Thank you for coming.
I have called this press conference to announce that I am a candidate for the Presidency and to ask for the support of all Americans who share my belief that our nation needs to embark on a new, constructive course. I believe my candidacy will be healthy for the nation and my party.
I am running because I have grown increasingly concerned about the course of events in the United States and in the world.
In just a few years, three vital measures of economic decay—inflation, unemployment, and interest rates—have more than doubled, at times reaching 10 percent and even more.
Government at all levels now absorbs more than 44 percent of our personal income. It has become more intrusive, more coercive, more meddlesome and less effective. Our access to cheap and abundant energy has been interrupted, and our dependence on foreign sources is growing. A decade ago we had military superiority. Today we are in danger of being surpassed by a nation that has never made an effort to hide its hostility to everything we stand for.
Through détente we have sought peace with our adversaries. We should continue to do so but must make it plain that we expect a stronger indication that they also seek a lasting peace with us.
In my opinion, the root of these problems lies right here—in Washington, D.C. Our nation’s capital has become the seat of a “buddy” system that functions for its own benefit—increasingly insensitive to the needs of the American worker who supports it with his taxes.
Today it is difficult to find leaders who are independent of the forces that have brought us our problems—the Congress, the bureaucracy, the lobbyist, big business and big labor.
If America is to survive and go forward, this must change. It will only change when the American people vote for a leadership that listens to them, relies on them and seeks to return government to them. We need a government that is confident not of what it can do, but of what the people can do.
For eight years in California, we labored to make government responsive. We worked against high odds—an opposition legislature for most of those years and an obstructive Washington bureaucracy for all of them. We did not always succeed. Nevertheless, we found that fiscal responsibility is possible, that the welfare rolls can come down, that social problems can be met below the Federal level.
In the coming months I will take this message to the American people. I will talk in detail about responsible, responsive government. I will tell the people it is they who should decide how much government they want.
I don’t believe for one moment that four more years of business-as-usual in Washington is the answer to our problems, and I don’t think the American people believe it either.
We, as a people, aren’t happy if we are not moving forward. A nation that is growing and thriving is one which will solve its problems. We must offer progress instead of stagnation; the truth instead of promises; hope and faith instead of defeatism and despair. Then, I am sure, the people will make those decisions which will restore confidence in our way of life and release that energy that is the American spirit.