Introduction (read by DNC Vice Chair Mark Brewer):
It's my honor to introduce Joe Biden, who on Wednesday announced his candidacy for president of the United States. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden is not only the champion of a bipartisan bill to oppose the president's tragic efforts to escalate the war in Iraq, but he has also put forward a plan to bring our troops home and achieve peace in that region, a plan you can read at joebiden.com. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Biden led the fight to keep Robert Bork off the Supreme Court [applause], passed the Violence Against Women Act, and put 100,000 cops on America's streets. [applause] With strong support from organized labor and the black community, Joe Biden beat long odds and an incumbent Republican at age 29 to win election to the United States Senate. Joe Biden doesn't just talk about middle class family values, he lives them every day. He takes the train home at night to Wilmington to be with his family. His wife Jill is a teacher; they have three children and five grandchildren. It's my pleasure to introduce Joe Biden.[Cheers, applause. Music "Centerfield" by John Fogerty]
BIDEN: Good morning. So, how was your week? [cheers, applause, laughter]
It's been a hell of a week. [laughter]
I want to say I truly regret that words I spoke offended people I admire very much.
I'm humbled that so many of these same people, as well as many of you in this room, judge them by my history and my heart, and for that I'll be forever grateful to all of you. [applause]
Mr. Chairman, as you and our fellow Democrats know, this Administration has dug America into a very, very deep hole:
America is more isolated, consequently less secure, and Americans are more uncertain about their future than any time in the last half century.
The American people are looking for the Democrats to produce someone who can guide us through the difficult decade ahead, as well as someone who understands the problems and pressures facing the middle class.
They're looking for someone to restore America's greatness, and folks, that seems to me to be the job description that all of us--of job that all of us are applying for.
In Iraq, the President took us to a war unnecessarily, without enough troops, without the right equipment for those troops we sent, or to care for them when they came home...and, most of all he sent them without a plan -- without any plan.
My fellow Democrats, the price of that failure can be measured in the blood we have shed and the treasure we have lost.
And over $350 billion committed thus far with no sight in end.
Folks, we must stop this war. [applause, cheers]
In order to do that we have to stop the sectarian cycle of revenge in Iraq, and to do that it's basic. We need a plan, and that plan must first and foremost be to separate the combatants and give them a political way forward.
I have a plan to do just that.
Give each of these factions breathing room in their own regions with control over their local police, control over the fabric of their daily lives: their marriages, their education, their jobs.
Give the central government responsibility for borders, currency and the army, and guarantee the Sunnis their fair share of the oil revenues.
And maybe most importantly draw down, do not escalate American troops. [applause] For that is the only way, the only way to force Iraqi's leaders to reach a political settlement.
And we have make Iraq the world's problem, not just ours. And we do that by having the United Nations convene the world's major powers to insist that the regional powers around Iraq abide by the political settlement that is reached.
Ladies and gentlemen, the president's surge is not a solution -- it's a tragic mistake and I will do everything in my power to stop it. [applause]
And one more thing I'd like to direct directly to President Bush. Mr. President, the majority of Americans who oppose you on Iraq are not the ones emboldening the enemy. That's the one mission you have accomplished. [applause]
I am so tired of that old saw. They pull that out of the drawer every single time, Governor, when they want to stop criticism. The American people have had enough.
Folks, at this moment in our history, I believe America is looking for a leader with a breadth and depth of experience in world affairs, where they fully understand that President Bush is going to leave the next president with literally no margin for error. The next president, the moment he or she takes office, will have to immediately end the war in Iraq and even more critically will have to immediately turn to other simmering spots before they explode.
And here at home, it will not be enough for the next president to have the right plans and policies.
The American people have to believe, they have to believe that our nominee understands what they've been dealing with in their daily lives for the past six years.
They know we need an energy policy to free us from the axis of oil and to turn around the global warming and restore our planet.
But the one thing they don't believe that Washington understands just how hard it has been for them the last six years to heat their homes and fill up their gas tanks.
I understand. I can remember as a young kid answering the back door when the bill collector stood there about to turn off electricity, and having to look him in the eye and say no my mommy's not home.
Americans know we need national health insurance. We all talk about it. They know it.
You know what they doubt? They doubt that we fully understand what it's like to lie in bed, like 47 million Americans without health insurance, staring at the ceiling and then looking over at their pregnant wife, and wondering if it's a premie will I lose my house, will I lose everything I own?
I understand. I can remember 20 years ago being wheeled into a operating room, being told my chances weren't very good, but literally thanking God that I would not leave my family with insurmountable debt because I had insurance.
I understand, and so do many of you.
The American people understand more than we do that the ticket to the middle class is a college degree. but they wonder whether Washington understands what it feels like as a parent to look in the eyes of your child knowing that you have no financial means to help them get to college.
I understand like many of you. I'll never forget the look on my father's face the day he came back after having been denied a bank loan to help send me to the University of Delaware.
I understand. I understand like many of you in this room, I understand the aspirations as well as the struggles of the American people.
And the reason we understand them is they're our struggles.
They're what our party has been about dealing with for the past 200 years. [applause]
Ladies and gentlemen, they're also our values. They're America's values.
And I promise you like all of you in this room, I will fight with every fiber in my being to keep America focused on the values that unite us, rather than the wedge issues that have been used to divide us over the past six years. [applause]
Folks, this is my primary message to you. I am absolutely, positively sure that the American people are ready. And so am I.
For not one single time in the history of this great country have the American people in a moment of crisis ever, ever, ever let their country down.
We have to remind ourselves as Democrats, it's been the historic role of the Democratic Party...
...from Jefferson to Jackson...
...from Roosevelt to Clinton...
to remind America of that legacy, to summon us to the moment, to make America the light of the world again.
And, I pledge to you, as your President that's exactly what will I do.
Thank you very, very much.
May God Bless you and God protect our troops. [applause]
[Music: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty]
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