Mr. Chairman, delegates, and my fellow citizens ... I accept your
. Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America
Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia
was here. Thomas Jefferson
. And, of course, George Washington
or, as his friends called him, "George W."
I am proud to have Dick Cheney
at my side. He is a man of integrity
sound judgment, who has proven that public service
can be noble service.
America will be proud to have a leader of such character to succeed Al Gore
as Vice President of the United States.
I am grateful for John McCain
and the other candidates who sought this
nomination. Their convictions strengthen
I am especially grateful tonight to my family
No matter what else I do in life, asking Laura
to marry me was the best decision I ever made.
To our daughters, Barbara and Jenna, we love you, we're proud of you, and as
you head off to college this fall ... ... Don't stay out too late, and
your old dad once in a while, will you?
, everyone loves you and so do I.
Growing up, she gave me love
and lots of advice. I gave her white hair
And I want to thank my father
-- the most decent man I have ever known.
All my life I have been amazed that a gentle
soul could be so strong.
And Dad, I want you to know how proud I am to be your son.
My father was the last president of a great generation
. A generation of
Americans who stormed beaches, liberated concentration camps
us from evil.
Some never came home.
Those who did put their medals
in drawers, went to work, and built on a
heroic scale ... highways and universities, suburbs
and factories, great
cities and grand alliances -- the strong foundations of an American Century
Now the question comes to the sons and daughters of this achievement
What is asked of us?
This is a remarkable
moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise
of prosperity been so vivid. But times of plenty, like times of crisis
tests of American character.
Prosperity can be a tool
in our hands -- used to build and better our
country. Or it can be a drug
in our system -- dulling our sense of urgency,
of empathy, of duty.
Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment
So tonight we vow to our nation
We will seize this moment of American promise
We will use these good times for great goals.
We will confront the hard issues
-- threats to our national security,
threats to our health and retirement security -- before the challenges of
our time become crises for our children
And we will extend the promise of prosperity
to every forgotten corner of
To every man and woman, a chance to succeed
. To every child, a chance to
learn. To every family, a chance to live with dignity
For eight years, the Clinton/Gore administration
has coasted through
And the path of least resistance is always downhill
's way is the rising road.
is daring and decent and ready for change.
Our current president
embodied the potential of a generation. So many
talents. So much charm. Such great skill
. But, in the end, to what end?
So much promise, to no great purpose.
Little more than a decade ago, the Cold War
thawed and, with the leadership
of Presidents Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.
But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton/Gore administration has
squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion
of American power and an
unsteady exercise of American influence
is low on parts, pay and morale.
If called on by the commander-in-chief
today, two entire divisions of the
Army would have to report ... Not ready for duty, sir.
had its moment.
They had their chance
. They have not led. We will.
was given the gift of the best education in American
history. Yet we do not share that gift with everyone
. Seven of ten
fourth-graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple
And still this administration continues on the same old path with the same
old programs -- while millions are trapped in schools where violence
common and learning is rare.
This administration had its chance. They have not led. We will.
America has a strong economy
and a surplus. We have the public resources and
the public will -- even the bipartisan opportunities -- to strengthen Social
and repair Medicare
But this administration -- during eight years of increasing need -- did
They had their moment. They have not led. We will.
Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential
values -- to show we
have grown up before we grow old.
But when the moment for leadership
came, this administration did not teach
our children, it disillusioned
They had their chance. They have not led. We will.
And now they come asking for another chance, another shot
Not this time
Not this year.
This is not a time for third chances, it is a time for new beginnings.
The rising generations of this country
have our own appointment with
It does not rise or fall with the stock market
. It cannot be bought with our
is found when American character and American courage overcome
When Lewis Morris
of New York was about to sign the Declaration of
Independence, his brother advised against it, warning he would lose all his
Morris, a plain-spoken Founder
, responded ... "Damn the consequences, give
me the pen." That is the eloquence
of American action.
We heard it during World War II
, when General Eisenhower told paratroopers
on D-Day morning not to worry -- and one replied, "We're not worried,
General ... It's Hitler
's turn to worry now."
We heard it in the civil rights movement, when brave
men and women did not
say ... "We shall cope," or "We shall see." They said ... "We shall
An American president must call upon that character
Tonight, in this hall, we resolve to be, not the party of repose
, but the
party of reform
We will write, not footnotes, but chapters in the American story.
We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance
of our fathers and
mothers -- and leave this nation greater than we found it.
We know the tests of leadership
. The issues are joined.
We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation,
and for generations to come.
Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly
, it reflects the
values of our society.
We will set it on firm financial
ground, and make prescription
available and affordable for every senior who needs them.
Social Security has been called the "third rail
of American politics" -- the
one you're not supposed to touch because it shocks you.
But, if you don't touch it, you can't fix
it. And I intend to fix it.
To seniors in this country
... You earned your benefits, you made your
plans, and President George W. Bush
will keep the promise of Social Security
... no changes, no reductions, no way.
Our opponents will say otherwise
. This is their last, parting ploy, and
don't believe a word of it.
Now is the time for Republicans
to end the politics of fear
and save Social Security, together.
For younger workers, we will give you the option -- your choice -- to put a
part of your payroll taxes into sound, responsible
This will mean a higher return on your money, and, over 30 or 40 years, a
nest egg to help your retirement
, or pass along to your children.
When this money is in your name, in your account
, it's not just a program,
it's your property
Now is the time to give American workers security and independence
politician can ever take away.
... Too many American children are segregated into schools
without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age,
regardless of their knowledge
This is discrimination
, pure and simple -- the soft bigotry
And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination
should end it.
One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local
people should control local schools.
And those who spend your tax dollars
must be held accountable.
When a school district
receives federal funds to teach poor children, we
expect them to learn. And if they don't, parents should get the money
make a different choice.
Now is the time to make Head Start
an early learning program, teach all our
children to read, and renew
the promise of America's public schools.
Another test of leadership is tax relief
The last time taxes were this high as a percentage
of our economy, there was
a good reason ... We were fighting World War II.
Today, our high taxes fund a surplus
. Some say that growing federal surplus
means Washington has more money to spend.
But they've got it backwards
The surplus is not the government
's money. The surplus is the people's
I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to
the tax code
And I will act on principle
On principle ... every family, every farmer and small businessperson
be free to pass on their life's work to those they love.
So we will abolish
the death tax
On principle ... no one in America should have to pay more than a third of
their income to the federal government
So we will reduce tax rates for everyone, in every bracket
On principle ... those in the greatest need
should receive the greatest
So we will lower the bottom rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and double
the child tax credit
Now is the time to reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with
the people who pay the bills
The world needs America's strength
and leadership, and America's armed
forces need better equipment
, better training, and better pay.
We will give our military the means to keep the peace
, and we will give it
one thing more ... a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in
uniform, and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect
A generation shaped by Vietnam
must remember the lessons of Vietnam.
When America uses force
in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must
be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming
I will work to reduce nuclear weapons
and nuclear tension in the world -- to
turn these years of influence into decades of peace
And, at the earliest possible date, my administration will deploy missile
to guard against attack and blackmail
Now is the time, not to defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American
A time of prosperity
is a test of vision. And our nation today needs vision
That is a fact ... or as my opponent might call it, a "risky truth scheme."
Every one of the proposals I've talked about tonight, he has called a "risky
," over and over again.
It is the sum of his message -- the politics
of the roadblock, the
philosophy of the stop sign
If my opponent had been there at the moon
launch, it would have been a
"risky rocket scheme."
If he'd been there when Edison
was testing the light bulb, it would have
been a "risky anti-candle scheme."
And if he'd been there when the Internet
was invented well ...
I understand he actually was there for that.
He now leads the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
. But the only thing he
has to offer is fear itself.
That outlook is typical of many in Washington -- always seeing the tunnel
the end of the light.
But I come from a different place, and it has made me a different leader.
In Midland, Texas
, where I grew up, the town motto was "the sky is the
limit" ... and we believed it.
There was a restless energy, a basic conviction that, with hard work
anybody could succeed
, and everybody deserved a chance.
Our sense of community
was just as strong as that sense of promise.
Neighbors helped each other. There were dry wells and sandstorms
to keep you
humble, and lifelong friends to take your side, and churches
to remind us
that every soul is equal in value and equal
This background leaves more than an accent
, it leaves an outlook.
. Impatient with pretense
. Confident that people can chart their
That background may lack the polish of Washington
. Then again,
I don't have a lot of things that come with Washington.
I don't have enemies
to fight. And I have no stake in the bitter
of the last few years. I want to change the tone
of Washington to one of
civility and respect.
The largest lesson
I learned in Midland still guides me as governor
Everyone, from immigrant
, has an equal claim on this
So we improved our schools, dramatically
, for children of every accent, of
We moved people from welfare
We strengthened our juvenile
have been balanced, with surpluses, and we cut taxes
once, but twice.
I don't deserve all the credit
, and don't attempt to take it. I worked with
Republicans and Democrats to get things done.
part of tonight is that someone is missing, the late Lt.
Governor of Texas Bob Bullock
Bob was a Democrat
, a crusty veteran of Texas politics
, and my great friend.
He worked by my side, endorsed my re-election, and I know he is with me in
in saying to those who would malign our state for political gain...
Don't mess with Texas
As governor, I've made difficult decisions, and stood by them under
pressure. I've been where the buck stops -- in business
and in government.
I've been a chief executive
who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies
people to believe
and achieve them.
I am proud
of this record, and I'm prepared for the work
If you give me your trust, I will honor it ... Grant me a mandate
, and I
will use it... Give me the opportunity to lead this nation,
and I will lead ...
And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century -- the
new cures of medicine
, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy
and keep the peace.
But our new economy
must never forget the old, unfinished struggle
And here we face a challenge to the very heart
and founding premise of our
A couple of years ago, I visited a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas
talked with a group of young inmates. They were angry
, wary kids. All had
Yet when I looked in their eyes, I realized some of them were still little
Toward the end of conversation, one young man, about 15
, raised his hand and
asked a haunting
question... "What do you think of me?"
He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle ... "Is there hope
for me? Do I have a chance?" And, frankly ... "Do you, a white man in a
suit, really care what happens to me?"
A small voice, but it speaks for so many. Single moms
struggling to feed the
kids and pay the rent. Immigrants
starting a hard life in a new world.
Children without fathers in neighborhoods
where gangs seem like friendship,
promise peace, and where sex
, sadly, seems like the closest
thing to belonging. We are their country, too.
And each of us must share
in its promise, or that promise is diminished
If that boy in Marlin believes he is trapped and worthless
and hopeless --
if he believes his life has no value
, then other lives have no value to him
-- and we are ALL diminished.
When these problems
aren't confronted, it builds a wall within our nation.
On one side are wealth and technology, education and ambition
On the other side of the wall are poverty
and prison, addiction and despair
And, my fellow Americans, we must tear down
is not the answer. But the alternative to bureaucracy
It is to put conservative
values and conservative ideas into the thick of
the fight for justice
This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism
. And on this ground we
will govern our nation.
We will give low-income
Americans tax credits to buy the private health
insurance they need and deserve.
We will transform today's housing
rental program to help hundreds of
thousands of low-income families find stability
and dignity in a home of
And, in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic
work of homeless shelters and hospices
, food pantries and crisis pregnancy
centers -- people reclaiming
their communities block-by-block and
I think of Mary Jo Copeland, whose ministry
called "Sharing and Caring
Hands" serves 1,000 meals a week in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Each day, Mary Jo washes the feet of the homeless
, then sends them off with
new socks and shoes.
"Look after your feet
," she tells them ...... "They must carry you a long
way in this world, and then all the way to God
Government cannot do this work. It can feed the body, but it cannot reach
. Yet government can take the side of these groups, helping
helper, encouraging the inspired
My administration will give taxpayers new incentives to donate to charity
programs that build character, and support mentoring
groups that shape and save young lives.
We must give our children a spirit of moral courage
, because their character
is our destiny.
We must tell them, with clarity
and confidence, that drugs and alcohol can
you, and bigotry
disfigures the heart.
Our schools must support the ideals of parents, elevating character and
from afterthoughts to urgent goals.
We must help protect our children, in our schools and streets, by finally
and strictly enforcing our nation's gun laws
Most of all, we must teach our children the values that defeat
I will lead our nation toward a culture that values life
-- the life of the
and the sick, the life of the young, and the life of the unborn
I know good people disagree
on this issue, but surely we can agree on ways
to value life by promoting adoption
and parental notification, and when
Congress sends me a bill against partial-birth abortion
, I will sign it into
Behind every goal I have talked about tonight is a great hope
A hundred years from now, this must not be remembered as an age rich in
possessions and poor in ideals
Instead, we must usher in an era of responsibility
My generation tested limits
-- and our country, in some ways, is better for
Women are now treated more equally
progress has been steady, if
still too slow. We are learning to protect the natural world
We will continue this progress
, and we will not turn back.
At times, we lost our way. But we are coming home
So many of us held our first child
, and saw a better self reflected in her
And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol
of an even
greater love, and have been touched by faith
We have discovered that who we are is more important
than what we have.
And we know we must renew our values to restore
This is the vision of America's founders
They never saw our nation's greatness in rising wealth
or advancing armies,
but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage
Their highest hope, as Robert Frost
described it, was "to occupy the land
And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal
... to occupy the land
In a responsibility
era, each of us has important tasks -- work that only we
Each of us is responsible ... to love
and guide our children, and help a
neighbor in need
, churches and mosques
are responsible ... not only to worship
are responsible ... to treat their workers fairly, and leave
and waters clean.
Our nation's leaders
are responsible ... to confront problems, not pass them
on to others.
And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, a president
himself must be
And so, when I put my hand on the Bible
, I will swear to not only uphold the
laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor
and dignity of the office
to which I have been elected, so help me God
I believe the presidency
-- the final point of decision in the American
government -- was made for great purposes.
It is the office of Lincoln
's conscience and Teddy Roosevelt
's energy and
's integrity and Ronald Reagan
For me, gaining this office is not the ambition
of a lifetime, but it IS the
opportunity of a lifetime.
And I will make the most of it. I believe great decisions are made with
care, made with conviction
, not made with polls
I do not need to take your pulse
before I know my own mind. I do not
myself at every turn. I am not running in borrowed clothes.
When I act, you will know my reasons ...When I speak, you will know my
I believe in tolerance
, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.
I believe in a God
who calls us, not to judge our neighbors, but to love
I believe in grace
, because I have seen it ... In peace, because I have felt
it ... In forgiveness
, because I have needed it.
I believe true leadership
is a process of addition, not an act of division.
I will not attack
a part of this country, because I want to lead the whole
And I believe this will be a tough race, down to the wire
Their war room
is up and running ... but we are ready. Their attacks will be
... but they will be answered. We are facing something familiar
but they are facing something new.
We are now the party of ideas and innovation
... The party of idealism and
The party of a simple and powerful hope
My fellow citizens, we can begin
again. After all of the shouting, and all
of the scandal
. After all of the bitterness and broken faith
. We can begin
has been long, but it won't be long now.
nation is ready to renew its purpose and unite
goals ... and it won't be long now.
Our nation must renew the hopes of that boy I talked with in jail
, and so
many like him... and it won't be long now.
Our country is ready for high standards
and new leaders ... and it won't be
An era of tarnished
ideals is giving way to a responsibility era ... and it
won't be long now.
I know how serious
the task is before me.
I know the presidency is an office
that turns pride into prayer.
But I am eager
to start on the work ahead.
And I believe America is ready for a new beginning
My friend, the artist Tom Lea of El Paso
, captured the way I feel about our
He and his wife, he said, "live on the east side of the mountain
It is the sunrise
side, not the sunset
It is the side to see the day that is coming ... not the side to see the day
that is gone."
Americans live on the sunrise side of mountain.
And we are ready for the day
Thank you. And God bless you