FMR. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: "It's a long way from a little brick rent house on 2nd street in Hope, AR to the White House. But here in this small town called Hope, I was raised to believe that where a person started didn't mean that's where he had to stop. I always believed a kid could go from Hope to Higher Ground. Like a lot of Americans, I grew up in a small town far removed from the power, the money, and the influence that runs the country. But power and money and political influence have left a lot of Americans lagging behind. They work hard, lift heavy things and sweat through their clothes grinding out a living, but they can't seem to get ahead or in some cases, even stay even. My parents were like that. My Dad wasn't an educated man, but he was a smart man. He and my mother didn't have much, but they had honesty to the bone, and taught me the basic lesson of life that I was to do unto others as I would have others do unto me.
"It was here in Hope that I learned how to swim, how to ride a bike, how to read, how to work, and how to play fair. I learned the difference between right and wrong. I learned that God loves me as much as He loves anyone, but that He doesn't love some more than others. I learned about America. In Miss Mary's Kindergarten and Brookwood Elementary School, I learned the pledge of allegiance, the Lord's Prayer, and Preamble to the Constitution. We prayed at the start of each day and before lunch. I learned that this exceptional country could only be explained by the Providence of God. I learned how to handle a firearm and a fishing pole and spent many hours with both. I got my first BB gun at age five-a Daisy model 25 that I still have and that's in mint condition. I learned the basic rules of gun safety and never thought of using a firearm to murder someone.
"I ran trotlines all night at Bois D' Arc Lake with my Dad and Grandfather to catch catfish that we'd freeze and live off of for weeks. It was here I was baptized in the Garrett Memorial Baptist Church after accepting Jesus in a Vacation Bible School when I was ten years old. I truly went from Hope to Higher Ground. It was here that I met the girl who would become my wife of 41 years and give me three hildren and share what will soon be five grandchildren. We knew each other from elementary school and started dating our senior year of high school. It was here that I got a job at KXAR Radio at age 14 that would not only pay my way through school, but give me the opportunity to be mentored by Haskell Jones, the station manager and one of the few Republicans in the entire county. It was here that I became the first male in my family lineage to graduate from high school at the same campus that stands today and from here that I went on to college at Ouachita Baptist University. And it was here that I first ran for elected office when I ran for Student Council in Hope Junior High School. So it seems perfectly fitting that it would be here that I announce that I am a candidate for President of the United States of America.
"Eight years ago, a young, untested, inexperienced, and virtually unknown freshman Senator made great speeches about 'Hope and Change.' But eight years later, our debt has more than doubled, America's leadership in the world has evaporated, and the country is more polarized than ever in my lifetime. 93 million Americans don't have jobs, and many who do have seen the full time job with benefits they once had become two part time jobs with no benefits. We were promised hope, but it was just talk --- now we need the kind of change that really could get America from Hope to Higher Ground. Veterans who kept their promises to America and kept us free wait for months for our country to keep its promises to veterans for basic health care and assistance to cope with the scars of wars we sent them to fight. Our veterans should be getting the first fruits of our treasury-not the leftovers. If I'm President, our veterans won't be left on the streets and in waiting rooms to rot, but will be treated with the dignity they have earned and deserve. When I meet men with an American Legion cap or one that says "veteran", I try never to fail in saying "thank you for giving me my freedom!" But we owe them more than a pat on the back. We need to take them from Hope to higher ground.
"Washington is more dysfunctional than ever and has become so beholden to the donor class who fills the campaign coffers that it ignores the fact that one-in-four American families are paying more than half their income for housing. Home ownership is at the lowest level in decades and young people with heavy student debt aren't likely to afford their first home for a while. Our federal policies for affordable housing aren't designed to protect families, but to protect bureaucrats. A record number of people are enrolled in government operated help programs like food stamps, not because they want to be in poverty, but because they are part of the bottom earning 90% of American workers whose wages have been stagnant for 40 years. The war on poverty hasn't ended poverty; it's prolonged it. I don't judge the success of government by how many people are on assistance, but by how many people have good jobs and don't need government assistance. And we don't create good jobs for Americans by entering into unbalanced trade deals that forego Congressional scrutiny and looking the other way as the law is ignored so we can import low wage labor, undercut American workers, and drive wages lower than the Dead Sea.
"I governed in a state that was the most lopsided and partisan in the country-no Republican Governor had more Democrats and fewer Republicans. I challenged the deeply entrenched political machine that ran this state. It was tough sledding, but I learned how to govern and how to lead, and even in that environment we passed 94 tax cuts, rebuilt our road system, saw dramatic improvements in student test scores, and fought the corruption of the good ol' boy system so working class people would be given a fair shake. And we saw family income increase by 50% during my tenure.
"Some propose that to save safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, we need to chop off the payouts for the people who have faithfully had their paychecks and pockets picked by the politicians promising that their money would be waiting for them when they were old and sick.
"You were forced to pay for Social Security and Medicare for 50 years. The government grabs money from our paychecks and says it will be waiting for us when we turn 65. If Congress wants to take away someone's retirement, let them end their own Congressional pensions-not your Social Security. As President, I promise you will get what you paid for!
"How can anyone ever trust government again if they steal from us and lie to us? It didn't help when Congress took $700 Billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare. And instead of helping families find affordable health care, we created a monster that forces us to buy coverage we don't want, don't need, and can't afford. And imagine members of Congress boasting they will fight to repeal Obamacare and then turning around and signing up for it. Real health care reform will focus on prevention and cures rather than costly intervention. Hope comes from finding cures for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's the same way we once lined up at the courthouse in the 50's and took our vaccines and eradicated polio. Cures could give real hope to families who hear a dreaded diagnosis and are sentenced to a slow and agonizing death. Alzheimer's Disease alone will cost well over $1 trillion by 2050. Focusing on cures instead of treatment saves money, lives, and families. I remember President Kennedy telling us we'd send a man to the moon and bring him home within the decade. President Kennedy didn't live to see that come true, but I did, and it made me believe America could do anything it set its mind to. As President, I'd launch a curative approach to health care and save money and lives-not government programs.
"We face real threats from radical jihadism in the form of savage groups like ISIS and state terrorists like Iran, but we put more pressure on our ally Israel to cease building bedrooms for their families in Judea and Samaria than we do on Iran for building a bomb. Dealing with radicals who chant death to America and who fund bombs and rockets to murder civilians in Israel is nonsense. But when I hear the current President say he wants Christians to get off their high horse so we can make nice with radical jihadists, I wonder if he could watch a western from the fifties and be able to figure out who the good guys and bad guys are! As President, I promise you that we will no longer merely try to CONTAIN jihadism; we will CONQUER it! We will deal with jihadis just as we would deal with deadly snakes. And let there be no doubt--Israel will know--as will the world--that we are their trusted friend, and the Ayatollahs of Iran will know that hell will freeze over before they ever get a nuclear weapon! And I will never, ever apologize for America!
"We face not only the threats from terrorism, but also the threat of new kinds of dangers, from a cyber war that could shut down major financial markets to threats of an electromagnetic pulse from an exploded device that could fry the electrical grid and take the country back to the Stone Age in a matter of minutes. Waiting until it happens is too late.
"But we've lost our way morally. We have witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice, and are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity in demanding that we abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage. Many of our politicians have surrendered to the false god of judicial supremacy, which would allow black-robed and unelected judges the power to make law and enforce it-upending the equality of our three branches of government and the separation of powers so very central to our Constitution. The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being, and they can't overturn the laws of nature or of nature's God.
"Government in Washington is dysfunctional because it's become the roach motel-people go in, but they never come out. As President I'll fight for Term limits on all 3 branches of government. That would help return us to the Founders dream that serving the public would be a temporary duty-not a lucrative career with generous pensions and paychecks not available to the people who pay for them. And if someone is elected to an office, then give the taxpayers what they're paying for and what you said you wanted. If you live off the government payroll and want to run for an office other than the one you're elected to, then have the integrity and decency to resign the one you don't want and pursue the one you decided you'd rather have.
"As President, I would take seriously the 10th amendment and actually abide by it. Power was never intended to be so concentrated at the federal level. Our Constitution was explicitly clear about keeping the federal government small so it could focus on some simple things like providing a military and securing our borders. There are things being done at the federal level that should have been left in the hands of the states or even better, the families. There is no Constitutional authority to dictate education from the federal government. Why even have a federal department of education? It has flunked and it needs to be expelled. Education policy should be set by states, local school boards, and best of all, by the moms and dads of the children. Common sense tells us the best government is the most local and the most limited. We've supersized the federal bureaucracy, but we've downsized the military and left our borders open and uncontrolled. We need to address the immigration issue, but not with amnesty, but start by taking control of our own borders. But we ought to get on our knees every night and thank God we still live in a country people are trying to break into, instead of one they are trying to break out of.
"I'm running for President because I know that there is a difference between making a speech and making government accountable to the people who pay for it. You can't spend money you don't have or borrow money you can't afford to pay back. The federal government ought to live by the rules YOU have to live by and they should function under a balanced budget law like I had to every year I was a Governor. And I don't want to hear politicians talk about tinkering with the tax code and making little adjustments that still let powerful Washington interests pick the winners and losers. We can never create prosperity for working people, grow our economy out of the bottomless pit of debt, and move America back to the greatest economy on earth if we punish productivity and subsidize reckless irresponsibility. The man I met at a machine shop in New Hampshire told me of how he started working a double shift to help his daughter pay for grad school. He naturally figured that if he worked 16 hours a day instead of 8, he'd bring home twice the pay. But he found out that the money he worked for on that second shift put him in a new tax bracket and the government got more of it than he did. It's not that our tax system is punishing the richest people in America-they can afford accountants and lawyers who will find a way to protect them. It's the people working for wages who can't get ahead if the government penalizes them for trying to do better. As President, I'll work to pass the Fair Tax, which would no longer penalize people's work, their savings, their investments, or their good stewardship. And it would be the end of big government bailouts and most importantly, we finally rid ourselves of the biggest bully in America, the IRS. The IRS would disappear and April 15 would be just another beautiful spring day.
"The struggle for many families isn't helped when the government solution is fighting over what the MINIMUM wage should be. It's a race to the bottom to figure out what the government determines the least you can make. We need to be promoting the MAXIMUM wage, which is set by the worker who is willing to avail himself or herself of training for a job that pays a maximum amount. We will never break the cycle of poverty by pushing people to their minimum wage, but by empowering them to reach their maximum wage. That is how we take people from Hope to Higher Ground!
"This country has to do three things to stay free: Feed itself, Fuel itself, and Fight for itself. Our farmers and ranchers provide our food and fiber and we need to keep them from being regulated out of business; we have enough energy resources under our feet to bring affordable energy to America and become the largest exporter so that Americans prosper in developing the energy and aren't impoverished by paying for it when produced by a Saudi Sheik or a Russian robber-baron. And we need to be able to fight for ourselves by bringing manufacturing back to our communities where we make our own planes, tanks, bullets and bombs.
"The journey that begins in Hope today can lead this nation to Higher Ground, but I can't do it without people being my partners--many who have never been involved in politics before now. I never have been and won't be the favorite candidate of those in the "Washington to Wall Street" corridor of power. I will be funded and fueled not by the billionaires, but by working people across America who will find out that $15 and $25 a month contributions can take us from Hope to Higher Ground. If you want to give a million dollars, please do it, but most can't. But I will ask you to give something-in the name of your children and grandchildren.
I've walked away from my own income to do this, so I'm not asking you for a sacrifice I'm not willing to make. I don't have a global foundation or a taxpayer funded paycheck to live off of. I don't come from a family Dynasty, but a working family. I grew up blue collar and not blue blood. I ask you to join with me today not just so I can be President, but so we can preserve this great Republic and that someday YOUR children and grandchildren can still go from Hope to Higher Ground.
"I still remember when my Dad took me to the dedication of the newly constructed Bois D' Arc Lake, just a few miles from here, now named for Dr. Lester Sitzes, my best friend since 3rd grade. I was eight years-old and he said, "Son, the Governor is coming to dedicate the new lake and I'm going to take you there to hear him make a talk, because you might live your whole life and never get to meet a Governor in person." Had my Dad lived four months longer, he would have seen me do more than MEET a Governor. He would have seen me become the 44th Governor of my state. I always wished he could have been there and maybe spend the night in the Governor's Mansion, a place he never thought he'd get close to. I always wanted to feel that he did see that moment-from the best seat in the house! And I hope he's able to watch in January of 2017, when that bashful little kid from the orange brick rent house on 2nd Street is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. And with your help and God's, we will make that journey from Hope to Higher Ground."