I wish the whole day were like breakfast, when people are still connected to their dreams, focused inward, and not yet ready to engage with the world around them. I realized this is how I am all day; for me, unlike other people, there doesn’t come a moment after a cup of coffee or a shower or whatever when I suddenly feel alive and awake and connected to the world. If it were always breakfast, I would be fine.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
Michelle, I love you so much. A few nights ago, everybody was reminded just what a lucky man I am. (Applause.) Malia and Sasha, we are so proud of you. And, yes, you do have to go to school in the morning. (Laughter.)
And, Joe Biden, thank you for being the very best Vice President I could have ever hoped for, and being a strong and loyal friend. (Applause.)
Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for President of the United States. (Applause.)
Now, the first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man, a Senate candidate from Illinois, who spoke about hope — not blind optimism, not wishful thinking, but hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty; that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation forward, even when the odds are great, even when the road is long.
Eight years later, that hope has been tested by the cost of war, by one of the worst economic crises in history, and by political gridlock that’s left us wondering whether it’s still even possible to tackle the challenges of our time.
I know campaigns can seem small, even silly sometimes. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. The truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I. (Laughter and applause.)
But when all is said and done — when you pick up that ballot to vote — you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington on jobs, the economy, taxes and deficits, energy, education, war and peace — decisions that will have a huge impact on our lives and on our children’s lives for decades to come.
And on every issue, the choice you face won’t just be between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America, a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known — (applause) — the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army, the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone.
They knew they were part of something larger — a nation that triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most innovative businesses turned out the world’s best products. And everyone shared in that pride and success, from the corner office to the factory floor.
My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their own home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story — the promise that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away. I began my career helping people in the shadow of a shuttered steel mill at a time when too many good jobs were starting to move overseas. And by 2008, we had seen nearly a decade in which families struggled with costs that kept rising but paychecks that didn’the; folks racking up more and more debt just to make the mortgage or pay tuition, put gas in the car or food on the table. And when the house of cards collapsed in the Great Recession, millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings — a tragedy from which we’re still fighting to recover.
Now, our friends down in Tampa at the Republican Convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America. But they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. (Applause.) They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescriptions they’ve had for the last 30 years — Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning. (Applause.)
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it — middle-class families, small businesses. But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit. I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. (Applause.)
After all we’ve been through, I don’t believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid-off construction worker keep his home.
We have been there. We’ve tried that and we’re not going back. We are moving forward, America. (Applause.)
Now, I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear. You elected me to tell you the truth. (Applause.)
And the truth is it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort and shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. (Applause.) And, by the way, those of us who carry on his party’s legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington.
But know this, America — our problems can be solved. (Applause.) Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future. (Applause.)
I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country — goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit — real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That’s what we can do in the next four years — and that is why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we’re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best: We are making things again. (Applause.)
I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo — (applause) — who feared they’d never build another American car. And today, they can’t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on the top of the world. (Applause.)
I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America — not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products. Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else. (Applause.)
I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers — goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: U.S.A! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
THE PRESIDENT: And after a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years.
And now you have a choice: We can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here, in the United States of America. (Applause.) We can help big factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can choose that future.
You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. (Applause.) We have doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day — more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades. (Applause.)
So now you have a choice — between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it. We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more. But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers. We’re offering a better path. (Applause.)
We’re offering a better path, where we — a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we 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 support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. (Applause.)
And, yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet — because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it. (Applause.)
You can choose a future where more Americans have the chance to gain the skills they need to compete, no matter how old they are or how much money they have. Education was the gateway to opportunity for me. It was the gateway for Michelle. It was the gateway for most of you. And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a middle-class life.
For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and learning. Some of the worst schools in the country have made real gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less for college today because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders. (Applause.)
And now you have a choice — we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. (Applause.) 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 overseas because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home. That’s not our future. That is not our future. (Applause.)
And government has a role in this. But teachers must inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for learning. And, students, you’ve got to do the work. (Applause.) And together, I promise you, we can out-educate and out-compete any nation on Earth. (Applause.)
So help me. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers within 10 years and improve early-childhood education. Help give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. (Applause.) Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years. We can meet that goal together. You can choose that future for America. (Applause.) That’s our future.
In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. (Applause.) I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. (Applause.) We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over. (Applause.)
A new tower rises above the New York skyline; al Qaeda is on the path to defeat; and Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
THE PRESIDENT: Tonight, we pay tribute to the Americans who still serve in harm’s way. We are forever in debt to a generation whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected. We will never forget you. And so long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us — because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their heads, or the care that they need when they come home. (Applause.)
Around the world, we’ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers. From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings — men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews. (Applause.)
But for all the progress that we’ve made, challenges remain. Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe’s crisis must be contained. Our commitment to Israel’s security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace. (Applause.) The Iranian government must face a world that stays united against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping across the Arab world must be defined not by the iron fist of a dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same rights that we celebrate here today. (Applause.)
So now we have a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy — (laughter and applause) — but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly.
After all, you don’t call Russia our number-one enemy — not al Qaeda — Russia — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. (Applause.) You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally. (Applause.)
My opponent said that it was “tragic” to end the war in Iraq. And he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. Well, I have — and I will. (Applause.)
And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don’t even want, I will use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways. Because after two wars that have cost us thousands of live and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home. (Applause.)
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. Independent experts say that my plan would cut our deficit by $4 trillion. And last summer I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut a billion [trillion] dollars in spending — because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it so that it’s leaner and more efficient and more responsive to the American people. (Applause.)
I want to reform the tax code so that it’s simple, fair, and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000 — the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President; the same rate when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history and a whole lot of millionaires to boot. (Applause.)
Now, I’m still eager to reach an agreement based on the principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. I want to get this done, and we can get it done. But when Governor Romney and his friends in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficits by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy, well, what did Bill Clinton call it — you do the arithmetic. (Applause.) You do the math. (Applause.)
I refuse to go along with that and as long as I’m President, I never will. (Applause.) I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. (Applause.)
I refuse to ask students to pay more for college, or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor and elderly or disabled — all so those with the most can pay less. I’m not going along with that. (Applause.)
And I will never — I will never — turn Medicare into a voucher. (Applause.) No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity that they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care — not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. (Applause.)
And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street. (Applause.)
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we’ve been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way — that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope that you don’t get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that’s the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent’s advice and borrow money from your parents. (Laughter and applause.)
You know what, that’s not who we are. That’s not what this country’s about. As Americans, we believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain, inalienable rights — rights that no man or government can take away. We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative. We’re not entitled to success — we have to earn it. We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world’s ever known.
But we also believe in something called citizenship. (Applause.) Citizenship: a word at the very heart of our founding; a word at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.
We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better. (Applause.) We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes and so is the entire economy. (Applause.) We believe the little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the next Steve Jobs or the scientist who cures cancer or the President of the United States, and it is in our power to give her that chance. (Applause.)
We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves and we certainly don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. (Applause.) We don’t think that government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think that government is the source of all of our problems — any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles. (Applause.)
Because, America, we understand that this democracy is ours. We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which asks only “what’s in it for me,” a freedom without commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism is unworthy of our founding ideals and those who died in their defense. (Applause.)
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe. (Applause.)
So, you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. (Applause.) My fellow citizens, you were the change. (Applause.) You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who will get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage. You did that. (Applause.)
You’re the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought he’d be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is about to get that chance. You made that possible. (Applause.)
You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home
— (applause) — why selfless soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who served us so bravely: “Welcome home.” “Welcome home.” You did that. You did that. You did that. (Applause.)
If you turn away now — if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void — the lobbyists and special interests; the people with the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election and those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves. (Applause.)
Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward. (Applause.)
I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. The times have changed, and so have I. I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President. (Applause.)
And that means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return. I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs.
If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them. (Laughter.) And while I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, “I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.” (Applause.)
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naïve about the magnitude of our challenges. I’m hopeful because of you.
The young woman I met at a science fair who won national recognition for her biology research while living with her family at a homeless shelter — she gives me hope. (Applause.)
The autoworker who won the lottery after his plant almost closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for his whole town, and one of the cars that he built to surprise his wife — he gives me hope. (Applause.)
The family business in Warroad, Minnesota, that didn’t lay off a single one of their 4,000 employees when the recession hit, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owner gave up some perks and some pay because they understood that their biggest asset was the community and the workers who had helped build that business — they give me hope. (Applause.)
I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee. Six months ago, we would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iraq, tall and 20 pounds heavier, dashing in his uniform, with a big grin on his face, sturdy on his new leg. And I remember how a few months after that I would watch him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun the hard path he had traveled — he gives me hope. He gives me hope. (Applause.)
I don’t know what party these men and women belong to. I don’t know if they’ll vote for me. But I know that their spirit defines us. They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours is a “future filled with hope.”
And if you share that faith with me — if you share that hope with me — I ask you tonight for your vote. (Applause.) If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election. (Applause.)
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape, that new energy can power our future, that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules — then I need you to vote this November. (Applause.)
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you. God bless you. (Applause.) And God bless these United States. (Applause.)
We’re here to nominate a president, and I’ve got one in mind.
I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair share of adversity and uncertainty. A man who ran for president to change the course of an already weak economy and then just six weeks before the election, saw it suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression. A man who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter how many jobs were created and saved, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed their children and keep their hopes alive.
I want to nominate a man cool on the outside but burning for America on the inside. A man who believes we can build a new American Dream economy driven by innovation and creativity, education and cooperation. A man who had the good sense to marry Michelle Obama.
I want Barack Obama to be the next president of the United States and I proudly nominate him as the standard bearer of the Democratic Party.
In Tampa, we heard a lot of talk about how the president and the Democrats don’t believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everyone to be dependent on the government, how bad we are for the economy.
The Republican narrative is that all of us who amount to anything are completely self-made. One of our greatest Democratic chairmen, Bob Strauss, used to say that every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself, but it ain’t so.
We Democrats think the country works better with a strong middle class, real opportunities for poor people to work their way into it and a relentless focus on the future, with business and government working together to promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. We think “we’re all in this together” is a better philosophy than “you’re on your own.”
Who’s right? Well, since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.
It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.
Though I often disagree with Republicans, I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama and the Democrats. After all, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High and built the interstate highway system. And as governor, I worked with President Reagan on welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I am grateful to President George W. Bush for PEPFAR, which is saving the lives of millions of people in poor countries and to both Presidents Bush for the work we’ve done together after the South Asia tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake.
Through my foundation, in America and around the world, I work with Democrats, Republicans and Independents who are focused on solving problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting each other.
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. All of us are destined to live our lives between those two extremes. Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is the enemy, and compromise is weakness.
One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation. He appointed Republican secretaries of defense, the army and transportation. He appointed a vice president who ran against him in 2008, and trusted him to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the recovery act. And Joe Biden did a great job with both. He appointed Cabinet members who supported Hillary in the primaries. Heck, he even appointed Hillary. I’m so proud of her and grateful to our entire national security team for all they’ve done to make us safer and stronger and to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m also grateful to the young men and women who serve our country in the military and to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden for supporting military families when their loved ones are overseas and for helping our veterans, when they come home bearing the wounds of war, or needing help with education, housing, and jobs.
President Obama’s record on national security is a tribute to his strength, and judgment, and to his preference for inclusion and partnership over partisanship.
He also tried to work with congressional Republicans on health care, debt reduction, and jobs, but that didn’t work out so well. Probably because, as the Senate Republican leader, in a remarkable moment of candor, said two years before the election, their No. 1 priority was not to put America back to work, but to put President Obama out of work.
Senator, I hate to break it to you, but we’re going to keep President Obama on the job.
In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.
In order to look like an acceptable alternative to President Obama, they couldn’t say much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years. You see they want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: to cut taxes for high income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future bailouts; to increase defense spending $2 trillion more than the Pentagon has requested without saying what they’ll spend the money on; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the middle class and poor kids. As another president once said— there they go again.
I like the argument for President Obama’s re-election a lot better. He inherited a deeply damaged economy, put a floor under the crash, began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators.
Are we where we want to be? No. Is the president satisfied? No. Are we better off than we were when he took office, with an economy in free fall, losing 750,000 jobs a month. The answer is yes.
I understand the challenge we face. I know many Americans are still angry and frustrated with the economy. Though employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend and even housing prices are picking up a bit, too many people don’t feel it.
I experienced the same thing in 1994 and early 1995. Our policies were working and the economy was growing but most people didn’t feel it yet. By 1996, the economy was roaring, halfway through the longest peacetime expansion in American history.
President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No president— not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving and if you’ll renew the President’s contract you will feel it.
I believe that with all my heart.
President Obama’s approach embodies the values, the ideas, and the direction America must take to build a 21st century version of the American Dream in a nation of shared opportunities, shared prosperity and shared responsibilities.
So back to the story. In 2010, as the president’s recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around.
The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. In the last 29 months the economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But last year, the Republicans blocked the president’s jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here’s another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama— the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.
The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs, not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country. That’s why even auto-makers that weren’t part of the deal supported it. They needed to save the suppliers too. Like I said, we’re all in this together.
Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured. Gov. Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score: Obama 250,000, Romney, zero.
The agreement the administration made with management, labor and environmental groups to double car mileage over the next few years is another good deal: it will cut your gas bill in half, make us more energy independent, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and add another 500,000 good jobs.
President Obama’s “all of the above” energy plan is helping too— the boom in oil and gas production combined with greater energy efficiency has driven oil imports to a near 20 year low and natural gas production to an all-time high. Renewable energy production has also doubled.
We do need more new jobs, lots of them, but there are already more than three million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly because the applicants don’t have the required skills. We have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are being created in a world fueled by new technology. That’s why investments in our people are more important than ever. The president has supported community colleges and employers in working together to train people for open jobs in their communities. And, after a decade in which exploding college costs have increased the drop-out rate so much that we’ve fallen to 16th in the world in the percentage of our young adults with college degrees, his student loan reform lowers the cost of federal student loans and even more important, gives students the right to repay the loans as a fixed percentage of their incomes for up to 20 years. That means no one will have to drop-out of college for fear they can’t repay their debt, and no one will have to turn down a job, as a teacher, a police officer or a small town doctor because it doesn’t pay enough to make the debt payments. This will change the future for young Americans.
I know we’re better off because President Obama made these decisions.
That brings me to health care.
The Republicans call it Obamacare and say it’s a government takeover of health care that they’ll repeal. Are they right? Let’s look at what’s happened so far. Individuals and businesses have secured more than a billion dollars in refunds from their insurance premiums because the new law requires 80 percent to 85 pecent of your premiums to be spent on health care, not profits or promotion. Other insurance companies have lowered their rates to meet the requirement. More than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents can now carry them on family policies. Millions of seniors are receiving preventive care including breast cancer screenings and tests for heart problems. Soon the insurance companies, not the government, will have millions of new customers many of them middle class people with pre-existing conditions. And for the last two years, health care spending has grown under 4 pecent, for the first time in 50 years.
So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are.
There were two other attacks on the president in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Gov. Romney and congressman Ryan attacked the president for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion. Here’s what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits. None. What the president did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren’t making people any healthier. He used the saving to close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program, and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund. It’s now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened it.
When congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama’s “biggest coldest power play” in raiding Medicare, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, that $716 billion is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings congressman Ryan had in his own budget.
At least on this one, Gov. Romney’s been consistent. He wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, re-open the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs, and reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years. So now if he’s elected and does what he promised Medicare will go broke by 2016. If that happens, you won’t have to wait until their voucher program to begins in 2023 to see the end Medicare as we know it.
But it gets worse. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming decade. Of course, that will hurt poor kids, but that’s not all. Almost two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for seniors and on people with disabilities, including kids from middle class families, with special needs like, Down syndrome or autism. I don’t know how those families are going to deal with it. We can’t let it happen
Now let’s look at the Republican charge that President Obama wants to weaken the work requirements in the welfare reform bill I signed that moved millions of people from welfare to work.
Here’s what happened. When some Republican governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration said they would only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent. You hear that? More work. So the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said “we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Now that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself— I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.
Let’s talk about the debt. We have to deal with it or it will deal with us. President Obama has offered a plan with $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade, with $2 of spending reductions for every $1 of revenue increases, and tight controls on future spending. It’s the kind of balanced approach proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.
I think the president’s plan is better than the Romney plan, because the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: The numbers don’t add up.
It’s supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with $5 trillion in tax cuts over a 10-year period. That makes the debt hole bigger before they even start to dig out. They say they’ll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code. When you ask “which loopholes and how much?” they say, “See me after the election on that.”
People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic. If they stay with a $5 trillion tax cut in a debt reduction plan— the— arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen:
1) they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving that middle class families will see their tax bill go up $2,000 year while people making over $3 million a year get will still get a 250,000 dollar tax cut; or
2) they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel; or they’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help middle class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research; or
3) they’ll do what they’ve been doing for thirty plus years now— cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the economy. Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can’t afford to double-down on trickle-down.
President Obama’s plan cuts the debt, honors our values, and brightens the future for our children, our families and our nation.
My fellow Americans, you have to decide what kind of country you want to live in. If you want a you’re on your own, winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket. If you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities— a “we’re all in it together” society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. If you want every American to vote and you think it’s wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama. If you think the president was right to open the doors of American opportunity to young immigrants brought here as children who want to go to college or serve in the military, you should vote for Barack Obama. If you want a future of shared prosperity, where the middle class is growing and poverty is declining, where the American Dream is alive and well, and where the United States remains the leading force for peace and prosperity in a highly competitive world, you should vote for Barack Obama.
I love our country— and I know we’re coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we’ve always come out stronger than we went in. And we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor— to form a more perfect union.
If that’s what you believe, if that’s what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.
God bless you — God bless America.
Thank you so much, Elaine…we are so grateful for your family’s service and sacrifice…and we will always have your back.
Over the past few years as First Lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country.
And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.
I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.
I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.
I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.
And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”
Every day, the people I meet inspire me…every day, they make me proud…every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.
Serving as your First Lady is an honor and a privilege…but back when we first came together four years ago, I still had some concerns about this journey we’d begun.
While I believed deeply in my husband’s vision for this country…and I was certain he would make an extraordinary President…like any mother, I was worried about what it would mean for our girls if he got that chance.
How would we keep them grounded under the glare of the national spotlight?
How would they feel being uprooted from their school, their friends, and the only home they’d ever known?
Our life before moving to Washington was filled with simple joys…Saturdays at soccer games, Sundays at grandma’s house…and a date night for Barack and me was either dinner or a movie, because as an exhausted mom, I couldn’t stay awake for both.
And the truth is, I loved the life we had built for our girls…I deeply loved the man I had built that life with…and I didn’t want that to change if he became President.
I loved Barack just the way he was.
You see, even though back then Barack was Senator and a presidential candidate…to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.
But when Barack started telling me about his family – that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.
You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn’t have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable – their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
My father was a pump operator at the city water plant, and he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when my brother and I were young.
And even as a kid, I knew there were plenty of days when he was in pain…I knew there were plenty of mornings when it was a struggle for him to simply get out of bed.
But every morning, I watched my father wake up with a smile, grab his walker, prop himself up against the bathroom sink, and slowly shave and button his uniform.
And when he returned home after a long day’s work, my brother and I would stand at the top of the stairs to our little apartment, patiently waiting to greet him…watching as he reached down to lift one leg, and then the other, to slowly climb his way into our arms.
But despite these challenges, my dad hardly ever missed a day of work…he and my mom were determined to give me and my brother the kind of education they could only dream of.
And when my brother and I finally made it to college, nearly all of our tuition came from student loans and grants.
But my dad still had to pay a tiny portion of that tuition himself.
And every semester, he was determined to pay that bill right on time, even taking out loans when he fell short.
He was so proud to be sending his kids to college…and he made sure we never missed a registration deadline because his check was late.
You see, for my dad, that’s what it meant to be a man.
Like so many of us, that was the measure of his success in life – being able to earn a decent living that allowed him to support his family.
And as I got to know Barack, I realized that even though he’d grown up all the way across the country, he’d been brought up just like me.
Barack was raised by a single mother who struggled to pay the bills, and by grandparents who stepped in when she needed help.
Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.
And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.
But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.
And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”
Like so many American families, our families weren’t asking for much.
They didn’t begrudge anyone else’s success or care that others had much more than they did…in fact, they admired it.
They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don’t start out with much, if you work hard and do what you’re supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.
That’s how they raised us…that’s what we learned from their example.
We learned about dignity and decency – that how hard you work matters more than how much you make…that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean…and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I – and so many of you – are trying to pass on to our own children.
That’s who we are.
And standing before you four years ago, I knew that I didn’t want any of that to change if Barack became President.
Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.
You see, I’ve gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like.
And I’ve seen how the issues that come across a President’s desk are always the hard ones – the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer…the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people.
But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
So when it comes to rebuilding our economy, Barack is thinking about folks like my dad and like his grandmother.
He’s thinking about the pride that comes from a hard day’s work.
That’s why he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women get equal pay for equal work.
That’s why he cut taxes for working families and small businesses and fought to get the auto industry back on its feet.
That’s how he brought our economy from the brink of collapse to creating jobs again – jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs right here in the United States of America.
When it comes to the health of our families, Barack refused to listen to all those folks who told him to leave health reform for another day, another president.
He didn’t care whether it was the easy thing to do politically – that’s not how he was raised – he cared that it was the right thing to do.
He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine…our kids should be able to see a doctor when they’re sick…and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.
And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care…that’s what my husband stands for.
When it comes to giving our kids the education they deserve, Barack knows that like me and like so many of you, he never could’ve attended college without financial aid.
And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage.
We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.
That’s why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.
So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren’t political – they’re personal.
Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles.
He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.
Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.
And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.
So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.
He’s the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work…because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.
He’s the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.
That’s the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.
That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.
The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills…from the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care…from the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.
I see the concern in his eyes…and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle…it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.”
I see how those stories – our collection of struggles and hopes and dreams – I see how that’s what drives Barack Obama every single day.
And I didn’t think it was possible, but today, I love my husband even more than I did four years ago…even more than I did 23 years ago, when we first met.
I love that he’s never forgotten how he started.
I love that we can trust Barack to do what he says he’s going to do, even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.
I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above…he knows that we all love our country…and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas…he’s always looking for the very best in everyone he meets.
And I love that even in the toughest moments, when we’re all sweating it – when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass, and it seems like all is lost – Barack never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise.
Just like his grandmother, he just keeps getting up and moving forward…with patience and wisdom, and courage and grace.
And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here…and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once.
But eventually we get there, we always do.
We get there because of folks like my Dad…folks like Barack’s grandmother…men and women who said to themselves, “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dreams, but maybe my children will…maybe my grandchildren will.”
So many of us stand here tonight because of their sacrifice, and longing, and steadfast love…because time and again, they swallowed their fears and doubts and did what was hard.
So today, when the challenges we face start to seem overwhelming – or even impossible – let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation…it’s who we are as Americans…it’s how this country was built.
And if our parents and grandparents could toil and struggle for us…if they could raise beams of steel to the sky, send a man to the moon, and connect the world with the touch of a button…then surely we can keep on sacrificing and building for our own kids and grandkids.
And if so many brave men and women could wear our country’s uniform and sacrifice their lives for our most fundamental rights…then surely we can do our part as citizens of this great democracy to exercise those rights…surely, we can get to the polls and make our voices heard on Election Day.
If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.
Because in the end, more than anything else, that is the story of this country – the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.
That is what has made my story, and Barack’s story, and so many other American stories possible.
And I say all of this tonight not just as First Lady…and not just as a wife.
You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still “mom-in-chief.”
My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world.
But today, I have none of those worries from four years ago about whether Barack and I were doing what’s best for our girls.
Because today, I know from experience that if I truly want to leave a better world for my daughters, and all our sons and daughters…if we want to give all our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their promise…if we want to give them that sense of limitless possibility – that belief that here in America, there is always something better out there if you’re willing to work for it…then we must work like never before…and we must once again come together and stand together for the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward…my husband, our President, President Barack Obama.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
Watch First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention:
GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he ‘s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he ‘s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
by Robert Herrick
Be thankful for the people who have stood by you and cheered you on, but don’t forget to be thankful for the ones that said it could not be done.
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