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'92 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION : CLINTON TEXT: 'I Still Believe in a Place Called Hope'

July 17, 1992|From Associated Press

NEW YORK Here is the prepared text of the acceptance speech Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton gave Thursday to the Democratic National Convention:

Tonight I want to talk with you about my hope for the future, my faith in the American people and my vision of the kind of country we can build together.

I salute the good men who were my companions on the campaign trail: Tom Harkin, Bob Kerrey, Doug Wilder, Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas. One sentence in the platform we built says it all: "The most important family policy, urban policy, labor policy, minority policy and foreign policy America can have is an expanding, entrepreneurial economy of high-skill, high-wage jobs."

And so, in the name of all the people who do the work, pay the taxes, raise the kids and play by the rules--the hard-working Americans who make up our forgotten middle class, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States of America.

I am a product of America's middle class. And when I am your President you will be forgotten no more.

Losing the Battles at Home

We meet at a special moment in history, you and I. The Cold War is over; Soviet Communism has collapsed, and our values--freedom, individual rights and free enterprise--have triumphed. And yet just as we have won the Cold War abroad, we are losing the battles for economic opportunity and social justice here at home. Now that we've changed the world, it's time to change America.

I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: your time has come . . . and gone. It's time for a change.

Tonight 10 million Americans are out of work. Tens of millions more work harder for less pay. The incumbent President says unemployment always goes up a little before we start a recovery. But unemployment only has to go up by one more person before we can start a real recovery--and, Mr. President, you are that man.

This election is about putting power back in your hands and putting government back on your side. It's about putting our people first.

You know, I've shared these thoughts with people all across America. But always someone comes back at me, as a young man did this week at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan: "That sounds good, Bill. But you're a politician. Why should I trust you?"

Tonight, I want to tell you, as plainly as I can, who I am, what I believe in and where I want to lead America.

I never met my father.

He was killed in a car wreck on a rainy road three months before I was born, driving home from Chicago to Arkansas to be with my mother.

After that, my mother had to support us. So I lived with my grandparents while she went away to study nursing in Louisiana.

I can still see her through the eyes of a 3-year-old: kneeling at the train station in New Orleans, waving goodby and crying as she put me on the train with my grandmother to go back home. She endured her pain because she knew her sacrifice was the only way she could support me and give me a better life.

My mother taught me. She taught me about family, hard work and sacrifice. She held steady through tragedy after tragedy. And she held our family, my brother and me, together through tough times. As a child, I watched her go off to work each day at a time when it wasn't very easy to be a working mother.

As an adult, I watched her fight off breast cancer. And again she taught me a lesson in courage. And always, always she taught me to fight.

'Started With My Mother'

That's why I'll fight to create high-paying jobs so that parents can raise their children in dignity. That's why I'm so committed to making sure every American gets the health care that saved my mother's life. And that's why I fight to make sure women in this country receive respect and dignity--whether they work in the home, out of the home, or both. You want to know where I get my fighting spirit? It all started with my mother.

When I think about opportunity for all Americans, I think of my grandfather.

He ran a country store in our little town of Hope. There were no food stamps back then, so when his customers--whether white or black--who worked hard and did the best they could came in with no money, he'd give them food anyway. Just made a note of it. So did I. Before I was big enough to see over the counter, I learned from him to look up to people other folks looked down on.

My grandfather had a grade-school education. But in that country store he taught me more about equality in the eyes of the Lord than all my professors at Georgetown; more about the intrinsic worth of every individual than all the philosophers at Oxford, and he taught me more about the need for equal justice than all the jurists at Yale Law School.

You want to know where I get my commitment to bringing people together without regard to race? It all started with my grandfather.

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