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The Old School Joe Lieberman

By Garance Franke-Ruta
Independent Conn. Sen. Joe Lieberman will address the 2008 Republican National Convention tonight, capping a remarkable journey in the realm of presidential politics that began with his 2000 address to the Democratic National Convention accepting the post of Al Gore's vice presidential running mate.

A transcript of his 2000 remarks follows (videos can be viewed at CNN); his 2004 Democratic convention remarks can be read here.

CAMPAIGN 2000: SENATOR LIEBERMAN DELIVERS ACCEPTANCE SPEECH AT THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

AUGUST 16, 2000

SPEAKER: U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

LIEBERMAN: Thank you friends.

AUDIENCE: Joe. Joe. Joe.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you. Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you. (APPLAUSE)

Thank you so very much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Jenny (ph).

(APPLAUSE)

Is America a great country or what?

(APPLAUSE)

Yes it is. God bless America, land that we love.

(APPLAUSE)

Dear friends, 10 days ago, with courage and with friendship, Al Gore asked me to be his running mate.

(APPLAUSE)

And I don't have to tell you that this has been a most extraordinary week for my family and me. There's an old saying that behind every successful man there's a surprised mother-in-law.

(LAUGHTER)

Well...

(APPLAUSE)

Well, I can tell you, that this week, that's been particularly true.

(LAUGHTER)

I want to thank the daughter of my mother-in-law. The woman who just introduced me.

(APPLAUSE)

Isn't she great?

(APPLAUSE)

Hadassah, even before Al Gore made me his running mate, you made me the luckiest guy in the world.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: I am so fortunate to have you by my side on this journey. And I thank you, sweetheart, for everything you mean to me.

(APPLAUSE)

That miraculous journey begins here and now. Tonight I am so proud to stand as your candidate for vice president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe. Joe.

LIEBERMAN: Only in America, right? Only in America.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: We want Joe. We want Joe. We want Joe.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, dear friends.

I am humbled by this nomination and so grateful to Al Gore for choosing me. And I want you to know tonight that I will work my heart out to make Al Gore the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: As I stand here before you tonight, blessed to have the opportunity I have, I know that we have become the America that so many of our parents dreamed for us.

But the great question this year is what will we dream for our country, and how will we make it come true?

We who gather here tonight believe, as Al Gore has said, that it's not just the size of our national feast that's important, no, but the number of people we can fit around the table. There must be room for everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

As every faith teaches us -- as every faith teaches us and as presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan to Clinton have reminded us, we must, as Americans, try to see our nation not just through our eyes, but through the eyes of others.

In my life, I've seen the goodness of this great country through many sets of eyes. I've seen it through the eyes of my grandmother. She was raised in Central Europe, in a village where she was often harassed just because of the way she worshipped God. And then she emigrated to America.

LIEBERMAN: On Saturdays, she used to walk to synagogue, and her Christian neighbors would pass her and say, "Good Sabbath, Mrs. Manger (ph)." Well, it was a source of endless delight and gratitude for her that here in this country she was accepted for who she was.

(APPLAUSE)

And I've seen America through the eyes of my parents, Henry and Marcia Lieberman. My dad lived in an orphanage when he was a child. He went on to work on a bakery truck and then owned a package store in Stamford, Connecticut. He taught my sisters and me the importance of work and responsibility. With my mother by his side, he saw me become the first person in my family to graduate from college.

My mom is here tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

Mom is 85 years old, but I'll tell you, she never felt younger than she feels today.

(APPLAUSE)

Mom, thank you, I love you. And you and I know how proud Pop would be tonight.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mom.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, we do love you, Mom.

(APPLAUSE)

And I've also tried to see America through the eyes of people I've been privileged to know. In the early 1960s, when I was a college student, I walked with Martin Luther King in the march on Washington for jobs and freedom.

(APPLAUSE)

That was my honor. That was my opportunity.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: And later that fall, I went to Mississippi where we worked to register African-Americans to vote.

(APPLAUSE)

The people I met never forgot that in America every time a barrier is broken, the doors of open opportunity go wider for every single one of us. And I know that in a very personal way tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

And I've tried to see America through the eyes of families who had the deck stacked against them, but fought back.

As Connecticut's attorney general, I worked to be the people's lawyer. I went after polluters who were spoiling our water and our air.

(APPLAUSE)

I stood with single moms to go after deadbeat dads.

(APPLAUSE)

And you know what? We even sued oil companies who were trying to gouge consumers at the pump.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Go Joe. Go Joe. Go Joe.

LIEBERMAN: And -- thank you. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Go Joe. Go Joe. Go Joe.

LIEBERMAN: We're going to go, right to the White House for a better America.

AUDIENCE: Go Joe, go. Go Joe, go. Go Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: I've also seen America through the eyes of my wife and her parents. By now, most of you probably know Hadassah's story. Her family was literally saved by the greatest generation of American GIs who liberated the concentration camps.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: We could never express our gratitude enough to them.

And then her parents escaped communism and were welcomed as immigrants to America and given a new life here. The fact that half a century later their daughter would be standing on this stage is a testament to the continuing power of the American dream.

(APPLAUSE)

And in my life -- in my life I have also tried to see this world through the eyes of those who have suffered discrimination. And that's why I believe that the time has come to tear down the remaining walls of discrimination in this nation, walls of discrimination based on race and gender and sexual orientation.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will. Together we will.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

And that also...

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

And that also is why I continue to say, when it comes to affirmative action, mend it but please don't end it.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: You know when we see the world through the other -- through the eyes of other people, you understand that the smallest changes can make the biggest differences in all of our lives. That's something I'm really sorry to say I don't think our Republican friends really understand.

(APPLAUSE)

You know they're fond of dismissing the achievements -- the extraordinary achievements of the past eight years. But I'll tell you at the end of the day, the people I talk with, the real people on the street, tell me that their lives are a lot better than they were eight years ago...

(APPLAUSE)

... and they want it to continue.

(APPLAUSE)

They want the prosperity to continue.

Thank you.

Our opponents are decent and they are likable men. I'm proud to call many in their party my friends. But America must understand there are very real differences between us in this election.

Two weeks ago, our Republican friends actually tried to walk and talk a lot like us.

(LAUGHTER)

LIEBERMAN: Did you notice? Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, let's be honest about this. We may be near Hollywood tonight, but not since Tom Hanks won an Oscar has there been that much acting in Philadelphia.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

It's the truth.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: You bet. I'm going to keep going.

Now look, I'm glad that the GOP has changed their rhetoric. But, you know what? I wish they'd also change their policies.

(APPLAUSE)

As my dear friend John McCain might say -- and let me say, great man John McCain, you are in our prayers here in this hall tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

You're a great fighter, and you're going to win the fight you're waging now.

As John McCain might say, "Let me do a little straight talking right now."

LIEBERMAN: You know, I think it's a good thing that our opponent talks about the environment. But I'm sad to say that in Texas, the quality of the air and water is some of the worst in America.

We see the environment through a different set of eyes. For more than 20 years, Al Gore has been a leader in protecting our environment.

(APPLAUSE)

And I promise you that we will continue the work that he and I have done together to keep our air, water and land clean. We're going to work to make sure that a child can drink a glass of water, a father can fish in a stream and a family can go to a park without having to worry that their health or safety is at risk. I make you that promise tonight.

(APPLAUSE)

And look, it's a good thing that our opponent is talking about health care. But I'm sad to say that Texas is also falling behind on that. You know, Texas led the nation in the percentage of residents who did not have insurance. And today, it ranks next to last for health insurance for both women and children.

We see health care with a different set of eyes.

LIEBERMAN: We know that health care is one of the most important problems facing America's family today. We believe that medical decisions should be made doctors, not bureaucrats.

(APPLAUSE)

We believe that -- we believe that senior citizens should not be stopped from filling a prescription in this great country of ours because they can't afford to pay for it. And I tell you tonight that Al Gore and I are the only candidates in this race who will extend access to health care coverage to every single child in America.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: And, you know, I think it's a good thing also that our opponent talks about education. Schools need to be held to the highest standards of performance and accountability. But I'm sad to say that their plan just doesn't provide the resources our schools need to meet those high standards.

You know, sometimes it seems to me like their idea of school modernization means buying a new calendar for every school building.

(LAUGHTER)

LIEBERMAN: We see education through a very different set of eyes. We are committed to making America's public schools the very best in the world. We're committed...

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to target more education funding to the schools that need it most to rebuild and modernize our crumbling classrooms, and to provide all of our children -- all of God's children, with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century.

(APPLAUSE)

And my friends, we're going to do one other thing that our Republican friends will simply not do. We're going to treat the people who teach our children like the professionals that they are.

(APPLAUSE)

No one does a more important job in our country today than a good teacher of our children.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, look...

AUDIENCE: Joe. Joe. Joe.

LIEBERMAN: ... look, in the end...

AUDIENCE: Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you. Thank you.

In the end, this is a question of priorities. This is a question of priorities and choices. Our opponents want to use America's hard- earned surplus to give a tax break to those who need it least at the expense of all of our other needs.

LIEBERMAN: Under their plan, the middle class gets a little and the wealthy get an awful lot.

As a matter of fact, their tax plan operates under that old theory that the best way to feed the birds is to give more oats to the horse.

(LAUGHTER)

Think about that.

(APPLAUSE)

We see -- we see America's hard-earned surplus through a very different set of eyes, the eyes of working middle-class families. We want to use America's hard-earned success to preserve the future of Social Security and Medicare, to pay off our national debt, to cut the taxes of middle class families. We want to make the investments that will keep our economy moving forward.

My friends, it is this simple. We Democrats will expand the prosperity. They will squander it.

(APPLAUSE)

And let me say one other thing about the difference between our parties in this election. This party will reform our campaign finance laws. Because it's only Al Gore, and not George Bush, who will send the McCain-Feingold bill to Congress and sign it when it's passed.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: Now let me just speak to those of you at home who've not made up your mind yet about how you're going to vote in this election. And I hope you'll think of it this way. If you want to build on our prosperity, if you want progress not partisanship in Washington, if you want to reform the system and not retreat from the problems, then I respectfully say to you your choice is clear. Al Gore and I are the guys who are ready to do the job.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: My friends, I have known Al -- I've known Al for 15 years now. I know his record and I know his heart.

LIEBERMAN: I know him as a public servant, and I know what it's like to sit with him around the dining room table. We have discussed -- often debated policy issues. And we've also shared private moments of prayer. I can tell you that Al Gore is a man of family and a man of faith, a father and now a grandfather.

I remember that when my youngest daughter, Hani, was 6, after spending some time with Al, she looked at me and said, "He must be a daddy." And she was right.

Al Gore is also a man of courage and conviction. He believes in service to America. He volunteered for Vietnam.

(APPLAUSE)

Together Al and I crossed party lines to support the Gulf War. I was there in the room...

(APPLAUSE)

... I was there in the room when I heard him forcefully argue that America's principles and interests were at stake in Bosnia and Kosovo.

(APPLAUSE)

And that wasn't easy. He had the guts to do it.

Two weeks ago, our opponent claimed that America has a hollow military. I must tell you that that made me angry. America -- America, you know better than that.

LIEBERMAN: Our fighting men and women are the best-trained, best-equipped, most powerful fighting force in the history of the world, and they will stay that way when Al Gore and I are elected.

(APPLAUSE)

You can count on it.

(APPLAUSE)

And Al Gore -- Al is also a man of vision and a man of values. Long before it became popular, you know, Al and Tipper led a crusade to renew the moral center of this nation; to call America to its highest ideals. He knows that many Americans have a swelling sense that our standards of decency and civility have eroded.

And he believes, as I do, that no parent in America should be forced to compete with popular culture to raise their children.

(APPLAUSE)

For his entire career, Al Gore's values have guided the way he meets the challenges that lie ahead. That's why I hope that you will conclude -- you at home -- as I have, that for his honesty, for his strength, for his integrity and for his character, Al Gore must become the next president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go. Go, Joe, go.

LIEBERMAN: It was 40 years ago, when we came to this city, and together crossed a New Frontier, with a leader who inspired me and so many others in my generation into public service.

LIEBERMAN: Today we return to this same great city, with prosperity at home and freedom throughout the world that John F. Kennedy could only have dreamed about.

We may wonder tonight where the next frontier really is. Tonight, I believe the next frontier isn't just in front of us, but inside of us: to overcome the differences that are still between us, to break down the barriers that remain and to help every American claim the possibilities of their own God-given lives.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, sometimes I try to see this world as my dad saw it from that bakery truck. Right about this time of day, he'd be getting ready for the all-night run.

And I know that somewhere in America right now, there's another father loading another bakery truck, or a young woman programming a computer, or a parent dreaming of a better future for their daughter or their son. My friends, if we keep the faith, then 40 years from now, one of their children will stand before a gathering like this, as I am tonight, with the chance that I have to serve and lead this great country that we love so dearly.

(APPLAUSE)

LIEBERMAN: That's what America is about.

(APPLAUSE)

So let us work together to make sure that they will be able to look back to this time and this stage and this place and say of our generation, they kept the faith.

(APPLAUSE)

Let them say that we helped them realize their hopes and their dreams. And let them look around at this great and good nation that we are all so blessed by God to share and say, only in America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you.

END

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 2, 2008; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Conventions , Primary Source  
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Next: Leonard Downie Jr. On Politics and Conventions

Comments

Lieberman should leave office; go work in the private sector lobbying for more aid/protection for Israel.

I always thought he was an American citizen (served one of the 50 states in the U.S.).

Yeah, right.

Hopefully, the Dems can tell him to beat it in '09 (we don't need your vote any longer).

Posted by: ssanford00 | September 2, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

leibermann sounds like a cartoon character

Posted by: steve | September 2, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How worthless is Lieberman? Democrats hate him. So do Republicans -- it is outrage over the possibility of Lieberman as McCain's running mate that drove McCain to Sarah Palin. Let's just hope that Joe does for McCain what he did for Al Gore -- put him in the toilet.

Far more telling than Lieberman's presence is the absence of giants of the Republican Party who command universal respect -- e.g. Richard Lugar, Chuck Hegel. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger.

McCain doesn't have the support of his own party.

Posted by: mnjam | September 2, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Wonder why Guiliani is bumped off from schedule of RNC convention tonight?

Is it because of his infamous general practice of questionable 'sweetheart exchange deals' that may be illegitimate and or criminal?

For example, it is alleged that during the 90's, NYC Mayor Guiliani lessened felons' jail times in exchange for crimes committed on his behalf without public scrutiny or suspect while he enjoyed the publicity of crimefighter.

Did anyone hear whether his protege Bernard Kerik, ex-NYPD commissioner got 140 years of jail time for his mob-related activities?

Will ex-mayor Guiliani get Kerik to commit one of his own crimes/murders in exchange to lessen Kerik's 140 years of jail time?

If so, wonder which opponent is Guiliani targeting today and how? Car tampering and accident? A gun shot? Food tampering?

And would Kerik utilize his mob ties to do it?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 2, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Another Question - Should we have a VP pick who is under ethics investigation? It seems as if that would be a Disqualifier!

If Barack was under investigation or Biden they would crucify them.

To me that seems very damming to be under investigation and a disqualifer for the V.P. job

Posted by: Angellight | September 2, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Talk about someone with dual loyalties. I think LIEberman believes Americans want more for Israelis than we want for ourselves. Hey Joe: you can't serve two masters without loving one and hating the other.

Posted by: Kevin | September 2, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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