Mr. Chairman, delegates, and fellow citizens: I am honored by your nomination, and I accept it. I thank you for giving such a warm welcome to Lynne and me and our family.
And, my friends in the Wyoming delegation, I especially want to thank you for your support. The first campaign stop that Lynne and I were privileged to make with Governor and Laura Bush was in Casper, Wyoming ... our home town, where Lynne and I graduated from high school 41 years ago. The love and support and enthusiasm of the people of our home state, have buoyed our spirits and strengthened our resolve. We are going to win this election. We will prevail.
I have to tell you that I never expected to be in this position. Eight years ago, when I completed my years as secretary of defense, I loaded a U-Haul truck and drove home to Wyoming. I didn't plan on a return to public office. Lynne and I settled into a new private life. There was time for fishing and grandchildren, and we were content. But now I am glad to be back in the arena, and let me tell you why.
I have been given an opportunity to serve beside a man who has the courage, and the vision, and the goodness, to be a great president: Governor George W. Bush. I have been in the company of leaders. I was there on August 9, 1974, when Gerald Ford assumed the presidency during our gravest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. I saw how character and decency can dignify a great office and unite a great nation.
I was a congressman when another man of integrity lived in the White House. I saw a president restore America's confidence, and prepare the foundation for victory in the cold war. I saw how one man's will can set the nation on a new course. I learned the meaning of leadership from President Ronald Reagan.
I left Congress to join the cabinet of President Reagan's successor. And I'm proud to say that I'm not the only man on this ticket who has learned from the example of President George Bush. I saw resolve in times of crisis...the steady hand that shaped an alliance and threw back a tyrant. He earned the respect and confidence of the men and women of America's armed forces.
I have been in the company of leaders. I know what it takes. And I see in our nominee the qualities of mind and spirit our nation needs, and our history demands. Big changes are coming to Washington. To serve with this man, in this cause, is a chance I would not miss. This country has given me so much opportunity.
When Lynne and I were growing up, we had so many blessings. We went to good public schools, where we had fine, dedicated teachers. Our mothers, like our fathers, worked outside the home so that we could go to college. We lived in a caring community, where parents were confident that their children's lives could be even better than their own. And that is as it should be, and ait can be again. We can make our public schools better.
We can reform the tax code, so that families can keep more of what they earn ...more dollars that they can spend on what they value, rather than on what the government thinks is important.
We can restore the ideals of honesty and honor that must be a part of our national life, if our children are to thrive. When I look at the administration now in Washington, I am dismayed by opportunities squandered. Saddened by what might have been, but never was. These have been years of prosperity in our land, but little purpose in the White House. Bill Clinton vowed not long ago to hold onto power "until the last hour of the last day." That is his right. But, my friends, that last hour is coming. That last day is near. The wheel has turned. And it is time. It is time for them to go.
George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged. He is a man without pretense and without cynicism. A man of principle, a man of honor. On the first hour of the first day he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office. He will show us that national leaders can be true to their word and that they can get things done by reaching across the partisan aisle, and working with political opponents in good faith and common purpose. I know he'll do these things, because for the last five years I've watched him do them in Texas.
George W. Bush came to the governor's office with a clear view of what he wanted to achieve. He said he would bring higher standards to public schools, and he has. Walk into those schools today, and you will see children with better scores, classrooms with better discipline and teachers with better pay.
He pledged to reduce taxes, and he has. He did it twice, with the biggest tax reduction in state history. And not only is the budget in balance, it's running a surplus of more than a billion dollars.
He promised to reform the legal system, to get rid of junk lawsuits and he has. Today the legal system serves all the people, not just the trial lawyers.
None of these reforms came easily. When he took office, both houses of the Legislature were controlled by Democrats, and the House of Representatives still is. But Governor Bush doesn't accept old lines of argument and division. He brings people together, reaching across party lines to do the people's business. He leads by conviction, not calculation. You will never see him pointing the finger of blame for failure; you will only see him sharing the credit for success. That is exactly the spirit that is missing from Washington. In the last eight years, that city has often become a scene of bitterness, and ill will, and partisan strife.
American politics has always been a tough business, even in 1787 here in Philadelphia, when George Washington himself wondered if delegates could ever agree on a constitution. They did agree, as Americans always have when it mattered most, guided by the publiinterest and a decent regard for one another. But in Washington today, politics has become war by other means, an endless onslaught of accusation, a constant setting of groups one against the other.
This is what Bill Bradley was up against, and others before him. The Gore campaign, Senator Bradley said, is "a thousand promises, a thousand attacks." We are all a little weary of the Clinton-Gore routine. But the wheel has turned. And it is time, it is time for them to go.
In this election, they will speak endlessly of risk. We will speak of progress. They will make accusations. We will make proposals. They will feed fear. We will appeal to hope. They will offer more lectures, and legalisms, and carefully worded denials. We offer another way, a better way, and a stiff dose of truth.
For eight years, the achievement gap in our schools has grown worse, poor and disadvantaged children falling further and further behind. For all of their sentimental talk about children, Clinton and Gore have done nothing to help children oppressed by bureaucracy, monopoly, and mediocrity. But those days are ending. When George W. Bush is president and I am vice president, tests will be taken, results will be measured, and schools will answer to parents and no child will be left behind.
For eight years, Clinton and Gore have talked about Social Security reform, never acting, never once offering a serious plan to save the system. In the time left to them, I have every confidence they'll go right on talking about it. Those days are passing too. There will be no more spreading of fear and panic, no more dividing of generations against one another, no more delaying and excuse making and shirking of our duties to the elderly. George W. Bush and I, with the united Congress, will save Social Security.
For eight years, Clinton and Gore have extended our military commitments while depleting our military power. Rarely has so much been demanded of our armed forces, and so little given to them in return. George W. Bush and I are going to change that, too. I have seen our military at its finest, with the best equipment, the best training, and the best leadership. I'm proud of them. I have had the responsibility for their well-being. And I can promise them now, help is on the way. Soon, our men and women in uniform will once again have a commander in chief they can respect, one who understands their mission and restores their morale.
And now, as the man from Hope goes home to New York, Mr. Gore tries to separate himself from his leader's shadow. But somehow we will never see one without thinking of the other. Does anyone Republican or Democrat seriously believe that under Mr. Gore, the next four years would be any different from the last eight? If the goal is to unite our country, to make a fresh start in Washington, to change the tone of our politics, can anyone say with conviction that the man for the job is Al Gore? They came in tgether. Now let us see them off together.
Ladies and gentlemen, the wheel has turned, and it is time, it is time for them to go. This campaign will not be easy. Governor Bush and I face a real fight. We're ready for it. We know the territory, we know the opposition, and we know what's at stake. We will give all we have to this cause. And in the end, with your help, George W. Bush will defeat this vice president, and I will replace him.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are so privileged to be citizens of this great republic. I was reminded of that time and again when I was in my former job, as secretary of defense. I traveled a lot and when I came home, my plane would land at Andrews Air Force Base, and I'd return to the Pentagon by helicopter.
When you make that trip from Andrews to the Pentagon, and you look down on the city of Washington, one of the first things you see is the Capitol, where all the great debates that have shaped 200 years of American history have taken place. You fly down along the Mall and see the monument to George Washington, a structure as grand as the man himself. To the north is the White House, where John Adams once prayed "that none but honest and wise men may ever rule under this roof." Next you see the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, the third president and the author of our Declaration of Independence. And then you fly over the memorial to Abraham Lincoln, this greatest of presidents, the man who saved the union. Then you cross the Potomac, on approach to the Pentagon. But just before you settle down on the landing pad, you look upon Arlington National Cemetery its gentle slopes and crosses row on row.
I never once made that trip without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans, and what a terrible price thousands have paid so that all of us and millions more around the world might live in freedom.
This is a great country, ladies and gentlemen, and it deserves great leadership. Let us go forth from this hall in confidence and courage, committed to restoring decency and honor to our republic. Let us go forth, knowing that our cause is just, and elect George W. Bush the forty-third president of the United States. Thank you.
(Copyright 2000 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)