In 1980, I watched my first Republican convention with my grandfather.
He was born to a farming family in rural Cuba. Childhood polio left him permanently disabled.
Because he couldn't work the farm, his family sent him to school, and he became the only one in the family who could read.
As a boy, I would sit on our porch and listen to his stories about history, politics and baseball while he puffed on one of his three daily Padron cigars.
I don't recall everything we talked about, but the one thing I remember, is the one thing he wanted me to never forget. The dreams he had when he was young became impossible to achieve.
But there was no limit to how far I could go, because I was an American.
For those of us who were born and raised in this country, it's easy to forget how special America is. But my grandfather understood how different America is from the rest of the world, because he knew what life was like outside America.
Tonight, you'll hear from another man who understands what makes America exceptional.
Mitt Romney knows America's prosperity didn't happen because our government simply spent more. It happened because our people used their own money to open a business. And when they succeed, they hire more people, who then invest or spend their money in the economy, helping others start a business and create jobs.
Mitt Romney's success in business is well known. But he's more than that.
He's a devoted husband, father and grandfather. A generous member of his community and church.
Everywhere he's been, he's volunteered his time and talent to make things better for those around him.
We are blessed that soon, he will be the president of the United States.
Our problem with President Obama isn't that he's a bad person. By all accounts, he too is a good husband, and a good father -- and thanks to lots of practice, a pretty good golfer.
Our problem is he's a bad president.
The new slogan for the president's campaign is "Forward."
A government that spends $1 trillion more than it takes in.
An $800 billion stimulus that created more debt than jobs.
A government intervention into health care paid for with higher taxes and cuts to Medicare.
Scores of new rules and regulations.
These ideas don't move us "Forward," they take us "Backwards."
These are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from. Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.
Under Barack Obama, the only "Change" is that "Hope" has been hard to find.
Now millions of Americans are insecure about their future. But instead of inspiring us by reminding us of what makes us special, he divides us against each other.
He tells Americans they're worse off because others are better off. That people got rich by making others poor.
Hope and Change has become Divide and Conquer.
No matter how you feel about President Obama, this election is about your future, not his. And it's not simply a choice between a Democrat and a Republican.
It's a choice about what kind of country we want America to be.
As we prepare to make this choice, we should remember what made us special. For most of history almost everyone was poor. Power and wealth belonged to only a few.
Your rights were whatever your rulers allowed you to have. Your future was determined by your past.
If your parents were poor, so would you be. If you were born without opportunities, so were your children.
But America was founded on the principle that every person has God-given rights. That power belongs to the people. That government exists to protect our rights and serve our interests.
That we shouldn't be trapped in the circumstances of our birth. That we should be free to go as far as our talents and work can take us.
We are special because we've been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We're bound together by common values. That family is the most important institution in society. That almighty God is the source of all we have.
Special, because we've never made the mistake of believing that we are so smart that we can rely solely on our leaders or our government.
Our national motto is "In God we Trust," reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all.
And special because we've always understood the scriptural admonition that "for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required."
We are a blessed people. And we have honored those blessings with the enduring example of an exceptional America.
I know that for so many of you, these last few years have tested your faith in the promise of America.
Maybe you are at an age when you thought you would be entering retirement. But now, because your savings and investments are wiped out, your future is uncertain.