Mitt Romney photo

Remarks at a Campaign Event in Virginia Beach, Virginia

September 08, 2012

Look at those flags! [applause] Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Well, Virginia really knows how to say hello. Thank you! [applause] Thank you, Governor and Janine, for being here and welcoming me. And thanks to all of you for braving the warm weather today to give me such a welcome. And thanks to our veterans. I see a number of them in the audience here today. Thank you for your service. [applause]

You know, I know that this week has not been a week of a lot of good news. You saw the reports that we're not creating as many jobs as even would keep up with our population growth and you saw that for every net new job that was created last month, why, four people dropped out of the workforce. So this is not the kind of news that the American people were hoping for and deserved.

But I'm here to tell you that things are going to get a lot better. [applause] But that's going to require you doing something important and that's electing me the next president of the United States. [applause]

AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!

MR. ROMNEY: You know, it's moving to be in this place and to see these aircraft and know the men and the women that have helped defend liberty for America time and time again. It's moving to see that flag out there and to see the flags that you've been waving inside this room. I remember as a boy I was in the fourth grade and somehow in my mind I remember being there in the fourth grade in front of the blackboard. We had an American flag that was pinned above the blackboard.

And every day we stood, lined up in front of that blackboard and we recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you remember it? [applause] I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. [applause] When I make a promise, I intend to keep a promise and I've done that throughout my life. When I made that promise time and time again in my pledge of allegiance to the flag I remembered that flag and I remember it to this day

For me, the Pledge of Allegiance and placing our hand over our heart reminds us of the blood that was shed by our sons and our daughters fighting for our liberty and sharing liberty with people around the world. The promises that were made in that pledge are promises I plan on keeping if I'm president and I've kept them so far in my life. [applause] That pledge says under God. I will not take God out of the name of our platform. [applause]

I will not take God off our coins and I will not take God out of my heart. We're a nation — [applause] — bestowed by God. One nation, indivisible — I will not divide this nation. I will not apologize for America abroad and I will not apologize for Americans here at home. [applause] With liberty and justice for all — with liberty — I will not forget that for us to have liberty here, for us to be able to protect ourselves from the most evil around the world, for us to share liberty with our friends around the world, we must have a military second to none, so strong no one would ever think of testing it. [applause]

And I'm sure you know what's happening to our military. Our number of ships has gone from roughly 600 down — well, the Navy said they had to have at least 313 ships minimum to carry out the missions that are given to our Navy and we're already down to about 282, 283, something of that nature. And we're only creating about nine new ships a year. I'd increase that to 15 ships. Do you realize — [applause]. You realize our Navy is smaller than any time since 1917. That's unacceptable. It's time to have a rebuilding of our Navy to make sure it's the strongest in the world. [applause]

And it fulfills our missions. Our Air Force is older and smaller than any time since 1947. Our troops have been stretched to the breaking point in the conflicts they've been enduring. And our hearts go to those that are in far off places today, particularly those in Afghanistan and who are harm's way. We love them. We respect them. We honor their sacrifice. [applause]

But to preserve liberty, we must have a commitment not just to more ships and more aircraft but also in my view to more members of our Armed Forces. I will not cut our military. I will maintain our military commitment. [applause] Now, I listened — you listened to the governor talk about the cuts the president has put in place for our military. And then the sequestration cuts that the White House came up with, this idea of sequestration — they came up with it.

According to a book that just came out from Bob Woodward, it was their idea. So we're talking about a trillion dollars in cuts. The estimates of the kinds of numbers of jobs lost in Virginia from these cuts is between a hundred and two hundred thousand. It's unthinkable. It's unthinkable to Virginia, to our employment needs. But it's also unthinkable to the ability and the commitment of America to maintain our liberty with liberty for all.

And therefore, if I'm president of the United States, we'll get rid of those sequestration cuts and rebuild America's military might. [applause] So with liberty for all but also with justice for all — with justice for all — I don't think it's just for the next generation for us to pass on massive debts that we've amassed and pass onto them. Sixteen trillion dollars in debt passed to them is wrong and it must end. [applause]

I also don't think it's justice for all when a nation is as prosperous as ours is — the most prosperous, major nation in the history of the Earth — to have one out of six people now who've fallen into poverty, 47 million people on food stamps. When the president took office, there were 32 million on food stamps, now 47 million. How can a nation — how can a nation so prosperous stand by with such a national tragedy? That is not justice for all.

Now with the unemployment level having stuck above 8 percent for 43 straight months, we remember that the president promised that if we let him borrow almost a trillion dollars he'd never let it reach 8 percent. It's been above 8 percent. This president has not fulfilled his promises. And then he went to the Democrat Convention and spoke at great length and had a lot of wonderful things to say. But he didn't say what he'd do to help people get jobs or come out of employment — out of unemployment or to get people that are poor back to the middle class.

He doesn't have a plan. He doesn't have any ideas. And we've got to make sure that he doesn't have any more days in the White House after January. [applause] We pledge allegiance to that flag. We believe in a nation under God, indivisible, a nation united, a nation with justice and liberty for all. And for that to happen, we're going to have to have a new president that will commit to getting America working again, that will commit to a strong military, that will commit to a nation under God, that recognizes that we the American people were given our rights not by government but by God Himself. [applause]

Now, unlike the president, you see, the president has promises and I have promises.

But the difference is that I have a plan to fulfill my promises. And so — and so I have — I have a plan to get America working again. And I know it's going to work because for me this is not something I studied in school. It's something I did for 25 years, all right? [applause] And so there are five parts to it.

Number one — and by the way, this is our ace in the hole. We've got extraordinary resources we haven't taken advantage of and I will. I'm going to get North America energy independent within eight years. [applause] And by the way, that means — that means instead of doing what the president did which is cutting in half the permits and licenses for onshore drilling and offshore drilling on federal lands, I'll double them. And I'm going to open up ANWR and the outer continental shelf. [applause] Yeah, let's not forget about building that pipeline in from Canada too. I'll do that too. [applause]

Number two, I'm going to make sure that our workers have the skills they need to succeed today and that our kids get the skills they need to succeed in a world where right now our kids are getting an education which puts them in the bottom third of the world. That's unacceptable. I will put the kids and their parents and the teachers first and the teachers union behind. [applause]

Number three, trade is good for us, by the way. It's good for us to sell things to other countries and to trade with them. You have to make sure, of course, that those trade agreements are structured in a way that it helps America, not just the other guys. Trade has to work for us and I'll do that opening up new markets for us. And when people cheat like China's cheating, I'm going to say, no, we're not going to let it go on. [applause]

Number four, we're not going to get entrepreneurs to risk their life savings to start a business or big companies — let's say even foreign companies coming here and building facilities here — unless they know we're not on a road to Greece. And so to preserve and to protect jobs and to create more investment in this country, I'm going to do something politicians have spoken about but your governor has done and I've done. Almost every governor in America does it and that is I'm going to cut spending and finally get America on to a balanced budget. [applause]

And number five — number five — number five, I'm going to champion small business. Small business is where jobs come from. [applause] So I'm not going to raise taxes on small business and I'm not going to overregulate small business. And I'm going to get rid of that big cloud that's been hanging over small business and keeps them from hiring. I'm going to get rid of "Obamacare" and replace it with something better. [applause]

AUDIENCE: Romney! Romney! Romney!

MR. ROMNEY: Look, this country's going to come roaring back. If you do those five things, this country's going to come roaring back. We're going to see 12 million new jobs and finally rising take-home pay again because I know if government is doing the job it ought to do to encourage freedom and entrepreneurship that the American people are ready to act. I've seen big companies that want to act and want to invest in America. I've seen entrepreneurs of all kinds that want to start businesses.

I've been impressed by the American spirit of people who are can-do and take charge, want to start and build things. And by the way, they do build it themselves. [applause] With those flags waving, I can't help but tell you just a story. I know it's warm for this experience but I've been touched by all these flags and the patriotism in this place today. And it happens to do with the Olympics that I had the chance to help organize back in 2002 out in Salt Lake City.

And at the end of the Games, Vice President Cheney came and he asked me to pick one athlete to represent all the athletes of America to sit with him in the closing ceremonies. And so, I chose Derrick Parra. Derrick's Hispanic American, born in L.A. He's a roller-blader, all right? and he had a friend say to him, Derrick, you're never going to get an Olympic medal with roller blades, all right? You've got to find another sport.

So Derrick decided to try ice skating and it turns out he was pretty fast. And he went on and competed. And you know, he beat these big guys from Michigan and Wisconsin and Minnesota and became a member of the U.S. speed skating team, came out there to Salt Lake City, skated his heart out. He won a silver medal in the — I think it was in the 1,000 meters and then a gold medal in the 5,000 meters — the other way around, gold in the 1,000 and silver in the 5,000 — fastest man in the world on ice.

I couldn't get over it. Derrick Parra's about 5'4, real strong guy, just amazing guy. So I invited him to sit with the vice president. He came in to sit down. I said — I said, Derrick, what was the most meaningful experience in your Olympics. I expected him to describe the race for the gold where he got the gold. Instead, he said, no, Mitt, it was being honored to carry in the flag that had flown above the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, into the opening ceremonies. [applause]

You see, that flag was flown above the World Trade Center. It was torn and burned and it's about 8 feet by 12 feet and Derrick Parra was one of the eight American athletes that was voted as one of those that should carry in that flag. And so, in fact he said that he took ahold of the flag and the announcer came over the PA system. And he said, ladies and gentlemen, the flag that flew above the World Trade Center at September the 11th is now coming into the stadium.

And Derrick said, I thought the crowd would burst into cheers but instead total silence, complete reverence. And he said, so we carried the flag and stopped in front of the choir and they began performing the national anthem. And he said, Mitt, it was hard to hold on to my emotions as I was singing those words and I was holding that flag. And then he said, the choir did something I hadn't expected.

Now, I knew it was coming because as the guy in charge of the Olympics, I chose the version of the national anthem they sang. And in the version I chose, you sing the last line twice. Second time is a reprise. You go up an octave. So the sopranos jumped up an octave, much greater orchestration: O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

And he said, Mitt, this time as they sang it, a gust of wind blew in the flag in our hands and it lifted in our arms. And he said, for me, it was as if the spirits of all those that had fought and died for liberty had just blown in that flag. And he said, the tears ran down my face.

We're a patriotic people. The American people love this country. We love that flag. We love our pledge. We love our God. [applause] Any challenge we face is a challenge we're going to overcome. But we need a new president to get America back on track. I expect to build a new future, a strong future for this country and take back America. I love America. I love you. I love the work you do. I'll protect this land and keep it strong and create the future for your kids they deserve. Thank you so very much! Thank you! [applause]

Mitt Romney, Remarks at a Campaign Event in Virginia Beach, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315928

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