Full Text December 1, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

The holiday theme this year is “Shine, Give, Share.” You’re invited to see the Christmas decorations, go behind-the-scenes as the White House prepares for the season, and share a message of thanks with the troops.

Holidays at the White House
The Obama Family after the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., White House Photo, Pete Souza, 12/1/11

It’s on: The new National Christmas Tree lights up

Source: AP, 12-1-11

The new National Christmas Tree is settling into its new digs just south of the White House.

President Barack Obama and his family officially marked the start of the Christmas season by lighting the tree in a ceremony just after dark Thursday.

The 26-foot Colorado blue spruce was planted in March on the Ellipse, a park that lies between the White House and the National Mall. Strong winds in February toppled the previous tree, which stood in the park since 1978….READ MORE

The Obama Family Starts New Tradition at National Tree Lighting Ceremony

Source: WH, 12-2-11

Last night President Obama was joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Malia and Sasha and  “Grandmother in Chief” Marian Robinson to light a brand new National Christmas Tree in the President’s Park outside the White House. This year’s tree replaces one that was part of the national tradition for 30 years , until it was lost in a storm earlier this year.

In his remarks, the President wished Americans “the merriest of Christmases” and reminded everyone to keep the central message of the holiday season in their hearts:

In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us. And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

Continuing another tradition, the First Lady read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the crowd before the lighting ceremony began, and this year she was joined by Kermit the Frog.

 

View photos from the event and watch the President’s remarks and the First Lady’s reading below.

The Obama Family Lights the National Christmas TreePresident Barack Obama, with mother-in-law Marian Robinson, daughters Malia and Sasha, and First Lady Michelle Obama, react after pushing the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The National Christmas Tree 2011The National Christmas Tree is illuminated during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington D.C., Dec. 1, 2011. The White House is visible in the background. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read "Twas the Night Before Christmas"First Lady Michelle Obama and Kermit the Frog read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to a group of children during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Dec. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

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Remarks by the President at Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

The Ellipse

Source: WH, 12-1-11
5:31 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s nice having your own band.  Please have a seat, everyone.  Merry Christmas!  Merry Christmas!

Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for that introduction and for your hard work to preserve and protect our land and our water and our wildlife.  I also want to thank Minister Rogers for the beautiful invocation, as well as Neil Mulholland and everyone at the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service who helped put this outstanding event together.  I’d like to thank Carson Daly and Big Time Rush, and all of tonight’s performers for joining us to kick off the holiday season here at the White House.

For 89 years, Presidents and Americans have come together to light the National Christmas Tree.  And this year is a special one.  This year, we have a brand new tree.  The last one stood here for more than 30 years — until we lost it in a storm earlier this year.  But we all know that this tradition is much larger than any single tree.  And tonight, once again, we gather here not simply to light some decorations, but to honor a story that lights the world.

More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep.  But this was not just any child.  Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar.  He was a manifestation of God’s love for us.  And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful:  that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

That teaching has come to encircle the globe.  It has endured for generations.  And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans.  No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it’s a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.

So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it’s important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ’s words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds.  In this season of hope, let’s help those who need it most –- the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in.  In this season of plenty, let’s reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families.  In this season of generosity, let’s give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who’ve sacrificed so much for us.  And let’s welcome all those who are happily coming home.  (Applause.)

And this holiday season, let us reaffirm our commitment
to each other, as family members, as neighbors, as Americans, regardless of our color or creed or faith.  Let us remember that we are one, and we are a family.

So on behalf of Malia and Sasha and Michelle and our grandmother-in-chief, Marian — (laughter) — I wish you all the happiest holiday season, the merriest of Christmases.  God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And with that, I’m going to invite the entire Obama clan up here to light the Christmas tree.  I need some help, and there’s a lot of technical aspects to this.  (Laughter.)  Come on, guys.  (Applause.)  All right.

Okay, we’re going to start counting down here.  We’ve got the switch right here.

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, come on.

THE PRESIDENT:  Everybody ready?  And this is the new tree.  I know it’s not quite as big as the old tree, but it’s going to take time to grow.  But we’re going to fill it up with some  spirit and start a new tradition right now.

All right, everybody ready?  We’re going to start counting down.  Five, four, three, two, one — (applause.)  There you go.  That’s a good-looking tree.  Thank you, everyone.

END 5:35 P.M. EST

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Full Text December 1, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Statement Calls Senate Vote Against the Payroll Tax Cut “Unacceptable”

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Senate Vote Against the Payroll Tax Cut: “Unacceptable”

Source: WH, 12-1-11

Just now, Republicans in the Senate rejected an extension of the payroll tax cut that is set to expire at the end of the month. In a statement, President Obama called that vote “unacceptable” — and urged Congress to stop playing politics:

Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They voted against a bill that would have not only extended the $1,000 tax cut for a typical family, but expanded that tax cut to put an extra $1,500 in their pockets next year, and given nearly six million small business owners new incentives to expand and hire. That is unacceptable. It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

Now is not the time to put the economy and the security of the middle class at risk. Now is the time to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off, and everybody has a chance to succeed. Now is the time to put country before party and work together on behalf of the American people. And I will continue to urge Congress to stop playing politics with the security of millions of American families and small business owners and get this done.

Campaign Buzz December 1, 2011: New Hampshire Union Leader Interview with Herman Cain: Wife didn’t know about friendship, ‘financial assistance’ to Ginger White

CAMPAIGN 2012


Cain: Wife didn’t know about friendship with Ginger White:
Herman Cain revealed Thursday that his relationship with Ginger White — who he characterizes as a “friend” to whom he gave money for “month-to-month bills and expenses” — was unknown to his wife Gloria until Monday, when White came forward accusing the Republican presidential candidate of a 13-year-long extramarital affair. In an interview with New Hampshire’s Union Leader, Cain acknowledged that Gloria “did not know that we were friends until she (White) came out with this story.”… – CBS News, 12-1-11

Herman Cain: Wife didn’t know about friendship, ‘financial assistance’ to Ginger White

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, 12-1-11

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain is questioned by New Hampshire Union Leader publisher Joe McQuaid in Manchester Thursday.

C-SPAN video of Union Leader interview with Herman Cain

Asked whether leaving the race is one of the options he is currently assessing, Cain said, “Yes, it is an option.” Regarding his decision, he said, “You will know by next week” as he takes the weekend to reassess where he stands in the campaign.

Cain said he believes that “someone offered (White) a lot of money” to make the allegation. He said he can’t prove it.

Overall, Cain told the New Hampshire Union Leader, “One of the things that I have learned in this situation is that running for President has become a very dirty game. It’s a dirty game – OK?”

Cain also said he believes there is a concerted effort by “a network of people,” both Democrats and Republicans, to bring him down.

Cain said that in about 70 text messages White sent him between Oct. 22 and Nov. 18, she was “asking for financial assistance because she was out of work, had trouble paying her bills and I had known her as a friend.

“She wasn’t the only friend who I had helped in these tough economic times, and so her messages to me were relating to ‘needed money for her rent’ or whatever the case may be. I don’t remember all the specifics.”

Cain said White told him in the texts that she did not have a job and was unable to get financial help from her family, “and that quite frankly, I was the only person who was a friend at the time – and I underscore ‘friend’ – that was in a position to help her.

“I’m a soft-hearted person when it comes to that stuff. I have helped members of my church. I have helped members of my family.

“And I know a lot of other people who had done the same thing. She was asking me to help her, and sometimes, quite frankly, it was desperation,” Cain said.

Cain said that in 17 reported texts back to her, he would respond with messages such as, “What are you doing to get a job?”…

And, he acknowledged, “My wife did not know about it, and that was the revelation. My wife found out about it when she went public with it.” …

“My wife now knows,” Cain said. “My wife and I have talked about it and I have explained it to her. My wife understands that I’m a soft-hearted giving person.”

He said his wife “is comfortable with the explanation that I told her.”

Cain said that in retrospect he should have told his wife about his friendship with White sooner, “but retrospect doesn’t necessarily change what’s going on now.”

He said White never threatened him with going public with the allegation of an affair if Cain did not give her money, “nor was there any indication that there might be blackmail or anything like that.

“I thought I was helping a friend, end of story,” he said.

Cain said he does not know why White has gone public with the allegation, “but I have very strong speculation that someone offered her a lot of money.

“I was helping her with month-to-month bills and expenses, and somebody _ this is speculation only _ offered her a lot of money.

“And one of my objectives is to clear my name and my reputation,” Cain said.

Cain said the two “struck up a friendship” many years ago when she attended a conference in Louisville, Ky., where he was the keynote speaker.

He said that although he is considering leaving the race, “We weren’t slowing down” in the campaign. “We’re keeping all commitments and we’re reassessing several things.

“So, yes, getting out is an option,” he said. “That just meant we were not going put the brakes on until” he made his decision….

He said he will leave the race if his wife asks him to do so, “but my wife wouldn’t ask me to get out.“I would make a decision based on how all of this stuff is affecting her, because I will put her first,” he said. “But she’s not the type to say, ‘You ought to get out.’”…

“If financial backers started to not want to contribute, because _ and I’ve heard this from some people _ they see this cloud not going away.

“I haven’t been convicted of anything except in the court of public opinion, but the media drives the court of public opinion,” he said.

“Every time a new story comes on TV, it mentions sexual harassment charges. That’s inaccurate because they were found baseless. I call them false accusations.

“They were false. They were not proven, so every time they are called sexual harassment charges, that just keeps saying to people sexual harassment, rather than false accusation.

“So, understandably, some people might say I can’t get the nomination with this cloud, so they’re going to stop giving,” he said.

Cain said that while some in the media are “professional, there are some that are truly not professional. Those that love to play ‘gotcha’ politics.”

He also said politicians have an audience in “the political class,” as well as “the third audience,” which, he said, is “we the people.”

“I have got totally difference responses and reactions from those three audiences,” he said. “The establishment says it’s a distraction to the party. It is.

“The establishment says, ‘You can’t get the nomination because of the cloud.’ Maybe, but that’s the way they think.

“The people are ones who are saying, ‘We love your solutions, your optimism. Don’t drop out, if that’s an option.’ But it’s always got to be an option. It’s like a business,” Cain said.

As for the motive behind the latest allegations and earlier allegations that he sexually harassed former co-workers at the National Restaurant Association, Cain has said that “they” are “attacking” him and and his “character, my reputation and my name, in order to bring me down.”

He said Thursday, “The ‘they,’ I believe, is a network of people who would not like to seem me challenge President Barack Obama as the Republican nominee.

“I believe some of them are Democrats and there might be some Republicans. I don’t fit the traditional paradigm. So, when I say ‘they,’ it’s not just one side of the aisle. I believe there is a tendency on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

Featured Historian Matthew Dallek: Mitt Romney is no George Romney

FEATURED HISTORIANS

Matthew Dallek: Mitt Romney is no George Romney

Source: Politico, 12-1-11

George Romney (center) gave his wife Lenore and son Mitt 14 (left), an affectionate hug at a Detroit news conference February 10, 1962 after he announced he would seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Michigan. | AP Photo

Romney has claimed that his greatest political inspiration was George Romney, the author says. | AP Photo Close

Mitt Romney is casting himself as the lone Washington outsider in the Republican presidential field with the best shot at defeating President Barack Obama. He describes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a “lifelong politician” who “spent his last 30 or 40 years in Washington.” He labeled another rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as a career politician. Romney insists that, in contrast, he had “spent most of my life outside of politics.”

“Career politicians got us into this mess,” Romney said, “and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

Romney’s complaint could well be his most hypocritical to date. For it belies an inconvenient reality that Romney’s father spent much of his adult life inside politics — as a liberal moderate in the Republican Party. George Romney was a three-term Michigan governor, ran for president in 1968 and served in the first Nixon administration as secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Romney also led a grass-roots campaign in Michigan to reform its constitution.

That résumé suggests just one aspect of Romney’s judicious devotion to the politics of governmental reform. He consistently harnessed the power of the state to lift up citizens’ lives — sharply contrasting with his son’s repeated denunciations of “career politicians” and Big Government liberals as failed economic stewards.

We’ve seen this cognitive dissonance before. Just as George W. Bush famously divorced himself from his father’s moderate GOP legacy, Mitt Romney is now skating past his father’s largely liberal Republican record in his rush to stand on the right of the Republican spectrum.

Yet Romney has claimed that his greatest political inspiration was George Romney. He told The New York Times in 2007 that running for president made him feel like a member of “a relay team where the baton passed from generation to generation.”…READ MORE

Matthew Dallek, an associate academic director of the University of California Washington Center, is the author of “The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics.”

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