Thank you Chad Connelly, Matt Moore and my fellow Republican women for allowing me to share a word today. I grew up in the halls of power because my father served Senator Thurmond and three presidents, and chaired the SC GOP in the 60’s. He also helped to build the Republican Party in the South when there was only a one party system. I traveled all over this state with my dad as a child and the Republican Party is part of my heritage. Yet as an adult, it is the party of my choice because of its platform of family, faith, and freedom. Preserving our freedoms is the reason my father went into politics and military service. The Republican Party platform today is the same platform my father fought so hard to maintain in his 25 year political career and his days in the White House.
I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in politics. The good—with the Nixon administration we saw the end of segregation which we celebrate tomorrow and America’s involvement in the Viet Nam War, the appointment of four conservative judges to the Supreme Court who would hold to the Constitution, and great strides in foreign policy—particularly in China. We got to be a part of the making of history. It was exciting to attend White House dinners, fly on Air Force One with the President, and I actually rolled Easter Eggs on the White House Lawn with . . . the Easter Bunny!
But good turned to bad due to moral failure and a massive cover-up known as Watergate. I saw this entire administration fall from grace and many of the causes they worked so hard for go down the tubes. Those were tough days and my book tells candidly about it and what we learned. I’ll never forget turning on ABC World News Tonight and hearing Sam Donaldson say that my father and Chuck Colson had ordered the Watergate Break-in. My dad later called to tell me that was not true. Who says the media needs to check their sources? Where is the accountability for them? But some four weeks later my dad told me with tears streaming down his cheeks, “Honey, the president and his men, the ship, is going down and I may go down with the ship. I knew nothing about Watergate, but I may go to prison. I need for you to be strong.” Not easy words for a 16 year old daddy’s girl to hear. That scene watching President Nixon leave in disgrace on Marine One was devastating.
Unfortunately, I’ve also seen the ugly, when the media exaggerate, make-up, and smear candidates for their own agenda. But what hurts the most is when your own party candidates do the same using negative tactics to win a race, only hurting the cause in the end. They say that presidents age two years for every year in office and I’m sure campaigning ages you three years for every one year. You who are the candidate’s wives know firsthand how difficult this can be, and my heart goes out to you. You are your husband’s main support during this time. Behind every good candidate, is their loving and supportive spouse. But, I believe if we continue at the current trend of smear tactics, one candidate will win the battle, but we may lose the war. We cannot afford to lose this election. As Jim Demint has said, “It’s now or never.” Some days we are beginning to sound more like the Occupy Wall Street protesters than the free market crowd. And Republicans have always stood for free market principles.
We have the highest qualified slate of candidates for such a time as this. A time when our America, is at stake. This race is more than ever before—not about any one candidate—it’s about saving the future of this country. There is no doubt any one of these fine candidates is far superior to our current president.
As we grow older and mature, we often change our perspectives. I say that because we often criticize others for changing their positions. If we are constantly growing and learning, our positions will continue to change and grow at times. Traveling the world and serving on the frontlines of education has certainly given me a different perspective on some issues. Let’s be reasonable people willing to forgive and always willing to allow for growth and change.
So as we say in the South–what’s it “gonna” take to put a Republican who stands for family values, faith, and freedom back in the White House. What is it “gonna” take to turn this country around, a country that appears to have lost its moral and economic compass. I believe it’s “gonna” take three things:
First of all, it’s going to take each one of us working together. When the debates and convention are finally over, one thing we cannot have is a house divided. Whoever wins, we must whole heartedly throw our support behind that one person—realizing that the cause is greater than any one of us—the cause of saving this country is the main thing. And each one of us must ask, “What part can I play?” As I look at all of the candidates and with their gifts, talents and experiences, I can see that each of them can play a major position in getting this country back to where she needs to be. Yes, it’s going to take all of us working together.
Second, it’s not about any of us or any one issue, this election is about saving freedom. My father and I have both been in the underground church in China at different times, visited the deep dark corners of the Middle East where there is no freedom, and my father spent the last 10 years of his working life volunteering to help the country of Romania and the underground churches to recover from the devastating effects of Communism. They simply did not know how to come to freedom. During my last visit to Romania in 2008 after my father’s passing, the Romanian’s asked me, “Why are you in America going towards what we came from—government control of everything, because we don’t want to go back?” I thought to myself, “that’s a good question – maybe we should ask President Obama?– “Why are you taking us towards government control when it has never proven to be successful anywhere in the world?’” Joseph Tson, the former leader of the Romanian Missionary Society said, “Communism looks good, but it tastes horrible.” He feels that we in the West are falling for the Delusion of Communism—that government control can solve all our problems. We know that’s a lie! Let the tie that binds us together—be freedom.
Third, the one thing I know without a doubt is that we can’t turn this country around without the Help and Hand of God. The same Hand that for many years as Abraham Lincoln said, “has blessed, preserved and strengthened us”, and has made us the envy of the world. Is there any doubt that we enjoy all these blessings of liberty and abundance because of the Hand of God and our Judeo-Christian values? Yet, we’ve become too proud and self-sufficient and many have forgotten Him and left Him out of the equation for restoration. That is a big mistake! It’s not my job to tell you how to worship God. That is the reason our fore fathers came to this country. I’m only telling you that the God of the Bible has always been a part of this nation.
My book has granted me interviews across this nation and one of the most common questions I’m asked is, “What advice would your father give a president today?” In his later years as many of you know, my father went through a spiritual transformation. He was a Republican before his transformation and afterwards. But after he studied the Bible comprehensively, he began to see that our problems were more spiritual than they were political. So his first advice would be spiritual. He would say, “This is not a time to shut God out of the public arena when we have insurmountable problems from within and from without. This is a time to bow on bended knee, ask God’s forgiveness and beg Him for His Hand of mercy as we so desperately need His help today. Yes, my father would say our task is hopeless without God. Sure, he’d give political advice, like don’t spend what you don’t have, limit federal government control, and stop leveraging our future on the backs of our children and grandchildren. I work everyday with children and my fifth graders know this. Surely, we in this country are smarter than the average fifth grader!
My father always felt that public service was a high and noble calling—a call not be taken lightly, because you were also a role model to the citizens and children of this country. My father once thought the greatest day of his life was the day he raised his right hand to promise to serve the President of the United States, but he was to find that his greatest days came after he bowed on bended knee to serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You see what we need in the White House is a man who bows on bended knee – not to ask God to bless his plans, but to say to God each day, “I am just a man and the leader of the free world, what would you have me to do?”
And when each of us commits to pray for our president and our country with a passion, gets involved, and bows on that same bended knee, then we will be able to change and restore this country. Fighting for the freedoms of this country is a noble and necessary cause, but my father and I both realized that God gave us our freedoms not so we could shower ourselves with the best of everything, He gave us our freedoms so we could accomplish the will of God in our lives. And that is where my father and I found true freedom—in following God’s will for our lives.
So let’s commit to do good, to protect ourselves from the bad—moral failures that can tarnish our cause, and let’s stay away from the ugly. My father never liked the ugly. Ronald Reagan was a proponent of the 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.” I sometimes believe that we are our own worst enemy. We know that we have the best ideas and solutions for America. But as Republicans our walk should match our talk, and only then will people want to hear our ideas and solutions. So let’s turn our focus towards a greater tomorrow, and a greater and freer America. And may God bless America again!