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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rick Scott's Presidency 5 speech

24

September

GOOD AFTERNOON, AND WELCOME TO PRESIDENCY 5! THIS IS THE P5 STRAW POLL RIGHT? GOOD!

WHEN I LOOKED OUT HERE AND SAW ALL THE TV CAMERAS AND A TELEPROMPTER, I FIGURED THE PRESIDENT MIGHT BE HERE GIVING ANOTHER SPEECH ABOUT RAISING TAXES!

SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, IT’S GREAT TO SEE YOU ALL TODAY.

I’D LIKE TO THANK ALL THE DELEGATES FOR TAKING THE TIME TO BE HERE. I’D ALSO LIKE TO THANK OUR PRIMARY CANDIDATES WHO CHOSE TO ATTEND P5 AND PARTICIPATE TODAY.

BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER, PLEASE ALLOW ME TO TAKE A MOMENT TO RECOGNIZE A TRULY HONORABLE AND KIND MAN WHO IS SADLY NO LONGER WITH US—THE MAN WHO WORKED SO HARD TO MAKE P5 POSSIBLE, OUR FORMER CHAIRMAN DAVE BITNER.

DAVE LED BY EXAMPLE, AND WE WATCHED WITH AWE AT HIS DETERMINATION AND COURAGE OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS. FLORIDA IS A BETTER PLACE BECAUSE OF HIS LEADERSHIP, AND WE WILL TRULY MISS HIM. I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO RECOGNIZE DAVE’S WIFE, WENDY. WENDY, WE ADMIRE YOUR STRENGTH AND ARE GRATEFUL FOR ALL THAT YOU AND DAVE DID FOR OUR PARTY AND OUR STATE.

[TO WENDY] THANK YOU.

PEOPLE LIKE DAVE AND WENDY BITNER UNDERSTAND THAT OUR PARTY’S TRUE FOUNDATION IS ITS SUPPORT FROM GRASSROOTS REPUBLICANS LIKE ALL OF YOU.

SO, I WANT TO BEGIN BY ACKNOWLEDGING A SIMPLE TRUTH: YOU, THE DELEGATES IN THIS ROOM, ARE NOT JUST IMPORTANT TO OUR PARTY. YOU’RE AMONG THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN AMERICA.

WHY DO I SAY THAT? BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT YOU’LL PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN CHOOSING THE PERSON WHO WILL BECOME THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND THAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL DETERMINE WHETHER OUR COUNTRY RISES OR FALLS.

THERE IS NO MORE CRITICAL RESPONSIBILITY IN AMERICA THAN THE ROLE YOU PLAY TODAY AND IN THE MONTHS AHEAD.

LET’S THINK ABOUT THIS.

IN EACH OF THE THREE STRAW POLLS THAT HAVE BEEN HELD IN OUR STATE, THE WINNER HAS GONE ON TO BECOME OUR PARTY’S NOMINEE – BEGINNING WITH RONALD REAGAN IN 1979, THEN GEORGE H.W. BUSH IN 1987, AND BOB DOLE IN 1995.

IN A FEW MONTHS REPUBLICANS WILL HOLD PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES THROUGHOUT AMERICA AND CHOOSE OUR NOMINEE

FOR PRESIDENT. WHILE THERE ARE A FEW PRIMARIES OR CAUCUSES EARLIER THAN FLORIDA’S, NONE WILL HAVE A GREATER IMPACT ON THE SELECTION OF THE NOMINEE THAN OUR OWN PRIMARY IN THE SUNSHINE STATE.

AT NEARLY 19 MILLION PEOPLE, THE POPULATION OF FLORIDA IS LARGER THAN ALL THE EARLIER PRIMARY AND CAUCUS STATES COMBINED! WITH OUR INCREDIBLY DIVERSE STATE, FLORIDA IS A TRUE MICROCOSM OF AMERICA.

I’M CONVINCED THAT THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WHO WINS FLORIDA WILL BE OUR NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT. AND EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, I’M CONVINCED THAT OUR REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WILL DEFEAT BARACK OBAMA IN 2012!

YOU, THE DELEGATES HERE TODAY, WILL SEND A STRONG SIGNAL ABOUT WHO WILL BE FLORIDA’S CHOICE. AS FLORIDA GOES, SO GOES THE NATION. AND AS YOU GO, SO GOES FLORIDA. THAT’S WHY YOUR VOTE IN TODAY’S STRAW POLL CARRIES EXTRAORDINARY WEIGHT, AS DOES YOUR OPINION LEADING UP TO THE PRIMARY. YOU HAVE AN EQUALLY EXTRAORDINARY DUTY TO CHOOSE WISELY. FLORIDA WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT BATTLEGROUND IN THE COUNTRY - - AGAIN.

REMEMBER 2000? ALL THOSE PALM BEACH VOTERS WHO COULDN’T BELIEVE THEY VOTED FOR PAT BUCHANAN? WELL, SINCE 2008, I’VE MET VOTERS ALL OVER THE STATE WHO CAN’T BELIEVE THEY VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA.

I’M CONVINCED THEY’LL GET IT RIGHT NEXT YEAR.

WE HAVE AN IMPRESSIVE ROSTER OF EXTREMELY QUALIFIED CANDIDATES SEEKING YOUR SUPPORT TODAY, BUT ONLY ONE OF THEM CAN BECOME OUR REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR PRESIDENT.

SO, WHAT SHOULD YOU CONSIDER WHEN MAKING THIS HISTORIC CHOICE? YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO THE CANDIDATES AND CAREFULLY CONSIDER THEIR EXPERIENCE…THEIR PHILOSOPHY…AND WHETHER THEY HAVE THE COURAGE TO STAND UP FOR THE PRINCIPLES AND TO MAKE THE VERY DIFFICULT DECISIONS THAT CONFRONT OUR NATION.

EACH OF US IS SHAPED BY THE EXPERIENCE WE BRING WITH US. HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE SEEN THE POTENTIAL OF YOUR JOB OR BUSINESS OR YOUR JOBS CHOKED, NOT BY COMPETITION, BUT BY A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS NO IDEA HOW REAL PEOPLE LIVE?

IF YOU’VE EVER CREATED A JOB WITH YOUR OWN MONEY AT RISK; IF YOU’VE EVER IMAGINED AN IDEA FOR A BUSINESS AND BET EVERYTHING TO TURN IT INTO REALITY; IF YOU’VE EVER TAKEN SATISFACTION IN BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE THAT HELPED CREATE JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS; THEN YOU KNOW THE EXPERIENCES THAT TRULY MATTER.

THESE ARE THE EXPERIENCES THAT PROPELLED OUR NATION TO CREATE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF JOBS AND BUILD THE MIGHTIEST ECONOMY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

AND YOU SHOULD ALSO KNOW THIS: IF YOU’VE EXPERIENCED ANY OF THESE THINGS, YOU HAVE VIRTUALLY NOTHING IN COMMON WITH PRESIDENT OBAMA.

I’M LUCKY TO HAVE SEEN THE AMERICAN DREAM FROM ALL SIDES. I WAS THE ADOPTED SON OF A TRUCK DRIVER, AND I STARTED SCHOOL LIVING IN PUBLIC HOUSING. OUR ENTIRE LIVING AREA WAS SMALLER THAN SOME OF THE HOTEL ROOMS WHERE YOU’RE STAYING THIS WEEKEND, AND TRUST ME, NOT NEAR AS NICELY FURNISHED. BY THE TIME I WAS ELEVEN I WAS SERVING MY SCHOOLMATES FOOD IN THE CAFETERIA AND WASHING THEIR DISHES JUST SO I COULD AFFORD TO EAT LUNCH.

BUT EVEN THEN, EVEN IN THOSE MOST DIFFICULT TIMES, AN ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD BOY BELIEVED IN THE AMERICAN DREAM AND COULD SENSE THE GREAT PROMISE OF THIS COUNTRY.

I HAD FAITH THEN, AND I HAVE THE CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE NOW, THAT WITH ENOUGH HARD WORK AND THE WILLINGNESS TO GET UP WHEN WE FALL THE BIRTHRIGHT OF EVERY AMERICAN IS TO RISE ABOVE HIS OR HER BEGINNINGS.

I’VE LEARNED THAT PERSONAL FAILURE SHOULD NOT BE AN INVITATION FOR A GOVERNMENT BAIL-OUT, JUST AS PERSONAL SUCCESS SHOULD NOT BE AN INVITATION FOR A GOVERNMENT TAX-GRAB. AFTER NEARLY 3 YEARS OF THE CURRENT

ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON, IT IS TIME TO REACQUAINT OURSELVES WITH THE NOTION THAT THE FREEDOM TO SUCCEED ALSO MEANS THE FREEDOM TO FAIL. IT’S A TRADE-OFF THAT IS AT THE VERY CORE OF A COUNTRY FOUNDED ON THE SACRED RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL.

IT IS GOVERNMENT’S PROPER ROLE TO EQUIP EVERYONE TO COMPETE AND TO OFFER A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR THE COMPETITORS.

BUT IT IS NOT GOVERNMENT’S PROPER ROLE TO PICK THE WINNERS AND LOSERS. SO WHEN YOU EVALUATE THESE CANDIDATES, CONSIDER THEIR EXPERIENCES AND THE ROLE THOSE PLAYED IN SHAPING THE PEOPLE WHO NOW SEEK YOUR SUPPORT.

YOU SHOULD ALSO CLOSELY EXAMINE THE CANDIDATES’ PLATFORMS AND APPROACH TO PUBLIC POLICY. DO THEY HAVE A CLEAR VISION OF WHERE THEY WANT TO TAKE THIS COUNTRY?

DO THEY HAVE A PLAN TO ADDRESS THE MOST PRESSING ISSUE AMERICA IS FACING—JOBS AND OUR STRUGGLING ECONOMY? AND EVEN MORE TO THE POINT, YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF IF THEY HAVE A BOLD PLAN TO FORCE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE NEEDED IN AMERICA TODAY.

YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. MY FRIENDS, THE NEXT PRESIDENT MUST HAVE A REALISTIC PLAN TO BALANCE THE FEDERAL BUDGET!

STATES ARE REQUIRED TO BALANCE THEIR BUDGETS EACH AND EVERY YEAR, AND THEY DO IT. BUT SOMEHOW, THAT CONCEPT IS LOST ON THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

HERE IN FLORIDA, WITH THE HELP OF MY FRIENDS, SENATE PRESIDENT MIKE HARIDOPOLOS AND SPEAKER DEAN CANNON, WE WERE ABLE TO HOLD GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE, REDUCE SPENDING AND DELIVER A BALANCED BUDGET WITHOUT RAISING TAXES!

AND UNLIKE THE ADMINISTRATION IN WASHINGTON, WHICH EARNED A DOWNGRADE IN THE NATION’S CREDIT RATING FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, HERE IN FLORIDA, THE OUTLOOK FOR OUR CREDIT RATING WAS RAISED BECAUSE OF OUR RESPONSIBLE BUDGETING.

TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF STAGNANT UNEMPLOYMENT, I PUSHED HARD TO CUT TAXES FOR FLORIDA’S SMALL FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESSES THAT CREATE MOST OF OUR NEW JOBS, AND WE WERE ABLE ELIMINATE THE STATE INCOME TAX FOR MORE THAN HALF OF FLORIDA’S BUSINESSES.

WE’VE MADE PROGRESS IN BUCKING THE NATIONAL UNEMPLOYMENT TREND HERE IN FLORIDA. WE’VE SEEN UNEMPLOYMENT DECLINE HERE IN 5 OF THE LAST 8 MONTHS AND CREATED MORE THAN 87,000 NEW PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS SINCE JANUARY.

WE HAVE ALSO ELIMINATED UNNECESSARY REGULATIONS TO MAKE IT EASIER TO DO BUSINESS IN OUR STATE, AND WE ARE POISED TO GET RID OF NEARLY 1,000 MORE IN 2012.

WE DID THIS BECAUSE WE UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S BUSINESSES THAT CREATE NEW JOBS, NOT GOVERNMENT. IT IS THESE THINGS THAT WILL POSITION FLORIDA TO LEAD THE NATION IN NEW JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH. AGAIN, I REMIND YOU: WE WERE ABLE TO DO THESE THINGS WHILE BALANCING THE BUDGET AND WITHOUT RAISING TAXES!

THAT BRINGS ME TO THE FINAL POINT IN EVALUATING OUR CANDIDATES. I HAVEN’T BEEN IN POLITICS VERY LONG, BUT I’VE LEARNED A VERY VALUABLE LESSON: IT’S ONE THING FOR A CANDIDATE TO MAKE A PROMISE.

IT’S ANOTHER FOR A CANDIDATE TO DELIVER WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH. I MADE PROMISES WHEN I CAMPAIGNED TO BE YOUR GOVERNOR. AND, EVERY MORNING I WAKE UP READY TO GO TO WORK AND DELIVER ON THOSE PROMISES.

I’M COMPLETELY FOCUSED ON HELPING FLORIDA’S BUSINESSES CREATE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS FOR OUR WORKING FAMILIES.

UNLIKE OUR PRESIDENT, I’M NOT INTERESTED IN USING MONEY WE DON’T HAVE TO CREATE GOVERNMENT JOBS THAT DON’T LAST. I WANT TO GROW HIGH-PAYING, PERMANENT JOBS IN FLORIDA’S BEST PRIVATE-SECTOR BUSINESSES. MY APPROACH BOTHERS THOSE LIBERAL SPECIAL INTERESTS THAT BELIEVE CENTRAL PLANNING AND GOVERNMENT BAIL-OUTS CAN BUILD AN ECONOMY.

AND, I’VE PAID A PRICE IN POPULARITY FOR STICKING TO MY PRINCIPLES. BUT LIKE I’VE SAID BEFORE, I DIDN’T RUN FOR GOVERNOR SO I COULD BE VOTED MOST POPULAR. I RAN FOR GOVERNOR SO I COULD BE VOTED MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED.

AND THAT MEANS STAYING FOCUSED ON GETTING FLORIDA BACK TO WORK. WE NEED TO APPLY THE SAME TEST TO OUR PRIMARY CANDIDATES. WHEN THEY ARE TESTED, WILL THEY REMAIN VIGILANT IN THEIR FOCUS ON GETTING THIS NATION BACK TO WORK AND RESTORING THE PROMISE OF ECONOMIC PROSPERITY THAT WE OWE THE NEXT GENERATION?

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, WE NEED A PRESIDENT THAT WILL GET GOING! WILL IT BE PRINCIPLE OR POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY THAT GUIDES THEM?

THE ANSWER TO THAT CRITICAL QUESTION WILL DETERMINE THE COURSE OF OUR NATION FOR DECADES TO COME; PERHAPS FOREVER.

THE POLICIES OF OUR NEXT PRESIDENT WILL LIKELY DECIDE WHETHER THE UNITED STATES REMAINS THE WORLD’S LARGEST ECONOMY OR WHETHER WE FALL BEHIND CHINA AND BEGIN A SLOW ECONOMIC SLIDE TO GLOBAL IRRELEVANCE.

YOU REMEMBER CHINA, RIGHT? THEY’RE THE GUYS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OWES ABOUT $1.5 TRILLION. THANKS TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CHINA DOESN’T HAVE TO THREATEN US WITH MISSILES. THEY JUST HAVE TO THREATEN TO CANCEL OUR NATIONAL CREDIT CARD.

IT’S THE MISSION OF OUR NEXT REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT TO HAVE THE COURAGE TO STOP THIS INSANITY AND PUT THIS NATION BACK ON THE RIGHT COURSE.

YOUR CHOICE TODAY WILL SET IN MOTION A CHAIN OF EVENTS THAT COULD ULTIMATELY DETERMINE WHETHER THE AMERICAN DREAM LIVES OR DIES. WHETHER OUR COUNTRY ELECTS A PRESIDENT WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT THIS DREAM SERVES AS THE INSPIRATION FOR GREATNESS TO ORDINARY PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD.

IN THIS NEXT ELECTION, THE CHOICES COULD NOT BE CLEARER, OR THE STAKES HIGHER. SO, AGAIN, I REMIND YOU OF THE IMPORTANT ROLE YOU PLAY TONIGHT IN SETTING THE COURSE FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR NATION.

IT’S AN HONOR TO BE WITH YOU, THE PATRIOTIC FLORIDIANS WHO WILL PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN DECIDING THE OUTCOME OF THIS ELECTION AND THE FUTURE OF OUR GREAT NATION.

LET’S LISTEN TO OUR CANDIDATES AND MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION FOR FLORIDA AND FOR AMERICA. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA.

[Last modified: Saturday, September 24, 2011 2:37pm]

    

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