FROM THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
BOSTON, MA • JULY 28, 2004
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Now you
know why Elizabeth is so amazing, right? I am such a lucky
man to have the love of my life at my side. Both of us have
been blessed with four extraordinary children: Wade, Cate,
who you heard from, Emma Claire and Jack. We are having such
an extraordinary time, myself and my entire family at this
convention. And by the way, how great was Teresa Heinz Kerry
My father and mother, Wallace and Bobbie Edwards, are also
here tonight. You taught me the values that I carry in my
heart: faith, family, responsibility, opportunity for everybody.
You taught me that there's dignity and honor in a hard day's
work. You taught me to always look out for our neighbors,
to never look down on anybody, and treat everybody with respect.
Those are the values that John Kerry and I believe in. And
nothing makes me prouder than standing with him in this campaign.
I am so humbled to be your candidate for vice president of
the United States.
I want to talk about our next president. For those who want
to know what kind of leader he'll be, I want to take you
back about thirty years. When John Kerry graduated from college,
he volunteered for military service, volunteered to go to
Vietnam, volunteered to captain a swift boat, one of the
most dangerous duties in Vietnam that you could have. As
a result he was wounded, honored for his valor.
If you have any question about what he's made of, just spend
three minutes with the men who served with him then and who
stand with him now. They saw up close what he's made of.
They saw him reach into the river and pull one of his men
to safety and save his life. They saw him in the heat of
battle make a decisions in a split second to turn his boat
around, drive it through an enemy position, and chase down
the enemy to save his crew. Decisive. Strong. Is this not
what we need in a commander in chief?
You know, we hear a lot of talk about values. Where I come
from, you don't judge somebody's values based upon how they
use that word in a political ad. You judge their values based
upon what they've spent their life doing.
So when a man volunteers to serve his country, a man volunteers
and puts his life on the line for others that's a man who
represents real American values. This is a man who is prepared
to keep the American people safe, to make America stronger
at home and more respected in the world. John is a man who
knows the difference between right and wrong. He wants to
serve you, your cause is his cause. And that is why we must
and we will elect him the next president of the United States.
You know, for the last few months, John has been traveling
around the country talking about his positive, optimistic
vision for America, talking about his plan to move this country
in the right direction.
But what have we seen? Relentless negative attacks against
John. So in the weeks ahead, we know what's coming don't
we? More negative attacks. Aren't you sick of it? They are
doing all they can to take the campaign for the highest office
in the land down the lowest possible road. But this is where
you come in. Between now and November, you, the American
people, you can reject this tired, old, hateful, negative
politics of the past. And instead you can embrace the politics
of hope, the politics of what's possible because this is
America, where everything is possible.
I am here tonight for a very simple reason, because I love
my country. And I have every reason to love my country. I
have grown up in the bright light of America. I grew up in
a small town in rural North Carolina, a place called Robbins.
My father, he worked in a mill all his life. And I still
remember vividly the men and women who worked in that mill
with him. I can see them. Some of them had lint in their
hair. Some of them had grease on their faces. They worked
hard. And they tried to put a little money away so that their
kids and their grandkids could have a better life. The truth
is they are just like the auto workers, the office workers,
the teachers, and the shop keepers on Main Streets all across
My mother had a number of jobs. She worked at the post office
so she and my father could have health care. She owned her
own small business, she refinished furniture to help pay
for my education.
I have had such incredible opportunities in my life.I was
blessed to be the first person in my family to be able to
go to college. I worked my way through, and I had opportunities
beyond my wildest dreams. . And the heart of this campaign,
your campaign, our campaign, is to make sure all Americans
have exactly the same kind of opportunities that I had, no
matter where you live, no matter who your family is, no matter
what the color of your skin. This is the America we believe
I have spent my life fighting for the kind of people that
I grew up with. For two decades, I stood with kids and families
against big HMOs and big insurance companies. When I got
to the Senate I fought those same fights against the Washington
lobbyists and for causes like the Patients' Bill of Rights.
I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John to
make America stronger. And we have much work to do. Because
the truth is, we still live in a country where there are
two different Americas: one for all those people who have
lived the American Dream and don't have to worry, and another
for most Americans, everybody else, who struggle to make
ends meet every single day. It doesn't have to be that way.
We can build one America. We can build one America where
we no longer have two healthcare systems. One for families
who get the best healthcare money can buy and then one for
everybody else, rationed out by insurance companies, drug
companies, and HMOs. Millions of Americans who don't have
any health insurance at all. It doesn't have to be that way.
We have a plan that will offer all Americans the same health
care that your Senator has. We can give you tax breaks to
help you pay for your health care. And when we're in office,
we will sign a real Patients' Bill of Rights into law so
that you can make your own health care decisions.
We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country:
one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody
else. None of us believe that the quality of a child's education
should be controlled by where they live or the affluence
of the community they live in. It doesn't have to be that
We can build one school system that works for all our kids,
gives them a chance to do what they're capable of doing.
Our plan will reform our schools and raise standards. We
can give our schools the resources that they need. We can
provide incentives to put our best teachers in the subjects
and the places where we need them the most. And we can ensure
that three million children have a safe place when they leave
school in the afternoon. We can do together, you and I.
John Kerry and I believe that we shouldn't have two different
economies in this country: one for people who are set for
life, they know their kids and their grandkids are going
to be just fine, and then one for most Americans, people
who live paycheck to paycheck. You don't need me to explain
this to you, do you?
You know exactly what I'm talking about Can't save any money,
can you? Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills.
And you know what happens if something goes wrong, if you
have a child that gets sick, a financial problem, a layoff
in the family, you go right off the cliff. And when that
happens, what's the first thing that goes? Your dreams. It
doesn't have to be that way. We can strengthen and lift up
Your agenda is our agenda. So let me give you some specifics.
First, we can create good paying jobs in this country again.
We're going to get rid of tax cuts for companies who are
outsourcing your jobs. And instead, we're going to give tax
breaks to American companies that are keeping jobs right
here in America. And we will invest in the jobs of the future,
in the technologies and innovation to ensure that America
stays ahead of the competition.
And we're going to do this because John and I understand
understand that a job is about more than a paycheck. It's
about dignity and self-respect. Hard work should be valued
in this country. So we're going to reward work, not just
wealth. We don't want people to just get by; we want people
to get ahead. So let me give you some specifics about what
we're going to do.. First, we're going to help you pay for
your health care by having a tax break and health care reform
that can save you up to a thousand dollars on your premiums..
We're going to help you cover the rising costs of child care
with a tax credit up to $1,000 so that your kids have a place
to go when you're at work that they're safe and well taken
care of. If your child wants to be the first in your family
to go to college, we're going to give you a tax break on
up to $4,000 in tuition.
And everybody listening here and at home is thinking one
thing right now. O.K., how are we going to pay for it, right?
Well, let me tell you how we're going to pay for it. And
I want to be very clear about this. We are going to keep
and protect the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans, 98
percent. We're going to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest
Americans. We're going to close corporate loopholes. We're
going to cut government contractors and wasteful spending.
We can move this country forward without passing the burden
to our children and our grandchildren.
We can also do something about 35 million Americans who
live in poverty every day. And here's why we shouldn't just
talk about but do something about the millions of Americans
who live in poverty. Because it is wrong. And we have a moral
responsibility to lift those families up.
I mean the very idea that in a country of our wealth and
our prosperity, we have children going to bed hungry. We
have children who don't have the clothes to keep them warm.
We have millions of Americans who work full-time every day
to support their families, working for minimum wage and still
live in poverty. It's wrong. These are men and women who
are living up to their bargain. They're working hard, they're
supporting their families. Their families are doing their
part; it's time we did our part.
And that's what we're going to do, that's what we're going
to do when John is in the White House. Because we're going
to raise the minimum wage. We're going to finish the job
on welfare reform. And we're going to bring good paying jobs
to the places where we need them the most. . And by doing
all those things we're going to say no forever to any American
working full-time and living in poverty. Not in our America,
not in our America. Not in our America. Not in our America.
And let me talk - let me talk about - let me talk about
- let me talk about about why we need to build one America.
Because I, like many of you, I saw up close what having two
Americas - what having two Americas can do to our country.
From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation
and discrimination. I saw young African-American kids being
sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw white only signs on
restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I feel such an enormous
personal responsibility when it comes to issues of race and
equality and civil rights.
And I've heard some discussions- I've heard some discussions
and debates around America about where, and in front of what
audiences we ought to talk about race and equality and civil
rights. I have an answer to that question. Everywhere. Everywhere.
This is not an African-American issue, this is not a Latino
issue, this is not an Asian-American issue, this is an American
issue. It is about who we are, what our values are and what
kind of country we live in.
The truth is - the truth is is that what John and I want
- what we all want - is for our children and our grandchildren
to be the first generations that grow up in an America that's
no longer divided by race. We must build one America. We
must be one America, strong and united for another very important
reason - because we are at war.
None of us will ever forget where we were on September the
11th. We all share the same terrible images: the Towers falling
in New York, the Pentagon in flames, smoldering field in
Pennsylvania. We share the profound sadness for the nearly
3,000 lives that were lost.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know
that we have to do more to fight the war on terrorism and
keep the American people safe. And we can do that. We're
approaching the third anniversary of Sept. 11, and one thing
I can tell you: when we're in office, it won't take three
years to get the reforms in our intelligence that are necessary
to keep the American people safe. We will do whatever it
takes, as long as it takes, to make sure this never happens
again in our America.
And when John is president, we will listen to the wisdom
of the Sept. 11 Commission. We will lead strong alliances.
We will safeguard and secure our weapons of mass destruction.
We will strengthen our homeland security, protect our ports,
protect our chemical plants, and support our firefighters,
police officers, EMT's. We will always - we will always use
our military might to keep the American people safe.
And we - John and I -we will have one clear unmistakable
message for Al Qaida and these terrorists: You cannot run.
You cannot hide. We will destroy you.
John understands personally about fighting in a war. And
he knows what our brave men and women are going through right
now in another war - the war in Iraq. The human cost and
the extraordinary heroism of this war, it surrounds us. It
surrounds us in our cities and our towns. And we'll win this
war because of the strength and courage of our own people.
Some of our friends and neighbors, they saw their last images
in Baghdad. Some took their last steps outside of Fallujah.
Some buttoned their uniform for the final time before they
went out and saved their unit. Men and women who used to
take care of themselves, they now count on others to see
them through the day. They need their mother to tie their
shoe. Their husband to brush their hair. Their wife's arm
to help them across the room.
The stars and stripes wave for them. The word hero was made
for them. They are the best and the bravest. And they will
never be left behind. You - you - you understand that. And
they deserve a president who understands - understands it
on the most personal level what they've gone through, what
they've given and what they've given up for their country.
To us, the real test of patriotism is how we treat the men
and women who have put their lives on the lines to protect
our values. And let me tell you, the 26 million veterans
in this country will not have to wonder, when they're in
office - when we're in office, whether they'll have health
care next week or next year. We will take care of them because
they have taken care of us.
But today, our great United States military is stretched
thin. We've got more than 140,000 are in Iraq, almost 20,000
in Afghanistan. I visited the men and women there and we're
praying as they try to give that country hope.
Like all of those brave men and women, John put his life
on the line for our country. He knows that when authority
is given to a president, much is expected in return. That's
why we will strengthen and modernize our military. We will
double our Special Forces. We will invest in the new equipment
and technologies so that our military remains the best equipped
and the best prepared in the world. This will make our military
stronger. It'll make it sure that can defeat any enemy in
this new world.
But we can't do this alone. We have got to restore our respect
in the world to bring our allies to us and with us. It is
how we won the cold war. It is how we won two world wars.
And it is how we will build a stable Iraq.
With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances,
we can get NATO to help secure Iraq. We can ensure that Iraq's
neighbors like Syria and Iran, don't stand in the way of
a democratic Iraq. We can help Iraq's economy by getting
other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate
in the reconstruction. We can do this for the Iraqi people
and we can do it for our own soldiers. And we will get this
A new president will bring the world to our side, and with
it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in
the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel. And
John and I will bring the world together - John and I will
bring the world together to face the most dangerous threat
we have: the possibility of terrorists getting their hands
on a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.
With our credibility restored, we can work with other nations
to secure stockpiles of the world's most dangerous weapons
and safeguard this extraordinarily dangerous material. We
can finish the job and secure the loose nukes in Russia.
We can close the loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty that allows rogue nations access to the tools they
need to develop these weapons.
That's how we can address the new threats we face. That's
how we can keep you safe. And that's how we can restore America's
respect around the world. And together, we will ensure that
the image of America, the image all of us love, America this
great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy and
human rights that the world looks up to, is always lit.
And the truth is - the truth is that every child, every
family in America will be safer and more secure if they grow
up in a world where America is once again looked up to and
respected. That is the world we can create together.
Tonight - tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere
in America, a mother sits at her kitchen table. She can't
sleep becauseshe's worried. She can't pay her bills. She's
working hard trying to pay her rent, trying to feed her kids
but she just can't catch up. Didn't used to be that way in
her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard. Now he's
been in Iraq for over a year. They thought hewas going to
come home last month, but now he's got to stay longer. She
thinks she's alone. But tonight in this hall and in your
homes, you know what? She's got a lot of friends. We want
her to know that we hear her. It is time to bring opportunity
and an equal chance to her door.
We're here to make America stronger at home so that she
can get ahead. And we're here to make America respected in
the world again so that we can bring him home and American
soldiers don't have to fight this war in Iraq or this war
on terrorism alone.
So when you return home some night, you might pass a mother
on her way to work the late-shift. You tell her: Hope is
on the way.
When your brother calls - when your brother calls and says
that he's spending his entire life at the office and he still
can't get ahead, you tell him: Hope is on the way.
When your parents call and tell you their medicine's going
through the roof, they can't keep up, you tell them: Hope
is on the way.
And when your neighbor calls you and says her daughter's
worked hard and she wants to go to college, you tell her:
Hope is on the way.
And when your son or daughter who's serving this country
heroically in Iraq calls, you tell them: Hope is on the way.
When you wake up and you're sitting at the kitchen table
with your kids and you're talking about the great possibilities
in America, your kids should know that John and I believe
to our core that tomorrow can be better than today.
Like all of us, I've learned a lot of lessons in my life.
Two of the most important are that first, there will always
be heartache and struggle. We can't make it go away. But
the second is that people of good and strong will can make
a difference. One's a sad lesson; the other's inspiring.
We are Americans and we choose to be inspired.
We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems,
optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what's right even
when those around us say, "You can't do that." We
choose to be inspired because we know that we can do better
because this is America where everything is still possible.
What we believe - what John Kerry and I believe - is that
we should never look down on anybody, we ought to lift people
up. We don't believe in tearing people apart. We believe
in bringing them together. What we believe - what I believe
- is that the family you're born into and the color of your
skin in our America should never control your destiny.
Join us in this cause. Let's make America stronger at home
and more respected in the world. Let's ensure that once again,
in our one America - our one America - tomorrow will always
be better than today.
to the 2004 Democratic National Convention Page