Remarks by Senator John Kerry
November 21, 2003
Concord High School, NH -
Check against delivery
Thank you to the Concord High Jazz Band and thank you Concord High.
I rode up here today on the bus with my Real Deal Road Warriors - and after I leave here we're getting back on the bus so that I can go file the official papers to add my name on the New Hampshire ballot as a candidate for President of the United States.
But before I do that I wanted to spend a few minutes with you - because you - and your futures - are what this election is all about.
I want to tell you about who I am, what I'm fighting for, and what - together - we can do for this country.
Let me tell you, running for President can be a difficult humbling experience. Here in New Hampshire, I started out ahead - and then I fell behind. But I'm going to fight back. I'm looking forward to this fight. And I intend to win this fight. Because I believe there are some things worth fighting for.
But let me tell you something else: all of you will face moments in your lives when it will be difficult to achieve what you believe in. Those are the moments when you're tested.
I know something about adversity. I've had to endure hardships many Americans can't even imagine. I've seen my hopes and dreams for the future flash before my very eyes. You see - I'm a veteran Red Sox fan.
I have been in tough spots before, in a war, in leading the fight to end that war, in several campaigns, and in taking on powerful interests in Washington.
And I'm in a tough political fight now. So I hope that when this speech is over, you'll think that what I've proposed is the best path for the nation. And even if you don't, I hope that when you someday face a moment like this, when the going gets tough, when what you believe in is at stake, you'll decide that you don't back down; you fight back stronger than ever. That's what I'm determined to do now.
This campaign in New Hampshire will be decided in the next 67 days, and I will work hard every single day to fight back and to win. I will never stop trying to change this country. Because this is not about me - and the fight I'm in isn't half as hard as the fight of the people being left behind in the Bush economy, the soldiers being overextended in the Bush foreign policy, the Americans who can't afford health care because George Bush has put lobbyists ahead of our families. In the end, this battle is about all of us together - about our future and our responsibilities to each other.
I'm fighting for people like Joey Dubois. Joey is one of the friends I've made here in New Hampshire. He's a veteran and though he sits in a wheelchair, no one stands prouder of their country and their service. But he is being docked of his disability pay because George Bush says we can't afford to pay for it. There are plenty of places to cut back in government - but Joey Dubois is not one of them. We shouldn't sacrifice those like Joey Dubois in order to pay for George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy. And we should not balance the budget on the backs of Joey Dubois. The definition of patriotism starts by keeping faith with those who wore the uniform. I believe America's veterans are worth fighting for.
I'm fighting for Lisa and Randy Denuccio from Salem. They are good parents to four wonderful children, small business owners, active in their community. But their water - the water their children bathe in and used to make lemonade - was found to be poisoned by a chemical added to gasoline. Big oil is trying to avoid paying for the clean-up and stick New Hampshire with the bill. George Bush is trying to help his oil buddies - I'm fighting to stop them. Because Lisa and Randy Denuccio are worth fighting for.
I'm fighting for John Knowles from Hudson who was laid off from his telecommunications job after more than three years. His wife was just diagnosed with breast cancer - and he's depending on the economy coming back. John Knowles is worth fighting for.
What George Bush has given all these people - and so many others - is a Raw Deal. He's favored tax cuts for the wealthy and special favors for the special interests over what's fair for middle class Americans. He's buckled to lobbyists and the powerful instead of standing up for everyday Americans. This Administration's motto really should be "no special interest left behind."
I'm running to replace George Bush's Raw Deal with a Real Deal that stands up to the powerful interests. That's built on people and products not privileges and perks. And that stands on the side of those who are standing up for what's right.
I am running so we can keep America's promise - to reward the hard work of middle class Americans and pull down the barriers that stand in their way and in the way of those struggling to join them; to restore our true strength in the world which comes from ideals, not arrogance; renew the commitment of our generation to pass this planet on to our children better than it was given to us.
You see, this election is not just about replacing George Bush - its about changing the direction of our country. People in New Hampshire don't trudge through the snow just because they support a candidate. You do it because you love America - and want it to be better.
This campaign is not just to get George Bush out of the White House - its about electing the leader of this nation and of the free world. And people all over this country - and all over the world - are looking to New Hampshire and waiting to see what you'll decide. Americans without jobs, families who can't afford their health care, seniors, children, the poorest and weakest people in our country are relying on your vote.
So send them a candidate ready to be Commander-in-Chief, ready to bring back our economy, to take on the special interests and fight for the middle class. Send them someone who offers answers, not just anger. Solutions, not just slogans. So New Hampshire, in January, don't just send them a message. Send them a President.
It's a President we're choosing here. That's why today I want to lay out some of what I'll do in the first hundred days of a Kerry Administration to make the Real Deal a reality. In the weeks ahead, I'm going to lay out an Action Plan for the First 100 Days. The specific steps we will take to change America - the steps I will fight for in the early days of a Kerry Presidency.
And for the next 67 days, we're going to fight hard everyday - sometimes every hour.
We're going to do a series of 24 hour campaign days to meet voters where they live and where they work. To tell them about the Real Deal and what's at stake.
This fight is about our future. About leadership. About making our system work for our people. Those are the things I have spent my life working on. And I won't turn back now. I believe you are worth fighting for. So here's what I'm going to do in my first hundred days.
By executive order, we will reinstate the 5-year ban on lobbying so that government officials cannot cash in with influence peddling. We will end the sorry spectacle of George Bush's campaign manager selling access for contracts to rebuild Iraq. We will shine a light on the secret deals in Washington by requiring every meeting with a lobbyist or any special interest deal inserted by a lobbyist be made public. Giving our government back to the people is something worth fighting for.
My first major proposal to Congress will be a realistic plan that stops spiraling healthcare costs, covers every child in America, and makes it possible for every American to get the same health care as any Member of Congress. Making health care a right and not a privilege is something worth fighting for.
We will change the corporate culture. That means rewarding companies that create jobs by helping with health care costs, a new manufacturing jobs tax credit and new assistance for small businesses. We will close every loophole for companies - like Tyco - that take jobs offshore and go after companies that defraud their customers, investors, and workers. We will apply the same tough criminal penalties we used against organized crime to giant corporations - like mutual funds - that steal the lifetime savings and pensions of Americans. Ending George Bush's creed of greed is something worth fighting for.
We will rollback George Bush's assault on our environment. We will restore protections for clean air and clean water - and work to strengthen them. We will introduce a plan to make America energy independent of Mid East oil in ten years-and create 500,000 jobs along the way. Never will we have to send Americans to fight for Mid East oil. A clean environment and energy independence are worth fighting for.
We will begin a new era of national service. Enlisting a million Americans of all ages - from young people to America's seniors - to serve their country. I want to give Americans the chance to earn four years of college tuition in exchange for two years of service. We'll require mandatory service for high school kids because you have a responsibility to your country too. Making national service a way of life is something worth fighting for.
We will start creating an economy that works for the middle class instead of the privileged class.
We will repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy so that we can invest in education and health care. And we will protect middle class tax cuts, like the child credit and the end of the marriage penalty, and add more tax cuts for the middle class because the last time I checked the problem in America isn't that the middle class has too much money. Helping families make ends meet is something worth fighting for.
For the first time in American history, we will lead into law a new Education Trust Fund that will guarantee we fully fund our schools and protect our children's education from politics. We will make a new deal on education - if Washington is going to mandate something for our schools, then the funding should be mandatory. And that includes special education. Our children's future - your future - is something worth fighting for.
We will begin restoring fiscal sanity to Washington and cut the deficit in half in four years. No more giveaways to powerful interests and their smooth lobbyists - like the energy bill or the Medicare bill. We'll do this the right way - by securing Medicare and Social Security and protecting our children and veterans. A budget with a brain and a heart is worth fighting for.
As President, I will restore our commitment to civil rights and individual rights. And that will begin with the appointment of an Attorney General who's commitment to and understanding of the Constitution is as great as that of all Americans. If I am President, this government will protect individual rights not roll them back. We will protect equal rights and a woman's right to choose. And we will restore the constitutional foundation of this nation. Civil rights and civil liberties are worth fighting for.
Perhaps most importantly, as we face an unprecedented crisis in the world, I will provide leadership that makes us safer. In my first hundred days we will rejoin the community of nations and renounce the Bush policy of preemptive war. I will go to the United Nations and travel to the nations of the world to restore American leadership and rebuild our shattered alliances. Even a nation as great as the United States needs some friends in this world. Ending George Bush's failed go-it-alone policies is something worth fighting for.
George Bush has shown he has no experience to be Commander-in-Chief and no plan for peace in Iraq. He's overextended our troops, he can't find Saddam Hussein, he can't find Osama bin Laden, he can't even find the leaker in his own White House. I know something about aircraft carriers for real. And if George Bush wants to make this election about national security, I have three words for him he'll understand: Bring. It. On.
I'm ready to wage this fight and I'm ready to win it. Because I believe the courage of Americans can change this country. That courage can create an America that does what's right. And it starts right here in Iowa/New Hampshire. I believe the courage of Americans can change this country. Your courage can break the grip of special interests and win back our economic future. Your courage can save our environment, raise up our schools, and finally open up health care to all. Your courage can end discrimination once and for all. Your courage can defend this nation's ideals. Your courage can put America back to work and put George Bush and Dick Cheney on a bus back to Texas. I ask for your vote. I ask for your help. Go to johnkerry.com. Together we can make it happen.
Your courage can end George Bush's raw deal. Your courage can give America a real deal. We will not give up. We will win this battle. Because we believe that America is worth fighting for.