Good evening my fellow delegates, friends, guests, and all those watching this historic convention on television and online. Aloha!
It is my distinct pleasure and honor to speak with you tonight about Senator McCain's outstanding choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as our party's Vice Presidential nominee!
As a fellow Republican Governor ...of a non-contiguous state ....I have had the chance to get to know Governor Sarah Palin. She is a terrific individual...and an outstanding governor. Sarah is a person with proven leadership skills, and strong moral character.
Because most Americans are just being introduced to Sarah Palin, I think it is important to share with you a little about her great personal story.
Her family moved to Alaska -- the Last Frontier -- when Governor Palin was an infant.
Sarah and her family are avid outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy long distance running as well as hunting. In high school, she led her basketball team -- as point guard and captain -- to victory in the state championship. Two years later, she was crowned Miss Wasilla and finished second in the Miss Alaska pageant.
After college, she married her high school sweetheart, Todd. As early evidence of Sarah's commitment to fiscal discipline...they eloped!
Todd is a commercial fisherman, an oil field worker and a union member, as well as a world-champion snowmobile racer. After 20 years of marriage, Sarah and Todd have five beautiful children and a grandchild on the way.
They face the same challenges that moms and dads do, every single day in our country. Difficult things happen to families, and just like yours, families pull together and get through it.
More than just having a great personal story, Sarah Palin is a great person. She is genuine, and comfortable in her own skin...truly authentic.
She will not be trying to reinvent herself during this campaign! She is who she is.
Like others who meet Sarah, when you get to know her...you are going be very impressed...and the more you get to know her, the more impressed you're going to be.
Sarah has integrity and strong values. She is smart and she is a unique combination of toughness and grace.
I was at a conference with Sarah and a few other governors this past April, in Dallas, when on very short notice she delivered an outstanding, strategic speech on energy issues. Let me assure you that she knows the energy issue well and she will help our soon to be President John McCain...achieve energy independence!
The same day she delivered that speech, Sarah went into labor with her fifth child...made the trip back to Alaska...and delivered her son Trig the next day.
"Did I mention that she is tough?"
All of these qualities contribute to make Governor Palin a great leader.
In fact, she is a gifted leader. It comes naturally to her...and people naturally gravitate toward her. She engenders trust in people...and she lives up to that trust!
She has cut excessive spending from the multi- billion-dollar state budget she oversees.
She has taken on the Establishment...challenged a corrupt political system...and enacted a strong ethics reform law.
She took on the sitting Republican Governor with whom she disagreed...and she won.
In the general election, she took on a former two-term, Democratic Governor. And she won! Put simply...Sarah is a leader and a winner!
Like all governors, she is dealing with many issues that members of Congress have talked about, a lot, through the years, including health care, education, economic development, energy and the environment. But, mere words, no matter how eloquently delivered, will never replace the decisive actions of a governor that produces real results.
While Congress passes lots of laws, it is the governors who have to deal with their consequences.
Sarah is also the Commander in Chief of the Alaska National Guard.
I share that same Commander in Chief role with my fellow governors. As the governor of a tightly-knit state, I know that seeing off troops before an overseas deployment is not a perfunctory exercise, but an intense, personal experience.
These are our friends and our neighbors, our family and colleagues...people we know.
Before serving as Governor, Sarah was the mayor of Wasilla for two-terms...again, defeating the incumbent! Some have tried to diminish this experience by pointing out that Wasilla only has a population of nearly 10,000 people. This is the size of many cities all across our country. The size where everyone knows everyone, and where as mayor you are held personally accountable for your decisions.
I find it reminiscent when I hear Democrat party leaders and their surrogates questioning Sarah's experience. They used the same tactic against me when I ran for governor. They said being the mayor of Maui was insufficient experience to be the governor.
Since becoming governor, Hawaii has moved up 10 spots in the Forbes ranking for best states to do business, is among the top five states in health insurance coverage, and was one of only 12 states last year where the number of people living in poverty went down.
I think being a mayor, whether in Hawaii or Alaska or anywhere else, is outstanding preparation for higher office.
I find it especially amusing that the other party says Governor Palin lacks experience when their own candidates for president and vice president...have NO executive experience... ZERO!
Neither Senator Obama nor Senator Biden has ever managed a multi- billion dollar budget, or been a chief executive of any city... or state, of any size... or of anything for that matter.
As President Lyndon Johnson said, "When the burdens of the presidency seem unusually heavy, I always remind myself it could be worse. I could be a MAYOR."
Mayors, like Sarah Palin, are CEOs. Governors, like Sarah Palin, are CEOs.
That's why I think it is so beneficial to have a Governor on the ticket...and Sarah is a great choice. Senator McCain decided to look "North to the Future" - which is Alaska's motto - to find a transformative leader.
The other side has made the point that Alaska is a small state, but the last time I checked, it had the same number of electoral votes as Delaware. And, you can fit more than 250 states the size of Delaware within Alaska's border.
Sarah has broad appeal within our Party...because she is a strong social conservative, an adherent to free market principals, and a fiscal hawk...and because she has the ability to expand our numbers by reaching out to independents...young people...and women!
His decision to choose Sarah tells us a lot about Senator John McCain. It is a clear reminder that he truly is a maverick, and that he will always do the right thing for the people of America. It underscores that Senator McCain understands what Americans have known for quite some time - Washington is broken.
And Senator McCain showed his commitment to ending politics as usual in Washington by picking an Outsider...a proven reformer...an experienced woman governor.
This choice is bold, historic and courageous...just like John McCain and Sarah Palin!
I am glad I have had the chance to get to know Sarah Palin. I know when you... and the rest of America gets to know her, you will agree with me...that Sarah Palin is going to be a great Vice President.
Mahalo, God Bless You and God Bless America!