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Kerry Rally in Florida

Aired April 19, 2004 - 11:40   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go live now Lake Worth, Florida, presumptive Democratic nominee, John Kerry.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to share a few thoughts with you, and I mean a few. And then I really want to have the conversation that I talked about, and I want to take your questions.

I might comment also, President Bush, you know, kind of hides in that bubble and stays away from America, and doesn't come out and really listen to or talk to Americans. It's no wonder that he doesn't understand what most Americans are going through.

But Bill's story today took courage to tell it. It took humility, and it took a whole lot of hope, hope that things can and will be better tomorrow, and next month and next year if we put the word out and we do the work necessary to put this country back on track and move it in a new direction.

That's what this race is about. And we can put fairness back into the American workplace. That's something I know that Joe and I and Bob Graham and Kendrick Meek was here. I didn't introduce Kendrick. I want you all to say hi to congressman Kendrick Meek.

Every one of us came into public life because we came with a sense of what we could do to make a difference for people's lives. Not a difference for the few, not a difference for the most powerful. Not how we can just reward our friends who contribute in politics, through the American money system. But the average working person of America, who makes up the fabric of life in our great country.

People deserve to be able to do better for the working week they put in. And more and more families are just like Bill.

Under President Bill Clinton, families' income went up $7,100 over those eight years. Under George Bush, family incomes have gone down $1,200 across America. People are having a harder time making ends meet.

And I want an America where families can again take heart and hope, and believe in the American dream, that if you work hard, take on your responsibilities, pay your taxes, raise your children, you're not just going to work for the committee of our country; the economy is going to work for you and help lift you up and let you do better.

I've met too many people like Bill across this country. I know Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham during the campaign met those same people. People who tell you the stories about being 35 or 40 years old and they've never been able to afford health care.

People who are out of work a year and half, two years. And it's not enough just to be out of work themselves, but then their spouse, wife or husband diagnosed with cancer or M.S., and they have to struggle through chemotherapy or lose their health insurance. Or they lose it and don't know where to turn because they can't afford to pay the COBRA.

Not in our United States of America should people have to suffer and go through that kind of fear and anxiety.

I listened to George Bush deliver his entire State of the Union message without acknowledging once these real challenges faced by America and by Americans. No mention, not one mention of even the veterans, I might add, in the course of that speech.

And today, we discovered that not only do they acknowledge these -- not only do they not acknowledge the existence of what Bill talked about, but they are possibly even taking steps and possibly have taken some steps that make it worse.

Last night, on "60 Minutes," it was reported by one of America's most respected and reputable reporters, that in the Oval Office discussions around whether to invade Iraq, that the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense made a deal with Saudi Arabia that would deliver lower gas prices.

But here's the catch. Here's the catch. The American people would have to wait until the election, until November of 2004, the presidential election, until the Saudis lower those prices.

Now, if this sounds wrong to you, that's because it is fundamentally wrong. And if, as Bob Woodward reports, it is true, that gas supplies and prices in America are tied to the American election, then tied to a secret White House deal, that is outrageous and unacceptable to the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

KERRY: Now, I offered -- several weeks ago, I offered a plan for how you can begin to lower prices. And do you know what the No. 1 priority of that plan was? Put pressure on the Saudis to lower the current -- to increase the current production and lower the prices to America.

That's the first. There are other steps that they could take.

Right now, there are people all over this country, who are literally going through their purses and their pocketbooks, looking behind the sofa and under the cushion and under the car, to find the pennies and the extra money to be able to pay the additional cost of gasoline. They're giving up choices for their kids, giving up choices for a family to pay the extra $30 to $50 a week, in order to be able to pay for gas.

Those aren't Exxon gas prices we see, ladies and gentlemen. Those are Halliburton prices, and we deserve a break in this country.

It's my prayer that Americans are not being held hostage to a secret deal between the White House and a Saudi prince. But unlike George Bush and his friends at the big oil companies, I'm going to work for a real energy policy for this country that decreases America's dependence on foreign oil and helps lower the cost to American families.

You know, to George Bush and to too many people in his administration, the job numbers that come out every month, and the statistics about prices are just that. Statistics. But to people in America, they are a lifeline. They're the ability of people to be able to take care of their families and to get by.

And what we know is that the middle class is the economic engine that drives America, and when our working families do well, our country does well and our economy grows. President Clinton understood that.

Do you know what? When President Bush looks at the numbers, he finds another way to help the people who are the most comforted in America. When the committee is up, the economy is down, the economy is even, deficit up, deficit down, surplus, it doesn't matter. It's a Johnny one-note economic policy, of tax cut, tax cut, tax cut, mostly for the wealthiest people in the nation, at the expense of all the other choices of our country.

I say to you one of the best books, if you don't believe my words, I invite every Republican in the country, every non- -- every Bush Republican, because there are non-Bush Republicans. And they're coming over here fast.

But one of the best books that actually describes this transformation that has taken place in the American family is called "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers are Going Broke. And it's by Professor Elizabeth Warren and her daughter, Amelia.

Twenty years ago, families used to be able to save money in America. When both parents worked, that meant there was more money to buy a house, to pay for college, save for retirement.

Today, two incomes barely cover necessities. Families are in debt. Personal bankruptcies are at an all time high. Young people are graduating from college drowning in debt, and this year, more middle class children will live through their parents' bankruptcy than their parents' divorce. In a generation, the American dream of building something better is slowly being replaced by the reality of just getting by. I'm not going to let that happen to Bill's family. I'm not going to let that happen to the middle class. I'm not going to let that happen to people across this country. We're going to put fairness back into the American economy.

And that is why I have a plan to change the American tax code that works against you. It's your tax code. But you know what? It doesn't really belong to you. It's gone from 14 pages to 17,000 pages.

Go through it. First of all, see if you can understand it. But secondly, see if you can find how many pages really apply to you, and how many are company specific, industry specific, bought and paid for by the millions of dollars that goes to Washington and gravitates to the American political system, robbing average Americans of their voices.

I have a plan that will create 10 million new jobs in America in the first four years of my administration. And I will work. And as president, I pledge to you that I will get up and work everyday for Main Street, not just for Wall Street in this country.

And I will make sure that our economy starts to make the choices we need to, when companies can compete with other company companies in the world.

Do you know that you are subsidizing the choice of the company to take jobs overseas? If you're a company working in Lake Worth and you made a $5 million profit, if you stay here in Lake Worth, you're going to pay the standard corporate tax rate in this country.

But if that company or competitor got up and went out and goes to Malaysia or Singapore or China, guess what? They get to defer their taxes, not for one year but for every year they keep the money offshore, out of the United States of America. And you're paying $12 billion to support companies that take the jobs overseas.

When I'm president, we're going to put that tax code up to the scrutiny and daylight of democracy, and we're going to take out of it any reward, any benefit, any incentive that gives any company a greater incentive to take American jobs overseas rather than keep them here in the United States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry!

KERRY: And I'll tell you, I also want every American to know the truth. This administration has a truth deficit, not just a fiscal deficit. And they're spending millions and millions of dollars to mislead Americans again about my record.

So let's make it clear. Under my plan for America, 98 percent of Americans will get a tax cut and 99 percent of American businesses who stay here will get a tax cut. And we will put America back to work with fairness again.

And I also -- I also have a plan to lower the cost of healthcare for Americans and to provide a real prescription drug benefit that is not a benefit for the drug companies but a benefit for the seniors of our nation.

In my drug plan, and maybe we'll talk about it more in the questions, but I'll just tell you quickly, we are going to lower the cost of healthcare for Americans by taking the catastrophic cases out of the system. We're going to pay for them at the federal level, so that your premiums will never again be based on any case that costs more than $50,000, which means it will lower your premiums by a thousand dollars per person and lower the cost of doing business in the United States of America.

Last week, I also announced my plan to make college affordable for Americans. We're going to provide a $4,000 tuition tax credit to help people be able to pay the cost of going to school.

Under George Bush -- under George Bush, college tuitions have gone up 28 percent in three years. And this president, this president, who went to the same great university that Joe Lieberman and I and Bill Nelson went to, and each of us left with a commitment that other young people ought to have the same opportunity.

This president evidently doesn't share that view, because he's allowed the Pell grants and Perkins' loans to be cut. It's harder and more expensive for students to go to school. I will raise those loans back up, and we're going to help pay down the loans of students who serve their country and serve their community.

KAGAN: We've been listening in to Senator John Kerry making a campaign stop in Lake Worth, Florida today, Senator Joe Lieberman by his side, looking for support from Florida voters.


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