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"America's best days are yet to come' // EXCERPTS of DOLE'S SPEECH

Here are excerpts from the prepared text of Bob Dole's acceptance speech Thursday to the Republican National Convention.

Ladies and gentlemen, delegates to the convention, and fellow citizens: I cannot say it more clearly than in plain speaking. I accept your nomination to lead my party once again to the presidency. I am profoundly moved by your confidence and trust, and I look forward to leading America into the next century.

But this is not my moment, it is yours. It is yours, Elizabeth. It is yours, Robin. It is yours, Jack and Joanne Kemp.

And do not think that I have forgotten whose moment this is above all. It is for the people of America that I stand here tonight, and by their generous leave. And as my voice echoes across darkness and desert, as it is heard over car radios on coastal roads, and as it travels above farmland and suburb, deep into the heart of cities that, from space look tonight like strings of sparkling diamonds, I can tell you that I know whose moment this is: It is yours. It is yours entirely.

And who am I that stands before you?

I was born in Russell, Kan., a small town in the middle of the prairie surrounded by wheat and oil wells. As my friends and my neighbors from Russell, who tonight sit in the front of this hall, know well, Russell, though not the West, looks out upon the West. Like most small towns on the plains, it is a place where no one grows up without an intimate knowledge of distance.

And the first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land. Under the immense sky where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise, he's wrong.

I come from good people, from very good people, and I'm proud of it. My father's name was Doran, my mother's Bina. I loved them, and there is no moment when my memory of them and my love for them does not overshadow anything I do, even this, even here.

There is no height to which I have risen that is high enough to allow me to forget them, to allow me to forget where I came from, where I stand, and how I stand, with my feet on the ground, just a man, at the mercy of God.

This perspective has been strengthened and solidified by a certain wisdom that I owe not to any achievement of my own, but to the gracious compensations of age. I know that in some quarters I may be expected to run from the truth of this. But I was born in 1923, facts are better than dreams, and good presidents and good candidates don't run from the truth. . . .

Our nation, though wounded and scathed, has outlasted revolution, civil war, world war, racial oppression, and economic catastrophe. We have fought and prevailed on almost every continent and in almost every sea. We have even lost, but we have lasted, and we have always come through.

What enabled us to accomplish this has little to do with the values of the present. After decades of assault upon what made America great, upon supposedly obsolete values, what have we reaped, what have we created, what do we have? What we have in the opinion of many Americans is crime, drugs, illegitimacy, abortion, the abdication of duty, and the abandonment of children.

And after the virtual devastation of the American family, the rock upon which this country was founded, we are told that it takes a village, that is, the collective, and thus, the state, to raise a child.

The state is now more involved than it has ever been in the raising of children, and children are now more neglected, abused and mistreated than they have been in our time. This is not a coincidence, and, with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family.

If I could by magic restore to every child who lacks a father or a mother, that father or that mother, I would. And though I cannot, I would never turn my back on them, and I shall as president, promote measures that keep families whole.

I am here to tell you that permissive and destructive behavior must be opposed, that honor and liberty must be restored, and that individual accountability must replace collective excuse. I am here to say to America, do not abandon the great traditions that stretch to the dawn of our history, do not topple the pillars of those beliefs _ God, family, honor, duty, country _ that have brought us through time and time again. . . .

The high office of the presidency requires not a continuous four-year campaign for re-election, but, rather, broad oversight and attention to three essential areas _ the material, the moral, and the nation's survival, in that ascending order of importance.

In the last presidential election, you, the people, were gravely insulted. You were told that the material was not only the most important of these three but, in fact, the only one that really mattered. I don't hold to that for a moment. No one can deny the importance of material well being. And in this regard it is time to recognize that we have surrendered too much of our economic liberty. . . .

You work from the first of January into May just to pay your taxes, so that the party of government can satisfy its priorities with the sweat of your brow, because they think that what you would do with your own money would be morally and practically far less admirable than what they would do with it.

That has simply got to stop. It is demeaning to the nation that within the Clinton administration a corps of the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned, should have the power to fund with your earnings their dubious and self-serving schemes. . . .

Make no mistake about it: my economic program is the right policy for America. Here's what it will mean to you.

It means you will have a president who will urge Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

It means you will have a president and a Congress who will have the will to balance the budget by the year 2002.

It means you will have a president who will reduce taxes 15 percent across-the-board for every taxpayer in America. It will include a $500 per child tax credit for low- and middle-income families. Taxes for a family of four making $35,000 would be reduced by more than half _ 56 percent to be exact.

It means you will have a president who will help small businesses _ the businesses that create most new jobs _ by reducing the capital gains tax rate by 50 percent.

It means you will have a president who will end the IRS as we know it.

It means you will have a president who will expand Individual Retirement Accounts, repeal President Clinton's Social Security tax increase, provide estate tax relief, reduce government regulation, reform our civil justice system, provide educational opportunity scholarships, and a host of other proposals that will create more opportunity for all Americans.

And I won't stop there. Working with Jack Kemp and a Republican Congress, I will not be satisfied until we have reformed our entire tax code, and made it fairer, flatter and simpler.

The principle involved here is time-honored and true: and that is, it's your money. You shouldn't have to apologize for wanting to keep what you earn. To the contrary, the government should apologize for taking too much of it. The Clinton administration just doesn't get it. They think they're in charge of you. And that's why they have got to go. . . .

I will speak plainly on another subject of importance. We are not educating all of our children. Too many are being forced to absorb the fads of the moment. Not for nothing are we the biggest education spenders and among the lowest education achievers of the leading industrial nations.

The teachers' unions nominated Bill Clinton in 1992, they are funding his re-election now, and they, his most reliable supporters, know he will maintain the status quo.

I say this not to the teachers, but to their unions: If education were a war, you would be losing it. If it were a business, you would be driving it into bankruptcy. If it were a patient, it would be dying. ...

In defending the nation from external threats, the requirements for survival cannot merely be finessed. There is no margin for error. On this subject, perhaps more than any other, a president must level with the people, and be prepared to take political risks. I would rather do what is called for in this regard and be unappreciated than fail to do so and win universal acclaim. ...

On my first day in office, I will put America on a course that will end our vulnerability to missile attack and rebuild our armed forces. It is a course President Clinton has refused to take. On my first day in office, I will also put terrorists on notice: If you harm one American, you harm all Americans. And America will pursue you to the ends of the Earth. In short, don't mess with us unless you are prepared to suffer the consequences. . . .

The fundamental issue is not of policy, but of trust _ not merely whether the people trust the president, but whether the president and his party trust the people, trust in their goodness and their genius for recovery. For the government cannot direct the people, the people must direct the government.

This is not the outlook of my opponent _ and he is my opponent, not my enemy.

Though my opponent has of late tried to be a good Republican, there are certain distinctions even he cannot blur. There are distinctions between the two great parties that will be debated, and must be debated, in the next 82 days. He and his party who brought us the biggest tax increase in history.

We are the party of lower taxes and greater opportunity.

We are the party whose resolve did not flag as the Cold War dragged on, we did not tremble before a Soviet giant that was just about to fall, and we did not have to be begged to take up arms against Saddam Hussein.

We are not the party that, as drug use has soared among the young, hears no evil, sees no evil, and just cannot say, "just say no."

We are the party that trusts in the people. I trust in the people. That is the heart of all that I have said to you tonight. . . .

My friends, a presidential campaign is more than a contest of candidates, more than a clash of opposing philosophies. It is a mirror held up to America. It is a measurement of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. . . .

Optimism is in our blood. I know this as few others can. There once was a time when I doubted the future. But I learned that obstacles can be overcome, and I have unlimited confidence in the wisdom of our people and the future of our country.

Tonight, I stand before you tested by adversity, made sensitive by hardship, a fighter by principle, and the most optimistic man in America. For my life has taught me that America is a land without limits.

With my feet on the ground, and my heart filled with hope, I put my faith in you and in the God who loves us all. I am convinced that America's best days are yet to come. May God bless you all. And may God bless America.

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