Senator Bob Graham
Dear MoveOn.org Members,
Just a few weeks ago, I launched my campaign for the presidency of the United States of America. In the days that have followed that announcement, we’ve witnessed a remarkable surge of grassroots mobilization behind our campaign to bring our nation back together as one America again.
I’m running for President because I believe America needs a new vision and new leadership. America needs to get back to being a model of Democratic principles for the world and a beacon of hope and opportunity for all Americans. As President, I will bring our nation together and make sure that all our citizens have a voice in their government. I will challenge us as a Nation to be even greater and will lead our citizens in conquering new frontiers.
America has been blessed. I am running for President because I understand the responsibility that comes with those blessings and I am ready to lead us in reaching our full potential.
For the past twenty-two years, I’ve been an elected statewide official from the critical state of Florida. For eight years I was governor of Florida and for the past sixteen years I have represented Floridians in the United States Senate.
Throughout this campaign, the differences between candidates will become clear. I opposed and voted against the war in Iraq, voted against Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and again this year, and I have been a leader among the Democratic contenders in questioning President Bush’s ill-conceived foreign policy. I promise to continue holding President Bush accountable for his devastating and destructive policies.
Under President Bush, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. As their friends at corporations like Enron pillaged the economy and the retirement hopes of millions of Americans -- as the stock market's fall robbed millions of their savings -- as executives raised their own salaries while firing workers – this Administration has answered with damning indifference. President Bush has divided our nation between the few at the top whom he serves and the millions who are left to fend for themselves with the moral equivalent of duct tape. We have increasingly become two Americas.
The Bush economy has been a boon to the wealthy in this country, but it has left working folks with fewer jobs, stagnant wages, and the lack of affordable health care. We have lost 2.5 million jobs since Bush took office, 1.4 million more are without health care, poverty is on the rise, and record deficits have returned to Washington. President Bush has responded by cutting programs for the poor, giving tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans, designing special breaks for corporate interests, and ignoring the needs of the middle-class.
I am running for President to bring back our economy. As Governor, I created over one million new jobs, invested in Florida's housing and infrastructure, and still kept the tax burden one of the lowest in the nation. As a Senator, I helped pass an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, tax breaks for small businesses and tax deductions to help pay for college tuition. As President, I will revive the economy with needed investments in infrastructure, health care, the social safety net, and education.
I am also running for President to bring back America's commitment to protecting our families' health, promoting our children's education, and preserving our environmental heritage. As governor, I raised education standards, per pupil spending, and teacher salaries, while building new schools. I've worked across party lines to craft a Medicare prescription drug plan that helps seniors, not the drug companies. I've launched efforts to save our Everglades, our coast and beaches, our scenic and wild rivers, our wetlands and aquifers, our endangered species and their habitats. As President, I will bring back values that promote the general welfare and secure these blessings for ourselves and our posterity.
As president, I will bring America back -- back to the values of our past and the promise of our future. And most of all, back together -- as one America. In our America, people at the top don't play by different rules. In our America, people work together. In our America, leaders listen.
I appreciate your deep commitment to the empowerment of the voiceless and the improvement of people’s lives. I hope you consider supporting my candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
June 17, 2003
These seven questions were among the most popular of over 1,800 posted and rated by MoveOn members on a MoveOn ActionForum. You can also read all of the interview responses on a single page.
1. PEACE (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration has established the pre-emptive war doctrine as a cornerstone of its foreign policy. There is no end in sight to the ways in which this doctrine can be misused -- simply observe the lack of evidence to support the case for war in Iraq. In other words, barring a change in policy, any country can become the target of our military might. Furthermore, pre-emptive war only legitimizes military aggression by other nations as well. Will you repeal Bush's pre-emptive war doctrine?
--Ricardo Cisternas, Engineer (June 12, 2003; Carlsbad, CA)
As former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know first hand how little the Bush administration has done to fight the War on Terror and protect us from threats abroad. I opposed and voted against authorizing the United States to go to war with Iraq because I simply felt it was a distraction from the real threats facing this country and it only enhanced the hatred of America abroad by those with the will and the means to attack our people. We have now lost nearly all of the worldwide support we garnered after September 11, 2001 and our standing in the world is being questioned. This is not a way to achieve peace and security for all people.
Now, six weeks after the war in Iraq ended, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. I hope we do find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, because America’s credibility is at stake. I fear that intelligence data was manipulated to sell the administration’s case for war to the American people and the world.
2. FREEDOM (see what other candidates said)
The enactment of Patriot Act I is a dangerous erosion of civil liberties in the United States. The proposed Patriot Act II is even more frightening. The purpose of both pieces of legislations seems to be the stifling of dissent rather than improving security in the U.S. If elected would you revisit the Patriot Act with the view of revising or repealing it? If we cannot speak without fear, we aren't living in a democracy.
--Bonnie Mulligan, Supervisor (June 11, 2003; Lanham, MD)
The Patriot Act I passed the Senate 98-1. It was a good faith effort by Congress in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks to protect our country from the threat of international terrorists.
The problems we have seen with this law are the way provisions of it have been implemented by the Bush administration, specifically through the actions taken by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
We can not win the war against terrorism by restricting the civil liberties and rights of privacy of our own citizens here in America.
I would not support a Patriot Act II. Furthermore, I think that we need a serious, thorough examination of the current Patriot Act and the problems of how Mr. Ashcroft as implemented it before the act comes before Congress for reauthorization in 2005.
3. RELEVANCE (see what other candidates said)
I think many people using MoveOn.org are concerned with the disastrous effects of the current administration. However, my sense is that most of mainstream America either does not see the faults or is too scared, for reasons related to Homeland and economic security, to question Bush's authority. How will you, the candidate, frame your message and reach out to mainstream America to show how the upcoming presidential election is relevant to their situation and demonstrate how the actions, policies, corporate influence and diplomatic laissez-faire of Team Bush is unhealthy for our country and our future?
--Karen Zgoda, (June 12, 2003; Brighton, MA)
I promise to take this fight right at President Bush. And in the first five weeks of my campaign, I’ve done that on a number of measures, whether it’s questioning Bush’s secrecy and the apparent manipulation of intelligence data over waging war in Iraq to the administration’s cover-up of the report on the terrorist attacks of September 11th. I’ve questioned President Bush’s failure to tell the truth about how large of deficits this country faced in the wake of new tax giveaways to the upper-crust of society while he leaves average Americans without jobs, without hope and without the critical investments that will help make their lives better.
I promise to hold George W. Bush responsible for putting corporate interests ahead of average Americans every single day he has occupied the White House. This is a White House of, by and for the elite in this country. This is a White House that has turned their back on average Americans.
4. TRUTH (see what other candidates said)
I would like to know when a Democratic candidate will summon the courage to publicly question the honesty and truthfulness of President Bush. The barrage of spin alluding to intelligence failures and misleading advice of Bush's confidants belies the fact that he alone is ultimately responsible for his words and decisions. Will any candidate demand the truth and an end to this conspiracy of deceit?
--John Kowalko, Machinist (June 12, 2003; Newark, De.)
One of the centerpieces of my campaign for the presidency is holding President Bush responsible for keeping Americans in the dark throughout his administration. This White House has a Nixonian stench and I will force it to be accountable for its obsession with secrecy.
As I have in recent days, I
will continue to push my case to find out the truth on weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq. I have taken the lead in criticizing President
Bush for his failure to release to the public the report on the terrorist
attacks of September 11th, 2001. This report is critical for the American people to
understand 9-11 happened and what we can do to prevent further terrorist
attacks on our country. Instead of releasing this to the public, the
administration has instead decided to engage in a cover-up of this
The same argument can be made on nearly every domestic policy that has come from this administration.
Government belongs to the people and it’s time to give the people and open and honest government once again.
5. SOCIAL PAIN (see what other candidates said)
The present Administration and Congress have enacted huge tax cuts and extreme military spending which may well limit the ability of government to address social needs (health care, education, affordable housing, poverty reduction, etc) for some time to come, as well as entrap future generations in debt. Meanwhile, social ills become more acute. How will you balance fiscal responsibility with the growing needs for health care reform, reinvestment in education and affordable housing, etc?
--Cindy Maxey, organizer, health care justice organization (June 11, 2003; Cleveland, OH)
I voted against the 2001 tax cuts and voted again this year against President Bush’s tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. I am the only candidate for President to vote for a measure in the Senate that would have eliminated all of President Bush’s 2003 tax cut from the budget entirely – some others running for president voted against that amendment. [S. Con. Res. 23, Vote #69, 108th Congress, 1st Session, 3/21/03]
Fiscal responsibility starts by rescinding those parts of the 2001 and 2003 tax cut intended for the wealthiest Americans which have not gone into effect. We need those resources to protect and ensure that Social Security and Medicare will be sustainable for future generations of Americans. We need those resources to invest in health care reform, provide affordable housing, after-school programs, job training and so many other investments that will help America’s economy prosper in the long-term.
As governor of Florida, we had balanced budgets every year I was governor, but we also dramatically increased critical investments in people. We poured money into our education system to increase per-pupil spending, build new schools, raise teacher salaries, and ensure excellence in education for our children. We increased investments in affordable housing, health care for the poor, and other initiatives that helped us create over 1.4 million new jobs in just eight years.
As president, I am committed to working towards a balanced budget while investing once again in people so we can create jobs and get the economy moving again. We will invest in health care, education, job training, and housing.
6. ENERGY (see what other candidates said)
Without dependence on fossil fuels, the air and water would be cleaner and we could free ourselves from our poisonous and deadly entanglements with Middle-Eastern oil dictators. What is your view? Can you show the imagination, innovation and determination needed to serve our country through serving the environment?
--Hilary Jirka, Merchandiser (June 12, 2003; Chicago, IL)
As governor of Florida, I brought more environmentally endangered lands into public ownership than any other state in the nation during that time. We launched efforts to save our rivers, wetlands, and coasts, and we enacted the historic Save Our Everglades program. In the Senate, I’ve been a leader on protecting our coastlines, our national monuments, the Alaska wilderness and our other sensitive lands against oil drilling.
As President, I will invest like no other president has before in renewable energy, including ethanol, wind and solar. We will wean our dependence from foreign oil by putting in place a strategy that takes us fully into the 21st Century through a dramatic increase in renewable energy production and consumption.
7. ENVIRONMENT (see what other candidates said)
The Bush administration is engaged in an all out war against the environment. Nothing is safe in this assault - not our national parks, wilderness areas, endangered species, the water we drink or the air we breathe. The administration's energy and land use policies are based on the recommendations of private corporate supporters rather than on government-funded studies, their own appointees in the EPA or on public opinion (in keeping with the general disregard for civil rights, more and more often, public comment is not being taken into consideration - sometimes not even being allowed in environmental disputes). The short-sighted policies of this administration could have devastating effects on our country and our planet. Can the Democratic candidate assure us that he will support progressive environmental policies here at home, and assume a leadership position in the global effort to protect the environment?
--A.L. Zuckerman, Associate Producer (June 12, 2003; New York, NY)
I pledge to be the most pro-conservation and pro-environment president in American history. I’ve spent a good deal of my public life working on this critical issue and I am proud of the progress that I helped make in Florida to protect our treasured Everglades and coastlines.
I will not only reverse the policies of the Bush administration, I will strive to make clean air, clean water and a healthy environment the cornerstone of my presidency.