Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Jefferson-Jackson Dinner
Manchester, New Hampshire
October 29, 2005

TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED BY ALL AMERICA PAC*

Thank you.  Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman.  Kathy, thank you for that very, very gracious introduction. I really do appreciate your going on at some length saying all those many, many positive things.  You know, Iím always surprised when I am introduced pretty much the way I wrote it.  So I'm grateful to Kathy for sticking to the script here tonight.

And I've learned not to take kind introductions like Kathyís for granted.

Since early in my career, shortly after I was elected governor, I think it was in 1990.  We had the midterm Democratic gathering in Indianapolis Ė I was the first Democrat in 20 years so Ron Brown decided it would be a good place to come.  And we had all the Democratic dignitaries from around the country, each state and its state chairman, vice-chairman, all the DNC members, we rolled out the red carpet.  And the highlight of the occasion was a reception in the Governor's residence, where we invited everybody to come.  So Susan and I stood on the landing of the home greeting the different dignitaries as they came in.  It was in the springtime so people still had coats.  We were shaking hands and welcoming them, and along came the delegation from Tennessee, Kathy.  And apparently their state chairman hadnít been paying too much attention, and I extended my hand in greeting to him, and I said, ďGood evening sir, welcome to the Governorís residence.Ē  Well, he looked me up one side and down the other, and he proceeded to put his coat over my arm, looked me in the eye and said,  ďThank you very much young man, Iíll pick this up when I leave.Ē

Well, what could I say except, ďYes sir, weíll take good care of it.Ē  So, no cases of mistaken identity tonight thanks to you tonight, Kathy, and I am very grateful for that.  So many of you Iíd like to acknowledge tonight, starting where your governor began, with Kathy Sullivan and her husband, John.  You know since sheís been your State Party Chairwoman, youíve regained the Governorship, youíve picked up 2 seats in the state Senate and 26 seats in the House of Representatives, you became the only state in the United States of America to move from the Republican column to the Democratic column in the presidential election last year.  So Kathy, thatís a long way of saying, if we could clone you, we would, and share you with the other 49 states.

Iíd also like to pay tribute to your governor, John Lynch.  What a great job heís done so far in your state.  John understands what being governor is all about.  And frankly John, there are times in Washington, when Iím a little nostalgic.  Because when youíre governor, you're responsible for making decisions, for getting the job done, for advancing the interests of your state. Too often in Washington, itís about votes and speeches and whoís up and whoís down, rather than whether we are moving forward together.  John Lynch has made a real difference for the citizens of New Hampshire already by lowering health care costs for small businesses, increasing funding for your schools, working to create jobs, and Iíve got to say Governor, I was very, very impressed by the way you handled the recent flooding in the Western part of your state.  John Lynch was on the scene making sure things got done.  Iíve had several of you say that he gave out his personal cell phone number, saying to people look, if you have a problem, call me, call me.  John Lynch could teach George Bush and FEMA a thing or two about responding to emergencies.

Itís great to be with Jim Craig and Sylvia Larsen; we need to work hard to regain the majorities in the legislature here so your governor can get his program enacted and we can have good government for the people of New Hampshire.

Itís great to be with Bill Shaheen.  Bill, tell Jeanne I said hello.  She was a great Governor.  I was privileged to help with her campaign for the United States Senate. And you know, it occurred to me last week, if you had elected Jeanne Shaheen as your Senator, the people of New Hampshire would have hit the lottery, rather than having a Senator who hit the lottery.  So Bill, Bill give my best to Jeanne.

And, Iíve got a rare privilege tonight, here, ladies and gentleman.  As Kathy mentioned, we have young children, twin boys, theyíre going to be 10 in about two weeks so we donít get to travel together very often.  But Iím here tonight with someone who for more than 20 years has been a great partner, a tremendous mother, for 8 years she was an outstanding First Lady for our state; I wouldnít be here tonight without her.  I want to introduce you to my better half, my wife, Susan.

Now Iíd like to begin this evening by sharing some good news with all of you.  In just about 3 years, the Bush era will be over.  Done. Gone. Forever.  I know that may seem like an eternity at times, but in the great sweep of history, itís really only the blink of an eye.

And so, as tempted as I am tonight to spend our few minutes together telling you how disappointed I have been, how occasionally angry I have been at the needless division, at the misplaced priorities, at the ineptitude that too often has characterized these last five years, I believe we have a responsibility as Democrats to do better than that.  And so Iíd like to have a conversation for just these few moments about the future, about what comes next, about the challenges that we face and the changes that are affecting New Hampshire and Indiana and our other 48 states and what together as Americans we will do to make that future and the tomorrow that our children will inherit from us all that it must and should be.

I think it involves embracing four values that have always been at the core of the promise of America.  And that really is what has brought us here together tonight, to seize the opportunity and to realize the responsibility that we have to restore, to renew that promise.

Real unity for the people of our country.  Opportunity for everyone who is willing to work hard to achieve it.  True security during these dangerous times.  And accountability for the kind of performance the American people have a right to expect in their government.

It all begins with unity. Because we will never meet the challenges of our time as deeply divided as we currently are.  Our parents could not have met the challenges of their time, overcoming the Great Depression, winning the Second World War, overcoming Communism, ending segregation and all the rest, if they had been as alienated from one another as we are today.  But they came together to get the job done, and so can we.

But itís going to take a different kind of leadership than weíve had these last five years.  I predict when the history of this time is written, this president will be criticized harshly for many things. But perhaps foremost among them, will be the fact that he sought our nationís highest office pledging to be ďa uniter not a dividerĒ and has proceeded to divide this country more profoundly than any time since the Vietnam War.  We need better leadership than that .

We as Democrats need to provide the kind of leadership that John Lynch has provided. That understands that the true challenge facing us is not how we divide one another for short-term political gain, but instead how we reconcile our differences, find common ground.  We need leaders who understand that ďwhile we may have arrived on these shores in different ships, weíre all in the same boat now.Ē  We need leaders who understand that America is at its strongest and at its greatest, not when we are divided between red states and blue states, but when America is united as 50 red, white and blue states with a common heritage and a common destiny.  And itís about time that we started behaving that way.

And the unity we seek is not unity for its own sake, itís not the mushy middle or the consensus of the lowest common denominator, but instead a summoning of the American people to realize the true promise of this nation, by meeting the challenges of our time, starting with real opportunity for our middle class and all those who aspire to be a part of it.

We have to understand during these times of challenge and change that the solutions of the 1930ís, the solutions of the 1960ís, even the solutions of 1990ís will be inadequate to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.  And so we must invest in research and development, to create the new jobs, the new industries, the new innovations of the future.  Under this administration, weíre at a 50-year low. That wonít get the job done.

We need to lift up small businesses, entrepreneurs, and inventors who are creating the real jobs of today.  Under this administration, most of our assistance goes to the Fortune 500, who over the last 20 years have created zero net new jobs. Thatís wrong and something that we can do better.

As our friends in labor would tell you here tonight, we need to insist upon fair trade and a level playing field so that the ingenuity and hard work of the American workers and businesspeople isnít stolen from them by foreign competitors who seek to cheat and gain an artificial advantage.

And perhaps most of all we need to understand and emphasize that true opportunity, true prosperity in the 21st century involves providing an education for every child and worker in this country who will enable them to realize their full God-given potential.

That involves a lot of different things, but Iíll mention just one here tonight.  Iíd like to see us dedicate ourselves as a country to ensuring that every child who dreams and aspires and works hard and wants to go to college someday has an opportunity to do that.

Thatís something that we did in Indiana.

In 1990, even during the depths of the first Bush recession, we made that commitment and said to every child in our state who qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program Ė thatís about 185 percent of the poverty level Ė to each and every one of those children we said that if you will sign a written pledge to graduate from high school with passing grades and to not break the law by getting involved with illegal drugs, you will be entitled to a full college scholarship to the public university of your choice, and those scholarships are fully transferable to the private university of your choice.

As a result of that program, our state has moved from 40th in the percentage of our kids who go on to higher education to 9th.  We have literally lifted up thousands of less fortunate children and helped them to become better employees, better taxpayers, better citizens.  And if you ever want to know whether all this could really make a difference, let me put a human face on it for you for a second.   Kathy, I was the speaker at our stateís JJ dinner last April.  And when it was over, I was standing there and the people came up to get their pictures taken.  Among them was a young man, came up all excited, and he said, he called me governor, John, I still like that.  He said, ďGovernor, can I have my picture taken with you?Ē  I said, ďOf course.Ē  He happened to be in a wheel chair. He was missing both legs. He was missing most of his left arm.  He happened to be African-American.  I sat down on the edge of the stage in the Convention Center, and he hoisted himself off his chair onto the stage.  He put his arm around me.  I put my arm around him.  And he said, ďI just want to thank you because Iím a 21st Century Scholar.Ē  Thatís the promise of America, thatís the kind of pledge we need to make to every child growing up in this country, thatís what we will do as Democrats.

And we need to do what it takes to provide for real security in this country too.  Because itís painfully obvious that those in charge in Washington today donít have a clue.  Itís been on their watch that North Korea has become a virtual assembly line for nuclear weapons.  Itís been on their watch that we are still much too vulnerable to the possibility of an avian flu pandemic.  Itís been on their watch that our military has been stretched to the breaking point.  On their watch that our alliances have been frayed.  And on their watch that the conflict in Iraq has been terribly, terribly mismanaged.

Itís now obvious that the intelligence was wrong.  Itís obvious that we never had enough troops to get the job done.  Itís clear that there was never a plan for the aftermath.  When I was in Baghdad in last December, our top intelligence official told me, he said, ďEvan, things would be 100 percent better in Iraq today Ė 100 percent Ė if theyíd only not sent the Iraqi army home.Ē  But they did, and thatís a tragedy.  And you know what, we can do better.  We can do better.

We can do better than the delusion of ďmission accomplished.Ē  You remember that one?  We can do better than the false bravado of ďbring Ďem on.Ē  We can do better than the flippancy of ďwell, you go to war with the army that youíve got.Ē

Because what happened in Iraq, my friends, is that they did come on, the conflict is far from over, and we went to war with the army that we had but we didnít give our troops the equipment that they need and 2,000 of them have perished and thatís not strength, itís irresponsibility and those in charge should be held to account.

And we Democrats will explain to the American people that we know something about truly providing security for this country.  And that is it involves a lot more than just the strength of our arms, as important as they are.  A truly secure America, a truly strong America must begin at home, with stronger communities and stronger families and a true policy for energy independence in this country.  Thatís something that will truly strengthen America.

One of the great missed opportunities of our time was in the immediate aftermath following 9/11 when the country was yearning for something better and the leadership just wasnít there.  You may remember the moment.  John, you may remember.  In Indianapolis people were literally stopping me in the street asking, ďEvan, what can I do?  I want to help my country.Ē  Well the president was asked that question at a press conference.  One of the reporters said, ďMr. President, the American people are asking, what can they do? What can they do to help?Ē  Do any of you remember what he said?  Go to the mall; go shopping.  Well, Iím sorry, but that is not enough.

If I had been President of the United States, I would have looked the American people in the eye and said, the time has come for a new Declaration of Independence.  Today it must be a declaration of energy independence because it is not right for our country be as dependent as we are on unstable places like Saudi Arabia and Russia and Venezuela for something as critically important as our petroleum supply. And so we as Democrats will provide the leadership to do better.

Weíll invest in high-mileage vehicles like hybrids with incentives for research and to buy them.  Weíll help to create new high-strength light-weight alloys to lower the weight of a vehicle and increase the gas mileage.  Weíll invest in biofuels so that Americaís farmers can produce Americaís fuel. And we will focus on this like a laser and make it a top priority because we know that itís right for our economy, itís right for our finances, itís good for the environment, and most of all, itís what we must do to set our children free.

We face some daunting challenges today.  But I am convinced with the right kind of leadership, we can do what America has always done. We can overcome them.  Iíve seen it in my own state.  About 9 months after I was elected governor, the first Bush recession began.  And Indiana was hit hard. But we didnít throw in the towel, we rolled up our sleeves.

We worked with our working men and women and our businesses, and at the end of 8 years, we had created more new jobs than during any other 8 year period in the history of our state.

We increased funding for our schools, each and every year.  We raised academic standards and insisted on accountability for real progress.

We paid for health care for pregnant women and new-born infants, thousands of additional ones.

We raised water quality standards and instituted new recycling programs to protect our environment.

We were one of the first states to start reforming welfare, by insisting upon work but we also created day care slots to make that work possible.

And unlike this current crowd in Washington, we insisted upon real fiscal responsibility.

You know, George Bush likes to talk a lot about it, John.  Truth of the matter is, he hasnít vetoed one penny of spending.  When I was governor, I had to veto a state budget one year, because I didnít think it was fiscally sustainable.  Thatís what leaders do.  You know, Iím in the Congress now and I can say this.  Occasionally, the Congress needs adult supervision.  But under this Administration, the children have been home alone.

But quite honestly, we've got to do more than point out the deep fiscal irresponsibility of those in charge.  Weíve got to do better too.  I donít know how many of you saw last week, but we had a vote down there about something called the Bridges to Nowhere.  Any of you heard of that?  Bridges to Nowhere.  14 United States Senators voted against them. 5 Democrats. I was one.  We need to do better than that.  We  need to convince the American people that we have the right priorities to truly restore our finances.  Because when I look at my children and you look at yours, itís not right to know that if we continue down the path that weíre on, one of the main things they are going to inherit from us are our unpaid bills. Now, we need to do better than that and with Democratic leadership thatís exactly what we are going to do.

 And you know good government, embracing the values at the heart of the promise of America, unity, opportunity, real security and accountability, those things can lead to better political outcomes too.  I know itís not easy in your state. Just ask your governor.  Let me tell you about mine.

Out of the last 17 presidential elections, the Republican nominee has carried Indiana 16 times.  Last November, while you were moving your state from the Republican column to the Democratic column, we werenít quite that lucky in Indiana. George Bush carried Indiana by 21 percent.

But the same day, with the same group of voters, I was honored to be re-elected by 24 percent.

I donít say that just to toot my own horn. I say that because it shows that if we embrace the promise of America and the values that have always stood at the heart of that promise, there is no state anywhere in this country in which we cannot succeed.  By understanding the challenges of the future, by appreciating the anxieties that is creating in ordinary Americansí lives, and having an agenda for meeting those challenges and addressing that change that resonates in most peopleís lives.

Now this has never been better expressed than in some words Iíd like to leave you with tonight. They were spoken by, well actually they werenít, they were written by, another son of New England.  A former president.  It happened to be John Kennedy.  And while Iíd be the first to say that I too am no John Kennedy, his words resonate still.  They were written for a group a lot like this.  The Democratic Party of the State of Texas.  But President Kennedy never had a chance to give that speech.  Because his life was ended earlier in the day in Dallas.

But if he had given it, hereís what he intended to end by saying Ė literally, his last words to us.  He said, ďNow is a time for courage and for challenge.  Neither conformity nor complacency will do.  Neither the fanatics nor the fainthearted are needed.  Our duty as a party is not to our party alone, but to this nation and to all of mankind.  Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and of freedom.  So let us not be petty when our cause is so great.  Let us not argue amongst ourselves when the future of our nation is at stake.  Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause, united in our pride of the past, and in our hopes for the future, and determine that this land we love will lead all of mankind forward to new frontiers of peace and abundance.Ē

That is the challenge my friends, appealing to our better angels, not our baser instincts.  Embracing opportunity for everyone among us, providing real security in the context of these times.  Thatís the challenge for America, that has always been the Democratic Party, that is what has brought us here together tonight.  And with your help, and God-willing, I know we will get the job done.

Thank you for having me.
 

*very minor corrections made.  ema