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Sen. Evan Bayh won't run again: "Congress is not operating as it should" Transcript.

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Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service....

SEN. BAYH: (Applause.) Thank you very much. And thank you all for joining us today. I know how busy you are, and I'm very grateful to you for taking the time to be with us.

I'd like to begin by acknowledging some people to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude. First, my wife Susan, who for 25 years has stood by my side, and without whose love and support, so much I've been privileged to accomplish would never have been possible. As my father told me on the day we were married, "Son, you definitely married up." (Applause.)

(To Susan Bayh) I love you, sweetheart.

Second, my wonderful boys, Beau and Nick, who I love so much and of whom I am so proud. Being their father is the most important job I will ever have.

Next, my staff members, many of whom are assembled in the room here today, both past and present, who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for the people of our state. There is not one that couldn't have made more money or worked fewer hours doing something else. They have also managed to make me look much better than I deserve.

Most importantly, I am grateful to the people of Indiana, who for almost a quarter-century have placed their trust and welfare in my hands. No one could ask for a better boss or a greater honor.

I was raised in a family that believes that public service is the highest calling in the church; that what matters is not what you take from life but what you give back. I believe that still.

For almost all of my adult life, I've been privileged to serve the people of Indiana in elective office. As secretary of state, I worked to reform our election laws to ensure that every vote counts. I cast the deciding vote in the closest congressional race in the nation, for a member of the other political party, because I believed that he had legitimately won the election.

As governor, I worked with an outstanding team to balance the budget, cut taxes, leave the largest surplus in state history, create the most new jobs during any eight-year period, increase funding for schools every year, make college more affordable, and reform welfare to emphasize work.

We raised water-quality standards, created more new state parks than at any time since the 1930s and raised the penalties for violent crime.

In the Senate, I have continued to fight for the best interests of our state. I've worked with Hoosier workers and businesses large and small -- in the defense sector, the life sciences, the medical device industry, autos, steel, recreational vehicle manufacturing and many, many more -- to save and create new jobs.

Since 9/11, I've fought to make our nation safe, with a national- security policy that is both tough and smart. I've championed the cause of our soldiers, to make sure they have the equipment they need in battle and the health care they deserve when they return home.

I have often been a lonely voice for balancing the budget and restraining spending. I've worked with Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, to do the nation's business in a way that is civil and constructive.

I'm fortunate to have good friends on both sides of the aisle, something that's much too rare in Washington today. After all of these years, my passion for service to our fellow citizens is undiminished. But my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned.

For some time, I've had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is much too much partisanship and not enough progress, too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous national challenge, the people's business is not getting done. Examples of this are legion but two recent ones will suffice.

Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed. But seven members who endorsed the idea, actually co-sponsored the legislation, instead voted no for short-term political reasons.

Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create new jobs -- our nation's top priority today -- fell apart amidst complaints from both the left and the right.

All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state and our nation than continued service in Congress. To put it into words I think most people can understand, I love working for the people of Indiana.

I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives. But I do not love Congress.

I will not, therefore, be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate this November. My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is: a very difficult, deeply personal one. I am an executive at heart. I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology. These traits may be useful in many walks of life, but unfortunately they are not highly valued in Congress.

My decision should not reflect adversely upon my colleagues, who continue to serve in the Senate. While the institution is in need of significant reform, there are many wonderful people there. The public would be surprised and pleased to know that those who serve them in the Senate, despite their policy and political differences, are unfailingly hardworking and devoted to the public good as they see it. I will miss them.

I particularly value my relationship with Senator Dick Lugar, and have often felt that if all senators could have the cooperative relationship we enjoy, the institution would be a better place.

My decision should not reflect adversely upon our president. I look forward to working with him during the next 11 months to get our deficit under control, get the economy moving once again, regulate Wall Street to avoid future political crises and reform education so that all of our children can fulfill their God-given potential. This is the right agenda for America.

My decision was not motivated by political concern. Even in the current challenging political environment, I am confident in my prospects for reelection. Five times over the last 24 years, I have been honored by the people of Indiana with electoral success. But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough, and it has never been what has motivated me.

At this time, I simply believe that I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping to grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning to educate our children, or helping run a worthy charitable or philanthropic endeavor.

In closing, let me say this. Words cannot convey, nor can I adequately express, my gratitude to the great people of Indiana.

I will never forget those I have been privileged to serve, and those who have so kindly supported me. I've always tried to remember that my job is to work for Hoosiers, not the other way around. I am constantly reminded that if Washington, D.C., could be more like Indiana, Washington would be a better place.

Lastly, let me reiterate my deep and abiding love for our country and my optimism for our future. These are difficult times for America, it is true. But we have seen difficult days before, and we will see better days to come. With all of our faults, we are an exceptional nation.

I look forward to continuing to do my part to meet the challenges we face as a private citizen, to work for solutions, not slogans, progress, not politics, so that our generation can do what Americans have always done: convey to our children an America that is stronger, more prosperous, more decent and more just.

Thank you all again. May God bless you all. (Applause.)

END.

5 Comments

Congressional dysfunction is the same reason that Fred Thompson of Tennessee quit the Senate, and the reason many others over the years have left Congress on their own terms. I liked his speech; I wish that he had been more forceful in his criticisms of both parties. Lynn, you are a well known political journalist. Do you think political posturing and gamesmanship will ever stop in D.C.? Do you think it is time for a Constitutional amendment for term limitation? Left to their own devices our elected leaders WILL NEVER vote for legislation that effectively kicks them out of office after 8 to 10 years. We will also never see national referendums, so that we can do it ourselves. We need a national campaign to vote out all incumbents every Federal election. The method now is for the voters to run from one side to the other whenever they are unhappy. That method is not working.

"Congress is not operating as it should" and "The people's business is not getting done" and so... rather than using my influence on 'both sides of the aisle' I think I'll just QUIT. UNCLE!(a k a 'How to stick it to this president for not choosing me as his V.P.')

Note to future Quitters: Please can the speeches. Thank your staff in your offices, and tell your family of your great love for them at home.

We'll know you're not running when you don't file.

connie allenbury, thank you. Simply THANK YOU!

connie allenbury, He is not quitting, he is retiring. He has served the state in different political positions for years, and they value him.

The people of Indiana seem to appreciate his service. While many are sad to see him go they also understand why. His speech is for those that voted for him in his state.

The reason why the people's business is not getting done is because the Senate is busy doing corporate business.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 15, 2010 2:30 PM.

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