Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Gubernatorial Candidate Thomas W. Wolf in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The President. Hello, Temple! Give it up for your next Governor, Tom Wolf! We've also got one of the best Senators in the country, Bob Casey; Congressman Chaka Fattah; your mayor, Michael Nutter—[laughter]—one of your State senators and your next Lieutenant Governor, Mike Stack.
We've got three outstanding congressional candidates here today that deserve your vote, so I want you guys to pay attention. You got to go all the way down the ballot. We've got Dr. Manan Trivedi, who is going to be a great Member of Congress—[applause]—served his country with the Marines in Iraq. We've got Kevin Strouse, who served his country as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've got Brendan Boyle, who's lived out the American Dream as the first in his family to go to college. All three of them, they're young, they're sharp, they're hard-working. They're ready to fight for you if you send them to Washington. Make sure to vote for them.
And we've got all of you. This is a good-looking crowd right here. Now, those of you, if you've got a seat, if you want to sit down, feel free.
Audience members. No!
The President. [Laughter] You want to stand up. All right, that's good. [Laughter] That's good, because I'm going to try to get you out of your seats, because we've got some work to do. Because 2 days from now, you get to choose your future. Now, if you came to this rally, I suspect you already know there's an election and you are planning to vote. Otherwise, you thought there was a basketball game here, and that's not the case. [Laughter] So I need all of you to go grab your friends, grab your classmates, talk to your coworkers. Knock on some doors. Make some phone calls. Check out iwillvote.com.
Audience member. I love you!
The President. I love you too, but I need you to vote. And—so go to iwillvote.com, find out where your polling place is. And then take your people—your friends, your neighbors—to the polls. And when you do, make sure they vote for Tom Wolf.
Let me tell you why. Let me tell you why. First of all, Tom is just a nice guy. [Laughter] You can tell he's a sincere person. He's not a professional politician. He's somebody who knows how to create jobs, knows how to start a business, knows how to serve the public. He's in it for the right reasons. You know he's going to do a good job. But also, I need everybody to recognize the moment we're in. The country has made real progress since the worst economic crisis of our lifetime.
You think about where we were when I came into office. The economy was in free fall. The auto industry was about to disappear. Housing prices were collapsing, financial system in chaos. Our unemployment rate went over 10 percent. And now, over the past 4½ years, America's businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs. Over the past 6 months, our economy has grown at the fastest pace in more than a decade. There's almost no economic measure where we're not doing better: deficits cut by more than half, energy production up, high school graduation rates up, college attendance rates up. Clean energy, we've doubled. Carbon emissions, we have slowed. So we've made progress on every item.
But what we also know, the reason we're here, is because we've got so much more work to do. Not everybody has felt growth in the economy. You know right here in Pennsylvania that, unfortunately, because we've had a Governor who doesn't always work with us, Pennsylvania ranks second to last in the country in job growth. Second to last. You don't want to be second to last.
Audience members. No!
The President. And over the next week, you've got a chance to change that. You can choose a Governor who doesn't put political ideology first, he puts you first. And that's the kind of Governor you want.
And Tom understands the economy. As a successful businessman, Tom helped grow his family's company into the largest supplier of kitchen cabinets in the United States. Now, there are a lot of kitchen cabinets in the United States, so—[laughter]—I'm just saying. There are—you think about how many kitchen cabinets there are. If you're the largest, that's a lot of kitchen cabinets. [Laughter]
In 2006, he left that business, served as your secretary of revenue. Then in 2009, he was getting ready to run for Governor, but he got a phone call. The company he had spent 25 years growing—the company he had left 3 years earlier—was facing a very tough time because it was right when the recession was hitting, so like thousands of other businesses across the country, it was on the brink of bankruptcy. And Tom could have decided, you know what, that's not my problem anymore. But he wasn't going to turn his back on his former employees. So he put his future on hold, brought the company back, started sourcing cabinets made in America to compete with Chinese imports. Made sure his workers earned good benefits and good wages. He gave more than 20 percent of his profits back to his employees, because Tom believes if you work hard, then everybody in your company should share your success, not just folks at the top, but the workers who are actually doing the work.
So Tom doesn't just—he doesn't just talk the talk. Talk is cheap. He walked the walk. He's walking that walk. Tom knows how to create jobs here in Pennsylvania. He's done it. And now he's running because he believes that if you work hard in this State, if you work hard in this country, you should share in the country's success. And Tom has proven that when the going gets tough, he's got your back.
That's what this election is all about. When you step in the voting booth, you're making a choice not just about party, not just about candidates. You're making a choice about two different visions of America. And you've got to ask yourself, who is going to be fighting for you? Who going to be on your side? Who cares about the single mom? Who cares about the student who's maybe the first in their family to go to college? Who's going to fight for you?
Audience members. Tom Wolf!
The President. Tom Wolf—that's a good answer. [Laughter] You're paying attention.
Now, listen. Listen, I want to say this. Republicans are patriots too. They love their families. They want what's best for the country. But I was trying to explain—I was down in Connecticut—I was trying to explain there are a lot of people in my family who I really love, but I wouldn't put them in charge. [Laughter] Because they got bad ideas. [Laughter] Right? So I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the Republican leadership as, sort of—like, as Americans. I'm just saying they've got bad ideas.
They keep on offering this theory of the economy: You give more tax breaks to folks at the top, you cut investments in things like education, you loosen up regulations on the big banks and polluters and credit card companies, you cut the safety net for folks who've fallen on hard times, and somehow everybody is going to get better off.
Here's the thing. I guess if we hadn't tried that for 10 years, resulting in ultimate disaster, maybe they'd have an argument. But we did try it. It didn't work. We can't go back to that. We've got to go forward with Tom Wolf.
Tom has a different vision for what this country should look like, and it's rooted in that core belief in America, the notion that prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top. Prosperity derives from a thriving middle class and folks working their way up into the middle class. And when everybody is doing well, then the entire country does well. That's his understanding of how the economy works.
He wants—Tom wants to build Pennsylvania's economy from the middle class out. And he's not ideological about it. Look, here's the thing you know about Tom. He doesn't care whether the idea is Republican or Democrat as long as it works. He's a practical person who just wants to make it work for the people of Pennsylvania.
So he knows, for example, that education is the key not just to economic growth, but also to personal advancement in a modern economy. So he's not going to run on an agenda of slashing budgets for our schools or laying off thousands of teachers. He knows teachers matter. He knows you should support teachers, not run down teachers; that we should respect teachers and treat them as the professionals they are.
He knows we should invest in our kids and early childhood education and make college a reality for more young people and make it more affordable. That's Tom's plan for Pennsylvania.
Tom believes that in a democracy like ours, elected officials serve the public, not the other way around. So he's not running to serve special interests or the status quo. He's running to change the way business is done in Harrisburg.
He believes that nobody who works full time in this country should have to raise a family in poverty. Tom—we had one Republican Governor recently say the minimum wage "serves no purpose." You're not going to hear Tom say that, because he knows the difference that a little bit of money can make for that hard-working mom or dad who's trying to make ends meet, save maybe for their kids' college education, pay a few bills. That's why Tom isn't running against a minimum wage increase, he's running to give Pennsylvania a raise.
Tom Wolf believes that America is stronger when women are full and equal participants in the economy. It's bad enough that we got Republicans in Congress who voted no on a fair pay law. You had—we had one Republican who's running for national office say, "You could argue that money is more important for men." That's a quote. He said that. Now, I know he didn't talk to Michelle when he said that. [Laughter] I know he didn't talk to you, either, did he?
Audience members. No!
The President. If we're going to strengthen the middle class for the 21st century, we need leaders who understand the 21st century and understand that women are in the workforce and understand that women are increasingly breadwinners in their family and understand that they should be able to get paid the same as men for doing the same job. And while we're at it, we should make sure that women have control of their health care choices, not some politician.
You know, it's funny, when you ask Republicans about climate change, they say, "I'm not a scientist." [Laughter] That's what they say. But when you ask them about a woman's right to make her own health care decisions, they all act like they're doctors. I want women to make those decisions. I mean, "Mad Men" is a good show, but we don't want that show in Harrisburg.
Audience members. Right!
The President. Because when women succeed, America succeeds. And I want Malia and Sasha to have the same opportunities as somebody's son. That should be common sense.
So look, here's the bottom line. The biggest corporations, they don't need another champion. The wealthiest Americans don't need another champion. They're doing just fine. But you know what is in need of a champion is somebody who understands opportunity for all is what America is all about, opportunity for all is what Pennsylvania is all about. And that's what Tom believes.
But listen, you all have to vote. That's what this comes down to. You've got to vote!
You know, I was talking to one of my staff members, and we were just running through the numbers. The number of eligible voters who vote typically in a midterm is, like, in the thirties. I mean, Ukraine just went through an election; they got a war going on, they had about 60-percent turnout. [Laughter] There is no excuse for us to just give away our power. If you wonder why things don't happen, if you wonder why sometimes elected officials don't seem responsive, it's because so many of us stay at home.
So I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I'm hoping you then take this message to folks who aren't planning to vote. If you believe that we don't need to give millionaires another tax break, maybe give childcare tax breaks to families who are really struggling, you've got to vote for it. If you believe that our kids should have the best schools, then you've got to vote for it. If you think that we should make it easier for young people to go to college without ending up with tens of thousands of dollars' worth of debt, you've got to vote for it. If you believe that an honest day's work deserves an honest day's pay, you've got to vote for it.
You've got to vote! You've got to vote! Vote! You've got to vote!
Audience members. Vote!
The President. This is straightforward. I got a simple message: We've got to vote.
Audience members. Got to vote!
The President. Four years ago, Democrats lost——
Audience members. Vote!
The President. Vote! Vote! Vote!
Audience members. Vote! Vote! Vote!
Good job! Can I just say, by the way, it took me forever to cut those letters out. [Laughter] I mean, I had one of those little scissors, and I mean, it's just—[laughter].
Listen, 4 years ago, the Democrats lost the Governor's race in Pennsylvania by 20 votes per precinct—20 votes. That was your cousin Pookie—[laughter]—not voting. That was Jim, who was, like, drinking beer—[laughter]—and playing his—setting up his fantasy football for next week, and he didn't vote. That's what happens. Twenty votes could decide whether millions of hard-working Pennsylvanians get the raise they deserve. Those 20 votes could decide whether teachers get the support they need and whether our kids get a fair shot. Twenty votes. Your vote matters. It decides the course that Pennsylvania will take.
So I don't just need you to vote, because I know all of you are going to vote. You've got to get involved. There are organizers here. As you're going out, you should try to hook up with them and talk to them about volunteering. Go to wolfforpa.com, volunteer. Make some phone calls. Knock on some doors. Grab people you know. The election is too important to leave it to somebody else. This is up to you. And you. Make a difference.
Listen, I know that the hardest thing in politics is changing a stubborn status quo. And to the young people here especially, I want to emphasize this. Sometimes, it seems like folks in power care more about power than they care about you. I know that. And you're fed information every day that says nothing is changing and everything is terrible. And when we do make progress, you don't hear about that. You hear about some conflict or phony controversy. And over time, you get cynical and you think, you know what, what I do doesn't make a difference. And so you don't get involved. You don't go out there and organize. Sometimes you don't even bother to vote.
And I'm just here to say, especially to the young people, don't buy that. Don't buy it. Because despite the cynics, America is making progress. This country always makes progress. Despite unyielding opposition, there are workers right now who have jobs who didn't have them before. There are families who have health insurance who didn't have them before. There are students who are going to college who couldn't afford it before. There are troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan with their families who weren't at home before.
Cynicism is sometimes passed off as wisdom. There's nothing wise about it. Cynicism didn't put a man on the Moon. Cynicism never started a business or cured a disease or fueled a young mind. Cynicism is a choice. And hope is a better choice.
Hope is what gave young people the courage to march for civil rights and voting rights and workers' rights and women's rights and immigrants' rights and gay rights. Hope is what built this country: the belief that there are better days ahead, the belief that together, we can build up our middle class, that we can pass down something better for our kids. That's what built Pennsylvania. That's what built America, the belief that America's best days are still ahead.
You've got to believe it, and you've got to act on it. You've got to vote. And you've got to vote for Tom Wolf. And when you do, I guarantee you a better future for the people of Pennsylvania and the people of this country.
God bless you. God bless America. Let's get to work!
NOTE: The President spoke at 7:29 p.m. in the Liacouras Center at Temple University. In his remarks, he referred to Manan Trivedi, health policy consultant and part-time primary care physician, Pottstown Memorial Medical Center; Kevin Strouse, program director, Teach2Serve; State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania; and Gov. Scott K. Walker and State Sen. Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin.
Barack Obama, Remarks at a Campaign Rally for Gubernatorial Candidate Thomas W. Wolf in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/308329