DNC 2012: John Kerry’s speech to the Democratic National Convention (Full text)

September 6, 2012

Below are the remarks of Sen. John Kerry as delivered to the Democratic National Convention on September 6, 2012:

Thank you. Thank you. In this -- in this campaign we have a fundamental choice. Will we protect our country and our allies? Advance our interests and ideals? Do battle where we must and make peace where we can? Or will we entrust our place in the world to someone who just hasn’t learned the lessons of the last decade? We’ve all learned Mitt Romney doesn’t know much about foreign policy. But he has all these Neo-Con advisers who know all the wrong things about foreign policy. He would rely on them. After all he’s the great out-sourcer. But I say to you this is not the time to outsource the job of commander in chief.

(APPLAUSE)

Our opponents -- our opponents like to talk about American exceptionalism, but all they do is talk. They forget that we’re exceptional, not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things. We break out of the Great Depression, win two World Wars, save lives fighting AIDS, pull people out of poverty, defend freedom, go to the moon and produce exceptional people who even give their lives for civil rights and for human rights. Despite...

(APPLAUSE)

...and despite -- and despite what you heard in Tampa, an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the planet.

(APPLAUSE)

That -- that is a responsibility -- that is a responsibility from the Scriptures. And that too is a responsibility of the leader of the free world. The only thing exceptional about today’s Republicans is that almost without exception, they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place. An exceptional nation demands exceptional leadership.

KERRY: It demands the leadership of an exceptional president and, my fellow Americans, that president is Barack Obama.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, just -- just measure the disaster and disarray that he inherited. A war of choice in Iraq had become a war without end and a war of necessity in Afghanistan had become a war of neglect.

Our alliances were shredded. Our moral authority was in tatters. America was isolated in the world. Our military was stretched to the breaking point; Iran marching towards a nuclear weapon unchecked and Osama Bin Laden was still plotting.

It took President Obama to make America lead like America again.

(APPLAUSE)

It took President Obama to restore our moral authority. It took President Obama to ban torture. The president understands that our values don’t limit our power. They magnify it.

He showed that global leadership is a strategic imperative for America, not a favor that we do to other countries. And President Obama kept his promises.

He promised to end the war in Iraq and he has. And our heroes have come home. He promised to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly and he is and our heroes are coming home.

(APPLAUSE)

He promised to focus like a laser on al-Qaeda and he has. And our forces have elminated more of its leadership in the last three years than in all the eight years that came before. And...

(APPLAUSE)

And after more than -- after more than 10 years without justice for thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11, after Mitt Romney said it would be naive to go into Pakistan to pursue the terrorists, it took President Obama, against the advice of many, to give that order and finally rid this earth of Osama bin Laden.

(APPLAUSE)

Ask Osama bin Laden is he is better off now than he was four years ago.

(APPLAUSE)

Barack Obama -- Barack Obama promised always to stand with Israel, to tighten sanctions on Iran and take nothing off the table. Again and again the other side has lied about where this president stands and what this president has done.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu set the record straight. He said our two countries have exactly the same policy. Our security cooperation is unprecedented. And when it comes to Israel, my friends, I’ll take the word of Israel’s prime minister over Mitt Romney any day.

(APPLAUSE)

President Obama promised to work with Russia to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons and signed an historic treaty that just does that.

He promised to lock down nuclear materials around the world and he has done just that.

He refused to accept the false choice between force without diplomacy and diplomacy without force. When a brutal dictator promised to hunt down and kill his own people like rats, President Obama enlisted our allies, built the coalition, shared the burden so that today, without a single American casualty, Muammar Gadhafi is gone and the people of Libya are free.

(APPLAUSE)

So on one side -- so on one side of this campaign we have a president who has made America lead like America again. And what is there on the other side?

An extreme and expedient candidate who lacks the judgment and the vision so vital to the Oval Office, the most inexperienced foreign policy twosome to run for president and vice president in decades.

You know it isn’t -- it isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to say that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a position on Afghanistan. He has every position.

(APPLAUSE)

He -- he was against -- he was against setting a date for withdrawal. Then he said it was right. And then he left the impression that maybe it was wrong to leave this soon. He said it was tragic to leave Iraq. And then he said it was fine. He said we should have intervened in Libya sooner. Then he ran down a hallway to run away from the reporters who were asking questions. Then he said, the intervention was too aggressive. And then he said the world was a better place because the intervention succeeded. Talk about being for it, before you were against it.

(APPLAUSE) Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney -- Mr. Romney, here’s a little advice; before you debate Barack Obama on foreign policy, you’d better finish the debate with yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

Now -- President Mitt Romney -- President Mitt Romney, three very hypothetical words that mystified and alienated our allies this summer. For Mitt Romney an overseas trip was what you call it when you trip all over yourself overseas.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, it wasn’t -- it wasn’t a goodwill mission. It was a blooper reel.

(LAUGHTER)

KERRY: But -- but -- but a Romney/Ryan foreign policy would be anything but funny. Every president of both parties for 60 years has worked for nuclear arms control, but not Mitt Romney. Republican secretaries of state from Kissinger to Baker, Powell to Rice, President Bush, 71 United States Senators all supported President Obama’s new START treaty, but not Mitt Romney. He’s even blurted out the preposterous notion that Russia is our number one political/geopolitical foe.

Folks, Sara Palin said she could see Russia from Alaska. Mitt -- Mitt Romney talks like he’s only seen Russia by watching Rocky IV.

(APPLAUSE)

I -- I tell ya, so -- so here’s the choice -- here’s the choice in 2012; Mitt Romney out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad and out of the mainstream? Or Barack Obama, a president who is giving new life and truth to America’s indispensable role in the world. A commander in chief who gives our troops the tools and training they need and more, the honor and help they have earned when they come home. A man...

(APPLAUSE)

...a man -- a man who will never ask other men and women to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.

(APPLAUSE)

And let me say -- let me say something else -- let me say something else, no nominee for president should ever fail in the midst of a war to pay tribute to our troops overseas in his acceptance speech.

(APPLAUSE)

Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney was talking about America. They are on the front lines every day defending America and they deserve our thanks.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE USA! USA! USA!

KERRY: Some of us -- some of us -- some of us from a prior remember coming home was not always easy. President Obama has made it his mission that we welcome our troops home with care and concern and the respect they deserve. That is how an exceptional nation says thank you to its most exceptional men and women.

(APPLAUSE)

Mitt Romney says he believes in America and that he will restore American exceptionalism. I have news for him, we already have an exceptional American as president and we believe in Barack Obama. Thank you and God bless America.

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