John McCain photo

Excerpt of Remarks in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

July 23, 2008


... I know we can do it together. I know with can.


America has faced greater challenges in the past, and we may face greater challenges in the future. But right now, we know how America has, in the past, joined together and faced and overcome any challenge. When President Kennedy said we were going to the moon, we went there in less years than anybody thought. When we fought Nazi Germany and the Japanese in World War II, we ended that war in victory a lot sooner than most people thought. And we now face a number of serious challenges and we can overcome those more quickly than most people anticipate.

And I want to talk about one economic issue with you because it's on everybody's mind in this room -- and of course, we know that that's the price of a barrel of oil. This has caused a serious energy crisis in America and the world. And I don't have to tell anybody here that every time you go to the gas station you are shocked by the cost of a gallon of oil. It is changing people's, not only recreational habits, but their work habits. And sometimes their ability to get to work.

People who pay the most and are hurt the most, people who are hurt the most by the increase in the cost a gallon of gas are the lowest income Americans on fixed income who drive the oldest automobiles. That's one reason, my friends, I wanted to give a little gas tax holiday, so that you wouldn't have to pay for a while. The 18 cents a gallon for every gallon of gas that you pay for in every -- and 25 cents a gallon for diesel fuel for those of you that have diesel-fuelled trucks or vehicles. And I wanted to give them a little break, a little break.

And they said, oh, no, that would be terrible. You know what might happen? We might not be able to fund some of those pork barrel projects that Congress loves to spend money on. That's what might happen.


We might not be able to build that bridge in Alaska to an island -- $233 million -- the bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it. You know? Maybe not. Maybe what we do is give Americans a little bit of a break for the summer and maybe for a little longer so that the guy I met the other day who owns two diesel-fuelled trucks that is making a living off that and said he's going to go out of business. And I said, what about if you had a 25 cents a gallon relief on your taxes? He said, I think I could stay in business longer and I might be able to make it.

So these are tough times in America. And I want to remind you that this is an economic issue, it is an environmental issue, and it's a national security issue. We are sending some $700 billion a year of American money overseas to pay for this gasoline to countries that don't like us very much. And some of them -- and some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. That's just a fact.

So we've got a national security challenge here. And also, it is the greatest transfer of wealth in recent American history that is taking place. And we cannot continue it. We cannot continue it.

On the climate side, my friends, I believe that greenhouse gas emissions are real. I think climate change is real. And we can embark now on clean technologies, which will also reduce those greenhouse gas emissions.

And, finally --


-- let me say that it's hurting America and it's hurting the lowest income Americans the hardest. And that's not fair to America. It's not what America is supposed to be all about. So what do we need to do?

Obviously, we need wind, we need tide, we need to use solar and we need to use nuclear. And let me talk to you for a second about nuclear, if I could. My friends, the Navy has been sailing ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them and we've never had an accident. And our problem is not that nuclear power isn't safe, it's that we neither store nor reprocess the spent nuclear fuel. That's the problem.

My friends, the French -- 80 percent of French electricity is generated by nuclear power. We always want to imitate the French, OK? And by the way, in case you missed it, we now have a pro-American president of France which shows if you live long enough anything can happen in America. (APPLAUSE)

So -- what do the French do with their spent nuclear fuel? They reprocess it. We can store it, we can reprocess it, we can do both. But it will have an immediate impact on our demand for foreign oil. I think you know that the President of the United States announced that we would be, a week or so ago, that we would be lifting the moratorium on off shore drilling. The price of oil dropped $10. We need to drill offshore. We need to get our resources that are offshore and get them into our market so that the world will know -- so that the world will know, that we are on the way. We're on the way to eliminating our dependence on foreign oil.

Also, my friends, the United States of America sits on the world's largest resources of coal, the world's largest. And that coal deposits and resources can play a vital role. And I want to tell you that we can develop clean coal technology. I'm willing to spend $2 billion a year for research and development for clean coal technology.

And, by the way, think of how many jobs that would create in the state of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other parts of the country where we have these vast coal reserves.


Also, by the way, I'd like to tell you in nuclear power plants, it takes the French five years to build a nuclear power plant. Why should it take the United States of America 10 or 15 years or longer? It shouldn't. And I want to build 45 nuclear power plants by 2030, and that will create 700,000 jobs in America.


Now, Senator Obama doesn't want to drill offshore. Senator Obama doesn't want nuclear power. He doesn't want to reprocess nuclear fuel. He doesn't want to store spent nuclear fuel. My friends, you might have seen the other day, he had one of these, he had remarkably, a presidential seal and in Latin it said something like yes we can. I think he should change that to no we won't.


So we can do this, my friends. There is no doubt about it.

And let me just talk to you about one other aspect of it that is so important part of this equation. And you know what it is. It's the automobile. I was recently in Detroit, and I saw this new automobile that General Motors is trying to get out by 2010, and I think they will. It's a really remarkable technological advance which uses very little, if any, gasoline. It's remarkable technology breakthrough.

We've got to have automobiles that are flex fuels, in other words, they can use ethanol. We need to have hybrid. We need to eventually get hydrogen. We've got to develop a battery for a car that will take it 200 miles before you have to plug it in again. And if people want to buy that automobile, I'd like to give them a $5,000 -- as much as $5,000 tax credit to buy that automobile.


And relieve this burden on Americans as well. So I call it the Lexington Project, my friends. And you can call it anything you want. But let's have no doubt, the national security, the economic and the environmental implications of this mission we have to be on.

But I want to say to you again, we have faced greater challenges. I see gentlemen and women in this room who have served their country in uniform. And they have faced great challenges, far more challenges perhaps than any of the rest of us did. They were able to emerge victorious and I'm sure that America can follow in their footsteps and their example and be inspired by them. Would I ask our veterans just to raise their hands for me please, so that I can say thank you and thank you for serving our country. I'm very grateful you're here. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.


Now if I could address one more issue with you briefly. And that is the issue, of course, that this ongoing discussion we're having now and debate we've been having across America for a long time, concerning the war in Iraq. Now, I think you know that -- and I remind you -- that we won a very easy initial victory. And then we employed a very flawed and failed strategy that nearly failed and nearly lost us this had whole conflict. And it was a very bad strategy. I knew that it was a bad strategy. I fought against it, I argued against it. And I was called disloyal by Republicans because I knew that that strategy was failing and I knew the strategy that had to be employed.

And this nation finally, we switched that strategy and we found one of the greatest generals in American history in General David Petraeus, to lead us.


And the name of that strategy, we call the Cold Surge. It required additional troops. But it also required an entire new approach to the way we conducted what is basically a counter- insurgency.

We used to go into places and fight people and go back to a base. And then they would filter back in. General Petraeus' strategy is to go out into a neighborhood, set up outposts, stay, build, establish a secure environment for the people so that the rest of their lives could go continue in a more successful way. In other words, start to do business, send their kids to school, all of the things that go with a normal life. But, of course, at first, they had to put back al- Qaeda and the various Jihadist groups that were causing so much difficulty and chaos in that country.

So, over time, this strategy succeeded. And there's no doubt that it's succeeded. It has succeeded. And I'm happy to tell you that. And we are winning this conflict. And the benefits of winning this conflict are is that we will reduce the Iranian influence. And by the way, the Iranians are exporting into Iraq, the most lethal devices that are killing brave, young Americans. Have no doubt about that. But, it also would prevent al-Qaeda from establishing another base there.

It would have had an incredible impact in the region the United States defeated in having lost and gone home. And I knew all of that, and that's why I said at the time. When people said, you supporting 30,000 more troops and a new strategy, that your candidacy is doomed to failure. I said, I would rather lose a campaign than lose a war. And I meant that then, and I mean that now.


John McCain, Excerpt of Remarks in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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