Full Text Campaign Buzz October 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in San Francisco, California

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — San Francisco, CA

Source: WH, 10-9-12 

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
San Francisco, California

9:29 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, San Francisco!  (Applause.)  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you, guys.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  I love you back.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

Now, there are a couple of people I want to acknowledge who are here tonight.  First of all, give it up for your mayor, Ed Lee, in the house.  (Applause.)  Your attorney general, Kamala Harris, is here.  (Applause.)  Got a couple of outstanding members of Congress — Barbara Lee and Pete Stark.  (Applause.)  It appears that John Legend and Michael Franti did a pretty good job of firing you up.  (Applause.)

And we’ve got two San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith — your quarterback Alex Smith, that tight-end Vernon Davis.  (Applause.)  I’ve had a chance to meet them.  They seem like wonderful young men and just so impressive and poised.  So I can’t help but wish them the best of luck until they play my Bears in Week 11.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  What happened, what happened?  Come on.  (Laughter.)  Now, I know that was quite a show.  You guys have been having fun.  But now we’ve got to get down to business.  We’re here because we’ve got some work to do.  We’re here because we’ve got an election to win.  (Applause.)  We’re here because everything we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012.  And I’m going to need your help to finish what we started.  (Applause.)

Now, four years ago, I made a few commitments to you.  I told you I’d end the war in Iraq, and I did.  (Applause.)  I said I’d end the war in Afghanistan, and we are.  (Applause.)  I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and today, al Qaeda is on its heels and Osama bin Laden is no more.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families, and we have by $3600.  (Applause.)  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners, and we have 18 times.  We got back every dime used to rescue the banks, and we passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.  (Applause.)

We passed health care reform, also known as, aka Obamacare — (applause) — and we did so because I do care.  I care that folks with preexisting conditions can still get insurance.  I care that your insurance companies don’t jerk you around.  I care that we make sure that being a woman is not considered a preexisting condition and an excuse to pay people more.  (Applause.)

I told you that we would make sure that nobody who serves this country so bravely will ever be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  We ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  (Applause.)

When Governor Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we said I don’t think we’re going to take your business advice.  We reinvented a dying auto industry that’s now back on top of the world.  (Applause.)

Three years — three years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  This past Friday, we found out that the unemployment rate had fallen from a height of 10 percent down to 7.8 [percent], the lowest level since I took office.  (Applause.)  Manufacturers are coming back to America.  Home values are on the rise.

We are not there yet.  We’re not where we need to be yet.  There are still too many Americans looking for work, too many families who are having trouble paying the bills, too many homes underwater, too many young people burdened with debt from going to school.  But if there’s one thing I know, it is this:  We have come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)

The last thing we can afford, California, right now is four years of the very same policies that led us into the mess in the first place.  We’ve spent four years cleaning it up.  We don’t want another mess.  We can’t allow that to happen.  I won’t allow it to happen.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term for President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

I’ve seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country get hit with another round of top-down economics.  The centerpiece of my opponent Governor Romney’s economic plan is a $5 trillion tax cut skewed towards the wealthy.  He’s been pitching this plan for almost two years now.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no — don’t boo, vote.  (Applause.)  He stood up on stage during one of the primary debates, proudly promised that he — that his tax cuts would include the top 1 percent.  He promised this.  But most of the economists who crunched the numbers said Governor Romney’s plan would either blow up the deficit or raise taxes on the middle class.  It’s one or the other.  That’s how arithmetic works.  (Laughter and applause.)

So a few weeks ago, you can start seeing he’s figuring out, well, this isn’t maybe selling that well.  (Laughter.)  And then, a few nights ago — (laughter) — suddenly a guy pretending to be Mitt Romney stood on a stage next to me — (laughter and applause) — and said he’s changing his plan.  He is just going to pretend it doesn’t exist.  What $5 trillion tax cut?  (Laughter.)  I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut.  Don’t pay attention to that tax cut behind the curtain.  (Laughter.)  During the debate he said, “There is no economist who can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion to the deficit if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.”  (Laughter.)

Thanks for clearing that up.  (Laughter.)  We’ll take your word for it.  (Laughter.)  This was almost as believable as when he said he’d bring down our deficit by going after what has been the biggest driver of our debt and deficits over the last decade — public television, PBS.  (Laughter.)  You didn’t know this, but for all you moms and kids out there, you should have confidence that finally somebody is cracking down on Big Bird.  (Laughter.)  Elmo has been seen in a white Suburban.  He’s driving for the border.  (Laughter.)  Oscar is hiding out in his trashcan.  (Laughter.)  We’re cracking down on them.  Governor Romney’s plan is to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring the hammer down on “Sesame Street.”  (Laughter and applause.)

Listen, after the debate, I had a bunch of folks come to me — “Don’t be so polite, don’t be so nice.”  (Laughter and applause.)  But I want everybody to understand something — what was being presented wasn’t leadership, that’s salesmanship.  (Applause.)  And we cannot afford another round of tax cuts for the wealthy.  We can’t afford to gut investments in education or clean energy or research and technology.  We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street banks, or major polluters, or insurance companies.  That is not a jobs plan.  That’s not a plan to grow the economy.  That’s not change we can believe in.  That’s a relapse.  We have been there.  We have tried that.  We are not going back, we are moving forward.  That’s why you’re here.  That’s why I’m here.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  We have a different vision about how you create jobs and prosperity in America.  We have to change our tax code so it stops rewarding companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  I want to reward small businesses and manufacturers who are investing and taking route right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We can create more jobs controlling our own energy.  After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)  That’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our environment.  And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades.  (Applause.)

So we don’t want to reverse that progress.  We’ve got to build on it.  My plan would cut our oil imports in half.  And we can invest in the clean energy that’s creating thousands of jobs all across America right now — (applause) — wind power and solar power and clean coal, fuel-efficient cars and long-lasting batteries.  We’re producing oil and natural gas at record rates.  But we have to make sure that we’re also grabbing for the future.  We can’t cede that to somebody else.

And unlike my opponent, I will not allow oil companies to collect another $4 billion every single year in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.  (Applause.)  I’m not going to let China win the race for clean energy technologies.  I want to see those technologies developed right here in California, right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  And as I said at the convention, yes, my plan will continue to reduce carbon pollution because climate change is not a hoax.  (Applause.)  \

Droughts, floods, wildfires — they’re not a joke.  They’re a threat to our kids’ future.  That’s what we’re fighting for.
I believe we’ve got to have the best education system in the world.  (Applause.)  That will create jobs.  That’s good for business — making sure that everybody has the skills they need to compete and to be good citizens.  Education is the reason I’m standing here today.  (Applause.)  It’s why Michelle was able to do everything she’s done in her life.  It’s true for so many of all the folks here.

So now we’ve got a choice.  We can gut education to pay for tax breaks that we don’t need, or we can recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers — (applause) — focus on early childhood education, provide job training for 2 million more workers in our community colleges, help to lower tuition costs for our students going to college.  We can meet those goals.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  That’s what’s at stake in the next 29 days.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President.  (Applause.)

I want to use some of the money we’re saving from ending the wars in Iraq and winding down our efforts in Afghanistan to pay down our deficit; put people back to work all across America rebuilding roads and bridges, airports and schools.  Infrastructure — that’s what I’m talking about.  (Laughter.)  I’m pitching, you’re catching.

Governor Romney, he has a different view.  He said it was tragic to end the war in Iraq.  In a speech today, he doubled down on that belief.  He said ending the war was a mistake.  I disagree.  Bringing our troops home was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

And every brave American who wears the uniform of this country should know that as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.  And when our troops take off their uniforms, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us — because nobody who has fought for us should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  (Applause.)

And yes, we need to cut our deficit and reduce our debt.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you.

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Laughter.)  But we do have to reduce our debt and our deficits, and I’ve put forward a $4 trillion plan to get it done over the next 10 years.  We’ve already worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars in spending.  I am ready to do more.  But we cannot just cut our way to prosperity.  We cannot get this done unless we ask the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 — the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President, we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, created a whole lot of millionaires and successful small businesses, as well.  (Applause.)

Governor Romney says it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher or an autoworker who makes $50,000.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  You know what, I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home, or raising their kids to pay for a tax cut we don’t need.  I refuse to pay for a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires by asking those students who are here today to pay more for college, or kicking kids off of Head Start, or eliminating health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled.  That is not what has built this country.  (Applause.)  That is not what we believe.  That is not what’s going to happen.  We are going to go forward, not backwards.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

So, San Francisco, California, this is the choice we now face.  It’s what the election comes down to.  Over and over, we are told by opponents that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.  Basic philosophy is, you’re on your own.  If you can’t afford health insurance, hope you don’t get sick.  Companies are releasing pollution that our kids are breathing, well, that’s just the price of progress.  You can’t afford to start a business or go to college, just borrow money from your parents.  (Laughter.)

That’s not who we are.  That’s not what this country is about.  Here in America, we believe in individual initiative.  We believe that we can’t help folks who don’t want to try to help themselves, but we also believe in opportunity.  We also believe we’re all in this together.  We also understand that America is not about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us, together, as one nation, as one people.  (Applause.)

That’s what you all understood in 2008.  That’s what change was about.  You — all of us — coming together.  You’re the reason there’s a little girl somewhere here in California who is going to get the care she needs because an insurance company can’t impose some sort of lifetime limit on her coverage.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason a factory worker who lost his job in Toledo or Lordstown, Ohio is back on the line building some of the best cars in the world. You’re the reason that a student right here has help paying for a college education, or a veteran can go to school on the New GI Bill.

You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here, pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason why a soldier who has served us so bravely will not be kicked out of the military because of who they love.  (Applause.)  You made that happen.  You’re the reason that soldier can come home to his loved ones and hear those words, “welcome home.”  You made that happen.  (Applause.)

And so I need you in this election.  The next 29 days — we cannot afford to be complacent, and we cannot afford to be cynical.  We’ve got to look back at the progress we’ve made, and that should give us confidence.  But we have to understand we’ve got a lot more to do, and if we don’t do it, then change won’t happen.

Your voice will make a difference.  And if you don’t make that difference, then other people will fill the void — lobbyists and special interests, and the folks who write the $10 million checks to try to win this race, and the ones who are trying to make it harder for people to vote; the politicians in Washington who somehow think that they’ve got a better idea than women about women’s health care choices.  (Applause.)  Those are the folks that are going to be making decisions if you are not making those decisions.

Only you can make sure those things don’t happen.  Only you’ve got the power to move us forward.  I will be there with you, but this is a team, people.

From the day we began this campaign, I always said that change takes time.  We always said that it would take more than one term or even one President.  We said it would take more than one party.  And, by the way, no, it doesn’t just take me.  That’s not the deal.  The deal is it takes all of us.  That’s the deal.  (Applause.)
It won’t happen if you’ve got somebody who writes off half the nation even before he takes office.  But it also won’t happen if half the nation writes off itself by not participating, or doesn’t vote.  (Applause.)

In 2008, 47 percent of the country didn’t vote for me.  But on the night of the election, I said to all those Americans, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices.  I need your help.  I’ll be your President, too.  (Applause.)
I don’t know how many of you will be with me this time around, but I’ll be with you.  I’ll be there fighting for you because I’m not fighting to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs — I’m fighting to create American jobs.  I’m not fighting to improve schools in red states or blue states — I’m fighting to improve schools it the United States.  (Applause.)  I’m not fighting for red values or white values or black values or Latino values or gay or straight values — I’m fighting for American values.  They belong to all of us.  (Applause.)

San Francisco, we are not as divided as our politics would suggest.  We’ve got more in common than our pundits believe.  I still believe in you.  I’m asking you to keep believing in me.  I’m asking for your vote.  I’m asking you to knock on doors.  I’m asking you to make phone calls.  And if you do, we will win this election.  We’ll finish what we started, and we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
9:51 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 8, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech on Foreign Policy at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Virginia Transcript — Says It’s ‘Time to Change Course’ in Mideast

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Says It’s ‘Time to Change Course’ in Mideast


Charles Dharapak/Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a foreign policy speech at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., on Monday.

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-8-12

Mitt Romney Monday painted a dismal picture of President Obama’s foreign policy during his years in the White House as the Republican candidate toughened his criticism of the administration’s handling of the terrorist attack in Libya.

Romney said that as president he would ensure the Syrian rebels got the weapons they need and that he would take a firmer hand with Egypt and in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“It is time to change course in the Middle East,” said Romney….READ MORE

[READ the transcript of Romney’s speech on foreign policy.]

Transcript: Mitt Romney Remarks at Virginia Military Institute

Source: NYT, 10-8-12

The following is the full text of Mitt Romney’s speech on foreign policy as delivered on Monday at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service)

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very much for that warm welcome. And I particularly appreciate the introduction by my good friend and tireless campaign companion, Governor Bob McDonnell. We have traveled the state together time and time again, and he goes all over the country helping me. He is also showing here in Virginia what conservative leadership can do to build a stronger economy.

And thank you also to Congressman Goodlatte for joining us today. I appreciate his service and leadership. And particular thanks to General Peay. I appreciate his invitation to be with you today at the Virginia Military Institute. It’s a — a privilege to be here at an institution like this that has done so much for our nation, both in times of war and in times of peace.

For more than 170 years VMI has done more than educate students. It has guided their transformation into citizens, warriors and leaders. VMI graduates have served with honor in our nation’s defense, just as many are doing today in Afghanistan and in other lands. And Since the September 11th attacks, many of VMI’s sons and daughters have defended America, and I mourn with you the 15 brave souls who have been lost. I join you in praying for the many VMI graduates who are right now serving in harm’s way. May God bless all who serve and all who have served.

Of all the VMI graduates, none is more distinguished, perhaps, than General George Marshall, the chief of staff of the Army who became secretary of state and secretary of defense, who helped to vanquish fascism and then planned Europe’s rescue from despair. His commitment to peace was born of his direct knowledge of the awful costs and consequences of war. General Marshall once said, quote, “the only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”

Those words were true in his time, and they are true in our time.

Last month our nation was attacked again. A U.S. Ambassador and three of our fellow Americans are dead, murdered in Benghazi, Libya. Among the dead were three veterans. All of them were fine men on a mission of peace and friendship to a nation that clearly longs for both. President Obama has said that Ambassador Chris Stevens and his colleagues represented the best of America, and he’s right. We all mourn their loss.

The attacks against us in Libya were not an isolated incident. They were accompanied by anti-American riots in nearly two dozen other countries, mostly in the Middle East, but also in Africa and Asia. Our embassies have been attacked. Our flag has been burned. Many of our citizens have been threatened and driven from their overseas homes by vicious mobs shouting “Death to America.” These mobs hoisted the black banner of Islamic extremism over American embassies on the anniversary of 9/11.

As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened, how the threats we face have grown worse and what this calls on America to do. These are the right questions, and I’ve come here today to offer a larger perspective on these tragic recent events and to share with you and to share with all Americans my vision for a freer, more prosperous and more peaceful world.

The attacks on America last month should not be seen as random acts. They’re expressions of a larger struggle that is playing out across the broader Middle East, a region that’s now in the midst of the most profound upheaval in a century. And the fault lines of this struggle can be seen clearly in Benghazi itself.

The attack on our consulate there on September 11th, 2012, was likely the work of forces affiliated with those that attacked our homeland on September 11th, 2001.

This latest assault can’t be blamed on a reprehensible video insulting Islam, despite the administration’s attempts to convince us of that for so long. No, as the administration has finally conceded, these attacks were the deliberate work of terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology on others, especially on women and girls; who are fighting to control much of the Middle East today; and who seek to wage perpetual war on the West.

We saw all of this in Benghazi last month, but we also saw something else, something hopeful. After the attack on our consulate, tens of thousands of Libyans, most of them young people, held a massive protest in Benghazi against the very extremists who had murdered our people. They waved signs that read, “The ambassador was Libya’s friend” and “Libya is sorry.” They chanted “No to militias, no to militias.” They marched, unarmed, to the terrorist compound and then they burned it to the ground. As one Libyan woman said, “We are not going to go from darkness to darkness.”

This is the struggle that’s now shaken the entire Middle East. It’s the struggle of millions and millions of people — men and women, young and old, Muslims, Christians and nonbelievers — all of whom have had enough of the darkness. It’s a struggle for the dignity that comes with freedom and opportunity and the right to live under laws of our own making. It’s a struggle that’s been unfolded under green banners in the streets of Iran, in the public squares of Tunisia and Egypt and Yemen, and in the fights for liberty in Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, and now in Syria.

In short, it’s a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair.

We’ve seen this struggle before. It would be familiar to General George Marshall. In his time, the ashes of world war, another critical part of the world was torn between democracy and despotism. Fortunately, we had leaders of courage and vision, both Republicans and Democrats, who knew that America had to support friends who shared our values and prevent today’s crises from becoming tomorrow’s conflicts.

Statesmen like Marshall rallied our nation to rise to its responsibilities as the leader of the free world. We helped our friends to build and sustain free societies and free markets. We defended our friends and ourselves from our common enemies. We led. We led. And though the path was long and uncertain, the thought of war in Europe is as inconceivable today as it seemed inevitable in the last century.

This is what makes America exceptional: It is not only the character of our country; it is also the record of our accomplishments. America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership — a history that’s been written by patriots of both parties. That is America at its best and is the standard by which we measure every president as well as anyone who wishes to be president.

Unfortunately, this president’s policies have not been equal to our best examples of world leadership. And nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East.

I want to be very clear: The blame for the murder of our people in Libya, and the attacks on our embassies in so many other countries, lies solely with those who carried them out — no one else. But it is our responsibility and the responsibility of the President to use America’s great power to shape history, not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves in the Middle East under President Obama.

The relationship between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel, for example, our closest ally in the region, has suffered great strains. The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the United States and Israel, and he’s succeeded. This is a dangerous situation that has set back the hope of peace in the Middle East and emboldened our mutual adversaries, especially Iran.

Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies and to us. And it has never acted less deterred by America, as was made clear last year, when Iranian agents plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in our nation’s capital. And yet when millions of Iranians took to the streets in June of 2009; when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world; when they cried out, are you with us or are you with them, the American president was silent.

Across the greater Middle East, as the joy born from the downfall of dictators has given way to the painstaking work of building capable security forces and growing economies and developing effective democratic institutions, the president has failed to offer the tangible support that our partners want and need.

In Iraq the costly gains made by our troops are being eroded by rising violence, a resurgent al-Qaida, the weakening of democracy in Baghdad and the rising influence of Iran. And yet America’s ability to influence events for the better in Iraq has been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal of our entire troop presence.

The president’s tried, he tried, but he also failed to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.

The president has also failed to lead in Syria, where more than — more than 30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the past 20 months. Violent extremists are flowing into the fight. Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region.

America can take pride in the blows that our military and intelligence professionals have inflicted on al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. These are real achievements won at a high cost. Al-Qaida remains a strong force, however, in Yemen and Somalia, in Libya and other parts of North Africa, in Iraq and now in Syria. And other extremists have gained ground across the region. Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East.

The president is fond of saying that “the tide of war is receding.” And I want to believe him as much as anyone else. But when we look at the Middle East today, with Iran closer than ever to nuclear weapons capability, with the conflict in Syria threatening to destabilize the region and with violent extremists on the march, and with an American ambassador and three others dead — likely at the hands of al-Qaida affiliates — it’s clear that the risk of conflict in the region is higher now than when the president took office.

I know the president hopes for a safer, freer and more prosperous Middle East allied with us. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We can’t support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.

The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East — friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists and evil tyrants and angry mobs who seek to harm us. Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our president is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not forget that you forgot about us.”

It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them. No enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them. And no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.

I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will — and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf. And I’ll work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. For the sake of peace, we must make clear to Iran through actions, not just words, that their nuclear pursuit will not be tolerated.

I’ll reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security. The world must never see any daylight between our two nations.

I’ll deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf, and I’ll roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military. I’ll make the critical defense investments that we need to remain secure.

The decisions we make today will determine our ability to protect America tomorrow. The first purpose of a strong military is to prevent war.

The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I’ll restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines. I’ll implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats. And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin. And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending. Today only three of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark.

I’ll make further reforms to our foreign assistance to create incentives for good governance, for free enterprise and for greater trade in the Middle East and beyond. I’ll organize all assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one official with responsibility and accountability to prioritize efforts and to produce results.

I’ll rally our friends and our allies to match our generosity with theirs. And I’ll make it clear to the recipients of our aid that in return for our material support, they must meet the responsibilities of every decent, modern government: to respect the rights of all of their citizens, including women and minorities; to ensure space for civil society, a free media, political parties and an independent judiciary; and to abide by their international commitments to protect our diplomats and our property.

I’ll champion free trade and restore it as a critical element of our strategy, both in the Middle East and across the world. The president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years. I’ll reverse that failure. I’ll work with nations around the world that are committed to the principles of free enterprise, expanding existing relationships and establishing new ones.

I’ll support friends across the Middle East who share our values but need help defending them and their sovereignty against our common enemies.

In Libya I’ll support the Libyan people’s efforts to forge a lasting government that represents all of them, and I’ll vigorously pursue the terrorists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi and killed our fellow Americans.

In Egypt I’ll use our influence, including clear conditions on our aid, to urge the new government to represent all Egyptians, to build democratic institutions and to maintain its peace treaty with Israel. And we must persuade our friends and allies to place similar stipulations on their aid.

In Syria I’ll work with our partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and then ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad’s tanks helicopters and fighter jets. Iran is sending arms to Assad because they know his downfall would be a strategic defeat for them. We should be working no less vigorously through our international partners to support the many Syrians who would deliver that defeat to Iran, rather than sitting on the sidelines. It’s essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.

In Afghanistan I’ll pursue a real and successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

President Obama would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decisions in Afghanistan is arguing for endless war. But the route to war and to potential attacks here at home is a politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country and used it to launch the attacks of 9/11. I’ll evaluate conditions on the ground and weigh the best advice of our military commanders. And I will affirm that my duty is not to protect my political prospects but to protect the security of the nation.

Finally, I’ll recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the president has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew.

There’s a longing for American leadership in the Middle East — and it’s not unique to that region. It’s broadly felt by America’s friends and allies in other parts of the world as well: in Europe, where Putin’s Russia casts a long shadow over young democracies and where our oldest allies have been told we are “pivoting” away from them; in Asia and across the Pacific, where China’s recent assertiveness is sending chills throughout that region; and here in our own hemisphere, where our neighbors in Latin America want to resist the failed ideology of Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers and deepen ties with the United States on trade and energy and security. But in all of these places, just as in the Middle East, the question is asked: Where does America stand?

I know many Americans are asking a different question: Why us? I know many Americans are asking whether our country today, with our ailing economy and our massive debt and after 11 years at war, is still capable of leading.

I believe that if America doesn’t lead, others will — others who don’t share our interests and our values — and the world would grow darker, for our friends and for us. America’s security and the cause of freedom cannot afford four more years like the last four years. I’m running for president because I believe the leader of the free world has a duty, to our citizens and to our friends everywhere, to use America’s great influence, wisely, with solemnity and without false pride, but also firmly and actively, to shape events in ways that secure our interests, further our values, prevent conflict and make the world better — not perfect but better.

Our friends and allies across the globe don’t want less American leadership. They want more — more of our moral support, more of our security cooperation, more of our trade, more of our assistance in building free societies and thriving economies. So many people across the world still look to America as the best hope of humankind. So many people still have faith in America. We must show them that we still have faith in ourselves; that we have the will and the wisdom to revive our stagnant economy, to roll back our unsustainable debt, to reform our government, to reverse the catastrophic cuts now threatening our national defense, to renew the sources of our great power and to lead the course of human events.

Sir Winston Churchill once said of George Marshall: “He always fought victoriously against defeatism, discouragement and disillusion.”

That’s the role our friends want America to play again, and it’s the role we must play.

The 21st century can and must be an American century. It began with terror and war and economic calamity. It’s our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom and peace and prosperity. The torch America carries is one of decency and hope. It’s not America’s torch alone, but it is America’s duty and honor to hold it high enough that all the world can see its light.

Thank you so much for your participation in this great charge. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 9, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio — Urges College Kids to Register to Vote

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Urges College Kids to Register to Vote

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-9-12

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

President Obama made an urgent push to get out the vote in the key battleground state of Ohio Tuesday, urging 15,000 supporters to register before time ran out.
“Today is the last day you can register. Now, I know it’s easy to procrastinate in college. I procrastinated a lot,” the president jokingly told students at the Ohio State University. “You’ve got until 9 p.m. tonight. No extensions. No excuses. I know you guys are up at 9 p.m. As you get older, you start thinking about sleeping around 9 p.m., but you guys are just getting started.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Source: WH, 10-9-12 

The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

5:08 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Buckeyes!  (Applause.)  O-H!

AUDIENCE:  I-O!

THE PRESIDENT:  O-H!

AUDIENCE:  I-O!

THE PRESIDENT:  O-H!

AUDIENCE:  I-Q!

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, can everybody please give Sonia a big round of applause for that great introduction?  (Applause.)  And it is good to see my friend and one of the finest United States senators we’ve got today — your Senator, Sherrod Brown, is in the house.  (Applause.)  Your Mayor, Michael Coleman, is here.  (Applause.)  Your next congresswoman, Joyce Beatty, is here.  (Applause.)

will.i.am is in the house.  (Applause.)  A man who sometimes looks like he’s been to outer space.  (Laughter.)  I am so grateful — he has been such a great friend for a long time.  And we also have a man who has actually been to outer space — John Glenn in the house!  (Applause.)

Now, before I begin, Buckeyes, I’ve got a question for you  — are you registered to vote?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Because if you’re not, today is the last day you can register.  Now, I know it’s easy to procrastinate in college.  I procrastinated a lot.  But we’ve made it easy.  You go to Vote.BarackObama.com to register yourself.  And you’ve got until 9:00 p.m. tonight.  No extensions.  No excuses.  I know you guys are up at 9:00 p.m.  (Laughter.)  As you get older you start thinking about sleeping around 9:00 p.m., but you guys are just getting started.

If you are registered, you can vote right now, today.  Just go to Vote.BarackObama.com to find out where.  All right?  (Applause.)  All right?

AUDIENCE:  All right!

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Now, even better, grab your friends, grab everybody in your dorm, grab your fraternity or sorority — (applause) — join will.i.am right after this event because he’s heading to an early vote location where you can register and vote in the same place right now.  (Applause.)   There are buses around the corner that can get you there and back.  So don’t wait.  Do not delay.  Go vote today.  What do you think?  (Applause.)

All right, Buckeyes, we need you.  (Applause.)  We need you fired up —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back, but I need you voting.  (Applause.)  I need you fired up.  I need you ready to go to vote.  Because we’ve got some work to do.  We’ve got an election to win.  Everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012.  And I need your help to finish what we started.

Four years ago, I told you I’d end the war in Iraq — and we did.  (Applause.)  I said I’d end the war in Afghanistan — and we are.  (Applause.)  I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 — and today, Osama bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle class families — and we have, by $3,600.  (Applause.)  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners — and we have, 18 times.  We got back every dime we used to rescue the banks, and we also passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts permanently.  (Applause.)

We passed health care reform — also known as Obamacare, because I do care — (applause) — I don’t want insurance company jerking you around anymore.  (Applause.)  I don’t want somebody without health care when they’ve got a preexisting condition.

We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” as I promised we would. (Applause.)  Today no outstanding soldier or Marine or Coast Guardsman, sailor, airman — none of them can be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  (Applause.)

And when you think about, Ohio, when Governor Romney said that we should just let the auto industry go bankrupt, we said no, we’re not going to take your advice.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

And we reinvented a dying auto industry that supports 1 in 8 Ohio jobs and has come roaring back to the top of the world.  (Applause.)

Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs.  This past Friday, we found out that the unemployment rate had fallen from a high of 10 percent down to 7.8 percent — the lowest level since I took office.  (Applause.)  Manufacturing is coming back to America.  Home values are back on the rise.

Now, we’re not there yet.  We’ve still got too many Americans who are looking for work and too many families who can’t pay the bills.  There are too many homes that are still underwater and there are too many young people who are burdened by too much debt after they graduate.

But if there’s one thing I know, Ohio, it’s this — we have come too far to turn back now.  The American people have worked too hard.  And the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.  I cannot allow that to happen.  I will not allow it to happen.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Over the last four years, I’ve seen a lot of folks hurting.  I’ve seen a lot of struggle.  And I am not going to make — I’m not going to have us go back to another round of top-down economics.  But that’s what my opponent is offering.  The centerpiece of Governor Romney’s economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthiest Americans.  He has been pitching that plan for an entire year, stood up onstage in one of his primary debates, proudly promised that his tax cuts would include the “top 1 percent.”

But most of the economists who’ve actually crunched the numbers said that paying for Governor Romney’s tax plan either means blowing up the deficit or raising taxes on middle-class families — one or the other, pick your poison.

Then, last week, Mitt Romney actually said, “There’s no economist who can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.”  So he said if he says it’s not true, then it’s not true.  (Laughter.)  Okay.

So if it’s true that it’s not going to add to the deficit, that leaves only one option — and that’s asking middle-class families to foot the bill by getting rid of the deductions they rely on for owning a home or raising their kids or sending them to college.

And as it turns out, most folks don’t like that idea, either.  So just last week when we were onstage together, Governor Romney decided that instead of changing his plan, he’d just pretend it didn’t exist.  (Laughter.)  What $5 trillion tax cut?  I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut.  Pay no attention to that tax cut under the carpet, behind the curtain.  (Laughter.)

When he’s asked how he’ll cut the deficit, he says he can make the math work by eliminating local public funding for PBS.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, by the way, this is not new.  This is what he’s been saying every time he’s asked the question — well, we can cut out PBS.  So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry — somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird.  (Laughter.)  Who knew that he was driving our deficit?  (Laughter.)  So we’re going — he’s decided we’re going after Big Bird and Elmo is making a run for the border and Oscar is hiding out in a trash can.  (Laughter.)  And Governor Romney wants to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring down the hammer on Sesame Street.  (Laughter.)

Look, that is not leadership — that’s salesmanship.  We can’t afford it.  We can’t afford to double down on top-down economics.  We can’t afford another round of tax cuts for the wealthy.  We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street banks or on insurance companies.  We can’t afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research or technology.  (Applause.)  That is not a jobs plan.  That is not a plan to grow the economy.  That is not change.  That is a relapse.

We have been there.  We have tried that.  We are not going back.  We are moving forward.  And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, we’ve got a different view about how you create jobs and prosperity in America.  A strong economy doesn’t trickle down from the top.  It grows from a thriving middle class and folks who are working hard to get into the middle class.

I believe it’s time our tax code stopped rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas.  Let’s reward small businesses and manufacturers who are making products right here in Ohio, products stamped with three proud words:  “Made In America.”  That’s the choice in this election.  (Applause.)

I believe we can create more jobs by controlling more of our own energy.  And after 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)  And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in two decades.

So now it’s time to move forward.  My plan would cut our oil imports in half, and invest in the clean energy that’s creating thousands of jobs all across Ohio and America right now — not just oil and natural gas, but solar and wind and clean coal technology and fuel-efficient batteries and fuel-efficient cars. (Applause.)

And I’m not going to let oil companies continue to collect another $4 billion in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare every single year.  I’m not going to let China win the race for clean energy technology.  I want to see that technology developed by students and scientists here in Columbus, by workers and farmers all across Ohio, by patriots here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

And my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More draught and floods and wildfires are not a joke.  They’re a threat to your future.  And we’ve got to make sure that we meet the moment.  That’s why I’m running.

I believe that we should have the best education system in the world, bar none.  (Applause.)  I would not be here if it were not for the education I was able to receive.  I didn’t come from wealth or fame, but I got a great education because that’s what this country does.  It was the gateway of opportunity for Michelle.  It’s the gateway of opportunity for so many of you.

And now you’ve got a choice.  We can gut education to pay for Governor Romney’s tax cuts — that’s exactly what his running mate, Paul Ryan, proposes.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Laughter.)

Or we can do what I’ve proposed — recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers.  (Applause.)  Focus on early childhood education.  Provide job training for 2 million workers at our community colleges.  Cut the growth of tuition costs in half so that you guys are not loaded up with debt when you graduate.  That is something we can do.  (Applause.)

And by the way, I don’t just talk the talk on this; I walk the walk.  We took $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders under the student loan program, and we said let’s cut out the middleman, let’s give the money directly to students.  And as a consequence, millions of young people all across the country are getting better deals on Pell grants.  We’re able to keep our student loan rates low.  We have focused on this, and you need to focus on this in this next election because this is part of the choice that you’re going to face.  (Applause.)

And we can meet these goals together.  You can choose a better future for America.  I want to use the money we’re saving from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I want to use that to pay down our deficit, but also to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools all across America.  (Applause.)

And Governor Romney said it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq.  I disagree.  I think bringing our troops home to their families was the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  If he’d gotten his way, those troops would still be there.  In a speech yesterday, he doubled down on that belief.  He said ending that war was a mistake.  After nine years of war, more than $1 trillion in spending, extraordinary sacrifices by our men and women in uniform and their families, he said we should still have troops on the ground in Iraq.

Ohio, you can’t turn a page on the failed policies of the past if you’re promising to repeat them.  We cannot afford to go back to a foreign policy that gets us into wars with no plan to end them.  We’re moving forward, not going back.  (Applause.)

And every brave American who wears the uniform of this country should know as long as I’m your Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  And when our troops take off the uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us because nobody who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  (Applause.)

And finally, I’ll cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.  I’ve already worked with the Republicans and Democrats to cut a trillion dollars in spending, and I’m ready to do more.  But we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  We’re not going to get this done unless we also ask the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on their incomes over $250,000.  And that rate is the one that was in place when Bill Clinton was President — our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, a whole lot of millionaires to boot.

Governor Romney said it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher or autoworker who makes $50,000.  He is wrong.  I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.  (Applause.)

I refuse to pay for that tax cut by asking you, students, to pay more for college, or kicking kids out of Head Start programs, or eliminating health care for millions of Americans who are poor or disabled or elderly.  And that’s the choice that we face in this election.  That’s what the election comes down to.

Over and over, we’ve been told by Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan and their allies in Congress that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.  If you can’t afford health insurance, hope you don’t get sick.  If a company releases pollution into the air that your kids breathe, that’s just the price of progress.  If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, just borrow money from your parents.

You know what, that’s not who we are.  That’s not what this country is about.  Here in America, we believe that we’re all in this together.  We understand that America is not about what can be done for us — it’s about what can be done by us, together, as one nation and as one people.  (Applause.)

And that’s what we understood in 2008.  That was an amazing experience for me, obviously, that election.  But I said then and I still believe now that wasn’t about me; it was about you.

You’re the reason a mother in Cincinnati doesn’t have to worry about an insurance company denying her son coverage just because he got sick.  You made that happen.  You’re the reason a factory worker who lost his job in Toledo or Lordstown is back on the assembly line building the best cars in the world.   You did that.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason a young man in Columbus whose mother worked three jobs to raise him can afford to go to The Ohio State University.  That happened because of you.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here, and went to school here, and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home  –(applause) — why soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  (Applause.)  Why thousands of families have finally been able to say to loved ones who served us so bravely:  “Welcome home.”  (Applause.)

You did that.  And so if you buy into the cynicism that says change isn’t possible, that the best we can do is more tax cuts for folks at the top and the rest of folks have to figure it out, if you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices fill the void — the lobbyists and the special interests, the people who write the $10 million checks to try to buy this election, or those who are trying to make it harder for people to vote, the Washington politicians who want to tell women what they’re doing when it comes to health care choices when women are perfectly capable of making those choices themselves.  (Applause.)

That’s what’s at stake.  And only you can make sure that we move forward.  Only you have that power to move us forward.  We’ve always said that change — real change — takes time, more than one year, more than one term, even more than one President. It takes more than one party.

It can’t happen if you’re somebody who writes off half the nation before you even took office.  (Applause.)  And in — you know, it’s interesting, in 2008, 47 percent of the country didn’t vote for me.  But on the night of the election, I said to those Americans, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices. I need your help.  I’ll be your President, too.

And, Columbus, I don’t know how many folks will be around voting for me this time, but I can tell you I will be there no matter what.  (Applause.)  I’ll be fighting for you no matter what — because I’m not fighting to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs, I’m fighting to create American jobs.  (Applause.)  I’m not fighting to improve schools in red states or blue state, I’m fighting to improve schools it the United States. (Applause.)

The values that we are fighting for don’t belong to one party or one group.  They’re not black or white, or Hispanic or Asian or Native America, or gay or straight, or disabled and not disabled — they are American values.  They belong to all of us.  (Applause.)

And I am absolutely positive that we are not as divided as our politics suggest.  I still believe we’ve got more in common than our pundits tell us.  I still believe in you.  And I’m asking you to keep believing in me.  (Applause.)

Ohio, I’m asking you for your vote.  And if you’re willing to stand with me and work with me, knock on some doors and make some phone calls for me, we’ll win Franklin County again.  We’ll win Ohio again.  We’ll win this election again.  We’ll finish what we started, and we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, Ohio.  Let’s go vote.  Let’s go win this election!   (Applause.)

END
5:30 P.M. EDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 8, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speeches at Campaign Events in Los Angeles, California

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

Source: WH, 10-8-12 

Nokia Theater

Los Angeles, California

6:20 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, L.A.!  (Applause.)  Are you fired up?

AUDIENCE:  Fired up!

THE PRESIDENT:  Are you ready to go?

AUDIENCE:  Ready to go!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Thank you, L.A.!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much, everybody.  Everybody, thank you.  (Applause.) Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody, have a seat.  Have a seat.  Now, first of all, I’ve got some thank-yous to make.  I am so grateful to George Clooney. Give it up for George.  (Applause.)  Jennifer Hudson.  (Applause.)  Old school — Earth, Wind and Fire.  (Applause.)  Jon Bon Jovi.  (Applause.)  New school — Katy Perry.  (Applause.)  Stevie Wonder.  (Applause.)  And I understand Katy had some choirs out, so give it up for the choirs.  (Applause.)

I want to thank the members of Congress who came today, and I also want to thank two of our country’s outstanding mayors — Julian Castro, and your very own Antonio Villaraigosa.  (Applause.)

Now, I’ve got to admit that even though my staff all came over early to get the show, I got left behind.  (Laughter.)  But my understanding is it was an incredible show.  (Applause.)  These guys — and everybody here are just incredible professionals.  They’re such great friends, and they just perform flawlessly night after night.  I can’t always say the same.  (Laughter and applause.)  But here’s the good news, is we’ve got a better vision for our country.  We have a better plan for the next four years.  (Applause.)  And that’s why we’re here tonight.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  Love you back.  (Applause.)

We’ve got some work to do.  We’ve got an election to win.  Everything we fought for in 2008 is on the line here in 2012.  And I need your help to finish what we started.  I need your help.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I told you I’d end the war in Iraq, and we did.  (Applause.)  I said I’d end the war in Afghanistan — we are.  (Applause.)  I said we’d focus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, and today Osama bin Laden is no more.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle-class families, and we have, by $3,600.  (Applause.)  I promised to cut taxes for small business owners, and we have, 18 times.  (Applause.)

We got every dime back that was used to rescue the banks.  We passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts for good.  We passed health care reform — also known as Obamacare — because I do care about the American people.  (Applause.)  So your insurance companies can’t jerk you around anymore, or tell you that being a women is somehow a preexisting condition.  (Applause.)

We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” so no outstanding soldier is ever kicked out of the military because of who they love.  (Applause.)

When Governor Romney tried to give us his business advice about the economy and said that we should “let Detroit go bankrupt,” we said, no, thanks, we’re not going to take that advice.  We reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world.  (Applause.)

So three years ago, four years after that campaign that you were watching on that video, after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our businesses have now created more than 5 million jobs.

(Applause.)  On Friday, we found out the unemployment rate has fallen from the height of 10 percent down to 7.8 percent — (applause) — the lowest since I took office.  Manufacturing is coming back to America.  Home values are on the rise.

Now, we’re not there yet.  We’ve still got too many Americans looking for work, too many families who can’t pay the bills, too many homes underwater, too many young people graduating with too much debt.  (Applause.)  But if there’s one thing I know, we’ve come a long way and we’ve come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)

The last thing we can afford right now is four years of the very same policies that led us to this crisis in the first place. I cannot allow that to happen.  I will not let it happen.  That’s why I am running for a second term for President of the United States, and that’s why I need your help.  (Applause.)

I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go through another round of top-down economics.  One of the main reasons we had this crisis in the first place is because we had big banks on Wall Street that were allowed to make big bets with other people’s money on the line.  And now, Governor Romney wants to roll back the rules so we go back to that behavior?  Not if I have anything to say about it.

One of the main reasons we went from record surpluses under Bill Clinton to record deficits under George Bush is because we put two wars and two tax cuts on a credit card.  And now, Governor Romney wants another $5 trillion in tax cuts that he can’t pay for?  Not if I’ve got anything to say about it.  (Applause.)

Obviously, the Governor knows his $5 trillion isn’t too popular, so a few weeks before this election he’s trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, because that’s a lot easier than trying to explain how he’d pay for it without asking middle-class families to pick up the tab.  The other night he ruled out asking millionaires and billionaires to pay even a dime more in taxes to help us bring down our deficit.  Not a dime.  When he was asked what he’d actually do to cut spending, he said he’d go after public television.  So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry, somebody is finally cracking down on Big Bird — cracking down on him.  (Laughter.)  Elmo has made a run for the border.

Governor Romney plans to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s bringing the hammer down on Sesame Street.  (Laughter.)

L.A., we can’t afford another round of tax cuts for folks who don’t need them.  We can’t afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research and technology.  We can’t afford to roll back regulations not just on Wall Street, but on oil companies and insurance companies.  That’s not a jobs plan.  That’s not a plan to grow our economy.  That’s not change.  It’s a relapse.  We’ve been there.  We have tried that.  We’re not going back.  (Applause.)  We are moving forward.  That’s why I’m running again.  That’s why I need your help.  (Applause.)

See, we’ve got a different view about how we create jobs and prosperity in America.  This country doesn’t succeed when only the top are doing well.  We succeed when the middle class is getting bigger, and people have ladders of opportunity to live out their dreams.  Our economy doesn’t grow from the top down.  It grows from the middle out and the bottom up.  We don’t believe that anybody is entitled to success in this country.  But we do believe in something called opportunity.  (Applause.)

We believe in a country where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, and everybody is getting a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share and everybody is playing by the same rules.  That’s the country that I believe in.  That’s the country you believe in.  (Applause.)  That’s what I’ve been fighting for, for the last four years.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  We’ve got a lot more work to do to make sure that everybody is taking part.  (Applause.)

So here’s what we need to do.  We’ve got a lot more to do.  I think it’s time to change our tax code so we’re not rewarding jobs — companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  (Applause.)

I want to reward small businesses and manufacturers who make products that are stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.  (Applause.)

I want us to control our own energy here in America.  After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas — and that means something here in Los Angeles. (Applause.)

Today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last two decades.  (Applause.)  So now it’s time to move forward.  My plan would cut our oil import in half, by investing in the clean energy that’s creating thousands of jobs all across America right now — not just oil and natural gas, but wind power and solar and fuel-efficient cars and long-lasting batteries.  And unlike my opponent, I’m not going to allow oil companies to collect another $4 billion in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.  (Applause.)  We’re not going to let China win the race for clean energy technology.  I want that technology developed right here in the United States, creating jobs right here in the United States, helping our environment right here in the United States.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  (Applause.)

I want us to have the best education system in the world, make sure that Americans from every walk of life are getting the chance they need to get the skills they need to succeed.  I would not be standing here if it weren’t for an education that I couldn’t necessarily afford on my own.  (Applause.)  It was the gateway of opportunity for me, for Michelle, for so many of you. And now you’ve got a choice.  We could gut education to pay for Governor Romney’ $5 trillion tax break.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

Or we can recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers; improve our early-childhood education system; provide job training for 2 million workers at our community colleges; work with colleges and universities to cut the growth of tuition costs.  We can meet those goals.  We can make sure that every young person here in Los Angeles, here in California, here in the United States of America, no matter what they look like, no matter where they come from, if they’re willing to work hard, they can succeed, too.  That’s our goal.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  (Applause.)

We’d use the money we’re saving from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our deficit, but also to put people back to work — rebuilding roads and bridges and schools all across America.  And every brave American who wears the uniform of this country should know that as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.  And when our troops take off their uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us — because nobody who has fought for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  Let’s not just talk about honoring our veterans; let’s put our money where our mouth is.  That’s why I’m running for a second term.  (Applause.)

Fifth, we need to cut the deficit, but we’ve got to do it in an intelligent way.  I’ve proposed cutting it by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and I’ve already worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars of spending.  But we can’t get this done unless we also look at the other side of the ledger.  We don’t cut our way to prosperity.  We’ve got to ask the wealthiest among us to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000, which is the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President — our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and a lot of millionaires did well, too — because when we give tax breaks to middle-income folks, to lower-income folks, they spend it.  They need to, to pay the bills, which means businesses end up with more customers, they make more profits, and that means they hire more workers.

Governor Romney said it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher or an auto worker that makes $50,000.  I think he’s wrong.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo — vote.  (Applause.)

I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.  (Applause.)  I refuse to ask students to pay more for college, or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled just to pay for tax cuts we can’t afford.  And that’s the choice that we face in this election.  That’s what this election comes down to.

Over and over again, we’re told that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing.  If you can’t afford health insurance, hope you don’t get sick.  If a company releases pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s the price of progress.  If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, just borrow money from your parents.  (Laughter.)

That’s not who we are.  That’s not what this country is about.  Here in America, we believe in individual initiative and self-reliance, but we also believe there are some things we do together.  We understand America is not just about what can be done for us.  It’s about what can be done by us, together, as one nation, as one people.  (Applause.)  You understood that in 2008. It’s true even more so now in 2012.

Because of you, we’ve made progress.  You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who gets the surgery she needs because insurance companies can’t limit her coverage.  (Applause.)  You’re the reason a factory worker who lost his job in Toledo is back on the line building the best cars in the world.  You’re the reason a student here in L.A. has help paying for her college.  (Applause.)  The reason a veteran can go to college on the New G.I. bill.

You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home. (Applause.)  You’re the reason that an outstanding soldier won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love.  You’re the reason why thousands of families have finally been able to say to loved ones who served us so bravely:  “Welcome home.”  (Applause.)  You’re the reason.

And if you turn back now, if you buy into the cynicism that everything that we fought for somehow isn’t possible, then of course change won’t happen.  If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void — the lobbyists and the special interests, and the folks who are writing $10 million checks to beat me, and folks who are trying to keep making it harder for you to vote, the politicians in Washington who want to control the health care choices that women are perfectly capable of making themselves.  (Applause.)

You’ve got to make sure that your voice is heard.  Only you can make sure that those things don’t happen.  Only you’ve got the power to move us forward.

I’ve always said — I said this back in 2008 — that change, real change, takes time.  It takes more than one term or one President.  It takes more than one party.  (Applause.)  It can’t happen if you write off half the nation before you even take office.  (Applause.)

Back in 2008 — everybody always remembers the victory, but they don’t always remember the bumps in the road.  Things always look good in retrospect.  But in the middle of it, we were — we made all kinds of mistakes.  We goofed up.  I goofed up.  But the American people carried us forward.  (Applause.)  And even with all the things we had going for us — all the way that things just kind of converged, 47 percent of the country still didn’t vote for me.  (Laughter.)  I just want to point that out.  (Laughter.)

But on the night of the election, I said to all those Americans, I may not have your vote, but I hear your voices.  I need your help.  I’ll be your President, too.  (Applause.)  And I don’t know how many will vote for me this time, but I want you to know I’ll be there for you no matter what.  (Applause.)  I’ll be fighting just as hard for you as I am for somebody who did vote for me — because I’m not fighting to create Republican jobs or Democratic jobs; I’m fighting to create American jobs.  (Applause.)  I’m not fighting to improve schools in red states or blue states; I’m fighting to improve schools in the United States.

The values we believe in don’t belong to any one group or one party — they’re not black or white, or Asian or Latino or Native American, gay, straight, abled, disabled — they are American values; they belong to all of us.  (Applause.)

And I still believe we’re not as divided as our politics suggest.  (Applause.)  I still believe we’ve got more in common than the pundits tell us.  And most of all, I still believe in you.  (Applause.)  I still believe in you, and I am asking you to keep on believing in me.  (Applause.)  I am asking you for your vote.  I am asking you to get out there and work.

If you are willing to stand with me, if you’re willing to work with me, if you’re willing to knock on some doors with me and make some phone calls with me — (applause) — if you’re willing to email and tweet, and call your friends and call your neighbors, talk to your cousins, talk to grandma and grandpa — if you will do that, we will finish what we started in 2008.  (Applause.)  We will win this election.  And we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

Thank you, California.  God bless you and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END     6:42 P.M. PDT

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event

Source: WH, 10-8-12 

Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California

8:26 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  First of all, you just heard from the future of the Democratic Party — the great Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro.  (Applause.)  We’re so proud of him.

There are so many people I could thank tonight, so I’m just going to focus on three individuals.  First of all, my unbelievable Southern California co-chairs — John Emerson and Ken Solomon.  Please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  They have been tireless in their efforts.  They have been unbelievable.

The other person that I want to acknowledge in particular — because I said this to them privately, I’ve got to say it publicly — Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg have been — (applause) — they have been tireless and stalwart and have never wavered through good times and bad since my first presidential race, back when a lot of people still couldn’t pronounce my name. (Laughter.)  And I will always be grateful to them for just the incredible support that they’ve given.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thanks, both of you.

Some of you are aware that — well, all of you are aware that Michelle and I just celebrated our 20th anniversary.  (Applause.)  And the actual anniversary date was not that romantic.  (Laughter.)  There was some speculation as to whether this had an impact on my performance.  (Laughter.)  But I did make it up to her on Saturday.  We went out to dinner, a date night.  And it was a wonderful evening.  It was a private room, because people kind of lean over and start listening if we’re in the booth next to them.  (Laughter.)  And Secret Service gets nervous.  (Laughter.)

And we had this wonderful young waiter, and he brought us all our stuff, and he was patient with us as we were dawdling over the menu.  And we were milking it for all it was worth because we don’t get out that often.  But at the end of the dinner — it was very professional, very unobtrusive — but at the end of the dinner he just said, I wanted to just say how much I appreciate you because you saved my mother’s life — because my mother had a stroke, she wasn’t yet qualifying for Medicare, and because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to get her coverage that allows her to take her medicines and is keeping her alive.

And it reminded me of why we do this.  I am a fairly competitive guy.  Clooney has played basketball with me.  (Laughter.)  And I don’t like to lose — especially not to actors.  (Laughter.)

MR. CLOONEY:  We were on the same team.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  We were on the same team.  I put him on the team — and we did win.

MR. CLOONEY:  That’s right, we did.

THE PRESIDENT:  And so sometimes during the course of campaigns, we get caught up in the sport of politics, and the ups and the downs, and doing the this and the that, and how much money did we raise and how many doors have we knocked on.  And all that’s important, but it is in service of that waiter, Anthony’s mom.  Or some young girl in Phoenix who’s going to be able to get the surgery that she needs because the insurance company can’t impose a lifetime limit.

Or the auto worker in Toledo who was laid off his job and couldn’t figure out how he was going to support his family, and had to have that conversation with his kids explaining how dad is out of work right now and so we’re going to have to tighten our belts, and we’re not sure we’re going to make the mortgage payments.  And then suddenly the plant reopens and people come back to work.  And it’s not just about a paycheck but it’s about that sense of being part of a community and building something that’s worthwhile, and holding your head high and knowing your kid looks up to you because you’re looking after him and building for his future.

That’s why we do what we do.  That’s why I got into this business.  And there are times during the course of a presidency when you are so focused on policy and Congress and data and analysis, and yet one of the wonderful things about the presidency is that at least once a day, you’re reminded that’s why you do it.  That’s why you fight.  That’s why whatever controversies or press or all that stuff that comes up, it all, in the end, is worthwhile because you know that you’re in some small way helping a whole bunch of people realize their dreams.

And that’s what’s at stake over the next 30 days.  It’s not clinging onto an office.  It’s not about power.  It’s not about perks.  It’s not about winning.  It’s about, can we sustain — over the next 30 days, and then over the next four years, and then over the next decade, and then over the next two decades — that sense that there’s something about this country that allows everybody to get a fair shot, and allows everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility to chase their dreams.

It doesn’t guarantee people success.  It doesn’t guarantee that they’re not going to hit bumps in the road and there are not going to be tragedies in their lives.  But the idea that in this country everybody counts, and that for all our individual initiative and self-reliance, we also do some things together as one people and one nation — that’s what the next 30 days is about.  And that’s why I intend to win.  That’s why we’re going to be working so hard to win.  (Applause.)

Most of you guys are pretty familiar with policy, so I won’t bore you with too many details.  But I can’t recall an election in my lifetime in which the contrasts are sharper or the stakes are higher.  We are going through this incredible transformation, not just here in the United States, but globally.  The world has shrunk.  It’s more competitive.  There are huge opportunities to create peace and security and prosperity, but there are also enormous possibilities of the American Dream shrinking and the world becoming more dangerous.  And on each and every issue that we’re talking about, my opponent and I just have very different ideas about where we need to go.

I believe that we’re going to have to have the kind of economic policies that reward investment here in the United States and create more opportunities for businesses to thrive.  My opponent, his basic view is that the status quo of doing as little as possible, unimpeded as possible for folks who are moving jobs overseas, or not providing their workers health care, or you name it, that that kind of status quo is acceptable.  I disagree.

When it comes to education, he is prepared to gut our investments in education and college in order to provide tax cuts to people in this room who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them.  I think that us making investments in early childhood education, and making sure that our high schools are graduating kids that are capable of learning, and making sure our community colleges are there to train our workers for the jobs that are out there right now, and maintaining tuition that’s affordable for young people — I think that’s absolutely vital.  That’s how we win the race to the future.

On energy, I’m big on oil and gas, and developing clean coal technology, but I also believe that if we’re ever going to have control of our energy future, then we’ve got to invest in solar and wind and biofuels, and that it does make sense for us to double our fuel-efficiency standards on cars.  And that’s not a socialist plot — (laughter) — for us to reduce our energy usage.  It’s the smart thing to do.  It’s right for our national energy.  It’s right for our economy.  It’s right for the environment.  He disagrees.

I think that it’s going to be important for us to make sure that as we reduce this deficit, we do it in a way that’s balanced and fair.  And I have to tell you, after four years of having a pretty good front row seat on the federal government, there’s no doubt that there are things that we can do smarter.  There are aspects to the federal government that were designed in the 1930s and need to be redesigned and there are savings to be had.  And we’ve gone after waste and fraud and regulations that aren’t working, and we’re going to continue to be as aggressive as possible on that.

But the bottom line is, is that there are certain things we need to pay for.  And when my opponent proposes $5 trillion worth of tax cuts, $2 trillion of additional military spending that our military is not asking for, and doesn’t provide a single detail on how to pay for it, what that means is either we’re going to be blowing up the deficit or we’re going to be sticking it to folks who can’t afford it.  Somebody is going to pick up the tab.

And I don’t want it to be middle-class families who are just barely making ends meet.  I don’t want it to be kids on Head Start who get kicked off and potentially foreclose a future — their future.  I don’t want it to be students who suddenly have to pay $1,000 more in tuition costs because they’re not getting the same level of Pell grants.  I don’t want it to be some family that’s got an autistic kid who needs help from Medicaid, or a senior in a nursing home whose family depends on that support.  I don’t want it to be a senior who is relying on Medicare and just barely getting by.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not what we’re about.  And it’s not a smart way to grow the economy.

So on every issue domestically we’ve got differences, and I haven’t even — we haven’t talked about the fact that my opponent feels comfortable with Washington making decisions about women’s health care that women, Michelle tells me, are perfectly capable of making themselves.  (Laughter and applause.)

We haven’t talked about what’s at stake with respect to the Supreme Court.  We haven’t talked about what’s at stake with respect to civil liberties.  And obviously there’s a lot at stake internationally.  And an opponent who calls me ending the war in Iraq “tragic,” or suggests that somehow we should stay longer in Afghanistan has a very different world view, different perspective.

And so the question now is, how hard are we willing to fight for the vision that we profess?  How hard am I willing to fight for it, but it’s not just me in this thing — how hard are you guys willing to fight for it?

There are times sometimes when — like in 2008 where politics has just been trendy.  It’s kind of cool to be an Obama supporter in ’08.  (Laughter.)   And there are some folks who got in early, and they can go around saying, I told you so.  (Laughter.)  We knew this guy was going to make it.  And then there are times where you just have to grind it out, because it’s hard.  It’s hard work bringing about change.

But as we go into these last 30 days, I just constantly want you to think about what’s at stake among your friends and your family, but also the stories in your own past about maybe an immigrant parent who came here and was able to succeed because they got a student loan, or somebody in your family — or maybe you — who had a door open to him because you were willing to work hard, but you didn’t come from wealth or privilege.  And the question is, is that what we’re going to sustain for our children’s future as well?

As a practical matter, nothing that my opponent offers will create more jobs, reduce our deficit, grow our middle class, improve our education system, improve our environment or make us safer around the world.  And I’m not just offering prospective plans.  Over the last four years, I’ve shown you that we have created jobs, improved our education system, made us safer in the world, helped to clean up our environment.  I haven’t just talked about it, I’ve done it.  And I intend to continue to do it.

So to all of you here tonight, I want to say how grateful I am.  But I also want to tell you we’re not finished yet and I’m a big believer in closing the deal.  (Laughter and applause.)  So you will see me working as hard as I have ever worked for the next three years — or for the next 30 days.  (Laughter.)  It will seem like three years, but it will be 30 days.  (Laughter.) And then, you’ll see me working as hard as I ever have over the next four years.

But I’m going to need you guys alongside me, and even after the election — because the election is just a means to an end.  Even after the election, I’m going to be continuing to call on you.  It won’t be for political donations, but it’s going to be for your time and your energy and your ideas and your effort, because we’ve got a lot of work to do.

The one thing that I remain extraordinarily confident about is in the American people and in our future if we make good decisions.  And I travel around the world a lot, and I’m not somebody who expects that other people love their country any less than we love ours, but I will tell you there is something exceptional and special about this country.  And there are very few people around the world who wouldn’t do everything they could to be citizens of the United States or have the same opportunities that we have.

And we’ve just got to make sure that that’s there for that waiter who served Michelle and I the other night, for his kids, for my kids, for your kids, our grandkids.  If we work hard these next 30 days, we’ll be able to deliver that.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
8:44 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 8, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument, Keene, California

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the Dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument, Keene, CA

President Barack Obama at the dedication ceremony for the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument Oct 8, 2012President Barack Obama makes remarks at the dedication ceremony for the César E. Chávez National Monument in Keene, Calif., Oct. 8, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarks by the President at the Dedication of the Cesar Chavez National Monument, Keene, CA

Source: WH, 10-8-12

La Paz, Chavez National Monument
Keene, California

11:50 A.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning!  Buenos dias!  (Applause.)  Si, se puede!  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you so much.  I am truly grateful to be here.  It is such a great honor to be with you on this beautiful day, a day that has been a long time coming.

To the members of the Chavez family and those who knew and loved Cesar; to the men and women who’ve worked so hard for so long to preserve this place — I want to say to all of you, thank you.  Your dedication, your perseverance made this day possible.

I want to acknowledge the members of my administration who have championed this project from the very beginning — Secretary Ken Salazar, Secretary Hilda Solis, Nancy Sutley.  (Applause.)  To Governor Brown, Mayor Villaraigosa — (applause) — Congressman Grijalva — they are here.  We are grateful for your presence.  And I also want to recognize my dear friend, somebody we’re so proud of — Arturo Rodriguez, the current president of the UFW.  (Applause.)

Most of all, I want to thank Helen Chavez.  (Applause.)    In the years to come, generations of Americans will stand where we stand and see a piece of history — a tribute to a great man and a great movement.  But to Helen, this will always be home.  It’s where she fought alongside the man that she loved; where she raised eight children and spoiled 31 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.  (Applause.)  This is where she continues to live out the rest of her days.

So, Helen, today we are your guests.  We appreciate your hospitality, and you should feel free to kick us out whenever you want.  (Laughter.)

Today, La Paz joins a long line of national monuments — stretching from the Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon — monuments that tell the story of who we are as Americans.  It’s a story of natural wonders and modern marvels; of fierce battles and quiet progress.  But it’s also a story of people — of determined, fearless, hopeful people who have always been willing to devote their lives to making this country a little more just and a little more free.

One of those people lies here, beneath a rose garden at the foot of a hill he used to climb to watch the sun rise.  And so today we celebrate Cesar Chavez.  (Applause.)

Cesar would be the first to say that this is not a monument to one man.  The movement he helped to lead was sustained by a generation of organizers who stood up and spoke out, and urged others to do the same — including the great Dolores Huerta, who is here today.  (Applause.)

It drew strength from Americans of every race and every background who marched and boycotted together on behalf of “La Causa.”  And it was always inspired by the farm workers themselves, some of whom are with us.  This place belongs to you, too.

But the truth is we would not be here if it weren’t for Cesar.  Growing up as the son of migrant workers who had lost their home in the Great Depression, Cesar wasn’t easy on his parents.  He described himself as “caprichoso” — (laughter) — capricious.  His brother Richard had another word for him — (applause) — stubborn.

By the time he reached 7th grade, Cesar estimated he had attended 65 elementary schools, following the crop cycles with his family, working odd jobs, sometimes living in roadside tents without electricity or plumbing.  It wasn’t an easy childhood.  But Caesar always was different.  While other kids could identify all the hottest cars, he memorized the names of labor leaders and politicians.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Cesar returned to the fields.  And it was a time of great change in America, but too often that change was only framed in terms of war and peace, black and white, young and old.  No one seemed to care about the invisible farm workers who picked the nation’s food — bent down in the beating sun, living in poverty, cheated by growers, abandoned in old age, unable to demand even the most basic rights.

But Cesar cared.  And in his own peaceful, eloquent way, he made other people care, too.  A march that started in Delano with a handful of activists — (applause) — that march ended 300 miles away in Sacramento with a crowd 10,000 strong.   (Applause.)  A boycott of table grapes that began in California eventually drew 17 million supporters across the country, forcing growers to agree to some of the first farm worker contracts in history.  Where there had once been despair, Cesar gave workers a reason to hope.  “What [the growers] don’t know,” he said, “is that it’s not bananas or grapes or lettuce.  It’s people.”

It’s people.  More than higher wages or better working conditions, that was Cesar’s gift to us — a reminder that we are all God’s children, that every life has value, that, in the words of one of his heroes, Dr. King, “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

Cesar didn’t believe in helping those who refused to help themselves, but he did believe that when someone who works 12 hours a day in the fields can earn enough to put food on the table and maybe save up enough to buy a home, that that makes our communities stronger, that lifts up our entire economy.

He believed that when a worker is treated fairly and humanely by their employer that adds meaning to the values this country was founded upon, and credence to the claim that out of many, we are one.  And he believed that when a child anywhere in America can dream beyond her circumstances and work to realize that dream, it makes all our futures just a little bit brighter. (Applause.)

It was that vision, that belief in the power of opportunity that drove Cesar every day of his life.  It’s a vision that says, maybe I never had a chance to get a good education, but I want my daughter to go to college.  Maybe I started out working in the fields, but someday I’ll own my own business.  Maybe I have to make sacrifices, but those sacrifices are worth it if it means a better life for my family.

That’s the story of my ancestors; that’s the story of your ancestors.  It’s the promise that has attracted generations of immigrants to our shores from every corner of the globe, sometimes at great risk, drawn by the idea that no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, this is the place where you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

Today, we have more work to do to fulfill that promise.  The recession we’re fighting our way back from is still taking a toll, especially in Latino communities, which already faced higher unemployment and poverty rates.  Even with the strides we’ve made, too many workers are still being denied basic rights and simple respect.  But thanks to the strength and character of the American people, we are making progress.  Our businesses are creating more jobs.  More Americans are getting back to work.

And even though we have a difficult road ahead, I know we can keep moving forward together.  (Applause.)  I know it because Cesar himself worked for 20 years as an organizer without a single major victory — think about that — but he refused to give up.  He refused to scale back his dreams.  He just kept fasting and marching and speaking out, confident that his day would come.

And when it finally did, he still wasn’t satisfied.  After the struggle for higher wages, Cesar pushed for fresh drinking water and worker’s compensation, for pension plans and safety from pesticides — always moving, always striving for the America he knew we could be.

More than anything, that’s what I hope our children and grandchildren will take away from this place.  Every time somebody’s son or daughter comes and learns about the history of this movement, I want them to know that our journey is never hopeless, our work is never done.  I want them to learn about a small man guided by enormous faith — in a righteous cause, a loving God, the dignity of every human being.  I want them to remember that true courage is revealed when the night is darkest and the resistance is strongest and we somehow find it within ourselves to stand up for what we believe in.  (Applause.)

Cesar once wrote a prayer for the farm workers that ends with these words:

Let the Spirit flourish and grow,
So that we will never tire of the struggle.

Let us remember those who have died for justice,
For they have given us life.

Help us love even those who hate,
So we can change the world.  (Applause.)

Our world is a better place because Cesar Chavez decided to change it.  Let us honor his memory.  But most importantly, let’s live up to his example.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  God bless you.  (Applause.)  God bless America.  Si, se puede!  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Si, se puede!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Si, se puede.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Si, se puede!  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:04 P.M. PDT

%d bloggers like this: