The first speech of Sen. Charlie Janssen’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, delivered at the Midland University Event Center on Monday, embraced small-town values and veterans, described a life of hard work and service and took aim at liberal government spending.

“It’s because anything is possible that I stand before you today, a kid that grew up in a town of 200 people, to announce that I’m a candidate to become the next governor of the great state of Nebraska,” said Janssen, 42, who grew up in Nickerson.

“Nebraskans have told me that we need leadership that’s based on the core principle that we can have more freedom and more opportunities by empowering people instead of empowering government,” he said.

Janssen, a Republican elected to the Fremont City Council in 2006, then as the District 15 legislator in 2008 and again in 2012, said his background and experiences “have instilled in me an unwavering belief that the strength of our state and nation comes from the hard work of the people, and not from the overreaching and misguided goals of big government.”

“This is because I came from a family that personified hard work,” he went on. “Neither my parents or grandparents went to college. Like most folks back then, they believed in putting in an honest day’s work, raising their families, and they trusted that that sacrifice would create better opportunities for their children and grandchildren. That sacrifice had a profound effect on me, so after I graduated from Logan View High School just up the road, like many in my class, I volunteered to serve my country and enlisted in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy on a guided missile frigate as a search and rescue swimmer during the first Gulf War, it will teach you some pretty serious life lessons in short order. I’ll never forget our assignment in the hostile waters of occupied Kuwait,” he said, describing a mission that included clearing mine fields, supporting ground forces, and serving as a frontline combat vessel.

“Those days and nights, serving alongside the best and brightest that our generation had to offer, imprinted on my soul an enormous amount of pride, a sense of patriotism, and a deep belief in the just and good nation that the United States of America has always been,” he said.

Janssen talked about combining the GI Bill with part-time work to get through Wayne State College.

“I knew there were tens of thousands of veterans that came before me, coming home, starting at the bottom, and working their way up,” he said. “And I knew if I had the courage to endure basic training, search and rescue swimmer school, and two tours in the Persian Gulf, I could handle anything else that life threw my way.”

Janssen said he discovered an ability to build relationships, so he, his brother and a friend started RTG Medical in a makeshift office out of a two-bedroom apartment, “and we literally made thousands upon thousands of cold calls to anybody that would listen to us. Twelve years later that company, RTG Medical, twice has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States.

“It is through these experiences, from my childhood, growing up in Nickerson, to my service in the Navy, to growing a successful business with hundreds of employees, these fundamental experiences have helped shape me, the way I think and are the core principles that I brought to the state Legislature,” he said. “On this President’s Day, there is no greater expression of my governing philosophy than that once authored by our great president Abraham Lincoln, who believed that government should do for the citizens only what they truly cannot do for themselves and nothing more.

“I am confident Nebraskans share this vision of a limited state government, one that works efficiently and effectively, and otherwise just stays out of our way,” he said.

Nebraska’s challenges, he said, include politicians who compromise their principles when they get to Lincoln.

“We have got to stop compromising our principles,” he said. “I would like to focus on the solid Nebraska values of hard work, individual responsibility that I’ve learned from day one.

“And not all of our roadblocks are in Lincoln,” he added. “Our biggest challenges right now, our real threats, are from people like Barrack Obama and Harry Reid. Whether we talk about Obama-care, out-of-control spending, the failure to secure our borders or the attack on our Second Amendment rights to bear arms, make no mistake, here in Nebraska, if you and I don’t stand together as Nebraskans right now and tell Washington enough is enough, the D.C. liberals will take our individual freedoms away from us one by one.”

Janssen said as governor he would offer “something stronger, something more enduring, a path forward more uplifting.”

“Our states must be positive laboratories of democracy that show the nation innovative and more successful ways to help more people enjoy the kind of successes and prosperity that big government simply cannot, does not, and has not shown,” he said.

Janssen floated an idea for a sunset commission “that will research the economic cost of all state regulations and identify which regulations are preventing Nebraska’s economy from growing and moving forward” in response to “an over-burdensome regulatory structure on our businesses.”

“Too often,” Janssen said, “our children leave to go to school in other states, or they graduate here and leave our state. I say let’s commit to an eight-year plan where we work with business leaders and community leaders to enable our state with new entrepreneurial opportunities, new industries, and an economic future for Nebraska to move forward and grow.”

He also talked about reducing tax burdens on small businesses and families.

“I believe we can start this by eliminating the tax on senior citizens’ Social Security income, and our military veterans’ retirement income,” he said.