Remarks of John Kerry
December 02, 2003
Boston, MA -
Now, many of you may have heard a few things about why I'm running for President of the United States. You see, I know something about adversity. I've been tested under the most extreme conditions. 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.
George Bush thought he could play dress-up on an aircraft carrier in front of a sign saying "Mission Accomplished" and we wouldn't be quick enough to notice that our troops are dying in Iraq every day.
He thought we wouldn't notice that he's lost two jobs every minute, ripped to shreds virtually every friendship we have in the world, and opened the doors of government to Halliburton and every other special interest that came knocking.
We're not fooled that easily. We did notice. And now we're going to give George Bush and Dick Cheney a one-way bus ticket back to Texas.
Because when it comes to jobs, to health care, to making college affordable, to civil liberties, to the security of our nation, it's not only Mission Not Accomplished, it's Mission Not Even Attempted, it's Mission Abandoned. On issue after issue, George Bush has given America a raw deal and everyone in this room knows it.
I'm running for President because George Bush has chosen tax cuts for the wealthy and special favors for the special interests over jobs, over clean air and water, and over affordable health care for all Americans. George Bush has buckled to lobbyists and the powerful instead of standing up for everyday Americans. I'm running for President to stand up for the everyday Americans who show the courage to do what's right.
I'm running because it's clear that for George Bush "jobs" is a four letter word. He's chosen to defend loopholes that send jobs overseas instead of investing in our workers and their skills. We've got millions of you graduating from college, ready to put your talents to work, and it's about time we had a President who will put jobs back on top of the national agenda.
I'm running for President because while George Bush gives tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, students are struggling to find the support they need to succeed. You face soaring tuition costs and with more debt after you graduate, and I think it's time we had a President who will stand up and say that four years of college should be as universal and affordable as a high school education is today.
I'm running for President to stop the powerful corporations that are trying to rewrite our environmental laws to make our air and water dirtier. I'm not afraid of them. I've beaten them before. And as President, I'll do it again.
We need the courage to stand up for gun safety. Some Democrats are saying that the only way to win elections is to throw out what we believe in. I'm here to tell you: I'd rather lose votes than lose lives. I never want us to be the party of the NRA.
I'm running for President to stand up to the oil companies and make America energy independent. We'll create half a million new jobs here at home - and I will make sure that young people are never sent to die for Mideast oil.
I'm running for President because the Supreme Court is at stake and we have to stand up for civil rights, equal rights and a woman's right to choose. When I am President there will be no John Ashcroft trampling on the Bill of Rights
We are at war - and the world is looking to us for leadership. I'm running for President because George Bush has shown he has no experience to be Commander-in-Chief and no plan for peace in Iraq. He thinks he'll be able to beat us on national security. 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.
And what's this President going to find when he brings it on? When he brings on every tool in his right-wing arsenal to stop us from taking back our democracy? When he brings on the attack ads that question our patriotism? When he brings on the right-wing talking heads-the Ann Coulters, the Sean Hannitys, the Rush Limbaughs-to try and stifle dissent and shut us up?
He's going to find our own secret weapon-he's going to find YOU. An army of volunteers with the courage to change America and the energy to get it done. I couldn't have come this far without all of you, and I can't get it done in January without you either. Already, all of you Terriers out there have contributed over 2,700 volunteer hours to our effort. You've gone to Faneuil Hall and given us the largest crowds we've ever had. You've gone to Maine and braved the cold. And twice a month you go to New Hampshire, pound the pavement, talk to the voters and deliver our message right to their door steps. This is an amazing commitment on your part and I'm here to simply say: Thank you.
But now we need you to do more. Your pavement pounding in New Hampshire will carry us over the line in January, and I need your help in the coming months.
In the late 1960s, young people of my generation wanted to end a war gone wrong, bring our troops home, advance civil rights for our people, and protect our environment. They called these young people the peanut-butter brigade-college kids living on sandwiches who believed that if they knocked on enough Granite State doors and stood up for what they believed, things could be different. And they were-because it was student activism that changed this nation and the world.
Today, I'm asking you to make history again by forming your own peanut butter brigade. The issues we've fought for over the years may have changed, but the cause and the dream and the energy we need is the same. This race starts heating up when you're leaving school for winter break, and I couldn't be more grateful if each of you would grab a few friends, hop in the car, and head up 93 to New Hampshire to spend a month, a week, or even a weekend knocking on doors and speaking out for what you believe in.
Don't doubt you can change the world. Only doubt those who say you can't.
I can't promise you the work will be glamorous. But I can promise you that you'll make a difference. You'll help make this a better country and that's worth the long hours and the cold weather and even missing a few of your classes. A better America is worth fighting for.
I'm ready to wage this fight and I'm ready to win it. Because I believe the courage of everyday Americans can change this country. And it starts right here with you. 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 end George Bush's raw deal. Your courage can give America a real deal. I ask for your vote. I ask for your help. Go to New Hampshire. Go to johnkerry.com. On November 2, 2004, we are going to beat George Bush-and then we can say "Mission Accomplished." Let's make it happen.