President Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, both used their Democratic Party convention speeches last night to express bitterness over the outcome of the 2000 election, both suggesting that some votes weren’t counted.
Clinton began his speech last night by honoring Gore.
“And Al Gore, as he showed again tonight, demonstrated incredible patriotism and grace under pressure,” said Clinton. “He is the living embodiment of the principle that every vote counts. And this year, we’re going to make sure they’re all counted in every state in America.”
Earlier, Gore reminded delegates and the national viewing audience that in politics “every vote counts.”
“In our democracy, every vote has power,” he said. “And never forget: that power is yours. Don’t let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away. And let’s make sure that this time every vote is counted. Let’s make sure not only that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, but also that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.”
It seems the Democrats – from Clinton and Gore down to the grass roots – can’t let go of the Florida recount fiasco of 2000.
Four years ago, Gore graciously bowed out of the race, seeming to understand that the constitutional system had worked the way it was supposed to work – the winner of the most electoral votes assuming the presidency.
Yesterday, Gore was accusing the Supreme Court of picking the president.
Last week, 13 Democratic members of the House of Representatives asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to request United Nations observers to police the 2004 presidential elections. Earlier, they had gone directly to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the same request.
There is a continuing belief among many Democrats that the election was somehow stolen away from them.
Clinton and Gore last night played upon those emotions.
“We Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared benefits,” Clinton continued. “We want a world with more global cooperation where we act alone only when we absolutely have to. We think the role of government should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance.”
He contrasted that vision with his view of Republicans.
“On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that America should be run by the right people – their people – in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to,” he said. “They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security.”
Clinton also offered a vision of his own accomplishments during his eight years in office, claiming his administration “produced over 22 million good jobs, rising incomes for the middle class, over 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class, more health care, the largest increase in college aid in 50 years, record home ownership, a cleaner environment, three surpluses in a row, a modernized defense force, strong efforts against terror and a respected America in the world.”
But it wasn’t all reminiscing. Clinton declared his eagerness to enlist “as a foot soldier in the fight for our future” by helping elect John Kerry to the White House.
Clinton said the Republicans “will tell you we should be afraid of John Kerry and John Edwards because they won’t stand up to the terror. Don’t you believe it. Strength and wisdom are not opposing values. They go hand in hand … and John Kerry has both.”