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Speeches from the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Tom Daschle
Remarks to the 2008 Democratic National Convention
Denver, Colorado
August 27, 2008

Thank you. I want to join with others in welcoming all those who are new to politics and to our democratic process. In part because of you, not only will our party win, but our country will win, too.

In 2002, I had a chance to visit Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. In the presidential palace, President Karzai sat with a small group of us and confided that all he had in the entire national treasury was $2 million. He couldn’t pay the salaries of staff. They couldn’t even pay for the lights. But he said, “In spite of all the adversity and in spite of all the many challenges we face, we are optimistic.” And then he said something I have always remembered, “We want to be like you.”

Yet, in the six years since, we don’t hear other countries expressing that aspiration. In less than a decade we have gone from being perceived as the beacon for democracy and justice all over the globe, to a country whose government has little respect for even the most basic tenets of human rights. We know that’s not us. We’re better than that.

Our next president is going to inherit the most daunting set of foreign policy challenges since Harry Truman. He had to build a new international order from the rubble of the Second World War. And in this new world, we cannot afford four more years of failure and decline. We need to set a new course.

And this week, we are here to do just that, to replace the poor judgment and mis-leadership of George W. Bush with the judgment and leadership of Barack Obama. If the Bush administration has proven anything, it’s that length of service is no substitute for good judgment and strong leadership.

Together, Vice President Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John McCain brought more than a century of experience to our foreign policy challenges. And what did that get us? One international debacle after another.

We deserve better than John McCain’s jokes about bombing Iran or his denials that Iraq has distracted us from Afghanistan. We deserve better than a foreign policy that’s more confrontational than George W. Bush, and fails to address the complex challenges of a changing world. We need leaders who recognize both our national interest and our shared challenges, who will pay attention to both allies and enemies, and who will truly make America safer and stronger. I can think of none better than Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

Across the world, there are enough stockpiles of uranium and plutonium to build 40,000 nuclear weapons. Senator Obama worked with a Republican, Dick Lugar, to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. Barack Obama believes it is inexcusable that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. And he understands that we’ve got a job to finish there.

Republicans, Democrats and Independents know that it is long past time we have a foreign policy that deals with the threats of the future, not the past, and is as smart as it is strong.

We need Barack Obama and Joe Biden to give us renewed standing, new direction and new hope. As Americans, our strength is our great blessing, and our freedom is our great inheritance. As the 44th president, Barack Obama will secure once more that strength and freedom. And together, we will reclaim America’s rightful role as a beacon of hope and possibility.

Thank you.



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