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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

See Dick Run

Aired February 19, 2003 - 10:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you live to St. Louis, Missouri, where we're expecting, any second now, literally, coming to the stage will be Congressman Dick Gephardt, who is going to end all the speculation about whether or not he was going to run for president, and I should say that was rather soft speculation. Many have expected him to do so. He's been doing most of the legwork you would expect of a potential candidate in the preceding months and weeks up until today, and we expect he's going to come out and formally announce it. He's doing this in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri today. And there you see him now. He's working his way through the crowd. Now, he's approaching the podium.
And we'll hear I'm speak.

REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

First, thanks to Lacy Clay (ph) and Mae Sheevie (ph) and Joe Hunt (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

You are great and wonderful friends, and I appreciate tremendously the wonderful introduction you gave me.

I want to begin today by thanking my partner for 36 years, the most important person in my life, and the best friend that I could ever have in my whole life, Jane Gephardt.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to thank my children, who I'm very proud of, Matt...

(APPLAUSE)

... Chrissy and Kate...

(APPLAUSE)

... who inspire and teach us every day.

I can't tell you what it means to me to be back at Mason (ph) Elementary School, the place where I was educated and raised, with the people whose love and kindness has sustained me all my life.

GEPHARDT: In this very building I came to PTA meetings with my parents, took part in the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts and learned what it means to serve. In this very room I took part in school plays. It wasn't much, but we still could have given C-SPAN a run.

(LAUGHTER)

And it was the principal of this school, Miss Tholl (ph), who called my mother one day and told her something she hadn't expected to hear, that I should go to college. My dad was a milk truck driver, a proud member of the Teamsters Union.

(APPLAUSE)

And he always told me his union's bargaining power made it possible for him to put food on our table.

(APPLAUSE)

My mother, who's here today, and I want to recognize her, she is going to have her 95th birthday in about four days, Loreen (ph) Gephardt.

(APPLAUSE)

My mother was a secretary. Neither of my parents finished high school. They didn't have much money, but they saved what they could -- $5, $10 a week -- so I could get an education and live out my dreams. I want to dedicate this day to my mother, Loreen (ph) and my late father, Lew (ph) Gephardt.

(APPLAUSE)

This campaign is for them, and for all who seek and strive to do right by their kids. They're the true American heroes. They're the people I fight for.

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: It's harder and harder to raise a strong family in America. There are more and more families where both parents work. Just to pay the bills, it's very, very difficult, where parents rarely share meals with their own children, where it's a struggle to pass on the right values, to teach the simple lessons of discipline and respect and right and wrong

A parent shouldn't have to lay awake at night wondering if a doctor's bill or a mortgage payment is going to break their bank account. A family shouldn't have to worry that a lifetime of retirement savings could be drained away by a single act of corporate crime.

President Bush keeps saying he wants to leave no child behind. I've got to tell you, Mr. President, you might start by bringing along some adults.

(APPLAUSE)

Many in the other party believe in survival of the fittest, in feeding those at the top and hoping some of the crumbs fall off the table, kind of like Marie Antoinette with a business degree.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I believe in what I call trickle up economics.

(APPLAUSE)

That if we reward the work and initiative of ordinary Americans, if we empower them and enable them to prosper, then everybody benefits from the factory floor to the corporate boardroom.

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: You see, we're all bound together. We're all members of the American family. And I won't be satisfied until every family, not just a few, can share in the bounty of America. I won't be satisfied until we've made opportunity real for everyone who's willing to work. And I pledge to you today, with your help and support I'll take that crusade to the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

I'll work day and night to lift this lagging economy and build a new American prosperity. I'll put hardworking Americans first, again.

(APPLAUSE)

Ten years ago America was at another economic crossroads. We were losing jobs, incomes were falling, our nation was choked with the highest deficits in history; $290 billion, enough red ink to drown the Washington Monument. As House majority leader, I led the fight to pass the Clinton-Gore economic plan, to slash the deficit, invest in education, cut taxes for working families and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.

(APPLAUSE)

Not a single Republican voted for that plan.

They said it would be a job-killer, but instead it led to the single-longest economic expansion in history, the highest home ownership ever, the lowest inflation in a generation, over 22 million new jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

Turns out, we were right and the other side was wrong, and you'd think they would have learned a lesson, that huge budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest do not educate a single child, they do not extend health care coverage to a single family, they do not create a single job except for the special interest lobbyists who fight for them. Yet, President Bush has taken us right back to the broken policies of the past, the economics of debt and regret, unaffordable tax cuts for the few, zero new jobs, surging unemployment. I've got to hand it to him, never has so much been done in so little time to help so few.

(APPLAUSE)

President Bush campaigned as a centrist, a coalition builder, a compassionate conservative. But on issue after issue the only thing he's conserved is compassion itself: His latest budget cuts, after- school programs that keep kids off the streets, efforts to fight juvenile delinquency, help for poor families and public housing, health care for the elderly, children's health insurance. If that's his idea of compassion, I'd hate to see his idea of indifference.

(APPLAUSE)

GEPHARDT: He said he'd fight for education; yet, now he's trying to cut his own education plans. So local schools don't stand a chance of meeting their goals. What kind of education plan tries to add by subtracting?

President Bush said he cares...

HARRIS: And there we have the beginning of the announcement that we expected from Congressman Dick Gephardt. He's going to be saying any minute now those fateful words about him jumping into the race for president.

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