WHERE: Iowa GOP Reagan Dinner

WHEN: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013

Thank you. It is an honor to join you tonight.

First, a message for the media. Yes, I am running. I’m going to hit the hotel treadmill around 7 a.m tomorrow. Right after I watch Duck Dynasty.

It is frankly a relief to escape Washington this time of the year. And I don’t mean because of the weather. You might have noticed that Congress’s approval ratings have fallen to a record low. But hey, we did build that!

If President John F. Kennedy were here today, he might call Congress the most extraordinary collection of arrogance, aloofness, and condescension that has ever been gathered together in one place — with the possible exception of when President Obama dines alone.

Now, some of us who are new to Congress have tried to change its culture. As a consequence, we have not made many friends. We’ve been told to settle down. Don’t make waves. Don’t overreach. Follow the procedures.

Well, the procedures have gotten us to where we are today. Saddled with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Which is not affordable — will not improve care — and does not protect us from rising health care costs. About the only thing accurate is the word “patient.” Millions of Americans have been patiently trying to log onto healthcare.gov. But it just doesn’t work.

Imagine that. This young, hip, tech-savvy President took three years and $634 million to screw up a website.

People who cannot get on are not happy about it. But you know who is even more unhappy? Those who DO get through. That’s when they find out how much their costs will increase under Obamacare.

This week, CNN — not part of the vast right-wing conspiracy — interviewed real families facing real pain under Obamacare. They’re losing their current health care coverage because it does not comply.

Remember the President’s promise that you could keep your plan if you liked it? Right, I do too. I guess that was the “change” part of “hope and change.”

These are middle-class families with young children. The people we’re supposed to help. They are getting hit with hundreds of dollars in new monthly premiums and thousands in new deductibles.

What’s worse is that deep-pocketed corporate interests have gotten waivers from the law. While ordinary Americans have gotten the shaft. This is crony capitalism at its worst. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s not a glitch, it’s a failure. No Internet contractor can fix what’s wrong with the Affordable Care Act. It suffers from a pre-existing condition: liberalism.

Folks, a few weeks ago we were accused of being “obsessed” about Obamacare. I’d say we were ahead of the curve.

This is exactly what we were fighting against. A system billed as compassionate that is hurting people. A system billed as fair that is as unfair as anything I’ve seen. A system approved by legislators who didn’t bother to read their own bill. A system cooked up by people who have spent too much time under a dome and not enough time living under their own laws.

I’m a young man, politically speaking. Forty-two years and 10 months. Alive 43 years and seven months, by the way. I do not have seniority. But I have passion. And idealism, even now. There’s a fine line between expecting the worst from Washington and accepting it. I refuse to accept it.

I am optimistic. How can I not be? I see good Republicans doing great work all over this country, on health care and energy and education and jobs.

I see a leader like Governor Scott Walker fighting for his citizens. He refused to fire Wisconsin teachers in a budget crisis. Instead, he fixed the gold-plated pensions and iron tenure laws that got them into the mess. He was attacked by the nation’s liberal establishment. And he not only survived, he came out stronger.

I see a principled leader like Terry Branstad serve his state as its youngest Governor and come back to serve it again. A fierce advocate for life and liberty who does not trim his sails with the prevailing winds.

I see Governor Rick Perry, the number two job-creating Governor in the country. He is not a poseur on health care. His reform of the medical liability system has attracted doctors in record numbers to the Lone Star state, including to its poorest communities.

Washington could do a lot worse than look to him for direction. In fact, it did. You know, a guy like that should run for president someday!

But how can I not be optimistic? I am a proud Reaganite. Ronald Reagan was elected when our presidency was at its lowest point. Historians at the time said maybe the job was too big for one man. Not this man.

He was realistic. “The American people are patient,” he said. “I think they realize that the wrongs done over several decades cannot be corrected instantly.”

But he had a vision.

“We must remove government’s smothering hand from where it does harm,” he said. “We must seek to revitalize the proper functions of government. But we do these things to set loose again the energy and the ingenuity of the American people. We do these things to reinvigorate those social and economic institutions which serve as a buffer and a bridge between the individual and the state — and which remain the real source of our progress as a people.”

Remember that, fellow Republicans. Remember that when you hear yourself being called a bomb-thrower, a hostage-taker, an extremist. Remember that, fellow conservatives, when you hear yourself being called an anarchist.

Rejecting federal command and control over every aspect of our lives is NOT anarchy. It is AMERICA!

But do not be angered by the Left. Be amused. Because they are so very wrong it’s funny.

The Left talks about changing demographics. They say conservatives fear losing power and control under this “new America.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I am not afraid of changing demographics. I see great leaders like Senator Tim Scott, Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Nikki Haley, and Governor Bobby Jindal. I see Governor Brian Sandoval, Governor Susana Martinez, Mayor Mia Love, and Dr. Benjamin Carson. I am not afraid of them. Are you?

The Left talks about a fatal rift between the Tea Party and the Republican Party.

This is game-playing. Mischief-making. And it’s nothing new. Listen to the following words, and I quote: “There is a division in the Republican Party.” Some members, quote, “talk of doing away with what they term the ‘welfare state’ and ‘statism.’ So far they have not defined very carefully what they actually intend to do on the positive side.”

Those words were written in 1950, by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s right. Sixty-three years ago. Two years before the election of President Eisenhower and a Republican-led House and Senate.

The Left talks about “fairness” and a “level playing field.” Ladies and gentlemen, fairness is a CONSERVATIVE value.

President Reagan used the word more in his 1983 State of the Union Address than any since. “Our standard will be fairness,” he said, “ensuring that the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars go only to the truly needy.”

Does anyone believe this describes Obamacare? Does anyone believe Obamacare is a safety net for the poor, the sick, and the vulnerable? Or rather, is it an all-encompassing web, getting between patients and their doctors, and making the health care choices for us?

I think we all know the answer.

You know, I’ve heard it said that there is no education in the second kick of a mule. This is true. But the analogy is backwards. Washington is the mule. And the American people are the ones getting kicked in the head.

We don’t have to take it. We can work together to put this country on a path to fiscal health. We can work together to demand real cuts in wasteful spending. Raising the debt ceiling without cutting spending is like buying a new scale without cutting calories.

We can work together for real reform of health insurance, starting with allowing Americans to purchase it across state lines.

Finally, we can work together to end the “new normal,” where the explosion in unemployment and food stamps is excused with a wink and a smile. The American people are not smiling. More of them believe we’re on the wrong track than ever before. They believe their children will have it worse than they did. This is tragic. And it cannot stand.

President Reagan’s great Education Secretary, William Bennett, has spoken about the “gates test.” Lower all the gates in every nation around the world, and where will the people go? To America, of course. For opportunity, yes, but for freedom most of all.

Freedom that creates wealth and improves lives. Freedom that gives us the strength to protect the weak, both here and abroad. Freedom is why my father fled Cuba for Texas. Freedom is why he became an American citizen.

Why would we ever allow the soul of this nation, the one that has been a beacon to so many for so long, to be fundamentally transformed?

You bet I’m optimistic. Because I live in America. So do you. Together we will fight to survive this “glitch” in our history.

Thank you, and God bless America.