Remarks by the President at Campaign Event at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
The Ohio State University
5:08 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Buckeyes! (Applause.) O-H!
THE PRESIDENT: O-H!
THE PRESIDENT: O-H!
THE PRESIDENT: Well, can everybody please give Sonia a big round of applause for that great introduction? (Applause.) And it is good to see my friend and one of the finest United States senators we've got today -- your Senator, Sherrod Brown, is in the house. (Applause.) Your Mayor, Michael Coleman, is here. (Applause.) Your next congresswoman, Joyce Beatty, is here. (Applause.)
will.i.am is in the house. (Applause.) A man who sometimes looks like he’s been to outer space. (Laughter.) I am so grateful -- he has been such a great friend for a long time. And we also have a man who has actually been to outer space -- John Glenn in the house! (Applause.)
Now, before I begin, Buckeyes, I've got a question for you -- are you registered to vote?
THE PRESIDENT: Because if you’re not, today is the last day you can register. Now, I know it’s easy to procrastinate in college. I procrastinated a lot. But we’ve made it easy. You go to Vote.BarackObama.com to register yourself. And you’ve got until 9:00 p.m. tonight. No extensions. No excuses. I know you guys are up at 9:00 p.m. (Laughter.) As you get older you start thinking about sleeping around 9:00 p.m., but you guys are just getting started.
If you are registered, you can vote right now, today. Just go to Vote.BarackObama.com to find out where. All right? (Applause.) All right?
AUDIENCE: All right!
THE PRESIDENT: All right. Now, even better, grab your friends, grab everybody in your dorm, grab your fraternity or sorority -- (applause) -- join will.i.am right after this event because he's heading to an early vote location where you can register and vote in the same place right now. (Applause.) There are buses around the corner that can get you there and back. So don’t wait. Do not delay. Go vote today. What do you think? (Applause.)
All right, Buckeyes, we need you. (Applause.) We need you fired up --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back, but I need you voting. (Applause.) I need you fired up. I need you ready to go to vote. Because we’ve got some work to do. We’ve got an election to win. Everything that we fought for in 2008 is on the line in 2012. And I need your help to finish what we started.
Four years ago, I told you I’d end the war in Iraq -- and we did. (Applause.) I said I’d end the war in Afghanistan -- and we are. (Applause.) I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 -- and today, Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
Four years ago, I promised to cut taxes for middle class families -- and we have, by $3,600. (Applause.) I promised to cut taxes for small business owners -- and we have, 18 times. We got back every dime we used to rescue the banks, and we also passed a law to end taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts permanently. (Applause.)
We passed health care reform -- also known as Obamacare, because I do care -- (applause) -- I don't want insurance company jerking you around anymore. (Applause.) I don't want somebody without health care when they've got a preexisting condition.
We repealed "don't ask, don't tell" as I promised we would. (Applause.) Today no outstanding soldier or Marine or Coast Guardsman, sailor, airman -- none of them can be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love. (Applause.)
And when you think about, Ohio, when Governor Romney said that we should just let the auto industry go bankrupt, we said no, we're not going to take your advice.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don't boo -- vote. (Applause.)
And we reinvented a dying auto industry that supports 1 in 8 Ohio jobs and has come roaring back to the top of the world. (Applause.)
Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs. This past Friday, we found out that the unemployment rate had fallen from a high of 10 percent down to 7.8 percent -- the lowest level since I took office. (Applause.) Manufacturing is coming back to America. Home values are back on the rise.
Now, we’re not there yet. We've still got too many Americans who are looking for work and too many families who can’t pay the bills. There are too many homes that are still underwater and there are too many young people who are burdened by too much debt after they graduate.
But if there’s one thing I know, Ohio, it’s this -- we have come too far to turn back now. The American people have worked too hard. And the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. I cannot allow that to happen. I will not allow it to happen. That's why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Over the last four years, I've seen a lot of folks hurting. I've seen a lot of struggle. And I am not going to make -- I'm not going to have us go back to another round of top-down economics. But that’s what my opponent is offering. The centerpiece of Governor Romney’s economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthiest Americans. He has been pitching that plan for an entire year, stood up onstage in one of his primary debates, proudly promised that his tax cuts would include the "top 1 percent."
But most of the economists who’ve actually crunched the numbers said that paying for Governor Romney’s tax plan either means blowing up the deficit or raising taxes on middle-class families -- one or the other, pick your poison.
Then, last week, Mitt Romney actually said, "There’s no economist who can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan." So he said if he says it's not true, then it's not true. (Laughter.) Okay.
So if it's true that it's not going to add to the deficit, that leaves only one option -- and that’s asking middle-class families to foot the bill by getting rid of the deductions they rely on for owning a home or raising their kids or sending them to college.
And as it turns out, most folks don’t like that idea, either. So just last week when we were onstage together, Governor Romney decided that instead of changing his plan, he’d just pretend it didn't exist. (Laughter.) What $5 trillion tax cut? I don’t know anything about a $5 trillion tax cut. Pay no attention to that tax cut under the carpet, behind the curtain. (Laughter.)
When he’s asked how he’ll cut the deficit, he says he can make the math work by eliminating local public funding for PBS.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, by the way, this is not new. This is what he's been saying every time he's asked the question -- well, we can cut out PBS. So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry -- somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. (Laughter.) Who knew that he was driving our deficit? (Laughter.) So we're going -- he's decided we're going after Big Bird and Elmo is making a run for the border and Oscar is hiding out in a trash can. (Laughter.) And Governor Romney wants to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring down the hammer on Sesame Street. (Laughter.)
Look, that is not leadership -- that's salesmanship. We can't afford it. We can't afford to double down on top-down economics. We can’t afford another round of tax cuts for the wealthy. We can’t afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street banks or on insurance companies. We can’t afford to gut our investments in education or clean energy or research or technology. (Applause.) That is not a jobs plan. That is not a plan to grow the economy. That is not change. That is a relapse.
We have been there. We have tried that. We are not going back. We are moving forward. And that's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Look, we've got a different view about how you create jobs and prosperity in America. A strong economy doesn’t trickle down from the top. It grows from a thriving middle class and folks who are working hard to get into the middle class.
I believe it’s time our tax code stopped rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas. Let's reward small businesses and manufacturers who are making products right here in Ohio, products stamped with three proud words: "Made In America." That’s the choice in this election. (Applause.)
I believe we can create more jobs by controlling more of our own energy. And after 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. (Applause.) And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in two decades.
So now it’s time to move forward. My plan would cut our oil imports in half, and invest in the clean energy that’s creating thousands of jobs all across Ohio and America right now -- not just oil and natural gas, but solar and wind and clean coal technology and fuel-efficient batteries and fuel-efficient cars. (Applause.)
And I’m not going to let oil companies continue to collect another $4 billion in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare every single year. I’m not going to let China win the race for clean energy technology. I want to see that technology developed by students and scientists here in Columbus, by workers and farmers all across Ohio, by patriots here in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More draught and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to your future. And we’ve got to make sure that we meet the moment. That’s why I’m running.
I believe that we should have the best education system in the world, bar none. (Applause.) I would not be here if it were not for the education I was able to receive. I didn’t come from wealth or fame, but I got a great education because that’s what this country does. It was the gateway of opportunity for Michelle. It’s the gateway of opportunity for so many of you.
And now you’ve got a choice. We can gut education to pay for Governor Romney’s tax cuts -- that’s exactly what his running mate, Paul Ryan, proposes.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo -- vote. (Laughter.)
Or we can do what I’ve proposed -- recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers. (Applause.) Focus on early childhood education. Provide job training for 2 million workers at our community colleges. Cut the growth of tuition costs in half so that you guys are not loaded up with debt when you graduate. That is something we can do. (Applause.)
And by the way, I don’t just talk the talk on this; I walk the walk. We took $60 billion that was going to banks and lenders under the student loan program, and we said let’s cut out the middleman, let’s give the money directly to students. And as a consequence, millions of young people all across the country are getting better deals on Pell grants. We're able to keep our student loan rates low. We have focused on this, and you need to focus on this in this next election because this is part of the choice that you’re going to face. (Applause.)
And we can meet these goals together. You can choose a better future for America. I want to use the money we’re saving from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I want to use that to pay down our deficit, but also to put people back to work rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools all across America. (Applause.)
And Governor Romney said it was "tragic" to end the war in Iraq. I disagree. I think bringing our troops home to their families was the right thing to do. (Applause.) If he’d gotten his way, those troops would still be there. In a speech yesterday, he doubled down on that belief. He said ending that war was a mistake. After nine years of war, more than $1 trillion in spending, extraordinary sacrifices by our men and women in uniform and their families, he said we should still have troops on the ground in Iraq.
Ohio, you can’t turn a page on the failed policies of the past if you’re promising to repeat them. We cannot afford to go back to a foreign policy that gets us into wars with no plan to end them. We’re moving forward, not going back. (Applause.)
And every brave American who wears the uniform of this country should know as long as I’m your Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) And when our troops take off the uniform, we will serve them as well as they’ve served us because nobody who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.)
And finally, I’ll cut the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. I’ve already worked with the Republicans and Democrats to cut a trillion dollars in spending, and I’m ready to do more. But we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. We’re not going to get this done unless we also ask the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on their incomes over $250,000. And that rate is the one that was in place when Bill Clinton was President -- our economy created 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, a whole lot of millionaires to boot.
Governor Romney said it’s fair that he pays a lower tax rate than a teacher or autoworker who makes $50,000. He is wrong. I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. (Applause.)
I refuse to pay for that tax cut by asking you, students, to pay more for college, or kicking kids out of Head Start programs, or eliminating health care for millions of Americans who are poor or disabled or elderly. And that’s the choice that we face in this election. That’s what the election comes down to.
Over and over, we’ve been told by Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan and their allies in Congress that since government can’t do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can’t afford health insurance, hope you don’t get sick. If a company releases pollution into the air that your kids breathe, that’s just the price of progress. If you can’t afford to start a business or go to college, just borrow money from your parents.
You know what, that's not who we are. That's not what this country is about. Here in America, we believe that we’re all in this together. We understand that America is not about what can be done for us -- it’s about what can be done by us, together, as one nation and as one people. (Applause.)
And that's what we understood in 2008. That was an amazing experience for me, obviously, that election. But I said then and I still believe now that wasn’t about me; it was about you.
You’re the reason a mother in Cincinnati doesn't have to worry about an insurance company denying her son coverage just because he got sick. You made that happen. You’re the reason a factory worker who lost his job in Toledo or Lordstown is back on the assembly line building the best cars in the world. You did that. (Applause.)
You’re the reason a young man in Columbus whose mother worked three jobs to raise him can afford to go to The Ohio State University. That happened because of you. (Applause.)
You’re the reason a young immigrant who grew up here, and went to school here, and pledged allegiance to our flag will no longer be deported from the only country she’s ever called home --(applause) -- why soldiers won’t be kicked out of the military because of who they are or who they love. (Applause.) Why thousands of families have finally been able to say to loved ones who served us so bravely: "Welcome home." (Applause.)
You did that. And so if you buy into the cynicism that says change isn’t possible, that the best we can do is more tax cuts for folks at the top and the rest of folks have to figure it out, if you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices fill the void -- the lobbyists and the special interests, the people who write the $10 million checks to try to buy this election, or those who are trying to make it harder for people to vote, the Washington politicians who want to tell women what they're doing when it comes to health care choices when women are perfectly capable of making those choices themselves. (Applause.)
That's what’s at stake. And only you can make sure that we move forward. Only you have that power to move us forward. We’ve always said that change -- real change -- takes time, more than one year, more than one term, even more than one President. It takes more than one party.
It can't happen if you’re somebody who writes off half the nation before you even took office. (Applause.) And in -- you know, it’s interesting, in 2008, 47 percent of the country didn't vote for me. But on the night of the election, I said to those Americans, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices. I need your help. I’ll be your President, too.
And, Columbus, I don't know how many folks will be around voting for me this time, but I can tell you I will be there no matter what. (Applause.) I’ll be fighting for you no matter what -- because I’m not fighting to create Democratic jobs or Republican jobs, I’m fighting to create American jobs. (Applause.) I’m not fighting to improve schools in red states or blue state, I’m fighting to improve schools it the United States. (Applause.)
The values that we are fighting for don't belong to one party or one group. They're not black or white, or Hispanic or Asian or Native America, or gay or straight, or disabled and not disabled -- they are American values. They belong to all of us. (Applause.)
And I am absolutely positive that we are not as divided as our politics suggest. I still believe we’ve got more in common than our pundits tell us. I still believe in you. And I’m asking you to keep believing in me. (Applause.)
Ohio, I’m asking you for your vote. And if you’re willing to stand with me and work with me, knock on some doors and make some phone calls for me, we’ll win Franklin County again. We’ll win Ohio again. We’ll win this election again. We’ll finish what we started, and we’ll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
Thank you, Ohio. Let’s go vote. Let’s go win this election! (Applause.)
5:30 P.M. EDT