Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched his presidential campaign Wednesday with a speech at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana.
Here is a transcript for the full remarks.
My name is Bobby Jindal, I am the Governor of the great state of Louisiana, and I am running for President of the greatest country in the world – the United States of America.
44 years ago, a young couple who had never been on an airplane before left their home on the other side of the world to come to a place called America. They had never seen it, there was no Internet to search. But they had heard the legend that there was a place in this world where the people were free, and the opportunities were real. They weren't really coming to a geographical place, they were coming to an idea…and that idea is America.
To them, America represented all that was good in the world, where you could get ahead if you worked hard and played by the rules. A place where what matters is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, the ZIP code you were born in, or your family's last name.
My dad grew up in a house without electricity or running water, and he was the only person in his family to get past the 5th grade. He and mom came to Louisiana because they believed in America. And when they got here they found that the legend was true. They found that the people of Louisiana accepted them. And they found that America is indeed the land of the free and home of the brave.
37 years later, my parents' oldest son became Governor of Louisiana. It was the aftermath of Katrina, our economy was locked in a downward spiral, our biggest city was reeling, and for 25 straight years more people had left this state than had moved into it. Louisiana was in big trouble … So we had to make big changes. We had to believe in Louisiana Again. And that is exactly what we did.
We reformed our ethics laws. We went from one of the worst states to one of the best.
We privatized our outdated government-run hospital system, we reformed education, with nearly 100% charter schools in New Orleans. And now we have statewide school choice – because every child deserves an equal opportunity for a great education.
Instead of the child following the dollars … we make the dollars follow the child ... because we trust parents not bureaucrats to make the best decisions for our kids.
We did what they said could not be done – we shrank our government. We cut our budget by 26%. We cut the number of government bureaucrats by more than 30,000.
It was not easy, the big government crowd fought us every step of the way. They protested. They filibustered. They even took us to court. But we won.
Today we have more people moving into Louisiana than out of it, our highest population in history. Our kids are coming home.
And now we have more people working than at any time in our state's history, with the highest incomes in our state's history. A job for your family and a paycheck in your mailbox are the ultimate proof your state is doing things right.
But of course, there is another side to the story – the big government crowd hates what we have done – they say we have cut government more than anyone, and that government budgets are always running low on funds with me in the Governor's office.
My response to the big government crowd is simply this – yes. I am guilty as charged, and our state is better off for it today.
It's time for the folks in Washington to admit the truth -- You can't grow the economy and the government at the same time. It's an either or choice. Hillary Clinton wants to grow the government in Washington, but we want to grow the real economy out here in America.
Here's the key difference – the Democrats evaluate success in terms of the prosperity of government. We define success in terms of the prosperity of our people.
My approach is different from most of the other people running for President.
The United States of America — was made great by people who get things done. Not lots of talk or entertaining speeches. To be sure, there are a lot of great talkers running for President already. But none of them, not one, can match our record of actually shrinking the size of government. If great speeches helped our country, we would be on easy street right now. The guy in the White House today is a great talker, and we have a bunch of great talkers running for President. We've had enough of talkers, it's time for a doer. I'm not running for president to be somebody, I'm running for President to do something.
It's easy to talk about the mess that Obama has made of our country. Every American knows about it, and every Republican candidate talks about it.
That's not even half of what we should expect of the next President. We owe voters more than just a tirade about the problem – we owe them honesty about our solution.
I will do the things that you cannot do in Washington, and say the things you cannot say.
I served two terms in Congress so I can tell you how it works in Washington — If you want to be with the cool kids, be liked by the media, and be invited to cocktail parties, you have to accept that there are things in Washington you just cannot do.
They say you cannot reduce the size of government or the number of bureaucrats. Oh, you may be able to cut the rate of increase here and there. But they say you cannot actually cut government spending. But we can, and we will.
They say the 18 trillion dollar national debt can't really be addressed, and it's just part of doing business, so it's better not to talk about it. But we can and we will.
They know Social Security and Medicare are going bankrupt, but they are afraid to do anything about it, so they deny the math and pretend everything is fine. But we can reform and save these programs and we will.
In Washington they say term limits is a quaint idea that we are naive to believe in. They think we need a permanent class of elites. It's safer to not rock the boat. But we can rock the boat, and we will.
In Washington they know that the voters want the border secured, but they refuse to do it. But you and I can, and we will.
Finally…. They say we can't really repeal and replace all of Obamacare. But I am the only candidate who has written a replacement plan, a free market plan that focuses on reducing costs. We can repeal Obamacare and we will.
But today's Republican Party in Washington has been beaten into submission and is increasingly afraid to speak the truth. It's time to say what everyone is thinking — the emperors in Washington are not wearing any clothes.
In case it's not clear by now, I'm running for President without permission from headquarters in Washington D.C. But rest assured — I'm tanned, rested, and ready for this fight.
Here's the truth about most politicians – They are selfish, and they are followers not leaders. They worry more about their own fate than the country's fate. They take polls, figure out where the public is headed, and then run out front and pretend to be leading the parade.
It's easy to be a popular politician, don't rock the boat, kiss babies and cut ribbons, and don't make big changes. But I will not take the easy way out. If you want someone who will pretend that everything is fine and just make some small tweaks – then you want someone else.
I will never lead from behind.
I know that some believe that I talk too much about my faith. But I will not be silenced in order to meet their expectations of political correctness.
They don't accept the idea that you can be both intellectual and Christian. They can't fathom the notion that you can be both smart and conservative. But, they need to get out more. There's a big country out here with millions of Americans who believe in God and are not ashamed to say so.
I would be wary of a president who didn't seek wisdom from the Almighty. I don't know about you, but I've met many very smart people who lack wisdom. Yet Christianity is under assault today in America. But the liberals have forgotten their history. Religious liberty is not some quaint notion from the past. It is fundamental to our freedom. That's why it is protected in the First Amendment to the Constitution. I'm going to say this slowly so that even Hillary Clinton can understand it. America did not create religious liberty, religious liberty created the United States of America.
And it's time we stopped trying to divide ourselves against each other. Hillary Clinton is already trying to divide us by ethnicity, by gender, and by economic status. As for me, I'm sick and tired of people dividing Americans. And I'm done with all this talk about hyphenated Americans. We are not Indian-Americans, Irish – Americans, African– Americans, rich Americans, or poor Americans – we are all Americans.
While I'm at it, here's another thing you aren't allowed to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. We cannot allow people to immigrate to this country so that they can use our freedoms to undermine our freedoms. That's exactly what has happened in Europe, where they have 2nd and 3rd generations of immigrants who refuse to embrace the values and culture of the countries they have moved into. We must not let that happen here.
It is not unreasonable to demand that if you immigrate to America, you must do so legally, and you must be ready and willing to embrace our values, learn English, and roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Now, let's do something different and tell the truth about our political situation. Republicans must stop being afraid to lose. If we try to hide who we are again…we will lose again. You've heard Jeb Bush say that we need to be willing to lose the primary in order to win the general election. Let me translate that for you, I'm going to translate that from political-speak into plain English. He is saying that we need to hide our conservative ideals. But the truth is, if we go down that road again, we will lose again.
Let's do something new, let's endorse our own principles for a change and boldly speak the truth without fear.
As Republicans, we've already tried to appease the Left, to make the media like us better, to talk in politically correct language, to hide some of our beliefs by calling them distractions. We've tried to mask our conservative ideals, and we have failed.
Every Republican will say they are for school choice, shrinking government, cutting the government workforce, and getting rid of Common Core. But talk is cheap. Talk is just talk. I haven't just talked about doing these things, I've actually done these things.
Every Republican will say they will fight to protect the unborn, repeal Obamacare, secure the border, and destroy ISIS. I won't simply talk about these things, I will do these things.
It's time to level with the American people. This President, and his apprentice-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, are leading America down the path to destruction. Economically, culturally, and internationally. But the most devastating thing they have tried to do is redefine the American Dream.
Instead of the dream being to have opportunity and freedom to control your own destiny and make your own way, their dream is for the government to take care of you and make people dependent on the government. We want to guarantee equal opportunity, but they want to guarantee equal outcomes.
The simple fact is they are trying to turn the American Dream into socialism. The folks in Washington may call that the American Dream, but out here in America, we call that the European Nightmare.
To be clear, we are not simply trying to reclaim the past, no, quite to the contrary, we are laying our claim on the future, a future where America leads the world.
This is not a cause any of us can resist. It is our destiny, it is our mission. As America goes, so goes the world. We are the light of freedom in a dark world, and it's time we start acting like it.
I will not be intimidated from talking about the fact that radical Islam is evil and must be destroyed.
Containment is a strategy for losers. But as General George S. Patton famously observed – "Americans play to win all the time."
Americans don't play to lose. President Obama has it wrong, Secretary Clinton has it wrong, our allies need to trust us. Our enemies need to fear us. It's time we play to win again.
As President I'll have four objectives:
I will secure our borders;
I will replace Obamacare with a health care system that focuses on reducing costs and restoring freedom;
I will grow the private sector economy by shrinking the size, scope, and reach of the federal government;
And I will rebuild America's defenses and restore our standing on the world stage.
I'm not asking you to simply join my campaign, I'm asking you to join a cause.
If you are looking for a candidate who will politely manage America's descent into mediocrity, I'm not your man.
But… if you are chasing a dream and looking for a land where the people are free, and the opportunities are real, I'm asking you to believe.
My dad told me as a young kid that Americans can do anything. I believed him then, and I believe it now.
I know that in your heart you believe it too, I am asking you to Believe again.
Believe in what we can do. Believe in what America can do.
Thank you, may God bless you, and may God bless our great country.