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Barack Obama: Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio
Barack
Barack Obama
730 - Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio
September 17, 2012
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The President. Hello, Cincinnati! Thank you! Thank you so much. It is good to be back in Cincinnati. It is good to be in Ohio. It is great to be in this beautiful setting. I—it seems like we should have a picnic. Who's got the chicken? [Laughter] A little chicken, a little potato salad, baked beans. Who said beer? [Laughter]

It is beautiful. Can everybody please give Andrew a great round of applause for that wonderful introduction. You did great. Now, let me say, first of all, we could not be prouder of Andrew's service to our country as a veteran. We are grateful to him. Obviously, we're very proud of the work he's doing and the work he does with his union, but the thing I'm most proud of is the fact that he's got triplets and he's still standing. I had a chance to meet his wonderful wife. And triplets—that's serious. [Laughter] You cannot play man-to-man defense. You've got to go into a zone. [Laughter] So we're very proud of him.

And we also have here your outstanding mayor, Mark Mallory's in the house. And it is great to see all of you.

Audience member. Thank you!

The President. Thank you. Thank you.

Now, you may have heard that there's an election going on. And over the past couple of weeks, each side has been able to make its case. They had their thing down in Tampa; we had our thing in Charlotte. And now, just 15 days from now, Ohio, starting on October 2, you guys can start voting, and you've got a big choice to make. I honestly believe this is the clearest choice of any time in a generation. It's not just between two candidates or two political parties, but it is a choice between two fundamentally different visions for how we move forward as a country.

And our vision, our fight is for that basic bargain that built the greatest middle class on Earth and the strongest economy the world has ever known. It's a bargain that says, if you work hard, that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be rewarded; that everybody should get a fair shot, everybody should do their fair share, everybody should play by the same rules, from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, DC.

And 4 years ago, I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain eroding: too many jobs getting shipped overseas, too many families who were struggling with the costs of everything from groceries to gas to college to health care, racking up more and more debt just to keep up with expenses because paychecks weren't going up the way costs were. And then because of that debt, it made things that much harder. And when that house of cards collapsed in the worst recession since the Great Depression, we saw millions of Americans lose their jobs, homes, life savings. And we're still fighting to recover from that tragedy.

Now, the other side, they're more than happy to talk about what they think is wrong with America. They won't tell you how it started. But they're happy to talk about what's wrong. They don't do much to tell you what they're going to do to make it right. They want your vote, but they don't want to tell you their plan. And the reason is, is because the plan they've got is the same one that they've been offering for decades: tax cuts, tax cuts, gut a few regulations, and then let's try some more tax cuts. Tax cuts in good times; tax cuts in bad times. Tax cuts when we're at peace, and tax cuts when we're at war. You want to make a restaurant reservation or book a flight? You don't need the new iPhone—try a tax cut. [Laughter] Want to drop a few extra pounds? Try a tax cut. [Laughter] They've got one answer for everything.

Now, I've cut taxes too for folks who need it. Middle class families, you're paying about $3,600 less in Federal taxes since I've been President. I cut taxes for the middle class like I promised. Small businesses, I've cut taxes 18 separate times.

But I don't think another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs back to Ohio or pay down our deficit. I sure don't believe firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid will help grow our economy or compete with countries like China that are producing engineers and scientists. After all that we've been through, does anybody actually believe that rolling back regulations on Wall Street are somehow going to help the small businesswoman in Cincinnati expand or the construction worker who's been laid off?

Let me tell you, we have been there, we have tried that. We are not going back. [Applause] We're not going back. We're not going back to trickle-down. We're not going back to top-down, you're-on-your-own economics. We're not going to tell folks that you're on your own, because we believe we're all in this together. We don't think the economy grows from the top down; we think it grows from the middle out: from a strong middle class, from strong working families. When people are doing well in the middle, then everybody does well.

What happens when you've got a little more money in your pocket?

Audience members. You spend it!

The President. You spend it. And that means businesses have more customers. That means they make more profits, and then they hire more workers. And we get a virtuous cycle, going up, going forward. We are not going backwards. We are moving forward. That's what this election's about.

And I want you to know, Cincinnati, I have never promised that the path we're on is going to be quick or easy. As Bill Clinton reminded us at the convention, it's going to take more than a few years to solve challenges that have built up over decades. But let me tell you something, I know we will get there. When I hear some of these folks in the other party talk about a nation in decline, they are dead wrong. We've still got the best workers in the world. We've got the best entrepreneurs and the best businesses in the world. We've got the best scientists and researchers in the world. We got the best colleges and universities in the world. There's not a country on Earth that wouldn't trade places with the United States of America.

Our problems can be solved, and 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 to create new manufacturing jobs here in Ohio, to build on what we've already done to create a new energy strategy for America, building on what we've already done to improve education and bring down our deficit, turn the page on a decade of war. That's what we can do in the next 4 years, Cincinnati. That's why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States of America.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Now, I want everybody to be clear: The goals we've set are concrete, and they are achievable.

The first part of the plan is to export more products and outsource fewer jobs. After a decade of decline, this country has now created over half a million new manufacturing jobs in the last 2½ years, a whole lot of them here in Ohio.

When some of these other folks said we should let Detroit go bankrupt, when they said we should walk away from an industry that supports one in eight jobs in Ohio, I said, we're not going to go that way. I bet on American workers, and 3 years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back with nearly 250,000 jobs.

So now you've got a choice. We can give more tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas——

Audience members. No!

The President.——or we can start rewarding corporations and companies that are opening new plants and training new workers and creating new jobs right here in Ohio, right here in the United States of America. Right here.

Now, I understand my opponent's been running around Ohio claiming——

Audience members. Boo!

The President. Don't boo, vote. Vote.

But he's been running around Ohio claiming he's going to roll up his sleeves and he's going to take the fight to China. [Laughter]

Now, here's the thing. His experience has been owning companies that were called "pioneers" in the business of outsourcing jobs to countries like China. He made money investing in companies that uprooted from here and went to China. Pioneers. Now, Ohio, you can't stand up to China when all you've done is send them our jobs. You can talk a good game, but I like to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

And my experience has been waking up every single day and doing everything I can to make sure American workers get a fair shot in the global economy.

When other countries don't play by the rules, we've done something about it. We've brought more trade cases against China in one term than the previous administration did in two. And every case we've brought that's been decided, we won.

When Governor Romney said that stopping unfair surges in Chinese tires would be bad for America, bad for our workers, we ignored his advice, and we got over a thousand Americans back to work creating tires right here in the United States of America.

Earlier this year, I set up a new task force to aggressively go after unfair trade practices that harm our workers, and it's already delivering. Two months ago, we moved to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers.

Today my administration's launching a new action against China, this one against illegal subsidies that encourage companies to ship auto parts manufacturing jobs overseas. These are subsidies that directly harm working men and women on the assembly lines in Ohio and Michigan and across the Midwest. Your Senator, Sherrod Brown, has fought as hard as anybody to stop this. And we are going to stop it. It is not right, it is against the rules, and we will not let it stand.

American workers build better products than anybody. "Made in America" means something. Like Andrew said, when the playing field is level, America will always win. But what we need is folks who actually walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We don't need folks who during election time suddenly are worrying about trade practices, but before the election are taking advantage of unfair trading practices.

And, Ohio, if you stand with me, if you choose the path we're talking about, we're going to help big factories and small businesses double their exports. And we'll sell more goods around the world stamped with "Made in America," and we'll create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next 4 years.

We can do that, but I need your help to move forward.

Now, that's not all we're going to have to do to rebuild our economy. We've got to train our workers to fill good jobs. That's why the second part of my plan is to give more Americans the chance to earn the skills that they need to compete. Now, education was the gateway of opportunity for me. It was the gateway of opportunity for Michelle. It was the gateway of opportunity for a lot of you. Andrew—right now he's studying to get his degree with some help from Pell grants that we expanded, because he understands that even though he's doing well now, we've constantly got to build up our skills. It's the gateway to a middle class life.

Today, millions of students are paying less for college because we finally took on a system that wasted billions of taxpayer dollars using banks and lenders as middlemen. We said let's give the money directly to students, and we've been able to help millions of more young people get an education.

So now you've got a choice. The other side, you look at their budget, they're proposing to gut education just to pay for more tax breaks for the wealthy. That's one path.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. I'm offering a different path. We can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of an overcrowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they can't afford it. No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn't find any with the right skills here in the United States of America.

So, Cincinnati, I'm asking you to help me recruit a hundred thousand new math and science teachers in the next 10 years and improve early childhood education. Let's help give 2 million workers the chance to learn the skills they need at community colleges that will lead directly to a job. Let's work with colleges and universities to keep tuition down, to cut in half the tuition costs over the next 10 years. We can meet those goals together. That's the future we can choose.

Third thing, I've got a plan to control more of our own energy. After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel efficiency standards so that by the middle of the next decade, your cars and trucks will get twice—will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. That will save you money. That helps our national security, and it helps our environment.

We've doubled the amount of renewable energy we generate from wind and solar, and thousands of Americans, including here in Ohio, have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. We are less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 2 years.

Now, you've got a choice between a plan that reverses this progress or one that builds on it. Because as long as I'm President, I'm not going to let oil companies write this country's energy plan. And I'm not going to let them keep on collecting $4 billion in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare.

We've got a better path. We'll keep on investing in wind and solar and clean coal technology. We'll invest to help farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and our trucks. Let's put some construction workers back to work rebuilding our homes and our factories so they waste less energy.

And we've got to develop a nearly hundred-year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet. We can do it in a way that's safe. And if you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020, and we can support about 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. That's a plan for the future. It's not a plan looking backwards.

Number four, we're going to reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class. I put forward a plan that will reduce our deficit by $4 trillion. You don't have to take my word for it; independent analysis—they've looked at it.

Audience member. We believe you, it's okay!

The President. I appreciate that. But just in case you're skeptical, we've actually got real numbers behind it. I've worked with Republicans in Congress to already cut $1 trillion in spending. And we're willing to do more. I don't want a Government that's wasting money. It's got to be lean; it's got to be mean. It's got to make sure that it's focused on the people that are working hard, but need a ladder up. It's got to be focused on doing the things that help us grow. And there are programs that don't work, and we got to admit that.

I want to reform the Tax Code so it's simple and it's fair. I've actually done my own taxes. [Laughter] I don't know about some of these other folks, but I've done them, you know? So it's—so I know we can make a—it's more simple and more fair. But I also think we've got to ask the wealthiest households to pay a little bit more on incomes over $250,000: the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was President; the same rate we had when the economy created nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and we helped a lot of millionaires to boot.

Remember why. Because if we're helping middle class families, what happens? You're going to spend the money: middle out, not top down.

Now, in fairness, my opponent has a plan too when it comes to taxes. But as President Clinton pointed out, there's one thing missing from it: arithmetic. Arithmetic. They talk about—they say the most important thing we have to do is reduce the deficit. Right? That's what they say. Then the first thing they do is to spend trillions dollars more on tax breaks for the wealthy—not just the Bush tax cuts, on top of the Bush tax cuts—$5 trillion more. So they must have skipped math class when they were in school. It—because that math does not add up. [Laughter]

And whenever you ask them to explain the plan, they won't. They won't say how they'd pay for $5 trillion in new tax cuts. Understand how much $5 trillion is. I know sometimes this money—billions, trillions—it gets all mixed up. [Laughter] Five trillion dollars over 10 years means $500 billion every year.

Now, $500 billion is about the amount of our entire defense budget, everything we spend on our military. Everything—troops, planes, carriers—it's about $500 billion. So they're saying they're going to give a tax cut equivalent to our entire defense budget every single year.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. But they can't tell you how they're going to pay for it. And the truth is they can't pay for it without raising taxes on middle class families.

But then they—on top of that, they want to spend another $2 trillion in new military spending, they say, without adding to the deficit. But they don't tell you how they're going to do that. The only thing they can do is to keep trying to bluff their way through until November and hope that you won't call them on it.

But understand, Cincinnati, look, I want to work with them to reduce the deficit. I've said if the Republicans need more love, if they want me to walk the dog or—[laughter]—wash their car, I'm happy to do it. [Laughter] And I genuinely believe that most Americans—Democrats or Republicans—they just want us to solve problems.

So I'm ready and willing to work. But I refuse to ask middle class families to pay over $2,000 more so that millionaires and billionaires can pay less. I refuse to cut clean energy investments and put 125,000 clean energy jobs here in Ohio at risk just to give me a tax cut or Romney a tax cut. I refuse to ask more than 360,000 Ohio students to pay more for college or kick children out of Head Start programs or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor or elderly or disabled, just to pay for a tax cut for wealthy folks who don't need it.

And I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. Folks who have worked hard their whole lives, they shouldn't be spending their golden years at the mercy of an insurance company. They should retire with dignity and respect. And yes, we've got to reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we're going to do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by dumping the costs onto seniors.

Same thing with Social Security. We'll keep the promise of Social Security by taking responsible steps to strengthen it. But we're not going to turn it over to Wall Street.

Audience members. No!

The President. Now, rebuilding our economy is essential. But our prosperity at home is also linked to our policies abroad. And current events—the events of the past week—obviously remind us of that. Now, 4 years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq, and we did. I said it's time for us to start winding down the war in Afghanistan, and we are. We've got a new tower rising above the New York skyline, even as Al Qaida is on the path to defeat and Usama bin Laden is dead.

But what happened this past week underscores that we still face threats in the world. Now, we can't just pull back. We've got to stay engaged and involved for our security. But we've also got to remain vigilant. That's why, so long as I'm Commander in Chief, we will always have the strongest military the world has ever known. We'll do what's required to keep our personnel safe around the world.

And when our troops come home, when they take off their uniform, we will serve them as well as they've served us. Because in America, no one should—no one who fought for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads when they come home.

But, again, here you've got a choice too, because my opponent said it was "tragic" for me to end the war in Iraq. He still won't tell us how he's going to end the war in Afghanistan. And while he wants to spend more money on military programs that our Joint Chiefs say won't keep us safer, I'll use that money that we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and to put more people back to work rebuilding some of these bridges around Cincinnati, rebuilding schools and runways. After a decade of war, it's time to do some nation-building here at home.

So, Cincinnati, that's the choice you face. That's what this election comes down to; 15 days and you'll start making that choice. And over and over again, we've been told by our opponents that their way is the only way, that since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can't afford health insurance, hope you don't get sick. If a company is polluting the air your children breathe, well, that's the price of progress. If you can't afford to start a business or go to college, borrow money from your parents.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. Don't boo. Don't boo, vote.

Audience members. Vote! Vote! Vote!

The President. You know what, that's not who we are. That's not what this country is about. As Americans, we insist on personal responsibility. We insist on individual initiative. We're not going to help folks who can't help—who aren't even trying to help themselves. Nobody is entitled to success. You've got to earn it. We believe in somebody who's out there starting a business—the strivers, the dreamers, the risk takers—they drive our economy. That's what we believe in. The free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known. But we also believe that in this country, as citizens, we accept certain obligations to each other and to future generations. As citizens, we understand America is not just what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us, together, as one Nation, as one people.

And all of you understand that. The election 4 years ago wasn't about me. It was about all of you. It was about us. You're the reason that there's a cancer survivor in Medina that can afford a health care plan that covers preexisting conditions. You made that happen.

You're the reason a factory worker in Toledo who lost his job is back on the line building some of the best cars in the world. You did that. You're the reason that young man in Columbus whose mother worked three jobs to raise him can finally afford to go to college. That's because of you.

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. You're the reason we ended "don't ask, don't tell." You're the reason that thousands of families around this country are able to say to the ones who bravely served: "Welcome home." You made that happen.

So, Cincinnati, you can't turn back now. If you buy into the cynicism that says change is impossible, then change doesn't happen. If you give up on the idea that your voice matters, then somebody else fills the void. The folks who are writing the $10 million checks trying to buy this election, the folks who are trying to make it harder for you to vote, Washington politicians who want to make the decisions for you about who you can marry, want to tell women they can't make their own health care decisions, that's who will fill the void.

Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you can keep this country moving forward. It depends on you. It depends on you. You've got to register to vote before October 9. It depends on you to start showing up and start voting October 2. If you don't know how to do it, then right here—lift up that sign, young lady—"Gotta Vote." Go to gottavote.com. Find out how and where to vote.

And the good thing about voting early is then you can spend the rest of your time getting other folks to vote. Because we've come too far to turn back now. We've got too many good jobs to create. We've got too much homegrown energy to generate. We've got good schools to build, and we've got great teachers to hire. We've got more troops to bring home, and we've got more veterans to care for. We've got more doors of opportunity to open for everybody who's willing to work hard, everybody who's willing to walk through those doors.

We've got to make sure this is a country where in America, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, you can make it if you try.

That's why I'm asking for a second term, Ohio. And if you're willing to stand with me and knock on some doors for me and make some phone calls for me and vote for me, we will win Ohio. We will win this election. We will finish what we started. And we'll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth.

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.


NOTE: The President spoke at 12:28 p.m. at the Seasongood Pavilion in Eden Park. In his remarks, he referred to International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 1943 vice president Andrew J. Hounshell, his wife Leah J. Hounshell, and their children Cayd A., Noah J., and Averi L.J. Hounshell; and Republican Presidential nominee W. Mitt Romney.
Citation: Barack Obama: "Remarks at a Campaign Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio," September 17, 2012. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=102267.
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