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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Coverage of Democratic National Convention
Aired July 27, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Welcome back to the Democratic National Convention at the Fleet Center here in Boston. A special "LARRY KING LIVE" that's coming up momentarily. But we're standing by first.
Howard Dean, the former presidential candidate about to speak here before this crowd, a speech that a lot of people are anticipating could get into some real red meat.
To Jeff Greenfield, you've had a chance to cover Howard Dean for some time. Is he the type of speaker who will tone down his remarks if the Kerry/Edwards campaign urges him to do so?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Howard Dean is playing the good soldier. This is not the kind of case of the Jerry Brown in 1992 looking for a fight. It is not even Gary Hart in 1984. Howard Dean, if you think about where we were a year ago, a lot of us assuming he was going to move to the nomination on the strength of the Internet and move on.
Howard Dean is going to play the role of the man who was vanquished and has now signed up to beat George W. Bush. The whole idea of somebody speaking out of tune at this convention is almost literally unthinkable. For those of us who remember the fractious fights of other decades it just shows you how old we're getting -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Judy Woodruff, Howard Dean played, whether or not you liked him or you didn't like him, you have to admit he played a very important role in this Democratic party this year.
JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS": He sure did. Jeff just referred to it, Wolf. He really brought the whole idea of the Internet into play as a way to raise money and to build a campaign. As Jeff said, a lot of people thought it was going to be Howard Dean who was claiming the nomination this week. But we can't forget Howard Dean is not where John Kerry is and where much of the Democratic party on these issues. He's completely against the war in Iraq. Some Democrats are not. He's criticized John Kerry for taking, in his words, "hundreds of thousands of dollars from lobbyists." He's criticized John Kerry for giving the president a blank check on Iraq and so on.
So we're going to hear from Howard Dean and as Jeff said, he's going to toe the party line. But in his heart he's to the left of this nominee. BLITZER: Bill Schneider, how important is Howard Dean to the Democratic base?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Howard Dean used to be the ambassador to the Nader vote along with Dennis Kucinich. He's there to rally the left which doesn't seem to have many problems at this convention to vote for John Kerry. It's important to realize the reason Democrats rejected Howard Dean was they didn't think he could be elected. The whole point was he was too divisive, too harsh, too shrill and they worried he couldn't beat George Bush.
So the point of nominating John Kerry is precisely that he'll be a unifying candidate. He'll reach out to independents, to swing voters, and to dissatisfied Republicans in a way that Democrats feared Howard Dean can not.
BLITZER: I suspect, Jeff Greenfield, that when Howard Dean is introduced momentarily this crowd will erupt in thunderous applause.
GREENFIELD: I think you're right and I think that even the people who feared Howard Dean as a reincarnation of George McGovern give him credit for igniting the Democratic party. This is a party back on its heels after the 2002 midterm elections when the Republicans controlled the Senate. Howard Dean became a figure by saying to them, why in the world in effect are we rolling over for George W. Bush. He gave his party a shot. I don't know why I'm talking about food so much, a shot of espresso, livened them up, and showed them how to raise tens of millions of dollars which has helped make John Kerry fully competitive. So you're right. They're going to honor Howard Dean for what he did in getting this party aroused.
BLITZER: Judy, all of us were in Iowa when he gave that speech, the so-called "I have a scream" speech. We watched it. Our mouths were open as we watched it. At the time he had just lost the Iowa caucuses. His campaign though was going down before that speech.
WOODRUFF: Yes, what a lot of reporters, in fact, what most reporters did not know was that it was not Howard Dean who built a great organization in Iowa. It was in fact John Kerry and to a degree John Edwards who were doing well. And that was reflected in the vote. No, a lot of us were fooled. Howard Dean did a great job on television. He did a great job of stirring up the left wing of this party. But as somebody coined the phrase long ago, "this was a party that dated Dean but married Kerry." What voters wanted in Iowa and later on in the later primaries, they wanted somebody who could carry this party to victory in November. They took a good look at Howard Dean and decided no, he's not the one.
BLITZER: All right, Larry King is standing by. Larry, you have some important guests who are anxious to weigh in in all of this. As we await Howard Dean, Larry, pick it up.
KING: Thank you very much, Wolf. Wolf will be back with you at the 10:00 hour Eastern time with his panel and more speeches to come. Ron Reagan's speech tonight.
With us here on LARRY KING LIVE tonight, Bob Dole is with us in Washington.
And here in Boston is George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader.
And David Gergen, the White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
And on the floor is our man Mo Rocca who will tour the vast expanse of the Fleet Center tonight.
And now, they're about to introduce the man who changed American politics for a long time, Howard Dean. Let's go to the podium and meet the former governor of Vermont.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: Thank you. Thank you, Maine and Vermont.
Thank you, Texas and Michigan. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you very much. I was hoping -- thank you very much. Thank you so much.
I was hoping for a reception like this.
I was just kind of hoping it was going to be on Thursday night instead of Tuesday night.
I may not be the nominee, but I can tell you this: For the next 100 days, I'll be doing everything that I can to make sure that John Kerry and John Edwards take this country back for the people who built it.
Because tonight we are all here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
I am proud of John Kerry's leadership. And I intend to stand shoulder to shoulder with him as we fight for the things that Harry Truman promised us in 1948: health insurance for every single American...
... a jobs program that will create jobs instead of destroying them...
... standing up for middle-class and working Americans who got a tax increase, not a tax cut.
... and standing up for a foreign policy that relies on the president of the United States telling the truth to the American people before we send our brave soldiers to fight in a foreign war.
I'd like a commander in chief who supports our soldiers and supports our veterans instead of cutting their hardship pay abroad and cutting their health benefits when they get back home.
I'm Howard Dean, and I'm voting for John Kerry.
I'm voting for John Kerry and John Edwards because I want a president and vice president as good and as strong as the American people.
I'm voting for John Kerry and John Edwards, because I want to see an America that's restored as the moral leader of the world.
America's greatness rests on far more than the power of our arms. Our greatness is also measured by our goodness. It is in the capacity of our minds, of our hearts. And it's in the strength of our democracy.
As I've traveled America, I've seen that strength. I've seen it in the people I've met. I've seen it in their desire to take our country back for the American people.
I saw it in a college student in Pennsylvania who sold her bicycle and sent us a check for $100 with a note that said, "I sold my bicycle for democracy."
I saw it in a woman from Iowa who handed me $50, all in quarters. She saved it from her monthly disability check because she wanted to make America well again.
I saw it...
I saw it in a 19 year old from Alabama who had never been involved in politics before he got in his car and drove to Vermont, because he didn't feel like anybody was listening to him in Washington.
They learned that politics is too important to be left to politicians.
They didn't just pack their bags; they packed their hopes that we can take our country back. You know what? We will.
We are not going to be afraid to stand up for what we believe in ever again. We are not going to let those who disagree with us shout us down under a banner of false patriotism. We are not going to give up a single voter, or a single state, because we're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats, not just here in Boston.
We're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats in Mississippi. We're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats in Utah and Idaho.
And we're going to be proud to call ourselves Democrats in Texas.
Never again will we be ashamed to call ourselves Democrats -- never, never, never.
We're not just going to change presidents; we're going to change this country and we're going to reclaim the American dream.
To everyone who supported me, you've given me so much, and I can't thank you enough. This was never about me. This was about us.
This was about giving new life to our party. This was about giving new energy to our democracy and providing hope again for the greatest nation on the face of the Earth.
And so, today, even though you've already given so much, I want to ask you to give one more thing. I want you to give America President John Kerry.
Together -- together we can take our country back, and only you have the power to make it happen. You have the power. You have the power. You have the power to make it happen.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
KING: A rousing address by Governor Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, former candidate. And he has stirred this crowd tonight. Second night of the Democratic Convention. In a little while, Tom Daschle will join us. And then we're going to hear the keynote speaker. Let's get some comments, though, from our panel.
Senator Dole in Washington, what do you make of this? Is this the last hurrah of Howard Dean?
BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, it's hard to tell. Howard Dean has a lot of friends in that audience, as you can tell. He gave a good speech, a very negative speech. He called Bush, in effect, a liar about the war, and then the litany of more spending programs. But it was an effective speech for the audience. He talked about the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, which I assume to him is the far left of the Democratic Party.
But again, you know, he had a friendly crowd. He did a good job. He stayed on message, stayed on time. And I think it was well received. I know it was well received. I can tell from the audience reaction.
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: It's customary for candidates who competed for the nomination, didn't get it, to rally around the nominee at the convention. I think it's an indication of the desire for unity among Democrats. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), getting everybody to join on and become part of the team. And I think the statement you heard from Howard Dean is part of that process.
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, Howard Dean gave voice to the Democratic Party early in the process, and I think he put some electricity into the night with that speech. He clearly had people riled up, the music, everything, gave some real energy to the evening.
I think the one thing that Howard Dean does not do very well for them is reach out beyond their base. And that's going to be critical. They've done a very good job in the last two nights reaching out to their base. I think they've been less successful in reaching out, say, to moderate Republicans they need in order to win the election.
KING: We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to bring in the minority leader of the United States, Tom Daschle, in a tough reelection battle himself. And then we'll hear the keynote speaker. And then Ann Richards will join us. You are watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, with the second edition coming at midnight. We'll be right back.
KING: Before we hear from Mo Rocca on the floor, then our keynote speaker, let's welcome to LARRY KING LIVE the minority leader of the United States Senate, Tom Daschle.
What do you make of this so far?
SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Larry, this is great. This is great. This is one of the most unified conventions I've seen in a long, long time. You don't see the factions, you don't see the kind of infighting that often times happens at a convention. What you see a lot of energy, that's good.
KING: What did you make of Ted Kennedy?
DASCHLE: Ted Kennedy is always going to be Ted Kennedy and he does -- he ignites a group like this. And he had a lot of energy. And that's exactly what you can expect.
KING: Senator Dole, you served with Senator Kennedy a long time. You served with Senator Mitchell. You served with Senator Daschle. You served with everybody.
DOLE: We were lifers, yes, right.
KING: Is Ted Kennedy one of those old fashioned whoop-dee-doo guys, Bob?
DOLE: I wouldn't say old fashioned. Ted Kennedy is Ted Kennedy, as Tom Daschle said. He not only ignites Democrats, he also ignites Republicans. I think that's always been the problem. You know, where do we take Ted after the convention. But he's a friend of mine. He does a great job. He's one of the hardest working guys as Daschle and Mitchell know in the Senate. He's always prepared. He always has a great staff. And, you know, I like Ted Kennedy. But I think politically there are limits on where you can be best utilized.
KING: Mo Rocca on the floor, what was the reaction from your standpoint?
MO ROCCA, COMEDIAN: Well, not much of a reaction. I'm here in Pennsylvania, of course, the state tree the eastern hemlock. That's not what they're talking about tonight. They care about one thing. It's the appearance of Teresa Heinz. That's all they're talking about is Teresa. As Pennsylvanians know her, she's the pride of Mozambique, the Pennsylvania African queen. We all know her story. She was raised in the wilds of that deepest, darkest continent. She used to race like Zola Budd across the Savanna of southern Africa. And she's risen to become a savvy sophisticate, a bored brilliant billionaires. And that's the speech that everyone is waiting for here.
KING: Mo Rocca is a little different, Tom. DASCHLE: I can see that.
KING: Gergen, what's your assessment of that, of Ted Kennedy tonight?
GERGEN: He's the liberal lion. And I think we're seeing the lion almost in winter now. He's beginning to pass through the stage -- but I think there's nostalgia for Kennedy that wraps up a lot of Democrats. They like a Kennedy to mystic. And he has a polarizing figure, but even think that's wearing off. But Bob Dole is -- you know, Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy I think are both now people who cross party lines in their attraction. People like them on both sides of the aisle, because they just like them. They've been around, they've been fixtures. He's not as -- I think he's not as threatening as he was to some Republicans.
KING: George Mitchell, you were telling me that he was one of the great senators who ever lived?
MITCHELL: A great legislator, behind all of the rhetoric is a very pragmatic, hard working, skillful legislator. That takes a lot of hard work, as Bob Dole suggested. I think also, Larry, this is his home town. Age and seniority bring with us certain qualities and a certain degree of respect. And David made the point about appealing to the base and others. At their convention, the Republicans will present Giuliani, McCain, more conservative. They try to appeal both to the base and to reach out. Democrats are no different in that respect. So Ted Kennedy has a very powerful appeal for a large number of Americans, and that was tapped tonight. There will be others who appeal to others throughout the convention.
KING: Senator Daschle, who is undecided?
Who are the undecided?
DASCHLE: Oh, I think that there are a lot of Republicans out there right now and some independents that are undecided, Larry.
KING: No Democrats are undecided.
DASCHLE: You may find a few there aren't many. I think that there are a lot of people that may have voted for George Bush last time who are trying to decide if they can make the switch and vote for John Kerry this time. And I think they will.
KING: Candy Crowley, are you there at the rostrum?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am, indeed, Larry.
KING: What was the reaction up there to Howard Dean?
CROWLEY: To Howard Dean, actually, this is a great place where I am looking because you can actually see the reaction in the way that Dean did. It was great. I mean, they had lots of Dean shirts. I saw one orange hat, which was the people who helped put together his ground campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. We saw a lot of the people who were on the road for him. I have to tell you that I talked to one of his -- one of the people who worked on his campaign. I said how is this for you, he said, well, it's a little bit like being the ex- boyfriend showing up at your ex-girlfriend's wedding without a date. So there are still a couple of, you know, pangs of loss here. But you know, he told them to go for Kerry and that's obviously where they're going to go at this point. But a really warm welcome. It was obviously not just from the people who supported him, Larry, but from the people in the party who believe that Dean put it on the right track in the primary.
KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll pick up with more comments from our panel, and then we'll meet our keynote speaker Ann Richards will joins us later.
And we've got a show coming at midnight too, don't go away.
KING: We're back on night two of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. We thank Tom Daschle for joining us. Ann Richards was scheduled to be on at the end of the hour but since we don't know when they're going to go to the keynote speaker, we're going to carry his complete speech. He's an extraordinary young man. We'll bring Ann in now. But before we get that, George wanted to add one comment on Howard Dean.
MITCHELL: The reaction tonight was in part a reflection of the gratitude many Democrats feel to Governor Dean. Even those who don't agree with him, 12, 14 months ago, President Bush was riding high. No one thought any Democrat had a chance to win. He basically stiffened the spines of Democrats. He created a sense of hope and possibility and even those who didn't support him feel some gratitude. That I think is part of the reaction tonight.
KING: Ann Richards, you agree?
ANN RICHARDS (D), FMR. TEXAS GOVERNOR: Yes, I think what Howard did was he said it's OK to take on this administration. We don't have to sit back and let him tell their story and not go after him. Howard did that, did a great service. And as George said, put a little spine in their backbone.
KING: What do you make of this convention so far? You've been to many. You were keynote in one of them.
RICHARDS: I've been to a lot of them. It's about the same except these people are more unified than I've ever seen them before. We used to come to these conventions and just fight like dogs. And George Bush has done a really great service to the Democrats. He's brought us together in a way I've never seen before.
KING: Are you saying he was a uniter then?
RICHARDS: He was a uniter of the Democrats, and I've never seen him so fired up. You know, no questions about the credentials committee, no fight in the platform committee, no fight in the delegations about who is going to be seated. Everybody is focused on this election.
KING: What happened to the Democrats, David?
GERGEN: Well, I was just wondering and you know I remember when you came and gave the keynote address and you talked about George Bush Sr., you said he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
RICHARDS: I did. It was a great line then and it's a great line now.
GERGEN: But nobody has given that kind of line here tonight. They're fired up but they're not really...
RICHARDS: Well, you know, some people can and some people can't.
KING: Bob Dole, do you miss this? Not just Democrats or Republicans, do you miss the action?
DOLE: Oh, I think everybody misses the action. I mean, I think David said that Ted Kennedy was in the winter of his life. I think he's just in the early fall of his life. But you miss it. It's like if you really like politics and like people and want to work with people in both parties, it's a great experience.
Senator Mitchell knows and (UNINTELLIGIBLE), everybody knows on the panel. But I think Candy said that Howard Dean got the Democratic party on the right track. I think what she meant to say was on the left track. I think he did solidify the left if there is a left of the Democratic party, the far left. He did bring those people together and he did fire them up.
KING: Mo Rocca, you have anything to add in the midst of this turbulent congregation at the center here in Boston?
ROCCA: Well, Larry, I'm in Illinois. And the excitement is building. It's an Obama-rama and it's already begun. They're so excited for Barack Obama to appear. So That's what's happening here.
KING: Tell me, what do you know about him?
ROCCA: I don't know a lot.
KING: Thanks for that. That was...
ROCCA: I didn't want to prejudge him. So I'm waiting for the speech.
KING: George, everyone's raving about this young man. What do you know?
MITCHELL: I know Barack. He's an able, articulate, intelligent young man. He'll serve all of the people of Illinois very well. I think he's very likely to be elected. RICHARDS: Absolutely charming and he handles the media really well.
KING: Is he a shoo-in?
RICHARDS: Obama? I don't think there's any question. I don't think they've found an opponent for him.
MITCHELL: I may run.
GERGEN: He could be the future of the Democratic party. This could be the first African-American who is a serious contender for a nomination of his party. If he performs as well as he has in the last few months of his campaign...
KING: You're talking about a state legislator.
GERGEN: I know this fellow though has done a remarkable job. His father is from Kenya. His mother is from Kansas. His father came here from Kenya, he built himself up. He went back out of Harvard Law School. He was editor of the "Law Review," went back to work in the community of Illinois and Chicago. He worked his way up.
I'm telling you, he's one of the most prominent -- he's one of the few people right now -- you put your eye on this fellow and watch him and just to see if he makes it. A lot of people start out that way and then they don't make it. But I'm telling you a lot of us are looking at him saying he may be the future.
KING: Candy Crowley, are they excited up there about this young man?
CROWLEY: Basically, what they're doing at this point is most people, I think if you polled them, would say, "who is this young man?" And that's the whole point of making him the keynote speaker. That is, look, we think this is the new face of the next up and comer. As far as we know, unless they can find a really strong Republican opponent in Illinois, he's going to become the Illinois -- the senator from Illinois and let me see if I can get this right, the first African-American male Democrat in the U.S. Senate. So, you know, they know, you know, they've heard the buzz about him but most of these people still don't know that much about him.
KING: What happened to Ed Brooke?
CROWLEY: No, no, I said Democrat.
KING: Oh, Democrat. Oh, OK.
DOLE: Yes, he does appear to be a very attractive, very capable young man. I've watched television. And the Republican party is in complete disarray in Illinois. So I assume he's the odds on favorite.
KING: Isn't it strange, George, to see a state legislator be the keynote speaker?
MITCHELL: It is. It's an unusual set of circumstances, but you can say that of almost all of Barack Obama's life. It's an extraordinary personal story, very compelling. Remember, Larry, the tremendous population growth of this country is being fueled by the large numbers of immigrants coming in. Many, many new Americans identify with someone like Barack Obama.
KING: We're going to be hearing from him in a minute. Senator Durbin is introducing him and as soon as he's introduced, we're going to meet and -- maybe for many of you it will be the first time -- see what is supposedly an extraordinary young man.
RICHARDS: You remember, Larry, when I was asked to give the keynote, I was a state treasurer.
KING: You weren't governor yet?
RICHARDS: I was not governor, no. And that's one of the reasons they choose someone for the keynote that they can mature, that they can lift them up, give them that boost.
GERGEN: Ann rode here on a motorcycle. She appeared on a stationary motorcycle, Larry.
RICHARDS: I could have.
KING: Mo Rocca, now you know who he is, right?
ROCCA: Absolutely. That's right. I know who he is now. And I knew also that Ed Brooke is indeed was a Republican.
KING: Are you still in Illinois?
ROCCA: I'm making my way from Illinois to American Samoa. Remember my old friends the Samoans. It's very interesting that there are 90 Kennedys here tonight...
ROCCA: Yes, the 90 Kennedys were here to listen to Ted Kennedy. And that means that there are 15 times as many Kennedys as Samoans here.
We only have six Samoans. Five of the Samoans were delegates for Kerry, one was for Kucinich. And I want to know who got stuck with the Kucinich. They told me that -- the chief Samoan said that they made one of them be the Kucinich delegate.
KING: Maria Shriver was here, Bob Dole. The wife of the Republican governor of California cheering on the Democrats.
DOLE: That's fine and I hope she cheers on Arnold. Maybe it'll be Arnold and this young man from Illinois that will run against each other someday if we get that amendment passed.
ROCCA: I don't know if you know how to say hello in Samoan. It's haloga (ph).
KING: Carry on. We'll give him a cold compress now. We're about to meet this extraordinary young man, the candidate for the United States Senate in Illinois being introduced by Senator Dick Durbin, the senator in Illinois. He will be the keynote speaker tonight. We've heard a lot about him from our panel. All have raved. He is state senator Barack Obama.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Who is that candidate?
You've got it.
And let me tell you about this Barack Obama. He is a candidate for the Senate whose life celebrates the opportunity of America; a candidate for the Senate whose family reflects the hope of an embracing nation; a candidate for the Senate whose values rekindle our faith in a new generation; and a candidate who has the extraordinary gift to bring people together of all different backgrounds.
I have seen it. I have witnessed it.
In the 1970s, I served as a staffer for Paul Simon. I was sent to Cairo, Illinois, a tiny town in the southernmost part of our state, a town that was in the wake of terrible racial strife.
The gulf between blacks and whites gaped wide and almost seemed hopeless.
This year I returned to Cairo, Illinois.
I found what in the 1970s would have been unthinkable: a gathering of hundreds of people, black and white, all wearing campaign buttons for Barack Obama.
With this election, Illinois, the United States Senate and America will have a man who can help heal the divisions of our nation: the next Senator from the state of Illinois, Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.
On behalf of the great state of Illinois...
... crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let's face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.
My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that's shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.
While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.
Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor, my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton's army, marched across Europe. Back home my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA and later moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.
And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.
My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.
They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.
They're both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride. And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters.
I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...
... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America, a faith...
... a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted -- or at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.
And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, I say to you, tonight, we have more work to do...
... more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now they're having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour; more to do for the father I met who was losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her who have the grades, have the drive, have the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college. Now, don't get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get a head. And they want to.
Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.
Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach kids to learn.
They know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.
People don't expect -- people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.
John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they've defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.
John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.
John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.
John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.
John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.
And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.
You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6'2", 6'3", clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.
And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted -- the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service -- I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he's serving us?
I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.
Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.
John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.
John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.
If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.
If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.
If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief -- it is that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work.
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.
There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here, the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.
That's not what I'm talking. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.
I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.
America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim it's promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.
Thank you very much, everybody.
God bless you.
KING: Before we turn it over to Wolf Blitzer, a quick comment from our panel. Bob Dole, what did you think of that?
DOLE: I give him an A.
KING: An A?
DOLE: I'll give him an A, right, very good.
KING: OK, David Gergen.
GERGEN: Best speech of the convention of the week (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Best speech of the week.
MITCHELL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and I think a great future for a very fine young man.
RICHARDS: Knocked it out of the park. Had me glued, boy. I just got -- he gave it hope, he gave it feeling, he gave -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) country for the better.
KING: We hope you enjoyed this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back at midnight with a full hour more.
Right now it's time to guide you through the rest of the night. We turn it over to my man Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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