Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Newt Gingrich Statement Reacting to the Results of the Illinois Republican Presidential Primary — Transcript



Gingrich statement on Illinois results

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich issued the following statement via his website reacting to the results of the Illinois Primary.

“To defeat Barack Obama, Republicans can’t nominate a candidate who relies on outspending his opponents 7-1. Instead, we need a nominee who offers powerful solutions that hold the president accountable for his failures. Over the past few weeks, my $2.50 gas plan has shown how America could have cheaper gas, more jobs and greater national security while putting the White House on the defense over their anti-American energy policies. This is the type of leadership I can offer as the nominee, and this campaign will spend (the time) between now and when the delegates vote in Tampa relentlessly taking the fight to President Obama to make this case.”

Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Rick Santorum’s Speech / Remarks after Losing Illinois Republican Presidential Primary in Second Placed Finish to Mitt Romney — Transcript



Rick Santorum: ‘Big things are adrift’ (Video, Speech transcript)

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is great to be back in Pennsylvania. Thank you for joining us here.

Let me just thank all of you for being here. And I know that they’re not going to be hearing me, but I — I just feel so bad. We have about 1,000-1,500 people who couldn’t get in here. We’re just overwhelmed by the response here, and I just want to say: I feel welcomed back home to Pennsylvania, so thank you very, very much.

It is — it is — first, I just want to congratulate Governor Romney. I gave him a call a little earlier and congratulated him on winning the state of Illinois. But I also want to say — I just want to thank all of the folks in Illinois, all in the — you know, if you look at what — what’s going to happen tonight, we’re going to win downstate, we’re going to win central Illinois, we’re going to win western Illinois. We won the areas that conservatives and Republicans populate, and we’re very happy about that. We’re happy about the delegates we’re going to get, too.

We wanted to come here tonight back to Pennsylvania, back to a favorite place of mine in Pennsylvania, the city and the town of Gettysburg. It’s…

Obviously, it’s — so many memories come to mind when we walk on here in the town and across the street where Abraham Lincoln finished the Gettysburg Address at the Wills House. And you think about the great elections of our past.

And I’ve gone around this country over the past year now and said this is the most important election in our lifetimes. And, in fact, I think it’s the most important election since the election of 1860.

The election in 1860 was about whether these united states — which is what it was mostly referred to prior to the election of 1860 — would become the United States, whether it would be a union, a country bound together to build a great and prosperous nation, a — a nation based on a concept, a concept that we were birthed with, a concept birthed with our founding document of the Declaration of Independence.

I’ve said throughout the course of this campaign that while other issues are certainly important — the economy, joblessness, national security concerns, the family, the issue of life — all of these issues are important, but the foundational issue in this race, the one that is, in fact, the cause of the other maladies that we are feeling, whether it’s in the economy or whether it’s in the budget crisis that we’re dealing with, all boils down to one word, and that’s what’s at stake in this election, and it’s right behind me on that banner, and that’s the word “freedom.”

I was pleased to hear before I came out that Governor Romney is now adopting that theme as his speech tonight.

I am — I am glad we are moving the debate here in the Republican Party. But I’ve been focused on this, because I’ve actually been out talking to people across this country, doing over a thousand town hall meetings. And I know the anxiety and the concerns that people have in this country about an ever-expanding government, a government that is trying to dictate how we’re going to live our lives, trying to order us around, trample our freedoms, whether it’s our economic freedoms or our religious liberty.

But in addition to trampling that freedom, in addition to building a dependency, a dependency on government, as we see government expand and grow, now almost half the people in this country depend on some form of federal payment to help them get — make ends meet in America. And after and if Obamacare is implemented, every single American will depend upon the federal government for something that is critical, their health and their life.

That’s why this election is so important. This is an election about fundamental and foundational things. This is an election about not who’s the best person to manage Washington or manage the economy. We don’t need a manager. We need someone who’s going to pull up government by the roots and throw it out and do something to liberate the private sector in America. That’s what we need.

It’s great to have Wall Street experience. I don’t have Wall Street experience, but I have experience growing up in a small town in western Pennsylvania, growing up in a steel town, growing up in public housing in apartments and seeing how men and women of this country scraped and clawed because they had the opportunity to climb the ladder of success in America.

A lot of those folks out there today feel like nobody in Washington and no one in this debate is really talking about them. That’s why this is a wonderful movement as I travel around this country and everywhere I go. I see people, people in work clothes, folks with children who are maybe not getting the educational opportunities that they hoped for so they could climb that ladder of success, people who are looking for someone to voice their concerns about how this economy is going to turn around for them, not just for those at the top of the income ladder.

That’s why I’ve talked about a manufacturing plan, an energy plan, someone who believes that if we create opportunities by, yes, cutting taxes, but reducing the oppressive regulatory burden that this administration has put on businesspeople and people who want to drill for energy, it needs someone who’s got a strong and clear record that can appeal to voters all across this country and someone who you can trust, someone that you know when they say they’re going to do something, they’re not saying it because, well, that happens to be the popular theme of the moment, but someone who has a long track record of deep convictions, someone who’s going to go out and stand and fight, because it’s not just what the pollster tells them to say or what’s on their TelePrompTer. I don’t happen to have one here tonight.

Because — because they know in their gut from their life experiences, from living in America, that this is what America needs and America wants. They want someone who’s not going to go to Washington, D.C., because they want to be the most powerful person in the world to manage Washington. They want someone who’s going to take that power and give it back to the people of this country.

There is one candidate in this race who can go out and make that contrast with the current occupant of the White House, someone who has a track record of being for you, being for limited government, being for solutions that empower people on the biggest issues of the day, whether it’s Obamacare, Romneycare. They’re interchangeable.

We need someone who understands that the solution to the problem with almost 1/17th of the economy is not government control over that sector economy, but your control over that sector of the economy.

We need someone who understands that we need to grow our energy supplies here in this country. And we need someone you can trust who when in good times and in bad, when times were tough and people thought, well, that — all this oil and gas and coal in the ground is all a source of carbon dioxide, and we can’t take that out of the ground because, well, there’s a finite supply and it could — it could damage our environment and cause global warming…

.. when the climate — when those who — who — who profess manmade global warming and climate science convinced many, many Republicans, including two who are running for president on the Republican ticket, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.

But there was one who said: I know this isn’t climate science. This is political science.

And this was another attempt of those who want to take power away from you and control your access to energy, your utilization, whether it’s in your car or in your home of energy, because they are better to make these decisions about how you use energy than you do.

That’s what they believe. And unfortunately, just like in health care, Governor Romney and Speaker Gingrich went along with the ride. And guess what? When the climate changed, they changed their position. And now they’re all for drilling and they’re all for oil and gas and coal. I was for it because it was the right thing to do then; I’ll be for it tomorrow and the next day and the next day. I’m not going to change with the climate.

Ladies and gentlemen, I grew up in this great state, and this is the first day — this is the launch we wanted to come here to Pennsylvania, to launch our campaign here in Pennsylvania. We’ve got five weeks, five weeks to a big win and a big delegate sweep in Pennsylvania.

I come as a son of Pennsylvania, someone who grew up in western Pennsylvania. Everyone knows the story, I hope, of my grandfather, my dad coming to Pennsylvania to work in those coal mines in Somerset County. I learned everything, everything about freedom and opportunity and hard work, and growing up with folks who worked in the mills and the mines in western Pennsylvania.

And so when I speak and I speak from the heart, in the back of my mind are the pictures of those men and women who worked and scraped and clawed so their children and grandchildren could, yes, have a better quality of life, yes, maybe even go to college and not have to work in tough, manual labor, but, most importantly, they fought for the things that the people in this battlefield just down the road fought for.

They fought for big things, things that America’s always stood for, that Ronald Reagan referred to as that shining city on the hill. It’s things that I’m fighting for here today, the reason Karen and I decided, in the face of having seven children ages 20 to 3 — not exactly the best time to run for president of the United States when you have children 20 to 3…

… but Karen and I felt compelled. We felt compelled, because as Ronald Reagan said in one of his great speeches, we didn’t want to have to sit down someday and look at the eyes of our children and our children’s children and describe to them an America where once men were free.

We don’t want to be that generation that lost the torch of freedom. That’s why Karen and the kids behind me, all of whom born in Pennsylvania, all of those folks who understand the — the greatness of our state and the greatness of the values of this state, all of us understand what was sacrificed, in the mills and on the battlefields.

And that’s why we must go out and fight this fight. That’s why we must go out and nominate someone who understands, not because some pollster tells them, because they know in their gut — just like you do — all across this country, you know in your gut big things are adrift and at stake in this election.

So I ask each and every one of you to join us, to saddle up, like Reagan did in the cowboy movies, to saddle up, take on that responsibility over the next five weeks. We’re going to head to Louisiana from here. We’re feeling very, very good about winning Louisiana on Saturday, I might add.

We’re heading to Louisiana for the rest of the week, and then we’re going to be back here in Pennsylvania, and we’re going to pick up a whole boatload of delegates and close this gap and on to victory.

Thank you all very much. God bless you. Thank you.

Campaign Buzz March 20 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech / Remarks after Decisive Win in Illinois Republican Presidential Primary — Transcript



Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks in Illinois

Mitt Romney goes on attack (Speech transcript, video)

Source: WaPo, 3-20-12
Thank you, Illinois! What a great night!

I’d like to congratulate my fellow candidates on a hard-fought contest. I’d like to thank our volunteers and our friends for their hard work and unwavering support. And, tonight, we thank the people of Illinois for their vote – and for this incredible victory.

Elections are about choices. And today hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters have joined millions across the country in our cause.

We began this movement on a small farm in New Hampshire on a sunny June day, surrounded by a small group of friends, family, and supporters. We shared a conviction that the America we loved was in trouble and adrift without strong leadership. Three years of Barack Obama had brought us fewer jobs and shrinking paychecks, but many of us believed we were in danger of losing something more than the value of homes and 401(k)s.

After the years of too many apologies and not enough jobs, historic drops in income and historic highs in gas prices, of a President who doesn’t hesitate to use all means necessary to force Obamacare on the American public but leads from behind in world affairs, it’s time to say, “Enough!”

We know our future is better and brighter than these troubled times. We still believe in America – and we deserve a President who believes in us.

Yesterday I gave a speech at the University of Chicago, not far from here and where Professor Barack Obama taught Constitutional Law. It was a speech on economic freedom and as I was writing it, I thought back to the lifetime of experiences I’ve had learning the unique genius of the American free enterprise system. It started when I was just a kid, and my dad, who never graduated from college, would tell me about his dad, who was a contractor and never quite made it but never gave up.

Later I helped start companies that began just as an idea and somehow made it through all the inevitable difficulties to create thousands of jobs. Those jobs helped families buy their first homes, put kids through school, live better lives, dream a little bigger.

For 25 years, I lived and breathed jobs, business, and the economy. I had successes and failures but each step of the way, I learned a little more about what it is that makes our American system so powerful.

You can’t learn that teaching Constitutional law. You can’t learn that as a community organizer. The simple truth is that this President just doesn’t understand the genius of America’s economy – or the secret of our success.

The American economy is fueled by freedom. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity.

But, over the last three years, this administration has been engaged in an assault on our freedom.

Under President Obama, bureaucrats prevent drilling rigs from going to work in the Gulf. They keep coal from being mined. They impede the reliable supply of natural gas. They even tell farmers what their 15-year-old sons and daughters can and can’t do on the family farm.

The administration’s assault on freedom has kept this so-called recovery from meeting their projections, let alone our expectations.

And now, the President is trying to erase his record with rhetoric. Just the other day, he said, “We are inventors. We are builders. We are makers of things. We are Thomas Edison. We are the Wright Brothers. We are Bill Gates. We are Steve Jobs.”

That’s true. But the problem is: he’s still Barack Obama. And under this President, those pioneers would have faced an uphill battle to innovate, invent, and create.

Under Dodd-Frank, they would have struggled to get a loan from their community bank.

A regulator would have shut down the Wright Brothers for their “dust pollution.”

And the government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Oh, that’s right. They just did.

The real cost of these misguided policies are the ideas that are never pursued and the dreams that are never realized.

For centuries, the American Dream has meant the opportunity to build something new. Some of America’s greatest success stories are people who started out with nothing but a good idea and a corner in their garage. But today, Americans who want to start a new business or launch a new venture don’t see promise and opportunity. They see government standing in their way.

We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.

We once led the world in manufacturing, exports, and infrastructure investment. Today, we lead the world in lawsuits.

When we replace a law professor with a businessman, that will end.

Every great innovation, every world-changing business breakthrough begins with a dream. And nothing is more fragile than a dream. The genius of America is that we nurture these dreams and the dreamers. We honor them, and, yes, we reward them.

That’s part of what is uniquely brilliant about America. But day by day, job-killing regulation by job-killing regulation, bureaucrat by bureaucrat, this President is crushing the dream and the dreamers.

The proof is in this weak recovery. This administration thinks our economy is struggling because the stimulus was too small. The truth is our economy is struggling because the government is too big.

You and I know what President Obama still has not learned, even after three years and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending: The government does not create prosperity; prosperity is the product of free markets and free people.

This November, we face a defining decision. Our choice will not be one of party or personality. This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.

I am offering a real choice and a new beginning. I am running for President because I have the experience and the vision to get us out of this mess. We know what Barack Obama’s vision of America is – we’ve all lived it the last three years. Mine is very different.

I see an America where we know the prospects for our children will be better than our own; where the pursuit of success unites us, not divides us; when a government finally understands that it’s better for more to pay less in taxes than for a few to pay more; where the values we pass on to our children are greater than the debts we leave them; where poverty is defeated by opportunity, not enabled a government check.

I see an America that is humble but never humbled, that leads but is never led.

Today we took an important step toward that America. Tomorrow, we take another. Each day we move closer not just to victory but to a better America. Join us. Together, we will ensure that America’s greatest days are still ahead.

Thank you and God bless America.

Campaign Buzz March 20, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Decisive Victory over Second Placed Rick Santorum in Illinois Republican Presidential Primary


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.


Damon Winter/The New York Times


Romney Wins Illinois Republican Primary, Exit Polls Say: Mitt Romney won a commanding victory over Rick Santorum in Illinois on Tuesday, providing new ammunition for his argument that the Republican nomination contest should quickly give way to a focus on defeating President Obama.
Mr. Romney bested his chief rival among many types of voters, winning among voters of all ages and most income groups. Mr. Romney drew the support of more moderate voters — as he has in the past — but also won among voters who said they were supportive of the Tea Party movement.
For Mr. Santorum, the loss was a missed opportunity to blunt Mr. Romney’s momentum. Mr. Santorum’s victories have mostly come in the south and Tuesday’s primary was a moment that he could have used to demonstrate strength elsewhere…. – NYT, 3-20-12

Mitt Romney wins Republican primary in Illinois: Mitt Romney has won the Republican presidential primary in Illinois by a wide margin over chief rival Rick Santorum.
The victory renews questions about Santorum’s viability as a candidate, but it is unlikely to shake up the general geometry of the race, as Santorum has vowed to soldier on in hopes of a comeback before the Republican National Convention in August…. – WaPo, 3-20-12

Live blog: Romney wins Illinois primary: At stake are 54 delegates. Romney is nearly halfway to the 1,144 needed for the GOP nod…. – USA Today, 3-20-12

Live Coverage of the Illinois Primary: Follow along for live updates, analysis, results and exit polls from the Illinois primary…. – NYT, 3-20-12

Live blog of Illinois primaryCNN, 3-20-12

  • CBS News: Romney to win Illinois primary: CBS News estimates that Mitt Romney will defeat Rick Santorum and his other rivals to take the Republican presidential primary in Illinois…. – CBS News, 3-20-12
  • Mitt Romney wins Illinois presidential primary: Mitt Romney scored a decisive victory over Rick Santorum in the Illinois primary on Tuesday, tightening his grip on the Republican front-runner’s slot and improving his chances of locking up the nomination by the end of the presidential…. – LAT, 3-20-12
  • Romney sweeps Illinois primary: Mitt Romney swept to another primary victory Tuesday night, capturing a big chunk of Illinois’ early GOP primary vote…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Romney takes the lead in Illinois, looking to gain a little distance on Santorum in GOP race: Backed by a crushing television ad advantage, Mitt Romney jumped ahead of Rick Santorum in early returns from the Illinois primary Tuesday night, bidding for yet another industrial-state triumph in the race for the Republican…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Exit poll shows huge Romney IL edge from GOP voters looking for candidate to beat Obama: Early exit polling in the Illinois primary is showing Mitt Romney enjoying a big edge among voters seeking a candidate to oust President Barack Obama. Romney is also taking a large lead among those worrying about the economy and federal…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Votes in Rare Turn in Spotlight: The Illinois primary has largely come down to a battle between Mitt Romney, who leads in delegates, and Rick Santorum, and in recent days the two campaigned furiously across the state….. – NYT, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Republican Primary: Mitt Romney and his allies have pounded Rick Santorum on television and radio, especially in the expensive market of Chicago, where the suburban vote could prove decisive for Mr. Romney. Mr. Santorum was still hoping for a strong vote from downstate…. – NYT, 3-20-12
  • Illinois Primary: Live coverage: The Republican presidential primaries continue Tuesday in Illinois, the land of Lincoln and of President Obama — although, it should be noted, neither was born there. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes that Illinois will give him the kind of … – LAT, 3-20-12
  • Live blog: Romney banking on big llinois victory: We’re live blogging the results from the Illinois primary, where it’s essentially a two-man battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney, the GOP front-runner, is hoping for a big win in President Obama’s home state … – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Poll: Economy a top issue as Illinois voters head to polls: The economy appears to be a top issue for Illinois voters, just as it has been in other primary states…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Illinois voters: Keep the primary going!: Even as the Washington Republican political establishment grumbles about the possible ill effects of an extended primary fight for the party’s presidential nomination, voters in today’s Illinois race seem perfectly content for the race to continue for … – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Exit poll shows few IL voters worried about prolonged fight for GOP Presidential nomination: Even more months of battling for the Republican presidential nomination? Most voters in Tuesday’s Illinois primary have little problem with that, as long as their candidate wins. An exit poll of Illinois voters shows that around two-thirds…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Illinois primary: Romney aims to restore inevitability aura: Mitt Romney is seeking a win in today’s Illinois Republican primary to restore the air of inevitability that once surrounded his presidential candidacy, as his closest rival Rick Santorum fights to stay viable with a strong…. – WaPo, 3-20-12
  • Santorum to speak tonight from Gettysburg: When TV cameras tonight record Rick Santorum’s speech after votes are counted in the Illinois primary, the GOP presidential hopeful won’t be anywhere in the Land of Lincoln. Santorum will be speaking from Gettysburg, Pa…. – USA Today, 3-20-12
  • Illinois primary: For Mitt Romney, delegates less important than ‘winning’: The Illinois primary Tuesday is an opportunity for Mitt Romney to extend his delegate lead on Rick Santorum. But a big win in the popular vote might be more important…. – CS Monitor, 3-20-12
  • Long GOP nomination fight worries few IL voters: A battle for the Republican presidential nomination that slogs on for months more? If that’s what it takes for their candidate to prevail, most voters in Tuesday’s Illinois GOP primary say it’s not a problem.
    Less than a third of them want the already prolonged GOP fight to end quickly, even if their favorite loses out, according to preliminary results of an exit poll Tuesday. About two thirds say they’re happy to let the contest continue for months more, as long as their candidate comes out on top.
    Illinois voters expressed that sentiment with the nomination fight already well into its third month and appearing likely to stretch into April and beyond…. – AP, 3-20-12
  • Five things to know about the Illinois presidential primary: On a balmy first day of spring, Illinois voters may be about to play a decisive role in a Republican presidential marathon that started in the winter chill in neighboring Iowa. 1. Voting early and often. It’s a tired political cliché…. – LAT, 3-20-12
  • CBS News early Illinois exit polls: 4 in 10 Romney, Santorum voters “have reservations”: More than four in ten of the people who voted for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s GOP primary in Illinois “have reservations” about their choice, according to early CBS News exit polls.
    Forty-seven percent of Romney voters “strongly” favor their candidate, as do 44 percent of Santorum voters. But 41 percent of Romney voters and 44 percent of Santorum voters say they have concerns about their choice. Another one in ten supporters of each candidate say they dislike the other candidates.
    The exit polls also found that two in three Illinois GOP voters would prefer that their candidate win the nomination even if the race goes on a long time. Twenty-nine percent said they would prefer that the race end soon even if it means their candidate loses…. – CBS News, 3-20-12

Full Text Obama Presidency March 20, 2012: President Barack Obama & Congress Host Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny for St. Patrick’s Day Lunch & Reception



President Obama meets with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny

Source: WH, 3-20-12

President Barack Obama meets with Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland (March 20, 2012)
President Barack Obama meets with Taoiseach Enda Kenny of Ireland in the Oval Office, March 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Today, President Obama welcomed Enda Kenny, the Taoiseach of Ireland, to the White House. While both men have had the opportunity to engage in a bit of St. Patrick’s Day revelry, there was plenty of serious business on the agenda for this morning’s meeting.

President Obama explained:

We have had a terrific discussion about a wide range of issues. Obviously for both our countries, one of the biggest priorities is getting the economy moving in the right direction and putting our people back to work. And the Taoiseach described to me the steps that they’ve taken to try to stabilize the banking system there, to get control of their budget, and to be in position to grow in the future. 

And it is important that both the people of Ireland and the American people understand the extraordinary benefits of trade, commerce, and investment between our two countries. We are, obviously, an extraordinary contributor to investment in Ireland, and that’s something of great importance to the people of Ireland. Conversely, Irish businesses invest and employ huge numbers of Americans as well.

Earlier, Vice President Biden hosted the Taoiseach for breakfast at the Naval Observatory, and all three leaders attended a St. Patrick’s Day lunch at the United States Capitol.

Later on Tuesday, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a St. Patrick’s Day reception in the East Room.

The White House selected this pic, from a St. Patrick’s luncheon on Capitol Hill Tuesday, as its photo of the day.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, who have been less than cordial to each other lately, applaud as Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is introduced.


Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland after Bilateral Meeting

Oval Office

11:09 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is my great pleasure to welcome once again Taoiseach, Mr. Kenny, who has done, I think, extraordinary work during a very difficult time.  Over the last several years, we’ve been able to strike up a friendship.  And you’ll notice that even though technically it is not St. Patrick’s Day, we like to prolong the party around here.  Technically, most of the Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day aren’t Irish anyway — (laughter) — so we shouldn’t go on technicalities.

I want to thank the Taoiseach, his lovely wife, and all of the people of Ireland for the extraordinary hospitality they showed Michelle and I when we had the chance to travel there recently.  It was a magical day.  It was too short, so I provided assurances that we will be returning.  But the warmth and the goodwill that was expressed towards us I think was really representative of the deep bonds that exist between the United States and Ireland — bonds that are almost unique among two countries around the world.  And the impact, obviously, that Ireland and Irish American — that Irish culture has had on the United States is almost unparalleled.

We have had a terrific discussion about a wide range of issues.  Obviously for both our countries, one of the biggest priorities is getting the economy moving in the right direction and putting our people back to work.  And the Taoiseach described to me the steps that they’ve taken to try to stabilize the banking system there, to get control of their budget, and to be in position to grow in the future.

And it is important that both the people of Ireland and the American people understand the extraordinary benefits of trade, commerce, and investment between our two countries.  We are, obviously, an extraordinary contributor to investment in Ireland, and that’s something of great importance to the people of Ireland.  Conversely, Irish businesses invest and employ huge numbers of Americans as well.

And so we are continuing to identify and describe additional areas where we can strengthen those strong economic bonds.  And I expressed to the Taoiseach my confidence in not only his government’s ability to get Ireland moving again, but also we consulted on the broader issue of how Europe can begin to grow again, which obviously has an impact on our economy.

I also had an opportunity to thank him for the continued exemplary efforts by the men and women in uniform in Ireland who contribute to peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts all around the world, from Kosovo to Lebanon.  As I’ve said before, Ireland punches above its weight internationally, and has a long history rooted in its own experience of making sure that not only is peace a priority, but also that the human needs on issues like hunger are addressed.  And even in the midst of a relatively austere time, Ireland has continued to step up internationally, and we greatly appreciate that.

I’m pleased to see that progress continues to be made with respect to the agreement in Northern Ireland.  We discussed how the United States wants to continue to be supportive on that issue as well.

So, once again, Taoiseach, welcome.  We are always pleased to see you here.  And the expressions of affection that I experienced when I was in Ireland I’m sure you are experiencing in return while you are here, because the American people have just an extraordinary affinity and fondness for the Irish people. And we are looking forward to you having a very productive visit, and we look forward to going over to Capitol Hill where even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day, everybody claims to have a little bit of Irish roots.

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER KENNY:  Could I say, first of all, I want to thank the President and the First Lady for the accommodation that’s been given.  It’s always good to have a place to stay in Washington.  And it’s a distinct honor to be allowed to stay at Blair House, but also to come here to the Oval Office and have this conversation this morning.

I’d just like to say that I’ve given the President a rundown on the decisions taken by my government in the last 12 months to stabilize our public finances and to put our own house in order, but also to play a part, clearly, in the European Union is so important in a global sense.  And from that point of view, I gave the President a rundown on the changes in the structure of banks, the decisions taken by government in relation to the public sector numbers, the forcing down of costs and therefore the increase in competitiveness, and to report to him signs of confidence returning to the Irish economy.  But we still have a very long way to go.  Otherwise we’ve had a good, solid start but clearly there are challenges ahead.

I also reported to the President that the conversation around the table of Europe in the last 10 months has shifted from one of being just austerity to being one of good budgetary discipline, but also where clearly the agenda for growth and jobs will now be central to every European Council meeting.

I gave the President an outline of my views in respect of the fiscal compact treaty, and how we expect the Irish people, in their pragmatism and understanding of what the future holds, to vote strongly in favor of the treaty, and that this represents a real insurance policy both for the country and for the next generation of children — but also, not to allow any future government to run riot with the people’s money as has happened in the past.

We discussed the question of the development of the European economies, and how other countries are making efforts aligned with our own to have that as a central issue for the time ahead. We also discussed the trading links between the U.S. and Ireland. I pointed out to the President my interaction with the American Chamber of Commerce and the chief executives of multinationals in Ireland.  We discussed the question of the possibility of semesters, either way, for young people involved in innovation and research and education, which is so important in the context of what multinational companies are actually looking for.

As well as that, we discussed the issue of Syria, and I gave the President a rundown on the last discussions at the European Council meeting.  We also discussed the question of Iran and what the U.S. has said very clearly about this in the short time window that there is in that regard.

We referred to the possibility of an opportunity to travel again to Ireland, and the President has confirmed that in due course.  Obviously, he’s got a little matter to attend to here in America between this and that.  But I just wanted to say to you that it’s a reestablishment, if you like, and a redefining of the absolutely unique relationship that there is between Ireland and the United States.

I pointed out to President Obama since my visit here to Chicago, his home city, the extraordinary outpouring of enthusiasm and exuberance in the streets of Chicago on Saturday, and my visit to Notre Dame in South Bend, and the opportunities that we had in New York to meet with Irish American business, with American investment business, the Ireland Investment Day at the stock exchange.

And here in Washington for the past two days has been simply outstanding.  And it confirms my belief that the reputation of our country has been restored internationally, and that the unique relationship that we’ve always had with the United States for so many reasons is exceptionally strong.  And I told the President of the great work being done by Ambassador Rooney, but also that Ireland respects America for what it does, both in our own context, but also to keep the world a safer place for the hundreds of millions of people who look for real leadership in this regard.

I thank President Obama and his government and his First Lady for all they do for so many people around the world.  And as I say, it’s a privilege to be here in the Oval Office to represent our country and have this opportunity — on St. Patrick’s Week.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.

11:19 A.M. EDT

Remarks by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Prime Minister Kenny of Ireland at St. Patrick’s Day Reception

Source: WH, 3-20-12

State Floor

7:04 P.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, welcome to the White House.  It’s great to see you all, and happy St. Patrick’s Day, or should I say, happy St. Patrick’s Week, the way it’s going.  (Applause.)

I’m lucky to be here with you all tonight.  I feel fortunate to have the honor to be able to welcome back Fionnuala Kenny and the Taoiseach.  They’ve been here before.  Some of you had a chance to meet them, and you’re going to get to see them again.

You know there’s and old Irish saying.  There’s all kinds of old Irish sayings.  (Laughter.)  At least my Grandfather Finnegan, I think he made them up, but it says, may the hinges of our friendship never go rusty.  Well, with these two folks that you’re about to meet, if you haven’t already, there’s no doubt about them staying oiled and lubricated here.  Ladies and gentlemen — (laughter) — now, for you who are not full Irish in this room, lubricating has a different meaning for us all.  (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re here tonight to celebrate the friendship between two great nations, Ireland and the United States.  William Butler Yeats referred to Ireland as “a worldwide nation.”  Our Irish heritage has touched many, many people, many more people than could possibly fit on the beautiful Emerald Isle.

America and Ireland are the two nations that define me the most, and I expect most of you in this room.  Our countries share a bond that goes all the way back to the beginning of our country.  Eight Irishmen signed the Declaration of Independence, fully one-seventh of the signator.  Since then, half our Presidents have claimed Irish blood, including the one I’m about to introduce.  (Applause.)

And today our countries are tied together by 40 million Americans who descended from that beautiful island just across the sea, and — but we share a lot more than blood.  And I think everyone here will understand this.  I think we share a set of values, a set of values that is sort of stamped into our DNA.

My mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, used to say — (laughter) — honey, to be Irish is about family.  It’s about faith.  But most of all, it’s about courage.  She said that — one of her sayings was, without courage — without courage, you can’t love with abandon.

And, ladies and gentlemen, for me that’s the essence of being Irish:  passion and being able to love with abandon.  That’s why my mom liked Barack, the President.  That’s why she liked him so much.  I think the President got used to my mom during the campaign, Mr. Ambassador, referring to him all the time as, honey.  (Laughter.)  She’d grab his hand and say, now, Honey.

Well, she thought that the President embodied all the things that she thought made Ireland and the Irish special, particularly his courage.  Ladies and gentlemen, this President abounds in courage.  So, ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you my four friends and your friends, the President of the United States and Michelle Obama, as well as the Taoiseach and Fionnuala Kenny.

Ladies and gentlemen.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Hello, everybody!


PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, welcome to the White House.  This does not sound like a shy crowd.  (Laughter.)

As you may have noticed, today is not, in fact, St. Patrick’s Day.  (Laughter.)  We just wanted to prove that America considers Ireland a dear and steadfast friend every day of the year.  (Applause.)  Some of you may have noticed we even brought the cherry blossoms out early for our Irish and Northern Irish visitors.  And we will be sure to plant these beautiful shamrocks right away.

I want to welcome back my good friend, Taoiseach Kenny, his extraordinary wife, Fionnuala.  This has been our third working visit in just over a year, and each one has been better than the last.

I’ve had the pleasure to welcome back First Minister Peter Robinson, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Northern Ireland, as well.

And, everyone, please welcome my new friends from Moneygall, my long-lost cousin, Henry.  (Applause.)  His mother, Mary, is here as well.  And my favorite pub keeper, Ollie Hayes, is here with his beautiful wife.  (Applause.)  He was interested in hiring Michelle — (laughter) — when she was pouring a pint.  I said, she’s too busy — maybe at the end of our second term.  (Applause.)

In return, I did take them out for a pint at the Dubliner here in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.  That’s right, I saw some of you there.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t take pictures.  And I’ve asked them to please say hello to everybody back home for me.

Now, while there are too many Irish Americans to acknowledge by name here tonight, I do want to thank Martin O’Malley and his band for rocking the White House for the evening.  It’s said that the curse of the Irish, as the Governor must know, is not that they don’t know the words to a song — it’s that they know them all.  (Laughter.)

As you may know, I finally got to spend a day in Ireland with Michelle last May.  I visited my ancestral village of Moneygall, saw my great, great, great grandfather’s house.  I had the distinct honor of addressing the Irish people from College Green in Dublin.  And when it comes to their famous reputation for hospitality and good cheer, the Irish outdid themselves.  Michelle and I received absolutely the warmest of welcomes, and I’ve been trying to return the favor as best I can.

There really was something magical about the whole day — and I know that I’m not the only person who feels that way when they visit Ireland.  Even my most famously Irish American predecessor was surprised about how deeply Ireland affected him when he visited in his third year as President.  “It is strange,” President Kennedy said on his last day in Ireland, “that so many years and so many generations pass, and still some of us who come on this trip could feel ourselves among neighbors, even though we are separated by generations, by time and by thousands of miles.”

I know most of you can relate to that.  I think anyone who’s had a chance to visit can relate.  And that’s why Jackie Kennedy later visited Ireland with her children and gave one of President Kennedy’s dog tags to his cousins in Dunganstown.  And that’s why I felt so at home when I visited Moneygall.

When my great, great, great, great, grandfather arrived in New York City after a voyage that began there, the St. Patrick’s Society in Brooklyn had just held its first annual banquet.  And a toast was made to family back home enduring what were impossibly difficult years:  “Though gloomy shadows, hang o’er thee now, as darkness is densest, even just before day, so thy gloom, truest Erin, may soon pass away.”

Because for all the remarkable things the Irish have done in the course of human history, keeping alive the flame of knowledge in dark ages, outlasting a great hunger, forging a peace that once seemed impossible, the green strands they have woven into America’s heart — from their tiniest villages through our greatest cities — is something truly unique on the world stage.
And these strands of affection will never fray, nor will they come undone.  While those times and the troubles of later generations were far graver than anything we could fathom today, many of our people are still fighting to get back on solid ground after several challenging years.

But we choose to rise to these times for the same reason we rose to those tougher times:  Because we are all proud peoples who share more than sprawling family trees.  We are peoples who share an unshakeable faith, an unbending commitment to our fellow man, and a resilient and audacious hope.  And that’s why I say of Ireland tonight what I said in Dublin last May, this little country that inspires the biggest things — its best days are still ahead.

So I propose a toast to the Taoiseach and the people of Ireland.  Do I have any — where’s my drink?  (Laughter.)  Here it is, here it is.  All right, here we go.  It’s only water but  — (laughter) — obviously, somebody didn’t prepare.  (Laughter.)

To quote your first President, Douglas Hyde:  “A word is more lasting than the riches of the world.”  Tonight, grateful for our shared past and hopeful for our common future, I give my word to you, Mr. Prime Minister, and to the people of Ireland:  As long as I am President, you will have a strong friend, a steadfast ally, and a faithful partner in the United States of America.

Ladies and gentlemen, Taoiseach Kenny.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER KENNY:  Mr. President, Vice President Biden, Michelle, ladies and gentlemen, these have been an extraordinary few days in the relationships between Ireland and America.  Thank you for your warm invitation and for this warm welcome.

(Speaks Irish)  May the blessings of St. Patrick be with you, your families and the American people.

Ireland actually picked the best time of year for its national celebration.  (Laughter.)  It’s the time of year when the Earth turns at the Spring Equinox, and as they say, the sea spreads it far sun crop to the north.

This, indeed, is a blessed time, a time when we are thankful for our blessings, blessings of being a proud and noble Irish people; the blessings of a dazzling generosity of heart and mind, and of a glittering imagination; the blessing of our children, our families, our friends — friends like America.

As Taoiseach, a year into this new government, I’m proud, indeed, to bring good news from home.  Thanks to the courage and the resilience and the sacrifice of the Irish people, the Irish ship of state now faces in the right direction.  Our economy is stabilizing.  Our exports are thriving.  Our international reputation is being restored.  Ireland is building itself a better future.

Today, Mr. President, Ireland thanks America.  We thank you for the centuries where you gave us shelter and refuge and opportunity, and above all, where you gave us hope.  (Applause.)

In the Irish language, we have many phrases, one of them is — (Speaks Irish) — That means:  Hope cures every misery.  It was that miracle — hope that brought millions of Irish people to your shores yearning for a better life.  Not everybody survived that journey.  It is said that 80,000 Irish souls were lost in the Atlantic, victims of long hunger, of fever and of destitution.  Indeed, an ocean, a tide of lost ancestors, a bitter benediction of the waters dividing the old life and the new.

Well, tonight I remember them.  We honor them here in this White House — designed by an Irish architect — and in our national hearts.  (Applause.)  Because they were the price of a new life.  In the new country, in this new country of miraculous plenty, the survivors — among them, one Falmouth Kearney — walked straight off those ships.  But ironically, they never stopped looking back.  Because our research shows that while their fellow arrivals saw emigration as an opportunity, for the Irish it was always a tragedy.

There were the dispossessed — their hearts, their minds in Ireland; their hopes and their futures in America — the least likely of any nation ever to return home.  Which is why what makes the Irish and what they did for America all the more heroic, all the more remarkable, all the more noble.

Despite their longing for home, they gave their hands to work, their faith in God, their future to this United States of America.  They became heroes of their own stories, and, as a consequence, of America’s story.

Mr. President, today, the Irish people are heroes of our own story.  Today, persistent and determined and proud, we answer your question of belief in ourselves, because we believe that our country and our nation will succeed.

When you came last May to that small, intimate homecoming in College Green — (laughter) — just the two Obamas, half of the U.S. Secret Service — (laughter) — 100,000 enthralled Irish people — you, sir, the young President, stood in front of the old Irish House of Lords and you promised that you would stand by us.  Well, sir, you and America have kept your word.  For Ireland, your door has been and is always open.  And for that we thank you.  (Applause.)

That memorable day was also made very special by your trip, as you said, to the home of your ancestors in the village of Moneygall — Henry VIII is almost as famous as yourself.  (Laughter.)  That’s because for all people of Irish heritage, the most important part of their visit to our country is always the trip to the homeplace.

And as a prominent reminder, and on your behalf of your historic homecoming, Mr. President, it is my honor to present to you, on behalf of the Irish people and of the government, this formal certificate of Irish heritage.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Look at that!  I love it.  That’s great.

PRIME MINISTER KENNY:  These are very rare.  (Laughter.)  As rare as the man himself.  (Laughter.)

Next year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the homecoming of another one of our sons, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Next year, Ireland will gather her global family to herself in a year-long celebration of the ties of heart and hope and history that bind us and allow us to imagine together a better, brighter richer future.  We call it simply “The Gathering.”

These are our new departures of hope and confidence and success.  And these are the new departures from which there will be no going back.

This evening, Mr. President, I bring our current emigrants to the heart of these celebrations here in the (speaks Irish) of the White House.

As you see, a light burns brightly within every one of these emigrants, and that’s the light of opportunity, of ambition, and of confidence.  But it is also the light of home.  Especially in this week of St. Patrick, my message to their parents and their families is this:  My work and that of my government, with your work and your government, is aimed at ensuring that these children — Ireland’s children — can live and work at home if that is their intention and their desire.

Mr. President, the great American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “Things do not change.  We change.”  And since your visit to us last year, Ireland has changed dramatically.  We have swapped the confines of the old fears for your audacity of hope. (Applause.)  And every day we work to create a better, more confident, more determined future.  We know our challenges are tough, but we meet those head on.

And because we know that every nation becomes what it envisions, we are forging success — this time, a more authentic success.  We take the old advice and the old adage that in the calm ahead we use the strength of purpose that we found in the storm.

Mr. President, like you, we believe that Ireland’s best days are still up ahead.  And like you, we believe that our greatest triumphs are still to come.  When you came to Ireland, like your predecessor, President Kennedy, and President Clinton, you made us dream again.  On these days of St. Patrick, we hope that you will be able to fulfill your promise to come home again in the springtime.

May God bless you, Mr. President, in the work you do for global peace and security.  May he guide you in your efforts to keep our world a safer place.

Mr. President, Michelle, and your two lovely daughters, Sasha and Malia, happy St. Patrick’s Week.  (Laughter.)  And remember, as we always do:  (Speaks Irish) — “The sun always shines after the rain.”

And now it’s my privilege, on behalf of Ireland, to present President Obama with the traditional Bowl of Shamrock.  May it bring him good luck in the time ahead.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, thank you.  First of all, this will have a special place of honor alongside my birth certificate.  (Laughter and applause.)  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  The shamrocks have brought good luck to our garden over the past few years.  And I am extraordinarily grateful to you, Taoiseach, and Fionnuala, for just being such wonderful hosts to us when we were there.  But I think that you get a sense from this crowd that you have a second home on the other side of the Atlantic, and that good cheer and warmth is probably reciprocated.  (Applause.)

So happy St. Patrick’s Week, everybody.  God bless you.  May God bless both our countries.  Have a wonderful time while you’re here.  Don’t break anything.  (Laughter and applause.)

7:25 P.M. EDT


Remarks by the President at Friends of Ireland Luncheon — U.S. Capitol

Source: WH, 3-20-12

U.S. Capitol
12:58 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please.  Well, thank you, John.  Thank you, everybody.  I know we are all glad to welcome Taoiseach Kenny and his lovely wife back to Washington.  Technically, you may be aware, it is not St. Patrick’s Day.  (Laughter.)  Of course, technically, most Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are not Irish.  So it’s a wash.  (Laughter.)

I want to thank our top Irishman in the White house, Joe Biden, who is here, and Speaker Boehner, for being such a gracious host.  I want to welcome Ambassador Collins and Mrs. Collins; distinguished members of the House and the Senate; leaders from Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Britain.  Thank you all for coming.

I always think about how every Taoiseach must leave this luncheon marveling at how cheerful and bipartisan Washington is.  (Applause.)  It’s remarkable.  And that’s something worth aspiring to, even during an election year.

As John mentioned, this wonderful tradition began with Speaker Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan.  And when I was getting ready this morning, I came across some advice that Tip gave to anybody who was making a St. Patrick’s Day speech.  As the story goes, Tip was once asked to deliver a speech to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Pennsylvania.  He figured the Irishmen would arrive early, perhaps have a few drinks, relax a little bit, and by the time he stood up to speak, they would applaud anything he said as long as he kept it short.

Then, as Tip was getting dressed, one of the — his aides ran up to him, out of breath, and said he had just found out that no drinking was allowed before dinner — only afterwards.  And Tip panicked a little bit.  He realized he had to prepare.  So he grabbed a few pages from “Famous Irishmen of America,” underlined some passages, acted like he had planned it all along.  The speech went extraordinarily well, and afterwards, he was complimented on his thoroughness and studiousness in preparing for the speech.

So Tip’s lesson was:  Always know your audience, and don’t count on drinks getting you through the evening.  (Laughter.)

But Tip also taught us something else.  He taught us that even in the midst of partisanship and passion, true friendship can exist in this town.  Tip and President Reagan famously had fierce battles and genuine disagreements.  But after the work ended, the two men did their best to put partisanship aside.  According to Tip, President Reagan used to begin calls with, “Hello, Tip, is it after 6 o’clock?”  (Laughter.)  To which the Speaker would reply, “Absolutely, Mr. President.”  And then they could enjoy each other’s company.

For his part, the President said he always knew Tip was behind him, even if it was just at the State of the Union — (laughter) — whispering to the Vice President after every policy proposal, “Forget it.”  (Laughter.)  “No way.”  “Fat chance.”  (Laughter.)  I can relate.  (Laughter.)

So it is no surprise that the two proud Irishmen came together to start this luncheon — with the Speaker promising to cook some Boston corned beef, and the President offering to “polish up some new Irish jokes.”  Later, our friend Ted Kennedy and others persuaded Taoiseach to join them.  And today, the only argument we have is over who has more green in their family tree.

For once, I have some bragging rights here.  Last spring, the Taoiseach and Mrs. Kenny hosted Michelle and I for a wonderful visit to Ireland.  And one of the highlights was a trip to the small village of Moneygall, where my great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side lived before he set sail for America.  I met my eighth cousin, Henry — who has my ears, I might point out.  (Laughter.)  We had a pint of Guinness at the local pub.  And I got a chance to see firsthand the kind of hospitality that the bighearted people of Ireland have always been known for.

So today is about celebrating those people — as well as the tens of millions of Americans who trace their heritage across the ocean to the Emerald Isle.  Never has a nation so small had such an enormous impact on another.  Never has anyone taught us more about the value of faith and friendship; about the capacity of the human spirit; about the simple truth that it’s harder to disagree when we recognize ourselves in each other — which is easier to do when we’re all wearing green.

So to Taoiseach Kenny, I want to thank you and Fionnuala for joining us here today.  And I want to thank the people of Ireland for their friendship, now and always.  Cheers.  (Applause.)

1:03 P.M. EDT

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