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DNC: Remarks by U.S. Rep James Clyburn

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The following is a transcript of a speech by U.S. Rep James Clyburn of South Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

Good evening.

At the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, John F. Kennedy accepted our party's nomination saying, "We are not here to curse the darkness; we are here to light a candle."

More than half a century later, the same can be said here in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is a precept I was taught as a child and is the fundamental difference between the party of President Barack Obama and the party of Governor Mitt Romney.

As a member of the Democratic House leadership, I have witnessed President Obama light candle after candle, trying to bring our country out of the darkness of a great recession, only to see Republicans douse the flickering flames and amuse themselves cursing the darkness.

Time and time again, the Romney-Ryan Republicans have walked away from bipartisan efforts to find responsible approaches to moving this country forward. They have made it very clear that their top priority is to make Barack Obama a one-term president.

The architect of the Republicans' blueprint is none other than their vice-presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan. The Romney-Ryan ticket has embraced Ryan's plan to cut taxes for the wealthiest one percent, end the Medicare guarantee and seek to balance the budget on the backs of hard-working Americans.

We know Romney thinks the wealthy should continue paying lower tax rates than middle-class families. In 2010, he paid a tax rate of only 13.9 percent, lower than most middle-class Americans. Did he take unusual steps to avoid paying his fair share? Who knows? He refuses to release enough of his tax returns to give a clear picture of his finances.

Every independent study I have seen has concluded that the Romney-Ryan plan will benefit the wealthiest among us at the expense of the middle class—widening the wealth gap.

When too many of our senior citizens were living their golden years in the darkness of economic insecurity, Franklin Roosevelt and Democrats created Social Security, lighting a candle while Republicans cursed the darkness.

When too many of our elderly found their lives darkened by unaffordable and inaccessible health care and assistance, Lyndon Johnson and a Democratic Congress lit the twin candles of Medicare and Medicaid while Republicans stood on the sidelines and cursed the darkness.

When the economy of our country languished in the darkness of uncertainty, William Jefferson Clinton and a Democratic Congress lit the candles that illuminated the pathway to prosperity by creating over 20 million jobs, and we did so without a single Republican vote.

When President Obama was sworn into office, a dark cloud of uncertainty hovered over our great country. 9/11 was fresh in our memories, and domestic terrorism was a constant threat. Our economy was losing over 700,000 jobs per month, and affordable, quality care for all Americans was an unfulfilled, century-old pursuit.

President Obama did not stand on the sidelines and curse the darkness. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work lighting candles.

He promised to bring Osama bin Laden to justice: Done!

He promised to end the war in Iraq: Done!

President Obama promised to make membership in al-Qaida a high-risk occupation and wind down the war in Afghanistan: Done!

President Obama's actions saved our beloved automobile industry. Ford and Chrysler are making record profits again. General Motors is back to number one, and our economy is experiencing 29 consecutive months of private-sector job growth.

But the greatest threat to the sustainability of economic growth and family security is the lack of affordable, accessible, quality health care. We should not run from the term Obamacare. In fact, I embrace the term and am glad Obama cares.

Because Obama cares, children born with diabetes can no longer be denied coverage on their parents' insurance policy. Because Obama cares, people with catastrophic illnesses can no longer be dropped from coverage when they get sick. Because Obama cares, families will no longer have their benefits capped. We should all be thankful that Obama cares.

Reflecting on President Kennedy's 1960 admonition to light a candle and refrain from cursing the darkness, tonight this preacher's kid is reminded of Romans 13, verse 12: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light."

Let us go from this place, lighting candles all across this great country and re-elect President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden so they can continue moving our country forward into the light.

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