Announcement Speech

12/2/2004

Good afternoon, and thanks for coming.

After serious thought and consideration, I asked you here today to let you know that I hope to serve the people of New Jersey as their next elected governor.

It is a decision that didn’t come easily, but I am convinced it is the right one.

Let me be clear — I’m not running for governor as a reaction to what others have done. . . I’m running for governor for what I can do.

I’m not running for governor to oppose any individual . . . I’m running for governor to build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans.

I’m running for governor to lead a state government that gives citizens value for their hard earned tax dollars and respects the values that hold us together.

I’m running for governor because I have the CEO experience of running one of the most successful private businesses in the world and I’ve served effectively in the most important deliberative body in history.

I’m running for governor after leading a respected financial institution that was rated one of the ten best places to work in America. As governor, I hope to make New Jersey one of the best places to live, to work, to go to school, to start a business and to grow old with dignity to set a new standard of excellence.

I’m running for Governor because the causes of social justice, quality education, accessible health care, and environmental accountability are under attack across America, but they must advance in New Jersey. With this campaign we will demonstrate that progressive ideas can be far more powerful than divisive politics.

A return to the traditional American values of concern for community, belief in each other and integrity in public life must begin somewhere. With this campaign, it begins in New Jersey.

This will not be a campaign about me — it will be a campaign about us.

Five years ago, I left private life to fight for the people and causes I believe in. I’ve been very blessed in my life. I’ve had the benefit of good public schools, the strength and encouragement of my family and community, and I was afforded tremendous professional opportunities that left me better off than I could have ever dreamed.

I believed five years ago and I still do that it is my responsibility to fight so that everyone can have the same kind of opportunities I’ve had and it’s my responsibility to fight, that fight where I can do the most good.

I believe that place is here and it is now as the governor of this great state.

That said, I am truly honored to serve as New Jersey’s United States Senator, and quite frankly, I love the job and the chance to affect change on critical issues:

National security and the war against terrorism;

Homeland Security;

Health Care;

Education;

Civil rights and civil liberties;

Social Security

The list goes on. But today, I believe that I can do more for New Jersey as its Governor.

I have served the people of this state with one goal, always in mind:

To represent their interests.

I promised the people of this state that if they elected me to the Senate, they would get a fighter who would stand up for them against the insiders and special interests UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED. That is what the people of New Jersey have gotten.

In my work in the Senate, it is always the people here at home who matter most.

And because I believe that, I have decided to run for Governor.

Given the history of recent years, New Jersey needs credible, hands-on, executive leadership in Trenton.

We need an outsider’s perspective, and we need a Governor whose first priority is to earn the trust of the people of this state.

I’ve been warned that the atmosphere in Trenton has been poisoned by procrastination, corruption and financial mismanagement that I should stay in the Senate above the fray. But that’s not why I got involved in public life.

Now more than ever, the challenge of restoring the credibility and confidence of our government falls on all of us in public life. And I accept that challenge.

I have worked hard to be the kind of United States Senator who is focused on my constituents, and the issues that impact their lives.

In this post 9-11 world, where tens of thousands of brave men and women many of them New Jerseyans — risk their lives on the front lines in Iraq, there can be no tolerance for any other objective.

The public interest will be my, only, interest as Governor.

In the Senate, I pushed for the creation of the 9-11 commission, led the fight for tighter security at our chemical facilities and was outspoken in pushing for allocating homeland security resources based on risk.

I won corporate reforms to protect small investors and expanded home ownership opportunities for the middle class and our veterans.

I fought to make sure New Jersey’s PAAD program was protected in the new Medicare prescription drug law and wrote and passed with Congressman Frelinghuysen — the 110 million dollar Highlands Conservation Act.

I have been a leader in pushing back against overreaching tax cuts and pork barrel spending that will bankrupt our children’s future.

Today, I pledge to be the same kind of Governor — independent, principled, fiscally responsible, socially progressive, and effective.

I know what it takes to create jobs, to scrub a budget, to meet a payroll, and to make tough decisions about what investments make the most sense for the future.
I have made this announcement today to make my intentions ABSOLUTELY clear. Over the coming months I will offer my ideas for moving our state forward.

On providing affordable access at health care;

On improving education in the places it’s broken;

On protecting the most vulnerable our children and seniors;

On restoring a balanced and responsible fiscal plan;

On protecting a quality of life that provides for open spaces, clean beaches, clean air, and clean water;

On expanding New Jersey’s economy and building businesses;

On restoring the trust of our people in their elected officials.

As I said before we need to set a new standard of excellence in state government.

I respect the difficulty of the task ahead too much to come before you today with clever slogans or ten point plans. We need far more than a broom and a web site to change New Jersey for the better.

Most of all, being governor is being a leader. And if the people of New Jersey give me the privilege, I will be that leader.