Tuesday, January 8, 2008
EDWARDS: Thank you all so much for being here tonight.
You know, last week, I congratulated Senator Obama when he finished first and I finished second in Iowa. One race down. Tonight, I congratulate Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, two races down. Forty-eight states left to go.
So up until now, about 0.5 percent of Americans have voted; 99 percent-plus have not voted. And those 99 percent deserve to have their voices heard, because we have had too much in America of people's voices not being heard. I have met too many Americans whose voices have not been heard in this democracy.
Just this past week, I spent time with the family of Nataline Sarkisyan. Nataline is a 17-year-old girl who, just a few weeks ago, desperately needed a liver transplant. Her parents had health insurance with one of the biggest insurance companies in America.
They asked for the insurance company to pay for her liver transplant operation, and they rejected them. Then, the doctors came to her aid. They spoke up on her behalf. The nurses spoke up on her behalf. And then the insurance company said no again.
Finally, the family stood up and fought. They started to march and picket, along with many other Americans, in front of the offices of this insurance company.
And the insurance company finally gave in, but it was too late. And a few hours later, Nataline lost her life.
A few months ago, I met a 51-year-old man in the mountains of Virginia named James Lowe. James had been born with a severe cleft pallet. Because he had a cleft pallet, he could not speak.
A simple operation would have fixed his problem, but he had no health care coverage. And so he couldn't pay for it. Finally, somebody voluntarily fixed his cleft pallet, and now he can speak.
The problem is they fixed it when he was 50 years old. James Lowe lived for 50 years in the United States of America not able to speak because he had no health care coverage.
Tonight, a man or a woman whose name is unknown, who served this country patriotically and wore the uniform of the United States of America, will go to sleep under a bridge or on a grate, homeless.
You know, we've had too many Americans whose voices have not been heard in this democracy. That's what this battle is about.
It is not about me. It is about the cause of giving voice to all of those whose voices are not being heard in this democracy.
Tonight, we stand at a crossroads in the history of America. It is not that we don't know what it is we aspire to. We know exactly what we aspire to: universal health care; attacking global warming; and protecting the environment; ending poverty in the United States of America; standing up for American jobs and for the creation of American jobs.
The question is not what we aspire to. The question is, how do we get there? What will it take?
Four years ago, I spoke a great deal about the need for hope and inspiration in America. During this campaign, I've spoke about the need for principled action and the need for change in the United States of America.
We know what needs to be done. The only question is whether we have the backbone, and the will, and the determination to go there.
And here's what I have to say about this. Because of people like Alexis, who's a young woman who spoke to me this afternoon who has a serious health condition, and who has made thousands and thousands of phone calls on my behalf, because of the men and women of organized labor, the carpenters, the steelworkers, the service employee workers, because of those who have called, and knocked on doors, and worked tirelessly on behalf of this cause, this cause to create the America that all of us believe in, because of that, I want to be absolutely clear to all of you who have been devoted to this cause, and I want to be clear to the 99 percent of Americans who have not yet had the chance to have their voices heard, that I am in this race to the convention, that I intend to be the nominee of my party.
And I am in this race until we have actually restored the American dream and strengthened and restored the middle class of America.
And so I ask all of you here and all of you who can hear the sound of my voice, the 99 percent whose voices have not yet been heard in this democracy, to join us in this grassroots campaign to create the kind of America that all of us believe in.
God bless you. Thank you for being here. It's my privilege to be with you. Thank you.