This is an edited version of a transcript by Reg NYC of Eric Massa's speech at a fundraiser in NYC on June 19, 2006 at the home of Jacques Rosas and sponsored by General Wesley Clark and others. Eric's talk was informal, straight, and unplugged. It has been edited to be a written version of the spoken presentation.
You can read about the event at CCM (Clark's Blog): Eric and Wes in Manhattan and Gen. Clark's speech at the Eric Massa Fundraiser NYC. You can also Contribute on ActBlue here to help send Eric to Congress.
ERIC MASSA (NY-29) UNPLUGGED
Excerpted from the transcript
Allow me to express my gratitude and in no particular order except I think the most important first. Because here as a representative of my family, of my wife, of those back in Corning who have stood to help me, I have here today my 15-year-old daughter, and if you'd please join me in welcoming her (drowned out by applause). I've been honored to have the support and the endorsement of some incredible, incredible people, but in my life, the endorsement that counts the most is that of my family, because it is to them to whom I turn to give me strength. You know, I was the first individual, man or woman, Republican or Democrat, to declare my candidacy for the 2006 House election cycle. And I did it the day after President Bush was re-selected, because I just couldn't take it anymore.
General Clark, I thank you for your generous time, for your kind words, for your leadership, for your inspiration -- And it is a true statement that without you, I would not be here today -- for your national service, and for all you mean to so many. Thank you for being here tonight.
Jacques, thank you for opening up your beautiful property to us. It's an honor to be here. I appreciate your generosity. And thanks to my incredible finance committee, many of whom are here today, who have worked so hard to gather friends and supporters. I look out at a sea of faces, I see so many friends who are, for many, many months, these nineteen months on the campaign trail, have worked hard to make me a better candidate. And I promise you that we will take to Washington, DC very, very soon the issues and the values, the integrity, the accountability, the service that this nation and you in this room today demand -- and we will re-occupy the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
This election- This election is about so much more than Eric Massa. I am nothing more than a small bucket inside of which these issues and values will travel. There are now over sixty, over sixty veterans who are Democrats who are running nationwide, and we band together, (applause) we band together as never has been seen before. In Florida, in Texas, California, great candidates, all friends. Charlie Brown out in California, an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel whose son the other day flew into Iraq Charlie's opponent, and when that opponent went up to the cockpit, he didn't have the time of day to even talk to the crew until he left that airplane. And Charlie's son looked at him and said, "Be the way, my dad's gonna beat your pants come November." (The month drowned out by hoots and applause).
As fighting Democrats, we are going to go to Washington, DC, and we will take from Karl Rove's hands the flag that he thinks he owns, and we will show George W. Bush that he will no longer use our military as a backdrop, as a political prop. We will take the Capitol back.
Where I live in upstate New York, the ultimate family value is a living wage job. (applause)
The ultimate family value is the ability to live in peace and know that the Constitution of America stands for all of us and not a select few, and so we will demand -- we will demand -- that we stop this insane assault on our civil liberties starting day one.
Back home where I live, they want candidates who will tell you what they're going to do and then go do it. Now many people in this room and many people where I live don't agree with me on 100% of the issues, but you know when I went to school, a 93 was pretty damn good.
You know, when I first met General Clark -- and he may not remember this -- I walked into the office, and I was the only Naval officer in a sea of Army green. (laughter) And he looked at me and he said, "I guess you're the young man that wants to be my aide." And I said, "Well, no Sir, I don't." (laughter) And he said, "Then what are you doing here?" And I said, "General, that's why they call them orders and not invitations."
But from that relationship and from those experiences, I learned some overriding truths, and one of them is that the lives of our military personnel are more precious than words can describe, and to commit them (applause), to commit them helter-skelter for political purposes is an unspeakable wrong. Imagine, if you will, a General who wages a war without losing a single American, who achieves the goals laid out, who has specific strategic objectives, who completes the mission and brings the troops home. (applause)
And now, and now imagine this. Imagine if that standard of leadership were in the White House.
No one can discuss the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens, but I'll tell you this. If any Democrat, any Democrat had been elected instead of the individual who was selected, this war would have never started. It was a war of choice.
Don't let, the opposition tell you that you're cutting and running, because you're stronger and tougher than they are. Don't let them as they try, when they stood with Jack Murtha and called him a coward, and subsequently people have asked me, "Do you stand with Jack Murtha?" And I answer to them, "When an individual in Congress who has been there less than five weeks and never served in the military calls Jack Murtha a coward, you bet your ass I'll stand with him, before him and behind him!"
Questioning our public officials the the ultimate act of patriotism. It is not dissent. (applause) It is what was meant to be. And so, I stand to run with many other veterans on issues like Iraq and on issues like compassion, about bringing access to quality healthcare for all Americans (applause). But if my opponent says it's not the government's responsibility to deal in healthcare, I will look at him in the eyes, and I will say, "I don't know where you learned about healthcare. I learned about it at the sharp end of a chemotherapy needle, and I think that entitles me to fight to bring healthcare to all Americans now."
There are so many issues facing us today, whether it's Every Child Left Unfunded (laughter), whether it's the bankruptcy bill that allows corporations to charge 30% interest on credit cards. You know, when I went to Catholic School, 30% interest was called usury, and it was a sin.
And I believe today, in the here and now, we need candidates for the House, for the Senate, for dogcatcher (laughter) who will stand and deliver. And when people ask me, "Eric, what kind of a Democrat are you?" When they try to pigeonhole me between the first and second story of an elevator, I look at them and say, "I look to the guidance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man whose first 100 days built the middle class of this country based on true progressive values and who wavers and takes second place to no individual in the defense of this nation in time of war. Let us return to those values now.
(Cheers and applause)
And so, with my sincerest thanks, I will tell you that this race, this election in the 29th, where I was the first candidate to declare my candidacy, and where my opponent immediately called me a no-name, no-money candidate, and where now if the election were held today, not only would it be in a dead heat, I might actually eek out 3%, and every week of this election we're gaining, and with your help and your fuel and your momentum, we will take that seat back.
(cheers and applause).
Allow me first again to reiterate my thanks to General Clark, to our wonderful finance committee, to Jacques, our host for allowing me the privilege of coming here and speaking with you, and to all of you who gave up your time and hopefully a small amount of your personal fortunes (laughter) to help us take back this seat. It is true that my daughter is here representing my family, but there is another reason I asked her to be here today, because she delivered unto this campaign the secret weapon.... Because my daughter went and stole a t-shirt from my t-shirt drawer, and she wrote on that t-shirt that which she wants us to be our campaign slogan, and in that slogan, in that slogan is the true reason why we know we will win. Because on the front of that t-shirt, she wrote, "My dad, he's so not Kuhl, K-u-h-l."
Thank you all very much.
(Applause, cheers, etc.)
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