Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

America Rocks the Vote Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum – Part 1

Location: Boston, MA



November 4, 2003 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Democratic Presidential Candidate Forum

BYLINE: Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper hosts America Rocks the Vote democratic presidential candidates forum.



We are live in Boston's Faneuil Hall for America Rocks the Vote.

Tonight, we have brought together hundreds of 18-to-30-year-old Democrats and independents. Millions more right now are watching around the country and literally around the world.

Tonight, you here, as well as you at home, get to challenge the candidates who would be president.

Let's meet them right now.

Governor Howard Dean.


Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.


General Wesley Clark.


Senator Joseph Lieberman.


Senator John Edwards.


Senator John Kerry.


Reverend Al Sharpton.


And Congressman Dennis Kucinich.


Welcome, gentlemen, lady, have a seat, please.

You all may notice that Congressman Richard Gephardt is not here. He was apparently here yesterday, doing something at Harvard. Tonight, he's in Iowa, in a diner.

Personally I don't think he's going to have quite as much fun as we all are going to have here.


Very briefly, our goal tonight: a conversation between the candidates and young America. You at home can e-mail us questions right now or text message us with the questions you want to put to the candidates. The candidates will have up to a minute to respond.

Now, the candidates, about your responses—and you all can have a seat if you'd like—we've already seen your debate. We've heard the stump speeches, the talking points, the sound bytes. In fact, I don't know if you all know, but there is actually a drinking game on some campuses during these debates.


No, it's true, and that when you say your stock phrases, somebody downs a shot.


And I hate to do this, but just in case you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at these videos.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was in the United States Army...

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I was serving in Vietnam...

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad worked at a mill his whole life.





REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a plan to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out, to get the U.N. troops in and the U.S. troops out, to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out.

CLARK: I voted for Al Gore.

LIEBERMAN: You've got to start where Al Gore...

Al Gore said to me...

EDWARDS: ... to Al Gore and I, we want to reach out to the middle class.

MOSELEY BRAUN: Shrinking middle class.

SHARPTON: Particularly the middle class..

Middle class...

Middle class...

DEAN: Ken Lay...

EDWARDS: Ken Lay...

SHARPTON: Enron...



KUCINICH: No more Halliburton...

DEAN: We benefited in Vermont...


We've actually done this, and a lot of this in Vermont.

KUCINICH: This is a grassroots campaign to take back America...

DEAN: It's time to take our country back.

CLARK: Take this government back.

EDWARDS: Back to the American people.


COOPER: All right, now, you all haven't walked out yet, so that is a good sign. That's a very good sign.


COOPER: And I know that you all don't want to contribute to drinking on college campuses, after all, there is school tomorrow. So tonight, let's try to keep things real.

Let's go to our first question, which I believe is over here.

QUESTION: I live in southeastern Michigan in a community with over 500,000 Arab-Americans. Since September 11th, many Arab- Americans have seen infringements on their civil liberties, like lack of due process and forced interrogations by the FBI.

Senator Lieberman, you voted in favor of the Patriot Act. If you become president, how do you plan to protect the civil liberties of Arab-Americans?

LIEBERMAN: Very important question and I thank you for it.

The best thing we did with the Patriot Act was to sunset it, was to say—right—to say that it needs to be reauthorized or it'll go out of existence. And we're going to look back and see what happened with the Patriot Act.

But I'll tell you—and in fact, the Bush administration has been typically secretive about what it did with the Patriot Act, so we don't really know yet how much it may have protected us or compromised our liberties.

But I know something bad that happened under immigration law under John Ashcroft as the attorney general. Almost 800 foreign nationals, immigrants, mostly Arab-Americans or people who looked like Arab-Americans, were arrested, put in jail, held without charges, no notification for their families and no right to counsel. That's un- American and I will fight to end that as president of the United States.

We can have security and liberty.

If we fight the terrorists who attacked us because of our liberties by compromising our liberties, shame on us.

COOPER: All right, your time is up.


Let's go to the next question over here.

QUESTION: Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Yes, sir.

QUESTION: You're the manager of the Boston Red Sox.



QUESTION: It's game seven.

(UNKNOWN): That's one way to get Kerry out of the race.


QUESTION: It's game seven of the ALCS versus the New York Yankees. Your starting pitcher appears to be tiring.


You know it's best for the team to replace him, but the star asks to stay in. Do you make an executive decision and take him out? Or do you listen to your star and let him, the person who you hired in that role, and let him finish that job?


KERRY: That's a great question.


Wilmington, thank you very much for the question. I thought it was tough running for president of the United States. Now he wants to make me manager of the Red Sox.


Let me tell you something. You know why I will be a great president of the United States? Because I've been a long suffering Red Sox fan. I know adversity.


Like most of you here, I was throwing things at the television set, screaming at Grady Little, "Get him out of there. Get him out of there."

And regrettably he didn't. Now we have another round. But that's our role in life. You have to understand. If you come from Boston, you come from Massachusetts, you love the Red Sox, your role in life is to put up with it.

And I'll tell you what. Every single one of us ought to celebrate the Marlins beating the Yankees.


And the reason it's extra special is that's the first legitimate victory out of Florida since 2000.


COOPER: I take it that means you'll leave him in?

KERRY: Leave him in? Hell, I was throwing things at the set. He's out. Take him out. Take him out.

COOPER: Next question over here.

QUESTION: My question is for Governor Dean.

I recently read a comment that you made where you said that you wanted to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. When I read that comment, I was extremely offended.

Could you explain to me how you plan on being sensitive to needs and issues regarding slavery and African-Americans, after making a comment of that nature?


DEAN: Sure. Martin Luther King said that it was his dream that the sons of slave holders and the sons of slaves sit down around a table and make common good.

There are 102,000 kids in South Carolina right now with no health insurance. Most of those kids are white. The legislature cut $70 million out of the school system. Most of the kids in the public school system are white. We have had white Southern working people voting Republican for 30 years, and they've got nothing to show for it.

They vote for a president who cut 1 percent of this country's taxpayers' taxes by $26,000, which is more than they make. And I think we need to talk to white Southern workers about how they vote, because when white people and black people and brown people vote together in this country, that's the only time that we make social progress, and they need to come back to the Democratic Party.

COOPER: Reverend Sharpton, I just want to point out, in the last couple days, earlier last week, you have called some of Governor Dean's positions anti-black. It sounds very close to calling him racist.

SHARPTON: No, I don't think the governor is a racist. I think some of his positions would have hurt us. But I think that doesn't answer, Governor, this young man's question.


First of all, Martin Luther King said, "Come to the table of brotherhood." You can't bring a Confederate flag to the table of brotherhood.


And you can't misquote Martin Luther King like that. I come out of the King movement, I didn't just read him. He talked about us leaving racism there. And I think that Maynard Jackson said that the Confederate flag is America's swastika. If a Southern person running, if John Edwards, a Bob Graham had said that, they'd have been run out this race.

I don't think you're a bigot, but I think that is insensitive, and I think you ought to apologize to people for that.

When Bill Clinton was found to be a member of a white-only country club, he apologized. You are not a bigot, but you appear to be too arrogant to say "I'm wrong" and go on.


COOPER: Governor Dean?

DEAN: We're not going to win in this country, and even worse, Democrats, if we don't have a big tent. And I'm going to tell you right now, Reverend, you're right. I am not a bigot. And Jesse Jackson Jr. endorsed me and has stood up for what I said.

And Reverend Jesse Jackson went down to South Carolina last week and went to a trailer park which was inhabited by mostly white folks making $25,000 a year. We need to reach out to those people, too, because they suffer as well.

I understand the legacy of racism in this country, and I understand the legacy of bigotry in this country. We need to bring folks together in this race, just like Martin Luther King tried to do before he was killed. He was right. And I make no apologies for reaching out to poor white people.

SHARPTON: But Confederate flags is not for white people, and that's sounds more like Stonewall Jackson than Jesse Jackson. And he...


Jesse Jackson went to South Carolina with all of us protesting the flag. The issue's not poor Southern whites. Most poor Southern whites don't wear a Confederate flag, and you ought not try to stereotype that.


COOPER: All right, let me bring Senator Edwards with his comments.

Senator Edwards, in the last couple days you have been very critical of Governor Dean on this issue. And let me try to understand, are you basically saying that the votes of those who fly the Confederate flag are too loathsome to even accept? And if so, are there any other groups whose votes you don't want?

EDWARDS: Well, let me say, first of all, unless I missed something, Governor Dean still has not said he was wrong.

Were you wrong, Howard?


Were you wrong to say that?

DEAN: No, I wasn't, John Edwards, because people who vote who fly the Confederate flag, I think they are wrong because I think the Confederate flag is a racist symbol. But I think there are lot of poor people who fly that flag because the Republicans have been dividing us by race since 1968 with their Southern race strategy.

I am tired of being divided by race in this country. I am tired of being divided by abortion, by gay rights.

I want to go down to the South and talk to people who don't make any more than anybody else up north but keep voting Republican against their own economic interests and that's what I am saying.

EDWARDS: But may I respond?


May I respond? And I want to respond to this young man's questions.

Because let me tell you the last thing we need in the South is somebody like you coming down and telling us what we need to do.


That's the last thing in the world we need in the South.

I grew up in the South. I grew up with the very people that you're talking about. And what Al Sharpton just said is exactly right. The people that I grew up with, the vast majority of them, they don't drive around with Confederate flags on pickup trucks.

One of the problems that we have with young people today is people talk down to you. You know, you get all pigeon-holed. They've stereotype you.

Exactly the same thing happens with people from the South. I have seen it. I have grown up with it. I'm here to tell you it is wrong. It is condescending. And the only way that we as a party are going to win the White House back is to reach out to everybody and treat them with the dignity and respect that they're entitled to.

That's what we ought to be doing.


COOPER: Ambassador Braun, you make a comment. And then, Governor Dean, you can respond. And then we'll move on.

Ambassador Braun?

MOSELEY BRAUN: You know, when I was in the Senate I opened myself up to the venom of the right-wing conspiracy by battling Jesse Helms over the Confederate flag. And I'm sitting here in Faneiul Hall and looking at that picture of having to do with the framing of our Constitution. And if you think about it, the women are relegated to the balcony, and the blacks aren't even in the room.

We have to as Democrats begin to engage a civil conversation among ourselves how we can get past that racist strategy that the Republicans have foisted upon this country, how we can bring Southern whites and Southern blacks and northern blacks and northern whites together, how we can come together to reclaim this country—and Latinos, and Asians, and Christians and Muslims and Jews and Protestants.

I mean, we have to be able to bring people together to find a solution. Because guess what, we are in a global economy. We are in a global competition. We have to deal with and address the rest of the world. And we can't do it as long as Americans are still fighting each other. And we need to find ways as Democrats to come together.

Yes, this is an important conversation. But it has to be done in a way that does not play into the hands of the real racists and the real right wing.

COOPER: Governor Dean, your response, and then we'll move on.


DEAN: I'm not going to take a back seat to anybody in terms of fighting bigotry. I signed—I am the only person here that ever signed a bill that outlawed discrimination against gays and lesbians by giving them the same amount...


What I discovered is that fear of people who opposed that bill, which is the majority of people in my state, was mostly based on ignorance.

We have to reach out to every single American. We can't write—we don't have to embrace the Confederate flag, and I never suggested that we did. But we have to reach out to all disenfranchised people.

Robert Kennedy brought people together in Appalachia. Jesse Jackson did it. And we're going to bring people together in this country.

I understand that the Confederate flag is a loathsome symbol, just as I understood that all the anti-gay slurs that I had to put up with in Vermont after I signed that bill were loathsome symbols. If we don't reach out to every single American, we can't win.

I have had enough of campaigns based on fear. I want a campaign based on hope.


COOPER: All right, we've got to move on on this issue. We've got a lot of questions from the audience. We have a question over here.

QUESTION: I'm a freshman at Brown University. And going to college this year, I was confused with an important decision. My mom advised me one way; my dad the other. And so my question for you all is—and it's not quite boxers or briefs, but Macs or PCs?

COOPER: Congressman Kucinich, Mac or PCs?

MOSELEY BRAUN: Macs or PCs? I'll answer.

I like them—my son has a Mac, he loves it. I use a PC.

COOPER: The question was actually to all of you.

So, Governor Dean, Mac or PC?


LIEBERMAN: Hand-held wireless. That's what I have.


COOPER: Somehow I knew you were going to say that.




SHARPTON: A politically correct Mac.


COOPER: All right. Let's go for the next question.

Actually, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, we have asked all the candidates to prepare 30-second videos addressing young voters. When "America Rocks the Vote" returns, you'll see the first of them and decide for yourself who's really listening to the next generation.

Plus, we're going to have your e-mail questions, what do America's young voters want to know about Iraq—that when we return.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: And welcome back. We are live from Boston's Feneuil Hall. "America Rocks the Vote" is back.

We're going to return to the questions in just a moment.

First, all of the candidates here tonight were asked to deliver a message directly to young voters in a 30-second video.

Unlike MTV, we actually play videos. So we're going to bring you all...


Hey, hey, you know.


We're going to play you all of them throughout the program at different parts. Our first batch includes Senators John Edwards and John Kerry, but we start with Senator Joseph Lieberman in 30.

Take a look.


COOPER: All right, the next video is Senator John Edwards.

Take a look in 30.


COOPER: And the last one in this group, Senator John Kerry's video.


COOPER: We'll have the rest of the videos sprinkled throughout the evening. But right now, let's go back to questions.

QUESTION: My question is for Senator Kerry. As a member of the United States Army Reserves, many of my fellow young soldiers have experienced the hardships of combat because of the commitment they have to this country. My question is, do you—what specific actions would you take to ensure that these soldiers receive the benefits that they deserve?

KERRY: I will do what I have done for 35 years, which is fight to make certain that we keep faith with those who wear the uniform in our country. George Bush has 135,000 veterans waiting six months to get their first visit with the doctor at the VA. Four hundred thousand veterans have had their cutbacks and their accessibility to the VA altogether.

We have families with children in the military who've had cuts in their ability to get education. And the Reserves have been turned into active duty, and they are over-extended.


I say to you, this president has made our military weaker by overextending them, and he has in fact made America less secure by conducting an arrogant, blustering, unilateral foreign policy that has put America in greater danger, not less.


Our troops deserve a president who's going to keep faith with those who wore the uniform. And that means making certain that they have the benefits they were promised.

COOPER: All right. We have a wireless question for General Clark. By the way, we have questions on this topic for all of you.

General Clark, this is a wireless question. Would you reinstate the draft? I think they asked this because one of your senior campaign advisers, Congressman Charlie Rangel, says the draft should be reinstated. It's time. Is it?

CLARK: No. I don't think it's time to reinstate the draft. America's armed forces need people who want to be there. And I would not reinstate the draft.

I am worried about the armed forces. And I agree with a lot of things John said. He's exactly right. The armed forces are overextended and particularly with our Reservists and our National Guardsmen. We're using them in a way that, frankly, was never intended.

But the answer to this is first to take care of the Reserve, the National Guard, give them the health care they need, give it to them while they're still in their civilian status as reservists and guardsmen, and give them the health care they need and their families need when they're deployed and when they return home. And keep them on their full pay and allowances if they're injured in some way and then brought back to the States.

You know, it's a shocking that we found down at Fort Stewart, Georgia. A bunch of guys who fought over in Iraq were left alone in concrete cinderblock buildings. They were reservists and guardsmen. They didn't have enough medics and doctors to keep them there. And they were there for months without getting proper medical care. We should fix it.

But here's the key thing on the draft. We believe that the armed forces are better with a volunteer force. And what this country has to understand is that when it puts a foreign policy in place that the American people don't support, the answer for that is not to reinstitute the draft, but to change the foreign policy, and that's where we're headed with Iraq.


COOPER: And I'm just throwing it out there, I don't want to be a schoolmarm tonight, but when you do hear that clever little computerized chime of ours, please do respect that.

We have a question for Congressman Kucinich: You talk about the U.N. pulling out of Iraq—or you talk about the U.S. pulling out—the U.N. in—I should have been watching the video.


Why do you have so much confidence in the U.N.? I mean, there are those who say, look, the U.N. is already pulling out of Iraq, in the face of terror. There are those who say that the U.N. closed their eyes in Srebrenica, in Bosnia, and that they debated while a million people were killed in Rwanda.

Why are you so confident...

KUCINICH: First of all, we have to understand that the United States has not been particularly supportive of the U.N. process—we know that—over many years.

For many years, the United Nations was having trouble getting funding. And the inability to get funding had a material impact, an adverse impact, on the ability of the United Nations to do its job around the world.

As president of the United States, I've said, as you recorded, I want to get the U.N. in and the U.S. out of Iraq, because we have to acknowledge that the United States made a grave mistake in the first place in going in there, that we are—if it was a mistake to go in, it is a mistake to stay in.

And the only way that we could be safe as a nation is to reach out and to engage with the world community in the cause of international security. So the U.N. going in would mean the U.N. would handle the oil, with no privatization of the oil assets.

The U.N. would handle the contract. No more Halliburton sweetheart deals. The U.N. would handle the cause of governance.


The U.N. would handle the cause of helping the Iraqi people become self governing again. And as we do that, we affirm the United States' intention to work with the world community. And it's time for us to rejoin the world, I think.


COOPER: Reverend Sharpton—Reverend Sharpton, you have said, quote, "I would absolutely take the troops out of Iraq." With U.S. troops gone, how do you prevent terrorists from just moving in?

SHARPTON: First of all, I think we've got to start at the beginning. We were told we had to go to Iraq because we were in imminent danger. That was not true. You cannot start wrong and then end up right. You are going to get wrong from wrong.


We were misled, and we are still being misled.

Now, if we go to the United Nations, if we go to the world community and we say to them, "We are not in charge. We will submit to a world body. Kofi Annan is in charge. We will be part of a partnership," the world can then come forward.

What Bush is saying, "We are in charge. We are going to keep our sweetheart deals going with Halliburton, and you guys line up behind me." Why would anybody that disagreed with you when you were misleading them in the first place invest in the end of your deal when they told you in the beginning they were not part of the deal.

COOPER: So you are talking about putting U.S. troops under the command of the U.N.?

SHARPTON: I'm talking about stopping U.S. troops from dying senselessly. There is a young man in New York, in Long Island, would have been 21 years old, who is dead. Why? Young people dying from helicopters in Iraq. Why? What is the rationale? And the man that is responsible for what happened on 9/11, we are not even pursuing him.

We're in a Vietnam in Iraq, and it's wrong.


COOPER: Ambassador Braun? Ambassador Braun, you have talked about...

MOSELEY BRAUN: I can't even hear you.

COOPER: Ambassador Braun, you have talked about bringing home troops with honor. What exactly does that mean?

MOSELEY BRAUN: That means we blew Iraq up. We have a responsibility to at least stay and leave it in better shape than we found it.


I did not...


I've called this a misadventure and called on the president not to put boots on the ground in Iraq from the very beginning. I asked the question, how much it was going to cost the American people from the beginning. We still don't have the truth on any of these things. They've lied to the American people consistently.

Ten thousand Iraqi civilians it's estimated have died as a result of this. And we're heading into 300 American combat troops have died in Iraq. This has been a tragic misadventure.

But those people having given their lives, at a minimum we have, I think, our honor at stake. And to preserve that honor, we have to leave the Iraqi people no less—no worse off than we found them. And that means repairing and rebuilding the infrastructure, not new phone deals and sweetheart deals for Halliburton, certainly.

We don't need to give them a new phone system when we hardly have our phones working here at home.

But at the same time, I think we have to leave that place restored on some level and come out as we internationalize the effort as we bring in NATO and the United Nations troops.

COOPER: Senator Edwards, there are a lot of people who say, you know, the Democrats are very good at criticizing, but in terms of specific policies on the ground, how would you do things differently? For instance, how would you get allies to work with the U.S.? I mean, how are you going to convince them? Are you going to charm them? What are you going to do different that George Bush hasn't been doing?

EDWARDS: Well, first of all, if I were president of the United States, I would put the Iraqi Civilian Authority under the control of the United Nations today. That should have been done a long time ago. Use that to create the kind of energy we need to bring allies and friends to this effort, to help relieve the burden on American troops, relieve the burden on American taxpayers.

And also, as some of my colleagues up here have mentioned, put a stop to these sweetheart deals for Halliburton, the president's friends.

The very idea—how would you expect the American people to react? The very idea that the president's campaign manager and long- time friend, Joe Allbaugh, a couple of months ago or a month ago, set up a consulting firm in Washington for the purpose of getting contracts in Iraq. How in the world would you expect the American people to react to that? They are reacting exactly as they should. The president's looking out for his friends and not looking out for the American people.


COOPER: Senator Lieberman, it is November 4th, 22 soldiers have died in this month alone in Iraq. You voted for the war. You have been very critical of President Bush's handling of it.

Specifically, if you can, what would you do differently with the troops on the ground now?

LIEBERMAN: Let me say first, I understand how this discussion tears the American people. I understand how it tears the generation that's in this room because most of the troops that are there in Iraq today are from your generation.

What I would do today—and again, we can look back—Bush made this so difficult by alienating most of the rest of the world, for reasons that aren't even related to Iraq, by pulling out of the global warming agreement internationally, by pulling out of arms control treaties...


... by not getting into the International Court of Criminal Justice, for having no plan for what to do when Saddam fell.

But here we are today, we've got 135,000 Americans there. I would try to—I would go back to the United Nations, and I would come off the Bush high horse and negotiate and turn over the civilian administration of Iraq to the United Nations and the Iraqis.

I didn't support the war in Iraq so that America could control Iraq. I supported it to get rid of a homicidal maniac named Saddam Hussein and to let the Iraqis control Iraq.

And let me say one final word. Our troops need support there. They're stretched, and we're losing lives. If this administration doesn't come to their aid, shame on them.

I'm going to be a leader who will do what's right for America, whether it's politically popular or not. That's what a commander in chief should do.


COOPER: OK, Governor Dean, talking about Iraq...


Governor Dean, if you could respond perhaps to what Congressman Kucinich said.

DEAN: Sorry, I didn't hear the question.

COOPER: If you could respond a little bit to what Congressman Kucinich said. Does the U.N.—can they really handle the job?

DEAN: I don't think we have any choice.

Let me just tell you what the difference between me and General Clark and Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards and Senator Lieberman are.

I thought it was bad judgment to support that war in the first place, because the president—I supported the first Gulf War, I supported the Afghanistan war. Our people had been killed. We have a right to defend ourselves.

But this time the president of the United States did not tell the truth to us about why we were going. And I think one of the most important things in a president is to have judgment and patience. I think it was a mistake for Congress to give the authority to the president to go into Iraq. And if I had been president, we wouldn't be there right now.

Secondly, the way to get out—we can't just cut and run. Carol Moseley Braun is right about that. What we have to do is do what George Bush's father did. He had over 100,000 troops in Iraq from foreign countries, mostly Arabic-speaking or Muslim troops.

We need to bring troops from Arabic-speaking nations in so this is an international reconstruction and not an American occupation. And I think, yes, the U.N. can do that.


COOPER: All right, we're going to take a short break. Coming up, we have more videos in General Wesley Clark, we have an Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, plus your e-mail questions.

Stay with us, we'll be right back.


COOPER: All right, Welcome back. We are live at Boston's Faneuil Hall, "America Rocks The Vote." We have given the Democratic candidates a chance to tape their own messages, which we are playing throughout the evening.

On deck right now are videos from General Wesley Clark, the Reverend Al Sharpton and Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, in 30. Let's take a look.



COOPER: I'm not sure who the next video is from—the next video is from the Reverend Al Sharpton. Let's take a look.



COOPER: And the last video's from Ambassador Moseley Braun. Let's listen.



COOPER: All right, I'm told we have a question in the audience.

QUESTION: My question is this: Who were you when you were 20 years old? And did you ever think that you would run for president?

COOPER: Who is your question to?

QUESTION: Any of the candidates.


KUCINICH: I was a candidate for a city council in the city of Cleveland. And I determined that I wanted to serve my country by being involved in public service. I had a heart murmur. I couldn't get into the military. But I knew that my life doesn't belong to just me. It belongs, I feel, to the community. So I chose a life of public service. And I think that every person who ever serves wants to be able to help more and more people.

And so, I'm grateful to have the chance, here—actually, because a New York Times reporter had asked me, I went back to get an autobiography I wrote in the 10th grade. And I looked at it today, and I saw that in the 10th grade I said that I wanted to pursue a career in national politics because I was interested in public service.

So, what it says is this: If you have a dream in your heart about the kind of world that you want to help create, if you have the passion, trust that. It's what Emerson wrote about trust thyself. Every heart vibrates to that iron string. And when you trust that inner-knowingness, you could follow it all the way. You can follow it here. You could follow it to the career of your dreams. Thank you.


COOPER: General Clark?

CLARK: When I was 20 years old, it was the fall of 1965. I was a senior at West Point. Our Army was engaged in Vietnam. The country was still divided, but mostly supportive. I remember going to college campuses, and the organizing was just started.

My classmates and I at West Point were worried. For the first time, we really recognized that when we graduated, we'd be at war. We saw people starting to die. We had about 200,000 troops there.

I realized what it was to serve in the United States Armed Forces. I volunteered for that, because I wanted to protect the country.

I stayed with it through Vietnam. And I know today what young people feel, in and out of uniform, when they look at the situation in Iraq.

I went to West Point. I served in the Army because I wanted to protect our country and serve the public. That's why I'm running for president. I never expected to do it.

But I will tell you this. In the fall of '65, I went to Georgetown University for a student conference on the Atlantic Community. I met another young guy from Arkansas. His name was Bill Clinton. And I knew he was going to run for president.



Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top