McArthur High School
4:05 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Florida! (Applause.) Are you fired up? (Applause.) Are you ready to go? (Applause.) I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you. Are you fired up?
THE PRESIDENT: Ready to go? (Applause.)
Can everybody please give Annabella a big round of applause for that great introduction? (Applause.) Stories like Annabella’s are why I got into public service in the first place. And I’m so proud of her and her family, and she’s going to do great things.
Now, we also have here you former governor, Charlie Crist. Give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) Your outstanding Senator for the next six years, Bill Nelson is in the house. (Applause.) Representatives Corinne Brown and Ted Deutch, and the Chairwoman of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz are all here. (Applause.) And let’s hear it for your Mayor, Peter Bober. (Applause.)
Now, and all of you are here, and I’m really happy about that. (Applause.)
For the past several days, all of us have been focused on the storms that are taking place along the East Coast. And obviously, Florida knows something about storms. As a nation, we mourn those who have been lost. And I’ve been up to New Jersey, I’ve been talking to the Governors and the Mayor every single day, and I want people to know that when I talk to them, I’m talking on behalf of America. And I have told them that we will be with them every step of the way until they have fully recovered from the hardships and the crisis, and we’re going to do it together -- because that’s how we do in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And as heartbroken as we’ve been by some of the images of families whose lives have been upended, we’ve also been inspired -- seeing police officers and firefighters and EMS folks rushing into burning buildings and wading water to save lives; and neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy; leaders of different political parties working together to fix what’s broken. We see a spirit that says no matter how bad a storm is, we’ll always bounce back. No matter how tough times are, we’re all in this together -- that we rise or fall as one nation and as one people.
Now, that spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries. And it’s carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.
Remember, in 2008, we were in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were in the middle of two wars. And today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs. (Applause.) The auto industry is back on top. Home values are beginning to rise again. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years. Because of the amazing service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. (Applause.) The war in Afghanistan is coming to a close. Al Qaeda is on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
So we’ve made real progress, Florida, these past four years. But we’re here today -- all of you are here today because you know and I know 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 are families working harder but still falling behind, our work is not yet done. As long as there’s a child anywhere in Florida, anywhere in the United States, who’s still languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, we know our fight must go on.
Our fight goes on because this nation cannot succeed without a growing, thriving middle class. Our fight goes on because America always does best when everybody has a fair shot, and everybody does their fair share, and everybody plays by the same rules. (Applause.) That’s what we believe. That’s why you elected me in 2008. And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Now, Florida, in two days, you‘ve got a choice to make. It’s not just a choice between two parties or candidates. It’s a choice between two different visions of America. On the one hand, you can choose the return to the top-down policies that crashed our economy -- or you can join me in building a future that focuses on a strong and growing middle class. (Applause.)
As Americans, we honor the businessmen and the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. (Applause.) But we also believe that in this country, our economy grows best, the markets do best when everybody has a chance to succeed; when everybody is getting a good education; when every worker is learning new skills; when we’re investing in research for medical breakthroughs and new technologies.
We think America is stronger when everybody can count on affordable, quality health insurance; when we protect Medicare and Social Security so that we guarantee dignity and respect in retirement. We think our economy works best when there are some rules in place to protect our kids from toxic dumping, from protecting consumers from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous credit card companies or mortgage lenders.
And there are some things we don’t want Washington to do. For example, we don’t want politicians in Washington, most of whom are male, to control health care decisions that women can make for themselves. (Applause.)
Now, for eight years, we had a President who shared these beliefs -- his name was Bill Clinton. (Applause.) And his economic plan when he first came into office, he asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and still invest in the skills and ideas of our people. And you know what, at the time, the Republicans in Congress -- and a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney --
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t want you to vote, I want you to vote. (Applause.) I want you to vote.
But a Republican candidate by the name of Mitt Romney said Bill Clinton’s plans would hurt the economy and kill jobs. Turns out his math was just as bad back then as it is now. (Laughter.) Because by the end of President Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs, and incomes were up and poverty was down. And our deficit had turned into a surplus.
So, Florida, we know that our ideas work. We also know that their ideas don't -- because we tried their ideas, too. We tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We tried giving insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street free rein to do whatever they pleased. And you know what we got? We got falling incomes, and record deficits, and the slowest job growth in half a century, and an economic crisis we’ve been cleaning up after ever since.
So let’s just think about this. Here’s your choice. You’ve got ideas that we've tried and didn’t work, and you’ve got ideas that we tried that did work. So you think it would be a pretty clear choice. But Governor Romney is a very talented salesman. So in this campaign, he’s tried as hard as he can to repackage these old ideas that didn’t work and pretend that they’re new ideas, and he’s offering them up as change.
THE PRESIDENT: But here’s the thing, Florida. We know what change looks like -- (applause) -- what Governor Romney is offering ain’t it. (Applause.)
Giving more power back to the biggest banks -- that's not change.
THE PRESIDENT: Another $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy -- that's not change.
THE PRESIDENT: Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies until after the election -- that's definitely not change.
THE PRESIDENT: Politicians have been doing that a long time. Ruling out compromise by pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party agenda in Congress -- not change.
THE PRESIDENT: Changing the facts when they’re inconvenient to your campaign -- that’s certainly is not change.
THE PRESIDENT: And here’s the thing. When you make this choice, part of what you're choosing is who do you trust.
AUDIENCE: Barack Obama!
THE PRESIDENT: Because you don't know what crisis the next President is going to confront. You don't know what challenge we may have to meet that was unexpected. So part of what you’re focused on is how does somebody operate. And, Florida, after four years as President, you know me by now. (Applause.) You may not agree with every decision I’ve made. You know, Michelle doesn’t agree with every decision I've made. (Laughter.) You may be frustrated sometimes at the pace of change. I'm frustrated by the pace of change sometimes. But here’s the thing, is you know I say what I mean and I mean what I say. (Applause.)
I said I'd end the war in Iraq -- I ended it. (Applause.) I said I'd pass health care reform -- I passed it. (Applause.) I said I'd repeal "don't ask, don't tell" -- we repealed it. (Applause.) I said we’d make sure the auto industry came back strong -- it’s come back strong. (Applause.)
You know what I believe. You know where I stand. And you know that no matter what happens, I’ll fight for you and your family every single day, as hard as I know how. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: So when you're trying to compare the two candidates’ agendas and we're talking about change, you know I know what real change looks like, because I’ve fought for it. Because I've brought it. Because I've got the scars to prove it. (Applause.) Because I've gotten gray hair doing it. (Applause.) And after all we’ve been through together to bring about change, we can’t give up on it now.
THE PRESIDENT: Because there’s more change to do. Change is a country where every American has a shot at a good education. Government can't do it alone -- parents, you got to parent; students, you’ve got to study. But don’t tell me that hiring more teachers won’t help this economy grow. It will. (Applause.) Don’t tell me that students who can’t afford college should just borrow more money from their parents.
THE PRESIDENT: That wasn’t an option for me. I’ll bet it’s not an option for a lot of you. That’s why the change I want to bring is to cut the growth of tuition in half over the next 10 years. (Applause.) Make college more affordable. I want to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers so we don’t fall behind the rest of the world. I want to train 2 million Americans at community colleges to get the skills that businesses are hiring for right now. That’s my plan. That’s what change is. That’s the America we’re fighting for in this election. (Applause.)
Change comes when we live up to this country’s legacy of innovation. I’m could not be prouder that I bet on American workers and American ingenuity when I bet on the American auto industry. But what I'm really proud of is not just that we're building cars in America again, but that we’re building better cars -- because of advances, because of technology, because of innovation. Cars that we're building now, by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That will save you money. It will help our national security. It will help our environment.
And it’s not just in the auto industry where we can make these kinds of strides. There are thousands of workers all across America, including here in Florida, that are building long-lasting batteries and wind turbines and solar panels. And I don’t want a tax code that just subsidizes oil company profits; I want to subsidize and support the energy jobs of tomorrow, the new technologies that will cut our oil imports in half. And I don’t want a tax code that rewards companies that ship jobs overseas; I want to reward companies that are investing here in America, hiring American workers, making things stamped with three proud words: Made in America. That’s my plan for jobs and growth. (Applause.) That’s the future I see for this country.
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’m 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 the wars to pay down our debt and rebuild America -- rebuilding roads and bridges and making sure our schools are state of the art -- and hiring our veterans when they come home, because if you fought for this country you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you come home. (Applause.) That’s my plan to keep America strong. That’s what’s at stake in this election.
Change is a future where we reduce our deficit in a way that’s balanced and responsible. I’ve cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending; I intend to do more. But if we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we’ve also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was President. (Applause.) Because budgets are about choices. We can't do everything, and we've got to make sure that what we do, we pay for.
And I'm not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. (Applause.) I'm not going to ask young people to pay more for college just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. (Applause.)
So, Florida, we know what change is. We know what the future requires. And we know it’s not going to be easy. Back in 2008, we talked about change we can believe in. But I also said this is hard -- because I wasn’t just talking about changing presidents or changing parties. I was talking about changing how politics is done in this country. (Applause.)
I ran the first time because the voices of the American people -- your voices -- had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests and politicians who will say anything and do anything just to keep things the way they are. They want to protect the status quo. And for the last four years, the status quo in Washington has fought us every step of the way. They spent millions to stop us from reforming the health care system; spent millions trying to stop us from reforming Wall Street. They engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise even on ideas that Democrats and Republicans used to support in the past.
And what they’re counting on now is that you’ll be so worn down, so discouraged by all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’ll just give up, walk away, and leave the powers that be in power.
THE PRESIDENT: In other words, their bet is on your cynicism. But, Florida, my bet is on you and your hope. (Applause.)
And listen. I want all parties to work together. We're not Democrats and Republicans first; we're Americans first. (Applause.) And whenever the other party has been willing to work with me to help middle-class families and to build sturdy ladders into the middle class, I've worked with them. Some of them supported us when we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses. Some courageous Republican senators worked with us to repeal "don't ask, don't tell."
As long as I’m President, I will work with anybody, of any party, to move this country forward. (Applause.) And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you’ll vote for leaders -- whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, or independents -- who feel the same way, who put you first instead of politics first, instead of the next election first. (Applause.)
But sometimes you’ve got to fight for principle. Sometimes you’ve got to fight for what’s right. 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 -- people who are poor, or elderly, or disabled -- I'm not willing to pay that price. That’s not bipartisanship.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s not change. That’s surrender to the same status quo that has hurt the middle class and cost us jobs. And I don't know about you, but I’m not ready to give up on that fight.
THE PRESIDENT: And I hope you aren’t either, Florida.
THE PRESIDENT: I hope you still got some fight left in you. (Applause.)
Listen, the folks at the very top in this country, they don’t need another champion in Washington. They’ll always have a seat at the table and they’ll always have access, they’ll always have influence. The people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night after I'm done in the office; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail -- like you -- every day.
The laid-off worker who has to go back and retrain at a community college at the age of 55 to try to get a new career in a new field -- she needs a champion. The restaurant owner who cooks great food but needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down -- he needs a champion. (Applause.) The cooks and the waiters and the cleaning staff, working overtime at a Ft. Lauderdale hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kids to college -- they need a champion. (Applause.)
The autoworker who’s back on the job filled with the pride and dignity of building a great car -- he needs a champion. The autoworker who’s back on the job, filled with pride and dignity, building a great car -- he needs a champion. (Applause.) The teacher who’s in an overcrowded classroom -- (applause) -- maybe digging into her pocket to buy school supplies, not getting the support she needs, but showing up every day, knowing that maybe she’s going to make that difference in that one child today -- she needs a champion. (Applause.)
The young immigrant who was brought here, pledged allegiance to our flag, understands themselves to be Americans -- they need a champion. (Applause.)
All those kids in inner cities and small farm towns, in the valleys of Ohio, the rolling Virginia hills, the streets of Hollywood -- kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats, businesspeople, even presidents -- they need a champion in Washington. (Applause.) Because they don't have lobbyists. They don't make campaign contributions, but those kids -- their dreams, that will be our saving grace. We've got to fight for them. (Applause.)
And that’s why I need you, Florida. To make sure their voices are heard. To make sure your voices are heard. We’ve come too far to turn back now. (Applause.) We’ ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint. It’s time to keep pushing forward -- to educate all our kids, to train all our workers, to create new jobs, to discover new sources of energy, to broaden opportunity, to grow our middle class, to restore our democracy -- to make sure that no matter who you are, or where you come from, no matter how you started out, no matter what your last name is, no matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American, young, old, rich, poor, disabled, not disabled, gay, straight -- it doesn’t matter, if you work hard you can make it here in America, too. That's what we're fighting for. (Applause.)
That's why I’m asking for your vote, Florida. And if you’re willing to work with me, and knock on some doors with me, make some phone calls for me, turn out for me, we're going to win Florida. (Applause.) We’ll win this election. We’ll reaffirm the bonds that hold this country together. We'll reaffirm the spirit that makes the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
4:30 P.M. EST