Walter Mondale Speech Accepting
the Nomination for U.S. Senate 2002
After Death Of Paul Wellstone
Remarks by former Vice President Walter Mondale in accepting the
Committee nomination to run for U.S. Senate:
I don't believe there's ever been a moment in our history quite
Minnesotans are raw with grief. Yet we still find ourselves,
still grieving, only five days from an election that Paul was
going to win.
The public calendar, with unseemly cruelty, is forcing us to
Tonight, the nation, in fact the whole world, is watching Minnesota,
not just to see who will win, but how we conduct ourselves. If there
was ever a time to put aside political dogfighting, now is the time.
We need to honor what the people of our state are going through.
We need time to heal, and my campaign must help in that healing.
Tonight, our campaign begins.
I start with a pledge to you: I will be your voice, and I will be
Paul Wellstone's voice for decency and hope and better lives.
When Paul was first sworn in as senator, he asked me to walk
down the aisle with him to present his credentials. A decade later,
under awful circumstances, his son David Wellstone told me
that his family wanted me to carry on for him.
I want you to know that Joan and I have had a wonderful life here.
. . . But what David said stirred me deeply. And when Joan and I
talked it over, we knew we had to do it and we knew we wanted
to do it.
We are doing it because Paul and Sheila's fight for the working
people and the forgotten people of Minnesota must go on. We
did it because our national politics desperately needs balance.
We did it because we could not crown our grief with futility.
And we did it because I love our state and our country and I
want to serve it again. . . .
I will be a voice for the parents who want schools where their
kids can learn, the teachers who want to teach their children,
the students who need help to go on to school, the scientists
and researchers who need the best laboratories and libraries
in the world.
I will stand up for the families who are hurting, who are working
two jobs to make ends meet or have no jobs at all.
I will fight for Americans who know it's not fair when a tax bill
costs a trillion dollars and they give 40 percent of it to the
richest 1 percent. I will be an advocate for Americans who
believe in competitive enterprise but who know the system only
works when the books aren't cooked and when the watchdogs
have the teeth and budget they need.
I will fight for the workers who have seen their pensions melt
away and who deserve a Social Security system they can
I will fight for the seniors who desperately need prescription
drugs under Medicare. I will fight for women who deserve the
right to choose.
I will fight for the handicapped who deserve lives of dignity,
for the mentally ill whose problems aren't theirs alone, but ours.
And I will fight as I always have for minorities of all races and
religions and sexual orientation who deserve to share in the
fullness of American life.
I will fight for all people who want to stop this mindless assault
on our air, our water and our land and God's beauty. I will
fight for citizens who are appalled by the oceans of special
interest money that have swamped and compromised the
politics of our country.
As we meet tonight, our nation is challenged by ruthless terrorists,
as strong as they've ever been, and our military strength must be
unquestioned. But our power also depends on our values, our
example, our freedom, our commitment to justice. And it depends
on our friends and our alliances.
We must remember that even America needs friends.
It is not enough to threaten our enemies with weapons.
We must also attract our friends with our values.
Iraq is dangerous, but going it alone is dangerous, too.
We have a United Nations. Let's use it. We have allies.
Let's enlist them.
Let's back our demands for inspections with force if
necessary, but let's multiply that force by the strength
of a united world. . . .
And now, in these few remaining days, and how few
they are, Joan and I will travel our state. We will campaign
alongside with Roger Moe and ask Minnesotans to put
him in the statehouse.
I'm asking everyone who's listening to us tonight: Please give
us your help. Help us bring some balance back to our
national life. Help us bring civility back to our public debate.
The Scriptures say, "To everything there is a season. A time
to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to
dance." Fate has thrust upon us a double season. It is both
a time to break down and a time to build up.
My fellow Minnesotans, let us mourn together, but let us also
together make the music of democracy.