These are the remarks, as delivered, by former Texas Governor Rick Perry at the Iowa GOP's Lincoln Dinner on May 15, 2015.
It is good to be back in Iowa. As we drove across a good part of Iowa over the course of the last few hours, being a farm boy I looked out across there, and I looked at those rows of corn. You can just start rowing that corn. And this is the good time of the year. This is the time when hope springs eternally. For those of us who grew up in these agricultural communities, this is the time of the year that you looked around and you went, “we’re going to have a great crop.” “We’re going to have great prices,” and it just made you feel good about who you were and what you were doing. And that’s one of the reasons that I think Iowans are so optimistic about what goes on in this country. That, if you want to find out how the heartbeat of America is, you come to places like Iowa. You talk to those men and women out there that risk every day. Whether it’s a small business like yours or whether it’s a farm out there. I’m telling you I believe as sure as the sun’s going to come up in the east tomorrow that the best days of America are in front of us. And the reason that’s true is because I know these people. I know what this country is capable of doing. You think about who we are, what we’ve been through. We’re a resilient people Mr. Chairman. We’ve been through a Civil War. We’ve been through two World Wars. We’ve been through a Great Depression. We made it through Jimmy Carter, we’ll make it through a Barack Obama, trust me on this. We will.
And, I will suggest to you our future is inextricably intertwined to energy, and North American energy. I know Jeb talked about our great friend the Canadians, and, right on he is about that. North American energy policy I will suggest to you, which is so important to the future of this country. When I think about what is possible… When I think about the opportunities that we have in this country. Senator, I know that American energy is right at the heart of it. I know that. When you think about bringing North American energy, the Canadian sands, opening up the XL Pipeline, being able to use domestic and Mexican energy in a North American energy strategy, we can drive down the cost of electricity. We can then couple that with corporate tax policy, driving down corporate tax rates. I mean, any accountant worth their salt will tell you that when you lower that corporate tax rate by 10% you’re going to see a raising of 5 to 10% of wages. Everyone, every blue collar worker in America, ought to be standing up and saying, “I’m voting for the Republicans because they’re going to raise my wages.” Every one of them. You couple those two things together, the driving down of electricity costs because we’re using North American energy. And, frankly, I’d whole lot rather count on the Canadians and the Mexicans than the Venezuelans and some Mullah from some Middle Eastern country for our energy. Think about that. North American energy, lowering the cost of electricity in this country coupled with our corporate tax policy and we can lure manufacturing back into this country like we have never seen before.
I know this can happen. I know it can happen because I’ve seen it over the last fourteen years. We can create jobs like we’ve never seen created before. We can turn this country around in a short period of time. We’re only a few good decisions away and a leadership change at the top and the best days America has ever had. I know that. You know that. That’s what our future is. I’m so optimistic about the future. Now, I understand there’s pessimism out there and there’s good reason for it. One out of 10 Americans are out of a job or under-employed or just completely quit looking for a job. One out of 5 of our children live in a family that’s on food stamps. What did we have, 0.2 growth last month? That may be good enough for Barack Obama. It may be good enough for the Democrats, but that’s not good enough for me. I know that America can do better than that because I’ve seen it done. When I was the governor of the 13th largest economy in the world, we were a great example of what you can do. When you free people from over-taxation, over-regulation, over-litigation. When you have the best educational programs in the world where there’s a skilled workforce. That’s what you can do in this country. From the end of ’07 through the end of 2014 we created 1.5 million jobs. Juxtapose that with what was happening across the rest of this country: They lost 400,000 jobs. I kept waiting for the president in the State of the Union address to stand up and say, “I want to give a shout-out to the people in Texas for making the economic recovery possible.” Yeah, I may have been dreaming a little bit on that one. But the fact is we know that this country can get back on track.
I’m optimistic about the future of this country. Governor, I’m optimistic because I know that governors like you, and leaders like you, can make Iowa even more powerful when Washington understands that the real innovators are governors and legislators working with their local folks. For the life of me I don’t understand why Washington, D.C. thinks they are the font of all wisdom. Whether it’s delivering health care, whether it’s educating our children, whether it’s transportation infrastructure. I know for a fact that your governor and your legislators working together will come up with better ways to deliver health care in this state than some bureaucrat in Washington D.C. I know for a fact that your governor and your legislature working with your parents and with your teachers will come up with a better way to educate your children than Common Core. I know that. The future of this country is inextricably intertwined back to the states, and freeing these states from this one size that fits all.
Now I know there is pessimism out there in the world. You look around. You turn your TV on, you open up a newspaper, you flip on your radio or get your device out, and you see images of Christians being led down to the beach in Libya and beheaded. You see a young Jordanian pilot burned alive in front of you. You see ISIS showing up in Garland, Texas, and you realize that this is a challenging world that we live in. But I will suggest to you that just like in 1979 when we were looking around - and it was pretty pessimistic times in the world - it was pessimistic economically in this country. We were on our back. They embargoed our wheat to go to Russia. They boycotted our kids to go compete in the Olympics. You had Jimmy Carter who was hollowing out our military in 1979. I know. I just left the military. I just, eighteen months earlier I had left my squadron and was back home farming. And I was talking to my friends as they were losing their opportunities to go serve this country. And we saw this president put America in a, in a funk if you will. He called it a malaise. We were on our back. And, I think about how that relates to where we are today, and this kind of underlying pessimism that we see in this country and around the world.
I know that it can be better. And let me tell you why I know it can be better. Because ten years after 1979, we saw the Berlin Wall torn down. And we saw Soviet Communism defeated because we had a president that understood that when America is strong the world is safer. We had a president that understood when you unleash the power of Americans economically their future is brighter. And we can do that again. I’m so optimistic about the future of this country, and I’m optimistic about the future of the world because I know Americans. And, I know that we have the potential to really impact not only what’s going on right here in Iowa, but all across this country. If we will unleash, unleash people from over-taxation, from over-regulation, over-litigation. If we will allow these states to put accountable public schools and policies into place, and we will have the greatest days in America ahead.
I went with my father fifteen years ago to Omaha Beach. And we stood there. My dad was a 19- year-old tail-gunner on B17s. He flew 35 missions over Nazi-held Germany. And, he and I standing on that beach, looking at those thousands of graves, those white crosses, those stars of David. Interestingly, every one of those face west. West to an America that they loved, west to an America that they would never go home to, and, the thought came to me that they’re sitting there in silent judgment. Judgment of us today. Were their sacrifices worth it? And, I know the answer to that. And in November of 2016 we will send that message powerfully across this country that their sacrifices were worth it. And the best days of America will be in front of us because of them, and because of what you will do during that period of time. God Bless you, thank you for that ladies and gentlemen.