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Gore Speaks at Prayer Breakfast in Tennessee

Aired November 4, 2000 - 9:39 a.m. ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to cut real quickly to a fund raiser, or actually Gore is at a rally, at a prayer breakfast in Memphis, Tennessee. We're going to listen in and then come back.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... since before he was born. Many of you knew him before he was born too, didn't you? Yes, many of you did.

To all members of the clergy who are present, thank you for your friendship. Have any of you received a telephone call from my mother this year? Let me see the hands. She's been sitting in her home in Carthage on the farm, calling the members of this ministerial association. And I appreciate that more than you know.

And Dr. Atkins and Reverend Kyles (ph) -- Billy Kyles has been such a great friend to me, and he married a couple soon after the Democratic convention, and the congregation was gathered. And as soon as he pronounced them man and wife, he said to the new groom, "Give her a Gore kiss."

I heard about it within the hour.

To the other members of the congressional delegation, John Tanner and Betty Anne Tanner, Bob Clement and Mary Clement, Congressman Bart Gordon, my congressman, representing Smith County, to Mayor Harrinton (ph) and Mrs. Harrinton, to all of the various -- did I -- what -- I know better than that. I'm sorry. Excuse me. I know better than that.

Mrs. Kyles, that -- when I held your baby in my arms, in your home, I knew that baby would grow up big and strong. And Billy and I have talked about it often.

To Dr. Hooks, who preached my father's funeral a year and a half ago, thank you for your friendship. And to Martin Luther King III, thank you for calling last evening and asking if you could make the journey from Atlanta to Memphis to be here with us this morning. God bless you, God bless your family.

We've heard some preaching this morning, and I'm not going to shift gears and give you a political speech. But I'm going to ask for your help. And I do appreciate Phil Driscoll's music and his sermon, and I appreciate Billy Rivers and the Angelic Voices.

And Phil talked about the words from Isaiah, "Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fail. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."

The Apostle Paul, in reference to that passage, wrote not once but twice, once to Galatians and then in his second letter to Thessalonians, "Be not weary in well-doing. Ye shall reap if ye faint not."

Some people are tired of prosperity. Some people are tired of the 22 million jobs. They look back to a period eight years ago and they say we were better off then than we are now. I don't agree. They recommend that we go back to the kinds of policies that we had then and get rid of the ones that we have now. I don't agree.

Because then we had very high unemployment and very high debt and very little hope, very little confidence in the ability of Americans to get our act together and to renew this nation.

I believe that prosperity itself is on the ballot on Tuesday. We need to keep it going, and we need to extend it to everyone. But we need to keep our eyes on another kind of prosperity, the prosperity of the spirit. We need to look at what is at stake in all respects in this election. And it is -- it's more than words. We've heard many words. But it is also written in the Book of James, "Yea, a man may say, thou has faith and I have works. Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works."

We have worked together these last eight years. In fact, we have worked together for 24 years in Tennessee and longer than that. When I was first elected to the Congress in middle Tennessee, I set out to try to show my faith by my works, and had open meetings on a regular basis, indeed, an average of five a week. And then when I came to Memphis as an aspirant for the position of United States Senate, I told you that I would try to show my faith by my works.

And I worked hard to try to lift up this state. And then when Bill Clinton and I came, he from the West and I from the East, to meet here in Memphis, we asked you for a chance to bring change to this country. You gave us that change, and we have brought change to the United States of America.

The question now is whether we will be weary in well-doing, whether we will reap if we faint not. We have a lot of work to do.

I remember well and painfully the summer of 1968 here in Memphis. Tipper and I were here. We were in school. And as I said last evening, the tension and fear and pain and anger hung in the air so thick you could cut it with a knife. You remember.

We've come a long way since that day, but we've got a long way to go. Please, do not confuse the wilderness with Canaan. Do not confuse the journey with the destination. We've left Egypt, but we have not arrived at Canaan. We have a long way to go.

Thanks to the hard work of the American people, we've had a great deal of success, but, my friends, now is the time for us to keep the faith and to move forward.

Martin's father said, "Now, now, now is the time." Three days and a few hours from now, the polls will close, and we will then wait upon the verdict of the American people. Will we go back to the policies of the past, or will we go forward toward better times and a deeper commitment to one another?

Make no mistake, this is about more than economics, it's about more than policies and programs, it's about who we are as a people, it's about where we're going as a nation. It's about our destiny to lead the world by leading this nation toward what it is supposed to be, all of us together.

It's not about me, it's not about my opponent, it's about you, it's about your families, it's about this country, it's about the future, it's about what we are supposed to be.

We heard earlier about a thermostat. I believe that each of us has inside of us a thermostat of sorts. I think that -- you remember the children's game when your friends would say, You're getting warmer, and if you were headed in the wrong direction away from what you were seeking, they would say, You're getting colder? I'm getting warmer.

I saw a movie one time about a devastated area in California called Compton, and it was a movie called "Grand Canyon." And the name was supposed to be symbolic of the great divide between the rich and poor, between people of color and people in the majority, between those who have opportunity and those who have continued to suffer from the accumulated burdens of discrimination.

And at one point in the scene, black and white met. One character, played by Danny Glover, came to the rescue of another character, played by the actor Kevin Kline, whose car had broken down in the midst of a devastated neighborhood with boards on the windows and doors and sirens in the background and scenes of crime all around, litter and graffitti.

And the character played by Danny Glover, in the midst of his labors to rescue this person he had just met, looked up at him and surveyed the desolation around him and said, "You know, it's not supposed to be this way."

I see a great deal of evidence of prosperity in America, but I also see a lot of evidence that it is not supposed to be this way. Children are not supposed to leave school unable to read the diplomas they received. Babies are not supposed to be born addicted to crack cocaine. Fathers are not supposed to leave the home and abandon their children and the mothers of those children. Young men are not supposed to stand on the street corner and be quick to feel dissed. They're not supposed to lash out in violence at the least provocation. We're not supposed to have this scourge of drugs in our country. We're not supposed to have a deprivation of opportunity. So in the midst of this prosperity in the economy, will we stand on the foundation and build upon the foundation and extend the prosperity so that it reaches all, or will we erode the foundation by squandering the surplus on the very wealthy who already have much at the expense of the many who have not yet participated in this prosperity?

The answer to the economic question depends upon the answer to the spiritual question. The political question is relevant, but the spiritual question is the principal one. Mahatma Gandhi, who was an inspiration to Dr. King, once wrote, "You must become the change you wish to see in the world." Between now and the closing of the polls Tuesday evening in Memphis, you must become the change you wish to see in the world. You must deliver the word, deliver the message, describe the choice, and then motivate the hearts.

I believe that we are getting warmer. And by that, of course, I mean we are getting closer to what we are intended to be in the United States of America. We're intended to be one people. We are intended to be a light unto the nations. We are intended to establish respect for our differences, and then, on the basis of that respect, transcend our differences to embrace the highest common denominator of the human spirit.

I believe, as I stand here in Memphis, that America has a rendezvous with redemption. I believe that we are moving toward the nation that we are intended to be. But we've got work that lies just before us, and we've got to recognize the obstacles that need to be cleared away. And they too are obstacles of the spirit.

Deep within us, we each have the capacity for good and for evil. I am taught that good overcomes evil, if we choose that outcome. I feel it coming. I feel a message from this gathering that on Tuesday, we're going to carry Tennessee and Memphis is going to lead the way.

I feel it coming. I feel the determination.

My friends, it is such a joy to be here, and Tipper and I have been here in Memphis on so many occasions, and this is a home for us. You know me, you know my heart, you know that God sees on the inside and not on the outside. And you know that it doesn't matter whether my coat is on or off, what color suit I wear, what kind of tie I put on. You don't care, actually, the facial expressions I have or whether I sigh into the microphone.

You might even forgive me if I sometimes get a little impatient with the pace of justice, because you know me, you know what is in my heart, and you know that however far down we find ourselves, we can be lifted up. You know that even in the valley of the dry bones, the Lord breathed life into those bones. And bone came to bone, and sinew came to sinew, and there rose up a mighty army.

I believe that on Tuesday morning, very early, before the sun rises, in congregations all across Memphis, you're going to be saying, Wake up! It's time to take your souls to the polls! It's time to choose...

PHILLIPS: Vice President Al Gore in the toss-up state of Tennessee, his home state of Tennessee, where he's trying to get the support among black voters and the union movement. Getting pretty spiritual right there towards the end.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely, they don't call it a prayer breakfast for nothing.

PHILLIPS: There you go.



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