Social and fiscal conservatives have to work together for the good of the country, former congressman and one-time Republican presidential candidate Jack Kemp said Wednesday.
“You can’t have a strong economy without a strong culture, and you can’t have a strong culture without a strong economy,” Kemp told some 200 people gathered in Spokane for a dinner of the Washington Family Council.
In a speech that was part history lesson, part pep talk and part homily, the former NFL quarterback urged the crowd to have the courage to fight against racism and stand up for family values.
“Stand up against the darkness,” he said. “But it is not enough to denounce evil. The question we are asked is what are we for?”
So when Kemp says he is for families staying together, he includes in that vision a tax system that encourages people to leave welfare and get jobs.
“No poor people should pay tax below a certain level of income,” he said.
When he says he is opposed to abortion, he adds that “every single child is precious,” and has the potential to be the next Jonas Salk or Mother Teresa.
A member of the audience later asked him how he calls himself pro-life and encourage former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell - who supports abortion rights - to run for president.
“I am not endorsing him for president,” Kemp replied. “I said if he runs for president, I would like to see him run as a Republican.”
Republicans must learn to be more inclusive, he said. Powell is an American success story, he said, someone who is intelligent, articulate and has a sense of history.
Kemp urged the crowd to recall the words of French historian Alexis de Tocqueville, who said America was great because Americans were good.
But he warned them not to just preach goodness, but to practice it.
While they are practicing it, they should respect other opinions, he added.
“The unity of our country does not require uniformity or unanimity,” he said.