Remarks Following the New Hampshire Primary
My friends, I am past the age when I can claim the noun, "kid," no matter what adjective precedes it. But tonight we sure showed them what a comeback looks like. When the pundits declared us finished, I told them, "I'm going to New Hampshire, where the voters don't let you make their decision for them." And when they asked, "How are you going to do it? You're down in the polls. You don't have the money." I answered, "I'm going to New Hampshire, and I'm going to tell people the truth."
We came back here to this wonderful state we've come to trust and love. And we had just one strategy: to tell you what I believe. I didn't just tell you what the polls said you wanted to hear. I didn't tell you what I knew to be false. I didn't try to spin you. I just talked to the people of New Hampshire. I talked about the country we love; the many challenges we face together; and the great promise that is ours to achieve; the work that awaits us in this hour, on our watch: to defend our country from its enemies; to advance the ideals that are our greatest strength; to increase the prosperity and opportunities of all Americans and to make in our time, as each preceding American generation has, another, better world than the one we inherited.
I talked to the people of New Hampshire. I reasoned with you. I listened to you. I answered you. Sometimes, I argued with you. But I always told you the truth, as best as I can see the truth. And you did me the great honor of listening. Thank you, New Hampshire, from the bottom my heart. I am grateful and humbled and more certain than ever that before I can win your vote, I must win your respect. And I must do that by being honest with you, and then put my trust in your fairness and good judgment.
Tonight, we have taken a step, but only the first step toward repairing the broken politics of the past and restoring the trust of the American people in their government. The people of New Hampshire have told us again that they do not send us to Washington to serve our self-interest, but to serve theirs. They don't send us to fight each other for our own political ambitions; but to fight together our real enemies. They don't send us to Washington to stroke our egos; but to help them keep this beautiful, bountiful, blessed country safe, prosperous and proud. They don't send us to Washington to take more of their money, and waste it on things that add not an ounce to America's strength and prosperity; that don't help a single family realize the dreams we all dream for our children; that don't help a single displaced worker find a new job, and the security and dignity it assures them; that won't keep the promise we make to young workers that the retirement they have begun to invest in, will be there for them when they need it. They don't send us to Washington to do their job, but to do ours.
My friends, I didn't go to Washington to go along, to get along or to play it safe to serve my own interests. I went there to serve my country. And that, my friends, is just what I intend to do if I am so privileged to be elected your President.
I seek the nomination of a party that believes in the strength, industry, and goodness of the American people. We don't believe that government has all the answers, but that it should respect the rights, property and opportunities of the people to whom we are accountable. We don't believe in growing the size of government to make it easier to serve our own ambitions. But what government is expected to do, it must do with competence, resolve and wisdom. In recent years, we have lost the trust of the people, who share our principles, but doubt our own allegiance to them. I seek the nomination of our party to restore that trust; to return our party to the principles that have never failed Americans: The party of fiscal discipline, low taxes; enduring values; a strong and capable defense; that encourages the enterprise and ingenuity of individuals, businesses and families, who know best how to advance America's economy, and secure the dreams that have made us the greatest nation in history.
The work that we face in our time is great, but our opportunities greater still. In a time of war, and the terrible sacrifices it entails, the promise of a better future is not always clear. But I promise you, my friends, we face no enemy, no matter how cruel; and no challenge, no matter how daunting, greater than the courage, patriotism and determination of Americans. We are the makers of history, not its victims. And as we confront this enemy, the people privileged to serve in public office should not evade our mutual responsibility to defeat them because we are more concerned with personal or partisan ambition. Whatever the differences between us, so much more should unite us. And nothing should unite us more closely than the imperative of defeating an enemy who despises us, our values and modernity itself. We must all pull together in this critical hour and proclaim that the history of the world will not be determined by this unpardonable foe, but by the aspirations, ideals, faith and courage of free people. In this great, historic task, we will never surrender. They will.
The results of the other party's primary is uncertain at this time, but I want to congratulate all the campaigns in both parties. I salute the supporters of all the candidates who worked so hard to achieve a success tonight and who believe so passionately in the promise of their candidate. And I want to assure them that though I did not have their support, and though we may disagree from time to time on how best to advance America's interests and ideals, they have my genuine respect. For they have worked for a cause they believe is good for the country we all love, a cause greater than their self-interest.
I learned long ago that serving only oneself is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self-interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune. For me that greater cause has always been my country, which I have served imperfectly for many years, but have loved without any reservation every day of my life. And however this campaign turns out -- and I am more confident tonight that it will turn out much better than once expected -- I am grateful beyond expression for the prospect that I might serve her a little while longer. That gratitude imposes on me the responsibility to do nothing in this campaign that would make our country's problems harder to solve or that would cause Americans to despair that a candidate for the highest office in the land would think so little of the honor that he would put his own interests before theirs. I take that responsibility as my most solemn trust.
So, my friends, we celebrate one victory tonight and leave for Michigan tomorrow to win another. But let us remember that our purpose is not ours alone; our success is not an end in itself. America is our cause -- yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Her greatness is our hope; her strength is our protection; her ideals our greatest treasure; her prosperity the promise we keep to our children; her goodness the hope of mankind. That is the cause of our campaign and the platform of my party, and I will stay true to it so help me God.
Thank you, New Hampshire. Thank you, my friends, and God bless you as you have blessed me. Enjoy this. You have earned it more than me. Tomorrow, we begin again.
John McCain, Remarks Following the New Hampshire Primary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/276829