Transcript of Gov. Tom Ridge's Convention Speech

ByABC News

Aug. 3, 2000 -- Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge, host governor of the event, told the Republican National Convention about his longtime friendship with George W. Bush.

Gov. Tom Ridge:

What better place to renew America’s purpose than the cradle of American democracy — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania!

The first time our party met was in Philadelphia, in 1856. It was our party’s first national convention. One of our rising stars: a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. We were a party with a purpose: to tackle tough issues—to unite a divided nation.

Over the past four days, America has seen we are still a party with a purpose: resolved once again to tackle tough issues — to unite all Americans. Tonight we nominate the man to do it: Governor George W. Bush.

George and I met 20 years ago. I know him pretty well. He has a great record in Texas. He has a clear vision for America. And a compassionate conservative message.But tonight I just want to talk about my friend.

For George, family is first. It is reflected in his public service and his private life.If you look closely, you’ll see in George the very best qualities of both his mom and dad.

Then again, aren’t we all blessed to have President and Mrs. Bush in our lives!

His faith is important to him. George believes faith is important to America.And he wants us to use our faith — all faiths — to accomplish good things.

You see, this is someone for whom public service is a calling—not a career. George doesn’t look to a focus-group printout to discover his convictions. He looks to his heart.

How many of you have seen George in a classroom? Or heard him talk about kids? The passion in his voice; the love in his heart? I’ve seen it. And I’ll tell you this: when the voters of America see it — this election is over!

I wish you could have been there, when we met with Latino leaders at Nueva Esperanza, here in Philadelphia. There were no reporters in the room. And — I suspect — very few Republicans! But that didn’t matter to George. No pandering — honest discussion — and yes, some honest disagreement.

I don’t know if he earned any votes in that room. I do know he earned respect.

George will be a president we can respect — and we can trust. During campaigns, the media often ask, “Which candidate can the people trust?” That’s a very good question.

But I think I’ve got a better one: “Which candidate trusts the people?”

Our federal tax burden is the highest ever. George trusts the people to decide how to spend more of their money! George trusts parents to choose the best school for their children! George trusts younger Americans to invest wisely some of their own Social Security dollars!

By the way, it’s probably a good thing Vice President Gore wasn’t at Independence Hall in 1776! I bet he would have tried to talk Jefferson out of that “risky independence scheme”!My friends, it’s not a risky scheme to trust the people of this country. It’s right.

And while we’re on the subject, you’ve heard the Vice President ask, over and over, “Whose side are you on?” It seems, Mr. Vice President, you seek to lead America by dividing us. Now that is risky business. And that’s not right.

George understands what a great President must understand. The first three words of America’s most sacred document are, “We the People” — not “Us vs. Them”!

George rejects the old-style politics of false choices. He believes that a leader can be for the environment and jobs, for tax cuts and fiscal discipline, for public schools — and parental choice. George wants to win — but he won’t divide us to do it.

That’s why tonight is so important. Tonight, the city that witnessed the birth of the Republican Party now watches its rebirth. We are a New Republican Party. A compassionate conservative party. One that concedes no issue. Concedes no region.

One that regards every voter as an opportunity!

George W. Bush is not just the candidate of the New Republican Party, not just its messenger — he is its Founding Father!

Three years ago my friend and I took a long, early morning walk on the Atlantic shore.

We talked about our families. One’s father a president. The other, a salesman. One’s father a Republican. The other, a Democrat. Their eldest sons, both Governors.

Both strong families. Different backgrounds, yes. But common aspirations. You see, George understands that the hopes and dreams of America are not unique to either political party. Safe neighborhoods for our families. Better schools for our kids.

Greater opportunity for all. Isn’t that everybody’s dream?On that empty beach three years ago, we talked about a nation that could be united behind those common aspirations. He believes in that America — and sees a way to take us there.

A century and a half ago, that young lawyer from the first Republican Convention took us there as well. He never lost faith in the people. Even at the dawn of the Civil War, Abe Lincoln reassured us that Americans would once again be “touched — by the better angels of our nature.”

The better angels of America are waiting—waiting for a new leader to help them soar.

That new leader is my friend. And our next president. George W. Bush. Thank you.

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