Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell, one of the GOP's brightest stars, was the featured speaker at the opening night of the Republican National Committee. Read the full transcript of his remarks here.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and good evening fellow Republicans:
President and Mrs. Bush, a special good evening.
I am honored and pleased to again have the privilege of addressing a Republican National Convention.
In San Diego in 1996, I followed former First Lady, Nancy Reagan, to the lectern after her moving tribute to President Reagan. I am delighted this time to follow Mrs. Laura Bush, a lady of passion, dedication, and grace. She will be a great First Lady. Don’t you think?
During the almost seven years since I left the army, I’ve traveled all across America.
I’ve seen people hard at work providing for their families, giving of themselves, caring for each other.
I’ve seen them creating wealth for the nation.
I’ve seen an economy transforming itself to seize the promise of the information revolution.
I’ve met so many of our fellow citizens who believe in America to the depth of their hearts and who are doing everything they can in their communities to make our nation that more perfect union spoken of in our Constitution. I’ve been moved yet again to stand in awe of the American dream which was given birth in this city over two hundred years ago. A dream I have been privileged to live.
I’ve met so many young people who believe in the dream. They are on a road to success.
They are being raised in strong families, going to good schools, filling the finest universities, graduating and going on to find their place and fortune in this land. Even the youngest of them, still in elementary school are getting ready for the future—using computers, logging onto the Internet — while still enjoying the magic of childhood by curling up with a “Harry Potter” book. There is so much that is good and right in America!
Yet, I cannot ignore that in my travels I’ve also seen poverty, failing communities, people who’ve lost hope.
Tragically, I’ve seen too many young Americans who are overwhelmed by the daily struggle just to survive.
I’ve seen kids destroying themselves with drugs. Kids who see violence and crime as the answer to their hopelessness. Kids who no longer believe in themselves and who don’t see a reason to believe in America.
I’ve seen kids in utter despair. I’ve visited kids in jail doing adult time for crimes they’ve committed.
They are part of a growing population of over two million Americans behind bars. Two million convicts, not consumers. Two million Americans who, while paying for their crimes, are not paying taxes, are not there for their children and are not raising families.
Most of them are men and the majority of those men are minorities.
The issue of race still casts a shadow over our society, despite the impressive progress we have made over the last 40 years to overcome the legacy of our troubled past.
So, with all the success we have enjoyed and with all the wealth we have created, we have much more work to do and a long way to go to bring the promise of America to every American.
And with all we have to do on our national agenda, I am convinced that to deliver on that promise, we must begin with our children.