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POLICY ORIENTATION FOR THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE 2014
LUNCHEON KEYNOTE (January 8, 2014)
Thank you very much. Happy New Year. Brooke when you were talking about those conversions, those folks who are moving to the State of Texas, I first thought you were going to say you were hoping that they would convert to becoming Texas Aggies –
– and I figured you were handing out Aggie cards.
Well, I don’t guess I should show her my, my boots with the longhorns on them, should I?
That won’t get me back on the board, would it? Hey, it’s great to be here. It’s great to see a lot of you that I met as I ran around the State of Texas in 2012 campaigning. Brooke said why don’t you kind of share some of the thoughts of the things that happened there and your experiences. Before I do share some of those thoughts, though, I wanted to talk about Mike Ditka. Mike really wanted to be here. I worked with Ditka at CBS on the NFL Today for several years. He’s a great guy. He’s a passionate person, as you all know, but he’s passionate about the country and the constitution and supporting the constitution. He wanted to be here. When I talked to him two days ago, he was on a plane. ESPN had him going out doing a commercial in California. He was going to do something else for the playoffs and as, if you watch ESPN, I said come on man –
– you’ve got to be kidding me. We’ve been putting all this into you being here to be the speaker. But we do have another Illinois guy coming, University of Illinois here in just a minutes. Some funny things happened. I’ve said all along that I felt called to run when I did run for office. It was a great experience. I’m so glad that I did it. There were a few things that really stuck out in my mind. One of them was the initial debate that we had televised and the TPPF Foundation was the one who authored and sponsored that deal and if you’ll recall, if you were there about halfway through the debate a moderator asked me, he was trying me on, and he wanted to know, he goes Mr. James, people know that you know sports and everything but now they want to know if you’re running for office, what do you know, you know, about government etc. Who is the secretary of defense and if you were there, there was a pause because in my mind, I’m thinking to myself, I can’t believe this guy is trying me on, he’s trying to trick me. And so then I blare out, Leon Panetta, and everybody said awe, got excited and I was like whoa, thank you Lord. And I said, and by the way, Mr. Gates was good before him too. That went on for a little while and eventually, we got through that part and people realized I understood policy, I had a position, I had an idea of what I was talking about and so then the routines of the campaign kicked in and the truck. I have an F150. We put I was putting about 2,000 miles per week on it. Ken Paxton calls every once in a while and he’s like man, CJ, you forgot to tell me about this state and how big it is. –
– I mean there are a lot of corners to this state, and a lot of towns in between. But one of the things, about two months into this campaign, I was feeling, you know, really kind of good and our polling, by the way, polls don’t lie they don’t lie. Cruz called me at the end and goes Craig, I’d like you to drop out, endorse me. He goes you’re really far behind. I’m like nah, we’re doing good. He was really right. So, so anyway, I tell my staff, I said this, this Quell Magedon story, it’s a biblical story about how God provided a miracle, a phenomenal miracle and I said expect a miracle, I’m trying to cheer the staff on. So I went down to South Texas and I’m starting in Kingsville and I’m blurting my way up for the next few days.
So I show up for lunch in Kingsville and the party chairman, she’s there and she says: Hello Craig, how are you and Craig, good to see you. Her friend is there, great to see you. There is a table full of sub sandwiches but three of us had lunch that day. And I remember leaving that lunch and I’m like this is comical. I’ve come all the way down here, I’ve talked about Quell Magedon, this miracle that God is going to provide for our campaign and so I left there. I went to the King Ranch Museum, bought a ticket and did a tour of the museum. Went to the old soda shop in Kingsville and had a soda and a hamburger there, drove up to Corpus Christi for the next event. Called the staff and I said hey, you know that miracle I’m talking about, it’s not going to start in Kingsville. They said awe, well, jeez, hang in there.
All right, another one, a couple weeks later, I go to West Texas and you’re just in this, this is you’re one foot in front of the other and you’re just going about it and all you guys, you know what I’m talking about who have been through these campaigns and you’re focused on the next day and the next event. So I show up and it’s going to be like a Sweetwater Abilene, Midland, Odessa thing and I had a hotel, I think, in Odessa and so I call and I cancel the hotel room and I said I want to stay in Midland and the staff said are you sure you want to change don’t cancel your, I said I don’t have a deal, no problem. Eight phone calls later, I’m calling everyone, everyone. No, we have no vacancies. No, no, no. Someone says yes, we have a room. I said I’ll take it and it was 150 bucks and I said great, where is it, give me the address. So I drive up to this place. Scott, I drive up to this place. There are clothes hanging out side people’s doors. It looked like a hurricane in Katrina refugee camp. They were barbecuing, grilling, it was and so I’m like well, at least I got a room. I got a room. I open the door and I don’t smoke. Whoever had been there before me had smoked a thousand cigarettes. I turn the window unit on, poof, smoke came out of the unit. Turn the sheets back, the sheets had holes in them they had been used so often and I thought, I looked at my badge over on the desk and it says Craig James, Conservative U.S. Senate candidate. I said yeah, I’m big time, you know.
There are so many things that you can take from that and now, hang with me, I’m going to tie something together for you here in just a moment about the campaign and what just happened to me. A lot of you have asked me since I’ve been here what’s going on with Fox Sports, and many to you probably don’t have a clue what I’m talking about but I used to work for ESPN and ABC, and I had to give up that gig when I ran for office. And, so I had kind of stayed out and people were like you going to get back into sports casting, are you going to do it, and I was like nah, I’m really enjoying my family and the season of life that I’m in right now. Two of our four kids just got married this fall, I was with them, I really have enjoyed my family and what the Lord has provided me with peace. Fox Sports calls me in August of last year and they say hey, we’ve got a show on Saturday night, it’s a one-hour show, would you come be the analyst for it. And I said you know what, I’ll do that because it was no airplanes, it was in Dallas, I live in the Dallas area, I can drive to the studio, do this one-hour show and go home, no problem.
So Labor Day weekend is the opening weekend of last season. On Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, Fox Sports issues a very complimentary flattering press release saying Craig James joining the studio. He’s got a long, blah, blah, blah. A really, really nice deal. Saturday night, I went on and I did my one-hour show that I had agreed to do. Sunday, the very next day, I get a phone call that night from that general manager and he said Craig, you’re done. I had been on the air 60 minutes and I’m being fired, and I said you’re kidding me. Well, it just kind of soaked in. Well, the next morning, I come to find out that Fox Corporate, the parent company, had taken some heat from a community and they fired me because of my position that I had said 15 months earlier in a candidates’ debate about what I believe marriage to be and that is between a man and a woman. So I was fired because of my biblical belief and at that point then, the fire in my backside was lit. And I have been on a mission to get out and to speak about religious discrimination. We are in a cultural war right now, absolutely. I reached out to Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty guys and what they’re doing and what they’ve gone through, thousands upon thousands of people wrote Fox and said you can’t do this to Craig James. He has the freedom in America, the United States of America to hold a biblical belief, to have a religious freedom. People who know me know that I’m not a bigot, that I don’t discriminate but that what they did to me is absolutely wrong and I think that America, we have to have more people become engaged. That’s been what I’ve done.
It’s opened the door for me to speak all over the country to doing news and radio shows. I have done a lot of speaking on the First Amendment. It’s very important if you hear, if you hear nothing else today, we are in a battle. It is a real slippery slope. Somebody said well Craig, just let it go, just let it, just don’t, it’ll just blow away. Well it, here is how I look at it. When something big comes up in our lives, if we just sweep it under the rug, it happens again and then another time, then the slope becomes so slippery that you can’t stop the slope. And the next thing you know, it becomes policy in this country. The Constitution of the United States has stood well for us for years and years and years. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat, it, I don’t care, it’s not about Craig James, it’s not about a Phil Robertson or a Duck Dynasty, it’s about having the ability to hold dear to your heart in America a religious belief, period, and not be persecuted or discriminated against. I can’t tell you guys, Brian, I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me now, around the country, and they bring this up and they say how fearful they are at their workplace for their belief to be known by their employer in fear of being fired, because the pressure is coming so strong from the other side that that company doesn’t want to have to take the heat for it, for having an associate with that. So here is what needs to happen. You’ve got to support those who have likeminded, whatever that is. We can’t have, just a third or a quarter of the country being heard, all of us have to be heard and that’s why it’s so important that we continue to battle for that.
Next week, we’ll be out in LA and the president of Fox Sports who fired me because of my biblical belief, he’s going to have a deposition. I’m very fortunate, Liberty Institute, Kelly Shackelford, Jeff Mateer, Hiram Sasser, Clyde Seedman, those guys, they are defending me. They’re not just defending me, they’re defending us and so why did I serve on the board at TPPF, why are you doing it Wendy, why are you guys here, why are we here, why are we all being representative and those of you who have been blessed to be elected, why are you doing what you’re doing? You’re doing it to stand up and to be heard. At the TPPF, we count on the work that comes from here, the research paper. You guys know that, Scott, what all you get from this that, Wendy, you guys are phenomenal what is produced from the TPPF, so there is a person. There is a purpose for why we’re here. There is a purpose for what each individual and every seat in this room is here for. Now, too much is given, too much is expected. Every one of us has a different talent and a different thing that we can accomplish and a different thing that we can do, whatever that might be. Hi Jody. Whatever it might be, use it to the fullest you can be with compassion and love and determination, so we’re going to hold Fox, their feet to the fire on this thing. They’re wrong and we’re not going to let it just be swept under the rug and avoided.
So I have greatly enjoyed meeting all of you guys when I was on the road. It’s an awesome experience. There are thousands of men and women who are qualified to run for office and many don’t do it, and now, I get the reasons why. My bank account, vroom. All right you take a lot of arrows, you do a lot of things. You’ve got to have a passion if you’re going to run and a real call from the Lord to do it and so thank you all. Now, I really say thank you to you representatives and all of you elected officials who are in here for what you do because you really are sacrificing, you really are and so thank you all very much and I would appreciate your prayers on this Fox situation with me. All right, let me turn now to Scott Turner.
So Scott asked me, he goes CJ, do you need something on me, what do you need, man. I said look, Scott, I’m not going to talk about you and you being a football guy. You tell me you were good, I guess you were good. I mean, he did go to the University of Illinois so we do have, not Da Bear here, but we do have somebody from the Illini State here that had a little education there. I played in the 80s, you played in the 90s. I don’t know if you could have caught me. He is a defensive guy. Somebody asked me the other day, they said how fast were you and I said depending on who was chasing me. Let me tell you about Scott. He and Matt Krause and I were at the Values Voters Conference a few months ago, in Washington and I watched Matt and I watched Scott, and I watched them walk around and talk to people and the heart of these guys, and many of you in here have the same hearts. The heart is where it begins. It’s not about football, it’s not about anything else. You and Robin are blessed. We’re members at the same church, Prestonwood Baptist Church. I’ve known Scott a long time. We are lucky to have men and women who are giving y’alls time to represent and serve us, and so the State of Texas is in great hands. There’s a reason we’re good. There’s a reason this state is great and along with Brooke and the rest of the TPPF, we’re going to keep fighting for you guys and praying for you guys.
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