26 July 2004
Three of the people I admire most in this world gave speeches today. If you were not lucky enough to hear these speakers, please read their words below. Being the President of the United States of America is job that requires intelligence, responsibility, wisdom, and the ability to build consensus among people with vastly differing viewpoints. John Kerry has the background, experience, and compassion to be one of the best Presidents we've seen. I want a President I can respect, who works for a better and stronger country, and who thinks about the future.
"Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." - Bill Clinton, 7/26/2004
If you love our country, please vote for John Kerry on November 2. No matter what state you're in, your vote counts. Don't believe that your state is a sure thing for either candidate. Don't allow our current president to continue eroding our freedoms and endangering our peace and security. The United States of America is better than this. We can be prouder, safer, happier, friendlier, more helpful, and more fulfilled.
Thank you. I am honored to share the podium with my Senator, though I think I should be introducing her. Im proud of her and so grateful to the people of New York that the best public servant in our family is still on the job and grateful to all of you, especially my friends from Arkansas, for the chance you gave us to serve our country in the White House.
I am also honored to share this night with President Carter, who has inspired the world with his work for peace, democracy, and human rights. And with Al Gore, my friend and partner for eight years, who played such a large role in building the prosperity and progress that brought America into the 21st century, who showed incredible grace and patriotism under pressure, and who is the living embodiment that every vote countsand must be counted in every state in America.
Tonight I speak as a citizen, returning to the role I have played for most of my life as a foot soldier in the fight for our future, as we nominate a true New England patriot for president. The state that gave us John Adams and John Kennedy has now given us John Kerry, a good man, a great senator, a visionary leader. We are constantly told America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom, faith, and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.
We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean environment. We all want our children to grow up in a secure America leading the world toward a peaceful future. Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things, in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring the American people a positive campaign, arguing not whos good and whos bad, but what is the best way to build the safe, prosperous world our children deserve.
The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges, and serious problems like global warming and the AIDS epidemic. But it is also full of enormous opportunitiesto create millions of high paying jobs in clean energy, and biotechnology; to restore the manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy through our diversity and our commitment to decent labor and environmental standards everywhere; and to create a world where we can celebrate our religious and racial differences, because our common humanity matters more.
To build that kind of world we must make the right choices; and we must have a president who will lead the way. Democrats and Republicans have very different and honestly held ideas on that choices we should make, rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home and how we should play our role in the world. Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities and more global cooperation, acting alone only when we must.
We think the role of government is to give people the tools and conditions to make the most of their lives. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people, their people, in a world in which we act unilaterally when we can, and cooperate when we have to.
They think the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their political, economic, and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on matters like health care and retirement security. Since most Americans are not that far to the right, they have to portray us Democrats as unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America. But Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all wanted to be one nation, strong in the fight against terror. The president had a great opportunity to bring us together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in common cause against terror.
Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice: to use the moment of unity to push America too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors finished their jobs, but in withdrawing American support for the Climate Change Treaty, the International Court for war criminals, the ABM treaty, and even the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Now they are working to develop two new nuclear weapons which they say we might use first. At home, the President and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices indeed. For the first time ever when America was on a war footing, there were two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top one percent. Im in that group now for the first time in my life.
When I was in office, the Republicans were pretty mean to me. When I left and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. At first I thought I should send them a thank you noteuntil I realized they were sending you the bill.
They protected my tax cuts while:
· Withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving over 2 million children behind
· Cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of job training
· 100,000 working families out of child care assistance
· 300,000 poor children out of after school programs
· Raising out of pocket healthcare costs to veterans
· Weakening or reversing important environmental advances for clean air and the preservation of our forests.
Everyone had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans, who wanted to do their part but were asked only to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts. If you agree with these choices, you should vote to return them to the White House and Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats.
In this years budget, the White House wants to cut off federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police, including more than 700 on the New York City police force who put their lives on the line on 9/11. As gang violence is rising and we look for terrorists in our midst, Congress and the President are also about to allow the ten-year-old ban on assault weapons to expire. Our crime policy was to put more police on the streets and take assault weapons off the streets. It brought eight years of declining crime and violence. Their policy is the reverse, theyre taking police off the streets and putting assault weapons back on the streets. If you agree with their choices, vote to continue them. If not, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter, and stronger.
On Homeland Security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The one billion dollar cost would have been paid for by reducing the tax cut of 200,000 millionaires by five thousand dollars each. Almost all 200,000 of us would have been glad to pay 5,000 dollars to make the nearly 300 million Americans saferbut the measure failed because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House decided my tax cut was more important- If you agree with that choice, re-elect them. If not, give John Kerry and John Edwards a chance.
These policies have turned the projected 5.8 trillion dollar surplus we leftenough to pay for the baby boomers retirementinto a projected debt of nearly 5 trillion dollars, with a 400 plus billion dollar deficit this year and for years to come. How do they pay for it? First by taking the monthly surplus in Social Security payments and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to cover my tax cut. But its not enough. They are borrowing the rest from foreign governments, mostly Japan and China. Sure, theyre competing with us for good jobs but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? If you think its good policy to pay for my tax cut with the Social Security checks of working men and women, and borrowed money from China, vote for them. If not, John Kerrys your man.
We Americans must choose for President one of two strong men who both love our country, but who have very different worldviews: Democrats favor shared responsibility, shared opportunity, and more global cooperation. Republicans favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action. I think were right for two reasons: First, America works better when all people have a chance to live their dreams. Second, we live in an interdependent world in which we cant kill, jail, or occupy all our potential adversaries, so we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists. We tried it their way for twelve years, our way for eight, and then their way for four more.
By the only test that matters, whether people were better off when we finished than when we started, our way works betterit produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes, and 100 times as many people moving out of poverty into the middle class. It produced more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror, and an America respected as a world leader for peace, security and prosperity.
More importantly, we have great new champions in John Kerry and John Edwards. Two good men with wonderful wivesTeresa a generous and wise woman who understands the world we are trying to shape. And Elizabeth, a lawyer and mother who understands the lives we are all trying to lift. Here is what I know about John Kerry. During the Vietnam War, many young menincluding the current president, the vice president and mecould have gone to Vietnam but didnt. John Kerry came from a privileged background and could have avoided it too. Instead he said, send me.
When they sent those swift-boats up the river in Vietnam, and told them their job was to draw hostile fireto show the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fightJohn Kerry said, send me. When it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnamand to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost thereJohn Kerry said, send me.
When we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city kids struggling to avoid a life of crime, or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans, or to clean the environment in a way that creates jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said send me.
Tonight my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerrys story and promoting his plans. Let every person in this hall and all across America say to him what he has always said to America: Send Me. The bravery that the men who fought by his side saw in battle Ive seen in the political arena. When I was President, John Kerry showed courage and conviction on crime, on welfare reform, on balancing the budget at a time when those priorities were not exactly a way to win a popularity contest in our party.
He took tough positions on tough problems. John Kerry knows who he is and where hes going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas and the values to be a great President. In a time of change he has two other important qualities: his insatiable curiosity to understand the forces shaping our lives, and a willingness to hear the views even of those who disagree with him. Therefore his choices will be full of both conviction and common sense.
He proved that when he picked a tremendous partner in John Edwards. Everybody talks about John Edwards energy, intellect, and charisma. The important thing is how he has used his talents to improve the lives of people wholike John himselfhad to work hard for all theyve got. He has always championed the cause of people too often left out or left behind. And thats what hell do as our Vice President.
Their opponents will tell you to be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards, because they wont stand up to the terroristsdont you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not conflicting valuesthey go hand in hand. John Kerry has both. His first priority will be keeping America safe. Remember the scripture: Be Not Afraid.
John Kerry and John Edwards, have good ideas:
· To make this economy work again for middle-class Americans;
· To restore fiscal responsibility;
· To save Social Security; to make healthcare more affordable and college more available;
· To free us from dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs in clean energy;
· To rally the world to win the war on terror and to make more friends and fewer terrorists.
At every turning point in our history we the people have chosen unity over division, heeding our founders call to Americas eternal mission: to form a more perfect union, to widen the circle of opportunity, deepen the reach of freedom, and strengthen the bonds of community.
It happened because we made the right choices. In the early days of the republic, America was at a crossroads much like it is today, deeply divided over whether or not to build a real nation with a national economy, and a national legal system. We chose a more perfect union.
In the Civil War, America was at a crossroads, divided over whether to save the union and end slaverywe chose a more perfect union. In the 1960s, America was at a crossroads, divided again over civil rights and womens rights. Again, we chose a more perfect union. As I said in 1992, were all in this together; we have an obligation both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror. Now again, it is time to choose.
Since were all in the same boat, let us chose as the captain of our ship a brave good man who knows how to steer a vessel though troubled waters to the calm seas and clear skies of our more perfect union. We know our mission. Let us join as one and say in a loud, clear voice: Send John Kerry.
name is Jimmy Carter, and Im not running for president. But heres
what I will be doing: everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House
with John Edwards right there beside him.
Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president, and I said then, I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people. I say this again tonight, and that is exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States.
As many of you know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles.
At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace. I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties. Both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders-in-chief, they exercised restraint and judgment and had a clear sense of mission. We had confidence that our leaders, military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harms way by initiating wars of choice unless Americas vital interests were endangered.
We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when it came to issues involving our nations security. Today, our Democratic party is led by another former naval officerone who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.
He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership, and I am confident that next January he will restore the judgment and maturity to our government that is sorely lacking today. I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to follow him to victory in November.
As you know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education, and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists. But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.
Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of Americabased on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truthwithout trustAmerica cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.
When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the worlds most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!
The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism.
In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.
Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. Elsewhere, North Koreas nuclear menacea threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Husseinhas been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia. These are some of the prices of our governments radical departure from the basic American principles and values espoused by John Kerry!
In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences. First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
You cant be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.
Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth will define Americas role in the world.
At stake is nothing less than our nations soul. In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.
And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: do not underestimate us Americans. We lack neither strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards. Thank you and God bless America!
fellow Democrats, fellow Americans: I'll be candid with you. I had hoped
to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election.
But you know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. And then there's that little-known third category. I didn't come here tonight to talk about the past. After all, I don't want you to think I lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep. I prefer to focus on the future because I know from my own experience that America is a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.
In all seriousness, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve America. I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago. And I want to thank the American people for the privilege of serving as vice-president.
And most of all, I want to thank my family with all my heart-my children and grandchildren, and especially my beloved partner in life, Tipper.
I love this country deeply, and even though I always look to the future with optimism and hope-I do think it is worth pausing for just a moment as we begin this year's convention, to take note of two very important lessons from four years ago.
The first lesson is this: take it from me-every vote counts. In our Democracy, every vote has power. And never forget: that power is yours. Don't let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away. And let's make sure that this time every vote is counted.
Let's make sure not only that the Supreme Court does not pick the next President, but also that this President is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.
The second lesson from 2000 is this: what happens in a presidential election matters. A lot. The outcome profoundly affects the lives of all 293 million Americans-and people in the rest of the world too. The choice of who is president affects your life and your family's future.
And never has this been more true than in 2004, because-let's face it-our country faces deep challenges. These challenges we now confront are not Democratic or Republican challenges; they are American challenges-that we all must overcome together.
It is in that spirit, that I sincerely ask those watching at home who supported President Bush four years ago: did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for?
Is our country more united today? Or more divided?
Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled? Or do those words now ring hollow?
For that matter, are the economic policies really conservative at all? Did you expect, for example, the largest deficits in history? One after another? And the loss of more than a million jobs?
By the way, I know about the bad economy. I was the first one laid off. And while it's true that new jobs are being created, they're just not as good as the jobs people have lost. And incidentally, that's been true for me too. Unfortunately, this is no joke for millions of Americans. And the real solutions require us to transcend partisanship.
So that's one reason why, even though we meet here as Democrats, we believe this is a time to reach beyond our party lines to Republicans as well.
I also ask tonight for the help of those who supported a third party candidate in 2000. I urge you to ask yourselves this question: do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates? Are you troubled by the erosion of some of America's most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis? No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this November 2d.
And of course, no challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq. Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn't it now obvious that the way the war has been managed by the Administration has gotten us into very serious trouble? Wouldn't we be better off with a new President who hasn't burned his bridges to our allies, and who could rebuild respect for America in the world? Isn't cooperation with other nations crucial to solving our dilemma in Iraq? Isn't it also critical to defeating the terrorists?
We have to be crystal clear about the threat we face from terrorism. It is deadly. It is real. It is imminent. But in order to protect our people, shouldn't we focus on the real source of this threat: the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again-al Qaeda, headed by Osama Bin Laden?
Wouldn't we be safer with a President who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq? Doesn't that divert too much of our attention away from the principal danger?
I want to say to all Americans this evening that whether it is the threat to the global environment or the erosion of America's leadership in the world, whether it is the challenge to our economy from new competitors or the challenge to our security from new enemies, I believe that we need new leadership that is both strong and wise.
And we can have new leadership, because one of our greatest strengths as a democracy is that when we are headed in the wrong direction, we can correct our course. When policies are clearly not working, we can change them. If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable-even if they never admit their mistakes. I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world.
We are here this week to present to the nation the man who should be our new president: John Kerry.
John and I were elected to the US Senate on the same day 20 years ago and I have worked closely with him for all that time. So I want to say a personal word about John Kerry the man.
He is a friend who will stand by you. His word is his bond. He has a deep patriotism that goes far beyond words. He has devoted his life to making America a better place for all of us. He showed uncommon heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam. I watched him show that same courage on the Senate floor. He had the best record of protecting the environment against polluters of any of my colleagues-bar none.
He never shied away from a fight, no matter how powerful the foe. He was never afraid to take on difficult and thankless issues that few others wanted to touch-like exposing the threat of narcoterrorism and tracing the sources of terrorist financing. He was one of the very first in our party to take on the issue of drastic deficit reduction. He has developed a tough and thoughtful plan to restore our economic strength and fiscal discipline.
To put it simply, those of us who have worked with John know that he has the courage, integrity and leadership to be a truly great President of the United States.
And he showed wisdom in his very first decision as the leader of our party-when he picked as his running mate an inspiring fighter for middle class families and families struggling to reach the middle class: John Edwards.
John Kerry and John Edwards are fighting for us and for all Americans, so after we nominate them here in Boston and return to our home states across this land, we have to fight for them. Talk to your friends and neighbors, go to "JohnKerry.com," raise money, register voters and get them to the polls, volunteer your time, and above all: make your vote count.
To those of you who felt disappointed or angry with the outcome in 2000, I want you to remember all of those feelings. But then I want you to do with them what I have done: focus them fully and completely on putting John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House.
Fellow Democrats, when I look out and see so many friends who have meant so much to me in my own public service, my heart is full tonight. I thank you for all the love you've shown Tipper and me. You will forever be in our hearts.
There's someone else I'd like to thank, and that's the man who asked me to join him on the ticket at our convention 12 years ago, my friend-and my partner for eight years-President Bill Clinton. I'll never forget that convention or that campaign-the way we barnstormed the country, carrying a message of hope and change, believing with our whole hearts that America could be made new again.
And so it was. And with your help, and with the leadership of John Kerry and John Edwards, so it shall be again.
Thank you-God bless you and your families-and may God bless the United States of America.