Rep. Zach Wamp told members of the Chattanooga Pachyderm Club on Monday that Sen. Bob Corker is gaining clout around the country as a potential presidential candidate.
He noted that Sen. Corker was chosen to deliver Friday night's Silver Elephant Banquet speech at the convention of the South Carolina Republican Party.
Rep. Wamp said, "They could have had Palin, but they chose Corker. That is a big, big deal. It is a landmark beginning into the national political environment for our senator."
He said the choice of Sen. Corker for the speech "was a high compliment and shows the stature that many around the country now regard him."
Rep. Wamp said Sen. Corker especially gained notice when he was on the Senate committee dealing with the auto bailouts. Rep. Wamp said, "He offered a solution that should have been adopted at the time and would have worked."
Rep. Wamp said, "Sen. Corker is being increasingly recognized as someone who is articulate and knowledgeable and demonstrates strong leadership."
The Republican event in South Carolina was held in Orangeburg, and it was noted that Bob Corker was born there and spent his early years before his family moved to Chattanooga.
During the speech, Sen. Corker said Republicans must "defend, reclaim and lead."
He said, "Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think this is a great time to be a Republican. There haven't been too many times in our nation's history when Republicans had a more important role to play.
"We are facing a terrible economic crisis, and at the helm is an administration that unfortunately does not share some of our core beliefs. This new administration fundamentally believes in a much-bigger government, fundamentally believes in less individual freedom and in the redistribution of wealth. Bottom line: They believe in equal outcomes while we believe in equal opportunity."
South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said upon the announcement that Sen. Corker had been chosen as the banquet speaker, “Republicans are thrilled to welcome Sen. Corker back to South Carolina. In a short span of time he has built a reputation as a conservative that offers commonsense solutions to our nation’s toughest challenges.
"Sen. Corker has been a leader in the fight to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, making America more energy independent and increasing access to affordable health care for all Americans. Our Republican activists are eager to hear Sen. Corker’s positive message of reform.”
Sen. Corker said soon after he was chosen, “I spent my childhood in South Carolina, and I have deep roots, relatives, and good memories throughout the state. It’s an honor to have this opportunity to come back and address the Silver Elephant Banquet, and I look forward to talking with South Carolina Republicans who have a tremendous record of activism and success at the ballot box.”
Here is the Corker speech:
It is a pleasure to be back in South Carolina.
I was a South Carolinian before I became a Tennessean.
I know the real reason you invited me here is that when I talk, I sound just like you. And I’m glad I do!
I was born in Orangeburg, raised in Aiken. My dad was from Springfield. My mom came from Livingston. And Dad worked at the Savannah River Plant.
There was no greater treat when I was growing up than a week at the beach...Myrtle Beach.
We moved to Chattanooga when I was 10.
When it was time for college, my sister came back to South Carolina.
She was a cheerleader at Clemson.
I went to the University of Tennessee, but came back to South Carolina as a young construction superintendent—you know, the guy in the trailer drinking day-old coffee.
I built a shopping center in Spartanburg and finished another one right here in Columbia. Later, while on my way to Florence to build another one, I made the decision to start my own business back in Tennessee with the $8,000 I had saved.
The business went well, and that decision probably also saved my chance to serve in public office, ’cause if I had stayed in South Carolina and run for office against the likes of Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint, and Mark Sanford, I would not be standing here today as a U.S. senator. What great leaders you are blessed with in South Carolina!
You know, a while back a lot of people in Washington gave up on Iraq. In Margaret Thatcher’s famous phrase, they were “going wobbly.” But Senator Lindsey Graham stood firm and proved to be right, and the nation is better for his commitment to our national defense.
And let me tell you, Jim DeMint is a pit bull when it comes to conservative fiscal discipline. He is relentless in his opposition to big government. I’m proud to work with him.
Your governor, Mark Sanford, has stood tall with a handful of other governors and reminded us what makes our country great. That takes courage, and I respect him for it.
I also want to congratulate Katon Dawson for the incredible job he’s doing in making South Carolina a leader in our efforts to rebuild our national party .
This is a great crowd tonight. Anyone who doubts that Republicans are energized should see this crowd.
One thing I’ve always loved about South Carolina is that this is a state, like Tennessee, with a deep sense of patriotism.
On a recent trip to Afghanistan I met some of South Carolina’s finest serving at Camp Phoenix, six National Guardsmen doing their duty for all of us.
Anytime so many of us are gathered we do well to pause for a moment to honor the thousands of Americans in harm’s way, far from home, who are serving in the greatest military in history. We honor their service and pray for their safety.
Tonight I want to talk with you about how we move our country toward better times. I think we have to do three things: defend, reclaim, and lead.
First, let’s talk about our need to defend our country against some dangerous proposals.
Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think this is a great time to be a Republican. There haven’t been too many times in our nation’s history when Republicans had a more important role to play.
We are facing a terrible economic crisis, and at the helm is an administration that unfortunately does not share some of our core beliefs. This new administration fundamentally believes in a much bigger government, fundamentally believes in less individual freedom and in the redistribution of wealth. Bottom line: They believe in equal outcomes, while we believe in equal opportunity.
They are now acting on their beliefs. If we fail to defend against their proposals, our country will suffer lasting harm.
Now, I have to tell you that defending is not what I like to do. I like to take the initiative to make good things happen. I get perspiration on my upper lip just thinking about making a good deal. Saying “no” is not my favorite work. But right now, in Washington, our first job is to stop bad things from happening.
About once a week the administration sends us a Trojan horse. Remember the story of the Trojan horse? Greeks fought Troy for 10 years without gaining entrance to the gates of the city, but then hit upon the idea of gaining entrance by building a big beautiful horse and hiding the soldiers inside it. The Trojans were dazzled by the horse. What a great gift! And it was free! That horse appears to have been the earliest known example of a stimulus package. And the Trojans embraced the horse, brought it into the city, and were promptly slaughtered by the Greek soldiers coming out from inside the horse’s belly.
This administration tries the same trick. Again and again they send something so attractive on its surface that the American people are tempted to give them unprecedented new powers.
Let’s look at some examples.
First we had the campaign Trojan Horse. They sent us the promise of bipartisanship. Remember that? But once they gained power, they ignored our good ideas. They said it simply: “We won. We’ll write the bill.”
Then the administration sent us what they called a stimulus bill. Private demand had dropped off a cliff. Stimulus sounded great. But hidden inside its belly was 10 years of pent-up social spending, all the old programs that should have been mothballed long ago and very, very little real stimulus. They know how hard it is to discontinue a program once it’s in place. They’re counting on that fact to change the size of social spending permanently.
They sent us what looked like a harmless way to help our environment, a program called cap-and-trade. But their version of it turned out to be, when the doors are opened, a way to put the entire energy production of the country under the central control of the federal government and one of the biggest new taxes in history.
Then they sent in something called an “Employee Free Choice” Act. This one’s a real winner. But when the doors opened, out came the union organizers ready to intimidate and strong-arm employees one by one. That’s what this bill would do. It would end the secret ballot in union elections.
Now I want you to imagine a family in rural South Carolina, living at the end of a dark road with the kids in bed at night. They hear a knock on the front door. Dad opens it, and there are three large guys who support unionizing their jobsite. They have a piece of paper they’d like to have Dad sign right now. Now, I ask you, is there anything free about that choice?
Over and over again, this administration tempts the public with eye-catching benefits, while they hide the increased concentration of federal power, the imposition of industrial policy, and the decrease in individual freedom.
Soon they’ll send us health reform. We all agree that we need health care reform. I look forward to sitting at the table with Lindsey, Jim and others and working on it. When we do we’ll need to remember what Tom Daschle said they’d learned from their first attempts to pass a government takeover of health care. He said they failed the first time because they told the American people the details of their proposal. This time, he said, they wouldn’t give any details because “details kill.”
It’s our job to identify Trojan horses, and then defend against these unprecedented power grabs by the federal government.
But defending against bad policy is not enough. We also must work to reclaim our role as the party of common sense and sound judgment.
I came to the Senate in 2007 with one goal. I wanted to help find practical solutions to our nation’s problems, to use my head as well as my heart to make good decisions.
One of the reasons I’m a Republican, and I’ll bet it’s one of the reasons you are a Republican, is that Republicans have been the people who acted like grown-ups. Americans – whether they agreed with us or not – expected and relied on our good judgment, and at times we have let them down. But we understand that resources are limited. We believe that it’s critical to make short-term sacrifices for long-term strength.
On every issue that has come before the Senate in these last two difficult years, I promise you I have tried my best to do my homework. I came to the Senate after a career in business, and in that world you cannot succeed without doing your homework. In business you need to know where you’re going, to have an eye on the bottom line and honest numbers.
Now I can’t overstate how important it is for us to use our head before making the tough decisions that face us in the months ahead.
Let me give you an example. In my work on the banking committee, I had the job of looking into the auto industry’s request for a bailout.
It’s not often three folks come asking taxpayers for $25 billion. (And we all know it will be $100 billion before it’s all over.) And it’s even stranger when they won’t tell you how they intend to divide it.
My friends on the left could not wait to write a very big check, but I knew we had an obligation to dig deeper. I asked the auto executives and the union leadership the kinds of questions that every one of you would have asked. These questions highlighted the truth.
I asked why American taxpayers should bear the costs of making a private company more attractive for purchase by another private company. I asked why the American taxpayers should have to pay the costs of a contract clause that pays workers not to work.
In the process of just talking plainly and highlighting the truth, I became the number one enemy of the UAW and the AFL-CIO.
But an important thing happened. Because we used common sense and walked people through the facts, the American people responded and demanded a better course of action.
Now not every American is as conservative as we are, but I guarantee that very few are as liberal as this administration. Plenty of people are persuadable.
We made a difference just by shining a flashlight on the situation, telling the plain truth. Whenever we do that, our minority can have great power, and our minority can soon become the majority. I know there is a wealth of common sense in the American people and that we can persuade enough of them to join us.
If we speak plainly, openly, and honestly, we will have opportunities to shape the future on important challenges like health care and energy. We can connect with our fellow citizens, and we can reclaim our role as the voice of common sense.
Third, it’s time for Republicans to lead.
We are right about the importance of limited government, right about the importance of free enterprise, and right about the importance of individual freedom and personal responsibility. These are bedrocks of America and somehow they're being treated as not relevant to our times. But they are the key to our times.
We have been a beacon to the world. Our ideas have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. This is no time to reverse course. For their sake and ours, we have to speak up for these principles and insist that our future, like our past, be founded on them.
America has always been a place where we respect accomplishment, where we celebrate excellence in human endeavor. As a mayor I took enormous pleasure in watching all the small achievements that marked the progress of school children in our city. It was a great day when a third grader first exhibited a talent for art.
America is a place where individual hard work is expected and respected, where decisions about our economy are made by millions of individuals like you, speaking through the market, not by a handful of politicians in Washington.
We’ve never been a country of long afternoon naps or month-long vacations. We are willing to work hard because we dream not of idleness, but of leaving our children more than our parents left us. We don’t begrudge the success of others. That’s who we are.
But this administration seems to have a different vision. They reserve to themselves the right to remake broad aspects of our economy. They treat financial success as somehow shameful. They pit us against each other based on income. That kind of thinking is not new in the world, but it is new in America. We must stand firm against it.
Our fellow citizens are shaken by the economic free fall. Many feel like they are wandering in the wilderness looking for direction. Fear has made them susceptible to ideas they would never have considered. They are questioning the basics. Some are saying that the free market cannot be trusted.
But Republicans know that capitalism did not fail us, and we know that when we recover it will be because free markets are working well again, not because any agency of government suddenly learned how to increase wealth. We should support careful, targeted regulations to prevent unreasonable risk, but we should continue to be proud proponents of private markets.
Finally, maybe our most important charge as Republicans is to conduct ourselves with integrity. Simply put, we have to live up to our principles. Nothing hurts our cause more than dishonorable behavior, whether public or private.
Recent events have left many wondering if it really pays to play by the rules if the rules are going to change whenever enough people break them.
One of our great first ladies, Abigail Adams, sent her oldest son off on a dangerous North Atlantic voyage with these words: Remember that you are responsible to your Maker for all your actions.
We are responsible to our Maker for all our actions. How we treat our customers, our clients, our constituents, our business partners, our shareholders—these are moral matters.
The nation is hungry for honesty and principled leadership. If we hold ourselves to the highest standards, we will regain the trust of the American people.
Each of us has a role to play. Each one of you is a leader somewhere—a leader in your community, in your work, your church, your home. This is the time for us to lead.
And if we are ever discouraged, let’s recall the words of a brave man in times much worse than these. In October of 1941, with the war raging, Winston Churchill said, “These are not dark days; these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part...”
May God continue to bless our country. Thank you.