Bush and Gore in Their Own Words

Following are excerpts from the speeches given by Texas Governor George W. Bush, a Republican, and Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat, in accepting the presidential nominations at their parties' national conventions this summer.

George W. Bush

This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the promise of prosperity been so vivid. But times of plenty, like times of crisis, are tests of American character.

Prosperity can be a tool in our hands used to build and better our country, or it can be a drug in our system dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty. Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment.

So tonight, we vow to our nation we will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.

We will confront the hard issues, threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security, before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.

And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country: to every man and woman, a chance to succeed; to every child, a chance to learn; and to every family, a chance to live with dignity and hope. . . .

. . . Tonight in this hall, we resolve to be the party not of repose but of reform. We will write not footnotes but chapters in the American story. We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers and leave this nation greater than we found it.

We know the test of leadership. The issues are joined. We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation and for generations to come.

Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly; it reflects the values of our society. We will set it on firm financial ground and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.

Social Security has been called the third rail of American politics, the one you're not supposed to touch because it might shock you. But if you don't touch it, you cannot fix it. And I intend to fix it. . . .

. . . As governor, I've made difficult decisions and stood by them under pressure. I've been where the buck stops in business and in government. I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals, and rallies people to believe and achieve them. I am proud of this record, and I am prepared for the work ahead. If you give me your trust, I will honor it. Grant me a mandate, I will use it. Give me the opportunity to lead this nation, and I will lead.

And we need a leader to seize the opportunities of this new century: the new cures of medicine, the amazing technologies that will drive our economy and keep the peace. But our new economy must never forget the old, unfinished struggle for human dignity. And here we face a challenge to the very heart and founding premise of our nation.

A couple of years ago, I visited a juvenile jail in Marlin, Texas, and talked with a group of young inmates. They were angry, wary kids. All had committed grown-up crimes. Yet when I looked in their eyes, I realized some of them were still little boys.

Toward the end of the conversation, one young man, about 15 years old, raised his hand and asked a haunting question, "What do you think of me?" He seemed to be asking, like many Americans who struggle: Is their hope for me? Do I have a chance? And, frankly, do you, a white man in a suit, really care about what happens to me?

A small voice, but it speaks for so many: single moms struggling to feed the kids and pay the rent; immigrants starting a hard life in a new world; children without fathers in neighborhoods where gangs seem like friendship or drugs promise peace, and where sex sadly seems the closest thing to belonging. We are their country too. And each of us must share in its promise or the promise is diminished for all.

If that boy in Marlin believes he's trapped and worthless and hopeless, if he believes his life has no value, then other lives have no value to him, and we're all diminished.

When these problems are not confronted, it builds a wall within our nation. On one side are wealth, technology, education and ambition. On the other side of that wall are poverty and prison, addiction and despair. And my fellow Americans, we must tear down that wall.

Big government is not the answer, but the alternative to bureaucracy is not indifference. It is to put conservative values and conservative ideas into the thick of the fight for justice and opportunity.

This is what I mean by compassionate conservatism. And on this ground, we will lead our nation.

We will give low-income Americans tax credits to buy the private health insurance they need and deserve.

We will transform today's housing rental program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families find stability and dignity in a home of their own.

And in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic work of homeless shelters and hospices, food pantry and crisis pregnancy centers, people reclaiming their communities block by block and heart by heart. . . .

. . . My generation tested limits, and our country in some ways is better for it. Women are now treated more equally.

Racial progress has been steady; it's still too slow. We're learning to protect the natural world around us. We will continue this progress, and we will not turn back.

At times we lost our way, but we're coming home.

So many of us held our first child and saw a better self reflected in her eyes. And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol of an even greater love, and have been touched by faith.

We discovered that who we are is more than important than what we have. And we know we must renew our values to restore our country. . . .

. . . So when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

I believe the presidency, the final point of decision in the American government, was made for great purposes. It is the office of Lincoln's conscience, of Teddy Roosevelt's energy, of Harry Truman's integrity and Ronald Reagan's optimism.

For me, gaining this office is not the ambition of a lifetime, but it is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will make the most of it.

I believe great decision are made with care, made with conviction, not made with polls.

I do not need to take your pulse before I know my own mind. I do not reinvent myself at every turn. I am not running in borrowed clothes.

When I act, you will know my reasons. And when I speak, you will know my heart.

I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.

I believe in a God who calls us not to judge our neighbors but to love them.

I believe in grace because I've seen it, and peace because I've felt it, and forgiveness because I've needed it.

I believe true leadership is a process of addition, not an act of division.

I will not attack a part of this country because I want to lead the whole of it.

Al Gore

This election is not an award for past performance. I'm not asking you to vote for me on the basis of the economy we have.

Tonight, I ask for your support on the basis of the better, fairer, more prosperous America we can build together.

Together, let's make sure that our prosperity enriches not just the few, but all working families. Let's invest in health care, education, a secure retirement and middle-class tax cuts.

I'm happy that the stock market has boomed and so many businesses and new enterprises have done well. The country is richer and stronger. But my focus is on working families, people trying to make house payments and car payments, working overtime to save for college and do right by their kids.

Whether you're in a suburb or an inner-city, whether you raise crops or drive hogs and cattle on a farm, drive a big rig on the interstate or drive e-commerce on the Internet, whether you're starting out to raise your own family or getting ready to retire after a lifetime of hard work: So often, powerful forces and powerful interests stand in your way, and the odds seemed stacked against you, even as you do what's right for you and your family. How and what we do for all of you -- the people who pay the taxes, bear the burdens, and live the American dream. That is the standard by which we should be judged.

And for all of our good times, I am not satisfied. To all the families in America who have to struggle to afford the right education and the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, I want you to know this: I've taken on the powerful forces. And as president, I'll stand up to them, and I'll stand up for you. . . .

. . . And I will never forget a little boy named Ian Malone, who suffered from a medical mistake during childbirth and needs full-time nursing care for several years. I met him and his parents in Seattle, near Everett, Washington, their home. Their HMO had told the Malones it would no longer pay for the nurse they needed, and then, actually told them they should consider giving Ian up for adoption. That's when his mom and dad got really mad. They told their story in public, and the HMO was embarrassed. Because they fought for their baby, today Ian has the care he needs to stay alive. But no family in America should have to go on national television to save their child's life. Dylan and Christine Malone are here with us tonight. Ian's here, too. And I say to them, and to all the families of America: I will fight for a real, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights.

It's just wrong to have life and death medical decisions made by bean-counters at HMOs who don't have a license to practice medicine and don't have a right to play God. It's time to take the medical decisions away from the HMOs and insurance companies and give them back to the doctors, the nurses, and the health care professionals. Let's make that a bipartisan issue.

So this is not just an election between my opponent and me. It's about our people, our families and our future -- and whether forces standing in your way will keep you from living a better life. To me, this election is about Mildred Nystel, Jacqueline Johnson, Caterina Gutierrez, Ian Malone. It's about millions of Americans whose names we may never know but whose needs and dreams must always be our calling. And so here tonight, in the name of all the working families who are the strength and soul of America, I accept your nomination for president of the United States of America. . . .

. . . I'm here to talk seriously about the issues. I believe people deserve to know specifically what a candidate proposes to do. I intend to tell you tonight. You ought to be able to know, and then judge for yourself.

If you entrust me with the presidency, I will put our democracy back in your hands, and get all the special-interest money­all of it -- out of our democracy, by enacting campaign finance reform. I feel so strongly about this, I promise you that campaign finance reform will be the very first bill that Joe Lieberman and I send to the United States Congress.

Let others try to restore the Old Guard. We come to this convention as the change we wish to see in America. And what are those changes?

At a time when most Americans will live to know even their great-grandchildren, we will save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, not only for this generation, but for generations to come.

At a time of almost unimaginable medical breakthroughs, we will fight for affordable health care for all so patients and ordinary people are not left powerless and broke. We will move toward universal health coverage, step by step, starting with all children. Let's get all children covered by 2004. And let's move to the day when we end the stigma of mental illness, and treat it like every other illness, everywhere in this nation. And I thank you, Tipper, for leading the way.

Within the next few years, scientists will identify the genes that cause every type of cancer. We need a national commitment equal to the promise of this unequaled moment. So we will double the federal investment in medical research. We will find new medicines and new cures, not just for cancer, but for everything from diabetes to HIV/AIDS. . . .

. . . There's one other word we've heard a lot of in this campaign, and that word is honor. To me, honor is not just a word, but an obligation. And you have my word: We will honor hard work by raising the minimum wage so that work always pays more than welfare.

We will honor families by expanding child care, and after-school care, and family and medical leave so working families have the help they need to care for their children because one of the most important jobs of all is raising our children.

And we'll support the right of parents to decide that one of them will stay home longer with their babies if that's what they believe is best for their families.

We will honor the ideal of equality by standing up for civil rights and defending affirmative action.

We will honor equal rights and we will fight for an equal day's pay for an equal day's work.

And let there be no doubt: I will protect and defend a woman's right to choose. The last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade.

We will remove all the old barriers so that those who are called disabled can develop all their abilities.

And we will also widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans, renew the Voting Rights Act, and enforce all our civil rights laws with the budget and personnel that are necessary. Hear me well.

We will pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

And we will honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, Joseph Ileto and James Byrd, whose families all joined us this week -- by passing a law against hate crimes. They are different. We need to embody our values in that new law. It's time. . . .

. . . I know my own imperfections. I know that sometimes people say I'm too serious, that I talk too much substance and policy. Maybe I've done that tonight. But the presidency is more than a popularity contest. It's a day-by-day fight for people. Sometimes, you have to choose to do what's difficult or unpopular. Sometimes, you have to be willing to spend your popularity in order to pick the hard right over the easy wrong.

There are big choices ahead, and our whole future is at stake. And I do have strong beliefs about it. If you entrust me with the presidency, I know I won't always be the most exciting politician. But I pledge to you tonight: I will work for you every day and I will never let you down.

If we allow ourselves to believe, without reservation, that we can do what's right and be the better for it, then the best America will be our America.

In this City of Angels, we can summon the better angels of our nature. Do not rest where we are, or retreat. Do all we can to make America all it can become.

Back to the October 2000 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.