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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Democratic National Convention
Aired September 6, 2012 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Vice President Joe Biden, a rousing speech in this hall received slowly at first, but really toward the end clearly getting people on their feet.
James, what did you make of it?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I get to ask David this, and maybe to some extent -- culturally and stylistically, that had a '80s Republican kind of tinge to it. We're proud of America. We're not going to pull back. We're people just like your people.
And he got to do what every guy dreams of. He got the big speech and he got to slobber over his wife and boss. That's the best thing in the world.
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Good working-class message.
He told us tonight that Barack Obama was a man of great courage. And he must be. He gave Joe Biden a live microphone.
CASTELLANOS: But we didn't learn anything new and we really haven't all night long here. If you don't change what people know, you don't change how people vote.
So I'm not sure that the ball has moved forward tonight like it did last night.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I disagree with that.
I actually think hearkening back to an '80s kind of culture works for Joe Biden and it reminds a lot of people -- loved the touches, some of the people on the floor, that this party has those roots as well, those working-class roots which I think is really important for Democrats.
But what I found most interesting was his double-barreled argument about the automobile industry and bin Laden. And he really drove that home, that General Motors is alive and bin Laden is dead. I think -- we ought to come back and talk about this -- I think they're making head way on this automobile bailout question. They're making headway in places like Ohio and Michigan, but it's driving Republicans up the wall.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But I think it's really a question of driving home the message of leadership. Because this is an issue that Mitt Romney is now a little bit ahead of Barack Obama on.
And it's a question of lifting the veil on how this president makes decisions and how he leads.
And as Joe Biden kept saying, you know, I had the seat right next to him there, so I watched him. And that's very effective when you're talking to the American public because he's an eyewitness.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is people closer to the vice president's age than the president's age that are going to decide the election in some of the key battleground states.
When you talked about '80s nostalgia and reaching back, you're talking to people in their 50s and 60s especially on the Medicare hits that could be a decisive voting bloc. Part of it also is the president can't say definitively we're better off.
He has Bill Clinton, Joe Biden make that for him. If the president says it, it will seem like he's gloating. They make that case and the biggest part here, we're on your side. We're making progress, those guys would take you back.
I thought the way Bain may bring your firm the highest profit but it's not the way to lead your country from its highest office, before the speech, we said the vice president wasn't going to be that tough on Mitt Romney. Whoever said that hadn't read it.
COOPER: Wolf, you have seen a lot of speeches by Joe Biden over the years.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
The speech was very powerful when it came to defending the president, explaining his courage, explaining the decisions on the U.S. auto industry, the decision to go after bin Laden.
It certainly was a lot tougher on Mitt Romney than I was led to believe it would be. John King was absolutely right on that. It was blistering and it really went after the Republicans on the whole issue of Medicare. He indirectly raised the issue of Medicaid, saying a lot of elderly who on currently on Medicare right now would suffer and I think he's referring to the cuts that would presumably be resulting from Medicaid.
This is going to be an issue that's going to be fiercely, debated across the country.
Candy, tell our viewers what you thought.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that one of the reasons when going back four years that Barack Obama wanted Joe Biden on this ticket was those working-class roots, that very demographic that right now, white working-class voters, those non- college voters that are having some trouble signing on with Barack Obama for a second time around, I think that's where Joe Biden has been most effective.
This is certainly a crowd that is very familiar with this man and familiar with his story, but it's the story, and you see him on the trail. He also has this incredible sort of compassion about him that dates back to having lost his wife and his daughter in that car crash.
And he talks a lot to survivors, the military folks about getting over a great loss. So it was an effective speech certainly for those folks that he was trying to go after, they wanted him to go after. I think he did everything the Obama administration wanted him to do both before this and tonight, Anderson.
COOPER: We are still awaiting a video introducing President Obama.
Michelle Obama will then come out and introduce her husband. This, of course, what so many in the auditorium are waiting for. It was interesting though, and maybe it is that '80s style that you were speaking of, but because it was sort of slow and meandering in the beginning, when he did work up to this crescendo, it has peaks and valleys to it. I think it had a power to it which certainly people responded to in this hall.
CARVILLE: It did.
I think something Alex and I -- I think we're are looking at what do we saw sort of consistent coming out of this convention? And what's consistent is you mentioned doing the leadership thing and what else is consistent is we have led your life. We understand your life better than the son of a CEO. And everybody has sort of gone to great pains to say that.
I think that's clearly what they're to accomplish.
CASTELLANOS: The leadership theme I thought started yesterday with Rahm Emanuel saying, look, uncertain times, you have got to have a strong hand at the tiller. I have seen this guy. They echoed that again tonight.
Apparently there must be some research somewhere saying that Mitt Romney is vulnerable not on flip-flopping, but on weak leadership. Maybe that's something...
BORGER: Or that the president is vulnerable.
GERGEN: But there's something different about this from Tampa. In Tampa the message was that Mitt Romney understands you, he empathizes with you.
In this one, it is much more about we. It's about the Democratic Party. There's a real message here we're on your side. We may not have made all the progress you would, but we're the ones on your side, not those guys.
CASTELLANOS: There is one thing we might want to set straight, if I can, and that is a lot of folks here are taking credit tonight for ending the Iraq war and getting us out of Iraq.
I think most Republicans would say George Bush advanced a surge that helped us get out of Iraq, which by the way Barack Obama opposed. And I think it takes some brass to take credit for something that you opposed.
BORGER: Here's another interesting point that Joe Biden kept referring to, which is this notion that America is not in decline, as Republicans would charge, that in order to win they have to prove that America is in decline, and he said that's not the case, don't bet against American people. The American people are not in decline, and we're with them.
COOPER: Let's check in with Jessica Yellin, White House correspondent.
Jessica, from other speeches you have seen Joe Biden give, what did you take of tonight?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: There were some familiar themes. I would have to agree with Wolf that it was certainly much more of an attack speech than I was led to believe it would be.
But, Wolf, as we talked about before, this was intended to sort of clear all that if you will underbrush away so that the president can now come out and be very forward looking, positive and above the fray a himself.
BLITZER: We're about to see a video now of the president of the United States.
We're getting to hear from the president. I was surprised that the vice president brought up the Bowles/Simpson plan even though the president rejected it, just like Paul Ryan last week brought it up, even though he was a member and he rejected it. Here's the video.
NARRATOR: We have been through a lot together, but we have known tough times before. What carries us through and helps us endure? What are the qualities so essential to us and the leaders who have occupied this office?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He did some things knowing that they wouldn't be popular in the short run that would lay the foundation for recovery.
No other country in the world would give up the capacity to manufacture cars if it had it. And so he did what the government's supposed to do in a case like that.
BIDEN: Do not rescue the automobile industry. I mean, it was overwhelming. Look at the polling number.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: A country in the midst of a financial crisis that no one really, you know, knew the depths of the challenges that were coming. I think he had a sense.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My grandparents came out of the Depression. They knew what it was like for people not to have work. We all understand work is something more than just a paycheck, what gives you dignity, what gives you a sense of purpose.
CLINTON: He said, you guys got to work together and come up and everybody's got to have some skin in the game here. You have got to have a give-up. You have got to modernize the automobile industry.
BIDEN: Everybody said, ah, it's never going to work. Guess what?
CLINTON: Eighty thousand more people working in the car business than we did before the restructuring was passed.
BIDEN: They're middle-class jobs people can raise a family on, a decent wage.
M. OBAMA: We have gone from an economy that was shedding jobs to one that is consistently creating jobs at all sectors.
Every night, he is up until 1:00, 2:00 in the morning with his big stack of briefing books. And he reads the letters he gets from people all over America. They are, as he put it, some of the most informative pieces of material that he gets, that keeps him grounded.
Anyone who has kids knows that the truth is, no matter what you do, your kids still think that they are the most important people in the room. So we sit around the dinner table, and he's the last person to be asked, oh, yes, how was your day, dad, you know? Really, he's an afterthought.
BIDEN: He never starts a conversation by saying, what's the best political decision here? What will help us the most? Never.
M. OBAMA: So, he wasn't going to back out just because it got hard, just because it didn't poll well. That's just never been who he is. And it is certainly not how he will ever govern this country.
B. OBAMA: When my mom got cancer, she wasn't a wealthy woman. And it pretty much drained all her resources.
M. OBAMA: Watching your mother die of something that could have been prevented, that's a tough thing to deal with. CLINTON: The reason he pushed ahead, knowing that there could be horrible political consequences for him, just as there were for me, is that health care costs have gone up three times the rate of inflation. This is a huge economic issue, because we spend 17.5 percent of our income on health care.
M. OBAMA: Anybody who gets medical care, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Imagine working-class mom opening up that kind of bill, you know, with somebody sending that to her with a straight face.
That understanding of that kind of reality for millions of Americans drove him to make sure that this legislation got passed. It takes a conscious effort to stay connected with what is going on in people's lives.
BIDEN: This was a matter of principle for him. He ran on it. He said he was going to do it. And he did it.
CLINTON: You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it. He had to decide. That's one thing George Bush said that was right. The president is the decider in chief.
B. OBAMA: We were only about 50 percent sure that bin Laden was in that compound. But I had 100 percent confidence in our Navy SEALs.
BIDEN: I sat in that room with him when we were getting feeds on what was going on at the time. He sat there, resolute, concerned, just watching. We got him? Confirm it. Just boom, boom, boom. Then came and explained to everybody the next day in the Cabinet room what happened.
This is a guy who, as I said, a backbone like a ramrod.
B. OBAMA: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world.
CLINTON: He took the harder and the more honorable path and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, I hope that's the call I would have made. It was just the right thing to do.
NARRATOR: We have a long way to go. But with every new beginning, every homecoming, step forward, we remember who we are.
B. OBAMA: What's really allowing this economy to heal and get us moving again is the resilience and the strength and the character of the American people. They don't quit. They don't give up, partly because of family, partly because of a sense of community, patriotism and pride in this country. They keep going.
That's the incredible gift that the American people keep giving back to me in this job.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
M. OBAMA: Thank you so much. Tonight, I am so thrilled and so honored and so proud to introduce the love of my life, the father of our two girls and the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Michelle, I love you so much.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: A few nights ago, everybody was reminded just what a lucky man I am.
Malia and Sasha, we are so proud of you.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: And, yes, you do have to go to school in the morning.
OBAMA: And, Joe Biden, thank you for being the very best vice president I could have ever hoped for and being a strong and loyal friend.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for president of the United States.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: Now, the first time I addressed this convention in 2004, I was a younger man, a Senate candidate from Illinois who spoke about hope, not blind optimism, not wishful being, 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 has left us wondering whether it is 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. If you are sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: 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.
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 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.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: 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 turned 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, buy 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.
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 are 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.
They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their plan. And that's because all they had to offer is the same prescription they've had for the last thirty 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."
Now, I've cut taxes for those who need it, 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, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China.
After all that 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.
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.
OBAMA: You elected me to tell you the truth.
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.
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.
Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future. 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's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States.
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 has always done best:
We're making things again.
I've met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared 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 top of the world.
(APPLAUSE) I've worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America, not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products. Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else.
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.
After a decade of decline, this country created over half a million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years. And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, 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. 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. You can choose that future.
OBAMA: You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After thirty 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.
We've doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines, and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history. And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades.
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. We're offering a better path.
We're offering a better path, 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.
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. They're a threat to our children's future. And in this election, you can do something about it.
(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. It was the gateway for Michelle. It was the gateway for most of you.
OBAMA: 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.
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.
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. No company should have to look for workers overseas because they couldn't find any with the right skills here at home. That's not our future. That is not our future.
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 gotta do the work.
And together, I promise you, we can out-educate and out-compete any nation on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers within ten years, and improve early childhood education.
Help give two 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 ten years. We can meet that goal together.
OBAMA: You can choose that future for America.
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.
I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We've blunted the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be over.
A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
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.
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, men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews.
(APPLAUSE) But for all the progress we've made, challenges remain. Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe's crisis must be contained.
OBAMA: Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver, and neither must our pursuit of peace.
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.
So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy,
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 Qaeda, Russia, unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.
You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.
My opponent -- my opponent said 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. 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 rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways.
OBAMA: 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.
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. Independent experts say that my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion. And last summer, I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut billion 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.
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, 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, what'd Bill Clinton call it? You do the arithmetic, you do the math.
I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I'm President, I never will.
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.
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.
OBAMA: I'm not going along with that. (APPLAUSE)
And I will -- I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.
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 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. 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.
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over, we have 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.
(LAUGHTER) If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well, that's just 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."
You know what? That's not who we are. That's not what this country's 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 the world has ever known.
OBAMA: But we also believe in something called citizenship
a word at the very heart of our founding, 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.
(APPLAUSE) We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can't afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people's homes, and so is the entire economy.
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, and it's in our power to give her that chance.
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.
We don't think the government can solve all our problems. But we don't think that the government is the source of all our problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we're told to blame for our troubles.
Because -- because America, we understand that this democracy is ours.
We, the People, 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.
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, 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.
OBAMA: It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the change.
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. (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.
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,
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, welcome home."
OBAMA: You did that. 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 making 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.
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. The times have changed, and so have I.
I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the President.
And -- and that -- and that -- and that means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, 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.
(LAUGHTER) And while I'm very 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."
OBAMA: But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America.
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.
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 during this recession, even when their competitors shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave up some perks and some pay, because they understood their biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build that business, they give me hope.
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. Six months ago, We would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring those who served in 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.
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."
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.
If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.
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.
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. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, 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 may God bless these United States.