Published: July 26, 2004
I am practically speechless. (Cheers, applause.) However -- (cheers, applause).
Twelve years ago -- (chants of "Hillary, Hillary!") -- when our country needed new leadership, Americans selected a Democrat who gave us eight years of peace, prosperity and promise. (Cheers, applause.) Tonight -- tonight I have the pleasure of introducing the last great Democratic president -- (cheers, applause) -- but first I want to say a few words about the next great Democratic president, John Kerry. (Cheers, applause.)
You know, I, like all of you, just heard the moving testimonials about the horrors of September the 11th and the extraordinary witnessing by Reverend Alston concerning his lieutenant, John Kerry.
I don't know how any American could hear the Reverend Alston and not know John Kerry is the man we need to be our president and commander in chief! (Cheers, applause.)
And yes, we meet at a moment of great peril, but also of great promise for the country we love. Together we can once again widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans. We can once again transcend our differences and divisions. We can once again give our children a safer and more secure future. That is the promise of America, and John Kerry will renew and keep that promise to this generation and generations to come. He knows very well that you have to lead the world, not alienate it. He will -- (cheers, applause.) He will lower the deficit, not raise it. He will create good jobs, not lose them. And he will solve a health care crisis for our people, not ignore it. (Cheers, applause.)
Now I know a thing or two about health care. (Laughter, applause.) And I know that the problems have only gotten worse in the last four years. We need to rededicate ourselves to the task of providing health care coverage for the 44 million Americans who don't have it. (Applause.) And we have to do more to lower the costs for all the rest of Americans, who are facing increasing health care insurance premiums and drug prices. (Applause.)
We also -- we also need to lift the ban on stem cell research -- (cheers, applause) -- and find cures that will help millions of Americans. (Applause continues.)
You know, health care is a serious issue, and it requires serious solutions. And that's what John Kerry is good at, and that's what he will give us.
He will also give us something else: a great vice president by the name of John Edwards. (Cheers, applause.)
Now you know that John Edwards is smart, he's energetic, and he's empathetic. And he understands the challenges that hardworking Americans face in their daily lives. Americans will be proud to have the Kerry-Edwards team in the White House, and they will be proud, as we all will be, to have their extraordinary partners, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards, working for our country as well. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, you know, we've been through our share of challenges as Americans; you know, from a Civil War to a Great Depression to world wars and so much more. But being a senator from New York, I saw firsthand -- (cheers, applause) -- as all of my friends and colleagues did, the devastation of September the 11th. I visited Ground Zero the day after we were attacked, and I felt like I was standing at the gates of hell.
I hope no American ever has to witness a horrible sight like that ever again. And yet, that tragedy both changed and challenged us. I know it did for me. And every day now as a mother, as a senator, as an American, I worry about whether we are acting as wisely as we can to protect our country and our people.
Last week the bipartisan 9/11 commission issued its report, and that commission would never have been in existence had it not been for the brave family members who insisted that this government have a commission to look into 9/11. (Cheers, applause.) And those commissioners issued a sober call to action that we ignore at our peril.
John Kerry understands what's at stake when it comes to our security. We need to fully equip and train our firefighters, our police officers, and our emergency medical technicians. (Applause.)
They are our first responders in the event of a terrorist attack. And we need to secure our borders, our rail lines and our ports, as well as our chemical and nuclear plants.
We need to reorganize our federal government to meet the new threats of these times. And we need to make sure that homeland security is a priority, and that it is funded properly, and that the resources go to the areas of greatest risk, like New York City. (Cheers, applause.)
And along with that, we need to take care of our men and women in uniform, who like John Kerry, risk their lives, and for too many lost their lives in service to our country. These brave Americans deserve better. We need -- (cheers, applause). We need to increase our troop strength, we need to raise their pay. We need to provide our veterans, our National Guard and Reserve with the benefits they are entitled to for the service and duty they perform for our nation! (Cheers, applause.)
And do you know, do you know what we need to meet these challenges? We need a new commander in chief named John Kerry! (Cheers, applause.) I've been saying for many months now John Kerry is a serious man for a serious job in a serious time in our country's history.
So let's join together, not just those of us in this great hall tonight, but throughout our nation, and do everything we possibly can to convince our fellow Americans to look to the future, to look deep inside themselves. They know what is best for our children. And if we just have the courage to act on our conviction, we will, by an overwhelming majority, send John Kerry and John Edwards to do their duty for us in the White House starting next year! (Cheers, applause.)
I am very optimistic about this election because I think I know a great leader when I see one. (Cheers, applause.) And so does America! In 1992 and 1996, Americans chose a president who left our country in better shape than when he took office. (Cheers, applause.) And he still spends his days working to empower the powerless; to promote racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation; to inspire young people to citizen service; and to bring life-saving medicines to people living with HIV-AIDS throughout the world. (Cheers, applause.) He showed Democrats how to win again, and so will John Kerry.
Please welcome the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton! (Cheers, applause.)
Published: July 27, 2004
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. (Cheers, applause continue.) Calm down! (Chuckles.) (Inaudible.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here with you. (Applause continues.) I am honored to share this podium with my senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Cheers, applause.) And I want to thank the people of New York for giving the best public servant in my family a chance to continue serving the public. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)
I am also -- I'm going to say that again, in case you didn't hear it. (Laughter.) I'm honored to be here tonight, and I want to thank the people of New York for giving Hillary -- (cheers, applause) -- the chance to continue to serve in public life. (Cheers, applause.) I am very proud of her. And we are both very grateful to all of you, especially my good friends from Arkansas -- (cheers, applause) -- for giving me the chance to serve in the White House for eight years. (Cheers, applause.)
I am honored to share this night with President Carter, for whom I worked in 1976 and who has inspired the world with his work for peace, democracy and human rights. (Cheers, applause.)
I am honored to share it with Al Gore, my friend and my partner for eight years -- (cheers, applause) -- who played such a large role in building the prosperity and peace that we left America in 2000. And Al Gore, as he showed again tonight, demonstrated incredible patriotism and grace under pressure. He is the living embodiment of the principle that every vote counts, and this year we're going to make sure they're all counted in every state in America. (Cheers, applause.)
My friends, after three conventions as a candidate or a president, tonight I come to you as a citizen, returning to the role that I have played for most of my life; as a foot soldier in our fight for the future as we nominate in Boston a true New England patriot for president. (Cheers, applause.) Now this state, who gave us in other times of challenge John Adams and John Kennedy, has given us John Kerry, a good man, a great senator, a visionary leader. And we are all here to do what we can to make him the next president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)
My friends, we are constantly being told that America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom and faith and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. (Cheers, applause.) 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 and prosperous future.
Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring to the American people this year a positive campaign, arguing not who's a good or a bad person, but what is the best way to build the safe and prosperous world our children deserve. (Cheers, applause.)
The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges, and serious problems, from AIDS to global warming to the continuing turmoil in the Middle East. But it also full of amazing opportunities to create millions of new jobs, and clean energy, and biotechnology, to restore our manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy through our diversity and our commitment to decent labor and environmental standards for people all across the world. (Cheers, applause.) And to create a world where we can celebrate our religious, our racial, our ethnic, our tribal differences because our common humanity matters most of all. (Cheers, applause.)
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 deeply felt ideas about what choices we should make. They're 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.
We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation, where we act alone only when we absolutely have to. (Applause.) We think the role of government should give -- should be to give people the tools and to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives, and we think everybody should have that chance. (Cheers, applause.)
On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that America should be run by the "right" people -- their people -- in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to. They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security. Now since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values; in other words, they need a divided America. But we don't. (Cheers, applause.)
Americans -- Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all just wanted to be one nation. Not a single American on September the 12th, 2001 cared who won the next presidential election. All we wanted to do was to be one country, strong in the fight against terror, helping to heal those who were wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones, reaching out to the rest of the world so we could meet these new challenges and go on with our democratic way of life.
The president had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism, and to unite the world in the struggle against terror.
Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice. They chose to move that -- to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking in Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah!
PRESIDENT CLINTON: -- but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Right! (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: -- and for the international court on war criminals and from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
(Cheers, applause.) Now -- now, at a time when we're trying to get other people to give up nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, they are trying to develop two new nuclear weapons, which they say we might use first.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: No!
PRESIDENT CLINTON: At home, at home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in. For the first time when America was on a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.
(Chuckles.) Now I'm in that group for the first time in my life. (Applause.) And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me. (Laughter.) But soon as I got out and made money, I began part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress. (Cheers, applause.)
I almost sent them a thank-you note for my tax cuts -- (laughter) -- until I realized that the rest of you were paying for the bill for it, and then I thought better of it. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs, while withholding promised funding for the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind. (Cheers, applause.) They chose to protect my tax cut while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job- training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child-care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school learning, going to college and having a good life! (Cheers, applause.)
They chose, they chose to protect my tax cut while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans, and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.
Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, all most all of us, from Republicans to Independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part too, but all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts. (Applause.)
Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. (Boos.) If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats.
We've got a different economic policy. (Cheers, applause.)
In this year's budget -- in this year's budget, the White House this year wants to cut off all the federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police officers under the COPS program we've had for 10 years. Among those 88,000 police are more than 700 members of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line on 9/11. (Boos.) With gang violence rising and with all of us looking for terrorists in our midst and hoping they're not too well armed or too well dangerous -- too dangerous, the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10-year-old ban on deadly assault weapons to lapse. (Boos.)
Now they believe it's the right thing to do, but our policy was to put more police on the street and to take assault weapons off the street -- (cheers, applause) -- and it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of declining violence. (Cheers, applause.) Their policy is the reverse. They're taking police off the streets while they put assault weapons back on the street. Now if you agree with that choice, by all means vote to keep them in office. But if you don't, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter and stronger again. (Cheers, applause.)
On homeland security -- on homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost a billion dollars. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans feel safer. The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports. If you agree with that, by all means reelect them. If not, John Kerry and John Edwards are your team for the future. (Cheers, applause.)
These policies have turned a projected $5.8 trillion surplus that we left -- enough to pay for the baby-boomer retirement -- into a projected debt of almost $5 trillion, with over $400 billion in deficit this year and for years to come. Now, how do they pay for that deficit? First, by taking the Social Security surplus that comes in every month and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to pay for the tax cut. But it's not enough, so then they have to go borrow money. Most of it they borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese government. Sure these countries are competing with us for good jobs, but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? I mean, come on! (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
So, if you think -- if you believe it is good policy, if you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security checks of working men and women, and borrowed money from China and Japan, you should vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man. (Cheers, applause.)
We Americans must choose for president -- we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love their country but who have very different world views: our nominee, John Kerry, who favors shared responsibility, shared opportunity, and more global cooperation, and their president and their party in Congress who favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves, and more unilateral action.
I think we're right for two reasons. First of all, America just works better when more people have a chance to live their dreams. And secondly -- (cheers, applause) -- we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot possibly 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. (Cheers, applause.)
Now we tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it our way for eight years. Then we tried it 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 better. (Cheers, applause.)
It produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle class, over a hundred times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class, more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record homeownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror and a respected America in the world. (Cheers, applause.) It worked better.
More importantly -- more importantly, we have great new champions in John Kerry and John Edwards, two good men with wonderful wives -- Teresa, a generous and wise woman who understands the world we're trying to shape, and Elizabeth, a lawyer and mother who understands the lives we're trying to live. (Cheers, applause.)
Now let me tell you what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him.
During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going, too. But instead he said, "Send me." (Cheers, applause.)
When -- when they sent those swift boats up the river in Vietnam, and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bait the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said, "Send me." (Cheers, applause.)
And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there, John Kerry said, "Send me."
Then, when we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city children 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 created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said, "Send me."
AUDIENCE: "Send me." (Cheers; applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story, in promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has always said to America: "Send me."
AUDIENCE: "Send me." (Cheers; applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The bravery -- the bravery that men who fought by his side in battle, that bravery they saw in battle I have seen in politics. 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 the way to win a popularity contest in our party. John Kerry took tough positions on tough problems. He knows who he is and where he's going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas, the values to be a great president. And in a time of change, he has two other very important qualities: an insatiable curiosity to understand the world around him -- (cheers; applause) -- and a willingness to hear other views, even those who disagree with him. (Cheers; applause.) Therefore, John Kerry will make choices that reflect both conviction and common sense.
He proved that when he picked John Edwards to be his partner. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, everybody talks about John Edwards' energy and intellect and charisma. You know, I kind of resent him. (Laughter.) But the important thing is not what talents he has, but how he has used them. He chose, he chose to use his talents to improve the lives of people like him who had to work for everything they've got, and to help people too often left out and left behind. And that's what he'll do as our vice president. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, their opponents will tell you -- their opponents will tell you we should be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards because they won't stand up to the terror. Don't you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not opposing values. (Cheers, applause.) They go hand in hand. (Continued cheers, applause.) They go hand in hand, and John Kerry has both. His first priority will be to keep America safe. Remember the scripture, "Be not afraid." John Kerry and John Edwards are good people with good ideas, ideas to make the economy work again for middle class Americans, to restore fiscal responsibility, to save Social Security, to make health care more affordable and college more available, to free us from dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs with clean energy and a cleaner environment -- (cheers, applause) -- to rally the world, to rally the world to our side in the war against terror, and to make a world with more friends and less terror. (Applause.)
My friends, at every turning point in our history, we the people have chosen unity over division, heeding our founders' call to America's eternal mission to form a more perfect union, to widen the circle of opportunity, deepen the reach of freedom, and strengthen the bonds of our community. It happened every time because we made the right choices.
In the early days of the Republic, America was divided and at a crossroads, much as 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 to build a more perfect union.
In the Civil War, America was at another crossroads, deeply divided over whether to save the union and end slavery. We chose a more perfect union.
In the 1960s, when I was a young man, we were divided again over civil rights and women's rights. And again we chose to form a more perfect union.
As I said in 1992, I say again tonight: we are all in this together. (Cheers.) We have an obligation both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, an obligation both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror. Now, again, it is time to choose.
Since we're all in the same boat, we should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave, good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters to the calm seas and the clear skies of our more perfect union. (Cheers, applause.) That is our mission. So let us join tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice: "Send John Kerry!" (Cheers, applause.)
God bless you. (Cheers, applause.)
Published: July 27, 2004
BARACK OBAMA. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.
On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, Land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.
Tonight is a particular honor for me because - let's face it - my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father - my grandfathe r- was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.
While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton's army, marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through F.H.A., and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity.
And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter. A common dream, born of two continents.
My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or ”blessed,” believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.
They are both passed away now. And yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation - not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
That is the true genius of America - a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations.
And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents - I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Ill., who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.
Now don't get me wrong. The people I meet - in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks - they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead - and they want to.
Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.
Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn - they know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.
People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.
They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they've defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.
His values - and his record - affirm what is best in us. John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded; so instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.
John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.
John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies, or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.
John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties, nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.
And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.
You know, a while back, I met a young man named Shamus [Seamus?] in a V.F.W. Hall in East Moline, Ill.. He was a good-looking kid, six two, six three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines, and was heading to Iraq the following week. And as I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he is serving us?
I thought of the 900 men and women - sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I've met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued - and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this.
And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.
John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we're all connected as one people.
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope.
I'm not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.
America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do - if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.
Thank you very much everybody. God bless you. Thank you.