Iowa Presidential Watch
Holding the Democrats accountable


December 14, 2005

"It may be smart election-year politics to thump your chest and constantly criticize your friend and your No. 1 trading partner. But it is a slippery slope, and all of us should hope that it doesn't have a long-term impact on the relationship," the U.S. Ambassador to Ottawa David Wilkins said.


J U S T   P O L I T I C S


Justice Department investigating Harkin
Why isnít the Des Moines Register reporting it?

Editorial by: Roger Wm. Hughes

On Dec. 2, the Associated Press reported that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) was under investigation for corruption connected to the Jack Abramoff scandal. However, The Des Moines Register has not printed a word about it.

The Register failed to report for more than two weeks about the fact that Harkin finally admitted to breaking ethics laws by not reimbursing Jack Abramoff for the use of his skybox at the Washington D.C. MCI Center. As it turned out, a client of Abramoff's -- the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians -- was paying for the skybox, so Harkin reimbursed the tribe $1,800 for the 2002 event and $1,900 for the 2003 event.

Now once again, the Register is covering for Harkin. This time the allegations are even more serious and the Register is not letting Iowans know.

The Associated Press reported that Michael D. Smith, a member of Jack Abramoff's tribal lobbying team at the Greenberg Traurig law firm, drafted letters that Harkin sent to the Interior Department and National Indian Gaming Commission between June and November 2003. During that very time, Harkin raked in $17,000 from Smith and other Abramoff-related sources. The Sac & Fox gave $4,000 more to Harkin in 2004 -- about six months after the federal government allowed the tribe's casino to reopen.

It is clear that Harkin was involved in the controversial takeover of the Mesquaki Casino on the side of Abramoff. It is also clear that he reaped considerable donations for his actions in the matter. He also broke ethics rules by not reimbursing Abramoff for the use of his skybox.

What is not clear is why the Register is covering this up.

Americans need to send an e-mail to the Registerís VP/Editor Carolyn Washburn at: and ask why is the Register covering up the Justice Departmentís corruption investigation of Sen. Tom Harkin.

I hope that many Americans and Iowans take up the call to ask for old media to do its job.


Wacky Fonda

Jane Fonda is at it again. Newsmax reports that she is claiming that the American military deliberately trains its soldiers to commit atrocities:

"Hanoi Jane" Fonda is claiming that ever since Vietnam, U.S. troops have been trained to commit atrocities against innocent civilians as a matter of military policy.

"Starting with the Vietnam War we began training soldiers differently," the anti-American actress says in an email to the Washington Post.

Fonda claims she learned of the policy switch in "secret meetings" she had with military psychologists "who were really worried about what was happening to our combat personnel."

One doctor, she insists, told her U.S. troops had been deliberately trained to be "killing machines."

Abramoff scandal widens

The Washington Times is reporting that the top Democrat (Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota) investigating the Jack Abramoff scandal is returning the money he was given. Democrats received some $700,000 in Indian tribe money from Abramoff. In total, Senate Democrats and their national committees accepted $3.1 million:

The top Democrat on the Senate committee investigating casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff is returning $67,000 in donations after press reports showed that he collected the money from Mr. Abramoff's gambling clients around the time he took actions favorable to those clients.

On Dec. 2, the Associated Press reported that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) was part of the Justice Departments investigation into corruption for his activities concerning the Masquaki Casino closing. The Des Moines Register has yet to cover the story.

Harkin also revealed the fact that he failed to pay for the use of Jack Abramoffís skybox and has subsequently reimbursed the Indian tribe for its use.

Iranian showdown

Iranís President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to create an atmosphere of a showdown with Europe and the world. Germany has recalled its diplomat from Iran after the Presidnet said that the Holocaust didnít happen. Ahmadinejad has also called on Israel to be wiped from the earth and suggested that it should be moved to Alaska or Europe.

Israel has intimated that it might strike Iran militarily.

Harkin not good enough

The House yesterday approved a bill that would name two federal health buildings after Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa This ended the Senate effort at self-aggrandizement to have the buildings named after Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter, (R-PA).

The House bill passed by voice vote. It would name two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention buildings in Atlanta after the well-known women.

Still our President

Hillary and Bill Clinton had their inner circle get together for a little fund-raiser for the Senatorís reelection. Alan Patricoff in introducing Bill stated, "He is still our President. The event raised $600,000. This was the amount reportedly raised by Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) who also is also interested in residency at the White House in 2008.


Governor Mitt Romney Ė a recent visitor to first-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa -- will be having guests this weekend. The guests include political consultant Michael E. Murphy, and a veteran GOP operative, Philip A. Musser. Romney has just taken over the chairmanship of the Republican Governorís Association. However, Romneyís 2008 plans will be the likely central area of discussion.

Hillary rakes it in for Kentucky

Kentucky Democrats recently raised more than $600,000 for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY). That's  the most ever raised according to Hillary's newsletter. She offered the following speech at that momentous occasion:

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. I think I'm one step ahead of the fire marshals. This is an extraordinary turnout of Kentucky Democrats who are ready to win again on behalf of the Democratic Party. Our values are on the march.

You know, it is great to see our old friend Senator Ford again. I heard Jerry making his remarks, reminding all of us that we actually carried this state in 1992 and 1996, and Wendell Ford was a big part of that. And then because he was chairman of something called the Rules Committee in the Senate, he was in charge of both inaugurations. He had a lot to do with the successes of the Clinton Administration. He sometimes comes to the Senate to say hello and we all tell him how much we miss him because we do. So it's an honor to be introduced by such a great leader as Senator Ford.

And while I was standing backstage waiting to come out and see all of you, I saw my longtime friend, your former governor, Martha Layne Collins. She did an excellent job - so much for education and to promote jobs in the state. It's wonderful to see her. I know that out in this great crowd are others of Bill's and my friends. I've been told that former Senator Dee Huddleston is here, and I want to say greetings to you, Senator. Former Governor Julian Carroll is here as well.

Our long time friend, former Governor John Y. Brown is here. Where's John Y.? It brings back a lot of wonderful memories. We had a great time at the Kentucky Derby all those years ago. I've been reminiscing about all the times we've been in your wonderful state, friends we've made and extraordinary generosity that the people have shown to Bill and to me. Some of you might remember that we actually were in Paducah the night before that memorable election. I think that's what cinched it for us. There was no doubt after we were in Paducah that Bill Clinton was going to be elected president.

There's someone else I see here that I want to acknowledge and thank. A genuine hero, one of my favorite people, a fierce advocate for our men and women in uniform, our veterans. He served as Secretary of Veteran Affairs. He served in the United States Senates. He's a wonderful and patriotic American, Max Cleland. Max, we love you.

And of course, I want to thank your energetic, effective chair. Now, when Jerry called and asked me to come tonight, he said, well, he wanted to get a few people together to talk about the future of the Democratic Party in Kentucky. I had no idea that this is what he meant. But it's a great tribute to his leadership. His wonderful family. That's what you get when you have a great wife and five daughters who help you do what you need to do. And this is a living testament to his commitment to this state and to the Democratic Party.

Well, I could reminisce all evening because there are a lot of stories. But I want to talk about the future. I want to talk about the Democratic Party. What we can do and must do starting next year to take back our country. Because all across America now you can here the conversations. Sometimes they're almost a little embarrassed and take place over in a corner that people, Republicans, independents are joining us in recognizing that our country is not headed in the right direction. I've had so many Republicans come up to me in the last months and say to me, "I didn't sign up for all of this." And I say, "Well, what do you mean?" And they sort of shake their heads. For some of them it's the deficit. For some it's Katrina. For some it's the war in Iraq. For some it's the shredding of the social safety net and the threat to privatize Social Security. But for all of them it's a recognition that the leadership in Washington is not leading America in a way that we know we need.

And there are many beyond this room that is filled to capacity who understand that as well. We won some elections this past November because Democrats ran tough, effective campaigns. They celebrated the best of what we have to offer: a positive vision about where we want to lead our country and a return to the real values that made America great. I think America is calling for Democratic leadership. It is up to us to answer that call. Because, as we look forward to 2006, our fight is about changing America and reclaiming the American dream.

There are so many reasons why the time is now. Some of it has to do with the fact that, I know talking to people throughout New York, that what's on the minds of most New Yorkers, like the minds of most of you and people around our country has to do with the fundamental distinctively optimistic American view about who we are and what we are capable of doing. But I also know that as I talk with people from all walks of life - seniors and students, teachers, and police officers and firefighters and factory workers - everybody that I come across is concerned. And they tell me that there is a growing sense of uncertainty, of insecurity, because they feel that America, this land that we love and cherish, is off track.

Americans know that we can do better. And increasingly Americans are demanding that we must do better. I don't have to tell you this because you're here, feeling the very same things. You know that what's true here in Kentucky or true in New York, it doesn't matter whether you're in a red state or a blue state; we are all Americans. We love this country. We care about our children. We want a better future and we have a responsibility to go out and make it happen.

Americans have always risen to the challenge that confronted us. And at the dawn of the 21st century, we face real challenges. From global competition to global warming. From rising health care costs to rising energy costs. And yet Republicans in Washington are not even serious about addressing these challenges. They're not willing to take them on. And their failure of leadership is leaving America unprepared for the future we face.

One of the underlying principles of the American success story has been our belief that if we worked hard today and we made smart investments, we would build a better tomorrow. We've done it in our families. We've done it in our businesses. We've done it in our communities. It's one of the hallmarks of the American ideal, that we are people who are constantly pushing the boundaries, crossing the frontiers for a better future. And we've had leaders who understood that, going back to the very beginning. There are so many examples. I think of Thomas Jefferson spending what amounted to nearly all of the federal budget, not on tax cuts for the rich but on the Louisiana Territory so we could expand our nation.

I think of Franklin Roosevelt, of course. Someone who faced extraordinary obstacles, who inherited a country in depression. And what did he tell us? "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." What a difference. We now have leadership who want us to be afraid. Who sow fear, anxiety, and insecurity among us.

President Kennedy, with his enthusiastic commitment to sending a man to the moon inspired all of us. I even wrote to NASA trying to figure out how I could be an astronaut. Unfortunately, I received a reply that at that time they weren't looking for girls. But that changed too. We just had a wonderful young woman from New York, Eileen Collins, who captained the last space shuttle.

When I was growing up, like so many of you about my age - young, my family benefited from our nation's commitment to expanding opportunity and building up the middle class. There was a basic bargain in America, that if you worked hard and played by the rules you and your family could and most likely would prosper. My father, like so many men of the greatest generation, returned from military service to a nation that made an unprecedented investment in education, not only the GI bill but the explosion of schools that were built, the colleges and universities that opened their doors to people who wanted to improve their standing in life and who understood how critical education was to doing that.

A nation that had a tax code the rewarded hard work, not just wealth. That understood that, with all due respect, this is not a nation that was built by and for the rich. There are rich people, thank goodness, everywhere, but what made America different was the middle class, the upward mobility. The belief that you could surpass your parents standing in life and that with good fortune and hard work your children could go beyond even your position.

We had a basic bargain that we believed in and it worked. You know, the last half of the 20th century created an opportunity society in America that was unknown in the history of the world. And we had leaders who understood that without a strong and growing middle class we wouldn't fulfill the promise of America. Now someone out there might say, perhaps this extraordinary young man, Michael Spicer, who came tonight, and I'm delighted that he did. You might say, "But Senator Clinton, you grew up a long, long, long time ago." Well, I think the values are the same. The same values that I was raised with, the same belief in the American dream and possibilities beyond our imagining. And what I see happening is that that promise, that sense of possibility, is under attack. The values that made America in the 20th century, not just the economic leader of the world, but the moral leader of the world are under attack today.

I think all of us who are parents, and those of you lucky enough to be grandparents, you know that it's to every generation the obligation that we leave the world better off for our children and grandchildren than how we found it. That is the inescapable generational compact. But I worry that we're not doing that. That we may be, shamefully, the first generation to leave our country worse off than how we found it. And that's because we're ignoring and denying the tough challenges that we face. We are not doing today what is required to make America in the future richer and stronger and safer and smarter. To create the economic engine that will provide the high standard of living that Americans should look forward to.

I believe that the Democratic Party should and will take on these tough challenges. I believe we can do it. We can reverse high energy costs, and we can become energy independent and break our addiction to foreign oil which is undermining our economy and our security. I believe we can make quality health care more affordable and available for every single American. I believe we can make the investments today in both the public and the private sector that will promote high-paying quality jobs and will ensure that American business can compete in the global marketplace not by engaging in a race to the bottom where people are paid wages they cannot live on but my lifting up our economic sights and making the investments that will make us richer and stronger.

And I believe we can defeat terrorism, secure our homeland, and make Americans feel safe again by leveling with the American people, telling them the truth, and pursuing strategies that will actually work, not just platitudes and rhetoric that are not working. Now that all sounds good, but how do we do it? Well, I think we start by getting back to performance-based politics and evidence-based decision making. Getting back to a government that listens to the American people, hears their concerns, cares enough to seek out the facts and is willing to work together across party lines from one end of the country to the other to find practical solutions to the problems that we face.

Now, let's take some of these problems we face. Energy's a perfect example. We have a short-term problem: helping people pay their bills, and that will be particularly important this winter. Because at least in my state there are a lot people who are going to have to pay hundreds of dollars more to heat their homes. And we're going to have to help them. The price of national gas has tripled in the past months and families can expect to spend 30-50% more just to heat their houses.

But we also have a long-term problem. Economic development in China and India and elsewhere means that we are competing for oil and other scarce natural resources. That competition is driving prices higher and higher. And we have increasing evidence, from scientific findings to brutal storms, that we are warming the planet at a rate that can endanger the futures of our children and grandchildren.

These problems will not go away by ignoring them. They certainly will not go away by forming secret energy task forces. But they can be addressed if we roll up our sleeves and go to work together. It will take new technologies and new priorities, but we can do this. We have always, in America, led the way in virtually every new technology, from telephones to electric lights to the personal computer to new miracle drugs. We not only can be, we must be leaders in the energy revolution. We can make better investments in alternative energy. We can make better use of the coal that comes right from Kentucky. We can invest not only in clean coal but in solar and in wind, in fuel cells, biofuels and so much else.

One idea that I've proposed is to establish a strategic energy fund. Now I know you've seen the same news I have. The oil companies have made more profits in the past three quarters than any companies in the history of the world have ever made. One of them, Exxon, in the last quarter made nearly $10 billion in profits. Well, I think we ought to ask these oil companies to be part of America's energy solution. Have them invest in new technologies that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And if they don't want to do it voluntarily, have them put some of those amazing profits into a strategic energy fund, and we will do it by giving it to people who are willing to make the investments in clean coal, in solar, in wind, in all of the other new technologies.

You know sometimes when I listen to the Republicans in Washington talk about energy, I don't know what country I'm in. I can't tell exactly why they believe we are incapable of taking these steps that will help us conserve energy and be stronger in the future. If they won't make the hard decisions, I have an answer: let's elect Democrats, and we can begin to make those decisions and get ourselves on the right track for an energy future.

You know, the same thing is true about healthcare. Now this, as you know, is a subject that I've had some experience with. And I still have the scars to show for it. But I am not sorry that we tried twelve years ago to make sure we provided health care that was affordable and of high quality and available to every American. And in fact, we have the same problems we had back then, don't we? In fact we have more uninsured people and health care premiums are going up by double digit inflation. A twenty percent jump in the past two years.

So we still have the problems we tried unsuccessfully to address back in '93 and '94, and now we have new problems. Let me just name two. One is that with all this wonderful work that is being done on the human genome, and we're finding out about all the ways we're susceptible to diseases and what we need to do to protect ourselves. That's amazing and exciting. But it's going to make all of us uninsurable. Because when we know what our true genetic makeup is, every one of us is going to be susceptible for something. So how are we going to do that if we exempt pre-existing conditions - those are the absolute definition of pre-existing conditions. So how are we going to insure ourselves?

A second problem is that because of global competition American companies are finding it harder and harder to compete. And I don't blame the companies. They're in a tough global, competitive race. They're expected to provide health care. And most of them are not only providing health care to their existing employees, but to retirees as well. How can they compete against companies in countries like China that don't pay decent wages by our standards and don't provide health care? And how can they compete against companies in countries where everybody has to contribute, and there are no freeloaders in the system? You know, recently Toyota announced they were going to build their next big manufacturing plant in Canada because health care costs were too high across the border in America.

So we have a short-term problem and a long-term problem. Now in the short-term I believe, and I have worked to pass legislation which I passed through the Senate just a few weeks ago, that we should have more health information technology that will give us better information about health care, give everyone one of us a safe, secure, confidential electronic medical record, enable us to learn more about how to take better care of ourselves, reduce medical errors, improve the quality of care, and give us at least a fighting chance to save billions of dollars in our system. And I'm very proud of the fact that in spite of the bitterness and the partisanship in Washington, we were able to get this done in a bipartisan way.

But you know as well as I do that to fix health care is going to require more than just computerizing it. We've got to figure out how to help people afford health care. There are many common sense ideas around. Why not let early retirees buy into Medicare? Why not let families buy into the federal government's health care system? After all, you pay for, and it's a pretty good system, I can tell you. Why not help small businesses band together to negotiate for lower prices so that they can afford to provide health care for themselves? Why not renegotiate the Medicare prescription drug benefit so that, number one, it's understandable, and people actually know what they're buying when they sign up for one of those plans that comes in the mail? And number two, why don't we let Medicare negotiate for lower prices the way the Veteran's Administration was able to do starting in the Clinton Administration?

But it's not only the health care system that's at risk, the health of our economy is also at risk. We've gone from record surpluses to record deficits. Now you know, when I first got to the Senate, January of 2001, I quickly realized that the new administration wanted to undo everything my husband had done. And I admit I took that kind of personally. Because I thought we'd a few good things for America in those eight years. But I quickly realized that they wanted to undo most of the 20th century, so that's what we're really up against.

But just think, in a short period of time, we have not only piled up a massive debt for our children and our grandchildren, but we have surrendered our fiscal sovereignty to foreign capitals and foreign bankers. Every single month, we have to borrow 60 billion dollars. And where do we get that? We get it from Beijing and Seoul and Tokyo and Riyadh. And when I travel around upstate New York, and a factory worker whose factory has just been closed and the equipment has been carted off to China or India or someplace overseas and that person who's worked in that factory for decades looks and me and says, "I don't understand Senator, why can't we get tough with the Chinese? They don't follow the trade rules, they don't enforce the law." And I say, "Well, how do you get tough with your banker?" If you ever wonder why this administration can't get tough on China remember, they have to borrow money to feed that debt that they have exploded in the last four years to provide tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

And apparently they're not finished yet. You know, they take a victory lap when the deficit is 300 billion instead of 400 billion. They're pushing an economic plan right now in Washington that is cutting health care, cutting education, cutting so many of the important programs that so many of your communities and so many of the people who live here rely on in order to fund even more tax cuts. An interesting historical fact: this president is the first president in American history who has ever taken our country to war and cut taxes at the same time. And, amazingly, they want to give even more tax breaks to the wealthy. And then they want to try to conceal and reduce the impact by raising the cost of college loans. By cutting child care to working families. By imposing new burdens on Medicare and people on Medicaid. The President's discovery of poverty in front of a cathedral in New Orleans hasn't even lasted 90 days. Instead we're back to Republican business as usual. Cut taxes for the wealthy. Favor the privileged. And let everyone else fend for themselves.

That is not what is best about America. These economic policies of theirs defy both arithmetic and reality, and it's time that we got back to a conservative fiscal policy that pays as you go, doesn't spend what you don't have, produces balanced budgets and surpluses that will enable us to take care of the problems in the future.

You know there's a lot of talk about conservative and liberal. I don't know. I was raised by a father who was a small businessman, who didn't believe in credit cards. Didn't even believe in mortgages, saved up the money so he could buy that house that I grew up in. What is conservative about spending ourselves into this deep deficit? When you leave here tonight and you go back home, I want you to ask your friends, especially your Republican friends, what does it mean to be conservative if you cannot conserve the money that the people entrust you with, you cannot conserve the environment that you have inherited from God's creation, you cannot conserve that values that made America special in the eyes of the world?

We have a lot of work to do, but we should not take a backseat to anyone when it comes to the values that make America strong and that the Democratic Party stands for. And we cannot have a strong country if we do not have our fiscal house in order. So let's be clear. You don't strengthen the middle class by cutting wages. You don't strengthen the middles class by weakening unions with so-called "right to work" laws. You don't strengthen the middle class by blocking an increase in the minimum wage for the last 10 years.

Finally, let me say a word about real security. I was senator from New York on 9/11, and I have spent more time than I care to remember with victims, families, people who lost everything. And in my work on the Senate Armed Services committee I have pursued a comprehensive security agenda. To increase our homeland security through strengthening our border security. Through making sure that we could test cargoes coming into our ports and being loaded into our airports and protecting mass transit and looking at the world as a dangerous place that we had to be prepared to defend. I worked to oppose the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran, both of whom pose a terrible threat to the entire world. I've supported the containment and destruction of weapons of mass destruction and to keep them out of the hands of rogue states and terrorist groups. It's been important to stress the work of intelligence agents here at home and around the world as they attempt to break up terrorist cells, arrest and detain people before they can inflict harm from London to Madrid, to Bali, Indonesia and all places in between.

And I've worked hard to make sure that our mission in Afghanistan was successful. Remember, that is where the attack on us originated. And it is important that we not forget there is unfinished work there. To support the democratically elected government. To finally root out the Taliban and eliminate bin Laden and al Qaeda.

I also want to say that, with respect to Iraq, that first and foremost I know I speak for everyone hear when I express our deep and profound gratitude to the men and women of our armed forces. I have been honored to meet with them twice in Iraq, and because New York is the home to the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum - the most deployed division in our Army - I've met them in New York, active duty, guard and reserve. They are the best we have, and they honor our country every day with their courage, their selfless dedication and their success in the battles we send them to fight. But the time has come for the administration to stop serving up platitudes and present a plan for finishing this war with success and honor.

Now, I reject a ridged time table that the terrorists can exploit and I reject an open time table that has no ending to it. Instead I think we need a plan for winning and concluding this war, and the President can begin by taking responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of this war. And it is past time for the President, the Vice President, and anyone associated with them to stop impugning the patriotism of their critics. We know that criticism should not be confused with softness against terrorists, with inadequate support for Democracy or support for our troops. In fact criticism, in this country, is a hallmark of our Democracy and the highest form of patriotism.

I recently returned from visiting Israel and Jordan. My husband and I went to Jordan, and we saw first hand the tragedy of the suicide bombers that attacked the hotels in Amman, Jordan. Just imagine, suicide bombers went into a wedding party, a place of joy and celebration, and reeked death and mayhem. As a New Yorker I believe that America has a special bond with the victims of terrorism, and we understand the need to fight terrorism anywhere and everywhere. But we also know that if we do not have a clear plan in Iraq, we will not be able to focus our resources in the right ways to prevent terrorism from spreading.

America has a big job to do now. We must set reasonable goals to finish what we started and successfully turn over Iraqi security to Iraqis. The elections on December 15 will give us a chance to work with a government that is truly elected to represent all of the Iraqi people. We must deny terrorists the prize they seek in Iraq, and we must repair the damage to our reputation. We must reform our intelligence system so we never go to war on false premises again. We must repair the breech with the Muslim world and we must again work to create international alliances because we cannot win the war against terrorism unless we have more friends than enemies.

I hope these upcoming elections are a true expression of Democracy, one that is committed to majority rule, minority rights, women's rights and the basic rule of law. If these elections succeed we should be able to start drawing down our troops. But we will also have to have a plan to help secure the country and the region with a smaller number of troops available on an as needed basis. And I call on the President, both for such a plan and for a full and honest accounting on the failures of intelligence and their use, something that we owe particularly to those Americans who have been killed and wounded in action, and to their families, and to all the American people.

In order to wage and win the war against terrorism we have to make sure we apply America's best values and effective strategies. We have to do what is both right and smart in the war against terrorists. That means repudiating torture, which undermines America's values. And that means rejecting the Administrations doctrine of preemptive war and their preference of going it alone rather than building real international support. I say this because I know when America leads with its values and fearlessly faces the facts, we do make the best decisions. That is what is missing at the highest levels of our government now and what we desperately need.

This is true across the board. We saw it most disgracefully in the failure of response to Katrina. Every one of us, four years after 9/11, should have expected our government to have been better prepared. Yet despite this obvious failure by the Bush Administration, Republicans in Congress, under pressure from the Administration, continue to block the independent Katrina commission that I have proposed. I don't believe we should go into the future confronting either man-made or natural disasters without knowing what went wrong and how we can fix it, and I hope eventually we will get bipartisan support to have such an investigation to give us the answers that not only the people on the Gulf Coast but everyone, from Louisiana to Kentucky to New York deserves to have.

You know, lately I find myself saying that Washington is being turned into an evidence-free zone. We don't investigate or learn from our failures. The FDA makes important health decisions based on politics instead of science. We are told global warming poses no threat. We have evidence that our heath care system is broken, that our education system is failing our young people, and yet it's denied and ignored. America can and must do better than what we see right now. You know it here in Kentucky. You see jobs like, the loss of jobs at Carrhart and too many others that are being outsourced; we don't' have a policy to keep jobs in America. We don't have a strategic economic plan to be competitive. This administration just basically lets whatever happens happen. And if we don't get back on a track where we look at the facts, where we evaluate the evidence, where we address these problems, then I do worry that the America I grew up in - the America I love - will no longer be the America we see.

We are in a struggle for the soul and future of our country, and for too long Democrats have been overwhelmed by the assertiveness, by the negative campaigning, by the personal attacks from the other side. We are ready to go forth and fight to take back our country starting at the courthouse, going to the state house, going to the Congress, going to the White House, because we love this country and we want it back on the right track. So let's be united. Let's fight for the changes we know will work. Let's reach out and bring more people into this party. I'm a Democrat and I'm proud of it, but let's reach out to Republicans and independents who know better than what is happening. Let's tell them that we are the true people of compassion, that we have the practical progressive solutions to the problems facing America, and if we do that we will be the leaders for the future.

Democrats have only been out of power completely in Washington for four years, it may feel like a lifetime but its only four years. And I think in those four years we've learned some valuable lessons. We've learned that when you're attacked untruthfully, you fight back and you counter attack and you deck your opponent with the truth.

So finally, I'm both optimistic and realistic. Optimistic because I believe that we can win and we will win, realistic enough to know that the other side is not going to go gently into that good night. They understand power, and they want to keep it. They like giving tax cuts to millionaires. We have to not only share our vision and our values, but our plans for the future, our specific ideas about how we can do better. And then I'm optimistic again because I trust the American people. I believe that the uncertainty and the insecurity that is eating at so many of our fellow Americans will manifest itself in positive action, political action, if we give them a chance to do so.

This is an extraordinary outpouring. I don't think that there's ever been a bigger gathering of Democrats, there's some people who might have said there weren't this many Democrats left in Kentucky. But I know better and so do you. Look around this great audience. Look all these counties represented; sign up for the hard work ahead. We can make a difference. We can elect Democrats, and when we elect Democrats we elect a better future for America. Thank you, and God bless you.



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