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Tampa, U.S.A. — The following are remarks as prepared for delivery by the Hon. John Thune, U.S. Senator, South Dakota, at the 2012 Republican National Convention:
Good evening, fellow Republicans.
It’s no secret that I’m a sports fan. In fact, I get asked all the time if I’ve ever played basketball with President Obama. The answer is “no,” I’m still waiting for that invitation.
The next question is, “Do you think you could take him one-on-one?” I say, “I really don’t know, I’ve never seen him play.”
But I can tell you this. President Obama would be easy to defend, because you know he’s always going to go to his left.
Like many Americans, I’ve been blessed by the hard work and sacrifice of those who’ve come before.
Back in 1906, two Norwegian brothers named Nicolai and Matthew Gjelsvik came to this country in search of the American Dream. When they reached the shores of America, the only English words they knew were “apple pie” and “coffee,” which evidently they had plenty of on the trip over.
The immigration officials at Ellis Island determined that their name “Gjelsvik” – G-J-E-L-S-V-I-K – was too difficult to spell and pronounce, so they asked them to change it. The two brothers picked the name of the farm where they worked in Norway, which was called the Thune Farm. And so Nicolai Gjelsvik became Nick Thune, my grandfather.
With their new country and their new name, the two brothers began their new life by working on the railroad. They learned English and saved enough money to start a small hardware store.
And yes, Mr. President, they did build it!
My grandfather raised three sons. The middle son, my father, joined the Navy when World War II broke out.
He became a naval aviator, flying combat missions off the aircraft carrier Intrepid in the Pacific theatre. On one mission, he shot down four enemy aircraft, for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
After the war, my dad quietly returned to South Dakota, his hardware store and his family.
Many versions of that story are told across this country. The details may be different – but the dream is the same.
I hate to say it, but that dream is in serious jeopardy. We have a sluggish economy, burdened by Obama administration policies that are weighing down our job creators. Middle-class Americans, in cities and on farms, are bearing the brunt.
The big-government bureaucrats of the Obama administration have set their sights on our way of life. Instead of preserving family farms and ranches, President Obama’s policies are effectively regulating them out of business.
His administration even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores!
Since President Obama took office, we’ve had 42 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent – the longest streak on record.
The cost of family health insurance premiums has risen by nearly 19 percent, college tuition has increased by 25 percent and fuel costs have doubled.
The number of people on food stamps has increased by 45 percent, and the debt we’re piling on the backs of our children and grandchildren has gone up by 50 percent. Yet for all President Obama’s talk about the middle class, middle-class incomes are down.
Folks, we won’t be in this situation with Mitt Romney in the White House. He understands what it takes for businesses large and small to thrive.
This knowledge doesn’t come from a textbook (although he’s read plenty of those). It comes from decades of rolling up his sleeves and getting the job done.
It comes from recognizing the strengths and contributions of every individual. His experience tells him that the most valuable insight can be gained – not by lecturing – but by listening.
And when he does use his presidential bully pulpit, it will be to champion the cause of small business and make it clear to all companies that it is safe to hire again.
On Day One of Mitt Romney’s presidency, the transformation of Washington will begin. Gone will be the arrogance of a president whose first instinct is to condemn achievement.
Gone will be the attitude that government knows best and solves all.
What you will see and hear is a president who will do everything in his power to make sure government is a catalyst for growth, not an obstacle to success. And, a president with a plan to strengthen the middle class.
May it never be said of us that when confronted with the economic peril before us, we averted our eyes, turned away and did nothing.
Our children’s future depends on our willingness to act and our decision to elect Mitt Romneypresident of the United States.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.
Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore