Full Text Political Transcripts January 16, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Honoring the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President Honoring the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

Source: WH, 1-16-17

East Room

1:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  They said this day would never come.  (Laughter and applause.)  Here is something none of my predecessors ever got a chance to say:  Welcome to the White House the World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs!  (Applause.)

Now, I know you guys would prefer to stand the whole time, but sit down.

I will say to the Cubs:  It took you long enough.  I mean, I’ve only got four days left.  You’re just making it under the wire.  (Laughter.)

Now, listen, I made a lot of promises in 2008.  We’ve managed to fulfill a large number of them.  But even I was not crazy enough to suggest that during these eight years we would see the Cubs win the World Series.  But I did say that there’s never been anything false about hope.  (Laughter and applause.)  Hope — the audacity of hope.

PARTICIPANT:  Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.

Now, listen, for those of you from Chicago who have known me a long time, it is no secret that there’s a certain South Side team that has my loyalty.  For me, the drought hasn’t been as long.  We had the ’85 Bears; we had the the Bulls’ run in the ‘90s.  I’ve hosted the Blackhawks a number of times.  The White Sox did win just 11 years ago with Ozzie and Konerko and Buerhle.  So I can’t claim that I have the same visceral joy of some in this White House.  (Laughter.)

But FLOTUS is a lifelong Cubs fan.  (Applause.)  And I will tell you, she had to go to another event, but in eight years that I’ve been here — I told the team this — in the eight years that I’ve been here, we’ve hosted at least 50 teams — football, basketball, baseball, soccer, you name it — Michelle has never come to a single event celebrating a champion until today.  (Applause.)  And she came and shook hands, and met with every one of these members of the Cubs organization, and told a story about what it meant for her to be able to see them win, because she remembers coming home from school and her dad would be watching a Cubs game, and the bond and the family, the meaning that the Cubs had for her in terms of connecting with her father and why it meant so much for her.  And I almost choked up listening to it.  And it spoke, I think, to how people feel about this organization, and that it’s been passed on generation after generation, and it’s more than sports.

And that is not just true for FLOTUS.  My longest-serving aide, Anita, is a Cubs fan.  (Applause.)  “Fan” is not enough.  When they won, the next day she said, this is the best day of my life.  ((Laughter.)  And I said, what about me winning the presidency?  What about your wedding day?  She’s like, “No, this is the best.”  My chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan — (applause) — Cubs fan.  In fact, there were a lot of sick days during the playoffs.  (Laughter.)  One of my staff members was caught being interviewed at a bar outside of Wrigley — (laughter) — and we’re watching him being interviewed.  You remember?  And he’s looking kind of sheepish about it.  It’s like, why aren’t you in the office?  (Laughter.)

But, look, the truth is, there was a reason not just that people felt good about the Cubs winning.  There was something about this particular Cubs team winning that people felt good about.  For example, David Ross and I have something in common — we’ve both been on a “year-long retirement party.”  (Laughter and applause.)  But unlike Grandpa, my team has not yet bought me a scooter with a motorized golf caddy.  But there are four days left — maybe I’ll get that.

The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was President.  Albert Einstein — or was it Thomas Edison was still alive.  The first Cubs radio broadcast wouldn’t be for almost two decades.  We’ve been through World Wars, a Cold War, a Depression, space race, all manner of social and technological change.  But during that time, those decades were also marked by Phil Cavarretta and Ernie Banks; Billy Williams, who’s here today — (applause) — Ron Santo; Ferg, Ryne Sandberg, Dawson, Maddux, Grace.  Those decades were punctuated by Lee Elia’s rants and Harry Caray’s exuberance; “Hey Hey,” and “Holy Cow,” and capped off by “Go Cubs Go.”

So the first thing that made this championship so special for so many is, is that the Cubs know what it’s like to be loyal, and to persevere and to hope, and to suffer, and then keep on hoping.  And it’s a generational thing.  That’s what you heard Michelle describing.  People all across the city remember the first time a parent took them to Wrigley, where memories of climbing into dad’s lap to watch games on WGN — and that’s part of the reason, by the way, why Michelle had invited — made sure that José Cardenal was here, because that was her favorite player.  (Applause.)  And she was describing — back then he had a big afro, and she was describing how she used to wear her hat over her afro the same way José did.

You could see all that love this season in the fans who traveled to their dads’ gravesites to listen to games on the radio; who wore their moms’ old jerseys to games; who covered the brick walls of Wrigley with love notes in chalk to departed fans whose lifelong faith was finally fulfilled.

None of this, of course, would have happened without the extraordinary contributions of the Ricketts family.  Tom met his wife, Cece, in the bleachers of Wrigley about 30 years ago — which is about 30 years longer than most of relationships that begin there last.  (Laughter and applause.)  Our dear friend Laura Ricketts met her wife, Brooke, in the ballpark, as well.

Brothers and sisters — they turned this team around by hiring what has to be one of the greatest, if not — I mean, he’s still pretty young, so we’ll see how long he keeps on going — the greatest general managers of all time, Theo Epstein — (applause) — and along with Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.  They did just an unbelievable job.  Theo, as you know — his job is to quench droughts.  86 years in Boston; 108 in Chicago.  He takes the reins of an organization that’s wandering in the wilderness, he delivers them to the Promised Land.  I’ve talked to him about being DNC chair.  (Laughter and applause.)  But he decided wisely to stick to baseball.

That brings me to the other thing that was so special about this championship — and that’s just the guys behind me, the team.  They steamrolled the majors this year with a 103-win record.  All you had to know about this team was encapsulated in that one moment in Game 5, down three games to one, do or die, in front of the home fans when David Ross and Jon Lester turned to each other and said, “I love you, man.”  And he said, “I love you, too.”  It was sort of like an Obama-Biden moment.  (Laughter.)

And then you’ve got the manager, Joe Maddon, who — (applause) — let’s face it, there are not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy.  Look how he looks right now.  (Applause.)  That’s cool.  That’s cool.  He used costume parties and his “Shaggin’ Wagon.”  (Laughter.)  So he’s got — just saying — he’s got a lot of tricks to motivate.  But he’s also a master of tactics, and makes the right move at the right time:  when to pinch hit, when to pinch run, when to make it rain — (laughter) — in Game 7 of the World Series.  It was masterful.  So he set the tone, but also some of the amazing players here set the tone.

My fellow “44” — Anthony Rizzo, the heart of this team.  (Applause.)  Five years ago, he was a part of the squad that lost 101 games.  He stuck at it, and led the National League in All-Star votes this year.

His business partner in the “Bryzzo Souvenir Company,” which delivers baseballs to fans in all parts of the bleachers — Kris Bryant.  (Applause.)  This guy had a good year.  (Laughter.)  You go from Rookie of the Year to being the MVP.  You win the World Series.  And then, like me, he marries up and comes to the White House.  And he did all this just in 10 days — (laughter) — when it took me a long time.  So, congratulations to the newlyweds, Jessica and Kris Bryant.  (Applause.)

And then you got these young guys like Baez and Russell.  (Applause.)   Baez turning tagging into an art form.  Russell becoming the youngest player to hit a World Series Grand Slam since Mickey Mantle.  (Applause.)  And you mix these amazing young talents with somebody like David Ross who, for example, helped Anthony out of his “glass case of emotions” in Game 7.  (Applause.)  But think about what Ross did in his final season:  Caught a no-hitter, surpassed 100 home runs for his career, including one in his last game ever.  If there was ever a way to go out, this was it.

And then you got Ben Zobrist, who didn’t get to come to the White House last year after winning it all with the Royals, but then hits .357 in the World Series, go-ahead RBI in the 10th inning of Game 7, World Series MVP.  I think he’s earned his way here.  (Applause.)  And is apparently a good guy, because I asked his wife — she was in line before he was — and I said, has he gotten a big head since he got the whole MVP thing?  “No, he’s so sweet, he’s so humble.”  You owe her dinner tonight.  (Laughter.)

Extraordinary pitching staff, including Kyle Hendricks, the first Cub to lead the majors in ERA since 1938.  (Applause.)  Kyle, in turn, was the only pitcher this year with a better ERA than Jon Lester, who racked up 19 wins.  (Applause.)  Good job. Jake Arrieta, 2015 Cy Young Award winner, stretched a 20-game win streak featuring two no-hitters across the past two seasons, then hit a home run in the NLDS, and won two games in the World Series.  So, apparently Pilates works.  Michelle says it does.  (Applause.)

And then, finally, the game itself and the Series itself.  To come back from a 3-1 deficit against a great Cleveland Indians team forced what is widely considered the Game 7 of all time.  Dexter Fowler becomes the first player to hit a leadoff home run in Game 7.  (Applause.)  Javy Baez hits another leadoff the fifth.  David Ross becomes the oldest player to knock one out in a Game 7, as well.  Kyle Schwarber, who’s been hurt and hobbled, then suddenly he comes in and gets seven hits in the Series — three in Game 7 alone.  (Applause.)

And then you’ve got the 10th inning, you’ve got the rain.  God finally feeling mercy on Cubs fans.  An entire game, an entire season, an entire century of hope and heartbreak all coming down to a one-inning sprint.  And then Zobrist knocked in one, Montero knocked in another.  Carl Edwards, Jr. and Mike Montgomery teamed up to shut the Indians down.

And then, at 12:47 a.m. Eastern Time, Bryant — it looks like he’s going to slip; everybody is getting a little stressed — tosses a grounder to Rizzo; Rizzo gets the ball, slips it in his back pocket — (laughter) — which shows excellent situational awareness.  (Laughter and applause.)  And suddenly everything is changed.  No more black cats, billy goats, ghosts, flubbed grounders.  The Chicago Cubs are the champs.  And on ESPN, you’ve got Van Pelt saying, “one of the all-time great nights.”  You’ve got Tim Kurkjian calling it “the greatest night of baseball in the history of the game.”  Two days later, millions of people — the largest gathering of Americans that I know of in Chicago.  And for a moment, our hometown becomes the very definition of joy.  So, in Chicago, I think it’s fair to say you guys will be popular for a while.  (Laughter.)

But, in addition, they’re also doing a lot of good work. Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester raised money to help others beat cancer like they did.  (Applause.)  Under the Ricketts Family’s leadership, last year alone, Cubs Charities supported charitable grants and donations of nearly $4 million that reached nearly 120,000 children and young adults across Chicagoland.  (Applause.)  Under their “Let’s Give” initiative, Cubs staff, coaches, players, and spouses donated more than 1,500 hours of service last year to the community.  And after their visit here today, they will head to Walter Reed to visit with some of our brave wounded warriors.  (Applause.)

So just to wrap up, today is, I think, our last official event — isn’t it? — at the White House, under my presidency.  And it also happens to be a day that we celebrate one of the great Americans of all time, Martin Luther King, Jr.  And later, as soon as we’re done here, Michelle and I are going to go over and do a service project, which is what we do every year to honor Dr. King.  And it is worth remembering — because sometimes people wonder, well why are you spending time on sports, there’s other stuff going on — that throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together, even when the country is divided.  Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves and who we were.  It is a game and it is celebration, but there’s a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here.  There’s a direct line between people loving Ernie Banks, and then the city being able to come together and work together in one spirit.

I was in my hometown of Chicago on Tuesday, for my farewell address, and I said, sometimes it’s not enough just to change the laws, you got to change hearts.  And sports has a way, sometimes, of changing hearts in a way that politics or business doesn’t.  And sometimes it’s just a matter of us being able to escape and relax from the difficulties of our days, but sometimes it also speaks to something better in us.  And when you see this group of folks of different shades and different backgrounds, and coming from different communities and neighborhoods all across the country, and then playing as one team and playing the right way, and celebrating each other and being joyous in that, that tells us a little something about what America is and what America can be.

So it is entirely appropriate that we celebrate the Cubs today, here in this White House, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday because it helps direct us in terms of what this country has been and what it can be in the future.

With that, one more time, let’s congratulate the 2016 World Champion, Chicago Cubs!  (Applause.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  Talk about a tough act to follow.  Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for inviting us.  We’re all honored to be here today, and we appreciate you taking the time on such an important day, Martin Luther King Day, and during such a historic week, the last week of your distinguished presidency.

As told on my way in here, actually, by our club historian, it’s actually not the first time this franchise has visited the White House.  It was 1888.  (Laughter.)  And we were known as the “Chicago White Stockings,” and we stopped in here to visit President Grover Cleveland.  And apparently, the team demanded for a proclamation to be named the best baseball team in the country.  The President refused, and the team went on their way.  (Laughter.)  Here we are, we’re going to make no such demands today.  (Laughter.)  But we appreciate those kind words.

The President was so kind to recognize our three Hall-of-Famers here with us today who are so synonymous with what it means to be a Cub — Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg.  (Applause.)  And, of course, José Cardenal, who got the longest hug from the First Lady we’ve ever seen — her favorite player of all time, you’re the MVP today.  (Laughter.)

And I want to, one more time, recognize all of the Ricketts family who are here today.  Tom, who’s been such an ideal leader for our organization.  Laura, who’s been such a strong supporter of this President.  And, Todd, who will embark on his journey in public service with a significant role in the new administration next week.  And, Pete, who’s busy governing Nebraska, couldn’t be here, but sends his best.

Finally, we’d like to recognize all of our wives and significant others who do so much to support us behind the scenes, our great “Front Office,” who have worked so hard.  (Applause.)

So, Mr. President, as you alluded to in Cleveland on November 2nd, and into the early morning of November 3rd, this special group of players behind me, in one of the greatest World Series games in history, ended the longest championship drought in American sports.  And when Kris Bryant’s throw settled into Anthony Rizzo’s glove for the final out of Game 7, the victory brought pride, joy, relief and redemption to Cub fans everywhere, including many in the White House.  (Applause.)

So, many of you were there, but the city of Chicago erupted, unified into celebration that continues to this day.  It was a thrilling, emotional time, and we think we even saw some White Sox fans smiling — (laughter) — which, Mr. President, brings us to you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

MR. EPSTEIN:  We know you may have a certain allegiance to another team on the other side of town, but we know you’re a very proud Chicagoan, and we know your better, wiser half, the First Lady — (laughter) — has been a life-long and very loyal Cub fan, which we appreciate very much.  And, of course, we have great faith in your intelligence, your common sense, your pragmatism, your ability to recognize a good thing when you see one.  (Laughter.)

So, Mr. President, with only a few days remaining in your tremendous presidency, we have taken the liberty here today of offering you a midnight pardon — (laughter and applause) — for all your indiscretions as a baseball fan.  And so we welcome you with open arms today into the Cubs family.  (Applause.)

To recognize this terrific conversion and this great day, we have some gifts for you and your family.  First, Anthony Rizzo has graciously agreed to share his number 44 with “The 44.”  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  There we go!

MR. EPSTEIN:  And if you’re still not comfortable putting a Cubs jersey on, this one just says Chicago, so you’re good with that one.  (Applause.)

Second, we have — at historic Wrigley Field, we have a centerfield scoreboard that’s actually a historic landmark, and so we hope the National Park Service won’t mind, but we took down a tile for you, number 44.  (Applause.)  Very few people have one of those.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s very cool.

MR. EPSTEIN:  We also wanted you to know that, as a new fan, you have some catching up to do.  (Laughter.)  And you’ve been busy the last eight years, and your family as well, so Laura Ricketts is here to present you with a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field for you and your family.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I love how it says, “Non-transferrable.”  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  It’s strictly — it’s just an emolument.

THE PRESIDENT:  Can you imagine if somebody walks up and is like — (laughter) —

MS. RICKETTS:  You don’t have to bring it with you.

MR. EPSTEIN:  And finally, every time we win a game in Chicago, we fly the “W” flag, as you know.  So we brought one for you, signed by the entire team, and we’d love for you to fly it at your new library, which we plan to do our very best to support.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This is nice swag.  Thank you so much.  This is great.

MR. JENKINS:  You got to get him to put the uniform on.  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  It’s just day one.  It’s just day one.

THE PRESIDENT:  Fergie, we’re doing okay so far.  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  So, Mr. President, thank you for the dignity and integrity with which you’ve served this country for the last eight years, for your tremendous service to Chicago and Illinois before that, and for hosting us here today.  We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you on Wrigley Field.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, everybody, thank you so much.  Let me say, first of all, best swag I’ve gotten as President represented right here.  (Laughter.)  And let me also say on behalf of a lot of folks here in the White House, you brought a lot of joy to a lot of people here, and we’re grateful.  I know my former Chief of Staff, now mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel; folks like Dick Durbin, and we got a whole congressional delegation here; I see Lisa Madigan, my dear friend — just a lot of people have been rooting for you for a long time.

So even though it will be hard for me, Fergie, to wear a jersey, do know that among Sox fans, I’m the Cubs number-one fan.  (Laughter and applause.)

END
2:12 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the Vice President in Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

Source: WH, 1-12-17

State Dining Room

3:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  All right, that’s enough.  Don’t want to embarrass the guy.  (Laughter.)

Welcome to the White House, everybody.  As I have already delivered my farewell address, I will try to be relatively brief.  But I just wanted to get some folks together to pay tribute to somebody who has not only been by my side for the duration of this amazing journey, but somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country, the best Vice President America has ever had, Mr. Joe Biden.  (Applause.)

This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.  (Laughter.)  This has been quite a ride.  It was eight and a half years ago that I chose Joe to be my Vice President.  There has not been a single moment since that time that I’ve doubted the wisdom of that decision.  He was the best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people.  This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.  This is somebody the people of Delaware sent to the Senate as quickly as they possibly could.  (Laughter.)

Elected at age 29, for more than a dozen years apiece he served as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relation Committees.  Domestically, he championed landmark legislation to make our communities safer, to protect our women from violence.  Internationally, his wisdom and capacity to build relationships that shaped our nation’s response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to counterterrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan.

And for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we’ve made.  He fought to make college more affordable and revitalize American manufacturing as the head of our Middle Class Task Force.  He suited up for our Cancer Moonshot, giving hope to millions of Americans touched by this disease.

He led our efforts to combat gun violence, and he rooted out any possible misappropriations that might have occurred.  And as a consequence, the Recovery Act worked as well as just about any largescale stimulus project has ever worked in this country.  He visited college after college — and made friends with Lady Gaga (laughter) — for our “It’s On Us” campaign against campus sexual assault.  And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to His Holiness, as well.  (Laughter.)

Behind the scenes, Joe’s candid, honest counsel has made me a better President and a better Commander-in-Chief.  From the Situation Room to our weekly lunches, to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he’s been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree — in fact, especially if we disagree.

And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest Vice President we have ever seen.  And I also think he has been a lion of American history.  The best part is he’s nowhere close to finished.  In the years ahead, as a citizen, he will continue to build on that legacy, internationally and domestically.  He’s got a voice of vision and reason and optimism, and a love for people.  And we’re going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot in this country.

So, all told, that’s a pretty remarkable legacy.  An amazing career in public service.  It is, as Joe once said, a big deal. (Laughter and applause.)  It is.

But we all know that, on its own, his work — this list of accomplishments, the amazing résumé — does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden.  I have not mentioned Amtrak yet or aviators.  (Laughter.)  Literally.  (Laughter.)

Folks don’t just feel like they know Joe the politician, they feel like they know the person — what makes him laugh, what he believes, what he cares about, and where he came from.  Pretty much every time he speaks, he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught him in grade school — (laughter) — or from an old Senate colleague.

But, of course, more frequently cited — Catherine and Joseph, Sr., his mom and dad:  “No one’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.” (Laughter.)  “Bravery resides in every heart, and yours is fierce and clear.”  “And when you get knocked down, Joey, get up — get up.”  (Laughter.)  “Get up.”  (Applause.)

That’s where he got those broad shoulders.  That’s where he got that Biden heart.  And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is.  That’s what steels his faith in God, and in America, and in his friends, and in all of us.

When Joe talks to autoworkers whose livelihoods he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he had lost his job.

When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so that he could be there to tuck his kids into bed.

When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror, reciting Yeats or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter.

And when Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit; another father of an American veteran; somebody whose faith has been tested, and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself, and who knows who to lean on to find the light.

So that’s Joe Biden — a resilient, and loyal, and humble servant, and a patriot.  But most of all, a family man.  Starts with Jill, “Captain of the Vice Squad.”  (Laughter.)  Only the Second Lady in our history to keep her regular day job.  (Applause.)  Jill says, teaching isn’t what she does, it’s who she is.  A few days after Joe and I were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the classroom teaching.  That’s why when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to Jill to lead the way.

She’s also traveled the world to boost education and empowerment for women.  And as a Blue Star mom, her work with Michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful efforts of this administration.

Of course, like Joe, Jill’s work is only part of the story.  She just seems to walk this Earth so lightly, spreads her joy so freely.  And she reminds us that although we’re in a serious business, we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously.  She’s quick with a laugh or a practical joke, disguising herself as a server at a party she once hosted — (laughter) –to liven the mood.  She once hid in the overhead compartment of Air Force 2 to scare the senior staff.  (Laughter.)  Because why not?  She seems to have a sixth sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or a staffer, a simple thank you or a box of macaroons.
She is one of the best, most genuine people that I’ve met not just in politics, but in my entire life.  She is grounded, and caring, and generous, and funny, and that’s why Joe is proud to introduce himself as “Jill Biden’s husband.”  (Laughter.)

And to see them together is to see what real love looks like — through thick and thin, good times and bad.  It’s an all-American love story.  Jill once surprised Joe by painting hearts on his office windows for Valentine’s Day.

And then there are these Biden kids and grandkids.  They’re everywhere.  (Laughter.)  They’re all good-looking.  (Laughter.)  Hunter and Ashley, who lived out that family creed of raising good families and looking out for the least of our brothers and sisters.  Beau, who is watching over us with those broad shoulders and mighty heart himself — a man who left a beautiful legacy and inspired an entire nation.  Naomi, and Finn, and Maisy, and Natalie, and little Hunter — grandchildren who are the light of Joe’s eyes, and gives him an excuse to bust out the squirt gun around the pool.  (Laughter.)  This is the kind of family that built this country.

That’s why my family is so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens.  (Laughter.)  As Yeats put it — because I had to quote an Irish poet, and Seamus Heaney was taken — (laughter) — “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

Away from the camera, Jill and Michelle have each other’s backs just as much as when they’re out championing our troops.  Our girls are close, best friends at school, inviting each other for vacations and sleepovers.  Even though our terms are nearly over, one of the greatest gifts of these past eight years is that we’re forever bonded as a family.

But, of course, I know that the Obamas are not the only ones who feel like they’re part of the Biden clan because Joe’s heart has radiated around this room.  You see it in the enduring friendships he’s forged with folks of every stripe and background up on Capitol Hill.  You see it in the way that his eyes light up when he finds somebody in a rope line from Scranton.  (Laughter.)  Or just the tiniest towns in Delaware.  (Laughter.)  You see it in the incredible loyalty of his staff, the team who knows that family always comes before work because Joe tells them so every day, the team that reflects their boss’s humble service.  Here in this building where there have been no turf wars between our staffs because everybody here has understood that we were all on the same mission and shared the same values, there has just been cooperation and camaraderie.  And that is rare.  It’s a testament to Joe and the tone that he’s set.

And finally, you see Joe’s heart in the way he consoles families, dealing with cancer, backstage after an event; when he meets kids fighting through a stutter of their own, he gives them his private phone number and keeps in touch with them long after.  To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.

As one of his long-time colleagues in the Senate, who happened to be a Republican, once said, “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you got a problem.  He’s as good a man as God ever created.”

So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country, and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage.

For the final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.   (Applause.)

And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others:  Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and General Colin Powell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Will the aide please read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.  In a career of public service spanning nearly half a century, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has left his mark on almost every part of our nation, fighting for a stronger middle class, a fairer judicial system and a smarter foreign policy; providing unyielding support for our troops; combatting crime and violence against women; leading our quest to cure cancer; and safeguarding the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from corruption.

With his charm, candor, unabashed optimism, and deep and abiding patriotism, Joe Biden has garnered the respect and esteem of colleagues of both parties, and the friendship of people across the nation and around the world.  While summoning the strength, faith and grace to overcome great personal tragedy, this son of Scranton, Claymont, and Wilmington has become one of the most consequential Vice Presidents in American history, an accolade that nonetheless rests firmly behind his legacy as husband, father, and grandfather.

A grateful nation thanks Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for his lifetime of service on behalf of the United States of America.

(The Medal of Freedom is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President.  (Applause.)  Please, please, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please.  Thank you.

Ricchetti, you’re fired.  (Laughter.)  For the press, Ricchetti is my chief of staff.  (Laughter.)

I had no inkling.  I thought we were coming over, Michelle, to — for you, Jill, and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.

Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill.  But I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.  I look around the room, and I see great friends like Ted Kaufman, who has been — has so much wisdom.  Guys like Mel Monzack.  I look around here and I’m startled.  I keep seeing people I don’t expect.  Madam President, how are you?  Mr. President, look at my new boss over there.  (Laughter.)

But you know, I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve, to state the obvious and — because I’ve always had somebody to lean on.  From back that time in 1972, when the accident happened, I leaned on — and I mean this in literal sense; Chris knows this — Dodd knows this, and Mel knows this, and Ted knows this — I leaned on my sons Beau and Hunter.  And I continue to lean on Hunter who continues to in a bizarre kind of way raise me.  I mean I’ve leaned on them.

And, Mr. President, you observed early on that when either one of my boys would walk in the room, they’d walk up and say, Dad, what can I get you?  Dad, what do you need?

And then Jill came along, and she saved our lives.  She — no man deserves one great love, let alone two.  And — but everybody knows here, I am Jill’s husband.  Everybody knows that I love her more than she loves me.  (Laughter.)  With good reason.  (Laughter.)  And she gave me the most precious gift, the love of my life, the life of my love, my daughter, Ashley.

And I continue to lean on the family.  Mr. President, you kidded me once.  You heard that the preparation for the two debates — vice presidential debates that I had — I only had two that Beau and Hunt would be the last people in the room.  And Beau would say, look at me, Dad.  Look at me.  Remember, remember home base.  Remember.

And the Secret Service can tell you, Mr. President, that Beau and Hunt and Ashley continue to have to corral me.  We were at one of the national parks, and I was climbing up on top of a bridge to jump off the bridge with a bunch of young kids.  And I hear my sons yelling, Dad, get down.  Now!  (Laughter.)  And I just started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop.  And I said, I was just going to do a flip — a full gainer off here.

He said, Dad, the Secret Service doesn’t want you up there.  Dad.  Look at me, Dad.  (Laughter.)

So we’ve never figured out who the father is in this family.  (Laughter.)

And, Mr. President, you know that with good reason there is no power in the vice presidency.  Matter of fact I just did for Nancy Pelosi’s daughter a reading of the Constitution.  You probably did one for her.  And they had me read the provisions relating to the vice presidency in the Constitution.  And there is no inherent power, nor should there be.

But, Mr. President, you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to help govern.  The President’s line often — other people don’t hear it that often, but when someone would say, can you get Joe to do such and such.  He says, I don’t do his schedule.  He doesn’t do mine.

Every single thing you’ve asked me to do, Mr. President, you have trusted me to do.  And that is — that’s a remarkable thing.  I don’t think according to — I see the President of Georgetown here, as well.  I don’t think according to the presidential, vice presidential scholars that kind of relationship has existed. I mean, for real.  It’s all you, Mr. President.  It’s all you.

The reason why when you send me around the world, nothing gets — as my mom would say, gets missed between the cup and the lip, it’s because they know when I speak, I speak for you.

And it’s been easy, Mr. President, because we not only have the same political philosophy and ideology, I tell everybody — and I’ve told them from the beginning.  And I’m not saying this to reciprocate.  I’ve never known a President and few people I’ve ever met my whole life — I can count on less than one hand — who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do.

I know you were upset when I told the story about when Hunt and I were worried that Beau would have to — that he would, as a matter of honor, decide he had to step down as attorney general while he was fighting his battle because he had aphasia.  He was losing his ability to speak, and he didn’t want to ever be in a position where to him everything was about duty and honor.

And I said, and he may resign.  I don’t know I just have the feeling he may.  And Hunt and I had talked about this.  And I said, he doesn’t have any other income, but we’re all right because Hunt’s there, and I can sell the house.

We were having a private lunch like we do once a week.  And this man got up, came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, don’t you sell that house.  You love that house.

I said, it’s no big deal, Mr. President.  He said, I’ll give you the money.  We’ll give you the money.  Promise me, promise me you won’t sell that house.

I remember when Ashley, Mr. President, we were in the Oval, and Ashley was in an elevator, and the elevator plummeted to the — she was with a group of people — I forget which building in Philadelphia, and it plummeted to the ground.  And immediately the Service was worried that she may have been badly hurt.  And I got up to take the call, and you didn’t let up until you made sure your service followed through and made sure everything was all right.

But you know, Mr. President, we kid about both about marrying up.  We both did, that kind of thing.  But the truth of the matter is — I said this to Michelle last night.  Michelle is the finest First Lady in my view that has ever served in the office.  There’s been other great First Ladies, but I really genuinely mean it.  (Applause.)

When I got to meet Michelle’s brother, and he told me about how you guys were raised, and I got to know and love your mom, if your mom — were your mom 15 years older, she could have been my mom.  Literally, the way you were raised, the way we were raised, there wasn’t any difference.  And I knew that this decision to join you, which was the greatest honor of my life, was the right decision on the night we had to go and accept the nomination, the formal — we’d be nominated at the convention.  And Finnegan, who is now 18 years old, was then 10 years old.  And she came to me, and she said, Pop, is it okay if the room that we’re in — Finnegan, Maisy, and Naomi — that we have the beds taken out.  And I said, why?  She said, maybe the Obama girls and your brothers’ children, maybe they would come down, all sleep together in sleeping bags.  (Laughter.)  And I give you my word as a Biden, I knew when I left to go to the convention, open that door, and saw them cuddled together, I knew this was the right decision.  I knew it was the right decision.  I really did.  Because, Mr. President, the same values set — the same values set.

Folks, you know, I joke with my staff that I don’t know why they pay them anything, because they get to advise me.  (Laughter.)  Let me explain what I mean by that.  As the President of the University of Delaware, where my heart resides, and my home campus of Delaware, as he can tell you, it’s — I get to give you advice.  I get to be the last guy in the room and give you advice on the most difficult decisions anyone has to make in the whole world.  But I get to walk out, and you make it all by yourself.  All by yourself.

Harry Truman was right about the buck stopping at the desk.  And I’ve never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never once doubted, on these life and death decisions, I never once doubted that your judgement was flawed — not once.  Not once.

And we’ve disagreed, and we’ve argued, and we’ve raised our voices, one of which we made a deal we’d be completely open like brothers with one another.  But, Mr. President, I watched you under intense fire.  I will venture to say that no President in history has had as many novel crises land on his desk in all of history.  The Civil War was worse, the World War Two was worse, but, Mr. President, almost every one of the crises you faced was a case of first instance — a case of first instance.  And I watched that prodigious mind and that heart as big as your head — I’ve watched you.  I’ve watched how you’ve acted.

When you see a woman or man under intense pressure, you get a measure — and you know that, Michelle, and your daughters know it, as well.  This is a remarkable man.  And I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country.  (Applause.)

You know, I can’t let a comment go by without quoting an Irish poet.  (Laughter.)  Jill and I talk about why you were able to develop the way you developed and with the heart you have.  Michelle and I have talked about it.  I’ve confided in Michelle, I’ve gone to her for advice.  We’ve talked about this man.  You give me insight.  And I think it’s because — Mr. President, you gave me credit for having understanding other people’s misery and suffering.  Mr. President, there is not one single, solitary ounce of entitlement in you, or Michelle, or your beautiful daughters — and you girls are incredible, you really are.  That’s not hyperbole, you really are.  Not one ounce of entitlement.

And Seamus Heaney in one of his poems said — (laughter) — when you can find someone who says it better, use it.  He said, you carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.  You carried your own burdens, and very soon, the creeping symptoms of privilege disappeared.

Mr. President, you have sometimes been like a lone wolf, but you carried yourself in a way that’s pretty remarkable.  The history of the journey — your journey — is something people are going to write about a long time, and I’m not being solicitous when I say this.  And you’re so fortunate, both of you, to have found each other because all that grounding, all that you have, made this guy totally whole.  And it’s pretty amazing.

Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit.  I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the President’s heart.  There is a Talmudic saying that says, what comes from the heart, enters the heart.  Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart — you and your whole family, including Mom — and you occupy it.  It’s an amazing thing that happened.  I knew how smart you were.  I knew how honorable you were.  I knew how decent you were from the couple years we worked in the Senate, and I knew what you were capable of.  But I never fully expected that you’d occupy the Bidens’ heart, from Hunter, to Ashley, my sister, all of us.  All of us.

And Mr. President, I’m indebted to you.  I’m indebted to your friendship, I’m indebted to your family, and as I’ll tell you — I’ll end on a humorous note.  We’re having a lunch — lunches, and mostly it’s what’s ever in either one of our minds.  We’ll talk about family an awful lot.  And about six months in, President looks at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me?  How we’ve become such good friends.  (Laughter.)  And I said, surprised you?  (Laughter.)

But that is candid Obama, and it’s real, and, Mr. President, you know as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you, my whole family will be, and I know, I know it is reciprocal.  And I want to thank you all so very, very, very much.  All of you in here.  (Applause.)

END
4:27 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 14, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Evening Hanukkah Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Evening Hanukkah Reception

Source: WH, 12-14-16

East Room

7:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  (Applause.)  HelloGood evening, everybody!  Welcome to the White House, and Happy Hanukkah!  (Applause.)  It so happens we’re a little early this year.  (Laughter.)  But Michelle and I are going to be in Hawaii when Hanukkah begins, and we agreed that it’s never too soon to enjoy some latkes and jelly donuts.  (Laughter.)  This is our second Hanukkah party today, but in the spirit of the holiday, the White House kitchen has not run out of oil.  (Laughter.)  Dad jokes for every occasion.  (Laughter.)

I want to recognize some special guests that are with us today.  There are a number of members of Congress here who obviously are so supportive of the values that are represented by this holiday and extraordinarily strong friends of Israel.  We’ve got Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the country’s finest jurists, who I happened to have nominated to the Supreme Court and who’s going to continue to serve our country with distinction as the chief judge on the D.C. circuit, Merrick Garland is here.  (Applause.)

Our wonderful and outstanding and tireless Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, is here.  (Applause.)  As is our U.S. Trade Representative and former B-B-Y-O president, Mike Froman.  (Applause.)  And I want to give it up for our outstanding musical guests, Six-Thirteen, who just did a amazing performance for Michelle and I of a “Hamilton” remix talking about the Maccabees, and the President, and menorahs, and —

MRS. OBAMA:  It was good.

THE PRESIDENT:  If you ever have a chance to get the mix-tape, you should buy it.  (Laughter.)

Now, this is the eighth year that Michelle and I have hosted this little gathering.  And over the years, we’ve welcomed Jewish Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress.  We celebrated Alan Gross’s return from captivity in Cuba.  (Applause.)  We got to celebrate a once-in-70,000-year event, Thanksgivvikuh — (laughter) — where we lit the “Menurkey.”  (Laughter.)  That was a turkey-shaped menorah, in case you forgot.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  We got it.

THE PRESIDENT:  So this is a White House tradition that we are proud to carry on.  It gives us a lot of nakhas.  (Laughter.)  If I pronounced that right, then that was a Hanukkah miracle.  (Laughter.)

Tonight, we come together for the final time to tell a familiar story — so familiar that even we Gentiles know it.  But as many times as we tell it, this 2,000-year-old tale never gets old.  In every generation, we take heart from the Maccabees’ struggle against tyranny, their fight to live in peace and practice their religion in peace.  We teach our children that even in our darkest moments, a stubborn flame of hope flickers and miracles are possible.  (Applause.)

That spirit from two millennia ago inspired America’s founders two centuries ago.  They proclaimed a new nation where citizens could speak and assemble, and worship as they wished.  George Washington himself was said to have been stirred by the lights of Hanukkah after seeing a soldier seek the warmth of a menorah in the snows of Valley Forge.  And years later, Washington wrote that timeless letter we have on display today in the White House — I hope you saw it when you walked in.  Washington assured the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”  (Applause.)  He went on to write that all that is required of those “who live under [the nation’s] protection” is that they be “good citizens.”

It’s easy, sometimes, to take these fundamental freedoms for granted.  But they, too, are miraculous.  They, too, have to be nurtured and safeguarded.  And it’s in defense of these ideals — precisely because the Jewish people have known oppression — that throughout our history, this community has been at the forefront of every fight for freedom.  It’s why Jews marched in Selma, why they mobilized after Stonewall, why synagogues have opened their doors to refugees, why Jewish leaders have spoken out against all forms of hatred.

And in my last months in office, I want to thank you for all your courage, and your conviction, and your outspokenness.  (Applause.)  The story of this community and the work you continue to do to repair the world forever reminds us to have faith that there are brighter days ahead.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  They’re a little cynical.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, they’re not cynical.

MRS. OBAMA:  Little doubtful.

THE PRESIDENT:  The menorah we light today is a testament such resilient optimism.  It belonged to Rina and Joseph Walden, a young Polish couple who acquired it in the early 1900s.  When the Second World War came, the Waldens fled to France and took shelter on a farm.  And they hid their Jewishness, including their magnificent menorah, entrusting it to a courageous neighbor.  But one Hanukkah, they retrieved their menorah and lit it behind locked doors and covered windows.  That same week, the Nazis raided their neighbor’s house and burned it to the ground.  Of all the Walden family’s treasures, only this menorah survived.

A few years later, the Waldens moved to Israel, where their son Raphael met a young woman named Zvia Peres — the only daughter of one of Israel’s founding fathers and greatest statesmen.  And I had the honor to go to Jerusalem earlier this year to bid farewell to my dear friend Shimon Peres and reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the State of Israel.  We could not be more honored to have Shimon’s son, Chemi, his grandson, Guy, and his granddaughter, Mika, here with us tonight.  (Applause.)

The Walden-Peres family lit these lights when the State of Israel was new.  They’ve blazed it in the months after the Yom Kippur War and the Camp David Accords.  And tonight, Chemi and Mika will light this amazing heirloom in the White House.  And as they do, we hope all of you draw strength from the divine spark in Shimon Peres, whose miraculous life taught us that “faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.”  I hope it inspires us to rededicate ourselves to upholding the freedoms we hold dear at home and around the world — that we are able to see those who are not like us and recognize their dignity, not just those who are similar to us.  I hope it inspires us to continue to work for peace, even when it is hard — perhaps especially when it is hard.  (Applause.)

And, as Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport more than 200 years ago, “May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, in our paths.”

I’d now like to invite Rabbi Rachel Isaacs from Colby College and Temple Beth Israel in Waterville, Maine — which I said sounds cold — (laughter) — to say a few words and lead us in blessings.  But first, I have to get a box, because she’s a little shorter than I am.  (Laughter.)

(A prayer is offered.)

Well, we hope that you enjoy this celebration here at the White House.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, we could not be more grateful for your friendship and your prayers.  And we want to emphasize that although we will be leaving here on January 20th —

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  — we will meet you on the other side.  (Laughter.)  And we’ve still got a lot of work to do.  We look forward to doing that work with you, because it’s not something that we can do alone, and you’ve always been such an extraordinary group of friends that strengthen us in so many different ways.

I should also note that your singing was outstanding.  (Laughter.)  I think this was an exceptional group of voices here.  (Laughter.)

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

END
7:57 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 31, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at My Brother’s Keeper National Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at My Brother’s Keeper National Summit

Source: WH, 12-14-16

South Court Auditorium

5:03 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello!  Everybody, please have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.

Thank you, Malachi, for the great introduction and being a great role model for the young people coming up behind you.  I was watching the introduction on the screen — he’s very telegenic.  (Laughter.)  We might have to run him for something at some point.  (Laughter.)  We’re so proud of you.

And I want to make sure that we introduce the other young men who are behind me, as well, because they’ve got equally compelling stories.  Devin Edwards, coming out of MBK Boston.  Devin, wave.  There you go.  (Applause.)  And as well as Bunker Hill Community College in Greater Boston.  Jerron Hawkins, Howard University.  (Applause.)  White House Mentorship and Leadership Program.  You already met Malachi.  Noah McQueen, Morehouse College.  (Applause.)  One of our mentors.  Luis Ramirez, MBK Oakland Career and Opportunity Fair.  (Applause.)  And Quamiir Trice, MBK Philadelphia.  Howard University.  (Applause.)

These young people behind me are proof that a little love, a little support allows them to achieve anything they can dream, anything they can conceive.  Since day one, my administration has been focused on creating opportunities for all people.  And by almost every measure, this country is better off than it was when I started.  (Applause.)  But what we’ve also long understood is that some communities have consistently had the odds stacked against them — and that’s especially true for boys and young men of color.

All of you know the statistics and the stories of young people who had the intelligence, the potential to do amazing things, but somehow slipped through the cracks.  And I’ve said this before — I see myself in these young people.  I grew up without a father.  There were times where I made poor choices, times where I was adrift.  The only difference between me and a lot of other young men is that I grew up in a more forgiving environment.  I had people who encouraged me and gave me a second chance.

That’s why Michelle and I have dedicated so much of our time to creating opportunities for young people.  We know this is not just an urban problem; it’s not just a people of color problem.  This is a national challenge — because if we’re going to stay ahead as a nation, we’re going to need the talent of every single American.  And even more than that, this is about who we are as a country, what our values are, whether we’re going to continue to be a place where if you work hard you can succeed, or whether we continue to see stagnation and diminishing mobility and the ladders of opportunity cut off for too many people.  The only way we live up to America‘s promise is if we value every single child, not just our own, and invest in every single child as if they’re our own.

It’s almost three years ago, we launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to give more of our young people the tools and the support that they need to stay on track for a bright future.  We knew this couldn’t just be a government initiative.  We knew that our concerns couldn’t be sporadic, just inflamed by the latest high-profile shooting or some other disturbance.  It has to be sustained, thought through.  Progress had to be measurable.

So we put out a call for action across the country.  And I’ve just got to say, the response was incredible.  Hundreds of you — mayors, tribal leaders, county executives have created MBK communities in all 50 states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico.  Businesses and foundations, many of whom are represented here today, are working across sectors and investing more than a billion dollars in proven pathways for young people.

In just a few years, the progress we’ve made is remarkable. So I just wanted to come by and say thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you for stepping up to the challenge.  Thank you for being great partners in this work.  Thank you for believing in our young people.

I also want to say thank you to the young men who are here and who came in from across the country, and many of whom are watching or may be listening, who’ve been part of this initiative.  I’ve had a chance to meet many of these young people.  Everybody on this stage, I’ve had significant conversations with.  I’ve heard their stories and I’ve seen young men like this grow into confident, capable, responsible men.  Many of you have overcome unbelievable obstacles — obstacles that most people never have to face.  It hasn’t always been easy, but look at the progress that you’ve inspired.  I could not be prouder of these young people and so many who are participating around the country.

And this is just the beginning.  We are going to keep these efforts going to invest in our young people, to break down barriers that keep them from getting ahead, and to make sure that they’ve got a chance to contribute.  And we’re going to need more of you to be mentors and role models and supporters for this next generation.  As they keep moving up in the world, then we’re going to call on them to reach back and invest in the folks who are coming behind them.

And that’s the final point I want to make.  My Brother’s Keeper was not about me, it was not about my presidency.  It’s not even just about Malachi and all these amazing young men behind me.  It’s about all of us working together.  Because ensuring that our young people can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them is the single most important task that we have as a nation.  It is the single most important thing we can do for our country’s future.  This is something I will be invested in for the rest of my life, and I look forward to continuing the journey with you.  (Applause.)

So to the young people who are here, thank you.  To folks who are investing and supporting this effort, thank you.  But we are just scratching the surface.

For every one of these young men, there are tens of thousands — hundreds of thousands who are not currently being reached.  And although it is important for us to poke and prod and push government at every level to make the investments that are necessary — to ensure our schools are properly funded and are teaching the kids what they need to learn, that we are investing and making sure that there are jobs available in communities so that people can see that there is a right path to go down that will result in them having a bright future; although there’s infrastructure that has to be built by the government to ensure that our young people can succeed and prosper in this 21st century economy — we can’t wait for government to do it for us.

We’ve got to make sure that we’re out there showing what works.  We’ve got to put our own time and energy and effort and money into the effort.  We have to be rigorous in measuring what works.  We can’t hang onto programs just because they’ve been around a long time.  We can’t be protective of programs that have not produced results for young people, even if they’ve produced some jobs for some folks running them.  (Laughter.)  And we have to make sure that we’re casting a wide net so that we’re not just cherry-picking some kids who probably have so much drive they’d make it anyway.  We’ve also got to go deep, including in the places like juvenile facilities and our prisons to make sure that some very still-young people are reachable.

So this is going to be a big project.  It is as a consequence of neglect over generations that so many of these challenges exist.  We shouldn’t expect that we’re going to solve these problems overnight, but we’ve got proof about what happens when, as Malachi said, you just give folks a little love and you act on that love.  And I’m looking forward to working with you to do that.

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

END
5:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 14, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

Source: WH, 12-14-16

East Room

4:04 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  Michelle and I want to be the first to wish all of you a happy Hanukkah.  I figure we’ve got to be first because we’re about 10 days early.  (Laughter.)

We have some very special guests in the house to share some latkes with, so I want to call them out.  We are, first of all, honored to be joined by Rabbi Steven Exler, the outstanding senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.  (Applause.)  He also happens to be Secretary Jack Lew’s rabbi.  (Laughter.)   He taught my Director of Jewish Outreach, Chanan Weissman.  So he obviously is doing something right.  Also, let’s give it up for Koleinu, whose sound might be the most beautiful thing to come out of Princeton since the woman standing next to me.  (Applause.)  That was a good one, right?

MRS. OBAMA:  That was a good one.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons:  How a small group can make a big difference.  That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time.  How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation.  It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have.  The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world.  So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.

This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom.  The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith.  Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it — to publicize the mitzvah.  And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.  (Laughter.)

Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition.  Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be — and defending the rights of others to do the same — that’s our common creed.  That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window — not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.

The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance — these are one and the same.  Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody.  In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah.  And he wrote that he couldn’t believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays.  A stunned Elie asked him, “Hanukkah in Auschwitz?”  And the man replied, “Especially in Auschwitz.”

The world lost my friend, Elie Wiesel, this year.  We lost a keeper of our collective conscience.  But we could not be more honored today to be joined by his beloved family.  (Applause.)  His wife, Marion, is here.  (Applause.)  His wife, Marion, is here, beautiful as always.  His son, Elisha, is here.  His daughter-in-law, Lynn.  And his grandchildren, Elijah and Shira.  (Applause.)  So today we’re going to light a menorah that Shira made a few years ago when she was in kindergarten.  (Laughter.)  And as is appropriate to the spirit of the season, it’s made of simple materials.  It’s got bolts and tiles and glue.  (Laughter.)  And it looks like some balsa wood.

SHIRA WIESEL:  It’s actually melted wax.

THE PRESIDENT:  What is it?

SHIRA WIESEL:  It’s actually melted wax.

THE PRESIDENT:  Melted wax.  (Laughter.)  Just saying.

Over the years, your grandfather also corrected me several times.  (Laughter.)  And it was always very helpful.  (Laughter.)

We’ve lit a number of beautiful menorahs here at the White House.  Some that weathered storms like Katrina and Sandy; others that were crafted by spectacular artists from Israel and the United States.  But I’ve just got to say, this is my favorite.  (Laughter.)  I think this is the most beautiful one that we’ve ever lit.  (Laughter and applause.)  And it’s a reminder that a menorah is not valuable because it’s forged in silver or gold.  It’s treasured because it was shaped by the hands of a young girl who proves with her presence that the Jewish people survive.  (Applause.)  Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide of families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled.  Each wick an answer to the wicked.  Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.

Jewish leaders from the Maccabees to the Wiesels, to the college students who proudly sing Hebrew songs on campus, reaffirm our belief that light still drives out darkness, and freedom still needs fighters.

So let me close by saying I want to say how much Michelle and I appreciate the opportunities to have celebrated so many Hanukkahs with you in the White House.  You know, at the beginning of my presidency, some critics thought it would last for only a year.  (Laughter.)  But — miracle of miracles — (applause) — it has lasted eight years.  It’s lasted eight whole years.  (Laughter.)  Nes Gadol Haya Po.  (Applause.)

As many of you know, the name “Hanukkah” comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication.”  So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.  (Applause.)

And with that, let me invite Rabbi Exler to say a few words before Elijah and Shira light the candles and get this party started.

Mr. Rabbi.  (Applause.)

END
4:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 6, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks to Thank Service Members

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to Thank Service Members

Source: WH, 12-6-16

MacDill Air Force Base
Tampa, Florida

3:34 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, MacDill!  Thank you so much!

Well, first of all, you notice this coincidence — on the scoreboard it says “44” — (applause.)  That happens to be — oh.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you, too.  I do.  (Applause.)

To General Votel, General Thomas, and most importantly, to all of you — I am here for a very simple reason, and that is just to say thank you, on behalf of the American people.  We have been so reliant on the outstanding work that has been done by SOCOM and CENTCOM, the extraordinary leadership from the highest general down to the person who’s just started.  I have been consistently in awe of your performance and the way that you’ve carried out your mission.

As some of you remember, I was here two years ago.  I want to thank, in addition to some of the outstanding leadership team, a couple of special folks to mention — Colonel April Vogel, Chief Master Sergeant Melanie Noel, all your senior enlisted leaders.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I know that, obviously, we’ve got a lot of Air Force here.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Central Command.  (Applause.)  We got Special Operations Command.  (Applause.)  We got Army.  (Applause.)  Navy.  (Applause.)  Marines.  (Applause.)  We got our DOD civilians.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got spouses, partners, sons, daughters —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Family!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s that?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Family.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was just mentioning them.  (Laughter.)  You guys, I was getting to that.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got amazing military families here who are sacrificing alongside of you every single day.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

So I just had the chance to meet with General Thomas and some of the extraordinary personnel from across U.S. Special Operations Command.  I’m going to go give a big policy speech right after I talk to you.  The main thing I want to do is just shake your hands.  And I’m going to try to shake as many hands as I can.  (Applause.)

I know you’re marking an important anniversary.  For 75 years — from World War II through Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Afghan and Iraq wars — the men and women of this base have always stepped up when we needed them most.  So, on behalf of the entire country, I want to wish you a happy 75th anniversary.  (Applause.)

For Michelle and myself, the lease is running out on our apartment.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Renew it!

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t.  (Laughter.)  So I just want to get my security deposit back.  (Laughter.)  But it has been the privilege and honor of a lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief
— the Commander-in-Chief of the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  You are the best.  Because we have the best people.

You and your families have inspired us.  We’ve been inspired by your patriotism, for stepping forward, for volunteering, for dedicating yourself to a life of service.  We’ve been inspired by your devotion, your willingness to sacrifice for all of us.  We’ve been inspired by your example.  At a time when sometimes the country seems so divided, you remind us that, as Americans, we’re all part of one team.  We take care of each other.  And you remind us of what patriotism really means.

So I just want to say thank you to all of you.  You are going to continue with your mission, but I will tell you that Michelle and I, having had the experience and the honor of working with you, are going to make it one of our missions as civilians to support you in every way that we can.

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

END
3:40 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 4, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Source: WH, 12-4-16

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Everybody please have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Well, good evening, everybody.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  Over the past eight years, this has always been one of our favorite nights.  And this year, I was especially looking forward to seeing how Joe Walsh cleans up — pretty good.  (Laughter.)

I want to begin by once again thanking everybody who makes this wonderful evening possible, including David Rubenstein, the Kennedy Center Trustees — I’m getting a big echo back there — and the Kennedy Center President, Deborah Rutter.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

We have some outstanding members of Congress here tonight.  And we are honored also to have Vicki Kennedy and three of President Kennedy’s grandchildren with us here -– Rose, Tatiana, and Jack.  (Applause.)

So the arts have always been part of life at the White House, because the arts are always central to American life.  And that’s why, over the past eight years, Michelle and I have invited some of the best writers and musicians, actors, dancers to share their gifts with the American people, and to help tell the story of who we are, and to inspire what’s best in all of us.  Along the way, we’ve enjoyed some unbelievable performances -– this is one of the perks of the job that I will miss.

Thanks to Michelle’s efforts, we’ve brought the arts to more young people -– from hosting workshops where they learn firsthand from accomplished artists, to bringing “Hamilton” to students who wouldn’t normally get a ticket to Broadway.  And on behalf of all of us, I want to say thanks to my wife for having done simply — (applause) — yes.  (Applause.)  And she’s always looked really good doing it.  (Laughter.)  She does.  (Laughter.)

This is part of how we’ve tried to honor the legacy of President and Mrs. Kennedy.  They understood just how vital art is to our democracy — that we need song and cinema and paintings and performance to help us challenge our assumptions, to question the way things are, and maybe inspire us to think about how things might be.  The arts help us celebrate our triumphs, but also holds up a mirror to our flaws.  And all of that deepens our understanding of the human condition.  It helps us to see ourselves in each other.  It helps to bind us together as a people.

As President Kennedy once said, “In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.”  Tonight, we honor five amazing artists who have dedicated their lives to telling their truth, and helping us to see our own.

At eight years old, Mavis Staples climbed onto a chair in church, leaned into the microphone, raised her eyes upwards and belted out the gospel.  When people heard that deep, old soul coming out of that little girl, they wept — which, understandably, concerned her.  (Laughter.)  But her mother told her, “Mavis, they’re happy.  Your singing makes them cry happy tears.”

It was those early appearances on the South Side of Chicago -– South Side!  — (laughter and applause) — with Mavis, her siblings, their father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples that launched the legendary Staple Singers.  Theirs was gospel with just a touch of country, a twist of the blues, little bit of funk.  There was a little bit of sin with the salvation.  (Laughter.)  And driven by Pops’ reverbed guitar, Mavis’ powerhouse vocals and the harmonies that only family can make, the Staple Singers broke new ground with songs like “Uncloudy Day.”  They had some truths to tell.  Inspired by Dr. King, Pops would tell his kids, “If he can preach it, we can sing it.”  And so they wrote anthems like “Freedom Highway,” and “When Will We Be Paid” — which became the soundtrack of the Civil Rights movement.

As a solo artist, Mavis has done it all and worked with just about everybody from Bob Dylan to Prince to Jeff Tweedy.  On albums like “We’ll Never Turn Back,” and “One True Vine,” she still is singing for justice and equality, and influencing a new generation of musicians and fans.  And each soulful note — even in heartbreak and even in despair -– is grounded in faith, and in hope, and the belief that there are better days yet to come.  “These aren’t just songs I’m singing to be moving my lips,” she says.  “I mean this.”  And we mean it too.  Six decades on, nobody makes us feel “the weight” like Mavis Staples.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Al Pacino calls the theater his “flashlight.”  It’s how he finds himself, where he sees truth.  And since Al first hit Broadway in 1969, his singular talent has been the gold standard for acting.

A great playwright once compared the way Al inhabits his characters to the way Louis Armstrong played jazz.  One director said that while “some actors play characters, Al Pacino becomes them.”  And we’ve all seen it.  In the span of five years — you think about it — he became Serpico, became Sonny Wortzik, twice became Michael Corleone for, let’s face it, what have got to be the two best movies of all time — (laughter) — became Tony Montana on screen, then became the owner of a couple of Tonys on stage.  And he’s always been this way.

At 13, Al committed so profoundly to a role in the school play that when his character was supposed to get sick on stage, Al actually got sick on stage.  (Laughter.)  I’m not sure how audiences felt about that.  (Laughter.)  Later, when he played Richard III and Jackie Kennedy visited him backstage, the actor playing the self-absorbed king didn’t even stand up to greet actual American royalty, which he says he still regrets.  (Laughter.)

Through it all, Al has always cared more for his “flashlight” than the spotlight.  He says he’s still getting used to the idea of being an icon.  But his gift, for all the inspiration and intensity that he brings to his roles, is that he lets us into what his characters are feeling.  And for that, we are extraordinarily grateful.  Al Pacino.  (Applause.)

In the late sixties, James Taylor got the chance to audition in front of Paul McCartney and George Harrison.  Ringo, I don’t know if you were there — but this is a true story.  (Laughter.)  “I was as nervous as a Chihuahua on methamphetamines” — (laughter) — is what James Taylor says.  Which is exactly the kind of metaphor that makes him such a brilliant songwriter.  (Laughter.)

But if James has a defining gift, it is empathy.  It’s why he’s been such a great friend to and Michelle and myself.  We’re so grateful to him and Kim for their friendship over the years. It’s why everybody from Carole King to Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift collaborates with him.  It’s what makes him among the most prolific and admired musicians of our time.  In fact, James recently went through all his songs and kept coming across the same stories — songs about fathers and traffic jams; love songs, recovery songs.  I really love this phrase:  “Hymns for agnostics.”  (Laughter.)  He says that in making music, “There’s the idea of comforting yourself.  There’s also the idea of taking something that’s untenable and internal and communicating it.”  And that’s why it feels like James is singing only to you when he sings.  It feels like he’s singing about your life.  The stories he tells and retells dwell on our most enduring and shared experiences.  “Carolina on My Mind” is about where you grew up, even if you didn’t grow up in Carolina.  “Mean Old Man” is probably somebody you know.  “Angels of Fenway” — well, actually, that’s just about the Red Sox.  So — (laughter) — if you’re a White Sox fan you don’t love that song, but it’s okay.  (Applause.)

James is the consummate truth-teller about a life that can leave us with more unresolved questions than satisfying answers, but holds so much beauty that you don’t mind.  And from his honesty about his own struggles with substance abuse to his decades of progressive activism, James Taylor has inspired people all over the world and helped America live up to our highest ideals.  Thank you, James Taylor.  (Applause.)

Without a preschool rivalry, we might not be honoring Martha Argerich.  The story goes that when Martha was two years old, a little boy taunted her, saying, “I bet you can’t play the piano!”  (Laughter.)  So she sat down at the keys, remembered a piece her teacher had played, and played it flawlessly.  By eight years old, she had made her concert debut.  By the time she was a teenager, she left her native Argentina to study in Vienna and won two major international competitions, launching one of the most storied and influential careers in classical music.  That little boy lost his bet.

Martha combines unparalleled technical prowess with passion and glittering musicianship.  From Bach to Schumann, she doesn’t just play the piano, she possesses it.  Martha can charge through a passage with astonishing power and speed and accuracy, and, in the same performance, uncover the delicate beauty in each note.  As a critic once wrote, “She is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music.”

But what truly sets her apart and has cemented her place as one of the greatest pianists in modern history is her dogged commitment to her craft.  In an age of often superficial connections, where people too often seek fame and recognition, Martha has been guided by one passion, and that is fidelity to the music.  She can only be herself.  And that is the truest mark of an artist.  And the result is timeless, transcendent music for which we thank Martha Argerich.  (Applause.)

And finally, there have been some interesting things said about this next group, including being called “one of rock’s most contentiously dysfunctional families.”  (Laughter.)  So, yeah, it was unlikely that they’d ever get back together and that they called their reunion tour “Hell Freezes Over.”  (Laughter.)  I love that.  But here’s the thing — when you listen to the Eagles, you hear the exact opposite story, and that is perfect harmony.

You hear it in the crisp, overpowering a capella chords of “Seven Bridges Road”; dueling guitar solos in “Hotel California”; complex, funky riffs opening “Life in the Fast Lane.”  It’s the sound not just of a California band, but one of America’s signature bands — a supergroup whose greatest hits sold more copies in the United States than any other record in the 20th century.  And the 20th Century had some pretty good music.  (Laughter.)

So, here tonight, we have three of the Eagles:  Don Henley, the meticulous, introspective songwriter with an unmistakable voice that soars above his drum set.  Timothy Schmit, the bass player and topline of many of those harmonies.  And Joe Walsh, who’s as rowdy with a guitar lick as I’m told he once was in a hotel room.  (Laughter.)  Twice.  (Laughter.)  This is the White House, though.  (Laughter.)  And Michelle and I are about to leave.  As I’ve said before, we want to get our security deposit back.  (Laughter and applause.)

But, of course, the Eagles are also the one and only Glenn Frey.  And we all wish Glenn was still here with us.  We are deeply honored to be joined by his beautiful wife, Cindy, and their gorgeous children.  Because the truth is that these awards aren’t just about this reception or even the show we have this evening, which will be spectacular.  The Kennedy Center Honors are about folks who spent their lives calling on us to think a little harder, and feel a little deeper, and express ourselves a little more bravely, and maybe “take it easy” once in a while.  And that is Glenn Frey — the driving force behind a band that owned a decade, and did not stop there.  We are all familiar with his legacy.  And the music of the Eagles will always be woven into the fabric of our nation.

So we are extraordinarily honored to be able to give thanks for the Eagles.  And what’s true for them is true for all of tonight’s honorees:  remarkable individuals who have created the soundtrack to our own lives — on road trips, in jukebox diners; folks who have mesmerized us on a Saturday night out at the movies or at a concert hall.

Mavis Staples.  Al Pacino.  James Taylor.  Martha Argerich The Eagles.  Their legacies are measured not just in works of art, but the lives they’ve touched, and creating a stronger and more beautiful America.  They’re artists who have served our nation by serving their truth.  And we’re all better off for it.

So before we transport ourselves to what I’m sure will be a spectacular evening, please join me in saluting our extraordinary 2016 Kennedy Center Honorees.  (Applause.)

 

END                  5:44 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: Obamas Attend Last National Christmas Tree Lighting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Full Text Political Transcripts November 29, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama at the Annual Holiday Press Preview

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Annual Holiday Press Preview

Source: WH, 11-29-16

This year’s theme: The gift of service and sacrifice

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East Room

1:35 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Hi, everybody!  Look how good you guys look.  You ready for some action?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you sure?  I don’t know, you sound like you don’t want cookies or anything like that.  (Laughter.)  You think you want some cookies?  You think so?  Okay, well, we’re going to get to it, but first I want to welcome everyone to the White House.

I want to start by thanking Hazel for that wonderful introduction and for all of her service and hard work in helping to make this home so beautiful.  I want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, as Hazel mentioned, who traveled here from 33 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico to come here and put up these beautiful decorations and transform this White House into this holiday wonderland.  So I’m so grateful to you all.

And as we celebrate my family’s last holiday season in the White House, I’m thinking back to when we first came here to Washington and we promised to open up this house to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible.  And we truly wanted to make the White House the “People’s House,” particularly during the holiday seasons.  And over the past eight years, through the seasons, we’ve worked hard to achieve that goal by welcoming almost a half million guests to this house during the season.  And thanks to our amazing volunteers, we’ve adorned the White House with about a half million ornaments for our guests to enjoy, and we’ve brought smiles to the faces of all those who enjoyed the 200,000 holiday cookies prepared by our outstanding pastry chefs.  And you all will get to have some more of those today.  That will make 200,020 or so.

So, looking back, I am proud to say that we did our very best during the holidays to make Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life feel comfortable and welcome here in our nation’s house.  Now, we do all of this with the help of our extraordinary staff.  I mean, yes, we have wonderful volunteers, but we have folks who, each year, take a very limited budget and very little resources, and they make miracles happen in this house.

So, for our final holiday preview, I just want to take a moment to highlight just a few of the amazing folks who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes.  And I don’t know if they know I’m calling them out — I don’t even know if they’re in the room.  But I want to start with Deesha Dyer, who is the office — our Social Secretary.

MS. DYER:  I’m here.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Deesha, there you are.  There’s Deesha.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Deesha.  And you’re going to see Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison.  Cris is our Executive Chef and Susie is our Executive Pastry Chef.  I want to thank them both, as well as all of the chefs, all of the staff in the kitchen who worked so hard to do everything possible to make these holidays terrific.

I want to thank all of our ushers who never get credit.  I know they’re around here working away, but they’re the people who greet you, and they make sure that things are moving like they should in this house — our florists, who are tremendous.  And I rarely get to thank our electricians, our carpenters, because they make sure that chandeliers are moved and structures are built so that we can put things on, and they do this in a matter of days.  They turn this house upside down.  And to our calligraphers — you’ll see all their handiwork throughout the ornaments.  And I also always want to thank our incredible Marine Band, who you hear from throughout the season.  My husband’s favorite musical crew are his own Marine Band.

This is all possible because of all of these people.  And on behalf of the entire Obama family — me, Barack, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — we are so proud of this team here, so proud of the time that we spent with you.  We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for us over the years.  So let’s give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)

So before I get choked up, let me officially kick off our final White House holiday season.  And as always, today, we are celebrating with our extraordinary military community, our military families.  We have our servicemembers.  We have veterans here today.  We have wounded warriors.  We have our military spouses!  (Applause.)  You go, spouses.  And of course, we have our outstanding, handsome, beautiful, smart, talented, engaging military kids.  Are there any here?  Oh here they are.  (Laughter.)  Let’s give them all a round of applause.  (Applause.)

For the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you all be the first that see the decorations, this has been one of our favorite White House traditions.  It reminds us that between all the shopping lists and the travel plans and all those big meals, that we cannot forget what the holidays are really about, and you all help us.  Our military families like all of you remind us of what matters.  Because even as you serve this country in uniform, or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepare to attend another new school as a military kid —

(A baby in the audience interrupts.)

MRS. OBAMA:  — and there’s that one back there talking about I don’t know what, but there’s a little one back there who has a lot to say.  (Laughter.)  But you all still find time to contribute even more to your communities and to this country.

You do it all.  You volunteer at local food banks.  You coach your kids’ sports teams on the weekends.  Many of you have even cut your Thanksgiving holiday short to come here and decorate the White House.

Just another example — we have Hazel up here — but one of our volunteers, her name is Jacqueline James.  She’s from Redlands, California.  Is Jacqueline here so we can really embarrass her?  She’s probably still working.  We’re going to do another reception for our volunteers later.  But let me tell you a little bit about Jacqueline.

During her husband’s 22 years in the Army, her family — she and her family, they spent the holidays in five different states and even on a base overseas.  During that time they managed to raise seven kids.  And just two weeks ago, they celebrated the birth of their fifteenth grandchild.  But their family’s service to this country did not end when Jacqueline’s husband retired, as they watched two of their sons do tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  And even though Jacqueline doesn’t consider herself the most artistic decorator, she volunteered at the White House this year because — and this is what she said — she said, “If patriotism is an art,” she said, “then I am a master.”

It’s that kind of commitment to serving others, that’s what the holidays are truly about and that’s what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the White House.  And this year’s holiday theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.”  And as usual, we’re going to be celebrating our country’s greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families.

Down in the Booksellers, when you walk in, the visitors that come will see a tree and a flag display composed of pictures of military families who my husband and I have met on bases and in communities around the world over the course of our time here.  The tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring America’s greatest heroes, the men and women who have given their lives for our country.  And right next to those displays is an iPad station that allows guests to send holiday wishes to our servicemembers, and we are hoping that each of the 68,000 guests that are going to visit during the holiday season will take a moment to pause and send a message to express their gratitude.

After that, they’ll move on to see a number of other decorations that celebrate the gifts we share as a nation.  For example, in the Library, we’re honoring the gift of a great education — which is important, right, school, college, all of that.  And we have trees in the Library made out of crayons and pencils, so you have to check that out if you haven’t already.  And to raise awareness about the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are not able to attend school, we’ve got two trees that are decorated with special ornaments, each of which has the word “girl” written in one of a dozen different languages.

So when guests head upstairs to this floor, they’re going to see that, in the Green Room, it’s filled with decorations representing the gifts provided by our White House Kitchen Garden with trees hung with ornaments in the shape of bees and fruit.  And of course, right next door, we have our 19-foot-tall White House Christmas tree.  It’s really big.  They have to take out the chandeliers and rearrange everything just to get the tree in the house.  And that’s in our Blue Room.  And in the State Dining Room, you’re going to spot the official White House gingerbread house.  So when you see it, guys, it’s made of all — everything on it is something you can eat.  And our pastry chefs have worked very hard to make this house possible.  It is beautiful.  They’ve got the replica of the new White House garden, and Bo and Sunny, and lots of cool stuff.

Now, the trees in that room — there are 56 LEGO gingerbread houses representing every state and territory in America.  And then somewhere around the house, we have supersize replicas of Bo and Sunny guarding their presents, because we don’t let them have their presents.  (Laughter.)  I’m just kidding, they get presents.  They’re fine.

Altogether, the folks who come through these halls over the next few weeks will see about — how many ornaments do you think are in this house?

CHILD:  Six.

MRS. OBAMA:  Six?  (Laughter.)  Ten?

CHILD:  A hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  A hundred?  Getting closer.

CHILD:  Nine thousand.

MRS. OBAMA:  Nine thousand?

CHILD:  Two hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  Let me tell you, it’s 70,000 ornaments.  I was pretty shocked at that.

So we can’t wait — that’s a lot of ornaments.  But we can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season.  And to everyone who created these stunning displays, all our volunteers, all our — all the folks who help make this happen, I want to once again say thank you.  You all did a phenomenal job once again in turning this house into a magical place.

And to all the military families, those of you who are here today and all those around the world, I want to once again honor you for your service and your sacrifice and your love of this nation.  It’s a lot that my family and I share along with you.  It has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time.

So I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season, all right?  And with that, we get to have some fun, okay?  Are you guys ready — I’m just talking to the kids here.  (Laughter.)  You guys don’t get to have fun, but here’s what you get:  We will take your children from you for a moment.  (Laughter and applause.)  Don’t applaud too loudly.  They’re still here.  They can hear you.  (Laughter.)  And you can enjoy some cider and some cookies.

And you guys want to come with me?  We’ve got some surprises in the back, and your parents will be here.  We’ll try to bring them back in one piece.  I can’t guarantee that they will be neat.  (Laughter.)  There is dye and food color — sorry.  (Laughter.)  All of it is washable!

All right, you guys ready to come and join me?  You all, thank you all so much.  Come to the White House.  It’s really cool.  Take care.

END
1:47 P.M. EST

Politics November 25, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes last Christmas tree of administration

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is Christmastime at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama received the day after Thanks giving Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the last Christmas tree she will decorate at the White House of her husband President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the last seven years, Mrs. Obama was not joined by her daughters Malia and Sasha, who also skipped this year’s pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Instead, the Obamas are being joined this holiday season by their youngest nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson. Along with her nephews the Obamas dogs, Bo and Sunny tagged along.

This year’s winning White House Christmas tree is “a 19-foot Balsam-Veitch fir cross. The tree’s growers are Dave and Mary Vander Velden of the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisconsin the winners of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest. The Association has picked the tree since 1966.

CNN reported that the Vander Veldens’s tree did not grow as large as the official tree needs to be and will be placed somewhere else within the White House decorations, and instead a tree donated from a Pennsylvania farm will be used as the official tree adorning the Blue Room of the White House. The Vander Veldens presented the tree to the First Lady at the White House’s north portico after it arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. The carriage had jingle bells, while “a four-piece military band played “O Christmas Tree.”

When Mrs. Obama received the tree, she asked her nephews, “What do you think?” and then joked about her holiday substitutes, “These are our replacement kids. This is what happens when you get teenagers. One is asleep – these two are up.” The First Lady enthusiastically concluded, “Christmas begins. The holiday starts! We’re ready – our last one. We’re excited about it.”

As the First Lady looked over the tree, she said, “This is the easiest part of the holiday season.” For the entire weekend the White House staff will be decorating the executive mansion for the holidays, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Michelle presents the finished product to the press and public. Then Thursday, Dec. 1, the Obama’s will light the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse.

Full Text Political Transcripts November 23, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Final Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

Source: WH, 11-22-16

President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch National Thanksgiving Turkey Tater flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch National Thanksgiving Turkey Tater flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

2:42 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Thank you so much, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.

For generations, Presidents have faithfully executed two great American traditions:  issuing a proclamation that sets aside a Thursday in November for us to express gratitude, and granting pardons that reflect our beliefs in second chances.  And this week, we do both.  (Laughter.)

Of course, Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one.  So for the past seven years, I’ve established another tradition:  embarrassing my daughters with a “corny-copia” of dad jokes about turkeys.  (Laughter.)  This year, they had a scheduling conflict.  (Laughter.)  Actually, they just couldn’t take my jokes anymore.  (Laughter.)  They were fed up.

AUDIENCE:  Oooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Fortunately, I have by my side here today two of my nephews — Austin and Aaron Robinson — who, unlike Malia and Sasha, have not yet been turned cynical by Washington. (Laughter.)  They still believe in bad puns.  They still appreciate the grandeur of this occasion.  They still have hope. (Laughter.)

Malia and Sasha, by the way, are thankful that this is my final presidential turkey pardon.  What I haven’t told them yet is that we are going to do this every year from now on.  (Laughter.)  No cameras.  Just us.  Every year.  No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey.  (Laughter and applause.)

Good one.  That was pretty funny.  (Laughter.)

Thanksgiving is a chance — (laughter) — to gather with loved ones, reflect on our many blessings, and, after a long campaign season, finally turn our attention from polls to poultry.  This year, we’re honored to be joined by two of the lucky ones, who were raised by the Domino family in Iowa:  Tater and Tot.

Now, Tater is here in a backup role, just in case Tot can’t fulfill his duties.  So he’s sort of like the Vice Turkey.  We’re working on getting him a pair of aviator glasses.  (Laughter.)

And it is my great privilege — well, it’s my privilege –actually, let’s just say it’s my job — (laughter) — to grant them clemency this afternoon.  As I do, I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom — (laughter) — who met their fate with courage and sacrifice — and proved that they weren’t chicken.  (Laughter.)

(Baby cries.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, it’s not that bad.  Now, come one.  (Laughter.)

Of course, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Six straight years of job creation — the longest streak ever.  Low unemployment.  Wages are rising again.  Inequality is narrowing.  The housing market is healing.  The stock market has nearly tripled.  Our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.  And our uninsured rate is at an all-time low, thanks to the 20 million more Americans, including millions of children, who finally know the security of health insurance.  (Applause.)   That’s worth gobbling about.  (Laughter.)

Proud families across the country are finally complete now that marriage equality is the law of the land.  And there are many families of servicemembers who had empty chairs at the table in recent years but who on this Thanksgiving can celebrate with our brave troops and veterans who we’ve welcomed home.

Thanksgiving is also a reminder of the source of our national strength — that out of many, we are one; that we’re bound not by any one race or religion, but rather by an adherence to a common creed, that all of us are created equal.  And while accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important.  We are a people that look out for one another and get each other’s backs. We keep moving forward, defined by values and ideals that have been a light to all humanity.

We have to see ourselves in each other because we’ve all got families we love, and we all have hopes for their better future. And we lose sight of that sometimes, and Thanksgiving is a good time for us to remember that.  We have a lot more in common than divides us.

The holidays are also a time when it’s even more important to reach out to those who need a helping hand.  I believe we’re judged by how we care for the poor and the vulnerable, the sick and the elderly, the immigrant, the refugee, everybody who’s trying to get a second chance.  I believe that in order to truly live up to those ideals we have to continually fight discrimination in all its forms and always show the world that America is a generous and giving country.

We should also make sure everyone has something to eat on Thanksgiving — of course, except the turkeys, because they’re already stuffed.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So, later today, the Obama family will participate in our traditional Thanksgiving service project.  And when somebody at your table tells you that you’ve been hogging all the side dishes and you can’t have any more, I hope you respond with a creed that sums up the spirit of a hungry people:  Yes, We Cran.  (Laughter.)  That was good.  (Laughter.) You don’t think that’s funny?  Look, I know there are some bad ones in here, but this is the last time I’m doing this, so we’re not leaving any room for leftovers.  (Laughter.)

Let me just say — how am I doing?  Good?  Thumbs up?

Let me just say one last thing before I spare these turkeys’ lives.  On this Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the American people for the trust that you’ve placed in me over these last eight years and the incredible kindness that you’ve shown my family.  On behalf of Michelle, and my mother-in-law, and our girls, we want to thank you so very, very much.

And now, from the Rose Garden, Tater and Tot will go to their new home at Virginia Tech — which is admittedly a bit Hokie.  (Laughter.)  They’ll get to live out their natural lives at a new facility called Gobblers Rest, where students and veterinarians will care for them.  And so let’s get on with the pardoning because it’s Wednesday afternoon and everyone knows that Thanksgiving traffic can put people in a “fowl” mood.

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  Let’s go pardon these turkeys.  (Applause.)

END
2:51 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts November 14, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at Joining Forces Capstone Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden at Joining Forces Capstone Reception

Source: WH, 11-14-17

East Room

5:17 P.M. EDT

DR. BIDEN:  So good afternoon.  It’s so wonderful to be here with all of you today.  And let me start by thanking Sheila Casey, a true friend and champion for all military families, including mine.  Thank you, Sheila, for your kind words and support over the years.  It’s been a pleasure working with you and your husband, General Casey.

Well, it’s hard to believe that after five years, this is our last Joining Forces event.  I remember the moment eight years ago, backstage in Springfield, Illinois, when Michelle and I decided we wanted to focus on this important issue together.  It was that exciting day when then-Senator Obama announced that my husband Joe would be his running mate.  Michelle turned to me and asked what would I like to work on if we won.  And I told her that I wanted to tackle the issues that our military families were facing, and she said, “Me too!”  (Laughter.)  For me, I couldn’t think of anything more fulfilling than serving those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

One thing we say in the Biden family — and I know you all feel it in your hearts — is that our country has one sacred obligation — to equip those we send to war, and to care for them and their families during deployments and when they return.  (Applause.)

Back in 2008, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were going strong.  Hundreds of thousands of our troops were deployed.  So I called the National Guard and said I wanted to help the families of military families whose loved ones were serving overseas.  They connected me with Delaware Boots on the Ground, which was helping to match the everyday needs of our military — they’re here, that’s why it’s making me so emotional — to match the everyday needs of military families with folks who could provide the service.  If you need a tire changed, Boots was there for you.  If you had a leaky roof, Boots was there.  If you needed diapers or a new crib, Boots was there again.

Delaware Boots on the Ground made such a big difference for military families in Delaware that Governor Ruth Ann Minner declared on July 4th, 2007, Delaware Boots on the Ground Day.  Remember guys?  And after we were elected to the White House, I wanted to keep going.  I wanted to keep doing all the things that I could for military families — not just in Delaware, but all across our nation.  Because, like Michelle, I had been so inspired by the military families, the incredible military families I had met and gotten to know over the years.

That’s why, when we called upon you to help us shine a light on our military families, we wanted to raise awareness of the challenges that they confront and still confront that most Americans never have to face or can even imagine.  Sending loved ones into harm’s way.  Enduring countless separations during training.  Starting over on different bases in different towns again and again.

All of you in this room, from the veterans and military spouses we met eight years ago on the campaign trail to the nonprofits, schools, foundations, businesses, associations, civil servants and Americans of every stripe, have been with us every step of the way since we launched Joining Forces.  You have been our lifeline to our military families.  You’ve helped us better understand the unique challenges that they face.  You’ve been critical in helping us find solutions to better support those amazing families.  You’ve helped us remind folks that we can all make a difference, not just in word on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but with good deeds and best efforts each and every day of the year, by doing what we do best.

As a lifelong educator and as a military mom, the way we reach out to our military children in our classrooms is especially close to my heart.  That’s why I’ve been so proud to work with organizations like the Military Child Education Coalition.  Together, we launched Operation Educate the Educators to encourage teaching colleges to recognize military children in their curriculum.  To date, more than 100 colleges and universities have signed up to train thousands of future teachers so that they are prepared to identify the challenges military kids face.  (Applause.)

And one of the first groups that Michelle and I partnered with to launch Joining Forces five years ago was the National Math and Science initiative.  Thanks to NMSI’s college readiness program, we’re helping to ensure that students at 200 military-connected schools in 33 states across the country are prepared for the rigors of college and a career.

I’d also like to thank the media, who has helped us share the story of the military family.  And that includes everyone from Elmo and “Sesame Street,” to “Reading Rainbow” with LeVar Burton, who have shined a light on military-connected children, as well as the History Channel, which has lifted up our veterans, servicemembers, and their families.  And I’d especially like to thank CEO of History Channel, Nancy Dubuc, for being here today.

All of you have stepped up for our military and their families in your own unique ways.  That’s what you do.  And that’s why you’re here today.  Because Michelle and I want you to know just how much we appreciate everything that you’ve done and everything that you will continue to do to support those who serve our country.

And we all need to keep doing this work, because our military families will continue to serve and sacrifice.  Our men and women in uniform will continue to deploy.  Their spouses and children will continue to move from base to base, and eventually they will transition to civilian life.  That’s why this work matters.  And we have to show them that we have their backs.

You know, I believe we couldn’t have asked for a better champion for our military families than Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)  I know you all feel this.  She is a woman like no other.  (Applause.)  Whip smart.  Passionate.  Loyal.  For our nation, she’s been a true role model, especially for young girls.  She’s raised two amazing girls on her — of her own whose potential has no bounds.  And she’s shown the same warmth and care for her girls that she has with our grandchildren.

And from day one, Michelle was determined to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of our military and their families — measurable action, not just words.  She has had the courage to take on veteran homelessness, making the seemingly impossible possible.  (Applause.)  Naturally, freely, warmly she brings joy and hope often simply through a hug to the deployed caregivers and wounded warriors.

As a military mom, I am grateful for her service.  I love her.  We’re family.  Our First Lady, Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my goodness.  (Laughter.)  This wasn’t supposed to be tearful.  (Laughter.)  Oh, wow, look at you all.  What an evening, what a day.

First of all, let me thank —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

MRS. OBAMA:  We love you all.  We love you all more than you can know.  (Applause.)  This community has kept us going through a lot.  So let me just start by, of course, recognizing my partner in crime, Jill Biden, for that introduction.  Oh, my goodness.  (Applause.)  Jill has been, by far, the best partner I could have ever imagined, not just for the work on Joining Forces, but our families have joined forces in so many ways.  I’m just grateful to have her by my side.  She’s been a devoted advocate for our military community long before she ever came to the White House.  This is her cause, as you can hear from her words.  This is her mission.  And her passion has really been at the heart and soul of Joining Forces from the beginning.

But Jill is much more than a partner.  She is one of my dearest friends.  And, as Jill said, we’re family.  This is my girl right here.  (Applause.)  We have laughed together.  We have been silly together.  We have cried a lot.  (Laughter.)   We’ve been there for each other as much as we can throughout this amazing journey.  And Jill is not just brilliant, but she is kind.  She is very funny.  And she is one of the strongest people I know.  I love and admire her with all my heart.  So thank you, Jill.  (Applause.)

And of course, thanks to all of you — my goodness — folks from every sector of our society who’ve come together through Joining Forces — CEOs and government officials, medical professionals and educators.  And most of all, our extraordinary servicemembers, our amazing veterans, oh, and our military families.  (Applause.)

Just looking out over this room, so many of you have been with us right from the very beginning, way back in those early days when Jill and I were just starting to figure out what Joining Forces would look like.  And back then, we’d get together with military spouses, and Blue and Gold Star families.  We’d talk to veterans, and of course we talked to troops.  And we’d ask the simple questions:  How are things going?  Do you have the support that you need?  What can we do to help?

And, as Jill said, we continue to be blown away by your honesty and your courage, your sacrifice, your service, moving your families across the country, across the globe every few years, enduring deployment after deployment, struggling to maintain your careers and care for your family — I could go on and on.  You keep us from complaining about anything.  And I know that some of you were probably a little skeptical of us at first.  Some may have wondered, how are these two with almost no budget going to make a difference?  (Laughter.)  And rightfully so, wondering would this just be another PR campaign?  Because you had seen plenty of tributes and parades and memorials, all of which are very important, but nowhere near enough.

As I said earlier today, talk simply is not enough.  So Jill and I knew it was time to act, and that’s why we decided that the only measure of our success would be whether you all could see and feel a concrete difference in your lives.  That was the only thing we cared about.

So in 2011, we issued a call to all Americans to step up and serve our military community as well as you all have served this country -– not just with kind words, but with real resources, with real support.  And as we told you, people answered that call time and again.  And that’s what you should know about this country.  Just when you wonder whether we’re crazy — (laughter) — we’re not.  We’re good people, all over the place.  Know that about this country.  (Applause.)  We are made up of good people.

Folks from every industry, every corner of this country, they raised their hand every time and they said, yeah, I can help.  And just think for a minute about everything we’ve achieved together.  I mean, you heard it in that beautiful video.  In just five and a half years — let’s just stop there — five and a half years, our businesses and companies have hired or trained more than 1.5 million veterans and military spouses, and the unemployment rate for our veterans has been cut in half.  (Applause.)  That’s because of you.  (Applause.)

Governors and legislatures in 50 states, all 50 states, took action to help military spouses transfer their licenses and continue their careers as they move from state to state — simple ask.  I think there were only two when we first started.  And we were like, hey, can we get this done?  Folks were like, yeah!

We provided new training and tools for thousands of healthcare providers.  New networks and support for our caregivers.  New resources and educational opportunities for our amazing military kids who, by the way, really blow us away.  Those kids are some of the most amazing, poised — (applause) — those are our next leaders.  So another thing to know about this country, we’re in good hands, because our young people — we’ve got some good young people.  We do.  (Applause.)

And working with mayors and local officials, as we celebrated earlier today, we have ended veteran homelessness in cities and states across this country, housing 354,000 homeless veterans and their families.  (Applause.)  We did that.  We did that.  Through wonderful VA programs, we’ve worked to cut veterans’ homelessness nearly in half.  And we did that in just a couple of years.

That’s just some of what Joining Forces has been able to accomplish, and it’s because of you.  Jill and I, we just ask, and then we wait for the press conference.  We come in and we go, look what we did!  (Laughter.)  But we are so incredibly proud of you.  You want the country to see this.  This is America.  And Jill and I, we are so grateful for everything you all have done.
But what we do not feel is satisfied, because —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s my hype man back there.  (Laughter.)  Because for everything we’ve accomplished, we also know that every day, people across America thankfully are signing up to put on our country’s uniform, and so many others hang it up for good and join the ranks of our veterans.

So our work is nowhere near finished.  And it never will be.  So my main message to all of you today is let’s just keep this going.  Let’s keep it going.  (Applause.)  Plain and simple.  (Applause.)  We don’t get all of this done in such a short period of time and just not keep pushing.

And to our servicemembers, our veterans, and to our military families, I urge you to never settle for anything less.  This effort, it hasn’t been perfect.  We haven’t achieved every goal.  We haven’t righted every wrong.  But believe me, from now on, this should be the baseline.  This should be the minimum level of support our military should feel from their White House all the way down to every community in this country.  (Applause.)  They should feel it from the President and the Vice President, from the First and Second spouses on down to the VA, to VSOs, to schools, to hospitals, to congregations, to citizens.  That’s true regardless of who is in charge or what party they belong to.

Because this issue has nothing to do with whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an independent.  It is so much bigger than that.  It’s about supporting our American heroes.  (Applause.)  And it’s about standing up for who we are as a nation.  And that’s something we can all agree on.  There should never ever be any daylight between any of us when it comes to that.

So you all need to work with the next administration to continue these efforts.  Whatever it is that you’re working on, I want you to find new partners in the next administration.  I want you to work with them just like you worked with us on the issues that matter most to our military community.  And I want you all to know that while today might be our last time together here as First Lady — and I hate to say Second Lady, because there’s nothing second about Jill — (laughter and applause) — but we are not saying goodbye.  This is not the end.

Jill and I intend to keep working on this issue for the rest of our lives.  (Applause.)  We will figure out a way to use whatever platforms we have next.  And with your help, we know that the spirit of this movement will live on.  We will continue to find ways to be supportive long after we leave the White House.

This movement will live on.  It will live on in every military spouse who steps up and says, I’m tough, but even I can’t do this alone, and every Governor who responds, you don’t have to.  It will live on in every veteran looking to bring their skills and their training to our workforce, and every CEO who gives them that chance.  It will live on in every servicemember who knows their spouse is being supported during their deployment, and every teacher who goes that extra mile to make sure their kids feel welcome in a new school.

This effort is going to live on because it belongs to each of us and to every American who joins forces to support America’s heroes.  So instead of saying goodbye, I want to end as I started — by once again saying thank you.  (Applause.)  This has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life, getting to know this community.  We are grateful.  We are grateful.  And we have so much to feel grateful for in this country.  Let us never forget that.

Let’s get to work.  Thank you all.  God bless.  (Applause.)

END
5:48 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts October 31, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Halloween Event

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Halloween Event

Source: WH, 10-31-17

East Room

4:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Happy Halloween, everybody! (Applause.) Trick or treat. Well, it is great to see all of you guys. Your costumes are outstanding. Young man, no selfies in the middle of me talking. (Laughter.) And, Darth Vader, back up a little bit. I’m getting spooked. (Laughter.)

So we just want to say to all the families, all the kids, it is great to see you guys and we hope you have a great time today. You guys all look scary, or cool, or whatever you’re trying to be. (Laughter.) Awesome. Many of you look awesome. And we hope you have a great time. We hope, parents, that on this day at least, you don’t have to pay attention to Michelle and healthy eating. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Candy for everybody. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: And in fact, the more candy, the later you eat the candy, the better. (Laughter.) Because I think that you being up all night with a sugar rush is exactly what your parents are looking for. (Laughter.)

All right. So we hope you guys have a great time. And to the staff who are here, thank you, guys. I’m glad you guys took a little break from all the outstanding work. (Applause.)

And now, my understanding is, is that we’ve been working on a little dance. We don’t know how it’s going to go, but we think we should all just try it anyway. What do you think?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

THE PRESIDENT: Yes — don’t you think? All right. So who’s got the music? Let’s cue it up. Everybody get ready. (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is played.)

END
4:37 P.M. EDT

Politics August 7, 2016: Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama commenced his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard after partying the evening before on Aug. 5, 2016, at his 55th birthday bash. The star-studded party held at the White House included a bevy of celebrities and politicians deemed Obama’s closest friends.

On Friday evening, Obama celebrated his milestone and last birthday as president at a party paid for by the Obamas at the White House. Although the official guest list has not been made public, the news media has been able to piece together some of the attendees from social media post from party guests.

Among the celebrities in attendance were “Alfre Woodard, movie executive Harvey Weinstein and former basketball star Grant Hill,” “Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband actor Matthew Broderick, “Star Wars” producer George Lucas” and basketball star Magic Johnson and wife Cookie. Usher and Stevie Wonder provided the evening’s entertainment. It is believed that singer and rappers Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Kendrick Lamar also attended.

The party also included political friends “Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Reverend Al Sharpton. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s former chief of staff and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Some news media personalities attended including, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts and ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and husband Al Roker.

A White House official said, “The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion. The private event will be paid for with the family’s personal funds.” While a party attendee described it as “A real birthday bash with lots of old friends, cabinet officials, members of Congress, celebrities.” The party lasted past midnight.

Obama turned 55 on Thursday, Aug. 4. The president celebrated Thursday evening with his wife and children at a smaller intimidate dinner at the White House. The last time the Obamas celebrated with a big bash was Michelle’s 50th birthday party in January 2014. Michelle also gave a birthday shout out to her husband on Instagram writing, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day. Happy birthday, Barack. I love you. -mo”

Full Text Political Transcripts May 16, 2016: President barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

Source: WH, 5-16-16

East Room

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  And good morning.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you, Attorney General Lynch, for your words and your leadership.  We’ve got a couple members of Congress here — Frederica Wilson and Chris Collins we want to acknowledge.  And I also want to recognize Director Comey, members of the Fraternal Order of Police, and all the outstanding law enforcement officials who are here from around the country.  I’m proud to stand with you as we celebrate Police Week.  And most of all, I’m proud to be with the heroes on the front row, and with the families who have supported them — and the family of one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s been said that perfect valor is doing without witnesses what you would do if the whole world were watching.  The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition, they did it instinctively. This is an award that none of them sought.  And if they could go back in time, I suspect they’d prefer none of this had happened.

As one of today’s honorees said about his actions, “I could have very well gone my whole career and not dealt with this situation and been very happy with that.”  If they had their way, none of them would have to be here, and so we’re grateful that they are and our entire nation expresses its profound gratitude. More important, we’re so grateful that they were there — some on duty, others off duty, all rising above and beyond the call of duty.  All saving the lives of people they didn’t know.

That distinction — that these 13 officers of valor saved the lives of strangers — is the first of several qualities that they share.  But their bravery, if it had not been for their bravery, we likely would have lost a lot of people — mothers,  fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones.  Thankfully, they are still with their families today because these officers were where they needed to be most, at a critical time:  At a gas station during a routine patrol.  In the middle of a busy hospital.  In a grocery store.  On the campus of a community college.  Near an elementary school where a sheriff’s deputy’s own children were students and his wife taught.  In all of these places, in each of these moments, these officers were true to their oaths.

To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard for their own safety.  They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifles, handguns, and knives.  One officer sustained multiple stab wounds while fighting off an assailant.  Another endured first-degree burns to his arms and face while pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car on a freeway.

Each of them will tell you, very humbly, the same thing — they were just doing their jobs.  They were doing what they had to do, what they were trained to do, like on any other day.  The officer who suffered those terrible burns — he left urgent care and went straight to work.  He had to finish his shift.  That sense of duty and purpose is what these Americans embody.

The truth is, it’s because of your courage, sometimes seen, but sometimes unseen, that the rest of us can go about living our lives like it’s any other day.  Going to work, going to school, spending time with our families, getting home safely.  We so appreciate our public safety officers around the country, from our rookie cadets to our role model of an Attorney General.  Not everyone will wear the medal that we give today, but every day, so many of our public safety officers wear a badge of honor.

The men and women who run toward danger remind us with your courage and humility what the highest form of citizenship looks like.  When you see students and commuters and shoppers at risk, you don’t see these civilians as strangers.  You see them as part of your own family, your own community.  The Scripture teaches us, you love your neighbor as yourself.  And you put others’ safety before your own.  In your proud example of public service, you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.

Today, we also want to acknowledge the profound sacrifices made by your families.  And I had the chance to meet some of them and they were all clearly so proud of you, but we’re very proud of them.  We know that you wait up late, and you’re worried and you’re counting down the minutes until your loved one walks through the door, safe, after a long shift.  We know it never gets easier, and we thank you for that.  And of course, we honor those who didn’t come home, including one hero we honor posthumously today — Sergeant Robert Wilson III.

He gave his life when two men opened fire at a video game store where Sergeant Wilson was buying a son a birthday present. To his family who’s here — his grandmother, Constance, his brother and sister — please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss, how grateful we are for Sergeant Wilson’s service.

We also honor the more than 35 who’ve given their lives in the line of duty so far this year.  One of them, an officer in Virginia named Ashley Marie Guindon, was taken from us on her very first shift.

I’ve seen this sacrifice when I’ve joined some of you at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial not far from here.  We read the names carved on these walls, and we grieve with the families who carry the fallen in their hearts forever.  We’ve been moved, deeply, by their anguish — but also by their pride in the lives their loved ones lived.  And in those moments, we’re reminded of our enduring obligation as citizens — that they sacrificed so much for — that we do right by them and their families.

And medals and ceremonies like today are important, but these aren’t enough to convey the true depth of our gratitude.  Our words will be hollow if they’re not matched by deeds.  So our nation has a responsibility to support those who serve and protect us and keep our streets safe.  We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do the jobs.  That’s the mission of our police task force, which brought together local law enforcement, civil rights and faith leaders, and community members to open dialogue and build trust and find concrete solutions that make your jobs safer.  Our country needs that right now.

We’re going to keep pushing Congress to move forward [in] a bipartisan way to make our criminal justice system fairer and smarter and more cost-effective, and enhance public safety and ensure the men and women in this room have the ability to enforce the law and keep their communities safe.

A few minutes ago, I signed into law a package of bills to protect and honor our law enforcement officers, including one that will help state and local departments buy more bulletproof vests.

Emerson once said, “there is always safety in valor.”  The public safety officers we honor today give those words new meaning, for it’s your courage and quick thinking that gave us our safety.

So we want to thank you for your service.  We want to thank your families for your sacrifice.  I had a chance before I came out here to meet with the recipients, and I told them that, although this particular moment for which you are being honored is remarkable, we also know that every day you go out there you’ve got a tough job.  And we could not be prouder of not only moments like the ones we recognize here today, but just the day-to-day grind — you’re doing your jobs professionally; you’re doing your jobs with character.  We want you to know we could not be prouder of you, and we couldn’t be prouder of your families for all the contributions that you make.

So may God bless you and your families.  May God bless our fallen heroes.  <ay God bless the United States of America.

And it’s now my honor to award these medals as the citations are read.

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Mario Gutierrez.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Mario Gutierrez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida, for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack.  Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Patrolman Lewis Cioci.  Medal of Valor presented to Patrolmen Lewis Ciochi, Johnson City Police Department, New York, for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman.  After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield, Santa Monica Police Department, California, for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage.  Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.

(The medals are awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Major David Huff.  Medal of Valor presented to Major David Huff, Midwest City Police Department, Oklahoma, for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation.  Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knifepoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Donald Thompson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Donald Thompson, Los Angeles Police Department, California, for courageous action to save an accident victim.  While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Coral Walker.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Coral Walker, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker singlehandedly incapacitated a man who had killed an injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Gregory Stevens.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Gregory Stevens, Garland Police Department, Texas, for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.  Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily armed assailants, preventing a deadly act of terrorism.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Mrs. Constance Wilson, accepting on behalf of Sergeant Wilson, III.  Medal of Valor presented to fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson, III, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania, for giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Niel Johnson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Niel Johnson, North Miami Police Department, Florida, for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree.  Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon and apprehended the assailant.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Tyler Call.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Tyler Call, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his heroic actions to save a hostage.  Special Agent Cull, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband, who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Deputy Joey Tortorella.  Medal of Valor presented to Deputy Joey Tortorella, Niagara County, Sheriff’s Office, New York, for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community.  Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, and by doing so, prevented the gunmen from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give one last big round of applause to the recipients of the Medal of Valor.  (Applause.)

Thank you all.  Thank you for your dedication.  Thanks for your service.  You are continuously in our thoughts and prayers, and we are continuously giving thanks for all that you and your families do.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:57 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 30, 2016: President Obama’s 2016 White House correspondents’ dinner speech

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

The complete transcript of President Obama’s 2016 White House correspondents’ dinner speech

Source: Washington Post, 4-30-16

[“Cups” playing as Obama walks up. Audience can hear “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone…”]

You can’t say it, but you know it is true.

Good evening everybody. It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last White House correspondents’ dinner. You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better.

I do apologize. I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make. That’s a tip for you, Jeff.

Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That’s right. That’s right.

My brilliant and beautiful wife Michelle is here tonight. She looks so happy to be here. It’s called practice. It’s like learning to do three-minute planks. She makes it look easy now. But…

[For Obama’s final correspondents’ dinner, the obvious targets: Trump, Cruz and himself]

Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot and it’s anyone guess who she will be. But standing here I can’t help but be reflective and a little sentimental.

Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific. Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled and just counting down the days to my death panel.

Hillary once questioned whether I would be up ready for a 3 a.m .phone call. Now, I’m awake anyway because I have to go to the bathroom. I’m up.

In fact somebody recently said to me, ‘Mr. President, you are so yesterday. Justin Trudeau has completely replaced you. He is so handsome and he’s so charming. He’s the future.’ And I said ‘Justin, just give it a rest.’ I resented that.

Meanwhile, Michelle has not aged a day. The only way you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look. [Show photos over the years] Here we are in 2008. Here we are a few years later. And this one is from two weeks ago. [skelton photo from Canada dinner] So time passes.

In just six short months, I will be officially a lame duck, which means Congress now will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders won’t take my phone calls. And this is going to take some getting use to. It’s really gonna… It’s a curve ball. I don’t know what to do with it. Of course, in fact, for four months now congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them.

But on everything else, it’s another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we’ve got Republican senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They are in the house, which reminds me … security bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland come on out. We are going to do this right here. Right now.

It’s like the red wedding.

But it’s not just Congress. Even some foreign leaders, they’ve been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.

Although, while in England I did have lunch with her Majesty the Queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anyone was debating whether I am black enough, I think that settles the debate.

I won’t lie, look, this is a tough transition. It’s hard. Key staff are now starting to leave the White House. Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, she has left the White House press corps to host the “Today” show. Norah O’Donnell left the briefing room to host ‘CBS This Morning.’ Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.

But the prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give the Secret Service credit. They found Michelle and brought her back. She’s safe back at home now. It’s only nine more months, baby. Settle down.

And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.

And here’s the thing, I haven’t really done anything differently. So it’s odd. Even my age can’t explain the rising poll numbers. What has changed nobody can figure it out. [Image of Cruz and Trump]. Puzzling.

Anyway. In this last year, I do have more appreciation for those who have been with me on this amazing ride. Like one of our finest public servants, Joe Biden. God bless him. I love that guy. I love Joe Biden. I really do. And I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.

Also, I would be remiss. Let’s give it up for our host, Larry Wilmore. Also known as one of the two black guys who’s not Jon Stewart. You’re the South African guy, right? I love Larry. And his parents are here, who are from Evanston, which is great town. I also would like to acknowledge some of the award winning reporters that we have with us here tonight. Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. Thank you all for everything you have done. I’m just joking. As you know, “Spotlight” is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources and the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy film since “Star Wars.”

Look. That was maybe a cheap shot. I understand the news business is tough these days. It keeps changing all the time. Every year at this dinner somebody makes a joke about Buzzfeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year The Washington Post laughs a little bit less hard. Kind of a silence there. Especially at the Washington Post table.

GOP chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel you have earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success, the republican party, the nomination process. It’s all going great. Keep it up.

Kendall Jenner is also here. And we had a chance to meet her backstage. She seems like a very nice, young woman. I’m not exactly sure what she does, but I’m told that my twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.

Helen Mirren is here tonight. I don’t even have a joke here, I just think Helen Mirren is awesome. She’s awesome.

Sitting at the same table I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.

What an election season. For example, we’ve got the bright new face of the Democratic party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.

A lot of folks have been surprised by the Bernie phenomenon, especially his appeal to young people. But not me. I get it. Just recently a young person came up to me and said she was sick of politicians standing in the way of her dreams. As if we were actually going to let Malia go to Burning Man this year. Was not going to happen. Bernie might have let her go. Not us.

I am hurt though, Bernie, that you have been distancing yourself little from me. I mean that’s just not something that you do to your comrade.

Bernie’s slogan has helped his campaign catch fire among young people. ‘Feel the Bern.’ ‘Feel the Bern.’ That’s a good slogan. Hillary’s slogan has not had the same effect. Let’s see this. [image of a boulder on a hill with the slogan “Trudge up the Hill”]

Look, I’ve said how much I admire Hillary’s toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You’ve got admit it though, Hillary trying appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. ‘Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.’ It’s not entirely persuasive.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more, how shall we say this, a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight’s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish. But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That’s not an option people. Steak or fish. You may not like steak or fish, but that’s your choice.

Meanwhile, some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. [image of Kasich eating]. The rules were well established ahead of time.

And then there’s Ted Cruz. Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana. Hoosier country. Stood on a basketball court and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon. Baseball sticks. Football hats. But sure, I’m the foreign one.

Well let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want thank the Washington press corps. I want to thank Carol for all that you do. The free press is central to our democracy and, nah, I’m just kidding! You know I’m going to talk about Trump. Come on. We weren’t just going to stop there. Come on.

Although I am a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun that last time, And it is surprising. You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras. And he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for the Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doin’?

The republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.

And there is one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that’s closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground. Alright, that is probably enough. I mean I’ve got more material. No, no, no.

I don’t want to spend too much time on The Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because I think we can all agree that from the start he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. Ha. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we are praying that Cleveland makes it through July. Mmm mmm mmn. Hmmm.

As for me and Michelle, we’ve decided to stay in D.C. for a couple more years. Thank you. This way our youngest daughter can finish up high school. Michelle can stay closer to her plot of carrots. She’s already making plans to see them every day. Take a look [image of Michelle].

But our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because traditionally presidents don’t stick around after they’re done. And it’s something that I’ve been brooding about a little bit. Take a look…

There you go. I am still waiting for all of you to respond to my invitation to connect to LinkedIn. But I know you have jobs to do which is what really brings us here tonight.

I know that there are times that we’ve had differences and that’s inherent in our institutional roles. That is true of every president and his press corps. But we’ve always shared the same goal to root our public discourse in the truth. To open the doors of this democracy. To do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just.

And I’ve always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals. Our free press is why we once again recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice for thousands of victims around the world. They are here with us tonight: Sacha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Matt Caroll and Ben Bradlee Jr. Please give them a big round of applause.

A free press is why, once again, we honor Jason Rezaian, as Carol noted. Last time this year we spoke of Jason’s courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year we see that courage in the flesh, and it’s a living testament to the very idea of a free press and a reminder of the rising level of danger and political intimidation and the physical threats faced by reporters overseas.

And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will. And we will not stop until they see the same freedom as Jason had.

 

At home and abroad journalists like all of you engage in the dogged pursuit of informing citizens and holding leaders accountable, and making our government of the people possible. And it’s an enormous responsibility. And I realize it’s an enormous challenge at a time when the economics of the business sometimes incentivizes speed over depth, and when controversy and conflict are what most immediately attract readers and viewers. The good news is there are so many of you that are pushing against those trends and as a citizen of this great democracy, I am grateful for that.

For this is also a time around the world when some of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies are under attack and when notions of objectively and of a free press and of facts and of evidence are trying to be undermined or in some cases ignored entirely. And in such a climate it’s not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that’s why your power and your responsibility to dig and to question and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than even ever.

Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all. So this night is a testament to all of you who have devoted your lives to that idea, who push to shine a light on the truth every single day. So, I want to close my final White House correspondents’ dinner by just saying thank you. I’m very proud of what you’ve done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy. With that I just have two more words to say: Obama out. [Drops mic].
OBAMAOUT

Full Text Political Transcripts March 28, 2016: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Remarks at the 2016 Easter Egg Roll

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and First Lady at the 2016 Easter Egg Roll

Source: WH, 3-28-16

 

South Lawn

10:41 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  How’s everybody doing today?  (Applause.)  Happy Easter!  You guys brought the sun out, so we appreciate that so much.  This is always one of our favorite events of the year.  It’s so much fun.  And I don’t want to talk too long, but I do want to make sure that everybody thanks our outstanding Marine band, who does such a great job.  (Applause.)  I want to thank all the volunteers who have helped to make this day possible.  Give them a huge round of applause.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama!  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Yay!  Thank you, honey.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

MRS. OBAMA:  Here, you take Sunny.  Hi, everybody!  (Applause.)  Happy Easter Egg Roll Day!  Are you all having a good time?

AUDIENCE:  Yeah!

MRS. OBAMA:  It is going to be perfect weather.  The sun is coming out, which is always a great omen for the day.  We’re just thrilled to have you all here.  Today is a little bit bittersweet for us, because this is the Obama administration’s last Easter Egg Roll.

AUDIENCE:  Aww —

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes.  And if we think about what we’ve accomplished over these past seven years, it’s pretty incredible.  Because when Barack and I first got here, one of the goals that we had was to open up the White House to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible.  So open it up to our kids, to our musicians, to explore our culture, to expose families to healthy living, and to just have a lot of fun.

THE PRESIDENT:  And our military families.

MRS. OBAMA:  And also to our military families.  I’ve got the peanut crew back here reminding me of stuff.  But we can’t forget all of our military families, who we love, honor and respect, for their service and sacrifice.  (Applause.)

And since we started having Easter Egg Rolls, we’ve had more than 250,000 people come to this lawn every year.  It’s been amazing.  Today we’re going to have 35,000 people who will come in and out of the South Lawn over the course of the day.  And we couldn’t be more excited for this last Easter Egg Roll.  We have danced.  We have done yoga.  We’ve got our Soul Cyclers here.  We’ve got some tremendous athletes and entertainers and artists who are going to read and play games with you all.  We’ve got a little “whip” and a little “nae nae” — or however you do it.  (Laughter.)  Something like that.

So we just want you to have fun.  And the theme this year in our final year is pretty simple.  It’s:  Let’s celebrate.  Let’s celebrate all the good work that we’ve done, all the great messaging we’ve had.  All the amazing change that we’ve seen in this country.  And we want to celebrate our families.  We want to celebrate our nation — everything that makes us strong.  It’s our diversity, it’s our values.  That’s what makes us strong.

And me and this President, we have been honored to be here as your President and First Lady to be able to host you in our backyard every single year.  So I hope you guys have a terrific time.  We’re going to be out there doing a little egg-rolling.  We’re going to have a fun-run today.  I’m going to be running around the White House with a bunch of kids — and any adults who feel like they can hang.  (Laughter.)  You guys can run along with me.  Don’t feel shy.

So just have a good time.  And just know that we love you.  We love you all, and we’re grateful for the love and support that you’ve shown us all these years.  So thank you all.

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy Easter, everybody!

MRS. OBAMA:  Happy Easter!  (Applause.)  Let’s celebrate!

END
10:45 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Toasts at the State Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada at State Dinner

Source: WH, 3-10-16

 

East Room

8:32 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Bonsoir.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House as we host Prime Minister Trudeau, Mrs. Grégoire-Trudeau and the Canadian delegation for the first official visit and state dinner with Canada in nearly 20 years.  We intend to have fun tonight.  But not too much.  (Laughter.)  If things get out of hand, remember that the Prime Minister used to work as a bouncer.  (Laughter.)  Truly.  (Laughter.)

So tonight, history comes full circle.  Forty-four years ago, President Nixon made a visit to Ottawa.  And he was hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  (Applause.)  At a private dinner, there was a toast. “Tonight, we’ll dispense with the formalities,” President Nixon said, “I’d like to propose a toast to the future Prime Minister of Canada — Justin Pierre Trudeau.”  (Laughter.)  He was four months at the time.  (Laughter.)

All these years later, the prediction has come to pass.  Mr. Prime Minister, after today, I think it’s fair to say that, here in America, you may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin.  (Laughter and applause.)

I said this morning that Americans and Canadians are family. And tonight, I want to recognize two people who mean so much to me and Michelle and our family.  First of all, my wonderful brother-in-law, originally from Burlington, Ontario — Konrad Ng.  (Applause.)  This is actually an interesting story, though, that I was not aware of — Konrad indicated to me when we saw each other this afternoon that part of the reason his family was able to immigrate to Canada was because of policies adopted by Justin’s father.  And so had that not happened, he might not have met my sister, in which case, my lovely nieces might not have been born.  (Laughter.)  So this is yet one more debt that we owe the people of Canada (Laughter.)  In addition, a true friend and a member of my team who has been with me every step of the way — he is from Toronto and Victoria, and also a frequent golf partner, Marvin Nicholson.  (Applause.) So as you can see, they’ve infiltrated all of our ranks.  (Laughter.)

Before I ever became President, when we celebrated my sister and Konrad’s marriage, Michelle and I took our daughters to Canada.  And we went to Burlington and — this is always tough — Mississauga.  (Laughter.)  And then we went to Toronto and Niagara Falls.  (Laughter.)  Mississauga.  I can do that.  (Laughter.)  And everywhere we went, the Canadian people made us feel right at home.

And tonight, we want our Canadians friends to feel at home.  So this is not a dinner, it’s supper.  (Laughter.)  We thought of serving up some poutine.  (Laughter.)  I was going to bring a two-four.  (Laughter.)  And then we’d finish off the night with a double-double.  (Laughter.)  But I had to draw the line at getting milk out of a bag — (laughter) — this, we Americans do not understand.  (Laughter.)  We do, however, have a little Canadian whiskey.  That, we do understand.  (Laughter.)

This visit has been a celebration of the values that we share.  We, as a peoples, are committed to the principles of equality and opportunity — the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it if you try, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, in both of our countries.

And we see this in our current presidential campaign.  After all, where else could a boy born in Calgary grow up to run for President of the United States?  (Laughter and applause.)  Where else would we see a community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia welcoming Americans if the election does not go their way?  (Laughter.)  And to the great credit of their people, Canadians from British Columbia to New Brunswick have, so far, rejected the idea of building a wall to keep out your southern neighbors.  (Laughter.) We appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  We can be unruly, I know.

On a serious note, this visit reminds us of what we love about Canada.  It’s the solidarity shown by so many Canadians after 9/11 when they welcomed stranded American travelers into their homes.  It’s the courage of your servicemembers, standing with us in Afghanistan and now in Iraq.  It’s the compassion of the Canadian people welcoming refugees — and the Prime Minister himself, who told those refugees, “You’re safe at home now.”

Justin, we also see Canada’s spirit in your mother’s brave advocacy for mental health care — and I want to give a special welcome to Margaret Trudeau tonight.  (Applause.)  And we see Canada’s spirit in Sophie — a champion of women and girls, because our daughters deserve the same opportunities that anybody’s sons do.

And this spirit reminds us of why we’re all here — why we serve.  Justin, Sophie, your children are still young.  They are adorable and they still let you hug them.  (Laughter.)  When we first spoke on the phone after your election, we talked not only as President and Prime Minister, but also as fathers.  When I was first elected to this office, Malia was 10 and Sasha was just seven.  And they grow up too fast.  This fall, Malia heads off to college.  And I’m starting to choke up.  (Laughter.)  So I’m going to wind this — it was in my remarks — (laughter) — and I didn’t — I can’t do it.  It’s hard.  (Laughter.)

But there is a point to this, though, and that is that we’re not here for power.  We’re not here for fame or fortune.  We’re here for our kids.  We’re here for everybody’s kids — to give our sons and our daughters a better world.  To pass to them a world that’s a little safer, and a little more equal, and a little more just, a little more prosperous so that a young person growing up in Chicago or Montreal or on the other side of the world has every opportunity to make of their life what they will, no matter who they are or what they look like, or how they pray or who they love.

Justin, I believe there are no better words to guide us in this work than those you once used to describe what your father taught you and your siblings — to believe in yourself. To stand up for ourselves.  To know ourselves, and to accept responsibility for ourselves.  To show a genuine and deep respect for each other and for every human being.

And so I would like to propose a toast — to the great alliance between the United States and Canada; to our friends, Justin and Sophie; to the friendship between Americans and Canadians and the spirit that binds us together — a genuine and deep and abiding respect for each and every human being.  Cheers.

(A toast is offered.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Dear friends, Mr. President, Barack, Michelle, all of you gathered here, it is an extraordinary honor for me to be here with you tonight.  Thank you so much for the warm welcome you’ve extended to Canada and to the Canadian delegation, and to Sophie and me, personally.

It’s incredibly touching to be able to be here not just as a couple, Sophie and I, but to have been able to bring our families down as well.  Sophie’s mom and dad, Estelle and Jean — get a load of Estelle, I’m looking forward to the future with Sophie.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, my own mother, Margaret, whose last State Dinner here was in 1977.  So it’s wonderful to have you here.

It’s also touching to meet Malia and Sasha, who are here at their first State Dinner.  And quite frankly, the memories for me of being a kid and not being old enough to attend these kinds of events with my father almost makes me wish I had gone through my teenage years as a child of a world leader — but not quite.  (Laughter.)  I admire you very much, both of you, for your extraordinary strength and your grace, through what is a remarkable childhood and young adulthood that will give you extraordinary strength and wisdom beyond your years for the rest of your life.  The one thing that you have received from your extraordinary parents is the tools to be able to handle the challenges and the opportunities in front of you.  So thank you very much for joining us tonight.  (Applause.)

In thinking about what I wanted to say this evening, I came across a quote from President Truman, who shared these words with the Canadian Parliament nearly 70 years ago.  He said that Canada’s relationship with the United States did not develop spontaneously.  It did not come about merely through the happy circumstance of geography, but was “compounded of one part proximity, and nine parts good will and commonsense.”

It is that enduring good will and commonsense that I believe defines our relationship to this day.  It’s what makes our constructive partnership possible.  It’s what allows us to respectfully disagree and remain friends and allies on the few occasions we do.  For example I would argue that it’s better to be the leader of a country that consistently wins Olympic gold medals in hockey.  (Laughter and applause.)  President Obama would likely disagree.  And yet, you still invited us over for dinner.  (Laughter.)  Because that’s what friends do.  (Laughter.)

Because, now that I think of it, we’re actually closer than friends.  We’re more like siblings, really.  We have shared parentage, but we took different paths in our later years.  We became the stay-at-home type — (laughter) — and you grew to be a little more rebellious.  (Laughter.)  I think the reason that good will and commonsense comes so easily is because we are Canadians and Americans alike, guided by the same core values.  Values like cooperation and respect.  Cooperation because it keeps us safe and prosperous.  And respect because it’s the surest path to both safeguarding the world we share and honoring the diverse people with whom we share it.

When it comes to security, for example, we agree that our countries are stronger and the world is safer when we work together.  For more than half a century, we’ve joined forces to protect our continent.  And we’ve been the closest of allies overseas for even longer, fighting together on the beaches of France, standing shoulder to shoulder with our European partners in NATO, and now confronting violent extremism in the Middle East.

In every instance, we realize that our concerns were better addressed together than alone, and together, we have realized the longest, most peaceful, and most mutually beneficial relationship of any two countries since the birth of the nation state.  It’s a relationship that doesn’t just serve its own interests — it serves the entire world.  Canadians and Americans also value economic interdependence, because we know that it brings greater prosperity for all of us.

Over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border every day — evidence of one of the largest and most mutually beneficial trading relationships in the world.  And one of our most popular exports to the United States, and I need you to stop teasing him, has been another Justin.  (Laughter.)  Now, no, no, that kid has had a great year.  (Laughter.)  And of course, leave it to a Canadian to reach international fame with a song called “Sorry.”  (Laughter and applause.)

Together, Canada and the U.S. negotiated trade agreements that have expanded opportunities for our businesses, created millions of good, well-paying jobs for our workers, and made products more affordable for more Canadian and American families.  We must never take that partnership for granted, and I can promise you that my government never will.

But nor should we forget that our responsibilities extend beyond our ruling borders and across generations, which means getting rid of that outdated notion that a health environment and a strong economy stand in opposition to one another.  And it means that when we come to issues like climate change, we need to acknowledge that we are all in this together.  Our children and grandchildren will judge us not by the words we said, but by the actions we took — or failed to take.

If we truly wish to leave them a better world than the one we inherited from our own parents — and I know, Mr. President, that you and the First Lady want this as strongly as Sophie and I do — we cannot deny the science.  We cannot pretend that climate change is still up for debate.  (Speaks French.)

Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership — your global leadership on the pressing issue of the environment and climate change.  (Applause.)

And finally, we believe — Canadians and Americans — in the fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength.  That we are thriving and prosperous countries not in spite of our differences but because of them.  Canadians know this.  It’s why communities across the country welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees over the past four months.  (Applause.)  And not as visitors or temporary citizens, but as Canadians.  But of course, Americans understand this, too.  It’s why each generation has welcomed newcomers seeking liberty and the promise of a better life.  It’s what has made America great over the past decades.

We know that if we seek to be even greater, we must do greater things — be more compassionate, be more accepting, be more open to those who dress differently or eat different foods, or speak different languages.  Our identities as Canadians and Americans are enriched by these differences, not threatened by them.

On our own, we make progress.  But together, our two countries make history.  Duty-bound, loyal, and forever linked, whatever the future holds, we will face it together.  Neighbors, partners, allies, and friends.  This is our experience and our example to the world.

Barack, thank you for all that you have done these past seven years to preserve this most important relationship.  May the special connection between our two countries continue to flourish in the years to come, and may my grey hair come in at a much slower rate than yours has.  (Laughter.)

And with that, on behalf of 36 million Americans, I propose a toast to the President, to the First Lady, and to the people of the United States of America.  Cheers.

(A toast is offered.)

END
8:54 P.M. EST

Political Headlines March 10, 2016: White House State Dinner in Honor of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

PRESIDENCY, CONGRESS & CAMPAIGNS:

Guest list for state dinner in honour of Justin Trudeau

 Source: Toronto Star, 3-10-16
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ms. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau

Ms. Naomi Aberly, Philanthropist

  • Mr. Larry Lebowitz

Mr. David Abney, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, United Parcel Service

  • Ms. Sherry Abney

The Honorable Adewale Adeyemo, Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, National Security Council, The White House

  • Ms. Heather Wong

Mr. Michael Alter, President, The Alter Group

  • Ms. Ellen Alter

Mr. Robert Anderson, Author

  • Mr. Eric Harland

The Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development of Canada

Ms. Sara Bareilles, Singer

  • Ms. Jennifer Bareilles

Mr. Bruce Bastian, Co-Founder, WordPerfect Corporation

  • Mr. Clinton Ford

Mr. Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League

  • Mr. William Daly III

The Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development & La Francophonie of Canada

The Honorable Tony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

  • The Honorable Evan Ryan

Ms. Angela Bogdan, Chief of Protocol of Canada

Mr. Jeremy Broadhurst, Deputy to the Chief of Staff & Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada

Mr. Stephen Bronfman, Canadian Business Representative & Philanthropist

Ms. Ursula Burns, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Xerox Corporation

  • Mr. Lloyd Bean

Mr. Gerald Butts, Principal Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

The Honorable Kristie Canegallo, Assistant to the President & Deputy Chief of Staff for Implementation, The White House

  • Ms. Simi Shah

The Honorable Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense

  • Ms. Cynthia DeFelice

The Honorable Susan Collins, U.S. Senator (Maine)

  • Mr. Peter Vigue

Ms. Audie Cornish-Emery, National Public Radio

  • Mr. Theodore Emery

The Honorable Susan Davis, U.S. Representative (California)

  • Dr. Steven J. Davis

The Honorable Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota

The Honorable Anita Decker Breckenridge, Assistant to the President & Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, The White House

  • Mr. Russell Breckenridge

The Honorable Brian Deese, Assistant to the President & Senior Advisor, The White House

  • Ms. Kara Deese

The Honorable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

Ms. Karen Dixon, Attorney & Executive Committee Member, Lambda Legal

  • Dr. Nan Schaffer

Ms. Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post

  • Mr. Andrew Light

Mr. Adam Entous, The Wall Street Journal

  • Ms. Sandra Medina

Mr. Mark Feierstein, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs, National Security Council, The White House

  • Ms. Tiffany Stone

Mr. Michael J. Fox, Actor

  • Ms. Tracy Pollan

The Honorable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade of Canada

The Honorable Michael Froman, Ambassador, United States Trade Representative

  • Ms. Nancy Goodman

Ms. Anna Gainey, President of the Liberal Party of Canada & Philanthropist

Mr. Mark Gallogly, Co-founder & Managing Principal, Centerbridge Partners

  • Ms. Elizabeth Strickler

The Honorable Suzy George, Deputy Assistant to the President & Executive Secretary & Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, The White House

  • Ms. Devon George-Eghdami

The Honorable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness of Canada

Mr. Jean Grégoire, Father of Mrs. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau

  • Mrs. Estelle Blais, Mother of Mrs. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau

The Honorable Avril Haines, Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Council, The White House

  • Mr. David Davighi

Mr. John Hannaford, Foreign & Defense Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister & Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Privy Council Office of Canada

The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch, President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate (Utah)

  • Ms. Wendy Hatch

Ms. Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President, & Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin

  • Mr. James Hewson

The Honorable Bruce Heyman, U.S. Ambassador to Canada

  • Ms. Vicki Heyman

Mr. Grant Hill, Former Basketball Player, Member of The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

  • Ms. Tamia Hill

Dr. Irwin Jacobs, Co-founder, Qualcomm & Chair of the Board of Trustees, Salk Institute

  • Ms. Joan Jacobs

The Honorable Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U .S. Department of State

  • Mr. Jonathan Jacobson

The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor & Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs & Public Engagement, The White House

  • Mr. Anthony Balkissoon

The Honorable Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  • Ms. Susan DiMarco

The Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Wayne Jordan, Executive, Founder & Principal, Jordan Real Estate Investments

  • Ms. Quinn Delaney

Mr. Jonathan Kaplan, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, The Melt

  • Ms. Marci Glazer

The Honorable Derek Kilmer, U.S. Representative (Washington)

  • Ms. Jennifer Kilmer

The Honorable Angus King, U.S. Senator (Maine)

  • Ms. Kathryn Rand

Mr. Robert Klein II, President, Klein Financial Corporation & Chairman Emeritus, California Institute of Regenerative Medicine

  • Mr. Robert Klein III

The Honorable Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator (Minnesota)

  • Mr. John Bessler

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senator (Vermont)

  • Ms. Marcelle Leahy

Ms. Twila Legare, Letter Writer

  • Mr. Marc Legare

The Honorable Jacob Lew, Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Mr. Charles Lewis, Chairman, Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation

  • Ms. Penny Sebring

Mr. Andrew Liveris, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

  • Ms. Paula Liveris

Mr. Alexander Macgillivray, Deputy Chief Technology Officer, The White House

  • Ms. Shona Crabtree

His Excellency David MacNaughton, Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America

  • Mrs. Leslie Noble

The Honorable Denis McDonough, Assistant to the President & Chief of Staff, The White House

  • Ms. Karin McDonough

The Honorable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment & Climate Change of Canada

Mr. Lorne Michaels, Executive Producer, Saturday Night Live

  • Ms. Alice Michaels

The Honorable Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security & Counterterrorism, National Security Council, The White House

  • Mr. Mark Monaco

The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

  • Ms. Katya Frois-Moniz

Mr. Dennis Muilenburg, Chairman, President, & Chief Executive Officer, The Boeing Company

  • Mr. Gregory Smith

The Honorable Shailagh Murray, Assistant to the President & Senior Advisor, The White House

  • Mr. Neil King

Mr. Mike Myers, Actor

  • Ms. Kelly Myers

The Honorable Marvin Nicholson, Special Assistant to the President, Trip Director & Personal Aide to the President, The White House

  • Ms. Helen Pajcic

Dr. Konrad Ng, Executive Director, Shangri La, Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art

  • Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng

Ms. Sandra Oh, Actress

  • Mr. Lev Rukhin

Mr. John Owens, Chairman of the Board, MediGuide International

  • Ms. Missy Owens

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives (California)

  • Mr. Paul Pelosi

The Honorable Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy Homeland Security Advisor, National Security Council, The White House

  • Mr. Neil Allison

The Honorable Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations,

  • Mr. Cass Sunstein

The Honorable Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Mr. John Poorman

Mr. Thomas Pritzker, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The Pritzker Organization

  • Ms. Margot Pritzker

Ms. Kate Purchase, Director of Communications, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

Ms. Roberta Rampton, Reuters

  • Mr. Peter Rampton

Mr. Ryan Reynolds, Actor

  • Ms. Blake Lively

The Honorable Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications & Speechwriting, National Security Council, The White House

  • Ms. Ann Norris

The Honorable Steven Ricchetti, Assistant to the President & Chief of Staff to the Vice President, The White House

  • Ms. Amy Ricchetti

The Honorable Susan Rice, National Security Advisor, National Security Council, The White House

  • Mr. Ian Cameron

Dr. Martine Rothblatt, Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer, United Therapeutics Corporation

  • Mrs. Bina Rothblatt

The Honorable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defense of Canada

The Honorable Peter Selfridge, Chief of Protocol, U.S. Department of State

  • Ms. Parita Shah Selfridge

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator (New Hampshire)

  • Mr. William Shaheen

Ms. Beth Shaw, Personal Finance Commentator & Member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans

  • Mr. Adam Shaw

Mr. Adam Silver, Commissioner, National Basketball Association

  • Ms. Maggie Grise

Mr. Ian Simmons, Co-Founder & Principal, Blue Haven Initiative

  • Ms. Liesel Simmons

The Honorable Todd Stern, Special Envoy for Climate Change, U.S. Department of State

  • Ms. Jennifer Klein

Mrs. Michéle Taylor, Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

  • Dr. Kenneth Taylor

The Honorable Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President & Chief of Staff to the First Lady, The White House

Ms. Katie Telford, Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

The Honorable Jon Tester, U.S. Senator (Montana)

  • Ms. Sharla Tester

The Honorable Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans & the Canadian Coast Guard of Canada

Mrs. Margaret Trudeau, Mother of Prime Minister Trudeau

Mr. Michael Wernick, Clerk of the Privy Council & Secretary to the Cabinet Privy Council Office of Canada

The Honorable Melissa Winter, Deputy Assistant to the President & Senior Advisor to the First Lady, The White House

Mr. David Zaslav, President & Chief Executive Officer, Discovery Communications

  • Ms. Pam Zaslav

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Remarks at Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada in Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 3-10-16

 

 

Rose Garden

11:11 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat. Well, once again, I want to welcome Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House.  We just completed a very productive meeting.  Although I regret to inform you that we still have not reached agreement on hockey.  But it is not interfering with the rest of our bilateral relationship.  (Laughter.)

As I said earlier, this visit reflects something we Americans don’t always say enough, and that is how much we value our great alliance and partnership with our friends up north.  We’re woven together so deeply — as societies, as economies — that it’s sometimes easy to forget how truly remarkable our relationship is.  A shared border — more than 5,000 miles — that is the longest between any two nations in the world.  Every day, we do some $2 billion in trade and investment — and that’s the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world.  Every day, more than 400,000 Americans and Canadians cross the border  — workers, businesspeople, students, tourists, neighbors.  And, of course, every time we have a presidential election, our friends to the north have to brace for an exodus of Americans who swear they’ll move to Canada if the guy from the other party wins.  (Laughter.)  But, typically, it turns out fine.  (Laughter.)

This is now my second meeting with Justin.  I’m grateful that I have him as a partner.  We’ve got a common outlook on what our nations can achieve together.  He campaigned on a message of hope and of change.  His positive and optimistic vision is inspiring young people.  At home, he’s governing with a commitment to inclusivity and equality.  On the world stage, his country is leading on climate change and he cares deeply about development.  So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?

Of course, no two nations agree on everything.  Our countries are no different.  But in terms of our interests, our values, how we approach the world, few countries match up the way the United States and Canada do.  And given our work together today, I can say — and I believe the Prime Minister would agree — that when it comes to the central challenges that we face, our two nations are more closely aligned than ever.

We want to make it easier to trade and invest with one another.  America is already the top destination for Canadian exports, and Canada is the top market for U.S. exports, which support about 1.7 million good-paying American jobs.  When so many of our products, like autos, are built on both sides of the border in an integrated supply chain, this co-production makes us more competitive in the global economy as a whole.  And we want to keep it that way.

So we’ve instructed our teams to stay focused on making it even easier for goods and people to move back and forth across the borders — including reducing bottlenecks and streamlining regulations.  We discussed how to move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and today we also reaffirmed our determination to move ahead with an agreement to pre-clear travelers through immigration and customs, making it even easier for Canadians and Americans to travel and visit and do business together.

As NATO allies, we’re united against the threat of terrorism.  Canada is an extraordinarily valued member of the global coalition fighting ISIL — tripling its personnel to help train and advise forces in Iraq, stepping up its intelligence efforts in the region, and providing critical humanitarian support.  We’re working closely together to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, and today, we agreed to share more information — including with respect to our no-fly lists and full implementation of our entry/exit system — even as we uphold the privacy and civil liberties of our respective citizens.

In Syria, the cessation of hostilities has led to a measurable drop in violence in the civil war, and the United States and Canada continue to be leaders in getting humanitarian aid to Syrians who are in desperate need.  Meanwhile, our two countries continue to safely welcome refugees from that conflict. And I want to commend Justin and the Canadian people once again for their compassionate leadership on this front.

I’m especially pleased to say the United States and Canada are fully united in combating climate change.  As the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I saw how both of our nations are threatened by rising seas, melting permafrost, disappearing glaciers and sea ice.  And so we are focusing on making sure the Paris agreement is fully implemented, and we’re working to double our investments in clean energy research and development.

Today, we’re also announcing some new steps.  Canada is joining us in our aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries, and together we’re going to move swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal.  We’re also going to work together to phase down HFCs and to limit carbon emissions from international aviation.  We’re announcing a new climate and science partnership to protect the Arctic and its people.  And later this year, I’ll welcome our partners, including Canada, to our White House Science Ministerial on the Arctic to deepen our cooperation in this vital region.

We’re also grateful for Canada’s partnership as we renew America’s leadership across the hemisphere.  Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for Canada’s continuing support for our new chapter of engagement with the Cuban people, which I will continue with my upcoming visit to Cuba next week.  We’re going to work to help Colombia achieve peace and remove the deadly legacy of landmines there.  And our scientists and public health professionals will work with partners across the hemisphere to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and work together actively for diagnostic and vaccines that can make a real difference.

And finally, our shared values — our commitment to human development and the dignity of all people — continue to guide our work as global partners.  Through the Global Health Security Agenda, we’re stepping up our efforts to prevent outbreaks of diseases from becoming epidemics.  We are urgently working to help Ethiopia deal with the worst drought in half a century.  Today, our spouses, Michelle and Sophie, are reaffirming our commitment to the health and education of young women and girls around the world.  And Canada will be joining our Power Africa initiative to bring electricity — including renewable energy — to homes and businesses across the continent and help lift people out of poverty.  And those are our values at work.

So, again, Justin, I want to thank you for your partnership. I believe we’ve laid a foundation for even greater cooperation for our countries for years to come.  And I’d like to think that it is only the beginning.  I look forward to welcoming you back for the Nuclear Security Summit in a few weeks.  I’m pleased that we were able to announce that the next North American Leaders Summit that will be in Canada this summer.  The Prime Minister has invited me to address the Canadian parliament, and that’s a great honor.  I look forward to the opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian people about the extraordinary future that we can build together.

Prime Minister Trudeau.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Mr. President.

Good morning, everyone.  It’s an honor to be here.  As I’ve reflected on the storied relationship between our two great countries, I constantly return to President Kennedy’s wise words on our friendship that, “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”  And as President Obama mentioned earlier, if geography made us neighbors, then shared values made us kindred spirits, and it is our choices, individually and collectively, that make us friends.

That friendship, matched by much hard work, has allowed us to do great things throughout our history — from the beaches of Normandy to the free trade agreement, and now, today, on climate change.  The President and I share a common goal:  We want a clean-growth economy that continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities for all of our citizens.  And I’m confident that, by working together, we’ll get there sooner than we think.

Let’s take the Paris agreement, for example.  That agreement is both a symbolic declaration of global cooperation on climate change, as well as a practical guide for growing our economies in a responsible and sustainable way.  Canada and the U.S. have committed to signing the agreement as soon as possible.  We know that our international partners expect and, indeed, need leadership from us on this issue.

The President and I have announced today that we’ll take ambitious action to reduce methane emissions nearly by half from the oil and gas sector, reduce use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, and implement aligned greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, amongst other plans to fight climate change.

(As interpreted from French.)  We also announced a new partnership aiming to develop a sustainable economy in the Arctic.  This partnership foresees new standards based on scientific data, from fishing in the high seas of the Arctic, as well as set new standards to ensure maritime transport with less emissions.  The partnership will also promote sustainable development in the region, in addition to putting the bar higher in terms of preserving the biodiversity in the Arctic.

We have also decided to make our borders both more open and more safe by agreeing of pre-clearing at the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto and the Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec, as well as the railroad stations in Montreal and Vancouver.  Moreover, we’re creating a U.S.-Canada working group in the next 60 days on the recourses to assess how we will resolve errors of identity on the no-fly list.

(Speaks English.)  The President and I acknowledge the fundamental and wholly unique economic relationship between Canada and the United States.  We have, historically, been each other’s largest trading partners.  Each and every day, over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border.  Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to streamlining trade between our countries.

Overall, the President and I agree on many things, including, of paramount importance, the direction we want to take our countries in to ensure a clean and prosperous future.  We’ve made tremendous progress on many issues.  Unfortunately, I will leave town with my beloved Expos still here in Washington.  You can’t have everything.  (Laughter.)

I’d like to conclude by extending my deepest thanks to Barack for his leadership on the climate change file to date.  I want to assure the American people that they have a real partner in Canada.  Canada and the U.S. will stand side by side to confront the pressing needs that face not only our two countries, but the entire planet.

I’m very much looking forward to the remainder of my time here in Washington.  So thank you again for your leadership and your friendship.  I know that our two countries can achieve great things by working together as allies and as friends, as we have done so many times before.

Merci beaucoup, Barack.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right, we’re going to take a few questions.  We’ll start with Julie Davis.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to ask you about the Supreme Court.  You’ve already said you’re looking for a highly qualified nominee with impeccable credentials.  Can you give us a sense of what other factors you’re considering in making your final choice?  How much of this comes down to a gut feeling for you?  And does it affect your decision to know that your nominee is very likely to hang out in the public eye without hearings or a vote for a long time, or maybe ever?  And, frankly, shouldn’t that be driving your decision if you’re asking someone to put themselves forward for this position as this point?

For Prime Minister Trudeau, I wanted to ask you — we know you’ve been following our presidential campaign here in the U.S. As the President alluded to, you’ve even made a joke about welcoming Americans who might be frightened of a Donald Trump presidency to your country.  What do you think the stakes are for you and for the relationship between Canada and the United States if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz were to win the presidency and to succeed President Obama?  You obviously see eye-to-eye with him on a lot of issues.  What do you think — how would it affect the relationship if one of them were to succeed President Obama?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Even though it wasn’t directed to me, let me just — (laughter) — I do want to point out I am absolutely certain that, in 2012, when there was the possibility that I might be reelected there were folks who were threatening to go to Canada, as well.  And one of the great things about a relationship like Canada’s and the United States’ is it transcends party and it’s bipartisan in terms of the interest that we share.

With respect to the Supreme Court, I’ve told you, Julie, what I’m looking for.  I want somebody who is an outstanding jurist, who has impeccable legal credentials, who, by historical standards, would not even be questioned as qualified for the Court.

Obviously, it’s somebody who I want to make sure follows the Constitution; cares about things like stare decisis and precedent; understands the necessary humility of a judge at any level in looking at statute, looking at what the elected branches are doing; is not viewing themselves as making law or, in some ways, standing above elected representatives, but also recognizes the critical role that that branch plays in protecting minorities to ensuring that the political system doesn’t skew in ways that systematically leave people out, that are mindful of the traditions that are embedded in our cherished documents like the Bill of Rights.

So in terms of who I select, I’m going to do my job.  And then my expectation is going to be that the Senate do its job as outlined in the Constitution.  I’ve said this before — I find it ironic that people who are constantly citing the Constitution would suddenly read into the Constitution requirements, norms, procedures that are nowhere to be found there.  That’s precisely the kinds of interpretive approach that they have vehemently rejected and that they accused liberals of engaging in all the time.  Well, you can’t abandon your principles — if, in fact, these are your principles — simply for the sake of political expedience.

So we’ll see how they operate once a nomination has been made.  I’m confident that whoever I select, among fair-minded people will be viewed as an eminently qualified person.  And it will then be up to Senate Republicans to decide whether they want to follow the Constitution and abide by the rules of fair play that ultimately undergird our democracy and that ensure that the Supreme Court does not just become one more extension of our polarized politics.

If and when that happens, our system is not going to work.  It’s not that the Supreme Court or any of our courts can be hermetically sealed from the rest of our society.  These are human beings.  They read the newspapers; they’ve got opinions; they’ve got values.  But our goal is to have them be objective and be able to execute their duties in a way that gives everybody — both the winning party and the losing party in any given case — a sense that they were treated fairly.  That depends on a process of selecting and confirming judges that is perceived as fair.  And my hope is, is that cooler heads will prevail and people will reflect on what’s at stake here once a nomination is made.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  One of the things that is abundantly clear whenever a President and Prime Minister sit down to engage on important issues of relevance to our peoples is that the relationship, the friendship between our two countries goes far beyond any two individuals or any ideologies.

I have tremendous confidence in the American people, and look forward to working with whomever they choose to send to this White House later this year.

Alex.

Q    Good morning.  This meeting is happening at a unique point in the Canada-U.S. relationship.  President Obama, you have very little time left here.  Prime Minister Trudeau, you have several years to think about and work on Canada’s most important relationship.  So I’d like to ask you a longer-term question, maybe to lay down some markers about big ideas, big things that you think the two countries could achieve in the coming years, beyond the next few months, and whether those things might include something like a common market that would allow goods and services and workers to flow more freely across our border.

And on a more personal note, you’ve had a chance to observe each other’s election campaigns and now you’ve had a chance to work together a little bit.  I’d like to ask you for your impressions — to ask about your impression of President Obama and his potential legacy, and about Prime Minister Trudeau’s potential.  And if you could answer that in French, bonus points to either of you — (laughter) — but we’d be especially keen to hear Prime Minister Trudeau do so.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Alex.  First of all, we very much did engage on big issues throughout our conversations and throughout our hard work this morning, and over the months leading up to this meeting today — issues that are of import not just to all of our citizens but to the entire world.

Whether it’s how we ensure that there is no contradiction between a strong economy and a protected environment; understand how we need to work together as individual countries but, indeed, as a planet to address the challenges of climate change; how we continue to seek to ensure security for our citizens here at home, but also create stability and opportunity and health security for people around the world facing pandemics and violence and issues — these are big issues that Canada and the U.S. have always been engaged on in various ways over the past decades and centuries, and, indeed, will continue to.

One of the things that we highlight is the fact that we have different scales, different perspectives on similar issues and on shared values is actually a benefit in that we can complement each other in our engagement with the world and our approach to important issues.

So I look forward to many, many, many more years — it will certainly outlive the both of us — of a tremendous and responsible and effective friendship and collaboration between our two countries.

(As interpreted from French.)  The topic of our discussions this morning has been what is at stake — climate change, security in the world, our commitments towards the most vulnerable populations.  Canada and the United States are the lucky countries in many ways — they will always have a lot to do in order to be together in the world.  And this is what we are going to keep on doing in the years and the decades to come, and we hope in the centuries to come.

About President Obama, I’ve learned a lot from him.  He is somebody who is a deep thinker.  He is somebody with a big heart but also a big brain.  And for me to be able to count on him as a friend who has lived through many of the things that I’m about to encounter on a political stage, on the international stage, it’s a great comfort to me.  And it is always great to have people that you can trust, people that you can count on personally, especially when you are facing very big challenges such as what we are doing right now in the United States and Canada.

(Speaks English.)  — always pleased to hear from President Obama how he has engaged with difficult issues of the past, because he is a man of both tremendous heart and tremendous intellect.  And being able to draw on his experience and his wisdom as I face the very real challenges that our countries and, indeed, our world will be facing in the coming years is something I appreciate deeply about my friend, Barack.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Alex, was it?

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Alex.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me just note, first of all, that the tenor of your question seems to imply that I’m old and creaky.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Not the tenor of my answer, I hope. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  No, you managed it well.  (Laughter.)  But don’t think I didn’t catch that.  It is true — I think I’ve said before that in my congratulatory call, I indicated to him that if, in fact, you plan to keep your dark hair, then you have to start dyeing it early.  (Laughter.)  You hit a certain point and it’s too late — you’ll be caught.

But look, I think Justin and his delegation — because one of the things we learn very rapidly in these jobs is, is that this is a team effort and not a solo act — they’re bringing the right values, enormous energy, enormous passion and commitment to their work, and perhaps most importantly, it’s clear that they are keenly interested in engaging Canadian citizens in the process of solving problems.

And I think that’s how democracies are supposed to work.  And their instincts are sound.  And that’s reflected in the positive response to the work that they’ve done so far, and I think that will carry them very far.  And Justin’s talent and concern for the Canadian people and his appreciation of the vital role that Canada can play in the larger world is self-apparent.  He is, I think, going to do a great job.  And we’re looking forward to partnering with him and we’re glad to have him and his team as a partner.

And with respect to big ideas, look, to some degree, you don’t fix what’s not broken.  And the relationship is extraordinary and doesn’t, I don’t think, need some set of revolutionary concepts.  What it does require is not taking the relationship for granted.  It does require steady effort.  And perhaps most importantly, it requires, because we have so much in common, that we recognize on the big, looming issues on the horizon, it is vital for us to work together because the more aligned we are, the more we can shape the international agenda to meet these challenges.

Climate change is such an example.  This is going to be a big problem for everybody.  There are countries that are going to be hit worse by it; in some ways, Canada and the United States, as wealthier countries, can probably adapt and manage better.  On the other hand, we’re also those responsible for a lot of the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.  If we don’t agree, if we’re not aggressive, if we’re not far-sighted, if we don’t pool our resources around the research and development and clean energy agenda that’s required to solve this problem, then other countries won’t step up and it won’t get solved.  That’s a big idea.  That’s a really important effort.

With respect to the economy, one of the things that Canada and the United States share is a commitment to a free market.  I believe, and I know Justin does as well, that a market-based economy not only has proven to be the greatest engine for prosperity the world has ever known, but also underwrites our individual freedoms in many ways.  And we value our business sector, and we value entrepreneurship.  But what we’re seeing across the developed world — and this will have manifestations in the developing world — is the need for more inclusion in growth, making sure that it’s broad-based, making sure that people are not left behind in a globalized economy.  And that’s a big idea for the United States and Canada to work together on, along with our other partners.

If we don’t get this right, if we do not make sure that the average Canadian or the average American has confidence that the fruits of their labor, the opportunities for their children are going to continue to expand over time, if they see societies in which a very few are doing better and better and the middle class and working people are falling further and further behind, that destabilizes the economy; it makes it less efficient; it makes it less rapid in its growth.  But it also starts destabilizing our politics and our democracies.

And so, working together to find effective ways — not to close off borders, not to pretend that somehow we can shut off trade, not to forget that we are, ourselves, nations of immigrants and that diversity is our strength — but rather to say, yes, the world is big and we are going to help shape it, and we’re going to value our openness and our diversity, and the fact that we are leaders in a global supply chain but we’re going to do so in ways that make sure everybody benefits — that’s important work that we’re going to have to do together.  And I know Justin shares that commitment just as I do.

Margaret Brennan.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Some of your critics have pointed to the incredibly polarized political climate under your administration as contributing to the rise of someone as provocative as Donald Trump.  Do you feel responsibility for that, or even some of the protectionist rhetoric from some Democratic candidates?  Do you have a timeline for when you might make a presidential endorsement?  And to follow on my colleague’s question here, do you feel political heat is constraining your pool of viable Supreme Court nominees?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It’s a three-fer.  I think it’s important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it’s important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices.  I don’t feel constrained in terms of the pool to draw from or that I’m having to take shortcuts in terms of the selection and vetting process.

With respect to your first question, I’ve actually heard this argument a number of times.  I have been blamed by Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they’re selecting for their party is novel.  (Laughter.)

Look, I’ve said — I said it at the State of the Union that one of my regrets is the degree to which polarization and the nasty tone of our politics has accelerated rather than waned over the course of the last seven and a half years.  And I do all kinds of soul-searching in terms of are there things I can do better to make sure that we’re unifying the country.  But I also have to say, Margaret, that, objectively, it’s fair to say that the Republican political elites and many of the information outlets — social media, news outlets, talk radio, television stations — have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal; that maximalist, absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous; that there is a “them” out there and an “us,” and “them” are the folks who are causing whatever problems you’re experiencing.

And the tone of that politics — which I certainly have not contributed to — I don’t think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example.  I don’t remember saying, hey, why don’t you ask me about that.  (Laughter.)  Or why don’t you question whether I’m American, or whether I’m loyal, or whether I have America’s best interests at heart — those aren’t things that were prompted by any actions of mine.

And so what you’re seeing within the Republican Party is, to some degree, all those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive.  He’s just doing more of what has been done for the last seven and a half years.

And, in fact, in terms of his positions on a whole range of issues, they’re not very different from any of the other candidates.  It’s not as if there’s a massive difference between Mr. Trump’s position on immigration and Mr. Cruz’s position on immigration.  Mr. Trump might just be more provocative in terms of how he says it, but the actual positions aren’t that different.  For that matter, they’re not that different from Mr. Rubio’s positions on immigration — despite the fact that both Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio, their own families are the products of immigration and the openness of our society.

So I am more than happy to own the responsibility as President, as the only office holder who was elected by all the American people, to continue to make efforts to bridge divides and help us find common ground.  As I’ve said before, I think that common ground exists all across the country.  You see it every day in how people work together and live together and play together and raise their kids together.  But what I’m not going to do is to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken.

And what’s interesting — I’ll just say one last thing about this — there are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, who are troubled by the direction of their party.  I think it is very important for them to reflect on what it is about the politics they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire, and to do some introspection.

Because, ultimately, I want an effective Republican Party.  I think this country has to have responsible parties that can govern, and that are prepared to lead and govern whether they’re in the minority or in the majority, whether they occupy the White House or they do not.  And I’ve often said I want a serious, effective Republican Party — in part to challenge some of the blind spots and dogmas in the Democratic Party.  I think that’s useful.

You mentioned trade, for example.  I believe that there have been bad trade deals on occasion in the past that oftentimes they have served the interests of global corporations but not necessarily served the interests of workers.  But I’m absolutely persuaded that we cannot put up walls around a global economy, and that to sell a bill of goods to the American people and workers that if you just shut down trade somehow your problems will go away prevents us from actually solving some of these big problems about inequality and the decline of our manufacturing base and so on.

And that’s an area where some traditional conservatives and economists have had some important insights.  But they can’t be presented effectively if it’s combined with no interest in helping workers, and busting up unions, and providing tax breaks to the wealthy rather than providing help to folks who are working hard and trying to pay the bills.  And it certainly is not going to be heard if it’s coupled with vehement, anti-immigrant sentiment that betrays our values.

Okay?

Q    And an endorsement, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think that the Democratic voters are doing just fine working this out.  I think it’s useful that we’ve had a vigorous debate among two good people who care deeply about our country and who have fought hard on behalf of working people in this country for a long time.  I think it’s been a good conversation.  And my most important role will be to make sure that after primaries is done I’m bringing everybody together so that we focus on winning the general election.

Q    Mr. President, I’ll be asking the Prime Minister my question in French, but I will repeat for you in English afterwards.

(As interpreted.)  Mr. Trudeau, you have not talked about softwood lumber, and it’s a major problem for the bilateral relations.  Have you thought about solutions to avoid — the conflict reopens in October.  And you signed several agreements  — trade, environment — but what can you do so that the implementations survive the November election and that all of this has to be restarted a year from now?

(Asks in English.) — softwood lumber, which is looming over the bilateral relation?  And has any avenue been explored into avoiding a new conflict in October?  And to what extent is the fear of losing seats for the Democrats due to this issue kind of hampering progress on this?  And that being said, you and Prime Minister Trudeau have signed a number of agreements on a number of issues.  What can be done for this progress not to be lost with the arrival of a new administration and have everything have to be started all over again?

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  (As interpreted.)  For months and months, we have been preparing the meeting.  And this morning, we worked very hard and we made a lot of progress, and we have showed what is at stake.  A lot is at stake.  And we hope that this is going to be solved shortly to help enormously not only Canadian workers and Canadian economy, but also the economy of both our countries.

And among these discussions, of course, we raised the question of softwood lumber.  We keep on working on that.  And I’m totally confident that we are on the right track towards a solution in the next weeks and months to come.

Now, in terms of the decisions that we have taken and the work we have done today, I’m extremely confident that what we have managed to achieve, the agreements that we have taken and the solutions that we have found for the problems that we face together, I’m confident that all this is going to become a reality.  Because at every stage, not only are we talking about what is good for one side or the other side, but we’re talking about what is good for both countries.  Our economies are so interwoven, our populations are so interconnected, that we are going to have agreement, for instance, that will facilitate crossing of borders while increasing security of our citizens.  This is good for both sides.  And it is where we worked so hard together.  There was a lot of progress and a lot of success today.

(Speaks in English.)  — on many different issues over the course of an extremely productive meeting this morning — issues that have been worked on intensely by our respective friends, colleagues and delegations over the past weeks and months.  And certainly softwood lumber came up.  And I’m confident that we are on a track towards resolving this irritant in the coming weeks and months.

But in general, the issues that we made tremendous progress on I’m extremely confident will move forward in a rapid and appropriate fashion because we found such broad agreement on issues that aren’t just good for one of our two countries, but indeed both of our countries.  Canadians and Americans, for their jobs, for our kids and their futures, for workers, businesses, as we tackle challenges on the economy, challenges on the environment, and understand that working together in constructive, productive ways is exactly what this relationship and, indeed, this friendship is all about.

So I’m feeling extremely good about the hard work that was done this morning, and indeed, about the work remaining to do over the coming weeks and months on the issues we brought forward today.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This issue of softwood lumber will get resolved in some fashion.  Our teams are already making progress on it.  It’s been a longstanding bilateral irritant, but hardly defines the nature of the U.S.-Canadian relationship.  And we have some very smart people, and they’ll find a way to resolve it — undoubtedly, to the dissatisfaction of all parties concerned, because that’s the nature of these kinds of things, right?  Each side will want 100 percent, and we’ll find a way for each side to get 60 percent or so of what they need, and people will complain and grumble, but it will be fine.  (Laughter.)

And in terms of continuity — one thing I will say — this is an area where I’ll play the elder statesman, as Alex described me.  (Laughter.)  And as somebody who came in after an administration that, politically, obviously saw things very differently than I did, what you discover is that for all the differences you may have in your political parties, when you’re actually in charge, then you have to be practical, and you do what is needed to be done and what’s in front of you.  And one of the things that is important for the United States, or for Canada, or for any leading power in the world, is to live up to its commitments and to provide continuing momentum on efforts, even if they didn’t start under your administration.

So there were a whole host of initiatives that began under the Bush administration — some that I was very enthusiastic about, like PEPFAR, that has saved millions of lives and prevented HIV/AIDS, or provided vital drugs to those already infected with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world — something that President Bush deserves enormous credit for.  We continued that.

But there are also some areas where, when I was outside the government, I questioned how they were approaching it.  I might have tweaked it.  To the extent that it involved foreign policy, I might say to my foreign policy partners, look, we have a problem of doing it this way, but here is a suggestion for how we can do the same thing, or meet your interests in a slightly different way.

But you’re always concerned about making sure that the credibility of the United States is sustained, or the credibility of Canada is sustained — which is why when there’s turnover in governments, the work that’s been done continues.  And particularly when you have a close friendship and relationship with a partner like Canada, it’s not as if the work we’re doing on the Arctic or on entry and exit visas vanishes when the next President comes in.  Of course, I intend to make sure that the next President who comes in agrees with me on everything.  (Laughter.) But just in case that doesn’t happen, the U.S.-Canadian relationship will be fine.

All right?  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:03 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Remarks at Arrival Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada at Arrival Ceremony

Source: WH, 3-10-16

South Grounds

9:22 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Bonjour.  On behalf of the American people, on behalf of Michelle and myself, it is my honor to welcome to the United States Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — (applause) — Mrs. Grégoire-Trudeau, their beautiful children, and the quite good-looking Canadian delegation.  (Applause.)

It’s long been said that you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your neighbors.  (Laughter.)  Well, by virtue of geography, the United States and Canada are blessed to be neighbors.  And by choice, we are steadfast allies and the closest of friends.  (Applause.)  The truth is, though, we don’t express this enough, in part because of our national characters. Our Canadian friends can be more reserved, more easygoing.  We Americans can be a little louder, more boisterous.  And as a result, we haven’t always conveyed how much we treasure our alliance and our ties with our Canadian friends.   And that’s why, today, we are very proud to welcome the first official visit by a Canadian Prime Minister in nearly 20 years.  (Applause.)  It’s about time, eh?  (Laughter.)

And what a beautiful day it is.  Which is a little unfair.  As President, my very first foreign trip was to Canada — to Ottawa in February.  (Laughter.)  In the snow.  Still, our friends from the Great White North gave me a very warm welcome.  Mr. Prime Minister, we hope to reciprocate some of that warmth today, with your first official visit south of the border.

We’re joined today by proud Canadian-Americans.  (Applause.) We are family.  And this is also a special day for the many Canadians who live and work here in America and who enrich our lives every day.  We don’t always realize it, but so often, that neighbor, that coworker, that member of the White House staff, some of our favorite artists and performers — they’re Canadian! (Laughter.)  They sneak up on you.  (Laughter.)

Even as we remember what makes us unique, Americans and Canadians, we see ourselves in each other.  We’re guided by the same values, including our conviction that the blessings we cherish as free people are not gifts to be taken for granted but are precious freedoms that have to be defended anew by every generation.  Americans and Canadians — our brave men and women in uniform — have paid the price together across a century of sacrifice, from the poppy fields of Flanders to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan.  As NATO allies, we stand united against terrorism and for the rights of nations like Ukraine to determine their own destiny.  As leaders at the United Nations, we stand up for peace and security and the human rights of all people.

Our shared values also guide us at home.  I’m proud to be the first American President to stand with a Canadian Prime Minister and be able to say that — in both our nations — health care is not a privilege for a few but is now a right for all.  (Applause.)  And as two vast and vibrant societies, we reaffirm that our diversity is our strength — whether your family was among the first native peoples to live on these lands or refugees we welcomed just yesterday.  Whether you pray in a church or a synagogue, or a temple, or a mosque.  Where, no matter what province or state you live in, you have the freedom to marry the person that you love.  (Applause.)

Now, I don’t want to gloss over the very real differences between Americans and Canadians.  There are some things we will probably never agree on:  Whose beer is better.  (Laughter.)  Who’s better at hockey.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Royals!  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We are.  We are.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Don’t get me started.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’m sorry.  Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks?  (Applause.)  In case you were wondering.  In case you Canadians were wondering, where is it?  (Laughter.)

And this visit is special for another reason.  Nearly 40 years ago, on another March morning, another American President welcomed another Canadian Prime Minister here to the White House. That day, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said that the United States is “Canada’s best friend and ally.”  And one of the reasons, he said, is that we have “a common outlook on the world.”  Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau carries on this work.

Mr. Prime Minister, your election and the first few months in office have brought a new energy and dynamism not only to Canada but to the relationship between our nations.  We have a common outlook on the world.  And I have to say, I have never seen so many Americans so excited about the visit of a Canadian Prime Minister.  (Applause.)

So with this visit, I believe that the United States and Canada can do even more together — even more to promote the trade and economic partnerships that provide good jobs and opportunities for our people.  Even more to ensure the security that so many Americans and Canadians count on so that they can live in safety and freedom.  Even more to protect our countries and our communities — especially in the Arctic — from climate change, just as we acted together at Paris to reach the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change.  (Applause.)  And guided by our values, we can do even more together to advance human development around the world — from saving a child from a preventable disease to giving a student in Africa electricity to study by — because, as Americans and Canadians, we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being.  (Applause.)

As always, our work as nations remains rooted in the friendship between our peoples.  And we see that every day in communities along our shared border.  Up in Hyder, Alaska, folks head across the border to celebrate Canada Day, and folks in Stewart, British Columbia come over for the Fourth of July.  At the baseball diamond in Coutts, Alberta, if you hit a home run, there’s a good chance the ball will land in Sweetgrass, Montana. (Laughter.)  And up where Derby Line, Vermont meets Stanstead, Quebec, Americans and Canadians come together at the local library where the border line literally runs right across the floor.  A resident of one of these border towns once said, we’re two different countries, but we’re like one big town and “people are always there for you.”

So, Prime Minister Trudeau — Justin, Sophie — to all our Canadian friends — we are two different countries, but days like this remind us that we’re like one big town.  And we reaffirm that Americans and Canadians will always be there for each other. Welcome to the United States.  Bienvenue, mes amis.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINSTER TRUDEAU:  Mr. President, First Lady, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen — thank you for this extraordinary welcome.  Thank you so much for inviting Sophie and me and, through us, all of Canada to join with you on this spectacular morning.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)    Sophie and I, along with our entire delegation, are honored and touched by your magnificent hospitality, and by the reinforcement of just how powerful you are, Mr. President, to organize such a perfect day for us.  (Laughter.)

(Speaks in French, then continues in English.)

You may recall that our government was elected on a plan to strengthen the middle class.  We have an ambitious innovation agenda as we realize that revitalizing our economy will require investing in new ideas and new technologies.  Our plan will foster emerging industries, create good jobs, and increase our global competitiveness.  That was the Canadian plan, and of course, it very much resembles the challenges and the solutions that you’ve been putting forward here south of the border — a plan to invest in our country and invest in our people.  And it’s wonderful to see that our American friends and partners share and are working on the exact same objectives.

See, as our leading trading partner and closest ally, the relationship between our two countries has always been vital.  As an exporting nation, Canada is always eager to work closely to reduce trade barriers between our countries.  And speaking of exports, we know with certainty that there’s a high demand for Canadian goods down here.  A few that come to mind that President Obama just rightly recognized as being extraordinary contributors to the American success story is Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks.  (Applause.)

We’ve faced many challenges over the course of our shared history.  And while we have agreed on many things and disagreed on a few others, we remain united in a common purpose — allies, partners, and friends as we tackle the world’s great challenges. Whether we’re charting a course for environmental protection, making key investments to grow our middle class, or defending the rights of oppressed peoples abroad, Canada and the United States will always collaborate in partnership and good faith.  The history may be complex, but the bottom line is clear.  There is no relationship in the entire world like the Canada-U.S. relationship.  (Applause.)

Our great countries have been friends a long time.  We grew up together.  And like all great enduring friendships, at our best, we bring out the best in one another.  And through it all, our enormous shared accomplishments speak for themselves — prosperous, free, diverse societies that have shaped history together.

We could not be prouder of that past.  And on behalf of 36 million Canadians, I thank you all for your warm welcome.  Now let’s get to work on shaping our shared future.

Merci beaucoup.  (Applause.)

END
9:37 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 28, 2016: Vice President Joe Biden’s Remarks at the Academy Awards

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President at the Academy Awards

Source: WH, 2-28-16

Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center
Los Angeles, California

8:11 P.M. PST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Hey, Matt, how are you?  (Laughter.)  (Applause.)  No, no, no, no, thank you.  I’m the least qualified man here tonight.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Good evening.  Good evening, and thank you very much.  Despite significant progress over the last few years, too many women and men — on and off college campuses — are still victims of sexual abuse.  And tonight I’m asking you to join millions of Americans, including me, President Obama, the thousands of students I’ve met on college campuses, and the artists here tonight to take the pledge — a pledge that says:  I will intervene in situations when consent has not or cannot be given.

Let’s change the culture.  (Applause.)  We must and we can change the culture so that no abused woman or man, like the survivors you will see tonight, ever feel they have to ask themselves, what did I do?  They did nothing wrong.  (Applause.)

So, folks, I really mean this.  I’m sincere.  Take the pledge.  Go look at, visit ItsOnUs.org.

Now, performing her Oscar-nominated song, “Til It happens to you,” written with Diane Warren, for the film “The Hunting Ground,” welcome my friend and a courageous lady herself, Lady Gaga.  (Applause.)

END
8:13 P.M. PST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 18, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Black History Month Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Black History Month Reception

Source: WH, 2-18-16

East Room

4:51 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Well, it is so good to see all of you.  Welcome to the White House.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  And we know it is Black History Month when you hear somebody say “Hey, Michelle!”  (Laughter.)  “Girl!  You look so good!”  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  So do you!

MRS. OBAMA:  He’s all right.

You look good, too, baby.

THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  I want to thank everybody who’s here this evening, this afternoon.  I want to give a special thanks to the members of Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus who are here tonight.  Give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)

For the past seven years — now, come on, y’all.  (Laughter.)  I’m only going to be a second.

MRS. OBAMA:  It’s exciting.

THE PRESIDENT:  Except for that little guy.  He’s hungry.  (Laughter.)

For the past seven years, and in some cases before that, the people in this room have been incredible supporters of me and Michelle.  And we could not be more grateful for everything you’ve done for us, everything you’ve done for the country.  And so I just want to start off by saying thank you.  (Applause.)  Yes!  Yes!

Now, we gather to celebrate Black History Month, and from our earliest days, black history has been American history.  (Applause.)  We’re the slaves who quarried the stone to build this White House; the soldiers who fought for our nation’s independence, who fought to hold this union together, who fought for freedom of others around the world.  We’re the scientists and inventors who helped unleash American innovation.  We stand on the shoulders not only of the giants in this room, but also countless, nameless heroes who marched for equality and justice for all of us.

Down through the decades, African American culture has profoundly shaped American culture — in music and art, literature and sports.  I want to give a special acknowledgment to my lovely wife — (applause) — because just last week she hosted a performance of African American women and girls in dance.  And we had luminaries like Debbie Allen and Judith Jamison — (applause) — working with the next generation of outstanding young black dancers.  I understand it was a pretty special event.  It was, apparently, an incredible event.  I was not invited.  (Laughter.)  My dance moves did not make the cut.  (Laughter.)

So we are so proud to honor this rich heritage.  But Black History Month shouldn’t be treated as though it is somehow separate from our collective American history — (applause) — or somehow just boiled down to a compilation of greatest hits from the March on Washington, or from some of our sports heroes.   There are well-meaning attempts to do that all around us, from classrooms to corporate ad campaigns.  But we know that this should be more than just a commemoration of particular events.

It’s about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America.  It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future.  It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.

That’s why earlier today, we hosted an intergenerational roundtable of civil rights leaders to talk about today’s efforts to reform our criminal justice system.  So we had icons of the Civil Rights Movement that helped get me here — folks like Reverend C.T. Vivian and John Lewis — (applause.)  But they were with up-and-coming change-makers like Stephen Green of the NAACP Youth and College Division, or Brittany Packnett of Campaign Zero —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Brittany!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah!  Who is a member of our 21st Century Police Task Force.  And to hear the incredible contributions these young people were making, and to see how their courage and tenacity was connected to those who had lived through Bloody Sunday — it made you optimistic about a future.  It was powerful to see the fathers and the mothers of the Movement in this constant interaction, understanding that each successive generation has to take the baton and move us forward.

And what’s so inspiring about these young people and their generation is that they don’t see black history as a relic; it’s not something to study in a book.  They don’t see themselves as distant from that history — they are participants, making history.  It’s alive, something that we have the power and the responsibility to shape and to wield.

The Civil Rights Movement grew out of church basements and word of mouth, and drew strength from freedom songs and the power of young people’s examples.  And thanks to technology and social media, today’s leaders are building a new, inclusive movement that’s mobilizing people of all backgrounds to stand up for change — from equal opportunity in education to a smarter criminal justice system, one that’s effective in keeping us safe but also makes sure that everybody is treated fairly under the law.

So I want to give a special shout-out to young people here today — (applause) — and tell them we want them to continue doing what they’re doing.

And that’s the thing about our democracy.  It takes all of us.  It’s important that we have responsive elected officials.   Supreme Court appointments are important.  (Applause.)  But ultimately, everything comes down to the constant perseverance, the courage, the tenacity, the vision of citizens like you, making sure not only you exercise your right to vote, but that in between elections you are part of a constant movement in your local communities, or at the national level, or at an international level, to bring about the kind of change from which all of us in this room have benefitted because of the labors of somebody who came before us.

America is a nation that is a constant work in progress.  That’s why we are exceptional.  We don’t stop.  There’s a gap — there always will be — between who we are and the “perfect union,” that ideal that we see.  But what makes us exceptional,  what makes us Americans is that we fight wars and pass laws, and we march, and we organize unions, and we stage protests, and that gap gets smaller over time.  And it’s that effort to form a “more perfect union” that marks us as a people.

As long as we keep at it, as long as we don’t get discouraged, as long as we are out there fighting the good fight not just on one day, or one month, but every single day, and every single month, I have no doubt that we’re going to live up to the promise of our founding ideals — and that all these young children who are standing in front, no matter who they are or where they come from, they’re going to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Thanks, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
5:01 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 6, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors Reception Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to the 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees

Source: WH, 12-6-15 

East Room

5:15 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Please, everybody, have a seat, have a seat.  Have a seat and welcome to the White House.  This is a good-looking group.  (Laughter.)  President Kennedy once said, “There is a connection, hard to explain logically but easy to feel, between achievement in public life and progress in the arts.”

I believe he was right.  Our achievements as a country and as a culture go hand-in-hand.  The oldest of the 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees was born over 90 years ago — you won’t be able to tell.  (Laughter.)  But when we look back on the last century, for all the challenges we faced, what we see is a time of extraordinary progress.  We won one World War, and then another.  We endured one depression, and prevented another.  And through it all, we created new medicines and technologies that changed the world for the better.  We welcomed new generations of striving immigrants that made our country stronger.  We worked together, and marched together, to open up new doors of opportunity for women, African Americans, Latinos, LGBT Americans, Americans with disabilities -– achievements that made all of us more free.

Tonight, we honor five artists who helped tell the story of the first American century through music, theater, and film -– and by doing so, helped to shape it, helped to inspire it, helped to fortify our best instincts about ourselves.

(Baby makes noises.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  (Laughter.)  It includes your grandpa.  (Laughter.)

About 80 years ago, the ship carrying a young girl named Rosa Dolores Alverio — (applause) — from Puerto Rico — (applause) — came into New York City, steamed by the Statue of Liberty.  “Oh my goodness,” she thought, “a lady runs this country!”  (Laughter and applause.)  She wasn’t yet known by the stage name of Rita Moreno, but even then, she knew she wanted to be a star.  At age nine, she debuted as a dancer.  At 13, she set foot in a Broadway theatre for the first time in her life -– as a member of the cast.  At 30, she became the first Latina to win an Academy Award for her unforgettable performance as “Anita” in “West Side Story.”

(Baby makes noises.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, it was good, wasn’t it?  (Laughter.)

After more than seven decades on stage and screen, Rita’s one of just a handful of artists to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony.  She’s got an “EGOT.”  (Applause.)  But being a pioneer is never easy.  For years, she was pigeonholed as what she called, “the house ethnic.”  She says she played all her parts with the same accent, because nobody “seemed to care.”  And when she pushed back against Hollywood typecasting, the roles dried up.  But Rita refused to sell herself short.  This is a woman who won the Tony for best supporting actress, then concluded her acceptance speech by reminding everyone, “I am a leading lady — I am not a supporting actress.”  (Laughter and applause.)

And she was right.  She was the leading lady of that show.  And she is still a leading lady of her era, a trailblazer with the courage to break through barriers and forge new paths.  Eight decades after Rita Moreno first laid eyes on the Statue of Liberty, she continues to personify its promise:  that here, in America, no matter what you look like or where you come from or what your last name is, you can make it if you try.  (Applause.)

As a teenager in Tokyo, an aspiring classical pianist named Seiji Ozawa defied his mother’s orders and joined a rugby match.  Now, I have to say, looking at you Seiji, I’m not sure that was a good idea.  (Laughter.)  I mean, I don’t know much about rugby.  (Laughter.)  He broke two fingers, and that put an end to his piano-playing career –- but fortunately for the rest of us, it opened up the door to a career as a conductor.

Here, Michelle and my mother-in-law would like me to point out that defying one’s mother does not usually work out well.  (Laughter.)

But there are exceptions, and for Seiji, it did.  In 1960, when he was 25 years old, he landed at Logan Airport with only a few words of English and a sign that read, “Lennox, Mass.” But his work as a conductor spoke volumes.  Just a few weeks later, the New York Times pronounced him “a name to remember.”  He went on to become Leonard Bernstein’s assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic, and then led the Toronto and San Francisco Symphonies, all by the time he was 35.  It makes you feel kind of underachieving.  (Laughter.)  His conducting was somehow sensitive and intense, drawing the “lyric essence” of every note.  And with his mop haircut, and his turtlenecks, and his love beads, he almost looked like a Beatle.  (Laughter.)

And in 1973, Seiji found his musical home with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he led for 29 years.  When he wasn’t cheering on his beloved Red Sox and Patriots, he was transfixing audiences with passionate, precise performances conducted entirely from memory, using his whole body -– elbows, fingers, knees, hair -– (laughter) — as a baton.  Seiji has dedicated his life to bridging East and West with classical music.  In his words, “Music is easier to understand than language — it can be understood right away.  Just like the sunset, which is beautiful wherever you watch it.”  (Applause.)

As a child in Harlem, Cicely Tyson sold shopping bags on the street corner to make — to help her family make ends meet.  After high school, she found work as a secretary — until one day she stood up and announced to everyone in the room, “[I am] sure that God did not put me on the face of this Earth to bang on a typewriter for the rest of my life!”  (Laughter and applause.)

Cicely was already displaying what you could call a flair for the dramatic.  (Laughter.)  And like all great actors, she never just plays a character -– she becomes one.  “I’m looking inside myself,” she once explained.  “Inside of me is where this character is coming from.”

It certainly took character to get where she is today.  As a black woman, Cicely wasn’t offered many roles with the pay and stature her tremendous talent should have commanded.  But that only steeled her resolve.  She once said, “When I became aware of the kind of ignorance that existed, I made a very conscious decision that I could not afford the luxury of just being an actress — I had some very important things to say, and I would say them through my work.”

Cicely has been saying important things for nearly 60 years, from “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” to “Sounder,” to “The Trip to the Bountiful.”  And even now, eight shows a week, she walks onto a Broadway stage to beat James Earl Jones in hand after hand of rummy in “The Gin Game.”  (Laughter and applause.)  At 90 years old, she’s still delivering remarkable, heartfelt performances night after night after night -– just like God intended, and she sure does look good doing it every night.  (Applause.)  Cicely Tyson.  (Applause.)

At age 15, a young woman named Carol Klein formed a doo-wop group with her friends called “The Co-Sines” — Co-Sines — that’s a little math.  (Laughter.)  They did great with the hard-to-reach trigonometry demographic.  (Laughter and applause.)  Around the same time, Carol talked to a DJ, and asked him the best way to get in touch with record companies.  He told her a secret –- look them up in a phone book.  (Laughter.)  So Carol made some calls, landed a contract, and took on the stage name of Carole King.

It turned out to be a perfect choice -– because today, in the world of American music, Carole is royalty.  By the time she was 30, she’d teamed up with Gerry Goffin to write hits like “Up on the Roof” for The Drifters.  “One Fine Day” for The Chiffons.  “The Loco-Motion” for Little Eva.  And of course, “You Make Me Feel (Like A Natural Woman)” – I think I just became the first President ever to say that.  (Laughter and applause.)  It sounded better when Aretha said it.  (Laughter and applause.)

And then finally, in the 1970s, Carole found the perfect voice for her songs, which was her own.  At one point, her solo album “Tapestry” — which, by the way, was one of the first albums I ever bought — was the highest-selling album of any genre in history.  It stayed on the charts for six years, full of songs you could not get out of your head -– songs about home, and friendship, and vulnerability; songs about just being human.  And that’s what makes Carole so special.  Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall — (laughter) — whether she’s fighting with passion for our environment or campaigning for the causes that she believes in; Carole is always that honest, unvarnished voice –- the friend who tells you again and again that you are beautiful — as beautiful as you feel.  (Applause.)

George Lucas recently shared one of his regrets. He told a reporter, “I never got the experience that everyone else got to have.  I never got to see ‘Star Wars.’”  (Laughter.)

Well, George, let me tell you -– you missed out.  It was really good. (Laughter.)  That movie was awesome.  (Laughter.)

As one wise Jedi Master might put it, “Changed nearly everything, George Lucas has.”  (Laughter.)  George was at the vanguard of the New Hollywood, blending genres and combining timeless themes with cutting-edge technology.  Without him, movies would not look as good or sound as good as they do today.  Spaceships might still fly around the screen with little strings attached to them.  (Laughter.)  The effects were only part, though, of what makes George special.  He created a mythology so compelling that in a 2001 census, the fourth-largest religion in the United Kingdom was “Jedi.”  (Laughter and applause.)

Think about how many children have been raised, at least in part, by George Lucas.  (Laughter.)  Think about how many young people searching for their place in the universe have thought to themselves, “If a kid from Tatooine moisture farm can go from bulls-eyeing womp rats in his T-16 to saving the galaxy, then maybe I can be something special too?”  (Laughter.)  How many engineers got their start arguing about the structural flaws in the Death Star?  How many philosophers got their start arguing about whether Han shot first?  (Laughter.)  How many bookish teenagers have taken solace in the fact that the most charismatic guy on the planet is an archeologist named Indiana Jones?  (Laughter.)

George, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but they might even make a brand new “Star Wars” movie soon.  (Laughter.)  It’s very low-key, it’s not getting a lot of promotion.  (Laughter.)  But it’s also pretty remarkable that nearly 40 years after the first star destroyer crawled across the screen, we are still obsessed with George’s vision of a galaxy far, far away.  And we’ll be raising our children on his stories for a long, long time to come.  (Applause.)

Rita Moreno.  Seiji Ozawa.  Cicely Tyson.  Carole King.  George Lucas.  Each of these artists was born with something special to offer their country and the world.  Each of them found a way to enrich our lives with their lives’ work.  For all the joy and the pleasure, all the insight and the understanding that they have brought to us over the years, we want to thank them -– and we sure are proud to celebrate them as our 2015 Kennedy Center Honorees.  Please give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

END
5:32 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 3, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Lighting of National Christmas Tree

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Lighting of National Christmas Tree

Source: WH, 12-3-15

Ellipse

6:06 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:   Merry Christmas everybody!  Thank you, Betty, for that introduction, for your extraordinary service as one of our park rangers, and for all of your –- and your great-grandmother’s -– contributions to this country.  Please give Betty a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  I want tips from Betty on how I can look that good at 94.  (Applause.)

I also want to thank Betty’s boss, Jonathan Jarvis, and for everybody from the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for everything that they do to protect and care for America’s great outdoors –- and for helping us “find our park” this year and every year.  And thank you to Reese Witherspoon and each of tonight’s outstanding performers.  (Applause.)

Now, this is, of course, the most wonderful time of the year.  But we would be remiss not to take a moment to remember our fellow Americans whose hearts are heavy tonight –- who grieve for loved ones, especially in San Bernardino, California.  Their loss is our loss, too, for we’re all one American family.  We look out for each other in good times, and in bad.  And they should know that all of us care about them this holiday season.  They’re in our thoughts, they’re in our prayers, and we send them our love.  (Applause.)

Now, this is the 93rd time Americans have gathered by the White House to light the National Christmas Tree.  And as always, this tree is not alone -– all across America, in living rooms, and offices, churches, and town squares, families and neighbors are gathering to decorate trees of their own and get into the holiday spirit.  It’s a chance to come together and to focus on what really matters –- the simple gifts of family and friends.  The wonder and hope in a child’s eye.  And, of course, the spirit of giving and compassion that can help all of us find new meaning in the world around us.
That’s the message of the child whose birth families like mine celebrate on Christmas -– a prince born in a stable who taught us that we should love our neighbors as ourselves; and that we are our brothers’ keeper and our sisters’ keepers; that we should feed the hungry, visit the sick, welcome the stranger.  These are the lessons of Jesus Christ.  But they’re also the bedrock values of all faiths –- values to be cherished and embraced not only during the holidays, but to be practiced in our daily lives.

So during this holiday season, let’s come together as brothers and sisters around the humanity that we share.  Let’s reach out to those who can use a hand.  Let’s summon the spirit of togetherness that’s always helped to kindle America’s shining example to the world.  And let’s keep in our prayers those Americans who protect that ideal, especially those stationed far from home during the holidays.  Our men and women in uniform and their families sacrifice so much for us.  And it’s because of them that we can celebrate freely, that we can worship as we please, that we can come together on a night like this -– strong, and united, and free.

So on behalf of Michelle, and Malia, and Sasha, and Grandma, and Bo and Sunny, happy holiday to all of you.  (Applause.)  May God bless you all, and may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
6:11 P.M. EST

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