Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event, Aurora, Colorado, 11/4/2012
Community College of Aurora at Lowry
November 4, 2012
10:54 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Colorado! (Applause.) Are you fired up?
THE PRESIDENT: Are you ready to go?
THE PRESIDENT: Are you really fired up?
THE PRESIDENT: Are you ready to go vote?
THE PRESIDENT: I know a bunch of you already voted. But if you haven’t, there's still time.
Can everybody please give Mike a big round of applause for the great introduction and his service to our country? (Applause.) Give it up to your outstanding United States senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall. (Applause.) And one of the best governors in the country -- John Hickenlooper. (Applause.) We've got your former mayor and a great friend, a member of my national team -- Federico Peña. (Applause.)
And we've got one of the finest congressional delegations anyplace in the country right here in Colorado. We're so proud of all of them. Please give them a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Now, for the past several days, all of us have been focused on not just elections, but we've been focused on what's been happening on the East Coast, one of the worst storms of our lifetime. And as a nation, we mourn those who were lost. And unfortunately, the people of this town understand what it means to grieve better than most, because the wounds of that terrible shooting are still fresh in people's minds.
But just as you've begun to heal as a community, we're going to help our friends on the East Coast heal as well. We're going to walk with the people whose lives have been upended, those who've lost loved ones -- we're going to walk with them every step of the way in the hard road ahead, because that's what we do as Americans. (Applause.) We help our neighbors and friends rebuild. We will carry on with a spirit that says no matter how bad a storm is, we come back. No matter how tough times are, we will thrive, because we're all in this together, and we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. (Applause.)
Colorado, that spirit has guided us along this improbable journey for more than two centuries. It’s carried us through the trials of the last four years.
In 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. (Applause.) The American auto industry is back on top. Home values are on the rise. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years. We've doubled our clean energy production. Because of the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is ending. Al Qaeda is on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.) We’ve made progress these last four years.
We've made progress these last four years. But, Colorado, the reason you're all here -- aside from wanting to hear Dave Matthews -- (applause) -- is that we’ve got more work to do. As long as there’s a single American who wants a job but can’t find one, our work is not yet done. As long as there's a family working harder and harder and still falling behind, our work isn’t done yet. As long as there’s a child anywhere in Colorado, anywhere in the United States, who’s languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity, our work isn’t done. Our fight goes on.
Our fight goes on because this nation cannot succeed without a growing and thriving middle class, and strong and sturdy ladders for folks who are willing to work to get into the middle class. (Applause.) Our fight goes on because America always does best when everybody gets a fair shot, and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) That’s what we believe. That’s why you elected me. 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: Now, Colorado, in two days, everybody in the country has got a choice to make. You've already made a choice, many of you, but there’s still a lot of folks who have yet to cast their ballots. And they’ve got a choice between two candidates and two parties, but more importantly, between two visions of our country. It’s a choice between returning to the top-down policies that crashed our economy -- or a vision of our economy that grows from the middle class out, from the bottom up. (Applause.)
And as Americans, we honor free enterprise, the free market, the strivers, the dreamers, the business folks, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our economic growth -- the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. But what we also believe is our markets, our free enterprise system, it works best when everybody is participating, when everybody has a chance to succeed, when everybody has a decent education and everybody is learning new skills, and when we’re investing in research and medical breakthroughs and new technologies.
We think we’re stronger when everybody has affordable health care -- (applause) -- when everybody has Medicare and Social Security that they can count on in their golden years. We think our markets work better when there are rules in place to protect our kids from toxic dumping or mercury pollution; rules to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous credit card company or mortgage lender.
And then there are some things we actually think government shouldn’t be involved with. For example, we don’t think politicians in Washington should be controlling health care choices women are perfectly capable of making themselves. (Applause.)
Now, Colorado, for eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs -- his name was Bill Clinton. (Applause.) And his economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in the skills and ideas of our people.
And at the time, you may be surprised to learn that the Republican Congress -- and a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney -- said Bill Clinton’s plan would kill jobs, kill the economy. Turns out their math back then was just as bad as it is now. (Laughter.) Because by the end of President Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs. (Applause.) Incomes were up; poverty was down. Our deficit had become a surplus.
So, Colorado, we know our ideas work because they’ve been tested, they’ve been tried. And we also know that the other folks’ ideas don’t work because they’ve been tested. (Laughter.) Now, after Bill Clinton left office, for most of the last decade, we tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans that we couldn’t afford. We tried giving insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street the license to do whatever they pleased. And what we got was falling incomes, and record deficits, and the slowest job growth in half a century, and an economic crisis that we’ve been cleaning up after ever since.
So we’ve got ideas that work; we’ve got ideas that don’t. (Laughter.) We’ve tried both. We should be able to make a pretty clear choice. But you’ve got to give him credit -- Governor Romney is a pretty talented salesman. (Laughter.) And in this campaign, he has tried as hard as he can to repackage the same old bad ideas that didn’t work and offer them up as new ideas. He says they’re change.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Not change! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: He says they’re change.
Now, here’s the thing. We know what change looks like, and what he’s selling ain’t it. (Applause.) Giving more power to the biggest banks is not change. Giving another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy -- not change.
AUDIENCE: Not change! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies until after the election is over -- that’s definitely not change.
AUDIENCE: Not change!
THE PRESIDENT: Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party’s agenda in Congress -- not change.
AUDIENCE: Not change!
THE PRESIDENT: Changing the facts when they’re inconvenient to your own campaign -- well, we’ve seen that before. That’s not change.
AUDIENCE: Not change!
THE PRESIDENT: You guys get the idea. (Laughter.) Not change.
Look, here is the thing. Part of a presidential race is about policy and part of it is about trust. You’ve got to have a sense of whether or not the person means what they say, and say what they mean. (Applause.) And the thing is, Colorado, after four years, you know me. (Applause.) You may not agree with every decision I’ve made, but Michelle doesn’t either. (Laughter.)
You may be frustrated sometimes by the pace of change -- guess what? So am I. But you know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I tell the truth. (Applause.) And you know that I will fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how. (Applause.)
So, Colorado, I know what real change looks like because I’ve fought for it, because I’ve delivered it, because you’ve worked with me and lifted me up to be able to get some stuff done that is important to folks all across this country. You know what real change looks like. I’ve got the scars to prove it. I’ve got the gray hair -- (laughter) -- to show you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love that hair! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. (Laughter.)
So after all we’ve been through together, we can’t give up now.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me paint for you the change we still need.
AUDIENCE: Not change!
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, this is the change we want. (Laughter.) You missed your cue on this one.
Change -- real change -- is a country where every American has got a shot at a great education. (Applause.) And that means parents, you have to parent; and students, you’ve got to study. But don't tell me that hiring more great teachers won’t help grow this economy. (Applause.) Of course it will. Don't tell me that students who can’t afford college should just borrow money from their parents.
THE PRESIDENT: That wasn’t an option for me; I'll be it’s not an option for a lot of you. And that’s why I want to cut the growth of tuition in half over the next 10 years. (Applause.) I want to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so our kids don't fall behind. I want to train 2 million Americans in our community colleges with the skills that businesses are looking for right now.
That’s how we’re going to grow. That’s how we create jobs. That’s what change is. That’s what’s at stake in this election. (Applause.) That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.
Change comes when we live up to this country’s legacy of innovation. I’m very proud that I bet on American workers and the American auto industry, but I’m not just proud because we’re building cars, I’m proud because 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.) That helps our economy. That helps your pocketbook. It helps our national security. It helps our environment.
But we don't want to just stop innovating there. There are thousands of workers today building long-lasting batteries and wind turbines and solar panels all across the country. And I want to make sure, instead of giving subsidies to oil company profits, I want to support the energy jobs of tomorrow, the new technologies that will cut our oil imports in half. (Applause.)
I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that reward -- tax breaks that reward companies that are shipping jobs overseas. Reward companies that are investing here in America, in the next generation of manufacturing. (Applause.)
That’s how we grow an economy. That’s how we create jobs. That’s what I see for Colorado. That’s what I see for our future.
Change -- real change -- is turning the page on a decade of war so we can do some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) As long as I am Commander-in-Chief, we will pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known.
But it’s time to use the savings from ending two wars to pay down our debt rebuilding America, repairing roads and bridges, making sure our schools are state of the art, putting people back to work right now -- especially our veterans, because anybody who has fought for our freedom should not have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads, or the care that they need, or the benefits they’ve earned when they come home. (Applause.)
That’s how we keep ourselves strong -- by keeping our commitments to those who sacrifice so much. And that’s also what’s at stake in this election.
And change is a future where we reduce our deficits in a balanced, responsible way. I’ve signed a trillion dollars’ worth of spending cuts; I intend to do more. But if we’re serious about reducing our deficit, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. There are some things we need to do to make sure we grow and put people back to work, and that means we’ve got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was in office. (Applause.)
Now, the reason is because budgets are priorities -- they reflect our values. I’m not going to kick a kid off of Head Start so I can get a tax break. I don't need it. (Applause.)
As long as I’m President, I will not turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. (Applause.) That’s not true to who we are, and that’s not how we grow an economy.
So, Colorado, we know what real change is. We know what the future requires. And, by the way, we also know it won’t be easy.
Now, back in 2008, we talked about change. And I wasn’t just talking about changing Presidents, I wasn’t just talking about changing parties. I was talking about change in how we run 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 the lobbyists and the special interests; the politicians who will say anything and do anything just to keep things the way they are; the protectors of the status quo.
The status quo in Washington is fierce, and it has fought us every step of the way. They spent millions of dollars to try to stop us from reforming health care, millions of dollars trying to stop us from reforming Wall Street. They engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise even on ideas that, in the past, both Democrats and Republicans agreed on. That’s why we’ve got Republicans opposed to a health care plan that started as a Republican idea, implemented by a Republican governor.
And what they’re counting on now is that you’re going to be so worn down by all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, just fed up -- that you give up, and you walk away, and you leave things the way they are, and you put back those folks who have been protecting the status quo all these years back into power.
THE PRESIDENT: In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But, Colorado, my bet is on you. (Applause.) My bet is on you -- the common sense, the decency of the American people. And the fact is, what we’re describing is not partisan, it doesn’t have to be. We’re not Democrats or Republicans first, we’re Americans first. And when the other party has been willing to work with me to make sure that everybody has got a shot, I am right there with them. Like when we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. Or when we came together to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we had courageous Republican senators who helped. (Applause.)
I will 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 who feel the same way. Folks, whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who put their constituencies first, people who put folks who are out there working hard, trying to live out their American Dream -- put them first.
But sometimes there is going to be conflict. Sometimes bringing about change is going to butt up against the status quo. And we’ve got to be willing to fight for what we believe in, and what we care about, and what has built this country. 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 let insurance companies discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, or eliminate health care for millions who are on Medicaid who are poor or elderly or disabled -- I’m not willing to pay that price. (Applause.)
That’s not bipartisanship. That’s not real change. That’s surrender to the same forces that have squeezed middle-class families for way too long. And I’m not ready to give up on the fight. And, Colorado, I hope you aren’t either. (Applause.) I hope you aren’t either.
See, the folks at the very top in this country don’t need another champion in Washington. They’ll always have a seat at the table. They’ll always have access. They’ll always have influence. 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 day.
The laid-off worker who’s gone back to a community college at the age of 55, trying to get trained in a new career -- she needs a champion. The restaurant owner who’s got great food, but needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down -- he needs a champion. The cooks and the waiters, and the cleaning staff working overtime at a Denver hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college -- they need a champion. (Applause.)
The autoworker who thought he’d never be back on that assembly line, and now with pride and dignity he’s building a great car -- he needs a champion. The young immigrant brought here when they were a child, pledging allegiance to our flag, gone to our schools, know themselves to be Americans through and through except for a document -- they need a champion. (Applause.)
All those kids in inner cities and small farm towns, in the valleys of Ohio, or the hills of Colorado -- kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors or engineers or entrepreneurs, business people, diplomats, maybe even a President -- they need a champion in Washington because they don’t have lobbyists. The future will never have as many lobbyists as the status quo does, as vested interests do. But it is the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace.
And that's why I need you, Colorado -- to make sure voices are heard, to make sure your voices are heard. (Applause.) We have come too far to turn back now. We’ve come too far to let our heart grow weary.
Now is the time to keep pushing forward to educate all our kids, train all our workers, create new jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, bring our troops home, care for our veterans, broaden opportunity, grow our middle class, restore our democracy; make sure that here in America, no matter who you are, where you come from, how you started out, what you look like, it doesn't matter whether you’re black or white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, able, disabled, gay, straight -- here in America you can make it if you try. (Applause.)
That's why I need your vote. That's what we believe in. That's why we’re pushing forward!
And if you’re willing to work with me, and knock on some doors with me, make some phone calls with me, turn out for me, Colorado, we will win this state. (Applause.) We’ll win this election. We’ll finish what we started, and we’ll reaffirm the spirit and the bonds that make the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
God bless you. (Applause.) God bless America. Go out and vote!
11:18 P.M. MST