John Edwards - Concession Speech

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March 3, 2004

Broughton High School Raleigh, N.C.

Speech Text:

It's good to be home!

Thank you all so much for being here. I have never loved my country more than I do today. You know, the truth is, all my life, America has smiled at me and today I am smiling right back!

More than anything, I love the American people. The people I have listened to; the people I have embraced, the people who made me laugh, inspired me, inspired you. People who made me think. People who have made me reach.

And today, I see their faces. I see the faces of the men and women who worked in the mill in Robbins, North Carolina—the mill my father worked in, the mill I worked in. I can picture their faces as clear as they are in front of me right now, lint in their hair an grease on their faces, men and women who represent the best of what America is.

They went to work day after day, decade after decade in the mill because they believed that if they worked hard and did what was right, they could build a better life for themselves and their families.

I see the faces of the workers at Tower Automotive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are wondering where do they go after the doors to their factory close? What do they do? Have they not done the right things in America? Have they not worked hard, been responsible, raised their kids? Where do they go now and will they have a president and an administration who understands their lives and who will stand up for them?

I see the faces of the young men and women that I met in Afghanistan, at night. They are proud of their country, proud of serving their country, but worried about their families back home. They are worried about what would happen when they went back.

I see the men and women at Page Belting in Concord, New Hampshire who wonder if anyone understands the struggles that they face and most Americans face every day in their lives.

And I also see the earnest, young, wise faces from central high school in Des Moines to Pomona College in California. Young people, looking desperately for inspiration—looking for someone who will lift them up, make them believe again that in our America, with their help, with their energy, and their enthusiasm, everything is possible.

Most of all I see all these faces, turning from skepticism and despair to inspiration and hope, because they believe in this country. They believe in themselves and they know that you and I together are going to change this country, and build one America that works for all of us.

It has been my greatest honor to have walked with you. From the beginning, this has never been my campaign. This has been your campaign. And I am blessed to have been a part of it. And I'm also blessed to be back here at Broughton High School with so many friends and family, members of my community.

Today I've decided to suspend my campaign for the presidency of the United States.

But I want to say a word about a man who is a friend of mine, somebody who I believe has great strength and great courage, my friend Senator John Kerry. He has fought for and will continue to fight for the things that all of us believe in: more jobs, better health care, cleaner air, cleaner water, a safer world. The truth is these are the causes of our party, the Democratic Party. They are the causes of America. And they are the reasons we will prevail, come November, and take back this country.

You know, it wasn't very long ago that all the pundits and pollsters said, by the time we get to “Super Tuesday,” there won't be a John even competing much less fighting for the nomination. And we proved those pundits and pollsters wrong and we are going to prove them all wrong come November when we take back this country.

And I want to say a personal word about my friend John Kerry, who I know very well. This is a man who from the time he served this country courageously in Vietnam, and all the way through this campaign, is a man who is a fighter. I know him. I saw what we went through in November, December, and back in the summer when everyone said he didn't have a chance. But he showed the strength, resilience, and courage that he has shown his entire life when he fought for us and for our country in Vietnam. He has fought just as hard throughout this campaign.

The truth of the matter is that John Kerry has what it takes, right here in his heart, to be president of the United States. And I for one, intend to do everything in my power to make him the next president of the United States, and I ask you to join me in this cause. For our country, for our America!

Somewhere in America a little boy or little girl plays on a sandy lot. It might be in a mill village like where I played. It might be in a barrio, or on a farm, or it might be a vacant lot on a city. We want that child to have big dreams about what he or she can do, where he or she can go.

In this great country, all things should be possible for that child-- as they have been for me.

As I leave this stage today, I leave it to you to make certain that in our American, our children can prosper and dream. This cause, this challenge to change America, belongs to you. You should not step back. You should step up.

It is up to you to make certain that in our American, our children can prosper and reach and dream.

It is up to you to choose a president who will end our two Americas so that every child can have the same chance I had.

It is up to you to make sure that the 35 million Americans living in poverty are never ignored again.

It is up to you to make this generation the generation that grows up in an America that is no longer divided by race.

It is up to you to demand a campaign that is about attacking people’s problems, not politicians attacking one another.

Those of you who cast your votes for me cast your votes for a new kind of politics. You wanted a positive campaign and you got one for a change.

I couldn’t ask for better company today. With the love of my life by my side. To have your life blessed with four beautiful children, and family and friends, you couldn’t ask for anything more.

To my staff and my supporters, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget all of your hard work and all that you did to help change your country. To everyone who gave their time, their heart, and their soul to this campaign, thank you. You deserve nothing short of a huge round of applause!

Like most Americans, in my life, I have learned two great lessons: one that there will always be heartache and struggle, and two, that people of strong will can make a difference. One lesson is sad, and the other is inspiring. And what makes us Americans is that we choose to be inspired

We can change America so that the America I love, the America you love can be again that bright, shining star, that beacon that stirs our hearts when we hear our anthem or see our flag. We can make it so. We are greater and stronger than anything that stands between us and that destiny.

We should never settle for less than our highest aspirations in our leaders and for our country. Because we are America - where all things are possible.

And our message today is this: we want to change America and we will!

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