September 4th, 2008
09:06 PM ET
6 years ago

Tom Ridge's Republican National Convention speech

Tom Ridge spoke Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.
Tom Ridge spoke Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.

FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR TOM RIDGE: Thank you. Tonight I speak to you with a grateful heart and enormous pride.

I speak to you as one friend about another.

About a proven leader... a world statesman... an untiring and effective public servant. I speak to you about a warrior...who has sometimes stood alone... or shown the way... in fighting for the most vulnerable of our citizens... for the country he so dearly loves... and for the founding principles we all so deeply cherish.

I speak to you about a friend – who was first pointed out to me – in the same way he is proudly pointed out wherever he goes today – "That's John McCain."

John and I have been friends for 26 years.

Both of us got elected to Congress in 1982 and both of us are Vietnam veterans.

Some might say that is our common bond. For certainly the Vietnam experience is a uniting one.

But I would also say that our friendship blossomed over many a laugh as we told jokes that only we thought were funny.

Over many a moment boasting about our children.

And over many a conversation about our country and the world in which we both feel so privileged to live and to serve.

It was only a little more than a year ago – in August of 2007 – that I drove to John's office to offer an encouraging word.

You all remember that time.

It was really rough going for the campaign. Some were ready to count John out.

Some questioned his resolve.

Some wondered and waited for the white flag of surrender.

Having rehearsed my pep talk... I walked into John's office... put my arm around him... and asked,
"Hey – how are you doing?"

He paused for a moment.

From his shoulders came a quick shrug.

Then he looked at me and said, "Tom, you and I both know I've been through worse."

We sat down... he spread some papers across a table... and said, "NOW – let me tell you how I think we can win."

He talked strategy... a way forward... next steps.

And later I would leave my friend's office thinking what I share with you tonight – "That's John McCain."

Where some people see adversity, John McCain accepts a challenge.

Where some people see a crisis, John McCain creates an opportunity.

Where some people see defeat, John McCain pursues victory.

John knows – the purpose of elections is not merely to win.

You run to win... but you win to govern.

So who of our two candidates is the most qualified to govern the freest, strongest, most blessed nation on Earth?

Who but John McCain understands that America's security and prosperity will – now and forever more – be tied to the security and prosperity of the rest of the world?

Who but John McCain has the experience... the sheer will... the steady hand... and the informed judgment to advance our economic and political interests during these perilous 21st century times?

And who but John McCain – and only John McCain – can negotiate from a position of strength and proven ability – because he's already earned the trust... respect... and admiration of our friends and allies around the world? And I suspect he has the attention of those who would oppose us.

Now more than ever we need a leader who fits the times – not a candidate who merely thinks it's his time to lead.

For the consideration before us is not about who can take a 3 a.m. call.

It's about who has answered the call throughout his life.

It's not about building a record.

It's about having one.

It's not about talking pretty.

It's about talking straight.

The challenge of our times is not simply to change.

The challenge of our time is to leave nothing to chance.

More than 230-plus years ago, a group of leaders – some people called them mavericks – dared to
think differently, dared to act boldly and dared to believe its future leaders would preserve, honor and protect the great land of the free.

Today – we have a leader – some people call him a maverick – who for his country, has put his life on the line.

Who for his country, leads with his conscience.

Who for his country, has worked to preserve, honor and protect the great land of the free.

That's John McCain.

John dares to think differently, to act boldly and to put country before self.

He dares to believe that we are all called to serve as long as we call ourselves free.

He dares to embrace the founding principle that our responsibility to one another extends from a national crisis to an individual need – from nation to nation – community to community – in this, the greatest community ever formed.

So may we rise to the occasion, to the moment, to the vision of our Founding Fathers.

May we summon ourselves to our best efforts and call this maverick forward.

Let us elect a man who has firmly and unequivocally laid out his vision of where this country can go.

Who offers a better way...a better day...and a greater say – for all who call this great country home.
That's John McCain.

Let us elect a public servant who refuses to think in terms of red versus blue – but only in terms of red, white and blue.

That's John McCain.

An artful leader... a diplomat... a tenacious legislator.

Say it with me!

That's John McCain!

Someone who speaks truth to power, truth to the American people, and rises above politics to get
things done.

That's John McCain.

A consensus builder, a reformer – the patriot who always puts his country first.

That's John McCain!

A Reagan conservative...an optimist...

America's go-to guy.

That's John McCain!

That's John McCain.

That's John McCain.

I am so very proud to say... 'that is my friend – John McCain.'

The next president of the United States.

The next Commander-in-Chief.

Ready to lead.

Ready to serve.

Ready to deliver.

God bless you, John.

God bless you all.

And may God continue to bless our brave troops who serve our country so well.

Thank You.

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