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.
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, 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 4 years, and that's why I'm running for a second term as President.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 be just 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.
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 30 years:
"Have a surplus? Try a tax cut."
"Deficit too high? Try another."
"Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning."
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 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.
A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
And believe it or not, when we were first married, our combined monthly student loan bills were actually higher than our mortgage. We were so young, so in love, and so in debt.
That's why Barack has fought so hard to increase student aid and keep interest rates down, because he wants every young person to fulfill their promise and be able to attend college without a mountain of debt.
So in the end, for Barack, these issues aren't political--they're personal. Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it. And he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.
But when Barack started telling me about his family--that's when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine.
You see, Barack and I were both raised by families who didn't have much in the way of money or material possessions but who had given us something far more valuable--their unconditional love, their unflinching sacrifice, and the chance to go places they had never imagined for themselves.
He did it because he believes that here in America, our grandparents should be able to afford their medicine; our kids should be able to see a doctor when they're sick; and no one in this country should ever go broke because of an accident or illness.
And he believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care--that's what my husband stands for.
Barack's grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank, and she moved quickly up the ranks, but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling. And for years, men no more qualified than she was--men she had actually trained--were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack's family continued to scrape by.
But she would often tell Barack, "So long as you kids do well, Bar, that's all that really matters." Like so many American families, our families weren't asking for much. They simply believed in that fundamental American promise that, even if you don't start out with much, if you work hard and do what you're supposed to do, then you should be able to build a decent life for yourself and an even better life for your kids and grandkids.
You see, I've gotten to see up close and personal what being president really looks like. And I've seen how the issues that come across a President's desk are always the hard ones--the problems where no amount of data or numbers will get you to the right answer--the judgment calls where the stakes are so high, and there is no margin for error.
And as President, you can get all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to make that decision, as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.
I can't tell you how many times, whether we were discussing the economy, health care or energy crisis, the president walked to his desk, take out one of the letters and read them to us and say, "This is who we are fighting for.'' Parents working hard to save for their child's education. Middle-class Americans fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their jobs, their homes or their life savings. It is their voices that President Obama brings to the Oval Office. It is their values I saw him fight for everyday.
The above quotations are from Speeches at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte NC, Sept. 4-6, 2012.
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