Transcript: McDonnell Accepts GOP Nomination for Virginia Governor

Saturday, May 30, 2009 4:13 PM

Thank you great Republican friends of Virginia!

And thank you Jeanine. I think the future of America is bright with patriotic young people like Jeanine who will carry on the torch of freedom for our nation.

Fellow Virginians, fellow Republicans, fellow delegates, I accept your nomination as the Republican candidate for Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia!

As I look across this sea of great Republicans, at the largest convention in 15 years, I'm immensely honored that you have put your trust and faith in me.

You have allowed me to represent our vision and aspirations in one of the most pivotal elections in Virginia history, to stand on the shoulders of Governor's Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry to govern in the cradle of democracy. And I will not let you down.

My wife Maureen and children and sisters and many relatives are here today.

I wish my beloved mom was here to see this. She would probably say, "He's come a long way from the 5 year-old boy who lit his sister's hair on fire." Nancy, stand up, just want to make sure everyone knows things turned out fine.

This time in Virginia demands a leader who can govern in times of crisis. You know I can, because I'm the only candidate with17 year old twin boys who just got their driver's licenses.

And I want to take a moment to say hello to my hometown friends from Fairfax County where Maureen and I grew up, Virginia Beach where we raised our children, and Henrico County where we live now! You know where ever I go; I'm your local candidate!

Friends, today I pledge to you I will uphold the highest ideals of the Party of Lincoln and Reagan. I've served you as an Army officer, prosecutor, legislator, and Attorney General. With your help, I will serve as your next Governor.

I'm ready to lead, if you're ready to win!

As the Gipper told us, I will not paint pale pastels where bold colors are demanded.

We are blessed to live in Virginia, where our nation was born with the planting of the cross at Cape Henry in 1607, where Jefferson drafted the Declaration, enshrining the blueprint of liberty for a young nation.

But today we Virginians face many challenges.

We're losing thousands of jobs, unemployment is at a 17-year high.

During the last decade, state spending has grown by roughly 70%, while Virginians incomes have increased by only 5%.

At our state colleges and universities, tuition and fees have doubled since 2000.

Too many Virginians are seeing their home values go down, while their property taxes go up.

Virginia imports more electricity than any state other than California.

We have too few scientists, engineers and nurses.

We have too much traffic congestion.

Entrepreneurship and free enterprise are often stifled by excessive regulation, taxation, and government mandates.

And we talk too much about adding government programs, and too little about personal responsibility, duty, and sacrifice.

The problems are clear. Strong leadership and solutions are needed.

That is what this campaign is all about: Advancing innovative, workable, conservative solutions, through a wise and frugal government, that will create new jobs and more opportunities for every region of Virginia.

I've never shied away from a challenge. And you haven't either. Virginians are a determined and resilient people.

One of the reasons Virginia is so great, is because Virginians are so good.

In every city and every community we see that.

A few weeks ago, I had dinner at a restaurant here in Richmond called "Max's Positive Vibe Café." This remarkable restaurant is the vision of Garth Larcen. Garth's son Max has muscular dystrophy. As he entered his 20's it became difficult for Max to find a job.

Max needed an opportunity, so his dad stepped up. The two opened this restaurant which now employs and teaches the restaurant business to adults with disabilities. Since its founding, more than 270 people have graduated from their training program with hope for the future. It has become a national model. Garth and Max are the Virginia I know.

Three years ago I met Virginia State Trooper Darrell Bowling at an accident scene in rural Patrick County. Darrell told me about his son Jonathan, a young marine, who gave his life serving our nation in Iraq. I told him about Jeanine's service in Baghdad. Darrell told me about a Virginia state flag that Jonathan loved and had taken to fly in Iraq. Darrell asked me if I could "find a good place for it."

Less than a year later F-18 fighter jets streaked across the skies of downtown Richmond as hundreds of family members of fallen servicemen and women stood on the steps of the Virginia State Capitol for the dedication of the Virginia Wall of Honor. Because a proud father wanted to honor his son's sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all of Virginia's heroes, there now stands a permanent tribute to those Virginians lost in the Global War on Terror. They died, so we can live free.

Darrel and Jonathan Bowling are the Virginia I know.

The people of Virginia deserve a government that matches their benevolence and character.

A government that puts in place policies to limit government, expand free enterprise, keep our communities safe, ensure opportunities and justice for all, and builds on the eternal values of our founders.

That is why today, as I accept your nomination, I say:

To every Virginian who needs a job

To every small business owner trying to make payroll

To every retiree alarmed at losses in their retirement account

To every homeowner concerned about their home value

To every parent writing that next tuition check

To every clergyman fighting to keep a strong community

To every young person who just wants an opportunity to live and experience the American Dream.

This campaign is for you. This campaign is about you!

I grew up in Fairfax County, under the watchful eyes of a dad who was a World War II veteran and a mom who balanced family and work. I learned from them the values that have lasted a lifetime. My dad told me as a kid, "Son the harder you work, the luckier you get." And he was right.

I attended Notre Dame on an Army ROTC scholarship. My opportunity to gain a college degree came with a duty to serve our country.

During 21 years in the Army, active and reserve, I learned the value of sacrifice and teamwork and the satisfaction that comes from being part of something greater than oneself.

While on active duty in Germany, I looked from the soil of freedom to the Iron Curtain of tyranny, and learned about the greatness of America and the blessings of liberty.

As a manager for a health care company, I saw the productive power that is unleashed when we empower hard working people to innovate and profit in a free enterprise system.

As a prosecutor in Virginia Beach, I saw victims who were not being treated fairly and criminals who were getting out of prison too early, and I learned about the value of justice -- and decided to do something about it.

I ran for the House of Delegates, and won.

Four years ago you nominated me to serve as your Attorney General.

After my "landslide" victory, we worked together to establish a 25-year minimum sentence for sex offenders who commit violent crimes against children, and stiffened penalties for drug dealers and gang members.

We made Virginia a national leader in fighting Internet Crimes Against Children and identity theft.

We dramatically improved our homeland security and mental health laws.

We fought to protect marriage, the right to life, and parental rights.

Each of these accomplishments represented not only a promise made at election-time, but a promise kept at governing-time.

92 of our 105 legislative proposals became law with broad bipartisan support.

Now, I am ready, as Virginia's next Governor, to enact the effective conservative policies we need to get results and get our Commonwealth back on the track.

My good friend, running mate, and our great Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, and I have already unveiled many, bold policy goals all built around one common purpose: creating new jobs and more freedom and opportunity for every region of Virginia.

We will make Virginia the best state in America to start and grow a small business by cutting bureaucracy and issuing permits in 48 hours.

We will make Virginia the top state in America for tourism and film production.

We will develop the top commercial space port in the country on the Eastern Shore and keep our veterans and retirees -- and their talent and money -- right here in Virginia.

Virginia can be the energy capital of the east coast.

I support exploring and drilling for oil and natural gas 50 miles off our coast.

Virginia can become the first state on the eastern seaboard to drill offshore. It is environmentally safe and economically smart, and will create thousands of jobs, billions in investment, and millions in tax revenues for roads and research.

Let's put ideology aside, and be comprehensive when it comes to our energy future - Yes, we must develop new technologies for wind, solar, biomass, and other renewables. But to keep a good supply of low-cost power, we need oil and natural gas, and we must speed up the approval and permitting process for nuclear and clean coal-generation plants.

We will support our coal industry in Southwest Virginia and the great coal-exporting port in Hampton Roads.

We will make Virginia a green jobs zone to encourage green energy entrepreneurs to protect our environment, while creating good jobs.

During the previous two administrations, the average college tuition bill has increased by nearly 80%.

Maureen and I have a daughter at JMU, one who just finished at VCU and twin boys on their way to college in a year. Parents and young people know we must make college more accessible and affordable if we are to expand the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

We have overspent on our present and failed to invest in our future.

Our future ability to attract new employers to Virginia will be determined by our current commitment to the education of our citizens.

As Governor I will put the Commonwealth on track to award 100,000 additional degrees over the next 15 years, so more of your children can get into Virginia's great colleges and universities.

We will focus them on math, science, engineering, technology, health care, and education so we will stay competitive in the global economy.

Our community colleges will become the backbone of workforce development and retraining.

Virginia will be one of the most highly-educated states in the country and that will result in new industry and new jobs.

You like to hunt and fish? You like to hike and camp? As Governor, I will conserve an additional 400,000 acres of land for future generations of Virginians.

Conservation is a conservative value. It helps the economy because employers like to locate where workers like to live.

A government that inspires the trust and confidence of the citizenry honors the vision of Virginia's founders. We will institute true budget accountability and transparency. The more citizens can see, the less politicians will spend.

We will create a watchdog commission to root out waste in our state agencies. We will conduct a performance audit to help our major state agencies, and we will start with VDOT.

Reducing congestion on our roads gives you more time with your family and brings more business and jobs to our state.

We are going to upgrade US 460 to make it a modern highway from Suffolk to Petersburg. We will widen 66 inside the Beltway. We will get started on high speed passenger rail from DC to Richmond to Hampton Roads.

On these and other projects we will not accept excuses anymore. We will get dirt turned and projects moving by using public-private partnerships, market-based solutions, budget prioritization, and innovation and technology.

I will be a Jobs Governor. I will advance policies that will put Virginians to work.

Now, my fellow Republicans, you know that elections are about choices. And this year - regardless of who the Democrats choose on June 9th -- there will be a clear choice for Virginians going to the polls on November 3rd.

I will offer big ideas and positive solutions -- we will be the party that embraces reform and says YES.

On energy, our opponents will say NO to offshore drilling, NO to clean coal, NO to nuclear, and NO to the new jobs and investment that come with it.

When it comes to promoting energy independence:

They'll just say NO, we'll just say YES!

When it comes to the job-killing card check bill which threatens Virginia's Right to Work law, a cornerstone of our business success, our opponents will say NO to protecting the secret ballot, and NO to safeguarding Virginia's Right to Work law.

When it comes to keeping Virginia competitive:

They'll just say NO. We'll just say YES!

When it comes to educating our children, our opponents will say NO to more educational choices, NO to charter schools, and NO to performance pay for our best teachers and principals who help our children to achieve excellence.

When it comes to improving our schools:

They'll just say NO. We'll just say YES!

On the issue of government efficiency and spending, our opponents will say NO to eliminating burdensome regulations, NO to making government simpler and more user-friendly, NO to reducing unnecessary permits, fees, licenses, and decals, NO to reducing wasteful spending.

When it comes to government accountability:

They'll just say NO. We'll just say YES!

There will be a clear choice in November. We will offer positive, innovative solutions to create new jobs and provide greater freedom and opportunity for all Virginians.

When it comes to Virginia's future and the need for changes in Richmond:

We'll just say YES!

And we will do this while never losing sight of the values that we hold dear.

In his first inaugural address, George Washington spoke words that echoed down through the ages, "The propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."

Values matter. Character counts.

Dr. Martin Luther King rightly said people should be judged by the content of their character. A nation that does not have a people of charity, faithfulness, integrity and sacrifice cannot long endure.

Jefferson wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights - among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe this great truth applies to every American - born and unborn, and as your Governor I will be a staunch defender of innocent human life.

In forming our Constitution the founders expressly protected the individual right of Americans to own firearms, and as Governor I will protect the 2nd Amendment.

Our founders understood that the "pursuit of happiness" meant the right to own private property, and as Governor I will continue to strengthen the private property rights of Virginians.

We must save the Founder's vision of individual liberty!

My personal faith in God has provided the foundation for my life. My faith gives me strong purpose, and an optimism for the future. I know we can make Virginia better. I have seen the amazing results that can be achieved when people come together for the common good, and are not concerned with who gets the credit. Now, it is time we come together for the common good once again.

Virginians want leaders who understand that God has planted in the human spirit a love for freedom, opportunity, justice and equality. They also want leaders who embrace civility, reach out to independents, Democrats, and Republicans, keep their promises, and get results.

I will be that leader.

We must dream big, act nobly and make progress.

In Virginia, where our forefathers planted this great Republic, anything is possible. My life has taught me that.

Thanks to growing up in a middle-class neighborhood in Fairfax County I learned the value of hard work and the golden rule.

Thanks to my faith, I learned the great value of serving others.

Thanks to the United States Army I got the discipline and education that has taken me farther than I ever imagined.

And now, I stand here as your candidate for Governor of the greatest state in the greatest country the world has ever known.

May God continue to bless Virginia! And may God bless you!

Thank you!

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