In the purest Republican tradition of hijacking the English language to lead people into believing you've said something entirely different, this was the speech of the night. The word to look and listen for is 'change'; tonight it became the word that will define the 2008 election, and that each of the candidates will shape their campaigns around from here on out. The question that they now must answer is, "How?"
MIKE HUCKABEE: Thank you, Iowa.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
You know, I wasn't sure that I would ever be able to love a state as much as I love my home state of Arkansas.
But tonight, I love Iowa a whole lot.
Over the past several months, my family and I have had the marvelous joy and privilege of getting to know many of you. And it's been an incredible honor.
I was thinking last night that some of the friendships that we've forged here in the last several months are friendships that will last a lifetime.
And we didn't know how this was going to turn out tonight. But I knew one thing: I would be forever grateful to the people that I met, the ones who voted for me, even the ones who didn't, who still treated me with respect and who gave me their attention, who have allowed me to come often, not just into their communities, but into their homes, not once, but time and time again.
And a few of them, I even convinced to vote for me tonight and that's really remarkable.
I want to say how much I appreciate my wife, Janet.
She was a wonderful first lady of Arkansas.
And I think she'll be a wonderful first lady for the United States of America.
We also want to say thanks. Our three children are with us tonight.
I would like them to come and just be a part of this tonight. They have all been so much involved. Our oldest son, John Mark, our son, David, his wife, Lauren, our daughter, Sarah, who has literally lived in Iowa for the past two and a half months.
And I told her if she stayed much longer, she'll have to get her an Iowa driver's license and probably start paying even more taxes up here.
And I say thanks to all of them for joining with us in this effort, because a family goes through it, not just the candidate. But tonight is a celebration for everybody on our team, so many of you who have traveled from all across America to be here.
I'm amazed, but I'm encouraged, because tonight what we have seen is a new day in American politics. A new day is needed in American politics, just like a new day is needed in American government. And tonight it starts here in Iowa.
But it doesn't end here. It goes all the way through the other states and ends at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue one year from now.
I think we've learned three very important things through this victory tonight. The first thing we've learned is that people really are more important than the purse, and what a great lesson for America to learn. Most of the pundits believe that when you're outspent at least 15 to 1, it's simply impossible to overcome that mountain of money and somehow garner the level of support that's necessary to win an election.
Well, tonight we proved that American politics still is in the hands of ordinary folks like you and across this country who believe that it wasn't about who raised the most money but who raised the greatest hopes, dreams and aspirations for our children and their future.
And tonight I hope we will forever change the way Americans look at their political system and how we elect presidents and elected officials.
Tonight, the people of Iowa made a choice, and their choice was clear.
Their choice was for a change.
But that choice for a change doesn't end just saying, "Let's change things."
Change can be for the better. It could be for the worse.
Americans are looking for a change. But what they want is a change that starts with a challenge to those of us who were given this sacred trust of office so that we recognize that what our challenge is to bring this country back together, to make Americans, once again, more proud to be Americans than just to be Democrats or Republicans.
To be more concerned about being going up instead of just going to the left or to the right.
And while we have deep convictions that we'll stand by and not waiver on, or compromise -- those convictions are what brought us to this room tonight. But we carry those convictions not so that we can somehow push back the others, but so we can bring along the others and bring this country to its greatest days ever.
Because I'm still one who believes that the greatest generation doesn't have to be the ones behind us. The greatest generation can be those who have yet to even be born.
And that's what we are going to...
And, ladies and gentlemen, we've learned something else tonight, and that is that this election is not about me. It's about we.
And I don't say that lightly. I'm the person whose name gets on the signs, who occasionally gets the attention in some...
... of the few ads that came out here and there.
But the election is not about me. And the country is not just about me.
What is happening tonight in Iowa is going to start really a prairie fire of new hope and zeal. And it's already happening across this nation because it is about we; we the people.
We saw it tonight. We've seen it in other states. And we're going to continue to see it because this country yearns and is hungry for leadership that recognizes that when one is elected to public office, one is not elected to be a part of the ruling class; he's elected to be a part of the serving class. Because we the people are the ruling class of America.
G.K. Chesterton once said that a true soldier fights not because he hates those who are in front of him, but because he loves those who are behind him. Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize that running for office, it's not hating those who are in front of us. It's loving those who are behind us.
It's recognizing that behind us are great patriots dating back to the beginning of this wonderful country, when 56 brave men put their signatures on a document that started forth the greatest experiment in government in the history of mankind, and gave birth to the idea that all of us are created equal, and we have been given by our creator inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And these who signed that document, who gave birth to this dream, were the beginnings of those throughout our history who have continued, with great sacrifice, extraordinary valor, to pass on to us that liberty and the quest for something better than the generation before them had.
I stand here tonight the result of parents who made incredible sacrifices as part of a great generation, who went through a Depression and a world war and said our kids won't have to go through these things. And every sacrifice they made were to lift us on their shoulders and give us a better America than they ever could have envisioned. And they were successful in doing that.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, for the same reason that our founding fathers and those before us saw what was behind us and gave it their best, I ask you to join me across Iowa and the rest of America to look out there in front of us and not to hate those, but to look behind us and to love them so much that we will do whatever it takes to make America a better country, to give our kids a better future, to give this world a better leader.
And we join together tonight for that purpose. God help you and thank you for all you've done. I'm so grateful for the support, the incredible work that you've done. And now we've got a long journey ahead of us.
I wish it were all over tonight, and we could just celebrate the whole thing. But unfortunately, if this were a marathon, we've only run half of it. But we've run it well.
And now it's on from here to New Hampshire, and then to the rest of the country. But I'll always be wanting to come back to this place and say, wherever it ends -- and we know where that's going to be -- it started here in Iowa.
Thank you and God bless you, every one of you. Thank you tonight. Thank you.