...Before I finish, I want to add a note, both personal and political. Two years ago I sought the Presidency to lead us on a different course. I am proud of the campaign we ran, proud of the fact that 3 years ago I said that Iraq was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time; proud that we defined energy independence and made it, for the first time, part of the Presidential race; proud of a health care plan that we laid out that to this moment remains viable and waiting to be used in order to lower the health care costs for our fellow Americans.
We came close, certainly close enough, to be tempted to try again. There are powerful reasons to want to continue that fight now. But I have concluded this is not the time for me to mount a Presidential campaign . It is time to put my energy to work as part of the majority in the Senate to
do all I can to end this war and strengthen our security and our ability to fight the real war on terror.
The people of Massachusetts have given me an incredible privilege to serve, and I intend to work here to change a policy in Iraq that threatens all that I have cared about and fought for since I came home from Vietnam.
The fact is, what happens here in the next 2 years may irrevocably shape or terribly distort the administration of whichever candidate is next elected President. Decisions are being taken and put into effect today and in the days to come that may leave to the next President a wider war, a war even more painful, more difficult, more prolonged than the war we already have.
Iraq, if we Senators force a change of course, may yet bring stability and an exit with American security intact or it may bring our efforts in the region to a failure that we will all recognize as a catastrophe.
I don't want the next President to find that he or she has inherited a nation still divided and a policy destined to end as Vietnam did, in a bitter or sad legacy. I intend to devote all my efforts and energies over the next 2 years, not to the race for the Presidency for myself but for doing whatever I can to ensure that the next President can take the oath with a reasonable prospect of success for him or her--for the United States. And I intend to speak the truth as I find it without regard for political correctness or partisan advantage, to advise my colleagues and my fellow citizens to the best of my ability and judgment, and to support every action the Senate may reasonably and constitutionally take to guide and direct the ship of state.
This mission, this responsibility, is something all of us must accept, and as someone who made the mistake of voting for the resolution that gave the President the authority to go to war, I feel the weight of a personal responsibility to act, to devote time and energy to the national dialog in an effort to limit this war and bring our participation to a conclusion.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. SANDERS). The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I know how difficult of a decision this is for Senator Kerry to make. And today, I say to the people of the country how proud all of us in Massachusetts are of JOHN KERRY, and his outstanding service in the United States Senate for our State and for our country. Throughout his career, he has been a true hero in every sense of the word.
He has been my colleague since 1984, and I have deeply valued the opportunity to work side-by-side with him, but most of all I'm proud to call him my friend. Over the years, Vicki and I have grown so close to JOHN and his wonderful wife Teresa and his loving daughters Vanessa and Alexandra. They are a special family, and their friendship is one we cherish.
We heard just a few moments ago why he was able to galvanize the country, and earn such tremendous support, in the 2004 Presidential campaign . The eloquence, the passion, the insight, the knowledge of history, and awareness of public events--these qualities we saw on display just moments ago in this Chamber--these are the qualities that characterize and define the career of JOHN KERRY.
Now JOHN has decided to continue to devote his passion, his interest, and his energies toward bringing our troops home from Iraq safely, and how fortunate they are to know that he will devote all of his energies to that cause over the next months--hopefully not years. All of us in Massachusetts look forward to his continued service in the United States Senate for years to come and to his voice and his vote working here for the working people of Massachusetts, for their jobs, for their health care, for the education of their children, for the betterment of their environment, and for their hope for a better quality of life. He's been there for us in the past on so many of these critical concerns, and we take comfort in knowing he'll be there for all of us in the future as well.
I know this has been a difficult time for JOHN. I congratulate him on an outstanding presentation this afternoon, and for his courage and determination. I congratulate him for continuing to want to make a very important difference on the overarching and overriding issue of our time, and that is how we can remedy this catastrophic mistake of Iraq and bring our servicemen home safely.
I'm grateful to be able to call JOHN KERRY my colleague
and friend, and look forward to working with him for years to come.
PRESS RELEASE received from
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 24, 2007
Contact: Amy Brundage
John Kerry: Still Fighting
Senator Kerry today sent the following email to the 3 million person johnkerry.com community.
Please visit www.johnkerry.com to view Senator Kerry’s webcast to hear John Kerry’s announcement on a new mission for the johnkerry.com community.
Below is a copy of the email:
I wanted to start by just saying thank you -- thank you to each and every one of you who have come together in the johnkerry.com community.
Thanks to you, we have a new Democratic Congress that is fighting to stop the administration's disastrous course in Iraq, thanks to you we can be a Congress that addresses issues like climate change and health care, and thanks to you, change is coming to Washington.
Over the last two years, when you could've walked off the field after getting knocked down in 2004, you didn't walk away, you kept fighting. Together, three million strong, you helped provide $14 million to more than 260 candidates, committees and progressive causes. Nineteen of those candidates received over $100,000 each in donations from our community. Just think of the special support that you helped us provide to veterans running for office -- helping to make Chris Carney, Tim Walz, Joe Sestak, and Patrick Murphy members of Congress today. And because you dug in early when a lot of people said it couldn't be done, you helped a courageous Vietnam veteran Jim Webb on his march to become the 51st Senator and give Democrats our majority in the Senate.
I hope you are as proud of what you've accomplished as I am. But this isn't a time to rest on our accomplishments.
The work isn't over. Today I hope you'll help me with another big mission.
35 years ago, I got into public life to end a war that was wrong. I believe now as strongly as I did then that it is wrong to ask more young Americans to die for anyone's mistakes. And I believe that a Congress that shares responsibility for getting us into this war must bear responsibility for getting us out.
Americans went to the polls and voted for change in Iraq. They sent a strong and clear message to all of us, on both sides of the aisle, that they wanted real change in Iraq. They certainly did not vote for us to sit by while some national leaders actually advocate escalating the war and sending more American troops into the middle of an Iraqi civil war. We must stand for a change in Iraq, or we don't stand for anything at all.
This mission, this responsibility, is something all of us must accept. As someone who voted for the resolution that gave the president the authority to go to war, I feel the weight of a personal responsibility to act.
I sought the presidency to lead us on a different course. There are powerful reasons to want to continue that fight now. But I've concluded this isn't the time for me to mount a presidential campaign. It is the time to put my energy to work as part of the new Democratic majority in the Senate, to do all I can to end this war and strengthen our security and our ability to fight the real war on terror.
The people of Massachusetts have given me an incredible privilege to serve in the Senate, to represent the birthplace of freedom, the cradle of liberty, and a state where in Faneuil Hall patriotic dissenters stood on principle. I want to continue representing Massachusetts, and that's why I am running for reelection so I can use my voice all day every day to end this war and galvanize grassroots action to force Washington and our Democratic Party to live up to its responsibility.
Together, all of us, starting with the three million of you who have built this online community, must remain steadfast in protecting the principles we fought for every day of our campaign. You have a responsibility to urge those who are running this time to step up and address those issues, and particularly on Iraq to find not just a new way forward, but the right way forward.
Above all else, the mission we must all join is to end the war in Iraq.
Our first step toward that goal is to force President Bush to set a deadline to redeploy our troops.
I hope you will come to http://www.setadeadline.com and take the opportunity to speak out on the importance of setting a deadline to redeploy our troops and bring our heroes home. Speak out at http://www.setadeadline.com.
Now that a new Democratic Congressional majority has convened in the U.S. Capitol, a deadline must be set. Working together as Americans, holding leaders accountable, is our best hope to ensure that it is.
Please come to http://www.setadeadline.com and get on board.