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Press conference
Post-debate press conference with Alan Keyes
October 26, 2004

ALAN KEYES, ILLINOIS U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: . . . Obviously, that reduces the incentive on the part of folks simply to come to the United States in order to make their children citizens. And as we all know--we've read the stories and heard the many anecdotes--that this is part of the motivation of folks.

So, if we're serious, we will stop hanging out "y'all come" signs in the structure of our laws, so that we can effectively enforce them.

REPORTER: Hasn't there always been an American principle that you're not judged by who your parents are?

KEYES: Well, excuse me for saying so, we're living in the world now, and I am as deeply emotionally attached as anybody could possibly be to both the tradition of immigration--my children are the children of an immigrant. I think that the ideas that are involved in that are powerfully important to America.

But we must keep the promise of this country to the rest of the world. And if we don't have an effective and manageable immigration policy, then we're going to break that promise. We're going to create a situation of confusion, of failing infrastructure, and of disappointment for people who come. Instead of finding the American Dream, they will lose hope.

So, I think we have a responsibility that's going to require a mature judgment--and I think that mature judgment will have to include our surrender of this particular aspect of policy to which we are emotionally attached, but which no longer practically serves our responsibility on the immigration front.

REPORTER: Sir, there's a--and this is a question off the news. Governor Blagojevich wants quick federal approval to import a large number of flu vaccines. The Bush administration has resisted it. If you were Senator right now, would you urge the FDA to let Governor Blagojevich bring in flu vaccines?

KEYES: Yes, I would. I think we're in a critical crisis situation that has obviously arisen because of circumstances that were beyond the control of people involved in the process, but at the same time, we have people in need. And so long as we can ascertain that what's coming in is going to be of quality, safe, and effective--those are the things that we have to do to safeguard our people--I think we ought to be willing to take some extraordinary steps to meet this extraordinary situation.

REPORTER: Mr. Keyes, during the debate, the question was posed to you, do you feel that you are closer to the African American community more than your opponent. What is your response?

KEYES: Well, I think I answered the question in the way that I believe is true. This is not a matter of making comparisons, and I really haven't done so. All I have done is make clear how my own heritage and my sense of heritage has influenced, and will still influence, my sense of priority, the interest I take in certain basic questions of justice and morality.

I have learned a lot of lessons from the history of black Americans--lessons about how one endures the most horrible kinds of hardships, and yet maintains moral integrity and spiritual integrity. I think those lessons have powerful importance for America right now. It's a word that needs to be spoken and understood, so that we won't be totally overwhelmed by what I think is the sort of materialism that will lead us to abandon the moral identity that is the key to our unity as Americans.

And so, I believe that, as I often say in my speeches, the stone that the builder rejected has become the foundation stone. And I think that in that sense, the special word of black Americans needs to be heard, because it's a word that exalts moral and spiritual worth over material worth--and it comes from a people who survived because they knew how to do that.

REPORTER: Mr. Keyes, what does a candidate do in the final week of a campaign, when the polls show you so far behind? What does a candidate who is the underdog, or considered to be the underdog, how do you react and act in the final days of your campaign?

KEYES: I carry my message to the people of Illinois with integrity, and with strength, and with conviction, and with faith, and I do so with the knowledge that if you stand in the place God wants you to stand, the outcome will be according to His will. And that's all I care about. Do you understand? I don't think about anything else every day--and it's one of the reasons that I'm in such good spirits every day I get up, because God's in control.

REPORTER: Do you think you have a chance of winning this election?

KEYES: I think I am winning this election, and I think it's going to be proven on November 2nd. But as I say, this is for God to know, and for the obtuse media in Illinois to find out.

[laughter]

REPORTER: Was it a worthwhile series, a worthwhile exercise, the three debates?

KEYES: Well, I don't think it was an exercise. I think it was a vitally important demonstration that was needed for many of the voters in Illinois, so that they could have unfiltered, unbiased access to the actual demeanor, pronouncements, logic, and exchange of the candidates.

I think it would have been good if Senator Obama had kept his word, and I think everybody who saw them probably feels the same. He said six. We should have had six. We should have had more first-hand exposure to other parts of the state, which aren't always taken so seriously, but which I intend to take very seriously in the United States Senate.

But I think overall it served a very useful and good purpose for the electorate--and that's all that matters. It's the voters that count in this process. What is needed to inform them, so that they can vote with integrity, with judgment, and apply both their conscience and their concerns to their vote. And I think the debates did serve that purpose, and I'm glad they did.

REPORTER: You seemed a little more tense this time. Are you guys just getting a little sick of each other at this point?

KEYES: No, not at all. I don't think it was tense. I think the proper word would be a little more "intense." And I think that's because, as we come down to the wire, we know that people are making up their minds, and I think that there was a need to clarify certain key, important points.

And I want to thank the moderator, because I think that the questions actually helped in several areas, to clarify the areas of agreement, to allow the presentation, not just of what we think, but of why we think what we do.

Watching the candidate reason out the background for a particular view he takes can be very revealing about both strengths and weakness--and I think some of that happened today.

REPORTER: What's the most important difference that immerged between you and Barack Obama tonight?

KEYES: Well, I think that's a little bit hard to say. I would want to leave that for the voters to judge, based on their own sense of what the priorities are. I think there was an important difference that was revealed in background of thinking--because, as I say, people can accept or not the reasoning that I attempt to do on complex and important vital issues like traditional marriage, but it's there for them to look at. It's not just a matter of how I feel or anything like that. It's an effort to make, in civic terms, an argument that relates to the common sense we must apply to vital decisions about our most important institution. And I think it was very important to see the background of that thinking.

REPORTER: The electoral college. Your stance?

KEYES: Well, I said I was in favor of keeping the electoral college.

REPORTER: Why?

KEYES: Because I think that the electoral college is a good way to make sure that the country isn't simply dominated by demographics. And that's why the Founders put it in there in the first place. You know, if you simply go where the population goes--think about Illinois, for instance. This is a state where the majority of the population is concentrated around the wonderful urban area of Chicago. And yet, our state vitally needs both the culture and the economic contribution of the areas that are less populated, the rural areas that still account for 85%, in terms of the use of our land space, of the economic life of Illinois.

We need an approach that will continue, as our Founders wisely understood, to balance these different cultures. We need the vitality of our urban areas. We need the sophistication. We need the contribution of creativity and energy that's made.

But we also need the patience, the hard work, the more traditional sense of family and values that comes from our rural areas, where people may have less population, but what they still need to make that vital contribution to maintain the balance of our culture.

REPORTER: Why are there so many presidential candidates in Illinois?

KEYES: I'm sorry. What was that question?

REPORTER: And that's why you see so many presidential candidates in Illinois these days?

KEYES: The reason you see so many presidential candidates--that's a joke, of course, y'all, because you don't--is because people have allowed to develop, I think, and I'll try to be as fair as I can here, I think it's because of the fact that the media has not been playing fair that Illinois has more and more tended to be a one-party state, where the Democrats take it for granted, and the Republicans write it off, and therefore you're not taken seriously.

Do you want to change that? I would suggest that the best way to change that would be to take the breath of the county away, balance the representation in the Senate with a Republican, and restore the sense that Illinois will follow its heart and conscience, not the dictates of a one-party machine.

Now, that will revitalize the whole situation!

REPORTER: Isn't Obama's indifference to the unborn a religious crusade?

KEYES: Obama's indifference?

REPORTER: Yes.

KEYES: Well, I'm not sure I would call indifference in any kind of a crusade, but I do think it's a problem. And I believe that one of the things that I can't allow myself is indifference to deep injustice, particularly against innocent people. And the reason I can't is partly because of my heritage, looking back to what was done.

And we think it was done just because people do evil. No. We know, don't we, that what Edmund Burke said is true, that the only thing that's required for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing. So, indifference is actually what allows evil to succeed. And I think that's one of the things that breaks my heart right now. It's why I have put such emphasis, for instance, on the need to look at what's happening disproportionately in the black community.

People talk compassion and they talk about the housing and the jobs and the other immediate issues, but if you're standing back and allowing a holocaust to take place against a whole people, that kind of indifference can lead to utter disaster. And I believe it represents a hardening of heart and conscience that's intolerable.

I never want to be counted on the sidelines, letting things progress the way people did when slavery and Jim Crowe and segregation and the trampling of women's rights and the disregard of children's plight, and so forth, was going on in America. I want to be in the thick of the battle, doing what conscience requires, no matter what the risk. And that's what keeps me going.

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