Full Text Political Transcripts December 8, 2016: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Farewell Address

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Farewell Address

Source: Reid.Senate.gov, 12-8-16

“I didn’t make it in life because of my athletic prowess. I didn’t make it because of my good looks. I didn’t make it because I’m a genius. I made it because I worked hard, and I tell everyone whatever you want to try to do, make sure you’re going to work as hard as you can at trying to do what you want to do.”

“I want to tell everyone here, I’m grateful to all my Democratic senators. They’ve been so good to me during my time as leader. And I feel so strongly about my staff. They are my family. I really, really do believe that. I feel they’re my family.”

“What is the future of the Senate? I would hope that everyone would do everything they can to protect the Senate as an institution. As part of our Constitution, it should be given the dignity it deserves. I love the Senate.”

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid gave his farewell address on the Senate floor today. He has served Nevada in the United States Congress for 34 years. Below are his remarks:

The history of Searchlight starts this way –  the first paragraph of that book: “Searchlight is like many Nevada towns and cities. It would never have come to be had gold not been discovered. It is situated on rocky, windy and arid terrain without an artesian well or surface water of any kind, the place we call Searchlight was not a gathering spot for Indian or animal.

Searchlight: It is a long ways from Searchlight to the United States Senate. I grew up during World War II in Searchlight. My dad was a miner, hard rock miner, underground miner. But work wasn’t very good in Searchlight. The mines during World War II were especially gone – all over America, but especially in Nevada.

There were a few things that went on after the war, promotions. He would work and sometimes they would pay him. Sometimes bad checks that would bounce. Sometimes they wouldn’t pay him, they would just leave. My mom worked really hard. We had this old Maytag washer. The lines were outside. She worked really hard.

Searchlight was about 250 people then. It had seen its better days. Searchlight was discovered in 1898 – gold was discovered.  And for 15 or 18 years, it was a booming, booming town. It was one of the most modern cities in all of Nevada. It had electricity, turn of the century electricity. Telegraph. Telephones.

It had a fire station, fire trucks. It had roads with signs on them designating the name of the street. It had a railroad. When I grew up, that was all gone. Searchlight, as I said, was 250 people.

So you may ask how did my mother work so hard in a town where there was 250 people? We had at that time no mines, but 13 brothels at one time in Searchlight. Thirteen. Not over the time, but one time. The biggest was the El Rey Club. So that tells everyone what wash my mom did, from the casinos and from the brothels. And she worked really hard. She ironed. She washed.

As I look back on my growing up in Searchlight, I never felt during the time I was a boy that I was deprived of anything. I never went hungry. Sometimes we didn’t have, I guess, what my mom wanted, but we were fine. But as I look back, it wasn’t that good, I guess. We had no inside toilet. We had a toilet outside. You had to walk about 50 yards to that. My dad didn’t want it close to the house.

And we had a good time, even with that. My poor mother, what a wonderful woman she was. My younger brother and I, sometimes just to be funny, she would go to the toilet, she had tin walls, tin, it was made out of tin, and we would throw rocks at that. “Let me out,” she would say. That doesn’t sound like much fun, but it was fun at the time.

When I started elementary school, there was one teacher for grades 1-4 and then another teacher for grades 5-8, but when I got to fifth grade, there was not enough – weren’t enough students for two teachers, so one teacher taught all eight grades. I learned at that time in that little school that you can really learn.

I have never, ever forgotten a woman by the name of Mrs. Pickard. I can still see her, those glasses, just a stereotype, spinster teacher, but she was a teacher. She taught me that education was good, to learn is good. And when I graduated – we had a large graduating class, six kids – and the presiding officer from Nevada, you should feel good about me. I graduated in the top third of my class.

My parents did the best they could. My dad never graduated from eighth grade. My mom didn’t graduate from high school. In Searchlight, it is probably no surprise to anyone, there was never , ever a church service in searchlight that I can ever remember. There was no church. No preachers, no nothing, nothing regarding religion. That’s how I was raised.

My brother and I were born in our house. There was no hospital. That had long since gone. I didn’t go to a dentist until I was 14 years old.  But I was fortunate. I was born with nice teeth, especially on the top. The bottoms aren’t so good, but rarely, rarely have I had a cavity of any kind. Just fortunate in that regard. We didn’t go to doctors. It was a rare, rare occasion. There was no one to go to. I can remember my father having such a bad tooth ache, I watched him pull a tooth with a pair of pliers.

My mother was hit in the face with a softball when she was a young woman in Searchlight, and it ruined her teeth. As I was growing up, I saw her teeth disappear.  A few, few less and finally no teeth. My mom had no teeth. My brother was riding his bicycle and slid on the dirt, broke his leg. He never went to the doctor. I can remember as if it were ten minutes ago my brother Larry on that bed. Couldn’t touch the bed, it hurt him so much, but it healed. The bottom part of one leg is bent, but it healed.

I can remember a TB wagon came through Searchlight, the only time I remember. People had tuberculosis. We had miners had silicosis, some of them, my dad  included. My mother had one of those tests. She went on the big truck and had her chest x-rayed, I guess that’s what they did. a few weeks later, she got a postcard and said her test was positive, she should go see a doctor. Never went to see a doctor. I worried about that so much. I can’t imagine how my mother must have felt, but obviously it was a false positive, but think about that. Never went to the doctor, but told you have tuberculosis.

As I learned more about my dad, I know how important health care would have been for him. To be able to see somebody, to try to explain more about my dad so he could understand him a little better. I’m sure I haven’t done all the good in life I could do, but I am here to tell everyone, there is one thing I did in my life that I’m so proud of, and I will always be — I hope I’m not boasting. If I am, I’m sorry.

I worked long hours in a service station. There was no high school in Searchlight, so I went to school in Henderson, Nevada. And I worked in a standard station. I worked really hard and long hours. I took all the hours they would give me. I saved up enough money, I had $250. I was going to buy my mother some teeth. and I went to a man, he was a bigshot. They named a school after him. He was on the school board in Las Vegas. He married this beautiful woman from Searchlight. I went to him. I never met him before. I told him who I am. His name was J.D. Smith.

I said I wanted to buy my mother some teeth. He said I don’t do credit here. He insulted me. So I went to Dr. Marshall of Henderson and bought my mother some teeth. It changed my mother’s life. My mother had teeth.

So my parents lived in Searchlight until they both died. I think a number of people saw them. My staff at least knows my dad killed himself. I can remember that day so plainly. I had been out — I spent two hours with Muhammad Ali, him and I, one of his handlers and one of my staff. It was so – for me who has always been – wanted to be an athlete, wannabe, that was great. Some of you know I fought, but that was — he was in a different world than me. But he was nice. He was generous with his time and so much fun. He said let’s go cause some trouble out here. He kicked the walls and yelled and screamed, and I was happy.

I walked to my car, got to my office, and my receptionist Joanie said to me, Mr. Reid, your mom’s on the phone. And I talked to my mother all the time, many, many times a week. She said, your pop shot himself. So she lived in Searchlight. It took me an hour, hour and a half to get out there. I can still remember seeing my dad on that bed, and I was so sad because my dad never had a chance. He was depressed always. He was reclusive. You know, I did things. He never came to anything that I did. I never felt bad that he didn’t because I knew my dad. My mom came to everything that she could. I felt bad about that. I’ll talk a little more about suicide in a little bit. But I think everyone can understand a little bit of why I have been such an avid supporter of Obamacare, health care.

So I was ashamed, embarrassed about Searchlight. When I went to college, was in was in high school, law school, I just didn’t want to talk about Searchlight. I was kind of embarrassed about it. And, you know, it was kind of a crummy place. I didn’t show people pictures of my home.

So, many years later, I was a young man and I was in government, and Alex Haley, the famous writer who wrote the book “Roots” was a speaker at the University of Nevada Foundation dinner in Reno. He gave this speech and it was stunning. It was so good, and basically what he said to everyone there – and he directed, I thought, his remarks to me. Of course he didn’t. But he said be proud of who you are. You can’t escape who you are. And I walked out of that event that night a different person, a new man. From that day forward, I was from Searchlight. When I got out of law school, I bought little pieces of property. So I had contacts there. My parents lived there, so I became Harry Reid, the guy from Searchlight.

So one thing people ask me all the time, you’ve done okay. Tell me what you think are the important aspects – especially young people ask all the time. Young is a relative term. What would you recommend? What do you think was your way to success? And I tell them all the same thing. I didn’t make it in life because of my athletic prowess. I didn’t make it because of my good looks. I didn’t make it because I’m a genius. I made it because I worked hard, and I tell everyone whatever you want to try to do, make sure you’re going to work as hard as you can at trying to do what you want to do. And I believe that’s a lesson for everyone.

The little boy from Searchlight has been able to be part of a changing state of Nevada. I’m grateful I’ve been part of that change.

When I graduated from law school, the population of Nevada was less than 300,000 people. The state of Nevada is now three million people. It grew from one member of Congress from 1864 to ‘82 – one, that’s all we had.  Now we have four. During my 34 years in Congress, I’ve seen the country change. I’ve seen Nevada change. The changes in the country and Nevada have been for the better.

Now I’m going to spend a little bit of time talking about some of the things that I’ve been able to do as a member of the United States Senate. I know it’s long and somewhat tedious, but I’ve been here a long time, so please be patient.

My legislation. Reducing tax burdens. I’m sorry he’s not here – David Pryor of Arkansas. David Pryor, I don’t want to hurt the feelings of any of my very, very capable friends but the best legislator I’ve ever served with in state government, federal government, is David Pryor. He was good. Not a big speecher. But he was good at getting things done. The first speech I gave as a member of the Senate was way back there where Cory Booker is right now. And I gave a speech. I tried to do it in the House. It was called a Taxpayers Bill of Rights. I couldn’t get Jake Pickle, the chair of that subcommittee on Ways and Means, even to talk to me in the House. But I came over here and I gave that speech, and David Pryor was presiding. He was the subcommittee chair of the committee dealing with that that, in Finance. Chuck Grassley was also listening to my speech. Pryor sent me a note when I finished and said I want to help you with this. Grassley did the same thing. So my first speech led to the passage of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, with the help of David Pryor and Chuck Grassley. It was landmark legislation. It put the taxpayer on more equal footing with the tax collector. Everybody liked that so much, we’ve done two iterations of it since then to make it even stronger.

Source tax I’m sure is just a boring thing to everybody, but it wasn’t boring to people that came from California and tried to retire someplace else. The State of California was merciless in going after people. They had the law on their side, they thought. If you worked in California, it didn’t matter where you went, they would go after you for your pensions, is what it amounted to. And I tried for 15 years to get that changed, and I got it changed. No longer can California, all due respect to Feinstein and Boxer, can they do that. They can’t do that anymore. If you retire in California and move someplace else, they can’t tax that money.

Mortgage tax relief, we all participated in that. I initiated it, too, when the collapse of Wall Street took place, and that was a big help.

Tax incentives for solar and geothermal, really important. I’ll talk a little more about that. Payment in lieu of taxes, all my Western senators will appreciate that. It was just four years ago, five years ago that we were able to fully fund PILT, payment in lieu of taxes. I worked very hard with Baucus, with Wyden, and we did things to take care of some issues that they had. That’s the first time it had ever been fully funded.

Cancellation indebtedness. That’s a buzzword for people that understand taxes a little better. But what happened is everything collapsed. They would try to get out of a debt they had. They couldn’t because the IRS would tax them at the value of it when they bought it. When things didn’t work, it was unfair. And we got that changed. That was in the stimulus bill. We got that changed.

Let’s talk about the economy a little bit. I know some of my Democrat colleagues say, “Why did you do that?” Here’s what I did. I worked with Republican Senator Don Nickles from Oklahoma. There was a Republican president, okay? The worm turns, but Don and I talked about this. We knew that the administrations would change and it would affect every president, Democrat and Republican. It was called the Congressional Review Act. What that said is the president promulgates a regulation, Congress has a chance to look it over to see if it’s too burdensome, too costly, too unfair. And we’ve done that quite a few times. And that was because of Reid and Nickles. That was legislation that I did, and it was great when we had Republican presidents. Not so great when we had Democratic presidents. But it was fair.

One of the things that’s been so important to the state of Nevada has been a man by the name of Kirk Kerkorian, a non-educated man. He flew over the North Atlantic during World War II, ferrying planes to England at great personal sacrifice to himself. But he had, as I said, no education. His parents were from Armenia. He became one of America’s legendary entrepreneurs. And I many, many years ago as a young, young lawyer met him and for many, many years helped him and especially his brother with their legal issues. He’s the man that helped create Las Vegas the way it is, and he did something unique. He decided he was going to build something on the Las Vegas strip called City Center. And for those of you who go to Nevada, look at that sometime. You could be in the middle of New York City. You would think you were there. This is a magnificent operation.

Well, it started before the recession. They were desperate to get it finished. More than 10,000 people worked on that project. I would drive by there and count the cranes. Twenty-five, thirty cranes at one time there at work. Well, I interceded in that. I did some things that probably a lot of people wouldn’t do, but I did it because I thought it was very important that operation didn’t shut down. Kerkorian had already put billions of dollars of his own money in it. They had an investor from one of the Middle Eastern countries. I did a lot of things that I say a lot of you wouldn’t do, but I did it. I saved that project. I’m not going into detail, but I called people that I would doubt that any of you would call. I called bank presidents. I called leaders of countries. And anyway, it’s completed now. I take some credit for that.

The stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we got that done. Yesterday the presiding officer was the senior senator from Maine. Oh, she was so helpful. I hope it doesn’t get her into trouble to boast about her today. But she and her colleague from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter — we only had 58 votes as Democrats and they were the difference — we were able to get that passed only because of them. It was so good for our country.

Obama, the first two months after having been elected, the country lost 800,000 jobs. Can you imagine that? A month. Because of the stimulus bill, we were able to reverse that. We did a lot of wonderfully good things on that that were important for the country. Travel Promotion Act — Amy Klobuchar is here. She worked so hard in helping get that done. It promoted travel to get foreigners to come here, to come to America. It worked out so well. Seven different clotures I had to file on that to get it done but we got it done finally. It’s been remarkably good for America. Other countries, you’ll see them on TV. They’re always advertising about come visit Australia, come visit the Bahamas, come visit England, come visit every place. Now there’s advertising going on around the world: come visit America. Now everyone knows that Las Vegas gets its, more than its share probably of visitors, but it was good for Nevada but it was also good for the country.

Nevada test site workers. We were the Cold War veterans in Nevada. That was a big project. We had 11,000, 12,000 workers there at one time. We had above-ground tests, I can remember seeing them. We were a long ways away in Searchlight, but you would see that flash. You wouldn’t always feel it – sometimes it would bounce over Searchlight. But it was really a big deal. We didn’t know it was making people sick, but they were good enough to make sure the tests didn’t go off when the wind was blowing toward Las Vegas. It blew up toward Utah, and Utah suffered terribly bad because those were above-ground tests. So we worked to make sure the test site workers, who were part of the reason for winning the Cold War, because it was dangerous what they did. We passed that. A number of different segments to get it done, so we’ve done a lot to protect people.

Nevada transportation. McCarran Airport Field. I’ve tried for years to get the name taken off. He was a Democratic Senator from Nevada who was an awful man. I tried to get his name off of that. It didn’t work. I tried to get J. Edgar Hoover’s name off the FBI building, that didn’t work. We had a vote here. I can still remember how mad Orrin Hatch was when I did that. Bunt anyway, everyone had to vote on it. I think made a mistake. I tried to get it named after Bobby Kennedy. That was the mistake I made, I think.

Anyway, McCarran Airport. It’s, I think, the fifth busiest airport in America now. We’ve gotten money for a new air traffic control center, it’s one of the largest structures in the Western United States. We’ve done a good job taking care of McCarran. All kinds of construction funding for runways and rehabilitation of runways. In the stimulus bill, one of the last things we put in that was the bonding capacity that allowed McCarran Field to build a big new terminal. More than $1 billion we got in that legislation, and it was really important during the recession to have all those workers. There are thousands and thousands of them on that new terminal which is now completed.

Reno. I was also able to direct money toward getting a new traffic control center there, a new control tower. We’ve done all the construction funding, a lot of stuff, good stuff for the airport in Reno.

So I feel good about what we’ve done to help Nevada transportation. Not the least of which everybody is, billions of dollars in directed spending for roads and highways in Nevada. And it’s really made a change in Northern Nevada and in Southern Nevada. It’s important for us to be able to deal with people in Las Vegas, so we made deals with the California Department of Transportation and we participated in big construction projects that took place in California – Barstow and San Bernardino. We did that because it would make it easier for people to come to Las Vegas. I wasn’t just giving money to Las Vegas. We also did it of course for California because it helped us.

Health care. The Affordable Care Act, I’ve talked about that a little bit. It would have been wonderful if we had something like that around to help my family when we were growing up. I worked hard to help a number of you on the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Orrin Hatch was certainly involved in that.

Just like I had trouble coming to grips with my home in Searchlight, I had trouble coming to grips with the fact that my dad killed himself. I was like most — we are called victims. We shouldn’t be, but that’s what we’re called. This year about 32,000 people will kill themselves in America.

That doesn’t count the hunting accidents which are really suicides, the car accidents which are really suicides. So i couldn’t get my arms around the suicide.

Republican Senator Cohen from Maine was the chairman of the Aging Committee upon which I served, and we were doing a hearing on senior depression. And Mike Wallace came, the famous journalist, and here’s what he said:  “I have wanted to die for years. I would take the most dangerous assignments I could hoping I couldn’t come back.” He said, “You know, I’m okay now, though. I want to live forever.” He said, “I take a pill once in a while, I see a doctor once in a while and I’m good. I’m okay.” And I said for the first time publicly, “Mr. Chairman, my dad killed himself. That was a long time ago. But I think it would be extremely important for this committee to hold a hearing on senior suicide.” Because we’ve learned; since my focusing on suicide, we’ve done some good things as members of Congress.

We’ve directed spending to study why people kill themselves, because we don’t know for sure. Isn’t it interesting that most of the suicides take place in the western part of the United States. You would think it would be in dark places like Maine and Vermont where it’s so dark and cold, but no it’s in the bright sunshine of the West. So we’re learning a lot more and that has been so good to me as a person and we have now funded projects around America where there are suicide prevention programs that are extremely important.

There are suicide victims’ programs where people get together after someone, a loved one, kills themselves. So that’s something that I’m glad I worked on.

Finally, health care.

Twenty-four years ago, one of my friends from Las Vegas called me, Sandy Jolly, and she said, “I would like you to look at this film I’m going to send you. She said, and, I want you to watch it. And what it showed was a beautiful little girl in Africa in a party dress. It was white. She looked so pretty. You know, it was a party. And suddenly two men grabbed her, spread her legs apart and cut out her genitals – right there with a razor blade. I thought, man, that’s hard to comprehend. And my staff said, now, it’s something you shouldn’t deal with –  it should be for a woman. But I went ahead and I did something about it.

We haven’t done as much as we should do, and I hope that we have people who will pick up this issue. I had a meeting last Friday, the biggest audience I’ve ever had, just people – they were there. There was a conference on female genital mutilation. I say that word because that’s what it is. Millions of little girls have been “cut” –  that’s what it’s called, “cut.” Last year, no one knows for sure, but probably 250,000 little girls were cut. And last Friday, I had 200 people there. I said, this is wonderful. I said, I’ve had 10 people a couple times, but two or three of the people were lost and didn’t really want to be there.

It’s really important that we do something about it. We have some laws now – it’s against the law in the United States. You can’t go away for purposes of being cut. But there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Our government has done almost nothing.

I’ll spend a little bit of time on the environment. You know, I’ve been the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee twice. Not for very long. I gave it up once because I had to because of control of Congress. And one time I gave it way, as some will remember. I gave it away. I gave away my chairmanship and my committee spot to Jim Jeffords. And I loved that committee. I’ve been involved in the environment and energy things since I came here.

The state of Nevada is 87 percent owned by the federal government. Eighty-seven percent of the state of Nevada is federal land. The rest, 13 percent, is private land. Of course I should be concerned about it.

Yucca Mountain, I’m not going to get into a long dissertation about that. But because we we’ve spent about $8 billion there so far, maybe more. It’s gone. Someone asked me the other day, you know, the Republicans are in power now. They’re going to come back to Yucca Mountain. I said, well, they better bring a checkbook with them. Because there’s nothing there now. They’d have to start all over again. They spent more than $1 billion digging that tunnel.

That’s ground up for scrap metal. There’s nothing there. You could probably get it going again now for $10-12 billion. So if you have a way to pay for it, good luck. If you were smart, what you would do is leave it where it is in diecast storage containers, which is proven to be extremely safe and effective. And that is what should be done.

Renewable energy transmission. The stimulus bill said one of the problems we have with energy is that we don’t have a way of transmitting electricity to where it should go. We all talk about all this renewable energy which is produced in places where there aren’t lot of people, but you can’t get any place where there are a lot of people. That’s been changed with the stimulus bill.

For example, in Nevada we have One Nevada Transmission Line, it’s called, and that for the first time in the state of Nevada, we can move power from the north to the south of Nevada. Part of that legislation is under way now. That line will also goes up into the northwest. That was good legislation.

I’ve had clean energy summits for many, many years. We bring in national leaders, Democrats and Republicans, to focus attention on the problems America has with energy. The Clintons have come, Obama has been there, we’ve had Republicans, and here’s one that came and did a great job: Tom Donohue. Everybody knows him. We Democrats know him, for sure. The head of the Chamber of Commerce.

Coal. I have no problem with coal. I’ve helped fund clean coal technology.  One of my spending was Tracy Power Plant outside of Reno that was a clean coal plant. Except it didn’t work, so they had to go to another type of fuel. So I have nothing against coal.

However, I was upset about this: Nevada is very pristine. I have told a couple people this. People don’t understand Nevada. Everybody thinks it is the deserts of Las Vegas, but it is not. Nevada is the most mountainous state in the union with the exception of Alaska. We have 314 separate mountain ranges. We have a mountain 14,000 feet high, we have 32 mountains over 11,000 feet high. It’s a very mountainous state.

So when I learned by reading the papers that we were going to have power companies come to Nevada, one of the most pristine areas, and they were going to build three or four power plants. I said no. My staff said, you can’t do that. You’re up for reelection. They’ll destroy you. Well, they tried. But I won. They lost. There are going to be no coal-fired plants in Nevada. There’s two left. One of them is going out of business in a matter of two weeks. And the other is on its way out, probably within a year.

We’re not going to have coal-fired plants in Nevada, but we do have lots and lots of renewable energy. I’ve worked especially with John Ensign when he was here, on major land bills and we were able to do a lot of good things. Because of him – he was a real conservative guy – I had to make deals to make some of Nevada’s 87 percent of public land private. I was able to do that. And he was able to, with me, to create more wilderness. We worked together to get that done.

I created the first national park in Nevada. It’s wonderful. Everything within the Great Basin is in that park. Hard to believe now, but in Nevada we have a glacier. We have the oldest living things in the world on that mountain. Those old, old pine trees. They’re there. They’re 6,000 or 7,000 years old. They’re there. A beautiful, beautiful park. Basin and

Range National Monument: I worked with President Obama on this, more than 700,000 acres in a remote place of Nevada. It’s a place where John Muir came as a young man, camping there and talking about how beautiful it is in his diary. Now everyone can see that.

Part of that wonderful place is a man who is a world-famous artist. The name is Heiser, Michael Heiser. He worked for 40 years building this monument in the middle of nowhere. It is called “City.” It is the most magnificent thing. We don’t have roads coming there yet, but we will pretty soon. But that’s done.

Tule Springs: Right in the middle of the growth in Las Vegas. People came to me one time and said, we have this place in Nevada where we have the oldest and most abundant source of fossils anyplace in America. To make a long story short, that’s now a national monument.

The state of Nevada didn’t have the resources to take on the oil companies the airlines. So I got Bill Bradley, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy, to hold a hearing. It was so important we did that. Because we determined the oil was coming from broken oil lines, fuel lines going to the Reno airport. Had we not done something, it would have been awful. It was declared an emergency Superfund site. Immediately people moved in and took care of that. Now that –  I am giving a quick look at it. That gravel pit is now a beautiful lake. It’s called the Sparks Marina. There’s condos, apartments, businesses all around that. People on boats – it’s wonderful. It all started out as a gravel pit. I appreciate Bill Bradley’s great work on that.

There are people in this chamber that are much better than I on national security, and I know that. But I worked hard. We have been a dumping ground for all things in the military. We have had Nellis Air Force Base. It’s the finest fighter training facility in the world. If you want to fly jet airplanes, you must train in Nevada. We have a great big gun range. The Navy does the same thing with their naval training center. I frankly have gotten tens and tens of millions of dollars for both those operations because they’ve been important.

Also, everyone, we hear a lot about drones. Every drone attack that takes place in the world takes place 30 miles outside Las Vegas at the air force base. It used to be called Indian Springs. That’s where they all take place. We have all these great servicemen, mostly airmen who take care of that. They protect us around the world.

Barbara Mikulski is here. She traveled as we were new senators. She was in a position to help me on appropriations. She said this facility in Reno was awful and I am going to do something about it, and she did. Very quickly. We renovated that place. It was so bad, the old VA hospital that you couldn’t get the new hospital equipment down the halls it was too small. Senator Mikulski, I said before how much I appreciated that. She took care of that.

I have had good fortune that two VA hospitals I asked money for and they were built. We had one that was an experiment, which was a joint venture with the Veterans Administration and the Air Force and it worked great except we had the Middle East war. The veterans were given – go someplace else. So we don’t have that anymore. But we have a huge new one that’s built. The newest and the best. It’s not fully — doesn’t have all the equipment they need but has been functioning now for a couple of years and has been very good. I feel very proud of that.

The Nevada test site is part of the national security. I’ve done everything I can to make sure that facility is taken care of and it is. We have a lot of experiments going on there all the time. If you – we have all these what we call fuel spills, all the testing takes place there.

Finally with the military, here’s one of the best things I ever did. As I heard Barbara Mikulski talk about yesterday, let us know what your constituents say. A group of veterans came a few feet from here to talk to me a few years ago. They said, you know, senator, this is somewhat strange. I’m disabled from the military. I’m also retired from the military. I can’t draw both benefits. What are you talking about?  He said I can’t. If you retire from the Forest Service, you can get your pension from the Forest Service, wherever it is and also get your disability but not if it’s both military. We changed that. Now, if you have a disability and you have a — you retired from the military, you can draw both. That took a long time but we got it done. It’s not perfect but it is 80 percent all done.

Judiciary. You know I talked earlier this morning I’m a lawyer and I’m proud of the fact I was a trial lawyer. I hear senators talk all the time about the judicial selection committees they have, pick who they’re going to have on the federal bench and I’m glad they do that, because I also have a judicial selection committee. You know who’s on that committee? Me. No one else is on it. I’ve selected all my judges. I’m the committee. And I’m very happy with what I’ve been able to do. One of the things I did in the House – I named a federal building in Las Vegas named after this very famous family of lawyers, two federal judges, a district attorney, a state court judge. A wonderful family called the folly family. So I go back for the 10th anniversary and I look up there and nothing but white men.

I thought to myself, gee, I hope someday I can change that.  And as fortune would have it, Lloyd George decided to take senior status and I had a chance to do something about that. And I have done – I have sent names to the President. I have selected far more judges, myself and the entire history of the State of Nevada, other senators.

So what I did with the first one, well, I want to get a woman. We don’t have a black on the court either. Why not get a black and a woman and that’s what I did. Oh was I criticized. Oh, she didn’t have enough experience. You could have found somebody better. She was a dynamo. People loved this woman. She was so good, she was so good, that she’s now on the 9th Circuit, and she quickly went there. Make a long story short, she’s been part of the talk about who could go on the Supreme Court. This is a wonderful woman named Johnnie Rawlinson.

I put Roger Hunt, a great trial lawyer, on there. Kent Dawson, one of my predecessors, city attorney. David Hagen, a wonderful trial lawyer out of Reno, I put him on the bench.

Brian Sandoval I selected as a federal judge, and he was a good federal judge. Things were going great until he ran against my son for governor. And I wish he hadn’t because my son would now be governor. But he’s my friend and we have family accepted that. But he was a Hispanic, first Hispanic on the bench.

I appointed another Hispanic, Gloria Navarro, parents born in Cuba. She’s a woman. She’s now the chief judge. Miranda Du. How about that? A woman born in Vietnam is now on the bench in Nevada. How about that?  Miranda Du.  Born in Vietnam, came when she was 11 years old to Alabama. Jennifer Dorsey, a woman.  Andrew Gordon, Harvard Law graduate. Richard Boulware, African-American. So, I’ve changed that Nevada bench significantly, federal bench. I’ve had the pleasure of voting for and against all eight members of the Supreme Court that now sit there during my career, every one of them I’ve had a chance to vote.

Education.  I’ve worked hard for education in Nevada and I’ve done okay. Desert Research Institute is a unique organization. It’s not helped by the University of Nevada at all. They do it on their own. All Ph.D.’s. They’ve been in existence for 50 years. Some of the most significant research in the world is done there. You know, these super computers, I’ve gotten two of them. You know, and our earthquake center, the best in the world.  They have more shake tables than any place in America and people come from all over the world to study what happens with earthquakes.

Biodiversity study. For many years I directed funding to the biodiversity study. It was the best science going on at the time on the environment, studying the Great Basin.

Native Americans in Nevada, we have 26 different tribal organizations. I’m really happy with what I’ve been able to do to help Native Americans. And believe me, they haven’t been treated well in Nevada or anyplace else. I’ve led the legislative efforts to make sure that we have water rights taken care of. Settled long-standing claims against the United States. We’ve done the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, Duck Valley Reservation, all have been able to develop their water rights and their economies. Pyramid Lake, for example, their money is going to be almost $100 million. Fallon was $60 million.  I worked to get two new high schools built and they were so long overdue. Shoshone Claims Distribution Act, it took decades to get it done, we finally got it done. Washoe Tribe.  Thanks to President Clinton, we were able to get the Indians who belong up there, the Washoe Tribe, get them right on the lake.

It’s been a dream job of mine to work with the Obama Administration for the last eight years. Being his point man here in the Senate, I gave an extended speech on him yesterday. I want to make it part of the Record and I ask consent to do that, Mr. President, so we don’t have to listen to the same stuff again, but I did do it yesterday. And I also want to ask unanimous consent, I have lots and lots of stuff that I’ve done that I didn’t feel I’d take the time to do. I want to make that part of the record.

Okay, winding down, everybody. I know you’re glad, but it’s been 34 years. I’ve served with 281 different senators during the time I’ve been here. I have such fond memories of so, so many, so, so many. The hilarious Fritz Hollings, the confident Fritz Hollings. I’ve never known a better joke teller — and I hope Al is not mad — than Frank Lautenberg. He could tell stories and I’ve asked him to tell the same stories so many times. I couldn’t tell it but he had one about two wrestlers. I’m not going to repeat it, but he was very, very funny. I’m not going to go through the whole Ted Kennedy list and all that but I’ve had wonderful experiences with my senator friends.

When I came as Democratic senator, there was one woman, Barbara Mikulski. That was it, one woman. I’m very happy now that we have 17 Democratic women and we have four Republican women. And I want to just say, make the record very clear, the Senate is a better place because of women being here. There is no question for many different reasons, but they’ve added so much to the Senate. The only problem we have now, there aren’t enough of them. But we did our best this go around. We got four new Democratic senators.

Leaders. I’ve already talked about Senator McConnell. It’s been my good fortune to have been able to serve with such good leaders like Robert Byrd. I don’t know if it’s true. I accept it because that’s what I want to believe. A number of people told me I was his pet. As I said, I don’t know if I was or not but he sure was good to me. George Mitchell, what a wonderful extemporaneous speaker. He was the best. This federal judge, this U.S. attorney, this good man from Maine. Bob Dole. I was a junior Senator and didn’t have a lot of interchange with him when he was a leader, but I have had a lot lately. He calls me in some of the issues he’s working on now.

I can recall one of the most moving times in my life Daniel Inouye was lying in state in the Rotunda. He called me and asked me if I would go over there with him. Of course I would. He was in a wheelchair. Somebody pushes him over there and he says stop. There’s a little alcove there. And Bob Dole as hard as it was for him walked over to the crypt where Danny was. He climbed up on the bearer and said, “Danny, I love you.” If that won’t bring a tear to your eye, nothing will. I’ll always remember that and Bob Dole.

Trent Lott, he was really a good leader, extremely conservative but extremely pragmatic. We got lots of stuff done. I was Senator Daschle’s point person to get legislation out of this body and we did some really good things. Tom Daschle, he always gave me lots of room to do things. I can remember once I was the whip and he was — I thought he’d been too generous with one of the other senators and I complained. He said look, you’re going to make this whip job whatever you want it to be and I took him at his word and I did. I never left the floor. The Senate opened, I was here. When it closed, I was here.

Bill Frist, a fine human being. I really cared about him a lot. He wasn’t an experienced legislator but that’s okay. He was an experienced human being. I liked him a lot. I already talked about Mitch.

Diversity, we don’t have enough diversity in the Senate but I do take credit for creating a diversity office with Democrats. Senator Schumer has indicated he’s going to continue that and I’m very happy he’s going to do that. We don’t have enough diversity, I repeat.

I want to tell everyone here, I’m grateful to all my Democratic senators. They’ve been so good to me during my time as leader. But I have to mention Durbin. He and I came here together 34 years ago. He has been so supportive of me. He’s been my cousin Jeff. You care if I tell the story?

My brother lives in Searchlight still. He’s an interesting man. He had a girlfriend there that was married. And he brought her home one night and her husband or boyfriend – or whatever it was – jumped out of the tree on my brother’s back. They had a fight and my brother won. So, a couple of weeks later he’s at a 49’er club, a bar, a little place in Searchlight, and he’s having a beer, whatever he drinks. He looks around and he sees a guy that he beat up. But the guy’s got a couple of people with him. He knew why they were there. They were there to work him over. He said, “Well, what am i going to do?” And just about then a miracle happened – our cousin Jeff walked in. He hadn’t been in Searchlight in a couple of years, but cousin Jeff was known as being a really tough guy. So, Larry said, “Here’s the deal.” Cousin Jeff looked him over, went to the biggest one, grabbed his nose, twisted it as hard as he could and he said, “Do you guys want any part of me or my cousin Larry?” They said no and they left. .

The reason I say that – Durbin is my cousin Jeff. I was in my office watching the floor. McConnell was up there. I was so damned mad. He was talking about stuff. I was mad. I called my office. “Why don’t we have somebody out there saying something.” He said, “Senator, that was transcribed, that was recorded earlier today. We’re out of session.” So Durbin has been my man, my cousin Jeff. Whenever I have a problem, everybody, I call Dick Durbin. Dick Durbin can talk about anything that sounds good.

Chuck Schumer. My kids said make sure you tell everybody about how smart you think he is. Okay. I’m going to do it. One day I said to Schumer –  we hadn’t known each other a long time, but I said, “How the hell did you ever get in Harvard?” He said, “It helped I had a perfect SAT. and a perfect LSAT. That’s true – it’s not just talk. He did. He is a brilliant man. He’s got a big heart and he works extremely hard, and he has been so good to me. We worked together. He took a job he didn’t want, chair of the DSCC twice, but it worked out great. We were able to get the majority. So I will always have great affection for him, and I wish him well in being my replacement. I’m confident he will do a good job. He won’t be me, but he’ll do a good job.

My staff, we checked yesterday, my staff did. It’s hard to comprehend how many people I’ve had work for me over 34 years. Almost 3,000, everybody. And I feel so strongly about my staff. They are my family. I really, really do believe that. I feel they’re my family. Chiefs of staff, I haven’t had that many, surprisingly, over 34 years. Claude Zobell, Rey Martinez, Susan McCue, Gary Myrick, David Krone, Drew Willison and of course David McCallum, who has done so much to make sure I didn’t overspend things. And my utility man, Bill Dauster. He can catch, pitch, play any position on the field. He’s been great for me. I appreciate Bill’s work very much.

Thank you, Adelle, because I would be so embarrassed if I didn’t say something about Patty Murray. She has been part of this leadership team I have had. You know, we have never had anything like this before in the Senate. Leaders prior to me, they did it all on their own. But I have had these three wonderful human beings helping me for all these years.

We meet every Monday night, get set up for the caucus on Tuesday, for the leadership meeting on Tuesday. So Patty, you and Rob, I just care so much about, and I want you to know how I appreciate your loyalty, your hard work. You’ve taken some jobs that you didn’t want to take. That budget job, oh that super – whatever the hell it was called. It was awful. I don’t know how long she’s going to live, but that took a few years off her life. But you and Rob have been great. Loretta is my friend. Iris I love. So thank you very much, you guys.

I’ve told everyone on my staff, with rare exception, you represent me. If you’re on the phone, when you answer that phone, you’re representing me. You are as if you are Harry Reid on that phone. I say the same to those who speak, write and advocate for me. They represent me, and they have done so well. They have helped me in good times and bad times.

What is the future of the Senate? I would hope that everyone would do everything they can to protect the Senate as an institution. As part of our Constitution, it should be given the dignity it deserves. I love the Senate. I don’t need to dwell on that. I love the Senate. I care about it so very, very much. I’ve enjoyed Congress for 34 years. I have, as the leader here in the Senate, I have had such joy and times of oh, wow, what are we going to do now. That’s what these jobs are like. They are so exhilarating until oh, man, something happens and I think all of you have done like I have just said, wow, what are we going to do now? The Senate has changed, some for the good, some for the bad.

I want to say this, though. It isn’t the same as when I first came here. There’s change in everything. The biggest change has been the use of the filibuster. I do hope my colleagues are able to temper the use of the filibuster. Otherwise it will be gone. It will be gone first on nominations and then it will be gone on legislation. This is something you have to work on together. Because if you continue to use it the way it’s been used recently, it’s going to really affect this institution a lot.

Something has to be done about the outrageous amount of money from sources that are dark, unknown, now involved in our federal elections. The Citizens United case in January, 2010 – if this doesn’t change, if we don’t do something about this vast money coming into our elections, in a couple more election cycles, we’re going to be just like Russia. We’re going to have a plutocracy, a few rich guys telling our leader what to do.

Leonard Cohen, who recently died, one of America’s great music geniuses, recently died, as I said. In one of his songs is called “Anthem.” he says it all: “There’s a crack, a crack in everything, there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” That’s what he said. And I believe there are cracks in what’s happening with the huge amount of money currently in federal elections and excessive partisanship.

The cracks are the American people don’t like it. They don’t like this money, they don’t like the partisanship. So there are cracks. There are cracks, I repeat, because the American people are complaining big time about the excessive use of money and objecting to the partisanship. That’s the crack and that’s how the light’s going to get in. That’s how America has the opportunity to become a better place where money will not control our political system, nor will partisanship.

So just a little bit of advice to my colleagues, it’s worked okay for me. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Elko , a really conservative place in Nevada 400 miles from Las Vegas. If a question is asked in Elko of me, I give the same answer there as i give in Las Vegas. We should all do that.

The people in Nevada have never had to worry how I stand on an issue. I tell them how I feel, and that’s why I have never had any big bang elections. But people at least know how I stand. People who don’t necessarily like how I vote and what I talk about, at least they know how I feel. I think that’s good advice for everybody. At least that’s worked well for me, I hope. ‘But what’s your formula for success? What do you recommend?’ And I tell them the same thing about working hard. Of course that’s important. Of course it’s important, but also stay true to who you are, your roots.

Now, my social life, my time in Washington has been different than many. I’m not saying it is better, but it’s been different. Every year there are galas: The White House Correspondents Dinner, The Gridiron Club Dinner, Radio and Correspondents Dinner, Alfalfa Club. So, during my 34 years in Congress, there have been 135 or 136 of these. I attended one of them. For me, that was enough. I have attended one Congressional Picnic in 34 years. That was because my son Key had a girlfriend and he wanted to impress her, and I guess he did because they’re married. But one was enough for me. I’ve attended one state dinner. That’s because I had a son who spent two years in Argentina and wanted to meet the president of Argentina. I did that for my son Rory. But one was enough. I have never been to another one. I have never been to a White House Congressional Ball like the one that’s going to be held tonight. I guess I’m inquisitive of how it would be, but I don’t want to go. I’ve seen one World Series. That was enough. I’ve been to one Super Bowl. That was plenty. I’ve flown once in an F-18 and that was, that was enough. So I’ve gone over the years to hundreds of fundraisers for my friends and colleagues, but everyone has to acknowledge I can get in and out of those pretty quick.

So let me talk about the press a little bit and their responsibility as I see it. We’re entering a new gilded age. It has never been more important to be able to distinguish between what’s real and what is fake. We have lawmakers pushing for tax cuts for billionaires and calling it populism. We have media outlets pushing conspiracy theories disguised as news. Separating real from fake has never been more important. And I wish, I have met him, but I wish I could sit down and talk to him sometime because I so admire Pope Francis. Here’s what  he said yesterday: “The media that focuses on scandals and spread fake news to smear politicians risk becoming like people who have a morbid fascination with  excrement.” That’s what Pope Francis said. He added that using communication for this rather than educating the public amounted to a sin. Well, he can categorize sin, I can’t, but I agree with him on what he just said. I acknowledge the importance of the press. I admire what you do and understand the challenges ahead of you. But be vigilant because you have as much to do with our democracy as any branch of government. This is best understood by listening to what George Orwell had to say a long time ago, and I quote: “Freedom of the press if it means anything at all means the freedom to criticize and oppose.” So press, criticize and oppose, please do that.

This really is the end of my speech. I have five children, Lana, Rory, Leif, Josh and Key. They have been role models for me and for Landra. They were role models. We learned from them when they were young and we are still learn from them. We appreciate the exemplary lives they have lived. I am confident, hopeful and determined to make sure that they understand how much affection, love and admiration I have for each of them, for their wonderful spouses and our 19 grandchildren.

Okay. Here goes. Whatever success I had in my educational life, my life as a lawyer, my life as a politician, including my time in Congress, is directly attributable to Landra, my wife. We met when Landra was a sophomore in high school and I was a junior. That was more than six decades ago. We married at age 19. As I’ve said, we have five children. We have wonderful 19 grandchildren. She has been the being of my existence, in my personal life and my public life. Disraeli, the great prime minister said in 1837: “The magic of first love is that it never ends.”  I believe that. She’s my first love. It will never end. Landra and I have talked and we understand we will have a different life. We have said and we believe that we’re not going to dwell on the past. We’ll be involved in the past any way we need to be, but we’re going to look to the future.

I wish everyone the best. I’m sorry I talked so long. I usually don’t do that. I thank everyone for listening to my speech. I appreciate my wonderful family being here, my friends, my staff and each of you. Thank you for your friendship and support over the years.

 

Full Text Obama Presidency November 21, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Immigration Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Immigration

Del Sol High School

Las Vegas, Nevada

12:50 P.M. PST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Las Vegas!  (Applause.)  Good to see you again — you were here two years ago.  (Applause.)  It’s good to be back at Del Sol High School –- go Dragons!  (Applause.)

Let me just say that whenever I fly to Vegas on Air Force One, the plane is a little more crowded.  (Laughter.)  For some reason, folks want to come to Vegas.  But today it was also crowded with a whole bunch of people who have been passionate about making sure America always remains a nation of immigrants, including your Senator, Harry Reid; the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi; some extraordinary members of Congress who have been leading on immigration reform — they are doing unbelievable work, and I want to just name a couple of them — and if I forget somebody, make sure I don’t get into trouble — from left to right, we’ve got Xavier Becerra, Ben Lujan, Luis Gutierrez, Dina Titus, Steve Horsford, and Bob Menendez.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the son-in-law of Cesar Chavez and a hero to farmworkers in his own right, Arturo Rodriguez.  (Applause.)

And I just want to — and since we’re on farmworkers, a legend, somebody who has just been a great friend to working people all across the country, Dolores Huerta.  Love you.  (Applause.)

I’m so inspired by the introduction by Astrid.  Last night, I spoke directly to the American people about immigration, and you heard me talk about Astrid.  And if you watched her introduction just now, you heard her talk a little bit about herself.

She was brought here as a little girl, and grew up believing in America and in her identity as an American, just like Malia or Sasha.  And then as she grew up, she found out that she was undocumented, which meant she couldn’t do all the things her friends could do.  She feared that she and her brother could be separated from their dad.  And then one day, she decided to start advocating for her fellow DREAMers, and to stand up for her family, and to fight to make a difference in this country that she loves.

And part of what makes America exceptional is that we welcome exceptional people like Astrid.  (Applause.)  It makes us stronger.  It makes us vibrant and dynamic.  It makes us hopeful.  We are a nation of immigrants, and that means that we’re constantly being replenished with strivers who believe in the American Dream.  And it gives us a tremendous advantage over other nations.  It makes us entrepreneurial.  It continues the promise that here in America, you can make it if you try, regardless of where you come from, regardless of the circumstances of your birth.

Our immigration system has been broken for a very long time — and everybody knows it.  As Americans, we believe in fairness –- the idea that if we work hard and play by the rules, we can get ahead.  But too often, the immigration system feels fundamentally unfair.  You’ve got families who try to come here the right way but sometimes get separated, or stuck in line for years.  You’ve got business owners who are doing the right thing by their workers, offering good wages and benefits, and then you’ve got companies that are ignoring minimum wage laws or overtime laws, taking advantage of undocumented immigrants, and as a consequence, undercutting the employers who are doing the right thing.

All of us take offense to the idea that anybody can reap the rewards of living in America without its responsibilities.  And folks like Astrid and Astrid’s parents, who desperately want to make amends, embrace the responsibilities of living here — they’re forced to either live in the shadows or risk having their families torn apart.

We’ve known about this for years.  And we’ve known we can do better.  And for years, we haven’t done much about it.  Well, today, we’re doing something about it.  (Applause.)

Now, when I took office, I committed to fixing this broken system.  And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders, because I do believe in secure borders.  And over the past six years, illegal border crossings have been cut by more than half.  Don’t let all the rhetoric fool you.  There was a brief spike this summer in unaccompanied children being apprehended at the border, but it was temporary, and the number of such children is now actually lower than it’s been in nearly two years.  Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s, when I was in high school — and I’ve got gray hair now.  (Laughter.)  So it’s been a long time.

And nearly two years ago, I came here, Del Sol High School, right in this gymnasium — (applause) — and I said that the time had come for Congress to fix our broken immigration system.  And I laid out some basic principles for reform that a lot of different parties could agree on.  And what was remarkable was the consensus that started to develop.  We had business leaders and labor leaders, and evangelical leaders, and law enforcement leaders; we had Republicans and we had Democrats and independents — and they all said that, yes, we should secure our borders, we should bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century, and then, once and for all, we should give the 11 million people living in the shadows a chance to make amends and earn their citizenship the right way.

So those were our principles.  We laid them out.  We were very clear.  (Applause.)  And after I laid out those principles, we then went to work with Congress.  And we started in the Senate.  And you ended up with a big majority of Democrats and Republicans and independents all coming together in the Senate to pass a bipartisan bill based on these principles.

The Senate bill wasn’t perfect; it was a compromise.  That’s how things work in Congress.  That’s how things work in a democracy.  Not everybody was satisfied with every provision, but it was a good, solid, common-sense bill that would have made our immigration system a lot better.

It would have doubled the number of border patrol agents.  So for those who wanted more border security, that was in the bill.  It would have made the legal immigration system smarter and fairer.  It would have given the opportunity for young people who are talented and who have gotten a degree — maybe in computer science or some technical field — to stay here and work, and contribute, and create a business, and create more jobs.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re welcome.  (Applause.)  And it would have given millions of people that chance to get right with the law.  But it wasn’t just a gift — they would have had to pay a fine.  They would have had to learn English.  They would have had to get to the back of the line.  They would have had to pay back taxes.

It was a sensible bill, and all these members of Congress, they worked on it and were supportive of it.  And independent experts — not me — people who analyze the economy for a living, they said that over two decades, the new law would grow our economy, shrink our deficits.  In other words, it would help to solve some big problems in a bipartisan way.  And nobody was happier than me.  And when it passed the Senate, we said, all right, let’s send it over to the House, we’ve got the votes in the House.  We’ve got Democrats and Republicans who were prepared to vote for it in the House.  (Applause.)

It has now been 512 days — a year and a half — in which the only thing standing in the way of that bipartisan bill and my desk so that I can sign that bill, the only thing that’s been standing in the way is a simple yes-or-not vote in the House of Representatives.  Just a yes-or-no vote.  If they had allowed a vote on that kind of bill, it would have passed.  I would have signed it.  It would be the law right now.

These leaders right here tried to make it happen.  Nancy Pelosi kept on saying to John Boehner, let’s just call the bill, see where it goes.  There are Republicans who worked hard on this bill too, and they deserve credit.  Because even though it wasn’t necessarily popular in their party, they knew it was the right thing to do.

But despite that, the party leadership in the House of Representatives would not let it come forward.  And I cajoled and I called and I met.  I told John Boehner, I’ll wash your car, I’ll walk your dog — (laughter) — whatever you need to do, just call the bill.  That’s how democracy is supposed to work.  And if the votes hadn’t been there, then we would have had to start over.  But at least give it a shot — and he didn’t do it.

And the fact that a year and a half has gone by means that time has been wasted.  And during that time, families have been separated.  And during that time, businesses have been harmed.  And we can’t afford it anymore.

Las Vegas, I have come back to Del Sol to tell you I’m not giving up.  I will never give up.  I will never give up.  (Applause.)  I will not give up.

AUDIENCE:  Si se puede!  Si se puede!  Si se puede!

THE PRESIDENT:  So we’re not giving up.  We’re going to keep on working with members of Congress to make permanent reform a reality.  But until that day comes, there are actions that I have the legal authority to take that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.  And this morning, I began to take some of those actions.  (Applause.)

So I talked about — I thought — I talked about what I could do based on talking to all the legal experts, talking to the Office of Legal Counsel.  And not everything that we want to do we can do, but they told me what we could do.  And I wasn’t going to sit idly by and not do at least what I was authorized to do.

So first, we’re providing more resources to law enforcement so they can stem the flow of illegal crossings at our border and speed up the return of those who do cross over.  I want to repeat that — border security is important.

Second, we’re making it easier for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy.  (Applause.)

Third, we’re going to take steps to deal responsibly with millions of undocumented immigrants who are already here.  (Applause.)  Now, as I did last night, I want to spend some extra time talking about the third step, because this is the one that brings up the strongest passions on both sides.

The truth is, undocumented workers broke our immigration laws.  They didn’t follow the rules in terms of how they were supposed to come.  And I believe they should be held accountable.  And some have proven to break other laws.  Some are dangerous.  That’s why over the past six years, deportations of criminals are up 80 percent.  And that’s why we’ll keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security.  But that means felons, not families.  That means criminals, not children.  It means gang members, not moms who are trying to put food on their — on the table for their kids.  (Applause.)

So essentially what we’re doing is what law enforcement does every day.  We’ve got limited resources, and so we’re going to prioritize who are the folks who should be subject to removal, and that means that we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got clear rules in terms of how we’re enforcing the law.

But even as we focus on deporting criminals, the fact is, millions of immigrants, they live here.  And many of them have been here a very long time.  And they’re found in every state, and they’re of every race and every nationality.  I know a lot of people focus on the Latino community, but the truth is that —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  — does not qualify!

THE PRESIDENT:  — the truth is that they’re not just —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

AUDIENCE:  Si se puede!  Si se puede!  Si se puede!  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right, not everybody will qualify under this provision.  That’s the truth.  And — that’s the truth.  That’s why we’re still going to have to pass a bill.  That’s why we’re still going to have to pass a bill.  (Applause.)

So listen, I heard you, and what I’m saying is, we’re still going to have to pass a bill.  This is not — this is a first step.  It’s not the only step.  We’re still going to have to do more work.  (Applause.)  So let — I’ve heard you.  I’ve heard you, young man.  I’ve heard you, and I understand.  I’ve heard you.  But what I’m saying is, this is just a first step.  So, young man, I’m talking to a lot of people here.  I’ve been respectful to you, I want you to be respectful to me, all right?  Okay.  (Applause.)

Now, understand that not everybody who comes here is Latino.  Sometimes that’s the face of immigration.  Let me tell you, I’m from Chicago.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got some Irish immigrants whose papers aren’t in order.  We’ve got some Polish immigrants whose papers are not in order.  We’ve got some Ukrainian folks.  Down in Florida we’ve got some Haitian folks.  This is not just a Latino issue, this is an American issue.  (Applause.)  This is an American issue.

And what we have to do is be honest — that tracking down, rounding up, and deporting millions of people is not realistic.  That’s not who we are.  Most undocumented immigrants are good, decent people.  They have been here for a long time.  (Applause.)  They work, often in the toughest, most low-paying jobs.  They’re trying hard to support their families.  They worship at our churches.  Their kids go to school with our kids.  (Applause.)

So the fact is that — even Republicans who say that they don’t want to pass this bill that was passed by these legislators, they’re not serious about trying to deport 10, 11 million people.  That’s all rhetoric.  Now, what we do expect is that people who are here play by the rules.  You shouldn’t get rewarded for cutting in line.

So we’ve offered the following deal:  If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, you pass a background check, you are willing to pay your fair share of taxes –- then you’re going to be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.  You can come out of the shadows, get right with the law.  (Applause.)

Now, let’s be clear on what this deal is, and what it isn’t.  This action doesn’t apply to anybody who has come to this country recently.  You can’t show up for a week and then suddenly apply — you can’t.  Because borders mean something.  It doesn’t apply to anybody who might come illegally in the future.  While I support a path to citizenship — and so do all these legislators here — this action doesn’t grant citizenship, or the right to stay permanently, or receive the same benefits that citizens receive — only Congress can do that.  All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you and separate you from your kids.  (Applause.)

Now, if you’ve taken responsibility, you’ve registered, undergone a background check, you’re paying taxes, you’ve been here for five years, you’ve got roots in the community — you’re not going to be deported.  And I know some critics call this action amnesty.  It’s not amnesty.  Amnesty really is the system we’ve got today.  You’ve got millions of people who are living here, but they’re not obliged to pay their taxes or play by the rules, and then politicians just use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time.

So they want to keep the system as is — people living in the shadows, maybe providing cheap labor, not subject to any worker protections, and then you pretend like you’re being tough on immigration.  That’s not the right way to do it.  That’s the real amnesty, just talking, leaving the broken system the way it is.

The bottom line is, mass amnesty would be unfair.  But mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our country’s character.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not who we are.  (Applause.)

So what we are offering is accountability.  It is accountability.  It’s a common-sense, middle-ground approach.  If you meet the criteria, you can come out of the shadows, you can get right with the law.  If you are a criminal, you’re going to be deported.  If you plan to enter the United States illegally, your chances of getting caught and sent back are going up.

And for those who don’t qualify under this rule, we’re still going to need legislation.  But the actions I’ve taken are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every Republican President and every Democratic President for the past half century.  (Applause.)  Ronald Reagan took action to keep families together.  The first President Bush took action to shield about 40 percent of undocumented immigrants at the time.  This isn’t something I’m doing as if it’s never been done.  This kind of thing has been done before.

So when members of Congress question my authority to make our immigration system work better, I have a simple answer:  Pass a bill.  (Applause.)  Pass a bill.  Nobody is stopping them from passing a bill.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Pass a bill!  Pass a bill!  Pass a bill!

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I got to admit, these days I don’t always listen to all the commentary — (laughter) — but I understand that some of them are already saying that my actions “sabotage” their ability to pass a bill and make immigration work better.  Why?  I didn’t dissolve parliament.  That’s not how our system works.  (Laughter.)  I didn’t steal away the various clerks in the Senate and the House who manage bills.  They can still pass a bill.  I don’t have a vote in Congress — pass a bill.  You don’t need me to call a vote to pass a bill.  Pass a bill.

Because the actions I’ve taken are only a temporary first step.  I don’t have the authority to do some really important reforms.  We should be creating new programs for farmworkers.  We should be adding visas for the high-tech sector.  We should be creating a pathway to citizenship.  But only Congress can do that.

The House could still pass the bipartisan Senate bill before the end of the year.  (Applause.)  They still have time.  They’ve still got — what are you guys schedule to be in for, another four weeks.  Right after Thanksgiving call the bill.  It’s been sitting there.  And if they don’t want to pass that bill, then I pledge to work with Republicans and Democrats next year to pass a more permanent legislative solution.  And the day I sign that bill into law, then the actions that I’ve taken will no longer be necessary.  And I’ll give everybody credit.  I’ll be happy to have John Boehner and Mitch McConnell alongside Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Luis Gutierrez and Bob Menendez and all these folks — we’ll all have a nice signing ceremony.

So I just want to emphasize this issue.  Because I hear some people say, well, we’re in favor of immigration reform, but we don’t think that it should be done without Congress.  Well, Congress, go ahead and do it.

And meanwhile, Washington should not let disagreements over one issue be a dealbreaker on every issue.  That’s not how our democracy works.  Congress certainly should not shut down the government again over this.  Because Americans are tired of gridlock.  We are ready to move forward.  And we don’t want to — and we just want sensible, common-sense approaches to problems.

Now, this debate deserves more than the usual politics, because for all the back and forth in Washington, as I said last night, this is about something bigger.  This is about who we are.  Who do we want to be?

America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our beds, clean out bedpans, with no chance ever to get right with the law.  We’re a nation that gives people a chance to take responsibility and make amends, and then create a better future for their kids.

America is not a nation that should be tolerating the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms.  We’re a nation that values families, and we should work together to keep them together.  (Applause.)

America attracts talent from all around the world. We educate the world’s young people in our universities, and then we just send them home, even if they’re wanting to start a business or they’ve got some specialized skill.  We just send them home, and then they compete against us.  We should be encouraging the best and the brightest to study here and stay here, and invest here, and create jobs here and businesses here, and industries here.  You look at Silicon Valley — 30, 40 percent of the companies that we now take for granted that have changed our lives, they were started by immigrants.  (Applause.)

So that’s what this issue is all about.  And that’s why it deserves reasoned and thoughtful and compassionate debate.  And that’s why we have to focus not on our fears, we’ve got focus on our hopes.

You know, every day we receive thousands, tens of thousands of letters and emails at the White House.  And as you can imagine, for the past few days, a lot of them have been about immigration.  They’ve come from good, decent people on both sides of this debate.  And I want to — I want everybody here to understand, there are folks who are good, decent people who are worried about immigration.  They’re worried that it changes the fabric of our country.  They’re worried about whether immigrants take jobs from hardworking Americans.  And they’re worried because they’re feeling a lot of economic stress, and they feel as if maybe they’re the ones paying taxes and nobody else is taking responsibility.  So they’ve urged me not to act.

And I hear them.  And I understand them.  But you know, I’ve also got a lot of letters and emails reminding me why we had to act — from American family members of hardworking immigrants who feared their families could be torn apart; from DREAMers who had proudly stepped out of the shadows and were willing to live without fear, even though it was a big risk for them; from Republicans who don’t agree with me on everything, but are tired of their party refusing to vote on reform.

One Republican who wrote me said this — he said he supported my decision, and he said — and I’m quoting — “I believe that a human being, created in the very image of Almighty God, is the greatest resource that we have in this country.”  (Applause.)

We’re not a nation that kicks out strivers and dreamers who want to earn their piece of the American Dream.  We’re a nation that finds a way to welcome them.  We make them earn it, but we welcome them in as fellow human beings, fellow children of God.  And we harness their talents to make the future brighter for everybody.

We didn’t raise the Statue of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world.  And whether we were Irish or Italians or Germans crossing the Atlantic, or Japanese or Chinese crossing the Pacific; whether we crossed the Rio Grande or flew here from all over the world — generations of immigrants have made this country into what it is.  It’s what makes us special.  (Applause.)

And whether we fled famine, or war, or persecution; whether we had the right documents, or connections, or skills; whether we were wealthy or poor — we all shared one thing, and that was hope that America would be the place where we could finally build a better life for ourselves and for our children, and for future generations.  Hope that America is the place where we could make it.

That’s what makes us Americans.  It’s not what we look like.  It’s not what our last name is.  It’s not where we come from.  It’s not how we pray.  What makes us American is a shared commitment to an ideal that all of us are created equal, all of us have a chance to make our lives what we will.

For generations, America — by choice and Americans by birth have come together to renew that common creed and move this country forward that brought us to this moment.  That is the legacy that we now have to deliver to the next generation.

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

END
1:22 P.M. PST

Full Text Obama Presidency January 29, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Immigration Reform — Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama’s Four Part Plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Source: WH, 1-29-13

President Obama delivers remarks on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Jan. 29, 2013

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nev., Jan. 29, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Watch this video on YouTube

For more information:

Full Transcript of President Obama’s Remarks on Immigration Reform

Source: NYT, 1-29-13

The following is the complete transcript of President Obama’s remarks on immigration on Tuesday in Las Vegas. (Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you.

Well, it is good to be back in Las Vegas. (Cheers, applause.) And it is good to be among so many good friends. Let — let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School for hosting us. (Cheers, applause.) Go, Dragons! Let me especially thank your outstanding principal, Lisa Primas. (Cheers, applause.)

There are all kinds of notable guests here, but I just want to mention a few. First of all, our outstanding secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano is here. (Cheers, applause.) Our wonderful secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar. (Cheers, applause.) Former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. (Cheers, applause.) Two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation from Nevada, Steve Horsford and Dina Titus. (Cheers, applause.) Your own mayor, Carolyn Goodman. (Cheers, applause.)

But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we’re going to talk about today is, Marie Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona — (cheers, applause) — Kasim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia — (cheers, applause) — Greg Stanton from Phoenix, Arizona (cheers, applause) — and Ashley Swearengin from Fresno, California.

(Cheers, applause.)

And all of you are here — (cheers) — as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country, and we are just so grateful. Some outstanding business leaders are here as well. And of course we got wonderful students here. (Sustained cheers, applause.) So I could not be prouder of our students.

Now, those of you who have a seat, feel free to take a seat. I don’t mind. (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you, (Obama ?)!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I love you back! (Cheers.)

Now, last week — last week I had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn’t require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have. But it does require us to find common ground and move forward in common purpose. It requires us to act.

And I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others. Some debates will be more contentious. That’s to be expected.

But the reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling, where a broad consensus is emerging and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America.

I’m here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform — (cheers, applause) — (inaudible). Now’s the time. Now’s the time. (Cheers, applause.) Now’s the time. (Chanting.) Now’s the time.

I’m here because — I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Right!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now’s the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future.

Think about it. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That’s who we are, in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that’s always been one of our greatest strengths. It keeps our workforce young, it keeps our country on the cutting edge, and it’s helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known.

After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo. They created entire new industries that in turn created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens.

In recent years 1 in 4 high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants. One in 4 new small-business owners were immigrants, including right here in Nevada, folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity with other Americans.

But we all know that today we have an immigration system that’s out of date and badly broken; a system that’s holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class.

Right now we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. Yes, they broke the rules. They crossed the border illegally. Maybe they overstayed their visas. Those are the facts. Nobody disputes them.

But these 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years. And the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren’t looking for any trouble. They’re contributing members of the community. They’re looking out for their families. They’re looking out for their neighbors. They’re woven into the fabric of our lives.

Every day, like the rest of us, they go out and try to earn a living. Often they do that in the shadow economy, a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work overtime without extra pay. And when that happens, it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for the entire economy, because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing, that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules — they’re the ones who suffer.

They’ve got to compete against companies that are breaking the rules. And the wages and working conditions of American workers are threatened too.

So if we’re truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it in the middle class, we’ve got to fix the system. We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring this shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable, businesses for who they hire and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That’s common sense, and that’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

And — (cheers, applause) — now, there’s another economic reason why we need reform. It’s not just about the folks who come here illegally and have the effect they have on our economy; it’s also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so and the effect that has on our economy. Right now there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities. They’re earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science. But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there’s a good chance they’ll have to leave our country.

Now, think about that. Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Instagram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Right now in one of those classrooms, there’s a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea, their Intel or Instagram, into a big business.

We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else. That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

Now — (cheers, applause) — now, during my first term, we took steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system. First, we strengthened security at the borders so that we could finally stem the tide of illegal immigrants. We put more boots on the ground on the southern border than at any time in our history. And today, illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. (Applause.)

Second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who endanger our communities. And today, deportations of criminals — (applause) — is at its highest level ever.

And third, we took up the cause of the dreamers, the young people who were brought to this country as children — (cheers, applause) — young people who have grown up here, built their lives here, have futures here. We said that if you’re able to meet some basic criteria, like pursuing an education, then we’ll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows so that you can live here and work here legally, so that you can finally have the dignity of knowing you belong.

But because this change isn’t permanent, we need Congress to act, and not just on the DREAM Act.

We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country right now. That’s what we need. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, the good news is that for the first time in many years Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. (Cheers, applause.) Members of both parties in both chambers are actively working on a solution. Yesterday a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. So at this moment it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that’s very encouraging.

But this time action must follow. We can’t allow — (applause) — immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We’ve been debating this a very long time. So it’s not as if we don’t know technically what needs to get done.

As a consequence, to help move this process along, today I’m laying out my ideas for immigration reform. And my hope is that this provides some key markers to members of Congress as they craft a bill, because the ideas that I’m proposing have traditionally been supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like President George W. Bush. You don’t get that matchup very often. (Laughter.) So — so we know where the consensus should be.

Now of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details. And every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process. But it’s important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes! (Cheers, applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So — so the principles are pretty straightforward. There are a lot of details behind it. We’re going to hand out a bunch of paper so everybody will know exactly what we’re talking about. But the principles are pretty straightforward.

First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders.

It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who’s here legally, who’s not. So we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone’s employment status. And if they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, then we need to ramp up the penalties.

Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. Now, we all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. (Cheers, applause.)

We’ve got to — we’ve got to lay out a path, a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally, that’s only fair. (Cheers, applause.) All right? So that means it won’t be a quick process, but it will be a fair process and it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to green card and, eventually, to citizenship. (Cheers, applause.)

And the third principle is we’ve got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. (Cheers, applause.) For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn’t have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. (Cheers, applause.) You shouldn’t have to wait years.

If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here because if you succeed you’ll create American businesses and American jobs, You’ll help us grow our economy, you’ll help us strengthen our middle class.

So that’s what comprehensive immigration reform looks like — smarter enforcement, a pathway to earn citizenship, improvements in the legal immigration system so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world.

It’s pretty straightforward.

The question now is simple. Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do. (Applause.) I believe that we do. I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp. But I promise you this. The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become.

Immigration’s always been an issue that inflames passions. That’s not surprising. You know, there are few things that are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home, who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the Untied States of America. That’s a big deal. When we talk about that in the abstract, it’s easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them. (Cheers, applause.) We forget that.

And it’s really important for us to remember our history. You know, unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. (Cheers, applause.) Somebody brought you.

You know, Ken Salazar — he’s of, you know, Mexican-American descent, but he — he points out that his family’s been living where — where he lives for 400 years.

(Cheers.) So he didn’t — he didn’t immigrate anywhere. (Laughter.)

The Irish, who left behind a land of famine; the Germans, who fled persecution; the Scandinavians, who arrived eager to pioneer out west; the Polish; the Russians; the Italians; the Chinese; the Japanese; the West Indians; the huddled masses who came through Ellis Island on one coast and Angel Island on the other — (cheers, applause) — you know, all those folks, before they were us, they were them. (Laughter.)

And when each new wave of immigrants arrived, they faced resistance from those who were already here. They faced hardship. They faced racism. They faced ridicule. But over time, as they went about their daily lives, as they earned a living, as they raised a family, as they built a community, as their kids went to school here, they did their part to build the nation. They were the Einsteins and the Carnegies, but they were also the millions of women and men whose names history may not remember but whose actions helped make us who we are, who built this country hand by hand, brick by brick. (Cheers, applause.)

They all came here knowing that what makes somebody an American is not just blood or birth but allegiance to our founding principles and the faith in the idea that anyone from anywhere can write the next great chapter of our story.

And that’s still true today. Just ask Alan Aleman. Alan’s here this afternoon. Where’s Alan? He — he — he’s around here. There he is right here. (Cheers, applause.) Now, Alan was born in Mexico. (Cheers, applause.) He was brought to this country by his parents when he was a child. Growing up, Alan went to an American school, pledged allegiance to the American flag, felt American in every way. And he was, except for one — on paper. In high school, Alan watched his friends come of age, driving around town with their new licenses, earning some extra cash from their summer jobs at the mall. He knew he couldn’t do those things. But it didn’t matter that much; what mattered to Alan was earning an education so that he could live up to his God-given potential.

Last year, when Alan heard the news that we were going to offer a chance for folks like him to emerge from the shadows, even if it’s just for two years at a time, he was one of the first to sign up. And a few months ago he was one — one of the first people in Nevada to get approved. (Cheers, applause.) In that moment Alan said, I felt the fear vanish. I felt accepted.

So today Alan’s in his second year at the College of Southern Nevada. (Cheers, applause.) Alan’s studying to become a doctor. (Cheers, applause.) He hopes to join the Air Force. (Cheers, applause.) He’s working hard every single day to build a better life for himself and his family. And all he wants is the opportunity to do his part to build a better America. (Applause.)

So — so in the coming weeks, as the idea of reform becomes more real and the debate becomes more heated and there are folks who are trying to pull this thing apart, remember Alan and all those who share the same hopes and the same dreams. Remember that this is not just a debate about policy. It’s about people. It’s about men and women and young people who want nothing more than the chance to earn their way into the American story.

And throughout our history, that’s only made our nation stronger. And it’s how we will make sure that this century is the same as the last, an American century, welcoming of everybody who aspires to do something more, who’s willing to work hard to do it, and is willing to pledge that allegiance to our flag.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

Political Headlines January 29, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Issues Call for Immigration Overhaul

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Issues Call for Immigration Overhaul

Source: NYT, 1-29-13

President Obama delivered remarks on immigration reform on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama delivered remarks on immigration reform on Tuesday in Las Vegas.

President Obama also welcomed bipartisan movement in Congress on the politically charged issue, which has defied solution in recent years….READ MORE

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 1, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Las Vegas, Nevada — Invokes Superstorm Sandy on the Campaign Trail

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Invokes Superstorm Sandy on the Campaign Trail

Source: ABC News Radio, 11-1-12

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

After canceling campaign events for three days to oversee the response to the devastating storm, President Obama, back on the trail, told supporters in two key battleground states Thursday that Superstorm Sandy serves as a reminder that “when disaster strikes, we see America at its best.”

“All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away,” the president told 4,500 Nevadans at a rally in Las Vegas. “There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans, leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken, neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy, communities rallying to rebuild, a spirit that says, In the end we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one nation.”…READ MORE

Remarks by the President in Las Vegas, NV

Source: WH, 11-1-12

Cheyenne Sports Complex
Las Vegas, Nevada

2:05 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Nevada!  (Applause.)  It is great to be back in Vegas!  (Applause.)  It’s great to be here with your next senator, Shelley Berkley — (applause) — who’s going to join my great friend, Majority Leader Harry Reid, in fighting for the people of Nevada.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Where’s Michelle?

THE PRESIDENT:  Michelle couldn’t come, but she says hey.  (Applause.)  She loves you guys.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love her!

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on —

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  All right.  Thank you so much.

Listen, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on one of the worst storms in our lifetime.  We are awed by the destructive power of nature.  We’re mourning those who’ve been lost.  And we’re going to pledge to those whose lives have been turned upside down that we will not quit until we have given them all the help they need to recover.  (Applause.)

This afternoon, as I was flying out to Vegas, we had conference calls with mayors all across New Jersey; had conference calls with mayors and local elected officials all across Connecticut.  I spoke to the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, and they’re struggling.  And the cleanup, the aftermath of this storm is going to be hard and it’s going to take some time.

But the thing that I have repeated to them every time I talk to them is America will not forget them.  We are going to make sure they get everything they need.  We’re going to cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got military transport getting equipment in to get the power back on.  We’ve got food and water and medical supplies that we’re shipping in.  And we’re not going to stop — because what we understand is, is that this could happen to any of us.

AUDIENCE:  That’s right!

THE PRESIDENT:  And that’s why, even in the midst of tragedy, the situation on the East Coast has also inspired, because it reminds us that when disaster strikes we see America at its best.  All the petty differences that consume us in normal times somehow melt away.  There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm, just fellow Americans –- (applause) — leaders of different parties working to fix what’s broken; neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy; communities rallying to rebuild; a spirit that says in the end, we’re all in this together –- that we rise or fall as one nation.  (Applause.)

That’s what we have seen on display over these last few days.  That is the spirit that we need going forward.  That spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries.  It’s carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.

In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Today, our businesses have created over 5 million new jobs.  (Applause.)  The American auto industry is back on top.  (Applause.)  American manufacturing is growing faster than any time in the last 15 years.  (Applause.)  We’re less dependent on foreign oil than any time in the last 20 years.  (Applause.)  Home values are on the rise.  (Applause.)  Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over.  (Applause.)  The war in Afghanistan is coming to an end.  Al Qaeda has been decimated.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thanks to you!

THE PRESIDENT:  So we’ve made real progress these past four years.  But, Nevada, we know our work is not yet done.  We know our work is not yet done in making sure that New Jersey and New York and Connecticut and West Virginia, that they all recover from the hardship they’ve experienced.  (Applause.)

Our work is not done as long as there’s a single American who wants a job and can’t yet find one.  As long as there are families who are working harder and harder, but falling further behind, our work is not yet done.  As long as there is a child languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity anywhere in this country, anywhere in Nevada, our work is not yet done.  (Applause.)

Our fight goes on, because we know this nation can’t succeed without a growing, thriving middle class, and strong, sturdy ladders into the middle class.  Our fight goes on because America has always been at its best when everybody gets a fair shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same rules.  That’s what we believe.  That’s why you elected me in 2008, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE PRESIDENT:  We knew from the beginning that our work would take more than one year or even one term.  Because, let’s face it, the middle class was getting hammered long before the financial crisis hit — because the economy has changed. Technology made us more productive, but it also made a lot of good jobs obsolete.  Global trade brought us cheaper products, but it also allowed companies to move and hire people in low-wage countries.

American workers saw their paychecks squeezed, even as corporate profits were rising and CEO salaries exploded.  The guaranteed security of pensions and health care started slowly to disappear.

These fundamental changes in the economy, the rise of technology and global competition, these changes are real.  We can’t wish away these challenges.  But here’s what I know, Nevada.  We can meet these challenges.  (Applause.)  This is America.  We’ve got the world’s best workers and the world’s best entrepreneurs.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the world’s best scientists and the world’s best researchers.  We’ve got the best colleges and the best universities.  And we’ve got the most innovative spirit.  We’ve got everything we need to thrive in this new 21st century economy.  And there’s not a country on Earth that would not gladly trade places with the United States.   (Applause.)

But we’ve got a choice to make if we’re going to realize that promise, if we’re going to make sure that that success is there for the next generation.

In five days, we will choose our next President.  (Applause.)  And, Nevada, it’s more than just a choice between two candidates.  It’s more than just a choice between two parties.  You’re going to be making a choice between two fundamentally different visions of America.

On the one hand, we’ve got folks who are arguing to return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  What we’re talking about is a future that’s built on a strong and growing middle class.  (Applause.)

Nevada, we know the choice that needs to be made, and we’re here today because we believe that if this country invests in the skills and ideas of its people, then good jobs and businesses will follow.

We believe that America’s free market has been the engine of America’s progress, driven by risk-takers and innovators and dreamers.  Folks in Nevada know about dreaming.  (Applause.)  But we also understand that in this country, people succeed when they’ve got a shot at a good education, when they have a chance to learn new skills — and by the way, businesses benefit because they’re hiring those workers, and some of those workers end up starting businesses of their own.

We believe that when we support research into medical breakthroughs, research into new technology, entire new industries will start here and stay here and hire here.

We don’t believe government should poke its nose in everything we do, but we do believe this country is stronger when there are rules to protect our kids from toxic dumping and mercury pollution — (applause) — when there are rules to protect consumers from unscrupulous credit card companies and mortgage lenders.  (Applause.)  We believe we grow faster when our tax code rewards hard work and companies that create jobs here in America.  (Applause.)  And we believe that quality health care for everybody and a dignified retirement for everybody aren’t just achievable goals, they are a measure of our values as a nation.  That’s what we believe.

For eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs.  His name was Bill Clinton.  (Applause.)  And when he was elected, he asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we could reduce the deficit and still make investments in things like education and training, and science and research.  And here’s an interesting thing — plenty of folks who were running for Congress at the time said it would hurt the economy, that raising taxes on the wealthy would kill jobs.  And if that argument sounds familiar, one of those candidates who was running back then happens to be the guy who is running for President right now.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

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

Turns out their math was just as bad back then as it is today — (laughter) — because by the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs.  Incomes were up.  Poverty was down.  Our deficit became the biggest surplus in history.

So, Nevada, we know our ideas work.  We also know the ideas that don’t work.  Because in the eight years after Bill Clinton left office, his policies were reversed.  The wealthiest Americans got tax cuts they didn’t need and we couldn’t afford. Companies enjoyed tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas.  Insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street were given free license to do whatever they pleased.  Folks at the top got to play a different set of rules than the rest of us.  And the result of this top-down economics was falling incomes, record deficits, the slowest job growth in half a century, and an economic crisis that we’re still cleaning up after.

So, in the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has been using all his talents as a salesman to dress up the very same policies that failed our country so badly, the very same policies we’ve been cleaning up after over these four years, and with a straight face, he’s offering them up as change.  (Laughter.)  He’s saying he’s the candidate of change.

Now, let me tell you, Nevada, we know what change looks like.  (Applause.)  And what the Governor is offering sure ain’t change.  Giving more power back to the biggest banks isn’t change.  Leaving millions without health insurance isn’t change.  Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy isn’t change.  Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies isn’t change.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Turning Medicare into a voucher, that is change, but we don’t want that change.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party’s agenda as President — that’s definitely not change.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Don’t boo —

AUDIENCE:  Vote!

THE PRESIDENT:  In fact, that’s exactly the attitude in Washington that needs to go.

So after four years as President, you know me by now.  (Applause.)  You may not agree with every decision I’ve made, you may be frustrated at the pace of change, but you know what I believe.  You know where I stand.  You know I’m willing to make tough decisions, even when they’re not politically convenient.  And you know that I will fight for you and your families every single day, as hard as I know how.  (Applause.)

So my opponent can talk about change, but I know what real change looks like because I’ve fought for it.  (Applause.)  I’ve got the scars to proof it.  You have, too.  And after all that we’ve been through together, Nevada, we sure as heck can’t give up now.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  Change is a country where Americans of every age have the skills and education that good jobs require.  And government can’t do this alone — parents have to parent; teachers have to teach.  But don’t tell me that hiring more teachers won’t help this economy grow, or help young people compete.  We know it will.  (Applause.)

Don’t tell me that students who can’t afford college should just borrow money from their parents.  That wasn’t an option for me.  I’ll bet it wasn’t an option for a whole lot of you.  We shouldn’t be ending college tax credits just to pay for a millionaire’s tax cut — we should be making college more affordable for everybody who’s willing to work for it.  (Applause.)

We should recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that high-tech, high-wage jobs aren’t created in China; they’re created right here in Nevada.  (Applause.)  We should work with our community colleges to train another 2 million Americans with the skills that businesses are looking for right now.  That’s my plan for the future.  That’s what change is.  That’s the America we’re fighting for in this election.

Change comes when we live up to our legacy of innovation, when we make America home to the next generation of outstanding manufacturing, scientific discovery, technological breakthroughs.  I am proud that I bet on American workers, and American ingenuity, and the American auto industry.  (Applause.)   Today we’re not just building cars again; we’re building better cars — cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)

Today, there are thousands of workers building long-lasting batteries and wind turbines, installing solar panels all across the country.  And those jobs, they weren’t there four years ago.

And, sure, not all technologies we bet on will pan out.  Some of the businesses we encourage will fail.  But I promise you this:  There is a future for manufacturing in America.  (Applause.)   There’s a future for clean energy in America.  (Applause.)

I refuse to cede that future to other countries.  I don’t want a tax code that rewards companies for creating jobs overseas; I want to reward companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  I don’t want a tax code that subsidizes oil company profits when they’re already making money hand over fist.  I want to support the energy jobs of tomorrow, the new technologies that will cut our oil imports in half.  That’s my plan for jobs and growth.  (Applause.)  That’s the future that I see for America.

Change is finally turning the page on a decade of war to do some nation-building right here at home.  (Applause.)  So long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known.  We will not let up.  But it’s time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to start paying down our debt and rebuild America.

Right now — we could be putting more folks back to work right now, fixing roads and bridges, expanding broadband to rural neighborhoods, making sure our schools are state-of-the-art.  Let’s put Americans back to work doing the work that needs to be done — (applause) — especially our veterans, because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  (Applause.)

That’s my commitment to you.  That’s what’s at stake in this election.  Change is a future where, yes, we reduce our deficit, but we do it in a balanced, responsible way.  I’ve already signed a trillion dollars’ worth of spending cuts.  I’ll work with both parties to streamline agencies and get rid of programs that don’t work.  But if we’re really serious about the deficit, then we’ve also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was President.  (Applause.)

Because as long as I’m President, I am not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.  (Applause.)  I won’t allow this nation to be plunged into another battle over health care reform just so insurance companies can jump back in the driver’s seat.  (Applause.)  And I will never allow politicians in Washington to control the health care choices that women should make for themselves.  (Applause.)

So, Nevada, we know what change is.  We know what the future requires.  We don’t need a big government agenda, or a small government agenda; we need a middle-class agenda that rewards the values of hard work and responsibility.  We don’t need a partisan agenda — we need a common-sense agenda that says when we educate a poor child, we’ll all be better off; that says when we fund the research of a young scientist, her new discovery will benefit every American.

We need a vision that says we don’t just look out for ourselves; we look out for one another.  We look out for future generations.  We meet those obligations working together.  That’s the change we believe in.  And that’s what this election is all about.  (Applause.)  That’s what this election is all about.  (Applause.)

Now, Nevada, let’s be clear — achieving this agenda won’t be easy.  It’s never been easy.  We always knew it would be hard.  Back in 2008, when we talked about change, I told you I wasn’t just talking about changing presidents.  I wasn’t just talking about changing political parties.  I was talking about changing our politics.  I ran because the voices of the American people — your voices — had been shut out of our democracy for way too long — by lobbyists and special interests; by politicians who believed that compromise is a dirty word; by folks who would say anything to stay in office or win office, or do anything to make sure that the special interests who support them get what they want.

The protectors of the status quo are a powerful force in Washington.  And over the last four years, every time we’ve pushed to make change, they fought back with everything they’ve got.  They spent millions to stop us from reforming health care; spent millions to fight us when we tried to reform Wall Street.  Their strategy from the start was to engineer pure gridlock, refusing to compromise on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans had supported in the past.

And what they’re counting on now is that the American people will be so worn down by all the squabbling in Washington, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’ll actually reward their obstruction, and put people back in charge who advocate the very same policies that got us into this mess.

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  In other words, their bet is on cynicism.  But, Nevada, my bet is on you.  (Applause.)  My bet is on you.  My bet is on the decency and good sense of the American people.  Because despite all the resistance, despite all the setbacks, we have never lost sight of the vision that we shared –- that you’d have a voice; that there would be somebody at the table fighting every single day for middle-class Americans, for folks who are striving to get into the middle class.  (Applause.)

Sometimes Republicans in Congress have worked with me to meet our goals, and nobody could be happier.  We cut taxes for small businesses and families like yours, and they helped.  We opened new markets for American goods.  We finally repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and we had some courageous Republican senators supporting us.  (Applause.)

But, yes, we’ve also had some big fights — like when we forced the banks to stop overcharging for student loans, and made college affordable for millions of students; like when we forced Wall Street to abide by the toughest rules since the 1930s; like when we stopped insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with preexisting conditions like cancer or diabetes, so that no one in America goes bankrupt just because they get sick.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t fight those fights for any partisan advantage.  I’ve shown my willingness to work with anybody, of any party, to move this country forward.  And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you’ll vote for leaders — whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, independents — who feel the same way.  You’ll vote for candidates like Shelley Berkley, and Dina Titus, and John Oceguera, and Steve Horsford  — (applause) — people who just want to fix problems and help America, and work on behalf of hardworking families like yours.

But if the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals that will kick students off of financial aid, or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or eliminate health care for millions on Medicaid who are poor, or elderly, or disabled, just to give a millionaire a tax cut — I’m not having it.  (Applause.)  That’s not a deal worth having.  That’s not bipartisanship.  That’s not real change.  That’s surrender to the same status quo that’s hurt middle-class families for way too long.  And I’m not ready to give up on the fight just yet.  (Applause.)

I’m not giving up on the fight, and I hope you aren’t either, Nevada.  (Applause.)  I hope you aren’t either.  I need you still fired up.  (Applause.)

The folks at the very top in this country, they don’t need a champion in Washington.  They’ll always have a seat at the table.  They’ll always have access and influence.  That’s okay, we understand that.  But the people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every single day.

The laid-off furniture worker who is retraining at the age of 55 after they got laid off — she needs a champion.  The small restaurant owner who needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down — he needs a champion.  (Applause.)  The cooks and waiters and cleaning staff working overtime at a Vegas hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college — they need a champion.  (Applause.)

The autoworker who’s back on the job after thinking he might never go back, filled with the pride and dignity of building a great American car — he needs a champion.  (Applause.)  The young teacher doing her best in an overcrowded classroom with outdated textbooks, digging into her own pocket to buy school supplies, never giving up on those kids, understanding that they can learn — she needs a champion.  (Applause.)

And all those young people in inner cities and small farm towns, in the valleys of Ohio, or rolling Virginia hills, or right here in Vegas or way up in Elko — kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats, maybe even a president — they need a champion in Washington.  (Applause.)

The future will never have as many lobbyists as the past, but it’s the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace.  (Applause.)  And that’s why I need you, Nevada — to make sure their voices are heard; to make sure your voices are heard.

We’ve come too far to turn back now.  (Applause.)  We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint, to go weary.  (Applause.)  Now is the time to keep pushing forward — to educate all our kids and train all our workers, to create new jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, to discover new sources of energy, to broaden opportunity, to grow our middle class, to restore our democracy — to make sure that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or how you started out, you can make it here in America.  (Applause.)  That’s why we are moving forward.  (Applause.)

In the midst of the Great Depression, FDR reminded the country that “failure is not an American habit; and in the strength of great hope we must all shoulder our common load.”  That’s the strength we need today.

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s the hope I’m asking you to share.  That’s the future in our sight.  That’s why I’m asking you for your vote.  (Applause.)  That’s why I’m asking you, Nevada, for your vote.

And if you’re willing to work with me, and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls for me — (applause) — if you’re willing to turn out for me, and grab some friends and neighbors for me, we’ll win Clark County again.  (Applause.)  We’ll win Nevada again.  (Applause.)  We’ll win this election.  And together, we’ll renew the bonds and reaffirm the spirit that make the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Let’s go vote!  Let’s get this done!

END
2:35 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 24, 2012: Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan’s Speeches at a Campaign Event in Henderson, Nevada — Romney Likens Obama Campaign to Sinking Ship

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Romney Likens Obama Campaign to Sinking Ship

Source: ABC News Radio, 10-24-12

Win McNamee/Getty Images

In his first appearance since the final presidential debate, Mitt Romney stormed into the battleground state of Nevada and characterized President Obama’s campaign as a sinking ship.

“These debates have super-charged our campaign,” Romney said during the first of two joint appearances Tuesday with running mate Paul Ryan. “There’s no question about it, we’re seeing more and more enthusiasm, more and more support.”

“He’s been reduced to try to defend characters on Sesame Street and word games of various kinds, and then misfired attacks after one and another,” Romney said of Obama. “You know the truth is that attacks on me are not an agenda.”…READ MORE

Mitt Romney And Paul Ryan: We Can’t Afford Four More Years Of President Obama

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 10-23-12

Remarks
Henderson, Nevada
October 23, 2012

Click Here To Watch Mitt Romney

MITT ROMNEY: “I want you to know that, we can handle two more weeks of the attacks from Barack Obama, but we cannot handle four more years of what he is giving us. I mean, can you afford four more years with 23 million Americans looking for a good job? Can you afford four more years with housing prices going down and hit along the bottom? Can you afford four more years of doubling of the gasoline prices you’re paying? How about this instead, would you like to have four years where we create 12 million new jobs? How about four years where we are able to see rising take-home pay again? And, how about four years where at the end of which we get Nevada unemployment down to 6% or lower? Look, if we are going to see a real recovery and see that kind of direction, we are going to have to have real change.”

Click Here To Watch Paul Ryan

PAUL RYAN: “The President has run out of ideas. That is why he is running a small campaign about small things and hoping that he can distract people from the reality in front of us. The reality is this: we can do better than this. We can get people back to work, we can get people back out of poverty back in the middle class. We can create jobs. We have so much energy in this state, in this country, let’s use that energy in this state and this country and get people back to work. We have a leader with a plan to create jobs. We have a leader who is a proven job creator. At a time when we have a jobs crisis in America wouldn’t it be nice to have a job creator in the White House? Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have to wait for four more years of the same.”

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 12, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Las Vegas, Nevada — Says Libya Attack a Reminder of US as ‘Indispensable Power’

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

President Obama Says Libya Attack a Reminder of US as ‘Indispensable Power’

Source: ABC News Radio, 9-13-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama reflected Wednesday night at a campaign rally in Las Vegas on what he said has been a “tough day” for the country, mourning the loss of four Americans killed in Libya, vowing justice for their killers and pledging that U.S. diplomacy would be unwavering “because the world needs us.”

Obama, who opted to push ahead with his battleground-state swing less than 24 hours after the deadly attack, used a somber tone to address his boisterous supporters, waving off cheers from members of the crowd at the top of his remarks….READ MORE

Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event — Las Vegas, NV

Source: WH, 9-13-12 

The Cashman Center
Las Vegas, Nevada

6:03 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Can everybody please give Adriana a great round of applause for the wonderful introduction?  (Applause.)

I also want to say it’s good to see your once and next Congresswoman, Dina Titus.  (Applause.)  And it is so good to see all of you.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you back.  (Applause.)  I do.  I wanted to begin —

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

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  So I wanted to begin tonight by just saying a few words about a tough day that we had today.  We lost four Americans last night, who were killed when they were attacked at a diplomatic post in Libya.  And they were serving overseas on our behalf, despite the dangers, despite the risks, to help one of the world’s youngest democracies get on its feet.  They were working to advance the interests and the values that we hold dear as Americans.  And as Americans, we stand united -– all of us -– in gratitude for their service, and we are mindful of their sacrifice, and we want to send out heartfelt prayers to their loved ones who grieve today.  (Applause.)

It’s a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy -– sometimes even the freedoms we take for granted -– they’re only sustained because there are people like those who were killed, who are willing to stand up for those freedoms; who are willing to fight for those freedoms; in some cases, to lay down their lives for those freedoms.  So tonight, let’s think of them and thank them.

As for the ones we lost last night:  I want to assure you, we will bring their killers to justice.  (Applause.)  And we want to send a message all around the world — anybody who would do us harm:  No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.  (Applause.)

We will not be deterred.  We will keep going.  We will keep going because the world needs us.  We are the one indispensable power in the world.  And if we are going to see peace and security for our children and our grandchildren, then that means that this generation of Americans has to lead.  We’re going to have to keep doing the work — no matter how hard it seems sometimes.

And that’s what I want to talk to you about here today.  We’ve got work to do overseas; we’ve also got to do some work here at home.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got to do some work right here in the great state of Nevada.  (Applause.)

Now, because Nevada is a battleground state, you are aware that we’ve got an election going on.  (Applause.)  Unless you’ve accidentally stumbled in here looking for a convention of podiatrists — (laughter) — then you’ve been paying some attention to the election.  Both parties just came out with their conventions.  Each side made its case.  And now your choice — facing a very big choice.

See, our vision, what we’re fighting for, the reason all of you are here today, is because we believe in the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known.  (Applause.)  It’s a bargain that says hard work will pay off; that if you act responsibly, you’ll be rewarded; that everybody gets a fair shot, everybody does their fair share, everybody plays by the same rules -– from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.; that it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what you look like, or what your last name is — here in America, you can make it if you try.  That’s what we believe in.  (Applause.)

And that basic bargain is why I ran for President in the first place -– and why so many of you worked hard to get me elected President.  (Applause.)  We had seen for a decade too many jobs disappearing overseas.  We had seen too many families struggling while costs were going up, but paychecks weren’t going up; people racking up more debt just to pay the mortgage or pay tuition, or put gas in the car or food on the table.  And these misguided policies led to the biggest recession we’ve seen since the Great Depression — millions of innocent Americans, especially here in Nevada, lost their homes, their jobs, their savings.  And we are still fighting to recover from that.  Nevada got hit harder than most.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t think the best answers for today’s new challenges are old sales pitches.  (Applause.)  And that’s what my opponent and the other side have been selling.  You guys heard it.  I mean, you may not have watched their convention, but if you didn’t let me summarize.  What they said was, we want to give you more tax cuts, especially tilted towards the wealthy, and everything will be okay.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  And this is their prescription for everything — tax cuts in good times, tax cuts in bad times; tax cuts when we’re at peace, tax cuts when we’re at war; tax cuts to help you lose those few extra pounds — (laughter) — tax cuts to give your love life that extra kick.  (Laughter.)

Now, listen, I’ve cut taxes — but I cut them for folks who needed them.  (Applause.)  We cut taxes for middle-class families.  We cut taxes for small business owners.  (Applause.)  But I sure do not believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs back to our shores.  I don’t believe that it will bring down our deficit.  I don’t think that firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid will grow our economy.  (Applause.)  I don’t think that will help us compete when China is churning out more engineers and scientists.

After all we’ve been through, does anybody actually believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street is somehow going to help small businesswomen here in Las Vegas or the laid-off construction worker here in Las Vegas get back to work?  Let me tell you something, we tried that.  We tried it for a long time.  We tried it for eight years.  And what happened?  It didn’t work.

We are not going to try something that we know didn’t work, that got us into the mess in the first place.  We are not going back.  We are going forward.  (Applause.)  We are going forward.  We are going forward, Nevada, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT:  We don’t believe that the answer to our challenges is to tell folks, you’re on your own.  If you’re sick, I hope you don’t get sick.  If you lose your home, tough luck, you’re on your own.  If you can’t afford college, see if you can borrow money from your parents.  We don’t believe in that.  We believe we’re all in this together.  (Applause.)

We don’t believe in an economy that grows from the top down.  We believe in an economy that grows from the middle out, from the bottom up, giving everybody a chance, giving everybody a ladder for opportunity, opening up doors for people so that they can work hard and do right by their families and do right by themselves.  That’s what we believe.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President, because we’re moving forward together, not on our own.  (Applause.)

Now, I won’t pretend — some of you heard me at the convention.  I won’t pretend that what I’m offering is the easiest path.  I’ve never said that.  In 2008, I didn’t say it was going to be easy.  And as President Clinton reminded us last week, it’s going to take more than a few years to solve challenges that have been building up over decades.  (Applause.)

But we’ve made progress.  Every time I meet a child whose parents tell me, you know what — she was sick, but you helped her get insurance — (applause) — every time I meet somebody who said, you know what, we were able to refinance our home and we’ve been able to save some money; every time I meet a spouse who says, you know what, you promised to bring my husband or my wife back from Iraq, and they’re back now — (applause) — every time I see that happen, I’m reminded of the progress that we’ve made.  (Applause.)

And we’ve got a long way to go.  But let me tell you something — when we hear folks say that somehow this nation is in decline, they are dead wrong.  We’ve got the best workers in the world, some of them right here in Las Vegas.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the best entrepreneurs in the world, some of them right here in Las Vegas.  (Applause.)  We’ve got the best scientists and the best researchers, the best colleges, the best universities.  We’ve got this incredible diversity that you see in this audience and you see all across the country — (applause) — people from every background, but all bound together by this creed, this faith that we have in this nation.  There is not another country on Earth that would not gladly trade places with the United States.  (Applause.)

So our problems can be solved and our challenges can be met.  And the path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place.  And I am asking you to choose that future.  I’m asking you to rally around the goals I laid out at the convention — to create new manufacturing jobs and new energy sources and improve our education system and bring down our deficit and turn the page on a decade of war.  We can do that in the next four years.  That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.  (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT:  Now, just in case there are a few of you who aren’t convinced yet, or I need you to go out and do some convincing of some folks that may not be convinced yet, let me break down exactly what I’m talking about when I say a set of goals for this country.

I’ve got a plan, first of all, to export more products and outsource fewer jobs.  (Applause.)  After a decade of decline, this country has created over half a million new manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years.  We reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on top of the world.  (Applause.)

Now you’ve got a choice.  We can keep giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that are investing right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers to create good-paying jobs right here.  That’s what we can do.  (Applause.)

We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports.  We can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.  We can continue the progress we’ve made expanding tourism that has a huge impact here in Vegas.  You can make that happen.  We will make it happen if we move forward.  (Applause.)  But it’s up to you.

Second, I’ve got a plan to control more of our own energy.  After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  (Applause.)  That will save you money.  It will be good for our economy, good for our environment.

We have doubled the amount of renewable energy we generate, including right here in Nevada — solar panels all across this state.  (Applause.)  So not only are we generating energy that we need to grow, but we can also employ thousands of Americans.  Thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and solar panels and long-lasting batteries.  Today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.  (Applause.)

So now you’ve got a choice — we can reverse that progress or we can build on it.  We can keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal.  And our farmers and scientists can harness new biofuels.  Our construction workers can build homes and factories that waste less energy and retrofit old buildings — put them back to work in a way that helps free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.  (Applause.)  We can develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet.  If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and we could support more than 600,000 jobs in natural gas alone.  (Applause.)  But you can also choose the alternative, which is to let the oil companies write our energy plans.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  But that’s moving backwards.  And what do we want to do?

AUDIENCE:  Forward!

THE PRESIDENT:  We want to move forward.  That’s what this campaign is about.  (Applause.)

Third, I’ve got a plan to give more Americans the chance to get the skills they need to compete.  Education was the gateway of opportunity for me.  It was the gateway of opportunity for Michelle.  It was the gateway of opportunity for many of you.  It is the gateway to a middle-class life.  (Applause.)

Because of the work we already did, millions of students right here in Nevada and all across the country are paying less for college today.  (Applause.)  We took on a system that was wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.  We cut out the middle man.  Let’s give the money directly to the students, and we helped millions of young people all across this country.  (Applause.)

So now you’ve got a choice.  We could take my opponent’s advice, which results in gutting education.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

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

Or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have their dream deferred because of an overcrowded classroom.  Last time I was here in Vegas, we were hearing about classes that had 42 kids in them; kids sitting on the floor; old, worn-out textbooks.  No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.  No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn’t find the right skilled workers here at home.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not how we move forward.  (Applause.)

So, Nevada, I’m asking you to help recruit 100,000 math and science teachers in the next 10 years, improve early childhood education, help give 2 million workers a chance to study at community colleges to get the skills they need for the jobs that are hiring right now, help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs.  We can meet that goal.  You can choose that future for America, not just for yourself, but for your kids and your grandkids.  That’s what we mean when we say we’ve got to move forward.  (Applause.)

And, Nevada, we’ve got to reduce our deficit.  It’s important, but we’ve got to do it in a way that doesn’t stick it to the middle class.  Independent analysis shows my plan for reducing the deficit would cut it by $4 trillion.  I’ve already worked with Republicans in Congress to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, and I’m willing to do more.  I want to reform the tax code so that it’s fair and so that it’s simple.  (Applause.)

But I also want to ask the wealthiest households, including my own, to pay a little bit more on incomes over $250,000, the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President, the same rate we had when we created 23 million new jobs, went from deficit to surplus, created a whole lot of millionaires to boot.  That’s the way we have to move forward.  (Applause.)

Now, just to be fair, the other side, they’ve got a plan too.  The problem is, as President Clinton pointed out, they don’t have any arithmetic in it.  (Laughter.)  The math doesn’t add up because if you think we can somehow lower our deficit by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy, when you try to pay for $5 trillion in new tax cuts without raising taxes on middle-class families or add $2 trillion in new military spending that our Joint Chiefs don’t say is going to make us safer without increasing the deficit, well, you’ve got — you get that error message on your calculator.  (Laughter.)  No amount of extra credit is going to make that math work.

I refuse to ask middle-class families like yours to pay more so that millionaires and billionaires can pay less.  (Applause.)  I refuse to ask students to pay more for college so I can pay less.  I refuse to kick children out of Head Start programs or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled just for those — just so those with the most can pay less.  I don’t believe in that.  That’s not who we are.  That’s now how we’re going to grow our economy.

I don’t think the answer for hard-working folks here in Nevada whose homes are underwater is to do nothing, let it bottom out.  My administration has already helped more a million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages, and I’m running to give more like them the chance to refinance and save $3,000 a year and maybe start building up some equity back.  That will strengthen the housing market across the board in this state.

And by the way, I will never turn Medicare into a voucher because no American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.  (Applause.)  You should retire after a lifetime of labor with some dignity and some respect.  You have earned it.  We’ll reform Medicare for the long haul the right way by bringing down costs, not by dumping those costs onto seniors.  (Applause.)

And we’ll keep the promise of Social Security by taking responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street like a stack of poker chips.  That’s the choice that you face this fall.  That’s what we mean when we talk about moving forward.

Now, rebuilding our economy is essential, but as we were reminded today, our prosperity at home is linked to our policies abroad.  Four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq and we did.  (Applause.)  I said we’d wind down the war in Afghanistan, and we are.  (Applause.)

A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.  (Applause.)

We still face threats in this world, and we’ve got to remain vigilant.  And that’s why we will be relentless in our pursuit of those who attacked us yesterday.  (Applause.)

But that’s also why so long as I’m Commander-in-Chief we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known.  (Applause.)   And when our troops come home and take off their uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us because nobody who has fought for America should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.  That is a solemn commitment that we make.  (Applause.)

And as we’re winding down these wars, we can use some of the money that we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and to put more people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and runways and schools because after a decade of war, it’s time to do some nation-building right here in the United States — right here at home.  (Applause.)

So let me say this — let me say this, Nevada.  We can get all this done.  I have no doubt in my mind we can get it done.  (Applause.)

The power to do it, though, is in your hands.  I told you at the convention — the election four years ago was not about me, it was about you and the change that you imagined for this country.  You are the reason seniors across Nevada saved an average of nearly 600,000 — $600 last year on their medicines because of health care reform.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason thousands of students at UNLV have more help paying for college this year.  (Applause.)  You’re the reason two grandparents in Reno could refinance their mortgage and keep their piece of the American Dream.  You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever known.  (Applause.)

You’re the reason why we ended “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  (Applause.)  You’re the reason why those who fought so bravely for us can come back and hear those two amazing words, welcome home.  You are the reason that happened.  (Applause.)

And that’s why we can’t turn back now.  If you buy into all the cynicism that’s being fed to you through these negative ads, well, you know what, change won’t happen if you stop fighting for it.  If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then you know who is going to fill the void: the lobbyists, the special interests, the folks who are writing these $10 million checks to run all those negative ads, the people who are trying to make it harder for you to vote, the politicians in Washington who want to decide who you can marry, who want to decide for women what their health care choices should be when women are perfectly capable of making those decisions themselves.  (Applause.)

We cannot let that happen, Nevada.  We’ve got the power to make sure it doesn’t happen, but I need your help.  We’ve come too far to turn back now.  We got more good jobs to create and we’ve got too much homegrown energy to generate.  (Applause.)

We’ve got more young people to send to college and more good schools to build and more good teachers to hire.  We’ve got more troops to bring home and more veterans to take care of.  And we’ve got more doors of opportunity to open to everybody — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, disabled, not disabled, gay, straight — anybody who is willing to work hard and believes in America, we’ve got to open those doors of opportunity for them.  That’s why I’m asking for a second term.

And if you’re willing to work with me and fight for me and knock on some doors with me and make some phone calls with me, if you vote in November, we will win here in Clark County.  (Applause.)   We will win Nevada.  We will win this election.  We will finish what we started, and you and I together will remind the world why we are the greatest nation on Earth.

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

END
6:33 P.M. PDT

Full Text Campaign Buzz September 11, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Speech at National Guard Association Conference in Reno, Nevada — Thanks Armed Forces

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

After Criticism, Romney Thanks Armed Forces

Source: NYT, 9-11-12

Mitt Romney spoke at the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Mitt Romney spoke at the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday.

Speaking to National Guard members in Reno, Nev., Mitt Romney expressed gratitude for troops serving overseas, saying the defense budget should not be cut….READ MORE

MITT ROMNEY DELIVERS REMARKS TO THE NATIONAL GUARD ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 9-11-12

Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the National Guard Association Conference in Reno, Nevada. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:

Major General Vavala, thank you for your generous introduction.  And thank you for your years of service as Chairman of the Board – and for your decades of service to our nation.

Ladies and gentlemen of the National Guard Association, it is an honor to be with you on this day of memorial and appreciation. We remember with heavy hearts the tragic loss of life, and we express thankfulness for the men and women who responded to that tragedy. We honor them, and we honor those who secure our safety even to this day.

We honor the men and women of the National Guard. For 375 years, whenever your countrymen have encountered threat and danger, you have willingly gone. Wherever the cause of freedom has called, you have answered. And as the threats to liberty have emanated from distant lands, you’ve served far from home and far from family. The nation has asked much more of you than had been expected, but you have never faltered, never wavered from the mission of your motto:  “Always Ready, Always There.”

Two weeks ago, I saw the Guard in action in Louisiana after it was hit by Hurricane Isaac.  For many of the people of the Gulf – who had just finished repairing their homes and getting life back to normal after Katrina – the damage from Isaac felt like too much to bear.  As I toured the flooded streets, I was not surprised to find the Guard keeping order, distributing water and supplies, and caring for many of those they had evacuated and rescued.

Time and again, it has been the Guardsman’s hand that has lifted a child from rising waters, that has rescued a family from a hurricane’s fury, and that has fed and clothed a fellow American whose home and possessions have been lost to nature’s devastation. It is a Guardsman who took out Saddam Hussein’s tanks from his A-10, and who has fought to secure the villages of Afghanistan.

Our world is a dangerous place. And the attack on our homeland and citizens on September 11, 2001 reminds us that the mission of the Guard is ever more critical, and ever more deserving of our support and honor.

More than a decade has now passed since that day of tragedy. But the visions and events are seared in the memory of every American. We remember those who died. We marvel at the courage of those who stormed the cockpit when they became aware of the malevolent purpose of the hijackers. We hold up in prayer the families and friends who have lived in a shadow cast by grief. We draw strength from the selflessness of the first responders. And we renew our resolve to protect America from the designs of evil men.

Like you, I remember where I was on 9/11.  I was originally planning to be in Battery Park, in New York – not far from the World Trade Center.  But as it turned out, I was in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress about preparations for the security of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.  A colleague and I were working in our office in the Ronald Reagan building – just a few blocks from the White House.

Someone rushed into our office and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I turned on the small TV on the desk and watched in shock as flames and smoke erupted from the North Tower.

I called my wife Ann. She too watched the tragedy from her TV and wondered how a plane could fly into a building in clear daylight.  And then we saw the second plane crash into the second tower. These, then, were purposeful acts, these were terrorist acts, these were evil and cowardly and heinous acts.

Leaving the city, I drove toward Alexandria, Virginia. The highway I was on came within a few hundred yards of the Pentagon, which had been hit. Cars had stopped where they were, and people had gotten out, watching in horror. I could smell burning fuel and concrete and metal. It was the smell of war, something I never imagined I would smell in America.

In our own ways, we each were overwhelmed by the enormity of the loss of life. We struggled to comprehend the magnitude of what this meant for the families of those who had been killed, and for our own families, for our nation, and for the world. For some, there was also anger. But grief and anger soon turned to action – and among those taking the lead were members of the National Guard.

Members of the National Guard secured our airports and borders, and members of the Guard began to mobilize to deploy half a world away – where you would become all too familiar with the mountains of the Hindu Kush and the streets of Fallujah. Throughout the last eleven years, Guardsmen and women have helped keep us safe from attack.

I wish I could say the world is less dangerous now – that it is less chaotic. I wish I could predict with certainty the threats we will face in the years ahead.   But on September 10, 2001, we had no idea that America would be at war in Afghanistan. In December of 2010, we had no idea that a Tunisian street vendor would inspire a revolution that would topple three dictators. We live in a time of turbulence and disruption. What I can say with certainty is that we need the National Guard’s vigilance and strength now as much as ever before.

With less than two months to go before Election Day, I would normally speak to a gathering like this about the differences between my and my opponent’s plans for our military and for our national security.  There is a time and a place for that, but this day is not it.

It is instead a day to express gratitude to the men and women who have fought – and who are still fighting – to protect us and our country, including those who traced the trail of terror to that walled compound in Abbottabad and the SEALs who delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.

This is also a day in which all of us – in this convention hall, in this campaign, and in this country – can hopefully agree on important things.

This century must be an American Century.  It began with terror, war, and economic calamity.  It is now our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom, peace, and prosperity.  America must lead the free world, and the free world must lead the entire world.  In our dealings with other nations, we must demonstrate confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.

For this to be an American Century, we must have a military that is second to none. American military power is vital to the preservation of our own security and for the preservation of peace around the world.  Time and again, America’s military might has been the best ally of liberty and peace: American forces rescued Europe, twice.  American forces stood up to brutal dictators and freed millions living under tyranny.  America’s military leads the fight against terrorism around the world – and secures the global commons to keep them safe for the trade and commerce that are vital to lifting people from poverty.

While the war in Iraq is over, nearly 70,000 American troops still remain in Afghanistan.  Our goal should be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.  We should evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.

We can all agree that our men and women in the field deserve a clear mission, that they deserve the resources and resolute leadership they need to complete that mission, and that they deserve a country that will provide for their needs when they come home.

Of course, the return of our troops cannot and must not be used as an excuse to hollow out our military through devastating defense budget cuts.  It is true that our armed forces have been stretched to the brink – and that is all the more reason to repair and rebuild.  We can always find places to end waste.  But we cannot cancel program after program, we cannot jeopardize critical missions, and we cannot cut corners in the quality of the equipment and training we provide.

We must recognize that when our troops come home, they should not have to struggle for work.  After all our veterans have done for us, they deserve the opportunity to find good jobs and the dignity of pursuing the American Dream.

We must also keep the faith with our veterans, no matter when or where they have served, through a strong VA system.  When the backlog for disability claims reaches nearly one million … when a federal building in Virginia becomes structurally unstable because so many claims have piled up on its highest floors … then we can all agree that the system is in need of serious and urgent reform.

Our veterans deserve care and benefits that are second to none.  Here, there is considerable work waiting to be done.  The backlog of disability claims needs to be eliminated, the unconscionable waits for mental health treatment need to be dramatically shortened, and the suicide rate among active-duty soldiers and veterans must be treated like the emergency it is.

Veterans’ benefits are not a gift that is given, but a debt that is due.  The problems with the VA are serious and must be fixed.  We are in danger of another generation of veterans losing their faith in the VA system – so we must ensure that the VA keeps faith with all our veterans.  We must keep our promises and regain the trust of all who have worn the uniform and served.

When I was the Governor of Massachusetts, I saw firsthand the Guard’s bravery and valor.

In 2006, I visited Iraq and Afghanistan along with two other governors. We met with the members of the National Guard from our respective states. I said to them that if they wanted me to call their spouse or family when I returned, I would be happy to do so. Just hand me a note with their names and phone numbers.  When I left for home, I found that I had 63 calls to make.  I knew that making that many calls would take quite a few days.

I returned home on Memorial Day weekend.  I decided to start making just a few of those calls first thing in the morning, before my kids and grandkids got up.  After I’d made only two or three, a Guardsman’s wife answered and said, “Oh, Governor Romney, I thought that might be you calling.”  Apparently, the first spouses I had called, had called other spouses, or had emailed their loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan who then emailed their spouses back home to tell them to expect my call.  So I made 63 calls on Memorial Day.

Remember, May 2006 was a difficult time in the Iraq War.  Many of you know that from experience.  We were suffering terrible casualties, and terrorism was straining our efforts to stand up the Iraqi government.  The “surge” had not yet begun and our politics back home had become deeply divided.

As I made those calls, I braced myself for questions about why the Guardsmen I had met couldn’t come home – right away.  Yet in 63 calls, I did not hear a single complaint.  Not one.  On each call, I expressed gratitude on behalf of our nation and my state for the sacrifice of their family and of their loved one who was in harm’s way. And then, from virtually everyone I spoke with, they would correct me to say that it was an honor to be able to sacrifice for America and to serve the greatest nation on earth.  Such is the patriotism of the men and women and the families of our National Guard!

Many of those calls left me with tears in my eyes.  I will never forget meeting the brave men and women who had volunteered for the National Guard in Massachusetts, who found themselves on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I will never forget speaking with their loved ones.  And I will always hold the greatest admiration for every one of them.

On the campaign trail, it has been my privilege to meet with troops and veterans from just about every state.  They come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods.  Many have known violence so that their neighbors could know peace.  They have done more than protect America; their courage and service defines America.

On this eleventh anniversary of September 11th, we remember the victims who perished in the attacks.  We also remember the men and women serving in dangerous places around the world.  We will not forget why they are fighting or who they are fighting for.  They are faithful to us and to our country; we must not break faith with them.

I want to personally thank you for keeping us safe.  It is inspiring to be in the company of men and women of courage, as I am today. It is an honor to be among those whose sense of duty and love of country lift our hearts and spirits.

We are blessed to live in a country where freedom is so highly cherished, so fiercely protected, and so admirably defended by the noble men and women of the National Guard.

Thank you.  Thank you all for your service.  May God bless America and continue to keep her safe.

Full Text Campaign Buzz August 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at a Campaign Event in Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, Nevada — Shifts Aim to Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan Education Plan

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

THE HEADLINES….

Remarks by the President at Campaign Event – Reno, NV

Source: WH, 8-21-12

Truckee Meadows Community College
Reno, Nevada

4:44 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Reno! (Applause.) Hello, hello! It is good to be back in Nevada! (Applause.)

Well, listen, first of all, can everybody give Alejandra a huge round of applause? (Applause.) She did a great job. We’re very proud of her. She was outstanding.

I also want to acknowledge a dear friend, a great friend of working people not just here Nevada but all across the country, your Senator, Harry Reid, is in the house. (Applause.) Where is Harry? There he is.

It’s good to see all of you. (Applause.) And let me just point out, every time I come here the weather is really good. (Applause.) I mean, you guys have a pretty good deal here. It is beautiful. And as we were flying in, we flew over Tahoe — (applause) — I’d like to pretend that there is a big campaign event there — (laughter) — but I can’t really pretend that that’s the case.

But it is wonderful to be in the state. It is great to be at Truckee Meadows Community College. (Applause.) And I came here today to talk about what students are doing here every single day. Your education is the single most important investment you can make in your future. That’s true for Alejandra; it is true for every single student here. It’s true whether you are talking about a community college or whether you’re talking about a four-year college or university.

And I’m proud of all of you who are doing what it takes to make that investment — not just the money, but also the long hours in the library — at least I hope you’re spending some long hours in the library — (laughter) — and in the lab, and in the classroom. Because it’s never been more important.

But the degree students earn from this college is the surest path you will have to a good job and to higher earnings. (Applause.) It’s the best tool that you’ve got to achieve that basic American promise, that simple idea that if you work hard in this country, you will be rewarded. The basic bargain that says if you work hard, if you’re willing to put in the effort, then you can do well enough to raise a family, you can own your home, you can put a little away for retirement, you won’t have to worry about being bankrupt if you get sick; maybe you can take a vacation once in a while. And most importantly, you know that you’ll be able to pass on to your kids more opportunity and the possibility that they can do things that you couldn’t even dream of. (Applause.)

That’s what America is all about — making sure those doors of opportunity are open to everybody. That’s the reason I ran for President. That’s what my presidency has been about. That’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT: Now, here is the thing, though — your education is not just important to you, it’s important to America’s success. When we invest in your future, we’re investing in America’s future. The fact is that countries that out-educate us today, they’ll out-compete us tomorrow. We cannot afford to lose that race to make sure we’ve got the most highly educated, most-skilled workforce in the world. (Applause.) And when companies and businesses are looking to locate, that’s what they’re looking for. And I don’t want them looking any farther than Reno, Nevada; the state of Nevada; the United States of America. (Applause.) We’ve got the best workers in the world, and I want to keep it that way. (Applause.)

And your education is just getting more important. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. More than half of the new jobs over the next decade will require some form of higher education. And I don’t think it’s also any news to you that higher education is getting harder and harder to afford. It is tough for a lot of folks.

Over the past couple of decades, over the last 20 years, tuition and fees at America’s colleges and universities have more than doubled. The average student who borrows to pay for college now graduates with about $26,000 in student loan debt. And living with that kind of debt means you’ve got to make tough choices, especially when you’re first starting out. It may mean putting off starting a family or buying a home. It may mean you don’t have enough savings to try to start that new business idea that you’ve got.

When a big chunk of each paycheck goes just towards servicing your loan debt, that’s not just tough for middle-class families that are trying to make it, it’s also not good for the economy, because it means you’re not spending that money with local businesses.

And I want you to understand I speak from experience here. (Applause.) Michelle and I know about this firsthand. We didn’t come from wealthy families. My mom was a single mom. Michelle’s dad was a blue-collar worker. Her mom was a secretary. Michelle’s parents never went to college. Both of us graduated from college and law school with a mountain of debt. So when we got married, we pooled our liabilities, not our assets. (Laughter.) We got poorer together, not richer. In fact, we paid more for our student loans than we paid on our mortgage each month when we finally were able to afford to buy a condo. And then, once we had Malia and Sasha, now we’re supposed to be saving for their college education, but we’re still paying off for our college educations.

And, look, we were luckier than most. We had landed good jobs with steady incomes. Even with that, though, we only but finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago. Now, think about that — I became President three and a half years ago. (Applause.) I was a U.S. senator about seven years ago. So I had been working and Michelle had been working for over a decade before we got all our loans paid off.

But here’s the thing. I’m only standing here before you today because of the chance that that education gave me. So I think I can speak with some experience and say, making higher education more affordable for our young people is something I’ve got a personal stake in. It’s not something I believe in abstractly. It’s something Michelle has a personal stake in. We believe in it because we’ve been in your shoes. We know what it’s like. (Applause.) We understand that unless you provide those rungs on the ladder of opportunity, then young people — many of whom are more talented than Michelle and I — may not get a shot.

And that’s why I’ve made this one of the top priorities of my presidency. It’s part of what’s at stake in this election. When all of you walk in to that voting booth in November, you’re going to have a choice. And part of it is the choice of how we treat education in this country. And I say this because putting a college education within reach for working families does not seem to be a priority that my opponent shares.

Look, a few months ago, Governor Romney told a crowd of young people, just like you, that if you want to be successful, if you want to go to college or you want to start a business, then you can just — and I’m quoting here — “borrow money if you have to from your parents.”

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Harry, did your parents have a whole bunch of money to lend you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: My parents didn’t have a lot of money to lend me. I bet a bunch of your parents don’t have a lot of money to lend. It’s not because they don’t want to — they don’t have it.

When a high school student asked Governor Romney what he would do to make college more affordable for families, Governor Romney didn’t say anything about grants or loan programs that have helped millions of students earn a college education. He didn’t say anything about work-study programs, or rising college tuition. He did not say a single word about community colleges, or how important higher education is to America’s economic future. Here’s what he said: “The best thing I can do for you is to tell you to shop around.” (Laughter.) To shop around.

So this is his plan. That’s his answer to a young person hoping to go to college — shop around and borrow money from your parents if you have to.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Now, that’s not an answer. That’s not even — not only is not a good answer, it’s not even an answer. There is nothing a parent wants to do more than to give their kids opportunities that we never had. (Applause.) There are very few things more painful than a parent not being able to do it.

But we’re still fighting back from the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. There are a lot of parents out there who are working really hard but still struggling to make ends meet. And I do not accept the notion that we should deny their children the opportunity of a higher education and a brighter future just because their families were hard hit by a recession. (Applause.)

Think about all the discoveries, all the businesses, all the breakthroughs that we wouldn’t have had if we had told every American that wanted to go to college, “tough luck, too bad, you’re on your own.”

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Shop around!

THE PRESIDENT: Shop around. This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That’s part of what made us an economic superpower. (Applause.) That’s what kept us at the forefront of business and science, and technology and medicine.

And this is not just a new commitment we’ve made. My grandfather had the chance to go to college because after fighting on behalf of America in World War II, he came back to a country that decided, you know what, we’re going to make sure every veteran should be able to afford college. (Applause.)

My mother was able to raise me and my sister by herself and go to college because she was able to get grants and work her way through school. Michelle and I would not be here without the help of scholarships and student loans. (Applause.) We are only here because the chance our education gave us, and I want every young person to have that chance.

And listen, government can’t help folks who won’t help themselves. Parents have to parent, and young people have to stay disciplined and focused. But if you’re willing to work hard, a college education in the 21st century should be available to everybody, not just the wealthy few. (Applause.) That’s what I believe. Whether it’s a 4-year education, a 2-year program, higher education is not a luxury, it is a necessity. (Applause.) And every American family should be able to afford it.

That’s what’s at stake in this election, Nevada. It’s one of the reasons I’m running for President.

And listen, I want you to understand — I’m not just talking the talk. I’m not just making promises. Since I took office, we’ve helped over 3 million more students afford a college education with grants that go farther than they did before. (Applause.) Now, unfortunately, the economic plan of Governor Romney could cut our investments in education by about 20 percent. So the grants that we’ve used that Alejandro may be taking advantage of, many of you may be taking advantage of — those grants could be cut so deeply that 1 million of the students who would have been helped would no longer get scholarships. It would cut financial aid for nearly 10 million students a year.

Now — and here’s the worst part. They’re not making these cuts to create reduce the deficit. They’re not making these cuts so they can create more jobs. They’re doing it to pay for a new $5 trillion tax cut weighted towards the wealthiest Americans.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: Does that sound like a plan for a better future for you?

AUDIENCE: No!

THE PRESIDENT: It’s a plan that says we can’t afford to help the next generation, but we can afford massive new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. We can’t offer our young people student loans because we’ve got to protect corporate tax loopholes. It’s a vision that says we can’t help young people who are trying to make it because we’ve got to protect the folks who already have made it. That’s not a vision we have to accept.

Governor Romney likes to talk about his time as an investor as one of the bases for his candidacy, but his economic plan makes clear he doesn’t think your future is worth investing in. And I do. That’s what’s at stake in this election. That’s the choice this November. (Applause.)

We are going to make sure that America once again leads the world in educating our kids and training our workers. (Applause.) There are business owners across the country who say they can’t fill the skilled positions they have open, and you’ve got millions of people who are out there looking for work. So I want to give 2 million more Americans the chance to go to community colleges just like this one to learn the skills that local businesses are hiring for right now. (Applause.)

Community colleges like Truckee Meadows educate the backbone of our workforce. (Applause.) This is where young people and some not-so-young people can come and get trained as nurses and firefighters and computer programmers and folks who manufacture clean-energy components. And these are the vital pathways to the middle class, and we shouldn’t weaken them; we should strengthen them. (Applause.)

Earlier this summer, Harry Reid and I, we fought to make sure the interest rate on federal student loans didn’t go up. (Applause.) We won that fight. (Applause.) The Republican plan in Congress would have allowed those rates to double, costing more than 7 million students an extra thousand dollars a year. With the help of Harry Reid we set up a college tax credit so that more middle-class families can save up to $10,000 on their tuition over four years. (Applause.) Governor Romney wants to repeal it.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: In 2008, I promised we would reform a student loan system that was giving tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to big banks and lobbyists instead of giving it to students. So they were taking a cut out of the student loan program even though they had no risk, because the federal government was guaranteeing the loans — $60 billion worth. So we said, no, let’s cut them out; let’s give this money directly to students. (Applause.) We won that fight. That’s what we used to double the grants for students who are in need.

My opponent is running to return the system back to the way it was. He wants to go backwards to policies where banks were taking out billions of dollars out of the student loan program. He wants to go back to policies that got us into this mess in the first place. That is the choice in this election. I want to move forward; he wants to go backwards. We are not going to let him. That’s what’s at stake in this election. (Applause.)

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

THE PRESIDENT: Four years ago, I promised we’d end the war in Iraq. (Applause.) And we promised we’d go after al Qaeda and bin Laden. (Applause.) We promised to blunt the momentum of the Taliban and then start turning over security responsibilities to the Afghans so we can start bringing our troops home. We are keeping these promises because of the tremendous sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. (Applause.)

So, today, all of our troops are out of Iraq, and we are winding down the war in Afghanistan. But we’ve got to make sure that we keep faith with those folks who fought for us. (Applause.) So we’ve made sure to keep the Post-9/11 GI Bill strong. Everybody who has served this country should have a chance to get their degree, and as long as I am Commander-in-Chief, this country will care for our veterans and serve them as well as they have served us. (Applause.) Nobody who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or fight for a college education, or fight for a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.) That’s part of what’s at stake in this election.

Now, I have to tell you, over the course of the next two and a half months, the other side will not talk much about education because they don’t really have a plan. They won’t be talking about much, but they will spend more money than we’ve ever seen on ads that just try to repeat the same thing over and over again: The economy is not doing as well as it should, and it’s all Obama’s fault. (Laughter.) It’s like going to a concert and they just keep on playing the same song over and over again. (Laughter.) And the reason they’ve got to try to just repeat that over and over again is because they know their economic plan is not popular. They know that the American people are not going to buy another $5 trillion tax cut, most of which goes to wealthy Americans and that will be paid for by you.

AUDIENCE: Booo —

THE PRESIDENT: They know gutting education to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires is not going to sell. So since they can’t advertise their plan, they’re going to bet on the fact that you get discouraged, that you get cynical, that you decide your vote doesn’t matter. They’re betting that each $10 million check from some wealthy donor drowns out millions of voices. They don’t see that as a problem; that’s their strategy.

I’m counting on something different. I’m counting on you. (Applause.) See, part of what you taught me in 2008 is that when the American people join together, they can’t be stopped. (Applause.) When we remember our parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents and all the sacrifices they made, and we’re reminded that this country has always risen and fallen together; when we remember that what makes us special is the idea that everybody gets a fair shot and everybody does their fair share and everybody is playing by the same set of rules — when that’s our focus, you can’t be stopped. (Applause.)

So here’s what I’m going to need from everybody: First of all, you’ve got no excuse not to register to vote. We’ve got staff and volunteers who are here. They will grab you at the door. You won’t be able to escape. This young lady right here, she’s ready to register some voters. (Applause.) And if somehow we miss you, or if you decide you want to help your friends and your neighbors and fellow students to get registered, you can do it online at GottaRegister.com. Now, I want — I know this is an educated place, but “gotta” is spelled g-o-t-t-a. (Laughter.) This is GottaRegister.com. So you’ve got to — you’ve “gotta” not just register; you gotta grab some friends. You gotta grab some neighbors. You gotta take them to the polls. You gotta vote. (Applause.)

Let’s prove the cynics wrong one more time. Let’s show them your vote counts. Let’s prove your voice is more powerful than lobbyists and special interests. Let’s keep the promise of this country alive — that no matter what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try. (Applause.) We’ve come too far to turn back now. We’ve got more students to educate, more teachers to hire, more troops to bring home, more schools to rebuild, more jobs to create, more homegrown energy to generate, more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who’s willing to work hard. (Applause.)

And if you’ll stand with me like you did in 2008, if you’re willing to do some work and knock on doors and make phone calls, we will win Washoe County. We will win Nevada. We will win this election. We’ll finish what we started, and remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

God bless you. God bless America.

END
5:10 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency July 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech to 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nevada — Defends Foreign Policy Record

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama Speaks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars

Source: WH, 7-23-12

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Reno, Nev., July 23, 2012 (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and discussed the promises his Administration has kept to secure our nation, fight terrorism, renew American leadership in the world, better serve our troops and military families and honor our veterans. He also thanked veterans for their service to our nation:

Even after you took off the uniform, you never stopped serving.  You took care of each other — fighting for the benefits and care you had earned.  And you’ve taken care of the generations that followed, including our newest veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  On behalf of all our men and women in uniform, and on behalf of the American people, I want to thank you, VFW.  Thank you for your outstanding work.

Our troops have helped secure a better future for our country, the President said:

Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values.  And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world.

“Every generation among you served to keep us strong and free,” the President said. “And it falls to us, those that follow, to preserve what you won.”

President Obama discussed his administration’s work to strengthen our military, support military families and uphold the nation’s sacred trust with our veterans, and announced a redesign of the Transition Assistance Program, which helps service members transition to the civilian workforce:

We’re going to set up a kind of “reverse boot camp” for our departing service members.  Starting this year, they’ll get more personalized assistance as they plan their careers. We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business. And just as they’ve maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of “career readiness.

The President also called on Congress to pass his Veterans Job Corps proposal and to extend the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior tax credits for businesses that hire veterans.

Remarks by the President to the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars

VFW Convention Hall

Reno, Nevada

12:35 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Commander DeNoyer, thank you for your introduction, and your service in Vietnam and on behalf of America’s veterans.  I want to thank your executive director, Bob Wallace; your next commander, who I look forward to working with, John Hamilton.  And to Gwen Rankin, Leanne Lemley, and the entire Ladies Auxiliary, thank you for your patriotic service to America.  (Applause.)

I stand before you as our hearts still ache over the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.  Yesterday I was in Aurora, with families whose loss is hard to imagine — with the wounded, who are fighting to recover; with a community and a military base in the midst of their grief.  And they told me of the loved ones they lost.  And here today, it’s fitting to recall those who wore our nation’s uniform:

Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress — an Air Force reservist, 29 years old, a cyber specialist who loved sports, the kind of guy, said a friend, who’d help anybody.

Petty Officer Third Class John Larimer — 27 years old, who, like his father and grandfather before him, joined the Navy, and who is remembered as an outstanding shipmate.

Rebecca Wingo — 32 years old, a veteran of the Air Force, fluent in Chinese, who served as a translator; a mother, whose life will be an inspiration to her two little girls.

And Jonathan Blunk — from Reno, just 26 years old, but a veteran of three Navy tours, whose family and friends will always know that in that theater he gave his own life to save another.

These young patriots were willing to serve in faraway lands, yet they were taken from us here at home.  And yesterday I conveyed to their families a message on behalf of all Americans: We honor your loved ones.  We salute their service.  And as you summon the strength to carry on and keep bright their legacy, we stand with you as one united American family.  (Applause.)

Veterans of Foreign Wars, in you I see the same shining values, the virtues that make America great.  When our harbor was bombed and fascism was on the march, when the fighting raged in Korea and Vietnam, when our country was attacked on that clear September morning, when our forces were sent to Iraq — you answered your country’s call.  Because you know what Americans must always remember — our nation only endures because there are patriots who protect it.

In the crucible of battle, you were tested in ways the rest of us will never know.  You carry in your hearts the memory of the comrades you lost.  For you understand that we must honor our fallen heroes not just on Memorial Day, but all days.  And when an American goes missing, or is taken prisoner, we must do everything in our power to bring them home.  (Applause.)

Even after you took off the uniform, you never stopped serving.  You took care of each other — fighting for the benefits and care you had earned.  And you’ve taken care of the generations that followed, including our newest veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  On behalf of all our men and women in uniform, and on behalf of the American people, I want to thank you, VFW.  Thank you for your outstanding work.  (Applause.)

Of course, some among you — our Vietnam veterans — didn’t always receive that thanks, at least not on time.  This past Memorial Day, I joined some of you at The Wall to begin the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.  And it was another chance to say what should have been said all along:  You did your duty, and you made us proud.  And as this 50th anniversary continues, I’d ask all our Vietnam vets to stand, or raise your hand, as we say:  Thank you and welcome home.  (Applause.)

Every generation among you served to keep us strong and free.  And it falls to us, those that follow, to preserve what you won.  Four years ago, I stood before you at a time of great challenge for our nation.  We were engaged in two wars.  Al Qaeda was entrenched in their safe havens in Pakistan.  Many of our alliances were frayed.  Our standing in the world had suffered.  We were in the worst recession of our lifetimes.  Around the world, some questioned whether the United States still had the capacity to lead.

So, four years ago, I made you a promise.  I pledged to take the fight to our enemies, and renew our leadership in the world. As President, that’s what I’ve done.  (Applause.)  And as you reflect on recent years, as we look ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that’s required, you don’t just have my words, you have my deeds.  You have my track record. You have the promises I’ve made and the promises that I’ve kept.

I pledged to end the war in Iraq honorably, and that’s what we’ve done.  (Applause.)  After I took office, we removed nearly 150,000 U.S. troops from Iraq.  And some said that bringing our troops home last year was a mistake.  They would have kept tens of thousands of our forces in Iraq — indefinitely, without a clear mission.  Well, when you’re Commander-in-Chief, you owe the troops a plan, you owe the country a plan — and that includes recognizing not just when to begin wars, but also how to end them.

So we brought our troops home responsibly.  They left with their heads held high, knowing they gave Iraqis a chance to forge their own future.  And today, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq, and we are proud of all the Americans who served there.  (Applause.)

I pledged to make it a priority to take out the terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11.  And as a candidate, I said that if we had Osama bin Laden in our sights, we would act to keep America safe — even if it meant going into Pakistan.  Some of you remember, at the time, that comment drew quite a bit of criticism.  But since I took office, we’ve worked with our allies and our partners to take out more top al Qaeda leaders than any time since 9/11.  And thanks to the courage and the skill of our forces, Osama bin Laden will never threaten America again, and al Qaeda is on the road to defeat.  (Applause.)

I pledged to finish the job in Afghanistan.  After years of drift, we had to break the momentum of the Taliban, and build up the capacity and the capability of Afghans.  And so, working with our commanders, we came up with a new strategy, and we ordered additional forces to get the job done.  This is still a tough fight.  But thanks to the incredible services and sacrifices of our troops, we pushed the Taliban back; we’re training Afghan forces; we’ve begun the transition to Afghan lead.

Again, there are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war — or against talking about it publicly.  But you know what, that’s not a plan for America’s security either.  After 10 years of war, and given the progress we’ve made, I felt it was important that the American people — and our men and women in uniform — know our plan to end this war responsibly.  (Applause.)  And so by the end of this summer, more than 30,000 of our troops will have come home.  Next year, Afghans will take the lead for their own security.  In 2014, the transition will be complete.  And even as our troops come home, we’ll have a strong partnership with the Afghan people, and we will stay vigilant so Afghanistan is never again a source for attacks against America. (Applause.)

We’re not just ending these wars; we’re doing it in a way that achieves our objectives.  Moreover, it’s allowed us to broaden our vision and begin a new era of American leadership.  We’re leading from Europe to the Asia Pacific, with alliances that have never been stronger.  We’re leading the fight against nuclear dangers.  We’ve applied the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea — nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)  We’re leading on behalf of freedom — standing with people in the Middle East and North Africa as they demand their rights; protecting the Libyan people as they rid the world of Muammar Qaddafi.

Today, we’re also working for a transition so the Syrian people can have a better future, free of the Assad regime.  And given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States, should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.  (Applause.)  And we will continue to work with our friends and our allies and the Syrian opposition on behalf of the day when the Syrian people have a government that respects their basic rights to live in peace and freedom and dignity.

Because we’re leading around the world, people have a new attitude toward America.  There’s more confidence in our leadership.  We see it everywhere we go.  We saw it as grateful Libyans waved American flags.  We see it across the globe — when people are asked, which country do you admire the most, one nation comes out on top — the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So this is the progress that we’ve made.  Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values.  And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world.

And all this allows us to fulfill another promise that I made to you four years ago — strengthening our military.  After 10 years of operations, our soldiers will now have fewer and shorter deployments, which means more time on the home front to keep their families strong; more time to heal from the wounds of war; more time to improve readiness and prepare for future threats.

As President, I’ve continued to make historic investments to keep our armed forces strong.  And guided by our new defense strategy, we will maintain our military superiority.  It will be second to none as long as I am President and well into the future.  We’ve got the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history.  And as Commander-in-Chief I am going to keep it that way.  (Applause.)

And by the way, given all the rhetoric lately — it is political season — let’s also set the record straight on the budget.  Those big, across-the-board cuts, including defense, that Congress said would occur next year if they couldn’t reach a deal to reduce the deficit?  Let’s understand, first of all, there’s no reason that should happen, because people in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong. It should be done.  (Applause.)

And there are a number of Republicans in Congress who don’t want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts.  Now they’re trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to.  Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military.  And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree.  If the choice is between tax cuts that the wealthiest Americans don’t need and funding our troops that they definitely need to keep our country strong, I will stand with our troops every single time.  (Applause.)

So let’s stop playing politics with our military.  Let’s get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong.   Let’s take some of the money that we’re saving because we’re not fighting in Iraq and because we’re winding down in Afghanistan — use half that money to pay down our deficit; let’s use half of it to do some nation-building here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Let’s keep taking care of our extraordinary military families.  For the first time ever, we’ve made military families and veterans a top priority not just at DOD, not just at the VA, but across the government.  As Richard mentioned, this has been a mission for my wife, Michelle, and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.  Today, more people across America in every segment of society are Joining Forces to give our military families the respect and the support that they deserve.  (Applause.)

And there’s another way we can honor those who serve.  It may no longer be a crime for con artists to pass themselves off as heroes, but one thing is certain — it is contemptible.  So this week, we will launch a new website, a living memorial, so the American people can see who’s been awarded our nation’s highest honors.  Because no American hero should ever have their valor stolen.  (Applause.)

This leads me to another promise I made four years ago —  upholding America’s sacred trust with our veterans.  I promised to strengthen the VA, and that promise has been kept.  In my first year, we achieved the largest percentage increase in the VA budget in 30 years.  And we’re going to keep making historic investments in our veterans.  When Richard came to the Oval Office, we talked about what those automatic budget cuts — sequestration — could mean for the VA.  So my administration has made it clear:  Your veteran’s benefits are exempt from sequestration.  They are exempt.  (Applause.)  And because advance appropriations is now the law of the land, veterans’ health care is protected from the budget battles in Washington.  (Applause.)

I promised you that I’d stand up for veterans’ health care. As long as I’m President, I will not allow VA health care to be turned into a voucher system, subject to the whims of the insurance market.  Some have argued for this plan.  I could not disagree more. You don’t need vouchers, you need the VA health care that you have earned and that you depend on.  (Applause.)

So we’ve made dramaticinvestments to help care for our veterans.  For our Vietnam veterans, we declared that more illnesses are now presumed connected to your exposure to Agent Orange.  As a result of our decision, Vietnam-era vets and your families received nearly $4 billion in disability pay.  You needed it; you fought for it.  We heard you and we got it done.  (Applause.)

We’ve added mobile clinics for our rural veterans; more tailored care for our women veterans; unprecedented support for veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury.  All tolled, we’ve made VA health care available to nearly 800,000 veterans who didn’t have it before.  (Applause.)  And we’re now supporting caregivers and families with the skills and the stipends to help care for the veterans that they love.

Of course, more veterans in the system means more claims.  So we’ve hired thousands of claims processors.  We’re investing in paperless systems.  To their credit, the dedicated folks at the VA are now completing one million claims a year.  But there’s been a tidal wave of new claims.  And when I hear about veterans waiting months, or years, for your benefits — it is unacceptable.  And we are doing something about it.  (Applause.)

We’re taking all those folks who processed your Agent Orange claims — more than 1,200 experts — and giving them a new mission:  Attack the backlog.  We’re prioritizing veterans with the most serious disabilities.  And the VA and DOD will work harder towards a seamless transition so new veterans aren’t just piled on to the backlog. And we will not rest — I will not be satisfied until we get this right.  And today, I’m also calling on all those who help our vets complete their claims — state VAs, physicians and veteran groups like the VFW — to join us.  You know how this can work better, so let’s get it done, together.

We’re also focused on the urgent needs of our veterans with PTSD.  We’ve poured tremendous resources into this fight — thousands of more counselors and more clinicians, more care and more treatment.  And we’ve made it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits.  But after a decade of war, it’s now an epidemic.  We’re losing more troops to suicide — one every single day — than we are in combat.  According to some estimates, about 18 veterans are taking their lives each day — more every year than all the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  That’s a tragedy.  It’s heartbreaking.  It should not be happening in the United States of America.

So when I hear about servicemembers and veterans who had the courage to seek help but didn’t get it, who died waiting, that’s an outrage.  And I’ve told Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey and Secretary Shinseki we’ve got to do better.  This has to be all hands on deck.

So our message to everyone who’s ever worn the uniform — if you’re hurting, it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help, it’s a sign of strength.  And when you do, we’ll be there and do more to help — including more counselors and clinicians to help you heal.  We need to end this tragedy, VFW.  (Applause.)  And we’re going to work together to make it happen.

So, too with our campaign to end homelessness among our veterans.  We’ve now helped to bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets and into permanent housing.  This has to be a core mission, because every veteran who has fought for America ought to have a home in America.  (Applause.)

And this brings me to the last promise I want to discuss with you.  Four years ago, I said that I’d do everything I could to help our veterans realize the American Dream, to enlist you in building a stronger America.  After all, our veterans have the skills that America needs.  So today, our economy is growing and creating jobs, but it’s still too hard for too many folks to find work, especially our younger veterans, our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.  And with a million more troops rejoining civilian life in the years ahead — and looking for work — we’ve got to step up our game, at every stage of their careers.

So today, I’m announcing a major overhaul of our transition assistance program.  We’re going to set up a kind of “reverse boot camp” for our departing servicemembers.  Starting this year, they’ll get more personalized assistance as they plan their careers.  We’ll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business.  And just as they’ve maintained their military readiness, we’ll have new standards of “career readiness.”

In addition, by making the Post-9/11 GI Bill a priority, we’ve helped more than 800,000 veterans and their families pursue their education.  And I’ve issued an executive order to help put a stop to schools that are ripping off our veterans.  (Applause.)

I’ve directed the federal government to step up on jobs.  Since I took office, we’ve hired more than 200,000 veterans into the federal government.  We made it a priority.  (Applause.)  And we’re keeping track — every agency, every department:  What are you doing for our veterans?

I’ve challenged community health centers to hire thousands of veterans as physicians and nurses.  And as we help local communities hire new police officers and firefighters and first responders, we’re giving a preference to veterans.

We’re also fighting to get more vets hired in the private sector.  With new tools like our online Veterans Jobs Bank, we’re connecting veterans directly to jobs.  We’re helping thousands of veterans get certified for good-paying jobs in manufacturing.  We succeeded in passing tax credits for businesses that hire our veterans and our wounded warriors.  And this morning, I signed into law the Veteran Skills to Jobs Act — making it easier for veterans to transfer their outstanding military skills into the licenses and credentials they need to get civilian jobs.  (Applause.)

If you are a young man that is in charge of a platoon or millions of dollars of equipment and are taking responsibility, or you’re a medic out in the field who is saving lives every single day — when you come home, you need to be credentialed and certified quickly so you can get on the job.  People should understand how skilled you are.  (Applause.)  And there shouldn’t be bureaucrats or runarounds.  We’ve got to put those folks to work.

Last summer, I also challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans or their spouses.  Michelle and Jill Biden have been leading the effort, through Joining Forces.  And so far, thousands of patriotic businesses have hired or trained more than 90,000 veterans and spouses.  And our message to companies is simple:  If you want somebody who gets the job done, then hire a vet.  (Applause.)  Hire a vet.  Hire a vet and they will make you proud just like they’ve made America proud.

And we’re fighting for veterans who want to start their own businesses, including more training in entrepreneurship.  It’s one of the reasons we’ve cut taxes — 18 times for small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses.  And the effects ripple out, because vets are more likely to hire vets.

So today, we can point to progress.  More veterans are finding jobs; the unemployment rate for veterans has come down.  Yes, it’s still too high, but it’s coming down.  And now we’ve got to sustain that momentum.  It’s one of the reasons I’ve proposed to Congress a Veterans Jobs Corps to put our veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding America.  And today, I am again calling on Congress:  Pass this Veterans Jobs Corps and extend the tax credits for businesses that hire veterans so we can give these American heroes the jobs and opportunities that they deserve.  (Applause.)

So, VFW, these are the promises that I made.  These are the promises that I’ve kept.  Where we still have more to do, we will not rest.  That’s my vow to you.  I’ve got your back.  I’ve got your six.  Because we have a solemn obligation to all who serve

— not just for the years you’re in uniform, but for all the decades that follow, and because even though today’s wars are ending, the hard work of taking care of our newest veterans has only just begun.

Just as you protected America, we’re going to pass our country to the next generation, stronger and safer and more respected in the world.  So if anyone tries to tell you that our greatness has passed, that America is in decline, you tell them this:  Just like the 20th century, the 21st is going to be another great American Century.  For we are Americans, blessed with the greatest form of government ever devised by man, a democracy dedicated to freedom and committed to the ideals that still light the world.  We will never apologize for our way of life; we will never waver in its defense.

We are a nation that freed millions and turned adversaries into allies.  We are the Americans who defended the peace and turned back aggression.  We are Americans who welcome our global responsibilities and our global leadership.  The United States has been, and will remain, the one indispensable nation in world affairs.

And you, you are the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines and the Coast Guardsmen who have kept us strong.  We will honor your legacy.  And we will ensure that the military you served, and the America that we love, remains the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.

God bless you.  God bless all of our veterans.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END               1:08 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 11, 2012: President Barack Obama Calls for a Simpler Refinancing Process for Homeowners in Statement in Reno, Nevada

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

President Obama is calling on Congress to cut red tape and make it simpler for responsible homeowners to refinance

President Obama with Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada

President Obama with Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 5/11/12

President Obama Calls for a Simpler Refinancing Process

Source: WH, 5-11-12

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to neighbors at the home of Valerie and Paul Keller (May 11, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to neighbors at the home of Valerie and Paul Keller in Reno, Nevada, May 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today in Nevada, President Obama pushed Congress to cut red tape and make it simpler for responsible homeowners to refinance and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates.

First, he sat down with Val and Paul Keller — two homeowners from Reno. They were able to refinance their mortgage after the President made changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program, and because of that, they’re currently saving around $240 a month.

The President said that their experience is one that should be open to more Americans:

The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small. The reason the Kellers were able to refinance is because the only thing that we could do without congressional action was to give opportunities for refinancing for folks with a government-backed loan, an FHA-backed loan. But in order to expand that opportunity — we want to include everybody; people whose mortgages aren’t government-backed. And in order to do that we’ve got to have Congress move.

President Obama’s refinancing proposal is part of his To-Do List for Congress. To learn more, and watch a video from one of his economic advisors explaining how the President’s plan would help homeowners more easily refinance their mortgages, click here.


Learn More

Related Topics: Economy, ToDo List, Nevada

Remarks by the President on Helping Responsible Homeowners

Private Residence
Reno, Nevada

12:00 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everybody.  (Applause.)  And thank you for arranging a beautiful day.  This is just a spectacular afternoon and I’m thrilled to be here.

We all know how difficult these past few years have been for this country, but especially for this state.  After the worst recession in our lifetimes — a crisis that followed the collapse of the housing market — it’s going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover.  More time than any of us would like.  But there are plenty of steps that we can take to speed up the recovery right now.  There are things we can do right now to help create jobs and help restore some of the financial security that too many families have lost.

Now, I have to say that there are a few too many Republicans in Congress who don’t seem to be as optimistic as we are.  They think that all we can do are try the things that have been done in the past — things that they’ve tried in the past.  So they want to cut more taxes, especially for the wealthiest Americans.  They want to cut back on the rules that we put in place for banks and financial institutions.  They’ve said that they want to let the housing market hit bottom, and just hope for the best.  That’s it.  We’ve heard those ideas before.  That’s their economic agenda.  And I’ll be honest with you, I don’t buy it.  I think they’re wrong.

We tried their ideas for nearly a decade and they didn’t work.  And I refuse to sell this country short by going back to the exact same ideas that helped to get us in this mess in the first place.  Our goal is to build an economy where hard work and responsibility are rewarded — where you can find a good job, make a good wage, own your own home, maybe start a business, send your kids to college.  Hopefully, their lives will be even better than ours.  That’s what I wish for Malia and Sasha, and I know you guys feel the same way who have kids.

And that’s where we need to go.  I’ve been pushing Congress to help us get there by passing a few common-sense policies that we’re convinced will make a difference.  We even made a handy “To-Do” list for Congress so they can just check them off — it’s a list like Michelle gives me.  (Laughter.)  I know Paul is familiar with that list.  He gets it from Val.

Now, there are only five things on this list — because I don’t want to overload Congress with too much at once.  But they’re ideas that will help create jobs and build a stronger economy right now.

So first up on the list — it makes absolutely no sense that we actually give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs and factories overseas.  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  (Applause.)  So we told Congress it’s time to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that bring jobs back to America.  (Applause.)

Second, instead of just talking about job creators, Congress should help small businesses and help small business owners who create most of the new jobs in America.  So we want to give them a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.

The third thing on our “To-Do” list — Congress should extend tax credits that are set to expire for our clean energy companies.  These businesses are putting folks to work here in this state of Nevada.  Last time I was here, in fact, I went to see a huge solar plant, solar energy plant.  A lot of folks are working both in the construction of it and maintaining it.  That’s happening all across the country.  And so we’ve got to make sure that we are helping those folks, because that helps us break our dependence on foreign oil.  Over the long term that will help drive down gas prices and it puts people to work right now.  It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.)

Fourth, Congress should create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that we can help communities hire returning heroes — our veterans — as cops and firefighters and employees at national parks — because nobody who fights for this country should ever have to come home and fight for a job or fight for a roof over their heads.  (Applause.)

All right, so that’s four — which brings me to the fifth.  The fifth thing on the list, and that’s why I’m here today.  I’m calling on Congress to give every responsible homeowner the chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  It’s a simple idea.  (Applause.)  It makes great sense.  And I know it will have an impact.

Last October, I was in Clark County, where I announced new steps to help responsible homeowners refinance their homes.  And at the time, Congress wasn’t willing to act, so we did.  We went ahead and did what we could do administratively, without a new law being passed.  And as a result, Americans who were previously stuck in high interest loans have been able to take advantage of these lower rates.  And they’ve been able to save thousands of dollars every year.

And it turns out that two of those people are your neighbors, Paul and Valerie Keller.  (Applause.)  So I just had a chance to visit with Paul and Valerie and look at their beautiful home and check out the grill out back.  (Laughter.)  Valerie says Paul is a pretty good cook, so I’m going to take her word for it.

The Kellers have lived in this house for 14 years.  Val works nearby, helping secure loans for farmers and ranchers.  Paul is a retired electrical contractor who started a family business with their son.  Last year, with mortgage rates at historic lows, the Kellers decided it would make sense for them to refinance.  They thought it would be easy, since they’re current on their mortgage, they make their payments on time.  So this is an example of responsible homeowners doing the right thing.

But when they tried to refinance, they were told they couldn’t do it.  Because the Kellers’ house, like thousands of others in this state and probably some of the neighbors here, their house is underwater, which means that the price is currently lower than what they owe on it.  So they were hit — you were hit with a historic drop in housing prices which caused the value of the homes in their neighborhood to plummet.  And a lot of banks historically have said, well, we’re not going to refinance you if your home is underwater.

Now, luckily, the Kellers saw my announcement that I had made down in Clark County.  So I’m assuming it must have been Val because whenever something smart is done, it’s usually the wife in the house.  (Laughter.)

So they called their lender, and within a few months, within 90 days, they were able to refinance under this new program that we set up.  Their monthly mortgage bill has now dropped $240 dollars a month, and that means every year they’re saving close to $3000.  (Applause.)

Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors — maybe some of you are here today — and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea.  And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.  They might go to a restaurant a little more often.  They might spoil their grandkids even more.  (Laughter.)  And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again.  So it makes sense for all of us.

And the good news is, since I’ve made this announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent here in Nevada alone.  That’s the good news.  People are taking advantage of this.  (Applause.)  That’s what we want to see.

But here’s the only catch — and this is where you come in, because you’re going to have to pressure Congress:  The pool of folks who can refinance right now, when their homes are underwater, is still too small.  The reason the Kellers were able to refinance is because the only thing that we could do without congressional action was to give opportunities for refinancing for folks with a government-backed loan, an FHA-backed loan.  But in order to expand that opportunity — we want to include everybody; people whose mortgages aren’t government-backed.  (Applause.)  And in order to do that we’ve got to have Congress move.

There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now.  If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes — if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a month year– that’s a huge boost to our economy.  And for some of you who are underwater, you might say, instead of spending that money I can plow that back into equity in my home, and build that back up, which would further strengthen housing prices here in Nevada and around the country.

So it’s the right thing to do.  There’s already a bill in the works.  It’s supported by independent, nonpartisan economists.  It’s supported by industry leaders.  Congress should pass it right now.  (Applause.)

And let me just say this — maybe there are some members of Congress watching.  (Laughter.)  If you need some motivation to make this happen, then you should come to Reno and you should visit with folks like the Kellers.  (Applause.)  I’m not saying the Kellers want all these members of Congress up in their house.  (Laughter.)  It’s bad enough having me and Secret Service in there.  (Laughter.)  But at least they — they probably wouldn’t mind saying hello and talking to them here in front of their house.  (Laughter.)  But they should talk to people whose lives are better because of the action that we took.

All over the country, there are people just like Paul and Val, folks just like you, who are doing everything they can to do the right thing — to meet their responsibilities, to look after their families, to raise their kids right, give them good values.  You’re not looking for a handout.  You just want to make sure that somebody is looking out for you, and that when you do the right thing that you’re able to keep everything that you’ve worked for.  That’s what folks are looking for, and that’s what they expect from Washington:  to put the politics aside and the electioneering aside, and just do what’s right for people.  (Applause.)

So I need all of you and everybody who’s watching to push Congress on their “To-Do” list.  Nag them until they actually get it done.  We need to keep moving this country forward.  Send them an email.  Tweet them.  Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me.  (Laughter.)

But communicate to them that this will make a difference.  It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.  And that’s an economy that’s built to last.  An economy where everybody has a fair shot, everybody gets a fair share, everybody is playing by the same set of rules.  That’s what made us great in the past.  That’s what’s going to make us great in the future.

All right.  Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  And give Paul and Val a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

END
12:11 P.M. PDT

Full Text Obama Presidency March 21, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech on an All-of-the-Above Energy Policy & Solar Power in Nevada

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

Obama Takes On Republicans Over Energy Policy

Source: NYT, 3-21-12

The president will try to counter Republican resistance to alternative energy subsidies at the expense of oil and gas….READ MORE

President Obama Discusses Solar Power in Nevada

Source: WH, 3-21-12
President Obama Delivers Remarks on Energy at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on energy after a tour of a Solar Panel Field at the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility, the largest photovoltaic plant operating in the country with nearly one million solar panels powering 17,000 homes, in Boulder City, Nevada, March 21, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Today, President Obama visited the Copper Mountain Solar 1 Facility in Boulder City, Nevada. The facility is the largest photovoltaic plant in the country, and its one million solar panels power 17,000 homes in California.

Boulder City, a small town near Las Vegas with fewer than 20,000 residents, was initially established to house the workers building the Hoover Dam. Today, the sun shines on Boulder City 320 days each year, making it an ideal place for a massive solar facility. Construction began in 2010, and hundreds of local residents now have jobs because of the plant. Things are going so well, in fact, that a second and third Copper Mountain facility are in the works, which will eventually generate enough electricity to power 45,000 and 66,000 homes, respectively.

Across the country, businesses like the one that built Copper Mountain are developing enough solar energy to power 730,000 homes.

Increasing the use of renewable energy sources like solar power is one piece of President Obama’s strategy to develop every available source of American-made energy. Since he took office, federal investment in renewable energy has helped nearly double its use across the country. And as a result, we are reducing our dependence on foreign oil and becoming more energy independent, creating jobs, and keeping our environment clean.

Read more about the other parts of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President on Energy

Copper Mountain Solar Project
Boulder City, Nevada

1:10 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  (Applause.)  Good afternoon.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Have a seat.  It is wonderful to be here.  Thank you so much.  It is great to be in Boulder City.

A couple people I want to thank for their outstanding work. First of all, our Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is in the house.  (Applause.)  He’s the guy in the nice-looking hat.  Not only does it look good, but it protects his head, because the hair has gotten a little thin up there.  (Laughter.)  He is a good-looking guy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  One of them.  One of them.

THE PRESIDENT:  One of them.  (Laughter.)  That’s right.  There’s the other guy.  (Laughter.)

I also want to thank your Mayor — a big supporter of solar energy — and that’s Roger Tobler, for being here.  Where’s Roger?  Here he is right there.  I just met his beautiful daughter.  It’s great to see you.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Jeffrey Martin, CEO of Sempra, and John and Kevin, who helped just give me this tour.

And Boulder City is the first stop on a tour where I’ll be talking about what we’re calling an all-of-the-above energy strategy — all of the above.  A strategy that relies on producing more oil and gas here in America, but also more biofuels, more fuel-efficient cars, more wind power and, as you can see, a whole lot more solar power.

This is the largest solar plant of its kind anywhere in the country.  That’s worth applauding.  (Applause.)  Every year, you produce enough clean energy to power around 17,000 homes.  And that’s just the beginning.  Things are going so well that another plant is already under construction down the road that will eventually power another 45,000 homes.  And a third plant is in development that will be, one day, able to power around 66,000 homes.

Now, this is an area that was hit hard by the recession — and that’s true of the whole state.  You guys have been through a lot.  But you haven’t given up.  You looked around at this flat, beautiful land and all this sun — I just — I asked the question, how many days of sun do you get a year — 320 — that’s pretty good — and decided that Boulder City was the perfect place to generate solar power.

In fact, as I was talking to the folks from Sempra, they were explaining that this location is almost optimal for solar power generation, not only because it’s flat, transmission lines were already here, the sun is traveling and there’s no haze and it’s absolutely clear.  And so this is an extraordinary opportunity for the community.  And when a business showed up with plans to build a new solar plant, hundreds of local workers got jobs because of it.  Thousands of families are now powering their homes with a cleaner, renewable source of energy.

And this is not just happening here in Boulder City — it’s happening in cities and towns all across America.  According to experts, we’ve now got more than 5,600 solar companies nationwide, and many of them are small businesses.  There are solar companies in every single state in the Union.  And today, we’re producing enough solar energy to power 730,000 American homes.  And because of the investments we’ve made as a nation, the use of renewable energies has actually doubled.

So this is an industry on the rise.  It’s a source of energy that’s becoming cheaper; we all know it’s cleaner.  And more and more businesses are starting to take notice.  They’re starting to look around for more places like Boulder City to set up shop.

When I took office I said, why not give these businesses some access to public lands that aren’t otherwise being utilized? At the time, there wasn’t a single solar project in place on public lands — not one.  Today, thanks to some great work by Ken Salazar, we’ve got 16 solar projects approved.  (Applause.)  And when they’re complete, we’ll be generating enough energy to power 2 million homes.  And that’s progress.

We’re also enforcing our trade laws to make sure countries like China aren’t giving their solar companies an unfair advantage over ours.  (Applause.)  And that’s important because countries all around the world — China, Germany, you name it — they understand the potential.  They understand the fact that as countries all around the world become more interested in power generation — their population is expanding, their income level is going up, they use more electricity — and we’re going to have to make sure that we’re the guys who are selling them the technology and the know-how to make sure that they’re getting the power that they need.

In fact, just yesterday, our administration determined China wasn’t playing fair when it came to solar power.  And so we took the first step towards leveling the playing field, because my attitude is, when the playing field is level, then American workers and American businesses are always going to win.  And that’s why we’ve got to make sure that our laws are properly enforced.  (Applause.)

Now, you’d think given this extraordinary site, given the fact that this is creating jobs, generating power, helping to keep our environment clean, making us more competitive globally, you’d think that everybody would be supportive of solar power.   That’s what you’d think.  And yet, if some politicians had their way, there won’t be any more public investment in solar energy.  There won’t be as many new jobs and new businesses.

Some of these folks want to dismiss the promise of solar power and wind power and fuel-efficient cars.  In fact, they make jokes about it.  One member of Congress who shall remain unnamed called these jobs “phony” — called them phony jobs.  I mean, think about that mindset, that attitude that says because something is new, it must not be real.  If these guys were around when Columbus set sail, they’d be charter members of the Flat Earth Society.  (Laughter.)  We were just talking about this — that a lack of imagination, a belief that you can’t do something in a new way — that’s not how we operate here in America.  That’s not who we are.  That’s not what we’re about.

These politicians need to come to Boulder City and see what I’m seeing.  (Applause.)  They should talk to the people who are involved in this industry, who have benefitted from the jobs, who benefit from ancillary businesses that are related to what’s going on right here.

Now, all of you know that when it comes to new technologies, the payoffs aren’t always going to come right away.  Sometimes, you need a jumpstart to make it happen.  That’s been true of every innovation that we’ve ever had.  And we know that some discoveries won’t pan out.  There’s the VCR and the Beta and the — all that stuff.  (Laughter.)

And each successive generation recognizes that some technologies are going to work, some won’t; some companies will fail, some companies will succeed.  Not every auto company succeeded in the early days of the auto industry.  Not every airplane manufacturer succeeded in the early days of the aviation.  But we understood as Americans that if we keep on this track, and we’re at the cutting edge, then that ultimately will make our economy stronger and it will make the United States stronger.  It will create jobs.  It will create businesses.  It will create opportunities for middle-class Americans and folks who want to get into the middle class.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we’re about.  (Applause.)

So I want everybody here to know that as long as I’m President, we will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.  (Applause.)  We’re not going to walk away from places like Boulder City.  I’m not going to give up on the new to cede our position to China or Germany or all the other competitors out there who are making massive investments in clean energy technology.  I refuse to see us stand by and not make the same commitment.  That’s not what we do in America.  It’s not who we are as a country.

One of the main reasons I ran for this office is I didn’t think that our leaders were doing enough to tackle the big challenges, the hard challenges, to seize the big opportunities.  And energy is one of the best examples.  We have been talking about changing our energy policies for 30 years now.  When I was the age of these guys right here, when I was 10, 11, right, in the ‘70s, and my grandparents were complaining about long gas lines, we were talking about how we were going to do things differently.  Thirty, 40 years, and we keep on doing the same stuff.  We keep on punting.  We keep on putting it off.  For decades, Washington kept kicking the can down the road.

I don’t want to do that anymore.  I want to make sure when these guys are grown up that they’re seeing solar panels all across the country.  They’re seeing American-made energy and American-made power.  They’re benefiting from a cleaner environment.  They’re seeing jobs and opportunity — that’s what I want to see.

So as long as I’m President, we’re going to develop every available source of energy.  That is a promise that I’m making to you.  (Applause.)

And, yes, that means we make investments in stuff that is new, and we stop subsidizing stuff that’s old.  The current members of the Flat Earth Society in Congress — (laughter) — they would rather see us continue to provide $4 billion — $4 billion — in tax subsidies, tax giveaways, to the oil companies — $4 billion to an industry that is making record profits.  Every time you fill up the pump, they’re making money.  They are doing just fine.  They’re not having any problems.

And yet, on top of what we’re paying at the pump, we’re also going to give them $4 billion in subsidies that could be going into making sure there were investments in clean energy for the future?  That doesn’t make any sense.  Does that make any sense?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  All right, I just wanted to make sure.  Because I didn’t think it was a wise use of your tax dollars.  (Laughter.)

We have subsidized oil companies for a century.  We want to encourage production of oil and gas, and make sure that wherever we’ve got American resources, we are tapping into them.  But they don’t need an additional incentive when gas is $3.75 a gallon, when oil is $1.20 a barrel, $1.25 a barrel.  They don’t need additional incentives.  They are doing fine.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  It is our retirement!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  A century of subsidies to oil companies is long enough.  It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double down on investments in an energy industry that has never been more promising.  (Applause.)  That’s what we need to do.

So Congress needs to pass more tax credits for projects like this one; needs to provide certainty when it comes to these tax credits.  We need to go out there and do what a lot of states are doing right now, which is saying, let’s get a certain percentage of our energy from clean energy sources.  Because when we do that, that gives a company like this one certainty that they’re going to have customers, and they can invest more and build more. (Applause.)

We need to keep Americans on the job.  We need to keep these homes powered by clean energy.  We need to support the businesses that are doing it.

And again, I just want everybody to be clear — because sometimes, when you listen to the news and you listen to some of these other politicians, they seem a little bit confused about what I’m saying.  We are going to continue producing oil and gas at a record pace.  That’s got to be part of what we do.  We need energy to grow.  That’s why we’re producing more oil right now, here in America, than at any time in the last eight years — any time in the last eight years.  We’re opening up more land for oil exploration.  We’ve got more oil rigs operating.  There are more pipelines out there that are being approved.  I’ll be visiting one of those rigs and one of those pipelines this week.

But an energy strategy that focuses only on drilling and not on an energy strategy that will free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil, that’s a losing strategy.  That’s not a strategy I’m going to pursue.  America uses 20 percent of the world’s oil, and we’ve got 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Think about — I wasn’t a math major, but I just want — (laughter) — if you’re using 20, you’ve only got 2, that means you got to bring in the rest from someplace else.  Why wouldn’t we want to start finding alternatives that make us less reliant, less dependent on what’s going on in the Middle East?  (Applause.)

So we’ve got to develop new energy technologies, new energy sources.  It’s the only way forward.  And here in Boulder City, you know that better than anybody.  You know the promise that lies ahead because this city has always been about the future.  Eight decades ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, the people of Boulder City were busy working on another energy project you may have heard of.  Like today, it was a little bit ahead of its time; it was a little bit bigger than this solar plant — it was a little louder, too.  It was called the Hoover Dam.  And at the time, it was the largest dam in the world.  (Applause.)  Even today, it stands as a testimony to American ingenuity, American imagination, the power of the American spirit — a testimony to the notion we can do anything.

That was true back then; it is true today.  You know the choice we need to make when it comes to energy.  We’ve got to invest in a sustained, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of energy.  We’ve got to stay ahead of the curve.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re taking some risks.  We’ve got to make sure that we’re making the investments that are necessary.  We’ve got to support extraordinary entrepreneurs that are on the cutting-edge.  That’s who we are.  That’s what we do. And if we keep on doing it, nothing is going to stop us.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
1:27 P.M. PDT

Campaign Buzz October 18, 2011: CNN / Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC) GOP Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Candidates Mitt Romney & Rick Perry Fight & Clash over the Economy, Health Care & Immigration — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan in the Hot Seat

CAMPAIGN 2012

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Ms. Goodman has also contributed the overviews, and chronologies in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, 4th edition, edited by Gil Troy, Fred L. Israel, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger to be published by Facts on File, Inc. in late 2011.

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Republican presidential primary candidates met for a debate Tuesday night at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. It was the fifth time the candidates had gathered since Labor Day.

IN FOCUS: CNN / WESTERN REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES DEBATE

  • Las Vegas Republican debate: The Live Blog: Tonight at 8 p.m. eastern time seven Republican candidates running for president will take the stage in Las Vegas for the fifth debate in the last six weeks…. – WaPo
  • Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino: The following is a transcript of the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev…. – NYT, 10-19-11

Faith and religion

Gov. Rick Perry: “I can no more remove my faith than I can [the fact that] I’m the son of a tenant farmer. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt…. “Americans understand faith, and what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident” of the White House…. “I did not agree with Pastor Jeffress’ remarks. I cannot apologize more than that.”

Tax plans

Gov. Rick Perry: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something. You don’t need a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.”
“They’re not interested in 9-9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer. At the end of the week, I’m going to be laying out a plan that clearly — I’ll bump plans with you, brother, and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.”

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Lake Jackson: “What would you replace the income tax with?” “I’ll say ‘nothing,'” Paul said.

Foreign aid:

Gov. Rick Perry: “I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. I think it’s time for us to have a very serious conversation about defunding the United Nations. … Why are we funding that particular organization?”

Rep. Ron Paul: “It’s taking from poor people in this country and giving to rich people in other countries.”

Herman Cain: “If we clarify who our friends are and clarify who our enemies are.”

Health plans

Gov. Rick Perry: Perry: Texas has “one of the finest healthcare systems in the world.”

Border security

Gov. Rick Perry: while a fence separating the U.S. and Mexico border can be built, “there’s a better way.” Primarily that would be putting “boots on the ground” and using technology to create a “virtual defense zone along that border … with strategic fencing in obvious places where it matters.”

  • The Caucus: Las Vegas Debate Wrap-Up: In the most contentious debate so far, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry clashed repeatedly. It signaled the start of a tough new phase of the campaign…. – NYT, 10-19-11
  • Las Vegas Debate Fact Check: New York Times reporters examine statements from candidates in the Republican field on immigration, the economy, foreign policy and health care…. – NYT, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate in Vegas: Winners and losers: The latest – and most contentious – Republican presidential debate of the 2012 cycle has wrapped up in Las Vegas, which means it’s time to look at who had a night to remember and who had one to forget:
    Winners: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum
    Losers: Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman Draw: Rick Perry, Ron Paul…. –
    CBS News, 10-19-11
  • Candidates swap barbs in GOP debate: Herman Cain’s surge in the polls made him an early target in the CNN Western Republican debate but before it was over, Republican presidential rivals were taking personal shots at each other…. – CNN, 10-18-11
  • Four takeaways from the GOP debate in Las Vegas: Rick Perry came out swinging in this debate, notes DCDecoder. Herman Cain’s 999 plan took some hits, and Mitt Romney had some red-faced moments…. –

    1. Rick Perry – don’t call it a comeback.
    2. Herman Cain is apparently incapable of answering any question about foreign policy without fumbling. Hard.
    3. The longer Rick Santorum sticks around, the more nervous Romney, Perry and to some extent Cain, are going to be.
    4. Mitt Romney can have pretty thin skin.

    CS Monitor, 10-19-11

  • Gloves come off, candidates go all out in Las Vegas debate:
    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    Seven of the top GOP presidential candidates faced off in Las Vegas
    Jon Huntsman decided to boycott Nevada and instead will campaign in New Hampshire
    Frontrunners Cain, Romney and Perry came under frequent attack
    Romney and Perry face off, trade sharp accusations

    Republican presidential candidates face off in the Western Republican Debate, moderated by Anderson Cooper, at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday on CNN, the CNN mobile apps and CNN.com/Live. Tweet your questions to #CNNDebate on Twitter.
    Tuesday night was fight night in Las Vegas. Seven Republican presidential candidates clashed sharply over issues such as illegal immigration, taxes and health care at a presidential debate in Nevada sponsored by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference.
    But it was the three Republican frontrunners — former Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov Rick Perry — who came under frequent attack.
    The long-standing bad blood between Romney and Perry boiled over in the debate’s first hour as the two GOP heavyweights traded harsh accusations and showed flashes of anger…. – CNN, 10-18-11

  • A Fierce Clash for Romney and Perry as Republican Candidates Debate: Mitt Romney came under intensive attack from his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination at a debate here Tuesday night, with a newly assertive Rick Perry leading a sometimes personal barrage against him on conservative consistency, health care policy and even the immigration status of yard workers at his home.
    Seven of the Republican candidates for president gathered again tonight for the eighth debate of the year and the first held in the West.
    It was the most acrimonious debate so far this year. Marked by raised voices, accusations of lying and acerbic and personal asides, it signaled the start of a tough new phase of the primary campaign a little more than two months before the first votes are cast.
    Mr. Romney responded aggressively to the attacks and sometimes testily. Once, after Mr. Perry spoke over him, he turned to the debate moderator, Anderson Cooper of CNN, to plead, “Anderson?”…. – NYT, 10-18-11
  • Republican debate: What we learned in Las Vegas: * Mitt and Rick, not BFF: Before last night’s debate, most of the skirmishing between the former Massachusetts governor and the Texas governor was at the staff level. No longer. Perry repeatedly got into Romney’s face and Romney repeatedly took umbrage.
    Perry’s attack on Romney employing illegal immigrant lawn service workers was decidedly personal and aggressive, and, for the first time in these debates, Romney got visibly angry. The extended “let me finish, no let me talk” exchange over immigration rapidly escalated to the point where it was very uncomfortable (and yet strangely alluring) to watch.
    The ill will between the men seems to set the stage for a very nasty next few months as the two best-funded candidates in the race (not to mention their super PACs) will soon take to the television airwaves to continue the argument begun last night.
    * Perry — not dead yet : Perry’s performance was somewhat uneven — he was terrific in the earlier part of the debate and less so as it wore on — but overall it was by far his best showing. Perry actually seemed like he wanted to be there; he was energetic and feisty.
    We’ve written before that Republican primary voters want to nominate a fighter, someone they believe can take the fight to President Obama on all fronts. Last night, Perry was that guy…. – WaPo, 10-19-11
  • Mitt Romney aide: He stood up to ‘bully’ Rick Perry at debate: Mitt Romney’s adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell a bit ago, gave the line that the frontrunner’s camp has used to spin Rick Perry’s performance – that he was too aggressive…. – Politico, 10-19-11
  • Perry calling for flat tax: Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling for a flat tax. Perry told the Western Republican Leadership Conference on Wednesday that he’ll unveil the tax as part of his broad plan to revive the economy and create jobs. … – AP, 10-19-11
  • Perry to unveil flat tax plan: Rick Perry will outline a plan next week to replace the US tax code with a federal “flat tax,” he told an audience in Las Vegas Wednesday. Continue Reading Perry’s plan, he told the Western Republican Leadership Conference… – Politico, 10-19-11
  • Rick Perry Previews His Next Economic Plan: After his strongest debate performance since his entrance in the presidential race, Texas Gov. Rick Perry shared a portion of his forthcoming economic growth plan which he will unveil in next week in South Carolina…. – ABC News, 10-19-11
  • Rick Perry continues the tough talk: “I am not a candidate of the establishment”: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, fresh from his feisty attacks on Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s GOP “fight night” CNN debate in Las Vegas, hit the Western Republican Leadership Conference Wednesday and kept up the jabs… – San Francisco Chronicle, 10-19-11
  • Las Vegas Republican debate: How each candidate fared: Seven GOP presidential candidates showed up in Las Vegas last night for what ended up being the most contentious debate of the campaign cycle. While much of the attention focused on Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Herman Cain…. – WaPo, 10-19-11
  • All against Cain: Upstart targeted in GOP debate: Republican presidential contenders attacked upstart Herman Cain’s economic plan as a tax increase waiting to happen Tuesday night, moving swiftly in a fiery campaign debate to blunt the former businessman’s … – Boston Globe, 10-18-11
  • Republican presidential debate puts Herman Cain to test: In what has become a near-weekly ritual, the 2012 Republican presidential field came together on a debate stage Tuesday — this time, one that tested whether Herman Cain is a serious contender…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Republicans brawl in Vegas: Tonight’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas was anything but dull. From the get-go, it was a free-for-all, with Herman Cain the principal target of his competitors…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Herman Cain could be haunted by hostage question from Las Vegas Republican debate: Foreign policy has never been Herman Cain’s strong suit. But his response in the Las Vegas debate on the possibility of exchanging a soldier for Guantanamo Bay prisoners can’t be good for the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO. Not only did Cain contradict … – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Cain: I can feel the bull’s-eye: Herman Cain said Tuesday he could feel the pressure from his fellow 2012 candidates ahead of the CNN Western Leadership Conference Debate in Las Vegas. “The way it feels is that you got this big bull’s-eye on your back, and it keeps getting … – CNN, 10-18-11
  • GOP candidates take the stage to debate again: Former pizza magnate Herman Cain had a chance Tuesday night to convince voters he’s not just the latest fad, debating fellow Republican presidential candidates in economically hard-hit Nevada as he enjoyed his new standing atop opinion polls. … – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate: Cain and Romney win: Everyone stepped up their game for Tuesday’s Republican debate in Las Vegas. Even Gov. Rick Perry (Tx.) was energetic and feisty on the stage — for a bit. But the winners were the acknowledged frontrunners…. – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Romney still the best at this, Perry not as bad, and the loser? Anderson Cooper: Romney still the best at this, Perry not as bad, and the loser? Anderson Cooper. Well, it was the feistiest debate — Rick Perry even stayed awake for the whole thing, which was a nice change… – WaPo, 10-18-11
  • Romney’s Lawn Care History and the Fight Over Immigration: Rick Perry’s most pointed attack against Mitt Romney in Tuesday night’s debate concerned an immigration matter that came to light when Mr. Romney was campaigning for president four years ago. … – NYT, 10-18-11
  • Analysis: Rick Perry Takes Off The Gloves At Las Vegas Debate, But Doesn’t Land a Knock-out Punch: For the first time since he got into the Presidential race just over two months ago, Rick Perry finally looked comfortable on the debate stage. Gone was the laconic and vaguely dazed Texas Governor. In his place was a feisty candidate eager to engage … – ABC News, 10-18-11
  • GOP debate: Rick Perry accuses Mitt Romney of being a hypocrite on immigration: Herman Cain’s 15 minutes were up Tuesday night as heavy hitters Mitt Romney and Rick Perry debunked him and went after each other in the nastiest exchange yet of the GOP debates.
    Perry let loose and accused front-runner Romney of being a hypocrite on immigration because the former Massachusetts governor hired illegal workers at his own home…. – NY Daily News, 10-18-11
  • Sparks fly as GOP presidential candidates debate: Republican presidential candidates brawled Tuesday over Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan and Mitt Romney’s record on illegal immigration and health care, as rivals hammered the two top-tier contenders…. – Miami Herald, 10-18-11
  • Rick Perry delivers his most aggressive debate performance of the campaign season: An animated Rick Perry delivered his most aggressive debate performance of the 2012 presidential campaign Tuesday, leading a concerted attack on the leaders of the GOP pack, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain. … – Houston Chronicle, 10-18-11
  • Mitt Romney bashed on healthcare, immigration at Vegas debate: The 2012 Republican debates turned raucous, and highly personal, Tuesday night as front-running Mitt Romney got dragged into the fray over his Massachusetts healthcare plan and onetime hiring of illegal immigrants…. – LAT, 10-18-11
  • Romney says religion shouldn’t be a factor: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says voters should not choose their president based on the candidate’s religious beliefs or the place where they worship…. – Atlanta Journal Constitution, 10-18-11
  • Romney and Perry spar at Nevada debate Cain faces heightened scrutiny of ‘9-9-9’ economic plan: A long-awaited showdown between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry erupted at Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, in an occasionally personal battle between the two GOP heavyweights.
    Romney and Perry sparred throughout the two-hour CNN/Western Republican Leadership Conference debate in Las Vegas, mostly overshadowing an early pile-on of Herman Cain and his “9-9-9” economic plan.
    Perry called Romney a hypocrite, while the former Massachusetts governor retorted that the Texan was suffering from some recent rough debate outings. The body language of both turned visibly cool as they talked past one another at points.
    The fireworks emerged halfway through the first hour of the debate, when Perry accused Romney of having hired illegal immigrants as landscapers at one of his homes. Perry has been looking to reverse a slide in the polls driven in part by poor debate performances…. – MSNBC, 10-18-11
  • Romney, Cain under fire at GOP debate Top two Republicans under siege in first hour of Vegas debate: The two candidates leading the contest for the Republican presidential nomination found themselves under siege early at Tuesday night’s debate in Las Vegas.
    The GOP hopefuls took turns hammering former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain’s “9-9-9” economic plan. And a long-awaited showdown between former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry erupted late in the first hour, and took an occasionally personal tone.
    Cain, whose plan dominated last Tuesday’s debate and most of the political discussion in the week since then, quickly found himself on defense over his plan, which calls for nine percent taxes on personal income, corporate income, and sales. Cain accused his opponents of “mixing apples and oranges” for suggesting that taxpayers would have to double up on state taxes and Cain’s plan, which affects federal taxes…. – MSNBC, 10-18-11
  • Debate Interrupted: Republican presidential candidates former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, left, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, right, talk across Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, second from left, and businessman Herman Cain during a Republican presidential debate Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
    Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas produced some of the feistiest exchanges yet, including this one, where candidates had a hard time letting each other complete a sentence. Transcript courtesty of CNN:
    Former Sen. Rick SANTORUM: The final point I would make to Governor Romney, you just don’t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing Obamacare. You are — you are — your plan was the basis for Obamacare. Your consultants helped Obama craft Obamacare. And to say that you’re going to repeal it, you just — you have no track record on that that — that we can trust you that you’re going to do that…. – National Journal, 10-18-11

Full Text Campaign Buzz October 18, 2011: CNN / Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC) GOP Republican Presidential Debate in Las Vegas, Nevada — Candidates Mitt Romney & Rick Perry Fight & Clash in 8th Debate over the Economy, Health Care & Immigration — Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan in the Hot Seat — Transcript

CAMPAIGN 2012

CAMPAIGN BUZZ 2012

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

The Republican presidential primary candidates met for a debate Tuesday night at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. It was the fifth time the candidates had gathered since Labor Day.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Debate at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

The following is a transcript of the Western Republican Leadership Conference (WRLC)/CNN Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nev., as provided by Federal News Service.

Speakers: Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MINN.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-TEXAS

Gov. Rick Perry, R-TEXAS

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-PA.

Former Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-GA.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-MASS.

Hermain Cain

Moderator: Anderson Cooper

ANDERSON COOPER: All right. Let’s — time to begin, and we’ll begin with actually a question in the hall.

Q: This is for all candidates. What’s your position on replacing the federal income tax with a federal sales tax?

MR. COOPER: I’ll direct that to Congresswoman Bachmann . You’ve been very critical of Herman’s Cain 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a 9 percent sales tax and 9 percent income tax and 9 percent corporate tax. In fact, you said it would destroy the economy. Why?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN): Well, I am a former federal tax litigation attorney, and also my husband and I are job creators.

One thing I know about Congress, being a member of Congress for five years, is that any time you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away. When we got the income tax in 1913, the top rate was 7 percent. By 1980 the top rate was 70 percent. If we give Congress a 9 percent sales tax, how long will it take a liberal president and a liberal Congress to run that up to maybe 90 percent?

Who knows?

What I do know is that we all have to be concerned about the hidden tax of the value-added tax, because at every step and stage of production, you’d be taxing that item 9 percent on the profits. That’s the worry. In my plan — again, that’s a tax plan, it’s not a jobs plan. My plan for economic recovery is real jobs right now.

I have a tax plan, I have a jobs plan, I have an energy plan and a plan to really turn this country around and create millions of high- paying jobs.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, a lot of prominent conservatives now are coming forward saying that your 9-9-9 plan would actually raise taxes on middle-class voters, on lower-income voters.

HERMAN CAIN: The thing that I would encourage people to do before they engage in this knee-jerk reaction is read our analysis. It is available at Hermancain.com. It was performed by Fiscal Associates. And all of the claims that are made against it, it is a jobs plan. It is revenue neutral. It does not raise taxes on those that are making the least. All of those are simply not true.

The reason that my plan — the reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians, they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess. Let’s throw out the 10-million-word mess and put in our plan, which will liberate the American workers and liberate American businesses. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, will his plan raise taxes?

RICK SANTORUM: Herman’s well-meaning. I — and I love his boldness and it’s great. But the fact of the matter is, I mean, reports are now out that 84 percent of Americans would pay more taxes under his plan. That’s the analysis. And it makes sense, because when you — what you — when you don’t provide a standard deduction, when you don’t provide anything for low-income individuals and you have a sales tax and an income tax and, as Michele said, a value added tax, which is really what his corporate tax is, we’re talking about major increases in taxes on people.

He also doesn’t have anything that takes care of the families. I mean, you have a — you have a situation where under Herman’s plan a single person pays as much in taxes as a — as a man and a woman raising three children. We — every — ever since we’ve had the income tax in America, we’ve always taken advantage of the fact that we want to encourage people to — to have children and not have to pay more — already to raise children, but also pay that additional taxes. We gave some breaks for families. He doesn’t do that in this bill. And we’re going to — we’ve seen that happen in Europe, and what happened? Boom! Birth rates went in the — into the — into the basement.

It’s a — it’s a bad tax for — I — again, it’s bold. I give him credit for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families and it’s not good for low-income people.

MR. COOPER: I’m going — I’m going to give you 30 seconds to respond. That 84 percent figure comes from the Tax Policy Center.

MR. CAIN: That simply is not true. I invite people to look at our analysis which we make available. Secondly, the point that he makes about it’s a value added tax, I’m sorry, Representative Bachmann, it’s not a value added tax. It’s a single tax. And if — I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are kneejerk reactions.

And we do provide a provision, if you read the analysis, something we call “opportunity zones” —

MR. COOPER: All right.

MR. CAIN:  — that will in fact address the issue of those making the least.

MR. COOPER: I want to bring Congresswoman Bachmann in, since she was referenced by you.

REP. BACHMANN: But Anderson, how do you not have a value added tax? Because at every level of production, you have a profit, and that profit gets taxed, because you produce one portion at one level, and then you take it to the next supplier or vender at the next level and you have — you have an exchange. That is a taxable event. And ultimately, that becomes a value added tax. It’s a hidden tax, and any time the federal government needs revenue, they dial up the rate.

And the American people think that it’s the — the — it is the vendor that creates the tax, but it’s the government that creates the tax. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor — Governor Perry, in your state, you have a 6 1/4 percent sales tax. Would taxpayers pay more under the 9-9-9 plan?

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY: Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something: You don’t have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one. They’re not interested in 9- 9-9. What they’re interested in is flatter and fairer. At the end of the week, I’m going to be laying out a plan that clearly — I’ll bump plans with you, brother — and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.

And one of the ways — right here in Nevada, you’ve got 8-plus percent. You want nine cents on top of that and 9 cents on a new home — or 9 percent on a new home, 9 percent on your Social Security, 9 percent more? I don’t think so, Herman. It’s not going to fly.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, 30 seconds. (Scattered applause.)

MR. CAIN: This is — this is an example of mixing apples and oranges. The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax code with oranges. So it’s not correct to mix apples and oranges.

Secondly, it is not a value-added tax — tax. If you take most of the products — take a loaf of bread. It does have five taxes in it right now. What the 9 percent does is that we take out those five invisible taxes and replace it with one visible 9 percent. So you’re absolutely wrong. It’s not a value-added tax.

Now one other quick thing.

MR. COOPER: Your time’s up. I’m sorry.

MR. CAIN: This whole — this whole thing about —

MR. COOPER: You’ll have another 30 seconds, trust me. They’re going to go —

MR. CAIN: Tonight?

MR. COOPER: Yes, I guarantee it. (Laughter.) In about a minute.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you called his plan “dangerous” today.

REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL (R-TX): Oh, it is, because it raises revenues. And the worst part about it, it’s regressive. A lot of people that have — aren’t paying any taxes — and I like that. I don’t think that we should even things up by raising taxes.

(Applause.) So it is a regressive tax. So it’s very, very dangerous in that thing, and it will raise more revenues.

But the gentleman asked the question — he didn’t even ask what we’re talking about. He asked the question, what are you going to replace the income tax with. And I say, nothing. That’s what we should replace it with. (Cheers, applause.)

But I do want to make the point that spending is a tax. As soon as the government spend money, eventually it’s a tax. Sometimes we put a direct tax on the people. Sometimes we borrow the money. And sometimes we print the money. And then when prices go up, like today the — the — the wholesale price index went up 7 percent rate. And if you look at the free market, prices are going up 9 and 10 percent. So that is the tax.

So spending is the tax. That is the reason I offered the program to cut $1 trillion out of the first-year budget that I offer. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, 30 seconds.

MR. CAIN: Once again, unfortunately, none of my distinguished colleagues who have attacked me up here tonight understand the plan. They’re wrong about it being a value-added tax. We simply remove the hidden taxes that are in goods and services with our plan and replace it with a single rate, 9 percent. I invite every family to do your own calculations with that arithmetic.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you have your own 59-point plan. In the last debate, Mr. Cain suggested it was too complicated. Is simpler better?

MR. ROMNEY: Oftentimes simpler is better. But — and I know we’re not supposed to ask each other questions, but if you permit, Herman, are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?

MR. CAIN: No. That’s an apple.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh. Oh, OK.

MR. CAIN: We are replacing a bunch of oranges. (Laughter, applause.)

MR. ROMNEY: So — so then Governor Perry was right.

MR. CAIN: No, he wasn’t. He was mixing apples and oranges.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, but will the people in Nevada not have to pay Nevada sales tax and, in addition, pay the 9 percent tax?

MR. CAIN: Governor Romney, you are doing the same thing that they’re doing. You’re mixing apples and oranges.

You’re going to pay the state —

MR. ROMNEY: I’m —

MR. CAIN: No, no, no, no. You’re going to pay the state sales tax, no matter what.

MR. ROMNEY: Right.

MR. CAIN: Whether you throw out the existing code and you put in our plan, you’re still going to pay that. That’s apples and oranges.

MR. ROMNEY: Fine.

MR. CAIN: Yes.

MR. ROMNEY: And I am going to be getting a bushel basket that has apples and oranges in it, because I’m going to pay both taxes.

MR. CAIN: No, no.

MR. ROMNEY: And the people of Nevada don’t want to pay both taxes. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. CAIN: No –

MR. ROMNEY: Let me make this comment. Let me — let’s just — let’s just step back here. We got a lot of people in America that are out of work. We got a lot of people in this state — 13.4 percent of the people in this state out of work. We got home prices going down. We got to talk about how to get America growing again, how to start adding jobs, raising incomes.

And tax is part of it. I want to reduce taxes on our employers, to make it easier to invest in America. I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families.

I like your chutzpah on this, Herman, but I have to tell you, the analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle- income people see higher taxes under your plan. If it’s lower for the middle class, that’s great, but that’s not what I saw. I have to tell you, I want to get our burden down on our employers, on our people. I want to make sure our regulations work to encourage the private sector, as opposed to put a damper on it. I want to get trade opening up new markets for America.

I want to also find a way to get our energy resources — and they’re all over the world or all over this country — using for — used for us. This is time to get America growing again, and that’s what this campaign ought to be about.

MR. COOPER: Thank you, Governor.

Mr. Speaker, you — (cheers, applause) — Speaker Gingrich, you have said in recent days that Mr. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a harder sell than he lets on. How so?

NEWT GINGRICH: Well, you just watched it.

MR. : Yeah. (Laughter.)

REP. BACHMANN: (Inaudible.)

MR. GINGRICH: I mean, there — look, there — there — there are — first of all, I think that Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit. He’s had the courage to go out and take a specific, very big idea — (applause) — at the right level — and he has us — he has us at least talking about something that matters, as opposed to the junk that all too often is masquerading as politics in this country.

So I think that’s important.

There are two parts to this. The first is, if you take his plan — and I think it’s in the interest of the whole country to have serious people take his plan and go through it step by step — there are real — there are much more complexities than Herman lets on. OK? When 9-9-9 — when you get into details, like you pay it on a new product, you don’t pay it on an old product, et cetera, there’s a lot more detail here than he lets on.

Second, I favor very narrow, focused tax cuts, such as zero capital gains, a hundred percent expensing, because I think, as Governor Romney said, jobs are the number-one challenge of the next two or three years. Get something you can do very fast. Change on this scale takes years to think through if you’re going to do it right. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, you also said at the last debate that everyone should pay something. Does that mean that you would raise taxes on the 47 percent of Americans who currently don’t pay taxes?

REP. BACHMANN: I believe absolutely, every American benefits by this magnificent country; absolutely, every American should pay something, even if it’s a dollar. (Cheers, applause.) Everyone needs to pay something in this country.

That’s why, with my tax plan I take a page out of not theory but what’s provable and what works. What is provable and what works was the economic miracle that was wrought by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. That’s the — that is the plan that I look at.

I also want to completely abolish the tax code. I want to flatten the tax for all of Americans, simplify that tax for all of Americans. And that creates job growth, which is exactly what we need to have, because to be able to fuel the fire for this economy, again, it is the tax code but it doesn’t end with the tax code.

It’s the regulatory burden that costs us $1.8 trillion every year, but it’s more than that cost. It’s jobs that are lost. So we need to repeal “Obamacare,” repeal the jobs and housing destruction act known as Dodd-Frank. (Applause.)

President Obama’s plan has been a plan for destruction of this economy just — and failure.

MR. COOPER: Thank you.

REP. BACHMANN: I plan to change that with real jobs right now: michelebachmann.com. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’ve been talking about Herman Cain’s plan. Let’s talk about Governor Romney’s plan. Governor Perry, you have said that Governor Romney was an abject failure in creating jobs when he was governor of Massachusetts. If you’ve read his 59-point plan, has it changed your mind?

GOV. PERRY: Well, here’s the nine that we need to get focused on, and it’s not 9-9-9 and it’s not 59; it’s that 9 percent unemployment in this country. And that’s where we got to get focused in America, is how to create an environment where the men and women get back to work. It’s the reason I laid out a plan, Newt, this last week to get this energy that’s under our feet.

We’ve got 300 years of resources right under our feet in this country. Yet we’ve got an administration that is blockading our ability to bring that to the — to the surface, whether it’s our petroleum or our natural gas or our coal. And 1.2 million jobs could be put to work. Americans who are sitting out there listening to this conversation tonight, somebody wants someone on this stage to say: Listen, we got an idea here how to get you to work and take care of your family and have the dignity of a job.

And that’s exactly what I did with my plan: laid it out where Americans understand we don’t have to wait on OPEC any more. We don’t have to let them hold us hostage. America’s got the energy. Let’s have American energy independence. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, does Governor Perry have the answer?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, he’s absolutely right about — about getting energy independence and taking advantage of our natural resources here. We’re an energy-rich nation that’s acting like an energy-poor nation. And that’s something I’ve been talking about for some time, as the governor has. He’s absolutely right.

But there are also a lot of good jobs we need in manufacturing and high-tech jobs and good service jobs, technology of all kinds. America produces an economy that’s very, very broad, and that’s why our policy to get America the most attractive place in the world for investment and job growth encompasses more than just energy. It includes that, but also tax policy, regulatory policy, trade policy, education, training and balancing the federal budget. And that starts with — with repealing “Obamacare,” which is a huge burden on this economy. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, does Mitt Romney have the answers for jobs?

MR. SANTORUM: I agree with — with — with all of what Governor Romney and both — and Governor Perry said. I would add the fact that — that I’ve put forward the plan that’s going to allow for income mobility. That’s a new term, but I’ve been using it for a long time, which is people at the bottom part of the income scale being able to rise in society. Believe it or not, studies have been done that show that in Western Europe, people at the lower parts of the income scale actually have a better mobility going up the ladder now than in America.

And I believe that’s because we’ve lost our manufacturing base. No more stamp, “Made in America” is really hurting people in the middle. And that’s why I’ve focused all of the real big changes in the tax code at manufacturing. I’d cut the corporate rate for manufacturing to zero, repeal all regulations affecting manufacturers that cost over $100 million and replace them with something that’s friendly they can work with. We repatriate $1.2 trillion that manufacturers made overseas and allow them to bring it back here if they invest it in plants and equipment. They can do it without having to pay any — any excise tax.

The final point I would make to Governor Romney: You just don’t have credibility, Mitt, when it comes to repealing “Obamacare.” You are — you are — your plan was the basis for “Obamacare.” Your consultants helped Obama craft “Obamacare.” (Applause.) And to say that you were going to repeal it, you just — you have no track record on that that we can trust you that you’re going to do that.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. PERRY: We don’t.

MR. ROMNEY: You know, this, I think, is either our eighth or ninth debate. And each chance I’ve had to talk about “Obamacare,” I’ve made it very clear, and also my book. At the time — by the way, I crafted the plan in the last campaign, I was asked: Is this something that you would have the whole nation do? And I said, no; this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.

MR. SANTORUM: That’s not what you said.

MR. ROMNEY: You’re shaking — you’re shaking — you’re shaking your head.

MR. SANTORUM: Governor, no, that’s not what you said. That happens — that happens —

(Cross talk.)

MR. COOPER: Guys —

MR. ROMNEY: Let me — his turn, OK, and mine.

(Cross talk.)

MR. SANTORUM: Governor, Governor, hold on.

MR. ROMNEY: I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you let me speak? Why don’t you let me speak?

MR. SANTORUM: You’re allowed to speak. You’re allowed to change your — (inaudible). You can’t change the facts.

MR. ROMNEY: Rick, you had your chance, let me speak. Rick, you had your chance, let me speak. Rick —

MR. SANTORUM: You’re out of time. You’re out of time.

MR. COOPER (?): He ate into your time. (Boos.) I’m sorry, Rick.

(Cross talk.)

MR. ROMNEY: I haven’t had a chance to respond yet —

MR. SANTORUM: You did.

MR. ROMNEY:  — because you were interrupting me the entire time I was trying to speak. So let me make it very clear.

MR. COOPER: Another 20 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Look, we’ll let everybody take a look at the fact checks. I was interviewed by Dan Balz. I was interviewed in this debate stage with you four years ago. I was asked about the Massachusetts plan, was it something I’d impose on the nation. And the answer is: absolutely not. It was something crafted for a state. And I’ve said time and again, “Obamacare” is bad news. It’s unconstitutional, it caused way too much money — a trillion dollars — and if I’m president of the United States, I will repeal it for the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right, Senator Santorum.

MR. SANTORUM: Mitt, the governor of Massachusetts just — is coming forward saying we have to pick up the job left undone by — by “Romneycare,” which is doing something about cutting health care costs. What you did is exactly what Barack Obama did: focused on the wrong problem. Herman always says you’ve got to find the right problem. Well, the right problem is health care costs. What you did with a top-down government-run program was focus on the problem of health care access.

You expanded the pool of insurance without controlling costs. You’ve blown a hole in the budget up there. And you authored in “Obamacare,” which is going to blow a hole in the budget of this country.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, I’ll give you 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry, Rick, that you find so much to dislike in my plan. But I’ll tell you, the people of Massachusetts like it by about a 3-to-1 margin. And we dealt with the challenge that we had, a lot of people that were expecting government to pay their way. And we said, you know what? If people have the capacity to care for themselves and pay their own way, they should.

I can tell you this. There’s — it’s absolutely right that there’s a lot that needs to be done. And I didn’t get the job done in Massachusetts, and getting the health care costs down in this country is something I think we got to do at the national level. I intend to do that.

But one thing’s for sure: What Obama has done has imposed on the nation a plan that will not work, that must be repealed. And when it comes to knowledge about health care and how to get our health care system working, I may not be a doctor, like (this one ?) over here, but I sure understand how to bring the cost of health care down and how to also make sure that we have a system that works for the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. : Didn’t do it.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

MR. : You didn’t do it.

MR. ROMNEY: (We ?) did.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, you’ve also been very critical of Mitt Romney’s plan, not only on “Obamacare” but his plan to lower the capital gains tax only on those earning under $200,000.

MR. GINGRICH: I want to stay on health for a minute, OK? I mean, let’s just focus. (Laughter.)

The Boston — the Boston Herald today reported that the state of Massachusetts is fining a local small business $3,000 because their $750 a month insurance plan is inadequate, according to the bureaucrats in Boston. Now, there’s a fundamental difference between trying to solve the problems of this country from the top down and trying to create environments in which doctors and patients and families solve the problem from the bottom up.

And candidly, Mitt, your plan ultimately, philosophically — it’s not “Obamacare.” That’s not a fair charge. But your plan essentially is one more big-government, bureaucratic, high-cost system which, candidly, could not have been done by any other state, because no other state had a Medicaid program as lavish as yours and no other state got as much money from the federal government under the Bush administration for this experiment.

So there’s a lot of big government behind “Romneycare,” not as much as “Obamacare,” but a heck of a lot more than — than your campaign is admitting. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. ROMNEY: (OK ?) —

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: Actually, Newt, we got the idea of an individual mandate from you.

MR. GINGRICH: That’s not true. You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, it was something — yeah, we got it from you and the — you — got it from the Heritage Foundation and from you.

MR. GINGRICH: No, but — well, you — well, you — (inaudible) —

MR. ROMNEY: But let me — but let me just —

MR. GINGRICH: Wait a second. What you just said is not true.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, I thought —

MR. GINGRICH: You did not get that from me.

MR. ROMNEY: I think you —

MR. GINGRICH: You got it from the Heritage Foundation.

MR. ROMNEY: And — and you’ve never — never supported —

MR. GINGRICH: I was — I agree with them, but I’m just saying what you’ve said to this audience just now plain wasn’t true. That’s not where you got it from.

MR. ROMNEY: OK. Let me ask — have you — have you supported in the past an individual mandate?

MR. GINGRICH: I absolutely did, with the Heritage Foundation, against “Hillarycare.”

MR. ROMNEY: You did support an individual mandate?

MR. GINGRICH: Yes, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: Oh, OK. That’s what I’m saying. We got the idea from you and the Heritage Foundation.

MR. GINGRICH: OK. Little broader. (Laughter.)

MR. ROMNEY: OK.

MR. GINGRICH: Keep on. I —

MR. ROMNEY: All right.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. ROMNEY: Number — all right — number — all right —

MR. COOPER: He still has time. I’m sorry. He still has time. He still has time

MR. ROMNEY: Number two — number two — let me finish —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. COOPER: He still has time. Let him finish.

MR. ROMNEY: I get a little time here. Number — number two, we don’t have a government insurance plan. What we do is rely on private insurers, and people — 93 percent of our people who are already insured — nothing changed. For the people who didn’t have insurance, they get private insurance, not government insurance. And the best way to make markets work is for people to be able to buy their own products from private enterprises. What we did was right for our state, according to the people in our state. And the great thing about a state solution to a state issue is, if people don’t like it, they can change it.

Now there are a lot of things that —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson —

MR. COOPER: Yeah, Congresswoman Bachmann.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, Anderson, I think it has to be stated that “Obamacare” is so flat-out unpopular that even the Obama administration chose to reject part of “Obamacare” last Friday — (applause) — when they tried to throw out the CLASS Act, which is the long-term care function. The — Secretary Sebelius, who’s the head of Health and Human Services, reported that the government can’t even afford that part and has to throw it out.

And now the administration is arguing with itself. When even the Obama administration wants to repeal this bill, I think we’re going to win this thing. We’re going to repeal it! And I will! (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. We will continue this discussion on the other side. We have a long way to go. We’ll be right back. (Cheers, applause.)

(Announcements.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back to the continuing debate.

We’ve got a Twitter question. We ended talking about medicine, “Obamacare.” We actually have a Twitter question about it, too. It was a question left at cnndebate. If Obama’s health plan is bad for the U.S., what is the alternative, and how will you implement it?

Congressman Paul, is there any aspect of “Obamacare” that you would like to keep, whether it’s keeping kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26, or no pre-existing conditions?

REP. PAUL: Really not, because he’s just adding on more government. There’s been a lot of discussion about medicine, but it seems to be talking about which kind of government management is best. But our problem is we have too much. We’ve had it for 30, 40 years. We have Medicare; we have prescription drug programs; we have Medicaid.

And what we need — I mean, there’s a pretty good support up here for getting rid of “Obamacare,” because it’s a Democratic proposal and we want to opt out; I think we’d all agree on this. But if you want better competition and better health care, you’re not — you should allow the American people to opt out of government medicine. And — (cheers, applause) — and the way to do this is to not de-emphasize the medical savings account, but let people opt out, pay their bills, get back to the doctor-patient relationship.

There is inflation worked into it. When the government gets involved in an industry, prices always go up. We have tort laws to deal with, and we need more competition in medicine. But most important thing is letting the people have control of their money and getting it out of the hands of the third party. As soon as you go to the government, the lobbyists line up, the drug companies line up, the insurance companies line up. And even with “Obamacare,” the industries, the corporations, get behind it and expect the outcome —

MR. COOPER: All right.

REP. PAUL:  — and already insurance premiums are going up. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, same question: Is there any aspect of so-called “Obamacare” that you would keep?

MR. CAIN: No. I think we all agree that “Obamacare” must be repealed because it is a disaster, and the more we learn about it and the more time goes along, the more we see. We’re all in agreement with that.

But here’s where I would start in answering that question. It’s called H.R. 3400. This was introduced back in 2009, but you didn’t hear a lot of talk about it.

Instead of government being imposed on — on our system, it — it basically passes market — market-driven, patient-centered sort of reforms to allow association health plans, to allow “loser pay” laws, to allow insurance products to be sold across state lines and a whole list of other things.

So that’s a great place to start. It allows the patient and the doctors to make the decisions, not a bureaucrat. I’d start with H.R. 3400. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, in the last debate, Governor Romney pointed out that Texas has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, over 1 million kids. You were — you did not get an opportunity to respond to that. What do you say to — how do you explain that?

GOV. PERRY: Well, we’ve got one of the finest health care systems in the — in the world in — in — in Texas. As a matter of fact, the Houston — the Texas Medical Center, there’s more doctors, nurses go to work there every morning than anyplace else in America, for the idea that you can have access to health care, some of the finest health care in the world.

But we have a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. And the fact is we have a huge number of illegals that are coming into this country. And they’re coming into this country because the federal government has failed to secure that border. But they’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized.

And Mitt, you lose all of your standing from my perspective because you hired illegals in your home, and you knew for — about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy. (Boos, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney.

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.) Rick, I don’t think that I’ve ever hired an illegal in my life. And so I’m — I’m looking forward to finding your facts on that because that just doesn’t — just —

GOV. PERRY: I’ll tell you what the facts are. You had the — you — your newspaper — the newspaper —

MR. ROMNEY: Rick, again — Rick, I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking. I’m speaking.

GOV. PERRY: And it’s time for you to tell the truth.

MR. ROMNEY: You get — you get 30 seconds —

GOV. PERRY: It’s time for you to tell the —

MR. ROMNEY: The way — the way the rules work here is that I get 60 seconds.

MR. PERRY: But no, but the American people want the truth.

MR. ROMNEY: And you get — and then you get 30 seconds to respond, right? Anderson —

GOV. PERRY: And they want to hear you say that you knew you had illlegals working at your — (boos).

MR. ROMNEY: Will you please — would you please wait? Are you just going to keep talking, or are you going to let me finish with my — what I have to say?

Look, Rick —

Cross talk.)

MR. ROMNEY: This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that, and so you’re going to get — (cheers, applause) — you’re going to get testy. But let’s let — I’ll tell you what: Let me take my time, and then you can take your time.

GOV. PERRY: Great, have at it.

MR. ROMNEY: All right, my time is this, which is I have in my state, when I was governor, I took the action of empowering our state police to enforce immigration laws. When you were governor, you said: I don’t want to build a fence. You put in place a magnet — you talk about magnets — you put in place a magnet to draw illlegals into the state, which is giving a hundred thousand dollars of tuition credit to illlegals that come into this country. (Cheers, applause.)

And then you have states — you have states — the big states of illegal immigrants are California and Florida. Over the last 10 years they’ve had no increase in illegal immigration. Texas has had 60 percent increase in illegal immigrants, in Texas. If there’s someone who has a record as governor with regards to illegal immigration that doesn’t stand up to muster, it’s you, not me.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds. (Cheers, applause.)

GOV. PERRY: You stood here in front of the American people and did not tell the truth, that you had illlegals working on your property. And the newspaper came to you and brought it to your attention, and you still, a year later, had those individuals working for you. The idea that you can sit here and talk about any of us having an immigration issue is beyond me. I’ve got a strong policy — I’ve always been against amnesty. You, on the other hand, were for amnesty.

MR. COOPER: Thirty seconds, then we’ve got to move on to another — (inaudible).

MR. ROMNEY: OK. You had an op-ed in the newspaper saying you were open to amnesty. That’s number one.

Number two, we hired a lawn company to mow our lawn, and they had illegal immigrants who were working there. And when that was pointed out to us, we let them go. And we went to them and said —

GOV. PERRY: A year later?

MR. ROMNEY: You have a problem with allowing someone to finish speaking. (Laughter.) And I suggest that if you want to become president of the United States, you got to let both people speak. So first, let me speak. (Cheers, applause.)

So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. That’s — I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.

It turns out that once again they hired someone who had falsified their documents, had — documents, and therefore we fired them.

And let me tell you, it is hard in this country, as an individual homeowner, to know if people who are contractors working at your home — if they’ve hired people that are illegal. If I’m president, we will put in place an eVerify (sp) system —

MR. COOPER: (Out of time ?).

MR. ROMNEY:  — which you’ve opposed — to make sure that we can find out who’s here legally and not — (cheers, applause) — and crack down on people who come here illegally. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right, we’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. (Cheers and applause continuing.)

We’re going to stay on the topic of immigration. Everyone’s going to get a chance to weigh in. This is a question that was left at CNNpolitics.com. As president, will you order completion of the physical border fence along the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico? That’s from Marilyn L.

Herman Cain, let me start with you. Obviously, over the weekend you got a lot of headlines by saying you would have an electrified fence. You then later said it was — (laughter) — you then later said it was a joke. And then last night you said it might be electrified; I’m not walking away from that, I just don’t want to offend anyone. (Laughter, applause.)

So would you build an entire fence along the entire border, and would you have it be electrified? (Laughter.)

MR. CAIN: Allow me to give the serious answer. Yes, I believe we should secure the border for real. And it would be a combination of a fence, technology, as well as possibly boots on the ground for some of the more dangerous areas.

I don’t apologize at all for wanting to protect the American citizens and to protect our agents on the border. (Cheers, applause.) No.

Secondly, the second thing that I would do — see, I believe in let’s solve the whole problem. We must shut the back door, so people can come in the front door. Secondly, promote the existing path to citizenship by cleaning up the bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

Thirdly, enforce the laws, the immigration laws, that are already on the books. (Applause.) And here’s another one of these bold ideas by the nonpolitician up here: Empower the states to do what the federal government is not doing in terms of enforcing those laws. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, you have — you have the — your state has the longest border with Mexico. Is it possible — to the question, is it possible to build a fence an entire — across the entire border?

GOV. PERRY: Sure. You can — you can build a fence, but it takes anywhere between 10 and 15 years and $30 billion. There’s a better way, and that’s to build a virtual defense zone, if you will, along that border, which — not unlike what Herman’s talking about. And you can do it with strategic fencing in the obvious places where it matters.

But the way you really stop the activities along that border that are illegal — whether it’s the drug cartels or whether it’s bringing in illegal weapons or whether it’s illegal immigrants that are coming in — is to put boots on the ground.

I — I will tell you, Herman, you put a lot of boots on the ground. You use Predator drones, that are being trained right up here at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to use that real-time information to give those boots on the ground that information, and they can instantly move to those areas. And that is the way to shut that border down, to secure that border and really make America safe from individuals like those Iranians that are using the drug cartels to penetrate this country. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you agree with Governor Perry?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It’s his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens who’ve been allowed to stay in this country despite the fact that they’re illegal. (Cheers, applause.)

This last Saturday I was the very first candidate that signed a pledge that said that by a date certain I will build a double-walled fence with a — with a area of security neutrality in between. I will build that because this is what we know. This is an economics issue and a jobs issue. Every year —

MR. COOPER: You’re saying you would build a fence along the entire border?

REP. BACHMANN: I will build it on the entire border, and I’ll tell you why. Every year it costs this country $113 billion in the costs that we put out to pay for illegal aliens. It costs the state and local government, of that amount, 82 billion (dollars). For every household of an American citizen, it costs us $1,000 a year. We are robbing the household of Americans who can’t afford that.

I will build the fence. I will enforce English as the official language of the United States government. (Cheers, applause.) And every — every person who comes into this country will have to agree that they will not receive taxpayer-subsidized benefits of any American citizen.

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. BACHMANN: Thank you.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, does that — can you actually — does that make sense? She says she can build the fence along the entire border.

GOV. PERRY: As I said, you can build that fence. But by the time that fence gets built —

MR. COOPER: She was also talking about your taxpayer-subsidized benefits.

GOV. PERRY: But my — my point is that by the time that fence gets built, there is a lot better way than to stand here and to — to play to some group of people somewhere and say we’re going to build a fence and then wipe our hands of it. I’ve been dealing with this border for 10 years as the governor. And the reason that we have this issue is because the federal government has failed miserably to defend and secure that border.

REP. BACHMANN: Which is why you build the — (applause).

GOV. PERRY: You know, for someone that’s been in the United States Congress to — to lecture me on the issues that are going on on that border is not right.

Let me tell you, we’ve had to deal with that issue in the state of Texas. We’ve had to deal with the impact on our state. And I put $400 million on that border of Texas taxpayers’ money, Texas ranger recon teams there. We know how to secure the border. I shared with you earlier how to do it. You put the boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air, and you secure that border.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, can I respond? Can I respond?

MR. COOPER: He wasn’t — he wasn’t talking about you directly.

REP. BACHMANN: No, (he did respond ?).

MR. ROMNEY: Let’s step back. I think it’s important for us, as Republicans on this stage, to say something which hasn’t been said, and that is I think every single person here loves legal immigration. We respect people who come here legally. (Cheers, applause.)

And the reason we’re so animated about stopping illegal immigration is there are 4 1/2 million people who want to come here, who are in line legally. We want that to happen in an orderly and legal process.

And in terms of how to secure the border, it’s really not that hard. You have a fence, you have enough Border Patrol agents to oversee the fence, and you turn off the magnets — and that’s employers that hire people who they know are here illegally. That’s why you have an e-verify system, so they can know that. And number two, you turn off the magnets, like tuition breaks or other breaks that draw people into this country illegally. It’s not that hard. We have to get the political will to get the job done.

And Governor Perry, you say you’ve got the experience. It’s a bit like saying, you know, the college coach that’s lost 40 games in a row has the experience to go to the NFL. But the truth is, California — I’ll say it again — California and — and Florida have both had no increase in illegal immigration, and yours is up 60 percent over the last 10 years.

MR. COOPER: Time.

Governor Perry, 30 seconds to respond?

GOV. PERRY: Well, the bottom line is, is that we have a federal government that has failed. There is a clear problem here.

And he hit the nail on the head awhile ago. He said there was a magnet of people that will hire illlegals, and you are number one on that list, sir.

(Boos.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: And people need to understand that.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: You’re one of the problems, Mitt. (Boos.)

MR. COOPER: I think we’ve been down that road.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I think we’ve been down that road sufficiently. Sounds like the audience agrees with me.

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to — we’ve — we’re continuing on immigration. We have a question in the audience. (Cheers, applause.)

Q: Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question. We have 50 million Latinos and not all of us are illegal. What is the message from you guys to our Latino community?

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich —

(Scattered applause.)

MR. GINGRICH: Well, look —

MR. COOPER:  — President Obama got, I think, 67 percent of the Latino vote the last time around.

MR. GINGRICH: Look, I think that there’s a very clear message to Americans of all backgrounds. Latinos, Korean-Americans, Vietnamese- Americans, there are hundreds of different groups who have come to America. As Governor Romney said, I think anybody who understands America has to be proud of our record as the country which has been the most open in history to legal immigration.

The truth is, most Latinos in the United States aren’t immigrants. Most Latinos in the United States now have been born in the United States. And the fact is, they want virtually exactly what everyone else wants. They want an economy that’s growing. They want a job that has take-home pay. They want to access to health insurance that they can afford. They want a chance to get educated that actually is useful and worthwhile. They want to be able to know that their family’s going to grow up in safety, and they want to have a chance that their country’s going to work to give their children and their grandchildren a better future.

I think we have to have the same message for every American of every ethnic background that we want to make America work again. And you’ll know it’s working because you will have a job and you’ll have a chance to take care of your family.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, there — (cheers, applause) — Congressman Paul, there are some Latino voters who believe that some of these strong anti-immigration laws — anti-illegal immigration laws are actually anti-Latino laws.

What do you say to them?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think some people do believe that. I think a fence is symbolic of that, and I can understand why somebody might look at that. But when we approach this immigration problem, we should look at the incentives, and that are the mandates from the federal government saying that you must educate and must give them free education. You have to remove these incentives. But I don’t think the answer is a fence, whatsoever.

But in order to attract Latino votes, I think — you know, too long, this country has always put people in groups. They penalize people because they’re in groups, and then they reward people because they’re in groups.

But following up on what Newt was saying, we need a healthy economy. We wouldn’t be talking about this. We need to see everybody as an individual. And to me, seeing everybody as an individual means their liberties are protected as individuals and they are treated that way and they’re never penalized that way. So if you have a free and prosperous society, all of a sudden this group mentality melts away.

As long as there’s no abuse — one place where there’s still a lot of discrimination in this country is in our court systems, and I think the minorities come up with a short hand in our court system. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. Herman Cain, the 14th Amendment allows that anybody born in the United States is an American citizen. Should that change?

MR. CAIN: I want to go back and answer this question first, OK? And that is, my message to Latinos, blacks, whites and all Americans is that we must first start with significantly boosting this economy, which is on life support. This is why I have put forth a very bold plan, and I’m not afraid to try and sell it to the American people. I’m not afraid to fight for it when I become president of the United States of America.

So that’s my message: If we have this economy growing, people will be able to take care of their families and go after their American dream. And until we boost this economy, all of us are going to suffer for a long time.

MR. COOPER: Then let me ask the question of Governor Perry. Governor Perry, the 14th Amendment allows any — anybody — a child of illegal immigrants who’s born here is automatically an American citizen.

Should that change?

GOV. PERRY: Well, let me address Herman’s issue that he just talked about.

MR. COOPER: Actually, I’d rather you — rather you — I’d rather you ask the question — answer that question.

GOV. PERRY: All right, I understand that. You get to ask the questions, and I get to answer like I want to. (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

GOV. PERRY: And Herman — Herman talked about —

MR. COOPER: That’s actually a response. That’s not an answer. But go ahead.

GOV. PERRY:  — talked about the — the issue of how we get this country back working. And truly, the plan that I laid out last week, where we talk about the energy industry and this treasure trove that we have under this country.

And we need to recognize that the administration that we have today is blocking mining that could be going on in the state of Nevada. I talked to Brian Sandoval before I came in here today. You have an — an administration that is killing jobs because they want to move us to a green energy. You have a secretary of energy who has basically said he wants to see gas prices up close to the European model, that we want to — the president himself said electricity rates are necessarily going to skyrocket.

That’s what we’ve got to stop. That’s the reason we’ve got to have a president of the United States that understands that you get Americans working, and it addresses these issues that we have in this country. And the fastest way to do it is to open up these federal lands —

MR. COOPER: Time.

GOV. PERRY:  — to pull back those regulations —

MR. COOPER: Time.

GOV. PERRY:  — and get America working again. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: You implicated — to the question on the 14th Amendment, do you support repealing the 14th Amendment?

GOV. PERRY: No.

MR. COOPER: No, you do not.

GOV. PERRY: I do not.

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you support it?

REP. BACHMANN: I think there’s a very real issue with magnets in this country. And I think the issue that you’re referring to is the issue of “anchor babies.” And that’s an issue that — that — I was just in Arizona this last weekend, and the state is very concerned because when someone comes illegally across the border specifically for the purpose of utilizing American resources to have a baby here, then all of the welfare benefits then attach to that baby.

This is an issue that we don’t have to deal with with the Constitution. This is an issue that we can deal with legislatively. And there are a lot of Americans that would like us to deal with this issue of anchor babies legislatively. (Applause)

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum?

MR. SANTORUM: Yeah, I — I’d like to address the issue that the gentleman brought up, which is, what are we going to say to the Latino community, and not one person here mentioned the issue of family, faith, marriage. This is a community that is a faith-filled community; that family is at the center of that community.

I disagree in some respects with Congressman Paul, who says, you know, the country’s founded on the individual. The basic building block of the society is not the individual, it’s the family. It’s the basic unit of society. (Cheers, applause.) And — and the Latino community understands that. They understand the importance of faith and marriage. They understand that bond that builds that solid foundation, and that inculcation of faith and religious freedom.

And I think the Latino community knows that’s at stake in this country. There’s a lot going on right now that’s eroding our religious freedom, that’s eroding the traditional values of marriage and family. And there’s one candidate up here who consistently sounds that theme.

Look, I’m for jobs, too. I’ve got an economic plan. I agree with everything that’s been said. But we keep running roughshod over the fact that this — the family in America and faith in America is being crushed —

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM:  — by the courts and by our government, and someone has to stand up and fight for those (institutions ?). (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you were referenced directly. Thirty seconds.REP. PAUL: Well, I would like to explain that rights don’t come in bunches. Rights come as individuals. (Applause.) They come from a God. And they come as — each individual has a right to life and liberty.

But I might add about the border control and the — and the Latino vote, is we lack resources there. I think we should have more border guards on and a more orderly transition and run it much better. But where are our resources? You know, we worry more about the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to bring the Guard units home — (cheers, applause) — and the units back here so we can have more personnel on our border.

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We have a question in the audience.

Q: My question for you is, do you support opening the national nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain?

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, let’s start with you. I’m sorry, go ahead.

MR. GINGRICH: But look, we worked on this when I was speaker. I think that it has to be looked at scientifically. But I think at some point we have to find a safe method of taking care of nuclear waste. And today, because this has been caught up in a political fight, we have small units of nuclear waste all over this country in a way that is vastly more dangerous to the United States than finding a method of keeping it in a very, very deep place that would be able to sustain 10,000 or 20,000 or 30,000 years of geological safety.

MR. COOPER: Is Yucca Mountain that place?

MR. GINGRICH: I’m not a scientist. I mean, Yucca Mountain certainly was picked by the scientific community as one of the safest places in the United States. It has always had very deep opposition here in Nevada. And frankly —

MR. COOPER: You were for opening it in Congress, right? When you were in Congress —

MR. GINGRICH: When I was in Congress, frankly, I worked with the — with the Nevada delegation to make sure that there was time for scientific studies. But we have to find some method of finding a very geologically stable place. And most geologists believe that, in fact, Yucca Mountain is that.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you opposed this.

REP. PAUL: Yes, yes. I’ve opposed this. We’ve had votes in the Congress. There was a time when I voted with two other individuals: the two congressmen from Nevada. And I approach it from a states’ rights position. What right does 49 states have to punish one state and say, we’re going to put our garbage in your state? (Cheers, applause.) I think that’s wrong.

So I think it’s very serious — I think it’s very serious and that, quite frankly, the government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing any form of energy. And nuclear energy, I think, is a good source of energy, but they still get subsidies, then they assume this responsibility, then we as politicians and the bureaucrats get involved in this and then we get involved with which state’s going to get stuck with the garbage. So I would say the more the free market handles this and the more you deal with property rights and no subsidies to any form of energy, the easier this problem would be solved.

(Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, where do you stand on this?

MR. ROMNEY: Congressman Paul is right on that. (Cheers, applause.) I don’t always agree with him, but I do on that. The idea that 49 states can tell Nevada, “We want to give you our nuclear waste” doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think the people of Nevada ought to have the final say as to whether they want that. And my guess is that for them to say yes to something like that, someone’s going to have to offer them a pretty good deal, as opposed to having the federal government jam it down their throat. (Applause.)

And by the way, if Nevada says, look, we don’t want it, then let other states make bids and say: Hey, look, we’ll take it. Here’s a geological site that we’re evaluated. Here’s the compensation we want for taking it. We want your electric companies around the country that are using nuclear fuel to compensate us, a certain amount per kilowatt hour, a certain amount per ton of this stuff that comes.

Let the free market work and, on that basis, the places that are geologically safe according to science and where the people say the deal’s a good one will decide where we put this stuff. That’s the right course for America. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: You know, from time to time, Mitt and I don’t agree. But on this one, he hit it — the nail right on the head. (Applause.)

And I’ll just add that when you think about France, who gets over 70 percent of their energy from nuclear power, the idea that they deal with this issue, that their (classification ?) and that the innovation — and Congressman Paul, you’re correct when it comes to allowing the states to compete with each other. That is the answer to this. We need to have a — a discussion in — in this country about our 10th Amendment and the appropriateness of it as it’s been eroded by Washington, D.C., for all these many years — whether it’s health care, whether it’s education, or whether it’s dealing with energy.

We don’t need to be subsidizing energy in any form or fashion.

Allow the states to make the decision, and some state out there will see the economic issue, and they will have it in their state.

MR. COOPER: We’re going to move on to an issue very important here in the state of Nevada and throughout the West. We have a question from the hall.

Q: Yeah, my question is those of us who own property here in Nevada have been devastated by the real estate bubble. What would you do as president to help fix the overall problem of real estate and foreclosures in America?

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum, Nevada has the highest rate of foreclosure.

MR. SANTORUM: Yeah, I mean, it’s — it’s a situation right now where, obviously, the market is in — has been decimated. And so now you’re looking at how do you repair. The problem is, in the first place, is that several people up here, the, quote, “businesspeople,” supported the TARP, supported the bailout. Governor — Governors Perry, Romney —

GOV. PERRY: Wrong. (Laughter.)

MR. SANTORUM: No, you wrote a letter on the day of the vote —

GOV. PERRY: No. (Chuckles.)

MR. SANTORUM: You wrote a letter on the day of the vote, Governor, saying to vote for the plan. That’s what — I mean, that — the letter sent —

GOV. PERRY: No, I didn’t.

MR. SANTORUM: Yes, you did, Governor. You —

MR. COOPER: You’ll have a chance to respond. Let him finish.

MR. SANTORUM: Your whole mansion signed it with you. So you supported it. Governor Romney and Herman Cain all supported the TARP program, which started this ball —

MR. CAIN: Not all of it. (Laughter.)

MR. SANTORUM: I mean — I mean, you guys complain about Governor Romney flip-flopping. I mean, look at what’s going on here. I mean, the — the bottom line is you all supported it. You all started this ball rolling where the government injected itself in trying to make — try to — try to fix the market with the government top-down trying to do it and manage decline. And what happened was people who — who did things that were wrong, that invested in things, took risks were bailed out. And the folks who — who acted responsibly are now getting hurt because their houses have gone down in value.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to allow —

MR. SANTORUM: We need to let the market work. And that’s what hasn’t been happening so far.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to allow each — three of you to respond, so Governor Perry, you have 30 seconds.

GOV. PERRY: The — the — the fact is Rick just has that wrong. We wrote a letter to Congress asking them to act. What we meant by acting was cut the regulations, cut the taxation burden, not passing TARP. There is clearly a letter out of our office that says that, Rick.

I’ll get you a copy of it, so you’ll understand it.

MR. COOPER: Governor, Governor —

MR. SANTORUM: OK, I — hold on, hold on. I need to respond to that. He sent a letter the day of the vote on the floor of the House saying pass the economic plan. There was only one plan, and that was the plan that was voted on the floor. It was TARP. You sent a letter on that day saying vote for that plan.

Now you can send a letter later saying I didn’t mean it, but when you said it, it was the only plan that was in play, and that — that was the TARP plan.

MR. ROMNEY: (Inaudible) — was this — oh, I’m sorry.

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, do you want — do you want to respond, Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: I’m — I’m just telling you, I know what we sent. I know what the intention was. You can read it any way you want, but the fact of the matter — I wasn’t for TARP, and have talked about it for years since then afterwards.

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: There’s an effort on the part of people in Washington to think somehow they know better than markets how to — how to rebalance America’s economy. And the idea of the federal government running around and saying, hey, we’re going to — we’re going to give you some money for trading in your old car, or we’re going to give you a few thousand bucks for buying a new house, or we’re going to keep banks from foreclosing if you can’t make your payments, these — these kinds of actions on the part of government haven’t worked.

The right course is to let markets work. And in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best thing we can do is to get the economy going. And that’s why the fundamental restructuring I’ve described is so essential to help homeowners and people across this country.

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, I want you to be able to respond. Thirty seconds. (Applause.)

MR. CAIN: I have said before that we were in a crisis at the end of 2008 with this potential financial meltdown. I supported the concept of TARP, but then when this administration used discretion and did a whole lot of things that the American people didn’t like, I was then against it. So yes — and I’m honing (sic) up to that.

Now, getting back to the gentleman’s question, in terms of what we need to do, we need to get government out of the way. It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd- Frank and reform a lot of these other regulations that have gotten in the way —

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. CAIN:  — and let the market do it, just like Mitt has talked about.

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, does the federal government have a role in keeping people in their homes, saving people from foreclosure in the state of Nevada?

REP. BACHMANN: That was the question that was initially asked. And what I want to say is this: Every day I’m out somewhere in the United States of America, and most of the time I am talking to moms across this country. When you talk about housing, when you talk about foreclosures, you’re talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they’re losing their nest for their children and for their family. And there are women right now all across this country and moms across this country whose husbands, through not fault of their own, are losing their job and they can’t keep that house. And there are women who are losing that house.

I’m a mom. I talk to these moms. I just want to say one thing to moms all across America tonight. This is a real issue; it’s got to be solved. President Obama has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures. I will not fail you on this issue. I will turn this country around. We will turn the economy around. We will create jobs. That’s how you hold on to your house. Hold on, moms out there. It’s not too late.

MR. COOPER: We have another question. This one is a Twitter question. How do you explain the Occupy Wall Street movement happening across the country, and how does it relate with your message?

Herman Cain, I got to ask you. You said, quote: Don’t blame — a couple — two weeks ago you said, don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job, you’re not rich, blame yourself.

That was two weeks ago. The movement has grown. Do you still say that? (Applause.)

MR. CAIN: Yes, I do still say that. And here’s why. (Cheers, applause.) I still stand by my statement, and here’s why. They might be frustrated with Wall Street and the bankers, but they’re directing their anger at the wrong place. Wall Street didn’t put in failed economic policies. Wall Street didn’t spend a trillion dollars that didn’t do any good.

Wall Street isn’t going around the country trying to sell another $450 billion. They ought to be over in front of the White House taking out their frustration. (Cheers, applause.) So I do stand by that.

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you’ve been — Congressman Paul, you’ve been critical of Governor Romney for holding fundraisers with Wall Streeters. Do you think he understands what the protest is about? Do you understand?

REP. PAUL: Well, I think Mr. Cain had blamed the victims. There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle, and we can’t blame the victims. But we also have to point — I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve. (Cheers, applause.) They — they create the financial bubbles. And you have to understand that; you can solve these problems if you don’t know where these bubbles come from.

But then when the bailout came and — supported by both parties. You have to realize, oh, wait, the Republicans were still in charge. So the bailouts came from both parties. Guess who they bailed out? The big corporations, the people who were ripping off the people in the derivatives market. And they said, oh, the world’s going to come to an end unless we bail out all the banks. So the banks were involved, and the Federal Reserve was involved.

But who got stuck? The middle class got stuck. They got stuck. They lost their jobs, and they lost their houses. If you had to give money out, you should have given it to the people who were losing it in their mortgages, not to the banks. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Mr. Cain, do you want to respond? He referenced you, so if you want to respond, you have 30 seconds.

MR. CAIN: All I want to say is that Representative Paul is partly right, but he’s mixing problems here, that it’s more than one problem. Look, the people — the bank — yes, the banks and the businesses on Wall Street, yes; the way that was administered was not right.

But my point is this: What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street? To come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don’t understand.

Take — go and get to the source of the problem, is all I’m saying. And that’s the White House.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds, Senator (sic), then we’ll go to Governor Romney — Congressman.

REP. PAUL: Yes. The argument is — it’s said the program was OK, but it was mismanaged. But I work on the assumption that government’s not very capable of managing almost anything — (applause) — so you shouldn’t put that much trust in the government.

You have to — you have to trust the marketplace. And when the government gets involved, they have to deal with fraud. And how many people have gone to jail either in the government’s Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that participated in this? And nobody suffers the consequences. All these investigations, and yet the people who lose their jobs and lose their houses — it’s their fault, according — that’s why they’re on Wall Street. And we can’t blame them. We have to blame the business cycles —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL:  — and the economic policies that led to this disaster. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you originally called the protests dangerous. You said it was class warfare. You recently sounded more sympathetic. Where do you stand now? What is your message to those people protesting?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, we can spend our time talking about what happened three years ago and what the cause was of our collapse, but let’s talk about what’s happened over the last three years. We’ve had a president responsible for this economy for the last three years, and he’s failed us. He’s failed us in part because he has no idea how the private sector works or how to create jobs. On every single issue, he’s made it harder for our economy to reboot. And as a result, we have 25 million Americans out of work — or stopped looking for work, or part-time work and can’t get full-time employed. Home values going down. You have median income in America that in the last three years has dropped by 10 percent.

Americans are hurting across this country, and the president’s out there campaigning. Why isn’t he governing? He doesn’t understand — he doesn’t have a jobs plan, even now. (Applause.) This is — this is a critical time for America, and I — and — and I can tell you that this is time to have someone who understands how the economy works, who can get America working again. Instead of dividing and blaming, as this president is, let’s grow America again and have jobs that are the envy of the world. And I know how to do it.

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: All right. We’ve got to take a quick break. We’re going to continue right on the other side. We’ll be right back.

(Announcements.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back to the CNN GOP debate, live from the Venetian in Las Vegas. Let’s continue.

We’ve got an email question that was left at CNNPolitics.com. This is from a Mike Richards, who says: With the controversy surrounding Robert Jeffress, is it acceptable to let the issue of a candidate’s faith shape the debate?

Senator Santorum, this is in reference to a Baptist pastor who, at the Values Voter summit, after introducing Governor Rick Perry, said of — said that Mitt Romney is not a Christian and that Mormonism is a cult. Those were his words. (Boos.)

Should — should voters — should voters pay attention to a candidate’s religion?

MR. SANTORUM: I think they should pay attention to the candidate’s values, what the candidate stands for. (Cheers, applause.) That’s — that’s what’s at play, and the person’s faith. And — and you look at that faith and what the faith teaches with respect to morals and values that are reflected in that person’s belief structure.

So that’s — those are important things. I — I — I’m a Catholic. Catholic has a — has social teachings. Catholic has teachings as to what’s right and what’s wrong. And those are legitimate things for voters to look at, to say if you’re a faithful Catholic, which I try to be — fall short all the time — (chuckles) — but I try to be — and — and it’s a legitimate thing to look at as to what the tenets and teachings of that faith are with respect to how you live your life and — and how you would govern this country.

With respect to what is the road to salvation, that’s a whole different story. That’s not applicable to what — what the role is of being the president or a senator or any other job. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, do you agree with that?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, I — I think if the question is does faith matter, absolutely. How can you have a country which is founded on truth, which begins, “We are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights” — how — how can you have the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which says religion, morality and knowledge being important, education matters? That’s the order: religion, morality and knowledge.

Now, I happen to think that none of us should rush in judgment of others in the way in which they approach God. And I think that all of us up here, I believe, would agree. (Cheers, applause.) But I think all of us would also agree that there’s a very central part of your faith in how you approach public life. And I, frankly, would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments because then I’d wonder, where’s your judgment — how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray? (Applause.)

Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God. But the notion that you’re endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, Mitt Romney asked you to repudiate the comments of that pastor who introduced you on that stage. He didn’t make the comments on the stage. He made them afterward in an interview. Will you repudiate those comments?

GOV. PERRY: Well, our faith — I can no more remove my faith than I can that I’m the son of a tenant farmer. I mean, the issue is, are we going to be individuals who stand by our faith? And I have said I didn’t agree with that individual’s statement. And our Founding Fathers truly understood and had an understanding of freedom of religion. And this country is based on, as Newt talked about, these values that are so important as we go forward, and the idea that we should not have our freedom of religion, to be taken away by any means.

But we also are a country that is free to express our opinions. That individual expressed an opinion. I didn’t agree with it, Mitt, and I said so.

But the fact is, Americans understand faith, and what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident of the White House. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, is that — is that acceptable to you?

MR. ROMNEY: You know, with — with regards to the disparaging comments about my faith, I’ve heard worse, so I’m not going to lose sleep over that.

What I actually found that was most troubling in what the reverend said in the introduction was he said, in choosing our nominee, we should inspect his religion. And someone who’s a good moral person is not someone who we should select; instead, we should choose someone who subscribes to our religious belief.

That — that idea that we should choose people, based upon their religion, for public office is what I find to be most troubling, because the founders of this country went to great length to make sure, and even put it in the Constitution, that we would not choose people who represent us in government based upon their religion; that this would be a nation that recognized and respected other faiths, where there’s a plurality of faiths, where there was tolerance for other people and faiths. That’s bedrock principle.

And it was that principle, Governor, that I wanted you to be able to say, no, no, that’s wrong, Reverend Jeffress. Instead of saying, as you did, that introduction knocked the ball out of the park, I’d have said: Reverend Jeffress, you got that wrong, we should select people not based upon their faith — even though — and I don’t suggest you distance yourself from your faith, any more than I would, but the concept that we select people based on the church or the synagogue they go to, I think is a very dangerous and enormous departure from the principles of our Constitution. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Would you still like him to say that?

MR. ROMNEY: I’m sorry?

MR. COOPER: Would you still like the governor to say that, or was that something you wanted —

MR. ROMNEY: I’ll — I’ll let him — it’s — as his choice.

MR. COOPER: Do you want to respond to that, Governor Perry?

GOV. PERRY: I have. I said I did not agree with the — Pastor Jeffress’ remarks. I don’t agree with them. I can’t apologize any more than that.

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, that’s fine.

MR. COOPER: We’ve got a question from the audience.

Q: Currently there’s a deficit reduction measure to cut defense spending by $500 billion. Would you support such a reduction in defense spending? And if elected president, how will you provide a strong national defense?

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should defense be cut?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, $500 billion is the amount that the questioner had mentioned. And don’t forget, this was a historic week when it came to American foreign policy. We saw potentially an international assassination attempt from Iran on American soil. That says something about Iran, that they disrespect the United States so much that they would attempt some sort of a heinous act like that.

Then we saw the president of the United States engage American troops in a fourth conflict in a foreign land. This is historic.

Then on Sunday we heard the reports that now that in Iraq that the 5,000 troops that were going to be left there won’t even be granted immunity by Iraq. This is how disrespected the United States is in the world today, and it’s because of President Obama’s failed policies. He’s taken his eyes off the number-one issue in the world. That’s an Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. That makes all of us much danger — (applause) — and the president of Iran is —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. BACHMANN:  — is a genocidal maniac. We need to stand up against Iran. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman —

REP. BACHMANN: And as president of the United States, I will. We will be respected again in the world.

MR. COOPER: The question, though, was about budget cuts, and is everything on the table in terms of cutting the budget?

REP. BACHMANN: Every — absolutely everything in the —

MR. COOPER: So defense spending would be on the table — should be.

REP. BACHMANN: Defense spending is on the table, but again, Anderson, now with the president — he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa. We already were stretched too thin, and he put our special operations forces in Africa.

MR. COOPER: I just want to make sure — OK, just — it’s on the table.

REP. BACHMANN: It’s on the table, but we cannot cut it by $500 billion. We can’t do that to our brave men and women who are on the ground fighting for us.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

MR. GINGRICH: Look, I mean, if you want to understand how totally broken Washington is, look at this entire model of a supercommittee, which has now got a magic number to achieve, and if it doesn’t achieve the magic number, then we’ll all have to shoot ourselves in the head, so when they come back with a really dumb idea to merely cut off our right leg, we’ll all be grateful that they are only semi-stupid instead of being totally stupid. (Cheers, applause.)

Now the idea that you’ll — the idea that you’ll have a bunch historically illiterate politicians who have no sophistication about national security trying to make a numerical decision about the size of the defense budget tells you everything you need to know about the bankruptcy of the current elite in this country — in both parties.

The fact is, we ought to first figure out what threatens us. We ought to figure out what strategies will respond to that. We should figure out what structures we need for those strategies. We should then cost them.

I found — helped found the Military Reform Caucus. I’m a hawk, but I’m a cheap hawk. But the fact is — (laughter) — the fact is, to say I’m going to put the security of the United States up against some arbitrary budget number is suicidally stupid. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you proposed — (cheers, applause).

MR. GINGRICH: I should have done — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, you just proposed eliminating the Departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Interior, Housing and Urban Development. (Laughter.) You say it’ll save a trillion dollars — (whistles, cheers) — in one year. You’re proposing a 15-percent cut to the Defense Department. Can you guarantee national security will not be hurt by that?

REP. PAUL: I think it would be enhanced. I don’t want to cut any defense. And you have to get it straight. There’s a lot of money spent in the military budget that doesn’t do any good for our defense. What — how does — how does it help us to keep troops in Korea all these years? We’re broke. We have to borrow this money. Why are we in Japan? Why do we subsidize Germany, and they subsidize their socialized system over there because we pay for it. We’re broke.

And this whole thing that this can’t be on the table, I’ll tell you what. This debt bubble is the thing you’d better really worry about, because it’s imploding on us right now; it’s worldwide. We are no more removed from this than the man in the moon. It’s going to get much worse.

And to cut military spending is a wise thing to do. We would be safer if we weren’t in so many places. We have an empire; we can’t afford it. The empires always bring great nations down. We’ve spread ourselves too thinly around the world. This is what’s happened throughout history.

And we’re doing it to ourselves. The most recent empire to fail was a(n) empire that went into, of all places, Afghanistan.

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL: Then went broke. So where are we in Afghanistan? I say it’s time to come home. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Time.

We do have a Twitter question. Given that Israel has just negotiated with Palestine for a soldier, would any of you negotiate for a hostage? Herman Cain, let me ask this to you. A few hours ago you were asked by Wolf Blitzer, if al-Qaida had an American soldier in captivity and they demanded the release of everyone at Guantanamo Bay, would you release them? And you said, quote, “I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer.” Can you explain?

MR. CAIN: The rest of the statement was quite simply you would have to consider the entire situation. But let me say this first: I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first. (Applause.)

Now, then you have to look at each individual situation and consider all the facts. The point that I made about this particular situation is that I’m sure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to consider a lot of things before he made that. So on the surface, I don’t think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything.

MR. COOPER: But you’re saying you could — I mean, in your words, you said that, “I could see myself authorizing that kind of a transfer.” Isn’t that negotiating with, in this case, al-Qaida?

MR. CAIN: I don’t recall him ever saying that it was al-Qaida- related.

MR. COOPER: Yeah, he did. He said —

MR. CAIN: Well, I don’t — I — my policy would be we cannot negotiate with terrorists. That’s where we have to start as a fundamental principle.

MR. COOPER: Senator Santorum.

MR. SANTORUM: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, you can’t negotiate with terrorists, period. To address Congressman Paul’s answer and the other answer on — on military spending, I would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending. They — the first order of the federal government — the only thing the federal government can do that nobody — no other level of government can do is protect us.

It is the first duty of the president of the United States, is to protect us. (Applause.) And we should — we should have the resources and we should have all the resources in place to make sure that we can defend our borders, that we can make sure that we — we — when we engage in foreign countries, we do so to succeed. That’s been the problem in this administration. We’ve had political objectives instead of objectives for success, and that’s why we haven’t succeeded.

And as Michele said and correctly said, the central threat right now is Iran — the disrespect, yes, but it’s more than that. They sent a message. The two countries that they went after was the leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia, and the leader of the, quote, “secular world,” the United States. This was a call by Iran to say: We are the ones who are going to be the supreme leader of the Islamic world.

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM: We are going to be the supreme leader of the secular world. And that’s why they attacked here. And by the way, they did it in coordination with Central and South Americans, which I had been talking about and writing about for 10 years.

MR. COOPER: Time.

Congressman Paul, you were referenced in that answer. Thirty seconds.

REP. PAUL: Well, I think we’re on economic suicide if we’re not even willing to look at some of these overseas expenditures, 150 bases — 900 bases, 150 different countries. We have enough weapons to blow up the world about 20, 25 times. We have more weapons than all the other countries put together, essentially. And we want to spend more and more and you can’t cut a penny? I mean, this is why we’re at an impasse. I mean, this — I want to hear somebody up here willing to cut something, something real. (Cheers, applause.)

This budget is in bad shape, and the financial calamity is going to be much worse than anybody ever, you know, invading this country. Which country? Are they going to invade this country?

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL: They can’t even shoot a missile — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: We have a question in the hall that gets — gets to your — gets to your question. The question in the hall on foreign aid — yes, ma’am.

Q: The American people are suffering in our country right now. Why do we continue to send foreign aid to other countries when we need all the help we can get for ourselves?

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Perry, what about that? I mean —

GOV. PERRY: Absolutely. I think it’s time for this country to have a very real debate about foreign aid. Clearly, there are places — as a matter of fact, I think it’s time for us to have a very serious discussion about defunding the United Nations. (Cheers, applause.) When you think about — when you think about the Palestinian Authority circumventing those Oslo accords and going to New York to try to create the conflict and to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels, it is a travesty. And I think it’s time not only to have that entire debate about all of our foreign aid, but in particular, the U.N. Why are we funding that organization? (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, should foreign aid be eliminated?

MR. ROMNEY: Foreign aid has several elements. One of those elements is defense, is to make sure that we are able to have the defense resources we want in certain places of the world. That probably ought to fall under the Department of Defense budget rather than a foreign aid budget.

Part of it is humanitarian aid around the world. I happen to think it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to go give it to another country for humanitarian aid. We ought to get the Chinese to take care of the people that are — that are — and think of that borrowed money (today ?). (Applause.)

And finally, there’s a portion of our foreign aid that allows us to carry out our — our activities in the world, such as what’s happening in Pakistan, where we’re taking — we’re supplying our troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan.

But let me tell you, we’re spending more on foreign aid than we ought to be spending. And — and Congressman Paul asked, is there a place we can cut the budget. Let me tell you where we cut the budget. Discretionary accounts you bring back to 2008 level. We get rid of “Obamacare.” Number three, we take Medicaid, turn it back to the states, grow it at only 1 (percent) to 2 percent per year.

Number three, we cut — number four, rather, we cut federal employment by at least 10 percent through attrition. And finally, we say to federal employees: You’re not going to make more money than the people in the private sector who are paying for you. We link their compensation. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Time. Congressman Paul?

REP. PAUL: On foreign aid, that should be the easiest thing to cut. It’s not authorized in the Constitution that we can take money from you and give it to particular countries around the world. (Applause.)

To me, foreign aid is taking money from poor people in this country and giving it to rich people in poor countries, and it becomes weapons of war, essentially, no well — no matter how well motivated it is. So while —

MR. COOPER: Congressman Paul, would you cut aid to Israel?

REP. PAUL: I would cut all foreign aid. I would treat everybody equally and fairly. And I don’t think aid to Israel actually helps them. I think it teaches them to be dependent. We’re on a bankruptcy court — course — and we — and look at what’s the result of all that foreign aid we gave Egypt. I mean, their — their dictator that we pumped up, we spent all these billions of dollars, and now there’s a more hostile regime in Egypt. And that’s what’s happening all around Israel. That foreign aid makes Israel dependent on us. It softens them for their own economy. And they should have their sovereignty back —

MR. COOPER: Time.

REP. PAUL:  — they should be able to deal with their neighbors at their own will. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Congresswoman Bachmann, should we cut foreign aid to Israel?

REP. BACHMANN: No, we should not be cutting foreign aid to Israel. Israel is our greatest ally. The biggest problem is the fact that the president — (applause) — the biggest problem with this administration and foreign policy is that President Obama is the first president since Israel declared her sovereignty put daylight between the United States and Israel. That’s heavily contributed to the current hostilities that we see in the Middle East region.

Cutting back on foreign aid is one thing. Being reimbursed by nations that we have liberated is another. We should look to Iraq and Libya to reimburse us for part of what we have done to liberate these nations.

(Cheers, applause.)

Now, I need to add something on this issue of negotiating for hostages. This is a very serious issue. For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy. That’s naive. We cannot do that. The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: we don’t negotiate.

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds because she was referring to — basically saying you’re naive or — if that’s what you were suggesting.

MR. CAIN: No. I said that I believe in the philosophy of we don’t negotiate with terrorists. I think — I’ve been saying — I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go. No, that wasn’t the intent at all.

But let me go back to this, if I could, very quickly, in the time that I have left, the question they asked about foreign aid. My approach is an extension of the Reagan approach: peace through strength, which is peace through strength and clarity. If we clarify who our friends are, clarify who our enemies are, and stop giving money to our enemies, then we ought to continue to give money to our friends, like Israel. (Applause.)

MR. COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Congressman Paul, then I got to go.

REP. PAUL: As a matter of fact, I don’t want to make a statement, I want to ask a question. Are you all willing to condemn Ronald Reagan for exchanging weapons for hostages out of Iran? We all know that was done.

MR. SANTORUM: Well, that’s not — Iran was a sovereign country, it was not a terrorist organization, number one. That’s —

REP. PAUL (?): Well, they were our good friends —

(Cross talk.)

MR. : They’re a sovereign country — just like the Palestinian Authority is not good friends of Israel.

REP. PAUL: He negotiated for hostages.

MR. SANTORUM: There’s a role — we negotiated with hostages — (inaudible) — the Soviet Union. We’ve negotiated with hostages, depending on the scale. But there’s a difference between releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay in response to terrorist demands than —

REP. PAUL: But they’re all suspects, they’re not terrorists. You haven’t convicted them of anything.

MR. SANTORUM:  — than negotiating with other countries where we may have an interest.

And that is certainly a proper role for the United States — (inaudible).

MR. COOPER: We’ve got to take a quick break. I do want to give Speaker Gingrich thirty seconds and then —

MR. GINGRICH: Just very straightforward. (Inaudible) — did a film on Ronald Reagan, there’s a very painful moment in the film when he looks in the camera and says: I didn’t think we did this; I’m against doing it. I went back and looked. The truth is, we did. It was an enormous mistake. And he thought the Iranian deal was a terrible mistake.

MR. COOPER: We’re going to take a short break. Our debate, though, continues on the other side of the break, so stay tuned. (Cheers, applause.) When we return, which candidate has the best chance to beat Barack Obama? It’s going to matter in your vote. Stay with us.

(Announcements.)

(Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: And welcome back. The GOP debate is under way.

Let’s talk about probably the most important issue to everybody on this stage and probably just about everybody on (sic) this room, which is, who can beat President Barack Obama in this next election? (Cheers, applause.)

In today’s new CNN/ORC poll, 41 percent of Republican voters think that Governor Romney has the best chance of beating the president. (Cheers, applause.)

To Senator Santorum, you got 1 percent. Why shouldn’t Republican voters go with the candidate they feel they can best beat — that can best beat President Obama?

MR. SANTORUM: Well, the Pew poll last week asked how many people in this country can name any of us, and less than 50 percent could come up with even one. So the idea that this has any relevance to people who aren’t paying close attention to this debate is — is — is in fact irrelevant.

What’s relevant is to look at the track record. No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania’s a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election. The Republican is nominated.

I’ve won it twice. I defeated a Democratic incumbent winning it the first time, and I won the state of Pennsylvania — the only senator to win a state who is a conservative that George Bush lost. Bush lost it by 5. I won it by 6.

So you have someone who’s defeated and — and been matched up against three Democratic incumbents. I’m 3 and 0. Nobody in this field has won a major race against a Democratic incumbent — except me. No one has won a swing state — except me, as a conservative. I didn’t run as a Democrat in Texas when it was popular, one, and win there. I didn’t run as a liberal in 1994. I ran in 1994, the same year Mitt did in — in — in Massachusetts. He ran as a liberal, to the left of Kennedy, and lost. I ran as a conservative against James Carville and Paul Begala, and I won.

In — in — in 2002 he ran as a moderate. He ran as a moderate in — in — in Massachusetts.

I ran for re-election having sponsored and passed welfare reform, having authored the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

MR. COOPER: Time.

MR. SANTORUM: I was for — a moral conservative. I was a foreign policy conservative.

MR. COOPER: Time, sir.

MR. SANTORUM: I was a fiscal conservative, and I got elected in a state that hasn’t an elected a president since 1988 as a Republican.

MR. COOPER: Thank you. (Applause.)

Governor Romney, I’ve got to give you 30 seconds since he referenced you.

MR. ROMNEY: I think the people of America are looking for someone who can beat President Obama and can get the country on the right track. And I believe that they recognize that if we elect someone who’s spent their life in politics, that they’re not going to be able to post up well against President Obama and convince the American people of the truth of the principles that we believe in. I believe that having spent my life in the private sector, having actually created jobs is what allows me to have the kind of support that’s going to allow me to replace President Obama and get the country on the right track again. That for me is the distinguishing feature that’s going to get me elected as the president of the United States.

MR. COOPER: Governor — (cheers, applause) — Governor Perry, was he was referring to you?

GOV. PERRY: If you want to know how someone’s going to act in the future, look how they act in the past. I mean, so, Mitt, while you were the governor of Massachusetts in that period of time, you were 47th in the nation in job creation. During that same period of time we created 20 times more jobs. As a matter of fact, you’ve created 40,000 jobs total in your four years. Last two months we created more jobs than that in Texas.

What we need is someone who will draw a bright contrast between themselves and President Obama. And let me tell you one thing: I will draw that bright contrast.

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give you 30 seconds. Governor Romney?

MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, with regards to track record in the past, Governor, you were the chairman of Al Gore’s campaign. All right? (Laughter.) And there was a fellow — there was a fellow Texan named George Bush running. So if we’re looking at the past, I think we know where you were.

Secondly, our unemployment rate I got down to 4.7 percent. Pretty darn good. I think a lot of people would be happy to have 4.7 percent. And with regards — (cheers, applause) — with regards to the — to the record — to the record in Texas, you probably also ought to tell people that if you look over the last several years, 40 percent, almost half the jobs created in Texas were created for illegal aliens, illegal immigrants.

GOV. PERRY: That is an absolutely falsehood on is face, Mitt.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, it’s — it’s actually — it’s actually —

MR. COOPER: You have 30 seconds, Governor Perry.

GOV. PERRY: That is absolutely incorrect, sir.

MR. ROMNEY: Well, take a look at the study.

GOV. PERRY: There’s a third — there’s been a third party take a look at that study, and it is absolutely incorrect. The fact is Texas has led the nation in job creation. EBay and Facebook and Caterpillar didn’t come there because there weren’t jobs and there wasn’t an environment to — to be created. That’s what Americans are looking for. They’re looking for somebody that they trust, that knows — has the executive governing experience. I’ve got it. You failed as the governor of Massachusetts.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Ooh!

MR. COOPER: I’ve got to give Governor Romney 30 seconds when you said he failed.

MR. ROMNEY: (Chuckles.) I’m very proud of the fact — actually, during the — the four years we were both governors, my unemployment rate in Massachusetts was lower than your unemployment rate in Texas. That’s number one. Number two, getting it down to 4.7 (percent) I’m pretty happy with. We worked very hard to balance our budget, did every year, put in place a rainy-day fund of $2 billion by the time I was finished.

And I’ll tell you this: The American people would be happy for an individual who can lead the country who’s actually created jobs, not just watching them get created by others, but someone who knows how the economy works because he’s been in it. I have. I’ve created jobs. I’ll use that skill to get America working again. That’s what we want. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Herman Cain, you’re — Herman Cain, you’re tied with Governor Romney in some of the polls for the top leadership position right now. Is a — are they the ones — are either Governor Perry or Governor Romney — are they the ones who should be president?

MR. CAIN: (Chuckles.) No, I should be president. (Laughter.)

MR. COOPER: Well, obviously.

MR. CAIN: Governor Romney has a very distinguished career, and I would agree with much of what he has said. And there’s one difference between the two of us in terms of our experience. With all due respect, his business-executive experience has been more Wall Street- oriented. Mine has been more Main Street.

I have managed small companies. I’ve actually had to clean the parking lot. I’ve worked with groups of businesses, et cetera.

And as far as contrasting me with President Obama, if I am fortunate enough to become the Republican nominee, it’s going to be the problem solver who fixes stuff, versus a president who hasn’t fixed anything in this country. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: Governor Romney, you’ve got 30 seconds.

MR. ROMNEY: I appreciate that. And probably, the fact that we’re doing as well as we are is we both have a private-sector background. That probably helps. But I just want to set the record state of my record — record straight on my record.

I’ve been chief executive officer four times: once for a startup and three times for turnarounds. One was the financial services company, that was the startup; a consulting company, that’s a mainstream business; the Olympics, that’s certainly mainstream; and of course, the state of Massachusetts. In all those settings, I learned how to create jobs.

MR. COOPER: We — your campaigns are telling us we have to end — it’s time — I’m sorry —

REP. BACHMANN: Oh, no, no, no!

EP. PAUL: Oh, wait — wait a second.

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson — Anderson, that is —

MR. COOPER: It’s your campaigns. I’m just —

REP. PAUL: No, just — (inaudible) —

REP. BACHMANN: Anderson, this is — Anderson? Anderson — Anderson —

MR. COOPER: If you want to defy your campaigns, go ahead. Go ahead. Congresswoman Bachmann, 30 seconds.

REP. BACHMANN: The good news is the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president. There’s no question about this. (Cheers, applause.)

Now the question is, we need to listen to Ronald Reagan who said: No pastels; bold colors. I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich?

REP. BACHMANN: We can’t settle in this race.

MR. COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, why don’t you get in this?

MR. GINGRICH: Well, let me just — let me just point out a second that maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House. (Applause.) And the technique you’ve used maximizes going back and forth, over and over again.

I just want to say two things. I think that I would be the strongest candidate because of sheer substance, if you go to newt.org and look at the 21st century Contract with America. As the nominee, I will challenge Obama to meet the Lincoln-Douglas standard of seven three-hour debates, no timekeep — no moderator, only a timekeeper.

I believe we can defeat him decisively to a point where we re- establish a conservative America on our values. And I think that is a key part of thinking about next year. (Cheers, applause.)

MR. COOPER: We’d love to host those on CNN.

I want to thank all the candidates, the GOP candidates tonight. (Cheers, applause.)

Want to thank all the candidates for a spirited debate on the stage. We also want to thank our co-sponsor, the Western Republican Leadership Conference, our host the Sands Convention Center at the Venetian.

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