President Jimmy Carter
QuickTime Lo | Hi | MP3
Windows Lo | Hi | Audio
My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m not running for
president. But here’s what I will be doing: everything I can to put
John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him.
Twenty-eight years ago I was running for president, and I said then,
“I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as
competent and as compassionate as are the American people.” I say this
again tonight, and that is exactly what we will have next January with
John Kerry as president of the United States.
As many of you know, my first chosen career was in the United States
Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates
and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend
our nation and its principles.
At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve
the peace. I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight
Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties. Both of
whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders-in-chief,
they exercised restraint and judgment and had a clear sense of mission.
We had confidence that our leaders, military and civilian, would not
put our soldiers and sailors in harm’s way by initiating “wars of
choice” unless America’s vital interests were endangered.
We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when it
came to issues involving our nation’s security. Today, our Democratic
party is led by another former naval officer—one who volunteered for
military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served
with honor and distinction.
He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of
leadership, and I am confident that next January he will restore the
judgment and maturity to our government that is sorely lacking today. I
am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I am ready to
follow him to victory in November.
As you know, our country faces many challenges at home involving
energy, taxation, the environment, education, and health. To meet these
challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped
by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies
of lobbyists. But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is
even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.
Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the
greatness of America—based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace,
and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around
the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our
credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated
and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth—without
trust—America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our
democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.
When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic
together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but
determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought
us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the
world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all
this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of
mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated
the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating
Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the
American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic
principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the
positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion
of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as
the world’s most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a
difference these few months of extremism have made!
The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends,
and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and
disturbing strategy of “preemptive” war. With our allies disunited, the
world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to
restore life to the global war against terrorism.
In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a
screeching halt for the first time since Israel became a nation. All
former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure
a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the
Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and
the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in
Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region
increasingly swept by anti-American passions. Elsewhere, North Korea’s
nuclear menace—a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by
Saddam Hussein—has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially
ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia. These
are some of the prices of our government’s radical departure from the
basic American principles and values espoused by John Kerry!
In repudiating extremism we need to recommit ourselves to a few
common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what
is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our
daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our
historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an
agenda that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true
to ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large
we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
You can’t be a war president one day and claim to be a peace
president the next, depending on the latest political polls. When our
national security requires military action, John Kerry has already
proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven
defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the
global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.
Ultimately, the issue is whether America will provide global
leadership that springs from the unity and integrity of the American
people or whether extremist doctrines and the manipulation of truth
will define America’s role in the world.
At stake is nothing less than our nation’s soul. In a few months, I
will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life, and in many ways the
last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all. But I am
not discouraged. I do not despair for our country. I believe tonight,
as I always have, that the essential decency, compassion and common
sense of the American people will prevail.
And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they
wish us well or ill: do not underestimate us Americans. We lack neither
strength nor wisdom. There is a road that leads to a bright and hopeful
future. What America needs is leadership. Our job, my fellow Americans,
is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry
and John Edwards. Thank you and God bless America!