Excerpts from the prepared text of last night’s speech by Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele to the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in New York:
I had planned to give a moving defense of the conservative principles of the Republican Party tonight. But there was only one problem: Barack Obama gave it last month at the Democratic convention.
I am the first African-American ever elected to a statewide office in Maryland. Even more amazingly, on a ticket with Governor Bob Ehrlich, the first Republican governor in Maryland in 40 years, I became the first Republican lieutenant governor in my state. Together, we made history.
I am proof that the blessings of liberty are within reach of every American. …
The promise of America is the promise of endless possibilities. America remains that place President Reagan called “a shining city on a hill.” But while the promise of America is real, the challenges we face to secure that promise for every American are no less real. We must continue to be vigilant in our fight against the blight of poverty, poor education and lost opportunity.
What truly defines the civil rights challenge today isn’t whether you can get a seat at the lunch counter. It’s whether you can own that lunch counter in order to create a legacy of wealth for your children.
We heard one word over and over again at the Democratic convention: hope. But there is a problem, my friends. Hope is not a strategy. Hope doesn’t protect you from terrorists, hope doesn’t lower your taxes, hope doesn’t help you buy a home, and hope doesn’t ensure quality education for your kids. As the book of James reminds us: “It is not enough just to have faith. Faith that does not show itself by good deeds is no faith at all.”
You see, it’s results that matter. And President Bush does not just talk about hope; he stands on a record of putting hope into action for America. President Bush knows that a competitive marketplace will require providing our children with a first-rate education. He knows that too many of our children are headed for the state pen instead of Penn State. He knows that the “soft bigotry of low expectations” is today’s version of blocking the entrance to the schoolhouse door.
President Bush didn’t just hope for dramatic education reform; he turned that hope into No Child Left Behind, and our children are learning again. He didn’t just hope for economic recovery; he turned that hope into action by returning money to the people who earned it — American families. Today, over 111 million taxpayers are keeping more of their own money. And the president is committed to making that tax relief permanent.
President Bush didn’t just hope for increased homeownership in America; he put his hope into action. Today, more Americans own homes than ever before and for the first time ever, more than half of all minority families are homeowners. …
Senator Kerry’s leadership is illustrated best by the senator himself when he said, “I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” He also recently said that he doesn’t want to use the word “war” to describe our efforts to fight terrorism. Well, I don’t want to use the words “commander in chief” to describe John Kerry.
Just a year after the first  attack on the World Trade Center, most Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats rejected an amendment to slash our intelligence budget by $6 billion. But not John Kerry. It was his amendment.
Most Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats voted to give our combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan the funding necessary for things like body armor. But not John Kerry.
When Vice President Gore urged the Senate to “reinvent government” and reduce the federal work force, most Republicans and Democrats voted for it. But not John Kerry.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate voted to reform the product liability system that was making trial lawyers rich while causing playgrounds and small businesses to close. But not John Kerry.
Most senators in both parties voted to protect the institution of marriage with the Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by President Clinton. But not John Kerry.