Thank you so much. Thank you so much and good afternoon.
When I was a little girl, my mother in Sunday school gave me a plaque that read, What you are is God's gift to you, what you make of yourself is your gift to God.
Years later I would be fortunate enough to enroll in Stanford University where I would earn a degree in medieval history and philosophy. All dressed up and nowhere to go.
Although that degree has come in handy recently since our president keeps talking about the Crusades. Yes, Mr. President, ISIS indeed wants to drive the whole world back to the Middle Ages but the rest of us moved on about a hundred years ago and while you seek moral equivalence, the world waits for moral clarity in American leadership.
With that degree in medieval history and philosophy I was unemployable, and so I went to law school. I hated it. I quit after a single semester and had to go back to work full-time doing what I had done part time to help put myself through school. I typed, I filed, I answered the phones for a little nine-person real estate firm.
I would eventually become the chief executive of the world's largest technology company – HP – and together with the great people of that great company we would double the size of the business from $45 billion to $90 billion. We would triple its rate of innovation to 11 patents day and go from a laggard to a leader in every product category and every market segment in which we competed.
I know that it is only in this country that a young woman can go from secretary to CEO, and that is because our founders knew what my mother taught me. Everyone has God-given gifts. Everyone has potential, often far more than they realize. I have learned this over and over in my life from my fellow workers in business to the slums in New Delhi, India. I have seen it in Norfolk, Virginia, as I distributed diapers two young mothers who had the courage to bring their children into the world. Every life has potential.
Our founders believed that this must be a country where everyone has the right to fulfil their potential. This is what they meant when they said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And so we became the greatest nation in the world and throughout all human history because here more things were more possible for more people from more places. Here people could fulfil their potential.
When I was typing in that little company, and indeed throughout my career, I have needed someone to take a chance on me. When I battled cancer, I needed many helping hands. When my husband Frank and I lost our younger daughter, Lori, to the demons of addiction, we relied on the strength of our family, the solace of our faith, but we also were lifted up by the prayers and the kindness of so many strangers who became blessings in our lives.
Everyone needs a helping hand, but no one that wants to be trapped in the web of dependence that has been woven over decades in our nation. To fulfill their potential, people need an education, tools, training, support – and they need a job.
The president of the Chicago Teachers Union once said this: We cannot be held responsible for the performance of the children in our classrooms because too many them come from poor and broken families.
Liberals may be prepared to dismiss and disregard Americans because of their circumstances. Liberals may be prepared to consign some to lives of dependence while others who think they are smarter and they are better will take care of them, but we as conservatives are not. We know, we know that no one of us is better than any other one of us. We know that each one of us has God-given gifts and can live a life of dignity and purpose and meaning.
Work is a central part of such a life and so we must rebuild Main Street.
Elizabeth Warren is right. Crony capitalism is indeed alive and well. Government and government programs have grown so big, so powerful, so costly and so complex that only the big and the powerful can prosper. But Elizabeth Warren is dead wrong about how to end crony capitalism, because you see, whether it is Dodd-Frank or Obamacare or net neutrality, all this government complexity means the big get bigger, the small disappear and the powerless are trapped.
We are now destroying more businesses than we are creating for the first time in U.S. history. Most Americans get their start the way I did – in a small business. The dry cleaners, the taquerias, the coffee shops, the hairdressers, and the real estate firms of American Main Street create most of our new jobs and employ half our people.
So if we want more jobs, we need more small businesses. And we need more leaders, not managers. You see, managers are people who do the best they can within existing constraints and conditions. Managers are people who tinker around the edges of a problem.
We need leaders who do not accept what is broken simply because it has always been that way. We need leaders who will change the order of things. Leaders who see and seize possibilities and know that the highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.
Technology gives us the tools to engage American citizens in reforming our government as never before. Why should we accept that veterans have to spend many months filling out paperwork when they returned from the battlefield and many more months waiting for a bureaucrat to approve them before they get the services they've earned? Why should we accept that?
We must unlock the potential of every American, we must fundamentally reform government and we must restore American leadership in the world.
I know Bibi Netanyahu, and as I sat in his office five years ago, he spoke then of the dangers posed by Iran. He travels here next week not to offend our president but to warn the American people that our president's insistence on a deal with Iran at any cost is a danger to the world.
I know King Abdullah of Jordan and I applauded King Abdullah's leadership when his response to the beheading of a Jordanian pilot was to immediately execute two convicted terrorists and begin bombing. He came to this country seeking our support and he has still not received it. Neither have the Kurds nor the Ukrainians.
And when the Egyptians bombed targets in Libya in response to the beheading of 21 Christians, this administration stood silently by and neither condemned nor condoned Egypt's forceful response. This is not leadership.
Nor is it leadership when Secretary Clinton asks what difference does it make when our embassy is deliberately attacked by terrorists and four Americans are murdered. It makes all the difference in the world, Mrs. Clinton, and the required response has never come.
Like Mrs. Clinton, I, too, have traveled the globe. Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment. I have met Vladimir Putin and I know that his ambition will not be deterred by a gimmicky, red reset button.
Mrs. Clinton, please name an accomplishment, and in the meantime please accept and explain why we should accept that the millions and millions of dollars that have flowed into the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments do not represent a conflict of interest.
She tweets about women's rights in this country and takes money from governments that deny women the most basic human rights.
She tweets about equal pay for women but will not answer basic questions about her own office's pay standards, and neither will our president.
Hillary may like hashtags but she does not know what leadership means.
And so ladies and gentleman, now is the time to declare, without apology and without equivocation, that this is the greatest nation the world has ever known. We are a force for good in the world. Now is the time to reaffirm that every American, regardless of their circumstances, has the right and the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We must rise together to meet our challenges.
Now is the time for citizenship and leadership. Let us declare the end of identity politics that seeks to divide rather than to unite. Let us declare the of lowered expectations. Let us refuse to accept what has been broken about our politics and our government for so long. Let us together restore the promise of this – our beloved, our beautiful, our blessed United States of America.
Thank you so very much, ladies and gentlemen. May God bless you all.
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.