‘The best choice to bring our coun­try to­gether’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

The fol­low­ing are re­marks as pre­pared for de­liv­ery to the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion on Sept. 2 by by Sen. Joe Lieber­man, Con­necti­cut In­de­pen­dent:

Thank you for that warm wel­come. I am hon­ored to be here.

We meet tonight in the wake of a ter­ri­ble storm that has hit the Gulf Coast but that hurts all of us, be­cause we are all mem­bers of our larger Amer­i­can fam­ily.

At times like this, we set aside all that di­vides us, and we come to­gether to help our fel­low cit­i­zens in need.

What mat­ters is cer­tainly not whether we are Democrats or Repub­li­cans, but that we are all Amer­i­cans.

The truth is, it shouldn’t take a hur­ri­cane to bring us to­gether like this.

Ev­ery day, across our coun­try, mil­lions of our fel­low cit­i­zens are fac­ing huge prob­lems.

They are wor­ried about their homes, their jobs, and their busi­nesses; they are wor­ried about the ou­tra­geous cost of gas and of health in­sur­ance; and they are wor­ried about the threats from our en­e­mies abroad.

But when they look to Wash­ing­ton, all too of­ten they do not see their leaders com­ing to­gether to tackle th­ese prob­lems.

In­stead they see Democrats and Repub­li­cans fight­ing each other, rather than fight­ing for the Amer­i­can peo­ple.

Our found­ing fathers fore­saw the dan­ger of this kind of sense­less par­ti­san­ship. Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton him­self — in his farewell ad­dress to our coun­try — warned that the “spirit of party” is “the worst en­emy” of our democ­racy and “en­fee­bles” our gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to do its job.

Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton was ab­so­lutely right. The sad truth is — to­day we are liv­ing through his worst night­mare, in the cap­i­tal city that bears his name.

And that brings me di­rectly to why I am here tonight. What, af­ter all, is a Demo­crat like me do­ing at a Repub­li­can con­ven­tion like this? The an­swer is sim­ple. I’m here to sup­port John McCain be­cause coun­try mat­ters more than party.

I’m here tonight be­cause John McCain is the best choice to bring our coun­try to­gether and lead our coun­try for­ward.

I’m here be­cause John McCain’s whole life tes­ti­fies to a great truth: be­ing a Demo­crat or a Repub­li­can is im­por­tant.

But it is not more im­por­tant than be­ing an Amer­i­can.

Both pres­i­den­tial candidates this year talk about chang­ing the cul­ture of Wash­ing­ton, about break­ing through the par­ti­san grid­lock and spe­cial in­ter­ests that are poi­son­ing our pol­i­tics.

But only one of them has ac­tu­ally done it.

Only one leader has shown the courage and the ca­pa­bil­ity to rise above the small­ness of our pol­i­tics to get big things done for our coun­try and our peo­ple.

And that leader is John McCain!

John un­der­stands that it shouldn’t take a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter like Hur­ri­cane Gus­tav to get us to take off our par­ti­san blin­ders and work to­gether to get things done.

It shouldn’t take a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter to teach us that the Amer­i­can peo­ple don’t care much if you have an “R” or a “D” af­ter your name.

What they care about is, are we solv­ing the prob­lems they are up against ev­ery day?

What you can ex­pect from John McCain as pres­i­dent is pre­cisely what he has done this week: which is to put coun­try first. That is the code by which he has lived his en­tire life, and that is the code he will carry with him into the White House.

I have per­son­ally seen John, over and over again, bring peo­ple to­gether from both par­ties to tackle our tough­est prob­lems we face — to re­form our cam­paign fi­nance, lob­by­ing and ethics laws, to cre­ate the 9/11 Com­mis­sion and pass its crit­i­cal na­tional se­cu­rity re­forms, and to end the par­ti­san paral­y­sis over ju­di­cial con­fir­ma­tions.

My Demo­cratic friends know all about John’s record of in­de­pen­dence and ac­com­plish­ment.

Maybe that’s why some of them are spending so much time and so much money try­ing to con­vince vot­ers that John McCain is some- one else.

I’m here, as a Demo­crat my­self, to tell you: Don’t be fooled.

God only made one John McCain, and he is his own man.

If John McCain was just an­other go-along par­ti­san politi­cian, he never would have taken on cor­rupt Repub­li­can lob­by­ists, or big cor­po­ra­tions that were cheat­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple, or pow­er­ful col­leagues in Congress who were wast­ing tax­payer money. But he did! If John McCain was just an­other go-along par­ti­san politi­cian, he never would have led the fight to fix our bro­ken im­mi­gra­tion sys- tem or to do some­thing about global warm­ing. But he did! As a mat­ter of fact, if John McCain is just an­other par­ti­san Repub­li­can, then I’m Michael Moore’s fa­vorite Demo­crat. And I’m not. Sen. Obama is a gifted and elo­quent young man who can do great things for our coun­try in the years ahead. But elo­quence is no sub­sti­tute for a record — not in th­ese tough times.

In the Se­nate he has not reached across party lines to get any­thing sig­nif­i­cant done, nor has he been will­ing to take on pow­er­ful in­ter­est groups in the Demo­cratic Party.

Con­trast that to John McCain’s record, or the record of the last Demo­cratic pres­i­dent, Bill Clin­ton, who stood up to some of those same Demo­cratic in­ter­est groups and worked with Repub­li­cans to get im­por­tant things done like wel­fare re­form, free trade agree- ments, and a bal­anced bud­get.

Gov­er­nor Sarah Palin, like John McCain, is a re­former who has taken on the spe­cial in­ter­ests and reached across party lines. She is a leader we can count on to help John shake up Wash­ing­ton.

That’s why the McCain-Palin ticket is the real ticket for change this year.

The Wash­ing­ton bu­reau­crats and power bro­kers can’t build a pen strong enough to hold th­ese two mav­er­icks.

And to­gether, you can count on John McCain and Sarah Palin to fight for Amer­ica and to fight for you! And that’s what our coun­try needs most right now.

What we need most is not more party unity in Amer­ica but more na­tional unity!

Es­pe­cially at a time of war, we need a pres­i­dent we can count on to fight for what’s right for our coun­try — not only when it is easy, but when it is hard.

When oth­ers were si­lent, John McCain had the judg­ment to sound the alarm about the mis­takes we were mak­ing in Iraq. When oth­ers wanted to re­treat in de­feat from the field of bat­tle, when Barack Obama was vot­ing to cut off fund­ing for our troops on the ground, John McCain had the courage to stand against the tide of pub­lic opin­ion and sup­port the surge, and be­cause of that, to­day, our troops are at last beginning to come home, not in fail­ure, but in honor!

Be­fore I con­clude, I ask the in­dul­gence of those in this hall tonight, as I want to speak di­rectly to my fel­low Democrats and in­de­pen­dents who are watch­ing.

I know many of you are an­gry and frus­trated by our gov­ern­ment and our pol­i­tics and for good rea­son.

You may be think­ing of vot­ing for John McCain but you’re not sure. Some of you have never voted for a Repub­li­can be­fore and in an or­di­nary elec­tion, you prob­a­bly wouldn’t.

But this is no or­di­nary elec­tion, be­cause th­ese are not or­di­nary times, and John McCain is no or­di­nary can­di­date. You may not agree with John McCain on ev­ery is­sue.

But you can al­ways count on him to be straight with you about where he stands, and to stand for what he thinks is right re­gard­less of pol­i­tics.

As pres­i­dent, you can count on John McCain to be a rest­less re­former, who will clean up Wash­ing­ton and get our gov­ern­ment work­ing again for you!

So tonight, I ask you whether you are an in­de­pen­dent, a Rea­gan Demo­crat or a Clin­ton Demo­crat, or just a Demo­crat: This year, when you vote for pres­i­dent, vote for the per­son you be­lieve is best for the coun­try, not for the party you hap­pen to be­long to.

Vote for the leader who, since the age of 17, when he raised his hand and took an oath to de­fend and pro­tect our Con­sti­tu­tion, has al­ways put our coun­try first.

So, let’s come to­gether to make a great Amer­i­can patriot our next great pres­i­dent!

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