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Inside Politics

Kerry: 'We will fight for every vote'

Kerry waves to supporters Tuesday night in Virginia.
Kerry waves to supporters Tuesday night in Virginia.

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(CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry spoke to supporters Tuesday night on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, following the Democratic presidential primaries in Virginia and Tennessee. The following is an edited transcript.

Thank you, George Mason, thank you for a great welcome tonight. Thank you. Thank you Governor Warner for your leadership and for your support and friendship.

Once again, the message rings out loud and clear: Americans are voting for change -- East and West, North, and now in the South.

And I'm grateful for that.

Thank you. Thank you, Virginia. Thank you, Tennessee.

Together across the South, you have shown that mainstream values that we share, fairness, love of country, a belief in hope and in hard work, are more important than boundaries or birthplace. And I thank you for that.

America is coming together. And together we intend to move America forward. And this campaign now moves forward.

We will fight for every vote. And we will carry our cause all across this land.

Once again, I express my special thanks to the remarkable brigade of veterans who have crossed this country -- Senator Max Cleland -- the same band of brothers that I depended on 30 years ago.

And I've said it before and I will say it again. We may be a little bit older. We may be a little bit grayer. But we still know how to fight for our country.

The voice of this campaign is the voice of people that I met in living rooms, in cafes, in VFW halls and in factory floors all across our country. It is the voice of workers without work, the voice of families and small businesses whose health care costs are soaring out of control. It is the voice of parents who want to hand this country on to their children with a better future without the heavy burden of national deficits and federal debt. And we will do that.

I want you to know that I have heard your voices. And if I am president, your voices will be heard all across this country. And I ask you to make your voices heard tonight. Go to johnkerry.com and share your ideas. Join us, not just to win an election, but to give America back its future and its soul. That is what this race is about.

Our vision is for prosperity, not just for some, and opportunity not just for some, but prosperity and opportunity for all Americans, shared across lines, shared across racial divide, shared by all in this country because that is who we are as a nation. And from Missouri to Wisconsin to Ohio, from the heartland to both coasts, the wreckage of the Bush economy can be seen all around us.

In the places where so many jobs have been lost, people are being told that there's a turnaround, that things are somehow better. But they don't see it in their own lives. They don't see it in their jobs. They don't see it in their paychecks and their wages. And for more than three years, this administration has failed to tell the truth about the economy of our country.

Today, in a rare moment of truth-telling, they actually told us what they were doing. They said that shipping jobs, American jobs, overseas is good for America.

And I think you've answered the challenge. Let them tell that to a 45-year-old worker with three kids who doesn't have a job who has seen the factory lost, who has seen their job gone and who has nowhere to turn.

We will stand together, all of us all across this country, and we will fight for that worker and for so many workers like him.

While George Bush may believe that the job of a president is just to drive the stock market up, we believe the job of a president is to put America back to work.

And that's what we will do. So here's what we will do. We will repeal every single benefit, every single loophole, every single reward for any Benedict Arnold CEO or corporation that take American jobs overseas and stick you with the bill.

We will provide new incentives for manufacturing that reward the good companies for creating and keeping good jobs here at home. And we will put worker and environment protections in every trade agreement in the United States.

Because all of us know that if you give the American worker a fair playing field to compete on, there's nobody in the world the American worker can't compete against. And we will do that.

And we will have -- and we will put in place a plan for energy independence that will create 500,000 new jobs so that no young American in uniform will ever have to fight and die for our dependency on Mideast oil.

And we will not stop there. We will stand up to the HMOs and to the big drug companies. And we will make it clear that health care in the United States of America is not a privilege for the powerful and the wealthy; it is a right for all Americans.

Because your family's health care is just as important as any politician's in Washington, D.C. And we will put that principle in place.

So in the course of this -- in the course of this campaign over these next months and beyond, we will stand up for our values, for jobs, for health care, for the environment, for education and for the woman's right to choose in the United States of America.

And we will stand up for civil rights and for civil liberties and for an attorney general whose name is not John Ashcroft.

And we will stand up for a stronger America. George Bush, who speaks ...

[AUDIENCE BOOS]

... George Bush -- no, no, no, no. We're not going to boo in the course of this campaign. We are going to cheer for what we're going to do in this country.

And George Bush, who speaks of strength, has made America weaker -- weaker economically, weaker in our health care, weaker in education. And the truth is -- the truth is that he has made us weaker militarily by overextending the armed forces of the United States and turning our guards and reserves into active duty.

And he has made us weaker by driving away our allies and breaking friendships and relationships around this planet.

Our opponents say that they want to campaign on national security. Well, some of us know something about aircraft carriers for real.

And if George Bush and Karl Rove and company want to make national security the centerpiece of this campaign, then we have three words for him that we know they understand: Bring it on.

So I want to thank all of those who have been so much a part of this campaign, none more so than the extraordinary woman by my side, who will make a great first lady of the United States -- Teresa Heinz Kerry.

And I want to thank all of the members of my family, all of our friends, those who have been part of my political life since I began.

And particularly tonight in Tennessee, I want to thank Harold Ford and Stephen Lindsey for their leadership and what they did in Tennessee.

And here in Virginia, I want to thank Governor Warner for his support and friendship -- for all that he has done.

And Larry Framme has done such a great job, and Susan Swecker -- for their leadership.

And I thank all, all of those people across this country who have become part, literally, of a family in this campaign. I will never forget what you have done. And I will never stop trying to earn and live up to your trust and your respect.

To all of America, we say tonight: Thank you.

Get ready, a new day is on the way.

Thank you and God bless.


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