January 19, 2004
Des Moines, IA
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Iowa.
Last night, the New England Patriots won. Tonight, this New Englander won here in Iowa. Thank you, Iowa for putting us on the road to the Super Bowl.
Thank you, Iowa, for making me the comeback Kerry.
Not so long ago, this campaign was written off. But in your homes and community halls, in barns and VFW halls and restaurants where I never got to eat, you gathered, you listened and you stood with me on this caucus night so that we can defeat George Bush and the special interests he serves - and give America back its future and its soul.
And I have listened to you and learned from you - and from the people of New Hampshire - and you have made me a better candidate. And I thank you for that too.
Now as you send me on to New Hampshire, to the other contests ahead, I make you this pledge: I have only just begun to fight. In the months and years ahead, I will fight for you.
And for those of you not yet part of this fight, I ask you to go to johnkerry.com and join me in fighting for an America where the people are in charge.
Join me in fighting for people like Elizabeth Hendrix from Des Moines, who's working full time, raising four boys, and earns $28,000 a year.
We shouldn't be raising taxes on the middle class; we shouldn't be telling them to pay the bill for George W. Bush's mistakes.
Join me in fighting for people like John and Mary Ann Knowles in Hudson, New Hampshire.
John lost his job in the Bush recession and Mary Ann has breast cancer. But to keep their health insurance, she has to work right through her chemotherapy. I'm running for President so that for the Knowles family, and every other family in America, health care will be a fundamental right and not a privilege, and so that we finally hold down health care costs for all Americans.
We came from behind. We came for the fight. And now I have a message for the special interests that call the Bush White House home: We're coming - you're leaving - and don't let the door hit you on your way out!
I'm running to free our government from the grip of the lobbyists, the drug industry, big oil, and the HMOs. I'm running to make America fair again. I'm running so you will have a President who's on your side and who will take on the powerful special interests that stand in your way.
And I'm running to restore fairness, prosperity and justice to our economy; so that instead of Americans working for the economy - the economy works for them. And we're going to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy so we can invest in health care and education.
This President has an open hand for his friends at Halliburton, but he has turned his back on our friends and neighbors. He has turned his back on America's teachers and America's schools.
And I will crisscross this country in this campaign and hold George W. Bush accountable for making a mockery of the words "No Child Left Behind."
Add up the deficit and the indifference of this Administration. Count the cost that working families are paying while the privileged ride high and reap the rewards. Seniors have seen their retirements stolen by Enron and Worldcom. We've seen financial scandals and jobs sent overseas. And at companies like Tyco, we're seen a workplace where this President licenses a creed of greed. Two million people have seen their health insurance blown away. And three million people have lost their jobs.
And when we add it all up, as I have in Iowa and New Hampshire and as we will all the way to November, it is clear that the one person in the United States of America who deserves to be laid off is George W. Bush.
And if I am President, we will scrub the tax code, which has exploded from 14 pages to 17,000 pages of loopholes and special interest provisions, to remove every single provision that gives a benefit or a reward to any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation for sending jobs or profits overseas - and sticks you with the bill.
And tonight, on Martin Luther King's birthday, I pledge that we will stop the right-wing attack on equal rights and civil liberties. I will appoint an Attorney General whose name is not John Ashcroft because we have a dream - and we will not rest until it is fulfilled.
Finally, my friends, we need a Democratic nominee who can stand up to this President eye to eye, toe to toe, face to face and make it clear: We Democrats know how to make America safer.
George Bush has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country.
Now George Bush and Karl Rove say that in 2004, they want to run on national security. I can see why. They certainly can't run on jobs or health care or the environment. Well, as I have said, I know something about aircraft carriers for real.
And if George W. Bush wants to make national security the central issue in this campaign, I have three words for him I know he understands: Bring it on.
I'm a lifelong Democrat and I've fought for thirty five years against powerful interests. We stopped Newt Gingrich's attempt to cut Medicare in order give a massive tax break to the wealthy. We stopped George W. Bush from giving the Alaska wilderness away to big oil.
Now I will ask my fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans what I asked of the people of Iowa again and again in recent months:
Stand with me and together we will put America back to work. Stand with me - and we will make America energy independent. Stand with me - and we will finally make health care affordable for all Americans.
Stand with me - and in a Kerry Administration, we will rejoin the community of nations and begin a proud new chapter in America's leadership in the world.
Stand with me - and I will fight for you.
I met a woman in Urbandale who said to me tonight: "I'm putting my trust in you." To her and to all Iowans, this is my pledge: I will never let you down.
Now it's on to New Hampshire and to the states beyond and then to the Democratic nomination. The road ahead is long and we're in this all the way to victory. I have only just begun to fight. Let's go out there and win this nomination and defeat George W. Bush and build an America worthy of our best hopes and ideals.