Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer delivered an address at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2021 Restoration Weekend, held from Nov. 11th-14th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. It touched on everything from his time under President Trump to the epic failures of the Biden administration.
Don’t miss his insightful, vital speech below. A transcript follows.
Sean Spicer: Thank you for having me here. I left the White House just over four years ago, and at the time, I made a pledge to my wife that — that first Lent, I was like — I gave up all the things that I normally give up, and I said, I’m going to add something to the list: I’m no longer going to talk behind podiums. So just understand, it may have been four years, but it’s still difficult, so I’m going to step outside.
I want to thank you all for making this weekend possible. Before I get into what I want to get through tonight and where we are as a country, I just want to — kind of by background, I met David in the mid-1990s. I was a staffer on Capitol Hill. David was David. And he would come and school us in this idea of messaging. And at the time he had little books that he had talked to us about, how to use words as messaging to win fights. And it’s so funny how far we’ve come, and yet how important his words and his message and his fight are today.
The irony is, back then, my goal was just to make it up the ranks of Capitol Hill and make it into leadership as a staffer. I had gotten a job at the RNC in 2011. I had just gotten off active duty and I — my wife and I wanted to start a family, and I thought the last thing I need to do is get back into politics, because it’s not the most family-friendly profession. I took a job at the RNC with Senator Johnson’s friend and colleague, Reince Priebus. Normally those terms last two years. My wife said, you know, this is what you’ve always dreamed of, so you might as well go for it. It’s two years. We did two years, and that was 2011-12.
FYI, Mitt Romney lost. So we did some soul-searching at the RNC and started to look at what we could do better. I told my wife, hey, I think if I stay two more years, we can really tweak how the national party operates. We wanted to become more data-focused, stop taking all of this donor money buying a ton of TV at the end for TV commercials, and actually start to think about what made people tick and how to have a better relationship with them and get them to vote, or understand that we’re wasting our resources on them because they weren’t going to vote. So she said, fine, two more years. That was the 2012-2014 cycle.
We had an amazing midterm election. We picked up more seats than we ever thought. We had the greatest majority in the House of Representatives since 1928 and kept the Senate when nobody thought we would. Well, winning a midterm is great in politics, but the presidential is sort of the Super Bowl, if you will, of politics. So at this point, I said, hey, Reince wants to stick around for two more years; what do you think? And my wife’s like, you don’t even know the kids’ names. I haven’t seen you in four years. What’s two more years?
So I stuck around, and we decided, let’s test it. And let’s be honest. If you’re a political junkie, and that’s what I am — I love politics — you look at the field that we had in 2016, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Ben Carson. I mean, it was — just if you’re a political junkie. Forget where you were or who you supported, but it was awesome. That was the all-star. We had talented folks. We had people that were reaching out, raising money. I mean, all of it. And then a guy in New York with a Twitter account. And let’s be honest. If you thought Donald Trump was going to win and you weren’t related to him, I don’t think I believe you. Nobody thought the guy was going to win. But slowly but surely, boom, boom, boom, he’s knocking out these amazing folks one after another. And we go through Super Tuesday and keep going, and then the first week of May, the Indiana primary, we declare him the presumptive nominee.
Well, the thing that was so interesting at the time was, the way it had worked in the past was that the presidential campaign had this big staff, they would marry it with the RNC. We kind of became the staffing agency to the campaign. I would say that we’re like the JV team. You get the jersey, you get invited to the team party, but you’re never the starter. Well, the problem was that Trump was running this campaign in a way that nobody had ever seen. And so my view — I’ve always been a party guy. My view was, if the voters and the grassroots select an individual, my job then, once you become the nominee, is to fight every day to get you elected. That’s it, plain and simple.
So I started going back and forth to New York, and December 22 comes around, after he wins the election, and he says, I want you to do this with me. He names me White House Press Secretary. Now, in six years at the RNC I had done about 500 media interviews. You name it: CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox. I got recognized one time in the sweater section of a Joseph A. Banks in Alexandria, Virginia. And when I saw I got recognized, this guy walks up to me and goes, excuse me, are the Republican dude? And I was like, yeah. I walked out — I’m walking down South Washington Street in Alexandria, and I call my wife and go, just FYI, I just got recognized. The changed real quick after December 22.
We all know how the four years of Donald Trump went. He made a lot of promises. He kept them. It was so odd, as press secretary, getting up there, and people are like, Sean, quick — okay, Jim Acosta, second question, go. He’s like, President Trump’s pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Okay, he said he was going to do that. Yeah, but that’s not how politicians work. They never keep their word. Well, he is. Over and over again, Donald Trump literally said exactly what he was going to do and did it, and the results speak for themselves.
Well, I want to fast forward real quick because my time’s limited tonight. In 2020, Joe Biden gets inaugurated. Now, I guarantee you I had a very similar conversation that many of you had in the lead-up to that election. I don’t like the tweets. The tweets, Sean. Oh, he just attacked Mika Brzezinski. I can’t vote for him. And I would say, over and over again, let me ask you a question. Has a tweet ever hurt you? Well, no, but I don’t like the tweet. Has a tweet ever made your life better? Well, no, I mean, I guess — but have policies made your life better? Have they made your family better, your community better, your business stronger? Well, yeah. Then why are we having this conversation? This is so stupid.
Politicians for years have promised you lofty things, said all the right things and never delivered. You may not like what this president says all the time, but he delivered. Your family’s stronger, your business is stronger, your community’s stronger, your business is growing. I’m sorry; what’s the problem here? Do you just want to get lied to? Is that the — okay, is that the issue?
Well, in 10 months, we’ve seen real quickly the difference between a style and substance election. The Afghanistan withdrawal isn’t botched; it was an embarrassment. The idea that we’re sitting around trying to figure out how many Americans we left behind. What’s going on? What country is this that we’re saying, how many did we leave behind, is not the America that I grew up in. We look at inflation: If you can find something right now — good luck — it’s going to cost a lot more than it did. You look at our border: We’re paying people to come in. We’re putting them up. I mean, think about this. Their mainstream media is interviewing people and they’re saying, did you come because of Biden? And they’re wearing a Biden-Harris t-shirt. They’re like, yes. Would you have come if Trump was president? No. Okay. Well, that tells you real quick that the change in policy has something to do with what’s going on. You look at the economy: More and more people are quitting their jobs. Why? Because we’re paying them to stay home. Ladies and gentlemen, and I got a “D” in economics. I’m not proud of it, but I get this. If you pay me not to work, guess what’s going to happen? I’m not going to work. It’s not that tough. But this administration has changed all the policies just because they don’t want to be Donald Trump, despite the outcomes.
Well, I would propose two things. It’s because of the people and the policies. Now, here’s the thing. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. During the campaign, Joe Biden said, I promise to be the most progressive president ever. And everybody said, oh, no, no, we know Joe. He’s been in Washington for half a century. Think about that. Half a century. We know him. That’s not who he is. That’s what he told us, though. He told us he was going to be the most progressive president. Then a couple weeks ago he said, if we pass my 1.2 and 3.5 pieces of legislation, we will fundamentally transform the structure and nature of the economy. What? Who asked for that? No one. Two weeks ago he said he wants to transform America. I don’t recall that ever coming up on the campaign trail. Transform America, change the economy? No, no, no, no, no.
But that’s what’s happening, because, as I suggested, of two things. The people: Let’s look at them. Kamala Harris. Hold on. She was soundly and early rejected by her own party in the process, in the primary process. But Joe Biden chose her because he gets to say forever he chose the first woman of color to be vice president. Because you need to understand: This is about legacy. It’s not about accomplishment. So he can now forever say to the woke left: I appointed the first woman of color.
Think about the Secretary of Health & Human Services, Xavier Becerra. He’s a lawyer. We just hired a lawyer to run Health & Human Services during a global pandemic. I get it if we’re going to chase ambulances and sue them in other countries; we got the right guy. But right now, we just chose a guy who sues people for a living to lead us through a global pandemic. But he gets to say he has the first Hispanic leading the HHS.
We look at Denis McDonough, the guy who’s leading the Department of Health — I mean, excuse me, the Department of Veterans Affairs. Denis McDonough is only the second person in the history of the United States to lead the VA who is not a veteran, who did not serve in the military. Think about that. Do you know who the only other one was? Dr. David Shulkin, who was in the Obama administration and served in the VA, and President Trump carried him over, mostly because of the first part of his name — Doctor. Because the largest single service the VA provides is health care, and Trump thought, hey, if I actually appoint a guy who understands the VA and is a doctor, maybe he can help healthcare delivery in the VA. The second thing the VA provides is mortgage assistance. I don’t even know that Denis McDonough has a mortgage. But the bottom line is, he’s not qualified to lead the VA, but he had served as Obama’s Chief of Staff, so we have to find a home for him.
Then my favorite is Boy Wonder, Pete Buttigieg. He’s 38 years old. He was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. It has 100,000 people and a grand total of 66 buses. There are more buses that run across in front of the Breakers in the next three hours than in all of South Bend, Indiana. But he’s the guy leading our highways, seaways and airways. You wonder why we have a bunch of cargo ships off the ports of LA and Long Beach? Because when he’s at work, finally, he doesn’t have a ton of experience. But think about this: When Biden confirmed him, when he came through, Biden said, I’m proud to have one of the youngest members of a cabinet, and — and just bear with me on this — the first openly LGBTQ member to lead a department. Now, I know he’s coming tomorrow, just so I — Rick is a friend. I know this was coming. Rick was a member of the cabinet; he didn’t lead a department. I will give the Biden administration credit for at least choosing their words right.
But get the point here: It’s all about box checking. When Buttigieg got confirmed, after Biden says that to him, he says, thank you, I’m proud to have made history. Not, I’m the most qualified person to do this job. I’m proud to be part of history. Part of history is I’ve done great things and accomplished great things, not that I checked a box. But that’s what it’s all about because the people is a key part of the Biden legacy. All of the ability to say, I outdid FDR, I’m the wokest guy ever. He got all of these firsts checked.
Then let’s look at the policies. I mean, we’re passing trillions of dollars that no one has read. Why? Because we want more people to become dependent and addicted to government. Once you get free college and free that and free that, you’re going to keep it forever. Let’s be honest. We’ve been chipping away at Obamacare for what, eight, 10 years? It’s not going anywhere, because once government has its hands on things it never, ever lets go. That’s what they want. More of us to be using and addicted to more government. That’s the spending piece.
Think about immigration. I’m sorry; call me cynical, but as I just explained to you, it’s not that tough. What President Trump brought to the Oval Office was common sense. Title 42, remain in Mexico and a wall, and guess what? People say, I don’t think I’m welcome. I need to come legally. Joe Biden undid it all. Why? Why? If it’s that easy to stop and you undid it, I cannot help but believe it’s for political purposes. Those people are coming to the country because Democrats want them to be the future voters of their party. That’s it. I’m sorry. You may say I’m cynical on this, but you cannot tell me — because if you really wanted to stop it, you could stop it dead in its tracks. Think about appointing more members to the court, packing it. [Victor] talked about this last night. They know exactly what they’re doing. They’re getting as much done as quick as possible.
Now, here’s my favorite, by the way, and [Victor] touched on this last night. Making DC a state. I know Puerto Rico’s up there too, but DC’s the big one. So here’s your history lesson for the night. In 1790 the framers took part of Virginia and part of Maryland and created a 10×10-square-mile district. The framers didn’t want the federal government to be in any state, so they said, this is what we’re going to do. Well, in 1835, they gave back the part of Virginia because it was no longer being used. That’s where I live right now. When you fly into DCA, into Ronald Reagan Airport, you’re actually flying into Virginia despite what your flight attendant tells you. They gave it back in 1835.
So think for a second. Well, if you really care about the 300-plus-thousand people that live in the District of Columbia, and you think, hey, they should get voting rights — because that’s what the Democrats do. They put a cute bumper sticker on everything. Voting rights, build back better. I’m for voting rights. You’re probably for voting rights. Most Americans for voting rights. But here’s the thing. Why wouldn’t you, then, just take an area from the White House to the Capitol, carve out the federal buildings and the Washington Mall, call that the federal government, check — keep the framers happy — and then give the rest back to Maryland, from which it was taken? Oh, wait, hold on. I think I figured this out. Because the District of Columbia votes 95 to 5 Democrat. So if you do that and create a state, you get two additional U.S. Senators. And then Senator Johnson doesn’t have a chance at becoming a chairman again. They know exactly what they do. They wrap all this stuff up in cute little slogans, but they defy common sense.
Now, I live, as I said, in Virginia, and a couple Tuesdays ago, I was proud to go down and cast my vote for Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears and Jason Miyares. Now, for those of you who aren’t from Virginia and don’t know this, we, the Republicans, just had the most diverse ticket in Virginia’s history on the Republican side. I know the folks on MSNBC think that we’re racist for electing a black woman veteran and a first-generation Cuban, but I don’t really think that that’s the case. But at the end of the day, it is us that are doing the right thing and making this all happen and making the change. That’s what gives me hope right now.
So I think what we have to understand is, after the Virginia election — I’ve been in politics 25 years. Most politicians would tack back to the center and say, okay, the midterms are coming; we’ve got to mitigate and stem our losses. But remember what I told you a moment ago. This is about legacy for Biden. He’s got all the people, the boxes checked, first this, first this, first this. Now he needs to get those policies done, at all costs. They know they’re going to lose the House. Therefore, the agenda stops. The next 12 months, trust me, they will push every single thing they can get through, through. They will go to Manchin and Sinema and say, here are the 10 things. What are the five, the three, that you will agree to, to get done? For the next 12 months, we need to be on guard. Until we have a Republican House of Representatives, and hopefully a Republican Senate, we cannot rest.
Now, I will say this in closing. The last chapter of my book — and you got it for free, so this isn’t a pitch unless you’re looking for a Christmas present, which you should, or a Hanukkah gift — please feel free to go on Amazon tonight, because it is Christmastime and Hanukkah’s — I mean, don’t be shy. Order five, 10, 15, whatever you want. David would want you to do that. I’m pretty sure he texted me. So is [Katie].
But here’s the thing. You being here is what matters. All of us must be in the fight. We’ve talked about it — every single speaker. Charlie Kirk started Turning Point USA out of nothing, and now kids are coming and flocking campuses to campuses to campuses. When I started a year and a half ago on Newsmax, there were probably more people in this room than watched the first episode — thank you. I think you guys were there with me. Appreciate that. Now we are beating CNN shows. Because you are tuning in, you are telling your friends, you are telling your co-workers and your neighbors. That means so much. But mark my words: When we come together, we elect governors in Virginia. We get people on campuses to go together. We gather like this in groups.
Now, look; we’re going to gather soon for Thanksgiving. I know; right now you’re all thinking to yourself, I haven’t gotten permission. You need full masks. One of them must be vegan. You must hit — I get it. Unfortunately for me, Thanksgiving is coming this year and my wife decided to invite the entire family. The one year that Biden came in and it’s going to cost double, we decided to host. Thanks, [Brandon].
Anyway, the point that I want to end with is what every single speaker has been saying. When we don’t allow the left to cancel us, to censor us, to stop us, we win. We must fight every day. I cannot thank you enough for being here, for supporting the work that David does. It’s so crucial. Walk away today and continue to fight and continue to have your voice heard. Thank you very much for having me tonight.