Here is the text of President Bush's acceptance speech prepared for delivery to the Republican National Convention on Thursday:
Thank you. Thank you, thank you very much. I am proud to receive, and I am
honored to accept your nomination for president of the United States.
My job has been made easier by a leader who has taken a lot of unfair
criticism, with grace and humor -- Vice President Dan Quayle. I want to talk
tonight about the sharp choice I intend to offer Americans this fall -- a choice
between different agendas, different directions, and yes, a choice about the
character of the man you want to lead this nation.
I know that Americans have many questions -- about our economy, about our
country's future, even questions about me. I will answer them tonight.
First, I feel great and I am heartened by the polls -- the ones that say that
I look better in my jogging shorts than the governor of Arkansas.
Four years ago, I spoke about missions -- for my life and for our country. I
spoke of one urgent mission -- defending our security and promoting the American
Just pause for a moment to reflect on what we've done.
Germany has united -- and a slab of the Berlin Wall sits right outside this
Arabs and Israelis now sit face-to-face and talk peace.
Every hostage held in Lebanon is free.
The conflict in El Salvador is over, and free elections brought democracy to
Black and white South Africans cheered each other at the Olympics.
The Soviet Union can only be found in history books.
The captive nations of Eastern Europe and the Baltics are captive no more.
And today on the rural streets of Poland, merchants sell cans of air labeled:
The last breath of communism.
If I had stood before you four years ago and described this as the world we
would help to build, you would have said: "George Bush, you must be smoking
something, and you must have inhaled."
This convention is the first at which an American president can say the
Cold War is over, and freedom finished first.
Some want to rewrite history, want to skip over the struggle, claim the
outcome was inevitable. And while the U.S. postwar strategy was largely
bipartisan, the fact remains that the liberal, McGovern wing of the other party
-- including my opponent -- consistently made the wrong choice.
In the 70s, they wanted a hollow army -- we wanted a strong fighting force.
From Angola to Central America they said, "Let's negotiate, deliberate,
procrastinate." We said, "Just stand up for freedom."
Now the Cold War is over and they claim, "Hey, we were with you all the way!"
Their behavior reminds me of the old con man's advice to the new kid. He said
"Son, if you're being run out of town, just get out in front and make it look
like a parade."
Make no mistake, the demise of communism wasn't a sure thing. It took the
strong leadership of presidents from both parties, including Republicans like
Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. Without their vision and the
support of the American people, the Soviet Union would be a strong superpower
today and we'd be facing a nuclear threat tonight.
My opponents say I spend too much time on foreign policy.
As if it didn't matter that schoolchildren once hid under their desks in
drills to prepare for nuclear war. I saw the chance to rid our children's dreams
of the nuclear nightmare, and I did. Over the past four years, more people have
breathed the fresh air of freedom than in all of human history. I saw a chance
to help, and I did. These were the two defining opportunities -- not of a year,
not of a decade, but of an entire span of human history.
I seized those opportunities for our kids and our grandkids, and I make no
apologies for that.
Now, the Soviet bear may be gone, but there are still wolves in the woods.
We say that when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The Mideast might have become
a nuclear powder keg, our emergency supplies held hostage. So we did what was
right and what was necessary. We destroyed a threat, freed a people and locked a
tyrant in the prison of his own country.
What about the leader of the Arkansas National Guard, the man who hopes to be
commander-in-chief? Well, while I bit the bullet, he bit his nails.
Two days after Congress voted to follow my lead, my opponent said this, and I
quote: "I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But
I agree with the arguments the minority made."
Sounds to me like his policy can be summed up by a road sign he's probably
seen on his bus tour, "Slippery When Wet."
But this is serious business. Think about the impact of our foreign policy
failures the last time the Democrats controlled both ends of Pennsylvania
Avenue. Gas lines. Grain embargoes. American hostages blindfolded.
There will be more foreign policy challenges like Kuwait in the next four
years. Terrorists and aggressors to stand up to; dangerous weapons to be
controlled and destroyed. And freedom's fight is not finished. I look forward to
being the first president to visit a free, democratic Cuba.
Who will lead the world in the face of these challenges? Not my opponent. In
his acceptance speech he devoted just 65 seconds to telling us about the world.
Then he said that America was, and I quote, being "ridiculed" everywhere.
Tell that to the people around the world for whom America is still a dream. Tell
that to leaders around the world from whom America commands respect.
"Ridiculed?" Tell that to the men and women of Desert Storm.
Let me make an aside. This is a political year, but there's a lot of danger
in the world. You can be sure, I will never let politics interfere with a
foreign policy decision. Forget the election: I will do what's right for our
Fifty years ago this summer, I was 18 years of age. I believed deeply in this
country, and we were faced with a world war. So I made a decision, to go off and
fight a battle much different from political battles.
I was scared, but I was willing. I was young, but I was ready. I had barely
lived when I began to watch men die. I began to see the special place of America
in the world, and I began to see, even then, that the world would become a much
smaller place, and faraway places could become more and more like America.
Fifty years later, after change of almost biblical proportions, we know that
when freedom grows, America grows. Just as a strong America means a safer world,
we have learned that a safer world means a stronger America.
This election is about change. But that's not unusual, because the American
revolution is never ending. Today, the pace of change is accelerating. We face
new opportunities and new challenges. The question is -- who do you trust to
make change work for you?
My opponent says America is a nation in decline. Of our economy he says, we
are somewhere on the list beneath Germany, heading south toward Sri Lanka.
Well, don't let anyone tell you that America is second-rate, especially
somebody running for president.
Maybe he hasn't heard that we are still the world's largest economy. No other
nation sells more outside its borders. The Germans, the British, the Japanese --
can't touch the productivity of you -- the American worker and the American
My opponent won't mention that. He won't remind you that interest rates are
the lowest they've been in 20 years, and millions of Americans have refinanced
their homes. And you just won't hear that inflation -- the thief of the middle
class -- has been locked in a maximum security prison.
You don't hear much about this good news, because the media also tends to
focus only on the bad. When the Berlin Wall fell, I half expected to see a
headline: "Wall Falls, Three Border Guards Lose Jobs." And underneath it
probably says: "Clinton Blames Bush."
You don't hear a lot about progress in America. So let me tell you about some
good things we've done together.
Just two weeks ago, all three nations of North America agreed to trade freely
from Manitoba to Mexico. This will bring good jobs to Main Street USA.
We passed the Americans with Disabilities Act -- bringing 43 million people
into the economic mainstream. I must say, it is about time.
Our children will breath easier because of our new Clean Air Act.
We are rebuilding our roads, providing jobs for more than half a million
We passed a child care law, and we took a stand for family values by saying
that when it comes to raising children, government doesn't know best, parents
I've fought against prejudice and anti-Semitism all my life. And I am proud
that we strengthened our civil rights laws -- and we did it without resorting to
One more thing. Today, cocaine use has fallen by 60 percent among young
people. To the teenagers, the parents and the volunteers who are helping us
battle the scourge of drugs in America: We thank you.
Do I want to do more? You bet. Nothing hurts me more than to meet with
soldiers home from the Persian Gulf who can't find a job. Or workers who have a
job, but worry that the next day will bring a pink slip. And what about parents
who scrape and struggle to send their kids to college, only to find them back
living at home, because they can't get work.
The world is in transition, and we are feeling that transition in our homes.
The defining challenge of the '90s is to win the economic competition -- to
win the peace.
We must be a military superpower, an economic superpower, and an export
In this election, you'll hear two visions of how to do this. There is to look
inward, and protect what we already have. Ours is to look forward, to open new
markets, prepare out people to compete, to restore our social fabric -- to save
and invest -- so we can win.
We believe that now that the world looks more like America, it is time for
America to look more like herself.
And so we offer a philosophy that puts faith in the individual, not the
bureaucracy. A philosophy that empowers people to be their best, so America can
be at its best. In a world that is safer and freer, this is how we will build an
America that is stronger, safer and more secure.
We start with a simple fact: Government is too big and spends too much.
I've asked Congress to put a lid on mandatory spending except Social
Security. And I've proposed doing away with over 200 programs and 4,000 wasteful
projects and to freeze all other spending.
The gridlock Democrat Congress has said, "No."
So, beginning tonight, I will enforce the spending freeze on my own. If
Congress sends me a bill spending more than I asked for in my budget I will veto
it fast -- faster than copies of Millie's book sold.
Congress won't cut spending, but refused to give the president the power to
eliminate pork barrel projects that waste your money. Forty-three governors have
that power. So I ask you, the American people: Give me a Congress that will give
me the line-item veto.
Let me tell you about a recent battle I fought with Congress. This spring, I
worked day and night to get two-thirds of its members to approve a balanced
budget amendment to the Constitution.
We almost had it, but we lost by just nine votes. Listen how. Just before the
vote, the liberal leaders of Congress convinced 12 members who cosponsored the
bill to switch sides and vote no. Keep in mind, they voted against a bill they
had already put their names on.
Something fishy going on? Well, look at my opponent on this issue. He says
he's for balanced budgets. But he came out against the amendment. He's like that
on a lot of issues, first one side, then the other. He's been spotted in more
places than Elvis Presley.
After all these years, Congress has become pretty creative at finding ways to
waste your money. So we need to be just as creative at finding ways to sop them.
I have a brand new idea.
Taxpayers should be given the right to check a box on their tax returns, so
that up to 10 percent of their payments can go for one purpose alone: To reduce
the national debt.
But we also need to make sure that Congress doesn't just turn around and
borrow more money, to spend more money. So I will require that, for every tax
dollar set aside to cut the debt, the ceilings on spending will be cut by an
equal amount. That way, we'll cut both debt and spending, and take a whack out
of the budget deficit.
My feelings about big government come from my experience; I spent half my
adult life in the private sector. My opponent has a different experience, he's
been in government nearly all his life. His passion to expand government knows
He's already proposed $220 billion in new spending, along with the biggest
tax increase in history -- $150 billion -- that's just to start.
He says he wants to tax the rich, but, folks, he defines rich as anyone who
has a job.
You've heard of the separations of powers. My opponent practices a different
theory: "The power of separations." Government has the power to separate you
from your wallet.
When it comes to taxes, I've learned the hard way.
There's an old saying: "Good judgment comes from experience, and experience
comes from bad judgment."
Two years ago, I made a bad call on the Democrats' tax increase. I
underestimated Congress' addiction to taxes. With my back against the wall, I
agreed to a hard bargain: One tax increase one time, in return for the toughest
spending limits ever.
Well, it was a mistake to go along with the Democratic tax increase. But
here's my question for the American people. Who do you trust in this election?
The candidate who raised taxes one time and regrets it, or the other candidate
who raised taxes and fees 128 times, and enjoyed it every time?
When the new Congress convenes, I will propose to further reduce taxes
across the board -- provided we pay for these cuts with specific spending
reductions that I consider appropriate, so that we do not increase the deficit.
I will also continue to fight to increase the personal exemption and to create
jobs by winning a cut in capital gains taxes.
That will especially help small businesses. They create two-thirds of the new
jobs in America. But my opponent's plan for small business is clear, present --
and dangerous. Besides new income taxes, his plan will lead to a new payroll tax
to pay for a government takeover of health care, and another new tax to pay for
training. That's just the beginning.
If he gets his way, hardware stores across America will have a new sign up:
"Closed for despair." I guess you'd say his plan really is "Elvis economics."
America will be checking into the "Heartbreak Hotel."
I believe small business needs relief -- from taxation, regulation, and
I will extend for one year the freeze on paperwork and unnecessary federal
regulation that I imposed last winter. There is no reason that federal
regulations should live longer than my friend George Burns. I will issue an
order -- to get rid of any rule whose time has come -- and gone.
I see something happening in our towns and in our neighborhoods. Sharp
lawyers are running wild. Doctors are afraid to practice medicine. And some moms
and dads won't even coach Little League any more. We must sue each other less --
and care for each other more. I'm fighting to reform our legal system, to put an
end to crazy lawsuits. If that means climbing into the ring with the trial
lawyers, well, let my just say, round one starts tonight.
After all, my opponent's campaign is being backed by practically every trial
lawyer who ever wore a tasselled loafer. He's not in the ring with them, he's in
There are other things we need to do to get our economy up to speed -- and
prepare our kids for the next century.
We must have new incentives for research, and new training for workers. Small
businesses need capital and credit, and defense workers need new jobs.
And I have a plan to provide affordable health care for every American,
controlling costs by cutting paperwork and lawsuits, and expanding coverage to
the poorest of the poor.
We don't need my opponent's plan for a massive government takeover of health
care, which would ration care and deny you the right to choose your doctor. Who
wants a health care system with the efficiency of the House Post Office, and the
compassion of the KGB?
What about our schools? My opponent and I both want to change the way our
kids learn. He wants to change our schools a little bit -- and I want to change
them a lot.
Take the issue of whether parents should be able to choose the best school
for their kids. My opponent says that's OK -- as long as the school is run by
government. I say every parent and child should have a real choice of schools --
public, private or religious.
So we have a clear choice to fix our problems. Do we turn to the tattered
blanket of bureaucracy that other nations are tossing away? Or do we give our
people the freedom and incentives to build security for themselves?
Here is what I'm fighting for:
-- open markets for American products,
-- lower government spending,
-- tax relief,
-- opportunities for small business,
-- legal and health reform,
-- job training
-- and new schools built on competition, ready for the 21st century.
Why are these proposals not in effect today?
Only one reason -- the gridlock Democratic Congress.
Now, I know Americans are tired of the blame game, tired of people in
Washington acting like they are candidates for the next episode of American
I don't like it, either. Neither should you. But the truth is the truth. Our
policies haven't failed -- they haven't been tried.
Americans want jobs. On Jan. 28th, I put before Congress a plan to create
jobs. If it had been passed back then, 500,000 more Americans would be at work
right now. But in a nation that demands action, Congress has become the master
It wasn't always this way. I served in Congress 22 years ago. Back then, we
cooperated; we didn't get personal. We put the people above everything else.
At my first inauguration I said that people didn't send us to bicker. I
extended my hand to the Democratic leaders -- and they bit it.
The House leadership has not changed in 38 years. It is a body caught in a
hopelessly tangled web of PACs, perks, privileges, partisanship and paralysis.
Every day, Congress puts politics ahead of principle and above progress.
Let me give you just one example. Feb. 20, 1991. It was the height of the
Gulf War. On that very same day, I asked American pilots to risk their lives to
fly missions over Baghdad. I also wanted to strengthen our economic security for
the future. So that same day, I introduced a new domestic energy strategy which
would cut our dependence on foreign oil by 7 million barrels a day.
How many days did it take to win the Gulf War. Forty-three. How many days has
it taken Congress to pass a national energy strategy? Five hundred and
thirty-two -- and still counting.
Where does my opponent stand with Congress? Well, up in New York at their
convention, they kept the congressional leaders away from the podium, hid them
They didn't want America to hear from the people who really make the
They hid them for a very good reason -- because the American people would
recognize a dangerous combination: A rubber check Congress -- and a rubber stamp
Governor Clinton and Congress know that you've caught on to their lingo. They
know when they say "spending" you say "oh, oh." So now they have a new word,
"investment." They want to "invest" $220 billion more of your money -- but I
want you to keep it.
Governor Clinton and Congress want to put through the largest tax increase in
history, but I won't let it happen.
Governor Clinton and Congress don't want kids to have the option of praying
in school, but I do. Clinton and Congress don't want to close legal loopholes
and keep criminals behind bars, but I will. Clinton and Congress will stock the
judiciary with liberal judges who write laws they can't get approved by the
Governor Clinton even says that Mario Cuomo belongs on the Supreme Court. If
you believe in judicial restraint, you probably ought to be happy. After all,
the good governor of New York can't make up his mind between chocolate and
vanilla at Baskin Robbins. We won't have another court decision for 35 years.
Are my opponent and Congress really in cahoots? Look at one important
question: Should we limit the terms of Congress? Governor Clinton says: "No."
Congress says no. I say: "Yes."
We tried this once before, combining the Democratic governor of a small
southern state with a very liberal vice president and a Democratic Congress.
America doesn't need: "Carter II."
We don't want to take America back to those days of malaise. But Americans
want to know -- where's the proof that we will have better days in Washington?
I'll give you 150 reasons. That's how many members of Congress are expected
to leave this year. Some are tainted by scandal -- the voters have bounced them
the way they bounced their own checks. But others are good members. Republican
and Democrat. They agree with me. The place just doesn't work any more.
One hundred-fifty new members -- from both parties -- will be coming to
Washington this fall. Every one will have a fresh view of America's future.
I pledge today to the American people, immediately after this election, I
will meet with every one of these new members, before they get attacked by the
PACs, overwhelmed by their staffs, and cornered by a camera crew. And I will lay
out my case, our case, for change. Change that matters, real change that makes a
difference. Change that is right for America.
You see, there is a yearning in America, a feeling that maybe it's time to
get back to our roots.
Sure we must change, but some values are timeless. I believe in families that
stick together, and fathers who stick around. I happen to believe very deeply in
the worth of each individual human being, born or unborn. I believe in teaching
our kids the difference between what's wrong and what's right, teaching them
respect for hard work and to love their neighbors. And I believe that America
will always have a special place in God's heart, as long as he has a special
place in ours. And maybe that's why I've always believed that patriotism is not
just another point of view.
There are times in every young person's life when God introduces you to
yourself. I remember such a time. It was back many years ago, when I stood watch
at 4 a.m. Up on the bridge of the USS Finback. I would stand there and look out
on the blackness of the sky, broken only by the sparkling stars above. I would
think about friends I lost, a country I loved and about a girl named Barbara. I
remember those nights as clearly as any in my life.
You know, you can see things from up there that other people don't see. You
can see storm clouds rise and then disappear. The first hint of the sun over the
horizon and the first outline of the shore faraway.
Now, I know Americans are uneasy today. There is anxious talk around our
kitchen tables. But from where I stand, I see not America's sunset, but a
The world changes for which we've sacrificed for a generation have finally
come to pass -- and with them a rare and unprecedented opportunity -- to pass
the sweet cup of prosperity around our American table.
Are we up to it? I know we are. As I travel our land, I meet veterans who
once worked on the turrets of a tank and can now master the keyboards of a
high-tech economy. I see teachers, blessed with the incredible American capacity
for innovation, who are teaching our children a new way to learn for a new
century. I meet parents, some working two jobs with hectic schedules, who still
find new ways to teach old values to steady their kids in a turbulent world.
I take heart from what is happening in America, not from those who profess a
new passion for government, but from those with an old and enduring faith in
human potential. Those who understand that the genius of America is our capacity
for rebirth and renewal. America is the land where the sun is always peeking
over the horizon.
Tonight I appeal to the unyielding, undying, undeniable American spirit. I
ask you to consider, now that the entire world is moving our way, why would we
want to go back their way? I ask not just for your support for my agenda, but
for your commitment to renew and rebuild our nation -- by shaking up the one
institution that has withstood change for over four decades.
Join me in rolling away the roadblock at the other end of Pennsylvania
Avenue, so that in the next four years, we will match our accomplishments
outside by building a stronger, safer, more secure America inside.
Forty-four years ago -- in another age of uncertainty -- a different
president embarked on a similar mission. His name was Harry S. Truman.
As he stood before his party to accept their nomination, Harry Truman knew
the freedom I know this evening, the freedom to talk about what's right for
America and let the chips fall where they may.
Harry Truman said: "This is more than a political call to arms. Give me your
help, not to win voters alone, but to win this new crusade and keep America safe
and secure for its own people."
Tonight I say to you -- join me in our crusade to reap the rewards of our
global victory, to win the peace, so that we may make America safer and stronger
for all our people.