Don't stop thinking about tomorrow

From the valedictory speech of the President of the United States to the Democrat National Convention in Los Angeles
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The Independent Online

My fellow Americans, tonight we can say with confidence: we built our bridge to the 21st century. We crossed it together. And we're not going back.

My fellow Americans, tonight we can say with confidence: we built our bridge to the 21st century. We crossed it together. And we're not going back.

To those who say the progress of these eight years was an accident, that we just coasted along, let's be clear: America's success was not a matter of chance; it was a matter of choice.

Today, America faces another choice, every bit as momentous as the one eight years ago. For what a nation does with good fortune is just as stern a test of its character, values and vision as how it deals with adversity.

This is a big election - with great consequences for every American - because the differences between our candidates and their visions are so profound.

Every House and Senate race is important. But if you'll give me one moment of personal privilege, I'd like to say a word about Hillary. When I first met her 30 years ago, she already had an abiding passion to help children.

Every year I was governor she took lots of time away from her law practice to work for better schools, children's health and jobs for parents who lived in poor areas. When I became President she became a full-time advocate for her lifetime cause. What a job she's done. She championed the Family Leave law, children's health insurance, and increased support for foster-children and adoptions. She wrote a best-selling book about caring for our children, and then she took care of them by giving all the profits to children's charities. For 30 years, she's been there for all our kids.

She's been a great First Lady. She's always been there for our family. And she'll always be there for the families of New York and America.

The biggest choice that you have to make is in the presidential race. Now, you know how I feel. But it's not my decision to make. It's yours. I just want to tell you a few things I know about Al Gore.

Al and I have worked closely together for eight years now. In the most challenging moments, when we faced the most difficult issues - of war and peace, of taking on powerful special interests - he was always there. He always told me what he thought was right.

Everybody knows Al Gore is thoughtful and hard-working. I can tell you personally, he is one strong leader. In 1993, there was nobody around the table more willing to make the tough choices to balance the budget the right way - and take the tough stands against those who would do it the wrong way, on the backs of the poor and working people. I've seen it time and again. More than anybody else I've known in public life, Al Gore understands the future and how sweeping changes and scientific breakthroughs affect Americans' daily lives.

Finally, I'd like you to know that Al Gore is a profoundly good man, who loves his children more than life. He has a wonderful wife who has fought against homelessness and for the cause of mental health, bringing it into the sunlight of our national life. America owes Tipper Gore our thanks.

Most important, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will keep our prosperity going by paying down the debt, investing in education and health care, moving more people from welfare to work, and providing family tax cuts that we can afford. In stark contrast, Republicans want to spend every dime of our projected surplus and then some on big tax cuts - leaving nothing for education or Medicare prescription drugs, nothing in case the projected surpluses don't come in.

Fifty-four years ago this week, I was born in a summer storm to a young widow in a small southern town. America gave me the chance to live my dreams. I have tried to give you a better chance to live yours. Now, with hair greyer and wrinkles deeper, but with the same optimism and hope I brought to the work I love eight years ago, my heart is filled with gratitude.

Remember, keep putting people first. Keep building those bridges. And don't stop thinking about tomorrow.

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