Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Governor Dannel P. Malloy in Bridgeport, Connecticut

November 02, 2014

The President. Hello, Bridgeport! Are you fired up?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. Give it up for Dan Malloy, your outstanding Governor! It's good to be back in Connecticut. Give it up for your Lieutenant Governor, Nancy Wyman; your outstanding Senators, Dick Blumenthal—[applause]—Chris Murphy; your Representatives, Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes, Elizabeth Esty—even though she couldn't be here today; and your mayor, Bill Finch. And——

Audience member. [Inaudible]

The President. [Laughter] And thanks for having me at Central. Go Hilltoppers!

I've got to say, the Hilltoppers made me feel very welcome. They had all kinds of stuff up on the wall: "Welcome, President Obama," "We love you, President Obama." They had a big painting somebody had made, which was very good, although I noticed, like, the mole on my nose was really prominent. [Laughter] So, like, there was big circle right there. [Laughter]

So, Connecticut, 2 days. Two days. Two days, and you get to choose the Governor who will lead you for the next 4 years. I can't vote in Connecticut, but I'll tell you who I'd vote for. I'd want Dan Malloy leading us for another 4 years. Four more years! Four more years!

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

The President. Four more years! [Laughter]

Now, what that means—since it seems like you all agree with me—what that means is you've got to grab your friends, you've got to grab your classmates, you've got to grab your coworkers. You got to knock on some doors. You've got to make some phone calls. You need to visit You've got to find your polling place. And then you've got to take everybody you know to cast their ballot for Dan Malloy.

See, I'm assuming if you took time to come to the rally that you're going to vote. Unless you thought the basketball season started early and you showed up thinking there was a game. [Laughter] But here's why it's so important for you to get other people to vote.

Audience member. I am a DREAMer. I—[inaudible].

The President. I love you. I appreciate you too. Thank you. Thank you. So—hold on, young lady. Hold on a second. Hold on. Hold on. You're a DREAMer, and I gave you relief administratively, and we're going to work on the next one. The Republicans are blocking immigration reform. That's one more reason why we need a Democratic Senate. So I support you. I'm with you. I'm with you. [Applause] I'm with you. And you need to go protest the Republicans. Because I'm not the one blocking it. So——

Now, let me talk about Dan Malloy. Dan Malloy won a tough election last time. He took office facing record job losses, massive deficits, the worst recession in decades. But he took on a tough challenge. He made the tough calls. And while it has not always been easy and it has not always been without sacrifice, there is progress here in Connecticut to be proud of. You've had the fastest job growth in decades. You've had the lowest unemployment rate in 5 years, a budget that is actually balanced, a rainy day fund that is actually funded.

And thanks to leaders like Dan——

[At this point, there was a disruption in the audience.]

Audience member. Be quiet!

Audience members. Shame on you!

The President. Shame on you.

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

The President. So listen, here's the good thing about a democracy, is everybody can speak. As I said before, it's always ironic that the folks who are shouting don't understand that we actually support their issue. The folks who don't support the issue are the ones who are voting against Dan Malloy. So they need to go to the other rally and focus on them.

Now, where was I? Where was I? I was talking about 4 more years. Thank you. All right, let's try it again. You've got leaders like Dan with the kind of commitment to working families that Connecticut needs. And thanks to him, and thanks to the grit and the resilience of the American people, the country as a whole has made real progress. You think about when I came into office, we were seeing the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. Unemployment was about 800,000 per month we were losing jobs. And over the past 4½ years, America has created more than 10 million new jobs. We've created more jobs than Japan, Europe, and all the advanced countries combined. Over the past 6 months, our economy has grown at the fastest pace in more than 10 years. There's almost no economic measure where we are not doing better now than when Dan took office or when I took office.

But, Bridgeport, we're here today because Dan and I and all the congressional delegation here, they understand we've got more work to do. We've got more work to do to make sure that all kids grow up in an America where it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, where you came from, what your last name is, who you love. What matters is, are you willing to work hard, are you willing to take responsibility? Because if you are, you deserve to be able to make it in America. That's what the American Dream is all about.

So when you cast that vote on Tuesday, you've got a choice to make. It's more than a choice between candidates or political parties. [Laughter]

[There was a disruption in the audience.]

Audience member. Get out!

Audience member. Get out of here!

Audience members. Boo!

The President. That's okay.

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

The President. It's a choice that we've got to make. Hold on a second. Hold on a second, everybody. Quiet down. It's a choice that we've got to make between two very different visions of America. And by the way, I just want to say—because we've now had, like, three folks—I am sympathetic to those who are concerned about immigration, because the truth of the matter is, is that we're a country of immigrants. That's why we fought for immigration reform. It's the other party that's blocked it. Unfortunately, folks get frustrated, and so they want to yell at everybody. And I understand that. But this is part of why elections are so important, because we do have two different visions of America.

Now, the vision I have, the vision Dan has, is one that embraces immigrants. The other side has a very different vision, which is why they've blocked legislation that would solve it. And so, in all these issues, it comes down to a very simple issue: Who's going to fight for your future? Who is going to fight on your behalf?

You know, Republicans—listen, Republicans are patriots. They love their country. They love their family.

Audience member. No, they don't!

The President. No, they do. There are some good folks. But here's the thing. But here's the thing.

[There was a disruption in the audience.]

The President. Hold on a second. Here's the thing. This is a rowdy crowd today. The—but here's the thing. [Laughter] Hold on, hold on. Quiet down, quiet down. Listen, just because folks are good folks doesn't mean they've got good ideas.

I was telling folks in Wisconsin the other day, I've got some family members who I love, but they've got bad ideas. [Laughter] So I don't want them in charge of anything. [Laughter] Some of them will be over for Thanksgiving, and I'll hug them, and I'll give them a piece of pie, but I wouldn't want to put them in charge. [Laughter]

And that's sort of what we've got going with the Republican Party right now, because they just keep on offering a theory of the economy time and time again that has undermined the middle class. It's not like we haven't tried it. We tried it: tax breaks for folks who don't need them, at the very top; fewer investments in things like education; looser rules on big banks or polluters; cutting the safety net for folks if they fall on hard times. We tried all that stuff. It did not work. And so we don't want to go back to that vision.

And Dan has a very different vision for what the future looks like. It's a vision rooted in the conviction that in America, prosperity never trickles down from the top. It grows from a rising, thriving middle class. It grows because we give folks ladders into the middle class. We believe in an economy that grows for the many, not just for the few. And Dan—this is personal for him. We were talking on the helicopter ride over. [Laughter] It was a little windy. [Laughter] And—but Dan was talking about, sort of, what it meant growing up with a learning disability and having a few people there who believed in him and fought for him and some resources that were given so that he could show really what he could do. And you don't lose that sense of being the underdog. You don't lose that sense of somebody else giving you a hand up. And that's what his politics are based on.

He's not running to cut his own taxes, he's running to cut taxes for that single mom who needs a little help with her childcare. He's not looking to give advantages to big corporations who already have lobbyists looking out for them. He's running to fight for you. And he knows that ideas should be judged not on whether they're Democratic or Republican, but on whether they work or not. And we believe in this country that education isn't just the key to economic growth, it's the surest path into the middle class. And while some Governors are saying "tough luck" to parents who can't afford to send their kids to private schools, Dan's worked to invest in our public schools—just like this one—to bring down the cost of higher education, to make college a reality for young people. That's what Dan believes, because it worked in his own life.

We believe in access to affordable health care, that it's not a privilege, it's a right. There are Governors out there who've kept hard-working Americans from getting health insurance. Dan has expanded Medicaid to tens of thousands of folks here in Connecticut. They didn't have health insurance before; now they have it.

There are some Governors out there who've been trying to keep the Affordable Care Act from working. Dan has helped to create one of the best marketplaces in the country and cut the numbers of people without health insurance in Connecticut in half. And this shouldn't be a blue or a red issue. This shouldn't be a Democratic or Republican issue. This is an American issue. Why would you run on a platform of giving fewer people health insurance? That doesn't make any sense.

Dan believes that in America, nobody who works full time should ever have to raise their family in poverty. Not all Governors believe that. You had one Republican Governor claim that the minimum wage "serves no purpose." Tell that to all the folks who are struggling to get by. Dan understands it makes a difference. He knows the difference it can make to that hard-working mom or dad who's trying to make ends meet. While some folks in this State tried to come up with an excuse to oppose minimum wage increases, Dan fought to give Connecticut a raise. That's what he fought for. That's what he believed.

Earlier this year, I went to New Britain with Dan and three other New England Governors. We had lunch at a sandwich shop where the owners paid their employees a living wage of at least $10 an hour. A few weeks later, Dan became the first Governor in the country to sign a law lifting the minimum wage in this State to $10.10 an hour. And 130,000 hard-working folks across Connecticut got the raise they deserve.

We believe in an America where we do better when women are full and equal participants in our economy. We've had some issues in Washington with Republicans saying no to a national fair pay law. We had one Republican running for national office right now who said, and I'm quoting, "You could argue that money is more important for men."

Audience members. Boo!

The President. Now, I don't know who he was talking to. He wasn't talking to Michelle. [Laughter] If we're going to strengthen the middle class for the 21st century, then we need leaders with a 21st-century mindset. They need to understand that women need to get paid fairly. Let's make sure that every woman is getting paid the same for doing the same job—[applause].

And let's make sure every woman controls her own health care choices, not her boss and not some politician. Republicans are funny. [Laughter] If you ask them, do they believe in climate change, they say, "I'm not a scientist." [Laughter] If you ask them, does a woman have a right to make her own health care choices, suddenly, they're all doctors. [Laughter] When women succeed, America succeeds. We've got to understand that. And so you can't support candidates who think that "Mad Man" is not just a good show, but a model for how to behave. [Laughter] We need a different approach. Look, so here's the bottom line, Connecticut. The biggest corporations, they don't need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don't need another champion. You do. You need somebody to fight for you. You need somebody who understands that opportunity—opening up opportunity for all people—is what Connecticut is about. Opportunity for all.

But none of that happens unless you go vote.

Audience member. That's right!

The President. If you want something better, you've got to vote for it. If you believe working families need more tax breaks, not millionaires, you've got to vote for it. If you think we should be investing in our kids' schools and in early childhood education and making college more affordable, you got to vote for it. I meet so many young people who've got an opportunity to do better, but that you—but they don't—they aren't getting the kind of stuff that they need.

[There was a disruption in the audience.]

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

The President. So the question is, are we going to vote?

Audience members. Yes!

The President. You can't say we're going to give an honest day's pay for an honest day's work and then not vote. You can't say, well, Dan Malloy is doing a good job and then not vote.

Audience members. Right!

The President. Four years ago, Dan won the Governor's race by just four votes per precinct. Four votes. Because of those four extra votes, 130,000 Connecticut workers got a raise. Because of those four votes, Connecticut families gained access to health insurance to take care of their kids. Those four votes helped cut your uninsured rate in half, put Connecticut on a path for universal pre-K for every child, brought your unemployment rate down.

So your vote matters. Don't let people tell you it doesn't. On Tuesday, your vote will determine the course for Connecticut. So we've got to—we need your vote. But we need, more importantly, the vote of your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues.

Audience member. You've got them!

The President. Go talk to one of the organizers in this room, or go to Volunteer these last couple of days. Make some phone calls. Knock on some doors. Grab everybody you know, get them out to vote. Don't stay home. Don't let somebody else choose your future for you.

Look, the hardest thing in politics is changing the status quo. And it's even harder when folks in power are ignoring what you have to say and seem to not really be listening to ordinary families. And then the media is feeding you information that says, well, it's not going to make a difference, this is how it's going to be. And so you get cynical. You don't think you're going to make a difference. You don't get involved. You don't organize. You don't vote.

And I'm here to tell you, don't buy it. Despite all the cynicism, America is making progress. Despite unyielding opposition, there are workers who have jobs today that didn't have it before. There are families who have health insurance today that didn't have it before. There are kids going to college today that didn't have the opportunity to go to college before. There are troops who were in Afghanistan who are now home with their families because of your vote.

Cynicism didn't put a man on the Moon. Cynicism has never won a war or cured a disease or built a business or fed a young mind. Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice.

Hope is what gave young people the strength to march for civil rights and voting rights and women's rights and workers' rights and gay rights and immigrants' rights. Hope is what put a man on the Moon. Hope is what defeated fascism. Hope is what America is all about, hope in better days, hope in building up a middle class, hope in handing down something better to our kids.

That's why you have to vote. That's what Dan Malloy believes. That's what you have to remember on Tuesday, November 4.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:48 p.m. at Central High School. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Scott K. Walker and State Sen. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin; Gov. Peter E. Shumlin of Vermont; Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island; and Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Governor Dannel P. Malloy in Bridgeport, Connecticut Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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