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John Kerry Addresses NAACP

Aired July 15, 2004 - 11:00   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Looking at the clock, it is 11 a.m. on the East Coast, 8 a.m. on the West Coast. We are at CNN Center in Atlanta.
Good morning, once again. I am Daryn Kagan.

Up first this hour on CNN, the looming terror threat and the upcoming political convention. The acting CIA Director says that the terror warnings facing the country this summer are serious. And the director of Homeland Security reviews plans for guarding the Democratic convention less than two weeks from right now.

Our Sean Callebs is in Washington with details on those stories. Good morning.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Daryn.

Indeed, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says security for the upcoming Democratic convention in Boston will be unprecedented for such a gathering. And Ridges says anyone -- anyone -- who believes he is issuing safety warnings for political purposes is, "rather cynical."

And he went on to say, "We don't do politics at Homeland Security."

Ridge says the goal at the convention during the last week of July is to deter any potential attack with multiple layers of security. He says cooperation among state, local and federal officials is very strong for both conventions in Boston and New York.


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: These are two of the most significant things we do every four years. It is a signal to -- not just about our country, it's a signal to the rest of the world.

The terrorists have struck us. They tried to intimidate. They tried to bring anxiety or fear to how we conduct our business in this country. And we're not going to let them intimidate us or create an environment where we do something any differently.


CALLEBS: Ridge says many of the precautions being taken at the conventions remain classified. But he did say patrol boats will be positioned in the Boston Harbor and surrounding water. Mobile command vehicles will be set up. Key convention center buildings will have around-the-clock video surveillance. Portable X- ray machines are being set up to check suspicious bags and boxes. And 3,000 -- 3,000 law enforcement officers will be on the job.

And to give you an idea, Daryn, just how expensive all of this is, Ridge says the cost will likely surpass the amount of money spent on security at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

For weeks now, U.S. authorities have warned there is a non- specific threat that al Qaeda terrorists are in the operational phase of a plan to try and disrupt the Democratic process here in the U.S. -- Daryn?

KAGAN: Sean, let's talk about a story that will be of great interest to many travelers who watch this show, and that is a change of government plans to look behind the scenes of people who are buying airline tickets.

CALLEBS: Exactly. It's called CAPS II. It stands for computer assisted passenger screening system. And this actually rolled out in January with a great deal of fan fair. Already the government has spent $100 million in this.

This was designed to make passenger travel safer, but the plan is being scrapped. It was designed to have the airlines work with the TSA and share information. But there were a lot of concerns about privacy violations, so the TSA says this is a program that will not get off the ground.

KAGAN: Shawn Callebs in Washington, D.C., thank you for those updates.

The hunt continues for worlds most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden, but meanwhile, a former member of his inner circle is speaking out.

She was married to one of bin Laden's two-dozen brothers. Now Carmen bin Laden has written a book. She calls it "Inside The Kingdom: My Life In Saudi Arabia." She talked about her former brother-in-law earlier this morning on CNN.


CARMEN BIN LADEN, OSAMA'S FORMER SISTER-IN-LAW: You know, I knew he was a very religious person. He was well admired because when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, he went to fight with the Mujahadin in Afghanistan.


BIN LADEN: And he was really admired and respected in Saudi Arabia for his involvement in Afghanistan.


KAGAN: Carmen bin Laden is estranged from Osama's brother, and she lives in Europe with her three children.

The possible release of a Filipino hostage tops our latest developments from Iraq. The Arab network, Al-Jazeera today showing video of a truck driver, Angelo de la Cruz. An anchor, a news anchor read a reported message from de la Cruz suggesting that he is indeed being freed.

Iraqi police foiled an attempted car bomb attack in Karbala. A vehicle turned away from a police check point and drove to a field about three miles away. That's where the car detonated, killing two suspected attackers.

The Pentagon denies hiding any imprisoned terror suspects from the Red Cross. The agency says that some suspects reported as captured by authorities have never turned up in detention centers.

And now to California, about 20,000 acres have been consumed by separate fires so far in Southern California. Rain has helped firefighters with one fire that's burning next to the San Bernardino National Forest. The blaze is about 70 percent contained.

In Los Angeles County, crews are trying to hold the line against a fire that has moved through nearly 5,000 acres in the Pine Canyon area. That is near Lake Hughes. And another fire in San Diego County is expected to be contained by tonight.

To the East -- the Mid-Atlantic has been hammered by a surge in violent summer storms. One community in Pennsylvania took a direct hit. Today it's now assessing the property damage there.

Al Ganoza of our affiliate WHTM reports from Campbelltown.


AL GANOZA, WHTM CORRESPONDENT: Wednesday morning there had been 80 homes in the Country Squire's development just outside of Campbelltown. Only about half of them will survive this day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preliminarily we went through there and I would guesstimate between 30 and 50 homes were destroyed.

JAMIE WOLGEMATH, LEBANON CO. PIO: Some houses are leveled. Some agricultural buildings are leveled. There are a lot of trees down.

GANOZA: At least 150 people have sought Red Cross assistance through early Wednesday night. Was it a tornado that came through? The National Weather Service will be on site to make a determination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: However, there were reports of funnel cloud shaped formations touching ground and going through the neighborhood.

DAN KAUFFMAN, LEBANON CO. EMA: Anyone would be hard pressed to look at that damage and say that it wasn't something significant.

GANOZA: But no one from Country Squire's was being allowed back in their homes just yet, until they were inspected. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the outside, I'm told there are some that look like they're safe, and when you go inside we've got leaning walls and collapsing roofs and things like that.

GANOZA: Sixteen people were injured. One was serious. Luckily, most people were not home when all this happened.

WOLGEMATH: Well, from talking to some of the victims, it is my understanding that a lot of them were not home due to work at that time of day. And the general consensus I got, it would have been a lot worse injury-wise had it occurred several hours later.

GANOZA: A lot of people in the Red Cross shelter were children. Some may not have homes anymore, but all will still have their parents.

JO ELLEN LITZ, LEBANON CO. COMMISSIONER: When we went up and started circling the homes that were really damaged, I said, oh my God, those poor people.

And the pilot said to me, no, those lucky people.


KAGAN: Utility officials say that up to 30,000 customers in south central Pennsylvania lost power due to that storm.

Suburban Atlanta had its own drubbing yesterday. Cherokee County, that's just north of where we are here in Atlanta, north of the city, was under a tornado watch for part of the late afternoon. Downed trees and power outages accounted for most of the damage.


KAGAN: Orelon?

SIDNEY: That's me.


SIDNEY: I didn't get a drop.

KAGAN: You know.

SIDNEY: We did not get a drop of rain.

KAGAN: I was in midtown Atlanta. It looked like the end of the world was about to descend. It was so dark, and yet just like you -- not a drop of rain.

SIDNEY: Amazing, isn't it?


SIDNEY: And we need the rain, too. Especially since I just planted my garden. KAGAN: Have you seen my yard? My goodness, I agree.

SIDNEY: Take a look at this.


SIDNEY: Daryn?

KAGAN: All right, Orelon. Thank you for that.

SIDNEY: You're welcome.

KAGAN: We head back to Baghdad now.

Iraq is setting up a new intelligence network designed to wipe out insurgents carrying out attacks around the country.

Our Michael Holmes is live in Baghdad with details on that. Michael, hello.


Yes, it was really a case of the interim government at a news conference today saying they're going to be taking the fight to the insurgents. Part of that was the prime minister, the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi announcing the formation of a new domestic intelligence service.

It's going to be called the general security directorate. Its job is to infiltrate the insurgency and essentially wipe it out.

There is going to be a little bit of suspicion around the streets of Baghdad. They're dealings with domestic intelligence services under Saddam Hussein was anything but pleasant. However, the prime minister is saying this will be different.

Everyone who comes on board is going to have "clean hands," as the interior minister put it. And so, they're hoping that this is going to make a big difference.

He also said that he's going to be reaching out to a number of other countries, visiting a number of other countries as well, looking for money, support, even extra troops from some countries, new troops.

So it's a -- it was a day also that he said that security had improved in Iraq, but on a day when there was more violence. A car bombing killing 10 people, wounding 30 north of Baghdad. And another bombing averted in Karbala to the south when the bombers were spotted and detonated their vehicle. Nobody hurt in that one.

And a terrible tragedy, Daryn, that happened, insurgents apparently firing two mortars at a police station in Kirkuk. They missed their target and landed on a house. It killed five people, all of the same family, three kids involved and two others were wounded as well. So a very bloody day on a day that the prime minister said security was improving.

Just one thing I want to add, Daryn, before I take it back to you. And we're getting word about one of those two Bulgarian hostages that had been held for some time now, both of them truck drivers. We've been told in really the last few minutes by a senior police official in the Mosul area that a beheaded body has been found on the outskirts of the city. They're doing testing now.

The police spokesmen that we spoke with said that he believes it is one of the Bulgarian hostages. However, that has not yet been confirmed. The embassy, the Bulgarian embassy here in Baghdad, no comment as yet -- Daryn?

KAGAN: And there have been conflicting reports on the status of those hostages -- those specific hostages in recent days?

HOLMES: Yes, indeed. There was an announcement made that one of the two had been beheaded and Al-Jazeera said that it had a videotape of that. And then we were getting reports from both the Bulgarian government and also officials in Iraq saying that, that hadn't happened, both were alive and well.

The deadline for the other hostage, the second one, were expired about 24 hours ago. And now this body's been found. So yes, a very murky situation -- Daryn?

KAGAN: Michael Holmes, live from Baghdad. Michael, thank you for that.

Well, John Kerry has arrived at the NAACP convention in Philadelphia, as he begins to speak, we'll bring you his comments, live right here on CNN -- first a break.


KAGAN: A live picture from Philadelphia. John Kerry beginning to say his hello's and thank yous. We'll skip that part. When he makes the main part of his comments, we will go live to Philadelphia.


KAGAN: Once again, John Kerry speaking at the NAACP convention. A lot of people to thank apparently. We'll fit in a break. When he gets to the meat of what he has to say, we will go back live to Philadelphia after this.


KAGAN: We go live now -- excuse me -- live now to Philadelphia. Here is Senator John Kerry at the NAACP convention.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... leadership. She is the former secretary of labor, and she's working full time with me now. Will you welcome Alexis Herman, who is helping me do a great job here.


Thank you. I'm here, man, I'm ready. And I need you.


AUDIENCE: And I'm for you.

Thank you. And I need that. I need your energy. This is the energy that's going to help us change America in a few months.


And I welcome it. Thank you.

Now, I want you to know, I'm honored to be here. I understand, listening to Julian and recognizing what's been going on, I understand you've been having trouble getting some speakers.


So I want to thank you for the invitation. Some people may have better things to do. But there's no place that I'd rather be right now than right here in Philadelphia with the NAACP.


As a campaigner, I know something about scheduling and conflicts and hostile environments.


But you know what, when you're president of the United States, you can pretty much say where you want to be and when.


And when you're president -- and when you're president, you need to talk to all of the people. And that's exactly what I intend to do.

(APPLAUSE) I will be a president who is truly a uniter, not one who seeks to divide one nation by race or riches or by any other label. And you know something? The president may be too busy to speak to you now, but I've got news for you. He's going to have plenty of time after November 2nd.


And you know, the vice president -- the vice president's having some trouble with the language that he uses to talk to fellow senators these days.

I don't know, folks, but I tell you what, if he needs something to swear about, John Edwards and I are going to give him something to swear about on November 2nd. That's what...

(APPLAUSE) Later today -- incidentally, don't you think I made a great choice for vice president of the United States of America?


We've been having more fun on the trail. You know, John and I have a lot in common, I don't know if you know it. But he may be from North Carolina and I may come from Boston, but guess what? His name is John, my name is John. He's a lawyer, I'm a lawyer. He was "People" magazine's sexiest politician in America. I read "People" magazine.


But I'll tell you something, this is a man who has lived the struggle of the American middle class.

This is a man who saw his father go to the mill every single day. This is a man who saw his mother go to the furniture store and work so that he could become what every American dreams about, the first in his family to graduate from college.

And he will fight for middle class Americans. He will fight for values that make America strong.

And later today, later today, John Edwards and I will embark on a series of front porch tours. We're going to the homes of ordinary citizens all across this nation. And we're going to talk...


... we're going to talk with them. And most importantly we're going to listen to them. We're going to listen about the values that matter most to the people of this country. Values that you live by every single day. Family, responsibility, inclusion, opportunity, fairness, faith, and the most revolutionary value of all, that we are all created equal on this earth.


What better place -- what better place to kick off this tour, than right here in Philadelphia, on the front porch of American democracy. What...


... what better neighbors to visit with than the NAACP?


For 95 years -- for 95 years, you have met, you have marched, you have litigated, you've legislated, registered, prayed, sung songs, gone to jail, and challenged this nation to live out the values that unite us, the values that define us, the ideals of equal opportunity, fairness and justice that are enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.

You have not always been greeted with open arms. But you have never flinched from speaking the truth to power.


And you -- you have never lost faith in the American dream. Who wouldn't want to sit on the front porch of neighbors like that?

And you know what? We have a lot to talk about.


We have a lot to talk about. When I look around this city, when I look around this country, when I think of the gift that I have been given by the American people to run for president and to go to community after community to sit in the living rooms of average Americans, when I look at neighborhoods and towns and cities across this nation, I see exactly what so many of you see every day, and what some of our leaders in Washington seem to be blinded to.

I see jobs to be created for all Americans. I see families to house. I see violence to stop. And I see children to teach and children to care for and take care of.


We see too many people without health care. Too many people of color, too many people of color suffering and dying from chronic diseases like asthma, cancer, AIDS, diabetes.

And when we look at what is happening in America today, at least when I look at it, I want to come to you and I want to ask, where are the deeds? Scripture teaches us it is not enough, my brother, to say you have faith when there are no deeds. Faith without works is dead.


Fifty years ago -- 50 years ago, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP turned their faith into deeds, when you fought and won Brown v. Board of Education.


Forty years ago -- 40 years ago, Lyndon Johnson and Dr. King and NAACP turned their faith into deeds when the nation passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


And next year -- next year, the nation will again be reminded that you turned faith into deeds 40 years ago to push for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

(APPLAUSE) Today -- today, we have an administration in Washington that looks at the challenges that we face here and around the world, and you know what they say? They say, this is the best that we can do. They say that what we have now is the best economy of our lifetimes. They have even called us pessimists for speaking the truth to power.

Well, I say the most pessimistic thing that you can say or anyone can say is that America can't do better than we are doing today.


Don't tell us -- don't tell us that 1.8 million lost jobs is the best that we can do when we can create millions of new jobs for all Americans. We can do better. And we will.

Don't tell us that unemployment isn't a problem when you see that African-American unemployment is now above 10 percent, double the rate for whites.

It is unacceptable...


... it is unacceptable in the wealthiest nation on Earth that we tolerate vast and growing pockets of poverty from the hills of Appalachia to the streets of Philadelphia. Making life better for the working poor is part of my vision for a stronger America. We can do better, and we will.


AUDIENCE: We love you.

Don't tell us -- don't tell us that crumbling and overcrowded schools, underpaid teachers, class sizes that are getting bigger, after-school programs that have been cut, don't tell us that that is the best we can do. We have the means to give all our children a first-rate education. We can do better, and we will.


Don't tell us -- don't tell us.

AUDIENCE: We love you. We love you.

Yes, thank you.


There is a lot of love in this room I'm telling you. And I want to turn -- I want to turn this love into votes. I want to turn this love into action. I want to turn this love into change.


Don't tell us -- don't tell us that we have to accept racial profiling, hate crimes, or the assault by right-wing judges on our precious civil rights and on the progress of this country. We can do better, and we will.

(APPLAUSE) Don't -- tell us that the strongest democracy on Earth, that a million disenfranchised African-Americans and the most tainted election in American history is the best that we can do.

Don't tell us that we already see the purging taking place down in Florida. Don't tell us we don't have a right to expect an election in the United States that sets an example of democracy to the world. We can do better, and we will.


Don't tell us, in the richest country on this planet, that we can't do better than 44 million of our fellow Americans who are uninsured. Nearly 60 percent Hispanics and 43 percent of African- Americans lacked any health insurance at all for all or part of the last two years.

That's unacceptable in America. We can do better, and we will.


Let me tell you, WEB DuBois talked about the two Americas years ago. He called it a nation within a nation. John Edwards and I have talked about that divide for many years now. Our job between now and November is to end the division between the fortunate America and the forgotten America. We need to come together in the 21st century as one America. And I intend to lead us to do that.


During -- during the course of this campaign part of the gift of running is to be able to go into people's homes and sit down in their living room and just listen to people. Listen to a mom and a dad look you in the eye, some of them with tears in their eyes and pleading with you, for the kind of leadership that America deserves.

I've met parents who want nothing more than for their kids to be able to stay and work in the place that they were raised, where they got their values, but they can't find a job. I have met kids who want nothing more than to live out that dream and be able to live and work in the place where they were raised, but they have to go somewhere else to find that job.

I've met steel workers and mine workers and auto workers who are now laid-off workers who had to literally unbolt the equipment that they were working on, pack it up in a crate, and send it to China and ship it overseas with their job. I've even met people who've had to train their foreign replacements.

I've spent time with seniors who worked for a lifetime, but all of a sudden the pension they thought they were going to have is blown away by a company that was irresponsible. Blown away by an administration that has licensed the creed of greed.

We have people -- we have people in America who can't pay for their medicines, who hardly make ends meet. And I've talked with parents whose great hope and ambition for their children is to see them go to a decent school, but they don't know what to do about classrooms that are overcrowded and teachers who are underpaid. They look to leaders for that.

And they're worried that they won't be able to afford to send their kids to college.

My faith teaches me that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


Let me tell you -- let me tell you where my heart is. It's with the middle class who are the heart of this country. It's with the working families who built this country. It's with the veterans who saved this country. It is with the cops and firefighters and soldiers who protect this country. And it is with the children who are the future of this country.


They deserve a president who believes in them, who shares their values and who will fight with every fiber of their being to uphold those values.

John Edwards and I have a vision. And I think we have the values to bring our country together again and to build strong communities.

That's what this is about, folks. This isn't about politics. This isn't about Democrat, Republican. It is about Americans. And for us...


I'm going to talk about that in a minute -- and for us and for you, values -- because that's a value. What she is saying is a value. And it really goes to the core of what's in our guts and what we believe as values.

Values aren't just words. Values aren't something you talk about. Values are the way you act to make the lives of Americans better.


And I am running for president because I believe that what matters most is not the narrow values that politicians cynically use to try to divide America. What's important are the shared values that we joyously embrace to bring us together and unite all of America to make our country stronger.


Let me tell you what values mean to John Edwards and me. Values means really creating the opportunity and fighting for good jobs that actually allow an American family for a week's work to be able to pay the bills and spend some time with your kids and be able to do better in America. (APPLAUSE)

Values mean actually getting ahead. It means fighting for tax cuts for the middle class families, not just for the wealthiest people in America, and it means providing relief to those people who are struggling to get into the middle class or who are in it already trying to climb ahead.

It means helping the people who are getting squeezed. The wealthiest Americans, they don't need more tax cuts, folks, but middle class families do.


I listened to the president.

I happened to be home last night, late, and saw him a little bit on TV for a moment, listened to his last speech. This president just really seems to have a problem with the truth.



And he's talking about John and me going out and raising taxes on working people. I don't know if he knows who working people really are. Working people are not the top 1.5 percent of Americans. Because 98 percent of America will get a tax cut under my plan -- 98 percent of America.


And you know what we are going to do? We are going to add new middle class tax cuts in order to help families to be able to pay for health care, in order to help families pay college tuition, in order to help families pay for child care, and we're going to help working families get ahead once again in America.


I will tell you, creating opportunity also means creating good paying jobs. More than a million Americans who were working three years ago have lost their jobs. African-American unemployment, as I mentioned a moment ago is about 10 percent, which is double the rate for whites.

In New York City -- in New York City, 50 percent of the young African-American males between the ages of 18 and 35 are unemployed.

And the new jobs that are finally being created pay an average of $9,000 less than the jobs that we are losing overseas. John Edwards and I have a plan to keep and create good paying jobs right here at home. Did you know...

(APPLAUSE) ... did you know that right now, right now as you sit here and every day that you go to work your tax dollars are being used to actually ship jobs from Philadelphia and Baltimore and Detroit and Boston overseas? That's beyond common sense. It's beyond anything rational. It's beyond anything fair. And when I am president, no longer will American workers ever subsidize the loss of their own job overseas.


I will tell you what values also mean, and I know you know this because I know the common sense of the NAACP and I know what's in your hearts. I think it is in the hearts of most Americans. What's astonishing to me is that despite that fact, it somehow doesn't translate into action in Washington.

We have a president who can make a promise about no child left behind and then not even fund it. What has happened?


Where I grew up -- where I grew up, values mean giving all our children a first-rate education with smaller classrooms, better paid teachers.

And today I was in Topeka to celebrate Brown v. Board of Education. And we celebrated it properly.

But let me tell you something. You know the truth, just like I do. Today, we still see two school systems in America, one for the well off, and one for the left out.


And that has to end.

For us and for you, values means opening the doors of opportunity to all of our children. John Edwards and I have a plan to invest in our future, to provide the needed funding to put a good teacher in every single classroom so that finally and truly no child is ever left behind.


Values means thinking about what it's like for a parent. Maybe it is one of you who wake up in the middle of the night because you've lost your health care or you never had it or you've got kids who don't have it, and you make decisions about those children. That happens all across America, that parents make decisions about what their kids can and can't do, because they are afraid if they get hurt doing something they want to do, they might have to go to their doctor and they can't afford to do it. Break the bank.

One break like that, and it can mean a disaster for a family in America.

I will tell you what values mean. Values mean making health care affordable and accessible for all Americans.


In the last four years -- in the last four years -- think about this -- in the last four years, 4 million Americans have lost their health insurance. Millions more are struggling to afford it.

I met families that a wife has been diagnosed with cancer, and she has to go to get chemotherapy every day. But she also has to go to work every day while she gets the chemotherapy because she's the only person with health insurance in the family. She is terrified of losing it. No matter how hard it is, no matter what pain she is in, no matter what discomfort or how sick because of her treatment, she still has to go to work.

Let me tell you something, when I am in the White House, we are going to change that. We are going to make sure...


You know, senators and congressmen give themselves very good health care. They have the best health care in world. They give themselves the best health care, and they give you the bill.


Well, when I'm president, here's what my value is. We're going to stop being the only industrial nation on the face of this planet that doesn't understand health care is not a privilege for the elected and the connected or the wealthy. It is a right for every single American. And we are going to make it available to all Americans: affordable, accessible.


We have a plan to get the greed and the waste out of our health care system. And we are going to help families save up to $1,000 on their premiums.

And values also mean making our country -- this is long overdue. You know, God only gave us 3 percent of the world's oil, right?

But the Middle East has 65 percent. And as long as that's the balance, folks, we don't control our own security. We are not in control of our own future. We do not have our destiny in our hands. It is shared with those who can create great mischief. And I believe it is time for us to have leadership that says a value worth fighting for is making certain that our country is independent of Mideast oil and that we build the alternatives. We have a plan...


We have a plan to invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and to protect our environment so that no young American in uniform is ever held hostage to America's dependence on oil from the Middle East. (APPLAUSE)

Values obviously means building a strong military and leading strong alliances, but there's a reason we do that. It is so that no young American is ever put in harm's way because we needlessly insisted on going it alone. That is a value.


I can assure you that based on those lessons that Julian referred to, that I learned fighting a war -- and there are other veterans out here.

I see the hats. Based on those lessons we learned, we will put back in place the mighty principle of the United States that this country never goes to war because it wants to. We only go to war because we have to. That is the standard by which we should live.


Finally, I believe in the value of American leadership in the world. Today a massive humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, where 300,000 people or more may die in the coming months. This administration must stop equivocating. Those government- sponsored atrocities should be called by their rightful name, genocide, and the government of Sudan and the people of Darfur must understand that America stands prepared to act in concert with our allies in the U.N. to prevent the loss of innocent lives. The United States...


... the United States should lead. Every single one of you sitting here knows that we should lead.

But what this administration decided to do in Iraq has pushed our normal allies away. It has cost us credibility. It has cost us an overextended military, reduced the ability of our nation to do the things we ought to do.

I still believe the United States must lead the U.N. Security Council now in sanctioning the planners and perpetrators of genocide. And we must authorize an international humanitarian intervention. That is the lesson of Rwanda. It is the lesson of World War II. It is the lesson of time.


As president, my friends, I will bring the full weight of American leadership to address this crisis and to promote the democratic hopes of people throughout Africa, Haiti, and the Caribbean.

And no crisis...


... no crisis, no challenge asks more of the American conscience than the growing AIDS pandemic. (APPLAUSE)

And I come to this with clean hands, as they say, because four years ago or so I chaired the Senate task force with Senator Bill Frist. We brought people together from all over our country and the world, we listened. We asked for the best route. We tried to find out the best way to try to deal with this.

And we put together a comprehensive, the first ever comprehensive plan to be able to try to deal with AIDS, involving treatment, prevention, human infrastructure, education, vaccines, all of the power of our nation and to help with the United Nations global fund.

This audience above all needs no reminder of the bitter toll that AIDS has exacted here at home also.

As president, I will make a commitment that by 2008, we will have doubled the amount that America spends fighting global epidemics like AIDS to $30 billion.


Fighting AIDS will make us safer.


And I say to all Americans, fighting AIDS is not something we do purely out of a sense of responsibility and morality. It's also common sense in terms of the security of our country. Because fighting AIDS will make us safer, because societies that are ravaged by AIDS are more likely to become failed states and a haven for terrorists. And more than that, fighting AIDS is the greatest moral obligation of our time.


How can you possibly see the suffering of so many people and just turn aside and do too little? And if we don't help, who will?

This -- my friends at the NAACP, you have heard a lot of speeches. You have heard a lot of talk. But stop and separate yourself from the politics and just put yourself squarely in the reality -- this is the most important election of our lifetime.


This is the most important election of our time. Our health care is on the line. Our jobs are on the line. Our children's future is on the line. The Supreme Court is on the line. America's role in the world is on the line.


And that is why we cannot accept a repeat of 2000. This November, thanks to the efforts of the NAACP and heightened vigilance across this country, we are not only going to make sure that every vote counts, we're going to make sure that every single vote is counted. (APPLAUSE)

One way to do that -- one way to do that...


We are going to get you working hard. You are already working hard. You are overtime.


If I can get everybody working as hard as him, this thing's a cake walk, folks.


Let me tell you one way to make sure -- one way to make sure -- is to fulfill the promise of election reform by reauthorizing the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act and vigorously enforcing all of our voting rights laws.

It is an unbelievable injustice. I met folks down in Florida. I met folks in other states in the country. And they come up to me and they tell me, you know, I went down there to vote. I was registered. But they told me I wasn't. By the time I was able to figure out, it was too late. Fifty-seven thousand votes in Palm Beach, West Palm Beach just weren't counted.

A million African-Americans were disenfranchised in the last election. It is a great injustice to all Americans when African- Americans are denied their fundamental right to vote.


On Election Day, well, we are not just going to sit there and wait for it to happen. We are already out there putting together teams of lawyers. We are already out there preparing challenges for these purges.

On Election Day in your cities, my campaign will provide teams of election observers and lawyers to monitor elections. And we will enforce the law.


We will enforce the law.


I'm also happy to tell you that we've included language in our convention platform, which is now completed, and it calls for legislative action that will ensure that voting systems in America are accessible, independently auditable, accurate and secure.

And we intend to enforce the fundamental constitutional right of every American to vote and to ensure that the Constitution is fully realized. And in disputed elections, we are going to make sure that we go back and have the ability to undispute the election and count it correctly.


I add my voice to those who have vowed about 2000 and 2002: Never again in the United States of America.


This election now, my friends, even three and a half months out -- that's all it is, I think it is 112 days today, if I'm correct -- it is more in your hands than in mine. Over the next three and a half months, we need you to do what nobody in America does better, register voters, talk to voters, talk to your neighbors, and get people to the polls.


We can provide...


We can provide -- we can provide a new direction to America. We can make this election what elections are supposed to be, a moment when the American people in the great vision of our founding fathers right here in Philadelphia get to set the direction of the country.

And we have to remember, as you do better than anybody, as you could remind Americans with more effect than anybody, that all the great movements for civil rights, equal rights, the environment, economic justice, peace, for all of them, they have come from the people who were willing to go out and march, people who have come together as one America to bring our life to its highest ideals.

When I was in Vietnam, I served on a small boat in the Mekong Delta. I served with men who came from places as diverse as South Carolina, Arkansas, California, Iowa, Massachusetts. We were just all thrown together, different color, different religions, different backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat.


And I will tell you what -- I will tell you what, we came together as one. No one asked us our politics. No one cared where we went to school or what our race or our background or religion was. We were just a band of brothers, all of whom fought under the same flag and prayed to the same God.

Now, today we're a little bit older, and we're a little bit grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country. And what we're fighting for...


... what we're fighting for is an America that we have been fighting for for over 228 years and more where all of us are truly in the same boat.

My friends, the America that we believe in, that brings you here to this convention, to this conference is calling us to service once again, and we have to answer.

The great poet Langston Hughes put it this way. And as you all know, he wrote about both being black and being poor in a time of American distress. And he wrote: "Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be for those whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain must bring back our mighty dream again."

With your help, if you march again the way we have before, if you are willing to go out and do this hard work and reclaim our own democracy and our own country, if you are willing to set an example to the world, we can, we must and we will bring back our mighty dream again.

Let America be America again. Let's go out and get the job done. Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you.

KAGAN: Listening in to Senator John Kerry as he addresses the NAACP convention in Philadelphia, an invitation he accepted. Started his remarks by noticing that President Bush declined that invitation.

The president will speak to the Urban League next week in Detroit.

Senator Kerry touching on health insurance, outsourcing, the war, also the crisis in Sudan.

And that wraps up our two -- hours of news here for me, Daryn Kagan. I'll be right back here tomorrow morning.

Martha Stewart, by the way, finds out tomorrow during our hours, 10 a.m. Eastern, if she's going to prison and if so, for how long. She faces sentencing for her March 5 conviction for conspiracy, making false statements and other charges. We will have complete live coverage of the sentencing tomorrow. Begins once again during CNN LIVE TODAY, 10 a.m. Eastern, 7 Pacific.

That's going to do it for me. Wolf Blitzer takes over next.



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