FROM THE 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
Kick Off of
Journey to DNC Convention in Boston
July 23, 2004 • Aurora, CO
Today, we’re setting off on a
journey that begins here at my birthplace and will end
in Boston at America’s birthplace. The next time
I’m back this way it’ll be official: I’ll
be your nominee for president of the United States.
From there, we’re off to the White House and to
an America that’s stronger at home and respected
in the world. An America where the values of family, faith,
and service aren’t just words on a page, they’re
the values we live by and the choices we make.
I’m so glad to be joined here this morning by my
family, Teresa, Alex, Vanessa, Chris, and Andre – and
to be standing with the next Vice President of the United
States, John Edwards and his wonderful wife Elizabeth!
For the last two weeks, I’ve been lucky to have
two Edwards on board helping make decisions, planning campaign
stops, giving political advice – from both a male
and female perspective. But enough about Jack and Emma
I also want to take a minute to recognize all the veterans
that came out this afternoon. Thank you for your service
and for being here today. I can’t think of a better
band of brothers to help me out on this campaign!
Now, we’re starting with you Colorado! But when
we leave here today, we’re heading east, blazing
America’s freedom trail all the way to Boston. Tomorrow
we’re heading to Iowa to thank the voters who gave
me a hearing when few thought I had a chance. Then it’s
off to Ohio and Florida, where we’re going to see
that this time around not only will every vote count, but
every single vote will be counted.
And then we’re going to a Virginia naval base to
show our unwavering support for an America with the strongest
military in the world … for an America that’s
respected and not just feared … and for all the
American soldiers standing a post around the world. Then
it’s off to Philadelphia where we first declared
our independence. And then to Boston, where we’re
going to make another revolutionary stand for America.
But for me, it’s only right to start this journey
at the place that gave me my start. As you can imagine,
this city holds a special place in my heart. When my father
was a pilot in World War II, I was born at Fitzsimmons
Army Hospital in Aurora, not too far from where we are
today. Back then, you could actually look out the window
of the hospital and see the dome of the capitol building.
Now, I’m not one to read into things, but guess which
wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? Yup, ladies
and gentlemen, you got it. I’m not making this up.
I was born in the West Wing!
The word Aurora literally means “dawn.” And
just spending a few minutes here in Colorado, it’s
easy to tell why the sun is always rising on Aurora. When
America moved west, the town quickly became known as the
Gateway to the Rockies, and not because Colfax ran from
East Aurora through the foothills. It was the people in
Aurora that made the difference. Their deep faith, their
strong sense of community, and their hopeful confidence
that America’s best days were still ahead. I guess
it’s no surprise that some people said that Aurora
had the longest Main Street in America.
In many ways, Aurora today is living proof of the limitless
possibilities of progress. Fitzsimmons is now a cutting-edge
medical facility for treatment, research, and teaching.
Since World War II, this small town of 3,000 has become
a thriving city of 300,000. Yet the people here in Aurora
have never lost their Main Street values and their boundless
sense of optimism. I don’t know, maybe it’s
something in the drinking water, but I can tell you, even
though I only spent a little time here, I’ve always
been proud that I have some roots in the West.
I remember my father telling me stories about his time
here and about his years in the Army Air Corps. He helped
me understand at an early age that we are all put on this
earth for something greater than ourselves – and
that’s something my mother taught me, too. She led
me when I was a Cub Scout and was proud of her years as
a Girl Scout leader.
Through the power of their example, they both taught me
that the most fundamental values in life is service to
others. During the war, my mother wrote to my father, “You
have no idea of the ways in which one can be useful right
now. There’s something for everyone to do.” My
mother’s words ring just as true today as they did
fifty years ago. There’s something for everyone to
do, there’s so much work to be done. That’s
why I’m here. That’s why I’m running
for president. And that’s why in six days I’m
going to take your hopes and dreams with me to Boston and
we’re going to build a stronger America.
So many Americans today are living up to the responsibility
of service – when they swear a Scout oath, help out
in a hospital or homeless shelter, or tutor in a local
school. Others are on the front lines, whether that’s
in our military overseas, or in our police or fire departments
here at home.
People like Ann Deas from Denver who’s here with
us this morning. Ann volunteers at the Children’s
Hospital downtown, where she cheers up sick kids. And people
like David King, who signed up for AmeriCorps as a teacher
in a hard-pressed neighborhood because he wanted to give
something back to his country. David knows that his students
aren’t asking for any guarantees in life – they're
only asking for the tools they need to fulfill their own
potential. The work that both Ann and David do shows that
each of us has the potential to make the world just a little
Believe it or not, in the last week alone, more than 20,000
Americans like them have written into our campaign to tell
us their own stories of service. Each of them is making
a difference in their communities and each of them is making
our country stronger.
That’s what America’s all about.
So we all have a responsibility to serve. We all have
to do our part. But it’s up to us to give everyone
who can contribute the chance to do so.
Right now, for too many Americans, the skyrocketing cost
of college is standing between their commitment and their
capacity to serve. As president, I will offer half a million
Americans a year an opportunity to give back to our country.
And I’ll do so, by giving four years of college tuition
to those who give two years of service to America. For
some, that means teaching kids to read. For others, it’s
keeping our parks clean or protecting our homeland.
Others will serve while they’re in college, dedicating
afternoons and weekends to helping children learn to read
and write. And we’ll invest $10 million a year in
a Citizen Patriots Fund, to support a new generation of
social entrepreneurs who are engaged in new and creative
ways to serve America.
The Patriots Fund will also help those who’ve served
in our military or Peace Corps abroad, serve in their communities
when they come home. I want all Americans to have the same
chance to contribute that I did when I returned from Vietnam.
National service is an important step to building a stronger
America. But we also have to embrace the other values that
bring us together as one America: faith and family, hard
work and responsibility, and opportunity for all.
During the course of this campaign, I’ve met young
people who want nothing more than to be able to find a
job in the place they were raised.
I’ve met steelworkers, mineworkers and autoworkers
who are now laid off workers and watched their jobs shipped
overseas. They can’t afford their health insurance
and they don’t know where to turn.
I’ve spent time with seniors who have worked for
a lifetime but can’t pay for their medicines and
can hardly make ends meet.
And I’ve talked with parents full of hope and ambition
for their children, but they’re worried that they
won’t be able to afford to send their kids to college.
These Americans deserve a chance to have their dreams
fulfilled not broken before their eyes. They deserve leadership
that fights as hard for their jobs as they do for their
Let me tell you what John Edwards and I value.
We value good-paying jobs that actually let our families
hope for their children, save for their future, and actually
get ahead. An America where the middle class is not being
squeezed, but doing better.
And that’s why we have an economic plan that will
revitalize manufacturing, put America back to work, and
create new, good-paying jobs.
We value an America that exports products, not jobs – and
we believe American workers should never have to subsidize
the loss of their own job.
That’s why we have a plan to close the tax loopholes
that pay companies to ship our jobs overseas. Instead,
we will reward companies that keep good paying jobs where
they belong – in America.
We value American workers and we will give them a fair
playing field. Because if you give American workers a fair
playing field, there’s no one in the world that the
American worker can’t compete against.
We value giving all our children a first-rate education,
with smaller classes and better paid teachers, and opening
the doors of college to all Americans.
And that’s why we have a plan to invest in our schools,
pay our teachers what they deserve, and cuts the cost of
We value affordable health care that is a right, not a
privilege for every American. In four years, four million
people have lost their health insurance. Your premiums
are up. Your co-payments are up. Your deductibles are hitting
record levels. We can do better.
We have a plan to get the waste, the greed, and the paperwork
out of our health care system and save families up to $1,000
a year on their premiums.
We value an America that is truly free and independent
of Mideast oil.
We have a plan to invest in new technologies and alternative
fuels and the cars of the future, so that no young American
in uniform will ever be held hostage to our dependence
on oil from the Middle East.
And we value a strong military and strong alliances, so
no young American is ever put in harm’s way because
we insisted on going it alone.
In our Administration, we’ll never go to war because
we want to, we’ll only go to war because we have
to. And we’ll stand by our soldiers when they go
off to war and stand by them when they return.
These aren’t Democratic values. They’re not
Republican values. They’re American values. They’re
the shared values we believe in. And that’s what
we’re going to Boston to fight for. Because if we
honor our values, we can build an America that’s
stronger at home and respected in the world.
My friends, this is the most important election of our
lifetime. Our health care is on the line. Our jobs are
on the line. Our children’s future is on the line.
America’s role in the world is on the line.
We can provide a new direction for America if we remember
that in all the great movements for civil rights and equal
rights, the environment and economic justice for all, we
have come together as one America to give life to our highest
For the next three months, John Edwards and I are going
to work day in and day out, beginning right here in Colorado,
with all of you.
For the next six days, we’re going to travel to
other great places in America to talk about our hopes and
vision for our country. From the small towns in Iowa to
the beach towns in Florida … from the ships of Virginia
to the public squares of Philadelphia, we’re going
to blaze America’s freedom trail. And, on Thursday,
we’re going to wind up in Boston, where the next
journey will begin -- the journey that will take us to
the White House on November 2nd.
My friends, this election is in your hands more than ours.
Talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, knock on
their doors, enlist in our cause.
We can do this. We’re the can-do people. We’re
the optimists. We just need to lift ourselves up, reach
for the next dream, and look to the next horizon. What
the people in Colorado have always known is still true:
America’s best days are still ahead of us.
Thank you and God bless America.