An Invigorating Lincoln Day Dinner Speech in Spokane, WA
Former US Representative and Fox News Contributor Jason Chaffetz’s opening remark at Spokane’s Republican ‘Lincoln Day’ Dinner on June 2 was that every morning he is so really, really happy when he wakes up because he realizes that Hillary Clinton is not our president.
He then said one of his favorite people on the planet is Washington’s US Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. “You all call her CMR and Cathy, in Washington DC we used to call her madam chair.”
He said eastern Washington is sort of Ground Zero and that if it doesn’t get this election results right the whole country will pay. Chaffetz said Cathy McMorris Rodgers is effective, she makes things happen, gets things done and that’s why the Dems are so afraid of her and that’s why they don’t want and can’t afford somebody like her to continue to thrive.
“My guess is you all have your own individual reasons for being here. But maybe through hearing other people’s stories I can help bolster and support what you are doing and make us all stronger as Republicans. We need to keep expanding these ballrooms so that there are more and more people.”
He said there are major untapped reservoirs of people who want to be part of the solution instead of the problems. They just haven’t been asked yet, they haven’t been invited. They haven’t been shown how to participate.
“As we look at the election that’s coming up in 2018 and certainly in 2020, we always keep talking about that it’s the most important election giving the tumultuous nature of the United States and the troubles we are going through. But we have to have some leadership. And we have to have somebody that will help lead that way. We’ve got to tap into that bigger spectrum and elevate our game and how we do things. So I just want to share some of my story and my perspective and hopefully that helps.
“I grew up in Northern California, Southern California, and Arizona. I actually graduated high school in a little town named Winter Park, Colorado. There was 49 students in the graduating class of 26 girls and 23 guys.
“Growing up in California, I was very blessed. I never woke up in the morning and thought about when I was going to get something to eat and I never woke up wondering where I was going to sleep. I never went through that. Not every family was like mine. Every situation is different. I grew up in this sort of idyllic, everything’s happy ‘Beaver Cleaver’ type of situation until I got a little older. Then I started understanding things a little bit more. I had a wonderful mom, a fabulous dad and a younger brother three years younger. We played and had a good time.
“I remember things changed when I got a little bit older, my dad would wake me up every morning that I can remember. I had those NFL sheets and he come over and wiggled my toes and I’d get up and take a shower and come out for breakfast. When I got up he would put the paper in front of me, at first it was a comics, then the global section and then the full paper. And that’s kind of how I grew up, I grew up reading and understanding the newspaper learning what a box score was and how to read really paying attention to it.
“Things started to change when I was 13 or 14 years old. Dad put the paper in front of me with the section on want ads. I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, dad, where is the rest of the paper? I don’t read this part, this is the one section I don’t read.’ He said, ‘Life’s changing, you’re going to get a job.’ And I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, dad, I play soccer. That’s what I do. I’m really good at it and summers coming up.’ At the time I was living in Scottsdale Arizona.
“He said, ‘No it’s time you get a job.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know how to get a job.’ That kind of fell right into his trap. He started reeling me in at this point and he said, ‘See those phone numbers? You start calling those numbers.’
“I actually got a job. I was quite proud of myself in this very short amount of time and what I really liked about this job was that it was done by noon.
“Dad said, ‘How do you get to work, where is work?’ I said I don’t know, so I called my new employer back up and he said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ll come pick you up.’ So I said, Okay, what time?’ He said, ‘3: 45 in the morning.’ I go to bed at 2:30 AM, this was going to be a real tight turn here.
“It was a gardening job in Scottsdale in the middle of the summer and he said wear boots long pants and a long sleeve shirt, make sure you have a hat and bring the biggest gloves you have because we’re going to be breaking and picking cactus. So I came home after the shift and I remember thinking, ‘I’m a white-collar guy. I don’t like this job.’ I said, ‘Dad, what am I going to do? I hate this job.’ He said, ‘You’d better figure out how to make yourself more valuable.’ I said, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ And he said, ‘If you want a better job, go figure out how to get one.’
“He just kind of threw me out there. That was one of the best things that ever happened in my life. I started working at the General Cinema Corporation in my powder blue coat, my clip-on black tie, short sleeve white shirt and I sold movie tickets, cleaned up popcorn, did all those things, shined a light on the teenagers that were making out that I could never get a date with, you know, ‘Hey, I know you!’ I was making $2.88 an hour and then I saw that I wasn’t making minimum wage. I said, ‘Dad, I’m not making minimum wage.’ He said, ‘So go talk to your boss.’ So I went and talked to my boss.
“I said, ‘Boss, I’m only making $2.88, (I don’t remember what the minimum wage was back then) it’s lower than the minimum wage.’ He said, ‘We’re in the entertainment industry, we’re exempt. Get back to work.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ And I went back to work.
“Okay. There were some lessons going on there that I worry about, with all the current political correctness, especially in this state, out west. Do you know what we’re doing, we’re not allowing those 14-year-olds to figure out how to go work at the local subway or other businesses?
“My wife and I have been blessed with three children and our youngest started working when she was about 14 years old. A while after she started she got promoted to a checker and all that. I asked her how much she makes and she said I don’t know. That’s perfect. She’s working because she needs to, she likes to and she’s enjoying it and she gets that little check and she goes out and does what she wants with it because it’s her money.”
Chaffetz told that story because he said it is an integral part of who he is and we all have stories like this that are impressionable ones.
He continued, “We were in, I believe it was a judicial committee hearing, and minimum wage came up, and I said, ‘Why is it that you Democrats believe so heartily in minimum wage that you exempt the entertainment industry?’ And they didn’t know that. I said, ‘You’re a carnival worker, probably somebody that actually needs minimum wage, guess what? You’re exempt.’ I shut them down so fast because they could not justify it and they couldn’t understand it since they never had those life experiences.
“I’m here to tell you that the most difficult times in your life are those times when you develop character. That’s when you get your backbone, your foundation. And you won’t always deal with it as good and as effectively in the moment as maybe you will upon reflection later in your life. They’re places in life where you don’t want to go and you don’t wish anybody else has to.
“In my life, in part of this Beaver Cleaver world I was growing up in, my parents set me down and told me that they were going to get a divorce. I didn’t see that coming, never heard them argue, I never grew up in a household where somebody was beating on somebody. A lot of people grew up with that. Too many people. I had a hard time with that. My mom and dad sat me down separately and together told me it had nothing to do with me. It took me some time to digest that.
“A couple years later my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She passed away when she was just about the age that I am now, just over the age of 50. I wish they had the technology then that they have today. That was some of the hardest times and most difficult things I’ve ever gone through in my life.
“But there are also the times that I grew even closer to my mom. I had experiences with her that I could never have had otherwise. When you carry a parent into the bathroom it’s not what you expect. I lost my mom to breast cancer and I lost my dad to colon cancer.
“The doctor said if he had had any kind of checkup in the eight or ten years prior he would be just fine and here with us today. But he was old school said, ‘Na, I don’t need that.’ So, now I get a colonoscopy every week. I still don’t enjoy it, just kidding, of course. What I’m trying to tell you is there are tough things and tough times that you go through in your life and they inform you as to who you are. They change your life if you like it or not. And hopefully you share with your younger, older or Golden age other people how to make the best of that.”
Chaffetz said in his heart of hearts as he talks to groups of people who are engaged in the campaigns, Republicans and conservatives will win on the issues. The reason the Democrats and the national media change the story is they can’t win on the issues.
He stated that in Nancy Pelosi’s world we’re just one good tax increase away from prosperity. “That’s how she thinks. They can’t believe Donald Trump’s tactics on North Korea and Kim Jung Un are working, that he actually tore up the Iran nuclear deal and that unemployment is where it is. We will win on the issues every single time.”
“Here’s my philosophy on elections. People will vote for who they like, who they know and who they agree with on policy and principles. Get two of those three right and you win. I say that as a segue to the next part which I’m going to share with you.
“I don’t believe that we do as well as we can about leading with our hearts. It’s about explaining and sharing not in just one quick conversation and not in just one Facebook post; but sharing from the heart, why you are involved, why you are engaged. When you turn that corner and start to talk from your heart about what you believe is right for your state, for your family, for this Republic that we have, then you will be so much more successful and effective.
“Fast-forward here a little bit. I went to school, married my wife, started to have kids, 16 years in the local business community and Jon Huntsman, Jr was running for the governor of Utah. Now the Huntsman family in Utah were the wealthiest family. 1995 was the year my mom passed away and that was the year the Huntsman’s decided to pour millions of dollars into the fight against cancer.
“So I was very touched by that. Fast-forward to 2003. In September 2003, there was an article in the newspaper about how Jon Huntsman Jr might run for the governor of Utah. Through a mutual friend I asked for a meeting. I said if nothing else, I just came to say thank you. That 10 minute meeting with my wife and I turned into 30 minutes, turned into hey come on back, and on October 31, 2003 Jon Huntsman, Jr. said, ‘Would like you to come on board to be our communications person?’ It was a fraction of what I was used to making.
“My wife and I talked about it, we prayed about it, and we said you know it’s the Huntsmans, it feels good, who knows where this is going to lead and financially maybe we can make that work through the next year. About six months after I joined the campaign Jon Huntsman and I were traveling south on I-15 and Jon Huntsman said, ‘Hey, congratulations, you’re going to be the new campaign manager.’ And I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, I’ve never done this before.’ And he said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’ve never run for governor before.’
“Nine people including the incumbent Governor, and he upset them all. So he became the 16th Governor and then we had the same conversation when he said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to be the new Chief of Staff,’ and I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa Jon, 22,000 employees, $14 billion and I have never done that.’ And he said, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it, I’ve never been governor before. We’ll figure it out. You know, it’s the story about getting the right people on the bus and figuring it out.’ And that was his philosophy.
“Once I was there as Chief of Staff I got to see up close and personal who was doing what and how, particularly the congressional delegation. At the time we had two senators and three members of Congress and I figured out really quickly that there was a slow gazelle in that herd and I was going to take him out. So I decided to throw my hat in the ring and run against the person who was representing Utah in the third congressional district. Jon said, ‘Congratulations you’re going to leave the comfort of the governor’s suite and go figure this out.’
“I almost ran in 2006 but then I stepped back and said I’ve got to understand this. So here’s what I did. Okay now, the name Chaffetz… you can’t even pronounce it, let alone spell it. So imagine my surprise when I went to go get chaffetz.com? It was available! So I got that going for me and I thought no one is going to know how to spell that so I came up with Jason in the house or Jason Chaffetz@jasoninthehouse which is still my Twitter and Facebook address.
“I took every single conventional, normality that I could find and threw them out the window. Every single thing, I challenged. We had no campaign office, we had no polling, I couldn’t afford it, I couldn’t raise money. I told my wife we’re not going into debt. We made a promise, if we didn’t raise it we were not going to spend it.
“Here was the whole key to our success. I found stay-at-home moms, working moms, newly retired people and people that worked in the National Guard. Those four groups were the core to what we did. Jennifer Scott was my campaign manager, and I remember her coming in to us months later saying, ‘I’ve figured it out, I figured how this actually works.’
“She set up her campaign office in the laundry room. It’s the safest room in the house. Nobody will go in there, will bug you, will interrupt, will touch anything in there and she even started having meetings in the laundry room. Husbands and their kids were not going in there and we built an army of people who were doing exactly the same thing.
“When we went out to find people to help with the campaign we found people that would say ‘Ooh-wee, I’ve got all the time in the world, I’ll do anything.’ That was the flashing red light to say, ‘Oh gosh, this person is going to be a problem.’ Do you know who we found was the most successful in our campaign? The person that said, ‘I have absolutely no time to do this.’ Because once they actually believed in it, they made it happen. They figured it out. Those people, they know how to do things.
“We built an army. Just to give you a general idea in one weekend we put up 95,000 door doorknockers. We figured out how to get a merit badge for Boy Scouts to run from neighborhood to neighborhood putting up doorknockers. It was unbelievable. This is really bad. I didn’t do this a lot, but I did do it. We had all these Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts out there and we said the first one back gets a pizza. There was no pizza. There never was a first one back, they all came in second. It was really bad, in this part of my repentance process, and I promise I won’t do that again.
“I remember Mitt Romney’s campaign, he would sell interns a piece of pizza for one dollar and he bought the pizzas at ‘Five Buck Pizza,’ keep in mind there are eight pieces in a pizza, and they thought they were getting a deal. Remember it’s Mitt Romney and he’s worth $500 million. But it worked almost, he came in second.
“I was very fortunate to win that race. I was polling at 2.7% plus or minus 3.4%. That was in March 2008. They would not let me on a radio debate. I won that race by 20 percentage points. Here’s the point: don’t get sold on the polls. You can watch a poll every single day. What’s happening in your neighborhood, your backyard and what you’re seeing is reality.
“It’s all about who shows up. Lead from the heart, talk about what’s important to you, ask yourself why am I conservative and why am I a Republican? You share that from your heart, that’s what I did from neighborhood to neighborhood, from town to town. I said, ‘Look, I believe in this country, but if we want a different result it is going to have to go in a different direction. Here’s what I believe in: fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and strong national defense. What is most important to you?’
“Then I would relate a personal story and tell why I was running. I met a guy after the vote at a Costco where I was pumping gas and the guy said to me, ‘Jason Chaffetz?’ I said, ‘Ya.’ He said, ‘I voted for you.’ I said, ‘Well thank you, but why did you vote for me?’ He said, ‘You know what, I just loved your energy and enthusiasm.’ He couldn’t name a single issue, but he felt like I was really going to get after them. Okay? Cathy has that. Susan has that. But you have to share that with others from your heart.
SERVING IN CONGRESS
“I gotta tell you there are some really good, decent, honest people in Congress. When I was first elected to Congress I asked Jim Hansen who had served 22 years, ‘I don’t know what I don’t know, tell me what I need to know.’ He said, ‘When you get to Congress you’re just going to be pinching yourself, like how did I get here?’ But he said in six months something is going to change. I was sitting on the edge of my seat, you know, asking what is going to change in six months. This is exactly what he told me and this is exactly what happened.
“‘You walk onto the floor of the house, you get that chill in your spine, you look at the desk and feel the weight of the country with all that history. In six months your thinking, “Gosh, how did I get here”? And then you look around a little bit and say to yourself, “How did they all get here”?’
“There are a lot of people that are trying to do the right thing. At the beginning, I did not have the vision to say that Donald Trump was the right person to be the next President of the United States. But I look back now and I think, you know, of all those whatever 18 Republicans and all those Democrats he’s about the only person on the planet that could have pulled that off because we didn’t know we needed that disruptive personality to make things happen.
“There is a reason why we have this opportunity. This is the Lincoln Day dinner so I’ll tell you about Abraham Lincoln
“I knew real quickly when I got to Congress that I would probably fit best was with oversight. We hear a lot about the need for checks and balances. I remember sitting with John Boehner who gave me this advice, ‘I don’t want anybody telling me what I need to know. Listen, you can disagree but don’t be disagreeable. Don’t be the bad person in the room. Okay? If you see something you want to go after just go for it because you know of the 435 people there they will be very surprised. No matter what issue you pick there will only be a handful at the introduction who are focused on that. You’re going to be 7 miles wide and ½ inch deep but focus on something you can go as far and deep as you want on.’ So I focused on the oversight responsibility.
“The committee grew and shrank and at one point was the largest committee in all of Congress. In the House of Representatives it is the second largest in terms of budget and personnel. It is still a fraction though of what you’re up against in the executive branch. There are about 60 people who work in the oversight committee as opposed to 2.2 million people who work in the federal bureaucracy.
“If you spent $1 million a day every day it would take you almost 3000 years to get to $1 trillion. The federal government is spending $1 trillion every 90 days. So what can go wrong? Right?
“Remember they formed this committee in 1814 and in 1850 along came a man named Abraham Lincoln who was elected to one of the congressional districts from Illinois. What committee does he go on? The oversight committee. Nine days after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the house he got up on the floor of the house and gave a speech. He did not believe the President of the United States. The President was saying that the Mexican-American war had started on American territory where the Mexicans fired upon US citizens. And Abraham Lincoln said, ‘Well where was that? Name the spot, tell me where it happened. I want to go talk to the people. Where was the spot?’
“Lincoln gave a series of speeches and followed the President around the country. Communication was a bit different then. But a lot of people credit his oratory skills by going on the road speaking to these groups from town to town challenging the President. That to me was very inspirational. He became known as ‘Spotty’ Lincoln for those trips.
“Fast forward to when Benghazi happened and we see four Americans killed and our Consulate up in flames. Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Leon Panetta, Joe Biden and President Obama were all saying, ‘Hey, it was this YouTube video.’ Fortunately I sent a letter, since I was chairman of the subcommittee at the time on national security, to Secretary Clinton putting a ‘preservation letter’ in place. You cannot destroy any federal records but this expanded the jurisdiction of Congress by saying you have to preserve all of your personal correspondence, emails, letters and that sort of thing.
“That was the precursor to finding out that she had her own private email, her own server and that she had forwarded all of her information. Oh by the way, this idea that she set up a server, she couldn’t have had intent to subvert the federal records act, because she set up the server on the exact same day that she started her Senate confirmation hearings, and I’m sure that that was just a coincidence. The same day.
He said for the essence of time, he fast-forwarded to after Benghazi happened. Chaffetz went to Tripoli about 20 days after the attack. He said that still one of the unsolved mysteries of Benghazi is “Why is it that it took our FBI 18 days to get there? There was not a single FBI agent, there was not a single member of our United States military that would not run to the scene of another person being harmed or in harm’s way. Yet the FBI took 18 days to get there? Because it was too dangerous? You had national media walking around taking video, picking up the diary.
“Why did that take so long? Somebody made a decision to hold them back. I went there with General Ham and was stuck with being there all day. When I got on the plane to fly out of Tripoli, which was a surreal experience, I thought about that the entire time we were there, there wasn’t a single person who ever mentioned the video. Do you know why? Because it never happened. It was a lie. It was made up.
“That’s where I really, really dug in and felt like we were really going to have to go to a lot of different places to figure out where this thing really, really is going to take us. We still don’t have all the answers on that. I wish I could spend two hours with you just talking about Benghazi.
“At the end of the movie, 13 hours…here is the continuation: We never sent (the government never sent a transport plane to pick up our wounded), they never did that. They never sent a single human asset into Benghazi. Not to help them when they were under attack and not to help them once they got a little bit more clearance.
There was this oil tycoon who used his own private plane and that plane is directed to take them to Tripoli. The plane does not take them to Italy, it does not take them to Germany it takes them to Tripoli.
“Once they got them a little patched up they finally got a transport plane from Stuttgart, Germany to pick them up and take them back to Germany. There is this one guy David Ubben who was really, really messed up and still is to this day.
“And then Kris Paronto and Tig, I probably know Chris the best, and the rest of the crew, finally got patched up and they wanted to go home. You know what the State Department did? They said we want to go home, the State Department said, ‘Well you’re free to go.’ They asked, ‘How do we go?’ Our government would not buy them an airline ticket. They made those guys reach into their own pockets and pay for their own flights to get back home.
“And they didn’t have anything. It wasn’t like they could pack up their gear and leave normally. They didn’t have the fares. I’m convinced personally, that the reason they did this is because we had an election coming up. They didn’t want guys like Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy and others going in there and interview these people. It took months just to figure out where they were.
“I went to the State Department and found out one of these guys was at the Walter Reed Medical Center. I went there and couldn’t find him. I talked to his dad and he said I promise you he is there. I showed up at the door and they said he wasn’t there. They changed his name so that guys like us wouldn’t be able to see what’s going on.
“We need good men and women to be able to overturn what’s going on in this bureaucracy. We talked a little tonight at this event about the spirit of America. In spite of all our problems, challenges, heartaches, frustrations and some of the divide we see in this country, nobody is ever going to break the American spirit. I’m writing a book that’s coming out about the deep state.
WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER VISIT
“One of the most special things I did in Congress I wish everybody could do. And that is we got a group together and went down to Walter Reed Medical Center. This was a room about this size, maybe a little larger, like an Olympic training room. Think of the picture you might conjure up with upbeat music, patriotic colorful symbols and all that around, but this was a room exclusively for amputees, people who had lost limbs. Anytime I speak, I like to mention this because it is one of the most impactful things that happened to me while I was in Congress.
“This day there happened to be about 40 present and they all happened to be men there and they had all lost their limbs while serving overseas. I still remember the first one I went up to which made an indelible impression in my mind. This kid is older now, but at the time, he was in his young 20s. He was from New York, he was in a wheelchair and he had lost both his legs and he had lost both his arms. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t shake his hand, I tried to hug him. It was awkward at best. There were six or seven of us who were members of Congress and we were all shell-shocked. And you could see it in his face, he was struggling. I cannot even begin to imagine what he was going through in his early 20s.
“I wish every American, I wish my kids could’ve been there to see that. We went to visit as many of them as we could. This one other guy, I have very few pictures on my desk, but this one of Carlos I will always have on my desk. Carlos was the happiest person I have probably ever met in my life. Carlos was serving I think his third tour when he was injured. All smiles, he talked about his faith in God, he talked about his wife and two daughters.
“He had been hit by an improvised explosive device and he lost both his legs his right arm and part of his left arm. While I was there he explained how his prosthetic device works as he was trying to get it to work. We talked for a while, and I was almost embarrassed, but I asked him if he didn’t mind if I took a picture. He said, ‘Oh yeah, absolutely.’ I said, ‘How are you so happy?’ He said, ‘I’m alive. I’m an American. I have a beautiful wife and great kids, the food here is not so good, but that’s okay.’ Another thing I loved about Carlos was the shirt that he was wearing. ‘Wounded Combat Marine, Some Assembly Required.’
“We do have problems, we do have challenges, but I think that’s in part why we’re here to learn how to help solve those problems and leave this country a better, safer world than we found it. I can’t thank you enough right here in Spokane for being part of that solution and not part of the problem. It would be easy to skip this and easy to go to something else but you came out and opened up your hearts, you opened up your wallets and you invested your time. As a candidate who was on the receiving end of all that help, I’m eternally grateful. I know that Cathy and Susan and everybody running for office is so grateful for that, for what it does and for what it’s going to take.
“Because of the atmosphere, the other group is organized, they’re motivated and they just get in line.
“But I believe the hearts, minds and spirit of America are conservative in nature and that most people do believe in the same sort of principles we do. So I hope that we share our hearts, facts and policies with others within our family and our community.
“Why? Why? Why? Ask yourself. And share with them. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.