I am happy to be in Michigan this morning. I'm happy to have my brother Scott and Sister Lynn here. And I'm proud to have all my children and grandchildren here too.
Michigan is where Ann and I were born. It is where we met and fell in love. I still love Ann. And I still love Michigan!
During my parents' campaigns, I visited all 83 Michigan counties, doing my best to convince Michiganders that Romneys and Republicans could lead the state back to prosperity.
You know my father as a business leader, a governor, and as an advocate of volunteerism. But he came from humble roots. He labored with lath and plaster. He never graduated from college. But like many other Americans, he made his dreams come true.
And he made a difference. My father worked here to improve Detroit Schools. He worked to write a new state constitution. And he worked as your governor for six years to get Michigan on the move. His character and integrity left an impression that has lasted through the decades.
It was Mom who did the lion's share of raising Lynn, Jane, Scott and me. Dad said, that as a successful Mom, she had accomplished more than he. Later she worked in charities, in foster care, in music and the arts, and in volunteerism. She even ran for U.S. Senate.
I always imagined that I would come back to Michigan someday. That's why I took the bar exam here. I hadn't imagined it would happen this way, but I sure have come back to Michigan today.
I chose this site for a number of reasons. It's filled with cars and memories. Dad and I loved cars. Most kids read the sports box scores. Dad and I read Automotive News. We came here together, him teaching me about cars that were built before my time.
The Rambler automobile he championed was the first American car designed and marketed for economy and mileage. He dubbed it a compact car, a car that would slay the gas-guzzling dinosaurs. It transformed the industry.
This place is not just about automobiles; it is about innovation, innovation that transformed an industry, and in doing so, gave Americans a way of life our grandparents could never have imagined.
The DC 3 above us was the first true commercial airliner. It transformed aviation from a luxury to a standard mode of transportation.
Next to us is a Ford hybrid. It is the first giant step away from our reliance on the gasoline engine. It is already changing the world of transportation.
Just outside is Thomas Edison's laboratory. There, electricity that Benjamin Franklin discovered was transformed from a novelty into a necessity.
Innovation and transformation have been at the heart of America's success. If there ever was a time when innovation and transformation were needed in government, it is now.
We have lost faith in government, not in just one party, not in just one house, but in government.
We are weary of the bickering and bombast, fatigued by the posturing and self-promotion. For even as America faces a new generation of challenges, the halls of government are clogged with petty politics and stuffed with peddlers of influence.
It is time for innovation and transformation in Washington. It is what our country needs. It is what our people deserve.
I do not believe Washington can be transformed from within by a lifelong politician. There have been too many deals, too many favors, too many entanglementsÉand too little real world experience managing, guiding, leading.
I do not believe Washington can be transformed by someone who has never tried doing such a thing before, in any setting, by someone who has never even managed a corner store, let alone the largest enterprise in the world.
Throughout my life, I have pursued innovation and transformation. It has taught me the vital lessons that come only from experience, from failures and successes, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, from small and large enterprise, from leading a state, from being in the arena, not just talking about it. Talk is easy, talk is cheap. It is doing that is hard. And it is only in doing that hope and dreams come to life.
This Christmas, Ann and I gathered my five sons and five daughters-in-law to ask them whether I should run for President.
We talked about the special time this is in the history of America — the challenges and the opportunities. We talked about the qualities that are needed in our leaders. They were unanimous. They know our hearts. They know our values. They know my experience innovating and transforming, in business, in the Olympics, and in Massachusetts. And they know we love this country.
And so, with them behind us, with the fine people of Michigan before us, and with my sweetheart beside me, I declare my intention to run for President of the United States.
It has been said that a person is defined by what he loves and by what he believes and by what he dreams.
I love America and I believe in the people of America.
I believe in God and I believe that every person in this great country, and every person on this grand planet, is a child of God. We are all sisters and brothers.
I believe the family is the foundation of America o and that we must fight to protect and strengthen it.
I believe in the sanctity of human life.
I believe that people and their elected representatives should make our laws, not unelected judges.
I believe we are overtaxed and government is overfed. Washington is spending too much money.
I believe that homeland security begins with securing our borders.
I believe the best days of this country are ahead of us, becauseÉ
I believe in America!
At this critical time, we must 1) transform our role in the world, 2) strengthen our nation, and 3) build a brighter future for the American family.
Today, as we stare at the face of radical violent Jihad and at the prospect of nuclear epidemic, our military might should not be subject to the whims of ever-changing political agendas. The best ally of peace is a strong America!
Our role in the world must be defined not only in terms of our might, but also by our willingness to lead, to serve, and to share. We must campaign for freedom and democracy in our own hemisphere, now threatened by a second aspiring strongman. We must extend our hand to Africa's poor and diseased and brutalized. We must lead the world's civilized nations in a partnership that will support moderate Muslim nations and peoples, to help them embrace principles of modernity and defeat violent Jihad. We must link arms with all responsible nations to block Iran from realizing its nuclear ambition. America must never engage and negotiate with Jihadists who want to destroy us, destroy our friends, and destroy our way of life!
Across the nation, there is debate about our future course in Iraq. Our desire to bring our troops home, safely and soon, is met with our recognition that if Iraq descends into all-out civil war, millions could die; that Iraq's Sunni region could become a base for Al Qaeda; that its Shia region could be seized by Iran; that Kurd tension could destabilize Turkey; and even that the broader Middle East could be drawn into conflict. The possible implications for America and for American interests from such developments could be devastating. It could mean a future with far more military involvement and far more loss of American life. For these reasons, I believe that so long as there is a reasonable prospect of success, our wisest course is to seek stability in Iraq, with additional troops endeavoring to secure the civilian population.
And no matter how Iraq is resolved, we must honor and care for the veterans who risked their lives, and for the families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice. Our nation has a sacred pact with those who defend freedom. It is a pact we must never break!
America must regain our standing in the world. Our influence must once again match our generosity. Over the entire 20th century, no nation gave more, shed more precious lives, and took less for itself than America. Our sacrifice for freedom and for human dignity continues unabated. But this is not the way it is seen by others. America's goodness and leadership in the world, must be as bright and bold as our military might!
America can also overcome our challenges and seize our abundant opportunities here at home, but only if we follow the right course.
There are some who believe that America's strength comes from government — that challenges call for bigger government, for more regulation of our lives and livelihood, and for more protection and isolation from competition that comes from open markets.
That is the path that has been taken by much of Europe. It is called the welfare state. It has led to high unemployment and anemic job growth. It is not the path to prosperity and leadership.
I believe the American people are the source of our strength. They always have been. They always will be. The American people: hard working, educated, innovative, ready to sacrifice for family and country, patriotic, seeking opportunity above dependence, God-fearing, free American people. When we need to call on the strength of America, we should strengthen the American people, not the American government!
We strengthen the American people by giving them more freedom, by letting them keep more of what they earn, by making sure our schools are providing the skills our children will need for tomorrow, and by keeping America at the leading edge of innovation and technology.
Our government has become a weight on the American people, sapping their strength and slowing their climb. We must transform our government — to become a government that is smaller and less bureaucratic, one with fewer regulations and more freedom for our people. The innovation we need today is to make government more responsive to the needs of everyday American citizens. It's time to put government in its place, and to put the American people first!
At America's core are millions of individual families: families of children and parents, aunts and uncles and cousins, grandparents, foster parents. There is no work more important for our nation's future than the work done in the home.
But the work done in the home isn't getting easier. Values and morals that have long shaped the development of our children are under constant attack. In too many cases, schools are failing. For some, healthcare is inadequate. Family expenses and government taxes take a larger and larger bite. America cannot continue to lead the family of nations if we fail the families at home.
How is the American family made stronger? With marriage before children. With a mother and a father in the life of every child. With healthcare that is affordable and portable. With schools that succeed. With taxes that are lower. And with leaders who strive to demonstrate enduring values and morality.
This was the agenda I pursued as Governor of Massachusetts. This is the agenda I will pursue if elected President.
When I was a boy, the American dream meant a house in the suburbs. The American dream today must mean more than a house. The new American dream should include a strong family, enduring values, excellence in education, dependable and affordable healthcare, secure employment and secure retirement, and a safe and prosperous homeland. It's time to build a new American dream for all of America's families.
How will this new American dream be built? Our hopes and dreams will inspire us, for we are an optimistic people. But hope alone is just crossing fingers, when what we need is industrious hands. It is time for hope and action. It is time to do, as well as to dream!
"As we look around us in this museum, we see the evidence of American innovation — airplanes, automobiles, appliances. But these are not America's greatest innovation. America's greatest innovation is freedom. Without freedom, we have nothing. With freedom, nothing can hold us back.
Freedom has made the American dream possible. Freedom will make the new American dream possible. And with the work, sacrifice, and greatness of spirit of the American people, freedom has made America — and will keep America — the greatest nation on earth. God bless America.