John McCain's Convention speech Full text - full transcript of the 2008
Republican Convention speech by the GOP presidential nominee John McCain
Article added on September 5, 2008 at 09:00 Swiss time
Thank you all very much. Tonight, I have a privilege
given few Americans -- the privilege of accepting our partyís nomination for
President of the United States. And I accept it with gratitude, humility and
In my life, no success has come without a good fight, and this nomination
wasnít any different. Thatís a tribute to the candidates who opposed me and
their supporters. Theyíre leaders of great ability, who love our country,
and wished to lead it to better days. Their support is an honor I wonít
Iím grateful to the President for leading us in those dark days following
the worst attack on American soil in our history, and keeping us safe from
another attack many thought was inevitable; and to the First Lady, Laura
Bush, a model of grace and kindness in public and in private. And Iím
grateful to the 41st President and his bride of 63 years, and for their
outstanding example of honorable service to our country.
As always, Iím indebted to my wife, Cindy, and my seven children. The
pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded
calendar of our nationís business. But I have treasured them all the more,
and canít imagine a life without the happiness you give me. Cindy said a lot
of nice things about me tonight. But, in truth, sheís more my inspiration
than I am hers. Her concern for those less blessed than we are - victims of
land mines, children born in poverty and with birth defects - shows the
measure of her humanity. I know she will make a great First Lady.
When I was growing up, my father was often at sea, and the job of raising my
brother, sister and me would fall to my mother alone. Roberta McCain gave us
her love of life, her deep interest in the world, her strength, and her
belief we are all meant to use our opportunities to make ourselves useful to
our country. I wouldnít be here tonight but for the strength of her
My heartfelt thanks to all of you, who helped me win this nomination, and
stood by me when the odds were long. I wonít let you down. To Americans who
have yet to decide who to vote for, thank you for your consideration and the
opportunity to win your trust. I intend to earn it.
Finally, a word to Senator Obama and his supporters. Weíll go at it over the
next two months. Thatís the nature of these contests, and there are big
differences between us. But you have my respect and admiration. Despite our
differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans,
an association that means more to me than any other. Weíre dedicated to the
proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator
with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that. And
I wouldnít be an American worthy of the name if I didnít honor Senator Obama
and his supporters for their achievement.
But let there be no doubt, my friends, weíre going to win this election. And
after weíve won, weíre going to reach out our hand to any willing patriot,
make this government start working for you again, and get this country back
on the road to prosperity and peace.
These are tough times for many of you. Youíre worried about keeping your job
or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay
in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not
in your way. And thatís just what I intend to do: stand on your side and
fight for your future.
And Iíve found just the right partner to help me shake up Washington,
Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has executive experience and a real
record of accomplishment. Sheís tackled tough problems like energy
independence and corruption. Sheís balanced a budget, cut taxes, and taken
on the special interests. Sheís reached across the aisle and asked
Republicans, Democrats and Independents to serve in her administration.
Sheís the mother of five children. Sheís helped run a small business, worked
with her hands and knows what itís like to worry about mortgage payments and
health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries.
She knows where she comes from and she knows who she works for. She stands
up for whatís right, and she doesnít let anyone tell her to sit down. Iím
very proud to have introduced our next Vice President to the country. But I
canít wait until I introduce her to Washington. And let me offer an advance
warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second
Washington crowd: change is coming.
Iím not in the habit of breaking promises to my country and neither is
Governor Palin. And when we tell you weíre going to change Washington, and
stop leaving our countryís problems for some unluckier generation to fix,
you can count on it. Weíve got a record of doing just that, and the
strength, experience, judgment and backbone to keep our word to you.
You know, Iíve been called a maverick; someone who marches to the beat of
his own drum. Sometimes itís meant as a compliment and sometimes itís not.
What it really means is I understand who I work for. I donít work for a
party. I donít work for a special interest. I donít work for myself. I work
Iíve fought corruption, and it didnít matter if the culprits were Democrats
or Republicans. They violated their public trust, and had to be held
accountable. Iíve fought big spenders in both parties, who waste your money
on things you neither need nor want, while you struggle to buy groceries,
fill your gas tank and make your mortgage payment. Iíve fought to get
million dollar checks out of our elections. Iíve fought lobbyists who stole
from Indian tribes. I fought crooked deals in the Pentagon. I fought tobacco
companies and trial lawyers, drug companies and union bosses.
I fought for the right strategy and more troops in Iraq, when it wasnít a
popular thing to do. And when the pundits said my campaign was finished, I
said Iíd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war.
Thanks to the leadership of a brilliant general, David Petraeus, and the
brave men and women he has the honor to command, that strategy succeeded and
rescued us from a defeat that would have demoralized our military, risked a
wider war and threatened the security of all Americans.
I donít mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, Iíve had quite a
few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way.
In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the
I fight for Americans. I fight for you. I fight for Bill and Sue Nebe from
Farmington Hills, Michigan, who lost their real estate investments in the
bad housing market. Bill got a temporary job after he was out of work for
seven months. Sue works three jobs to help pay the bills.
I fight for Jake and Toni Wimmer of Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Jake
works on a loading dock; coaches Little League, and raises money for the
mentally and physically disabled. Toni is a schoolteacher, working toward
her Masterís Degree. They have two sons, the youngest, Luke, has been
diagnosed with autism. Their lives should matter to the people they elect to
office. They matter to me.
I fight for the family of Matthew Stanley of Wolfboro, New Hampshire, who
died serving our country in Iraq. I wear his bracelet and think of him every
day. I intend to honor their sacrifice by making sure the country their son
loved so well and never returned to, remains safe from its enemies.
I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to
change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the
American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of
corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both
parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing
ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and
Senator Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We
lost their trust, when we valued our power over our principles.
Weíre going to change that. Weíre going to recover the peopleís trust by
standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln,
Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics.
We believe everyone has something to contribute and deserves the opportunity
to reach their God-given potential from the boy whose descendents arrived on
the Mayflower to the Latina daughter of migrant workers. Weíre all Godís
children and weíre all Americans.
We believe in low taxes; spending discipline, and open markets. We believe
in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of
We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life,
personal responsibility, the rule of law, and judges who dispense justice
impartially and donít legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of
families, neighborhoods and communities.
We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of
Americans. Government that doesnít make your choices for you, but works to
make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.
I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them.
I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close
them. I will cut government spending. He will increase it.
My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases will eliminate them. My
health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep
good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut
jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government run health care
system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs. Cutting
the second highest business tax rate in the world will help American
companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas. Doubling the child tax
exemption from $3500 to $7000 will improve the lives of millions of American
families. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs
will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you
see fit. Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world
economy is essential to our future prosperity.
I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy and it
often seems your government hasnít even noticed. Government assistance for
unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. Thatís going
to change on my watch. My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by
wishing away the global economy. Weíre going to help workers whoíve lost a
job that wonít come back, find a new one that wonít go away.
We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community
colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities.
For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part
of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid
one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new
employment at a decent wage.
Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public
education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing
school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition,
empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors,
attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of
When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents
deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it
to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private
one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have that choice and
their children will have that opportunity.
Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched
bureaucracies. I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when
Iím President, they will.
My fellow Americans, when Iím President, weíre going to embark on the most
ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700
billion a year to countries that donít like us very much. We will attack the
problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill
new wells offshore, and weíll drill them now. We will build more nuclear
power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the
use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development
and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.
Senator Obama thinks we can achieve energy independence without more
drilling and without more nuclear power. But Americans know better than
that. We must use all resources and develop all technologies necessary to
rescue our economy from the damage caused by rising oil prices and to
restore the health of our planet. Itís an ambitious plan, but Americans are
ambitious by nature, and we have faced greater challenges. Itís time for us
to show the world again how Americans lead.
This great national cause will create millions of new jobs, many in
industries that will be the engine of our future prosperity; jobs that will
be there when your children enter the workforce.
Today, the prospect of a better world remains within our reach. But we must
see the threats to peace and liberty in our time clearly and face them, as
Americans before us did, with confidence, wisdom and resolve.
We have dealt a serious blow to al Qaeda in recent years. But they are not
defeated, and theyíll strike us again if they can. Iran remains the chief
state sponsor of terrorism and on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.
Russiaís leaders, rich with oil wealth and corrupt with power, have rejected
democratic ideals and the obligations of a responsible power. They invaded a
small, democratic neighbor to gain more control over the worldís oil supply,
intimidate other neighbors, and further their ambitions of reassembling the
Russian empire. And the brave people of Georgia need our solidarity and
prayers. As President, I will work to establish good relations with Russia
so we need not fear a return of the Cold War. But we canít turn a blind eye
to aggression and international lawlessness that threatens the peace and
stability of the world and the security of the American people.
We face many threats in this dangerous world, but I'm not afraid of them.
I'm prepared for them. I know how the military works, what it can do, what
it can do better, and what it should not do. I know how the world works. I
know the good and the evil in it. I know how to work with leaders who share
our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up
to those who don't. I know how to secure the peace.
When I was five years old, a car pulled up in front of our house. A Navy
officer rolled down the window, and shouted at my father that the Japanese
had bombed Pearl Harbor. I rarely saw my father again for four years. My
grandfather came home from that same war exhausted from the burdens he had
borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest
friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home with me. I
hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination.
Iím running for President to keep the country I love safe, and prevent other
families from risking their loved ones in war as my family has. I will draw
on all my experience with the world and its leaders, and all the tools at
our disposal - diplomatic, economic, military and the power of our ideals -
to build the foundations for a stable and enduring peace.
In America, we change things that need to be changed. Each
generation makes its contribution to our greatness. The work that is ours to
do is plainly before us. We donít need to search for it.
We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we
protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the
way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network;
from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All
these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global
economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War.
We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business
The constant partisan rancor that stops us from solving these problems isnít
a cause, itís a symptom. Itís what happens when people go to Washington to
work for themselves and not you.
Again and again, Iíve worked with members of both parties to fix problems
that need to be fixed. Thatís how I will govern as President. I will reach
out my hand to anyone to help me get this country moving again. I have that
record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.
Instead of rejecting good ideas because we didnít think of them first, letís
use the best ideas from both sides. Instead of fighting over who gets the
credit, letís try sharing it. This amazing country can do anything we put
our minds to. I will ask Democrats and Independents to serve with me. And my
administration will set a new standard for transparency and accountability.
Weíre going to finally start getting things done for the people who are
counting on us, and I wonít care who gets the credit.
Iíve been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. But I have been
her servant first, last and always. And Iíve never lived a day, in good
times or bad, that I didnít thank God for the privilege.
Long ago, something unusual happened to me that taught me the most valuable
lesson of my life. I was blessed by misfortune. I mean that sincerely. I was
blessed because I served in the company of heroes, and I witnessed a
thousand acts of courage, compassion and love.
On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission
over North Vietnam. I hadnít any worry I wouldnít come back safe and sound.
I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I
liked to bend a few rules, and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I
did it for my own pleasure; my own pride. I didnít think there was a cause
more important than me.
Then I found myself falling toward the middle of a small lake in the city of
Hanoi, with two broken arms, a broken leg, and an angry crowd waiting to
greet me. I was dumped in a dark cell, and left to die. I didnít feel so
tough anymore. When they discovered my father was an admiral, they took me
to a hospital. They couldnít set my bones properly, so they just slapped a
cast on me. When I didnít get better, and was down to about a hundred
pounds, they put me in a cell with two other Americans. I couldnít do
anything. I couldnít even feed myself. They did it for me. I was beginning
to learn the limits of my selfish independence. Those men saved my life.
I was in solitary confinement when my captors offered to release me. I knew
why. If I went home, they would use it as propaganda to demoralize my fellow
prisoners. Our Code said we could only go home in the order of our capture,
and there were men who had been shot down before me. I thought about it,
though. I wasnít in great shape, and I missed everything about America. But
I turned it down.
A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. Iíd been mistreated before, but
not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after Iíd been
roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I
turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had
before. For a long time. And they broke me.
When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didnít
know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next
door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I
had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he
told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had
the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me.
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone elseís. I
loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its
decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I
loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth
fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasnít my own man anymore. I was
Iím not running for president because I think Iím blessed with such personal
greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of
need. My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And
I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God.
If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If youíre
disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to
correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the
ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate
adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed.
Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing
brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than
Iím going to fight for my cause every day as your President. Iím going to
fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank
Him: that Iím an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth,
and with hard work, strong faith and a little courage, great things are
always within our reach. Fight with me. Fight with me.
Fight for whatís right for our country.
Fight for the ideals and character of a free people.
Fight for our childrenís future.
Fight for justice and opportunity for all.
Stand up to defend our country from its enemies.
Stand up for each other; for beautiful, blessed, bountiful America.
Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. Nothing is inevitable here. Weíre
Americans, and we never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history.
We make history.