This is the text of Democratic Party President Bill Clinton’s speech following his victory over Senator Bob Dole in the 1996 election.
Clinton’s win was the first time a Democrat had won successive presidential elections since Franklin Roosevelt won a second term in 1936.
- Watch Clinton (13m)
Text of President Bill Clinton’s speech claiming victory in the 1996 presidential election.
My fellow Americans, thank you for being here.
Just four years from now, we will enter a new century of great challenge and unlimited possibility. Now, we’ve got a bridge to build and I’m ready if you are.
Today the American people have spoken. They have affirmed our course. They have told us to go forward. America has told every one of us — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — loud and clear: it is time to put politics aside, join together and get the job done for America’s future.
In the last four years, we’ve made remarkable progress. But in our schools, our families, our workplaces and our communities, our journey is not done. …
I would like to say a special word of thanks to Senator Dole and I ask you join me in applause for his lifetime of service to the United States.
And I thank Jack Kemp for his service to America and his devotion to the proposition that this a country in which everyone should have a chance to live free and equal and to have a chance at success.
Let me say, and I had a good visit with Senator Dole not too long before he went out to speak. I thanked him for his love of our country, for his years of service.
I applauded the campaign that he fought so bravely to the very last minute. I thanked him for the work we did together to advance the common cause of America. And on behalf of all Americans, I wish him well and God speed.
Four years ago, on these very steps, we set forth on a journey to change the course of America for the better, to keep the American dream alive for everyone willing to work for it, to keep America the world’s strongest force for peace and freedom and prosperity, to come together as one American community.
The time was one of widespread frustration and doubt about our economic and social problems, about our ability to deal with the vast sweep of change that was all around us. The scope and pace of those changes were threatening to many and our values seemed to be under attack on all sides.
But, together, you and I vowed to turn our country around, with a strategy to meet our challenges and protect our values, opportunity for all, responsibility from all, an American community of all Americans.
We have worked hard to end the politics of who’s to blame and instead to ask, what are we going to do to make America better.
Tonight, we proclaim that the vital American center is alive and well. It is a common ground on which we have made our progress. Today, our economy is stronger, our streets are safer, our environment is cleaner, the world is more secure and, thank God, our nation is more united … We must make our democracy stronger by enacting real, bipartisan campaign finance reform. Talk is no longer enough. We must act and act now. And the American people will be watching the leaders of both parties to see who is willing not just to talk but to act. I am willing to act, and I ask others to join me.
And we must keep America the world’s indispensable nation. Finishing the unfinished business of the Cold War, meeting the new threats to our security through terrorism and the proliferation of dangerous weapons, and seizing these extraordinary opportunities to extend our values of peace and democracy and prosperity.
Every American here tonight and every American within the sound of my voice can take pride in the fact that in these last few years for the first time in all of human history, a majority of the human beings living on this globe live under democracies where the people rule.
The challenges we face, they’re not Democratic or Republican challenges. They’re American challenges. What we know from the budget battles of the last two years and from the remarkable success of the last few weeks of this Congress is the lesson we have learned for the last 220 years — what we have achieved as Americans of lasting good, we have achieved by working together. So let me say to the leaders of my Democratic Party and the leaders of the Republican Party, it is time to put country ahead of party.
We do not know the final outcome of the Congressional elections but we know this: The races are close. The American people have been closely divided. The Congress, whatever happens, will be closely divided.
They are sending us a message: Work together. Meet our challenges. Put aside the politics of division and build America’s community, together …
What we need to do is to do the work of America, the way we seek to do the work of raising our children and doing our work and supporting our religious institutions and our community institutions.
If we would simply be Americans, the way we seek to live in all of our other roles, there is no stopping America. Our best days are still ahead.
And so, I say, when we look into our hearts and simply ask what is right for the American people and the future of our children, when we set aside our differences and build on our shared values of faith and family and work, when we roll up our sleeves and work together, American always wins …
I got here tonight, my fellow Americans, because America gave me a chance. That is what all the children of America deserve. Our people have to give them the tools to give them not a guarantee, but that real chance to live up to their God-given potential.
And I ask you to join me in that commitment. Every child deserves the main chance that I was given.
And so I say again let us resolve to run our country the way we try to run our lives. Whether you are the party of Thomas Jefferson or the party of Abraham Lincoln, whether you’re an independent or unaffiliated, remember that we all belong to the greatest nation in history.
To us, much has been given and much is still expected. We must rise to the challenge of building that bridge to the 21st century. Tonight is a night for joy, not just for us here but for all Americans.
For the 53rd time in our history, our people have made their quiet and deliberate decision. They have come together with their powerful voice and expressed their will.
Tonight we celebrate the miracle of America. Tomorrow we greet the dawn and begin our work anew. I am more grateful than I can say. You have given me an opportunity and a responsibility that comes to few people.
I will do my best, and together we will — we will build that bridge to the 21st century. Thank you. Good night, and God bless America. Thank you.