Pre-Primary Period: Not Running

A half a dozen potential Democrats took themselves out of the running in the latter half of 1991 including: House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (MO) on July 17; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (WV) on Aug. 7; Sen. Al Gore Jr. (TN) on Aug. 21; Rep. Dave McCurdy (OK) on Oct. 18; Rev. Jesse L. Jackson (DC) on Nov. 2; and Gov. Mario Cuomo (NY) on Dec. 20, the last day of the NH primary filing period..  Cuomo overshadowed many of the declared candidates for months until his dramatic announcement that he would not run.



For Immediate Release            Congressman Richard A. Gephardt
July 17, 1991                            H-148, US Capitol


Washington, D.C. -- Congressman Richard A. Gephardt, the House Majority Leader, sent an individually addressed letter to each Member of the House Democratic Caucus with the text as follows:

"A little more than two years ago, I took myself out of the 1992 Presidential contest when I announced my candidacy for Majority Leader.  That decision was right when I made it, and I reaffirm it today.

"In recent months, many of my closest friends inside the House and from around the country have urged me to reconsider and to launch a second campaign for the Presidency.

"The record of the Bush Administration makes their case compelling.  Diminished opportunity for the next generation of Americans, declining investment in education and research and public works, the decay of tax policy into a spoils system for the rich, the immoral Republican strategy of racial division, underlying problems in our foreign policy, and the beating we take every day in foreign trade are issues which demand the strongest possible challenge by our party.

"For two years, I have conducted surveys on issues of concern to the Democratic Caucus.  All the polling and information I have seen persuade me that George Bush's popularity is paper-thin -- that he can be defeated in 1992.  But I am also convinced that my greatest contribution to that cause will be made, not as a Presidential candidate, but as Majority Leader, helping to shape, define, and advance the Democratic message.

"In the end, how a public servant can best serve the causes in which he or she believes cannot be determined by polls, and cannot be resolved even with the best intentioned advice of others.  The answer must come from the heart.

"And my heart tells me that it is best for St. Louis and my district, and best for our Democratic Party in Congress and across the country, for me to remain as Majority Leader.

"Even though I will not be a candidate for President in 1992, I am not withdrawing from the fight to make the Democratic Party stand for working families and the middle class.  And to all Democrats who seek the Presidential nomination, I now say: It's your fight too.

"For my part, I will continue travelling the country, campaigning for Democratic incumbents, Democratic challengers, and Democratic ideals.

"I will encourage Democrats in Congress to exhibit the leadership that our party must offer and our country so desperately needs.  Some say we must wait until our party has a nominee, or until the country elects a Democratic President, for Congress to press the issues.  Such hesitation isn't productive; it is unrealistic; and it ignores the standard by which our performance is measured today.  For our party and our country to succeed, Democrats in Congress have to fight the battles now, and I want us to fight them openly, proudly, and successfully.

"In closing, I want to reiterate how honored and grateful I am to have been elected Majority Leader by our Caucus, to serve at Tom Foley's side, and to enjoy the friendship of colleagues like you.  Through my deeds and work in the days ahead, with your advice and good wishes, I hope to continue meriting your confidence and your support."


contacts:            Deborah Johns/David Dreyer


SEN.  ROCKEFELLER: Thank you.  Three months ago, I opened the door to the presidency driven by the frustration of 11 years of Republican rule, haunted by images gathered during three years studying our failing health care system and the neglect shown our children, and possessed of a vision of an America that I grew up believing in, I hoped and wanted to lead this great nation down a better path.

I've always believed in an America of industrial might and of agricultural bounty, where a steelworker's strong arms can earn a good income, buy a home, and perhaps send a child to college; and where our brightest minds turned out automobiles and electronics, not junk bonds or video games; and where a farmer could afford to feed his family just as he struggles every day to feed the families of the world.  Maybe it's naive, maybe it's a naive thought in the 1990s, but I was raised to believe that in America we take care of one another and that we take responsibility for our actions and for our country; we understand that no one prospers alone, that success gained at the expense of another human being is hollow, empty.

During the 1980s that all seemed to change.  Despite the talk of values and responsibility, our leaders flatly abandoned them.  Instead of raising standards and raising expectations they lowered them.  They encouraged us to forget that we were accountable for our actions, that corporations are accountable to the workers inside their factories, to the communities that surround them; that individuals have responsibilities to their children and to their communities; that government must be accountable to the people that it serves.  They encouraged us to be intolerant of one another.  They built a Berlin Wall right through the middle of our economy, lavishing tax breaks and corporate perks on the lucky few, taxing and ignoring those on the other side.  Jobs were shipped overseas; the poor shunned; the wealthy irrationally -- irrationally -- adored; and the middle class simply cut adrift.

They walled us off one from another with fear.  Instead of trying to bring us together, two Republican Presidents have tried their utmost to drive us further apart.  Again and again we have seen George Bush and Ronald Reagan fighting not to find solutions, but to pit workers against environmentalists, rich against poor, black against white, men against women.  We saw them substitute an ugly electoral calculus for a moral compass.

But the weight and the division and the mistrust of social irresponsibility and political cynicism I think has grown very heavy on our national shoulders.  I believe that America is ready to cast aside those burdens.  I believe that Americans are ready to defeat George Bush.

I've been honestly moved by the enormous number of people -teachers, activists, business people, nurses -- who want to help bring America together again and to take on our common concerns.  The response to my message of hope and message of common progress -- of a functioning economy; of a health care system that works; of an America where, above all, we give every child the chance, the opportunity to make the most of their God-given abilities, and every family and opportunity to build themselves a better life -- the response to that message has been absolutely overwhelming.  I will carry that message forward, but not as a candidate for the presidency of the United States in 1992.

I'm very proud that my family, especially my wife Sharon, has given me their unconditional support.  Were I to have run for the presidency, they would have been faced with great personal sacrifices, sacrifices that I know that they were ready to make.

What has become clear to me since May, when I in fact opened the door to the presidency, is that from the moment that I announced my candidacy, I would be obligated to devote every single waking hour, every single ounce of energy, to the process and to the mechanics of a mammoth national campaign.  Sacrificed during that campaign would be the critical time necessary to focus on governing, on governing our country, to plan a Rockefeller administration -- something that in fact I have only had the last three months to do.

What I know is that a Rockefeller presidency must be worthy, fully worthy, of the historic times that we live in.  The opportunities to transform America are virtually limitless, if our leaders ask the best from us, and if we demand the most from our leaders.  Three months, frankly, has just not been enough time for me to be fully ready for a Rockefeller presidency that fully meets my high standards.

I know that there are Democrats who are and will be in this race who can offer Americans bold and progressive leadership, who can, in fact, beat George Bush, Democrats who can meet the standards that we all demand, the very standards that George Bush and the Republicans have flatly betrayed.

You know, I moved to West Virginia back in 1964, hoping to help the people of the small community of Emmons to make their own lives better.  In the end though, I learned an awful lot more from the people of Emmons and West Virginia than I was ever able to teach about anything.  And I learned that there are no shortcuts, that solutions take time, take patience, and a lot of hard work.

I did not begin my political career in the United States Senate.  I began it in the West Virginia House of Delegates.  And I worked hard at every single step to make sure that I knew my job, to make absolutely sure that I could serve the people who had elected me.  I have never run for office just to win.  I've run to get things done, to make life better for people.  West Virginia is a beautiful state, one that I am extraordinarily proud to serve and one that my family and I are very, very proud to call home.  I will not run a campaign, nor will I undertake an administration, that I am not absolutely convinced will make the people of West Virginia fully proud. (Applause.)

It's almost impossible, when you step back, to envision yourself in the Oval Office, to every day hear people whose judgment you respect urge you to run, to have strangers walk up to you and offer you their financial support and more importantly their support for the effort of your campaign, to give large chunks of their lives to you, and to know that you have a real chance to win, and then to say no, not yet.

But between the compelling idea of leading America into the 21st century and the reality of preparing for one's inaugural address as president, there falls a shadow -- not just the challenge of the campaign, but the critical challenge of governing.  I know now that come January of 1993 I'm not going to be riding down Pennsylvania Avenue.  But I also know that I will be there, shoulder to shoulder with millions of Americans who were moved to begin tearing down these walls that Reagan and Bush have built and that divide us and who want to start building the foundations of the next American century.

I absolutely believe, and I will work to the utmost of my strength and ability to make it true, that a Democrat will be elected president next November. (Applause.) And, most importantly, that America will start getting itself ready for the next great American century.

Thank you all very much.


Statement of Sen. Al Gore

Wednesday, August 21, 1991
Carthage, Tennessee

Over the past few months, I have talked with many friends, supporters, colleagues, and others about running for President in 1992.  I am thankful to all who have shared their advice, and appreciate the strong encouragement I received to enter the campaign.

Since the Senate recessed at the beginning of this month, I have been alone with my family on a lake near our home in Tennessee, considering whether to run this year -- and I am especially grateful to my wife Tipper and our four children, Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, and Albert for the unconditional encouragement, help, and support they offered if I decided to make the race.

I have decided not to run for President in 1992.

If this decision had been based on politics alone, I would instead be announcing my candidacy for the White House right now.  Indeed, I would have already done so.  But this is about more than politics.

I am a United States Senator and I feel strongly about the direction of this country.  I would like to be President.  But I am also a father, and I feel deeply about my responsibility to my children.  For reasons I will describe, that sense of responsibility has led me to conclude that right now I cannot discharge it adequately and run for President.  And of course my family -- my wife and four young children -- are more important than politics and personal ambition.

This was a painful and difficult decision, but having run for President before, I now know a great deal more about what it means to a young family, given the total commitment of time and attention essential for such a campaign.  I have learned that when you're running for President, it's tough to be there when your family needs you.  And even though they are supportive and encouraging, the truth is that I feel right now is not a good time for me to leave my family as much and as often as a presidential campaign requires.

Our youngest child, Albert III, was seriously injured and nearly killed two years ago when he was hit by a car.  At the age of eight, he has already been through one presidential campaign -- when he was four and five years old -- seeing his father all too briefly, in between primaries.  Although Albert's injuries are fully healed, his accident left a deep impression on our family, brought us closer together, and gave us a new appreciation both for what we mean to each other and for the time we share together.

I know how hard it is to be a father whose voice comes over the telephone line, who isn't there to comfort and console when things go wrong, or share the joy when things go right.  There may or may not be another chance for me to win the Democratic nomination for President.  I hope there will be.  But I know this: for Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, and Albert, these are important years that will never be repeated or replaced.

I will not sit out the 1992 campaign.  I will continue to fight for the ideas and issues that I have advocated and fought for as a member of the United States Senate: to gain tax relief for middle income families; to protect our environment; to improve health care and education, and America's ability to compete; and for a vigilant foreign policy that will keep America strong.

I plan to strongly support Democratic candidates across our country, to campaign for them and for our Democratic nominee for President.

American families need a President who understands the pressures they face and who will confront their problems with vision and courage.

American families need a President who will focus his or her energies and ideas on the home front with the same conviction needed to address the challenges that face our country abroad.

American families need a President who recognizes that even two paychecks won't make ends meet, won't pay for health care or child care or college; that middle income families need tax relief; that our children need a real commitment to education and protection from drugs and crime; that our environment, and especially the global environment, urgently needs safeguarding.

George Bush has not been that President.  He has drawn lines in the sand in other countries but he has refused to fight for American families here at home.  Americans want more.  They deserve more.  I believe strongly that George Bush can and should be beaten and I intend to work hard toward that goal.

October 18, 1991

I was asked last July by several of my colleagues in the House to consider running for President.

I have been honored to receive the encouragement and support of many of my peers and colleagues, prominent national opinion leaders and ordinary men and women from various parts of this country.  I especially want to thank my many friends in Oklahoma who have expressed your faith in whatever decision I made.

Most importantly, I am blessed with the support of a loving wife and family.

I must admit as I traveled these past few weeks I was intrigued and tempted by the challenge of organizing a Presidential campaign and taking my message nationwide.

However, I have decided that in spite of my willingness to work 25 hour days and 8 day weeks, there is just not enough time.  The first presidential primary is only four months away and there are several choices that I must make.

I have to choose, after spending seven years preparing to lead the intelligence committee, between being an effective chairman in this period of incredible global change and running for President.

I have to choose whether to join with my colleagues to continue fighting for internal Congressional reforms or to raise millions of dollars for a Presidential campaign.

I have to choose between my efforts in economic development for my congressional district and developing a national political base.

I have to choose whether to be a good, accessible father to my three young children or to make the personal effort necessary in states like New Hampshire where voters expect to see you almost as often as your kids do.

I have made these choices and therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination.

After careful consideration and prayer, Pam and I believe that our role in the 1992 Presidential campaign is to try to force a debate on issues that matter.  We believe that as Oklahomans with common sense values, we have something to offer an America in search of herself.

I recently received a letter from a woman in Minnesota who stated: "Our party and our nation need a wake-up call and you are sounding the alarm."  Americans whom I have met in Florida, Tennessee, California, Montana, Mississippi and a dozen other states have echoed that statement.  We are in need of a wake-up call, but it must be based on action and honest answers.  We want the truth; even when the polls say that the truth may not be very popular.

But first of all, we want elected leaders whom we can trust.

We must make both the executive and legislative branches of American government more relevant to the lives of Americans.

Those of us who serve in government must be accountable for our actions.  I will work to force dramatic change in the way the Administration and Congress conduct business.

Before we can deliver new programs or grant new tax cuts, we in government must first demonstrate that we are good stewards.  We cannot continue down the road of fiscal irresponsibility, rebitlessly spending our children's future away.

We must re-earn the trust of our constituencies -- not play to their anger or pander to their misfortune.
That is why I am announcing today that, as our nation steps to the brink of another Presidential campaign, I will be traveling this country proposing common sense answers to the problems that our nation faces.  I renew my pledge to you that I will remain more concerned about advancing ideas than with the campaign itself.

I believe a Democrat can win the White House in 1992.  To win is to break the gridlock of a divided government, a major obstacle to progress in this country.  We must also break the Republican lock on the electoral college by nominating a candidate who can successfully challenge in the South and West.  And finally, we must free ourselves from the budget deficit shackles that prevent efforts to get this economy moving again.

We Democrats need to nominate a leader for President who promises to do more than make America's decline more comfortable.  We need a President whose administration is more concerned about the creation of wealth and jobs than preserving the wealth of a few.  To quote the Wall Street Journal, the Bush Administration "is the most aristocratic administration since the collapse of the Federalist party."  It is time a President works to prevent the excesses that keep our economic engine from working.  We must take steps necessary to reinvigorate the economy and help make America's jobs more secure.

President Bush has often been praised for his management skills in defense and foreign policy.  And many Democrats appear ready to concede this important part of the presidential selection process.

I will not.

Based on my experience in the Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Committee, I believe that with the collapse of communism we can safely adjust and reduce our military presence abroad.  We can restructure our defense while preserving our requisite military strength.  It should be based on our assessment of the threat and our role in the world, not by looking to some magical dollar savings or percentage cut.

President Bush's foreign policy is a rudderless devotion to the status quo mixed with crisis management - not a coherent, imaginative policy for a world superpower.

We should roll with the momentum of our victory over Iraq's army and the collapse of communism to provide confident leadership in the world.  American foreign policy should be based on the promotion of democratic principles and values.  A more democratic world is in both our national security and economic interests.  For instance, we should send a Democracy Corps of American teachers, farmers, labor leaders, and businessmen to the Soviet Union to assist that country in building democratic institutions and a free market economy.

Our foreign policy should be more than an attempt to keep up with world change.  A new world order should be devoted to shaping the forces of change and assisting those who share our democratic values against those who do not.

We have an opportunity to build a new American order by making investment in America more important than an infatuation with foreign policy.  Our future, however, depends on how well we prepare ourselves for global economic competition, not isolationism or protectionism.

To prepare ourselves and our children for the future, we must have an educational system second to none.  To achieve that, we need to give it our full attention as parents and policymakers.
It takes more than photo opportunities to make education work.  Real reform requires tough goals, high standards, hard work and testing.  We must also give our students real career options such as apprenticeship and job training programs.  Financial assistance should not be based on race, gender or income level, but on service.  Federal aid should be earned, not considered an entitlement.

Americans deserve and expect access to quality and affordable health care, but it will require choices and leadership.  To wait for a consensus to develop is to sell short the needs of millions.

We must return individual responsibility to all levels of society, whether it is in the corporate board room or on the welfare rolls.  Far too many tax dollars are spent on children with fathers who can and must contribute to their support.  In the '90s workforce, workfare must replace welfare.

We can do more to protect our citizens at home with tough law enforcement, putting more cops on the street and efforts to infuse our youth with a sense of social responsibility.  If we cannot strengthen the family and restore a sense of hope and self-esteem, domestic violence will further undercut our society and rob our nation of generations of young people.  We cannot succeed if the foundation is rotting.

Neither can our economy grow if our bridges and highways are falling apart.  We should invest in America's infrastructure before we consider giving financial aid to the Soviet Union.  Our focus has to be on our future.

A successful young man in Florida, recently encouraged me to run for president and told me that our generation will most likely survive economically.  But as a father, he now measures the future through the eyes of his seven-year-old child.  What kind of future will we leave our children?  One-point-three billion dollars added each day to the national debt?  The prospect of a lower standard of living?  Or, are we willing to make the tough choices now?

Americans have told me that they are tired of the same old rhetoric out of the mouths of politicians.  They are numb to the calls for new directions and new programs and people who say they represent the middle class.  America knows there is a problem and we all want to know how to solve it.

However, we must be honest about what is required of each of us.

I will go forward from this day into my Congressional District and into the districts of many of my colleagues to help rally Americans to the cause of honesty in government and a better future for our children.

I will not be traveling and speaking as a Presidential candidate in 1992, but as a Congressman from Oklahoma.

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Democratic presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988, founder of the National Rainbow Coalition, and shadow senator for Washington, DC, announced on November 2, 1991 that he would not seek the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination.  Speaking at Potomac Gardens, a public housing project in the nation's capital, he called for building "a new independent Democratic majority to unite these voters who are cut out of the political process."

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
Potomac Gardens
Washington, DC
November 2, 1991
[Democracy in Action Transcript  |  C-SPAN Video] redeem its soul. We're standing today in Potomac Gardens, just a few blocks from the nation's Capitol. In this place reside America's people, its children, their parents, so often unemployed fathers, too often mothers who are single heads of households. In this place reside veterans of foreign wars, some abandoned, some broken. One third of the homeless people in our nation are veterans; another third are working women with children. Some here bear the pain of troops no longer loved, once they're no longer troops. Their hopes and their fears characterize people everywhere. And yet here, their fears are outdistancing their hopes. This is the cause for national concern. They are six to 12 blocks from the Capitol, yet thousands of miles and light years away from their priorities.

I stand here today to get the nation's attention. I want to continue to put light in dark places, bring heat into cold places, and show some human concern where there is now gross indifference. I stand here today because the President's helicopter passes over this place in route to make his State of the Union address talking about recovery and a New World Order. Congressional leaders drive by in a hurry to work every day.

Here is where government rhetoric and living reality have collided, and the wreckage is a body of people. They are disenfranchised and both their human and legal legitimacy is undermined by the present government. I'm focused here because this is the urban crisis personified, the epitomy of national neglect. 800,000 family farmers foresaken as their rural companions.

These abandoned buildings reflect neglect, and neglect is violent. It is a violent environment and violence breeds violence. America has the largest jail population in the world. There are four times more young black men in American jails than they are in South Africa. Abandoned cities, foresaken farmers, neglected children—they are the heart of our nation's despair.

Why here? Two thousand years ago a mother with child, nine months pregnant, unemployed husband had to go to the capitol for the census count and to pay taxes. But yet when they got there, the government had not provided adequate housing. The innkeeper—the HUD official—said get out, in the winter, in the night, in the dark. Get out. They had the baby outdoors in the manger with the animals and the rodents. Jesus was born to a homeless couple. He was born in the slums. He learned from this story to detest the immorality of a government that does not provide housing for its people.

He said in protest when he became an adult, birds have nests. There were no homeless birds. Foxes have holes. There are no homeless foxes. And yet the son of man, men and women, have no place to lay their heads. It is a sin.

Jesus said that we measure character not by difference in the powerful and the privileged, but by how we treat the least of these. How we treat the children in the dawn of life, the poor in the pit of life, the old in the sunset of life; how we treat the stranger on the Jericho road. What is at stake today is the dignity of a people and the character of the nation.

Not far from here Mrs. Wages [phon.], who sits on this stage, lives in East Gate. When we stood in her kitchen, you could see the bath room through a three-foot hole in her ceiling. She had a bucket on the refrigerator to catch the overflow of feces from the toilet. Mrs. Wages is not on welfare. She works at the Holiday Inn every night for $5.45 an hour. She pays $613 a month to live there.

In every city and town, there are more boarded up apartments than there are homeless people. If the President had a vision and the commitment we could remove the boards, remove the cause of this asbestos and lead paint, reach out to unemployed carpenters, painters, glaziers, electricians. We could put our trade unionists back to work. We could give the young people here who wander aimlessly apprenticeship training and teach them to lay bricks and not throw them, replace don't with hope, and choose life over there.

We have 7% unemployment. Every percentage point costs us $35 billion. And so the other side of the crisis is the opportunity to rebuild America, to build houses for the people, repair the bridges and roads. schools, allow people to work to generate revenue, and work our way out of the recession, and not welfare our way into despair.

We're just a few blocks from the Capitol, yet the Senate cannot see Potomac Gardens. If they can't see Potomac Gardens, how can they see Greenville, IA, or Roseburg, OR or Lichtenberg, GA, or Jay, ME. If they cannot see Potomac Gardens, then they cannot see America. We're here today to open the eyes of America's leadership. This is not the time for decoys and diversions and making frightened Americans.

Let's look at the results of our economic policy today. Ten million Americans officially unemployed. Nearly 20 million are jobless. 34 million in poverty. One in 10 Americans on food stamps. 37 million without health care. Three million homeless. 800,000 family farms lost. 20% of our children in poverty. Average weekly income is lower today than it was when Eisenhower left office in 1960.

I've struggled with the question of how best to serve the people of America, from the seven million people who voted their hopes in 1988. Those who rely on the rainbow, its broad and inclusive vision for America, to the workers, women and men, farmers and business people who are crying out for the new direction and crying out for leadership.

For a few of our society, living is a lullaby of unlimited options and dreams. But for an ever increasing number of people, the noose is tightening, choking off opportunities. These people don't need conservatism. They need change.

I've been working on opening up the process for a long time. On July 17, 1960, I went to jail trying to use the central library because I would not be confined to the library for coloreds only. I marched with thousands of Americans and Dr. Abernathy and Dr. King for the right to vote in Alabama, for open housing in Chicago, to open up the process for people participation. With Operation Bread Basket and PUSH we confronted major corporations to open up employment and contract opportunities for those locked out, to open up the process for people participation.

Twenty-four years to the day after I first went to jail, on July 17th 1984 I was addressing the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, opening up the party and the process for greater people participation. In 1984 we expanded the system. We won three and a half million votes, 465 delegates; we registered 2 million new voters, which were key in helping the Democrats regain the Senate in 1986. The key in stopping the Reagan rightward shift with its mean spirited attitude.

In 1988, we grew: 7 million votes; 1,300 delegates. We had the longest coattails and won victories across the country in 1988 and 1990. Every major election won in 1989, we won in 1988. From New York, to Virginia, to Cleveland to Seattle. Every victory of 1989, we laid the groundwork in 1988. In 1990 our one breakthrough in the Senate, replacing an incumbent, was the victory of Paul Wellstone, Senator from Minnesota, the chair of our '88 campaign.

We've been the Hamlet, North Carolina where 25 workers were burned up in the fire behind locked doors and right to work laws. We stood with the orphaned children of mothers burned up. The absence of candidates and leaders in that place where women in the mains burned and suffocated I find strange. Must the people of Hamlet throw a party and have a PAC to attract the pundits and the handlers?

We marched to Connecticut, the richest state in the union, with three of the poorest cities and the highest rate of pediatric AIDS. Yale University is in New Haven. Yet not one child from New Haven went to Yale last year and only 46 in the last 10 years.

In Connecticut, the wealthiest state, they're laying off teachers and closing libraries, yet they are building 6,000 new jail cells at $85,000 a cell and $24,000 a year to maintain them. If one goes to rural or inner city Connecticut, they spend $4,600 per year on each student. In Greenwich and West Hartford $9,600. One group program for Yale, the other program for jail. A full time scholarship to [inaud.] correctional center costs 24,000 a year; the Robinson correctional center 35,000 a year, to Yale 21,000. It costs twice as much to send a child to jail as it does send that child to Yale.

Right here in Potomac Gardens it costs less to send a child on the combined scholarship to Howard and Harvard than to Lorton penitentiary for a year. When will we learn?

Now we must run for openness in America.  American glasnost.  We must run to restructure our priorities. Perestroika in America.

As I considered the options for service in 1992, one of the compelling factors is the cost to my family. My family lives on the edge of considerable risk and danger every day. I am grateful and impressed by their commitment to share the burden, the causes of social justice, economic security, fairness, freedom, and peace. We have absorbed more death threats in two campaigns than any candidate's family ever has. And yet they've held their heads high, remained a close-knit unit, and turned hostility into hope. Their spirit and example is my blessing, and it's good for the healing of the nation.

Another critical factor in the decision is the need to open up and expand the political process. Too many Americans are excluded and ignored. Ten million unemployed. Thirty-four million in poverty. A nation of women whose rights and needs were passed over in the Thomas hearings. Ninety million eligible voters who didn't vote in 1988. We must seek to establish a new independent Democratic majority to unite these voters.

We must build a new independent Democratic majority to unite these voters who are cut out of the political process. There is a big competition now for the so called middle classes. But there was no talk of Middle America and urban and rural policy. The real middle classes, those caught up in the middle not on welfare, those who work every day, and yet are still unable to get by. These people are the new Democratic majority, and we will not forsake them. Their votes, their votes will not be inherited and they must be worked for; their votes must be earned. The young and the restless who are unregistered will not remain so. We'll register them right here today and initiate a national campaign.

We must not merely run but build an infrastructure and set new standards to open the parties become alter egos and not alternatives. They appear too close to one another, and too far from a new independent majority. There is been too much of an unholy alliance between the two parties, leaving the electorate with two names but one party, one set of assumptions, and no options.

Reagan's 1981 tax cut was a wholesale attack on the public sector. It cost thousands of jobs. It was approved by Democrats.

Today's Supreme Court represents a radical rightward shift, putting the squeeze on cherished rights—nominated by Republicans confirmed by Democrats.

When the Berlin Wall came down, Republican and Democratic budgets were 1% apart. Today there's a spirit of independence in the air. Various forces around the country are yearning to breathe free, searching to make their statement, from the NOW explorations to the toxics activists, the women spurned in the Thomas hearings, laid off workers denied extended unemployment benefits to the 90 million eligible voters who did not vote, there's a strong desire to be heard. The soul of the Party and the Democratic majority is expanding to an independent posture, crying out for freedom, respect and support. It's a matter of the highest principle and the best choice.

One of the greatest challenges of the new Democratic majority is to cleanse the nation of its racial fears. Ancient barriers, bigotry and bitterness have been raised anew. Racial division, gender exploitation and child neglect have been tools to attack and undermine the majority from Willie Horton to busing to welfare queens to quotas, race-baiting has come from the White House, top down, exploiting economic insecurity.

Let us for a moment get beyond the baggage. Who belong to the klan in Louisiana, who belong to skull and bones in Connecticut. Put a piece of tape over their names—Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Dan Quayle, David Duke—and list the central issues that affect the healing of the nation. Which of these four men have attacked an equal rights amendment for women? Which of these men have called affirmative action quotas, undermined the EEOC, vetoed the Civil Rights Bill? Which of these men stereotype black women as welfare queens, embrace states rights against workers in right to work states, and laid the wreath at Bitburg. Which of these men would use the race bait to win an election? All four.

Mr. Bush gets bonus points. He invited Darryl Gates to the White House three days after the nation watched the Rodney King beatings and called Mr. Gates a top cop hero. He had de Klerk from South Africa as his house guest. After the debate for Geraldine Ferraro, he referred to the event as having kicked a little ass. Small wonder he didn't understand sex harassment.

The hysteria on these issues now being felt in Louisiana and across the country has been coming from the White House since 1981. No longer shall shades of moral darkness be called points of political light. So much of our struggle over the years has been remove race as a criteria and take the nation to a higher ground. We must take this virus out of the national bloodstream for it is poisoning our future and our culture.

I have felt this awful stain, but I will not surrender. I've listened to reasonable people say, you sound right; you're doing the right thing; if only you were not Black, you could not be beaten.

We must grow beyond race the reason and get better and not bitter. Racism is the immoral assumption of superiority. Its science is a lie. Racism is emotional fears unfounded, is politically divisive, economically exploitative, and damaging to our children—the root of wars and oppression. Racism is an ungodly sin, an attack on the character of God, an ontological affirmation that God made a creative error when he made different shades and hues of people in the human family. An American president should not stoop so low for a cheap victory or to gain advantage. America must be unified by hope, not divided and hurt by fear. President Bush knows better. Mr. Bush, enough is enough.

Truly the other side of Louisiana is opportunity, the opportunity for coalition. We must seize the initiative and reassert the coalition between white and black, blacks and Jews, Jews and Arabs, Hispanics and Asians and Native Americans and renew our mutual covenant for justice. If Madrid is the positive incentive for a new day for Jews and Arabs, then Duke-ism must be cause for reassessment at home. For if we cannot stand together for justice, we will perish apart as fools.

Race schemes work best in a climate of economic desperation. White working men are afraid they're going to lose their jobs. They should be afraid because they're losing them. Economic fear is legitimate; scapegoating is illegitimate. These jobs did not go from white to Black and Brown. They went to cheap labor abroad. They are no American made VCRs, no American made Nikes, Reeboks and LA Gear tennis shoes; they're made in South Korea and Taiwan. But they did not take the jobs from us. American corporations took jobs to them with tax incentives, cheap labor there, relaxed environmental standards here, high prices here, profits up, wages down, workers busting.

We've lost 3 million manufacturing jobs. Where did the money go? Why are these windows out? Why are they boarded up? Because foreign-owned American corporations held $800 billion in foreign assets, 500 billion in receipts, and yet paid only 3 billion in taxes. Where did the money go? Offshore? Since 1979, the top 1% got a 122% rise in income, the bottom 20% lost 10% in living standards. If we had the same tax laws today we had a 1979 for the top 1% we'd gain $90 billion a year. Where did the money go?

Where did the money go? How can we pay for our dreams? The antidote to racial fear is coalition and economic renewal. If we can find the money to bail out foreign countries, if we can find the money to bail out the Soviet Union, and Kuwait, defend our allies in Europe, then we can bail out Potomac Gardens and Hamlet and New York and Baltimore and Chicago and Mississippi and Iowa and California and rebuild America.

They keep asking us where will we get the money from? We'll get the money from where the money went. We can rebuild America with fair taxes, military savings and conversion, business incentives attached to job creation, pension funds, government-secured as a basis for an American investment bank. That's how we'll rebuild America.

We intend to build a new independent Democratic majority to open up the process, to include the locked out, and rebuild America. Is the new Democratic Party majority a third party? Is the new Democratic majority a third party? No. It is an overhaul of the process that now serves a narrow elite.

I'm a strong Democrat, and I have deep pride in what I've been able to contribute to the party and the country. With your help, I've registered millions of voters and built broad coalitions. With your help, I've lifted more ceilings, renewed more faith. and sustained more hope than any Democrat alive today. As a Democrat, I hope the party leadership will expand and reach out with hope and vision.

George Bush should be and must be beaten, and he will be beaten by Democrats if they if they speak without authenticity for the new Democratic majority. Reaching out to everyone, including the locked out is the way to victory. And so we're not stepping back but building up for a better America.

I've looked at the options for service in 1992. There are three options. One to run in 1992. Two to focus on the infrastructure campaigns in 1992—DC statehood, 34 Senators, some of whom must be persuaded to stay home and retire. The entire Congress and redistricting seats are at stake. The third option is to build and help set a new climate in our nation.

I will not seek the nomination for the Democratic Party, but rather build the infrastructure for a new independent Democratic majority and work to establish a standard by which we measure the worth of candidates for the people's support, a new independent Democratic majority. We will stay together, we will work together and register together and vote together and commit together. We'll build a new independent Democratic majority. The Rainbow Coalition will spend this season campaigning on the program to address the needs of the new Democratic majority and rebuild America.

DC statehood must be at the center of our commitment to expand democracy. Washington has more people than five states. We pay more taxes than ten and more per capita than 49. We've sent more troops to the Persian Gulf than 20 states. And yet we cannot vote. We fought for self determination in Kuwait, and yet there are more people in Washington then there are Kuwaitis in the world. And yet we cannot vote. DC statehood is not for DC only. The U.S. Senate is unrepresentative of America, mostly white, mostly male, mostly millionaires. Two Senators from Washington will expand the Senate and make it more representative of the nation. Two DC senators are two votes for women and workers everywhere.

The South—we must continue and expand the rainbow Southern crusade. The South has the richest soil and the poorest people. It has half the nation's poor children, half the nation's toxic waste, and 13 million people without health insurance. A stronger South would make for better America. The new Democratic majority must campaign for workers' rights. The 1954 Brown decision, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, gave federal protection to children, public accommodations and voters but the workers are left at the mercy of states, states rights, and right to work laws. We must repeal section 14 B of federal labor law and pass national striker replacement legislation.

And lastly, the 10 commitments for a new Democratic majority.

One, we'll campaign for DC statehood to expand our democracy and open up the U.S. Senate and House.

We'll campaign for same day universal onsite voter registration and register a million new voters and end unfair for the purging and expand the electorate.

We will campaign to organize workers across the South and the country, and end right to work laws.

We'll campaign for equal rights for women, equal rights and comparable work, childcare, and parental leave.

We'll campaign for conversion and diversification for American workers. We should not close military bases. We should develop alternate use for them and retrain the workers and put America back to work.

We will campaign for a new GI Bill. We cannot just love the troops when they are troops; we must love them when they are no longer troops. They deserve the same health care plan that the Congress has.

We will campaign for national health care and clean up our environment and affordable housing and equal funding.

We will conduct statewide rainbow meetings across the country to organize a new majority raise up these 10 commitments.

The spirit of the people must relate to both parties, but are not contained by either. We are free agents in the political market who want the best value and the fair return on our investment. As we mobilize the new Democratic majority those who get these votes will from now on earn them.

Leadership can no longer count on inherited votes, votes it did not earn, on the non-voting locked out to be silent, on the unregistered to stay off the books.

We can win. I am more convinced than ever. We can win and make a change. Tomorrow morning, we're going to Philadelphia to inspire voters to turnout. On to Columbus, Ohio for [inaud.] to challenge voters in Columbus, Ohio, as we did in Memphis last month to turn out. We're going to Cincinnati to help the children get an education, on to Detroit with the AFL-CIO. We can win.

I want the youth of Potomac Gardens to do me a special favor. The youth in East Gate, the youth in Brooklyn and Harlem, Chicago and St. Louis, youth of America do me a favor: exercise your right to dream. Across this nation put down your weapons of destruction, stop the violence, stop the killing, end the self destruction. Let's break the cycle of despair and go another way; let's go another way young America.

I say to the youth in Earle, Arkansas, dream of teachers, teachers will teach for live and not just for living. I say to the children of Kettleman City, California who live next to toxics, dream of doctors but doctors who are more concerned about public health than personal wealth. To young women threatened by harassment, I say dream of lawyers, but lawyers who are concerned about justice, not just a judgeship. I say to young America, dream of authentic leaders who will mold public opinion against the headwind, not just ride the tailwind of public opinion polls.

We're not campaigning for an office. This year we are campaigning for a country. Not a campaign for season, but for a lifetime. It's not just 10 temporary commitments, but an eternal commitment to justice and mercy.

Keep hope alive.

[Jackson then took questions from reporters].


Press Office
FRIDAY, December 20, 1991


For months I have focused my energies on dealing with the State's budget problem.  I had hoped by now to have some resolution.  But the Republicans have responded to every reasonable offer of compromise by the Assembly and the Governor, with new and predictably unacceptable demands, making it apparent they believe that, at least for the moment, their own purposes are best served by pushing the State closer to the brink of disaster.

If they persist, the damage to the State's credit could leave every local government and school district in jeopardy of losing its ability to meet its financial needs.  At the very least, it would cost the taxpayers of New York millions of dollars and, one way or another, would damage all 18 million of New York's people.

It is my responsibility as Governor to deal with this extraordinarily severe problem. 

Were it not, I would travel to New Hampshire today and file my name as a candidate in its presidential primary. 

That was my hope, and I prepared for it.

But it seems to me I cannot turn my attention to New Hampshire while this threat hangs over the heads of the New Yorkers that I have sworn to put first.  I asked for and won the responsibility to deal with their vital interests in the Governor's race of 1990. 

The commitment I made then, to do all I could to protect New Yorkers from the kind of problem we now face, was not a commitment of convenience, to be set aside if and when I was offered another and grander opportunity for public service.

I have told Senator Marino that I expect him to have every member of his Senate here Monday morning to deal with my proposals to end this crisis.  I will have further legislation for them to consider at that time.

I have instructed both houses that if necessary, I expect them to negotiate continuously until we have met the obligations we have imposed upon ourselves by oath.

Theoretically, at a point in the future when our gap has been closed and our budget process restored to reasonableness, I could then enter the remaining primaries and still be a contender for the presidency.  But I accept the judgment of our national chairman that it would be in the best interest of the Democratic party that I abandon any such effort now so as to avoid whatever inconvenience and disruption to the process is created by the uncertain possibility of another candidacy.

I regard myself as highly privileged to serve the 18 million people of my State as Governor, for a third term.

But I would be less than honest if I did not admit my regret at not having the chance to run for President. 

At the same time, I recognize that there are already in the field a number of excellent candidates that can move this nation toward a more inclusive, progressive and intelligent course.  I will do all that I can to help them.

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to all those who have worked so hard in recent days to prepare for a possible candidacy, especially Joe Grandmaison of New Hampshire and to the many who indicated they were prepared to support me.

Thank you.

[Democracy in Action Transcript  |  C-SPAN Video]