Remarks by the President at a Hillary For America Rally -- Jacksonville, Florida
University of North Florida
4:00 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, University of North Florida! (Applause.) It is good to be in Jacksonville! (Applause.) It’s good to be in Duval! (Applause.)
Before I get started, I was taught that before I do anything else, I’ve got to do a swoop. (Applause.) I was practicing backstage. (Laughter.)
I want to thank a couple of people.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you, too. I do. (Applause.)
I want to thank a couple people -- first of all, your outstanding senior senator, Bill Nelson, is in the house. (Applause.) And your next United States senator, Patrick Murphy is in the house. (Applause.)
Five days, Florida. Five days. Five days to decide the future of America. Now, the good news is you don’t have to wait five days, because if you’re registered, you can vote right now at any early voting location. In fact, there’s an early voting location just 10 minutes away, at the Southeast Regional Library. I will give you the address: 10599 Deerwood Park Boulevard. (Applause.) You can go to IWillVote.com to find other locations. If you’re voting by mail, don’t let your ballot sit on your coffee table on your kitchen table, get all mixed up with all the other stuff you’ve got up in there. Mail in your ballot so it makes it in by Election Day.
We’ve got to finish what we started, and in order to do that, you’ve got to do what? What does that say?
AUDIENCE: Vote for Hillary!
THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, what does this say?
AUDIENCE: Vote for Hillary!
THE PRESIDENT: I still can’t hear you.
AUDIENCE: Vote for Hillary!
THE PRESIDENT: I like that -- I heard you pep band. I heard that pep band playing a little bit. (Applause.) Appreciate you guys.
Now, you know, as I’m traveling around college campuses, I start talking about what happened eight years ago, I realize some of you were 10 years old. (Laughter.) Which makes me feel somewhat old. There’s one right there. So for those of you who were more focused on Nickelodeon, back in 2008, we were living through two long wars. We were in the early days of what would turn out to be the worst economic crisis in 80 years.
But we fought back, and we put in some policies that made sense. And today, we’ve seen that not only have we averted a Great Depression, but last year, we saw incomes rising faster than any time since 1968. (Applause.) We saw poverty falling at the fastest pace since 1968. We’ve created 15 million new jobs. Twenty million people have health insurance who didn’t have it. (Applause.)
We’ve kicked our addiction to foreign oil. And, by the way, back then when I was running, folks said if you elect Obama, gas is going to be $6 a gallon. I just wanted to point out, $2 ain’t bad -- $2. Two. (Laughter and applause.)
Meanwhile, we’ve doubled our production of clean energy. We’ve become the world’s leader in fighting against climate change.
On the international stage, we’re in the process of taking out ISIL. We’ve brought our men and women home from Iraq and Afghanistan. (Applause.) We took out Osama bin Laden. (Applause.) We’re more respected around the world.
We’ve restored the civil rights mission, and voting rights in the Justice Department. We’ve helped to make sure that in all 50 states, people have the freedom to marry who they love. (Applause.) We have been busy -- which is why I’ve got gray hair. I’ve been working hard.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You look good!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s what Michelle says -- says I still look good.
But you know what, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for America’s greatest asset, and that is you, the American people.
I’ve seen all of you all across 50 states -- people of every faith and every party, and people of every background -- young, old, men, women, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, folks with disabilities, gay, straight -- all of them pledging allegiance to the red, white and blue. (Applause.) All of them understanding that we are stronger when we are together. (Applause.) And I’m here to tell you, Florida, that there’s only one candidate in this race who has devoted her entire life to that better America, and that is the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
Now, that's the right choice. But I am also here to tell you that this will be a close race and you cannot take it for granted. Because all the progress we've made these last eight years goes out the window if we don't win this election. So we've got to work our hearts out in the next five days. We have to work like our future depends on it, because, you know what, our future depends on it. (Applause.)
And I know that here in Florida, you're just inundated with negative ads, and there’s so much noise and so much distraction. And sometimes it can be discouraging. But I want you to tune that out and I want you to focus on the real choice in this election, because the actual choice could not be clearer.
Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be President. (Applause.) Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be commander-in-chief. (Applause.) He claims to be a great businessman. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo --
THE PRESIDENT: He can’t hear your boos, but he can hear your votes. (Applause.)
Now, as we were driving over here I noticed there was a headline about Trump Towers in Toronto in Canada going bust. Opened it four years ago, suddenly it’s already belly-up.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: I got some business to do here, hold on one second. Don’t worry, I see you. But I’ve got some business to do. Hold on.
Now, what I know of really great businesspeople, they’re people who build great products and provide great services, but also, they treat their workers well and their contractors well. (Applause.) If you’re somebody who’s repeatedly stiffed small businesses that did work for you, stiffed workers out of what you owed them just because you could, that’s not my definition of a great businessman.
This is the only candidate in decades who’s refused to show his tax returns. Now, it may be because he doesn’t have as much money as he says he does. I mean, he likes bragging, but maybe he can’t back it up. But it may also be because it turns out he hasn’t paid income taxes in years, which means not a dime to help support our troops. Not a dime to help support our veterans. Not a dime to help universities educate young people. Not a dime to help rebuild our roads and our bridges and put people back to work. Not a dime to do all the things that would help make America for the next generation as great as it’s been for this generation. (Applause.)
He says he thinks that’s a sign that he’s a smart businessman. But if you’ve been given so much and you give back so little, that’s not a sign of a good businessman to me. That sounds to me like somebody who doesn’t deserve to be President of the United States. (Applause.)
Now, he says that he will be his own foreign policy advisor. (Laughter.) He says that he can do that because he has a good brain. (Laughter.) That’s what he said. But we can’t afford a President who suggests that it’s okay for America to torture people, or ban entire religions from our country, or insults POWs, or attacks Gold Star moms, or talks down to our troops. Even a Republican senator said we can’t afford to give the nuclear codes to somebody that erratic. That’s a Republican. As Hillary said, a man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons. (Applause.) Somebody who gets fired up and riled up about a “Saturday Night Live” skit -- (laughter) -- is not somebody you want to trust with nuclear weapons.
But you know, the thing that really gets me is this notion that he’s going to be a voice for working people. Now, what’s -- and look, let’s face it, I mean, he’s got some support right here in Florida. He’s got support around the country -- in some cases from working folks. And I just want to talk to them and say, hey, guys, here’s a guy who has spent 70 years on this Earth showing no respect for working people. He’s spent all his time trying to hang out with rich people and celebrities. He’s not somebody who’s going around working to make sure people’s wages are higher, working to make sure that unions get a better deal on collective bargaining. He’s not somebody who’s spending a lot of time with folks who are struggling paycheck to paycheck -- unless it’s somebody cleaning in one of his buildings, or somebody mowing one of his fairways.
So how can he be a champion for working people? Is that somebody who you want as your voice?
THE PRESIDENT: Do you want somebody who makes fun of people with disabilities, or vilifies minorities or immigrants?
THE PRESIDENT: Do you want somebody to be your voice who brags about how being famous allows him to get away with what is defined as sexual assault --
THE PRESIDENT: -- and calls women pigs and dogs and slobs, and grades them on a one-to-10 scale?
THE PRESIDENT: I have been blessed with two daughters who are magnificent. (Applause.) They are magnificent because my wife is magnificent. (Applause.) And we teach our kids to treat everybody with respect; that diversity is a strength; that you’re measured not by putting other people down, but by how many people you can lift up. (Applause.) We teach our daughters that women are full and equal citizens, capable of doing anything a man does a little better. (Applause.) That’s the lesson we impart to our children. I’ll be that’s the lesson you’re trying to impart to your children.
And so you hear what Mr. Trump says, and the problem is that it’s been happening so frequently that we’ve become numb to it. We almost act like it’s normal. We almost treat this like some reality TV show. You know one of those shows where they’ve got to bleep out every few sentences because folks are just acting crazy and saying crazy stuff, and being mean, and -- just to manufacture some drama so you can collect more ratings? That is how we are treating this election for the most powerful office on Earth, as if it’s normal. We’ve become numb to it. And it’s not. It’s not. It’s not acceptable. It’s not normal. You can’t make an excuse for it. You can’t pretend it’s not happening. (Applause.)
And when you talk to some folks who are voting for Trump, they’ll say, well, you know, he doesn’t really mean it, or it’s just locker room talk. They try to justify it or excuse it. Or in some cases they say, well, that’s really terrible, but as long as he supports tax cuts for the wealthy, as long as he supports my agenda, I’m going to go ahead and support him anyway.
But I want to tell you about this office that I’ve been in, the presidency. (Applause.) No, no, I want you to understand. Who you are, what you are -- it doesn’t change after you occupy the Oval Office. (Applause.) It magnifies who you are. It shines a spotlight on who you are. Because you have more authority, you can act on who you are.
So if you disrespect women before taking office, you'll disrespect women when you're in office. (Applause.) If you accept the support of Klan sympathizers before you're in office, you'll accept their support while in office. If you disrespect the Constitution when you're running for office, and you threaten to shut down the press if they say something you don’t like, or if you threaten in a presidential debate to throw your opponent in jail, or you discriminate against people of different faiths, then that's what you'll do in office.
And the reason I want everybody to focus on this is, you know, I'm a proud Democrat. (Applause.) But hold on -- we are not Democrats or Republicans first. We are children of God. (Applause.) We are human beings. We are Americans first. (Applause.) And I have good Republican friends who don’t act or think the way Trump does.
When I ran in '08, I ran against John McCain, I disagreed with him on a whole bunch of stuff, but I didn’t fear for the Republic. I just thought I would be a better President. (Applause.) When I ran against Mitt Romney in 2012, I disagreed with him on all kinds of things. But, although I thought I was going to be a better President, I did not think that our democracy would be injured by him taking office.
This is different. This is somebody who would do damage to our democracy, who is uniquely unqualified and shows no interest in becoming more qualified. And the good news is, Florida, all of you are uniquely qualified to make sure he doesn’t get the job. (Applause.)
But you got to vote. You got to vote. And you don’t have to just vote against something; you can vote for something. Because there's a candidate in this race who's actually worthy of your vote. Somebody who is smart. Somebody who is steady. Somebody who is tested, maybe the most qualified person to ever run for this office -- and that is our next President, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
Now, this is somebody who has dedicated her life to making this country better. If you think about how she got started -- while Donald Trump and his developer dad were being sued by the Justice Department for denying housing to African American families, at the same time, Hillary was going undercover from school to school to make sure minority kids were getting an equal shot at a good education. (Applause.) And her entire life has been about fighting for justice and equality.
Her heart has always been in the right place. She works hard every single day. I know. She worked hard in 2008 when we were running against each other. And then I saw how good she was, and I said, come work with me. And she then worked as Secretary of State. She was in the Situation Room making arguments to go after bin Laden when it was risky; circling the globe again and again as Secretary of State, earning the respect of leaders around the world. (Applause.) She did an outstanding job.
Her efforts were not always flashy. They were not always appreciated here at home. But she did the work, and she did it well. She made me a better President. She paid her dues. (Applause.) She understands the world, understands the challenges we face. When things don’t go her way, she doesn’t pout, she doesn’t whine, she doesn’t complain. She doesn’t blame somebody else. She doesn’t say it’s rigged. She just works harder, comes back stronger.
But most importantly, she knows what this job is about. This job is not about pumping yourself up. This job is about you. This job is about working for you. She knows what the decisions you make in Oval Office mean to a single mom who’s trying to figure out how to get childcare she can afford. She understands what it means to a soldier whether his family is going to get support while he’s overseas. She understands that it means something to students who are trying to go to college for the first time, and whether they’re going to be able to afford it or not. That the decisions you make will affect some young person who may have been brought to this country as a tot.
This is the only country they’ve ever known and now just want to contribute to the only place they know. She understands that because she’s been with you. She’s listened to you. She’s heard you. She’s fought for you. She knows ordinary folks need a champion. And she's put together plans that actually help. You can go on her website. It’s full of plans, full of details, full of how to pay for it. She’s done her homework. And she values hard work and she respects working families. She'll be a commander-in-chief who will finish the job of defeating ISIL. She will be a smart and she will be steady.
And so the question is, if you got one person who you know is not qualified and you got another person who is eminently qualified, the only thing that’s left to do is vote. The only thing left to do it vote. (Applause.)
And by the way, when you vote, you’re not just voting for President, you’re also voting to make sure there are people who can help Hillary do a better job. That is why you got to make sure that when you vote, you vote for Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate. (Applause.)
Unlike his opponent, Marco Rubio, Patrick actually shows up to work. (Applause.) He puts you ahead of politics. He didn't try to defund Planned Parenthood; he fought to make sure women can make their own health care decisions. (Applause.) He didn't walk away from immigration reform when the politics got tough; he fought for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. Unlike his opponent, he actually believes in science. (Laughter.) Believes that climate change is something we should do something about. (Applause.) Fought to restore the Everglades, brought Democrats and Republicans together, and as your next senator, he will work with Hillary to protect this planet for our children. (Applause.)
And unlike Marco Rubio, he doesn’t support Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Now, there was a time when Marco didn’t sound like he supported Donald Trump. Earlier this year, he called Donald Trump “dangerous,” a “con-artist.” Said Donald Trump had “spent a career sticking it to working people.” Sounds about right. (Laughter.) Marco Rubio tweeted “Friends don’t let friends vote for con-artists.” Guess who Marco Rubio just voted for a few days ago. Donald Trump. Which means he didn’t have any good friends. (Laughter and applause.) But what it also means is here is somebody who knows better, but decided it’s politically expedient to support somebody who you know is not qualified. And that is a problem.
Look, if you’re looking for a senator who will say anything or be anybody just to hang on to power or get elected, then you should vote for Marco Rubio. But if you want a senator who’s going to stand up for you and work for you, and show up to work for you, you need to vote for Patrick Murphy so he can stand alongside Hillary Clinton and move this country forward. (Applause.)
So, look, the point is, there is something more fundamental at stake in this election than just plans or policies. What’s at issue is the character of this nation. Hillary Clinton tells me that her mom taught her the Methodist Creed: Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can. (Applause.) And that’s what she’s done. That’s what she’s tried to live by. She believes we can summon what’s best in each of us, make the country better for all of us. And that’s what America is about. That’s the country we love.
We are unlike any other nation not because of the size of our military or our wealth or our power. It’s because this is a place founded for the sake of an idea: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” You don’t have to be born into wealth or privilege. You don’t have to look a certain way or have a certain last name or practice a certain faith. If you are willing to contribute, if you are willing to work hard, if you do the right thing, you can put your shoulder to the wheel of history. You can make a difference. You can live out your dreams. (Applause.)
That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. That is what led our GIs to liberate a continent. That’s gave women the courage to reach for the ballot. (Applause.) That’s what gave marchers the courage to cross a bridge in Selma. (Applause.) That’s what led workers to organize for collective bargaining and better wages. That’s what makes America exceptional. That’s what’s always made America great. (Applause.)
And America has never been about what somebody from on high will do for you. It’s not about electing a dictator or an emperor or a king. It’s about what we can do together, what’s achieved by us together. (Applause.) It’s about self-government. And Hillary understands that.
She knows this is a big country, a diverse country. And it doesn’t work if we demonize each other all the time. She knows issues aren’t always black and white, and that progress requires compromise even when you’re right. She knows that none of us are perfect, not even Presidents, but we should try to conduct ourselves with a sense of decency and propriety, and big-heartedness. Because our kids are paying attention. (Applause.)
So I have confidence that Hillary will continue the progress we’ve made. She will need allies like Patrick Murphy. It’s not enough to elect Hillary and stick her with a Republican Congress that behaves the way they’ve been behaving. (Applause.) I mean, they decided not to work with me even when we were about to plunge into a depression, even when we were trying to save the auto industry, save people’s jobs. They just said no because they thought that way, it might help us in the midterm election.
They kept on doing it. Didn’t matter if what we did turned out to be right. You haven’t heard a Republican say, man, Mr. President, thank you for saving the auto industry, you were right. (Laughter.) You haven’t heard them say, you know, we should work together to build on what you did with Obamacare, but we’re glad 20 million people got health care. (Applause.) You don’t hear them say that. Why is that?
Look, the problem is -- and some of them are decent people, but they feel as if they have to do this in order to get power, and that’s all they’re thinking about. So they are willing to engage in any kind of obstruction and gridlock, almost bringing down the world financial system, if it helps them get elected, wrecking the economy when they can’t get their way. That’s not patriotism. That is not service.
And now that it looks like maybe their nominee might lose -- as long as you vote -- they are already promising even more unprecedented dysfunction in Washington. Some of them have already said, we’re going to engage in "years" of investigations, “years” of hearings. Shutdowns. Obstruction. More repeal votes. Some are saying, we won't appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice. Remember, I nominated what many consider to be the most qualified guy to ever sit on the Supreme Court. (Applause.) He has now waited longer than any other nominee of either party to just get a hearing. Hasn’t even gotten a hearing, has not gotten a vote. When you ask them, why would you do that, why would you break hundreds of years of precedent, why would you suddenly change the rules midstream, they say, well, we think the next President should make -- it’s an election year, we think the next President should -- the people should have a say. Okay. So now, though, you are saying that if Hillary wins, it doesn’t matter what the people say, we may not give them a vote anyway.
That ain’t right. Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right. (Laughter.) It’s also -- ain’t right. (Applause.)
I just want some consistency. If you say that we should be tougher on the Russians, then how do you nominate a guy who admires Putin?
Look, gridlock does not come because Democrats and Republicans are equally obstructionist. I mean, Democrats have their flaws, I promise you. I know them. (Laughter.) Just like I’ve got my flaws. I understand. We’ve all got blind spots. But generally speaking, Democrats have consistently tried to work with the other side and do reasonable things and just make the government work. (Applause.)
And gridlock is not some fog that comes down and just mysteriously happens. It happens because Republican politicians like Marco Rubio decide they will oppose anything that is good for the country if a Democrat proposes it. In fact, sometimes I propose things that are in their platform just to see what they’ll do. (Laughter.) And they’ll say no. And I’ll say, but you just proposed this -- don’t matter, we can’t do it now because you proposed it. In fact, it’s your fault we can’t support it because you supported it, even though we said we wanted to do it. (Laughter.) Come on, man. (Applause.) Come on, man. Come on.
So if you think voting for gridlock makes sense, then you should vote for Republicans. But I think we can do better. (Applause.) I think we can create more jobs. I think we can raise wages even further. I think we can help families who right now have trouble affording childcare. I think we can raise the minimum wage. I think we can make sure there’s equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) And if you believe in that, then you’ve got to vote Democrat up and down the ticket. (Applause.) You got to vote for Hillary Clinton. (Applause.) You got to vote for Patrick Murphy -- people who will move the country forward.
Last point. Young people, I want you to listen here. Because you were 10 when I first ran. (Laughter.) So I just want to go back. I want to do a little bit of a reminder.
I know that a lot of you may feel cynical. There's a lot in this election that can make you feel discouraged. But I’ve traveled this great nation of ours and I have met people from every walk of life, every region. The American people are good people. (Applause.) They’re a decent people. They’re a hardworking and resilient people. They’re an innovative people. (Applause.) And we just have to make sure our politics reflects that.
And right now, young people, you have this opportunity that doesn’t come around all the time where history can move. You can bend the arc of history in a better direction. You can reject divisiveness. You can reject mean-spiritedness. We don’t have to go backwards. We can go forward. (Applause.) You can elect a leader who has spent her entire life moving the country forward. You can elect our first female President to send a message to our daughters and our sons. (Applause.)
You have this precious chance to shape history. Don't let it slip away. I know because I’ve met so many young people, you are full of idealism. You want to make changes, but sometimes you think that there’s a way to do it and not be involved in politics, but I’m telling you right now, it is great if you’ve marched for criminal justice reform, but you've got to vote for a President and a Congress and states’ attorneys and prosecutors who actually care about disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. (Applause.)
I know a lot of young people care about the environment, but you've got to vote for a President and a Congress who actually believe that climate change is real, and will build on the progress we've made to leave our children a better world. (Applause.)
If you've been marching for immigration reform, I hear you. But you've got to vote for a President and a Congress who doesn’t just see immigrants as criminals or rapists, but see them as people who love this country and are trying to do right by their families. (Applause.)
If you care about making sure that 20 million people keep their health care, then your vote matters. If you care that a Marine today can serve his country and not hide the husband he loves, then you’ve got to be able to show that at ballot booth. (Applause.) If you care that that young person is able to afford college and become a doctor or a lawyer even though he comes from a family where nobody went to college before, you’ve got to make your voice heard.
So I'm asking of you today what I asked of you eight years ago. Remember, my slogan was not “Yes, I Can.” My slogan was “Yes, We Can”. (Applause.) I'm not asking you to believe just in my ability to bring about change. I’m not asking you just to believe in Hillary's ability to bring about change. I'm asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change. (Applause.)
I'm not on the ballot. I’m not on this ballot. But everything we’ve done these last eight years is on the ballot. (Applause.) Twenty million people having health insurance is on the ballot. Increased Pell grants are on the ballot. (Applause.) Fairness is on the ballot. Decency is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. (Applause.) And Hillary Clinton will advance these things, and Patrick Murphy will advance these things if you give them a chance.
So you’ve got to do everything you can this week. I know if you’re here you probably voted. That means you’ve got to get your friends to vote. You’ve got to get your family to vote. You’ve got to talk to cousin Pookie. (Laughter.) You’ve got to talk to Uncle Jimmy who’s sitting on the couch, you know, and he’s watching the World Series reruns. And that’s cool. Nothing wrong with that. But you tell him, take 15, 20 minutes out, let’s go vote. (Applause.) You’ve got to reach out to your coworkers. You’ve got to talk to your neighbors and you have to tell them this is the moment where America decides what it believes in.
Do we believe in fear or do we believe in hope?
THE PRESIDENT: Do we believe in cynicism or do we believe in hope?
THE PRESIDENT: We have a chance to choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope.
THE PRESIDENT: Choose hope.
THE PRESIDENT: Choose hope.
THE PRESIDENT: Choose hope.
THE PRESIDENT: But you’ve got to vote! (Applause.) And if you do, we will elect Hillary Clinton. We’ll elect Patrick Murphy. We’ll continue on this amazing journey. We’ll finish what we started. We’ll show the world why America is the greatest nation on Earth.
I love you, Florida. Let's go!
4:22 P.M. EDT