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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Transcript

Obama: 'America’s military is the best that it’s ever been'

Obama addresses the American Legion in Minneapolis 8-30-11

Coincidence or not, President Obama and a Republican front-runner who would replace him, Mitt Romney, gave dueling speeches to American veterans today. Romney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Obama to the American Legion in Minneapolis.

As we often do, we are publishing the full texts of both addresses so that Ticket readers can see for themselves the scope and nuance of the men's spoken words. Gov. Romney's address is now available in excerpt and full text form by clicking here.

Now, some Obama excerpts:

There are some special guests here I want to acknowledge. They may have already been acknowledged, but they're great friends so I want to make sure that I point them out. First of all, the wonderful governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, is here. Two senators who are working on behalf of veterans every single day -- Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken.  Congressman Keith Ellison -- this is his district. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, a great friend....

We’re still digging out from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It’s taking longer and it's been more difficult than any of us had imagined. And even though we’ve taken some steps in the right direction, we've got a lot more to do....

We Americans have been through tough times before, much tougher than these. And we didn’t just get through them; we emerged stronger than before. Not by luck. Not by chance. But because, in hard times, Americans don’t quit....

We salute the extraordinary decade of service rendered by the 9/11 Generation -— the more than 5 million Americans who've worn the uniform over the past 10 years....

We see the wages of war in those patriots who never came home. They gave their all, their last full measure of devotion, in Kandahar, in the Korengal, in Helmand, in the battles for Baghdad and Fallujah and Ramadi. Now they lay at rest in quiet corners of America, but they live on in the families who loved them and in a nation that is safer because of their service....

America’s military is the best that it’s ever been. We saw that most recently in the skill and precision of our brave forces who helped the Libyan people finally break free from the grip of Moammar Qaddafi....

We’ve still got some work to do.  We got to break the backlog of disability claims.  I know that over the past year, the backlog has actually grown due to new claims from Agent Orange. But let me say this -- and I know Secretary Shinseki agrees -- when our veterans who fought for our country have to fight just to get the benefits that you’ve already earned, that’s unacceptable. So this is going to remain a key priority for us....

We’re facing some tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order. But I want to be absolutely clear: We cannot, we must not, we will not, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans....

I’ve proposed a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans with a disability. When Congress returns from recess, this needs to be at the top of their agenda....

Now, the full Obama text:

President Obama's remarks to the American Legion, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT: Hello Legionnaires! It is wonderful to see all of you. Let me, first of all, thank Commander Foster for your introduction and for your lifetime of service to your fellow Marines, soldiers and veterans. On behalf of us all, I want to thank Jimmie and I want to thank your entire leadership team for welcoming me here today. Thank you very much.

Your National Adjutant, Dan Wheeler; your Executive Director, your voice in....

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Mitt Romney: 'We can't lead the world by hoping our enemies will hate us less'

Mitt Romney at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention san antonio 8-30-11

Coincidence or not, President Obama and a Republican frontrunner who would replace him, Mitt Romney, gave dueling speeches to American veterans today. Romney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Obama to the American Legion in Minneapolis.

As we often do, we are publishing the full texts of both addresses so that Ticket readers can see for themselves the scope and nuance of the men's spoken words.

First, some Romney excerpts:

Today we are united not only by our faith in America. We are united also by our concern for America....

Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart? He seems truly confused not only about America’s past but our future....

We stand near a threshold of profound economic misery. Four more years on the same political path could prove disastrous...

This is the first time in my memory that massive defense cuts were proposed without any reference to the missions that would be foreclosed and the risks to which our country and its men and women in uniform would be exposed. Cuts of this magnitude can only be the product of one of two mistaken beliefs.

On the one hand is wishful thinking that the world is becoming a safer place. The opposite is true.  Consider simply the Jihadists, a near-nuclear Iran, a turbulent Middle East, an unstable Pakistan, a delusional North Korea, an assertive Russia, and an emerging global power called China.  No, the world is not becoming safer.

And so, on the other hand, that leaves us with the belief that America should become a lesser power. It flows from the conviction that if we are weak, tyrants will choose to be weak as well; that if we could just talk more, engage more, pass more U.N. resolutions, that peace will break out.  That may be what they think in that Harvard faculty lounge, but it’s not what they know on the battlefield!

But American leadership is more than a budget fight. America must lead with clarity of intent, a commitment of purpose and unlimited resolve....

Our Air Force is now older and smaller than it has been for decades. Our Navy has fewer ships than it is has had since World War One. The Navy says it needs 313 ships to fulfill its missions around the world.  It only has 284 ships and we’re on track to drop down to the low 200s....

During World War Two, we built 1,000 ships per year with 1,000 people in the Bureau of Ships – the purchasing department, if you will. In the 1980’s we built 17 ships per year, with 4,000 people in purchasing. Today, for 9 ships a year, it takes 25,000 people!

We’ve lost a couple of years, but we haven’t lost our way....

Now, here is the full Romney text:

Gov. Mitt Romney's Address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, as provided by his office

It’s a privilege to be addressing the veterans who defended our liberty in the past, and who defend the memory and dignity of every veteran today.

I was born in 1947 – a quintessential baby boomer. I grew up in the shadow of....

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She's baack! Hillary Clinton questions return to Obama White House

Hillary Clinton
They've started again -- the Hillary questions.

Will the once-vanquished first lady, who's been the solid voice of administration foreign policy since Day One, challenge White House incumbent Barack Obama for the Democrats' presidential nomination a year from now in Charlotte, N.C.?

Of course, she and everyone will say no, no, no -- until the day they might say, well, actually, yes.

Or until the day the ex-state senator takes Joe Biden off the 2012 ticket and replaces the aging gaffemeister with her because Obama is in so much trouble and the party's big-money people from New York and California insist that the Harvard guy needs a woman's help. And they don't mean Oprah.

The Hillary question came up again Monday at the White House briefing. Jay Carney, with his Where's Waldo glasses, tried unsuccessfully to joke it off. Similar queries will ...

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President Obama reminds U.S. of Hurricane Katrina for some reason


President Obama's statement on Hurricane Katrina, as provided by the White House

Six years ago today, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, upending families and ravaging communities – and no one will forget the tragic events of those days. Barack Obama staring into the future 8-28-11

But what’s required of us is more than remembrance – what’s required of us is our continued efforts to make sure that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast fully recover, and to make sure that our response to such disasters is the best it can possibly be.

Over the past several years, we’ve seen what Americans are capable of when tested. We’ve seen the grit and determination of people on the Gulf Coast coming together to rebuild their communities, brick by brick, block by block. 

At the same time, we’ve made sure the federal government is doing its part to help. We’ve cut through red tape to free up funding for recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi.

We’ve taken steps to help school systems get children the tools and resources they need for a proper education. We’ve broken through gridlock on behalf of tens of thousands of displaced families, making sure they have long-term housing solutions. And we’ll keep at it until these communities have come back stronger than before.

When it comes to disaster response, we’ve worked very seriously to enhance our preparedness efforts so that Americans are ready before disaster strikes, and to strengthen our recovery capabilities so that we’re more resilient after disaster strikes. 

Over the last week, we have experienced the power of another storm, Hurricane Irene. Before the storm made landfall, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA worked closely with our state and local partners to preposition supplies and teams of first responders, and support their response efforts.

Those response efforts are ongoing and we will continue that partnership, responding as quickly and effectively as possible, for as long as necessary, until the affected communities are back on their feet.

Today is a reminder of not just the immediate devastation that can be caused by these storms, but the long term needs of communities impacted by disasters – whether in Mississippi or Alabama, Tennessee or Missouri, North Dakota, or the east coast states impacted by Hurricane Irene. This administration will stand by those communities until the work is done.     ####

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Photo: Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Obama and his aides hail governments' response to Tropical Storm Irene

Queens New York resident cleans up after Tropical Storm Irene 8-28-11


President Obama's remarks on Tropical Storm Irene, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody. I’m joined today by my secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and administrator of FEMA, Craig Fugate, to provide a brief update on our ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Irene.

First, let me say that this is a storm that has claimed lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones and those whose lives have been affected by the storm. You need to know that America will be with you in your hour of need.

While the storm has weakened as it moves north, it remains a dangerous storm that continues to produce heavy rains.  One of our chief concerns before Irene made landfall was the possibility...

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Weekly remarks: GOP's Dean Heller sees regs killing jobs; Obama 9/11 should bring unity

Capitol Hill

Weekly remarks by Sen. Dean Heller, as provided by Republican Party leadership

Hi, I’m Senator Dean Heller from the great state of Nevada.   

Americans have had to endure great hardships over the past few years. This recession has robbed millions of people of their jobs, their homes and their sense of security.

No state has been hit harder than Nevada. My state has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. There is no question that the status quo of dysfunctional government must end. People from all over the country are struggling just to get by and are desperate for real solutions.

Unfortunately, job creation and economic growth has taken a back seat to political posturing and grandstanding in Washington.

It is clear that the approach of this administration and its supporters have taken for economic recovery has failed miserably. 

Out of control spending, a healthcare law that no one can afford, and a seemingly endless....

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Hurricane Irene: Obama issues his own storm warning, then takes his own advice

Hurricane Irene off the Florida coast 8-26-11 via NOAA's GOES-5 satellite

President Obama issued his own Hurricane Irene warning this morning and then decided to take his own advice.

He's cutting short his vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the New England Coast and returning to the White House this evening instead of this weekend. His family is not.

In a three-minute statement for the benefit of media cameras (Scroll down for full text), Obama underlined the federal government's preparations and stressed that anyone in the projected path of the storm should take immediate precautions.

"Don’t wait," he said. "Don’t delay. We all hope for the best, but we have to be prepared for the worst.  All of us have to take this storm seriously."

He noted the Pentagon had ordered an aircraft carrier group of 27 ships based in Virginia out to sea to protect itself, one of those counter-intuitive military maneuvers that puzzles some civilian minds. But, of course, they're crossing in front of the storm's path and will be safely out of its way to the east side by late today rather than helplessly tied up at docks.

See the satellite photo above of Irene taken today just off the East coast of Florida headed for the Carolinas.

The political point of all this the year before a presidential election, of course, is to show decisive executive action in the face of a possible crisis. The reality is he was not going to get any more golf in overnight anyway and the appearance of being at the helm in the White House is politically important.

And, the letter I as in Hurricane Irene is not that far from the letter K as in Hurricane Katrina.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Statement by President Obama on Hurricane Irene, as provided by the White House

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody. I want to say a few words about Hurricane Irene, urge Americans to take it seriously, and provide an overview of our ongoing federal preparations for what's likely to be an extremely dangerous and costly storm.

I’ve just convened a conference call with senior members of my emergency response team and....

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Marco Rubio at Reagan Library: 'Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up'

If you're hale, hearty and running for president on the Republican ticket, you might be out of luck adding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to your team. More on that in a bit.

At the personal invitation of former first lady Nancy Reagan, the first-term U.S. senator spoke Tuesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Scroll down for Rubio's full text and click here for a video version.

It was something of a West Coast political coming-out party for the Floridian, who's been more focused on things Florida and Washington is his early months in office.

The 40-year-old former state legislator told the overflow audience about his Cuban-immigrant roots, his family, his experience coming of age during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, his belief in the American free enterprise system and his conviction that America can be both a prosperous and compassionate nation.

But some of the most interesting parts of the evening came before and after the formal remarks.

Rubio entered to the cheers of the crowd with former first lady Nancy Reagan on his arm. She'd written to Nancy-Reagan-stumbles-Marco-Rubio invite him to speak.

Before Rubio took the podium, there was an incident the Ticket described earlier today, when the 90-year-old presidential widow started to fall.

After the speech, there were written questions submitted earlier by attendees and some from the audience.

The first was, "If your mother asks you to accept the V.P. spot, what would you say?"

There was much whooping and cheering at that, including someone who yelled out what sounded like, "Stop Obama!"

Rubio cracked, "Am I getting heckled at the Ronald Reagan center? Is there another question there?"

He continued, "I'm just going to say this -- it's a great honor to be thought of in that way. As I

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Obama on Libya: Mission Accomplished, almost

vacationing president Obama gives a speech in the woods on Libya not out of the woods yet 8-22-11

The vacationing Barack Obama was walking through the woods on Martha's Vineyard today, when he decided to give a speech to the nation on Libya.

Fortunately, a podium was growing nearby, along with the all-important presidential seal.

So, the Real Good Talker did speak. For about seven minutes. And, as usual, his full text is below.

Obama said Kadafi's hours are numbered, though some resistance continues. He celebrated rebel valor, NATO teamwork and expressed the hope that unlike so many revolutions in history, this one would not turn on itself, but would lead to a peaceful transition to a new democratic Libya in the community of nations.

When he started the war on Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi way back in March, Obama wasn't trying to oust Kadafi. In fact, he vowed to prohibit that kind of mission creep. And no U.S. boots on the ground for sure.

Obama then was flying off with his family that weekend to tour South America. Much of Obama's historical political persona was based on being strongly opposed to U.S. military action in the internal fighting of a Muslim nation, that being Iraq.

Fighting terrorist Muslims in Afghanistan was OK with him. Also droning them in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Syria's brutal dictator could continue killing hundreds of his people with only verbal warnings. But in March, there was a new sandy landscape of Libya for Tomahawk missiles.

Obama was slow to explain to Americans then how after 42 years of brutal Kadafi rule going....

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Libya war news draws Obama statement from vacation: A tyrant's grasp slips

Libyans in Benghazi celebrate entry of rebel troops into Tripoli 8-21-11


President Obama statement on Libya, as provided by the vacation White House

Tonight, the momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point.

Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant. The Qadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.

Obama lays Golf on Martha's vineyard 8-21-11 The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Qadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Qadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya.

He needs to relinquish power once and for all.

Meanwhile, the United States has recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.

At this pivotal and historic time, the TNC should continue to demonstrate the leadership that is necessary to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the people of Libya, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting the institutions of the Libyan state, and pursuing a transition to democracy that is just and inclusive for all of the people of Libya.

A season of conflict must lead to one of peace.
The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people.

Going forward, the United States will continue to stay in close coordination with the TNC.

We will continue to insist that the basic rights of the Libyan people are respected. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy.    ####


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Photos: Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters (Benghazi residents celebrate rebel entry into Tripoli); Steven Senne / Associated Preess (Obama golfs on Martha's Vineyard, Aug. 21).


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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