Campaign Kickoff


The following remarks were delivered in both South and North Jersey, with different introductions recognizing the various attendant luminaries.  To read the introduction made in the South, click here.  To read the introduction made in the North, click here.

Almost five years ago, I left private life to fight full time for the causes and the people I believe in the hardworking people of New Jersey.  I understand that I have been blessed in my life.  I’ve had the benefit of a loving family, good public schools and the strength and support of my community.  I started at the ground floor of a great American business, worked hard and made my way to the top.

I know the American Dream.  And I want everyone to have the same shot at that dream I have had.  That is why I entered public life, and that is why I am running to be your next Governor.  I embrace the timeless imperative: To those to whom much is given, much is expected.

When I was CEO and leading Goldman Sachs, it was rated by its people as one of the 10 best places to work in America.  Working together, we can make New Jersey the best place in America to grow up, to go to school, to work, to start a business and to grow old with dignity.

Together, we can set a new standard of excellence that offers every hardworking New Jersey family access to America’s promise.

I am running for Governor so I can lead a government that provides the people of New Jersey value for their hard-earned tax dollars and respect for the values that hold us together.

I am running for Governor because I have the leadership experience of managing one of the most successful businesses in the world and developed the necessary negotiating skills to succeed in the U.S. Senate.

I am running for governor because I have a vision for New Jersey as a world leader in the new economy an economy that can create new businesses, good-paying jobs, and expanded opportunities for New Jersey’s future.

I am running for Governor because I believe it is my responsibility to fight to make certain the most vulnerable among us are not forgotten in the challenges of our time.

I know I must take on these challenges and fights where I think I can do the most good.

I believe that place is here.  I believe the time is now as the next Governor of this great state.

When the people of New Jersey first elected me to the Senate, I promised they would get a fighter who would stand up for them against insiders and the special interests — unbought and unbossed.  That’s exactly how I have served.

Against strong resistance, I joined with the 9/11 families to get the 9/11 Commission established.  Against stiff opposition, I am fighting to make the chemical facilities scattered across our state safe from terrorists, and to get New Jersey’s fair share of homeland security funding.

Together with colleagues from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation, I fought successfully to protect New Jersey’s seniors by protecting our prescription drug program PAAD.

I won corporate reforms that protect small investors from corporate abuses — and we are now holding cheating executives accountable.

And I won funding to protect thousands of acres in the New Jersey Highlands from overdevelopment.

Now, more than ever, the challenge of restoring credibility and confidence in government falls on those who ask for the public trust.  Those of us in public life must earn that trust by our actions.

I accept this challenge, because I know it’s the only way we can hope to build a future reflecting the best qualities and high standards most New Jerseyans carry forth in their own lives.

I pledge to be a Governor who is independent, principled, fiscally responsible, socially progressive and effective.

I pledge to serve you – the people of New Jersey not my friends, not my party, not myself.

I know what it takes to create jobs, to scrub a budget, to meet a payroll and to make tough decisions about the right investments for the long term.

When I announced my candidacy in December, I pledged a campaign of substance rather than slogans a campaign of ideas rather than insults a campaign of straight talk, not false promises.

But some who are competing to be our Governor are running a different kind of campaign.  They are running a campaign of division, while failing to address the most fundamental issues of ethical and fiscal responsibility.

Some have taken a page from the Karl Rove playbook and are attacking me personally.  First, they attacked my support for charitable causes.  Then, they attacked my support for the Democratic Party.  And lately, they’ve even attacked my mother.

So, let me now put my opponents on notice.  Swift-boat-like attacks have no place in this campaign and they will be rejected by the people of New Jersey who care more about their families and their future than political make-believe.

Let’s be clear: I make no apologies for building the Democratic Party here in New Jersey and across America.   I believe my party most often works to help our citizens families squeezed by rising taxes and health care costs; families squeezed trying to provide the best education for their children; families concerned about the safety of their communities in an uncertain world.

I make no excuses for promoting the progressive agenda which I believe improves people’s lives — my only regret is that I cannot do more.

More than ever, we need a strong Democratic Party to stand up for New Jersey and working Americans.  We need to stand up to the Bush administration’s budget assault on New Jersey: its cuts to homeland security, education, Medicaid, veterans benefits, affordable health care, Amtrak, and clean air, clean water and sandy beaches.

We need a strong Democratic Party to create quality jobs, protect Social Security, defend collective bargaining, and to preserve our precious environment.

And we need a strong Democratic Party so that New Jersey is led by leaders focused on solutions to our toughest problems, rather than those who would neglect them.

Let New Jersey voters not forget that the reality of dishonest budgets started long before 2001, or that pay-to-play had its origins in the ill-fated, no-bid contracts with EZ Pass and the Parsons debacle.  Let us remember that the DMV was once a 3-letter epithet before Democrats addressed it — and fixed it.

Let me repeat — campaigns should be about the future your future and your family’s future.  And if you will help me, we will make this campaign just that.

It is time for a leader who comes to state government from a different experience: someone who is not encumbered by an old culture, historic entanglements, and the status quo.  It is time for new leadership, and a new commitment to integrity, effectiveness and vision.

That is why my first speech of this campaign was about restoring the highest ethical standards to government at all levels.

Common sense dictates that once we re-open government to everyone, we will also re-awaken opportunities to grow our economy and create good-paying jobs for this generation and others to follow.

Just last week, I introduced an entirely new approach to economic and fiscal policy: an approach where we end the paradigm of tax, borrow and spend — and replace it with a new strategy of invest, grow and prosper.

The people of New Jersey know it is time to bring the best business practices to state government: outcome-based budgeting, 21st century management, long-term planning, and new investment initiatives for our people and infrastructure.

To that end I have proposed the Edison Innovation Fund to support research and development, technology transfer and job creation.

I have proposed an Urban Investment Bank to support small businesses and entrepreneurs in our cities and ring suburbs.

And I will invest in the development of our port regions – in south and north Jersey – taking full advantage of New Jersey’s geographic position as a corridor of commerce.

We will give new emphasis to promoting travel and tourism, taking full advantage of the Jersey shore and our state’s rich history as the crossroads of the American Revolution.

We will give new life to our agricultural industries.

And we will create a full-time foreign trade representative so that New Jersey becomes a leader of insourcing — instead of a victim of the reverse.

My vision for New Jersey is based on basic business principles and on an abiding faith in the talent, creativity and capacity for hard work of our people.

The best way to end the squeeze on New Jersey’s workers is to create new jobs in the new economy.  And the best way for the state to expand its revenues is to grow our share of that economy.  New Jersey has to stay competitive.  But more than that, we must lead.

My friends, I am trying to demonstrate my new approach to governing by offering a different kind of campaign.

This will be a campaign of substance and not slogans.  It will be a campaign of ideas, not insults.

I want to encourage every person in New Jersey who cares about our future to find their way into the Corzine campaign.  I want to hear their ideas, as well as they hear mine.

And I want to carry on a conversation with the people of New Jersey from this day, and every day, until Election Day.

That is why I have asked Congressmen Pallone and Holt, along with Blair MacInnes, to lead a new campaign to solicit everyone’s ideas, everyone’s participation and everyone’s hard work.

This new effort will be called Corzine Connection, and you will find it on the web at

Anytime of the day, wherever you may be, and whenever you are inclined, go online and get involved.  Join a meetup, blog on the issues, volunteer your time, send a contribution, or follow the path into the Corzine campaign.  It is exciting to give everyone a chance to speak their mind and get involved.

The future of New Jersey and the future of the Democratic Party will be built on the entry of new people and new ideas into politics, into campaigns, and ultimately into government.

We have at our disposal, every ingredient and opportunity to improve the quality of our state and its future.

We have one of the most diverse ecosystems anywhere: a combination of highlands, farmlands and the Jersey shore.

New Jersey is the connecting corridor in the most vibrant region in the world where seaports, airports, rail lines and roadways converge to serve the economic needs of regional, national and international commerce.

We were the crossroads of the American Revolution, and today we are on the frontier of the new economy.

We host several of the most respected public and private higher education institutions in the world.

We are home to some of the fastest growing industries in the world: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health sciences, biotech, and financial services.

And we are home to one of the most diverse, best educated, highly skilled and most ambitious populations in the world.

So let me close with this thought — Robert F. Kennedy once defined leadership simply as “inspiring others to exercise their best qualities.”

As your Governor, that is exactly what I intend to do.

With your help and your dreams, we will together tap into those best qualities and build a brighter future for New Jersey and all of her people.

Thank you.