Kelly Ayotte

Remarks at CPAC 2013 - March 15, 2013

Kelly Ayotte
March 15, 2013— National Harbor, Maryland
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We gather here today at a watershed moment for America. Our country is facing great challenges, and many Americans wonder: will America continue to be as Ronald Reagan so eloquently described it "a shining city on a hill."

Like you, there is so much that keeps me up at night. Let me tell you about some of the things that keep me up at night. Too many Americans are out of work. Federal regulations are strangling businesses. Obamacare is increasing healthcare costs, and stopping so many of those businesses from hiring. And I come from a small business family; I know what that's like, how hard our small businesses work. We have a broken tax code. And the President and Senate Democrats—they just want to keep increasing taxes, making it harder and harder for our small businesses to hire and grow and put people to work in this country. Our nation is drowning in debt. We have had four straight years of trillion dollar deficits. We're a trillion dollars in hawk to China.

I'll tell you why I ran for office. I am blessed to be the mother of two wonderful children, Kate who is 8 and Jacob who's age 5. And what's happening in Washington—it's not just that we continue to spend money that we don't have, but we are essentially robbing our children of the American dream.

Now I know that you have heard, at this important conference, about these fiscal challenges and you have heard it from great leaders who have spoken before me, and you will hear it up from great leaders who will speak after me. I agree with them that we need to fix the fiscal mess that we are in. If we do not get this right, then America's greatness is truly endangered.

But today, I want to speak with you about another grave threat that our nation faces. This is an issue that truly keeps me up at night and that is the security of our nation.

I have a simple question for all of you. How many of you believe that radical Islam is a threat to our way of life? Raise your hands if you believe that. Well I agree, and I'm deeply concerned with what's happening around the world. If America fails to lead, we will create a vacuum that will empower extremists and make America less safe.

Let's start with the Ayatollahs in Iran. Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has supported violent extremists in Iraq, in Afghanistan, who have killed our troops. The regime funds violent terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran provides weapons and training to Bashar Assad, so that he can use those weapons to murder his own people. Iran is a regime that calls our country the Great Satan. Look at their recent activities; they just announced they're building thousands of new centrifuges at an underground uranium facility. How many of you believe that they are enriching all of this uranium for peaceful, nuclear power or for medical isotopes? I don't believe it either. Let me tell you what happens if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. There will most certainly be an arms race in the Middle East because the Sunni Arab countries won't allow the Shia Persians to have a nuclear weapon unless they have the very same capability. A nuclear arms race in the world's most volatile region would be like lighting a match in a tinder box. And here's my biggest fear of all. It's not that Iran will put a nuclear weapon on the end of a missile. My biggest fear is that they will give this nuclear technology to a terrorist organization.

And what have we seen from the Obama administration? The Obama administration is sending the worst signal to the Ayatollahs at a most critical time. We talk. They enrich. They don't take us seriously. This leading from behind strategy—it isn't working. Think about the message that we are sending. In Iraq, the President ignored the advice of his commanders, his own commanders, and rushed to the exits, and what was the result? Al-Qaeda is making a comeback in Iraq, and Iran has become an important player in Iraq. In Syria we sat on the sidelines, while over 70,000 Syrians were slaughtered, ceding our policy to the vetoes of the Russians and the Chinese in the United Nations to a bunch of United Nation bureaucrats.

In Afghanistan, the President has undercut his commanders time and time again. In Libya, the administration again led from behind and never took steps to secure Kaddafi's weapons stash, and you know where those weapons are now? They're in the hands of Islamic radicals in Mali, Egypt and Syria, used by terrorists to harm us and our allies.

This administration has repeatedly undercut Israel. How do you think our strong ally, Israel, feels at one of the most critical times in the history of its country? For Israel, this is life or death. Iran's leaders have said that they want to wipe Israel off the map, and Israel has rightly vowed never again.

Bin Laden is dead. But. Yes. We're glad about that. But make no mistake Al-Qaeda is very much alive. Yet what has this administration's response been during the last week when we captured Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, captured him overseas? Let's understand who this individual is. This is a man who was sitting next to Osama bin Laden the day after September 11, the attacks on our country that murdered so many Americans. He's sitting next to him, filmed, and you know what he said then? He threatened, "The storm shall not stop, especially the airplane storms." He advised Muslims, children, and opponents of the United States not to board any aircraft and not to live in high rises. He's linked to the murder of at least one of our Marines in an attack in Kuwait against us and our allies, and after he spent time with Osama bin Laden he fled. Guess where? Iran. He's charged with conspiring to kill Americans. Unbelievably, instead of taking this foreign terrorist to Guantanamo Bay, holding him in military detention, what does the administration do with him? They bring him to New York City. Right near where our country was attacked. They brought him to a civilian court. They gave him a lawyer, and they told him you have the right to remain silent. It is shameful. As if he's some kind of common criminal who robbed a bank. We all know that it took years to gather the intelligence that led to getting Osama bin Laden. What intelligence did we lose when this administration read this terrorist his Miranda rights? This was clearly a political decision by our attorney general, and not a decision based on gathering intelligence and protecting our great country.

What is the answer to where we find ourselves at a dangerous time in the world? Let me share some of the insights from one of our greatest presidents, a very frequent speaker at CPAC, Ronald Reagan. When President Reagan saw evil in the world, he wasn't afraid to confront it. We all remember famously when he went to Berlin and called President Gorbachev to tear down this wall. It's very hard to imagine our current President standing up to the world bullies in the way that President Reagan did. Can you imagine that? I certainly can't. Look how far we have fallen from President Reagan's legacy. Our allies feel uncertain and our enemies feel emboldened. That's what happens when we lead from behind.

One of the best examples I can tell you of leading from behind is what happened in Benghazi. The mainstream media didn't want to talk about it. Four brave Americans, including our ambassador, were murdered by terrorists. Can you imagine if this had happened under the Bush Administration? Would this not have been a huge story? Absolutely, not a doubt in my mind. What happened in Benghazi is a serious nation security failure. Let's be clear. The administration did not and still does not want to come clean with the facts. However, we did push in Congress, and what did we learn? We learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton never even say the cables from her own ambassador that said very clearly that the consulate could not withstand a coordinated attack. She said that she never saw cables describing the prior attacks on the consulate. She claims that she never knew about requests for additional security from her own people, from our people on the ground in her own agency. Yet she said in her Senate testimony that she was clear-eyed about the risks in Libya. Clear-eyed? How could she possibly say that she was clear-eyed when she never even reviewed the cables from her own ambassador?

It's outrageous.

How could it be that on September 11, of all days when we think about the vigilance that we should be at, on September 11, that we were unable to provide military assistance to our fellow Americans that were under attack when the attack occurred over seven hours? How is that?

Because we wouldn't let this go, and we still won't let this go. What did we learn? We learned that this was not a spontaneous reaction to a hateful video. We now know that Ambassador Susan Rice's explanation was simply false. We also know that the President's explanation to the American people, for nearly two weeks after this attack was absolutely wrong. Unfortunately, we still haven't gotten all the answers of what happened. But I want you to know that we will keep pushing. I will keep pushing to get the bottom of this debacle. Let's vow here today that we never let a tragedy like this happen again.

There is always a temptation to rationalize and discount evil, to disengage, to draw within ourselves, to isolate, and that temptation has existed within every generation. As Ronald Reagan once said, "Whether we like it or not it, is our responsibility to preserve world peace because no one else can do it." If there was ever a time in the history of our country to follow the path created by our great President Ronald Reagan, it is now. Ronald Reagan stood for peace through strength. He stood for a strong American military that was second to none. Ronald Reagan had a clear moral vision for America. President Reagan was once famously asked, "How does the Cold War end?" Without hesitation he said, "We win. They lose."

In our struggle with radical Islam right now that's how it has to be. We win. They lose.

Let's work together to continue the legacy of Ronald Reagan and make sure that America remains safe and strong.

May God bless you and the greatest country on Earth.

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