ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign today released the following remarks by John McCain as prepared for delivery tonight in Phoenix, Arizona:
Thank you. Tonight, my friends, we have won a number of important victories in the closest thing we have ever had to a national primary. We've won some of the biggest states in the country. We have won primaries in the west, the south, the midwest, and the northeast. And although I've never minded the role of the underdog, and have relished as much as anyone come from behind wins, tonight I think we must get used to the idea that we are the Republican Party frontrunner for the nomination of President of the United States. And I don't really mind it one bit. [# More #]
I am so grateful to so many people for what we accomplished tonight, all the staff, supporters and volunteers who stuck with us through thick and thin, and worked so hard on my behalf. I owe you all a debt I can never fully repay. But I promise you I will never forget it, and I will work every day of my life to prove myself worthy of your faith in me. I want to especially thank those of you who have recently joined our campaign, and who were so indispensible to our success tonight.
Thank you, of course, to my family: my wife, Cindy, my children, Meghan, Bridget, Doug and Andy, and my children who could not be here, and my wonderful mother, Roberta McCain. It is obvious to me as it is to everyone that I could not have done this without you. And, finally, thank you, Arizona. It is wonderful to be home tonight among so many of our friends to celebrate this night. I was over forty years old before I could claim a hometown, and I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have found a home in this beautiful state that has come to mean so much to me. I am, as is often reported, a little superstitious. So I don't want to make any exaggerated predictions, and there is still a long road ahead. However, I think it is fair to say that we might have come a little bit closer today to the day when mothers in Arizona might be able to tell their children that someday they could grow up to be president.
I want to congratulate Governor Huckabee and his supporters on their success today. Not for the first time, he has surprised the rest of us, and proved again his exceptional skills as a campaigner, and the extraordinary commitment and determination of the people who believe so passionately in him. I salute you. And I want to congratulate Governor Romney as well on his wins today. He and I have been going at it pretty hard over the last few weeks, and he is a tough competitor. The closeness of the contest in California is testament to that, and to the dedication of his supporters, and I salute them too. This election, like any election, is a rough and tumble business. We all want to win, and we all fight as hard as we can to do it. But I have respect for people who are willing to accept the extraordinary demands, all the ups and downs, of such a tough and long contest. And Governor Romney has mine.
My friends, we have a ways to go still, but we are much closer to the victory we have worked so hard to achieve. I am confident we will get there. And I am mindful that I am not only running for the highest office in the greatest country on earth, but that I am also running for the great privilege of leading the party that has been my political home for a quarter century. I am grateful for and humbled by the prospect. And I promise you, if I am so fortunate to win your nomination, I will work hard to ensure that the conservative philosophy and principles of our great party -- principles that have done so well by the country we love -- will again win the votes of a majority of the American people, and defeat any candidate our friends in the other party nominate. I am as confident tonight as I have ever been that we can succeed in November by uniting our party in our determination to keep our country safe, proud, prosperous and free, and by again making a persuasive case to independents and to those enlightened members of the other party that the great Ronald Reagan claimed for our party.
We will do it by standing up forcefully for those principles that have made our party and our country so successful, and by rejecting appeals for retreat and timidity in the face of the challenges of our time, challenges which are our duty and privilege to overcome. If I am the nominee of our party, I will not let anyone take this country backward to the days when government felt empowered to take from us some of our freedom to decide for ourselves the course and quality of our lives, or when we turned away from threats to our security that were so plainly gathering strength abroad. I have lived my adult life with one purpose greater than all others: to keep America safe from all enemies foreign and domestic. And I will never tire of the honor.
I am a Republican because, like you, I want to relieve the American people of the heavy hand of a government that spends too much of your money on things you neither want nor need, while failing to do as well as we should the things none of us can do individually. I am a Republican because, like you, I believe government must defend our nation's security wisely and effectively, because the cost of our defense is measured in losses so hard to bear and in the heartbreak of so many families. I am a Republican because, like you, I believe government must respect our values because they are the true source of our strength; and enforce the rule of law, which is the first defense of freedom. I am a Republican because I believe the judges we appoint to the federal bench must understand that enforcing our laws, not making them, is their only responsibility. I am a Republican because I believe, like you, that government should tax us no more than necessary, spend no more than necessary, and keep out of the way of the most industrious, ingenious, and optimistic people in the history of the world . I am a Republican because I believe, like you, that it is the strength, courage, wisdom and patriotism of free people -- not the government -- who have made this country the extraordinarily successful place it is. My friends, my purpose is to preserve and strengthen our freedom, the freedom I have defended all my adult life, and I will not let anyone or anything deter me.
Nothing in America is inevitable. We are the captains of our fate. We can overcome any challenge as long as we keep our courage and stand by our principles. I intend to make my stand on those principles, and trust in the judgment of the American people I serve. So stand up with me, my friends, stand up, and together let us put America -- her strength, her ideals, her future -- before all else. It is an honor greater than all others to serve this country, the love of my life, and I thank you from the bottom of heart for helping me serve her a little while longer.
Thank you and God bless you.