Address to Democratic Convention


Are you ready for Battle?

I am!

Are you?

Thank you New Jersey Democrats.

I’m honored to be your nominee. I’ll be even more honored to be New Jersey’s next Governor.

Let me begin by repeating something I’ve said before:

I’m not running for governor to oppose an individual…I’m running for governor so that we can build a better life for eight and a half million New Jerseyans – women and men; black, white, brown and Asian; all of New Jersey.

I’m running for governor to give people value for their hard-earned tax dollars and restore respect and honor to our state.

I’m running for Governor because I believe a progressive in the Statehouse can succeed while being fiscally and ethically responsible.

Fighting for the hardworking people of New Jersey is our cause – and that’s why Democrats will win in this campaign in our towns and counties, in the Assembly and in the race for the Statehouse!

Let me tell you about the campaign I will wage… and the state we will build together.

The first thing I pledge is that unlike Doug Forrester, my campaign will be about ideas not insults; about New Jersey’s future and not negative attacks..

We know our opponent runs campaigns that are ugly – so ugly that not even a reality show makeover can make them look good. Ask Bret Schundler.

In the Republican primary, the Forrester campaign turned off so many people that voter turnout was near the lowest ever.

Then, in his primary night speech, it took him 45 seconds before he started attacking me.

And we know what we will hear from him for the next four months – more of the same.

Today, he may have a bigger microphone, some high-profile visitors from Washington, and lots of money from Karl Rove’s far right political slush fund, but there’s a truth here that needs to be told:

No ideas and negative attacks won’t insure a single child or fill a single senior citizen’s drug prescription.

No ideas and negative attacks won’t create a single job – let alone a single high wage job.

No ideas and negative attacks won’t protect a single mile of New Jersey’s shoreline or clean up a single Superfund site.

Unless somebody thinks name-calling and guilt by association are teaching tools, no ideas and negative attacks certainly won’t educate a single child.

And let me add, you can’t clean up politics with a dirty campaign.

No — these negative attacks don’t tell you how Doug Forrester intends meet the challenges before us.

I believe it is time to put aside the politics of deception and smear – appeal to what is best in our people – and reach for a New Jersey equal to our best possibilities and hopes.

My entire life has been about making change and opening pathways to the future.

When the people of our state sent me from Wall Street to Washington, one of the first things I did was lead in the fight for tough corporate reforms.

Some people were surprised, because I had been a businessman myself.

But I believe that leadership – whether it’s in public office or at a private firm — is a position of trust.

Leadership means taking more responsibility, not less.

Bring new ideas and energy. Uphold the highest standards of honest and integrity. And create change and progress.

Whether it was breaking the glass ceiling for women or recruiting at historically black colleges when I was at Goldman Sachs, I have never been content to settle for things as they are.

Change is what we need in New Jersey right now. Change is what I will stand for, fight for, and achieve for New Jersey. And I ask people all across our state to join in this historic effort by signing up for our grassroots campaign at

Now, our opponent can’t bring change to New Jersey for at least two reasons.

The first is that he actually supports some of the things that most need changing.

Deficits… tax giveaways to the few… payoffs to prescription drug companies that push prices through the roof… rejection of collective bargaining, family planning and equal pay for equal work… opposition to embryonic stem cell research… refusing to close the gun show loophole — making it easier for assault weapons to get onto our streets…

We’ve seen this movie in Washington.

Does New Jersey want it to be the future of our state?

What George Bush has done in Washington is what Doug Forrester would do in Trenton. But he’ll never get the chance – because that’s not the kind of New Jersey the people of New Jersey believe in.

The second reason our opponent can’t bring change is because he has offered slogans, not ideas.

He likes to go around saying that he knows what the problem is.

I say: If you don’t have a solution – you are the problem.

It doesn’t take a genius to know property taxes are way too high. So he claims he has a plan.

But there’s a right way to provide property tax relief and a wrong way.

My plan cuts spending and it’s paid for… his isn’t.

My plan targets relief to senior citizens and middle class families who need it most… his doesn’t.

My plan puts rebates in the hands of the people not the politicians… his doesn’t.

Most importantly, my plan lasts. Do you know when his plan stops working? 136 days from today. That’s because my plan is permanent. His plan is about politics.

To coin a phrase, Doug Forrester is the wrong prescription for New Jersey.

Our campaign has been and will be specific. Our campaign has been and will be substantive.

Thanks to many of you, today there is more property tax relief in the State Budget. Over time, we can do more. We need to grow the rebates 10 percent a year for four years. It’s part of my “Affordability Agenda.”

We need to make New Jersey not just the wealthiest state in America, but a more affordable place to live.

That starts with getting our fiscal house in order and building the right economic climate for the job-creating industries of the 21st century.

I will cut waste, reform the state’s budget process, and invest in the industries and technologies that are important to the state’s future health and prosperity.

Right now in New Jersey, we are paying the highest health insurance premiums in the nation – the average family is paying nearly $1,700 more than our neighbors in Pennsylvania, and $1,000 more than in New York. 1.2 million of our fellow New Jerseyans go without any health insurance – including 265,000 kids. That’s wrong – and we’re going to change it.

My plan – over four years – will make affordable health care available to all New Jersey children and 95 percent of New Jersey’s citizens – and it will cut rising health insurance costs – by 10 percent [a year].

We will also make a college more affordable – so a young person’s chance in life will be determined by talent and dedication, not tuition and fees.

For full details on my affordability agenda, I ask the voters to go to I want people to know where I stand – and the real differences in this race.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s privatization of Social Security. I don’t.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s prescription drug plan that shortchanges New Jersey’s seniors. I didn’t, I don’t, and I won’t.

Let Doug Forrester support George Bush’s call to slash Medicaid, college loans and Amtrak, and promote drilling for oil and gas off New Jersey’s beaches. I never have and I never will.

The whole nation is watching this campaign to see what New Jersey will decide.

Let’s send a message that we want a government that’s on the people’s side. And then let’s build a New Jersey that’s hopeful and affordable for our seniors, our students, and our families. The last thing this state needs is a junior version of the Bush Administration in Trenton.

And we also know that a government is judged not only by its accomplishments… but on how it acts – how it behaves.

Let me put it plainly: The culture of corruption has plagued his state under both political parties. Unless we end it, we won’t be able to bring down the cost of government, hold down the tax burden on our citizens, or ever expect them to trust public officials to make tough – but fair – choices.

The old position is simply unacceptable. The old ways will not do.

I have called for a complete ban on pay-to-play at every level of government – and I will win that fight as Governor.

I’ll fight to stop pension-padding, establish an elected state comptroller and save taxpayers’ money by cracking down on fraud, backroom deals and no-bid contracts. I’ll fight to close the revolving door that let’s state officials leave office and cash in on public service.

We must understand that while corruption, lying and cheating are personal failings, and not a partisan divide – Democrats can and must aspire to and deliver something better.

Change begins with us, and that is why I want to say to you, my Party, my family, — we must change. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Those entrusted with public office have a responsibility to work not for themselves, but for the people – whether that office is governor or school board member.

That is why elected officials are called public servants.

And I will return the dignity and nobility of public service to this state.

Make no mistake. I will have a zero tolerance policy for those who betray or compromise the public trust.

The campaign ahead will be hard-fought.

It will be competitive.

And an opponent who is offering few solutions will offer many attacks.

We challenge him today to get off the low road to our state’s highest office.

And let everyone hear me clearly – I will not let false attacks go unanswered.

I intend to play fair, but I won’t hesitate to play tough.

I will be tough because the issues at stake are too important and the impact on people’s lives is too real.

We are the ones fighting to protect Social Security.

Dick Codey is the one fighting to assure people with mental illnesses are treated with care and compassion.

Our Senate and Assembly Democrats are the ones who raised the minimum wage, defended the right to organize, protected the New Jersey Highlands, reformed the child welfare system, and helped produce one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

These are the things we have fought for and won.

And we’re going to make sure that progress is just a start.

From creating jobs… to reducing property taxes… to making health care and education more affordable… to cleaning up corruption: for all this and more, we have only just begun to fight.

New Jersey deserves a government as strong, as compassionate, as embracing, as innovative, and as creative as its people.

Thank you, and now let’s go out there and win this election.