FROM THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
BOSTON, MA • JULY 26, 2004
My friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans:
I’m going to 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
But I didn’t come here tonight to talk about the past.
After all, I don’t want you to think that 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’s a land of opportunity, where every little
boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular
In all seriousness, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the
opportunity you have given me to serve my country. I want
to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee
for president four years ago and for all you did for me and
for our country. And I want to thank the American people
for the privilege of serving as vice president of the United
States. Most of all, I want to thank my family with all my
heart: my children and grandchildren, especially my beloved
partner in life, Tipper.
I love this country deeply. Wasn’t BeBe Winans great?
I believe that’s the best national anthem I’ve
ever heard sung. I love this country deeply, and even though
I always look to the future with optimism and hope, I do
think it’s 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
from you or talk you into throwing it away.
And let’s make sure that this time every vote is counted.
Let’s make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick
the next president, and 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 that 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 as one people, as one nation.
And it is in that spirit, that I sincerely ask those watching
at home tonight 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? For example, did you expect the largest deficits
in history, year after year? One right 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.
And I also ask tonight for the consideration and 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 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 Nov.
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 abundantly obvious that the
way this 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’s 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 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’re headed in the wrong
direction, we can correct our course. When policies are clearly
not working, we, the people, 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.
And we’re here this week to present to the nation
the man who should be and will be our new president: John
Kerry. John and I were elected to the United States 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.
For example, 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. And he’s 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 of America.
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 of North Carolina.
John Kerry and John Edwards are fighting for us and for
all Americans, so after we nominate them here in Boston and
return back 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,
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 in 2004 so
we can have a new direction in America, a new president,
a new vice president, new policies, a new day, a brighter
future. What this country and what our people deserve.
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 to Tipper and me. You will forever be in our hearts.
And 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 will never forget
that convention or that campaign the way we barnstormed our
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 may God bless the United States.
to the 2004 Democratic National Convention Page