22 September 2003
Howard University - Washington, D.C.
Benedict College - Columbia, SC
University of Illinois - Chicago, IL
As prepared for delivery
I would like to thank Howard University for opening these historic halls to us today, and for affording us the opportunity to take this step on such solid ground in the tradition of excellence that Howard exemplifies.
I would like to thank each and everyone of you for taking time to share this moment. I am encouraged and inspired by you, and confident in the knowledge that our democracy is safe so long as young people know that it is not a spectator sport.
I would like to thank the National Organization for Women and the National Women's Political Caucus for their endorsements. Their clarity and advocacy for women gives me the hope and the support I must have to engage in this effort.
I would like to thank all of the friends, supporters, and strangers, too, who have led me along my path towards this day. Over the past several months I have traveled America, talking with people, listening to them, registering voters and engaging in a passionate debate about our country's direction. I am grateful to all those who opened their homes and their hearts, to those who shared their experiences with me, and who made it possible for me to explore the prospect of a Presidential campaign. Thank you for your encouragement.
Today, I am officially declaring my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.
I am running for the Democratic nomination because I believe this party ought to stand for inclusion, hope, and new ways to resolve old problems.
I am fighting for the nomination because I am determined to move our party in the direction of our nation's most noble ideals, and live up to our generation's duty to leave the next generation no less freedom, no less opportunity, no less optimism than we inherited from our ancestors.
I am dedicated to building partnerships for peace, prosperity and progress based on new ideas that are as practical as they are innovative. These partnerships will help us shape an American renaissance and renewal in the best traditions of our country.
I have the experience, the ability and the ideas to heal and renew America. In all of my public service, I have broken down barriers, built bridges and brought people together to achieve solutions that put the public interest first.
As a young federal prosecutor, I won a Justice Department award for my work to put an end to exploitation in housing policy.
As a state representative, I fought for education, and passed laws to create the first local school councils and agriculture schools in Illinois. My colleagues voted me the "Conscience of the House" for my advocacy for the poor.
As a county executive, I convened the first advisory council, and worked with organized labor to improve conditions for the employees and the public. When I left that office, it had become a profit center for Cook County, the workers were better off, and the public was better served.
As a United States Senator, and as the first woman to serve on the Finance Committee, I passed laws for women's pension equity, and for environmental remediation and alternative energy, for school modernization and restoration of the interest deduction for college loans.
As Ambassador, I was credited with improving relations on behalf of the United States, and was the first envoy to be made an honorary member of the Te Atiawa Maori tribe.
Breaking barriers; building bridges; bringing people together: I have been blessed to be an agent for change and progress, but I cannot take full personal credit for these accomplishments. I have always depended on the help and support of people of good will who had the vision to imagine the possibilities borne of giving me a chance to contribute.
I tell the people what I believe in, I keep my promises and I hold myself accountable for my service. My entire public life has been characterized by problem solving with new ideas that are as practical as they are innovative. I want to bring my skills and my experience to bear on healing our country, and creating a renaissance for America.
Through partnerships for peace and prosperity and progress we will renew the American dream of freedom and opportunity.
We can make our economy work for everyone, not just the already wealthy, and assure families that they will be able to provide decent housing, health care, education, retirement and safety to those they love the most.
We will turn away from the bluster and bravado that has so soured our friendships and alliances around the world, and build our global relationships.
We will respect individuals in their private lives, in their professional endeavors and in their civic engagements.
And we will tap all of the talent that is available to us, without limitation of any aspect of personality that serves to divide instead of glorify the human condition.
America will be stronger when we engage the full range of talent that is at our disposal, and when we live up to our most fundamental national virtues.
We can, and must renew the American spirit. What makes this country great is not the size of its military or its budget or its wealth, but the spirit of her people. That spirit has been battered since 9/11; not only by the criminals who killed so many, but by leaders who have pandered to fear in its aftermath. We must not allow the nightmare of our limitations continue; but instead dream a world of the best of who we are.
When we come together to create partnerships for peace and prosperity and progress we will heal the American spirit.Ê
Partnerships for peace will bring a real end to this Iraqi war, and bring our troops home with honor. Americans don't cut and run, and so we have to see this misadventure through to a noble conclusion. The sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the sands of Iraq will not be forgotten, but neither will the folly of preemptive war. Partnerships for peace will build on the good will that we had after 9/11, and engage our allies to help us leave Iraq better than we found it.
Partnerships for peace will give our international institutions new support for global collaborations to fight crime and terrorism, poverty and disease. Our foreign policy will follow our values, and serve the interests of the American people.
Trade can create opportunity to share our values, not lose our jobs. We can engage our private sector in ways that will bolster their bottom line, stem job hemorrhage at home and help stop the exploitation of workers and the environment around the world. I want to forge partnerships for prosperity that will explore new policies to stop our nations' slide toward embedded wealth, entrenched poverty, and a shrinking middle class.
When we pursue balance in our economic order, we will embrace fiscal, monetary and trade policies that put working people first. Economic policy is so interconnected with our nation's social fabric that government has a special duty to protect the people from the forces of private interest and greed.
I believe in fiscal responsibility and fighting for social justice. Partnerships for prosperity give us opportunity to do good and do well simultaneously. We will fight the greedy - whose excesses and crimes have threatened our capital markets and undermined confidence in our economy. We will help the needy - whether in childhood or retirement, in sickness or despair.
Achieving a balanced budget again will help restore confidence in our policymakers' ability to protect our nation's economic health. This administration has no right to make irresponsible spending decisions that simply shift the payment burden onto those least able to pay, or to state and local governments, or, worse still, to our children and grandchildren.
Without spending a dime more than we already pay, we can provide health security that emphasizes wellness, restores the provider/patient relationship and maintains the quality of care Americans have every right to expect. Embracing a single payer system of health insurance that does not depend on employment will not only provide universal coverage, but boost our international competitiveness, stimulate our economy at home, and let workers keep more of their pay.
Education reform that relieves the burden on local property taxpayers, while empowering parents and teachers to pursue excellence and innovation is an opportunity for a partnership for prosperity that we cannot afford to ignore if we are to keep our country strong. The cornerstone of the American dream of opportunity is education-it is the way our workforce is prepared to engage the rest of the world. Education is not just a private benefit, but a public good as well, and our national interest is bound up in providing quality public education for every child.
We can engage in partnerships for prosperity to build infrastructure, as well. Especially in the wake of the recent events, storms and blackouts and other calamities, we all know that our foundations - for energy, for water, for transportation - are in need of restoration. By bringing together national, state and local governments with the private sector, including colleges and universities and non-governmental organizations, we can spark a building boom that will unleash innovation and technology transfers and create new industries and new wealth. Private industry will give us the benefit of the best America has to offer, and when we make government a partner in our country's renovation, we will create jobs and opportunity and hope for all Americans.
As President, I will give you an America as good as its promise. I will reach out to bring us together to create an American renaissance, revival and renewal. I am uniquely qualified to do the job of President, and I offer the clearest alternative to this current administration, whose only new idea has been preemptive war and a huge new bureaucracy. I can fix the mess they have created, because I am practical, I am not afraid of partnerships and I am committed to making the world better for our children. By tapping the talent, the ideas, and the capacity that our whole society has to offer, we will expand the probability of succeeding together.
America is at a tipping point; if we stay the course we are on, we won't recognize this country 5 years from now. But if we shift gears, try another way, tap some of the talent that has been relegated to the sidelines of leadership, we can heal and renew and save our country.
Just last week, my little 9-year-old niece Claire called me into her room to show me her social studies book. Turning to the pages on which all of our Presidents were pictured, she looked at me and complained: But Auntie Carol, all the Presidents are boys!
I want Claire, and your daughters and sons to know that in America, everyone has a chance to serve and contribute. I believe that America is ready to take the next great step in the direction of her most noble ideals of service and merit and equality.
This campaign is our way of fighting to give Claire and every American girl or boy not only the opportunity to become President of this great country, but the freedom to decide to lead a quality private life if they choose to do so. There is no human power greater than a made up mind, and we have decided not to let them take away our liberty, our opportunity, our hope for a better future.
The time has come to meet the challenge of our founding fathers' vision, and I am prepared to fight for you and with you to revive the American dream of freedom and opportunity. Together we will break down barriers. Together we will rebuild and restore our country. And together we will give ourselves the greatest gift of all: an America we can be proud of.
Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for your energy. Thank you for your faith in the goodness of this country. We will lift up the hearts of the American people. We will inspire hope. We will renew the American Spirit. And we will win. Together, failure is impossible.
Source: Carol Moseley Braun for President Web Site
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