REP. JOSEPH KENNEDY: Fellow Americans, thank you. Fellow Americans, fellow Democrats, fellow delegates from Massachusetts in June of 1968, my father won the California primary, and then in Los Angeles, he told his supporters simply and forcefully "on to Chicago." I was 15 years old, the same age as my two sons, Matt and Joe, who are here with my wife, Beth, and me tonight, along with about two dozen other Kennedys standing right over here.
Back then, I had looked forward to coming here with thousands of others in the hopes that the Democratic Party, meeting in America's great heartland city, would nominate Robert Kennedy for the nation's highest office. As we know, he never did get to Chicago, and in a sense, our country has been trying to get to this great city all these past 28 years.
Trying to build the kind of society he dared imagine possible -- one in which working families can live decent and hopeful lives and can face old age and serious illness without fear of going under or being abandoned or ending up on the street.
Now, at last we are here. We have come to Chicago. A Chicago led by a mayor who has extended his heart and his hand to all no matter where they live, no matter where they are from.
Here for the last convention of this century, here to nominate the first president and the first vice president of the 21st century, here to say, in the words of the Chicago poet Carl Sandberg, "the people, yes." Here to remember my dad and Al Gore's dad working together in the Senate, representing Carthage, Tennessee, and Ithaca, New York.
But mindful of others wherever they lived, however humble and hurt their lives, two more Democrats of this century who held high Lincoln's banner, while the party he once led gave him mere lip service.
Here to remember the values of our party. But here, also, to bring America new hope and new vision -- to proclaim new solutions for a country at peace; strong, very much the leader of the world, yet now challenged, not from without, but from within, by inequities that persist, by violence and lawlessness in our streets and by the threats to the very air we breathe and the land we call our own.
I come here tonight to place in nomination for vice president a man who has seen the need for change, who has summoned us to dare new approaches, to challenges that not too long ago were all but unimaginable.
I come here to nominate a man who is a proven leader for the 21st century. I come here to nominate Al Gore for vice president of the United States of America.
I come here to celebrate Al Gore's great clarion call to all of us that we save the earth God made, and that we preserve and not despoil it.
Well before he came to the vice presidency, Al Gore was the leading environmentalist of our public life. There isn't a law to protect the environment that doesn't bear his name, the stamp or the stewardship of Al Gore.
He has fought for air without poison, soils without toxin and water that runs clean and fresh; a nation that will live up to those words, America the beautiful.
For Al and Tipper Gore, the phrase family values so often used these days is not a political cliche meant to get votes or divide people but an obvious and fundamental part of their lives.
Al Gore decided in 1991 not to run in the long presidential primaries of that next year so he could spend time helping his son recover and regain his spirit after a terrible accident. Instead of shaking thousands of hands on the campaign trail, Al Gore held the hand of his child.
He understands that what we are as a society, what we must become, begins with the well-being of our families. He has sought to make government work for families, not against them.
Under his moral leadership, we are beginning to balance our rights with our responsibilities. To insist, for example, that every father has a duty to support his children. That government programs don't provide love, but government programs shouldn't encourage families to break up or multiply the stresses they face, nor should any government tolerate the irresponsibility of deadbeat dads.
Al and Tipper Gore were amongst the very first to demand that those who entertain us must remember that their music and their movies are amongst the greatest teachers of our children, helping to shape their moral development.
Those writers and producers and musicians have a responsibility to strengthen rather than degrade our values. Mindless violence must not -- must be ended on our streets, yes. But mindless violence must also be erased from our television screens, where it too often finds its inspiration and sanction.
Al Gore has learned about moral leadership, moral passion from his parents. But there were other teachers as well. There is a story about President Kennedy calling Senator Al Gore, Sr. one evening in 1962 to discuss the decision by U.S. Steel to raise its prices.
The threatened price hike came not long after the steel workers, at the president's urging, had agreed not to seek wage increases. When the call from the president came in, Senator Gore was attending a function in Washington.
Fourteen-year-old Al Gore, Jr. took the call and immediately reached his father. Senator Gore hurried home and phoned the president, who asked him in the strongest possible language to lead the opposition in the Senate to the price hike.
When Senator Gore hung up the phone, his son walked into the room. He'd been listening on another line. "Dad," he said, "I didn't know presidents talked like that."
Young Al had learned a lesson firsthand of a president's moral passion, but he had also learned of the constraints and threats that encumber even a president.
When the great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, thought of all the world's tragedies, small and large -- a son's injury, a war's devastation -- he was tempted for a moment by doubt and despair.
Yet he rallied to a brave song of hope that still reminds me of my father and our family navigating one of those fast moving Western rivers.
So who were we to want to hang back there? In spite of all, we sailed beyond ourselves, and over and above the rafters aching in our shoulder blades, the give and take of branches in our arms
Those lyrical words remind me of my dad and his every ready willingness to think of human frailty and vulnerability, but also his insistence that we stand strong and eager to help right the world's wrongs.
This is a standard our country has set. it is a standard that millions of other American families try to hold themselves to each and every day. It is a standard that insists upon connecting moral ideas to conduce, and ideals to action.
That is the high standard which Al Gore has more than met. He is the most effective vice president in the history of this country -- President Clinton's great partner, and a leader in his own right. A person of large vision and principles. A high-minded, big-hearted American.
And so I come here to place his name in nomination. Vice President Al Gore it is. And Al Gore will continue to be beyond the start of the new millennium.
Thank you all very much.