Here is the text of a speech prepared for delivery to the Republican National Convention T

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Here is the text of a speech prepared for delivery to the Republican National Convention Thursday by former President Gerald R. Ford: Thank you, Lynne, for your warm and generous words. As Will Rogers might have said, "I've never met a Cheney I didn't like." This is my 12th Republican Convention. Should we make it a Baker's dozen? My fellow Americans, how much this world has changed since we last met in New Orleans. Four years ago I answered the taunting Democrat question: "Where Was George?" That November the voters sent George to the White House. Suddenly, astonishingly, and most peacefully, the world we knew began to change. The winds of freedom blew away the Iron Curtain. The Berlin Wall lies in rubble. Captive nations are again independent. And let me just say -- once again -- Poland is free! The Cold War is history. The Soviet-United States arms race is gone. My fellow Americans, our long international nightmare is over. The Gulf War showed the world there is now only one superpower. Leaders of Israel, its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians, for the first time ever, are sitting down at the same table, talking peace. The industrial nations of Europe are forging a closer union to better compete with the economic powerhouses of the United States and East Asia. And we have worked with our good neighbors in Canada and Mexico on a constructive trade agreement to counterbalance such peaceful but potent challenges. Congratulations President Bush and Carla Hills. Under their separate red-white-and-blue flags, former Soviet and American athletes hugged one another on Barcelona's Olympic platforms. Our scientists and military leaders cooperate to destroy deadly stockpiles of doomsday weapons, to expand peaceful uses of space. The United Nations has become a revitalized force in the world. I ask my Democratic friends who are always talking about change: How much change from this new kind of world do you want? We know these dramatic triumphs of peace and freedom were the culmination of decades of dedication and sacrifice by Americans who did not duck their duty. But it was George Bush at the helm of our ship of state when freedom finally triumphed and peace prevailed. It happened on his watch. Tonight I'm tremendously proud to say again: "George was there!" America -- We must keep him there! Yes, we must do even more. We must give President Bush the kind of backup in Congress without which no president can turn his programs into real progress. In 1948, President Truman crisscrossed the land on his whistle-stop train lambasting my Republican Congress and won in a big upset four more years in the White House. Give 'em hell Harry. He's my kind of fighter. Four years later everybody liked Ike. With Gen. Eisenhower's Republican landslide I moved from the minority to the majority party in the House of Representatives. Believe it or not, 1953 and 1954 were the last years that any Republican president has enjoyed a Republican majority in both houses of the Congress. You know, our Constitution gave us a federal system of checks and balances. What we have now is a Democrat House that knows all about checks -- but not one damn thing about balances! When I was first in Congress the whole legislative branch of our federal government cost about $62 million a year. This year it is estimated the Democrat Congress will spend almost $2 billion -- not for the poor, not for the rich, but purely and simply on itself! A 3,000 percent Congressional increase. No wonder they can't cope with the $4 trillion federal debt. They could make a significant start by firing 4,000 of their 16,000 redundant, make-work staffs on 186 committees, subcommittees and joint agencies. If it's change you want on Nov. 3, my friends, the place to start is not at the White House, but in the United States Capitol! Congress, as every school child knows, has the power of the purse. For nearly 40 years Democrat majorities have held to the time-tested New Deal formula: Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect. Now don't get me wrong, I have many good friends who are Democrats. I have to admit that many wise and perceptive people have come out of the Democratic Party. In fact, the wiser and more perceptive they are, the quicker they've come out of the Democratic Party. Why? Because they've learned what we Republicans have known all along, that a federal government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. From what you read and watch in the news media, from all you see in the opinion polls and hear from the Democrats, the Bush presidency is finished, done, kaput, the ball game's over. I do not believe it. You don't believe it. And let me tell you -- the Democrats don't believe it! Haven't we heard enough from the whiners, the wanters, the wasters and the wafflers? The Democrats tell us every four years that they have repented and rejuvenated themselves. Now they proclaim a New Covenant that will lead us all to the land of promises, promises, promises. President Carter tells us with some satisfaction that his party has finally returned to where he left off in 1981. Does anyone remember the Carter economic record? Inflation, 13 percent. Interest rates, 21 percent. Is that the change Americans want for the next four years? Let me take you back 16 years to the 1976 election. It's really not my favorite subject, but there are some things I hope Americans remember. My opponent was a one-term ex-governor, newcomer to the national scene, with virtually no international experience. At this time in 1976, I was 29 percentage points behind in the Harris Poll and trailing by 33 points in Gallup's. The economists agreed we were coming out of a recession, but not fast enough to do me much good by November. The Republican Party had torn itself apart and never put itself back together. Nevertheless, we closed the gap to 49.9 percent and we almost made it. Close only counts in horseshoes. I lost. Gov. Carter won. We got change all right! But remember, change isn't a magic word that makes everything rosy. Change may get you 13 percent inflation. Change may get you a 17 percent home mortgage interest rate. Change may bring risky actions abroad, shaking American prestige and confounding friend and foe. Change just for the sake of change may be a four-year disaster. I am sick and tired of people downgrading America's triumphs over the past four years and badmouthing our president and our vice president. It makes me particularly sad when it's done by those who call themselves Republicans. I believe with all my heart in the two-party system. But my fellow Republicans, don't you forget what this party is all about! This is the party of Abraham Lincoln, who lived and died for the proposition that all men are created equal. This is the party of Dwight David Eisenhower, who believed that America is not good because she is great; America is great because she is good. This is the party of George Bush, a president who has earned our trust and the world's respect, a seasoned and experienced president who can safely lead us into the challenging climax of this American century. We have a great country! We have more to be proud of than any people on Earth. The things that unite us as Americans are far more enduring than the things that divide us. As this campaign gets hotter, let's all remember to singe, but never to burn. Our unwritten compact of respect for the convictions of others allows all Americans the luxury of rugged political competition. America didn't come to this high point in history without courage and conviction. We solve our problems by faith -- faith in our form of government, faith in one another, and faith in God's bountiful blessings. Two centuries ago, John Adams was the first president to move into the new White House. He confided to his wife, Abigail, about the prayer he had offered for all his successors: He said, "May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." When Betty and I lived in the White House, many times I made this prayer my own. "May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof." America, think about that before you vote. Make it your own. God bless our country and our president. Bless us all and help us to care about all Americans and to better understand one another. Thank you and good night.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank