Senator Sam Brownback announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for the presidency.
Brownback announces presidential bidSurrounded by family at Expocentre, Brownback takes the 'first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House'By Tim CarpenterThe Capital-JournalPublished Sunday, January 21, 2007Republican Sen. Sam Brownback opened his campaign for president Saturday by proclaiming the power of God to heal the nation's suffering and calling upon Americans to put divisiveness aside to meet challenges of poverty, abortion, war and cancer."I'm proud to be a conservative that believes in addressing problems, not ignoring them," Brownback told an estimated 800 people attending the official announcement rally at Heritage Hall in the Kansas Expocentre. "At the end of the day, it comes back to the basics: faith, family and freedom."The one-time state president of Future Farmers of America, who stepped with relative ease from the post of Kansas agriculture secretary to seats in the U.S. House and Senate, became Kansas' latest favorite son candidate for the White House. Securing the GOP nomination in 2008 will require Brownback to move beyond his conservative Christian base to overcome rivals with more robust fundraising experience and broader name recognition.Brownback, 50, said he was taking the "first steps on the yellow brick road to the White House" with "sincere humility and determination." He would offer himself as a "full-scale" conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan, a Republican who served two terms as president.It was happenstance that Brownback entered the presidential fray on the day Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, declared for the Democratic Party's nomination. Brownback joked that the timing indicated "she's scared of me."Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee released a statement urging Brownback to "reconcile his compassionate rhetoric with the callous conservatism his record shows." DNC spokeswoman Amaya Smith pointed to Brownback's votes to limit minimum wage protection for workers, to oppose spending for armored military vehicles used in Iraq and to reject funding hikes for veterans' medical care.Brownback, who has said he won't seek re-election to the Senate in 2010, entered a race that could draw as many as 10 GOP candidates, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.In a 15-minute announcement speech, Brownback vowed to campaign on behalf of Americans opposed to gay marriage, abortion, taxes and "pork-barrel" government spending.He called for the nation to end the scourge of deadly cancers, reduce reliance on foreign oil, pull families out of poverty and block the work of "activist" judges.The war raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has cost the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. troops, requires Republicans and Democrats to develop a bipartisan strategy for victory that matches the courage of men and women offering their lives for freedom, Brownback said."We must win to redeem our troops' sacrifices," he said. "We need unity here to win over there. Lives, and our future, are at stake."Brownback didn't mention his opposition to President Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq. Nor did he address his view, shared by Bush, that Congress should adopt comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for millions of people living in the United States without permission.Brownback, surrounded on a small stage by members of his family from his current hometown of Topeka and his childhood home in Parker, promised during the speech to not sign into law a tax hike if elected president. He proposed an "alternative flat tax," which would give people the option of paying one flat rate on income."We need a different income tax system altogether," Brownback said. "This one, the Internal Revenue Code, should be taken behind a barn and killed with a dull axe."Brownback said the "foundational institution of marriage as the union of a man and woman for life" had to be reinforced. Federal policy should support marriage, not tax it, and people shouldn't lose welfare benefits when they get married, he said.The underlying goal should be to halt wasteful government spending that "steals a family's income and then insults them by throwing their money away on pork-barrel projects," the senator said.He said the time has come to conquer cancer, which he proclaimed as America's No. 1 fear. He said it was possible to end deaths by cancer in a decade, a vision bolstered by a decrease in deaths from cancer over the past two years."It's time to put this killer to death," Brownback said. "With our intense effort, we can make it a chronic rather than terminal illness."Brownback said it was urgent that quality, affordable health care be available to all Americans. Anticipating unease among fiscal conservatives on that point, Brownback assured the audience this issue could be addressed with market-based solutions rather than through expansion of a government-run health care system.He set an ambitious goal of making North America energy self-reliant in 15 years. That must be accomplished while reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, he said.Restraint needs to be applied to federal judges who go beyond interpretation of law to what amounts to formation of law from the bench, Brownback said."We need judges who want to be judges not legislators," he said.Brownback said the country would make a huge mistake by stripping God from public life and institutions, making reference to the nation's motto, "In God We Trust.""To walk away from the Almighty is to embrace decline for a nation," he said. "To embrace him leads to renewal for individuals and for nations."He said that perspective was no more important than in the country's stance on abortion. The senator believes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion should be overturned."Let's start following our hearts and work to protect all innocent human life at all stages," said Brownback, departing from his prepared remarks. "It is all beautiful. It is all sacred. It is all unique. Let's guard and protect them."He said policy objectives outlined in his speech might appear lofty. At the same time, he said, history demonstrates that a nation's goodness could be developed inch by inch, day by day.The senator offered as evidence the work of obscure British parliamentarian William Wilberforce, who was a committed Christian dedicated to eradication of slavery in the empire. Wilberforce beat the odds by ending the slave trade 200 years ago, Brownback said."Our mandate today has a similar feel," he said. "If Wilberforce were alive today, I believe he would passionately fight for the dignity of every human life everywhere without regard to race, wealth or status. He would also feel compelled to take up the vital cause of renewing the family and the culture.""And these are our fights today," he continued. "We must fight for the downtrodden, and for the voiceless, and for the powerless. We must fight for freedom and justice. To do otherwise would be to betray our heritage."Brownback, elected to the House in 1994 and subsequently to the Senate seat vacated by Bob Dole when he resigned to run for president, said the United States required leadership that tapped into the innate goodness of a society working together."So," said the man who once dreamed of being a farmer, not commander in chief, "it is with sincere humility and determination to do good that I declare my candidacy for president."