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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hillary, Bill Clinton Address Democratic National Convention

Aired July 26, 2004 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go up to the podium. That's where they will be speaking from.
CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley standing by there. Candy set the stage for us.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Wolf.

It looks like the last night of a convention. This is basically a three-tiered arena and I don't see a seat anywhere. I mean clear up to the top they are stacked. In front of me, which is the closest to the podium on the floor, people literally cheek to jowl. No doubt that this is, of course, the big Kahuna of the night.

This is Bill Clinton. This is the man who brought back two terms for a Democrat for president. He has already been given a warm embrace by Al Gore, who was sort of the kickoff big speaker tonight.

Following that we had Jimmy Carter, who gave a very remarkable speech in many ways. It was a very sort of low key speech in tone but extremely tough on President Bush, Jimmy Carter saying we cannot lead if our leaders mislead, any number of things aimed directly at the Bush administration.

I talked to a couple of Kerry aides and asked them if in the new spirit of no Bush bashing whether, in fact, that speech from Jimmy Carter had been vetted and they said no.

Look, this is a personal statement from a former president of the United States, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and he's 80 years old. That was pure Jimmy Carter, something that he wanted to go out there and speak. And by far I think at the end in four days we will find out that this was the toughest speech of this convention because Carter very hard hitting.

Again, right now, what we're waiting for is Hillary Clinton. This is her big moment. They didn't really envision that she would be introducing her husband but, in fact, did after there was a little brouhaha about her not having any solo speaking performance, so they put her on the platform. She'll be introducing her husband, the former president.

What we've been told by various people, various aides is that, in fact, what they want to do is go ahead and talk about John Kerry. Even in introducing her husband, Hillary Clinton intends to forward look, as they say here, to talk about John Kerry and the many assets that they want this to be a four day John Kerry fest and the Clintons are quite good at that and at rallying the troops and certainly that is, indeed, going to be what they try to do here tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Candy, we'll be getting back to you.

Let me explain to our viewers what's happening now here at the -- at the Fleet Center in Boston at this Democratic Convention. We're going to go to a remembrance, what they're calling a 9/11 moment here. This, after all, is the first, the first national political convention since 9/11 and this is a moment that they want everyone to step back and reflect upon.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, NEW MEXICO: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) honored guests the convention will be in order for a special presentation. Please be in order. Delegates please clear the aisles and take seats.

Please welcome back to the podium Glenn Close.

GLENN CLOSE, ACTRESS: This is the first national political convention since 9/11. As we gather here tonight in this hall and in our homes let us vow never to forget that terrible day, never to forget that it was a particularly beautiful morning, otherwise there was nothing ordinary, nothing out of the ordinary.

Everyone was going on about their lives. It was just another day. Never to forget coming out of that crystal sky the unspeakable horror, the disbelief, the shock.

Never to forget how we clung to each other and wept as the towers fell, how armies of selfless people of all ages, all cultures, all faiths, all colors, spontaneously poured forth to help, not only from the wounded city but from across the entire country and they kept coming.

Before we knew all the numbers and the names and the countless dead, never to forget the silence, the vigils, the flowers, the walls and fences covered with fluttering letters and poems and laments and thousands and thousands of pictures to never forget that those who lost their lives were all our brothers and sisters.

We find ourselves together at this moment in history. In one way or another we are all survivors of 9/11. Our cities, our towns, our society, our souls have been changed forever.

How we respond, how our political system survives this test, how human dignity and human liberty are nurtured and protected, not only on these shores but across our entire planet will be the great test of this generation. It all began on an ordinary cloudless day. We will never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Halima Sali (ph). On September 11th I lost my daughter Rama (ph), my son-in-law Mickey and my unborn grandchild on American Airlines Flight 11.

Those we lost that day were husbands and wives, children, neighbors and friends. We thought we would have them longer. We thought we had more time. As the families we stood in clothes of mourning and wiped our children's tears. The whole country grieved with us and we leaned on their support.

In our grief, and its ground-shattering aftermath, we truly understood that as Americans everything had changed and we will not have the luxury of time and innocence again.

Tonight, I come here to ask that you never forget our loved ones, to remember that they were people exactly like you and me each with their own story. Dignity asks that you give them a human face.

And then I want to ask that you remember September 11th as the day we were one. It was the day we acted as if we were responsible for each other. Human life was valued above all else. It was and must remain the defining moment that reminds us what unites us is stronger than what divides us.

For the sake of those innocent souls we lost and for the soul of our country, life moves forward as it must. We bring our memories but we turn our faces towards the future towards our children, towards the ongoing stream of life.

Now, as we turn our faces toward a new day and a new world the strength of who we were on 9/11 should stay with us, a light in the darkness, to show us the way. Thank you.

(VIOLIN SOLO OF "AMAZING GRACE")

BLITZER: Sixteen-year-old Gabe Lefkowitz (ph) playing the violin in a beautiful, beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace." He followed Halima Sali, Halima Sali the mother of a daughter who was killed aboard that flight. Halima Sali, the mother of Rama Sali.

And making it all more poignant, Judy, she's a Muslim of Sri Lanka nationality who's lived in this country for only ten years. She's a member of the convention platform committee. She spoke for so many people from her heart.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: She did. She lost her son and her daughter, who was pregnant, seven months pregnant and her son-in-law and it was hard to turn an event like this into a moving moment of remembrance but I do think the Democrats have done this.

They had everyone hold up a light, Wolf. You have a light like the one they were holding. It was a moment, you know, it's hard for all Americans, I think, to remember 9/11.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST: It was also a way of the Democratic Party telling the country that they know full well that this election and indeed the last three years have been overshadowed by perhaps the most significant attack on American soil ever that thoroughly changed the climate and that they are not about to put this convention in any context other than one of what do we do after 9/11 -- Wolf?

BLITZER: These are the lights that they handed out to memorialize what was going on.

WOODRUFF: And you notice the photograph that they used of the twin towers was a light. They did not show the photograph of the attack.

BLITZER: A very moving moment indeed at this convention and I assume there will be similar moments at the Republican Convention a month from now in New York at Madison Square Garden. That will only be days from the third anniversary of 9/11.

We're standing by. Senator Hillary Clinton is about to make a presentation to introduce her husband, the former president of the United States. They are getting ready for two very important speeches, not necessarily so much for themselves but for this Democratic Party. We'll, of course, have live coverage.

We'll take a break. We'll be back at the Fleet Center here in Boston.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the Fleet Center, the Democratic National Convention, here in Boston.

We're standing by, the junior Senator from New York State Hillary Clinton about to introduce her husband Bill Clinton. He'll be delivering the major speech of the night here at this convention, a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement.

But earlier today there was a different political story. I want to talk a little bit about that when the Democratic nominee John Kerry was at Cape Canaveral visiting the U.S. space operation down there. Judy Woodruff, pick up the story. Tell our viewers what happened.

WOODRUFF: Well, as we understand it and we're just starting to piece it together, Senator Kerry had a tour of Cape Canaveral and he went into some device and Jeff Greenfield's going to help me explain what it was but he put on the equivalent of some sort of space suit or testing suit and he came out.

It's not a very attractive picture. It hit the blogs this afternoon, hit the Drudge Report. We know that Matt Drudge is somebody who's a conservative, critical. Here are the pictures.

GREENFIELD: Now, this is the picture of John Kerry in this spacesuit, designed to protect him from the elements but it will not surprise you, as veterans, Wolf and Judy of the political world, to know that as soon as this picture appeared on the Matt Drudge website, there was an instant, instant comparison made by John Kerry's political opponents to another famous or infamous picture involving a Democratic presidential candidate that, of course, Michael Dukakis in a suit riding a tank, the famous (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WOODRUFF: What's also interesting and I know the Democrats are going to point this out is that when Michael Dukakis did that it was out in the open. John Kerry was getting a private tour of NASA, a government agency. It's a government agency that's released the pictures. There's going to be some back and forth between the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: Two former astronauts, John Glenn, the former Democratic Senator from Ohio...

WOODRUFF: That's right.

BLITZER: ...and Bill Nelson, the current Senator from Florida.

WOODRUFF: As I understand it there was no press with him but we -- that may be wrong. We're going to find that out.

GREENFIELD: Judy, it was a highly tight situation. You can't get a lot of press there. But what I'm suggesting here, what I think we're (UNINTELLIGIBLE), we talked earlier about the new kinds of communications in politics. This is an object lesson in how fast political dialog takes place.

The picture appears on a computerized website and within minutes John Kerry's political opponents believe, you know, that they have a target of opportunity here and a comparison to one of the most famous political (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: But Jeff and Judy, John Kerry is not Michael Dukakis. He is a war hero and he can get through an incident like this clearly a lot better than Michael Dukakis on that tank in 1988.

WOODRUFF: Because that was all about here he was, somebody who didn't have any experience presumably as commander-in-chief but there he was frankly in a helmet that didn't look very flattering and, you know, that went on to symbolize much of that campaign. I'm not so sure this incident is going to have the same bearing.

GREENFIELD: And that's why we're at pains to say that this is not a comparison. It's simply a way of demonstrating how even though if 15,000 are here there are still political events that take place outside this hermetically sealed Fleet Center.

BLITZER: As Teresa Heinz-Kerry got to learn a little bit herself only yesterday.

WOODRUFF: Sure did asked that question (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

BLITZER: The whole point, as we stand by to wait for Hillary Clinton to introduce her husband, Bill Clinton that this is now they want to get these people, not only here but those watching in what kind of mood -- Jeff?

GREENFIELD: This is all an exercise in making John Kerry acceptable. The point of this convention is not to get people to fall in love with John Kerry. It's to have them fall in like with John Kerry.

I've talked to a bunch of Democrat operatives and they all say, look, we think the bar for John Kerry is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to low. We think the country wants to replace the president and we think if we can make John Kerry acceptable they'll buy.

BLITZER: All right. I want to bring in Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala. They're our "CROSSFIRE" co-hosts. As we get ready, first to you Paul, you're very close to Hillary Clinton, to Bill Clinton, what do you anticipate tonight?

PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, they're going to do their job tonight, Wolf, and that is to try to frame up the choice. I know that President Clinton, for example, will say a lot of good things about John Kerry but he's also going to try to frame the election for the voters. It's something that he excels at.

Hillary, of course, has a different job. She's going to introduce her husband but she's also I think going to heap praise on her two Senate colleagues, John Kerry and John Edwards.

So, they're two of the brightest stars in the party. I think they're going to do their job well. They know what they're doing in this setting. That's for sure.

BLITZER: All right, Tucker, what do you anticipate?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Well, no matter what she says, she's going to get a powerful reception here. Before Al Gore, who spoke a little over an hour ago, got a pretty tepid response I thought except when he used the word Clinton, at which point the whole room just erupted, so I think they could, you know, they could speak in an esoteric foreign language and still get a standing ovation.

I don't think you'll hear them say anything scary. The whole tone of the convention so far from my point of view has been self consciously moderate. I mean you read from the platform which, you know, doesn't really take on the war in Iraq, so almost every speaker, none of whom, you know, has sounded like someone who contributes to moveon.org. It's been a very centrist picture you're seeing and a really disciplined one unfortunately. I'm all for disarray and chaos but you haven't seen it here yet.

BLITZER: Tucker, you believe Jimmy Carter as well who basically accused the president of misleading the nation, ten seconds.

CARLSON: Well, I mean the troubling thing was they're sort of rewriting history that Jimmy Carter was this great, popular president. Those of us alive at the time remember it differently. He did call Bush an extremist but he wasn't as radical as he is in his normal speeches when he goes on about how bad Israel is. He didn't say that.

BLITZER: All right, Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to walk out to this podium right now. They're introducing her. She will introduce her husband. Let's go up to the podium and watch.

RICHARDSON: Ladies and gentlemen, our next speaker is a woman of distinction and a vibrant star of the Democratic Party. This remarkable woman has inspired us all as first lady of Arkansas and first lady of America, as a legal champion of America's children, as a wife, as a mother, and now as a Senator from New York. She is the clear voice for a strong military on the Armed Services Committee for the men and women who serve and for fair treatment of our veterans. I am honored to present the junior Senator from New York State and a great Democrat, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I am practically speechless.

(APPLAUSE)

However, 12 years ago when our country needed new leadership, Americans selected a Democrat who gave us eight years of peace, prosperity and promise.

Tonight I have the pleasure of introducing the last great Democratic president.

(APPLAUSE)

But first, I want to say a few words about the next great Democratic president, John Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I, like all of you, just heard the moving testimonials about the horrors of September the 11th and the extraordinary witnessing by Reverend Alston concerning his lieutenant, John Kerry.

I don't know how any American could hear the Reverend Alston and not know John Kerry is the man we need to be our president and commander in chief.

(APPLAUSE)

And yet, we meet at a moment of great peril, but also of great promise for the country we love. Together we can, once again, widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans. We can, once again, transcend our differences and divisions. We can, once again, give our children a safer and more secure future.

That is the promise of America, and John Kerry will renew and keep that promise to this generation and generations to come. He knows very well that you have to lead the world, not alienate it.

(APPLAUSE)

He will lower the deficit, not raise it. He will create good jobs, not lose them. And he will solve a health care crisis for our people, not ignore it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I know a thing or two about health care.

(LAUGHTER) And I know that the problems have only gotten worse in the last four years. We need to rededicate ourselves to the task of providing health care coverage for the 44 million Americans who don't have it, and we have to do more to lower the cost for all the rest of Americans who are facing increasing health care insurance premiums and drug prices.

(APPLAUSE)

We also need to lift the ban on stem cell research and find cures that will help millions of Americans.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, health care is a serious issue, and it requires serious solutions. And that's what John Kerry is good at. And that's what he will give us.

He will also give us something else, a great vice president by the name of John Edwards.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, you know that John Edwards is smart. He's energetic, and he's empathetic. And he understands the challenges that hardworking Americans face in their daily lives.

Americans will be proud to have the Kerry-Edwards team in the White House. And they will be proud, as we all will be, to have their extraordinary partners, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards, working for our country as well.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, we've been through our share of challenges as Americans, from a Civil War, Great Depression, World Wars and so much more. But being a senator from New York, I saw firsthand, as all of my friends and colleagues did, the devastation of September the 11th.

I visited Ground Zero the day after we were attacked. And I felt like I was standing at the gates of hell. I hope no American ever has to witness a horrible sight like that ever again.

And yet, that tragedy both changed and challenged us. I know it did for me. And every day now as a mother, as a senator, as an American, I worry about whether we are acting as wisely as we can to protect our country and our people.

Last week, the bipartisan 9/11 commission issued its report. And that commission would never have been in existence had it not been for the brave family members who insisted that this government have a commission to look into 9/11.

(APPLAUSE)

And those commissioners issued a sober call to action that we ignore at our peril.

John Kerry understands what's at stake when it comes to our security. We need to fully equip and train our firefighters, our police officers and our emergency medical technicians.

(APPLAUSE)

They are our first responders in the event of a terrorist attack.

And we need to secure our borders, our rail lines and our ports as well as our chemical and nuclear plants. We need to reorganize our federal government to meet the new threats of these times. And we need to make sure that homeland security is a priority and that it is funded properly and that the resources go to the areas of greatest risk, like New York City.

(APPLAUSE)

And along with that, we need to take care of our men and women in uniform who, like John Kerry, risk their lives and, for too many, lost their lives in service to our country. These brave Americans deserve better.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to increase our troop strength. We need to raise their pay. We need to provide our veterans, our National Guard and Reserve with the benefits they are entitled to for the service and duty they perform for our nation.

(APPLAUSE)

And do you know -- do you know what we need to meet these challenges? We need a new commander in chief named John Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

I've been saying for many months now, John Kerry is a serious man for a serious job in a serious time in our country's history.

So let's join together not just those of us in this great hall tonight, but throughout our nation, and do everything we possibly can to convince our fellow Americans to look to the future, to look deep inside themselves. They know what is best for our children. And if we just have the courage to act on our conviction, we will by an overwhelming majority send John Kerry and John Edwards to do their duty for us in the White House starting next year.

(APPLAUSE)

I am very optimistic about this election, because I think I know a great leader when I see one.

(APPLAUSE)

And so does America. In 1992 and 1996, Americans chose a president who left our country in better shape than when he took office.

(APPLAUSE)

And he still spends his days working to empower the powerless, to promote racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation, to inspire young people to citizen service and to bring life-saving medicines to people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

(APPLAUSE)

He showed Democrats how to win again, and so will John Kerry.

Please welcome the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be here with you.

(APPLAUSE)

I am honored to share this podium with my senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton. And I want to thank the people of New York for giving the best public servant in my family a chance to continue serving the public. Thank you.

I am also -- I'm going to say that again, in case you didn't hear it.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I'm honored to be here tonight. And I want to thank the people of New York for giving Hillary the chance to continue to serve in public life.

(APPLAUSE)

I am very proud of her. And we are both very grateful to all of you, especially my good friends from Arkansas, for giving me the chance to serve in the White House for eight years.

(APPLAUSE)

I am honored to share this night with President Carter, for whom I worked in 1976 and who has inspired the world with his work for peace, democracy and human rights.

(APPLAUSE)

I am honored to share it with Al Gore, my friend and my partner for eight years, who played such a large role in building the prosperity and peace that we left America in 2000. And Al Gore, as he showed again tonight, demonstrated incredible patriotism and grace under pressure. He is the living embodiment of the principle that every vote counts.

And this year, we're going to make sure they're all counted in every state in America.

(APPLAUSE)

My friends, after three conventions as a candidate or a president, tonight I come to you as a citizen, returning to the role that I have played for most of my life, as a foot soldier in our fight for the future, as we nominate in Boston a true New England Patriot for president.

(APPLAUSE)

Now this state, who gave us in other times of challenge John Adams and John Kennedy, has given us John Kerry, a good man, a great senator, a visionary leader. And we are all here to do what we can to make him the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

My friends, we are constantly being told that America is deeply divided. But all Americans value freedom and faith and family. We all honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

(APPLAUSE)

We all want good jobs, good schools, health care, safe streets, a clean environment.

We all want our children to grow up in a secure America leading the world toward a peaceful and prosperous future.

Our differences are in how we can best achieve these things in a time of unprecedented change. Therefore, we Democrats will bring to the American people this year a positive campaign, arguing not who is a good or a bad person, but what is the best way to build a safe and prosperous world our children deserve.

(APPLAUSE)

The 21st century is marked by serious security threats, serious economic challenges and serious problems, from AIDS to global warming to the continuing turmoil in the Middle East.

But it is also full of amazing opportunities to create millions of new jobs and clean energy and biotechnology, to restore our manufacturing base and reap the benefits of the global economy, through our diversity and our commitment to decent labor and environmental standards for people all across the world...

(APPLAUSE) ... and to create a world where we can celebrate our religious, our racial, our ethnic, our tribal differences because our common humanity matters most of all.

(APPLAUSE)

To build that kind of world, we must make the right choices. And we must have a president who will lead the way. Democrats and Republicans have very different and deeply felt ideas about what choices we should make. They're rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home, and how we should play our role in the world.

We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits. We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to.

We think the role of government...

(APPLAUSE)

... should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance.

On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that American should be run by the right people -- their people -- in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to.

They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security.

Now, since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

But we don't.

(APPLAUSE)

Americans long to be united. After 9/11, we all just wanted to be one nation. Not a single American on September the 12th, 2001, cared who won the next presidential election.

All we wanted to do was to be one country, strong in the fight against terror, helping to heal those who were wounded and the families of those who lost their loved ones, reaching out to the rest of the world so we could meet these new challenges and go on with our democratic way of life.

The president had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror. Instead, he and his congressional allies made a very different choice. They chose to use that moment of unity to try to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty and for the international court on war criminals and for the anti-ballistic missile treaty and from the nuclear test ban treaty.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, now at a time when we're trying to get other people to give up nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, they are trying to develop two new nuclear weapons which they say we might use first.

At home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in.

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.

(LAUGHTER)

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

(LAUGHTER)

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress.

(APPLAUSE)

I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

(APPLAUSE)

Now look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs while withholding promised funding to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.

(APPLAUSE)

They chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school, learning, going to college and having a good life. (APPLAUSE)

They chose -- they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, almost all of us, from Republicans to independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part, too. But all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts.

Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats. We've got a different economic policy.

(APPLAUSE)

In this year's budget...

(APPLAUSE)

In this year's budget, the White House this year wants to cut off all the federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police officers under the COPS program we've had for 10 years. Among those 88,000 police are more than 700 members of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line on 9/11.

With gang violence rising, and with all of us looking for terrorists in our midst and hoping they're not too well armed or too dangerous, the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10- year-old ban on deadly assault weapons to lapse.

Now, they believe it's the right thing to do. But our policy was to put more police on the street and to take assault weapons off the street. And it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of declining violence.

(APPLAUSE)

Their policy is the reverse. They're taking police off the streets while they put assault weapons back on the street.

Now, if you agree with that choice, by all means, vote to keep them in office. But if you don't, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter and stronger again.

(APPLAUSE)

On homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost $1 billion. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans safer.

The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

If you agree with that, by all means, re-elect them. If not, John Kerry and John Edwards are your team for the future.

(APPLAUSE)

These policies have turned a projected $5.8 trillion surplus that we left, enough to pay for the baby boomer retirement, into a projected debt of almost $5 trillion, with over $400 billion in deficit this year and for years to come.

Now, how do they pay for that deficit? First, by taking the Social Security surplus that comes in every month and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to pay for the tax cuts. But it's not enough.

So then they have to go borrow money. Most of it they borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese government.

Sure, these countries are competing with us for good jobs, but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? I mean, come on.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

So if you think -- if you believe it is good policy -- if you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security checks of working men and women and borrowed money from China and Japan, you should vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man.

(APPLAUSE)

We Americans must choose for president...

(APPLAUSE)

... we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love their countries, but who have very different world views: our nominee, John Kerry, who favors shared responsibility, shared opportunity and more global cooperation; and their president and their party in Congress who favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action.

I think we're right for two reasons.

First of all, America just works better when more people have a chance to live their dreams.

(APPLAUSE) And, secondly, we live in an interdependent world in which we cannot possibly kill, jail or occupy all of our potential adversaries. So we have to both fight terror and build a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, we tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it their way for 12 years. We tried it our way for eight years. Then we tried it their way for four more. But the only test that matters is whether people were better off when we finished than when we started. Our way works better.

(APPLAUSE)

It produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle class, over 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class, more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror and a respected America in the world.

(APPLAUSE)

More importantly, more importantly we have great new champions in John Kerry and John Edwards, two good men, with wonderful wives: Teresa, a generous and wise woman, who understands the world we're trying to shape; and Elizabeth, a lawyer and mother, who understands the lives we're trying to live.

Now, let me tell you know what I know about John Kerry. I've been seeing all of the Republican ads about him. Let me tell you what I know about him.

During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going too, but instead, he said: Send me.

(APPLAUSE)

When they sent those swiftboats up the river in Vietnam and they told them their job was to draw hostile fire, to wave the American flag and bate the enemy to come out and fight, John Kerry said: Send me.

(APPLAUSE)

And then, on my watch, when it was time to heal the wounds of war and normalize relations with Vietnam and to demand an accounting of the POWs and MIAs we lost there, John Kerry said: Send me.

(APPLAUSE)

Then when we needed someone to push the cause of inner-city children struggling to avoid a life of crime or to bring the benefits of high technology to ordinary Americans or to clean the environment in a way that created new jobs, or to give small businesses a better chance to make it, John Kerry said: Send me.

(APPLAUSE)

So tonight, my friends, I ask you to join me for the next 100 days in telling John Kerry's story and promoting his ideas. Let every person in this hall and like-minded people all across our land say to him what he has always said to America: Send me.

(APPLAUSE)

The bravery that men who fought by his side in battle, that bravery they saw in battle, I have seen in politics. When I was president, John Kerry showed courage and conviction on crime, on welfare reform, on balancing the budget, at a time when those priorities were not exactly the way to win a popularity contest in our party.

John Kerry took tough positions on tough problems. He knows who he is and where he's going. He has the experience, the character, the ideas, the values to be a great president.

And in a time of change, he has two other very important qualities: an insatiable curiosity to understand the world around him, and a willingness to hear other views, even those who disagree with him.

(APPLAUSE)

Therefore...

(APPLAUSE)

Therefore, John Kerry will make choices that reflect both conviction and common sense. He proved that when he picked John Edwards to be his partner.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, everybody talks about John Edwards' energy and intellect and charisma. You know, I kind of resent him.

(LAUGHTER)

But the important thing is not what talents he has, but how he has used them. He chose -- he chose to use his talents to improve the lives of people like him who had to work for everything they've got and to help people too often left out and left behind. And that's what he'll do as our vice president.

(APPLAUSE)

Now their opponents will tell you...

(APPLAUSE) Their opponents will tell you we should be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards, because they won't stand up to the terrorists. Don't you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not opposing values.

(APPLAUSE)

They go hand in hand.

(APPLAUSE)

They go hand in hand, and John Kerry has both. His first priority will be to keep America safe.

Remember the scripture: "Be not afraid."

John Kerry and John Edwards are good people with good ideas, ideas to make the economy work again for middle-class Americans, to restore fiscal responsibility, to save Social Security, to make health care more affordable, college more available, to free us from dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs with clean energy and a cleaner environment...

(APPLAUSE)

... to rally the world to our side in the war against terror and to make a world with more friends and less terror.

(APPLAUSE)

My friends, at every turning point in our history, we, the people, have chosen unity over division, heeding our founders' call to America's eternal mission to form a more perfect union, to widen the circle of opportunity deep in the reach of freedom and strengthen the bonds of our community.

It happened every time, because we made the right choices.

In the early days of the republic, America was divided and at a crossroads, much as it is today, deeply divided over whether or not to build a real nation with a national economy and a national legal system. We chose to build a more perfect union.

In the Civil War, America was at another crossroads, deeply divided over whether to save the union and end slavery. We chose a more perfect union.

In the 1960s, when I was a young man, we were divided again over civil rights and women's rights. And again we chose to form a more perfect union.

As I said in 1992, I say again tonight, we are all in this together. We have an obligation, both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, an obligation both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror.

Now, again, it is time to choose. Since we're all in the same boat, we should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters, to the calm seas and the clear sides of our more perfect union. That is our mission.

So let us go in tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice: Send John Kerry.

God bless you.

(APPLAUSE)

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