I think you now have a better sense of why I’m one of the luckiest guys in Virginia. I want to thank my wife, Teiro – who is such a great advocate for me and our shared principles – and my children who have stood by me every step of the way.
I also want to thank my mother and father for being here today and providing great examples for me over the years.
Wherever you are from in Virginia, Teiro and I are thankful you are here and we are humbled by your support.
With today being Armed Forces Day and this past week having been Police Week, I want to recognize the many men and women who have served in the military or in law enforcement or as first responders, risking their lives to safeguard us and the very freedoms that allow us to gather at events like this.
Thank all of you – thank you for your service and sacrifices and those of your families.
My friends, we are gathered here today to pick a team to take our positive vision for a stronger Virginia to every person in our Commonwealth.
Working together, we can grow our economy, creating new jobs – while protecting the ones we already have – and provide every child with a quality education.
Working together, we can move Virginia forward by remaining true to our core principles.
And so I humbly stand before you this morning to accept your Republican nomination in the race to be the 72nd Governor of this great Commonwealth.
Today, I want to continue to articulate a clear, detailed, and positive vision for our Commonwealth’s future. To me, that means:
A stronger middle class, fueled by better paying jobs, more opportunity, and a more competitive economic environment that encourages our businesses to invest and grow.
A stronger economy that can produce new jobs for the thousands who are currently out of work. And to be clear, we should be trying to create those jobs right here in Virginia. Not in Mississippi or in China.
It also means a smarter government, with streamlined regulations and a fairer and more competitive tax code, without so many loopholes for the powerful and well connected.
An education system that allows every child, regardless of where they live, the opportunity to receive a quality education, that gives parents greater control over their children’s education, and that rewards and recruits the best teachers.
A transportation system that advances our economy and betters our quality of life.
An active and ongoing commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our society, whether it’s protecting children from Internet predators or rescuing those who are victimized by despicable human traffickers.
Our commitment also includes fighting for the innocent who languish in prison because no one will hear their plea, and caring for Virginians who struggle with mental illness.
It also means defending those at both ends of life – protecting the elderly from abuse as well as the unborn. We should encourage a deep and abiding respect for all human life.
And being the home of George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, Virginia should have a governor who respects our history; who is committed to incorporating the First Principles of this country into policy; and who will fight to defend the U.S. Constitution.
I’m running for Governor because I’m well suited to fight and achieve these priorities, and I’m the only one who won’t need on-the-job training.
Because while my opponent knows Washington, I know Virginia.
That’s why the Washington Post called him a “Washington insider and a Virginia outsider.”
So for Virginians who think Washington works well, they have a candidate in this race. And the Virginians who don’t think Washington works well, also have a candidate in this race.
I have been fighting for the people of Virginia because I believe in the people of Virginia.
When my opponent was faced with the choice of investing in Virginia, with one of the best business environments in America; or investing in Mississippi, with one of the worst business environments in America, what did he do?
He dropped us like a hot brick for Mississippi moola – Mississippi tax money.
And now he can’t keep his story straight about why he abandoned Virginia.
So now we know how much he believes in the people of Virginia.
I guess that’s what you get with a candidate who’s only deep and abiding belief about Virginia is that he should be our Governor.
I’ve been working to protect Virginia and Virginians for a long, long time.
I was the first Attorney General in the nation to challenge the Federal Healthcare law.
I also worked with the Democrat controlled Fairfax Board of Supervisors to stop the EPA from trying to treat rainwater the same as a pollutant. And we won. Saving Virginia and Fairfax County taxpayers well over 200 million dollars.
For eight long years I made it a mission to safeguard Virginians’ private property rights, taking on entrenched special interests along the way. And wouldn’t you know it—when we let the people decide, the constitutional amendment passed with 74 percent of the vote, even with the Democrat Party of Virginia urging a “no” vote on their sample ballot.
I have also worked hard as your Attorney General to stop fraud and protect Virginians.
In less than three and a half years as Attorney General, my office has successfully won more in Medicaid fraud awards than all 27 years of the health care fraud unit prior to my arrival combined.
For the first time, the Attorney General’s office has made fighting the horrors of human trafficking a top priority. And we are having success locking up criminals who seek to force Virginia women and children into servitude and prostitution.
We’ve secured more convictions of child predators in the last two years than any two-year period in the office’s history.
And when it comes to good governance, I don’t just talk. Our office has returned taxpayer dollars to the general fund each and every year and we will do it again this year.
My record is one of fighting for the people I serve. Even my detractors will tell you that “what you see is what you get.”
My opponent and his liberal cronies will say I’m too conservative. Well, that can’t be true, otherwise the IRS obviously would’ve audited me.
And speaking of tax returns, I’ve released eight years of my full returns, yet my opponent has failed to do the same. If he has nothing to hide, then why not release the same tax information I have?
It’s time for him to be up front with the people of Virginia and release his taxes, just as he said Mitt Romney should do just last year.
My opponent and his well-funded political insiders are going to call us lots of names. They are going to try and scare folks and scream at the top of their lungs that we’re extremists and radicals. What else would you expect from a former DNC Chairman?
But when did it become extreme to protect children from predators and human traffickers?
When did it become extreme to guard our Constitution from government overreach?
When did it become extreme to secure the freedom of the wrongly convicted?
When did it become extreme to ask the government to spend less so our economy can grow?
My friends, it is not extreme to fight for the people of Virginia and that is exactly what I’m going to do as your next Governor.
I’m going to fight for the single mom from Roanoke who’s just learned her company has to push her below 30 hours a week to continue to keep her, but she doesn’t know how she’ll pay the bills.
I’m going to fight for the coal-hauling trucker from Richlands, who is all-but invisible to people who have never been outside the Beltway but have been ordained to regulate the coal business.
I’m going to fight for the young mother from Northern Virginia who is fed up with traffic that prevents her from growing her company or making it home to her kids on time.
I’m going to fight for the auto mechanic from Charlottesville who doesn’t follow politics closely or attend conventions, but still deserves a Governor who takes him into account when devising a budget or reforming the tax code.
The first step in fighting for the people of Virginia is to grow our economy, create new jobs, and protect the ones we already have.
Earlier this month, I rolled out my Economic Growth and Virginia Jobs Plan.
My plan will make Virginia more attractive to our job creators and innovators, empower middle class families, and reform our state government to make it smarter and more efficient.
My plan includes a simpler and fairer tax code that will increase our competitiveness in a global economy while also leaving middle class families with more of their own hard-earned money.
As Governor, I will streamline regulations. It’s imperative that we clear the way for those who expand our free market system so they can get about the business of doing business.
To help Virginia become the best state for business, it’s critical that we continue to aggressively protect our right to work laws. As Attorney General, I have been a staunch defender of Virginia’s right to work laws, and I will continue to do so as Governor – unlike my opponent.
As Governor, I’ll also continue Governor McDonnell’s commitment to education reform that gives parents options to make the best choices for their child.
We also owe it to our children to make sure our public schools, community colleges, and public universities are the best they can possibly be while remaining affordable to middle class families.
These are just a few of the priorities I will focus on as your next Governor. I firmly believe they are achievable, but I’m going to need your help and encouragement along the way.
I believe Virginians face stark choices this November about our future.
Do we want a government that directs the people? Or a government that empowers people?
Do we want higher taxes and more spending? Or do we want to lower the tax burden on middle class families and job creators?
Do we want to eliminate the tax carve outs for special interests? Do we want crony capitalism?
Do we want a fad-driven energy policy that leaves Southwest Virginia behind? Or an all-of-the-above energy policy that capitalizes on all of our resources and keeps energy prices down for families and competitive for businesses?
Do we want a governor who undermines our right to work laws? Or a governor who stands up for freedom against union bosses?
And finally, do we want a governor who will say anything and do anything to get elected? Or a governor with a history of fighting for Virginians with principled, consistent, straightforward leadership?
In the months ahead, the people of Virginia will have a clear choice to make between two very different visions of our future, and it’s a debate that everyone should see.
That’s why I want to debate my opponent in every corner of the state. Not simply joint appearances where scripted sound bites are all we are expected to deliver, but actual real, honest debates where we can have a frank discussion about the issues that are important to Virginia and let the people decide.
I want to hold a real debate in Winchester, and Harrisonburg, and Roanoke, and Wytheville, and in Bristol. I want to debate my opponent in Lynchburg, Martinsville, and Danville.
Though after he’s turned his back on the poor folks of Martinsville and Danville, I doubt my opponent will want debates there.
I want to discuss our very different visions of our future in Richmond, and Newport News, and in Virginia Beach.
We should stand on the stage together in Fredericksburg, and Manassas, and Leesburg, and Fairfax, and proudly articulate our plans for the people of Virginia.
The people of Virginia deserve these debates, and anything less is a disservice to the voters of this great Commonwealth.
For more than 400 years, Virginia has served as the cornerstone of our nation.
Our nation was founded in Jamestown and the fire of liberty was ignited by the words of Patrick Henry just a few blocks from here. We secured our nation’s independence at Yorktown and it was James Madison who drafted our Constitution, which has protected our rights for over two centuries.
It was another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the immortal words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Dr. Martin Luther King called this our national creed. I think that’s a great name for it. We are still striving to live up to this immortal standard.
Looking into the future, I see a Commonwealth where our people once again lead in liberty and opportunity.
Where striving to achieve is respected, even when we fall short, and it’s celebrated when we succeed.
I see a Commonwealth where we restrain our debt so we pass on to the next generation a system of governance that can preserve our freedoms and defend our God-given rights.
That is a mission worthy of our history and of the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.
It is a future that I hope we can work together to build, right now, in 2013.
Thank you very much. May God bless you, and may He continue to bless the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Following is the text of Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli's speech, delivered to the state GOP convention at the Richmond Coliseum on Saturday:
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