McCain on running again: 'Quitting is not in my nature'
U.S. Sen. John McCain's remarks as he announced his run for a sixth term, delivered Tuesday at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Phoenix (as prepared for delivery and released by his office):
Thank you, Jeff. I often joke that if I looked like Senator Flake I'd be President of the United States. Jeff is also one of the most thoughtful and principled members of the Senate, and we're all lucky to have him there.
Thank you too, Glenn, and Chamber members. I'm happy to be with you today.
As I have considered whether to run for re-election, I've thought a lot about our state. I've thought about our problems and our opportunities, what we've accomplished and the work that remains. I've also thought a lot about what Arizona means to me.
For much of my life, I didn't have a hometown. My father was a naval officer and our family lived in more places than I can recount. I became a naval officer, too, and except for a longer-than-scheduled combat tour, I was always on the move. I was part of a tradition that compensated me in other ways for not having a safe harbor I could call home.
I didn't know what I was missing until Cindy brought me to Arizona to raise our family. And in the thirty-plus years that have passed since I moved here, Arizona has worked its magic on me.
Barry Goldwater called Arizona "113,400 square miles of heaven that God cut out." He was right. I've enjoyed just about every scene of spectacular beauty our state has to offer. I've hiked Canyon de Chelly, Chiricahua, and the Grand Canyon – rim-to-rim. I've rafted down the Colorado. I've walked the trails of Saguaro National Park and been struck speechless by the awe-inspiring landscape of Monument Valley. I've driven through the desert in the spring after a wet winter and been moved to tears by the beauty of desert wildflowers in bloom.
I've been to every community that Arizonans carved from the wilderness and made thrive – places that have never stopped growing; places where opportunities were exhausted; and places that rose, declined and were re-imagined again by the hard-working, self-starting dreamers that Arizona attracts in such large numbers.
I'm one of the most fortunate people in the world, and I want to thank Arizonans, with all my heart, for the privilege of representing our beautiful state and the people who are blessed to call it home.
I'm proud to have entered public office as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution. And I believe today, as I believed then, in small government; fiscal discipline; low taxes; a strong defense; and in the God-given rights of every human being, born and unborn, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Over the last several years, Arizonans have been rightly frustrated with a wasteful, incompetent federal government bent on expanding its reach and power – from Obamacare to excessive financial and environmental regulation. I've fought against those excesses and have the scars to prove it. And I'll keep fighting. Quitting is not in my nature.
Arizonans expect me, as they do all who represent them in government, to do the hard work of bringing people together to get things done and solve problems that can't be solved by individuals alone.
I'm proud of the work I've done for our state, and we've had a lot of success over the last few years:
I have worked on issues at the VA for years, but reports last spring about gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA sparked a national scandal over veterans' health care unlike anything I've ever seen before. Having listened to the families of veterans who passed away while struggling through endless wait times and mountains of red tape, I helped write and pass legislation that made some of the most significant changes to the VA in decades, including, giving veterans a choice in where they receive their healthcare.
I also led the effort to strengthen suicide-prevention programs at the VA. This January, the Senate unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act – a bill that I co-authored in memory of Clay Hunt, a decorated combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who took his own life in 2011 at the young age of 28, after a difficult struggle with PTSD. We have no greater responsibility than to care for our nation's veterans, and this bill will enhance mental health care services for those who suffer from the effects of war long after they complete their tours of duty.
Additionally, I worked with Arizona leaders on the Resolution Copper Mine project in Superior. Time and again, it was stuck in the partisan minefield of Congress – until last fall, when I was able to secure congressional approval to expand the mine as part of the defense authorization bill. The mine is expected to produce roughly 25% of America's domestic copper supply, create about 4,000 jobs and generate tens of billions of dollars in economic activity well into the 21st century.
I worked with defense and community leaders in the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance to stop the Obama Administration's misguided plan to cancel the entire fleet of A-10 Warthogs, many of which are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. A-10 pilots and crews have played a heroic role in providing close air support to our ground troops on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their mission continues today with A-10s deployed to Eastern Europe to protect against Russian aggression and to the Middle East to fight ISIS.
Moreover, after anglers and businesses in Mohave County asked me to help get the Willow Beach National Fish Hatchery reopened, I helped bring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the negotiating table with Arizona Game and Fish and other local stakeholders to restore the trout-stocking program, which supports some 1,700 jobs and $75 million of badly needed economic activity along that stretch of the Lower Colorado River.
On scores of other issues – from helping the Forest Service procure from the U.S. Air Force water-tanker aircraft to fight wildfires in Arizona and the West … to helping small businesses that serve the Grand Canyon weather the federal government shutdown a few years ago; from helping Douglas get its cattle-crossing station reopened … to helping the Snowbowl get a permit for snowmaking equipment to extend its season; from getting legislation passed that will continue federal support for the economically vital Yuma Crossing wetlands restoration project occurring on the banks of the Colorado River … to investigating diminishing banking services throughout our border communities – I have worked hard to meet the needs of Arizonans, who count on me to help them solve problems.
Today, Arizonans and Americans are deeply worried about our nation's security, as they look around and see a world on fire.
President Obama's feckless policy of 'leading from behind' has replaced Ronald Reagan's maxim of 'peace through strength.' And all across the world, our enemies are emboldened and our friends are demoralized.
Just this past year alone:
ISIS took control of territory the size of Indiana in the heart of the Middle East, and waged a savage campaign of death and destruction across Syria and Iraq.
For the first time since World War II, a sovereign European nation was invaded and its territory seized. Russia continues to occupy Ukraine and threaten our NATO allies in Eastern Europe.
Iranian aggression spread across the Middle East while President Obama's nuclear negotiations with Iran threatens to leave the ayatollahs close to nuclear status – and the entire region on the brink of a nuclear arms race.
China has stepped-up its aggressive behavior in Asia, backed by rapid military modernization.
As Henry Kissinger recently observed, 'The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.'
That is the entirely predictable result of a disastrous foreign policy. And while I wish I had been wrong, I saw many of these problems coming.
I said Iraq would fall into chaos if we didn't leave a residual force there.
I warned that if we didn't take action, Syria would descend into a terrorist safe haven that posed a threat to America.
I predicted that Vladimir Putin would invade Crimea, and I've been drawing attention to Putin's malign intentions for more than a decade.
For my trouble, Putin barred me from entering Russia, and ISIS called me their #1 'enemy.' I know I've got my faults, but when I get that kind of reaction from America's enemies, I must be doing something right. And, as the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I've never been in a better position to help our military defeat our enemies and secure our nation.
To be strong in the world we have to stay strong at home. I know what our priorities should be because the people of Arizona have never been shy about telling me what they are.
Arizonans are frustrated by the slow economic recovery. They're struggling to make ends meet and afraid the American Dream is slipping away.
Arizona small businesses are under assault by federal mandates like Obamacare and worried about our unsolved fiscal challenges.
Arizonans are frustrated by the federal government's chronic inability to secure our southern border.
Arizonans in uniform are concerned that mindless defense cuts are devastating our military – and putting them at greater risk.
Most of all, Arizonans worry like never before about the security of the country – and a President who refuses to lead.
These are challenges that need all our best efforts to address. So, with a full heart, I ask Arizonans again for their support as I seek re-election to the Senate.
I'm as determined as ever to deserve your trust – and as grateful as ever for the privilege. It is the honor of my life to serve you and our best hopes for our country – and I intend to remain worthy of that honor.
No success in my life has ever come without a good fight, and there is so much worth fighting for today. I'm eager to get started and ready for whatever comes.
Thank you very much.
John McCain is a Republican Senator from Arizona.