Conservative Call to Arms

The world's greatest bastion of freedom urgently needs its citizens to act.

[Editors’ note: This is a transcript of a speech delivered by Senator Jim DeMint at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s recent Santa Barbara Retreat. To watch the video of the speech, click here.]

Jim DeMint: David, thank you so much.  Gosh, it’s so encouraging to me to see all of you here.

I wish I could tell you how important it is when people come together, particularly conservatives.  David makes an excellent point -- that conservatives are out there working, raising families -- I mean, they don’t have time to do this kind of stuff.  It’s only people who want to control our lives who come together.  But when people do it, I know it’s a sacrifice.  And for you to come together, create that critical mass, it’s so encouraging to me.  I mean, so many of you have said thank you to me tonight.  But I’m really here to thank you.

One of the things I figured out long ago, after I came to the House, is I really have no power at all, unless the people on the outside are with me.  And what’s happened over the last year has helped me realize it doesn’t take a majority inside of Congress, if we have the majority outside.  And I’m really encouraged about what I’m seeing.

And I’m not really here to just talk to you.  I’m here to stand with you and to thank you.  David, thank you for your organization.  Thank you for all of you who support what he’s doing.  It’s great to see him when he’s in D.C., just continuing to rattle cages, get people’s attention.  It’s really important to be an advocate for the things that we’re working on.

I didn’t know he was going to introduce me before dinner; I thought I was going to get something to eat.

But on my way to the -- back to L.A., I’m going to stop by McDonalds.  And I recommend it to all of you.

Because they’ve got a new Obama Value Meal that I hope you’ll all try.  It’s really great, really.  The new Obama Value Meal -- you can order anything you want, and the guy behind you has to pay for it.

It’s a dream come true.

I know a lot of you are discouraged when David speaks -- and I find myself doing it -- kind of describing what’s happening in Washington.  People are really discouraged.  So we have to look for the silver lining and the good news.  And there is some good news.  As I left Washington this week, the global climate change scientists announced that they had found out how to lower global temperatures five degrees.  And all we have to do is to get Obama to stop talking for one week, -- just one week, and the global temperatures go down.

But I’m really not all that partisan.

We shouldn’t have fun at Obama’s expense tonight.  And I hope you won’t do that.  Unless you think he’s having a whole lot of fun at our expense, right?

So I think we probably should.

But we can work together.  We can work together on things like the environment.  I’ve been trying to do that.  This week is Earth Day.  I felt a little guilty burning all the fossil fuels on the jet on the way out here to speak to you.  But I guess since Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer do that every week, I shouldn’t feel that guilty.

But just to make up for things a little bit, I invited some endangered species to fly with me on the airplane on the way out here.  I invited all the Democrats who voted for that healthcare bill.

But it’s great to be in Reagan country.  I know some of you came with us today to the Reagan Ranch.  And I have to tell you, it was a profound experience for me.  I’ve never been there before.  We were at the Reagan Center in Santa Barbara in the morning.  Had a group come I got to speak to for breakfast, a lot of college students.  Really inspiring for me just to be around people, and realizing that even here in California there are people, likeminded, who really care about our country, love freedom.

So don’t underestimate any state.  It makes me mad when someone says, DeMint, you don’t understand that some states, you can’t elect a conservative candidate.  But I’m going to help do everything I can this election to prove that a good, commonsense conservative can be elected in any state in this country.  And I believe it’s going to happen.

But to be at the Reagan Ranch -- and a lot of you were there today -- and to see the simplicity that Reagan loved, and just to be outdoors, to work with his hands; to kind of sense his humanity, being there -- it was a profound experience.  Because I never got a chance to meet him.  And so, all I know of Ronald Reagan is he was this incredible leader, a principled person with character and integrity.  He was focused and really changed the direction of our country.

Because, you know, the direction after Jimmy Carter, four years of Jimmy Carter, was not unlike what we’re looking at right now.  Except this is Jimmy Carter on steroids, that what we’re dealing with now.  But when Reagan came in with his optimism and his principled conservatism, you know, I just think of him as a leader that’s just so far out of the range of where I am that it’s -- then to go to his ranch and to realize he loves the things I do.  I love to be alone with my wife.  I love to work with my hands, I love to build things, I love my workshop.  And you think, he was a man like us.  And it’s kind of hard to pull that together, that this person who changed the course of history in a lot of ways is like us.

I’ve heard a lot that there are really no great people in the world, there are only average people who do great things.  I still believe that Reagan is the exception to that.  But all of us can do great things.  And what I hope you’ll understand is that there are few of us in elected office.  But the real power in this country is outside of Washington.  And what we’ve seen over the last year is people really exercise that power.

And I keep telling people who thank me, I’m powerless.  There’s just a few people -- David’s right -- there are literally just a handful of people, if that many, in the Senate who are going to stand up and fight for the principles that they say they believe in.  But what happens when people come to Washington, or go to local rallies -- Tea Parties, town halls -- it emboldens those people who don’t have the courage but share the beliefs.  And they become more courageous, because the people are behind them.  And I think that’s what we’re seeing happen all across the country.

You know, Reagan began as an activist.  He was an actor, he was a Democrat.  In 1961 -- a lot of us forget this; I didn’t really know this -- he was leader of Operation Coffee Cup.  And the whole purpose of that was to stop the enactment of Medicare.  And he was warning people that people who believe in statism, believe in socialism, often use medicine.  And socialized medicine is a way to begin that process of totally socializing a country.  And he said we don’t want socialized medicine.  He made a 20-minute recording that he sent all over the country, to coffee shops, where it was played to explain to people how bad this was, what it would become.

Because it sounded benign -- oh, let’s just help elderly people have healthcare.  Yeah, that sounds good.  But look what Medicare’s become.  It’s the only option anyone in this room is going to have when they retire.  And we’re not paying doctors enough to see Medicare patients.  They don’t want to see you coming if you’re on Medicare.  And we’re in a trap now, where we can’t buy our own health insurance for retirement.  Because now, everyone is on government healthcare when they retire.  It’s a little bit scary.

But Reagan was an activist before he was in elected office -- ’61, almost 20 years before he became President.  And it’s pretty amazing; it should encourage all of you.

And it should sound familiar.  We want to stop socialism.  We’ve gone from coffee shops to Tea Parties.  But what we’re seeing is the same type of awakening in America that I think Reagan was stirring up even back in the 1960s.  We don’t want socialism.  And what we hear from the Tea Parties, what we hear from you tonight, what people are saying all over the country, is to stop the spending, stop the borrowing, stop creating more debt for our children and grandchildren, and stop the government takeovers.

It’s not real complicated.  It comes back to that limited-government, constitutional idea.  And people just keep saying, What about the Constitution?  This is not a radical idea.  It’s not a rightwing idea.  There’s nothing radical about don’t spend more than you bring in.  There’s nothing radical about honoring our oath of office.  The only oath of office that we take -- as President, as congressmen, as senators, as judges -- is, I swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.

The greatest enemies to the Constitution today are domestic.  And most of them are in the United States Congress or in the White House right now.  And it’s not because they’re bad people.  It would be easier if they were bad people.  They’re good people, and they believe they’re doing the right thing.  But they have a very different worldview than all of us do, as far as what works.

You know, my perspective is not really political.  I didn’t ever run for anything in my life until I was 47 years old.  I had four children and a wife.  None of them liked politics or knew anything about it.  Two children in the high school, two in middle school.  I had my own business, which I had for 15 years.  I did marketing and strategic planning.  I was a volunteer in the United Way, the Chamber of Commerce, the School for the Deaf and Blind, -- on so many boards that my employees at the company that I owned had an intervention and presented me with a T-shirt that said “just say no”.

Because that’s what I saw work, is people working together locally.  I didn’t know who was Republican or Democrat.  I thought there were normal people, and then there were politicians.  I didn’t want anything to do with politicians.  And I still feel that way.

So I’m kind of a fish out of water in Washington right now.  But I believe in the private sector.  And that’s the perspective I brought to Washington -- a worldview that I had seen what works.  I had seen, if [you have] a commitment to family, a commitment to community and church -- working together, volunteering, having charitable activities in all areas -- that we could make a difference.

And a lot of the things we were working on were problems that were created by bad government policy -- broken families from welfare, unwed births, juvenile delinquency, drug use, and a lot of drugs being bought with welfare money.

If you just follow the trail, a lot of the destruction of our society that the volunteerism was dealing with was caused by well-intended, but just lousy, federal policy, to a point when I was 47 years old, never running for anything, and I signed up to run for the United States Congress.  I’d been to Washington one time in my life.  And I didn’t expect to win; no one else did, either.  So it was one of those situations, after I won -- now what do I do?

And you know, I found out I was a conservative after I got there.  But “conservative” to me is just believing in and remembering, preserving those things that work.

You know, we’re not on two sides of theoretical arguments here.  We’re not just arguing about a political theory, as conservatives.  This is facts about history, about what made this country great. There’s no question that America is unique, not because of our people -- our people came from all over the world -- not because of our geography, but because of the principles and the ideals -- the principles of a limited government and a big people -- individual responsibility, free markets, Judeo-Christian values, and just a private sector that works like Adam Smith talked about -- that invisible hand that just is -- Obama doesn’t understand.

He’s never been in a business.  None of his cabinet has.  They’ve never signed the front of a paycheck.  They don’t know what it means to take a risk and create jobs.  But they think they do.  They think they know it better than we do.  We have different worldviews.

You know, Reagan would be stunned today if he looked at where we are.  And while we don’t want to be pessimistic, it is important to recognize that we’re in a very different place in our country’s history than we’ve ever been.  And we have to have a sense of urgency.

In the world’s greatest bastion of freedom, today, the federal government owns the largest auto companies in America, the largest insurance company in America, the largest mortgage company in America.  They’ve just completed the takeover of healthcare.  They control our education system.  They control our whole energy sector.  They control our transportation infrastructure.  The federal agencies, like the EPA, are involved with almost every area of our economic activity.  There are people coming through my office every day saying, We can’t do business, because we don’t know what they’re going to do.

The FCC is trying to regulate the Internets.  The courts told them they couldn’t, and they’re still presenting rules to regulate an Internet that’s working without their help.  The Interior Department -- we’ve intercepted memos where they’re trying to figure out how to take over more federal land.

I mean, it’s pretty amazing what they’re talking about doing.  And the judges are out of control.  You know, last week, a judge said that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional.  And Presidents since George Washington have been calling on our nation to pray.  And since our Constitutional Convention, it was clear that if a sparrow doesn’t fall without God’s notice, a nation is not going to rise without His help.

We can’t forget those principles that made this country great.  And we’re not talking theory.  We’re talking fact, and truth.  And that’s what’s on our side, and that we need to go boldly.

The problem we have now, as David’s pointed out -- that in spite of the clear sense of urgency, even though it’s obvious, anyone who’s been in business, if you look at a balance sheet and see the kind of debt that we have as a country, and see that there is no foreseeable way to even pay the interest on that debt within the next 10 years; to see that we’re still dealing with congressmen and senators that almost every week are passing a new spending program, but then talking about our unsustainable debt -- they’re saying, We’ve got to do something, but I still need $1 million for my local museum; I still need $500,000 for this bridge, or this pothole.  We’ve got challenges in Washington that we’re going to change this November.

I think I would go home and give up if it weren’t for one thing.  And that’s really you, and people like you, all over the country, who are not in elected office but are saying enough’s enough.  What can I do?  How can I help?  That’s what I hear everywhere.  Everywhere I go, people grab my hand, and they’ll just say, What can I do?  And they say, I’ve never been involved with politics.  And, you know, 40 percent of the Tea Party people are Democrats and Independents.  This is not a partisan thing; this is commonsense -- we can’t keep spending more than we’re bringing in.  How can we stop it?

The exciting thing for me, the optimistic thing, is that I’ve never seen anything in my lifetime where Americans were so engaged, where they’re seeking more information, at a time when we can actually inform them.  Only a few years ago, if I was doing something like the immigration fight, I wouldn’t have had a chance.  Because I couldn’t convince my colleagues to fight this thing.  It makes no sense to have immigration reform without border control.  It’s just a bunch of nonsense, if people can come and go.

I had five people in the United States Senate who were helping.  Five people.  And only a few years before, the only thing I could’ve done is a press release and hope the New York Times or NBC would pick it up.  And they wouldn’t.  But now, we have an opportunity -- in a free country, in a free media -- to go to radio talk shows, to go to blogs, to go to Fox News, to use the whole web and websites that we create to get millions of people involved almost overnight, to -- as Reagan said, if they don’t see the light, make them feel the heat.

And that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple years.  They won’t listen.  You can’t convince them.  But you can scare them.  And when people start calling and e-mailing, and the computer servers crash because of so many people e-mailing, and when the phone systems crash, you know, you just want to go out and rejoice in front of the Capitol -- I’m not in a minority here.

I’m with millions of Americans who are going to take this place if we don’t  and one of the finest moments I’ve had in the Senate is -- and this was a Republican, in one of our Republican conferences, the week of this big immigration vote -- where they told me -- Jim Bunning, who’s a friend of mine, said, Jim, you’re going to get run over like a train.  I mean, no way you’re going to win this thing.  And one of the Republicans stood up in conference.  He was so tired of local radio talk shows and everything just blasting him for being for this amnesty bill.  And he said, I will not be intimidated by the American people.

He did, he said it.  I won’t give you his name, but he is retiring this time.  But what happened to him?  I’ll tell you.

He was intimidated.  You know, when we pushed it over 41 votes, which meant they could not do what they were trying to do, he went down, and he voted against the thing that he said he would not vote against.  And we ended up getting a majority of something they told me I wouldn’t get 15 votes on.  And it wasn’t because of me.  It was because the American people stood up and said no.

And when you know that can happen, it emboldened us.  I mean, we’ve done the same thing with the moratorium on drilling.  I didn’t even bother to talk to my colleagues.  I just went straight to the media and the Internet and the blogs, and we got the moratorium lifted.  The Obama Administration’s still dragging their feet.  But what we’ve seen is the power of the people.  And that’s what this country was founded on -- that we can have freedom if the people are vigilant.  This is a government of and for and by the people.  And if the people stand up, we can take it back.

But I can tell you this.  The Senate is the last place that’s going to change.  We’re not going to change the Senate until we change the people who are there.

And what I’ve tried to do over the last year -- and this has not gone over real well with my colleagues -- is to get involved with primary races all over the country.  We’ve had an established system where we have the Senate Committee -- they go out and find candidates and recruit them, and give them money, and they bring them here.  But I’ve noticed that those candidates don’t share the same philosophy that I do.

They endorsed Arlen Specter when he announced he was going to run, when he was still a Republican.  I went to tell Arlen, man to man, Arlen, I’m going to support Pat Toomey in a primary against you.  Arlen didn’t take that really well.  And he left the party.  But I mean, I don’t think it was because of me.  It was because Arlen was not running on principles; it was about the numbers.  And he saw the numbers -- that he could not win a primary against Pat Toomey, so he switched parties.  And now Pat Toomey’s ahead in the primary.  Because Pat Toomey is a principled conservative.

All of us have leadership PACs.  And the whole idea, [or] just to endear you to your colleagues.  You give money to them when they’re running, they give money to you.  I’m not using my PAC that way.  I’m using my PAC to go out and support people in primaries who are running against the establishment picks, using it to help Pat Toomey.

Our party went out and recruited Charlie Crist in Florida to run as a senator -- most popular governor in the country, the one who they said could raise money.  And that would make it easier for the Senate Committee, because they wouldn’t have to spend as much money.  But Charlie had indicated, by a lot of his votes and actions, that he was not going to help us control spending and earmarks and debt.  He actually had a big embrace of Obama in supporting the stimulus plan.  And he’s a good guy.

But a young man named Marco Rubio came to my office.  He couldn’t get an appointment with the Senate Committee.  And he talked to me about his passion for our country and our freedom.  He talked to me about his parents, who lost their country.  They were Cubans; they lost their country.  And I sat there listening to this guy.

And I don’t fall for much after being in politics for awhile.  But, you know, I just felt my eyes [watering].  This guy wanted to fight for freedom.  He believed in our Constitution.  He was willing to stand up to Republicans.  I endorsed Marco Rubio and did everything we could to raise money, try to focus some attention on him, so that the people of Florida would know there was an alternative.  And it wasn’t me; it was the people of Florida, who are hungry to fight for freedom and to save their country.

And he started 30 points behind.  He’s 25 points ahead.

Now, Governor Crist is not going to win the primary.  The question -- he’s going to drop out; is he going to run as an independent?  But Marco Rubio is going to be the next Senator from Florida.

But this is because America is engaged.  I tell you, I’ve endorsed people before.  It doesn’t make that much difference.  But I’m seeing now that if we can shine a little light on a good candidate, if we can help raise a little money -- and what I’m doing with my PAC, instead of giving it to a bunch -- 50 different candidates, I’m running some radio ads.  I’m running some blog ads to raise money.

We’ve raised over $300,000 for Marco.  And he’s now on the national stage. And he’s the kind of voice we need.  This guy’s 38 years old.  That’s the kind of person we need in the Senate right now.  You know, and my colleagues have not accepted it well.  They got mad at me after I endorsed Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, but -- and I said something that made it worse, which is kind of my tradition.  I said, I would rather have 30 Republicans who believe in the principles of freedom than 60 who do not believe in anything at all.

You know, to me, that sounds like a no-brainer.  But a lot of our leadership kept telling me it’s about numbers.  We’ve got to win.  But I know what winning does.

I came into the United States Senate with 55 Republicans, George Bush in the White House, a large majority of Republicans in the House.  And we did not do what we promised.  It was all about earmarks.  It was all about spending.  It was pretending about reform.  But the things we campaign on -- a tax reform, a fix in Social Security, a fix in healthcare -- there was no energy for that.  And you know, there’s only so long you can sit on the sidelines and watch that.

I’m not going to ask Americans to trust the Republican Party again until I’ve done everything I can to make sure that if we are given that trust, if we are given the majority, that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do.  And I believe that we are.  What I’m seeing from the House of Representatives -- they passed a -- just in the Republicans, a one-year moratorium on earmarks.

Now that may seem like a small thing to you.  But after observing that for the 11 years I’ve been in the House and the Senate, I’ve realized that it is an inherent conflict of interest to come to Washington believing your job is to take money home to your state, to get as much money as you can out of that Federal Treasury and bring it home.

There’s a conflict between that idea and taking an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution that prescribes a very limited federal government.

I have no righteousness, because I am a recovering earmark.  I followed Fritz Hollings and Strom Thurmond in South Carolina.  And the whole idea was, oh, we’re losing our seniority, we’re not going to get our money.  That’s not why we go.  I don’t go to get money for South Carolina.  South Carolina needs a lot of money; we’re a poor state.  But with over 500 congressmen and senators who believe it’s their job to get money for their states, the result of that is a country that is in debt so far that we’re about to destroy this gift that we’ve been given by previous generations, who’ve given so much blood and sacrifice for what we’ve got.  We’re nearly $14 trillion in debt.

And when I introduced a moratorium, one-year moratorium on earmarks in the Senate a few weeks ago, 15 Republicans voted against me.  They were appropriators.  They’re the ones who hand out the candy.  It’s the source of their power.

But I think you’re going to see some of them lose.  Some of them are being challenged.  Senator Bob Bennett in Utah -- he’s a friend of mine, and this makes it hard.  But he’s been an opponent of stopping earmarks and stopping the culture of spending.  And he’s got an opponent in Mike Lee, in Utah, who’s running on constitutional, limited government.  He’s going to refuse to take earmarks.  He’s going to fight for those principles of freedom.  I haven’t gotten engaged officially in the race.  But it looks like we’re going to lose a senator because America is engaged.

The same thing happened -- Kay Bailey Hutchison, the senator, went home and ran a governor’s race on bringing home the bacon.  She got 30 percent of the vote.

People have caught on, just as my grandson a few weeks ago held up a piece of bacon.  He held up a piece of bacon.  He said, This used to be a pig.

You know, and the first thing that came to mind is I want to hold up earmarks and say, This used to be a country.  I mean, something dies when you create that bacon.  And that’s what’s happening in Washington right now.

But the Senate Conservatives Fund, for those of you who want to help, is  And it’s got candidates listed on there that -- and some of you may pick other candidates.  But we’ve picked Ken Buck in Colorado.  He’s running against the establishment candidate, a good person, Jane Norton.  But she realized, because the grassroots got behind Ken, she couldn’t even go to the convention.  You had to get 30 percent to get on the ballot.  So she refused to go.  She’s going to try to get signatures to get on the ballot.

But Ken’s a guy who just refuses earmarks, believes in the Constitution.  He’s out talking about those basic principles.  People are coming to him.

You know, in Indiana, it’s hard for me again.  I’ve got two former colleagues -- Dan Coats, a former senator; John Hostettler, former Congressman -- great guys.  But I think America’s ready for new faces in Washington.  There’s a 32-year-old, fourth-generation farmer, businessman, who brought his wife and kids and sat in my office.  Pointed at his kids.  Said, I’m going to fight for my kids.  I don’t like this debt, I don’t like what they’re doing to my country.  Help me fight for these kids.

And I endorse Marlin Stutzman, in Indiana.  And the primary’s just 10 days away.  We put it on the Senate Conservative site.  Said help us help this guy who is third place now, in this five-way primary.  And we’ve raised about $135,000 in two and a half days from people all over the country, who said let’s try.  Let’s try.

And I know a lot of you in this room in California probably have different candidates.  But you know, I talked to Chuck DeVore.  Chuck DeVore believes in the Constitution.  He’s been part of the military, he’s fought for our -- or believes in our freedom.  And we have other candidates, obviously, who are Republicans.  But I know one thing -- he’s battle-tested as an assemblyman.  He’s fought spending here in California, which is very unpopular.  If he does win, I know he’s going to stand with me.

And that’s a chance I’d rather take.

And I’m not saying the other candidates aren’t fine.  But they’re saying the same thing about Chuck that they said about me when I was running for the Senate.  They said, DeMint, you can’t win.  You’re a good guy, believe the right -- but you can’t win.

I’m not counting the people of California out.  We’ve got some congressional races, we’ve got some of those running for Congress here [tonight].  I don’t think the people of California want to bankrupt our country.  I don’t think they want to give up on freedom.  I don’t think they just want their handout for more from the federal government.  I think if we go out and tell them the truth, and appeal to them, that California will set the pace, like they do so many other times.  I think a conservative can win in California if they tell the truth.  Because more and more Americans know we can’t keep spending more than we’re bringing in.

So the Senate Conservatives Fund is just kind of my midlife crisis in the Senate.  And it’s making a difference.  We’re not going to win every race, because in every race, we pick an underdog.  But what I hope happens is that this November is going to be an earthquake election.  It appears to be happening, where Americans are looking for someone who will stand up and fight for what they believe is right -- people who’ve never been involved with politics, people who are Democrats -- we’ll call them Reagan Democrats -- independents all over the country.  Let’s don’t count out any Americans.  We’ve got a big party if we really are willing to fight for freedom.

People criticize me because they say, DeMint, we need a big tent as Republicans.  And I say, Have you looked at the polls?  Forty percent of Americans sympathize with the Tea Parties.  Another 20 percent say they’re Republicans.  I think that’s 60 percent.  That’s a big enough party for me, in a country like this.

So let’s embrace the passion, the ideals of these.  Because Tea Parties are Americans.  And those who show up for rallies are just the tip of the iceberg.  You know, there are soccer moms and dads, who are never going to go to a rally.  But they’re just saying, Yeah.  Yeah, get those guys, yeah, stick it to ‘em.

They really are.  This a big movement in America.  This is an American awakening.  And I hope my party will embrace that.  And I know if we do that we will re-earn the trust of the American people, that we will take back the majority.  And when we do, we’ll prove that that trust was well-founded.

You know, Reagan said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  And that’s true.  Every generation has to fight for freedom.  And many times, it’s on the battlefield, where we shed blood.  But many times, it’s at the ballot box.  In America, we settle our differences with our voices and our votes, and sometimes our feet.  And I think what we’re going to see over the next few months is Americans demonstrating that this is their government, that they have had enough, and that they are going to stand up.  The country does not belong to politicians; it belongs to the people.  And they’re going to show that this --

Let me end where I started.  Just remember, the power is in your hands.  You’ve thanked me for fighting.  But the fact is I have very little power, unless there are millions of people out across America.  And if you just share what you believe with others, you support organizations, like you’re doing here; tell a friend, tell a family member, get people registered to vote.  Just encourage people.  This is not about political ideology.  This is not about partisanship.  This is about the survival of our country.

We’re close to a tipping point.  We’re right on the edge of a cliff.  If we don’t have an earthquake election that turns things back, it will be too late.  I mean, this is not hyperbole; I’m not exaggerating.  You have to look at the balance sheet.  Unless we turn things around -- unless we repeal this healthcare bill, it’s going to destroy healthcare, it’s going to bankrupt our country.  Unless we stop what they’re trying to do with cap and trade, with card check -- it’s an agenda that is so radical that historians probably won’t be able to believe what we’ve allowed to happen, if we do.

My goal is to minimize the damage, until November, inside the Senate -- hold, stop everything I can -- until then.

But then, in November is when you speak, and when people all over the country like you speak.  And I hope it’s the loudest shout that we’ve ever heard in America -- that people speak so loudly that the Democrats and the Republicans and everyone are stunned.  I hope Republicans are stunned in all the primaries.

And just this next month, in May, you’ve got a non-establishment candidate in Kentucky, Rand Paul, running.  You’ve got Marlin Stutzman in Indiana.  You’ve got a primary opponent against an incumbent senator in Utah.  I think the more we see a stunning display of American activism, the more opportunities we’re going to have in November.

I’m really thankful for the opportunity to speak to you, and the profound experience I had just looking at the Reagan Ranch today, in realizing that we never know who God has called to do something miraculous.  Reagan probably had no idea when he was acting that he would be President of the United States.  He was just an activist who cared.  And he became more and more informed.  And he realized what made this country great.  All of you in the room have done that.  And out of this room, I hope there’ll come congressmen and senators, and people who are active in all aspects of American life.  And you already are.  Many of you are, or you wouldn’t be here tonight.

I’m honored to be here.  You’ve made me more and more encouraged.  You’ve empowered me.  You’ve made me -- you’ve given me the energy I need to go back in the fray next week.  And I’m hoping in November that we can see we’ve got an environment that we can turn this thing around and create the America, again, that we all love and believe in.  Thank you so much, [everyone].