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Romney: 'I Am Sorry that I Will Not Be Your President'

1:45 PM, Mar 15, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Full prepared text of Mitt Romney's CPAC speech:

What an honor to be introduced by Governor Nikki Haley, a woman of uncommon courage and conviction; whose principles have guided her governance. We need more governors like her!

I've also had the honor of your support from the very beginning. You gave my campaign an early boost. You worked on the front lines—promoting my campaign, turning out voters. Thank you.

With help from so many of you, I had the honor of becoming my party's nominee for president. I was given the privilege of experiencing America in ways Ann and I had never imagined. Across this great country, our fellow citizens opened up their homes and hearts to us.

Of course, I left the race disappointed that we didn't win. But I also left honored and humbled to have represented values we believe in and to speak for so many good and decent people. We've lost races before, and in the past, those setbacks prepared us for larger victories. It is up to us to make sure that we learn from my mistakes, and from our mistakes, so that we can win the victories those people and this nation depend upon.

It’s fashionable in some circles to be pessimistic about America, about conservative solutions, about the Republican Party. I utterly reject that pessimism. We may not have carried the day last November 7th, but we haven’t lost the country we love, and we haven't lost our way. Our nation is still full of aspirations and hungry for new solutions. We’re a nation of invention and of reinventing. My optimism about America wasn't diminished by my campaign; no, it grew—It grew as I came to know more of our fellow Americans.

I have seen American determination in people like Debbi Sommers. She runs a furniture rental business for conventions in Las Vegas. When 9/11 hit and again when the recession tanked the conventions business, she didn't give up, close down, or lay off her people. She taught them not just to rent furniture, but also to manufacture it.

I've seen perseverance. Harold Hamm drove a truck for ten years so that he could afford to go to college. He majored in Geology. Studying geological surveys, he concluded that there should be oil in North Dakota. He went there and drilled a well. It was dry. I'm told that it costs about $2 million to drill a dry hole. But he kept on drilling. 16 dry holes later, they called it Harold's folly. That changed with the 17th. The Bakken range he discovered is estimated by some to hold as much as 500 billion barrels of oil.

I've seen risk taking. The flagging lumber business and mounting losses convinced International Paper Corporation that they needed to shut down their lumber mill in Ossipee, New Hampshire. Into the breech stepped Jim Smith and Kim Moore, the plant manager and sales manager. They borrowed and invested everything they could, to buy the broken business. They saved their jobs and 30 other peoples' jobs, growing sales from $5 million a year to $50 million.

I've met people of great faith. I sat in the home of Billy Graham and in the residence of Cardinal Dolan and prayed with these men of God.

I met heroes in our armed forces: men and women who re-signed with the National Guard after multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan, knowing that in all probability, they would be going back again. 

I met heroes in the homes of the nation:  single moms who are working two jobs so that their kids will have clothes like those that the other kids wear, dads who almost forget what a weekend is, because of all the jobs they've taken on to keep the house.

We are a patriotic people. The heart of America is good. Our land is blessed by the hand of God; may we as a people always be worthy of His grace, and His protection.

Like you, I believe a Conservative vision can attract a majority of Americans and form a governing coalition of renewal and reform.  As someone who just lost the last election, I'm probably not the best person to chart the course for the next election. That said, I do have advice. Perhaps because I am a former governor, I would urge you to learn the lessons that come from some of our greatest success stories: the 30 Republican governors.

Yes, they are winning elections, but more importantly, they are solving problems. Big problems. Important problems. Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia secured a constitutional amendment to expand charter schools. Governor Rick Snyder signed Right to Work legislation—in Michigan! Several secured tort reform. Many turned huge deficits into surpluses. Republican governors reached across the aisle, offered innovative solutions and have been willing to take the heat to make tough decisions.

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