"Instead of seizing this moment, the administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence.
Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values to show we have grown up before we grow old. When the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them. They had their chance. They have not led. We will.
And now [their party] comes asking for another chance, another shot. Our answer? Not this time. This is not a time for third chances, it is a time for new beginnings.
Greatness is found when American character and American courage overcome American challenges. We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more a commander in chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander in chief who earns their respect.
A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming. [My generation] never saw our nation's greatness in rising wealth or advancing armies, but in small, unnumbered acts of caring and courage and self-denial. Their highest hope, as Robert Frost described it, was 'to occupy the land with character.' And that, 13 generations later, is still our goal: to occupy the land with character.
Our nation's leaders are responsible to confront problems, not pass them on to others. And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, a president himself must be responsible.
My fellow citizens, we can begin again. After all of the shouting, and all of the scandal. After all of the bitterness and broken faith. We can begin again.
The wait has been long, but it won't be long now. A prosperous nation is ready to renew its purpose and unite behind great goals, and it won't be long now. Our country is ready for high standards and new leaders, and it won't be long now. An era of tarnished ideals is giving way to a responsibility era, and it won't be long now.
The night is passing.
And we are ready for the day to come."
George W. Bush
August 3, 2000