Thank you. Thank you. I am lucky to have Darlene as my sister. I am lucky to have Verna Mae and Hollis as my aunt and uncle who took care of me. To all my family and all my friends, thank you. Welcome to Central South Carolina, my hometown. Many of you have known me for a long time. I'm not aging that well, am I? Some of you have known me since my family lived in the back of a bar in that building, but I'm pretty sure no one here including me ever expected to hear me say, I'm Lindsey Graham, and I'm running for President of the United States.
Thank you. I hope, yeah okay. I’ll turn back there. I hope they hear that all over the world that I'm running for President of the United States. It’s because of you that I can make that statement. Everything I am, everything I will be I owe to the kindness, and generosity and the example of people of Central, Clemson, Seneca, Walhalla, and other small towns throughout South Carolina. Thank you, thank you for everything.
I want to be President to protect our nation that we all love so much, so get ready, I'm ready. I want to be President to defeat the enemies that are trying to kill us, not just penalize or criticize them or contain them, but defeat them. Ronald Reagan’s policy of peace through strength kept America safe during the Cold War. Remember those times? But I’ve come to conclude we will never enjoy peaceful coexistence with radical Islam because its followers intend to destroy our way of life. However, America can be and will be secure only if we have strength. Security through strength will protect us.
I want to be President to meet our problems head on. Honestly and realistically for the purpose of solving them, not hiding them or taking political advantage of them. I want to be President to make government work for you, not the other way around. I want to make government keep its promises to you, to support your dreams, to embrace your values, and to reflect your character. I want to be President to help us build a future greater than our amazing past, and I will work with anyone to do it.
We made some dangerous mistakes in recent years. The Obama administration and some of my colleagues in Congress have substituted wishful thinking for sound national security strategy. Every day the headlines attest to the failures of the Obama Clinton policies. It is sad for me to report to you, but Barack Obama has made us less safe. Simply put, radical Islam is running wild. They have more safe havens, more money, more capability, and more weapons to strike our homeland than any time since 9/11. They are large, they are rich, they’re entrenched. As President I will make them small, poor, and on the run.
I'm afraid some Americans have grown tired of fighting them. I have some bad news to share with you, the radical Islamists are not tired of fighting you. In partnership with others we must take the fight to them building lines of defenses over there so they can’t come here. Building up and supporting regional forces to go after their safe havens that could be used to attack our homeland. The world is exploding in terror and violence, but the biggest threat of all is the nuclear ambitions of the radical Islamists who control Iran. Ladies and gentlemen, there are no moderates in Iran running their government. If the United States isn’t firm in our intention to deny them such weapons Iran will trigger a nuclear arms race in the least stable region on Earth, making it more likely the people who aspire to genocide will have the most effective means to commit it.
Our close ally Israel is at risk as a result of Obama’s failed leadership. With Israel we share values, we share democracy, and our friendship is unbreakable. To our friends in Israel, I will never abandon you. I will always stand firm in supporting the one and only Jewish state. I, too, say never again. I'm running for President because I have the experience, the judgment, and the will to deny the most radical regimes the most dangerous weapons. But to defeat this enemy it will require more than military might. The most powerful weapon in our arsenal is not a gun. It’s an idea. The terrorists are selling a glorious death. We must sell a hopeful life. I’ve learned from my travels that a small schoolhouse in a remote region educating a young girl can do more damage to radical Islam than any weapon we possess.
However, radical Islam is not the only threat we face. Elsewhere old adversaries are seizing opportunities to challenge our interest. Putin seized Ukrainian territory and threatens NATO allies. China is building, literally building their own islands in resource rich waters claimed by other nations and challenging free navigation to the seas. Our allies feel the absence of American leadership, our adversaries are taking advantage. American weakness anywhere hurts us everywhere. Our enemies are emboldened and our friends are going in alone. Both reactions are detrimental to our national security interests.
It is time for America to come back, and come back we will. And the way you come back is to make sure that the next President must be an informed and decisive Commander in Chief, ready immediately to deal with the threats I’ve just described. We’ve learned over the past six years that speeches alone won’t make us safe. If that were true, true we would be really safe. Superior power and resolve is the only way to be safe. I am running for President of the United States because I am ready to be Commander in Chief on day one. I am ready on day one to defend our nation with sound strategy, a strong military, stable alliances and a steady determination. I have been to the Middle East more times than I can count as a United States Senator and a Reserve Officer in the United States Air Force. To all who have served our country, raise your hand. God bless each and every one of you.
I’ve got one simple message. I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. That includes you, Hillary. We will have a reset with Russia that sticks. I know the players, I know our friends, and I know our enemies alike. But most importantly, ladies and gentlemen, they know me. I have listened, learned, and prepared myself for the job of Commander in Chief. I’ve served in the Air Force for 33 years and it has been a true pleasure and honor. I’ve spent much of my adult life as part of a team committed to defending America, protecting our way of life, making sure that we’re safe. Politicians focus on elections. The military focuses on the mission. If given the privilege to serve as your President, I will focus on the mission to defend America, to protect our way of life, and to lead the next generation a stronger, safer, better nation than we inherited.
That will not be easy. It never has. There are dangers that must be faced, and as usual the best of us will have to face the worst of them. The best of us are the one percent of Americans who are the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. I cannot promise as Commander in Chief that their dangers that they confront will be less, the risks they run, the sacrifices they make will be fewer or easier. But I can assure them they will have the leadership to defeat our enemies. I can promise them their sacrifices won’t be wasted. And they won’t fight with their hands tied behind their backs. We will end this conflict on our terms, we will win.
Those who believe we can disengage from the world at large and safe and be safe by leading from behind, vote for someone else. I am not your man. Those who believe the best way to defend ourselves is to lead the world, to make history rather than be overwhelmed by it, I ask for your support. Join me if you want to tackle the problems at home that have been kicked down the road because they’re too hard to fix or too easy to demagogue.
Washington’s failure to do the hard but right thing has put Social Security and Medicare in serious jeopardy. Anybody on Social Security and Medicare? Anybody want to be on Social Security and Medicare one day? All of us. As my generation retires, both programs are on track to go bust. We’re living longer, and fewer workers are supporting more retirees. That’s unsustainable, everybody knows it, but not everybody will admit it. We have to fix entitlement programs to make sure people who need the benefits the most receive them. That’s going to require determined presidential leadership. I know from personal experience how important these programs are to the lives of millions of Americans. As Darlene mentioned, we lost our parents when I was a young man and she was in middle school. We depended on Social Security benefits to survive. I have been fortunate I have done better than I ever dreamed. If I and others like me have to take a little bit less and pay a little more to help those who need it most, so be it. And younger people, you may just have to work a little bit longer. As President, I will gladly do what it takes to save a program that once saved my family.
Now to those who yearn for a healthy and safe environment, I will join your cause. To those who seek energy independence, I will be your champion. I am tired of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas to buy oil from people who hate us. We must have energy independence. And I believe in the process it’s possible to produce a safe, clean environment and create new well-paying jobs for Americans of all generations. To my fellow Republicans, I’ll be a champion for limited and elected government and a strong national defense. I will be a voice for social conservative values without apology or animosity. I love my party, I am committed to see it grow and prosper. To my friends in the other party, on the big things we share a common fate. I will work with you to strengthen the country we both love. Our differences are real, and we’ll debate them. But you’re not my enemy, you’re my fellow countrymen. My enemies are those who despise our shared values, the enemies of enlightenment, the culture of death that seeks to destroy the dignity of life. We’ll fight them together with our partners and we’ll win. To Americans who trust neither party, I will seek the political common ground our nation so desperately needs to find. That’s what I’ve done before, don’t take my word for it. Examine my record. I got the scars to prove it. I intend to be a President not of a single party, but of a nation.
I want to do more than make big government smaller. I want to help make a great nation greater. I’ve traveled the world, and had experiences and opportunities I never dreamed of. I’ve been lucky so much of my life, but never luckier than in the people and place I come from. Those of you who have known me for a long time know I’ve had some ups and downs. As a young man I lost my parents, struggled financially and emotionally, and I would not have made it through those times without you and the example my parents set for me. There are a lot of so-called self-made people in this world. I am not one of them. My family, my friends, neighbors and my faith picked me up when I was down, believed in me when I had doubts. You made me the man I am today. I'm a man with many debts to my family, my friends, to you, to South Carolina, to the country. I'm running for President to repay those debts and to fight as hard for you as you fought for me. In the end, ladies and gentlemen, that’s the only promise I can make and it’s the only pledge I will assign, the only one that matters. If you make me President I’ll fight each day harder than I fought the day before to keep this country safe, prosperous, and as good as the people who made it great. I humbly ask for your support and your vote. I will work every day to make you proud. God bless.
(INAUDIBLE) = Areas that could not be heard due to background noise, tape/phone line quality, muffled speaking, etc.