FULL TRANSCRIPT of President Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, as delivered. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Sustained cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you.
Michelle, I love you so much. (Cheers, applause.)
A few nights ago, everybody was reminded just what a lucky man I am. (Cheers, applause.)
Malia and Sasha, we are so proud of you. (Cheers, applause.) And yes, you do have to go to school in the morning. (Chuckles.) (Laughter, applause.)
And Joe Biden, thank you for being the very best vice president I could have ever hoped for — (cheers, applause) — and being a strong and loyal friend.
Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Now, the first time I addressed this convention, in 2004, I was a younger man — (laughter) — 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. And if you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I. (Laughter, cheers, 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. (Cheers.) 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 — (cheers, 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 turn 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 and buy their home — 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. (Cheers, 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’t, 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it — (cheers, applause) — 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 — (cheers, applause) — or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, 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’ll require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) Our challenges can be met. (Applause.) 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 am running for a second term as president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)
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’s always done best. We are making things again. (Applause.) I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared — (cheers, applause) — 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. (Cheers, applause.) I worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products — (cheers) — because we work harder and smarter than anyone else.
(Cheers, 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.” (Cheers, applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And after a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last 2 1/2 years. (Cheers.) And now you have a choice. We can give more tax breaks to corporations that shift jobs overseas —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: — 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) 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. (Cheers, applause.) We have doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. (Cheers, applause.) In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history. (Cheers, applause.) And today the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) We’re offering a better path.
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 — 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) They are a threat to our children’s future.
And in this election, you can do something about it. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers.) It was the gateway for Michelle. It was — 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. (Cheers, applause.) 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. (Cheers, 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. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money. (Cheers, applause.) No company should have to look for workers overseas because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home. (Cheers, applause.) That’s not our future. That is not our future. (Cheers, applause.)
A 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. (Cheers, applause.) And together, I promise you we can outeducate and outcompete any nation on earth. (Cheers, applause.)
So help me. Help me recruit a hundred thousand math and science teachers within 10 years and improve early childhood education. (Cheers, applause.) Help give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. 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. (Cheers, applause.) You can choose that future for America. (Cheers, applause.) That’s our future.
You know, 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. (Cheers, applause.) I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have. (Cheers, applause.) We’ve blunted the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan and in 2014, our longest war will be over. (Cheers, applause.) A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al- Qaida is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead. (Cheers, applause.)
And 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. (Cheers, 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 head or the care that they need when they come home.
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 — (cheers) — men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.)
So now we have a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy. (Laughter, 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- Qaida, Russia — (laughter) — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. (Cheers, applause.)
You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.
(Laughter, cheers, applause.)
My opponent — 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. (Cheers, 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 — (extended cheers, applause) — rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways, because after two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation building right here at home. (Cheers, applause.)
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. (Cheers, applause.) Independent experts say that my plan would cut our deficit by $4 trillion. (Cheers.) And last summer I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut a billion 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. (Cheers, 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 — (cheers, applause) — the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president, the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history and a whole lot of millionaires to boot.
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 — (boos) — what’d Bill Clinton call it? You do the arithmetic. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) You do the math.
I refuse to go along with that, and as long as I’m president, I never will. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) I refuse to ask students to pay more for college or kick children out of Head Start programs to 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. (Continued cheers, applause.)
And I will never — I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. (Cheers, 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.
(Cheers, 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. (Cheers, 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. (Murmurs of disapproval.) 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, mixed cheers and boos, applause.)
You know what, that’s not who we are. That’s not what this country is 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 — (cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.)
We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family’s protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes — (cheers, applause) — 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 — (cheers, applause) — and it is in our power to give her that chance. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.)
We don’t think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think the government is the source of all of our problems — (cheers, applause) — any more than our welfare recipients or corporations or unions or immigrants or gays or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles — (cheers, applause) — because — because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.
We, the people — (cheers) — 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 a 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. (Cheers, 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 — (cheers, applause) — through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. That’s what we believe.
So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. (Cheers, applause.) My fellow citizens — you were the change. (Cheers, applause.)
You’re the reason there’s a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who’ll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can’t limit her coverage. You did that. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, 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 — (cheers, 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. (Cheers, applause.) Welcome home. You did that. You did that. (Cheers, applause.) You did that.
If you turn away now — 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 trying to make 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. (Cheers, applause.) Only you can make sure that doesn’t happen. Only you have the power to move us forward.
You know, I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention. Times have changed, and so have I. I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the president. (Cheers, applause.)
And — (applause) — and that’s —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Four more years! Four more years!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: And that — and that means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I’ve 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 proud of what we’ve achieved together — (cheers) — 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.” , 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. And while I’m 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.” (Cheers, applause.)
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. (Cheers, applause.) Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naive 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. (Cheers, applause.)
The auto worker 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.
The family business in Warroad, Minnesota, that didn’t lay off a single one of their 4,000 employees when the recession hit — (cheers, applause) — 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. (Cheers, 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. And six months ago we would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in Iran (sic; 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. (Cheers, applause.) He gives me hope.
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. (Cheers.) And if you share that faith with me, if you share that hope with me, I ask you tonight for your vote.
If you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. (Cheers, applause.)
If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers, 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. (Cheers.) Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. (Cheers.)
We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. (Cheers.) We pull each other up. (Cheers, applause.) We draw strength from our victories. (Cheers, applause.) 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 and God bless these United States. (Cheers, applause.)
Transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, as delivered.
Hey, Delaware. (Cheers, applause.) Hello, my fellow Democrats. (Cheers, applause.)
And my favorite Democrat, Jilly, I want you to know that Beau and Hunt and Ashley and I — we’re so incredibly proud of you, kid. You know, we admire the way — they way that when every single solitary young person — and they’re not all young — walk into your classroom, you not only teach them, you give them confidence.
You give me confidence. And the passion — the passion she brings to trying to ease the burden on the families of our warriers. Jilly, they know you understand them. And that makes a gigantic difference. (Cheers, applause.)
And folks, I tell you what, it was worth the trip to hear my wife say what I’ve never heard her say before: She’s always loved me. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) If that’s the case, why in the heck did it take five times of asking you? And that’s true. Five times. I don’t know what I would have done, kiddo, had you on that fifth time said no. (Laughter.) I love you. You’re the love of my life and the life of my love. (Cheers, applause.)
We’ve got three incredible kids. And Beau, I want to thank you for putting my name in nomination to be vice president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.) I accept. (Sustained cheers, applause.) I accept. With great honor and pleasure, I accept. Thank you. Thank you, my fellow Democrats. (Cheers, applause.)
Thank you, my fellow Democrats. (Cheers, applause.)
And I say to my fellow Americans: My fellow Americans, four years ago a battered nation turned away from the failed policies of the past and turned to a leader who they knew would lift our nation out of the crisis — a journey — a journey we haven’t finished yet. We know we still have more to do. But today I say to my fellow citizens: In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetime, this generation of Americans has proven itself as worthy as any generation before us. (Cheers, applause.) For we present that same grit, that same determination, that same courage that has always defined what it means to be an American, has always defined all of you. Together we’re on a mission. We’re on a mission to move this nation forward from doubt and downturn to promise and prosperity, a mission I guarantee you we will complete — (cheers, applause) — a mission we will complete.
Folks, tonight what I really want to do is tell you about my friend Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.) No one could tell it as well or as eloquently as Michelle — as you did last night, Michelle — Monday night. (Cheers, applause.) But I know him, to state the obvious, from a different perspective.
I know him, and I want to show you — I want to show you the character of a leader who had what it took when the American people literally stood on the brink of a new depression, a leader who has what it takes to lead us over the next four years to a future as great as our people. I want to take you inside the White House to see the president as I see him every day, because I don’t see him in soundbites. I walk 30 paces down the hall into the Oval Office, and I see him, I watch him in action.
Four years ago the middle class was already losing ground, and then the bottom fell out. The financial crisis hit like a sledgehammer on all the people I grew up with. You remember the headlines. You saw some of them in the previews. Highlight: Highest job losses in 60 years. Headlines: Economy on the brink; markets plummet worldwide.
From the very moment President Obama sat behind the desk, resolute, in the Oval Office, he knew — he knew he had not only to restore the confidence of a nation, but he had to restore the confidence of the whole world. (Cheers, applause.) And he also knew — he also knew that one, one false move could bring a run on the banks or a credit collapse to put another several million people out of work. America and the world needed a strong president with a steady hand and with the judgment and vision to see us through.
Day after day, night after night I sat beside him as he made one gutsy decision after the other to stop the slide and reverse it. I watched him. (Applause.) I watched him stand up. I watched him stand up to intense pressure and stare down enormous, enormous challenges, the consequences of which were awesome.
But most of all, I got to see firsthand what drove this man: his profound concern for the average American. He knew — he knew that no matter how tough the decisions he had to make were in that Oval Office, he knew that families all over America sitting at their kitchen tables were literally making decisions for their family that were equally as consequential.
You know, Barack and I, we’ve been through a lot together these four years, and we learned about one another, a lot about one another. And one of the things I learned about Barack is the enormity of his heart. And I think he learned about me the depth of my loyalty to him. (Cheers, applause.)
And there’s another thing, another thing that has bound us together these past four years. We had a pretty good idea what all those families, all you Americans in trouble were going through, in part because our own families had gone through similar struggles.
Barack as a young man had to sit at the end of his mother’s hospital bed and watch her fight with her insurance company at the very same time she was fighting for her life.
When I was a young kid in third grade, I remember my dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop’s house where we were living, sitting at the end of my bed, and saying, Joey, I’m going to have to leave for a while. Gone — go down to Wilmington, Delaware, with Uncle Franks. They’re good jobs down there, honey. And in a little while — a little while, I’ll be able to send for you and mom and Jimmy and Val, and everything’s going to be fine.
For the rest of our life, my sister and my brothers, for the rest of our life, dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about — (applause) — it’s about your dignity. (Cheers, applause.) It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your child in the eye and say, honey, it’s going to be OK, and mean it, and know it’s true. (Cheers, applause.)
When Barack and I — when Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding in America that if you took responsibility, you’d get a fair shot at a better life. And the values — the values behind that bargain were the values that shaped both of us, and many, many of you. And today those same values are Barack’s guiding star. Folks, I’ve watched him. He has never wavered.
He never, never backs down. He always steps up, and he always asks in every one of those critical meetings the same fundamental question: How is this going to affect the average American? How is this going to affect people’s lives? (Cheers, applause.) That’s what’s inside this man. That’s what makes him tick. That’s who he is.
And folks, because of the decisions he has made, and the incredible strength of the American people, America has turned a corner. The worst job loss since the Great Depression, we’ve since created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 25 — 29 months. (Cheers, applause.)
Look, folks. President Obama and Governor Romney, they’re both — they’re both loving husbands. They’re both devoted fathers. But let’s be straight. They bring a vastly different vision and a vastly different values set to the job. (Applause.)
And tonight — tonight, although you’ve heard people talk about it, I want to talk about two things from a slightly different perspective, from my perspective. I’d like to focus on two crises and show you — show you the character of leadership that each man will bring to this job, because as I said, I’ve had a ringside seat. The first of these a lot’s been talked about.
And God love Jennifer Granholm. Wasn’t she great? (Cheers, applause.) Wasn’t she great? I love Jennifer. (Cheers, applause.)
But the first story I want to talk to you about is the rescue of the automobile industry. And let me tell you — let me tell you — from this man’s ringside seat, let me tell you about how Barack Obama saved more than a million American jobs. In the first — in the first days, literally the first days that we took office, General Motors and Chrysler were literally on the verge of liquidation. If the president didn’t act, if he didn’t act immediately, there wouldn’t be any industry left to save.
So we sat hour after hour in the Oval Office. Michelle remembers how it must have — what he must have thought when she — he came back upstairs. We sat. We sat hour after hour. We listened to senators, congressmen, outside advisers, even some of our own adviser (sic), and we listened to them to say some of the following things. They said, well, we shouldn’t step up. The risk — the risk was too high. The outcome was too uncertain.
And the president, he patiently sat there and he listened. But he didn’t see it the way they did. He understood something they didn’t get. And one of the reasons I love him, he understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the people who built and made those cars — (cheers, applause) — and about the America those people build. (Cheers, applause.)
In those meetings — (cheers, applause) — in those meetings — in those meetings, I often thought about my dad. My dad was an automobile man. He would have been one of those guys all the way down the line, not on the factory floor, not along the supply chain, but one of those guys who were selling American cars to American people.
I thought about — I thought about what this crisis would have meant for the mechanics and the secretaries and the salespeople who my dad managed for over 35 years. And I know for certain — I know for certain that my dad, were he here today, he’d be fighting like heck for the president, because the president fought to save the jobs of those people my dad cared so much about. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen, my dad — (applause) — my dad respected Barack Obama — would have respected Barack Obama, had he been around, for having had the guts to stand up for the automobile industry when so many others just were prepared to walk away.
You know, when I look back — (applause) — when I look back now, when I look back on the president’s decision, I think of another son of another automobile man, Mitt Romney. Mitt — no, no — Mitt Romney — Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. My dad managed, his dad owned — well, his dad ran an entire automobile company, American Motors. Yes, what I don’t understand is in spite of that, he was willing to let the — Detroit go bankrupt.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Boo!
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: No, don’t. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. No, no. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. But what I don’t understand, what I don’t think he understood, I don’t think he understood that saving the automobile worker, saving the industry, what it meant to all of America, not just autoworkers. I think he saw it the Bain way. Now, I mean this sincerely. I think he saw it in terms of balance sheets and write-offs.
Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits. But it’s not the way to lead our country from the highest office. (Extended cheers, applause.)
When things — when things — when things hung in the balance — when things hung in the balance — I mean, literally hung in the balance — the president understood this was about a lot more than the automobile industry. This was about restoring America’s pride. He understood — he understood in his gut what it would mean to leave a million people without hope or work if he didn’t act. And he also knew — he also knew — he intuitively understood the message it would have sent around the world if the United States gave up on an industry that helped put America on the map in the first place. (Cheers, applause.) Conviction, resolve, Barack Obama — that’s what saved the automobile industry. (Cheers, applause.) Conviction, resolve, Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.)
Look, you heard my friend John Kerry. This president — this president has shown the same resolve, the same steady hand in his role as commander in chief. (Applause.) Look — which brings me to the next illustration I want to tell you about, the next crisis he had to face. In 2008 — 2008, before he was president — Barack Obama made a promise to the American people.
He said, if I have bin — if we have bin Laden in our sights, we will — we will take him out. (Cheers, applause.)
He went on to say — he went on to say, that has to be our biggest national security priority.
Look, Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about so much more than that. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong. It was about — literally, it was about — it was about healing an unbearable wound, a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart.
And he also knew — he also knew the message we had to send around the world: If you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the end of the earth. (Cheers, applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Most of all — most of all, President Obama had an unyielding faith in the capacity and the capability of our special forces, literally the finest warriors in the history of the world. (Cheers, applause.) The finest warriors in the history of the world.
So we sat. (Cheers, applause.) We sat originally — only five of us — we sat in the Situation Room beginning in the fall of the year before. We listened, we talked, we heard, and he listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. He asked again the tough questions. He listened to the doubts that were expressed.
But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said, sir, we can get this job done, I sat next to him and looked at your husband, and I knew at that moment he had made his decision. And his response was decisive. He said, do it — and justice was done! (Cheers, applause.)
Folks, folks —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Folks, Governor Romney didn’t see things that way. When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, here’s what he said. He said, it’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just to catch one person. (Boos.)
But he was wrong. He was wrong. Because if you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president did and you would move heaven and earth to hunt him down and to bring him to justice. (Cheers, applause.)
Look, four years ago — four years ago — the only thing missing at this convention this year is my mom. Four years ago my mom was still with us, sitting up in the stadium in Denver. I quoted her.
(Cheers, applause.) I quoted her, one of her favorite expressions. She used to say to all her children — she said, Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and the time will come when it must be summoned.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to tell you what I think you already know. But I watch it up close. Bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama, and time and time again I witnessed him summon it. (Applause.) This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart and a spine of steel. (Cheers, applause.) And — and because — because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made, because of the determination of American workers and the unparalleled bravery of our special forces, we can now proudly say what you’ve heard me say the last six months: Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive. (Cheers, applause.) That’s right. One man.
Folks, we know — we know we have more work to do. We know we’re not there yet. But not a day has gone by in the last four years when I haven’t been grateful as an American that Barack Obama is our president because he always has the courage to make the tough decisions. (Cheers, applause.)
Speaking of tough decisions — speaking of tough calls — (chuckles) — last week we heard at the Republican convention — we heard our opponents — we heard them pledge that they too — they too heard the courage to make the tough calls.
That’s what they said. (Laughter.)
But folks, in case you didn’t notice — (laughter) — and I say to my fellow Americans, in case you didn’t notice, they didn’t have the courage to tell you what calls they’d make. (Laughter, applause.) They never mentioned any of that. (Applause.)
They — Mrs. Robinson, you — you watched from home, I guess, from the White House. You heard them talk so much about how they cared so much about Medicare, how much they wanted to preserve it. That’s what they told you.
But let’s look at what they didn’t tell you. What they didn’t tell you is that the plan they have already put down on paper would immediately cut benefits for more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare. What they didn’t tell you — what they didn’t tell you is the plan they’re proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016. And what they really didn’t tell you is they — if you want to know — if you want to know — they’re not for preserving Medicare at all. They’re for a new plan. It’s called “Vouchercare.” (Boos.)
Look, folks. That’s not courage. That’s not even truthful. That’s not even truthful. In Tampa, they talk with great urgency about the nation’s debt and the need to act, to act now. But not once, not one single time, did they tell you that they rejected every plan put forward by us, by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission they referenced — (applause) — or by any other respected group to reduce the national debt.
They are not for any of them. Why? Because they’re not prepared to do anything about the debt if it contained even one dollar — I’m not exaggerating — even one dollar or one cent in new taxes for millionaires.
Folks, that’s not courage and that’s not fair. (Applause.)
Look — look. In a sense, this can be reduced to a single notion. The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years, as I said at the outset, have fundamentally different visions and a completely different value set.
Governor Romney believes in this global economy — it doesn’t matter much where American companies invest and put their money or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, in his budget proposal, in his tax proposal, he calls for a new tax. It’s called a territorial tax, which the experts have looked at, and they acknowledge it will create 800,000 new jobs — all of them overseas, all of them. (Boos.)
And what I’ve found — what I found fascinating, the most fascinating thing I found last week was when Governor Romney said that as president, he would take a jobs tour. Well, with his support for outsourcing, it’s going to have to be a foreign trip. (Cheers, applause.) It will.
Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America, keeping jobs in America, bringing jobs back to America is what the president’s job was all about.
That’s what presidents do, or at least supposed to do. (Applause.)
Folks, Governor Romney believes it’s OK to raise taxes on middle classes by $2,000 in order to pay for another — literally another trillion-dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. President Obama knows that there’s nothing decent or fair about asking people with more to do less and with less to do more. (Scattered cheers.)
Governor Romney believes — he believes that kids, kids like our “DREAMers” — those immigrant children — (cheers, applause) — those immigrant children who were brought to America’s shores through no fault of their own — he thinks they’re a drag on the American economy. President Obama believes that even though those “DREAMers,” those kids, didn’t choose to come here, they have chosen to do right by America. And it’s time for us to do right by them. (Extended cheers, applause.)
Governor Romney — Governor Romney — Governor Romney — Governor Romney looks at the notion of equal pay in terms of a company’s bottom line. President Obama — he knows that making sure our daughters get the same pay for the same jobs as our son is every father’s bottom line. (Cheers, applause.)
Look, I kind of expected all that from him. But one thing truly perplexed me at their convention. The thing that perplexed me most was this idea they kept talking about about the culture of dependency. They seem to think you create a culture of dependency when you provide a bright, young, qualified kid from a working-class family a loan to get to college or when you provide a job training program in a new industry for a dad who lost his job because it was outsourced.
Folks — folks, that’s not how we look at it. That’s not how America’s ever looked at it. (Applause.) What he doesn’t understand is all these men and women are looking for is a chance, just a chance to acquire the skills to be able to provide for their families so they can once again hold their heads high and lead independent lives with dignity. That’s all they’re looking for. (Cheers, applause.)
Look — and it literally amazes me they don’t understand that. You know, I told you the outset the choice is stark, two different visions, two different value sets. But at its core, the difference is able to reduced (sic) to be a fundamental difference. You see, you, we, most Americans have incredible faith in the decency and hard work of the American people. And we know what has made this country. It’s the American people. (Cheers, applause.)
As I mentioned at the outset, four years ago we were hit hard. You saw — you saw your retirement accounts drain, the equity in your homes vanish, jobs lost around the line. But what did you do as Americans? What you’ve always done. You didn’t lose faith. You fought back. You didn’t give up; you got up. (Cheers, applause.) You’re the ones, the American people, you’re the ones. You’re the reason why we are still better-positioned than any country in the world to lead the 21st century. (Cheers, applause.) You never quit on America. And you deserve a president who will never quit on you. (Cheers, applause.)
Folks, there’s one more thing, one more thing our Republican opponents are just dead wrong about. America is not in decline. America is not in decline. (Applause.) I’ve got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan: Gentlemen, never ever — it never makes sense, it’s never been a good bet to bet against the American people. (Cheers, applause.) Never!
My fellow Americans, America is coming back. And we’re not going back. And we have no intention of downsizing the American dream. (Extended cheers, applause.) Never. Never a good bet.
Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment — in a moment we’re going to hear from a man whose whole life is a testament to the power of that dream and whose presidency is the best hope to secure that dream for our children. For you see — you see, we see a future — we really honest to God do — we see a future where everyone, rich and poor, does their part and has a part, a future where we depend more on clean energy from home and less on oil from abroad, a future where we’re number one in the world again in college graduation, a future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector — (cheers, applause) — and a future — and a future where women once again control their own choices, their destiny and their own health care. (Cheers, applause.)
And ladies and gentlemen, Barack and I see a future — it’s in our DNA — where no one, no one is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance. (Cheers, applause.)
Folks, we see a future where American — where America leads not only by the power of our — the example of our power, but by the power of example, where we bring our troops home from Afghanistan just as we proudly did from Iraq — (cheers, applause) — a future — a future where we fulfill the only truly sacred obligation we have as a nation. The only truly sacred obligation we have is to prepare those who we send to war and care for them when they come home from war.
And tonight — (applause) — and tonight — tonight I want to acknowledge — I want to acknowledge, as we should every night, the incredible debt we owe to the families of those 6,473 fallen angels and those 49,746 wounded, thousands critically, thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives.
Folks, we never — we must never, ever forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.
My fellow Americans, we now — we now — and we now find ourselves at the hinge of history. And the direction we turn is not figuratively, is literally in your hands. It has been a truly great honor to serve you and to serve with Barack, who has always stood up with you for the past four years. I’ve seen him tested. I know his strength, his command, his faith. And I also know the incredible confidence he has in all of you. I know this man. Yes, the work of recovery is not yet — not yet complete. But we are on our way. The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. (Applause.) And the cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on our way. (Cheers, applause.)
So I say to you tonight with absolute confidence, America’s best days are ahead, and yes, we are on our way. (Cheers, applause.) And in light — in light of that horizon, for the values that define us, for the ideals that inspire us, there is only one choice. That choice is to move forward, boldly forward, and finish the job and re-elect President Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.)
God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. (Cheers, applause.) God bless you. Thank you. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)