Thanks, you guys. So many great friends in this room and across Illinois. What a night. Thank you, Illinois. What a night. Wow. [applause]
And, of course, I'd like to congratulate my fellow candidates on a hard-fought contest here. I'd like to thank in particular the volunteers and our friends across the state and, frankly, in other states who've been working hard. I appreciate their unwavering support, through good times and bad.
And tonight, we thank the people of Illinois for their vote and for this extraordinary victory. Thank you so much. [applause]
And, you know, elections are about choices. And today, hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois have joined millions of people across the country to join our cause.
And this movement began on a small farm in New Hampshire on a sunny June day. We were surrounded by a small group of our friends and some supporters and family. We shared a conviction that the America we love was in trouble and adrift without strong leadership.
And three years of Barack Obama have brought us fewer jobs and shrinking paychecks, but many of us believed we were in danger of losing something even more than the value of our homes and our 401(k)s. After years of too many apologies and not enough jobs, historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, a president who doesn't hesitate to use all the means necessary to force through Obamacare on the American public, but leads from behind in the world.
It's time to say these words, this word: enough. We've had enough. [applause]
We -- we know our future. We know our future's brighter than these troubled times. We still believe in America. And we deserve a president who believes in us. And I believe in the American people. [applause]
Now, you know that yesterday I was giving a speech at the University of Chicago...[applause]... not -- not very far from here, not far from where Professor Barack Obama taught law. [laughter] [booing]
It was a speech on economic freedom. And as I was writing the speech, I thought to my lifetime of experiences. I've had a lot of opportunity to learn about the -- the unique genius of America's free enterprise system. It started, of course, with my dad. He didn't graduate from college. And he would tell me about his dad, who was a contractor. And you know about construction, up and down years. He -- he never quite made it, but he never gave up and raised great kids. Later, I helped start companies. And those began with just an idea, and somehow they made it through the difficult times and were able to create a good return for investors and thousands of jobs. And those jobs helped families buy their first homes. Those jobs put kids through school. Those jobs helped people live better lives, dream a little bigger.
For 25 years, I lived and breathed business and the economy and jobs. I had successes and failures. But each step of the way, I learned a little bit more about what it is that makes our American system so powerful. You can't learn that teaching constitutional law at University of Chicago, all right? [applause]
You -- you can't even learn that as a community organizer. [laughter]
The simple truth is that this president doesn't understand the genius of America's economy or the secret of the American economic success story. The American economy is fueled by freedom. [applause]
The history of the world has shown that economic freedom is the only force that has consistently lifted people out of poverty. It's the only principle that has ever been able to sustain prosperity. But over the last three years, this administration has been engaged in an all-out assault on our freedom.
Under this president, bureaucrats prevent drilling rigs from going to work in the gulf. They -- they keep coal from being mined. They impede the reliable supply of natural gas. They even tell farmers what their kids are able to do on their farms. This administration's assault on freedom has kept this so-called recovery from meeting their projections, let alone our expectations.
And now, by the way, the president is trying to erase his record with some new rhetoric. The other day he said this. He said, "We are inventors. We are builders. We are makers of things. We are Thomas Edison. We're the Wright brothers. We're Bill Gates. We're still jobs." Wait, I missed that. "We are Steve Jobs." [laughter]
That's true. But the problem is: He's still Barack Obama. [laughter] [applause]
AUDIENCE: Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!
ROMNEY: And, you see, under Barack Obama, those pioneers he mentioned would have faced a very difficult time trying to innovate and invent and invest and create and build jobs. You see, under Dodd- Frank, they would have found it almost impossible to get a loan from their community bank.
ROMNEY: And, of course, the regulators would have shut down the Wright brothers for dust pollution. [laughter]
You know -- and -- and, of course, the government would have banned Thomas Edison's light bulb. Oh, by the way, they just did, didn't they? Right? Yeah. [applause]
Now, you know that the real cost of these misguided policies, these attacks on economic freedom, this intrusion of the government into our freedom, the -- the cost of that are the ideas that are not pursued and the dreams that aren't realized and, therefore, all the little businesses that don't get started and the tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of workers who don't get hired.
For centuries, the American dream has meant the opportunity to build something new. Some of America's greatest success stories are -- are people who started out with nothing but a good idea and a corner in their garage. But too often today, Americans who want to start a business or launch a new venture, they don't see promise and opportunity. They see government standing in the way. And I'm going to change that. We're going to get government out of the way. [applause]
You know, we -- we once built an Interstate Highway System and the Hoover Dam. Now we can't even build a pipeline. [laughter]
I mean, we -- we once led the world in manufacturing and exports, investment. Today, we lead the world in lawsuits. You know, when we replace a law professor with a conservative businessman as president, that's going to end. [applause]
I think -- I think you know this. Every great innovation, every world-changing business breakthrough begins with a dream. And nothing is more fragile than a dream. The genius of America is that we nurture those dreams and the dreamers. We honor them. And, yes, we reward them. That's part of what's uniquely brilliant about America. But day by day, job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat, this president is crushing the dream, and the dreamers and I will make sure that finally ends. [applause]
You know, the -- the proof -- the proof of the president's failure is seeing how tepid this economy -- this economic recovery is. I mean, this administration thinks that the economy's struggling because the stimulus wasn't large enough. [laughter]
The truth is, the economy is struggling because the government is too big. [applause]
You -- you and I know something the president still hasn't learned. Even after three years and hundreds of billions of dollars of spending and borrowing, it is not the government that creates our prosperity. The prosperity of America is the product of free markets and free people, and they must be protected and nurtured. [applause]
So tonight was a primary, but November is the general -- general election. And we're going to face a defining decision as a people. Our choice will not be about party or even personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.
I'm offering a real choice and a new beginning. I'm running for president because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. We know... [applause]
Look, we -- we know what Barack Obama's vision is. We've been living it these last three years. My vision is very, very, very different than what his is. You see, I -- I see an America where the prospects for our children will be better than even those that we've enjoyed during our lives, where the pursuit of success by all of us will unite us, not divide us, when the government finally understands...[applause]
I see a time when we'll finally have a government that understands it's better for more people to pay less in taxes than for a very few to pay a lot more. And... [applause]
And I see an America where the values we pass on to our children are greater than the debts we leave them. [applause]
I see an America where poverty is defeated by opportunity, not enabled by a government check. [applause]
I see an America that is humbled -- excuse me -- I seen an America that is humble, but it is never humbled, that leads, but is never led. I see an America that is so unquestionably strong that no one in the world would ever think of testing the might of our military. [applause]
Today -- today, we took an important step towards that America. Tomorrow, we'll take another. Each day, we move closer not just to victory, but to a better America. Join us. Join us. Together, we're going to ensure that America's greatest days are still ahead. [applause]
Thanks, you guys. Thank you so much. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you.