Published August 29, 2012
The following is a transcript of a speech that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice gave at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29, 2012.
RICE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very
much. Thank you.
Thank you so much. Good evening.
Good evening, distinguished delegates. Good evening,
fellow Republicans. Good evening, my fellow Americans.
We gather here at a time of significance and challenge.
This young century has been a difficult one. I can remember as
if it were yesterday when my young assistants came into my
office at the White House to say that a plane had hit the World
Trade Center, and then, a second plane, and then a third plane,
the Pentagon. And later, we would learn that a plane had
crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, driven into the ground by
brave souls who died so that others might live.
From that day on -- from that day on, our sense of
vulnerability and our concepts of security were never the same
Then, in 2008, the global financial and economic crisis
would stun us. And it still reverberates as we deal with
unemployment and economic uncertainty and bad policies that cast
a pall over an American economy and a recovery that is
desperately needed at home and abroad.
And we have seen -- we have seen that the desire for
liberty and freedom is, indeed, universal, as men and women in
the Middle East rise up to seize it. Yet, the promise of the
Arab spring is engulfed in uncertainty, internal strife, and
hostile neighbors our challenging the young, fragile democracy
of Iraq. Dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their people and
threat to regional security. Russia and China prevent a
response, and everyone asks, where does America stand?
Indeed -- indeed, that is the question of the hour. Where
does America stand? You see when the friends or foes alike
don't know the answer to that question, unambiguously and
clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic
Since world war ii, the United States has had an answer to
that question. We stand for free peoples and free markets. We
will defend and support them.
We will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.
Now, to be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.
I know, as you do, the sacrifice of Americans, especially the
sacrifice of many of our bravest in the ultimate sacrifice, but
our armed forces are the surest shield and foundation of
liberty, and we are so fortunate that we have men and women in
uniform who volunteer, they volunteer to defend us at the front
lines of freedom, and we owe them our eternal gratitude.
I know too it has not always been easy though it has been
rewarding to speak for those who otherwise do not have a voice.
The religious dissident in China, the democracy advocate in
Venezuela, the political prisoner in Iran.
It has been hard to muster the resources to support
fledgling democracies and to intervene on behalf of the most
desperate. The AIDS orphans in Uganda, the refugee fleeing
Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex
trade in Southeast Asia. It has been hard, yet this assistance
together with the compassionate work of private charities,
people of conscience and people of faith, has shown the soul of
our country. And I know too -- I know too there is a wariness.
I know that it feels as if we have carried these burdens long
enough. But we can only know that there is no choice, because
one of two things will happen if we don't lead. Either no one
will lead and there will be chaos, or someone will fill the
vacuum who does not share our values.
My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be
reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality. Our
well- being at home and our leadership abroad are inextricably
linked. They know what to do. They know that our friends and
allies must again be able to trust us. From Israel to Columbia,
from Poland to the Philippines, our allies and friends have to
know that we will be reliable and consistent and determined.
And our foes can have no reason to doubt our resolve because
peace really does come through strength.
Our military capability and our technological advantage
will be safe in Mitt Romney's hands. We must work for an open,
global economy, and pursue free and fair trade, to grow our
exports and our influence abroad. If you are worried about the
rise of China, just consider this -- the United States has
negotiated -- the United States has ratified only three trade
agreements in the last few years, and those were negotiated in
the Bush administration.
China has signed 15 free trade agreements and is in the
progress of negotiating as many as 18 more. Sadly, we are
abandoning the field of free and fair trade and it will come
back to haunt us.
We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence
to slip from our grasp. We are blessed with a gift of oil and
gas resources here in North America, and we must develop them.
We can develop them sensitively, we can develop them securing
our environment, but we must develop them.
And we have the ingenuity to develop alternatives sources
of energy. Most importantly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will
rebuild the foundation of our strength, the American economy --
stimulating private sector growth and stimulating small business
When the world looks at us today, they see an American
government that cannot live within its means. They see an
American government that continues to borrow money, that will
mortgage the future of generations to come. The world knows
that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually
loses control of its destiny.
That is not the America that has inspired people to
follow our lead.
After all, when the world looks to America, they look to us
because we are the most successful economic and political
experiment in human history. That is the true basis of American
exceptionalism. You see, the essence of America, what really
unites us, is not nationality or ethnicity or religion. It is
an idea. And what an idea it is. That you can come from humble
circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not
matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.
My fellow Americans, ours has never been a narrative of
grievance and entitlement. We have never believed that I am
doing poorly because you are doing well. We have never been
jealous of one another and never envious of each others'
No, no, ours has been a belief in opportunity. And it has
been a constant struggle, long and hard, up and down, to try to
extend the benefits of the American dream to all. But that
American ideal is indeed in danger today. There is no country,
no, not even a rising China that can do more harm to us than we
can do to ourselves if we do not do the hard work before us here
More than at any other time in history, greatness is built
on mobilizing human potential and ambition. We have always done
that better than any country in the world. People have come
here from all over because they have believed our creed of
opportunity and limitless horizons.
They have come here from the world's most impoverished
nations just to make a decent wage. And they have come here
from advanced societies as engineers and scientists that fuel
the knowledge-based revolution in the Silicon Valley of
California, in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, along
Route 128 in Massachusetts, in Austin, Texas, and across this
We must continue to welcome the world's most ambitious
people to be a part of us. In that way, we stay young and
optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that
protect our borders, meet our economic needs, and yet show that
we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.
We have been successful too because Americans have known
that one's status of birth is not a permanent condition.
Americans have believed that you might not be able to control
your circumstances but you can control your response to your
And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your
circumstances has been a quality education. But today, today,
when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're
going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not
matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The
crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who
My mom was a teacher. I respect the profession. We need
great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones. We have to
have high standards for our kids, because self-esteem comes from
achievement, not from lax standards and false praise.
And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly,
particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are
trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil
rights issue of our day.
If we do anything less, we can damage generations to
joblessness and hopelessness and life on the government dole
(ph). If we do anything less, we will endanger our global
imperatives for competitiveness. And if we do anything less, we
will tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement the turn
toward entitlement and grievance.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home. And
they will help us lead abroad. They will provide an answer to
the question, ``where does America stand?'' The challenge is real
and the times are hard. But America has met and overcome hard
Whenever you find yourself a doubting us, just think about
all those times that America made impossible seemed inevitable
in retrospect. Our revolutionary founding act as the greatest
military power of the time, a civil war, brother against
brother, hundreds of thousands dead on both sides, but we
emerged a more perfect union. A second founding when inpatient
patriots were determined to overcome the birth defect of slavery
and the scourge of segregation.
A long struggle against communism with the soviets even --
the soviet union's collapse and in the aftermath of 9/11, the
willingness to take hard, hard decisions that toward us and
prevented the follow on attack that everybody thought
And on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow
Birmingham. The segregated city of the south where her parents
cannot take her to a movie theater or to restaurants, but they
have convinced that even if she cannot have it hamburger at
Woolworths, she can be the president of the United States if she
wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.
Yes, yes. Yes. Yes, America has a way of making the
impossible seemed inevitable in retrospect, but we know it was
never inevitable. It took leadership. And it took courage. And
it's a belief that our values. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have
the integrity and the experience and the vision to lead us.
They know who we are. They know who we want to be. They know
who we are in the world and what we offer.
That is why -- that is why this is a moment and an election
of consequence. Because it just has to be that the freest most
compassionate country on the face of the earth will continue to
be the most powerful and the beacon for prosperity and the party
across the world.
God bless you and God bless this extraordinary country,
this exceptional country: The United States of America.