« MT-Sen: Burns Spins Out of Control | Main | GA-Lt.Gov: Pat Robertson Slaps Ralph Reed »

Sunday, April 17, 2005

MN-Sen: Klobuchar Announcement Speech

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Here is the full text of Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, Amy Klobuchar's official announcement speech made earlier today. Klobuchar has raised, at last report, $580,000 since Senator Dayton (D-MN) made it official that he would not seek re-election. Her campaign website can be found HERE.

SNIP:To learn a little bit about responsibility, we need to listen to the everyday heroes of our state--- people like the nurses who watched over my baby daughter when she was sick in the hospital, the police officer who stayed out all night to get that final piece of evidence we needed to solve a murder case, the reservists who leave their families behind to protect our nation abroad, the small business owner who goes the extra mile to provide health care benefits to a pregnant employee, and the farmer who struggles to keep his land and send his kids to college at the same time.
Full speech in the extended copy.

Good afternoon. Welcome to the house I grew up in. It's where my Mom, Rose Klobuchar, still lives. And this morning she gave me one piece of important advice that she wanted me to share with all of you: don’t step on her tulips.

I’m proud to have my family here with me today. I first want to introduce the two most important people in my life: my husband John and my daughter Abigail.

John grew up in Mankato, and his parents are here with us today. John is the third of six children – all boys. Let me tell you, my in-laws were never so happy with me than the day our daughter Abigail was born. And we’ve all been happy ever since.

My mom was a second grade teacher until she was 70. Her students still stop me on the street to tell me about how, with commitment and love, she shaped their lives just as she shaped mine, by teaching me to value education and curiosity and good humor.

My dad, Jim Klobuchar, is also here with us today. He’s also retired, or sort of retired. I say that because he continues to write books and still organizes adventure trips. As a newspaperman he brought life to the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. He taught me that with faith in God we can meet our biggest challenges. He taught me to be leery of those with too much power, to take on the tough fights and to follow my dreams.

This house, this driveway, have marked the beginning of many journeys for me. My first day of kindergarten, and all through elementary school, my sister and I would walk across the street there, through the Bezenar’s backyard, and up the hill to what was then called Beacon Heights School.

It was here on this driveway where I started many a bike trip with my dad, including the one that took us all the way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming: 1100 miles in 10 days with all our gear on our bikes and our backs, 3 flat tires, 5 angry farm dogs and 1 tornado. Compared to that trip, this journey is going to be simple.

This journey started two months ago when our friend Mark Dayton announced that he would not seek another term in the United States Senate. Since then, I’ve received a generous outpouring of support and encouragement from people throughout Minnesota, many of whom I’ve worked with over the years.

As the chief prosecutor for Minnesota’s largest county, in which I represent nearly one-quarter of the people of this state, I’ve fought to make our communities even better, safer places to live. I’ve fought to protect the most vulnerable among us. I’ve fought to make government more accountable and efficient. I have a proven record of making a difference and producing positive results for the people I represent.

I’ve listened to them. I’ve listened to my family. I’ve thought long and hard about what I can do for our state. I’ve listened to our everyday heroes: farmers in Clay County, workers in Duluth, small business owners in Rochester, and veterans from across the state.

And so, today, where so many of my own journeys have begun, and with a commitment to the everyday heroes across Minnesota, I announce my candidacy for the United States Senate.

I run for the United States Senate so that I can make a difference for the people of Minnesota. I am a public servant who will put the greater good of the many in front of the interests of the few. Just as I have done as a prosecutor, I will stand up for what’s right without fear or favor. I will devote myself to solutions that improve people’s lives instead of fixating on issues that divide. I will bring Minnesota common sense to the halls of Congress.

I love this state. I’ve gotten to know Minnesota pretty well in the past 44 years--on the back of a bike, through my work as President of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, and through John’s and my families’ roots on the river banks of southern Minnesota to the forests and lakes of the north.

As Minnesotans, we share so much in common. We believe in hard work and fair play. We believe in a secure nation and safe communities. We believe in personal integrity and responsibility.

I believe in hard work and fair play. My grandpa was a miner, working 1500 feet underground in the iron ore mines in Ely. He didn’t even finish high school, but he and my grandma saved money in a coffee can in the basement, and they saved enough to send my dad to Ely Junior College. From there he went to the University of Minnesota. He married my mom. They moved here to this house where I grew up.

I remember my mom driving me in her red comet car to piano lessons. After the lessons during Christmas time we’d drive around town looking at all the Christmas lights in the big houses. And when I looked at those houses and imagined the lives inside them, never once did I think that I couldn’t achieve everything that those kids could achieve. It would take work. It would take student loans. I worked as a car hop and typed student papers in college to get there, but I did it.

That’s because Minnesota has always stood for opportunity through hard work -- the idea that no matter where you come from, if you work hard, you can give the uplifting gift of education to your children, you can have security in your later years, you can achieve your dreams.

That’s why we in Minnesota are horrified by the way Washington has turned a $200 billion dollar budget surplus into a $400 billion dollar deficit. Every baby born in Minnesota is now saddled with a $26,000 “birth tax” – their share of the burgeoning federal debt. That’s a lot more than you can fit in a coffee can.

As a Senator, my philosophy will be: “pay-as-you-go.” You want to do some more spending, fine, but show how you’re going to pay for it. You want an additional tax cut, ok, but show how you’re going to pay for it. During the Clinton administration Congress used this rule to balance the budget and produce surpluses. We need to do it again.

As a public servant I go to work every day with a mission that we treat people the same no matter where they come from. That’s fair play. Whenever we prosecute a well-connected wealthy person, like a pilot or a CEO, the courtroom is packed with friends and we receive dozens of letters asking for leniency. When we prosecute a poor person, she’s lucky if her mom can take time off to attend.

When we prosecuted a judge for stealing $400,000 from a mentally disabled woman, it was standing room only at his sentencing. The room was filled with movers and shakers, all there to say this man shouldn’t go to prison. Even the former Miss America testified, but that didn’t bother me; hey, I was Ms. Skyway News of March of 1988.

But what I remember most about that case is the two African American men that came to watch. They had been in the courthouse for their cases and, except for the court reporter, they were the only African Americans in that room. They told me that since they had once gone to jail to pay for their crimes, they thought the judge should go to jail to pay for his. And they said, “you know, we think you need us here.” And we did. They were our guardian angels: the judge got four years. They were there to say, by their presence alone, that we can’t have two systems of justice, one for the rich and powerful and one for everyone else. We can’t have two health care systems, we can’t have two economic systems.

Minnesotans deserve fair play.

That’s why I’m so concerned about the way Washington has shifted the tax burden in this country so that an outsized share of the tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest among us. In Minnesota, we’d rather give them to the many, not the few.

I have always been proud to live in a state and country where we wrap our arms around the most vulnerable – our kids, our elderly, our disabled. It’s what we do. We take care of our kids, our parents and grandparents. That’s why we know that you can’t protect Social Security by diverting money out of the system. We need a Social Security system that’s a guarantee, not a gamble.

In Minnesota we know that farmers deserve fair trade agreements that let them compete on an even playing field. And in Minnesota we know that consumers get better prices when big drug companies face competition. When I go to Washington I will focus on real health care reform by insisting that we negotiate lower prices with the pharmaceutical companies and I will target spiraling health care costs.

That’s fair play.

I also believe in a secure country built on a strong military and safe communities. No political party has a monopoly on patriotism or the fight against terrorism. I am proud of the men and women who serve our country on the front lines everyday – many from rural areas of our state. In Minnesota we all agree that we must fully equip our troops before we send them to fight. And we must all share in the cost of protecting our country from terrorists and hostile nations.

But security begins at home with safe communities. I’ve seen this with the work we do in the neighborhoods. Block clubs, neighbors watching out for each other, coupled with strong, smart law enforcement have made a difference. We’ve cut crime. We’ve assigned prosecutors to each school to work hand-in-hand with school officials and police to intervene early in kids’ lives. We’ve targeted sex offenders, gangsters, and felons with guns.

In Minnesota, we need to be relentless in our approach to the newest crime challenge -- the highly addictive drug methamphetamine -- as we move forward. The best way to attack this drug is not only to be tough on dealers and stop it at its source, but also to invest in effective treatment.

Safe communities also mean maintaining Minnesota’s proud heritage of conservation, clean water and clean air. In a state that depends on clean water for our citizens, our economy and our tourism, we should be able to eat the fish that we catch. I will insist on rules that keep mercury at safe levels so our lakes, rivers and streams can sustain our Minnesota way of life.

I also believe in responsibility and personal integrity. We are all responsible for our own actions and our own priorities, and in Minnesota we know that there is a difference between right and wrong.

We know that it’s wrong for the people in Washington to make closed-door, back-room deals to change the ethics rules to protect powerful partisans. And it’s right to put integrity and our country’s interests first.

To learn a little bit about responsibility, we need to listen to the everyday heroes of our state--- people like the nurses who watched over my baby daughter when she was sick in the hospital, the police officer who stayed out all night to get that final piece of evidence we needed to solve a murder case, the reservists who leave their families behind to protect our nation abroad, the small business owner who goes the extra mile to provide health care benefits to a pregnant employee, and the farmer who struggles to keep his land and send his kids to college at the same time.

The 2006 election should be their election, not an endless 24-hour-a-day T.V. shoutfest about what’s right and what’s left. This election should be about what’s right and what’s wrong.

I also believe that government must be more than just about talk. If you’re going to serve, if you’re going to meet the needs you see every day, in the schools, on the streets, you can’t duck responsibility. Taking responsibility means putting your principles into action to get results. Leading an office of nearly 400 people, I've balanced budgets and set priorities. I offer a record of hard work, innovation, and results in protecting people’s safety. During my service as chief prosecutor, serious crime has gone down significantly in Hennepin County. We have worked for justice without regard to partisanship, wealth or privilege, and we’ve earned the respect of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

From the moment I took office I said that I would measure our success by results. To get results you must take on the tough fights and you must win them. As a new mom who was pushed out of the hospital after 24 hours with my sick baby in intensive care, I took on the HMOs and the insurance industry lobbyists and fought to get one of the first laws in the country to guarantee 48-hour hospital stays for new moms and their babies. And we won.

As a lawyer in private practice, I took on a big telephone monopoly to get more competition in the telephone industry, and we won.

As a prosecutor, I saw how many people were killed and severely injured by drunk drivers -- I saw that people with 22 DWIs were never going to prison and I went to the Legislature with a felony DWI bill with tougher penalties for chronic drunk drivers. It took us two years but we got it passed, and we won.

When I became County Attorney I said that I would make our office more accountable to the citizens we serve and measure our success by results. We’ve taken on the tough cases and we’ve won.

Cynics say you can’t bring this philosophy of responsibility and results to Washington -- that it’s too big for one senator from Minnesota to make a difference. I don’t buy it. Minnesotans send their senators to Washington because they want them to make a difference.

It’s humbling to think of some of the great people we’ve sent to represent us in the Senate: Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Dave Durenberger, Mark Dayton, and Paul Wellstone.

Inspired by these heroes, but even more by the everyday heroes whose names have never been headlined, I am ready to take this fight for Minnesota to our nation’s capital.

I am the daughter of a teacher and a newspaperman.

I am a wife and a mother.

I am a prosecutor.

I am an advocate.

I am a Minnesotan.

And with the help and support of the people of Minnesota, I will be your United States Senator.

Posted at 11:44 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Minnesota, Minnesota | Technorati