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Voter Values Summit Transcripts

Remarks by Representative Tom Tancredo


Tancredo: Thank you very much. That's great. He stole my line about the Rockies, but that's okay, that's great. It's absolutely true. It's very exciting of course.

You know, it's--sometimes I've been referred to as a second-tier candidate; well, actually, most of the time I get referred to as a second-tier candidate, and it takes different form. You know, it--you kind of periodically wonder what that really means, what--how do you define that? And not too long ago, I was asked to speak to the NAACP convention in Detroit, Michigan, and I was asked as a Republican candidate for president, and so I went. It turned out, by the way, I was only one that went. They had asked everybody; I was the only guy that said okay. I got off the plane in Detroit, I got to the car--to the cab, and I had on jeans. I didn't have an entourage with me. I think I was still eating the sandwich that I had when I was on the plane and a little hat and we started driving, and the cabdriver said to me, "What are you doing-" you know, it--just that same sort of cab conversation--"What are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, I've come to speak to the NAACP convention." And there was this pause. This guy's a black guy, and there was this pause, and he says to me, "Why?" (Laughter.) And I--and I said, "Well, because they asked me to." And he said, "Why?" (Laughter.) And I said, "Well, because I'm running for president of the United States." And he turned back and he looked at me and he goes, "Nah." (Laughter.)

So I mean, that's what it means--that it's all been done to the second-tier candidate probably means, you know? (Laughter.) You--"Nah, nah, you're not running, right?"

And it means, you know, oftentimes you don't have the amount of money in the bank that some of your opponents have. That's true, I don't have a hundred million dollars in the bank, but I have something really that's far more valuable. I think I have a constituency in every state in the nation, and I didn't have to buy them. They were there because of my beliefs and because of the principles that I have led my life on. You see, I don't have to spend tens of millions of dollars to create an image of a conservative. I have a lifetime record to prove it. (Cheers, applause.)

And as a conservative, I'm troubled and maybe you are, too, by the influx of what we call hyphenated conservatives nowadays--neo-conservatives are over here; paleoconservatives over there; compassionate conservatives in the White House; and the latest nonsense, common-sense conservatives.

Now, I'm glad to see that at least today, October the 19th, 2007, everybody running for the top office is some kind of conservative, but for those of us who have been unhyphenated conservatives since before Al Gore invented the Internet, I find it mildly amusing--(laughter). What I want to know is, since when is conservatism by itself not enough? When exactly has it helped our party either in policy or in politics to qualify our commitments to limited government, to the rule of law, to a strong national defense and to traditional values? As best as I can tell, every effort to hyphenate conservatism has led to both policy and electoral catastrophe. A kinder, gentler conservatism gave us the largest tax increase in the nation's history and President Bill Clinton. Compassionate conservatism has given us No Child Left Behind, the Medicare Prescription Drug Act, open borders, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

And by the way, now we're fighting over something else. We're fighting over the S-CHIP right now. Compassionate conservatism gave us that. That was a Republican program, by the way. And now all we're fighting about, unfortunately, every single day--and the president vetoed the bill; we sustained his veto yesterday, and I'm glad--but the only thing we're fighting about--(interrupted by cheers, applause). It is good. We're finally--you know, I have found myself voting with my party now that we've been in the minority more often than I ever did when we were in the majority because we're actually fighting for principles now. Isn't it great? It's wonderful to see.

But this--(interrupted by cheers, applause)--this S-CHIP program is a perfect example. What is S-CHIP? Of course it's just a camel's nose under the tent of national socialized medicine. That's what it really is. And instead of fighting--instead of fighting over whether or not we should even be having such a thing, whether the federal government is there, the only thing we're fighting about now is the extent to which it should be implemented, how much it should cost.

You know, there is this tiny bit of an off-color story, but it reminds me--but I can't help it, you know?

The guy that finds a lady of the night and he says, hey, will you stay with me; will you sleep with me for $1,000? And she says, yeah. And he says, well, how about for a buck? And she says, no, what do you think I am? And he says, well, we already know what you are; we're only arguing over the price.

Well, that's the situation we've got here. You know what? We are only arguing over the price. That's it, you know. We've already done this thing; we've already created it. Instead of arguing over whether it should actually be there--that's what a true conservative, it seems to me, should be arguing about. Why do we even have such a thing? But now, we have passed that and we're just arguing over the cost of it.

Well, this is not a coincidence. Throughout our--the last three decades, a simple yet inconvenient truth has emerged. When conservatives run on principles, we win. When we run away from principles, we lose. (Cheers, applause.)

You know, for years, conservatives have been warned about--warned by political professionals of the costs of standing too strongly on principle. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we're paying the price for not standing there at all. This is why this curious fetish for a hyphenated conservatism is so troublesome. Implicit in it is that there's some apology we should be making for the inhumanity inherent in the ideas of John Adams or Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan. The only adjective that I will agree to have applied to me is unapologetic conservative. (Cheers, applause.)

I'm not sorry that we won the Cold War. I'm not sorry that we reduced tax rates and created economic opportunities for millions. I will not apologize for defending marriage as a sacred union between one man and one woman. (Cheers, applause.)

I will not apologize for standing with the innocent unborn or of my consistent opposition to embryonic stem cell research or, for that matter, my lifetime A rating from National Right to Life. (Applause.) In fact, I'm indeed proud of my lifetime rating of 97.8 from the American Conservative Union. By the way, that's the highest rating of anybody running for president of the United States. (Applause.)

One more thing I will not apologize for: I will never apologize for America. It's the last best hope of Western Civilization. (Cheers, applause.) Let's face it, no one--you don't see--really no one is fleeing from the United States for a better life in, say, Pakistan. (Laughter.)

Genuine conservatism has nothing to apologize for and nothing to lose by making itself heard in this campaign. Conservatives have won before and will win again, but only when we decide once and for all to discard these meaningless qualifiers. Conservatism doesn't need an adjective. It needs a leader--it needs a leader. (Cheers, applause.)

It needs a leader that is opposed to abortions, not because Iowa caucus-goers are opposed to abortions but because the Lord said, I knew you before you were in the womb. (Cheers, applause.)

We need a leader. Before--(applause continues)--yeah, I know you and you and you and you--before you were in the womb. Not a mass of cells. (Applause continues.) He knew you as a person. He knows every person.

We need a leader that belongs in a--believes in a strong national defense, because our enemies are psychopaths and our allies are the French. (Laughter.) We need a leader--we need a leader that believes in enforcing our immigration laws, because the first part of illegal immigration is "illegal." (Cheers, applause.)

And who understands there is nothing compassionate, there is nothing compassionate about giving people amnesty, giving millions of people amnesty who have broken our law and broken into the country. My compassion goes to those who have spent years in the process of trying to come to America the right way--(applause)--and the millions more out there--the millions more out there that are in the queue that are waiting to come in the right way.

We should not be surprised, however, that this turn to the right during a presidential primary. It's just that conversions are supposed to be made on the road to Damascus, not on the road to Des Moines. (Applause.) There are ways--there are ways to determine true conservatives, however. If some candidate says he's against illegal immigration and opposed to amnesty, let's test them. Ask them if they're willing to deport the millions who are here illegally. Ask them if they'll agree that massive immigration combined with a cult of multiculturalism in this country is creating a linguistic and a cultural tower of Babel. (Applause.)

Ask them if they agree--or maybe you could just ask them if they agree with Tom Tancredo when he said Miami's becoming a third- world country. That ought to test it. (Laughs.) Ask if they will join me in condemning the Bank of America--or as I like to say, Banco de Latin America--for aiding and abetting illegal immigrants. Ask if they will agree with me that we should bring criminal charges against mayors and/or city council people who declare their cities to be sanctuary cities for illegal aliens. (Cheers, applause.)

And ask them--ask them if they will pardon--ask them if they will pardon the two border agents, Ramos and Compean, on the first day they take the Oval Office. (Cheers, applause.) I guarantee you--I guarantee you that not a single one of these so-called top-tier presidential candidates will do it, or will they acknowledge that what millions of us see happening in our own communities every day is the truth.

We see our communities turning into what Theodore Roosevelt called polyglot boarding houses--

Audience Member: Yes.

Tancredo: --made up of immigrants who refuse to assimilate and refuse to speak English. These candidates will start using answers with phrases like "comprehensive solution" when they're talking about immigration and mean "amnesty," just like when they say, "I'm personally pro-life" when they mean, "Hey, it's a woman's body, after all. She should be able to do what she wants with the one that's inside her."

If these if these phrases sound like they are written by political handlers, it's because they are. They are designed to shield politicians from their principles, not to reveal the truth but to obscure it, not to leave conservatives wondering about what political--what politicians really believe and intend to do. It's from such phrases, from the hacks who write them to the politicians who utter them, that our political process, our party and our movement must be rescued.

If you want to call me a single-issue candidate, that's fine, just so long as you know that my single issue is the survival of the United States of America as we have seen it and been blessed to inherit. (Applause.)

If you're like me, you're hoping for a nominee in 2008 who you can--who's the real deal, someone you can really actually vote for and be happy and excited to do it. No more, you know, "Oh, well, I'm going to do it now; it's the best of two lousy choices." I'm sick of that. I'm not going to do that anymore, and I hope I offer you the real deal.

It's--I want to offer you someone that you can get excited about, someone to get the juices flowing, someone that you can really believe in.

Maybe it's the case that in today's world a small band of patriots can't make a difference that it once could, but I don't believe that. In a world at war, and with the very survival of Western civilization at risk, with the Supreme Court potentially one death or retirement away from reversing Roe versus Wade, with the baby boom's budget-busting retirement looming, and with Bill Clinton now measuring the drapes in the Oval Office in the White House--(laughter)--conservatives can--(chuckles)--(laughter, cheers, applause)--(laughs)--conservatives cannot afford--we cannot afford to sit this one out.

Audience Member: No--(off mike).

Tancredo: We're not supposed to be just another interest group, acting coy, sizing up the potential suitors, holding out for the best deal that our leaders can cut. The conservative movement is not supposed to choose a candidate; it's supposed to produce one. (Cheers, applause.)

That's why I'm here today. I want to give voice to every conservative in this country unheard and unrepresented by the current slate of candidates, to sound those first principles of our movement--freedom, security, dignity--as exclamation points in a campaign full of hyphens and question marks, to remind our party that the principles upon which all our past victories have been won and to win them on those principles again.

So I ask you, charge into the breach with me. Bring as many of our fellow countrymen as you can along with you. They will be armed only with the power of our ideas and the humble courage that comes in knowing that the good fight is always worth fighting.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are a nation at war. It's not a war we started, but it's a war we must finish. While our great country was able to rescue Europe from the grasp of Nazism and communism, who will rescue us from the threat of Islamic extremists? It will not be Europe. Twenty million Muslims now live in Europe, where the largest mosque in the world is now being built just outside of London, and where the most popular name in many, many European cities for a male child is Mohammed.

America is the last, best hope--I repeat, the last, best hope of Western civilization. Everything we are, everything we have achieved in this nation is under attack from jihadism abroad to multiculturalism here at home. Our leaders charged with the responsibility to defend our land, our culture, our sovereignty refuse to do their job. Every generation of Americans must face the test. It's a test passed at Valley Forge, at Gettysburg, on the Normandy beaches and on Flight 93. Whenever Americans see their country threatened or their flag falling, they ask, "This is their country; it's the country they built, they fought for, they bled for, they died for; what--will our generation muster the will and the courage to do the same?"

That's why I'm running for president, because we are threatened, because we need a leader, because we cannot afford to fail. This is our culture -- fight for it. This is our flag--pick it up. This is our country--take it back. Thank you. May God bless you all. (Cheers, applause.)