Remarks in Erie, Pennsylvania
Thank you. It's good to be in Erie, Pennsylvania, and I appreciate the hospitality of Penn State. I'm grateful as well to our distinguished guests: Governor Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, John Lehman, the 17th secretary of the Navy, Ambassador Rich Williamson, Admiral Marsha Evans and retired three-star General Carol Mutter of the United States Marine Corps: I thank all of you for joining us.
Yesterday in Ohio, I spoke about the great and urgent need to gain energy security for our country. Energy policy is just the most dramatic example of how domestic and foreign policy cannot be separated anymore. When we draft energy policy these days, we need to think about both prices at the pump and about pipelines on the other side of the world, about basic economics and about the fundamentals of national security.
It used to be we could place domestic and foreign concerns in more or less "distinct categories" -- and choose a president according to which seemed the greater priority at the time. But the world has so drastically changed and those days are gone. Even if a most immediate concern is economic, our recovery will still depend on leadership that can protect and advance our security and our vital interests in the world.
It's easy to forget this in a time of economic worry and hardship. When your most valuable assets -- from your home to your retirement plan -- seem at risk, it may be hard to spend much time worrying about great troubles in far-off places. When you fear for your own job, or the possible loss of health insurance, it may be hard to spare much thought even for the most urgent matters of national security. The security of other nations, and even the fate of millions of people across the world, can seem remote when America itself is passing through an economic crisis.
One of the requirements of presidential leadership is to understand that the "dangers of the world" do not disappear when our attention is diverted! In fact, if we remain distracted for too long, they become much, much worse. As Senator McCain said yesterday: we're going to pull through this economic crisis! And with policies to keep taxes low, promote growth, and create jobs, we will come out stronger, just as America -- the greatest country on earth -- has done before!
But when the worst of our economic crisis has passed -- and it will pass -- we don't want to find ourselves facing even graver problems because we lost sight of the things that matter most. And as John McCain has understood throughout his career -- serving on carriers, in cockpits, and in the Capitol -- nothing takes priority over the security of this country!
In Iraq and Afghanistan, the consequences of victory and defeat alike will reach far into the future making America much safer, or placing us in greater danger. Now, Barack Obama didn't have much to say in that long infomercial of his last night about the stakes in the wars America is fighting, or about the need to support the troops in the field, or why he supported cutting off funding to our troops in the war. He prefers to wrap his "closing message" in a warm and fuzzy commercial message. He wants to soften the focus in these closing days, hoping your mind won't wander to the real challenges of national security that he is incapable of meeting. But in "a time for choosing," what we need is clarity! We need an alertness to dangers that are still in our power to contain!
Seven years after 9/11, there is a temptation to assume that we have seen the worst that terrorists can do, or that they have somehow changed their mind, and abandoned their mission of inflicting "catastrophic harm" on our country! But we must not confuse effective countermeasures with an end to the threat. The terrorist threat will be with us for many years, and millions of innocent lives are in the balance. Our children's future is at stake here! In this time for choosing, the question is which man will protect us from Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and other grave threats in the world, which one understands the threat! That man is Senator John McCain.
If you don't believe me, Senator McCain's running mate on this score, then just listen to Senator Obama's running mate. In that way of his, Joe Biden strayed off message the other day and stumbled on the truth. And he never sounded more certain of anything. First, in the primaries he said Barack Obama is not ready to be president. Then, the other day, he "guaranteed" us that Obama's lack of experience ensures us an international crisis. He said we could expect this crisis by July of 2009, within just six months of an untested man's arrival to the Oval Office.
After a warning like that, it would be some comfort to believe, at least, that Congress might provide some national-security leadership. But, no, we've been put on notice by the Democrat majority that this is not to be expected either. Already, plans are underway by Democrat House Finance Committee chairman Barney Frank to cut defense spending by 25 percent!
We're fighting two wars, with a force strength in need of rebuilding, and a guaranteed crisis heading our way, in the considered judgment of Joe Biden himself -- and they think it's the perfect time to radically reduce defense spending? They even tie these cuts to projected savings from the forced withdrawal -- an early surrender -- in Iraq that Barack Obama promises! The far left wing of the Democrat Party is preparing to take over the entire federal government, folks. And according to their own stated plans, the first thing to go will be one quarter of our defense budget.
As the time for choosing draws near, let me provide a better idea -- wiser and safer course for America. Let's not retreat from wars that are almost won. Let's not gut the defense budget, in a time of multiple conflicts and obvious dangers. And let's not entrust all the powers of the federal government to the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.
You know, a man can be admirable in many ways, and promising, and yet still not be ready for the most important and demanding job in the world. Rousing speeches can fill a stadium, but they cannot keep this country safe. For a season, a man can inspire with his words. But for a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds. And in five days, it will all come down to a choice between these two men, Barack Obama and John McCain.
Only one of them understands the costs of war, because he has paid those costs himself in the pursuit of peace. Only one of them has ever held command over more than a political campaign, and borne responsibility for the lives of others. He is a man of unquestioned honor, of personal and political courage, and of tested judgment -- the kind of judgment that avoids crisis instead of inviting it. In a time of great danger, we are fortunate to have a man of his caliber ready to serve as commander in chief -- and I ask you, my fellow Americans, to elect John McCain as the next president of the United States. Thank you, and God bless America.
Sarah Palin, Remarks in Erie, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/284512