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Remarks of Hillary Rodham Clinton
Democratic National Convention
Monday, August 14, 2000

audio button Thank you all so much.

And thanks to Senator Mikulski and all the women senators.

Let me thank all of our Democratic women senators who brought their vital voices and their fresh perspectives to our public life.

It is so great to be here with all of you and with my mother and my family and to see so many old friends, and thank you, thank you for supporting my husband whose visionary leadership and hard work led America into the 21st century.

We are a stronger, better country than we were in 1992.

You know, when Bill and Al and Tipper and I got on that bus after the 1992 convention, we began a journey that took us into the heartland of America.

Along the way we saw faces of hope but also faces of despair.

Fathers out of work, mothers trapped on welfare, children with unmet medical needs.

I remember a group of children holding a sign that said, "Please stop. If you give us eight minutes, we'll give you eight years."

And we did stop.

And we did listen.

And what an eight years it has been.

I am so proud to stand here at this extraordinary moment, the most peaceful, prosperous, promising time in our nation's history.

Now, how can we continue America's progress?

By electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the next President and Vice President of the United States.

You know, even before he was Vice President, I admired Al for his leadership in the Senate, his understanding of the future, his pioneering efforts to fight environmental threats that affected our children, his work with Tipper to promote responsible parenting, and what great parents the two of them are.

I've watched him as Bill's trusted partner in the White House.

Together they made the hard decisions to renew our nation's economy and our national spirit, to advance democracy and defend freedom around the world, and I can't wait until we watch Al Gore take the oath of office on January 20, 2001.

And standing next to him will be his wonderful wife and my dear friend who inspires us through her work for the homeless and her advocacy on behalf of mental health. Tipper Gore will make a great first lady.

And the country has seen again Al Gore's leadership in his choice of Joe Lieberman.

I first met Joe 30 years ago when Bill and I were law students.

We saw then what America sees now -- a person of uncommon wisdom and integrity.

I admire Joe's work to reduce the violence in our media, and I appreciate his steadfast support for a woman's right to choose.

And with him is his remarkable wife Hadassah, the immigrant daughter of Holocaust survivors.

Their story tells our children that in America, no dream is beyond our reach.

You know, in 1992 Bill and Al promised to put people first.

That simply meant that when people live up to their responsibilities, we ought to live up to ours, and give them the tools and opportunities they need to build better lives.

That's the basic bargain at the heart of the American dream, from a stronger economy, to more Americans attending college, to a cleaner environment, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have put people first, and not only that, they put children first as well.

More children lifted out of poverty, more children receiving Head-Start, child care, and after school care. More children than ever getting immunized against disease, more children whose parents can take family and medical leave to care for them, and more neglected and abused foster children being adopted into loving, permanent homes, children like Diana, who came to a White House ceremony I held spotlighting the needs of children in foster care.

Just 12 years old, not much younger than Chelsea at the time, she spent most of her life moving from house to house.

She was so shy she could barely look up as she spoke of her longing for a home and family of her own.

As I listened, I thought, how can we let any child grow up in our country without a secure and loving home?

I worked with a bipartisan coalition to help double the number of foster children adopted, and when the President signed the new adoption law, I thought of the first foster child I represented back when I was in law school. I thought of what my own mother went through in her life as a child born to teenage parents who couldn't take care of her, and when she was 8, she and her little sister were sent alone on a train across the country to stay with relatives.

At 14 she went to work caring for a family's children.

Fortunately, her employer was a kind woman, who saw her true worth and showed her what a loving family was really like, and I thought of Diana, whom I have seen blossom into a beaming, confident young woman because caring parents opened their hearts and home to her.

She finally had what every child needs -- a family that puts her first.

And for me that's what it's all about.

Years ago, when I worked for the Children's Defense Fund, we had a trademark:

"Leave no child behind."

And we've made great progress in the last eight years.

But we still have a lot of work to do because when a child can't go to school without fearing guns and violence, that's a child left behind.

When a child's illness is not treated because a hard working parent can't afford health insurance, that's a child left behind.

And when a child struggles to learn in an overcrowded classroom, that's a child left behind.

Don't let anyone tell you this election doesn't matter.

The stakes in November are biggest for the littlest among us.

What will it take to make sure no child in America is left behind in the 21st century?

It takes responsible parents who put their own children first.

It takes all of us -- teachers, and workers, and business owners, and community leaders and people of faith.

You know, I still believe it takes a village, and it certainly takes Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

They have what it takes, and they'll do what it takes.

You know, over the last eight years I've talked with mothers and fathers on front porches and factory floors and in hospital wards, and I've seen firsthand the joys and anxieties that parents feel when it comes to our children.

I remember a teacher with tears in her eyes because she had the only textbook in the classroom.

It's time to give all our students the chance to succeed in the new economy by modernizing our schools, setting high standards, and hiring more qualified teachers.

I've held the hands of mothers and fathers who have lost their children to gun violence.

It's time to honor their pain by passing common sense gun safety laws that keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals.

I've listened -- I've listened to parents distressed about a culture that too often glorifies violence.

Why can't all of us, including the media, give parents more control over what their children see on TV and the movies, on the Internet, and in video games?

I've met mothers and fathers who are working full time in fast food restaurants and supermarket checkout lines and other tough jobs, but they're still poor.

It's time to make the basic bargain work for all Americans by raising the minimum wage, enforcing tough child support laws, and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work.

And everywhere I go, I've heard from doctors and nurses who every day see children with illnesses that could have been treated earlier if their parents had been able to afford health insurance.

Now, you may remember, I had a few ideas about health care, and I've learned a few lessons since then, but I haven't given up on the goal, and that's why we kept working step by step to insure millions of children through the Children's Health Insurance program.

And that's why it's time to cast a real patient's bill of rights and provide access to affordable health care to every child and family in this country.

But we'll never accomplish what we need to do for our children if we burden them with a debt they did not create.

Franklin Roosevelt said that Americans of his generation had a rendezvous with destiny.

Well, I think our generation has a rendezvous with responsibility.

It's time to protect the next generation by using our budget surplus to pay down the national debt, save social security, modernize Medicare with a prescription drug benefit, and provide targeted tax cuts to the families that need them most.

At this moment of great potential, let's not squander our children's futures.

Let's elect leaders who will leave no child behind, leaders who don't just talk the talk but walk the walk.

Leaders like Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.

You know, the other day, Bill and I were looking at pictures of our daughter from eight years ago when this journey began.

It's been an amazing eight years for Chelsea, too, and we want to thank the American people for giving her the space to grow.

Bill and I are closing one chapter of our lives and soon will be starting a new one.

For me, it will be up to the people of New York to decide whether I'll have the privilege of serving them in the United States Senate.

But I will always be profoundly grateful to all of you and to the American people for the last eight years.

Really, the most important thing that I can say tonight is thank you.

Thank you for giving me the most extraordinary opportunity to work here at home and around the world on the issues that matter most to children, women, and families.

Thank you for your support and faith in good times and in bad.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the honor and blessing of a lifetime.

Good night and God bless you all.

Thank you very, very much.

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