Featured Democratic Speakers
Karenna Gore Schiff
Democratic National Convention
Wednesday, August 16, 2000
So... I guess there's no doubt about how I'll be voting in November.
But I know that I would be supporting my dad for President even if he hadn't raised, fed, clothed, taught, and loved me -- and even if he hadn't accepted more late-night collect calls from me that I'd ever like to admit.
But he did do all those things - and much, much more. So I want to take a few moments to talk about my father -- as a father.
His own father's family were small farmers, trying to plant big dreams in rocky soil.
My grandmother's family worked hard, too. During the Depression, her father went from owning a country store to working as a night watchman.
My dad learned from childhood about the dignity working people have. My grandparents taught my dad that it is right to treat every woman and man with equal respect; to call them Sir or Ma'am; to do your own physical labor, and clean up your own mess.
I see a lot of my grandfather in my father. He believes in taking the hard road when that's the road that will take us to higher ground. And I think his old-fashioned politeness is refreshing in today's world.
When my dad was a Congressman, he listed our number in the phone book in Carthage so the people he worked for could always reach him. During my summers on the farm, I would answer the phone, and it would often be a constituent who needed help getting his veterans' benefits, or finding the right health care. I was taught to run -- not walk -- to get my dad, so that people wouldn't be kept waiting for a moment.
My dad has always been there for us, too -- whether it was the breakfasts he made for us every morning before school - toast, with lots of butter -- or the way he told my two sisters and me, as well as our brother, that we could be whatever we wanted to be in life.
One time, he came home after a long day of hearings and meetings and votes and found me struggling to begin that all-important elementary school assignment: the dinosaur diaroma.
He was tired, but while my mom was getting the others to brush their teeth and get in bed, my dad was the one who took me down to the store to get the emergency Q-Tips, colored play-doh, and construction paper, because he was simply being a dad.
Now that my husband Drew and I have a baby boy of our own, I often think about those times - about the little things dad did, the way he always put us first.
A long time ago, after a big snowfall, dad and mom taught us to build an igloo. We piled the snow high, poured water on it so it would freeze, and dug out the center. My friend Eliza and I decided to sleep in it - so we put on about ten layers of clothes, the final ones being my dad's sweat suits.
Even though he'd just returned from a day full of open meetings in Tennessee, he stayed up to check on us -- and brought us hot chocolate out there under the stars.
It won't surprise any of you parents out there that we ended up waddling back inside, our lips blue from the cold. But he welcomed us like adventurers back from the North Pole, and gave us warm hugs and fresh blankets.
He never laughed at our big plans. He always believed in us with his whole heart.
One of his favorite sayings is "the truth shall set you free."
OK -- so sometimes he was referring to whether or not I'd stayed out past my curfew.
But what it really means to him is that each human soul is precious - and it is in striving to give everyone a chance that we liberate what is pure and honest in ourselves.
Dad is a man of faith in the most gutsy, practical sense. He wants to see goodness prevail.
I'm not asking you to support Al Gore because he is my father, or even because he's been a great dad for his kids. What really matters is what he will do for all our kids.
On November 7th, America must decide.
Will all children get health care or won't they? My dad wants to win the fight for affordable health care.
We must decide. Will struggling single mothers get a fair paycheck so they can care for their kids? My dad wants to win the fight for an equal day's pay for an equal day's work.
We must decide. Will we keep America green and growing? My dad wants to stand up to the big polluters, and win the fight for the environment.
There's something else we must decide this November. It's about every woman's control over her own body and her own life.
I believe in every woman's right to choose - and I know my father will always, always defend it.
I hope, for the sake of our country and our future, that my father is elected President.
But I want you to know: to me, he's already won. For he has been the most wonderful father in the whole world.
And it gives me great joy and pride tonight to second the nomination of my father, Al Gore, for President of the United States.