Guest: Dick Gephardt, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Diana DeGette
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: I have to tell you, a little chill in my legs right now. That is an amazing moment in history right there. It is surely an amazing moment. A keynoter like I have never heard.
Dick Gephardt, thanks for joining us. You‘re a political veteran.
There‘s a new kid on the block.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: A star is born.
MATTHEWS: A star is born. Amazing reception.
And I thought the speech remarks were—you and I were talking about them as they proceeded, amazing stuff here. Let me go back to a couple of these. One of these is about black kids, strong language. He said, go into any inner city neighborhood and folks will tell you that government alone can‘t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can‘t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the TV sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.
MATTHEWS: Boy, is that strong stuff.
Exactly. What he has really done in this speech is what Democrats need to do. He has defined what government needs to do and what people want government to do and, on the other hand, what people have to do for themselves. That‘s the combination.
MATTHEWS: This is an ensemble against tonight, isn‘t it, of the Democratic Party?
GEPHARDT: Exactly. Exactly.
MATTHEWS: It‘s not just the candidate or the vice president. It‘s all these people, Teddy Kennedy, you, Howard Dean, Obama. Barack Obama, tomorrow morning, everybody is going to know who he is.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman Dick Gephardt.
GEPHARDT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, you stay with us for a moment.
In just a few minutes, our own Ron Reagan will be here to take the podium, speaking in support of stem cell research. He‘s being introduced right now by Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin.
Let‘s go to the podium.
REP. JIM LANGEVIN (D), RHODE ISLAND: Thank you, and welcome.
I have been so touched by tonight‘s speakers and the theme of strength and service.
President Ronald Reagan said: We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Well, across our nation millions of Americans are pursuing their own heroic dreams by overcoming the challenges of disability and disease. Their community involvement, passion for life and hope for the future are truly inspiring.
When I was 16, an accidental shooting left me paralyzed. Having faced death, I am thankful for every new day and firmly committed to protecting life at every stage.
Like our next speaker, my personal experiences leave me with a unique perspective on life, research and public service and a strong faith that we will find a cure.
One promising path to that cure is stem cell research.
And it will take not only the talent and drive of scientists, but the support of government to realize its full potential.
I believe one day a child with diabetes will no longer face a lifetime of painful shots and tests. I believe one day families will no longer watch in agony as a loved one with Parkinson‘s or Alzheimer‘s gradually declines. And I believe one day I will walk again.
Embryonic stem cell research offers new dreams to so many people. John Kerry and John Edwards know this, and their support is one more way they‘ll help improve the quality of life for millions of families.
Our next speaker is another heroic dreamer. In a time of personal challenge, he‘s using his experience to make a difference for others. He truly understands the promise of stem cell research. And I am thrilled and honored to introduce Ron Reagan.
RON REAGAN: Thank you. Thank you very much. That‘s very kind.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
A few of you may be surprised to see someone with my last name showing up to speak at a Democratic convention.
Apparently some of you are not.
Let me assure you, I am not here to make a political speech, and the topic at hand should not—must not—have anything to do with partisanship.
I am here tonight to talk about the issue of research into what may be the greatest medical breakthrough in our or in any lifetime, the use of embryonic stem cells, cells created using the material of our own bodies, to cure a wide range of fatal and debilitating illnesses: Parkinson‘s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lymphoma, spinal cord injuries and much more.
Millions are afflicted. Every year, every day, tragedy is visited upon families across the country, around the world.
Now it may be within our power to put an end to this suffering. We only need to try.
Some of you already know what I‘m talking about when I say embryonic stem cell research. Others of you are probably thinking, that‘s quite a mouthful. Maybe this is a good time to go for a tall cold one.
Well, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let me try and paint as simple a picture as I can while still doing justice to the science, the incredible science involved. Let‘s say that ten or so years from now you are diagnosed with Parkinson‘s disease. There is currently no cure. And drug therapy, with its attendant side-effects, can only temporarily relieve the symptoms.
Now, imagine going to a doctor who, instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed.
A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cells‘ nucleus to begin dividing, creating new cells, which will then be placed into a tissue culture.
Those cells will generate embryonic stems cells containing only your DNA, thereby eliminating the risk of tissue rejection.
These stem cells are then driven to become the very neuro-cells that are defective in Parkinson‘s patients.
And, finally, those cells, with your DNA, are injected into your brain where they will replace the faulty cells whose failure to produce adequate dopamine led to the Parkinson‘s disease in the first place. In other words: You‘re cured.
And another thing, these embryonic stem cells, they could continue to replicate indefinitely and, theoretically, can be induced to recreate virtually any tissue in your body. How would you like to have your own personal, biological repair kit standing by at the hospital? Does it sound like magic? Welcome to the future of medicine.
Now, by the way, no fetal tissue is involved in this process.
No fetuses are created; none destroyed. This all happens in the laboratory at the cellular level.
Now, there are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research. They argue that interfering with the development of even the earliest stage embryo, even one that will never be implanted in a womb and will never develop into an actual fetus, is tantamount to murder.
A few of these folks, needless to say, are just grinding a political axe. And they should be ashamed of themselves.
But many are well-meaning and sincere. Their belief is just that—an article of faith, and they are entitled to it, but it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many.
And how can we affirm life if we abandon those whose own lives are so desperately at risk?
It is a hallmark of human intelligence that we are able to make distinctions. Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beings. That potential is where their magic lies. But they are not in and of themselves human beings. They have no fingers and toes; no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears, they feel no pain. Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing person—a parent, a spouse, a child.
I know a child—well, she must be 13 now—I guess I‘d better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. She has juvenile diabetes.
Like so many kids with this disease, she has adjusted amazingly well. The insulin pump she wears, she‘s decorated hers with rhinestones. She can handle her own catheter needle. She has learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning. She‘s very brave.
She is also quite bright and understands full well the progress of her disease and what that might ultimately mean: blindness, amputation, diabetic coma. Every day, she fights to have a future.
What excuse will we offer this young woman should we fail her now? What might we tell her children or the millions of others who suffer, that when given an opportunity to help, we turned away, that facing political opposition, we lost our nerve, that even though we knew better, we did nothing?
And should we fail, how will we feel if, a few years from now, a more enlightened generation should fulfill the promise of embryonic stem cell therapy? Imagine what they would say of us who lacked the will.
No, we owe this young woman and all those who suffer—we owe ourselves—better than that. We are better than that.
We are a wiser people, a finer nation. And for all of us in this fight, let me say: We will prevail.
The tide of history is with us. Like all generations who have come before ours, we are motivated by a thirst for knowledge and compelled to see others in need as fellow angels on an often difficult path, deserving of our compassion.
In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that, we have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology.
This is our moment, and we must not falter.
Whatever else you do come November 2nd, I urge you, please, cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research.
Thank you for your time.
MATTHEWS: Well, you were asking me before, during the break, Congressman Gephardt, whether this guy is a Democrat, Republican, or independent. He is an independent.
But I‘ve got to tell you, that‘s the second great bit of oratory we have heard from him. And the other was at the funeral, at the burial site.
What did you think of that?
GEPHARDT: That was an incredible speech.
And I have heard this from lots of people around the country, independents, Republicans. They cannot understand the Bush position on this. And some people are going to vote against George Bush on this issue alone. They cannot abide his position.
MATTHEWS: Well, there‘s a lot of metaphysical questions about when life begins. And I understand them thoroughly. And I think—politically, though, I think that that was quite a reception for a guy that is a newcomer to that hall, to say the least, a Reagan.
GEPHARDT: And he wasn‘t there talking partisan politics. He wasn‘t giving a speech for the Democratic candidates. He was there talking from his heart about something he really believes in.
MATTHEWS: Well, we are going to have him join us again as our—as our—I guess our pundit. He will be back as our pundit again.
I will tell you, I know him a little bit. I really like him. And I will tell you, that speech was a work of rhetorical power.
GEPHARDT: It really was.
MATTHEWS: And I can‘t believe I am sitting next to this quiet guy and he goes out and does that bit of thunder.
Let me ask you about tonight. This wasn‘t going to be one of the big nights of this convention. We had a big night last night, the big night coming tomorrow night with John Edwards, and then, of course, the big make-or-break speech for John Kerry.
But I was looking at the bill of fare tonight. Ted Kennedy gave a nice speech, to say the least, a real historic, fine speech. Howard Dean had a lot of heart. This guy, Barack Obama, we were talking about him before. Now Ron Reagan. And, of course, we have got Teresa coming up. A lot of heart tonight. Can heart win an election in a very practical country?
GEPHARDT: Heart can win an election. And I have been in the Democratic Party my entire life. I have never seen it unified like this.
GEPHARDT: And it shows tonight. You see very different views, but they have come together.
MATTHEWS: I sense the same thing watching it out here. Anyway, there‘s a few dissenters in our ranks, as always, which we like to see.
Anyway, thank you, Dick Gephardt, great man. Thank you.
GEPHARDT: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Honest guy, one of the best guys in politics. He is not rich, but he is good.
MATTHEWS: NBC‘s Brian Williams joins us from the floor with keynote speaker Barack Obama.
Brian, you are with the winner tonight.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC ANCHOR: Chris, thank you.
And I have our keynoter and his wife, Michelle.
Congratulations to you.
You are, after all, a state senator from Illinois. So it‘s fair to ask you, when you get up there and see all those signs with your name on them and hear the chant that happens to match your name, what must that feeling be like, say nothing of the extended television audience at home?
BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Well, obviously, it‘s an enormous honor to be able to address a convention like this, to have the opportunity to speak to the country about the values that I care about, the values that the Democrats care about. And it‘s especially nice to do it in front of my wife.
WILLIAMS: What did you think?
MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: You know, I was incredibly proud. And I am tough on him.
And all I have to say is, honey, you didn‘t screw it up, so good job.
WILLIAMS: Was it frustrating? You can‘t be him, after all. You can only be the coach.
M. OBAMA: Oh, God, yes. Yes. Yes, I‘m just sitting. I think I was the bigger ball of nerves, even though I tried to act like I wasn‘t. But he always rises to the occasion. So he was terrific. He hit every note. His message was solid and clear.
And he brought me to tears. And I saw a number of people in this hallway who were really drawn in by the message and by the delivery. So, he was fabulous.
WILLIAMS: Now, your opponent in the Senate race in Illinois, Jack Ryan, dropped out. You are, as we speak, unopposed. You have been called the prohibitive favorite. But what about this talk that‘s already taking you—my goodness, I just heard a pundit behind me refer to the White House. What can you do about that kind of thing spreading?
B. OBAMA: I go back home. As soon as this convention is over, we are loading up our kids in an R.V. We are traveling around to county fairs, eating ice cream and taking our two girls to the swimming pool, and meeting voters along the way.
But the media, I think, is fickle in terms of its response. And, obviously, I have had a wonderful reception this week. But what‘s really lasting is voters lifting the hood, kicking in the tires, and seeing, is this a guy who delivers? Can he actually help my life in some concrete way? And that‘s ultimately what we are going to be focusing on, not just through November 2, but, hopefully, if I am fortunate enough to win, through the six years in the Senate.
WILLIAMS: You know there‘s going to be a time you are going to get home and these cameras aren‘t going to be here, and it‘s going to seem like...
M. OBAMA: And we will rest easy.
No, I am just hoping that our kids watched the whole thing. I told the baby-sitter that they can only stay up as long as they keep it on this channel, and that if they want to see mom, they have to wait until dad finishes. So we get humbled when we walk in the door. So...
WILLIAMS: This will be a quiz. We will see if they are around.
M. OBAMA: Right.
WILLIAMS: Michelle, Barack Obama, thank you very much for joining us.
M. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much.
B. OBAMA: Thank you so much.
WILLIAMS: Chris, back to you.
MATTHEWS: (AUDIO GAP) on the floor as well—Campbell.
CAMPBELL BROWN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: (AUDIO GAP) Congresswoman Diana DeGette, who is a co-sponsor of legislation to increase funding for stem cell research.
And I want to ask you, the Bush administration is obviously trying to neutralize this issue. They are putting out press releases saying that he is trying to strike a balance. Why do you believe that it could be a deciding issue in this campaign?
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: The majority of Americans support stem cell research. Since the president issued his executive order three years ago, Americans understand the promise of this wonderful research now.
The majority support it. And yet the president is continuing to block it. So, I think it‘s going to be an issue in this election if he doesn‘t expand the research.
C. BROWN: Let me ask you a question. How does Senator John Kerry square his support for additional stem cell research with his stated belief that life begins at conception?
DEGETTE: Well, what they are doing this research with, as Ron Reagan explained to the audience, it‘s embryos that are created for in vitro fertilization that are slated to be destroyed. So these are already being created.
What we are saying in our legislation is, let the parents decide do they want to donate them or not. So there are no additional embryos being created for the research. Many people, including pro-life voters, believe it‘s a greater good to use this for this life-saving research.
C. BROWN: And despite the fact that the Bush administration has offered some funding and is allowing some research, or certainly more than you saw before, you believe they are blocking efforts to pursue it as strongly as you would want?
DEGETTE: President Bush tried to strike a balance to appeal to the very farthest of the religious right. And what he said was, we are going to limit the stem cell lines to lines existing in August 2000.
C. BROWN: That‘s not entirely fair, because the farthest parts of the religious right were not entirely happy with his decision.
DEGETTE: Well, they wanted him to ban it altogether.
But what he said is, we are going to limit it to stem cells available August 2001. And those lines, there‘s only a few of them. They are contaminated with other cells. Research is going offshore. It‘s going private, and it‘s not nearly sufficient to cure these diseases.
C. BROWN: Congresswoman DeGette, thank you very much for joining us.
Throwing it back to you, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, Campbell.
Whenever someone on either side starts telling you how simple one of these decisions are, don‘t believe them. I thought Ron Reagan explained the way people of good faith thought differently about this. I think that congresswoman gave you a partisan take on it—Andrea.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the things that he didn‘t do is make false claims for Alzheimer‘s.
MATTHEWS: He never mentioned Alzheimer‘s.
MITCHELL: He didn‘t mention it because, as he would be the first to tell you, Alzheimer‘s is one of the few diseases that it is not proving yet to be helpful for. So he was absolutely honest in his scientific explanation. And I thought it was compelling, but also, of course, that moment when he said we can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. That‘s a powerful statement from a Reagan.
MATTHEWS: Ron Reagan is, by the way, going to come back at this table in a few minutes. He‘s going to rejoin and reclaim his role as, of course, a pundit on this show.
Anyway, we have got coming up right now Teresa Heinz Kerry, just moments away from taking the podium. She will introduced by a very funny guy—and Howard join I know this—a very funny guy, Chris Heinz, who does a great Arnold Schwarzenegger impression.
But right now, the Democrats are paying tribute to her with a video, with her life. Let‘s listen up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t know where my mom gets her energy. The fact that she is 65 and out there and wants to be current, it‘s pretty spectacular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She grew up cherishing the vote, cherishing the ballot, cherishing democracy.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My wife, Teresa, reminds me of the ideals of America. She is a naturalized citizen who came here from a dictatorship, and she loves the freedom and optimism of America and all that it has to offer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important issues to my mother are environmentalism and community service, our relationship with the rest of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the reason why it‘s been so easy having mom and John as one family is that they are cut from the same cloth. It stems from their humanity. It stems from their compassion. It stems from their concern.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teresa has—it‘s kind of like a special sparkle. It‘s hard to describe. I think it comes from her background. I am not sure if it is because she is Portuguese or whether it is influenced by the sort of what I think must be exotic about Mozambique.
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Sometimes, when I go to Florida or to Los Angeles on these trips, I see a lot of the same trees that I grew up with, wonderful climbing trees. I spent a lot of time up on tree branches.
I also started playing piano at age 5. And I loved it, and I wanted to be a pianist. So I had the great privilege of having a father who loved to practice medicine, who loved people, and who showed me hands-on how to take care of people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was exposed as a child to people who really had nothing. And she saw firsthand those who weren‘t being treated properly.
HEINZ KERRY: Because we lived in a dictatorship, I didn‘t know anything, except we didn‘t talk about politics outside of the house.
And when I went to university in Johannesburg in the late ‘50s, it was still integrated. This was a tough time, because we had the Higher Education Apartheid Act, which was the act in Parliament that would make all universities segregated. And we students marched against that for three years. And that was a good lesson for me that stood with me for life. You have got to take a stand. If no one is watching, you have got to take a stand.
I then went to graduate school in Geneva. And I met my late husband when he was a student, too. And then I worked with the United Nations for a year and a bit, during which we were engaged and then we got married.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The private plane carrying Senator Heinz collided with a helicopter in midair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We mourn today the loss of a distinguished and dedicated son of Pennsylvania, Senator John Heinz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She managed with her strength and her compassion and her understanding and her faith to move on one step after the other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Previous to my father‘s death, she perceived herself as a mother maybe first, and then still an important involved activist and philanthropist. But when life changes and you have to step up, my mom was able to. And I am sure she has lost some of the simple joys of her life by wearing both hats, but she has done a great job.
HEINZ KERRY: It is women who are calling for investigations into the link between the environment and family health.
Guided and inspired by nature, I learned about the order and respect, the understanding and the generosity that come from living in harmony with the natural world. This country really stands for more than the interests of just one people and one nation, because America isn‘t just a country. It‘s an ideal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism. Congratulations.
HEINZ KERRY: My late husband, Jack, introduced me to John around an issue of great importance to me, the environment. And my subsequent meetings with John were all around the environment. When you think about it, it really is about life, so he and I both cherish life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John has been rather remarkable. I think the effect he has had on the American people is similar to the effect he has had on me as a stepfather, which is to say, he showed up in my life. I found him likable enough, but didn‘t know much about him.
And the next thing you know, I found myself appreciating more and more the depth of his character and of his soul.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their honesty, their ability to think, to understand, to be compassionate about human beings and their knowledge, what more could we ask for in a president and a first lady?
HEINZ KERRY: And I think we have to dedicate ourselves to making the women of this country be sound, so that the men, their husbands, their fathers, their children and our society will be sound.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Chris Heinz.
CHRIS HEINZ, SON OF TERESA HEINZ KERRY: Good evening.
It‘s an honor to be here tonight to introduce my mother, Teresa Heinz Kerry. But first, I‘d like to say how proud I am of my stepfather and how honored I am to serve this cause.
When my mother first introduced me to John, I said to myself, “Self, the only man good enough for your mother is the president of the United States.”
I think it‘s going to work out.
More seriously, last week, our family lost a dear friend, Joe Clark. Joe had worked with our family for 35 years, since July of 1966. He was family. Joe first met my mom when she was newly married and pregnant with my oldest brother.
Digesting the loss of our friend, my mom and I spoke last week of their first meeting, in Washington, at the beginning of her American journey.
We talked about the 38 years that have passed in her life, and, as Joe would say, “all them changes.”
You see, in ‘66, my mom was new to America, having recently arrived from her native home in Mozambique, bright, 27 years young, and speaking five—five languages as a trained translator.
She‘d met a...
She‘d met a man from Pittsburgh, fallen in love, and moved to the United States to start a new life. And as so frequently happens in this country, as an immigrant, she took America and its opportunities and freedoms for all they‘re worth, both as a mother and as an engaged, progressive person.
In a long career dedicated to improving the lives of others, her finest work has been her stewardship of the Heinz Endowment since my father‘s death in 1991.
She is a true visionary. The New York Times has referred to her as one of the nation‘s leading philanthropists.
But don‘t take their word for it, or mine, because I‘m definitely biased. Simply go ask the residents of western Pennsylvania and beyond about her...
... about her tireless efforts to protect our environment, promote the arts, improve education and broaden economic opportunity, particularly for women.
I‘ll bet they vouch for me.
My mother‘s political accomplishments are also remarkable, considering she grew up in a dictatorship. From joining the first Pennsylvania Women‘s Political Caucus in 1972 to more recently fighting for health care and prescription drugs for seniors, my mom has set an example that‘s hard to follow. In total, she‘s campaigned in seven successful congressional races as a spouse to two wonderful men.
Indeed, my mom‘s political accomplishments and experience are so varied and so recognized that in 1991 after my father‘s death prominent members of the Republican Party urged her to run for the Senate.
Of course, none of these achievements define her as my mother, not through the prism of a son‘s eyes. I‘m blessed to see and know so much more about this remarkable woman. My memories run deep—flashes of her packing my lunch, applying a band aid, sending me off to college or serving as a very necessary first line of defense against some aggressive older brothers.
And while it‘s impossible for me to share my full sentiments here with you all, let me just say this—my mother in my heart and mind is a force; spiritual, organic and loving; smart, funny and wise. If, as her son, I can be any two of those things in my life, I‘ll be lucky.
Oh, and by the way, if I look that good at 65, I‘ll be doubly blessed.
But in the meantime, I‘m blessed to be a part of her life and her American journey.
Mom, I love you.
And on behalf of my stepfather, my father and my dear friend Joe, it gives me great pleasure to introduce the nation to someone I hope and believe will be the next first lady of the United States, Teresa Heinz Kerry.
Thank you very much.
TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY‘S WIFE: Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you. I love you, too.
Thank you, Christopher. Your father would be proud of you and your brothers.
And I love you. And I love our family.
My name is Teresa Heinz Kerry.
And by now, I hope it will come as no surprise that I have something to say.
And tonight, as I have done throughout this campaign, I would like to speak to you from my heart. Y a todos los Hispanos y los Latinos...
... a tous les Franco-Americain...
... a tutti Italiani...
... a toda a familia Portugesa e Brazileria...
... and to all the continental Africans living in this country...
... and to all new Americans in our country, I invite you to join our conversation and together with us work toward the noblest purpose of all: a free, good and democratic society.
I am grateful—I am so grateful for the opportunity to stand before you and to say a few words about my husband, John Kerry, and why I firmly believe that he should be the next president of the United States.
This is such a powerful moment for me. Like many other Americans, like many of you, and like even more your parents and grandparents, I was not born in this country.
And as you have seen, I grew up in East Africa, in Mozambique, in a land that was then under a dictatorship. My father, a wonderful, caring man who practiced medicine for 43 years, and who taught me how to understand disease and wellness, only got to vote for the first time when he was 73 years old.
That‘s what happens in dictatorships.
As a young woman, I attended Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was then not segregated.
But I witnessed the weight of Apartheid everywhere around me. And so with my fellow students, we marched in the streets of Johannesburg against its extension into higher education.
This was the late 1950s at the dawn of civil rights marches in America. And, as history records, our efforts in South Africa failed, and the Higher Education Apartheid Act passed. Apartheid tightened its ugly grips. The Sharpeville Riots followed. And Nelson Mandela was arrested and sent to Robben Island.
I learned something then. And I believe it still. There is a value in taking a stand, whether or not anybody may be noticing it, and whether or not it is a risky thing to do.
And if even those who are in danger can raise their lonely voices, isn‘t it more that is required of all of us, in this land where liberty had her birth?
I have a very personal feeling about how special America is, and I know how precious freedom is. It is a sacred gift, sanctified by those who have lived it and those who have died defending it.
My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called “opinionated”...
... is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish.
HEINZ: And my only hope is that one day soon, My only hope is that, one day soon, women, who have all earned their right to their opinions...
... instead of being labeled opinionated will be called smart and well-informed, just like men.
Tonight I want to remember my mother‘s warmth, generosity, wisdom and hopefulness, and thank her for all the sacrifices she made on our behalf, like so many other mothers.
And this evening, I want to acknowledge and honor the women of this world whose wise voices for much too long have been excluded and discounted.
TERRY: It is time—it is time for the world to hear women‘s voices in full and at last.
In the past year, I have been privileged to meet with Americans all across this land. They voiced many different concerns, but one they all share was about America‘s role in the world, what we want this great country of ours to stand for.
To me, one of the best faces America has ever projected is the face of a Peace Corps volunteer.
That face symbolizes this country: young, curious, brimming with idealism and hope, and a real, honest compassion.
Those young people convey an idea of America that is all about heart, creativity, generosity and confidence, a practical, can- do sense, and a big, big smile.
For many generations of people around this globe, that is what America has represented: a symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its people, people coming from all over the world.
Americans believed that they could know all there is to know, build all there is to build, break down any barrier, tear down any wall. We sent men to the moon. And when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn, and Hubble to touch the very edges of the universe in the very dawn of time.
Americans showed the world what can happen when people believe in amazing possibilities. And that, for me, is the spirit of America, the America you and I are working for in this election.
HEINZ: It is the America that people all across this nation want to restore, from Iowa to California...
... from Florida to Michigan...
... and from Washington State to my home of Pennsylvania.
It is the America the world wants to see: shining, hopeful, and bright once again. And that is the America that my husband John Kerry wants to lead.
John believes in a bright future. He believes that we can and will invent the technologies, the new materials and the conservation methods of the future.
He believes that alternative fuels will guarantee that not only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our dependence on foreign oil...
... but also that our economy will forever become independent of this need.
We can, and we will, create good, competitive and sustainable jobs while still protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, because good environmental policy is good economics.
John believes that we can and we will give every family and every child access to affordable health care, a good education and the tools to become self-reliant.
And John believes that we must and we should recognize the immense value of the caregivers in our country, those women and men who nurture and care for children, for elderly parents, for family members in need. These are the people who build and support our most valuable assets, our families.
Isn‘t it time—isn‘t it time that we begin working to give parents more opportunity to be with their children, and wouldn‘t it be wonderful for parents to be able to afford a full and good family life?
With John Kerry as president, we can, and we will protect our nation‘s security without sacrificing our civil liberties.
In short, John believes that we can and we must lead the world as America, unique among nations, always should by showing the face not of its fear, but of our hopes.
And John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old-fashioned way...
... by putting his life on the line for his country.
And no one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will.
And he will always, always be first in the line of fire.
But he also knows the importance of getting it right. For him, the
names of many friends inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial—that cold stone
· testify to the awful toil exacted by leaders who mistake stubbornness for strength.
And that is why as president my husband will not fear disagreement or dissent. He believes that our voices—yours and mine—must be the voices of freedom. And if we do not speak, neither does she.
In America the true patriots are those who dare speak truth through power.
And the truth that we must speak now is that America has responsibilities that it is time for us to accept again.
With John Kerry as president, global climate change and other threats to the health of our planet will begin to be reversed.
With John Kerry as president, the alliances that bind the community of nations and that truly make our country and the world a safer place, will be strengthened once more.
And the Americans John and I have met in the course of this campaign all want America to provide hopeful leadership again. They want America to return to its moral bearings.
And It is not—it is not a moralistic America they seek; it is a moral nation that understands and willingly shoulders its obligations, a moral nation that rejects thoughtless and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions.
And it is a moral nation that leads through the power of its ideas and the power of its example.
HEINZ: We can and we should join together to make the most of this great gift that we have all been given, this gift of freedom and this gift of America.
In his first inaugural, speaking to a nation on the eve of war, Abraham Lincoln said, “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth stone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Today, the better angels of our nature are just waiting to be summoned.
We only require a leader who is willing to call on them, a leader willing to draw again the mystic cords of our national memory and remind us of all that we as a people, everyday leaders, can do, of all that we as a nation stand for, and of all the immense possibility that still lies ahead.
I think I‘ve found that guy.
And I‘m married to him.
John Kerry will give us back our faith in America. He will restore our faith in ourselves. And in the sense of limitless opportunity that has always been America‘s gift to the world, together we will lift everyone up. We have to. It‘s possible. And do you know what? It‘s the American thing to do.
Good night. And God bless you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
MATTHEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to put her out there like that?
WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SAN FRANCISCO: Absolutely.
I think, Chris, that this nation is seeing the transformation of the Democratic Party. I think you saw it when Barack Obama was on the stage. I think you saw it when the independent Ron Reagan went on the stage. And now I think you see it when a very strong woman, reminiscent of Hillary Clinton, but with a little bit more heart and a clear, better measured delivery, giving good words and good guidance.
And I think what you saw was a real mother doing the job that needs to be done to win for her husband.
MATTHEWS: Reaction from women generally? Your thoughts, Andrea.
MITCHELL: I think she appeals to women. And I think she completely inoculated herself against all the charges that she speaks too bluntly when she said that women cannot be just called opinionated, that women have earned the right to have opinions.
MATTHEWS: And to be called smart and well-informed.
MITCHELL: Exactly. Women respond to that.
She also dealt with something which was the theme of the day for the Kerry campaign, which is that you can be smart, as well as strong, that being stubborn, which is what they claim George Bush is, in going to war, there are too many people on that war wall, on the Vietnam Wall, and too many people in Iraq.
MATTHEWS: Joe, will it play Peoria?
JOE SCARBOROUGH, NBC ANCHOR: No, it won‘t play in Peoria, Chris. And that‘s the question.
The people inside may have loved it, but this—as Winston Churchill said of the Soviet Union, what, it‘s a riddle wrapped inside of a mystery wrapped inside of an enigma, I think Teresa Heinz Kerry remains that. She seems a little more fawning, not in this speech, but just in general, towards her first senator husband than her second. And I don‘t think it will play very well.
It went on too long. And she still—American politics has a way of homogenizing people, grinding down the rough edges. She got in trouble not because she was a woman and said, shove it, but because she is in the center of the American political stage. You know, when John McCain at the end of his campaign snapped at Maria Shriver, everybody jumped on John McCain, just like they jumped on Teresa Heinz Kerry.
And I‘m telling you, I spoke with somebody that has known the Kerry—known John Kerry for a long time, loves John Kerry, wants him to be the next president of the United States. He says, everybody close to John Kerry is horrified, horrified that there‘s going to be that one Teresa Heinz Kerry moment that‘s going to alienate a lot of people in middle America.
MITCHELL: Now you know why there‘s a gender gap.
MITCHELL: There‘s a gender gap right at the table.
SCARBOROUGH: No, no, I don‘t think it‘s a gender gap. I think it‘s cultural gap. I don‘t think that Teresa Heinz Kerry played well in Peoria among stay-at-home moms.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NBC CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Listen. A few things.
First of all, since I am from Pittsburgh and so is she, I can testify to the fact that she has been the most active, creative, and generous philanthropist that that city has seen in the last 50 years. She could have pulled up stakes from there. She could have gone to Washington. She has remained loyal to Pittsburgh. That‘s the first thing.
The second thing is, she is an incredible speaker for the planet, literally, five languages, from Africa, insists on calling herself an African-American. I agree with Willie Brown.
MATTHEWS: Continental African.
FINEMAN: Sorry, Continental African.
MITCHELL: Which is a little disingenuous.
FINEMAN: Wait a minute.
MATTHEWS: Continental African.
FINEMAN: I agree with Mayor Brown, that you put Barack Obama, Ron Reagan and her together, you have the new Democratic Party.
But I also think she is a little too sophisticated. Her story is, I
agree with Joe, a little too complicated to be easily sellable to
MITCHELL: I think you are underestimating the American public here.
FINEMAN: I don‘t know. We‘ll see.
W. BROWN: Absolutely.
W. BROWN: Howard, I‘ve got to tell you something. The public is ready for a breath of fresh air. And believe me, she brings a breath of fresh air, and the other two people as well.
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