Sen. Bob Graham
2004 Democratic National Convention
FleetCenter, Boston, MA
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Fellow Democrats, thank you. And most especially, fellow Floridians, thank you for granting me the honor and privilege of serving you for nearly four decades. My family and I are so grateful to all of you for the wonderful adventure of public service you have made possible. Florida, you’ve made the difference for me; I know you’re going to make the difference for John Kerry and John Edwards. And this time, when the votes are counted, fellow Floridians, we are going to make a huge difference for America. 

My fellow Americans, I want to tell you why I am casting my vote for John Kerry and John Edwards. The preamble to the Constitution tells us that one of the most important responsibilities of the government is to “provide for the common defense.” It has now been over one thousand days since the September 11th terrorist attacks changed our nation. One thousand days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, America had already landed on the beaches of Normandy and was rolling to victory in World War II. In that same amount of time in this new war on terror, we have not yet secured the beachhead. John Kerry and John Edwards will. 

In this new century, we have seen the rise of perilous new threats. And yet we have not stopped them; we haven’t even stood up to them. John Kerry and John Edwards will. At a time when all freedom-loving people are looking for leadership to unite the world in a war against terrorism, America has not provided it. My friends, John Kerry and John Edwards will. 

As Governor of Florida, I learned how little the FBI and CIA communicate with the state and local law enforcement agencies that are our first line of defense against terrorist attack. As Florida’s senator, I saw seaports where the greatest security was often little more than a chain-link fence. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have seen the places in the world where the worst biological weapons were manufactured, where nuclear materials go unprotected, and where the next generation of terrorists is being recruited. And as chairman of that committee, I investigated the September 11th attacks and saw how they should have been prevented. 

From all of my service, I’ve come to this conclusion: Yes, there are real threats. But there are also real solutions. 

Just last week, the September 11th commission was the latest to recommend major changes in the way we fight the war on terror. Few of these are new. Most are obvious. Sadly, over one thousand days after September 11th, none of them are in place. The ideas are there. It’s the leadership that has been missing. 

We know that North Korea and Iran have nuclear aspirations, if not nuclear weapons. And yet only John Kerry and John Edwards have a plan to keep the world’s deadliest weapons from falling into the world’s most dangerous hands. We know that money is the terrorists’ lifeline, and yet it was John Kerry, long before September 11th, who had a plan to cut off the sources of terrorist funding.

We know that our bridges, tunnels, trains, buses, chemical plants, food and water supplies, are still vulnerable to attack, and yet only John Kerry and John Edwards are willing to make the investments we need to truly be safe. And we know that Iraq didn’t attack the United States on September 11th; Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda did.  

And that is why John Kerry and John Edwards will not only win the peace in Iraq, but will fight the war on terror wherever it needs to be fought: the palaces of the Middle East, the banks of Europe, the ports in Florida, the firehouses of Boston. John Kerry recognizes that victory in the war on terror requires all of the resources of the United States—diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military.   

Today, “recruiting billboards” for al Qaeda are being erected on the main streets of the Middle East. We need to work with our allies and like-minded people of the Islamic world to tear down those billboards and drain the swamp of terror. Providing for the common defense is not a piece of rhetoric from a founding document – it is the most solemn responsibility we entrust to our leaders. This is a war that demands new resources and new ideas. But most of all, it is a war that demands new leadership. 

And when Americans ask, “Who will provide that leadership?” I can tell you, John Kerry and John Edwards will. For our children and grandchildren, for our security, for our country, we must elect John Kerry the next president of the United States.