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 again.
Indeed -- indeed, that is the question of the hour. Where does America stand? You see when 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 place.
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.
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.
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 alternative 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 entrepreneurship.
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' successes.
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
here from all over because they have believed our creed of opportunity and limitless horizons.
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 circumstances.
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
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. 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.
and the times are hard. But America has met and overcome hard challenges before.
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.
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 a restaurant, but they have absolutely convinced her that even if she cannot have a 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 took belief in 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.