In her own words: Hillary Clinton on Barack Obama (and herself)
From time to time, instead of excerpts with comments and background, The Ticket publishes the full text of a statement or speech so readers can get the full flavor of the remarks for themselves.
Here we're publishing Sen. Hillary Clinton's introduction today of Sen. Barack Obama before about 2,000 "Women for Obama" assembled in New York City's Hilton Towers. We're all indebted to the tired fingers of The Times' Louise Roug, who transcribed the lengthy remarks. Also, there's a video excerpt down below the Read More line.
The text begins here:
Good morning, New York. Thank you all. Thank you so much. Thank you for being here with all of us this morning. That's such a great way to start a day…I am grateful to all of you who have come together on behalf of Sen. Obama's campaign, on behalf of unity in the Democratic party. [loud applause]
One of the challenges of being in such a packed ballroom is that they have these bright lights which are in our eyes. I can't see anybody who is out there. But I know you're there. And I know you'll be there in November. [She then thanked local politicians in the crowd.]
Barack and I were talking before we came out about the rigors of the campaign trail, which are many. But it is such an extraordinary privilege to have done what we both of us had the honor of doing over the last many months. To travel this country on behalf of the values and ideals that we share and to see, day after day, the resilience and resourcefulness, the goodness and greatness, of the American people.
There are some differences. For example, Barack said, 'you look kind of rested.' I said, well, 'kind of' is the right descriptor. But I'm actually -– don't tell anybody –- trying to exercise a little bit, which I'm told does wonders for a person.
Because during the campaign, I'm sure you've read, Barack would get up faithfully every morning and go to the gym. And I would get up, and get my hair done. It's one of those Ginger Rogers-Fred Astaire things that are part of our lives.
But we share this remarkable journey. And I could not be prouder to have this opportunity in front of so many of my friends and supporters to express my confidence in his candidacy and my commitment in ensuring that he will take the oath of office come next January.
I have had countless conversations with many people since the end of my campaign and I know how difficult it is for people who have invested their time, their energy, their money, their emotion, their entire being into any campaign, into any campaign, into any cause, that it really is an extraordinarily personal experience and I think it's one of the great opportunities that we offer to ourselves because of our political system, that really does depend upon thousands, hundred of thousands, millions of people coming together to support someone like Barack or me who decides to step into the public arena.
When it is over, I know how difficult that is. I have been in winning and losing campaigns for a very long time. And I have been in primary campaigns here in our Democratic party and I understand how challenging it is to turn on a dime, to say, O.K., close that chapter, now we're onto next chapter.
It is a process and it does take time for people to take a deep breath and go forward. But, of course, those who supported me, for who I am forever grateful, knew that we were on this journey together because we believed so strongly in the kind of country we want to see again and anyone who voted for me have so much in common with those who voted for Barack and it is critical that we join forces, because the Democratic party is a family –- sometimes a dysfunctional family –- but it is a family and we care about what is going to happen to the economy and health care and education, what is going to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan and to our young men and women in uniform, what is going to happen to energy policy and whether we ever take on climate change in a meaningful way.
We know that all of these concerns are ones that we get up in the morning with, we worry about and go to bed at night, still, wondering will we ever start acting like Americans again, will we roll up our sleeves collectively and start tackling those problems. There's nothing beyond us, once we make up our minds that this is the work we will do and that work cannot be done if we do not have a Democratic president in the White House.
The stakes in this election are high for everyone. Not just in this country but around the world. We have seen in a very painful way what happens when an American president leads us in the wrong direction, making decisions not premised on our values and who we really are.
We have seen the impact and many of us have witnessed it first-hand, traveling around the world: the quizzical, even angry, looks and words that come from those who just can't understand what has happened to America.
So the stakes are high for everyone, literally around the world. But I would argue they are particularly high for women. It matters....
...greatly who our president is. Whether or not we will pay attention to the needs of the women who work in this hotel, who served this breakfast, who got up before the crack of dawn and came here, hoping the children they left behind a locked door or dropped off at day care would be safe, and wondering whether their work will be rewarded fairly or whether they will still be discriminated against.
Equal pay for equal work has been in our laws for more than 40 years but it is not yet the reality. And it's going to take an American president who understands…how hard it still is for so many women to keep body and soul together, to make it clear that fairness is an American value, that fairness in the workplace to women will be the law of the land that is enforced once and for all. Finally.
Women making the minimum wage -- and most minimum wage workers are women -- finally got a raise after 10 years have seen that minimum raise in the minimum wage eaten up by the high cost of groceries and gas increasing, problems of being able to afford all that comes with all that comes with raising a family, making a life.
And we're not going to raise the minimum wage again until we have an American president who makes it a priority.
And we know very well that when it comes to health care women make most of the decision, not only for ourselves but also for our families. And the healthcare system is not equal and it's not fair. Among those 47 million Americans without insurance, the majority are women, working at low-wage jobs that don't provide insurance and certainly don't pay enough so that you can afford it on your own.
We've got to have a Democratic president so that the dream many of us share, that we will finally have quality, affordable health care for every single American is realized.
And education is a concern for all of us. But again it's women and moms who worry about class size and whether or not there are enough resources at the school and whether a son or daughter is learning
and getting ahead in life and whether or not we'll be able to afford to send that young motivated person to college. This is the passport to opportunity and for too long we have seen that window close and people unable to journey through.
We need a Democratic president who will fix the problems with No Child Left Behind. Start over, in my opinion so that we get a good education policy…and who will once again make higher education within the financial reach of everyone willing to seek it out.
There's so much to be done here at home, and of course, around the world. If we don't have a president who's committed to climate change and doesn't discover it four months before he's about to leave office at a meeting in Japan where all of sudden he says, 'well, gosh, this is a problem, I sure hope the next president does something about it.' Well, so do I. That's why we need a Democratic president.
p>Once we finally get the two oil men out of the White House, we need a Democratic president [inaudible among the cheers.]
For every mom or dad, husband or wife, son or daughter, who is anxiously awaiting word from their loved one in Iraq or Afghanistan, we need a president who's going to end the war in Iraq and win the war in Afghanistan once and for all.
I want you to think about how our country will look a year from today, after the new president has been in office for a number of months, what will be happening here in America and around the world. Will we be seeing progress again or not.
Will we be seeing a Supreme Court that has finally stopped its rightward turn by a president who understands what's at stake for all of us? Will we be seeing a return to support family planning around the world and here at home, and protecting a woman's right to choose?
Will America once again be respected? Will diplomacy be our preferred tool for furthering our interests and pursuing peace in the world? The answer to these and so many questions are literally within our hands.
I think our hard-fought primary was good for the Democratic party. I think it brought more people to the polls and energized millions and it was an opportunity for so many who'd never been involved in politics or even cared about it to show up and be counted. Now we have to add to those numbers.
Now we've got to add to those numbers. Barack and I brought out more voters than anyone ever has. And we need to build on that base and bring even more people into the Democratic party because it's not just bringing them into our party but it is bringing them into a better future.
So I ask for your help. I ask you to help in every way you can. Coming today and being so generous will be a big boost to Sen. Obama's campaign. He's trying to run a 50-state campaign. He is trying to reach Democrats, independents and repentant Republicans wherever he can find them. I know a little bit about how expensive that is.
So your contributions are incredibly important. And then we need you on the phones, walking on the streets and reaching out to your circles and making those circles grow and grow until you have touched everyone you can with your understanding of why you must be part of this transformative campaign.
Barack and I were together last night at a smaller event that helped to begin the process of raising the money that will be necessary for the general election and I said what I have said before.
I have been involved in Democratic politics for a long time. I don't count my teenage years as a Goldwater girl. That I have excised from my memory. But for 40 years I have worked for candidates, I have been staffing candidates, I have been surrogating, I have raised money, I have done literature drops, I have done all that one can do at every level of American politics.
And in those 40 years, I have lived through 10 presidential elections. Democrats won only three of them. I want you to remember that. Because what should happen is that Republicans hold a press conference and they say, 'We apologize to America and the world and because we have so badly mishandled the trust we were given, we're just not going to run.'
I don't think that's going to occur, which means we have to win. They're not going to go gently into that good night. No matter how self-evident it is to us – that this is the man, this is the candidate, this is the one we should be voting for, working for and making our friend.
There are millions of your fellow Americans who aren't there yet. So we have to really be engaged. And that's what I'm asking you to do. Do it for your children and your grandchildren. Do it for your jobs and your health care. Do it for the education of future generations, to save the planet from the threat climate change and to break our addiction to foreign oil. Do it to end a war and win another.
And do it to once again feel proud that this great, great country of ours is viewed across the world for who we are, not for how President Bush and Vice President Cheney have presented to the rest of the world.
I am very proud to be here with someone I served with in the United States Senate, who I campaigned hard with and against, who I shared a stage with for 22 debates –- but who's counting -- and who I'm going to do everything I can and everything I am asked to make sure takes the oath of office on January 20th, 2009."
Obama then took the stage. "As someone shouted out in New Hampshire," he said, "she rocks."
Photo credits: (top) Spencer Platt / Getty Images; (bottom) Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images