Mitt Romney's Full Speech at CPAC 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at CPAC.
2:12 | 02/10/12

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Transcript for Mitt Romney's Full Speech at CPAC 2012
Thank you ladies. Thank you thank. You ways. -- great reception ray room thank you. First thanks to to Al cardinals -- that work very warm and generous introduction and and thanks to this extraordinary crowd at C -- we've got a great group here this year. It's been a great conference so far. And for that I suppose we should also acknowledge President Obama. He is the conservative movement's top recruiter it turns out. Turns out it really as a good community organizer. I just don't think this is the community plan and organizing body they did. You know today we really are poised. For victory in November. -- The pundits the -- -- -- pollsters -- sign that we can win the election. But we have to tell the nation why we should win the election. It's up to us to prove that we're ready ready to step forward. And lead this country. -- and this election and not just about getting more votes. Defeating Barack Obama's only one step towards our ultimate goal of saving. America. Of course. Of course we can defeat Barack Obama. That's the easy part. Believe me November 6 will be the easiest day our next president is gonna face. That this country we love is in jeopardy. And it's more than just economic statistics that we read the tell us that it's the pain that so many of us feel in our hearts. For three years. We've suffered through the failures not only of a weak leader. But of a bankrupt ideology. I'm convinced that if we do our job. If we lead with conviction and integrity. That history will record the Obama presidency. As the last gasp of liberalism is great failure at a turning point. But but it's not enough for us just to show how they fail. We also have to prove how we will and deserve to lead. And so I'm here to ask you today to stand with a shoulder to shoulder as we go forward. To fight for America. Now as we step -- together. Now I think is -- time to reaffirm what it means to be conservative. And why this must be our greatest hour as conservatives. America's like no other country in the history -- the -- The very heart of American conservatism is the conviction. That the principles embodied in the constitution. And the declaration of independence are uniquely powerful. Foundational and defining. Some see the hand of Providence in the crafting of these principles. Others are more likely to credit the brilliance of the the founders themselves. I think a lot of us like me see -- that play. But conservatives all agree. That departing from these founding principles. Would represented a departure from the greatness of America. For permission. From our freedom. Or prosperity. From our purpose. I know that this president will never get it. But we conservatives aren't just proud to cling to our -- into our religion we are also proud to cling to our constitution. The wisdom of our founding documents. Is that they see the nation's prosperity. Not as a product of government. But as the product of individual citizens. Each pursuing happiness. The key to the success of the American experiment. Is this. America doesn't just exist for the people it has been made exceptional by the people. It's this brilliant a free people pursuing their own dreams. Achieving success in their own ways. That's what's propelled America. And as -- -- to be the most prosperous nation and most powerful nation in the history of the earth. At a lot of politicians on both sides of the aisle that -- forgotten that it's never really understood it at all that they've fallen under -- the spell Washington. Politicians you know their -- routinely elected by promising that they're gonna change Washington. But when they came here they became creatures of Washington. They Begin to see government as the answer to every. Challenge. And the solution for every problem. At every turn they they try to substitute the heavy hand of government. For free citizens and free enterprises operating in a free matter. They think government knows better and can do better -- a free people exercising their free will. And this president. Is the worst offender Barack Obama is the poster child for the arrogance of government. And. And so -- I say across this country this election really is about a battle for the soul of America. And it's going to come down to a choice. The choice between whether we want our nation to be. And by Washington. Or a nation. And by a free people and we conservatives believe in freedom and free people and free enterprises. As conservatives were united by a set of core convictions. Not everyone has taken the same path to get here. -- college students at this conference who are. Reading Burke and my guess is some -- you got here by every American high -- What I was your age you can told me that they were infielders for the Detroit Tigers. Some of York and think tanks. Or you follow the writings of some of the prominent conservative writers currently in the past. Some of you probably worked in government. Are -- labored on the front lines of conservative causes I salute all of you and achieving. You're vision of conservatism. My -- the conservatism came from my family. From my faith. And for my life's work. I was raised in a home that was shaped by and rooted in conservative values. My mother's father my grandfather came to America. From England. As a teenager he was alone in this new country. But he -- at all for the chants at religious liberty. And for economic opportunity. You probably also heard about my dad and how -- -- met him he was born to American parents who were living in Mexico. And that when he was five they've moved back to the US. Is dead was a contractor but he went bust more than once my dad grew -- -- Never had the chance to finish. His college degree. But he believed that a country. Where the circumstances of one's birth without a barrier to life's achievement. And so with hard work he became the head of a car company. And they became governor of the great state of Michigan. The values that allowed my parents to achieve their -- Are the same values they instilled in my siblings and me. Those -- values I just talk about their values that I live every day. But by 42 year marriage to my wife again. The life we built -- are five sub. -- the faith that's part of our life these conservative Constance. Have shaped by life. And then -- business and business if you're not fiscally conservative. You're bankrupt. About. I mean I spent 25 years balancing budgets. Eliminating waste. By the -- keep biggest far away from government as humanly possible. I didn't. I did some of the very things conservatism is designed for I started new businesses. And turnaround broken ones. And I'm not ashamed to say that I was successful in doing it. Okay. My family. My faith. By businesses. I know conservatism. Because I have lived conservatism. As governor of Massachusetts I had the unique experience of defending conservative principles. In the most liberal state in the nation. -- -- There -- three people from Massachusetts -- I appreciate that. What I took office I was facing a three billion dollar budget deficit. And the economy was in a tailspin. And even with the legislature that was 85%. Democrat. We cut taxes nineteen times. And balance the budget all four years I cast over 800 -- And I -- an entire programs I erased a three billion dollar budget shortfall. At left office by putting in place over two billion dollars and already they find. And by the way if that was a program or an agency or department that needed cutting or elimination. We did it. In fact one of the the commentators of Boston one of our TV commentators. Once said that I didn't just -- -- the the sacred cows he said Mitt Romney went after the whole -- While awake that. Still. That's still -- in the private sector and practice for four years in Massachusetts where by the way I served in government but I did -- I'm still a business -- That experience. That experience up slimming down cutting eliminating I want to take that to watch that I want to get my hands on Washington DC. You may recall as well that during my term in office. Are conservative values also came under attack. Less than a year after I took office the State's Supreme Court. Inexplicably. Found a right to same sex marriage in the -- situation written by John Adams. I presume you'd be surprised. I fought two have a stay -- that decision. That push for a marriage amendment to our constitution we lost -- only one vote of the legislature. And I successfully prohibited out of state couples from coming to our state to get married and then going home. On my watch we fought hard at Brooke Bennett Massachusetts. From becoming the Las Vegas of gay marriage. When I am president. I will defend the defense of marriage act and I -- -- I will fight for an America amendment to our constitution that defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. There are my my term in office I also. Stood up to those who wanted to call into question the very definition of life. -- vetoed a bill that would have opened the door to cloning and embryo farming. -- vetoed a bill that would have allowed young girls to obtain access to abortion inducing drugs. -- fought for abstinence education. In our schools. And I defended the right -- the Catholic Church to serve the community in ways that were consistent with their conscience through adoption programs that place children at -- home with a -- -- -- -- My state was a leading indicator of what liberals -- try to do across the country they're trying to do right now. And I fought against long odds in a deep blue state. But I was a severely. Conservative Republican governor. I understand that. The battles we as conservatives must fight because I have been. The frontlines. And expect to -- on those front lines again. Here's that -- back I know you guys understand that this -- always welcomed me. And -- consistently supported me not because of my rhetoric. But because of my record and my experience and that -- blue state. Over the course of this conference several candidates have either -- opener will be speaking. And they'll be sinking -- your support to lead our country and help us out of these troubled times. What distinguishes us on another. Is not our opposition to president Bob. Or even our support of conservative convictions. What distinguishes us. Is the nature of our life's experience. Our perspective. Our judgment. This election will ultimately come down to two very different visions for America. But are more immediate choice would be between candidates. Of two very different backgrounds. I spent 25 years in business. Start at the bottom. Went on to help create a great American success story. I let Olympics out of the shadows of scandal and was part of helping -- -- state. Describe the leadership. -- course it each of these endeavors I worked for the team -- pretty skilled people but I was after all that the chief executive. And so success or failure was laid on my shoulders. -- tough decisions had to be made I made them. Leadership as a chief executive isn't about getting a bill out of conference. We're giving a great speech it's about setting clear goals building a terrific team overcoming counts -- adversity at achieving results. It's about sharing credit. When times are good at about taking responsibility. Whether -- not. But to be the only candidate in this race Republican or Democrat. Who has never work today at Washington. -- -- How. I don't have old scores to settle. Or decades of cloak room deals that but I have to defend. House conservatives. You learn to be skeptical of the city and -- politicians and I and I think you're right. But my wife and I raised five boys and one of the lessons you learn as a parent is that when you hear an excuse that this doesn't make sense. It's because it just doesn't make sense. At -- tell yet any politician. The tries to convince you that they -- Washington so much. That this could leave. Well that's the same politician he'll try and Sally a bridge to nowhere. This is a moment what our country needs serious change. And dramatic reform. So let me tell you exactly. What kind of president I will be. To get America back on track and to get Americans back to work we need bowl. And sweeping reforms these aren't managerial issues of changing this department -- that agency to change Washington. We're gonna have to change the very relationship between government. And the citizens. And these are moral choices. But we'll find. Our nation and -- -- us for generations to come. Mention a few of them. Today's you know we borrow forty cents of every dollar we spend. That's unconscionable it's unsustainable. It's reckless it's immoral. And it landed in my presidency. Our approach every spending decision. Every budget -- -- these questions can we afford it. And if not is it reading worth borrowing money from China to pay for. And that basis we're gonna get rid of a lot of programs. At -- president. I won't just slow the growth rate of government. I will actually cut the spending of government at and I won't. I want this freeze government share is percentage of the total economy I will reduce government -- as a percentage of the total economy. And without raising taxes or sacrifice and America's critical military superiority. I will finally balance the American budget. And as I'm sure you know that we'll start with the easiest cut of all. I will eliminate obamacare. Okay. And -- -- mention a couple of other things they'll do. I'm that -- dramatically reduce the size of the federal workforce. And for the first time ever. I'm gonna tie the compensation and benefits of federal workers. With workers in the private sector the principle here. It's really simple. And that is public servants should not get a better deal for the citizens that are paying for a. As important as that is cutting spending and bureaucracy. Along and I -- be enough. In their current form. We're gonna have to recognize social security and Medicare are unsustainable not for the current -- group of retirees. But for coming generations. And we can't afford to avoid these entitlement challenge -- any longer. I'm the only candidate for president. Who was offered a sweeping specific plan to save Medicare. And to reform Social Security. There are those who say you can't talk straight -- the American people on these issues and still win election. I say we can. We must and I will create. What I proposed are are sensible. And critical reforms. Under my plan no one near retirement age or currently retired we'll see any of the changes under describe. The people their twenties and thirties and forties and early fifties are gonna see some changes and by the way tax hikes they're off the table. Well. We're gonna slowly and gradually raise the retirement age for Social Security. And -- slow that growth rate in benefits. For higher income retirees. And that when it comes to Medicare. Tomorrow's seniors should have the freedom to choose between traditional Medicare at a range of private plans -- if these. And if these future seniors choose a more expensive plan. Then they will have to pay the additional cost. Take a look at the at the Ryan plan work we're the same page in the same -- -- that. I know that this president. And his liberal allies are gonna attack me. For where he's -- believe. Soviet. I'm gonna stand and fight we're gonna win on this because so much depends on it. He's gonna attack -- -- the usual fear tactics. But we're gonna remind Americans. That during this president's term we have seen a record high job losses. And record home foreclosures he will not be lecturing us on values. As a man -- an aptitude and failure has created so much unnecessary pain for our fellow. It's a. -- will not be that easy course. But it will be the right course. And I'm confident that Americans. Are learning yearning for a president hooked on the truth. And do what's needed. Not just do what's expedient. And let me also be clear on this might presidency will be a pro life presidency on day one I -- I won't reinstate the Mexico City policy. I won't. I won't cut off funding. For the United Nations Population Fund which supports China's barbaric one child policy. -- ensure that. It organizations like Planned Parenthood get no more federal support. And I will reverse every single Obama. Regulation. That attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life in this country. You know this of course the presidency is more than public office. It's a sacred trust. As president I will honor that trust by assuring that America remains the greatest military power on the face of the earth. But I will not be cutting our military budget. This very simple. If you don't want America to be the strongest nation on earth I am not your president. You have that president today. This election is defining moment for America. And for the conservative movement. Make -- -- today. We have an opportunity for greatness. But without opportunity. Comes defining responsibilities well. We can't use this election to refight past battles and reward our friends. I know that fundamental change this moment demands that we take fresh bold conservative leadership. With real world solutions based on real world experience. I won't come to Washington. And with your help and guidance of prayers I will change Washington. And then I will leave Washington and go back home in my family and my community that I love. I believe this is a moment the demands that we return to our basic values at first principles that's the we -- conservatives. We believe in the constitution the declaration of independence we believe in life liberty and the pursuit of happiness we know the brilliance. That suggested that individuals pursuing their own dreams would make is the most powerful nation on earth not a government try to guide our lives this is who we are. This passion we must take the American people this is our moment. This is why -- conservatives. The task before us now is to re affirmed the convictions that unite us. And go forward shoulder to shoulder to secure the victory that America so desperately needs and deserves let's do it to -- vacuum. God -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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