Welcome. I'm so delighted to be with you here today. You know, when I was a little girl my mother one Sunday morning in Sunday school looked at me and said, what you are is God's gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.
It seemed like a promise that I had God-given gifts, and it seemed like a challenge as well that I needed to find them and use them. I would go on eventually to enroll in Stanford University, where I would graduate with a degree in medieval history and philosophy. Exactly, all dressed up and nowhere to go. So I went off to law school. That's what my dad thought I’d be good at. I hated law school, and I quit after less than a single semester. So now I needed to go back and earn a living, so I started to do full-time what I had done part time to help put myself through school.
I was a secretary. I used to be a Kelly Girl when I was at Stanford to help pay the bills. I typed and filed- yes, Kelly Girls unite! Right? I typed and filed and answered the phones, and so I went to the Want ads and accepted the first job I was offered, which was to type and file for a little nine-person real estate firm. I have lived all over the world, traveled and worked all over the world, and I know that it is only in the United States of America that a young woman can start as a secretary and go on to become the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world. That is only possible here.
It is possible here because our Founders knew what my mother taught me. Our founders knew that everyone has God-given gifts, and they built a nation on the belief that everyone has the right to find and use their gifts. Everyone has the right to fulfil their potential. That's what they meant when they said life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and they said that that right comes from God and should not be taken away by man or government.
My husband Frank has lived the American story. He started out as a tow truck driver in a family-owned auto body shop in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I met this morning in the Surf restaurant here in New Hampshire, I met Michael Buckley, who also has lived the American story. He started as a dishwasher, and now he owns five restaurants.
I have traveled and lived and spoken to people all across this country, and I must tell you that I sense a deep disquiet. People fear we are losing something. What they fear we are losing is the sense of limitless possibility that has always defined this nation, and when we lose that sense of limitless possibility, we're losing the core of who we are. I know from experience that there is a look that people get in their eyes when they accomplish more than they thought was possible. And there is the opposite of that look. I saw the opposite of that look in our daughter Lori Anne's eyes as she battled the demons of addiction and ultimately lost that battle. It is the flat look of hopelessness, but it is not just addiction or death that wastes potential. I see that look in too many Americans’ eyes now. I see it in the local man in the Central Valley of California whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed because bureaucrats have decided they should manage what scarce water there is from Washington D.C. I see that flat hopeless look in a young woman whose life has become entangled in a web of dependence from which she cannot escape even if she tries.
I have seen it in the eyes of a small business owner who gives up. And that look, that flat eye look of hopelessness cannot define this nation. The truth is this: Our government has become so big, so powerful, so costly and so corrupt that the weight of the government is literally crushing the potential of the people of this nation. We see it in lackluster economic growth numbers -two percent. We see it in the fact that our labor participation rates are at levels not seen since the mid-seventies. We see it in people's lives who are tangled up in that web of dependence. We see it in the fact that for the first time in U.S. history, we are now destroying more businesses than we are creating, and while we celebrate in the world of technology people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the truth is the heroes of the American economy have always been the person who opens up the nine-person real estate firm, the person who opens up the family owned auto body shop, the nail salon, the restaurant, the lawn service company. These are the heroes of the American economy [unintelligible] small businesses and family-owned businesses create two-thirds of the new jobs in this country and employ half the people, and so when we crush small and family-owned businesses, we are crushing the potential of this nation. And at the same time crony capitalism is alive and well because when you have a government that is so big, so powerful, so costly, so complex and so corrupt only the big can handle it. I know that having been the CEO of a ninety billion dollar business. I may not have liked regulations, but I could hire accountants and lawyers and lobbyists. The nine-person real estate firm, not so much. And so the consequences is what? When we pass a law like Dodd-Frank, what happened? Ten banks too big to fail became five banks too big to fail, and meanwhile three thousand community banks have gone out of business because those community banks are not big enough or rich enough to deal with all the complexity and the power that Washington D.C. gives them. People fear that we are losing that sense of limitless possibility that has always defined our nation, but people also worry that we are missing something important, and what I think people think we're missing is leadership.
You know here's the truth. Here's the truth: Our government has gotten bigger and bigger every year for 50 years. Every year every agency has gotten more money. Yes it has gotten worse under President Obama, but the truth is it has been getting bad for 40 or 50 years. People feel disconnected from the political process because they feel like nothing changes.
When did we decide that we needed a political class? Ours was intended to be a citizen government. That is what by, for and of the people means. What we need in this country is citizenship and leadership. I am reminded, when I think about our federal government, I am reminded of the difference between management and leadership. Managers are people who do the best they can within the existing system. There are managers in business, there are managers in politics, there are managers in life. They do the best they can within the existing system. Leaders- leaders are people who do not accept what is broken just because it's been that way for a very long time. And now we need the leadership and the citizenship to reimagine our government, not just because it's so big and so powerful and so costly and so corrupt, but because it is failing now to serve the citizens who pay for it, and nowhere is this more clear than in the example of the Veterans’ Administration. Technology can do amazing things today. I happen to be chairman of Opportunity International, the largest micro-finance organization in the world. I can send a one hundred and fifty dollar loan to a desperately poor woman in India or in Malawi, but if you are a veteran and you have served our nation, you have to spend months filling out paperwork and many more months waiting for some bureaucrat to check the paperwork to make sure you've earned already the benefits that you've fought and served for, and then you’ve got to wait many more months while some other bureaucrat decides whether you can get an appointment or not, and this has been going on for a long time. The VA has been undergoing a major systems upgrade since 1989. I come from the world of technology. If you're still going through a major systems upgrade for 20 years, you have failed. You have failed, and when the scandal of the Veterans’ Administration in Arizona broke, what happened? The political process responded to pressure. Within three weeks they had passed a bipartisan bill that said, you know what? We're going to fire- we're going to let the VA administrator fire the top 400 senior executives at the VA if they're not doing their jobs. It's not that that's a bad idea, maybe we should do it all throughout government. It’s just, really? That's the best we can do? And we haven't heard a lot about the VA for quite a while, and yet it is still broken, and now we have bureaucrats arguing about whether 40 miles is as the crow flies or the car drives. The Veterans’ Administration is a stain on our nation's honor. And it is an example of why we must reimagine government.
Let me just take a moment- how many have you are here as veterans? Would you please stand up so we can celebrate your service? Thank you for your service.
And speaking of leadership, nowhere is leadership missing more than in the world. The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading, and America has not led for quite some time. You’ve heard me say this before, I will say it again: Like Hillary Clinton,
I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not in accomplishment. I have met Vladimir Putin, and anyone who has sat across the table from a Vladimir Putin knows that his ambitions will not be thwarted by a gimmicky red reset button. I remember sitting in Bibi Netanyahu's office five years ago, a private meeting, my husband, Frank, myself and Bibi Netanyahu, no one else. And you know what he wanted to talk about? Iran and the dangers that Iran represents.
I have done business with the Chinese. I understand that they are engaging in cyber warfare, that they are stealing our intellectual property as a matter of strategy. I have chaired the advisory board at the Central Intelligence Agency, and I know that we confront many dangerous enemies, but I also know that there are many things our allies have asked us to do that we are not doing, and every one of them would make a difference in the world today.
Hillary Clinton must not be president of the United States.
I was asked this morning on Fox News whether a woman's hormones prevented her from serving in the Oval Office? Not that we have seen examples ever of a man's judgment being clouded by hormones, including in the Oval Office. Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States, but not because she is a woman. Hillary Clinton must not be president of the United States because she does not have a track record of accomplishment, because she lacks the candor and the transparency that are so necessary to leadership and because she will pursue a set of policies that crush possibilities and the potential of this great nation.
All our problems are solvable. All of our wounds are self-inflicted. We have everything we need because all we need is citizenship and leadership. We rightly celebrate our Founding Fathers, as we should, but I will remind you that two of the most powerful symbols of our blessed and beautiful nation are women: Lady Liberty and Lady Justice. Lady Liberty stands, she is clear eyed, she is resolute, she holds her torch like a beacon of hope in the world, and Lady Justice- she holds a sword in one hand because she is a fighter. She is a warrior for the values and the principles that have made this nation great. She holds a scale on the other hand, and with that scale she says, all of us are equal in the eyes of God, and so all us must be equal in the eyes of the law, powerful and powerless alike, and she wears a blindfold. She wears a blindfold, and I think with that blindfold she says to us is it does not matter who you are, it does not matter where you come from, it does not matter what you look like or what your circumstances are. Here, every American’s life is defined by possibilities with liberty and justice for all. Let us rise together to meet our challenges, let us rise together and restore the promise of this, the greatest nation the world has ever known.
God bless you and may God continue to bless the great nation of the United States of America.
Neither the Catt Center nor Iowa State University is affiliated with any individual in the Archives or any political party. Inclusion in the Archives is not an endorsement by the center or the university.