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Special Event

Bauer: 'I'm Withdrawing From the Contest for the Republican Presidential Nomination'

Aired February 4, 2000 - 10:16 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Gary Bauer now at the podium in Washington.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GARY BAUER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think many of you by now know my family, my wife Carol, our oldest daughter Elyse, both of whom worked in the campaign and have done a tremendous job. My son Zachary is in school today trying to catch up from being on the road so much, and our daughter Sarah is in college in Pennsylvania doing the same.

Well, I'd like to begin, this morning, by quoting from Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt, as you all know, has the reputation in the past century of being an American president that knew that some things were worth fighting for, and the quote is probably familiar to most of you but let me share it with you. Roosevelt said:

"It's not the critics who count, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Ten months ago, I stepped into the arena of presidential politics to dare greatly, to undertake what I believe was a worthy cause, not because it was a -- there would be certain victory -- far from it -- but because of my devotion to what Roosevelt called "great enthusiasms."

The greatest of these is our noble American experiment, and that experiment, as I -- as I have emphasized during the entire campaign, is based on an idea. It's in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, where it says "we hold these truths to be self- evident that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among these the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That is the central idea of the American republic. It defines our destiny. In the last century, when we sent our sons off to places like the Nang and Caisson, to Pork Chop Hill or to the beaches of Normandy, it was with them that that idea went. It is because of that idea that we defeated Nazism and defeated Soviet communism. It is the defining idea of America.

I believe that that destiny is in danger. It is why I have run for president. I think in one issue after other we are forgetting the defining words of who we are. The first example of that on the domestic front is on how we are dealing with the issue of our children. We have taken a whole class of Americans, only the second time in our history, and we have said of them that they are not part of the American family. In the 1800s, we did it with slaves. We said in the Dread Scott case that Dread Scott had no rights that the rest of us were bound to respect. It was a complete contradiction to those words in the Declaration of Independence. It was such a contradiction it almost destroyed us. Well, we did it again 27 years ago. We took a whole class of our fellow Americans, our unborn children, and we said of them they have no rights that we're bound to respect. I believe this will stick in our throats until we get it right. I believe that we have to set a place at the table for all of our children, born and unborn, rich and poor, black and white. On this issue I will not be moved. On this issue, I will not go away.

I think the second area where this is happening is in our foreign policy, and here, too, we're forgetting the founding value of America. On our foreign policy toward communist China, the trade wings of both political parties is putting the prospect of quick profits and money before our own national security and before our historic commitment to human rights. This is a disaster in the making. When we put trade with China above everything else, we are betraying who we are. That trade is providing China with billions of dollars of hard currency that they're using for an arms buildup that, once again, America's sons may have to deal with. On this issue, we are forgetting who we are.

Chinese students in Tiananmen Square wave copies of our Declaration of Independence. They die with those words on their lips, and yet the policy makers in Washington, D.C. forget those words as they continue a policy that can only be described as appeasement. On this, there are members of my party who are as bad as Bill Clinton. I will continue to speak the truth about this issue. On this issue, I will not be moved. On this issue I refuse to go away.

The third great issue facing our country and that has been a theme of my campaign is what is the nature of our wealth? I believe that we can all be proud of our things: the two cars in the driveway, our large houses, when we can afford those, the wealth in our retirement accounts, a booming stock market. There's nothing wrong with material prosperity. We have given more of it to more people than any nation in the world. But our material prosperity is not enough if we forget the values of the heart and soul, and I believe our greatest wealth is in those things.

Our greatest wealth is at the breakfast table. It's nighttime prayers, it's lovingly-packed lunch boxes, it's hard work and a little put away for the future. That is the real wealth of America, and our economic and tax policy ought to reflect that. I have argued this point through this campaign, that our wealth is in our families and in our children. On this issue, I refuse to go away. On this issue, I will stand and fight.

Well, those are the things that have been the themes of this campaign and the themes that I care about deeply and the things that I think, ultimately, will matter the most to America's future.

Today, I'm withdrawing from the contest for the Republican presidential nomination. I do that feeling good about the effort that has been made, good about how I have moved the debate in this party, and good about the American people that I have met in every state that I have traveled to.

I want to thank the incredible campaign staff that we've had, and the incredible numbers of supporters around the country who have invested in what we've done. I particularly want to thank the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire. They are good people and good citizens. They listened carefully, they did the job they were asked to do. Some criticized the process, some criticized whether those two states should have so much impact. I think they do a better job than anybody else can do.

I was amazed in New Hampshire earlier this week to watch long lines at every polling place as good citizens of that state exercised their rights as citizens, and did it, I think, in a responsible way. It is a great country. This is a great experiment in self-governing, and I intend to be part of it for a long time.

Let me end with one story, an upbeat story. I've been very critical, as many of you know, of the fact that in one high school after another around America, I have asked high school students whether they know those 35 words in the Declaration of Independence. And in one high school after another, I have found that most of our high school children do not know those words. In fact, I find teachers that don't know them. This is extremely disturbing. When Chinese students know that those words are the only hope that they have for liberty but American students don't know those words, something is going deeply wrong in the American experiment.

Last week as I was campaigning in New Hampshire, I got a call from an elementary school there. A fifth grade teacher asked me to come in to spend time with three fifth grade classes in a public school. I walked into the room and was in a seat surrounded by nearly 100 fifth graders. They were filled with energy. They were jumping out of their chairs with excitement. The teacher called on one of them and the little girl stood up and she quoted the first two lines of the Declaration of Independence, "When in the course of human events," etcetera.

She sat down and a little boy stood up and made the next two lines. And I sat there in amazement as those fifth graders went through the entire Declaration of Independence. They did it with enthusiasm, they did it with excitement, they did it with a love in their heart. They hadn't just memorized it, they knew what the words meant. That was evident to me as we talked about it later. American politics ought to be as good as the excitement and the idealism that I saw in 100 fifth graders in a public school in New Hampshire, and that's what I will continue to work to make it be.

HEMMER: It is official: Gary Bauer, whose largely-conservative, antiabortion campaign for election 2000, the Republican nomination has officially ended today, Gary Bauer bowing out of the race right there. I was waiting to see in case he endorsed one of the other four remaining Republican candidates. I didn't hear it, but we'll track it for you.

Bauer withdraws but he says, quote, "I will not go away," continuing, "I intend to be a part of it for a long, long time."

At this point, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, John McCain and George W. Bush still alive in the Republican race for that nomination.

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