Kerry On the Deck: Rejects Bush's 'Radical Vision'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

( - Recent polls suggest the American public can't name many -- if any -- of the Democrats who want to be president, but if anyone's listening, Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday was talking about why Democrats should vote for him.

The Massachusetts Democrat formally announced his candidacy for president of the United States, not in New Hampshire, but in South Carolina - on the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown.

"Today, with confidence in the courage of our people to change what is wrong and do what is right, I come here to say why I am a candidate for president of the United States of America," Kerry said.

"I am running so that we can keep America's promise - to reward the hard work of middle-class Americans and pull down the barriers that stand in the way of those who are struggling to join them; to restore our true strength in the world, which comes from ideals, not arrogance; to renew the commitment of our generation to pass this planet on to our children better than it was given to us.

"I reject George Bush's radical new vision of a government that comforts the comfortable at the expense of ordinary Americans; that lets corporations do as they please; that turns its back on the very alliances that we helped to create and the very principles that made our nation a model to the world for over two centuries.

"An economic policy of lost opportunity and lost hopes is wrong for America; an international policy where we stand almost alone is wrong fro America.

"George Bush's vision does not live up to the America I enlisted in the Navy to defend; the America I have fought for in the Senate, and the America that I hope to lead as president. And every day of this campaign I will challenge George Bush for fundamentally taking our country in the wrong direction."

First, said Kerry, "We must restore a foreign policy that is true to our ideals." He said if he becomes president, he won't forget that even a powerful nation like America "needs to make some friends in this world.

"Overseas, President Bush has led and misled us, " Kerry said. "He has squandered the goodwill of the world after Sept. 11 and he has lost the respect and the influence that we need to make our country safe. We are seeing the peril in Iraq every day," Kerry added.

Kerry said Bush was wrong to "rush to war without building a true international coalition and with no plan to win the peace." He criticized the "swagger of a president saying, 'Bring 'em on.'"

Kerry also said it's time for the United States to "return to the United Nations" -- not with arrogance, "but with genuine respect."

He accused President Bush of taking the nation in the wrong direction: "He is poised to set off a new nuclear arms race by building bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons - smaller, more useable nuclear weapons.

"I don't want a world with more useable nuclear weapons," Kerry said. "I don't want America to turn its back on half a century of effort by every president to reduce the nuclear threat." He said he favors a new international accord on nuclear proliferation, something he believes would ensure human survival.

Kerry said he would not hesitate to use force to fight terrorism if such force is necessary. But he said if he is president, "Our beloved country will never go to war because we want to; we will go to war because we have to."

He said that two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, "every piece of evidence tells us that this president has failed to make us as safe as we should be."