The Hon. John Thune
U.S. Senator, South Dakota
(Remarks as Prepared for Delivery)
August 29, 2012
Good evening, fellow Republicans.
It's no secret that I'm a sports fan. In fact, I get asked all the
time if I've ever played basketball with President Obama. The answer
is "no," I'm still waiting for that invitation.
The next question is, "Do you think you could take him one-on-one?"
I say, "I really don't know, I've never seen him play."
But I can tell you this. President Obama would be easy to defend,
because you know he's always going to go to his left.
Like many Americans, I've been blessed by the hard work and
sacrifice of those who've come before.
Back in 1906, two Norwegian brothers named Nicolai and Matthew
Gjelsvik came to this country in search of the American Dream. When
they reached the shores of America, the
only English words they knew were "apple pie" and "coffee," which
evidently they had plenty of on the trip over.
The immigration officials at Ellis Island
determined that their name "Gjelsvik" -
G-J-E-L-S-V-I-K - was too difficult to spell and pronounce, so they
asked them to change it. The two brothers picked the name of the
farm where they worked in Norway,
which was called the Thune Farm. And so Nicolai Gjelsvik became Nick
Thune, my grandfather.
With their new country and their new name, the two brothers began
their new life by working on the railroad. They learned English and
saved enough money to start a small hardware store.
And yes, Mr. President, they did build it!
My grandfather raised three sons. The middle son, my father, joined
the Navy when World War II broke out.
He became a naval aviator, flying combat missions off the aircraft
carrier Intrepid in the Pacific theatre. On one mission, he shot
down four enemy aircraft, for which he received the Distinguished
After the war, my dad quietly returned to South Dakota,
his hardware store and his family.
Many versions of that story are told across this country. The
details may be different - but the dream is the same.
I hate to say it, but that dream is in serious jeopardy. We have a
sluggish economy, burdened by Obama administration policies that are
weighing down our job creators. Middle-class Americans, in cities
and on farms, are bearing the brunt.
The big-government bureaucrats of the Obama administration have set
their sights on our way of life. Instead of preserving family farms
and ranches, President Obama's policies are effectively regulating
them out of business.
His administration even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic
Since President Obama took office, we've had 42 consecutive months
of unemployment above 8 percent - the longest streak on record.
The cost of family health insurance premiums has risen by nearly 19
percent, college tuition has increased by 25 percent and fuel costs
The number of people on food stamps has increased by 45 percent, and
the debt we're piling on the backs of our children and grandchildren
has gone up by 50 percent. Yet for all President Obama's talk about
the middle class, middle-class incomes are down.
Folks, we won't be in this situation with Mitt Romney in the White
House. He understands what it takes for businesses large and small
This knowledge doesn't come from a textbook (although he's read
plenty of those). It comes from decades of rolling up his sleeves
and getting the job done.
It comes from recognizing the strengths and contributions of every
individual. His experience tells him that the most valuable insight
can be gained - not by lecturing - but by listening.
And when he does use his presidential bully pulpit, it will be to
champion the cause of small business and make it clear to all
companies that it is safe to hire again.
On Day One of Mitt Romney's presidency, the transformation of
Washington will begin. Gone will be the arrogance of a president
whose first instinct is to condemn achievement.
Gone will be the attitude that government knows best and solves all.
What you will see and hear is a president who will do everything in
his power to make sure government is a catalyst for growth, not an
obstacle to success. And, a president with a plan to strengthen the
May it never be said of us that when confronted with the economic
peril before us, we averted our eyes, turned away and did nothing.
Our children's future depends on our willingness to act and our
decision to elect Mitt Romney president of the United States.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.