2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie delivered remarks at the Americans for Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” on Saturday. Below, find press coverage of the event, followed by a complete transcript of Gillespie’s remarks:
Associated Press: “Gillespie says conservatives must reject ‘evil’ hate groups”
Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Gillespie condemns white supremacy at Americans for Prosperity summit in Richmond”
Washington Examiner: “Ed Gillespie: Charlottesville ralliers aren’t on right-left spectrum”
Ed Gillespie: We’ve been having memorial services over the past four days, I attended the third today for Lieutenant Pilot Jay Cullen and laid him to rest and honored his service and memorialized his life. Yesterday was Trooper Pilot Berke Bates and on WednesdayHeather Heyer in Charlottesville. And I’m sure you’ve seen coverage and you know that for those who were there in Charlottesville, those who had organized the rally that they call the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, let’s be clear about a couple of things here.
Number one, according to news reports 90 percent of the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who were in Charlottesville on Saturday were not from Virginia. They came from out of our Commonwealth. I know my fellow Virginians and we are caring, loving people who respect one another. And number two, let’s be clear about this, these people were not on a legitimate left to right spectrum of any kind of a political spectrum that goes from left to right.
On a scale of one to ten with one being the most liberal and ten being the most conservative, these racists, these white supremacists, these neo-Nazis, they are a yellow. They are not on the same spectrum at all. They are not on the same continuum. Theirs is not a political philosophy rooted in competing ideas of economic freedom, lower taxes versus higher taxes, more school choice versus less school choice, what are the best ways to guarantee our individual freedoms, theirs is a twisted mindset rooted in hating and oppressing certain of us and my fellow Virginians and my fellow conservatives reject that kind of twisted mindset.
My conservatism, my conservatism is based on the knowledge that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, that we are all God’s children, and that we all are created equal, and that our constitution written here and our Declaration of Independence written here in Virginia created a form of government that does not give to its people certain rights, but protects the rights, our constitution protects the rights given to us by God, and that is important.
The belief that one race is superior to another or that one’s religion – someone’s religion is inferior to one’s own is not just anti-American, it’s worse than that. It’s not just immoral, it’s worse than that. It is the presence of evil in the world and we reject it. And that is important to us as conservatives, because our constitution, our basis of belief and our freedoms are what made this country so great for so long, have made us a beacon of freedom and hope that has drawn freedom loving people to our shores for centuries.
And my father was among them. My father came to this country as a boy from Ireland because his father, my grandfather, found work in America as a janitor. And my grandfather worked in a big bank building in Philadelphia. He was a night janitor. He went in when their night closed, at six o’clock at night he started his shift, and until two o’clockin the morning he would start on the ground floor, and he would empty the waste baskets, and mop the floors, and empty the ashtrays – back when you smoked in office buildings. And over the course of an eight hour shift floor, by floor, by floor he would work his way to the top story and the last thing he would do would be to polish the big wooden conference table in the boardroom and he would get home around 2:30 in the morning. My parents never went to college. Two of the smartest people I’ve ever known and two of the hardest working, they worked on their feet all day in a grocery store, the J and C market, J and C for Jack and Connie, or as I knew them Mom and Dad. And in my family when you turn 12 years old you got a birthday cake, and a present, and a four hour shift at the JC Market. And I learned a very valuable work ethic there that served me well all my life, but they insisted that my brothers and sisters go to college, and we were first generation on either side of our family to do so.
And Luke was kind to note that I worked my way through school at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and my morning job, I had many different jobs, but my morning job was as a parking lot attendant for the staff that work in the big office buildings on Capitol Hill. And that job led to another job inside one of those buildings, which was nice because it’s cold in the morning in the winter in Washington D.C, and working inside the building was nice and that lead to another job, and another job and eventually I got to serve as Counselor to the President of the United States of America.
From immigrant janitor to West Wing of the White House in two generations time, what a country we have. This is the American Dream we are celebrating here today, the notion that the next generation can do better than the generation that came before us, that we are free to fulfill ourselves, not to make money, not to have a bigger house, but to fulfill ourselves and free to pursue our dreams whatever that dream may be.
But we do want to make sure that the next generation can do better than the generation that came before us and that’s where elections, and policies, and ideas come into play, because right now we are at a risk of losing that. And I know that policies based on liberty foster prosperity. The fact is Patrick Henry not only said, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ here in Richmond; he was also the first governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we need a governor who understands that freedom and prosperity and upward mobility and opportunity and economic growth are rooted in the blessings of liberty, and the more liberty the more prosperity we will have.
That’s why I appreciate Speaker-designee Kirk Cox talking about our plans, the plans that he and I and all of the folks who are running for the House of Delegates on the conservative side of our spectrum are running on lower taxes and fewer regulations, the first cut in our individual income tax rates in 45 years here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is time for us to lower taxes on hardworking Virginians and unleash entrepreneurship and economic growth in the commonwealth.
Our economic growth rate last year was six tenths of one percent, and we were 39th out of 50 states in economic growth, Virginia, and that is just infuriating to me. Because when it comes to economic growth and job creation, when you look at our assets, and our vast natural resources, and our fertile lands, our port, our people, our great colleges and universities, our natural beauty, our historic landmarks, Virginia should be first in the country in job creation and economic growth and we can be with the right policies. But those are policies based on the fundamental principles, our constitutional principles of limited effective government.
And that’s why we need to cut taxes ten percent across the board and that would create more than 53,000 new, additional, full-time, good paying, private sector jobs. That’s a 25 percent increase over current projections. We need those jobs, we need that opportunity. That will get us on a path to economic growth and opportunity for future generations here.
We need fewer regulations, we have to tear down barriers to entry. Kirk talked about this as well. We make it too hard to start your own business here: too many requirements, too many occupational licenses. It takes three months of required courses to be a barber in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I don’t know about others here, I have never gotten a second bad haircut from the same barber. I don’t need to see a license from the state for a barber. I want my dentist to have a license, don’t need my barber to have a license. We have got to tear down these barriers to entry that tend to protect existing and often big business at the expense of small and new businesses. We need to unleash entrepreneurship and innovators and that will get our economy growing again.
We’ve got to put a greater emphasis on start-ups and scale ups, not on Fortune 100 companies and packaging our tax dollars and throwing at them to move into the Commonwealth. That has been the focus for decades here in Virginia from governors in both parties. We have been whale hunters, trying to get them to move lock, stock, and barrel into the Commonwealth, and don’t get me wrong I’m all for it, and I’ll be a relentless marketer for the Commonwealth all across the country and all across the globe, but the key to future long-term economic growth and sustainable job creation in Virginia is to start growing our own whales. Let’s grow them right here. Let’s make it easy to open a new business and expand an existing one.
And small business owners pay the individual income tax, not the corporate income tax, and so bringing that tax down will help them, and easing regulations, repealing two regulations for every new one will ease the burden and unleash entrepreneurship innovators that will help us diversify our economy.
These are the choices. This is the difference. This is the stakes of this election and the choices could not be more clear. And so I know we are here to talk about principles and policies and I’m glad to share some with you. I would encourage you to go to my website ForALLVirginians.com. You can see a lengthy, detailed plan for how to get Virginia growing again based on the principles that all of us here today share and based on a shared love of liberty as well.
Thank you all so much for being here. Thank you for all that AFP does to stand strong for those principles. Thank you for all you do on the ground as grassroots activists to stand strong for our principles. God bless you for that. God bless the United States of America. God bless the Commonwealth of Virginia. Thank you so much.