Monday, June 04, 2012

Obama And Clinton Take A Bite Out Of The Big Apple During 'An Evening with Two Presidents'

The GOP is "talking about rolling back the New Deal," President Obama says at fundraising dinner; Clinton says GOP criticism is "vicious" and "fact-free"...Transcript...
“I don’t think it's important to reelect the president, I think it is essential to reelect the President,” former President Bill Clinton told a Park Avenue crowd gathered at The Waldorf Astoria in New York for a high-dollar fundraiser. President Obama waited in the red velvet wings of the Grand Ballroom as his surrogate sang his praises during the second of three Big Apple fundraisers. (Above: The two presidents wave to the crowd)

Guests for the $35,800/plate gala dinner, 'An Evening with Two Presidents,' were seated at fifty tables of ten adorned with candles and flower arrangements. Two big screens on each side of the ornate stage displayed "Join Us" and "Obama-Biden" with the "O" campaign logo. Mr. Clinton hailed Mr. Obama as the "right captain of the ship," praising him for steering the country "under unimaginably difficult circumstances” while being attacked for everything from his place of birth to his politics.

“It is my opinion that he has performed extremely well under very very difficult circumstances,” Mr. Clinton said, praising Mr. Obama for reforming health care and for offering "a politics of cooperation” that Republicans refused.

President Obama has even been accused of being a communist by a member of the US House of Representatives, Mr. Clinton said, in addition to having his place of birth questioned.

"This is not the 1950s! At least Joe McCarthy could skate on the premise that there were still one or two living communists walking around," Mr. Clinton said. "Nobody’s seen a communist in over a decade!"

"No criticism is too vicious and too fact-free," he added.

Rock star Jon Bon Jovi (l) was the third wheel for the Obama-Clinton show, and entertained the crowd with his hits before they took the stage, including "Living on a Prayer." Bon Jovi traveled with the President aboard Air Force One, and his expenses were paid for by the campaign, a campaign official said. The dinner, the subject of an online sweepstakes to boost donations, was attended by three 'grassroots' winners and their guests.

"I have to say that the only thing worse than following Jon is following Jon and Bill Clinton," President Obama told the crowd as he took the stage to huge applause. He rained praise on 42.

"President Clinton and I had a chance to talk over dinner before we came out, and we talk about a lot of things...We both agree that we have improved our gene pool because we married outstanding women...And I thank him for putting up with a very busy Secretary of State."

Getting to the point of the evening, President Obama bashed the GOP for its economic policies before laying out his own vision for America. GOP candidate Mitt Romney, he said, is a "patriotic American," but a misguided one, as are his fellow party members.

"When you look at the budget that they've put forward, they're not just talking about rolling back Obamacare; they're talking about rolling back the New Deal," President Obama said. "And that’s not an exaggeration."

"We're going to have to make sure that in this election, we are describing clearly what's at stake. And we shouldn’t be afraid of this debate, because we've got the better argument. We have got the better argument."

The two Presidents spent about an hour at the event, arriving shortly after 8:00 PM after first attending a fundraiser at the 5th Avenue home of Marc Lasry, the billionaire founder of Avenue Capital Group, a hedge fund. Between 40-50 people attended that event, paying $40,000 each. After, President Obama and Mr. Clinton headed to the New Amsterdam Theater, for 'Barack on Broadway,' where the crowd had been entertained by stars of the Great White Way. About 1,800 guests attended, paying as much as $1,000 per ticket.

The transcript:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_____________________________
For Immediate Release
June 4, 2012

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
AND PRESIDENT CLINTON
AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT

Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York, New York

8:40 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. I am the warm-up act for the President. (Laughter.) And I will attempt to bring him on while you're still warm. (Laughter.)

I want to thank Eric Schneiderman for his lucid statement of the case of what's at stake in this election, and for his exceptional service to the state of New York. Thank you, Assemblyman Keith Wright, and thank you, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, for co-chairing this dinner. And, Representative Carolyn Maloney, thank you very much for your friendship and everything you've done. (Applause.) And I believe on his last day as chairman of the New York State Democratic Party -- thank you, Jay Jacobs, for being one of the best Democratic chairmen in the entire nation. (Applause.)

I want to thank my longtime friend, Jon Bon Jovi, for performing and for always being there for us. (Applause.)

Now, here's what I want to say to you. Most of my life now has nothing to do with politics. You know that. I work on my foundation; I work around the world; I work in America. I work with Democrats and Republicans and independents, and half the time I don't know who I'm working with, politically. But I do spend two hours a day still studying the economic trends around the world and studying what is going on in America. And I care about the long-term debt of the country a lot. Remember me? I'm the only guy that gave you four surplus budgets out of the eight I sent. (Applause.) So I hope what I say to you will have some weight, because I want you to say it to everybody you see between now and November.

I don't think it's important to reelect the President; I think it is essential to reelect the President -- (applause) -- if we want this country to have the kind of future that our children and grandchildren deserve. And here's why.

When I left office, we returned to the trickle-down policies -- big tax cuts, mostly for people of my income group -- I love saying this because I never had any money until I got out of the White House. (Laughter.) Maybe that's why I don't mind paying those taxes -- since I never had it before I don't know what it was like. (Laughter.)

And we doubled our debt of the country again. And then, after totally anemic growth for seven years and eight months, on the day before the financial collapse, median family income was $2,000 lower than it was the day I left office, while the cost of health care had gone up three times the rate of inflation, college twice the rate of inflation.

Then all of a sudden, September 15th comes and goes and poof! The good news was for President Obama is that he was elected President on September 15, 2008. He's the only person in the history of the country ever to be elected President before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. (Laughter.)

The bad news is he was elected President on September 15, 2008 -- (laughter) -- in the teeth of the worst recession since the Great Depression, a financial collapse of enormous proportion. In the last 500 years, such financial collapses have taken on average five to 10 years to get over -- and when they're deep and big and accompanied by mortgage collapse, almost always 10 years.

He set about to try to keep his original dream, to return broad-based prosperity, to return the reality of the American Dream to our country, and to do it in a way that made a world with more partners and fewer adversaries. And he did it under unimaginably difficult circumstances -- 800,000 jobs were lost the month he was sworn in as President. And it is my opinion that he has performed extremely well under very, very difficult circumstances. (Applause.) And I want to tell you why. (Applause.)

So he set about to do what was necessary to prevent a financial collapse again, to put a floor under the recession and to begin to create jobs again, to save a million or more state and local jobs of teachers and health care workers and people who work for fire and police departments. He set about to bring American manufacturing back, to make America a leading nation in the green energy revolution -- which is sweeping the globe and which only the American Republican Party seems to deny is necessary.

And he set about to reform health care, knowing it was a moral, a health, and an economic issue because we are now spending almost 18 percent of our income on health care. None of our major competitors is over 11.8 percent. That’s $1 trillion a year that could be going to pay-raises for the middle class. It could be going for small businesses to hire new people.

And he did it while trying to make college more affordable, because we had dropped from first to 15th in the world in the last decade in the percentage of our young adults graduating with degrees. And while doing that, he presented a plan to deal with the long-term debt of the country, understanding that when you have a total financial collapse -- interest rates are zero, no private demand, no private investment -- you can’t have austerity now.

You remember those surplus budgets? They came about for three reasons -- spending control, adequate revenues and economic growth. If you do not have economic growth, no amount of austerity will balance the budget, because you will always have revenues go down more than you can possibly cut spending. (Applause.)

And so what he did was to say growth today, restraint in a big way tomorrow; here's my 10-year budget. So growth in jobs today, build the economy, then take the burden of the debt off our children’s future, and avoid the exploding interest rates and the declining living standards that it would impose on their future.

So where are we? Oh, and by the way, he offered a politics of cooperation. He said, you Republicans start off with that individual mandate. We’ll do health care reform that way. All of a sudden, they weren’t for it anymore. He said, let’s have a bipartisan deficit reduction commission. And when it came to a vote in the Senate, all the Republicans who co-sponsored the bill were forced to vote against it by their party. It’s the first I ever saw somebody sponsor a bill and vote against it.

And I could give you lots and lots of other -- he said, let’s have an infrastructure bank so we can have private and public capital like other countries do. It’s a great return on investment. It’s always been a bipartisan area. Once he was for it, they were all against it. Besides, it might put somebody to work and help him get reelected. (Laughter.)

So where are we in spite of that? In the last 27 months, this economy has produced 4.3 million private sector jobs. (Applause.) That is about what it produced on a monthly basis during my two terms, coming back. Why did the numbers show 3.7 million? Because the Congress refused to pass his bill to send money to states and localities to keep the teachers on the job, to keep the firefighters and the police officers on the job. I was in Wisconsin a couple of days ago -- 73 percent of the school districts have laid teachers off.

That’s the austerity policy. It isn’t good economics. The Obama policy is. That 4.3 million private sector jobs is -- listen to this -- 60 percent more private jobs than came into this economy in the seven years and eight months of the previous administration before the financial meltdown. And you need to tell people that. (Applause.)

And what happened with manufacturing? It’s growing again for the first time since the '90s. There was an article in the paper today that said, oh, we’re going to have 2 or 3 million manufacturing jobs within three more years. In seven or eight or nine areas, jobs flooding back into this country.

What happened in clean energy? Governor Romney goes out to a company that had a loan that didn’t work out and says, oh, this is a whole bust. Here’s what I know. We ranked first or second in the world in every major scientific survey in the capacity to generate electricity from the sun and the wind. During the worst of the meltdown, clean-energy jobs grew twice as fast as the rest of the economy, paid 35 percent more.

This weekend, Germany became the first country in history to generate 22 gigawatts of electricity from the sun. That doesn’t mean much to you, so I’ll tell you in plain language what it means. That’s as much as 20 big nuclear power plants. (Applause.) And they have generated over 300,000 new jobs out of it. They’re a fourth our size, and only half as capable to generate solar energy. If we did what they did, that’s a million jobs alone. Now, that’s what President Obama has done on the jobs front. (Applause.)

And where he could cooperate with people -- the automakers, management and labor -- they restructured the auto industry and what happened? We have 80,000 more people working making cars today than we did the day he took office, and we saved 1.5 million jobs that would have gone right down the tubes if those two companies had failed. (Applause.) America is back in the car business. (Applause.)

And then labor, management, the environmental groups and the government got together and agreed on a schedule to raise the car mileage standards, to double them, and guess what -- it will create 150,000 new high-tech jobs.

In health care -- just before you roll over and play dead on this issue, let me just give you two or three issues -- facts here. For the last few years, for the first time in 50 years, health care inflation has been at 4 percent. Hasn’t been that low in 50 years. It’s been killing people, economically. (Applause.) Americans got $1.3 billion in refunds on their insurance policy -- because you’ve got to spend 85 percent of your premium on your health care now -- and that’s not counting California, they’re not reported in yet -- 2.6 million young people 26 years of age or younger are on their parent's policy now, all because of the health care bill the President signed. (Applause.)

I spend a lot of time with people in the health care business -- with doctors and people who manage medical practices, with people who manage hospitals, and people who manage insurance plans. I don’t know anybody that wants to repeal Obamacare. Not anybody. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t believe that we shouldn’t start paying for performance, not for procedure in health care, and improve our quality and bring our costs in line with our competitors. And that’s what people in the health care business are doing today because that law passed. (Applause.)

And finally, never a day goes by I don’t see some article about the burden of student loans. But when President Obama’s student loan reform is fully implemented, the cost of the loans will go down and no one will ever have to drop out of college again because of the cost. Because now everybody will be able to pay their loans back as a small, fixed percentage of their income for up to 20 years. Do you understand what that means? That one bill can take us back to number one in the world in college graduates again because nobody -- nobody -- will ever have to drop out again. (Applause.)

And his plan to reduce the debt has extraordinary spending restraint -- including in Medicare -- has modest tax increases, and is phased in as we grow the economy.

Now, his opponent, who says that he’s got a better idea, was the governor of the state that was 47th in the country in job growth. He promised that if elected he would grow the economy and reduce the debt, and when he left office the debt of the state was going up. And his plan -- his plan is to go back to the Bush program, except on steroids. (Laughter.) Cut out everything that helps middle-class people, cut out everything that helps poor people work their way to the middle class.

And all of the objective analyses, the non-partisan analyses, say that every Republican plan, including the nominee for the President’s plan, would add $1 trillion to $2 trillion to what the debt is going to be over the next 10 years if we don’t do anything. And all of the objective plans say that if the President’s plan were implemented, it would reduce the debt by several trillion dollars over what it’s going to be if we don’t do anything.

But he’s got the order right, President Obama does. Growth now; restraint later. The Romney/Republican plan is austerity and more unemployment now, and blow the lid off later, just at the time when we’ll be worried about high interest rates.

What’s the difference here? Shared prosperity versus continued austerity and high unemployment. A politics of cooperation versus constant conflict and divide and conquer.

Listen, this is a big, clear election. Also, for me, it’s important to say, in my opinion, he’s done an amazing job making our country more secure, more safe, more peaceful, and building a world with more partners and fewer adversaries. And that is very, very important. (Applause.)

And he’s had to get all this done while people as recently as last week were still saying he wasn’t born in America. (Laughter.) He’s had to get all this done with a House of Representatives that had one of the tea party members claim that 78 to 81 members of the Democratic caucus were members of the Communist Party. And neither the presidential nominee, nor any of the leaders rebuked him for saying that. This is not the 1950s. At least Joe McCarthy could skate on the fact that there was one or two living Communists walking around. (Laughter.) Nobody has seen a Communist in over a decade. (Laughter and applause.)

No criticism is too vicious and too fact-free. You have to take the facts out there -- take the facts on the economy, the facts on health care, the facts on energy, the facts on education. And the fact is we’ve got an economic policy that has a real chance to bring America back. Why do you think long-term interest rates -- remember the Republicans said, oh, that Obama, he’s such a big spender, we’re going to have a weak dollar and interest rates are going to go through the roof. You know what the 10-year Treasury note interest rate was today? One-quarter of 1 percent. We ought to all go buy one. They're giving away the money. (Laughter.)

Now, you’re laughing. But why are they doing that? Because people believe America has a solid economic strategy for the long run. And who would have ever thought that the Republicans would embrace the austerity and jobless policies of what they used to derisively call “old Europe.” I never thought I’d live to breathe and see, here they are saying, let’s do the eurozone’s economic policy -- they got 11 percent unemployment; we can get up there if we work at it. (Laughter.)

We’re laughing, folks, this is serious. Too much of politics is fact-free. Just think about the world you want your children and your grandchildren to live in. Think about what the 21st century can be. Remember there is nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed, and our inherent advantages including our diversity, our relative youth, the strength of our system are there. But you got to have the right captain of the ship. And I am depending on you to take care of future generations by making sure that that captain is President Barack Obama.

Bring him on. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I love New York! (Applause.) Thank you! Well, thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Everybody have a seat.

AUDIENCE: Four more years!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. I plan on getting four more years -- because of you. (Applause.)

Let me just say some thank-yous at the front here. First of all, you've got an outstanding Attorney General -- please give Eric Schneiderman a big round of applause. (Applause.) He is doing the right thing on behalf of consumers and working people all across this great state and having an influence all across the country.

I want to thank my dear friend, Jon Bon Jovi, who has -- (applause) -- been a great supporter for a long, long time. I have to say that the only thing worse than following Jon is following Jon and Bill Clinton. (Laughter.)

I want to acknowledge -- Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is here. Where is Carolyn? (Applause.) Thank you, Carolyn. Party Chair Jacobs, thanks for the great work you've done. I want to thank all of you who helped to make this event possible tonight.

And most of all, I want to thank the guy behind me here.
President Clinton and I had a chance to talk over dinner before we came out, and we talk about a lot of things. We talk about basketball. (Laughter.) We talk about our daughters, and agree that you can't beat daughters. (Applause.) Sons who are out there, we love you, too -- (laughter) -- but I'm just saying, we bond on that front. We both agree that we have improved our gene pool because we married outstanding women. (Applause.)

But whatever the topic, whatever the subject, what I was reminded of as I was talking to President Clinton is just how incredibly passionate he is about this country and the people in it. You don’t talk to Bill without hearing at least 30 stories about extraordinary Americans who are involved in clean energy, or starting a whole new project to teach kids math, or figuring out how to build some new energy-efficient building, or you name it. And it's that passion and connection that he has to the American people that is infectious. And it's a curiosity and a love for people that is now transforming the world.

And so I could not be prouder to have called him President. I could not be prouded to know him as a friend. And I could not be more grateful for him taking the time to be here tonight. (Applause.) And I thank him for putting up with a very busy Secretary of State. (Laughter and applause.)

Now, the reason I’m here tonight is not just because I need your help. It’s because the country needs your help. If you think about why we came together back in 2008, it wasn’t about me. It wasn’t even necessarily just about the Democratic Party. It was about a common set of values that we held dear; a set of beliefs that we had about America -- a belief that if you’re willing to work hard, in this country you should be able to make it. You should be able to find a job that pays a living wage. You should be able to own a home, send your kids to college, retire with dignity and respect, not go bankrupt when you get sick; that everybody in this country -- regardless of what you look like, where you come from, whether you’re black, white, gay, straight, Hispanic, disabled, not -- doesn’t matter, if you’re willing to put in the effort this is a place where you make dreams happen. And by you putting in that effort, not only do you do well for yourself but you build the country in the process.

And we had seen that those values were eroding, a sense that that bedrock compact that we make with each other was starting to diminish. We had seen a surplus, a historic surplus, wasted away on tax cuts for folks who didn’t need them and weren’t even asking for them. Suddenly surpluses turned to deficits. We had seen two wars fought on a credit card. We had seen a recklessness of a few almost bring the entire system to collapse.
And there was a sense that, although a few of us were doing really, really well, that you had a growing number of folks who were struggling just to get by no matter how hard they worked.

So what we set out to do in 2008 was reclaim that basic American promise. And it wasn’t easy, and many of you who supported me certainly -- you guys didn't do it because it was easy. When you support a guy named Barack Hussein Obama for the presidency you know that's not a sure thing. (Laughter.) But you did it because you sensed that the country was ready for change.

Now, we didn't know at the time -- we knew that there had been a decade of problems, that since this man had left office we had been going in the wrong direction. We didn't realize how this would culminate in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. As Bill said, the month I was sworn in, 800,000 jobs lost. We had lost 3 million before the election had even taken place.

But we didn't give up. We didn't quit, because that's not what the American people do. And so all across this country, you had folks who just dug in. They focused on what was necessary. And I do believe we implemented the right policies. When folks said that we should let Detroit go bankrupt, we said, no, we’re not going to let over a million jobs go. We’re not going to let an iconic industry waste away. (Applause.)

And so we brought workers together and management, and now GM is back on top, and we’ve seen more growth in the U.S. auto industry and more market share than we’ve seen in a very, very long time. And manufacturing is coming back. (Applause.) Even though that decision wasn’t popular, we made the right decision.
We made the right decision in starting to free up credit again so that companies could borrow and small businesses could keep their doors open. We made the right decision when it came to ensuring that all across this country states got help to keep teachers and firefighters and police officers on the job. We made the right decision in making sure that we used this opportunity to rebuild big chunks of America -- our roads and our bridges and our rail lines.

So we made a lot of good policy decisions. But the reason we came back is ultimately because of the American people, because of their resilience and their strength. They made it happen. They decided, you know what, maybe I'll retrain for school. A small business decided, I'm going to keep my doors open even though it's very hard to make payroll right now.

One of the great privileges of being President is you go to every corner of the country and you see people from every walk of life, and it makes you optimistic about the American people. Even over these last three and a half years, as tough as things have been, it made me more optimistic about the American people, that we have all the ingredients for success.

It's because of them that we've seen more than 4 million jobs created, more than 800,000 jobs just this year alone. It's because of them that we're seeing more manufacturing jobs coming back than any time since the 1990s.

But -- and this is where you come in -- all that work that we've done, all that effort, that stands to be reversed because we've had an opposition that has had a fundamentally different vision of where we should take America. They had it from the day I was sworn in. They made a determination that politics would trump what was needed to move this country forward. And they have tried to put sand in the gears in Congress ever since.

And now they've got a nominee who is expressing support for an agenda that would reverse the progress we've made and take us back to the exact same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. And the reason we're here today is because we're not going back. We're going forward. (Applause.) We have worked too hard and too long to right the ship and move us in the right direction. We're not going backwards, we're going forwards. (Applause.) That's what we're doing, New York. And we're going to do it with your help! (Applause.)

Now, the reason that they think they may be able to pull this off is because things are still tough. There are a lot of folks still hurting out there; too may folks still looking for work, too many people whose homes are still underwater. So we know we've got more to do. That's why I'm running again, because our job isn't finished yet. And this election in some ways is going to be even more consequential than 2008, because the choices are going to be starker this time.

Keep in mind, when I ran in 2008, I was running against a Republican who believed in climate change, believed in immigration reform, believed in campaign finance reform, had some history of working across the aisle. We had profound disagreements, but even during the midst of the financial crisis there was an agreement of the need for action -- to create jobs and create growth early.

We don’t have that this time. My opponent, Governor Romney, is a patriotic American. He has seen enormous financial success, and God bless him for that. He has got a beautiful family. But his vision of how you move this country forward is what Bill Clinton said -- the same agenda as the previous administration, except on steroids. So it's not enough just to maintain tax cuts for the wealthy, we're going to double tax cuts. We're going to do even more of the same. It's not enough just to roll back the regulations that we put in place to make sure that, for example, the financial system is transparent and working effectively so we don’t have taxpayer bailouts anymore, we're going to do even more to eliminate regulations that have kept our air clean and our water clean and protected our kids for 20, 30 years.

When you look at the budget that they've put forward, they're not just talking about rolling back Obamacare; they're talking about rolling back the New Deal. (Laughter.) And that’s not an exaggeration.

And so there's an enormous amount at stake. And we're going to have to make sure that in this election, we are describing clearly what's at stake. And we shouldn’t be afraid of this debate, because we've got the better argument. We have got the better argument.

It's not just a matter of being able to say the change that we brought about in lifting the auto industry back, that’s something we're proud of. It's not just the 4.3 million jobs. It's not just the fact that 2.5 million young people have health insurance that didn’t have it before. It's not just the fact that, as a consequence of our policies, millions of young people are getting Pell grants and have the capacity to go to college who didn’t have it before. It's not just the track record I've amassed over the last three-and-a-half years that I am proud of. But it’s also the fact that when you look at our history, America has not grown, it has not prospered, it has not succeeded with a philosophy that says, "you’re all on your own."

That's not how we built this country. The reason we became an economic superpower is because for all our individual initiative, all our entrepreneurship, all our belief in personal responsibility, despite all those things, what we’ve also understood is there’s certain things we do better together. Creating a public school system that works so that everybody gets educated -- we understand that. (Applause.)

The first Republican President understanding we built a Transcontinental Railroad to stitch this country together -- he understood that there’s certain things we do better together. Investments in the National Academy of Sciences, investment in land grant colleges. Eisenhower building the Interstate Highway System. My grandfather and his generation going to college on the GI Bill. Building the Hoover Dam, building the Golden Gate Bridge -- these things we did together. And it created a platform where everybody had a chance, everybody got a fair shot, everybody did their fair share, everybody played by the same rules.

If you look at our history, the reason why we have the best capital markets in the world, the reason why Wall Street is the center of finance -- because we had rules in place that made us the most transparent, where investors could trust if they put their money there they weren’t going to be cheated. You had a strong SEC. You had FDIC. You had an entire infrastructure that allowed our capital markets to thrive. That's been a strength; not a weakness.

Throughout our history, there have been certain things that we have to do together. And what was true in the past is true now as well. So that’s what’s at stake in this election. I’m not going to go back to the days when suddenly our young people can’t afford to go to college just to pay for tax cuts for me and Bill Clinton.

We’re not going to go back to the day where 30 million people can’t get health insurance despite working two jobs; where young people can’t stay on their parent’s policies, or seniors suddenly find prescription drugs more expensive again. We’re not going to go back to the days when suddenly women don’t have preventive care, or we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. We’re not going back to those days. I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as our sons. And I want our women to have the same ability to control their health care decisions as anybody else. We’re not going backwards. (Applause.)

We’re not going to go back to the days when you couldn’t serve in our military and at the same time admit who it is that you loved. (Applause.) We’re moving forward with an agenda of dignity and respect for everybody.

We’re not going to go back to the days when folks thought somehow there was a conflict between economic growth and looking after our environment and good stewardship for the next generation. We’re not going back to those days. (Applause.)

But we're going to have to fight for it. This is not going to be an easy race. Because of the Citizens United decision we’re seeing hundreds of millions of dollars spent, unprecedented numbers. We haven’t seen this kind of spending. There’s never been this amount of negative spending before. There was a brief -- a newspaper just printed somebody had evaluated negative ads -- 70 percent of our ads have been positive; 70 percent of their ads have been negative. And I suspect that ratio could become even more pronounced as the weeks go by.

And as I said, folks out there are still anxious and they’re still scared about the future. And so what the other side is counting on is fear and frustration, that hat in and of itself is going to be good enough -- because they’re sure not offering any new ideas. All they’re offering is the same old ideas that didn’t work then and won’t work now.

Even when it comes to their big issue of deficits and debt, as President Clinton just mentioned, the truth is, is that the two Presidents over the last 30 years, 40 years, who’ve had the lowest increases in government spending, you’re looking at them right here. (Applause.) They're on this stage. They are on this stage. (Applause.)

And the agenda that we’ve put forward -- which says let’s put people to work right now rebuilding our roads and our bridges and putting teachers back in the classroom to accelerate growth now at the same time as we couple it with long-term spending restraint -- that's a recipe that works. We’ve seen it work before. We saw it work in the ‘90s. There’s no reason why it wouldn’t work now. And that will allow us to make sure that we can still invest in our future.

As I travel around the world -- and I know President Clinton does, as well -- you talk to people; nothing gets me more frustrated when I hear sometimes reports in the press about America’s decline, because around the world there’s nobody who wouldn’t trade places with us. (Applause.) We’ve got the best universities, the most productive workers, the best entrepreneurs, the best scientists. We’ve got all the ingredients we need to make it work. Now we just need the best politics. Now we just need the best politics. (Applause.) And that's what this election is going to be all about.

So the bottom line is this: All of you, you're going to have to work not just as hard as we did in 2008, we’re going to need you to work harder. One of the things we learned in 2008 is for all the negative ads, for all the rough-and-tumble of politics, for all the distortions and just plain nonsense that you sometimes hear, when folks come together, when citizens come together and insist that it’s time for a change, guess what -- change happens.

And what was true then is just as true now. And I want you guys to know that it is true that my hair is grayer -- I haven’t quite caught up to Bill yet -- (laughter) -- but I’m getting there. Those of us who have this awesome privilege of holding this office, we end up showing a few dings and dents along the way. That's inevitable. But I am more determined now than I was in 2008. (Applause.) I am more inspired by America now than I even was then, because I've seen more of this country, and I've seen its strength and I've seen its passion. I've seen what's possible.

I've seen the changes we've already brought. And it shouldn’t make us complacent, but it should make us confident about the changes that we can bring about in the future. (Applause.) It means that we're going to be able to do even more to double clean energy. It means we're going to be able to do even more to bring back manufacturing. We're going to be able to do more to put people back to work. We're going to be able to make sure that we're a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

All those things on our checklist that we haven't yet gotten done we will get done. But we're only going to get it done because of you. I'm only going to get it done because of you. (Applause.)

You know, I used to say that I'm not a perfect man -- Michelle will tell you -- and I'll never be a perfect President. No President is. But I promised you I would always tell you what I thought, I'd always tell you where I stood, and I'd wake up every single day just thinking about how I can make the lives of the American people a little bit better, and I'd work as hard as I knew how to make that happen. And I have kept that promise. I have kept that promise because I still believe in you. And I hope you still believe in me. (Applause.)

Because if you're willing to join me this time out, and knock on doors, and make phone calls, and get out there and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors, I promise you we will finish what we started in 2008. (Applause.) We will not go backward. We will go forward. And we will remind the entire world just why it is the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

Thank you, New York. I love you. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)

END 9:28 P.M. EDT
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*Pool photos