(U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's prepared speech to the Texas Federation of Republican Women, her first public comments on her plans to remain in the Senate into next year.)
Good morning. It's great to be here today with so many wonderful TFRW friends. I see a lot of new ones too.
I wouldn't be here today without the support, hard work and leadership of Republican women's clubs throughout Texas.
I have a lot to say today — so hang on.
I have been honored to serve our state for a good part of my life. It's a privilege I cherish.
Together, we have fought to make Texas the envy of our country. I am proud to have fought for polices that kept us strong. As State Treasurer, I fought to ensure our government lived within its means by putting forth a plan to cap the Texas debt limit.
Facing a budget deficit, a group of state leaders proposed a state income tax. I knew it was the wrong idea and led the effort to defeat it.
Twenty years later, our citizens are better off because we don't have an income tax.
I am proud to be a strong conservative voice for Texas in the United States Senate. I fought to pass the largest tax cuts in our nation's history; I led the fight that ended the marriage tax penalty and fought to kill the death tax; wrote the legislation creating the Homemaker IRA, so women who work inside the home have the same retirement benefits as those who work outside the home; and wrote the amendment that made the state sales tax deductible on your federal income taxes.
You elected me to the Senate to fight for Texas. And that fight has meant billions in tax relief, more money in your pocket, more investments in our economy and more jobs in our communities.
I have fought to support our military.
I didn't sit by when Ft. Bliss was losing missions. I devised the strategy that is expanding the base. That alone will mean 90,000 new jobs in El Paso.
I devised the strategy to bring Army South headquarters to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio when it was in danger of being shut down during the BRAC process. And not only did we keep it open but we expanded and now there will be 9,000 new jobs.
I have fought to make sure that the needs of our veterans are met, wounded soldiers are cared for and military families are supported.
I have targeted to support our bases in Abilene, San Angelo, Wichita Falls and Killeen — home to our great Ft. Hood — to make sure that we improved the quality of life and the training capabilities for our soldiers.
Fighting for Texas, I worked to strengthen our border security. I quadrupled the number of Border Patrol Agents along our borders, supported the construction of a fence, opposed funding for sanctuary cities, and provided direct aid to local sheriffs and police to fight drug activity on the border.
At home, I fought to protect children by writing the law that created the national Amber Alert. I authored the bill that made it a federal crime to stalk people across state lines — women and children are usually the victims.
I am proud of my conservative record in the Senate and I am proud to run on that record for governor.
Today, I want to talk to you about my campaign and what I plan to accomplish for you as governor. But before I get to that, I want to talk about the elephant in the room.
First, I want you to know that I will not leave the Senate before the end of the year. I have said before that I intended to resign this fall after the government takeover of healthcare is defeated. I have not said the exact date for resignation because we were waiting for the Democrats to schedule the Senate debate.
But last weekend the bill passed out of the House, taking us one perilous step closer to a government takeover of nearly one-third of our economy. We are a step closer to huge tax increases; the loss of countless jobs; the end of patient choice. The Democrats are going to pull out every stop to socialize American medicine. But we will fight it every step of the way. And it could be a long fight. Just last week Harry Reid said for the first time that we would likely not finish the healthcare debate this year.
In the same week, Democrats moved a cap and trade bill out of the committee on a party-line vote to the Senate floor. Cap and trade is anti-job, anti-Texan and anti-American. Cap and trade will turn us into the cleanest third world economy in this Hemisphere. And it will devastate the Texas economy. We must stop it in its tracks.
Which brings me to two critical points. I am formally announcing to you — my stalwart friends — first — that I am more determined than ever to become the 48th Governor of our great state.
And second, I must put what's best for my campaign aside and do what is best for Texas. That is why I must stay in the Senate while running for the Republican nomination for governor. I cannot walk away while this fight is being fought by our fellow Republicans. I must stay and fight with them.
I realize this will keep me in the Senate past the primary election. But I simply cannot leave before we have fought to the end. These issues are too important to leave the fight to a newly appointed freshman senator. When the Democrats changed the timetable, I imagined how it would be for Texas to be represented by an interim appointee. One who doesn't yet know the Senate during the biggest fight I have seen in my time. Although I want to be home, I know in my heart I could not leave on my own timetable.
In the Senate, I will be more than simply a 'no' vote. With my experience, I will use every tool at my disposal to defeat these bills.
Will my critics attack me for this decision? Probably. Is it a change of plans? Yes. And I will be honest. It is certainly not my preference. But it is the right thing to do for Texas.
Let me also be crystal clear about one thing. I will be resigning this Senate seat. For all of the good Republicans out there who plan on running for my seat next year, make no mistake. This is going to happen. It just isn't going to happen until after health care reform and cap and trade are finished. And that will be after the primary election.
I know that keeping my Senate responsibilities while running for governor may not be in the best interest of my campaign. But I will always put Texas first. My friends, all of you know that any woman can multi-task and that is exactly what I am going to do.
And this is why I am running for governor because I know the real challenges facing our state cannot be fixed from Washington.
And I believe now more than ever that we need a serious leader who will always put Texas first.
A leader who will focus on lowering our state's property taxes, which are the highest in the nation.
Address the problem of illegal immigration with commonsense solutions that get results.
We must improve education.
Fix our transportation system.
Make health care more affordable.
And address ethics reform.
As governor, you can trust that I will work to keep taxes low. Just as I have in the United States Senate. When I'm elected, one of my first actions will be to create a Property Tax Bill of Rights to ensure that every Texan has an open, fair and simple way to dispute property appraisals.
As governor, I will work with Texas law enforcement agencies to get them the training they need so they have the authority to deport illegal aliens who are arrested for committing crimes.
As governor, you can trust that I will lead the effort to reform our education system to meet the needs of the Texas in 2025 not 1925. A strong education system is key to our long-term economic viability and basic education should include community college trade training with a high school diploma. I believe in incentives to recruit and retain teachers, charter schools, magnet schools and accountability.
As governor, you can trust that I will improve our transportation system. To start, I will reorganize the Texas Department of Transportation. We will end the cronyism and mismanagement. Today, TXDOT is the most arrogant state agency in Texas history and it must be reformed. It's time we return to our tradition of free, quality highways and roads.
As governor, you can trust that I will officially kill the Trans-Texas Corridor once and for all.
As governor, you can trust that I will fight for private property rights. I will never allow the government to take your land, underpay you for it, ruin its value to you and give it to foreign-owned companies.
As governor, you can trust that I will protect our children. Decisions affecting you and your family should be made by you and not the governor. I will never mandate from Austin that sixth-graders should receive vaccinations without the consent of their parents. That's not conservative. And it's not the kind of policy the Republican Party should be pushing.
Finally, the Republican Party. Every one of you is giving your precious time and money to build a strong Republican Party. But the fact is that we are losing elections that we used to win. It is the governor's responsibility to lead the party. So where has our Party gone in the last ten years? We are three seats away from losing the Texas House. In 2004 we had 88 seats. Today we have 77. Last year the top of the ticket lost five of the six largest counties in Texas.
As governor, I will unite our Party with a message of lower taxes, improved education, protection of private property rights, a transportation system that works and integrity in our leaders.
I will lead a Republican Party worthy of governing Texas.
Texans want conservative solutions to our problems and we want to win elections. Winning over a broader swath of Americans to our party has nothing to do with moderation. It has everything to do with remaining true to our core Republican values.
Our conservative principles are at the core of American values. Our party should be a natural fit for the single mother sending her children to public school; for the family opening up a small business in their neighborhood; for the young Americans who have signed up to fight and if need be, to die, for our freedoms. These are the people who make our nation a land of opportunity and greatness. We must be talking to these people, communicating our shared beliefs.
If we do this, the Republican Party will grow. And will win.
And more importantly, so will Texas.
Texas is the greatest state in America.
I am running for governor to keep it that way.
And I am asking you today for your support.
God bless you.
God bless Texas.
And God bless America."