Propelled by his success at the presidential debate the night prior, presidential candidate John Kerry spoke with a heightened sense of confidence to nearly 9,000 supporters in the USF Sun Dome on Friday.
Kerry’s visit to USF launched a two-day Florida campaign swing. After leaving USF, he flew to Central Florida, where the Democratic nominee spoke to a crowd of approximately 4,000 people in Kissimmee.
Jim Davis, a Florida congressman who is a candidate for office in District 11, introduced Kerry.
“There’s another hurricane and it’s in Washington, D.C.; we need someone to stand with us in the center of the storm,” he said while Kerry and senatorial candidate Betty Castor stood by his side. Castor, a former USF president, is seeking the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Bob Graham.
“I need a United States Senate that is going to vote the way we need to vote. That means I want you to support Betty Castor and help make her the next United States senator,” he said.
After thanking organizers and congressmen who support him, loud rumbling roars erupted from supporters when Kerry asked, “So did you watch the debate last night?
“What pleased me about the debate last night was that we had the opportunity to finally stand up in front of Americans as two people; no 30-second advertisements; no distortions and talk about the truth to the American people,” he said.
Kerry, as though he were still in a live face-off with President Bush, went on to say, “And truth begins with this: This president made a mistake to rush America to war without a plan to win the peace.”
His argument clear and concise, Kerry outlined the ways President Bush has compromised the American people.
Kerry said Bush has left the American people with the heavy consequences of his decision to invade Iraq.
“Now 90 percent of the cost, 90 percent of the coalition casualties are American; 90 percent cost is on taxpayers of our country,” he said. “And the president has said, even if he knew there was no imminent threat, even if he knew there was no al-Qaida threat — which we did know — even if he knew there was no weapons of mass destruction, he’d just go and do it all again. My friends, I laid out the policy last night, and the president kept trying to debate. He keeps trying to say, ‘We’ll we-we-we don’t want somebody who wants to leave’,” Kerry said, imitating Bush’s stuttering during Thursday night’s debate.
Furthermore, Kerry criticized Bush for not doing all he can to defend the American people.
Kerry, with confidence and conviction, said that he would hunt down and kill terrorists, increase active duty forces, double the number of special forces in Iraq, create an intelligence network and plan a summit to build alliances with countries around the world.
“I’m talking about doing fundamental things for American security. What does your president say? ‘I don’t know how you’re going to pay for all that, you’re going to have a tax gap’,” said Kerry, jokingly trying to imitate Bush’s speech and tone of voice.
Kerry argued that Bush has created a tax gap by providing tax cuts for wealthy Americans instead of investing in homeland security.
During the latter part of his speech, he listed ways he would change America.
He said he will be the president to make America energy independent of overseas oil reserves. Kerry said he will be the president who believes in science and promotes stem cell research.
For education, he said he will give $4,500 tuition tax credit to each family sending a child to college.
He also promised to allow Americans to import less expensive prescription drugs from Canada.
Coming to a close, Kerry yelled, “Health care is not a privilege, it is a right, and we’ll make it right for all Americans.”
Kerry concluded his speech by reiterating that compared to Bush, he has a better plan for the future of America.
“The outcome is far more in your hands than it is in mine or Edwards’,” said Kerry.
He encouraged people to translate the hopes for change by voting.
“That’s how were going to win.”