December 12, 2016 (Philadelphia, PA).
My Fellow Americans:
I come here tonight to deliver my last national address to the American people. I do so, first, to say "thank you". Thank you for all the trust you have placed in me for all these years of my life dedicated to public service. Thank you for receiving me so warmly in cities and towns and farms all around the country in my two national campaigns.
Meeting you, seeing you, hearing from you about your hopes and dreams and challenges inspired me, and will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life. Because of you, I know how right President Kennedy was when he said that we "would meet every challenge, support every friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty".
And, yes, thank you for your votes. Apart from President Obama's stunning victory in 2008, the largest number of Americans voted for us than any other person in American history. We are more than 2.65 million votes ahead of Donald Trump, a 2% lead, and still growing. We are also ahead of President Obama's totals in 2012. Thank you.
Let me quickly, however, disabuse you of any feeling you may have that I have come here to ask the Electoral College to recognize this popular vote victory by installing me as President.
I don't. Indeed, I will give a Shermanesque statement, "if elected by the Electoral College, I shall not serve".
But, I am here to talk about another role the Electoral College should serve.
That is why I speak to you from Philadelphia because it is the birthplace of our Constitution. Our Founders wrote into this great document a system of electing presidents that placed an elected group of people between the total popular vote and the presidency.
We may agree or not agree with that provision. But, until changed, that is our governing charter.
This is what Alexander Hamilton said about the purpose of the Electoral College:
It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice... It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief. [Emphasis added]
Hamilton's point was that this smaller group, who were elected by the people, should exercise a sober second-thought about the fitness and circumstances of the popular election.
To be sure, we have as come a long way as a nation since our founding. We have quite properly attached a greater importance to the vote of the people, as prescribed in the Constitution. The Electoral College should not substitute its policy or personality preferences for those of the people as expressed at the ballot box.
That does not mean, however, that the Electors should be nothing more than robots. They have a Constitutional role and responsibility that they should exercise with great restraint, deference and prudence, but not complete abdication.
The 2016 election is an occasion that deserves their sober second-thought. I want to be clear that nothing that follows deals with policy differences or preferences. Rather, it is based on several key threats to our Constitutional democracy.
1. A foreign power, Russia, massively hacked the election.
2. Mr Trump openly and loudly invited them to hack it.
This must be taken extremely seriously. If the Electoral College allows the winner of an election with foreign interference, especially when he himself has urged that foreign interference, then we can never have a 100% American election again.
3. Mr. Trump's business empire produces impossible conflicts-of-interest. These will arise every day. For example, a government decides to have its year-end party at a Trump Hotel. This benefits Trump and his family. American public officials are forbidden from accepting gifts from foreign powers not by law, but by the Constitution of the United States.
4. Despite all his promises, Mr Trump has never shown the American people 10 years of his taxes. He seems not to understand, or care, that it is the duty of the press, the people, the Congress to make sure he is accountable for his actions, and not self-dealing. What weight can one give to any "arrangement" he may make on December 15th that he will not have a conflict of interest? Unless the whole company is sold, it is not possible. And, precious air-time and ink will be consumed investigating the latest Trump maneuver.
5. Finally, there is the matter of temperament. We have many problems in the United States and around the world. We need to give them constant attention. Although critically important, many are not exciting. Mr. Trump has already shown that, if things are too quiet, he needs to do something to make a tempest. It is not me, but conservative newspaper after conservative newspaper who have warned against a person like Mr Trump with the levers of power. It would be foolish to suppose that, upon taking the oath of office, a 70 year-old man will change his ways.
The Founders had the vision to insert into our election process this "sober second-thought". You, the Electors, are charged with that role.
Once again, I am not here to suggest that you install me as president. And, you will note, I cited not a single matter of public policy as the rationale. Nor do I seek to be president.
I would like to make a suggestion. Senator Tim Kaine and I won the most votes, by far. Despite the foreign interference, and despite everything else that was being tossed about, we have the most votes, and the second most total votes in the history of the United States.
If you, Electors, cast a majority of your ballots for us, I will immediately, within a second of stating "so help me God" in the oath of office, resign. I will write, sign and swear by whatever document is required to prevent any retreat, and I will provide that to the Electoral College before you vote.
Vice-President Kaine would automatically become President. He would choose one of his Republican Senate colleagues to be Vice-President, and together they would govern as a "government of national unity". I think we all need that.
Senator Kaine is an able and totally decent man, a man of strong faith. He has many, many friends and colleagues on the Republican side, from which to choose. President Kaine and his Vice-President would have to agree on all appointees, including the Supreme Court, before they were nominated. For this role as Vice-President, he might choose a Republican with a long, distinguished career, or perhaps even a woman who may not have served so long. That would be entirely up to him.
Many people have told me that I should not make this speech. Mr Trump, they say, and he himself has so stated, that he always seeks revenge and is very vindictive. That, alone, should give the Electors pause about his character. It is not one that cherishes democracy.
Kaine and his Republican Vice-President would, by design, govern down the center. Both parties have spoken about the need to rebuild the middle class. They would seek solutions designed to work, and that would enjoy bipartisan support because, at long last, no one side would get "credit".
Let us not, my fellow Americans, and especially Electors, lose our great 225 year experiment in self-rule to the passions of the moment.
Let cool heads prevail.