Photo of Eric Swalwell

Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Dublin, California

April 14, 2019

Thank you. Thank you very much. First I want to thank Congressman Ruben Gallego, and I want you to be the first to know that I have asked and he has accepted to serve as our campaign chairman.

Thank you Ruben.

I also want to thank our district attorney, the first women elected as district attorney in Alameda County, Nancy O'Malley. Thank you Nancy.

Thank you to Mr. Chin's Hot Sauce for performing, thank you to Noah Mac for warming up the crowd, thank you Ann Lucetta [phon.] for the National Anthem, and Ahmed Parvez for that reading, and our Alameda County fire fighters and sheriffs officers keeping us safe. Thank you guys so much.

Today, I've come home to Dublin, I've come home to Dublin to tell you a story about America.

It's my story, but it's your story too. It's a story that belongs to all of us. It's about going big, being bold and doing good.

Now looking out, I see many familiar faces today.

I see my parents—my Mom and Dad; my brothers, Josh, Jacob and Chase and their wives and kids, my wife Brittany, our son Nelson and our daughter Cricket.

And I do see a few very surprised former teachers of mine, who did not expect to see me here today.

But I'm reminded of some of the lessons that I've learned growing up here and places just like here, like Algona, Iowa, Newport, Oregon, and Pittburg, California. Pittsburg, California is where I had my first job, a paper route, at the age nine.

Now you can learn a lot about America riding your bicycle through towns like that at six in the morning.

On my route, I saw big houses, and I saw small ones. I saw houses with two new cars. And I saw houses with none.

And I saw houses being built, and houses with signs out front, bearing a word that I didn't quite yet understand—foreclosure.

I saw people coming home from the midnight shift, just as I was starting my work day.

And those are often the homes that I pedaled my little bicycle past, that couldn't afford to receive the newspaper at all. But on their faces I saw a lot of pride, and I saw a lot of despair too.

These folks were not quitting. They would never quit. They didn't know how to quit. But they were beginning to wonder what had happened to the promise of the American Dream.

Traveling our country for the last few months, going to town halls and coffee shops, school assemblies and college campuses and fish fries, I've been seeing the exact same thing.

Which is why I've come back here to Dublin, backed by my neighbors who have always been in my corner to declare my candidacy for President of the United States of America.

And I need you. I need you. I need you. I need you. Boy, do I ever need you.

And we need each other. Only in a country as generous as ours could a moment like this even be possible.

I was born in Sac City, Iowa. My dad was a cop, my mom, she sold wedding cakes and handmade dollhouses out of our garage. And we had a very large but probably unlicensed daycare facility right there in the living room.

They worked hard and they dreamed big, in search of better jobs and better schools. They moved us all over. They moved me and my three younger brothers around a lot.

Before I was 12, we had lived in three states and eight different cities. I hated moving that much.

Sometimes I would even take the newspapers from my route and I'd circle all the available homes in the real estate section and I'd leave it right there on the breakfast table for my parents to see.

They never got the hint.

By the time I had hit ninth grade, I'd already gone to nine different schools.

But I came to realize they were not punishing me by moving us around so much. Although anyone here today who knew me as a kid knows there were really good reasons at that time to punish me.

They were just chasing those better schools, those better jobs and a better future for me and my little brothers. And I learned a lot along the way about hard work.

After leaving the journalism business, that paper route, I was a babysitter. I was an assistant to a wedding DJ, a construction worker, a soccer referee, and a baseball umpire.

Then I turned 16.

After that, I was a window frame sander and I folded sweaters at Aero Postale at the Stone Ridge Mall.

I was just as bad folding clothes there is I was at home. So that job did not last too long.

Doing all of these jobs, meeting all of those people, I saw a ton of struggle and I saw a lot of sacrifice.

I saw firsthand how powerful but yet elusive the American Dream could feel.

Our pursuit of it fabulous finally landed us here in Dublin.

To be fair, where we lived was not Mar a Lago. And in fact, some of you may remember that people in the neighboring cities had a nickname for us. They call the Scrublin.

But we live right smack in the middle of the middle class. And those were, those were during the good times.

And I found people who were just like my parents; they were made of grit, steel, and determination.

You see Dublin represented for me the end of our nomadic search for prosperity. We put our roots down right here in Dublin.

Dublin became my home.

My parents dreams for me and the result of all that moving and sacrificing, were realized when I earned a soccer scholarship to a college back in the South, making me the first person in my family to ever go on to college.

And I know so many of you fight for that too. And that was a privilege and a responsibility that I carried every single day.

During college I interned on Capitol Hill.

In the morning I worked my way through serving gym towels to members of Congress at the local gym, and burritos at night in a Mexican restaurant.

So every morning at six in the morning, towels to the members of Congress, at night memorizing their faces so I could get better tips and serving them burritos.

And after law school, I was at a crossroads. Stay back east, or come back home to Dublin. And one of my high school teachers, Tim Sobani [phon.] told me I didn't have a choice. Thank you, Tim.

You see, Tim told me that our hometown was turning around; with the right leaders, good things were ahead. And he wanted me to be a part of it. So I came back home. And we all went to work.

I spent my days inside Alameda County courtrooms as a deputy district attorney, and my free time giving back to a city that gave so much to me and my parents.

I served on the arts commission, the planning commission, founded the Dublin High School Alumni Association and was elected to the City Council.

And there on the City Council, I worked with people of all backgrounds all across the political spectrum to achieve common goals.

And despite what was going on in Washington, is still going on in Washington, here in Dublin we always balance our budget. And we should expect that in Washington too.

But we always invested in the future. When I graduated from this campus in 1999, only about a third of its graduates went on to college. But together as a community, we voted to invest in a new school.

This is not the Dublin High School that I graduated from.

Today, 20 years later, after I left this place, 98% of the graduates will go on to college. 98%,

Working together in Dublin, we brought new employers, new investments and new hope to the community that we love. Hell, we even brought in a Whole Foods. Which means now that my hometown has a market that I can barely afford to shop at. Which I guess is a sign that we've made it.

So I tell you here today, if those types of investments, if that type of belief, if our types of coming together can turn Dublin from going from Scrublin to the Dublin we know today, we can do that anywhere in America.

Now I know that the mountain that I face is steep. You may have heard, there are a few other Democrats interested in the job.

Most of them have more name recognition right now than I do, at least outside this city.

That probably should discourage me. It may discourage you. It doesn't. I've got you. We've got each other and we can do this.

And this will be a different kind of campaign. I'll be a different kind of candidate.

I come from a generation that's used to starting from scratch and innovating.

We begin with a great idea. We build it in our garage and we light up the world.

So that's the plan. I am not wealthy and I don't pick my friends by how much money they can put in my pockets. I'm not beholden, this is not a campaign that will be beholden to special interests. We will accept no corporate PAC money and we're not going to be driven by the polls.

And I will address with your support the issues that matter to this country—honestly, apolitically, like the former prosecutor that I am.

Starting with guns.

Representing you as a prosecutor in our court rooms, I learned a lot about law and order and mercy and the futility of trying to keep criminals from recidivism without providing them some kind of job training and addiction treatment.

But I also saw firsthand the ungodly and permanent damage wreaked by weapons in the hands of irresponsible people.

On one case that I prosecuted, I met a woman whose son had been killed by a round from an AK47.

His name was Gary Jackson.

A gunman fired 40 times at Gary. Hit him just once, in the back of his thigh.

I can still hear his mom asking me in the witness waiting room. "Isn't that where you want to be hit if you had to get shot?"

Not with an assault weapon.

The autopsy doctor testified that the sheer energy from one round was enough to kill him.

Gun violence defined my first days in Congress.

In 2013, I and 80 others were just emerging from our freshman class orientation, when the news of the Sandy Hook massacre flattened us.

Just like you, I was horrified, I was horrified by the suffering and the loss—the beautiful babies who were taken and had their futures stolen from them and the communities.

But I also thought, I am so glad to be here at the Capitol to be a part of the first Congress to actually do something about these senseless slaughters.

But I don't have to tell you this. Congress did nothing.

Just as we did nothing after Charleston, nothing after San Bernardino. Pulse. Vegas. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Moments of silence when all our country needed were moments of action.

So when Parkland happened, and they joined the far too long list of American towns and cities devastated by a madman with unrestricted weaponry, I expected the same ritual to unfold: shock, anger, accusations, and nothing happening in Washington.

Thoughts and prayers used as an alibi for inaction.

But the students there and their families decided not to allow that. You decided not to allow that. They instead took a stand to lead, and they knew they would be attacked for it. They knew they would be exposing themselves to ridicule and hate. Purely political targets in a different kind of crossfire.

But they did the right thing anyway. You supported them, righteously, fearlessly.

With the nation behind them, they picked themselves up from unimaginable grief. They organized, you organized, they marched, you marched, on their town squares, on our town squares.

We made our voices heard, in campaigns that removed 17 NRA endorsed incumbents from office. We did that. We did that.

They reminded us that life itself means more than the bottom line of a gun and ammo manufacturer or the cynical politicians they support and control.

A year ago, hope died at Parkland, but in a uniquely American way, owing to the courage and strength of children, hope was reborn at Parkland. Hope has been reborn here in America too.

That's why I started my campaign at Parkland. I pledged to that community, what I pledge to you. I will be the first campaign to make ending gun violence the top priority in my campaign.

And I thank the Moms Demand Action leaders who are here and will help us do that.

And the students who are here with them.

My wife Brittany and I have two children. Nelson's almost two years old. Cricket, she's about five months. My wife, she has a job that she loves, and she excels at it. It would be easy for us to wait for a better time to do this. It'd be easy to wait for a better time to take on this fight.

But Brittany wants me to run, to win, to make a difference.

Because like me, she wants to make sure that Nelson and Cricket can go to school, come back home again and again in safety and in peace.

In 2017, Republicans took control of the House, the Senate and the presidency. Sorry to remind you.

The very first piece of legislation that they passed, the act that would tell the world these are the values we espouse above all others, was a bill that made it easier for the mentally ill to purchase guns. Yes, yes, that happened. They called it House Joint Resolution 40.

But I know what you know, you're here for the same reason I'm here. We're in this together, because we believe that every child has a right to learn without fear. That every parent.

That's right— Every parent has a right to hug their beautiful little babies when they come home from school and that all of us, we have a right to dance at a concert, laugh at the theater, pray in a synagogue, at a church and in a mosque.

Our rights to live and to love each other, those rights are greater than any other right in the Constitution, period.

That's the greatest right.

That's the greatest right.

To live and to love.

And you know what the greatest threat to the Second Amendment is?

For us to keep doing nothing.

That's the greatest threat to the Second Amendment is to do nothing.

Remember, no amendment protects an absolute right.

You have the right to free speech, but you can't shout fire in a crowded theater or lie about a product that you're selling.

And although there is a right to bear arms, you cannot own a tank or a bazooka or a machine gun.

Everyone agrees on that. Left, right and center.

But I think a few other limits makes sense as well.

I believe no one in America should be allowed to purchase a gun without first undergoing a violent history check. So do 92% of Americans. 73% of all NRA members do too.

Because female victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to die if a gun is present. In Congress I authored the No Guns for Abusers Act. It would let us do more to get guns out of the dangerous hands of domestic abusers.

And when I'm president, no American ever again will be able to own the kinds of assault weapons that only belong on battlefields.

I'm the only candidate, the only candidate proposing that we ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America.

That's what I mean when I say go big. That's what I mean when I say be bold. And that's what I mean when I say do good.

Now, that is not a popular idea with everyone.

It's going to cost some money.

But it will cost a lot less than loss to a grieving community. And no matter who attacks me, or threatens me for proposing it, I'm not going to back down because I've got you. And you've got my back. And you've got my back.

So that's for my kids. And that's for your kids too.

[Audience member: Thank you.]

Thank you.

Your concern, your concern for them and for their future extends to other issues, the giant challenges facing our nation.

And you have the right to ask me, today, how I would solve them.

On a paper route, from a courthouse in Oakland, out on the tour with Congressman Gallego with our Future Forum colleagues, I have seen that the promise of America is not reaching all Americans.

Hard work has to add up to doing better and dreaming bigger, to being a part of a country that rewards the simple dignity of hard work with things that we can count and measure.

Like homeownership, wages that allow you to save something, healthcare that can meet your needs, enough freedom to take that long overdue vacation, and something to set aside for your golden years of retirement.

But it also means the things you can't quantify so easily. It should add up to those too. The things I'm not seeing across America no matter where I go, or how hard I look.

Peace, stability, security, comfort, joy, and the pride that comes from knowing that you provided all of that.

That promise is broken for too many of us today.

Now, you hear the President will tell you the economy is roaring, and you should be grateful for that. They'll tell you that the stock market is at an all time high, and the GDP is growing.

Heck, that may be the only time has ever told two truths in a row.

But here's what I've learned from you.

If only 50% of us are invested in the stock market, that's not the economy.

The GDP, that's not the economy.

The economy's you. Are you doing better? Saving more? Dreaming bigger?

And you don't need a congressional report to tell you economic insecurity has become a chronic condition in our country. You just feel it.

Many of you know all too well, that you're just one layoff, or bad diagnosis away from financial catastrophe.

And that tax cut you were promised, here on the eve of tax day, where 83% of the benefits went to 1% of the richest Americans, I gotta ask. How many of you woke up this morning and said to yourself, gosh, I wish we could just find a way in this country to help the wealthiest 1% of Americans. They're having such a hard time.

We are living in an economy designed to help only those in the executive suites, not those on the factory floors. And we don't want and we don't need a top floor economy.

I want the kind of prosperity that reaches all Americans who work hard on every floor.

That's the promise of America.

So here's what I've learned.

80% of you are living paycheck to paycheck, 80% of us living paycheck to paycheck. That's untenable. So let's start there. On taxes, I will end the corporate immunity for those companies sending jobs overseas.

But I want every business in America to know I will offer you this deal. I will give you a lower tax rate than the Republicans if you share your profits with your employees.

That means every employee's not just the ones on the top floor.

Let's give new small businesses and disadvantaged areas a leg up by letting them to defer their payroll taxes for the first few years to pay them back later.

Let's raise the minimum wage so no American has to work two or three jobs just to get by.

And it's time that we once and for all address your family's health care and the high cost of prescription drugs.

For too many Americans, their health care plan is a GoFundMe account.

Recently in western Iowa, I was at a gas station and I saw a hollowed out candy jar with a flyer of a picture of someone in the community who had just gotten sick.

That person's health care plan in the wealthiest nation, the most generous nation on Earth, is the charity of a stranger at a checkout stand.

That can't happen here.

With your help, those days are coming to an end.

I will put forward and sign into law a coverage for all plan, a public option that forces down prices for everyone so that Americans have a health care guarantee. If you are sick, you will be seen and if you're seen you won't go broke.

But let's not stop there. Let's not make this debate only about coverage. In the spirit of going big, being bold and doing good, let's not miss an opportunity to do what we do best as Americans. We find the unfindable, we solve the unsolvable and together we will cure the incurable.

We've stopped doing that in America.

I want to tell you a story about a friend of mine named Brian. I've known him for 15 years; he's 38 years old, has two beautiful little girls. He was a former prosecutor.

Last year he called me and told me he been diagnosed with ALS.

Brian could ask anything of me. I'm his friend in Congress.

Instead, on his own, he started a foundation to help reimagine his fight against ALS.

Brian represents an entire generation that has decided it can no longer wait for Washington to solve the big problems facing our country.

Sadly, in Brian's case, he's facing a terminal illness that will likely kill him within five years.

This generation is shouldering the burden of solving these problems now, not 20 years from now. That used to be something that we could look to and count on our president and Congress to do.

I will be a president that challenges us to do big things again and be a partner to people like Brian is they battle disease.

I will challenge us to invest, seek and find cures in our lifetime, an initiative to publicly invest in genomics, targeted therapies and data sharing will drive down the cost of care, extend the quality of life, and put a new generation of scientists to work in the life sciences.

Go big. Be bold. Do good.

There are a lot of teachers here today. Thank you to our teachers. There are a lot of parents too, because we care about our schools.

My congressional district boasts some of the richest schools in the country, but also some of the poorest.

As president, we will build modern schools in every community and renovate those that are crumbling.

No longer. No longer in America should a child's destiny depend on his or her zip code.

And it's time that we start valuing the teachers who prepare our kids. We love our teachers.

For too many Americans, especially young Americans, but also today many in middle age, they've found themselves in the financial quicksand of student loan debt.

I'm one of them.

Many of these people, your neighbors, who only wanted to dream are now unable to launch their own businesses, start families or buy their first home.

Look, the memories of college should last a lifetime; the interest payments should not.

So here's what we're going do. The federal government should not be making money off college students.

We must have zero interest federal student loans, more money in more pockets to realize more dreams, and debt free college for public university students who do work study and commit to community volunteerism after graduation.

When our systems for health and education fail, everything else fails. Let's fix them.

Go big. Be bold. Do good.

Let's not stop there. Let's not stop there.

Let's write laws to protect unions instead of tearing them apart.

Union hands built Dublin. They helped build this high school; they build America.

And I'm proud to announce my campaign headquarters is inside a Dublin Union Hall, the IBEW 595.

And my campaign staff has organized as teamsters.

We're all in.

You know unions, they once represented 40% of all Americans. Today, it's just 7%. And as they have vanished, the middle class dream of America has become more and more elusive. These things are connected.

Climate chaos is the existential threat facing our planet and our very lives.

But here's the good news, fixing it will let us seize upon a massive economic opportunity. Because clean renewables and wind, solar and fusion—just like we do at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—those are the keys to the new economy.

And for the first time in history, businesses can now make more profit from the solution than they can make from deepening the problem.

So let's invest in those, set high labor standards, and make sure that climate change and climate chaos no longer starts an argument. It just starts a lot of people's work days.

Just have to go big, just have to be bold, just have to do good.

We can win real and meaningful victories on all those fronts right now.

We can address immigration reform, not with showmanship, but with leadership, with technology, not a wall; not a wall.

Fairness for our dreamers and humanitarian policies that address the real humanitarian crisis to protect those fleeing violence and despair.

Traveling our country I have seen first hand how frustrated people are with Washington and it's broken politics.

All we're asking is for a Washington that works in a bipartisan way and gets things done. You want innovation. Instead, you see a Washington beset by smack downs, put downs and shut downs.

It's a government that just careens crisis to crisis. Nothing gets done. But to fix this, to empower your voices, to restore a more collaborative Washington, we must scrub it of its dirty maps and dirty money. We're going to get rid of gerrymandered math and outside dirty money. We're going to strip down to the studs the Citizens United ruling.

But our safety is careening now too, threatened by enemies abroad, like the dictators of Russia and North Korea and by politicians within, who have the arrogance to lead America without understanding America, who mock the very ideas that make our country great.

Equal justice for all, the independence of our institutions, freedom of the press, and the proposition that all of us, even presidents, especially presidents, are not above the law.

Now being president also means being Commander in Chief. That means knowing who our enemies are, and protecting us from them. It also means respecting and never abusing the men and women who toil every day on our behalf, standing guard in the most dangerous places in the world.

To the men and women in our military, our intelligence community, and every veteran who has served and made us safer: thank you. We say thank you.

As your Commander in Chief, I will always honor your service and give you the resources you need to defend our country.

On the Intelligence Committee, I've helped defend our democracy as it's been on the ropes these last few years. Got the scars to prove it.

I've been in hundreds of classified briefings. I've traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, the DMZ line between South and North Korea. I know who our friends are in the world and I know the cost of not having friends. Namely, it forces all of us to spend our hard earned money on military and less money on things we really need, like schools and healthcare.

Being president means believing the word of our intelligence agencies over the word of Vladimir Putin.

It means standing up to a Saudi prince that authorized the murder of a U.S. resident.

It means calling out a ruthless North Korean dictator who has tortured and killed an American student and not being as best pal.

It also means standing up to this country's home grown enemies.

That means denouncing white nationalists. Even.

That's right, denouncing white nationalists, even when they praise you. Honoring the rights of a free press, even when they criticize you, or, or the sanctity of the Department of Justice, even when they investigate you.

Hugging a flag. That's easy.

But embracing the values that flag represents is what truly makes someone worthy of being president.

So how do we fix all this?

It's not by fighting one another, or by mean tweeting, or constantly demonizing those who disagree with us.

We'll fix it the hard way by coming together, by coming together, like we are here right now.

I'm the son of two Republicans.

I married a Hoosier from Southern Indiana, who grew up in Pence Country.

I've worked with Republicans my whole life, reaching across the dinner table and reaching across the aisle.

I go on Fox News just so most of my family can see me on TV.

We must unite our deeply divided country. So I pledge to lead our country with a team of rivals, a blended cabinet of Republicans and Democrats.

Not because it'll be easy.

And we may have to send out a search party to find more Republicans who can put country over party. But they're out there. I'll work with them. And I'll challenge them to make our democracy work for all of you, not just the well off and the well connected.

A great Republican named Abraham Lincoln, born in Kentucky, raised in Indiana, elected from Illinois once said, "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present... As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew... The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."

America, this is our fiery trial.

I am asking you for the honor of leading us through it. As someone who has benefited so profoundly from the promise of America, as someone who owes this country, this city, everything, I'm asking you to help me create a country that fulfills that promise for all Americans, No matter who you are, what you look like, where you worship, or where you're from, including every little girl who rode her bike this morning, freezing her little face off to deliver the big Sunday paper and gaze at the biggest house on the block and believe that this is a country where her hard work could add up to living in that house one day. That's the promise of America.

Now, let's bring that promise to all Americans.

Thank you, Dublin. Thank you, America. Thank you for always being my home. I will never, never forget the values I learned here. I'll never forget the values I learned here, of hard work, devotion to community and love of the greatest nation on Earth. I'm proud to begin this journey here.

Now, it's time to go big, to be bold, and do good.

God Bless you. God Bless the United States of Anerica.

Thank you.

Eric Swalwell, Remarks Announcing Candidacy for President in Dublin, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project