Transcript of George W. Bush's Acceptance Speech

Little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed and, with the leadership of Presidents Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.

But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton/Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence.

Our military is low on parts, pay and morale.

If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report … Not ready for duty, sir.

This administration had its moment.

They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

This generation was given the gift of the best education in American history. Yet we do not share that gift with everyone. Seven of ten fourth-graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children’s book.

And still this administration continues on the same old path with the same old programs — while millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.

This administration had its chance. They have not led. We will.

America has a strong economy and a surplus. We have the public resources and the public will — even the bipartisan opportunities — to strengthen Social Security and repair Medicare.

But this administration — during eight years of increasing need—did nothing.

They had their moment. They have not led. We will.

Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values — to show we have grown up before we grow old.

But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them.

They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

And now they come asking for another chance, another shot.

Our answer?

Not this time.

Not this year.

This is not a time for third chances, it is a time for new beginnings.

The rising generations of this country have our own appointment with greatness. It does not rise or fall with the stock market. It cannot be bought with our wealth.

Greatness is found when American character and American courage overcome American challenges.

When Lewis Morris of New York was about to sign the Declaration of Independence, his brother advised against it, warning he would lose all his property.

Morris, a plain-spoken Founder, responded … “Damn the consequences, give me the pen.” That is the eloquence of American action.

We heard it during World War II, when General Eisenhower told paratroopers on D-Day morning not to worry — and one replied, “We’re not worried, General … It’s Hitler’s turn to worry now.”

We heard it in the civil rights movement, when brave men and women did not say … “We shall cope,” or “We shall see.” They said … “We shall overcome.”

An American president must call upon that character.

Tonight, in this hall, we resolve to be, not the party of repose, but the party of reform.

We will write, not footnotes, but chapters in the American story.

We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers — and leave this nation greater than we found it.

We know the tests of leadership. The issues are joined.

We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation, and for generations to come.

Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly, it reflects the values of our society. We will set it on firm financial ground, and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them.

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