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2004-07-30

Kerry Accepts Nomination: Vows to Increase Military By 40,000 & Double No. of Special Forces

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Like the speech of his running mate John Edwards the night before, Kerry’s speech could hardly be characterized as antiwar. Rather Kerry criticized President Bush for how he has chosen to go to war. The tone for Kerry’s speech was set when he took to the stage, held his hand up and saluted the crowd and said "I"m John Kerry and I"m reporting for duty." [includes rush transcript]

Welcome to Democracy Now! Breaking With Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency, broadcasting from Cambridge Community Television just across the river from Boston"s FleetCenter, where the Democratic National Convention has concluded with John Kerry formally accepting his party"s nomination to run against President Bush in the November election. Last night Kerry delivered his most important speech to date in the campaign. Like the speech of his running mate John Edwards the night before, Kerry"s speech could hardly be characterized as antiwar. Rather Kerry criticized President Bush for HOW he has chosen to go to war. The tone for Kerry"s speech was set when he took to the stage, held his hand up and saluted the crowd and said "I"m John Kerry and I"m reporting for duty." He said his message to the US military was that help is on the way. Kerry pledged to increase the number of active soldiers in the military by 40,000 and to double the number of US Special Forces. Kerry"s speech lasted some 55 minutes and was interrupted many times by applause. As Kerry spoke last night, hundreds of people protested against the occupation of Iraq in the streets outside. Here is John Kerry.

  • John Kerry, speaking at the Democratic National Convention, accepting his party’s nomination.

John Kerry speaking last night as he formally accepted the Democratic Party nomination to run against President Bush. After his speech a hundred thousand balloons fell from the rafters, confetti covered the arena as the revellers danced as U2"s song "Beautiful Day" blared from the FleetCenter"s massive sound system. As Kerry spoke inside, hundreds of people continued to protest in the streets. A few hours before Kerry took the stage, hundreds of protesters faced off with riot police. After they had dragged one young man down the street and another protester was slammed against the ground, two young women knealed between the demonstrators and a phalanx of riot police guarding the main route used by delegates and others entering the FleetCenter.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Kerry’s speech lasted some 55 minutes, was interrupted many times by applause. As Kerry spoke last night, hundreds of people protested against the occupation of Iraq throughout the day yesterday. This is an excerpt of John Kerry’s address.

JOHN KERRY: 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 again. 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. [applause] I ask you to judge me by my 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 a 100,000 cops on the street. And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW’s and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.[cheers] 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 best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States. [cheering] My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war, a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before. And 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 [booing]— 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. [cheering] 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. And let’s not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced the budget. We paid down the debt. We created 23 million new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted the standard of living for the middle class. We just need to believe in ourselves, and we can do it again. So tonight, in the city where America’s freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation, here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom, on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot, for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return, for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us, for all of you, with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States. [cheering]

AMY GOODMAN: Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry speaking last night at the Fleet Center in Boston. Later in his speech, Kerry talked about how he will fight the so-called war on terror if elected president.

JOHN KERRY: My fellow Americans, the world tonight is very different from the world of four years ago. But I believe the American people are more than equal to the challenge. Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation’s Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us. 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. I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can’t tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they’re out on patrol at night and they don’t know what’s coming around the next bend. I know what it’s like to write letters home telling your family that everything’s all right when you’re not sure that’s true. As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war. And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace. [cheering] I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home. Here is the reality: that won’t happen until we have a president who restores America’s respect and leadership — so we don’t have to go it alone in the world. And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us. I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. [cheering] 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. 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 backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists. [cheering] To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way. As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower. In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals. We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared. We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation, to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world. We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn’t belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.[cheering] And the front lines of this battle are not just far away, they’re right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. 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 the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn’t be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn’t be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America. [cheering] And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism. [cheering] You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good. That flag doesn’t belong to any president. It doesn’t belong to any ideology and it doesn’t belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people!

AMY GOODMAN: John Kerry speaking last night as he formally accepted the Democratic Party nomination to run against President Bush. After his speech, 100,000 balloons fell from the rafters. Confetti covered the arena as the revelers danced to U2 song "Beautiful Day" blaring from the Fleet Center’s massive sound system. When we come back, we play an excerpt of the biopic, the Hollywood style film that they showed of John Kerry’s life before he spoke, then we go outside in the streets to the protestors, and then back some 33 years to the speech John Kerry gave that would make him famous in Washington in 1971. Stay with us.

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