Thank you for having me here tonight. In his farewell address, President Reagan said: “Don’t be afraid to see what you see.” I have always believed the role of a leader is to see the truth, speak the truth and act on the truth. I am here tonight to speak about what I see and to describe how I am prepared to act.
I see a world in dire need of American leadership.
I see President Obama and Secretary Clinton always speaking in terms of ambivalence and shades of gray, offering false choices and raising the shadow of doubt about our will to lead. The next President of the United States must reestablish our leadership — she must speak with clarity, accept that some things are black and white and act with courage. She must be prepared to challenge the status quo and change the way things are — whether in Washington or around the world.
The world is a more tragic and dangerous place when America is not leading. Terrorists are on the march. Nearly 45,000 people are driven from their homes each day. Last week, four marines and a Navy officer were murdered here at home by a radicalized terrorist. Human trafficking is on the rise. Christians across the globe are persecuted. Women are denied the most basic rights. Girls live in fear of being mutilated, raped, or bought and sold as sex slaves. We tweet “save our girls,” but Boko Haram continues on a murderous rampage of kidnapping, pillaging and horrors we can barely imagine.
President Obama has richly rewarded the bad behavior of Cuba, Russia, Syria, Iran and China — and Mrs. Clinton has signaled her approval.
It is really quite simple. When you reward bad behavior, you get more of it.
President Obama has negotiated a deal with an Iran that has repeatedly violated agreements, killed and wounded thousands of Americans, and flat-out lied about every nuclear facility they have built over the last three decades. He has negotiated with a state that refuses to release American prisoners. And for what? Yesterday we learned that the Iranian regime has decided that in fact inspectors will have no access to their military facilities — never mind 24 days’ notice, just no access. Period. Perhaps this is the content of the secret deal between Iran and the IAEA?
In Russia, Secretary Clinton told us that she could “reset” our relationship there — a policy that has utterly failed. I’ve met Vladimir Putin. He craves power. He will not be stopped by a gimmicky red button. Putin’s ambition continues to grow, unchecked.
When President Obama warned Assad not to cross a red line, Assad took this as an invitation, not an admonition.
This administration’s blind eye to aggression has become a black eye for America.
When we do not stand with our allies nor confront our adversaries, our friends lose courage and our enemies press forward.
I know you are outraged. Sick of a professional political class that lectures and harangues — and never actually says anything at all. You know empty promises and bumper sticker rhetoric solve nothing. For too long we have had too many speeches and too few results.
The American people deserve an honest leader. Who will own up to the difficulties of the job in front of her — and who has a track record of leadership, accomplishment, and challenging the status quo.
As you are all aware, I am not a member of the professional political class. But I do have extensive national security and foreign policy experience. I have served as the Chairman of the CIA’s External Advisory Board and I have advised Secretaries of State and Defense as well as the NSA and Department of Homeland Security. I have done so with the highest civilian security clearances. I have led a company doing business in 170 countries. I have advised governments and done charitable work in their nations. I have met with and gotten to know many leaders around the world. They know me, respect me and, most importantly, they trust me as a woman of action and of my word.
As President, I will not wait until things have reached the crisis level. And I will not shy away from the most important challenges facing our world today. Because without American leadership, we face two choices: regional hegemons who challenge America or global chaos.
Here’s what I will do as Commander in Chief. First, we must have the strongest military on the face of the planet and everyone has to know it.
This will take both an investment in our military and a reform of the Defense Department. We must fix what’s called the tooth-to-tail ratios. Tooth-to-tail ratios are measured regularly in the Defense Department. Tooth — tip of the spear, our fighting men and women, the weapons systems and the technology they require to fight and win. Tail — bureaucracy — much too large for what we need to defend our nation. In fact, our tooth-to-tail ratios are as bad right now as they have ever been. So it’s not just throwing more money at the problem. It’s investing the money as well as our intellect and our imagination in the right places — tooth — and reducing the amount spent on a bureaucracy in need of reform — tail.
President Obama announces the lay-off of 40,000 troops in response to sequester cuts.
Professional politicians have engaged in such brinksmanship which brought us the sequester. While everyone decries it, no one has fixed it.
We must reinvest in our military. The next President of the United States, like Ronald Reagan, will need to rebuild our military capability. Morale of our armed forces is low. We need a Commander in Chief who will unabashedly celebrate their honor, courage, and sacrifice.
I was recently on the phone with Leif Babin, a decorated former Navy SEAL who has received a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. We talked about the battle of Ramadi and what our men and women are capable of. We have the bravest and strongest fighting force the world has ever seen. It’s time we act like it. They deserve a Commander in Chief with a strategy for victory over there and they deserve a government that fulfills its promises when they get home.
And so we must care for those who have served us. We need to overhaul the VA from top to bottom. It is a stain on our nation’s honor. Technology can do amazing things but our veterans are still waiting far too long for the benefits they earned. And we haven’t heard a lot from the political class in Washington about the VA since it dropped out of the headlines, but I can assure you it is still broken. And I will assure you that the political class in Washington that hasn’t fixed it for decades, isn’t going to fix it unless we elect someone who knows how to challenge the status quo and change bureaucracies.
On my first day in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls. The first will be to my friend Bibi Netanyahu. I will reassure him that the United States will always stand with the State of Israel. My second call will be to the Supreme Leader of Iran. He might not take the call, but he will get the message. I will tell him: new deal. Unless and until Iran opens itself to full and unfettered inspections of all nuclear and military facilities, we are going to make it very hard for Iran to move money around the global financial system.
U.S. companies should not be profiting off of this murderous regime. The next President of the United States will have a lot to do with whether Apple and McDonald’s are doing business in Tehran.
These two calls are also signals that the United States is back in the leadership business.
I will not call Vladimir Putin. We have talked way too much to him. But he too will get the message.
We must rebuild our Sixth Fleet. We must conduct military exercises in the Baltic States. President Obama unilaterally and inexplicably withdrew our missile defense programs in Poland — I will rebuild them.
We learn more about atrocities committed by ISIS every day. Christians are being crucified. Children are used as body shields for jihadi soldiers. Muslims are killed for being the “wrong type” of Muslim. Women and girls are subject to systematic rape.
In order to defeat ISIS, we must be willing to call it what it is: Islamic extremism.
When 21 Coptic Christians were beheaded on the beaches of Egypt, it was the President of Egypt, President Al-Sisi — a very brave and pious Muslim — who went into Cairo to visit with the most powerful imams and told them that Islam was in need of a religious revolution. He knew that they must condemn radical Islam and call it what it is: a cancer at the heart of their religion. We have to know what we’re up against if we are to defeat it.
I, like President Obama, will hold a Camp David summit, but not to talk our allies into a bad deal with Iran to cement my legacy. Instead, I will discuss with our Arab allies how we can support them in their fight against ISIS. They know this is their fight but they must see leadership and resolve and support from us.
We will arm the Kurds as they have been requesting for three long years. I will provide King Abdullah, a fine man, with the bombs and materiel he has requested — instead of putting him in a position to turn to China for help. I will share intelligence with the Egyptians as they have requested. The Kurds, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the Saudis are fighting ISIS on the ground as we speak.
I will make a promise to our friends in the Middle East to train their troops to fight ISIS — and I will keep that promise.
President Obama told us his administration would spend $500 million to train 3,000 troops within the next year. We’ve trained 60. That’s simply unacceptable. And what do we see now? ISIS is gaining traction. The FBI now tells us they are more dangerous than al Qaeda. Secretary Clinton and President Obama declared victory in Iraq in 2011 and withdrew. They watched while ISIS grew, and a growing crisis is now spiraling out of control.
Here is another truth that we must see and speak and act upon. China is our rising adversary.
The Chinese people have tolerated repression, corruption, pollution, and sub-standard safety in return for economic growth and an escape from poverty. And we have been an important engine of that growth. This gives us real leverage. We have the ability to impact their economy and change their calculation.
China is using their economic might to rewrite the global order. They are now the world’s largest purchaser of oil. They loan money to developing nations to build roads and other critical infrastructure — but they are not doing it for goodwill. China wants these countries’ natural resources. We are not giving these countries a viable alternative. China has quickly built an international banking institution to rival the World Bank.
China is building their economic power and will wield it ruthlessly.
We are a nation founded on entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, and open markets. Our prosperity is boundless.
The Chinese people are willing to tolerate an oppressive regime in exchange for growth — but in fact this lack of freedom will ultimately limit their growth. There are cracks in the façade already.
Just a few weeks ago, we saw their stock market in free fall and another 8-point plunge over night. The Chinese government is trying to prop up their markets, but this is not a lasting solution. Our next president must realize this opportunity and respond with confidence, using the tools we have here at home. For example, the Chinese, like the Iranians and the Russians, engage in draconian internet censorship. As Reagan once torn down a physical wall, we must tear down these cyber-barriers to the free exchange of information.
China has moved aggressively into the South China Sea, building islands in the middle of the ocean so that they can build military bases on top of these islands. This is a gateway that moves $5 trillion worth of trade every year. China cannot be permitted to control this gateway.
Our current President largely created this situation. In 2012, President Obama brokered a deal between the Philippines and China to withdraw from a disputed portion of the South China Sea together — and China violated that agreement. We stood by as the Chinese went from testing the waters to jumping all the way in.
We must push back against rising Chinese aggression. We should work with Vietnam and the Philippines to improve their surveillance capabilities to deter the Chinese. We should conduct military exercises with our Filipino friends. We must tell China — if you declare an Air Defense Identification Zone over the South China Sea, we will not recognize it. We will not comply.
Even this will not be enough. The Chinese are continuing to expand and improve their nuclear arsenal. They are working hard to develop satellite and other technologies to counter our weapons advantage. They have long worried about our nuclear advantage and are now taking this opportunity to quietly build up their own arsenal and erode our position.
We should help our Australian friends obtain military capabilities that they need and want. We should support the Japanese efforts to expand their forces. We must stand beside our allies. They will grow more resolute and stand up to those who seek to shift the balance of power.
The Chinese steal our intellectual property with impunity and engage in state-sponsored cyberterrorism. The Chinese government has stolen the personal information of over 20 million Americans. We’ve known that the Chinese were seeking to infiltrate our networks for over a decade. We’ve also known about the vulnerabilities in those networks.
And yet, once again, the government bureaucracy was too bloated and inept to act and the political classes were too complacent to stop it.
Having obtained the highest security clearances available to a civilian, I know the Chinese now possess all my personal information. This is more than a bureaucratic failing. The Chinese now possess incredibly valuable intelligence information.
The answer from the political class is to demand the resignation of the head of OPM. But what has been done to protect us from future cyberattacks? Has anything changed? The political class moved on as soon as the outrage subsided and the bureaucracy continues to lumber along.
And let’s not forget our former Secretary of State told us her private server was protected from hacking because she had two Secret Service agents guarding it. We weren’t worried about your server being stolen, Mrs. Clinton. We were worried about it being hacked. Or worse, used as a back door to hack into the State Department system, which is exactly what appears to have happened at OPM.
The next President must understand technology. She must understand both how to use it to harness the power of our citizenry to challenge the status quo of Washington and to protect and defend our nation.
As Mrs. Clinton now runs for President, she likes to talk about her support of human rights, women’s rights and democracy. Her actions conflict with her words.
During her first trip to Asia as Secretary in February 2009, she told us we couldn’t let human rights get in the way of our other goals. China responded. They cracked down on American companies, charitable organizations and free speech. They have thrown Nobel Peace Prize winners in jail. Trafficking and domestic violence continue. Forced abortions and death by exposure have ended the lives of countless millions and millions of female infants.
Repressive regimes elsewhere in the world took notice as well. Mrs. Clinton personally gave the Russians a reset button, just as the human rights situation in that country took a drastic turn for the worse. In Iran, when the Green Movement demonstrated against the murderous Ahmadinejad regime, she went silent.
China, Russia, Iran, and terrorist groups such as ISIS — these are the big human rights tests of our time. Women and girls are systematically targeted, subjugated, murdered, raped and sold into bondage.
It is the height of hypocrisy for Hillary Clinton to run for President as a champion of women’s rights when her record as Secretary of State is this dismal.
Our ideals are a light that shines in the very darkest corners of the world. Today, without American leadership, we have too many dark corners.
I see our nation at a crossroads. Margaret Thatcher — a woman I admire greatly — once said that she was not content to manage the decline of a great nation. Neither am I.
I am prepared to lead the resurgence of a great nation.
I — like all of you — am deeply proud of our extraordinary nation and grateful to be an American. This gratitude and pride is called patriotism. It is one of the greatest things about our country and our enemies hate it.
In 2013, Vladimir Putin wrote in an op-ed to the New York Times that our patriotism is dangerous. Just two weeks ago, as we negotiated with Iran, the Supreme Leader denounced our people as the “ultimate embodiment of arrogance.”
Tyrants know that our patriotism, our principles, and our policies enable us to be a leader on the global stage. Today, Americans sense danger at home and abroad. People all over the world know the fundamentals of freedom and human dignity are threatened. And when we abandon an ally or embolden an adversary, it reverberates throughout the world, and as we tragically know, those ripples can too easily land on our shores.
We need a President who will see and speak and act on the truth. We need a President who knows that some things are black and white and who will be a clear-eyed advocate for policies formed by principles, not by polls and politics. We need a President who will reassure our allies that we are a friend who can be trusted and who will show our adversaries that we will not be bullied or intimidated.
We must nominate and elect a president who proudly accepts the mantel of leadership that a weary world is eager for us to wear.
I know what such leadership requires. I will recognize dangers with eyes wide open but will also embrace with open arms the enormous opportunities and potential of these amazing times. I am prepared to be a President who will lead the resurgence of this great nation, here at home and around the world.
Thank you and may God continue to bless our extraordinary nation.