MARCH 10TH, 2008 | ryan.alexander
Senator Tom Harkin delivered his announcement speech today in his hometown of Cumming. Below you can read his remarks as he prepared them for delivery:
Thank you, Ruth, for those kind words. And, most of all, thank you for your love and support for the last 40 years. God has given me more than my fair share of blessings, and having Ruth at my side, as well as our two daughters, has been the greatest blessing of all.
You know, they say that Iowa is America’s heartland. But this small town of Cumming is my heartland.
It’s where I learned the values of hard work, honesty, family, faith in God, love of country, care and concern for those less fortunate.
Guided by these values, I have always fought for bold, progressive change . . . change that means improved schools, better jobs, a cleaner environment . . . change that means an America at peace, strong and respected in the world. But in recent years, we’ve gotten badly off track. We need to change direction – and I want to help lead that change.
That’s why, today, I am announcing my candidacy to be your voice and your vote in the United States Senate for another six years!
And it is by no means only Democrats who want change. Most independents and, I dare say, a majority of Republicans agree that our country has gotten seriously off track in the last seven years.
Americans of all walks are hungry for change.
We see an endless, pointless war in Iraq, and we want change.
We see an economy that isn’t working for ordinary Americans, and we want change.
We see not a health care system but a sick care system in this country. And we want to change American into a wellness society focused on good nutrition and disease prevention – keeping people out of the hospital in the first place.
We see run-amok globalization destroying millions of manufacturing jobs in this country – from General Motors to Maytag – and we want change.
We see global warming threatening our children’s future, and we want change.
But, my friends, change can’t just be something that blows with the wind. Change needs to be rooted in values. I just mentioned the values I learned growing up here – things like hard work and faith, caring for your neighbor, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren. That’s who I am. That’s why I’ve always been a proud progressive. And when you are guided by good values and sound principles, you can have the right kind of change . . . change that works . . . change that improves people’s lives in powerful ways.
Something else I’ve learned over the years: People are sick of partisanship and bickering. They want to get things done in Washington.
And the good news, again, is that when the changes you want are based on good values and sound principle, then you can bring people together from all across the political spectrum – Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
This has been true throughout my career in Congress.
For example, I saw the way my brother, Frank, and other people with disabilities were mistreated and discriminated against in the most outrageous ways. So I sponsored and fought for the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. And two of my most important partners in that fight were Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas and Republican Attorney General Dick Thornburg.
When I first became chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in 2002, writing a new farm bill, I put more funding in that bill for conservation than any farm bill ever passed – paying farmers not just for what they grow, but for how they grow it, so we can save our soil, clean our waterways, and increase wildlife habitat. I included the first-ever energy title in a farm bill to ramp up the transition to biofuels and other forms of clean, renewable energy.
I couldn’t have made these changes without strong bipartisan support from people like Republican Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana.
As chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds health, education and labor programs, one of my proudest achievements was doubling funding over five years’ time at the National Institutes of Health for research into cancer, heart disease, autism, Alzheimer’s, and other terrible diseases.
In addition, we dramatically increased funding for Pell Grants to help low-income kids go to college. We fought President Bush’s plan to strip millions of workers of their overtime rights, and we cut funding for the Bush Labor Department’s efforts to undermine unions. I couldn’t have done these things without reaching across the aisle, and without the partnership of Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
Looking ahead, my friends, the future demands more change. And I want to use my seniority in the Senate . . . my positions as Ag Committee chairman and chairman of the health, education, and labor funding committee . . . to help lead that change.
In agriculture, I am fighting for a new farm bill that will take us to the next level by expanding conservation, providing more support for rural economic development, moving us aggressively into cellulosic ethanol and other types of clean, renewable energy.
In education, we need to rebuild and modernize schools all across America.
We’ve been doing that here in Iowa with federal grants that I have secured, leveraging nearly $1 billion for school renovation across our state. Again, Iowa is leading the way. But we should be doing this nationwide.
And, by the way, I can’t think of a better way to create new jobs and pull this economy out of recession than by making these kinds of investments in our infrastructure.
Iowans believe that government should play a role in protecting people from abuses and excesses in our markets. It’s not right to stand by like a potted plant while Americans lose their jobs, homes, or pensions.
We need to put a stop to predatory lending, and give people an alternative to foreclosure.
Next year, as Ag Committee chair, I’ll be overseeing reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. This is a great opportunity to tackle the twin epidemic of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes in this country.
I intend to use that bill to get junk food out of our schools, and to make sure that every child gets a healthy start in life.
Another big change we need is to secure quality, affordable heath care for every American. But that’s not all. We need to change our whole mindset when it comes to healthcare. As I said earlier, right now we have a sick care system – a system where all the incentives go to patching up, mending, and fixing. We need to transform America into a wellness society – a society focused on fitness, good nutrition, and disease prevention.
My friends, these are the kinds of progressive changes that I want to help lead!
The fact is, I have the same passion as when I first went to Congress.
I feel the same outrage when I see injustice and unfairness toward any human being.
And I have the same fighting spirit when it comes to standing up for Iowa values and Iowa priorities.
So, today, I am asking you, my fellow Iowans, for your continued trust.
While I run as a proud Democrat, this campaign is not about partisanship.
Our hunger for progressive change is not defined by party affiliation.
We want to come together as Iowans of all walks – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – to chart a new course for this country that we all love so much.
So let’s join together.
Let’s all become partners in this campaign.
And know this: When we are united and working together as Iowans, there is nothing we can’t accomplish to move this country forward!