"I am ready for this mission"

Advancing toward the Democratic nomination, John Kerry slams Bush for "running the most arrogant, reckless, inept and ideological foreign policy of modern times."

By Salon Staff
Published February 4, 2004 11:37PM (UTC)
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Thank you. For the second time in a few days, a New England patriot has won on the road. Now we will carry this campaign and the cause of a stronger, fairer, more prosperous America to every part of America. We will take nothing for granted; we will compete everywhere -- and in November, with your help, we will defeat George W. Bush.

And once again tonight, let me pay a special tribute to the veterans who have lifted this campaign up -- all the way from Iowa to all that we achieved today. Across the months and miles, I've depended on the same band of brothers I depended on more than thirty years ago. And it is true: We are a little older, a little grayer; but we still know how to fight for our country -- and we're going to win.


This President doesn't even mention veterans in his State of the Union message -- and then he offers a VA budget that the Veterans of Foreign Wars call a "disgrace and a sham." If I am President, I pledge that those who wore the uniform of the United States -- and those who wear that uniform today -- will have a voice and a champion in the Oval Office.

I am humbled and honored that so many Americans have joined our cause. And to those who have not yet joined us, I ask you to go to johnkerry.com. Make yourselves heard, enlist with us. And if I am President, you will continue to be heard -- because johnkerry.com will continue to be online every day of a Kerry Presidency.

As I have traveled our nation, I have listened to so many of you -- from the snows of the heartland and New England to the sunshine of South Carolina and the Southwest. And everywhere I have been, the people are determined to restore hope and change America.


Together, we can lift our country up to the America it can become. At the heart of this campaign is our commitment to an America where the future is built on fairness for all, not privilege for the few. So we will repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and invest in health care and the education of our children.

We believe in an America where prosperity is measured not in the profits run up during a jobless economy, but in opportunity and rising incomes for working families and the middle class. So we will shut down every tax loophole, every benefit, every reward for any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation that exploits the tax code to hide money or sends American jobs overseas. We will offer new incentives to reward good companies all across America that create and keep good jobs here at home. And we will raise the minimum wage, invest in Head Start and Early Start and the other neglected needs of the forgotten America -- because we believe in a prosperity where we cut the poverty of millions instead of constantly cutting taxes for millionaires.

We believe in the fundamental decency of health care as a right and not a privilege. So we will complete the mission begun by Harry Truman -- to provide health coverage for all Americans and hold down costs for those who already have insurance -- because we believe your family's health is just as important as any politician's in Washington.


I know there are powerful interests on the other side -- and the obstacles sometimes seem overwhelming. But I am ready for this mission. From standing up to Richard Nixon to stop the Vietnam War -- to stopping George Bush and the big oil companies from drilling in the Alaska Wilderness. I know how to take on and defeat powerful interests. I've done it all my life. I've fought against the polluters, the HMOs, and the big drug companies. And I pledge to you tonight: I have only just begun to fight.

We believe in the security of energy independence for America. We will invest in technologies of the future so that the cars of the future will be built in America by American workers -- and so that America's sons and daughters will never have to fight and die for Mideast oil.


We believe in an America where the Constitution is respected, a country of equal rights and civil liberties, where the Attorney General is no longer named John Ashcroft.

George Bush, who promised to be a uniter, has become the great divider. We will resume the great march of our history -- to a country where everyone can hope and strive and move ahead, no matter where you come from, who you are or what the color of your skin.

And we believe in a stronger America. George Bush, who speaks of strength, has made America weaker -- weaker economically, weaker in education, and weaker in health care. And the truth is -- George Bush has made America weaker militarily by overextending our forces, overstraining our reserves, driving away our allies, and running the most arrogant, reckless, inept and ideological foreign policy of modern times.


Our opponents say they want to campaign on national security. Well, we will not run from that debate; we welcome it. Because 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.

Flying in here today, I remembered how two centuries ago on the shore of Washington Lewis and Clark completed their epic journey westward -- and touched the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Their daring and vision symbolized what was best in America. Now I ask all Democrats -- all Americans -- to join now in the journey of our time -- all across this continent, in every state -- to define our character and reclaim our spirit. With faith in our ideals and each other, we can return America to the road of greatness and justice.

Before I finish, let me pay tribute to my good friend Joe Lieberman, who ran a campaign of principle and integrity. He said tonight he felt like a winner -- and in so many ways, he is.


And let me congratulate another friend, John Edwards, on his victory in South Carolina. And let me thank so many across this country who brought us to this day. Thank you, Teresa and my family. Thanks to all of you who have given your help, your hearts and your votes.

To all of you, I say: Get ready -- a new day is on the way.

Salon Staff

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