Vice President Al Gore Endorses Gov. Howard Dean
National Black Theater's Institute for Action Arts
Harlem, New York
December 9, 2003


DEAN: Thank you Councilman Perkins, I appreciate your help very much, and your support, annnounced yesterday.  I want to note that we have the Speaker of the City Council here, Gifford Miller.  I don't know where he is but I know he's here; we thank him for being here.  And I also want to note in addition to our special guest that we have Karenna Gore here and we thank you very much for being here as well.

I am deeply grateful to my former roommate Ralph Dawson and all his friends and committee that put this together.  It is great to be back in Harlem and I really appreciate all the community leaders that have come out, and I thank you for your help.

I am of course going to make very brief remarks.  When we set this event up I had absolutely no idea that we were going to have the elected President of the United States here with us today [laughs].  And I am very, very greatful for our special guest.  I am just going to make a few very, very short remarks.

First, I think many of you know that this campaign is about some issues that are important, about jobs in America again, about investing, instead $3 trillion worth of tax cuts to the top 1 percent of Americans.  It's about mass transit and schools and investing in roads and bridges and renewable energy and broadband telecommunication so we can eliminate the digital divide and have jobs all over America.  It's about health insurance for every American.  In my state everybody under 18 has health insurance and if we can do those kinds of things in a small rural state we can do that in the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth.  It's about educational opportunity.  It's about a president who says no child left behind but leaves many children behind.  We're going to change that and this time there really will be no child left behind.  We're going to start right here in Harlem.

But it's also, there's also a much broader theme, and that is a theme to do with community.  When I was 21 years old, it was towards the end of the civil rights movement, and it had been a very difficult time for America.  Martin Luther King had been killed, Bobby Kennedy had been killed and a number of other people including four little girls in a Birmingham church gave their lives so that every American could have equal rights under the law.  But it was also a time of extraordinary hope, a time where we felt like we were all in it together.   That if one person was left behind, then America wasn't as good as it could be or as strong as it should be.   That's the kind of America we want back again; the America Medicare passed the first time, Head Start passed, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court.

A time when it wasn't enough for me as a citizen of Vermont to say I wanted good schools or you as a citizen of New York to say you want good schools.  That I had a responsibility not just to have good schools in Vermont or you to have good schools in New York, but as Americans we had a responsibility to have good schools in our state and in our towns and good schools in Alabama and in Mississippi and in Brownsville, Texas and in Oakland, California and in East New York, that was our responsibility too.

We--what we want is our community back and our country back, the country where we are all in this together.

It is an extraordinary honor for me to be standing on the stage with someone whom I have admired greatly, who has taught me a great deal during this campaign, on issues as foreign policy, such as defense.  He's an extraordinary human being who I have gotten to know over the past few years.  Someone who has a long career in public service, who served his country honorably in the armed services.  Someone who I believe in and somebody we believe in and we admire.  It is an honor and a privilege to present to you former Vice President of the United States Al Gore.

GORE: Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.  I'm really proud and happy to be here with you.  It's great to be back in Harlem.  We shot basketball together one of the last times I was here.

Howard Dean and I are traveling from here to Iowa and I'm going to make a more extensive speech in Cedar Rapids a little bit later today but--I said when I announced last year that I was not going to be a candidate for president myself that I would endorse one of the candidates who is running.  And I had no idea at that time which candidate that that would be.  But I have watched this campaign and I have listened to all of the candidates.  I think it's a great field.  There are a lot of great Democratic candidates out there.

But what I'm about to say doesn't come as a secret or a surprise to anybody within the sound of my voice, and that is that Howard Dean really is the only candidate who has been able to inspire at the grassroots level all over this country the kind of passion and enthusiasm for democracy and change and transformation of America that we need in this country.  We need to remake the Democratic Party; we need to remake America; we need to take it back on behalf of the people of this country.  So I'm very proud and honored to endorse Howard Dean to be the next president of the United States of America.

Democracy is a team sport.  And I want to do everything I can to convince the -- anybody that is interested in my judgment about who, among these candidates has the best chance to win and the best chance to lead our country in the right direction.  I want to do everything I can to convince you to get behind Howard Dean and let's make this a successful campaign as a group. It is about all of us and all of us need to get behind the strongest candidate.  Now I respect the prerogative of the voters in the caucuses and in the primaries. I'm just one person, but I'm offering my judgment and I'm also going to say one other thing here.

Years ago, former president Ronald Reagan said in the Republican Party that there ought to be an 11th commandment, speak no ill of another Republican.  Well now we're Democrats and we may not find that kind of commandment as accessible, but to the extent that we can recognize the stakes in America today, I would urge all of the other candidates and campaigns to keep their eyes on the prize.  Here we are in Harlem.  We need to keep our eyes on the prize.

This nation cannot afford to have four more years of a Bush-Cheney administration. We can't afford to be divided among ourselves to the point that we lose sight of how important it is for America.  What is going on in this Bush White House today is bad for our country and it's slowly beginning to sink in to more and more people out there.  And we don't have the luxury of fighting among ourselves to the point where we seriously damage our ability to win on behalf of the American people this time around.

Now, one other thing.  I've spent a long time thinking about national security and national defense.  And I've heard a lot of folks who, in my opinion, made a judgment about the Iraq war that was just plain wrong, saying that Howard Dean's decision to oppose the Iraq war calls his judgment on foreign policy into question.  Well, excuse me - - he was the only major candidate who made the correct judgment about the Iraq war.  And he had the insight and courage to say and do the right thing.  And
that's important, because those judgments, that basic common sense is what you want in a President.

Our country has been weakened in our ability to fight the war against terror because of the catastrophic mistake that the Bush administration made in taking us into war in Iraq.  It was Osama bin Laden that attacked us, not Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein is a bad guy and he's better off not in power, we're all better off.  But it was a mistake to get us into a quagmire over there.  So don't tell me that because Howard Dean was the only major candidate who was right about that war, that that somehow calls his judgment into question on foreign policy.

So whether it is inspiring enthusiasm at the grassroots and promising to remake the Democratic party as a force for justice and progress and good in America; whether it is a domestic agenda that gets our nation back on track; or whether it is protecting us against terrorists and strengthening our nation in the world, I have come to the conclusion that in a field of great candidates, one candidate clearly now stands out. And so I'm asking all of you to join in this grassroots movement to elect Howard Dean President of the United States.  Thank you.


Governor Dean then thanked Gore for his endorsement [this provided by the campaign]:

"Mr. Vice President, I want to thank you for your generous and thoughtful words.... I thank Al Gore for his extraordinary leadership in this party in the last couple of years. I told him, I say what I think, for better or worse, I told him the two best speeches in this campaign were given by somebody who is not running for president and that was his March and September speech about the war and about foreign policy.

"We have needed a strong, steady hand in this party, and I appreciate Al's willingness to stand up and be one. This campaign is not about Howard Dean going to the White House. This campaign is about us going to the White House, all of us, and I look forward to the day on January 20th, 2005, when we do what Andrew Jackson, another great Tennessean did, we will open the doors to the White House and let the American people back in," Governor Dean concluded.