsed. And so, President Obama seeks to appease those he believes will balance us or challenge our leadership.

This appeasement by this Administration has taken many forms.  It includes offers to engage with the world’s most despicable dictators. It consists of concessions to Russia to remove our missile defense sites from Poland and to exclude tactical nuclear weapons from the new, remarkably one-sided, New START treaty. President Obama even looks the other way as China employs unfair trade tactics that endanger our economy and kill jobs.

This President appears more generous to our enemies than he is to our friends. Such is the natural tendency of someone who is unsure of America’s strength – or of America’s rightful place in the world. The course of appeasement and accommodation has long been the path chosen by the weak and the timid. And history shows it is a path that nation’s choose at their own peril.

The President promised that he would fundamentally change America. He is doing just that. At home, he is changing us from an opportunity nation to an entitlement nation. He is building a government so large that feeding it consumes a greater and greater share of the people’s production. And it is a government so intrusive that it can command free people and free enterprises according to its bureaucratic will.

Abroad, he is weakening America, shrinking our military, shrinking our commitments to our friends, accommodating our foes, and appeasing the competing forces that are vying for global leadership.

This election is not only a referendum on President Obama’s failures on employment, on income growth, on housing, on recovery, or on a nuclear-intent Iran, on an emboldened China and on friends like Israel being put at greater risk. This election will decide what kind of America we will be. It is defining.

Will we remain an opportunity nation or become an entitlement nation? Will we remain the leader of the free world, or become a follower in a more dangerous world?  Will America be transformed by Barack Obama, or will America be restored with the founding principles that have made this the greatest nation history has ever known?

Many think that because of his staggering failures, President Obama will be easily defeated. But an incumbent is rarely turned out of the White House, and his resort to class warfare and demagoguery are powerful political weapons.

In less than a year, Americans will be asked to make a choice about the kind of country they want to live in and the kind of future they will bequeath to their children.

It will be a choice between entitlement and merit, between appeasement and resolve.

Our party must offer a candidate who can make the case for freedom, opportunity and strength.  Our nominee must offer Americans more than just a chance to vote against President Obama; our nominee must give Americans an opportunity to vote for a different path and a better future.  A path dictated not by government, but determined by a free people.  A path marked by the virtues of merit, not by the slow decline of entitlement.  A path that achieves prosperity through opportunity, and peace through strength.

This is what Americans deserve.  This is what the moment demands.  And this is what I will deliver, with your help.

Join me. Join me, and I will lead our Party and our Nation through these difficult times to a brighter future.

America has been a shining city on a hill. That light is dimming. But together, we will reignite the spirit of American greatness.

We have wandered and drifted. I will lead us to a better place.  Join me, and together we will reclaim and rebuild the America we love.

I believe in America. Our fight starts today. Join me.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.