FDCH E-Media, Inc. Monday, July 26, 2004; 11:21 PM
Former president Bill Clinton's remarks to the Democratic National
Convention at FleetCenter in Boston, Mass.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here with you.
I am honored to share this podium with my senator, Hillary Rodham
Clinton. 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.
I am also -- I'm going to say that again, in case you didn't
I'm honored to be here tonight. And I want to thank the people of New
York for giving Hillary the chance to continue to serve in public life.
I am very proud of her. And we are both very grateful to all of you,
especially my good friends from Arkansas, for giving me the chance to
serve in the White House for eight years.
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.
I am honored to share it with Al Gore, my friend and my partner for
eight years, 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.
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.
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.
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.
We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean
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 is a good or a bad
person, but what is the best way to build a safe and prosperous world
our children deserve.
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 is 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...
... 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.
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.
We think the role of government...
... should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to
make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have
On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that
American should be run by the right people -- their people -- in a world
in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we
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.
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
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 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 Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work,
but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty and
for the international court on war criminals and for the anti-ballistic
missile treaty and from the nuclear test ban treaty.
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.
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 in 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.
Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.
And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the
Republicans were kind of mean to me.
But as soon as I got out and made money, I became 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.
I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I
realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I
thought better of it.
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
to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.
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.
They chose -- they chose to protect my tax cuts 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, almost 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.
Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you
should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not,
take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats. We've got a
different economic policy.
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.
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 dangerous,
the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10- year-old ban
on deadly assault weapons to lapse.
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.
And it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of
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.
On homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers
at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost
$1 billion. 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 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, re-elect them. If not, John Kerry
and John Edwards are your team for the future.
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 cuts. 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.
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.
We Americans must choose for president...
... we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love
their countries, 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, we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot
possibly kill, jail or occupy all of our potential adversaries. So
we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and
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. But the only test that matters is whether people were
better off when we finished than when we started. Our way works better.
It produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle
class, over 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle
class, 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 a respected
America in the world.
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.
Now, let me tell you know what I know about John Kerry. I've been
seeing all of the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know
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.
When they sent those swiftboats up the river in Vietnam and they told
them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and
bate the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me.
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.
So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100
days in telling John Kerry's story and 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.
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, and a
willingness to hear other views, even those who disagree with him.
Therefore, John Kerry will make choices that reflect both conviction
and common sense. He proved that when he picked John Edwards to be
Now, everybody talks about John Edwards' energy and intellect and
charisma. You know, I kind of resent him.
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.
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 terrorists. Don't you
believe it. Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.
They go hand in hand.
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, college more available, to free us from dependence on foreign
oil and create new jobs with clean energy and a cleaner environment...
... to rally the world to our side in the war against terror and to make
a world with more friends and less terror.
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 deep in the reach of freedom and strengthen the bonds of
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
As I said in 1992, I say again tonight, we are all in this together. 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 sides of our more perfect union. That is our mission.
So let us go in tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice:
Send John Kerry.
God bless you.