Remarks by President Obama at a Hillary for America Event in Philadelphia, PA
President Obama: Hello, Philly! (Applause.) Hello, Philadelphia! (Applause.) Oh, it is good to be back in Philly. (Applause.) Can everybody please give Patrick a big round of applause for that great introduction? (Applause.) Oh, it is good to be back on the campaign trail. (Applause.) Now, I understand I am not -- I know I’m not the first person from the White House to come to Philly this week. Some of you may have seen Joe Biden at the Eagles game. (Applause.) He told me, “Barack, you’ve got to get on the Wentz Wagon;” said we’ve got a new quarterback -- “We’ve
got hope in Philly.” (Applause.) And I had to explain, “Joe, I am a Bears fan.”
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Audience: Booo --
President Obama: And we play Philly next Monday night. So I’ve got to stick with my team, but I am going to go to Philly and scout out what all the fuss is about.
I also am here because you’ve got some of the best public servants in America. They work their heart out every day for you. (Applause.) You’ve got Scranton’s favorite son, in addition to Joe Biden, Senator Bob Casey, one of the best senators in the country. (Applause.) Your outstanding Governor, Tom Wolf, is here. (Applause.) Your wonderful mayor, Jim Kenney, is here. (Applause.) One of your outstanding members of the House of Representatives, Bob Brady, is in the house. (Applause.) Your candidate for the United States Senate -- this is a special woman, she is going to do a great job -- Katie McGinty is here. (Applause.) And your candidate for Attorney General, an old friend of mine, somebody who was with me early, early, early on -- Josh Shapiro. Give Josh a big round of applause. (Applause.)
Audience Member: I love you!
President Obama: I love you, too. (Applause.) But we’ve got some business to do here, so -- we’ve got some business to do. This will be -- this is going to be one of the last times I visit Philly as President.
So my first order of business is to say thank you for all the support you’ve given me all these years. (Applause.) And I’ve got incredible memories here in Philly, most recently at the Democratic National Convention. (Applause.) And I could not be prouder of the leader that we have nominated to take my place. (Applause.) So even though I’ve run my last campaign, I am going to work as hard as I can this fall to elect Hillary Clinton as our next President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
Audience: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
President Obama: Hillary! (Applause.)
Now, in election season, you will often hear crazy stuff. But I’ve got to say, this year we’ve been hearing a little more crazy than usual. (Laughter.) Having said that, after almost two terms as your President, I am here to tell you I am more optimistic about our future than I’ve ever been. (Applause.) Because I’ve seen an America that, for all the challenges, for all the noise of the politics, still has the capacity to come together and do great things.
You think about it. We fought our way back from the worst recession in 80 years. We turned around a declining economy. We helped our auto industry set new records. Our businesses created 15 million new jobs. Slashed our dependence on foreign oil. Doubled our production of clean energy. Made marriage equality a reality in all 50 states. (Applause.)
We brought more of our troops home to their families. We delivered justice to Osama bin Laden. (Applause.) Through diplomacy rather than war, we shut down Iran’s nuclear program, opened up a new chapter with the people of Cuba, brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids and our grandkids. That’s what we’ve done. (Applause.)
By so many measures, America is stronger and more prosperous than when we started out on this journey together. In fact, some of you may have saw there was a new report out just today showing that last year, across every age, every race in America, incomes rose and the poverty rate fell. (Applause.) In fact, the typical household income of Americans rose by $2,800, which is the single biggest one-year increase on record. (Applause.) We lifted 3.5 million people out of poverty. That’s the largest one-year drop in poverty since 1968. (Applause.) The uninsured rate is the lowest it has been since they kept record. The pay gap between men and women shrank to the lowest level ever. (Applause.)
So, now, let’s face it -- Republicans don’t like to hear good news right now. (Laughter.) But it’s important just to understand this is a big deal. More Americans are working, more have health insurance. Incomes are rising. Poverty is falling.
Audience Member: Gas is two dollars!
President Obama: And gas is two dollars a gallon. I didn’t even -- thank you for reminding me. (Laughter.) Thanks, Obama. (Laughter and applause.) Yes. So the steps that we have been taking over these years, they’re paying off. We’ve shown that progress is possible.
And, of course, none of this was easy. We knew all along that change wasn’t going to be quick. We knew that we wouldn’t meet all of our challenges in one term, or even in one presidency. But we’re here today because we know we’ve got more work to do for every worker who still needs a good job, for every worker who still needs a raise, or a decent retirement; for every child who still needs a world-class education as a ladder out of poverty; for every family who hasn’t yet felt progress these past eight years. We've got more work to do, we know that.
And the choice that you make -- that we make -- just eight weeks from today will determine the direction of this country for a long time. And I’ve already said this: This is not a choice -- this is not the usual choice between parties and policies, and left and right. This is more fundamental. This a fundamental choice about who we are as a people. This is a choice about the very meaning of America. (Applause.)
Democrats and Republicans -- we’ve always had our differences. There’s nothing wrong with that; that’s how the country moves forward. Right? We have debates, different ideas. We compete. We see what’s going to make us work. But what we’ve seen from the other side in this election -- this isn’t Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party. This isn’t even the vision of freedom that Ronald Reagan talked about.
This is a dark, pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, we turn away from the rest of the world. They’re not offering serious solutions. They’re just fanning resentment and blame, and anger and hate.
And that is not the America we know. That’s not the America I know. (Applause.) The America I know is full of courage and optimism, and generosity, and ingenuity and innovation. Yes, we've got real concerns. We worry about paying the bills, we worry about protecting our kids. We worry about caring for a sick parent. Lord knows we get frustrated about Washington and all the gridlock. We worry about racial division. There are pockets of America that never fully recovered from the factories closing down. There are parents who are worrying about whether their kids are going to have the same opportunities they had.
But look, I’ve traveled in every state. And I’ve seen, more than anything, all that is good and right about America. I see people working hard. I see folks starting businesses. I see teachers just digging in their own pockets to buy school materials and teaching kids, just because they love kids. I see men and women in uniform serving their country, making incredible sacrifices. I see engineers inventing new stuff, and doctors coming up with new cures.
And most of all, I see this younger generation that is so full of energy and ideas -- (applause) -- and aren’t going to be held back by the old ideas. Imagine what can be instead of just what is. And I see Americans of every party, and every background, and every faith who ultimately believe we’re stronger together. All of us -- young, old; men, women; black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance to the same proud flag.
That is the America I know. That’s the America you know and believe in. (Applause.) And there is just one candidate in this race who’s devoted her life to building that America -- a mother and a grandmother who would do anything to help our children do better; a leader who’s got real plans to break down barriers and blast through glass ceilings, and widen opportunity for every single American -- the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
Audience: Hillary! Hillary!
President Obama: Hillary!
Audience: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
President Obama: Now, look, can I just say, I am really into electing Hillary Clinton. Like I -- this is not me going through the motions here. I really, really, really want to elect Hillary Clinton. And sometimes folks, they’re kind of surprised by that because they remember, man, you guys had a tough fight eight years ago.
And it was tough, because Hillary is tough. Every time I thought I had that race won -- I was like going up the “Rocky Steps.” (Laughter.) I was like -- I was about to celebrate, and then I look and she's right there. And I got whooped here in Pennsylvania. She whooped me. Now, you did make it up to me in November, when I won. (Laughter.)
But I had seen what she could accomplish. I had seen how smart and savvy and tough she was. So I asked her -- I said, join my team. And she wasn’t sure about it at first. But she ultimately knew that what was at stake was bigger than either of us. That's the kind of patriot she is.
And so for four years, I had a front-row seat. I watched her intelligence. I watched her judgment. I watched her discipline. I saw her in the Situation Room, where she argued in favor of the mission for bin Laden. I watched her pursue diplomacy to open up new partnerships, to help promote democracy, to help reduce the nuclear threat. And she worked hard, tirelessly, flying around the world again and again. I don’t know how many times she lapped the world, but she went around a long time. Because she had never forgotten what she was fighting for -- to make sure every child has the same opportunities as her granddaughter and her daughters and your kids.
If there's one thing I can tell you, Philadelphia, nobody fully understands the demands of my job -- this job of the President -- until you actually sit behind that desk. Look, I didn’t understand it before I had the job. You think you do --
Audience: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
President Obama: No, no, no, no -- hold on -- I appreciate that. But I'm not gone yet, so save the thank-yous.
Audience Member: You ain't done!
President Obama: I'm not finished yet. I got a few more months. (Applause.)
Listen, what you come to realize when you're in this job is, anybody can pop off, anybody can fire off a tweet. Everybody is a critic. But that doesn’t mean you know what it’s like to manage a global crisis. You don’t know what it's like to send a group of young people to war, knowing some won't come back. But the closest you can come to understanding what it's like is to be where Hillary has been, to have been part of those decisions. She knows what it means for working families and senior citizens, and small business owners, and soldiers and veterans when we make policy in the White House. And in the middle of crisis, she'll listen to people and she will keep her cool, and she treats everybody with respect. And no matter how daunting the odds, no matter how many times people knock her down and mess with her, she does not quit. She doesn’t quit. (Applause.) She doesn’t quit. That's the Hillary that I know.
And that's why I really want to get her elected. That's the Hillary I've come to admire. I believe there has never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as our President. (Applause.)
Now, Hillary actually has plans to address the things that she's heard from you on the campaign trail -- specific ideas to invest in new jobs and to help workers share in their company’s profits, and to help put kids in preschool so they get a good start, and to put students through college without taking on a mountain of debt. (Applause.) And I know that these days in campaigns, sometimes the plans get ignored. But they're there, and they make sense, and they add up.
And there's the other guy, Donald Trump.
Audience: Booo --
President Obama: Don't boo -- vote! Don't boo -- vote! Booing is easy. I need you to vote.
Look, let's talk about Mr. Trump. He's not really a plans guy, a facts guy. He calls himself a business guy. But America has got a lot of businessmen and women who succeeded without hiding their tax returns, or leaving a trail of lawsuits, or workers who didn’t get paid, people feeling like they got cheated.
I mean, look, I keep on reading this analysis that, well, you know, Trump has got support from like working folks. Really? Like, this is the guy you want to be championing working people? This guy who spent 70 years on this Earth showing no concern for working people -- this guy is suddenly going to be your champion?
President Obama: I mean, he spent most of his life trying to stay as far away from working people as he could. And now this guy is going to be the champion of working people? Huh? I mean, he wasn’t going to let you on his golf course. (Laughter.) He wasn’t going to let you buy in his condo. And now suddenly this guy is going to be your champion?
So, yes, if you oppose raising the minimum wage, you should vote for Trump. You should also vote for Pat Toomey. You got -- a Trump-Toomey economy will be right up your alley.
But if you are actually concerned about paying your bills, growing the economy, creating opportunity for everybody, keeping the trend of rising incomes going and rising wages going, and uninsured going down, and poverty going down -- if that's what you're looking for, this shouldn’t even be close. If you want higher wages, better benefits, a fairer tax code, a bigger voice for workers, stronger regulations on Wall Street, then you should be voting for Hillary Clinton, and Katie McGinty, and Bob Brady to stand up for you. (Applause.)
And if you’re concerned about who’s going to keep your family safe in this dangerous world, then the choice is even clearer. Look, I just came from overseas. Talk to the other leaders around the world. They don’t even understand how this is close. Hillary has worked with our intelligence teams, and our diplomats, and our military. She’s got the judgment and the temperament and the experience to meet any threat. There’s no scenario that she will not have seen before. And she will see to it that our troops finish the job of defeating ISIL -- doing it the right way without resorting to torture, without banning entire religions from our country. She’s prepared to be the next commander-in-chief. (Applause.)
Audience: Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!
President Obama: And then you got the Donald, who, just last week went on Russian state television to talk down our military and to curry favor with Vladimir Putin.
Audience: Booo --
President Obama: He loves this guy. Loves this guy. Think about what’s happened to the Republican Party. (Laughter.) Right? They used to be opposed to Russia and authoritarianism, and fighting for freedom and fighting for democracy. And now their nominee is out there praising a guy, saying he’s a strong leader because he invades smaller countries, jails his opponents, controls the press, and drives his economy into a long recession.
Audience: Booo --
President Obama: No, look, I'm actually being serious about it. Think about this. And when the interviewer asked him, well, why do you support this guy -- “He’s a strong guy. Look, he’s got an 82 percent poll rating.” (Laughter.) Well, yes, so did -- Saddam Hussein had a 90 percent poll rating. (Laughter.) I mean, if you control the media, and you’ve taken away everybody’s civil liberties, and you jail dissidents, that's what happens. If the pollster calls you up and says, do you support the guy who, if you don't support him, he might throw you in jail -- you say, yes, I love that guy. (Laughter.)
But think about the fact that that is Donald Trump’s role model. I mean, I have to do business with Putin. I have to do business with Russia. That's part of foreign policy. But I don't go around saying that's my role model. (Laughter.) Can you imagine Ronald Reagan idolizing somebody like that?
President Obama: He saw America as “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene.” He’s not offering any real policies or plans, just offering division and offering fear. And he’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might just scare up enough votes to win this election.
Audience: Booo --
President Obama: Look, I believe Americans are not a fearful people. We don’t look for being ruled. Our power comes from those ideals first put into place right here in Philadelphia -- that all of us are created equal; that "We, the People, can form a more perfect union." (Applause.) We believe in democracy. That's what we believe in. (Applause.)
We don't believe that one person is going to do it for us. It’s what we can do together, achieved by us. And, yes, it's hard and slow, and sometimes frustrating to persuade people and work with people and form coalitions. But that's the necessary work of self-government.
And that's what Hillary Clinton understands because she’s been through it. She knows that in a democracy, in a big, diverse country like this one, it doesn’t work if we just demonize each other and call each other names. She knows that love trumps hate. (Applause.) She knows that most issues aren't just black and white, and that you got to compromise to get things done, even when you’re 100 percent right. She knows that for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other, and we have to see ourselves in each other, and we've got to fight for our principles but also fight to find common ground.
And these days, our politics doesn’t always lend itself to those ideals. We get impatient. We want our progress right away. And we don't want to have to compromise and we don't have to listen to other folks. But I promise you, when we stay at it, progress does happen.
And if you don't believe it, ask the 20 million people who have got health care today who didn’t have it. (Applause.) Ask that Marine who serves his country without hiding the husband that he loves. (Applause.) Democracy works. But here’s the thing.
Audience Member: We need some help!
President Obama: We've got somebody who fainted. This is what happens. They’ll be okay. Just give them a little room. Everybody bend their knees one time. Just don't lock your knees. Keep on bending them a little bit. We'll do a little exercise right now. EMS folks, they’re right in front. If you can find somebody. Drink some water.
Audience member: I love you!
President Obama: I love you, too. But bend your knees. (Laughter.)
But listen -- listen to this. You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to want democracy -- not just on Election Day, but all the days in between. And this is where you come in. We can close the inequality gap in our economy. Hillary has got plans to make sure everybody has a shot, not just those at the top. But you’ve got to help her by voting for Democrats up and down the ticket. (Applause.) We've got to get a Congress back, and we've got to hold everybody we elect accountable for getting the job done. (Applause.)
We can reform our criminal justice system. But you’ve got to vote -- not just for President, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and states attorneys, and state legislators. (Applause.) We got to work with police and protestors until laws and practices are changed.
We can fix our broken immigration system, but we can’t keep on sending Republicans to Congress who stand in the way. We’ve got to vote for leaders who see immigrants not as criminals or rapists, but as families who came here the same reason ours did -- to work, and to study, and to contribute. (Applause.) We need leaders in Congress who know the American Dream is not something that a wall can contain.
We can keep making progress against climate change. This month was the hottest on record. This year is going to end up being the hottest on record. This is not somebody’s imagination. This is not some liberal plot. It's a problem. But we’ve got to vote for people who actually understand that it’s real. (Applause.) And we got to engage not just with young people on college campuses, but also single moms who are worried about gas prices, and coal miners who are worried about providing for their kids. And Hillary has got real plans to do that.
And if you don’t think the stakes are high enough, just remember that for months now, the Republicans in the Senate have refused to do their job and fill a vacancy for the Supreme Court. Even though I nominated somebody with more federal judicial experience than any nominee in history, they want to see Donald Trump fill it with somebody who sees the world as he does. Imagine that. Who would that person be?
The Supreme Court should be above politics. The people on the bench make monumental decisions that affect every aspect of our daily lives -- from a woman’s right to choose to your right to vote. (Applause.)
So my most important message is, we cannot take this election for granted. We've got to fight for this thing. There are serious issues at stake in this election behind all the frivolous stuff that gets covered every day.
And let me just make a comment about that. Because, look, I'm not running this time, but I sure do get frustrated with the way this campaign is covered. I'm just telling the truth. Guys in the back, I'm just telling you the truth about how I feel about this. Do you mind if I just vent for a second? (Applause.)
You know, you don’t grade the presidency on a curve. This is serious business. And when we see folks talking about transparency -- you want to debate transparency? You've got one candidate in this race who has released decades' worth of her tax returns. The other candidate is the first in decades who refuses to release any at all. You want to debate foundations and charities? One candidate's family foundation has saved countless lives around the world. The other candidate's foundation took money other people gave to his charity, and then bought a six-foot-tall painting of himself. I mean, he had the taste not to go for the 10-foot version. (Laughter.)
You want to debate who's more fit to be our President? One candidate, who's traveled to more countries than any Secretary of State ever has, has more qualifications than pretty much anyone who’s ever run for this job; and the other, who isn’t fit in any way, shape or form to represent this country abroad and be its commander-in-chief. (Applause.)
So somehow, as things go on, because we've become so partisan, our standards for what's normal have changed. And Donald Trump says stuff every day that used to be considered as disqualifying for being president. And yet, because he says it over and over and over again, the press just gives up and they just say, well, yeah, you know -- okay. They just stop -- "I was opposed to the war in Iraq." Well, actually, he wasn’t. But they just accept it.
So the bottom line is, is that we cannot afford suddenly to treat this like a reality show. We can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.
To be President, you have to do your homework, and you have to know what you’re talking about, and you’ve got to apply steady judgment, even when things don’t go your way. And you’ve got to make the tough calls, even when they’re not popular, even when they take years to pay off. And you’ve got to be able to handle criticism without taking it personally -- just brush it off, and then go ahead and get the job done. (Applause.)
And that’s something I learned. And that’s what Hillary learned as a senator and as a Secretary of State and as a First Lady. And, yes, she’s got her share of critics. And she’s been caricatured by the right and sometimes by the left. And she’s been accused of everything you can imagine, and has been subjected to more scrutiny and what I believe is more unfair criticism than anybody out here. (Applause.) And she doesn’t complain about it. And you know what, that’s what happens when you’re under the microscope for 40 years.
But what sets Hillary apart is that through it all, she just keeps on going, and she doesn’t stop caring, and she doesn’t stop trying, and she never stops fighting for us -- even if we haven’t always appreciated it. (Applause.)
And look, I understand we’re a young country, we are a restless country. We always like the new, shiny thing. I benefitted from that when I was a candidate. And we take for granted sometimes what is steady and true. And Hillary Clinton is steady, and she is true. (Applause.) And the young people who are here, who -- all you’ve been seeing is just the nonsense that’s been on TV. You maybe don’t remember all the work that she has had to do, and all the things she has had to overcome, and all the good that has happened because of her efforts. But you need to remember. You need to understand this.
If you’re serious about our democracy, then you’ve got to be with her. She’s in the arena, and you can’t leave her in there by herself. You’ve got to get in there with her. (Applause.) You can’t stay home because, oh, she’s been around for a long time. Well, you know what? This is not reality TV. Democracy is not a spectator sport. You don’t tweet in your vote.
America is not about “yes, he will,” it’s about “yes, we can.” Yes, we can. Yes, we can create more good jobs. Yes, we can create better schools. Yes, we can create safer streets. Yes, we can create a more secure world.
Audience: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
President Obama: We can bring about real change and real progress. And the time has come for me to pass the baton on, but I know that Hillary is going to take it and she’s going to run that race, and she will finish that race. And that’s why I’m with her. That’s why I’m fired up. That’s why I’m ready to go. And I need you to join me. (Applause.)
I need you to work as hard for Hillary as you did for me. (Applause.) I need you to knock on doors. I need you to make phone calls. You’ve got to talk to your friends, including your Republican friends. You need to go to IWillVote.com and register to vote by October 11th. Then you’ve got to go to the polls and you’ve got to get people to go to the polls. (Applause.) And if you’re willing to do that with me, we’ll win in November. We’ll elect Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States. (Applause.) We will continue on this journey to create a better America and a fairer America, a more just America, a more loving America, a brighter America. (Applause.)
That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s why I need you. Let’s get busy. Let’s get to work. (Applause.)
Thank you, Philadelphia. God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)