SCARBOROUGH – In his 1979 announcement of his candidacy for the presidency, Ronald Reagan outlined the great issues facing America and the lack of leadership in dealing with them. In reference to that lack of leadership, he said, “I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself.”

I was 20 years old then. Now, 32 years later, America finds herself in an eerily similar set of circumstances.

Our nation is $16 trillion in debt. Our economy has been propped up by bailouts and “stimulus packages” that have only increased our deficit and sent the tab to our working families — while the national unemployment rate continues to hover above 8 percent, and the strength of the American dollar continues to wane.

Gas and oil prices also threaten our economy and with it our families and our national security. Yet Washington lacks the will and fortitude to reduce our dependency on foreign energy sources by promoting and allowing the exploration and development of energy resources here on American soil.

Our military spending is on track to be reduced by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, yet the demands on our men and women in uniform continue to increase, as do our obligations at home and around the globe.

As if all of this were not enough, the largest federal program ever devised — Obamacare — is poised to take control of one-fifth of our economy.

I reject the notion that we can spend our way to prosperity. More government, more spending, more regulation and more taxes are not the answer. In fact, they are what got us into this mess in the first place and, to borrow the words of President Reagan, I, too, cannot stand by and watch “this great country destroy itself.”

That is why I am running for U.S. Senate. I believe it is crucial that we have strong leadership in Washington.

The choices that will face the next Congress will be excruciatingly difficult, but are critical to the future of our country — we must cut spending and get our massive debt under control. This is the first step toward strengthening our economy.

We must also get government out of the way. That is why I will introduce legislation that will create a national small-business advocate — just like the one I successfully lobbied for here in Maine — who in only a few months has already saved several Maine businesses from overzealous state regulators. In fact, one business was saved nearly a half-million dollars in fines that were being wrongly imposed.

As senator, I will help provide families relief from the increasing burden of health care.

First, I will make sure that Obamacare is repealed, and second, I will introduce legislation that will allow businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance like any other insurance — from the lowest-cost provider anywhere in the United States — and making the cost of that insurance 100 percent deductible from an individual’s federal income tax.

I will be a senator who not only supports our military, but also understands their needs because I am one of them.

I have served in both of the major wars of our time — Iraq and Afghanistan — and I know first-hand the issues today’s veterans are facing. I’ve also served at the Pentagon, working for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which has given me an in-depth understanding of America’s senior military leadership and the foreign policy initiatives it is tasked with.

I believe I have the breadth and depth of experience to be an effective senator the moment I get to Washington.

I will work to bring fiscal sanity back to Washington because like every family and small business, I know you can’t spend what you don’t have.

I will be a senator who knows that Washington doesn’t need more of your hard-earned tax dollars. It needs to stop its reckless spending.

Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

There was — and is — great truth in Churchill’s words. For today, in Maine and America, we are replete with both opportunities and difficulties.

In this election, I believe the choice is clear. We can avoid difficult decisions and continue down our current path of economic disaster, or we can grasp the opportunity to save our country from ruin and look within ourselves to find the will to change our course and in so doing, build a brighter future for Maine and America.


Charlie Summers of Scarborough is Maine’s 48th secretary of state and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.