Remarks by the President in Lima, OH
Lima Senior High School
4:03 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Ohio! (Applause.) Hello, Spartans! (Applause.) Can everybody please give John a big round of applause for that great introduction? (Applause.) Let’s give it up for your former governor, our friend, Ted Strickland. (Applause.)
It is good to be in Lima. (Applause.) It’s good to be here. Good to be back. I have missed you guys. I hadn’t been here in a while. (Applause.)
Obviously, for the past few days, all of us have been focused on what’s been happening on the East Coast in one of the worst storms in our lifetime. A lot of people died, and our hearts go out to the families. They’re in our thoughts and prayers.
And I was in Jersey a couple of days ago. I’ve been talking to the governors and the mayors every day over the last week. And what I’ve been telling them is it’s not just me, it’s the entire country, including the people of Ohio, who stand with them. We are going to stand with the people of New York -- (applause) -- stand with the people of New Jersey, stand with the people of Connecticut, stand with the people of West Virginia every step of the way. We will not stop until we have rebuilt. That’s what we’re going to do. (Applause.) That’s what we’re going to do.
And the interesting thing is when you go through something like this, when you see a crisis of this proportion, it’s terrible and it’s sad, but you also are inspired by what you see -- by heroes running into buildings and wading through water to save others; neighbors helping neighbors cope with tragedy; leaders of different political parties working to fix what’s broken, instead of trying to figure out how to score political points. (Applause.) It’s a spirit that says no matter how bad the storm is, no matter how tough times may get, we always bounce back. (Applause.) We’re all in this together, as one nation and as one people. (Applause.)
That spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries. And it’s what’s carried us through the trials and tribulations of the last four years.
Remember, in 2008, we were in the middle of two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Today, our businesses have created nearly 5.5 million new jobs -- and this morning, we learned that companies hired more workers in October than at any time in the last eight months. (Applause.)
Home values are on the rise. Housing construction is moving up. We’re less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years. Because of the 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 has been decimated, and Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)
Oh, oh, oh -- and one more thing, an American auto industry that had been written off is back on top of the world. (Applause.)
So we’ve made real progress these last four years. But, Ohio, we’re here because we know we’ve got more work to do. As long as there is a single American who wants a job and can’t find one; as long as there are families who are working harder and harder but falling behind; as long as there’s a child somewhere in Lima or anywhere in Ohio, or anywhere in the country who is languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, then our fight goes on. Our work is not yet done.
Our fight goes on because we know that this nation cannot succeed without a growing and thriving middle class. Our fight goes on because America always does best, always thrives when everybody gets a fair shot, when everybody is doing their fair share, when everybody is playing 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. (Applause.)
Did I hear some drums back there? (Applause.) We’ve got the band right here. (Applause.) I like that. (Laughter.) Everybody give it up for the band. (Applause.)
Now, Ohio, in four days, you’ve got a choice to make -- it’s not just a choice between two candidates or two parties. It’s a choice about two different visions for America. It’s a choice between a return to the top-down economic policies that almost crashed our economy -- or a future that’s build on a strong and growing middle class. (Applause.)
When we talk about the economy -- I want everybody to be clear -- we honor the entrepreneurs, the small business people, the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers. They’re the force behind our free enterprise system, and that free enterprise system is the greatest engine or grown and prosperity the world has ever known.
But we also believe that the market works, our economy grows, jobs are created, people succeed when we give everybody a good education -- (applause) -- we give everybody the chance to learn new skills; when we invest in research and medical breakthroughs and new technologies.
We believe America is stronger when everybody can count on affordable health insurance, when everybody can count on Medicare and Social Security. (Applause.) When there are rules to protect our kids from pollution; when there are rule in place to protect consumers from being taken advantage of by credit card companies or mortgage lenders.
We believe that our democracy works best when everybody has a voice. And we believe that politicians need to know that they should focus on creating jobs and growing the economy, but they don’t need to control health care choices that women can make for themselves. (Applause.)
And here’s the thing, Lima -- for eight years, we had a President who shared our beliefs -- his name was Bill Clinton. (Applause.) And his economic plan asked the wealthiest to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in the skills and ideas of our people. And you know what, at the time, Republicans in Congress and a Senate candidate by the name of Mitt Romney said Bill Clinton’s plan would hurt the economy and kill jobs. Sound familiar? It turns out his math was just as bad back then as it is today. (Laughter.) Because by the end of President Clinton’s second term, America had created 23 million new jobs. Incomes were up. Poverty was down. Our deficit became the biggest surplus in history.
So, Ohio, we’ve tried our ideas and they worked. They worked. We tried the other folks’ ideas -- they don’t work. Because we tried those -- for the eight years before I took office, we tried their ideas. We tried giving big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. We tried giving insurance companies and oil companies and Wall Street a free license to do whatever they pleased. And what did we get? We got falling incomes, record deficits, the slowest job growth in half a century, and an economic crisis that we’ve been cleaning up after ever since.
So our ideas work; their ideas don’t. Our ideas help the middle class; their ideas squeeze the middle class. Our ideas are responsible for reducing the deficit; their ideas are responsible for raising it.
Now, Governor Romney is a very talented salesman. And in this campaign, he’s tried as hard as he can to repackage these bad ideas and offer them up as change. He says suddenly -- he now suddenly he’s the candidate of change. (Laughter.) But we know what change looks like, and what he’s trying to sell, that ain’t it. (Applause.) It ain’t it.
Giving more power to the biggest banks -- that's not change. Another $5 trillion tax cut that favors the wealthy -- not change. Refusing to answer questions about the details of your policies until after the election -- not change. That’s the oldest trick in the book.
Ruling out compromise, pledging to rubber-stamp the tea party’s agenda in Congress -- not change. Trying to change the facts when they’re inconvenient to your political campaign -- that's definitely not change. That’s what Governor Romney has been doing these last few weeks.
Right here in Ohio -- John talked about this -- folks who work at Jeep plants have been having their employers; they’re all worried -- are we losing our jobs? Are our jobs being shipped to China? And then their bosses are having to say, what are you talking about? And the reason they're worried is because Governor Romney is running an ad that says so. The problem is it’s not true. The car companies themselves have said, no, we’re adding jobs here in Ohio; we’re hiring workers, putting in a new plant, new equipment. The head of GM said creating jobs in the United States should be a source of bipartisan pride. I couldn’t agree more.
Look, I understand Governor Romney has had a tough time here in Ohio because he was against saving the auto industry. And it’s hard to run away from a position when you’re on videotape saying, “let Detroit go bankrupt.” But you’ve got own what you say. This isn’t a game. These are people’s jobs at stake. These are people’s lives. Companies like GM and Chrysler, they put a lot of time and effort and money into building up their brand, and letting Americans know that the American auto industry is back. And we don’t want suddenly a bunch of ads saying stuff that’s not true. You don’t scare hardworking Americans just to scare up some votes. That's not what being President is all about.
When I made the decision to rescue the auto industry, it wasn’t popular, even here in Ohio.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It was to me! (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But I knew it was the right thing to do. Betting on American workers was the right thing to do. Betting on American ingenuity and know-how, that was the right thing to do. (Applause.) And that paid off in Lordstown, in Toledo, where companies are creating new auto jobs -- not in China -- right here in Ohio, right here in United States of America. (Applause.)
So, the thing is here, as you make this choice, as you talk to your friends or your neighbors, you got to remind them one of the things you’re choosing is about an issue of trust. After four years as President, you know me. (Applause.) You may not agree with every decision I’ve made. You may be frustrated sometimes at the pace of change. But you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. (Applause.) You know what I believe. You know where I stand. You know I tell the truth. (Applause.) And you know I fight for working families every single day, as hard as I know how. (Applause.)
So when I tell you I know what real change looks like, I know because I’ve got the scars to prove it. I fought for it. (Applause.) And you guys have been there with me. And after all we’ve been through together, we can’t give up now. We cannot give up now.
So let me tell you about change over the next four years. Change is a country where every young American has a shot at a good education. (Applause.) That’s not just the government’s job. Parents -- we’ve got to parent. Students -- you got to study. But don’t tell me that hiring more teachers won't help grow this economy. Don’t tell me that students who can’t afford college should just borrow money from their parents. That wasn’t an option for me; it probably wasn’t an option for a whole lot of you.
That’s why I want to cut the growth of tuition in half over the next 10 years. (Applause.) That’s why I want to recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so our kids don’t fall behind the rest of the world. (Applause.) I want to train 2 million Americans at our community colleges with the skills that businesses are looking for right now. That’s how you grow an economy. That’s how you create jobs. Educate folks, make sure we’ve got the best workers in the world. That’s what will attract more companies to want to start here and stay here. That’s what change is. That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.
Change comes when we live up to this country’s legacy of innovation. We’re not just building cars again; we’re building better cars. I was talking to John backstage -- the cars we’re building now are better. They’re smarter, more durable, and these are cars that by the middle of the next decade will go twice as far on a gallon of gas -- (applause) -- which, by the way, that saves you money, but it also makes us more energy independent. That’s good for our national security, it’s good for our environment.
Today there are thousands of workers here in Ohio and all across the country building long-lasting batteries, building wind turbines, building clean energy sources for the future. I don’t want to subsidize oil company profits when they’re making hand over fist. I want to support the energy jobs of tomorrow -- the advanced manufacturing of tomorrow. I want to cut our oil imports in half. I want that work done here in America. I want to reward companies for creating jobs here in Ohio. (Applause.) I want to reward companies to create the next generation of manufacturing here in America, making products stamped with the words: Made in America -- with American workers. That's what we're fighting for. That's the future I see for this country. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Change -- real change -- is turning the page on a decade of war so we can do some nation-building here at home. (Applause.) Now, as long as I’m Commander-in-Chief, we will pursue our enemies with the strongest military the world has ever known. (Applause.) But it’s time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our debt, to rebuild America. Let’s put workers back to work right now, repairing roads and bridges, making sure our schools are state of the art all across this country. (Applause.)
And let’s focus on our veterans as they come home -- (applause) -- because anybody who fights for our freedom shouldn’t have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home. (Applause.)
That’s my commitment to our veterans, but that's also what’s going to keep us strong. And that's what’s at stake in this election.
Now, change is a future where we reduce our deficit, but we do it in a balanced, responsible way. I've cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending; I intend to do more. But if we're serious about the deficit, and we also want to make sure we're still helping kids go to school, investing in basic research that creates new products and new jobs, making sure that our roads are straight, that we've got cutting-edge infrastructure all across the country, that we're sending broadband lines into rural communities -- if we're going to make sure we're competitive, then we can't just cut our way to prosperity. We've also got to ask the wealthiest Americans to go back to the tax rates they were paying when Bill Clinton was in office. (Applause.)
And let me tell you, I will be fine without a tax cut. I really will. Mitt Romney will definitely be fine without a tax cut. (Laughter.) Don't need it. And as long as I'm President, 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 make young people pay more to go to college just for a tax cut for me or Mitt Romney. (Applause.)
So, Lima, we know what change is. We know what the future requires. And, by the way, we know it’s not going to be easy. These last four years we had to fight, and it’s never going to be easy. We talked about this in 2008. When I ran in 2008, I wasn’t just talking about changing presidents; I wasn’t just talking about changing parties. I was talking about changing our politics.
I ran because the voices of the American people -- your voices -- had been shut out of our democracy for way too long by lobbyists and special interests, by politicians who will do whatever it takes and say whatever it takes to keep things just the way they are -- protectors of the status quo. And over the last four years, the status quo in Washington has fought us every step of the way.
They spent millions to try to stop us from reforming health care; spent millions trying to stop us from reforming Wall Street; spent millions trying to stop us from reforming our student loan programs. They engineered a strategy of gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise even on ideas that they used to support.
And what they're counting on now is that you’re going to be so fed up, so worn down by all the squabbling, all the arguing in Washington, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’re just going to give up, walk away, and let them go ahead and keep their power.
THE PRESIDENT: No? No.
THE PRESIDENT: In other words, they’re betting on cynicism. Ohio, my bet is on you. (Applause.) My bet is on hope. My bet is on the decency and goodness of the American people. (Applause.) And my fight is for you.
Look, I would love to see peace and cooperation in Washington. I'd love it. That would make my life easier. (Laughter.) And when the other party has been with me to help middle-class families, to help working families, I've worked with them happily -- like when we cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses, some of them supported me. When we came together to repeal “don't ask, don't tell,” some courageous Republican senators supported that. (Applause.)
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're going to vote for leaders who feel the same way whether they're Democrats, Republicans or independents -- people who are willing to put people first instead of putting elections first. (Applause.)
But if the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals that kick students off of financial aid, or getting rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or let insurance companies discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, or eliminate health care for millions on Medicaid who are poor or elderly or disabled -- I’m not going with that. (Applause.)
That's too high a price to pay. That's not bipartisanship. That's not change. That's just surrendering to the same status quo that’s hurt middle-class families for way too long. And I don't know about you, Ohio, but I’m not ready to give up on the fight. I may have gotten grayer, but I’m still determined. I’m determined to help working families all across Ohio. I’m determined to build ladders of opportunity for folks who are having a hard time but want to get into that middle class.
And I hope you’re not tired either.
THE PRESIDENT: I hope you’re not weary.
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. They’ll always have access. They’ll always have influence. We understand that. But the people who really need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read late at night; the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every day; the laid-off furniture worker who’s retraining at the age of 55 for a new career at a community college -- she needs a champion.
The restaurant owner who needs a loan to expand after the bank turned him down -- he needs a champion. The cooks and the waiters, and the cleaning staff working overtime in some Vegas hotel, trying to save enough to buy a first home or send their kid to college -- they need a champion.
The autoworker who was laid off and thought the plant would never reopen, and now is back on the job filled with pride and dignity, building a car -- he needs a champion. (Applause.)
All those kids -- all the kids in inner cities and small farm towns -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able, disabled -- kids all across this country, in rolling hills in Virginia, or in the valleys of Ohio, or right here in Lima, kids dreaming of becoming scientists or doctors, engineers or entrepreneurs, diplomats or even a President -- they need a champion in Washington. (Applause.) They need somebody fighting for them because the future is theirs but they’ll never have lobbyists in Washington working for them, they need a President who is working for them. (Applause.) They need a President who is fighting for them. (Applause.)
And that's why I need you, Ohio -- to make sure their voices are heard, to make sure your voices are heard. We’ve come too far to turn back now. We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint. Now is the time to keep pushing forward to educate all our kids, to train all our workers, to create new jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, discover new sources of energy, broaden opportunity, grow our middle class, restore our democracy, and to make sure that no matter what you look like or where you come from, what your last name, where you started, no matter what, you can make it in America if you try. (Applause.)
Ohio, that’s why I need your vote. And if you’re willing to work with me and knock on some doors with me, and make some phone calls with me, and turn out to the polls with me, we’ll win this election. We’ll win Ohio. (Applause.) We’ll strengthen the bonds between our people. We’ll refer -- we’ll reaffirm the spirit that makes the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth.
God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Now let’s go vote! (Applause.)
4:28 P.M. EDT