Kerry: `I will restore trust and credibility to the White House'


Election 2004

The Democratic Convention

July 30, 2004

From John Kerry's address to the Democratic National Convention:

On public service

My parents inspired me to serve, and when I was a junior in high school, John Kennedy called my generation to service. It was the beginning of a great journey - a time to march for civil rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for women, and for peace. We believed we could change the world. And you know what? We did.

But we're not finished. The journey isn't complete. The march isn't over. The promise isn't perfected. Tonight, we're setting out again. And together, we're going to write the next great chapter of America's story. We have it in our power to change the world. But only if we're true to our ideals - and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As president, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.

On his record

As a young prosecutor, I fought for victim's rights and made prosecuting violence against women a priority. When I came to the Senate, I broke with many in my own party to vote for a balanced budget, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I fought to put 100,000 police officers on the streets of America.

And then I reached across the aisle to work with [Arizona Republican Sen.] John McCain, to find the truth about our POWs and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.

On being president

I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a vice president who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws.

I will have a secretary of defense who will listen to the advice of the military leaders. And I will appoint an attorney general who will uphold the Constitution of the United States.

On the economy

Here at home, wages are falling, health care costs are rising, and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends; they're working two jobs, three jobs, and they're still not getting ahead.

We're told that outsourcing jobs is good for America. We're told that new jobs that pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost is the best we can do. They say this is the best economy we've ever had. And they say that anyone who thinks otherwise is a pessimist.

Well, here is our answer: There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better. We can do better and we will. We're the optimists. For us, this is a country of the future. We're the can-do people.

On post-9/11 America

I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way.

Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities - and I do - because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn't make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.

As president, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system - so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as president, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.

On America at war

I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president.

Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.

On building defense

We will add 40,000 active duty troops - not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives - and win the battle. And we will end the back-door draft of National Guard and reservists.

To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.

On national security

Today, our national security begins with homeland security. The 9/11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9/11 families.

As president, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement all the recommendations of that commission.

We shouldn't be letting 95 percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America.

On education

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