Howard Dean's Speech to the DNC in Chicago, August 19, 2006

Well, that was 100 days before the election, and now we have 80. We have a record turnout in the Democratic primaries, we've got a lot of new voters, and we've got great momentum. But the election is not today. If it were, we would have a majority in the House of Representatives, and very close to a majority in the United States Senate. We'd pick up five or six governor's races. But it is not today.

For the next 80 days, we're going to do more of this. We're going to knock on doors, we're going to talk to our neighbors, we're going to go speak to folks at picnics and talk about what's at stake in this election. We have grat candidates, and our candidates are not running away from the Democratic party. (Applause)

...We can do better than this. We will have a new direction in foreign defense policy. You can trust the Democrats to defend the United States of America here at home, but you can't trust the Republicans to defend America. They talk tough, but we need to be tough and smart in defending America (Applause).

These are billions of dollars for one month in Iraq. The Gulf Coast could have been rebuilt. And here, almost a year after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, very little has been done. For the price of one month in Iraq, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Orleans could have been rebuilt. We need a new direction in America--you can't trust the Republicans. (Applause)

The reason that the Republican party has failed America is very simple. It's not Iraq, and it's not the enormous deficits. It's the way they win elections. They win elections by dividing us. We need to be one community again. We need to listen to those who disagree with us, as well as those who agree with us, again.

Because what the Republicans have done, is to put the interests of their party ahead of the interests of America. We need a new direction in America, where we have a political party in charge who understands their loyalty is to America, and not even to the Democratic Party.

In the city of Chicago, the people who drive the taxis that you all were taking around yesterday (I hope you were enjoying the sights) those folks pay three dollars a gallon for gas--55 bucks a day. The Republicans' response to that is to give 16 billion dollars worth of tax breaks to Exxon-Mobil and big oil. Slipped into the budget in the middle of the night when nobody knew it was there.

There are thousands upon thousands of seniors here and throughout the country, who are struggling now with the so-called "donut hole" of Medicare Part D, the largest farce ever perpetrated on the American people. Because that "drug benefit" was written for the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies, and seniors were left behind. We need a new direction with a party in charge that's going to care about seniors, and write our legislation to benefit seniors, not the drug industry and the insurance companies. (Applause)

There is another war that the president hasn't told us about. And that's the Republican war on the middle class. The war on the middle class, the war on hard-working people who are under siege from Republican policies that make it harder for working people to make ends meet. The president talked about math and science excellence in the State of the Union Address. A short time later, his party cut 12 billion dollars out of Pell Grants. This country is a great country, because we have the largest middle class in America (sic). In order to be part of the middle class, we need those Pell Grants back, we need those lower interest rates back again.

How can you be in the middle class if you can't send your kids to college? People have got a second and third and fourth mortgage, working three jobs, we want to give people opportunity again. They are the party that take opportunity away from ordinary working people, and gives it to their privileged donors. We stand for ordinary working people, they have forgotten who built America--it was the middle class, it was the labor unions, it was the working people. We want a new direction, where ordinary Americans run America again, and not the privileged few Republicans who have put their party above the interests of Americans.

The vast majority of Americans believe that we're going in the wrong direction, and the choice is very clear in this election. You want more of the same, or do you want a new direction for America? A Democratic Congress will not rubber stamp the administration's policies and put the agenda of the far right ahead of what's good for America. The Republican platform is one... their agenda is one of divisiveness, deceit, distortion and deficits, and we can't afford that any more. We need a new direction for America.

Fearmongering, whining, complaining, and namecalling is not leadership, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. We will do better. (Applause). We will not turn our back on the people of Louisiana and Mississippi. The president had no plan for the Gulf Coast, as we come up on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and he still has no no plan for the Gulf Coast. He had no plan for Iraq, and he still has no plan for Iraq.

Katrina was a terrible tragedy, not just for New Orleans and Mississippi, not just for the people who died or still have not been able to move home. Katrina was a tragedy for America. Because one thing people believed throughout the world, throughout this country but throughout the world, whether they liked us or not, they believed that Americans could fix anything. And we believed that about ourselves. That if something really bad happens, call in the Americans, they're the best organized people and the best managing people--they can fix anything. Something really bad happens, call in the Americans.

And what we experienced a year ago was not just the personal loss and tragedy to all of our lives, because so many of us knew people or had family in New Orleans or Mississippi. What we experienced was a tragedy. But seeing, unmasked, the incompetence, and failures, and indifference, of the president and the Republican majority, we need a new direction for America where no one is left behind! (Applause)

The American people are extraordinary people. What we saw was great acts of generosity, and courage and heroism, of people coming together and opening their hearts, reaching out to help one another. That reminds us that the American people will transcend the incompetence of our leaders. We need a new direction where we are as competent and fair and qualified and caring as the American people showed themselves to be a year ago. We can do better.

We will have a new direction of hope and opportunity in America, based on the idear that we are all in this together. Not just those in the Democratic party, not just those in urban America. We will reach out to those who disagree with us, we will reach out to Evangelical Christians, to rural Americans, we are all in this together. It is time to end the divisiveness.

...We have an enormous amount to do in the next 80 days. There is a feeling of optimism here, I've felt it myself over the last few days. In some ways, a little giddy--we're not used to being in this position in the last twelve years. Don't get giddy, and don't get optimistic. We're going to win this race the same way anybody wins races. Not by hoping for the best, but by working for what's right. One foot in front of the other. Ever door you knock on presents the American people with a Democrat who's proud to be a Democrat and explains to people why we need a new direction in America and what our new direction is. Every door you knock on.

We are only going to win this if we do what you have been doing for the last year and a half--talking to your neighbors. This is the fun part--come out here to Chicago, room full of Democrats, we feel good, we've got great candidates. The hard part...the hard part, is going out and doing what we have to do next. And that is, for the next 80 days, talking to all those folks who did not vote with us the last time. Reaching out to them, understanding their resentments and their fears and their angers. Talking to them about what's on their mind. Listening to them before we talk at them.

We can do that. The American people are ready for a change. The American people for the last five years of difficulty and poor leadership, have never lost what makes them wonderful: their sense of caring, their sense of optimism, and their desire for real leadership that will emphasize hope over fear.

We can do this again. We can be great again. We can be the moral authority and the moral leader of the free world again. We can eliminate our deficits again. We can be proud of our armed forces, and listen to them as they guide us, rather than being incompetent civilian leaders and telling them what to do before we're willing to listen to them--we can honor our military again by never sending them abroad without being adequately equipped again. We will honor our military again, because we will listen to them. We will have a new direction in defense, we will have a new direction for the economic well-being of our people, we will have a new direction in education, we will have a new direction in retirement security, we will have a new direction in job creation in America, and we will have a new direction to end the divisiveness, to end the hallmark of this administration, which is put their own interests in front of America. We will restore America to its greatness. We need a new direction, and in 80 days, we will have one. Thank you very much. (Much applause and cheering). Thank you very much.