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Remarks by Senator John Kerry at Presidential Campaign Event

Location: Milwaukee, WI

April 8, 2004 Thursday




SEN. KERRY: (In progress) -- that have not been as present as they might be to Americans, but the images of a tank being hit by a rocket, RPG, the images of the wounded, our soldiers, our young men scrambling out of the tank, bloody, and I think no American can see those images and then the images that followed of a father right here in Wisconsin, Mr. Teravek (ph), whose son Ryan Teravek-if I'm pronouncing it correctly, I hope-if I'm not, I ask forgiveness-but he lives in Hobart. And I saw in the captions underneath that he is a Vietnam veteran, who did not really want his son to go in the Marines, but his son did what he believed was right. And now he has made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, as have, I think, 15 soldiers in Wisconsin alone.

That is the price of serving your country. And we honor it, every single one of us here today. We come here today first and foremost to say to our troops how proud we are of them, how grateful we are for their service to country, and how much we support them even as they carry out a difficult task and a difficult policy. (Applause.) No matter what our feelings about the war, we support the troops. (Applause continuing.)

But leadership also requires that we ask the right questions and that we put forward the right policies for our country. Last September at the Brookings Institute I made a speech where I laid out precisely what I thought we ought to do in Iraq and with Iraq and about Iraq. Again in December of last year, at the Council on Foreign Relations, I repeated the steps we ought to take precisely in order to deal with Iraq.

I believe it is the role of the president of the United States to maximize the ability to be successful and to minimize the cost to the American people, both financially and in lives. That's common sense.

And here today, once again, we are asking the question: Why is the United States of America almost alone in carrying this burden and the risks, which the world has a stake in? There is no Arab country that is advanced by a failed Iraq. No European country is made safer by a failed Iraq. And yet those countries are distinctly absent from the risk-bearing of this effort. Why?

I think Americans have a right to ask why. And the answer to that question lies in both of those speeches I made and in the steps which are staring us in the face. This is essentially-essentially-not exclusively, but essentially an American occupation. If you were to ask any student in college, first year of foreign policy, "Do you think it's a good idea for the United States of America almost alone to occupy a Middle Eastern nation," what do you think the answer would be?


SEN. KERRY: But that's precisely what we're doing.

So once again, I say that we ought to be engaged in a bold, clear, startlingly honest appeal to the world to see the interest. And we should be engaged in the diplomacy that is prepared to share with all of those other countries that we need to come to the table the decision-making and the responsibility. And that is how we will resolve this issue. (Applause.)

So it is my hope that in the days ahead, and let me make it clear, we must be successful. No one's security is advanced by a failed Iraq. But we deserve an effort that maximizes the opportunity for success and minimizes the spending of American dollars and lives in the effort to achieve what is, after all, in the interests of people all across this planet. So I hope that in the days ahead common sense and humility will begin to emerge in the approach of our nation and our policy so that we do not see month after month of these images and difficulties. And the president needs to explain to the American people, who are we turning power over to on the 30th of June? What will we be protecting on the 30th of June? (Applause.)

Now, I came here today to talk about how we make America strong here at home, and I think all of you understand that we are at a special new moment in American politics. We are now engaged in the general election race, and it's different. I notice President Bush is taking some days off down at Crawford, Texas, and I'm told that when he takes days off, you know, he totally relaxes. He doesn't watch television. He doesn't read the newspapers. He doesn't make long- term plans. He doesn't worry about the economy. I thought about that for a moment, and I said, sounds to me like it's just like life in Washington, doesn't it? It's sort of --(laughter, applause).

Let me say to you seriously-let me try and slip my coat off here. It's warm in here.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It sure is, outside.

SEN. KERRY: What? Well -- (pauses) -- outside, thanks.

We are now marching down that incredible road that Americans get to go on, where you choose not just who the next president of the United States is, but you choose who is the next leader of the free world.

And these choices will have a profound effect on your lives, the way Jim was just describing: what kind of schools you're going to have; whether we're going to go forwards or backwards on clean air or clean water; what we're going to do with respect to our responsibility to our children; Sherwin, who told us a dramatic story about cuts that are going to have an impact.

The kids that he works with are going to be hurt, not advanced, in these next days. And adults are knowingly going to stand by and watch while those children are hurt, leaving -- (audio break) -- "we", with quotation marks, the Congress of the Republicans, to give the wealthiest people in the country another tax cut while children's lives may be damaged.

Now, these are the choices of this campaign. Yesterday I laid out the most fundamental part of this choice: our economy, and how we put America back to work. I am determined to put America back to work and harness the creative energy of this country. (Applause.) George Bush has promised after September 11th, after the recession, that we would create 5.1 million jobs with his great big tax cuts. The result is we've lost about 2.8 million total, 1.8 million manufacturing jobs-actually, about 2.5 (million) manufacturing, but it's a net loss of about 1.8 million jobs. But you know what the-that's a difference. Five-point-one million-plus down to the 1.8 million negative is a swing. The president is only 7 million jobs below his promise. This is the first president since the Great Depression and Herbert Hoover to have a loss of jobs during his four years of the presidency.

Now, it's not enough-you know, I'm not just going to stand here and say, "We lost the jobs," because that's not the whole story. When people have lost their work you don't just stand idly by and watch it breeze by while people can't afford to buy health insurance, while children get hurt, while people are unable to get the training they need to move to a new job. This president this year is running around talking about job training, ladies and gentlemen. He put $120 million into job training. Guess what. He doesn't come back and tell you that over the last three and a half years he cut $1 billion -- $1 billion from job training --

(End of available audio.)

Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.

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