TOPICS > Politics

Al Gore: On the Stump

July 12, 2000 at 12:00 AM EDT


AL GORE: I’m running for President because I want to fight for you. I want to help those who have not had their fair share of justice, opportunity, equality, and the American dream. We’ve got to move forward together. I want to serve the people — not the powerful. I want to take on the special interests on behalf of working families. I don’t want to work for those who make excuses for the way things are instead of striving for the way things are supposed to be. I know very well that you gave Bill Clinton and me a chance to bring change to this country.

So thank you, once again. For 1992 and for 1996 — instead of a triple dip recession and the deepest recession since the 1930′s, we’ve seen a tripling of the stock market. Instead of the biggest deficits in history, we’ve got the biggest surpluses in history. Instead of high unemployment, we’ve got the lowest African-American unemployment in the history of the statistics, and the strongest economy in the 211-year history of the United States of America. We’re making progress! We’re headed in the right direction! We need to keep going in the right direction, and I’m here to say, you ain’t seen nothing yet! We’re going to keep going,; we’re going to keep building; we’re going to keep growing; we’re going to keep working together and climb to a higher place, a better place with even more jobs, where nobody is left behind!

We have a national responsibility to recognize that opportunity means knowledge, and knowledge means learning, and learning means respecting our schools, and investing in them. I think it’s time to start treating our teachers like the professionals they are, and reduce the class size, and modernize the schools, and put more money along with new accountability and reforms into our public schools, and I’m against draining money away in the form of vouchers that offer a false promise because they don’t pay the tuition, they just give the illusion, and they actually divert money from the public school. You know, here we are in an information age when 60% of the businesses in America have good jobs that pay good money, and they can’t fill them because they can’t find the people with the education and the skills that are necessary to fill those jobs. Here we have a debate every single year in America now about whether or not we’re going to bust out of the limits on immigration because, and I’m for immigration, don’t get me wrong. We are a nation of immigrants. But it ought on the an alarm bell when we have the employers with the best jobs in this country coming every single year, year after year, saying we have to go halfway around the world to find people with a college education who can come in and take these good jobs, we need to educate our own people with the skills needed to seize the jobs of the future and build the future of this country!

Welcome immigrants, yes. But educate our own people, and make the investment. Don’t just put all the attention on a tax break for the wealthy when our people need good schools. And I want to make one further point. I just happened to see some of your convention on Monday (Laughter) –Monday afternoon. And I read about it in the newspapers. And I know that you heard some nice sounding words on Monday afternoon. You know from a hard history and a long struggle that talk is cheap. It’s deeds that matter. Talk doesn’t cost much. The true test is standing up to the powerful interests and fighting for the progress that our people deserve. I want you to know I won’t be silent, I will lead the fight for our people. I will lead the fight for justice. I’ll lead the fight for campaign finance reform. I’ll lead the fight for the progress we need. Talk doesn’t cost much. The true test is whether you are willing to take a stand when the confederate flag is flying over a state capitol and you see that it needs to come down, but you are afraid to speak out. Talk doesn’t cost much. Taking a stand, when it matters, requires courage. Talk doesn’t cost much.

The true test is telling Trent Lott and Tom DeLay that time has come for a tough new law against hate crimes, because they are different. We need to pass hate crimes legislation, because when we don’t stamp out the sparks of hatred, we risk a fire at the very foundation of our house. And when James Byrd is dragged to his death behind a pickup truck and the governor of his home state ought to at least heed the family’s plea for action. In the words of James Byrd’s nephew, I asked him personally if he would use his influence to help pass the bill, and he told me no. One brief sentence that said the word yes would have mattered a whole lot more to the cause of justice than a whole speech that didn’t even mention hate crimes, the future of the Supreme Court taking down the confederate flag, ending racial profiling, or defending affirmative action, or Bob Jones University. One sentence with the word yes would have mattered a whole lot more!

I’m not asking you to read my lips, I’m asking you to read my heart! And watch my feet! And watch the work of my hands (Applause) — when joined with yours, allow yourselves to believe that we can do the right thing, and be the better for it. Let’s make this country what it is intended to be! Let’s rise above our differences, let’s establish respect for difference, let’s pass the legislation, let’s make the march that will take us to the mountaintop of justice and prosperity and progress and freedom for all of the people of the United States of America! I want your help, fight for you, I want to fight for your families and the future of America. God please you and thank you! (Applause)