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Brian Schweitzer's DNC Remarks

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 08:05 PM

I’m a rancher who has made my living raising cattle and growing wheat, barley and alfalfa in Montana, a beautiful place with soaring peaks, pristine rivers and endless prairies. I’m probably a little biased, but I think it’s the best place in the world to raise a family, to start and grow a business, and to build a community.

When I ran for governor of Montana, I had never before held elected office. I chose a Republican, John Bohlinger, to be my lieutenant governor, with the simple proposition that we could get more done working together than we could fighting. Because Montana really isn’t a red state or a blue state. As Senator Obama might put it, we’re a united state.

And so in three-and-a-half years, working together—Republicans and Democrats in Montana—we have cut more taxes for more Montanans than any time in history, increased energy production at the fastest rate in the history of Montana, invested more new money in education than ever before and we created the largest budget surplus in the history of Montana. That’s the kind of change we brought to Montana, and that’s the kind of change President Barack Obama is going to bring to America.

Like Senator Obama, my family has roots in the Great Plains. My grandparents were immigrants who came to Montana with nothing more than the clothes on their back, high hopes and faith in God. My family didn’t have much in our little house. But a few things stand out in my memory: a crucifix and, on our kitchen wall, a framed picture of President Kennedy. My parents never even graduated from high school, but President Kennedy’s idealism and spirit of possibility inspired them to send all six of us children to college. And when he said, “we’re going to the moon,” he showed us that no challenge was insurmountable.

A generation later, we face a great new challenge, a world energy crisis that threatens our economy, our security, our climate and our way of life. And until we address that energy crisis, our problems will only get worse. For eight long years, the White House has led us in the wrong direction. And now Senator McCain wants four more years of the same.

Can we afford four more years? Is it time for a change? When do we need it? And who do we need as the next President of the United States of America? That’s right. Barack Obama is the change we need!

Right now, the United States imports about 70 percent of its oil from overseas. At the same time, billions of dollars that we spend on all that foreign oil seems to end up in the bank accounts of those around the world who are openly hostile to American values and our way of life. This costly reliance on fossil fuels threatens America and the world in other ways, too. CO2 emissions are increasing global temperatures, sea levels are rising and storms are getting worse.

We need to break America’s addiction to foreign oil. We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made. And we need a president who can marshal our nation’s resources, get the job done and deliver the change we need.

That leader is Barack Obama. Barack Obama knows there’s no single platform for energy independence. It’s not a question of either wind or clean coal, solar or hydrogen, oil or geothermal. We need them all to create a strong American energy system, a system built on American innovation.

After eight years of a White House waiting hand and foot on big oil, John McCain offers more of the same. At a time of skyrocketing fuel prices, when American families are struggling to keep their gas tanks full, John McCain voted 25 times against renewable and alternative energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind energy.

This not only hurts America’s energy independence, it could cost American families more than a hundred thousand jobs. At a time when America should be working harder than ever to develop new, clean sources, John McCain wants more of the same and has taken more than a million dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. Now he wants to give the oil companies another 4 billion dollars in tax breaks. Four billion in tax breaks for big oil?

That’s a lot of change, but it’s not the change we need.

In Montana, we’re investing in wind farms and we’re drilling in the Bakken formation, one of the most promising oil fields in America. We’re pursuing coal gasification with carbon sequestration and we’re promoting greater energy efficiency in homes and offices.

Even leaders in the oil industry know that Senator McCain has it wrong. We simply can’t drill our way to energy independence, even if you drilled in all of John McCain’s backyards, including the ones he can’t even remember.

That single-answer proposition is a dry well, and here’s why. America consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil, but has less than 3 percent of the reserves. You don’t need a $2 calculator to figure that one out. There just isn’t enough oil in America, on land or offshore, to meet America’s full energy needs.

Barack Obama understands the most important barrel of oil is the one you don’t use. Barack Obama’s energy strategy taps all sources and all possibilities. It will give you a tax credit if you buy a fuel-efficient car or truck, increase fuel-efficiency standards and put a million plug-in hybrids on the road.

Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years in clean, renewable energy technology. This will create up to 5 million new, green jobs and fuel long-term growth and prosperity. Senator Obama’s plan will also invest in a modern transmission grid to deliver this new, clean electricity from wind turbines and solar panels to homes, offices and the batteries in America’s new plug-in hybrid cars.

(Editor’s note: The ending of Gov. Schweitzer’s speech was a rousing call to action to end the nation’s energy independence on foreign oil and in which he challenged the crowd to stand up and let their voices be heard throughout the country from Montana to Mississippi, from California to the Carolinas…” and even around the world.
“Are we going to declare energy independence,” he roared to the crowd. “Yes!” they answered. “Are we going to change the world,” he roared back. “Yes!” they answered in a booming, collective voice. “And who is going to lead America in this change?” “Barack Obama!” roared the crowd in unison.
“That’s it, Baby,” he said with his arms high over his head in triumph. “Let’s go with this election!”)

PS. The governor’s speech is about 15 minutes long and can be seen on video by simply Googling Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s Democratic Convention Speech, or going to the Democratic Convention’s Website. If you missed it, its delivery is worth the time spent viewing it as it was one of the more animated of the convention.

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