John McCain photo

Remarks in Columbus, Ohio

September 28, 2008

I'm happy to be introduced by Governor Sarah Palin from the Great State of Alaska. She is a bit of a maverick herself. She will be my partner in reforming everything that's broken in Washington, and she is a leader who knows what it means to put her country first.

Sarah has a debate this week against my friend and colleague Joe Biden. He is a good man. But his is not the heart of a reformer, and if there's one thing every voter I've met this year agrees on, it's the need for big, tough reforms. We need the kind of reforms that require us to ruffle feathers and take on the entrenched special interests. And that's Governor Palin's specialty! Whether it's taking on big oil, or members of her own party, Governor Palin knows who she works for. She works for you!

Sarah and I have news for the big-spending, smooth-talking, me-first, country-second crowd in Washington and on Wall Street:

Change is coming!

We need reform in Washington and on Wall Street. When the financial crisis threatened the economic security of all Americans, I laid out principles to protect hardworking Americans. I believed that inaction was not an option.

I put my campaign on hold for a couple days last week to fight for a rescue plan that put you and your economic security first. I fought for a plan that protected taxpayers, homeowners, consumers and small business owners.

I went to Washington last week to make sure that the taxpayers of Ohio and across this great country were not left footing the bill for mistakes made on Wall Street and in Washington.

Some people have criticized my decision, but I will never, ever be a president who sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis. Some of you may have noticed, but it's not my style to simply "phone it in."

I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I believe our leaders belong "in the Arena" when our country faces a challenge. I've never been afraid of stepping in to solve problems for the American people, and I'm not going to stop now.

Senator Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced. At first he didn't want to get involved. Then he was "monitoring the situation." That's not leadership, that's watching from the sidelines.

And watching from the sidelines is exactly what got us into this mess. It was the lack of accountability and oversight that put your tax dollars on the line. But it shouldn't be surprising that Senator Obama isn't interested in protecting your tax dollars.

Senator Obama has proposed more than 860 billion dollars in new spending. He was asked in our debate Friday to name a single program he would consider cutting to help our country through this crisis, and he struggled to name a single program!

Senator Obama is a fan of all that spending because he's always cheering for higher taxes or against tax relief. He's voted that way 94 different times.

Two times, on March 14, 2008 and June 4, 2008, in the Democratic budget resolution, he voted to raise taxes on people making just 42,000 dollars per year. He even said at the time that this vote for higher taxes on the middle class was "getting our nation's priorities back on track." Then something amazing happened: on Friday night, he looked the American people in the eye and said it never happened. My friends, we need a President who will always tell the American people the truth.

Senator Obama's record of higher taxes and more spending isn't going to help "95 percent" of Americans, as he likes to say: it's going to hurt 100 percent of us by growing government, slowing growth, and destroying jobs.

Times are tough for our economy, but I am confident America and Americans will emerge stronger than before. I will do my part. My commitment to the American people is this: I will clean up the Wall Street mess, reform Washington, and focus the entire federal government on a pro-growth agenda that creates jobs and gets this country back to work and back on track.

Now, let me give you some straight talk about this election:

In 36 days your vote will determine the next president of this great country we all love. I think the differences between Senator Obama and myself are pretty clear.

A vote for me will guarantee immediate pro growth action: tax cuts for America's hard working families, strong support for small businesses which are the back bone of our economy, and an end to pork barrel spending in Washington.

A vote for Barrack Obama will guarantee higher taxes, fewer jobs and an even bigger federal government. These policies will deepen our recession.

A vote for me will guarantee that the forces that have brought down our economy will be out of business. I will end the corrupt practices on Wall Street and the back room deals in Washington DC. I will hold accountable those responsible for the oversight and protection of consumers, taxpayers and homeowners.

A vote for Barack Obama will leave this country at risk during one of the most severe challenges to America's economy since the Great Depression.

You see, when it comes to growing the economy and protecting you from the corruption of Wall Street and Washington, Senator Obama just doesn't get it.

Americans have had enough of business as usual. Americans have had enough of the cozy relationships between politicians and power brokers. The status quo will end on November 4 with a vote for me and Sarah Palin.

You see, we've made the tough choices that make us unpopular in our own party. We have pushed for difficult reforms that leave special interests on the sidelines and give "the little guy" a seat at the table.

We will never forget who we work for -- we work for you.

So, that's how we see this election: Country First or Obama First, and I have a feeling I know which side you're all on.

When it came to cutting taxes for seniors, for working families, for small businesses -- my opponent did not put the hard working people of this country first.

When it came time to support our troops fighting to protect our freedoms and way of life, my opponent said he'd never deprive them of the funds they needed to fight -- and then he did just that. Barack Obama voted against funding the equipment our troops rely on as they fight to protect us. That is not putting the men and women of our military first.

When it comes time to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties to get things done for the American people -- my opponent can't name a single occasion in which he fought against his party's leadership to get something done for the country. That is not putting the interests of the country first.

The country is looking for leadership. The country is hungry for change. They want a leader who will stand up to entrenched special interests -- in Washington, and on Wall Street. They deserve a president who knows when to put politics aside and act in the best interest of the nation. The choice is clear. You have my word. I will always put this country first.

John McCain, Remarks in Columbus, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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