On Tuesday, July 19, Global Cleveland welcomed roughly 80 international ambassadors to its Global Partners in Diplomacy reception at Severance Hall. The event, coordinated in partnership with the 2016 Republican National Convention and the U.S. Department of State, introduced the ambassadors to nearly 200 of Northeast Ohio’s civic and corporate leaders.
Guests networked and enjoyed light appetizers in a setting befitting of such an esteemed audience. In his remarks, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish sang the county’s praises, and encouraged the ambassadors to bring investment to the region. The evening’s keynote speaker, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, stressed the importance of understanding what “having people of different backgrounds and origins means to your community.”
Below is a transcript of his speech:
“I want to congratulate the City of Cleveland and the county. I love listening to the county mayor with the energy he had. I was able to walk yesterday around the city and was most impressed, number one, with the city. And, I have to say, I’ve been to almost every convention over the last 20 to 25 years. I don’t think I’ve been to a place that is more welcoming, nor have I been to a convention that, in spite of what is being said on the media, is one that is more unique and really homespun. There’s good feeling in being here, I’m so impressed with the effort of this organization to reach out to reach out to people of different backgrounds, to understand the importance of having diversity, of having people come to your community that are able to bring skills and knowledge and background that really broaden your community’s ability to function and to produce, and to welcome other people in. Each community has its own way of attempting to move ahead, and I just have to tell you, especially as chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, my hat is off to this entity, Global Cleveland, what you’re doing to bring talented people to your community and your understanding of what that means for the future.
To the ambassadors, please know that all of us who serve, like I do, understand that we have inherited from people who came before us a heritage. We’ve inherited that. And, the fact that 80 ambassadors from around the world would come to the Republican convention, and 80 ambassadors from around the world would go to the Democratic convention to understand what they believe our country’s role in the world is going to be is something that is very humbling to all of us, and we thank you for coming. We thank you for trying to understand the future. We also understand that when our country functions at the highest levels, relative to foreign policy, the world is a better place. I was talking to a couple of ambassadors before I came up here; one whose country I’d been to, one who hadn’t, and I said, ‘You know, y’all are here. This convention is something that’s probably very unique to your country,’ and that reminded me, actually, this convention is very unique to our country, and it is. And, what’s happened in the process, is that more people in our country are focused on what is happening during this election than probably anytime in recent times. But, what all of you know, because all of you are involved in internationalism, you understand that, around the world, more than ever, people are paying attention to this election. They want to understand what the future is going to be.
Now, I don’t know what the outcome of this election is going to be, and therefore, it is very difficult, because the chief executive, our president, plays such a huge role in foreign policy. We play a role, but in our country, obviously, the president determines more fully than anyone else what our country’s role is gonna be. But, what we need to do, and what Cleveland has done such an outstanding job of doing, is we have a responsibility with our citizens to understand the importance of U.S. leadership and involvement around the world. We have four-and-a-half-percent of the world’s population in America. Four-and-a-half percent. And, yet, we have, we participate in twenty-two percent of the world’s gross domestic product. And, the only way that we’re going to continue to better the lives of our own citizens is to ensure that our citizens understand how it important it is for us to be involved in the world, and most of the ambassadors here, they will tell you that ‘Look, when there’s a vacuum in world leadership, someone will step in and lead.’ And, I think most of them, regardless of where they come from, would rather it be the United States that takes that leadership role. I can tell you firsthand that the world is a better place, the world is a better place because of what the United States represents when we take that leadership role in concert with others. So, look, this is a group of very influential people, people that are very knowledgeable, people that have traveled the world, and people that understand what I just said happens to be true. But, in a country like ours, we’ve got a job to do, because what’s happening with people’s concerns about security, with people’s concerns about economic issues, we are going through a period of isolationism where people want to retrench, and that’s the opposite, in my opinion, of what a great nation needs to do. That’s the opposite of what the world needs to have happen.
So, I want to close by, again, thanking Cleveland. Thank you for your broadness of understanding of what having people of different backgrounds and origins means to your community. I want to thank the ambassadors for paying us such a huge honor and being so interested in what is happening, and I want to commit to all of you that I have a privilege of serving as chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, and I’m going to do everything I can, as one senator, to help take the example that is being set in Cleveland around our country and make sure that we play the rightful role that we need to play in this world. Thank you very much.”