Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser in New York City

September 24, 2013

Hello, hello, hello. Hello, everybody. Please have a seat. Thank you. Well, now, first of all, I had a chance to take pictures with everybody, and I have to say, this has to be one of the best looking crews I've ever been with.

I do admit that being upstaged by a magician is something that I try to avoid. Somebody told me that the face-painting guy is coming in soon. [Laughter]

But it really is wonderful just to have a chance to be with families. And obviously, Malia and Sasha are starting to get a little bit older, but I still remember when they were this huggable. [Laughter] And I got a couple hugs from some of you, so I very much appreciate that—that made me feel good.

We've got some special guests here today. First of all, your next mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio is here. We are thrilled with Bill. His son Dante, who has the same hairdo I had back in 1978—[laughter]—although I have to confess, my Afro was never that good. [Laughter] It was a little unbalanced.

But we could not be prouder of the campaign Bill ran, the way he gave voice to the values that make us Democrats. And we are confident that he is going to continue to move New York in a direction where everybody has a chance to get ahead. And so we're very proud of him and look forward to seeing him do a great job as the mayor of New York City.

We also have here your outstanding Representative. B.Carolyn Maloney is here. So give Carolyn a big round of applause. And all of you are here.

Now, some of you may be aware, I gave a really long speech at the U.N. today, so I'm going to keep my remarks fairly brief; also because some of you said you still had homework to do and were trying to get me to sign a note excusing you—[laughter]—but we think you will get home in time to do your homework.

We live in such a challenging time. Internationally, we have crises like Syria, the challenge of making sure that Iran's nuclear program is not weaponized in a way that threatens the region. Here, domestically, at home, although we're now growing again, we've got a lot of people out there who are having trouble finding work, are having difficulty making ends meet. We have environmental challenges that we're concerned about for the next generation. We continue to battle on behalf of equality for all people.

And so sometimes, I think people tend to feel a little overwhelmed by what they read in the newspapers—except he doesn't feel overwhelmed at all. [Laughter] He's fine because he had some candy and is going to be up really late tonight. Yay! [Laughter]

But the good news is that when you look at the country and the direction we're moving in, what you see is a country that's becoming more tolerant, a country that's becoming more inclusive, a country that understands there's no contradiction between growing the economy and conserving this planet for the next generation. We see a nation that in a few weeks is finally going to be in a position to make sure that every single person in America can get affordable health care when they need it.

What you see is people, all across the country from every walk of life, who believe in this country deeply and understand that the contributions they make every day in working hard, looking after their families, treating people with respect, giving back to their community, volunteering in their places of worship, that that's what perfects our Union over time; that it's not always flashy, but it's making a difference each and every day.

And sometimes, people ask me: "How come you don't get more discouraged with some of the nonsense you see out of Washington? And other than you getting gray hair, you seem like you're okay." [Laughter] And the reason is, is because I get a chance to see all of you and I see your families and I see your contributions. And I know why I fight for the things I fight for, because I want to make sure that the values that all of you stand for and that you're passing on to your kids, that those are the values that this whole country lives by.

But I can't do it alone. The truth is, is that we could be doing a lot more. The country could be growing faster. We could be putting more people to work. We could be rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure. We could be putting in place early childhood education for every family in America. We could be cutting our deficits in sensible ways, not in ways that impede our growth. We could be caring for those who are vulnerable. We could be opening up more opportunity. We could be doing so much more if we had a Congress that was focused on you and not focused on politics day to day.

And the only way that is going to happen is if we've got a strong DNC and if we are able to get our message out at a time when folks who want to look backwards and roll back the clock and don't really have a lot of regard for people who are struggling, if we're able to counteract their message with a message of hope.

We can't beat a message of fear if that message isn't delivered, if it's not projected, if it's not reaching people. And at a time when folks naturally feel cynical about Washington and politics and the possibilities of change, the only way that we're going to battle back against that kind of cynicism is if all of you get involved. And that's what you're doing here today.

So I am thankful to all of you. I intend to work as hard as I can to make sure that we're doing everything we can on behalf of working families and building a middle class, but I'm also going to be working as hard as I can to make sure that we have a Congress that is able, in my last 2 years as President, to get as much done as we got done in our first 2 years and making sure that America is the country that we all know it can be.

So God bless all of you. Thanks for showing up. Appreciate it. Remember to do your homework, those of you who didn't do it. All right? Thank you. God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:11 p.m. in the John Jacob Astor Salon of the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Democratic mayoral candidate Warren "Bill" de Blasio. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser in New York City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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