Thank you so much for your warm welcome. Thank you, Senator Mikulski and all the women senators, who have brought vital voices and fresh perspectives to our public life.
It’s great to be here with my mother and my family and to see so many old friends.
And thank you for supporting my husband, whose visionary leadership and hard work have led America into the 21st Century.
We’re a stronger, better country than we were in 1992.
When Bill, Al, Tipper and I got on that bus after our convention eight years ago, we began a journey that took us through America’s heartland. Along the way we saw faces of hope — but also faces of despair — fathers out of work, mothers trapped on welfare, children with unmet medical needs.
I remember a group of children holding a sign: “Please stop. If you give us eight minutes, we’ll give you eight years.”
Well, we did stop, we did listen. And what an eight years it’s been!
I’m proud to stand here at this extraordinary moment the most peaceful, prosperous, promising time in our nation’s history.
How can we continue America’s progress? By electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the next President and Vice President of the United States!
Even before he was Vice President, I admired Al for his leadership in the Senate; his understanding of the future; his pioneering efforts to fight environmental threats to our children; his work with Tipper to promote responsible parenting — and what great parents the two of them are!
I’ve watched him as Bill’s trusted partner in the White House. Together, they made the hard decisions to renew our economy and our national spirit; to advance democracy and defend freedom around the world.
And I can’t wait to watch Al Gore take the oath of office on January 20th, 2001.
Standing next to him will be his wonderful wife and my dear friend — who inspires us through her work for the homeless and her advocacy on behalf of mental health. Tipper Gore will make a great First Lady.
And, the country has again seen Al Gore’s leadership in his choice of Joe Lieberman.
I first met Joe Lieberman 30 years ago when Bill and I were law students. We saw then what America sees now — a person of uncommon wisdom and integrity. I admire Joe’s work to reduce the violence in our media. And I appreciate his steadfast support for a woman’s right to choose.
With him is his remarkable wife Hadassah, the immigrant daughter of Holocaust survivors. Their story tells our children that in America no dream is beyond our reach.
In 1992, Bill and Al promised to put people first. That simply meant that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours and give them the tools and the opportunities they need to build better lives. That’s the basic bargain at the heart of the American dream.
From a stronger economy to more Americans attending college to a cleaner environment, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have put people first. Not only that, they put children first.
More children lifted out of poverty.
More children receiving Head Start, child care and after school care.
More children than ever getting immunized against disease.
More children whose parents can take family and medical leave to care for them.
And more neglected and abused foster children being adopted into loving, permanent families.
Children like Dianna, who came to a White House ceremony I held spotlighting the needs of children in foster care. Just 12 years old, not much younger than Chelsea at the time, she spent most of her life moving from house to house.
She was so shy she could barely look up as she spoke of her longing for a home and family of her own.
As I listened, I thought: “How can we let any child grow up in our country without a secure and loving home?”
I worked with a bipartisan coalition to help double the number of foster children adopted. And when the President signed the new adoption law, I thought of the first foster child I represented back when I was in law school.
I thought of what my own mother went through as a child, born to teen-age parents who couldn’t take care of her. When she was eight, she and her little sister were sent alone on a train across the country to stay with relatives. At 14, she went to work caring for a family’s children. Her employer was a kind woman who saw her true worth and showed her what a loving family was really like.
And I thought of Dianna, whom I have seen blossom into a beaming, confident young woman because caring parents opened their hearts and home to her. She finally has what every child needs-a family that puts her first.
For me, that’s what it’s all about.
Years ago, when I worked for the Children’s Defense Fund, we had a trademark: Leave no child behind.
We’ve made great progress in the last eight years, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Because when a child can’t go to school without fearing guns and violence — that’s a child left behind. When a child’s illness is not treated because a hard-working parent can’t afford health insurance — that’s a child left behind. When a child struggles to learn in an overcrowded classroom — that’s a child left behind.
Don’t let anyone tell you this election doesn’t matter. The stakes in November are biggest for the littlest among us.
What will it take to make sure no child in America is left behind in the 21st century?
It takes responsible parents who put their own children first.
It takes all of us — teachers, workers, business owners, community leaders and people of faith.
You know, I still believe it takes a village.
And it certainly takes Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
They have what it takes. And they’ll do what it takes.
Over the last eight years, I’ve talked with mothers and fathers on front porches, factory floors and in hospital wards. I’ve seen first-hand the joys and anxieties parents feel when it comes to our children.
I remember a teacher with tears in her eyes because she had only one textbook for a whole classroom. It’s time to give all our students the chance to succeed in the new economy by modernizing our schools, setting high standards, and hiring more qualified teachers.
I’ve held the hands of mothers and fathers who’ve lost their children to gun violence. It’s time to honor their pain by passing commonsense gun safety laws that keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals.
I’ve listened to parents distressed about a culture that too often glorifies violence. Why can’t all of us — including the media — give parents more control over what their children see on T.V., the movies, the Internet, and video games?
I’ve met mothers and fathers who are working full time in fast food restaurants, supermarket check-out lines and other tough jobs, but they’re still poor. It’s time to make the basic bargain work for all Americans by raising the minimum wage, enforcing tough child support laws and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.
And I’ve heard from doctors and nurses who every day see children with illnesses that could have been treated earlier if their parents had been able to afford health insurance.
You may remember I had a few ideas about health care. I’ve learned a few lessons since then. But I haven’t given up on the goal. That’s why we kept working step by step to insure millions more kids through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. And that’s why it’s time to pass a real Patients’ Bill of Rights and provide access to affordable health care for every single child and family in this country.
But we’ll never accomplish what we need to do for our children if we burden them with a debt they didn’t create. Franklin Roosevelt said that Americans of his generation had a rendezvous with destiny. Well, I think our generation has a rendezvous with responsibility. It’s time to protect the next generation by using our budget surplus to pay down the national debt, save Social Security, modernize Medicare with a prescription drug benefit, and provide targeted tax cuts to the families who need them most.
At this moment of great potential, let’s not squander our children’s futures. Let’s elect leaders who will leave no child behind. Leaders who don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk: leaders like Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.
The other day Bill and I were looking at pictures of our daughter from eight years ago, when this journey began. It’s been an amazing 8 years for Chelsea too. And we want to thank the American people for giving her the space to grow.
Bill and I are closing one chapter of our lives — and soon, we’ll be starting a new one.
For me, it will be up to the people of New York to decide whether I’ll have the privilege of serving them in the United States Senate.
I will always be profoundly grateful to all of you and to the American people for the last eight years.
Really, the most important thing that I can say tonight is: Thank you.
Thank you for giving me the most extraordinary opportunity to work here at home and around the world on the issues that matter most to children, women, and families. Thank you for your faith and support in good times — and in bad. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the honor and blessing of a lifetime.
Good night, and God bless you all.