Speech to the State Democratic Party Convention
Hello, friends what a great crowd! Do you think we're going to win in November?
It's great to be here in Rochester a place of miracles, a place where just this week doctors and nurses sent two healthy babies home and the world smiled.
Rochester is a place that made us smile in 2004 when Independents, moderate Republicans, and Democrats came together and defied history and voted Democratic. And we're going to do it again in November.
I am proud to be joined here by my family. John and Abigail are the two most important people in my life. John's parents, Bill and Marilyn, are here from Mankato.
My mom is at home recovering from knee surgery but she's listening on the radio. And she is someone who taught school till she was 70 years old. And I'm still stopped by her former students who come over and tell me how she shaped their lives with her love and commitment just as she shaped mine.
My dad, Jim Klobuchar, is here with us. As a newspaperman, he brought life to the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He taught me that with faith in God we can overcome our greatest challenges. He taught me to stand up for myself, to be leery of those with too much power; to take on the tough fights and to follow my dreams.
Without Fear Or Favor
His father, my grandpa, worked 1500 feet underground in the Zenith mine on the Iron Range.
A few months ago I was at Vertin's Cafe in Ely, and this guy came up to me, he stood up, and he said, "You know, my dad worked on your grandpa's crew," and he got tears in his eyes and he said, "You know, when your grandpa led his crew into those mines, he didn't stand up at the top and radio down, he always went first, he went with the guys and he was never afraid."
My grandpa taught me that you work hard, you stand up for what you believe in and you do your work without fear or favor.
When I became chief prosecutor I could not believe what would happen when we would have cases with wealthy well connected people; the courtroom was packed with their friends. When we prosecuted someone who was poor or middle class, they're lucky if their mom can take the day off work to stand behind them in that courtroom. I figure my job is to even the playing field no matter where someone comes from, to do my job without fear or favor, to test the conventional wisdom and to follow my gut and I think we need a little bit more of that in Washington D.C.
Follow The North Star
These days it seems like many in Washington shirk the tough decisions and they're easily led astray by a chorus of special interests. Well, I think there's something we can teach them here in Minnesota about how to find their way.
You know when we go to the woods, and my dad knows when I grew up, we never went on a vacation that didn't involve a tent or a cabin. When we go into the woods, we use a compass. And when we don't have a compass we follow the North Star.
Well Washington is another kind of wilderness. And there you need a moral compass. There are the Exxons, and the Enrons, and the Halliburtons all trying to lead you astray.
Many in Congress have lost their way. They use a compass - I call it the Congressional Compass - but it leads you in the wrong direction it only goes one way and that's toward W as in George W. That's the wrong direction. And as for me, when I'm your Senator, I won't follow the Lone Star - I'll follow the North Star.
Time To Change Course
Minnesotans want a new direction in Washington. We are tired of this perfect storm of incompetence, of cronyism, of corporate greed.
The current leadership in Washington will continue to fight for those who fight against change: the insurance companies, the drug companies, Big Oil. I'll stand up for our people. I'll fight for the farmers for a fair deal, for good jobs. I'll fight against off-shoring and against outsourcing. I'll fight to keep Social Security a guarantee and not a gamble.
And so I ask you my friends: are you ready for a change?
The current leadership in Washington doesn't understand fiscal accountability. I don't know what kind of calculator they've used in Washington. But somehow they've managed to take a $200 billion budget surplus and turn it into a $300 billion budget deficit. I've finally figured out they have a special calculator, it only uses big negative numbers and it only has two functions: subtract and divide us.
And I ask you: are you ready for a change?
Their priorities are not only fiscally bankrupt, they're morally bankrupt. They give tax breaks to the billionaires but deny our troops the equipment they need, deny our cops bullet-proof vests. I'd rather equip our first responders and our soldiers and give tax relief to the many and not the few.
Are you ready for a change?
As someone who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning, I believe that, despite the bravery of our troops, we must change the course, not stay the course. Thousands of lives have been lost, we've given a bunch of no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton and there is no end in sight. On the war, we must have change.
Come Join Us
Now this is a Democratic convention, and I'm proud to be here to ask for your support.
But today I speak not just to those in the hall but to every person who cares about our State's future and wants to see changes in Washington. Today, I speak to all Minnesotans - Democrats, Republicans, Independents. And this is what you've told me:
You have told me that you're tired of the 24-hour TV shout-fest about what's Right and what's Left. You want to talk about what's right and what's wrong.
You miss the thoughtful, common-sense Minnesota tradition of moderate Republicans like Elmer Anderson, Arne Carlson, and David Durenberger.
You are puzzled that Bill Clinton's Bridge to the 21st Century has been hijacked into a pork-barrel Bridge to Nowhere.
And you're concerned that the Democrats in Washington have not earned your trust with a positive alternative.
You have told me this and I have heard you. To all Minnesotans who are ready for change, I say, join us. You've tried it their way and you know it's not working. I offer change, a new direction, a positive alternative of optimism and performance.
What's Right - A New Direction
For me, this election isn't just about what's Right and what's Left; it's about what's right and what's wrong.
What's right is our positive, optimistic vision to clean up Washington.
What's right is to turn an energy and environmental crisis into a national call for action. Let's put into law national standards for renewables, for fuel and electricity, and higher fuel economy standards. We can have real energy independence when we invest, in the farmers and the workers of the Midwest and not the oil cartels of the Mideast.
What's right is restoring America's moral compass to guide us in our relations with other countries, we must change course in Iraq and we must bring home a significant number of our troops this year.
What's right is snapping Washington out of its fiscal insanity, returning to the pay-as-you-go rules that brought us record surpluses, rolling back the tax cuts on the millionaires, and reining in the earmarks and the pork.
What's right is providing universal affordable health care to every American. As a new mom, I took on the insurance companies to make sure new moms and their babies got a 48 hour hospital stay. As a Senator, I'll work to let small businesses and the self-employed buy into the health care plan that members of Congress enjoy. And let's start moving to universal health care by insuring our kids, by revamping our system, and by lifting the cap on price negotiation with the drug companies.
What's right is a fair deal for our farmers and our hunters. We must restore conservation programs for our fields and our wetlands. I want Minnesota hunters hunting in Minnesota.
What's right is a belief in the power of the human mind, and in education and science. Our leaders need to be taught that science can clean up toxic waste, that science can cure disease through stem cell research, and that science can actually track the path of a hurricane.
What's right is protecting our safety and freedoms. We must secure our country from terror - at our ports, and at our borders. You want these guys in Washington to do their jobs without fear or favor? Then we must cut the lobbyists at their wallets. Let's set Minnesota style ethics rules for members of Congress. No freebie travel. Pay for your own meals and green fees. No pay for play.
I'll be a Senator that holds my colleagues accountable, whether they're going to Scotland on a golf trip or whether they're holding cash in their freezer
As our Senator of integrity who spoke truth to power, Paul Wellstone, said: "Politics is not about money and power games. It is about the improvement of peoples' lives."
I am here today to ask for your support. The Republicans have made this Senate seat their number one priority. They will fight with every fiber of their being - and that means spending millions on slash and burn attack ads to keep themselves in power. But I have confidence that their big money smears will be no match for our big ideas.
This year in Minnesota, we won't let them distract us. We won't let them smear us. We won't let them Swift Boat us. We will triumph.
Harry Truman put it this way: "America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand."
If ever there was a time for determination - if ever there was a time to follow the North Star. If ever there was a time for change, this is the time.
This is the time. Minnesota is the place. And we are the people. And I am determined.
I am the granddaughter of a miner.
I am the daughter of a newspaper man and a teacher.
I am a mother and a wife.
I am a prosecutor.
I am an advocate.
I am a Minnesotan.
And with your endorsement, and the unbeatable determination of the people of this state, I will be your next United States Senator and we will bring change to Washington.