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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) made the following statement today at a press conference where Hoyer and other senior Democrats unveiled a document entitled “Ensuring America’s Strength and Security: A Democratic National Security Strategy for the 21st Century.” The document is a product of a fifteen member working group lead by Whip Hoyer and not of the House Democratic Caucus:
“I want to thank you for coming today, as we unveil this new document, ‘Ensuring America’s Strength and Security: A Democratic National Security Strategy for the 21st Century.’
“As many of you know, it is my strong belief that national security was the threshold issue for voters in our last national election. In fact, poll after poll revealed that national security issues such as the war on terror, the war in Iraq and homeland security ranked at or near the top of voters’ concerns.
“The inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina two weeks ago – almost four years to the day after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 – has only heightened concern regarding this nation’s ability to respond to another catastrophe.
“Unfortunately, many voters – even voters who agree with Democrats on key domestic issues such as education, health care and retirement security – have questioned whether our Party is willing to use the full range of our national power to strengthen America’s security and protect our people.
“Our opponents, of course, have preyed upon this perception and fostered it.
“But we are here today to emphatically reject this perception as not only wrong, but as completely contrary to the Democratic Party’s proud tradition of leadership in world affairs over the last century. That tradition of strong leadership is one that we embrace. And it will continue to guide us as we look to the future.
“The document that we are unveiling today is a beginning, not an end. We intend to speak out on these national security issues – from winning the war on terror to strengthening our nation’s military, from bolstering our alliances to moving toward energy independence – in the days, weeks and months ahead.
“Our purpose is three-fold.
“First, we believe that it is important that the American people know that Democrats in the House are intensely focused on this nation’s security.
“Second, we want them to know that Democrats will not hesitate to use force, when necessary, to protect our people and our country.
“And, on this point, let no one be mistaken: We believe that we must pursue an integrated strategy that employs our military power, intelligence, homeland defense, diplomacy, economic leverage and the enduring power of our ideals.
“And third, we want voters to know that Democrats are projecting a forward-looking vision that will defend the homeland, defeat terrorism, and promote democracy, freedom and human rights.
“Our thirty-fifth President – Democrat John F. Kennedy – had no illusions about the dangers that confronted our national security. And, without question, he was committed to utilizing all of our nation’s assets to protect our security and our people.
“‘The United States is a peaceful nation,’ said President Kennedy. ‘And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely to convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, our words will be of no help.’
“The strength and determination of Democrats is clear.
“And, this group hopes that our words in the days ahead convey our conviction to the American people.”