“Ending the Era of Special Interests”
Remarks by John Kerry

January 21, 2004

Nashua, NH -


As I’ve said many times in this state, we are here not just to count down the days until the New Hampshire primary; we are here to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency.

Along the campaign trail, people have said to me many times: “We hear about these issues every four years. How do we know you’ll be any different – everyone talks about healthcare, everyone talks about jobs, how are you going to do it?”

In response, I don’t offer my resume, I offer my gut – my values and my determination. I have spent 35 years fighting for the values you and I believe in, standing up for people, and taking on powerful interests – as a matter of conviction, as a matter of duty, fighting the fights that are hard.

I stood up with my fellow veterans to Richard Nixon when I came back from Vietnam to end that war. They tried to kick us off, and they took us to the Supreme Court of the United States to do it. We stood our ground and we said: Mr. President, you sent us 8000 miles away to sleep in the jungles of Vietnam; we have earned the right to sleep on this Mall and talk to our Senators.

As Lieutenant Governor, I was proud to stand with the environmental community and take on some of the biggest utilities in the country to crackdown on acid rain and save our lakes and rivers and streams.

As a Senator, I stood with so many of you and led the fight to stop Ronald Reagan’s illegal, secret, unconstitutional war in Central America.

I led the fight with John McCain to change and finally make peace with Vietnam.

I fought against Newt Gingrich’s effort to decimate the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and I’m proud that I led and we won the fight to stop the Bush Administration from drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Reserve.

I’m asking you to measure the candidates not just by what we say, but by what we have done – because the fights ahead are going to be as tough as they come – the fight to make our workplace fair, the fight to lift up the quality of life for all Americans, the struggle for a foreign policy that makes us safe.

Six days from now, New Hampshire will speak and America will listen.

One choice is fundamental: I’m running for President so you will have a President who’s on your side, and who will take on the powerful interests that stand in your way.

I’m running for President to free our government from the dominance of the lobbyists, the drug industry, big oil, and HMOs – so that we can give America back its future and its soul.

I’m running to restore fairness and economic justice – and repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy so we can invest in education and health care for all.

This election is not just about which candidate wins, but about whether we will win the fight to put opportunity and security in the hands of the many and not the few.

Add up the real deficits of the Bush Administration – not only a record budget deficit, but a radical deficit of fairness and economic justice. Count the cost that working families are paying while the privileged ride high and reap all the rewards. Three million people have lost their jobs. For two million people, health insurance has been blown away. Seniors have seen their retirements stolen by Enron and Worldcom. Workers have seen their jobs disappear overseas and financial scandals ruin their pensions. And families right here in New Hampshire have felt the pain when companies like Tyco and Tyson take advantage of George Bush’s creed of greed. And when we add it all up, as we will and I will all across this country if I am the nominee of our party, we are going to make it clear to America that the one person in the United States who deserves to be laid off is George W. Bush.

You can tell from his State of the Union address that the president is facing re-election. Now I wish he'd face reality. Watching President Bush’s speech last night, one thing kept coming back to me: he just doesn’t get it.

This past weekend, the Associated Press ran a story about the White House’s preparations for their big night. The headline was “Lobbyists Pin Hopes on State of the Union.” Last night, the Tysons and the Tyco’s of the world got what they prayed for – and they got what they paid for.

Just look at what he said about health care. President Bush talked a good game on making health care affordable. But if he was really serious about holding down health care costs, he’d focus on solutions instead of soundbites. There’s no way to bring our families affordable health care if you’re not willing to take on the most powerful organized interests in Washington. And the fact is – when it comes to the HMOs and drug companies that fuel his campaign – George Bush’s motto is “leave no special interest behind.”

One of the biggest reasons health care costs are rising year after year is that prescription drug prices are being pushed into the stratosphere. Prescription drug costs are rising by almost twenty percent a year. The big drug companies charge Americans the highest prices in the world – while running up record breaking profits. George W. Bush is looking out of the profits of prescription drug industry; I’m going to look out for Americans struggling to pay the bills for their health care. When drug companies and wholesale drug buyers exploit loopholes to skim from the top, we all pay a price.

So today, I’m proposing tough new measures to stop the drug industry from overcharging you – and to make life-saving drugs more affordable for the Americans whose health and lives literally depend on them.

As President, I will overturn the Bush rules that prevent Medicare and our state government from negotiating for lower drug costs. And I will repeal the ban on reimporting drugs from Canada. Prices there can be to 80 percent lower for the same drug. The only reason George W. Bush opposes this is because the drug industry would lose billions in excessive profits. I believe its time for a President who cares less about profits than about patients.

And as President, I’ll cut the costs of prescription drugs by ending the hidden deals with middlemen that let pharmaceutical company CEOs fatten their wallets while seniors get gouged.

Today, in this Bush Administration the special interests dominate the debate and the decisions. In the Medicare bill, the big drug companies and HMO’s spent $139 million lobbying Congress and now they’re going to get $139 billion in return. If I’m President we’re going to repeal that phony bill. It isn’t a prescription drug benefit for seniors – it’s a benefit for prescription drug companies. And we’re going to pass a real Medicare prescription drug benefit.

People all over New Hampshire and hard-working families across America are the unheard majority in the health care debate – and they need a President who will make sure their voice is finally heard. It’s time to make health care affordable for them. It’s time to cover all Americans. And it’s time to finally finish Harry Truman’s mission and declare that, in America, health care is not a privilege but a fundamental right.

George W. Bush has an open door and an open treasury for the likes of Halliburton, but he has turned his back on our children and turned his back on our teachers. And in this campaign, I intend to criss-cross this country and hold him accountable for making a mockery of the words “leave no child behind.”

And a government on your side will know when to take sides. So as President, I will scrub the tax code, which has grown from 14 pages to 17,000 pages, to remove every single loophole, every single incentive, every single provision that rewards Benedict Arnold CEOs and corporations for moving profits and American jobs overseas.

And George W. Bush has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless, and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country. My friends, we need a nominee who can stand up to this President eye to eye, toe to toe, face to face, and make it clear: We Democrats know how to make this nation of ours safe.

George Bush and Karl Rove want national security to be the central issue of this campaign. They’ve announced that they do – and obviously they have to – because they can’t talk about jobs. They can’t talk the environment. They can’t talk about health care. They can’t talk about keeping their promises on education. Well I know something about aircraft carriers for real.

And this is my reply: If George W. Bush plans to make national security the central issue in this campaign, I have three words for him that I know he understands – bring it on.

I ask you to join this fight. Go to johnkerry.com.

Stand with me – and I will fight for you.