No, honest, Bill Clinton swears he's really for Obama -- and a female president someday
After weeks of diddling and dawdling doing the statesman-like work expected of ex-presidents combating hunger, disease and other bad things, Big Bill Clinton finally hit the campaign trail Wednesday on behalf of the rookie who denied Hillary Clinton her rightful place back in the White House.
As The Ticket noted in an item last night with details from The Times' Faye Fiore, B. Clinton was down in Florida where Barack Obama is making a real race of it with John McCain, who is around the age of so many of the Sunshine State's retirees. Clinton is good at what he does, talk. As The Ticket reported earlier this week.
But we've got another version of Clinton's first event now from the Swamp, along with a speech transcript.
There Clinton was in sunny Orlando, speaking for the freshman Illinois senator but also for Clinton's own legacy, which many feel he tarnished with intra-party bitterness on behalf of his wife during the rugged Democratic primary season.
Remember that video with Clinton asking, When's the last time we elected a president with so little experience?
Not surprisingly, as Sen. Clinton argued so often in the primaries but still lost, B. Clinton was pointing out his belief that Americans were so much better off under his administration than the succeeding Republican. Presumably, things would go back to better with another Democrat like Obama because Clinton isn't running.
After ticking off a list of current financial woes afflicting average Americans, including rising credit card debt and home foreclosures, the former president said:
"Look at the mess we have in our financial system. Compare this to what happened before. It wasn't like this, this is not accidental, folks. You know, where I grew up in Arkansas we had a saying that if you find a turtle on a fence post, chances are it didn't get there by accident. It did not have to be this way. It matters who the president is. It matters what the decisions are. It matters what the policies are."
Yada. Yada. Lots of economics.
Then he got to the point of why the Obama campaign is paying for this trip:
"Here's why you ought to be for Barack Obama. Number one, he's got the right philosophy. He knows you have to grow an economy from the ground up, not from the top down. Number two, he's got better answers. Better answers for the economy, for energy, for healthcare, for education. He knows what it will take to get this country back on track.
"I have carefully read everything these candidates put out. And I'm telling you it matters. Because the history is this, notwithstanding what people think about us politicians, the truth is virtually every person elected as president does his, and someday I hope her, very best to keep the commitments made in the campaign."
Gee, The Ticket wonders which "her" Clinton has in mind. Maybe Sarah Palin?
The ex-president said a lot more. But you get the gist. And we've published a transcript here viewable by clicking on the "Read more" line below. Our blogging buddy Frank James has a speech report over there at the Swamp.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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Photo credit: John Raoux / Associated Press
Text of Speech by former President Bill Clinton at Barack Obama Rally, Orlando, FL., Oct. 1, 2008:
Clinton: Thank you very much. Thank you. Let's give Margo another hand. That's hard to do. She did a good job.
I want to thank President Hitt, State Representative Darren Soto, the College Dems here at UCF -- the students, the faculty, the union representatives, all the other supporters of Barack Obama for president who are here. Thank you for being here.
Folks, this is the first good political speech I've had a chance to give since I was at Denver at the Democratic Convention -- and I wanted to go it in Florida, and I'm glad to be here.
I'm here because I love my country and I love this state, and you know we have to change America's course. I'm here, in the words of the group of former supporters of my wife, "because Hillary sent me" -- because none of us worked all that hard all through this year to see this election come to naught. We know we have got to change the course of America. And I want to talk to you today about the things that I want you to say to people all over this state and your friends all over this country who are not at this rally.
We have to elect a president who will rebuild the American dream, repair a badly shattered financial system, and restore America's standing in the world. And that's the job. Every four years when the America people elect a president, they not only vote for a person; they say what they believe the job is. That is the job.
And this country is in a mess -- almost no new jobs, incomes declining, heathcare costs of doubled, college costs up 75% -- credit card debt going though the roof, home mortgages cratering, home values cratering, the price of gasoline, food and utilities going up. And look at the mess that we have in our financial system. Compare that to what happened before.
It wasn't like this -- this is not accidental, folks. You know, where I grew up in Arkansas we had a saying that if you find a turtle on a fencepost, chances are it didn't get there by accident. It did not have to be this way. It matters who the president is. It matters what the decisions are. It matters what the policies are.
Decisions took us from a period where we had 22.7 million new jobs down to one where we're going to wind up with less than 5 million in eight years. Decisions took us from a period where median income went up $7,500 across all racial groups in America to a period where it's dropped $2,000. Decisions took us from moving nearly 8 million people from poverty into the middle class to moving almost 5.5 million people from the middle class back into poverty.
Decisions took us from paying $600 billion down on the national debt to adding almost $4 trillion to the national debt in just eight years. Decisions have something to do with what happened on Wall Street too. The decision in the last four years to say these big investment firms didn't have to keep nearly as much capital in reserve to cover their debts; the decision to say there would no longer be any limit on the ability of massive funds to bid down the value of stocks in a hysterical stock run to compound our financial crisis; decisions -- and you have to make that decision.
Here's why you ought to be for Barack Obama. Number one, he's got the right philosophy. He knows you have to grow an economy from the ground up, not from the top down.
Number two, he's got better answers -- better answers for the economy, for energy, for healthcare, for education. He knows what it will take to get this country back on track. I have carefully read everything these candidates have put out, and I'm telling you it matters because the history is this: Notwithstanding what people think about us politicians, the truth is virtually every person elected president does his -- and some day I hope her -- very best -- very best -- every president does his very best to keep the commitments made in the campaign. You need to know what they stand for. Obama's answers are better.
Number three, he's got better understanding, better advisors and better instincts on this economic stuff. We just have -- all of us who have been involved in this have been through a very harrowing period these last few days, as you know. When all this happened, it was a matter that was unprecedented in the lifetimes of the people who were dealing with it.
What did Barack Obama do? First of all, he got his advisors on the phone. Then he called all of mine. Then he called some more. And you know what he said? Tell me what the problem is and how to fix it and don't bother me with the politics. Let's do the right thing and we'll sell it to America.
And let me just say, I know that all across America anything that Congress does this week is going to be unpopular, but here's why you ought to be for action: It has nothing to do with bailing out Wall Street. The Wall Street that we knew is gone. It vanished in two months. There is not a single free-standing investment bank left on Wall Street.
The last two, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have become bank holding companies, which means they are going to be regulated and they will never again be able to make some of the high-risk investments that got us in this trouble. That is not the issue.
Here's the problem: When people lose confidence in the financial system, they lose confidence in all of it. People have lost confidence in their local banks. Bank accounts are only insured up to $100,000. That's more than most people have, but not more than small businesses and not-so-small businesses and wealthy people have.
Everybody I know in the county where Hillary and I live that's got more than $100,000 in the bank is trying to figure out how to take it out of bank and put it somewhere else. The less money in the bank, the less money they have to loan. That means small businesses can't get loans. The biggest car dealership in America last week stopped financing new cars.
It means sooner or later you won't be able to buy a refrigerator on an installment plan. That's what it means. This is all about America; this is not about them. It's about having a credible stock market so if you've got a 401(k) plan, your retirement is not utterly destroyed by people who made decisions that have nothing to do with the investments that were made on your behalf just because of all the irrational cut-downs.
And that's why Senator Obama will support this plan, and that's why people in both parties are finally sobering up and they're going to support this. But what Barack Obama knows is it is not enough to fix the money system. You have to have a fix for the economic system so they'll be something good for money to be invested in.
Now, one of the big reasons nobody else talks about that we got on all this trouble the last seven years is you had a lot of money in America and there were no jobs being created in anything but housing. You cannot grow an economy entirely on housing and consumer spending, asking people like you to max out your credit cards and homeowners to take out another mortgage on their home.
Why did that happen? Because America has walked away from its responsibility to pursue energy independence through clean energy, energy efficiency, home- grown energy that can liberate America. And I don't care what kind of work you do and I don't care what subject you're studying here.
The single most important thing the next president can do is to focus with dogged intensity on doing everything possible to promote energy efficiency, clean energy technology, home- grown American ingenuity to bring America back. And that is profoundly important.
The other thing I want to say on this good ideas business is we are spending 16 percent of our income on healthcare. No other country spends more than 11 percent -- no other rich country -- but we're the only people that can't figure out how to ensure everybody, partly because we do things like subsidize drug companies under this Medicare Advantage program -- and give them $1,100 a year to provide $600 of extra service. Every one of you would do that for nearly 100 percent profit.
Barack Obama will clean that stuff up, expand health insurance and make it affordable to all Americas.
So, he's got a better philosophy, he's got better answers, he's got a better understanding and better advisors on these complex economic matters. He's got a better vice presidential partner.
Now, look, as a practical matter -- as a practical matter, when the next president takes the oath of office, he will have to settle down and think about, right now, what are we doing to do about this financial mess? Did what the Congress did back in October, which they're going to do this week, I think. Is that enough?
And I'll just give you one example: You can fix all these financial institutions, but this legislation does not go far enough to help ordinary home owners. Now, I want to tell you something about that. Every poll shows that the American people are not much more sympathetic with people who are stuck with these subprime mortgages than they are with Wall Street bankers stuck with bad investments.
That's not what this is about either. Every time you foreclose on a home of a working family that can make a decent mortgage payment, it costs the economy, that day, $225,000. Why? Because you can't sell the house again for what you sold it for originally, because the local governments lose revenues, and because all your neighbors have their home values go down, right?
So Hillary and others, and yesterday in his speech in Nevada Senator Obama, all of the Democrats that really have studied this have said, we have got to do something to be more aggressive in allowing these good, decent, hardworking people who did not take out their mortgages in bad faith, have renegotiated terms because they can stay in their homes.
It is worth it to us to spend $50,000 over the next five years to save $225,000 today. This economy cannot stand another 2 million people having their homes foreclosed on next year, and Barack Obama will do something about it.
But the point is, he's going to have to worry about that, about our energy policy, about our healthcare policy. Now, Senator Obama has spoken a lot about how we ought to relate to the world, and, yes, he'll get out and travel some in the first year, and we should want him to do it, but he is going to have to be really focused on fixing this economy.
That means that the role of the vice president in repairing quickly our relations in the rest of the world will be relatively more important in the first two years of the next presidency -- and I'm just telling you, you can talk to me or anybody else who's spent any time in Washington and they will tell you there is nobody -- nobody in the entire United States Senate that understands the political, the economic, and the security challenges and opportunities of the whole rest of the world better than Joe Biden does. He is a superb choice.
So, the last reason you ought to be for him is he'd be a lot better for Florida. This is a young state. It is an increasingly diverse state. There's a great article in the paper today just talking -- in one of the national papers talking about the increasing diversity just to Florida's Hispanic population -- never mind all the rest of it.
You need a president who understands that you are a microcosm of America's future and the world's present, and who understands that we have to make college more affordable and we have to -- and we have to save Social Security and Medicare for the retirees who come here and invest their money and pay their taxes to operate the University of Central Florida and other colleges.
Now, I'll just give you one example. When I took office, they told me that Medicare was going to go broke in 1999, and the Republicans had all these ideas basically to save it by halfway destroying it, and instead we saved money by cutting out waste, stopping improper payments, having better oversight.
We did a lot of things that were smart. When I left office, Medicare was good to 2026. We added 27 years on it. Now we're back in the soup again. Why? One reason is when they passed this Medicare drug benefit, which is a perfectly good idea, they insisted on barring the federal government from bargaining for lower prices for medicine for seniors that we buy in bulk.
The state of Florida can do it, every big corporation can do it, the Veterans Administration does it, but the federal government was told to take your hard-earned tax money and shovel it to big pharmaceutical companies in basically uncompetitive prices.
So if you want to save Medicare and improve education in Florida, you better vote for Barack Obama. He's got the best plan to do that. He's got a really good plan to do backup catastrophic insurance, to cut the cost of insurance so people won't have to move off the coast as global warming makes storms and hurricanes more frequent. It's an important thing, but it's disproportionately important to Florida and to the Gulf Coast.
He has a plan to support the space industry, which I think is important not just to Florida but to America. This is a very big deal. Again, I like this about Senator Obama because I supported the space program, and if you take a poll, the American people say, we're out of money; what in the world are we doing putting a dollar into space?
But you hire politicians to tell you what they think the truth is, not just what is popular at the moment. We have a vested interest in staying on the frontiers of technological change and many of the answers to our environmental and other challenges will be found by continuing to push into space.
The last thing we ought to do is to reverse our investments in medical research and development and other kinds of scientific research and into the space program. We need to keep pushing America into the future. That's how we're going to bring the economy back. That's how we're going to become energy independent.
So that's my case for the people that aren't here, for the people that are still undecided. You do not have to say one bad word about Senator Obama's opponent; you just have to go out and tell them the truth: The job of the next president is to rebuild the American dream, repair the financial system, restore America's leadership.
On those issues the Obama-Biden ticket, and particular Senator Obama, have a better philosophy, better answers, better understanding, better advisors, a better vice presidential candidate, and a better plan for Florida.
So, folks, all over America today, except at political rallies for our side, there's a lot of pessimism and gloom and doom, and really good people are waking up with their guts in knots, worried about how in the wide world they are going to pay their bills.
There was a survey issued two weeks ago that said last year 45 percent of working-age Americans had trouble paying their medical bills, and half of them had health insurance that was increasingly inadequate. Now, America has a choice. We can keep worrying about these things or we can do something about them.
We can be fundamentally pessimistic and defeatist or we can act like Americans and say, hey, as my dear departed mother used to say, this is no hill for a stepper. Listen, we can turn this country around. We can make this economy hum again. We can give the government back to ordinary citizens and not to special interests. We can have a future that is brighter than our glorious past.
Audience: Yes, we can.
Clinton: But we have to change, and we have to make a decision. And you just remember what I told you. If you look at -- there's lots of academic surveys on this, which always surprise the cynics -- people running for president, if they win, actually try to do what they promised to do. And almost always when they don't it's because circumstances render it impossible or because they have changed their mind for good and sufficient reasons based on evidence.
But this is the best evidence we have. Look at what they stand for. Look at the philosophy, look at the programs, look at the commitments. This is not close, folks. It is not a close question. This country is in deep trouble, but its potential is absolutely limitless, and I think you know who best represents that potential.
I think you know when you vote for Barack Obama you're not just voting for him. You're voting for yourselves, your dreams, the children you have or you hope to have, and everything you want America to be in the 21st century. You're voting to make us a better partner with the rest of the world in a world where we have more partners and fewer adversaries.
You're voting for a person whose promise to rebuild the military and use its power responsibly, but to always, always choose it as a last resort, not a first option. You're voting for a person whose life story, interestingly enough, is not altogether different from a lot of you who are in this audience who found your way to America or whose parents found your way to America, and we have to say Barack Obama and Joe Biden are our future.
This is our election. This is our country and we are going to take it back and move it forward. Thank you and God bless you. Thank you. ###