Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Fundraiser for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina

July 05, 2016

The President. Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

Oh! How are you doing, Charlotte? Are you fired up? You ready to go? Well, fired up!

Audience members. Ready to go!

The President. I'm fired up. Hillary got me fired up. She got me ready to do some work. So I hope everybody had a great Fourth of July.

Audience member. We love you!

The President. I love you back.

I—now, first of all, let me just say I like any excuse to come to North Carolina. I just like North Carolina. I love the people in North Carolina. I used to—when we used to campaign here, I used to say, even the people who aren't voting for me are nice. You know, that's not true everywhere. [Laughter] So you've got great people here. And then, you've got great food. North Carolina has got some food. In fact, I will find someplace to stop and get some food before I head back to DC. I know you all have recommendations. [Laughter] I know I can't go to your house to get the food. [Laughter] Although, I'm sure you're an excellent cook.

And then, you've got great basketball. [Applause] You've got great basketball. We all know that. We all know that. But I'm not going to get in between all the Tar Heel and Wolfpack and—[applause]—you know. Yes, Blue Devils. I—see, Deacons. I'm not going to get into all that. You just have great basketball in North Carolina. So I love an excuse to come to North Carolina.

But I'm here for a simple reason. I'm glad to see our outstanding congressional delegation. You are lucky to have them. I'm glad you've got an outstanding candidate for the Senate and an outstanding candidate for Governor. And I'm going to be working for them too. But I'm here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton, and I want you to help elect her to be the next President of the United States of America. That's why I'm here. Now, this is not—[laughter].

Audience members. Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

The President. Now, as Hillary mentioned, this is not the first time we campaigned together. We went up to New Hampshire after our primary in 2008. We went to Unity, New Hampshire, just in case people missed the point. [Laughter] That was the name of the town, Unity, New Hampshire. And we had gone through what was one of the longest, toughest primaries in history. And primaries are always tough, because you're arguing with your friends instead of the folks you disagree with. Sometimes, you've got to find things to disagree about even though you don't really disagree. [Laughter] So we were crisscrossing towns from New Hampshire to Nevada. And as much as I had admired her when we served together in the Senate, I came away from that primary admiring her even more.

Because during that year and a half, I had had a chance to see up close just how smart she was and just how prepared she was, especially since I had to debate her a couple dozen times. [Laughter] And let's be clear, she beat me, like, in the first—now, you don't have to rub it in. You don't have to rub it in, now. [Laughter] She beat me at least the first half, and then I just barely could play her to a draw. [Laughter] I always had to be on my game because she knew every fact and she knew every detail.

And then, during those 18 months, I saw the passion that she feels for anybody who's experienced injustice, anybody who's faced discrimination, anybody who does everything right and still can't seem to get a fair shot, whether it was workers who had lost their jobs or kids unable to afford college. And you could tell it was personal to her because she had seen struggles in her own life. She had known challenges in her own life. And she could identify and empathize with people who were doing the right thing and wanted to make sure that they got a fair shake.

And then, during the primaries, again and again, I saw how, even when things didn't go her way, she'd just stand up straighter and come back stronger. She didn't give up. She didn't pout. She just kept on going. She was the Energizer Bunny. [Laughter] She just kept on.

And the bottom line is, she had to do everything I had to do, but she was like Ginger Rogers: She had to do it backwards in heels. And at the end of our contest, I saw the grace and the energy with which she threw herself into my campaign, not because she wasn't disappointed about the outcome of the primary, but because she knew there was something that was at stake that was bigger than either of us, and that was the direction of our country and how are we going to make sure that all the people who were counting on us could see a better life.

So we may have gone toe to toe from coast to coast, but we stood shoulder to soldier—shoulder to shoulder for the ideals that we share. So maybe Hillary was surprised, but I wasn't surprised when I asked Hillary to represent our interests and our values around the world as America's Secretary of State. I knew she would do a great job. I knew she would perform. I knew the regard in which she was held in capitals all around the world. I knew that the minute she took that job, there was a stature and a seriousness that would immediately mend some of the challenges that we had had around the world during that time.

Now, let me tell you, North Carolina, my faith in Hillary Clinton has always been rewarded. I have had a front row seat to her judgment and her toughness and her commitment to diplomacy. And I witnessed it in the Situation Room, where she argued in favor of the mission to get bin Laden. I saw how, as a former Senator from New York, she knew, she understood because she had seen it, she had witnessed it, what this would mean for the thousands who had lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell.

I've benefited from her savvy and her skill in foreign capitals, where her pursuit of diplomacy led to new partnerships, opened up new nations to democracy, helped to reduce the nuclear threat.

We've all witnessed the work she's done to advance the lives of women and girls around the globe. She has been working on this since she was a young woman working at the Children's Defense Fund. She's not late to the game at this. She's been going door to door to make sure kids got a fair share, making sure kids with disabilities could get a quality education. She's been fighting those fights, and she's got the scars to prove it.

Audience member. Thank you, Hillary!

The President. And Hillary and I shared—we shared a big hug the first time we saw each other after we finally realized one of the great causes of her career, finally guaranteeing access to quality, affordable health insurance for every single American. Because that's something she got started, and we picked up that baton and were able to get it across the finish line.

The bottom line is, she was a great Secretary of State. And by the way, that's not just my opinion. That was the view of the American people and pundits throughout the time that she was serving as Secretary of State, before the whole political machinery got moving. You remember that? It wasn't that long ago. It's funny how that happens. [Laughter] Everybody thought she was doing a great job.

Audience member. She did do a great job.

The President. That's because she did do a good job. But it's funny how the filter changes a little bit. Same person, done the same work, but that filter is a powerful thing.

But it wasn't just what happened in the limelight that made me grow more and more to admire and respect Hillary. It was how she acted when the cameras weren't on. It was knowing how she did her homework. It was knowing how many miles she put in traveling to make sure that America was effectively represented in corners of the globe that people don't even know about. There wasn't any political points to be had, but she knew that it was important.

I saw how she treated everybody with respect, even the folks who aren't, quote, unquote, "important." That's how you judge somebody. It's how do they treat somebody when the cameras are off and they can't do anything for you. Do you still treat them right? Do you still treat them with respect? Do you still listen to them? Are you still fighting for them?

I saw how deeply she believes in the things she fights for. And I saw how you can count on her, and how she won't waver and she won't back down. And she will not quit, no matter how difficult the challenge and no matter how fierce the opposition.

And if there's one thing I can tell you, Charlotte, is, those things matter. Those things matter. I'm here to tell you that the truth is, nobody fully understands the challenges of the job of President until you've actually sat at that desk. Everybody has got an opinion. But nobody actually knows the job until you're sitting behind the desk. Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you've sat behind the desk.

I mean, Sasha tweets, but she doesn't—[laughter]—think that she's—thereby should be sitting behind the desk. [Laughter] So you can't fully understand what it means to make life-and-death decisions until you've done it. That's the truth.

But I can tell you this. Hillary Clinton has been tested. She has seen up close what's involved in making those decisions. She has participated in the meetings in which those decisions have been made. She's seen the consequence of things working well and things not working well. And there has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton—ever. And that's the truth.

Audience members. Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

The President. That's the truth.

So the bottom line is, I know Hillary can do the job. And that's why I am so proud, North Carolina, to endorse Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.

Now, I recognize, to some degree, I'm preaching to the choir. [Laughter] I know I probably don't need to tell anybody here why we need Hillary's steadiness and her levelheadedness and her brilliance and her temperament right now. Audience member. Right now!

The President. Right now. Because we've been through some tumultuous times in this new century.

Audience members. Yes!

The President. And we'll continue to face all kinds of challenges and change in the years ahead. And in—this November, in this election, you are going to have a very clear choice to make between two fundamentally different visions of where America should go. And this isn't even really a choice between left and right or Democrat or Republican, this is a choice between whether we are going to cling to some imaginary past or whether we're going to reach for the future. This is about whether we have an America that works for everybody or just a few people.

And Hillary is not somebody who fears the future. She believes that it is ours to shape, the same way it's always has been. Hillary understands that we make our own destiny as long as we're together, as long as we think of ourselves not as just a collection of individuals or a collection of interest groups or a collection of States, but as the United States of America. She knows that.

She know that when it comes to our economy. Because she knows that our economy works best not when it only benefits a few at the top, but when everybody has got a fair shot at success. As Hillary mentioned—look, when I came into office, things were not in very good shape, you will recall. [Laughter] We were losing 800,000 jobs a month, pursuing, by the way, the same proposals that the Republicans are still peddling. And over the past 6 years, our businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs. We've cut the unemployment rate in half. Manufacturing jobs have grown for the first time since another President Clinton was in office. By the way—and by the way, because they're always talking about us being these spendthrift Democrats, I just want to point out, we cut our deficit by nearly 75 percent. They didn't. They did not.

Wages for families are finally starting to rise again. But we've got so much more work to do. Because in the 21st century, we're not going to help families, we're not going to create jobs just by pretending that we can turn back the clock and women are going to somehow not be in the workforce anymore and people of color suddenly are not going to be competing and wanting a better future for their kids. We're not going to suddenly ignore all the progress that's been made over the last 30 years. We're not going to build walls around America or put technology back in a box. We're not going to reverse hard-won rights for women or minorities or Americans with disabilities to fully participate in the workforce. We're not going to do that.

If we're going to give working families—all families—a chance to succeed, we've got to make sure they can afford childcare and they've got sick leave and paid leave. And we've got to make sure women get equal pay for equal work. And we should make it easier, not harder, for workers to organize for better wages and working conditions. And we shouldn't eliminate the minimum wage, we should raise it high enough so if you work full time, you don't live in poverty.

Each of these policies—the policies Hillary mentioned—would help working families feel more secure in today's economy. She's actually got a plan. It's actually paid for. [Laughter] You can actually look at it. [Laughter] Now, the fact that we haven't gotten all these ideas done, it's not the fault of immigrants or unions or some liberal socialist scheme. It's very simple: Republicans in Congress and Republican Governors have been blocking these ideas for the last 8 years. It's that simple.

So look, I just want to be clear, not everybody votes on the economy, I understand. There are other issues. But if your concern is who's going to look out for working families, if you're voting your pocketbook, if you're asking who's actually going to stand up for the guy on the construction site or the guy in the factory or the woman who's cleaning a hotel room or somebody who's really working hard—the working family—if that's your concern, this isn't even a choice. Because the other side has nothing to offer you. [Applause] The other side has got nothing to offer you.

Audience members. Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!

The President. I'm going a little off script here, but I just want to repeat this. If your concern is working people, then this is not a choice. I don't care whether you're White, Black, Hispanic, Native American, polka dot, male, female. I don't care. If what you care is who's going to be fighting for ordinary folks who are fighting for a better life for themselves and their children, then I don't know how you vote for the guy who's against the minimum wage, against unions, against making sure that everybody gets a fair shot, against legislation for equal pay, against sick leave and family leave, against all the things that working families care about.

So if you're voting for the other team, it's not because of the economy. It's not because of the economy. You've got to be clear about that. Even the Republicans on the other side don't really know what the guy is talking about. [Laughter] They really don't. They really don't. If you ask them, they're all, like, "I don't know." [Laughter] Then, they, kind of, duck the other way. Am I joking? No.

So you can choose a path that divides us with harsh rhetoric and pits working people against each other, all the while pushing policies that will just help folks at the top do even better. But that's not helping working families. Or we can transform our politics so they're responsive to working families, so that all people of all races and all backgrounds get a higher wage and all folks get quality health care and a decent retirement and all children in this country get a better education that lets them dream bigger than their circumstances. That's what Hillary Clinton believes. And that's why I'm supporting her for President of the United States. And that's why you should too.

Now, to me, that, in and of itself, would be enough to make the choice. But we've got some other choices. You can go the path that denies climate change is real, or you can choose a path where American jobs and businesses lead the world to combat it. Over the last 7 years, we have doubled renewable energy in this country. We've—remember when we were all concerned about our dependence on foreign oil? Well, let me tell you, we've cut the amount of oil we buy from other countries in half. Remember when the other team was promising they were going to get gas prices down in, like, 10 years and—[applause]? We did it. Did it.

So we've been able to shape an energy policy that's good for families, good for your pocketbook. And with Secretary Clinton's help, America ultimately led nearly 200 other nations to an agreement to save this planet for future generations. Now, maybe you don't care about this; maybe you think 99 percent of scientists are wrong. [Laughter] Or you can——

Audience members. Thank you, President Obama!

The President. You're welcome. But the point is, we're not done with this. So where we go from here is up to you. You can vote with the climate deniers who want to tear up the agreements we've crafted and doom our kids to a more dangerous world, or you can vote to keep putting people back to work building a cleaner energy future for all of us. That's part of what's at stake in this election. That's one of the reasons I'm supporting Hillary Clinton for President.

Hillary mentioned how we operate on the world stage. Now, let me just say, I know the other guy talks about making America great again. I—America is really great. And just the other day, somebody was writing about, wow, when you look at the surveys in the world, it turns out that when Obama came into office, the world didn't think we were that great, but now they think we're the greatest. They think we're the strongest. They think we're the best positioned. We were in a hole before I came into office. But right now the world—the rest of the world thinks we're pretty darn great.

And by the way, you can look that up. That's a fact. That's not, like, just something I just made up and tweeted. [Laughter] So there are actually, like, surveys done. They poll people so you actually know what people think. You don't just assert it. And it turns out, that's what they think. You can look it up. [Laughter]

Part of the reason is because we had an outstanding Secretary of State. Part of the reason is, is that Hillary understood and continues to understand that just a bunch of tough talk doesn't replace the hard work of diplomacy. A bunch of phony bluster doesn't keep us safe. And she understands we can't retreat from a world that needs American leadership. That's why she offers a smarter approach that uses every element of American power to protect our people and to protect our allies.

She is and will be a stateswoman who makes us proud around the world. She'll deploy diplomacy whenever possible, but she also knows what it takes to be a Commander in Chief, and I know she will never hesitate to use force when it is necessary to protect us. And she'll know how to mobilize the world around the causes that we believe in, that we know are right, and make sure other countries pull their own weight. That's strength. That's leadership. And that's why Hillary Clinton has to be the next President of the United States of America.

Audience members. I'm with her! I'm with her! I'm with her!

The President. I am with her!

Audience members. I'm with her! I'm with her! I'm with her!

The President. I am with her. You know, part of the reason why we are here is because we all share the belief that this country only lives up to its potential when every single one of us get a chance to succeed. Black, White, Latino, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor——

Audience member. Turkish——

The President. ——Turkish American—[laughter]—gay, straight, male, female—all of us matter. All of us share the same creed. All of us pledge allegiance to the same flag. That doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. We all have different ideas and beliefs, and that's part of what makes America great.

But I agree with Hillary that our democracy works best when there are basic bonds of trust between us; when we recognize that every voice matters and the people who disagree with us most strongly love our country just as much as we do. You never heard Hillary Clinton demonize other people. You haven't heard her not be willing to engage in folks even when they disagree with her. You ask about folks in the Senate who were on the other side, they liked working with her. Even though some of them had done everything they could to tear her down when she was First Lady, she still worked with them.

And that brand of leadership is how we're going to get things done. That's how we can protect more of our kids from gun violence. After Newtown, the other side blocked any new gun safety reforms. After Orlando, they blocked any new gun safety reforms. They're not listening to 90 percent of the American people—Democrats and Republicans—who support background checks. And making sure somebody who's on a no-fly list can't actually go out and purchase an automatic rifle. Hillary knows how to build coalitions. And she knows we can take smart steps that protect both our rights and our kids so they can go to the movies or to church or to a nightclub or to school. And if you believe that, too, then there's no choice here: You've got to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Her brand of leadership can fix a broken immigration system so that it lives up to our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. You know, unless you're a Native American, somebody brought you here. [Laughter] Somebody came here. You came from someplace else, now. So I just want to be clear about that. And not everybody had their papers straight when they came. I'm just saying.

And there are millions of striving young people whose lives hang in the balance. And they want to give something back to this country that they love. They want to serve in our military. They want to go to college. They want to be doctors. They want to cure diseases. And for years, the Republicans who run this Congress, they talk a good game about immigration reform, and then they don't do anything. And now they've picked a nominee whose only plan is to build a higher wall. That's not a plan——

Audience members. Boo!

The President. No, no, no. Hold on a second. I was waiting for this opportunity: Don't boo——

Audience members. Vote!

The President. ——vote! [Applause] Don't boo, vote! Booing doesn't help! You need to vote!

But if you care about a smart immigration policy that controls our borders and makes sure that it's lawful, but also gives everybody opportunity, then this is your candidate. You've got to vote in this election.

And you know what, if you don't think your vote matters, if you don't think the stakes are high enough, remember that just last month, the Supreme Court could not reach a decision involving immigration because Republicans in the Senate had refused to just do their job and just have the courtesy to meet with a nominee that even they admit is one of the most qualified ever to be nominated to a seat on the Supreme Court. Won't even give him a hearing. Won't even give him an up-or-down vote. They'd rather have their nominee for President choose his own justice to fill that seat.

Audience members. Boo!

The President. Don't boo——

Audience members. Vote! The President. Got to vote!

He wants to nominate a justice who views the world he does. That's not a good thing. [Laughter]

Audience members. No!

The President. That's not what you want on the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court is no joke. The people who sit on that Bench make monumental decisions that affect all of your rights, our responsibilities and duties to each other as citizens, affect every aspect of our daily lives. This is not a reality show. This is not entertainment, this is real. This is not a reality show, this is reality. And being President of the United States means you've have to deal with——

Audience members. Reality.

When a crisis hits, you can't just walk off the set. [Laughter] You can't fire the scriptwriter. [Laughter] You can't be reckless. You don't have the luxury of just saying whatever pops into your head. You've actually got to know what you're talking about. You've got to actually do your homework. You can't just kick out reporters. [Laughter] You can't go to another country, and if they ask you a question you don't like, just kick them out—[laughter]—because you're in another country. You've got to apply steady judgment, even when things don't go your way. You've got to make the tough calls, even when they're not popular and even when they won't pay off right away or increase your poll numbers. You've got to be able to handle criticism without taking it personally. You've just got to brush it off and get the job done.

That's some of what I've learned while serving as your President. That's some of what Hillary has learned as a Senator and as Secretary of State. And that's why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States.

I know I've gone on too long. That's what happens—you haven't campaigned in a while, you start just enjoying it too much. So let me just simplify this. And let me be blunt. I want to be blunt. Can I be blunt? [Laughter] I'm going to be blunt. You know, Hillary has got her share of critics. That's what happens when you're somebody who's actually in the arena. That's what happens when you've fought for what you believe in. That's what happens when you dedicate yourselves to public service over the course of a lifetime. And what sets Hillary Clinton apart from so many others is, she never stopped caring, she never stopped trying.

We're a young country, so we like new things. And I've benefited from that culture, let's face it. When I came on the scene in '08, everybody said, "Well, he's new." [Laughter] They don't say that now, because I'm not. But sometimes, we take somebody who's been in the trenches and fought the good fight and been steady for granted. Sometimes, we act as if never having done something and not knowing what you're doing is a virtue. [Laughter] We don't do that, by the way, for airline pilots. [Laughter] We don't do that for surgeons. But somehow we think, President of the United States, yes, let's just give—I don't know—who's that guy? Come on. [Laughter]

And so, as a consequence, that means that sometimes Hillary doesn't get the credit that she deserves.

Audience members. That's right!

The President. But the fact is, Hillary is steady. And Hillary is true. And she's been in politics for the same reason I am: because we can improve other people's lives by doing this work. And we don't care about the slings and arrows that are thrown at us, because we know that's how real change and real progress happens and that we, if we're willing to work hard, can finish—can bring about changes that make life better for some kid out there, some senior out there, somebody who's unemployed out there.

And it may take more than a year. And sometimes, it takes more than a term. And sometimes, it takes more than one Presidency or even one generation. And yes, that's old fashioned. I think she'll fess up to that. [Laughter] But we want people to believe that their Government can work and that the President cares and that every child in this country should have the same chance that this country gave us.

Because we weren't born with a silver spoon. And we know that behind all the division and sometimes angry rhetoric of this election year and all the petty bickering and the point scoring and the punditry, the ordinary American—Americans are good. And they are generous. And they are hard-working. And they've got an awful lot of common sense. And we share a certain set of common values and hopes and dreams.

That's why I ran in 2008. And I believe in those values and those ideals more than ever. And I believe in you, the American people, more than ever. And I am more optimistic about our future than ever. And that's why my faith—my faith—is stronger about the simple American ideal as old as our founding that people who love their country can change it for the better. I have seen it happen.

I have run my last campaign. And I couldn't be prouder of the things we've done together. But I'm ready to pass the baton. And I know that Hillary Clinton is going to take it. And I know she can run that race: the race to create good jobs and better schools and safer streets and a safer world. And that's why I'm fired up! And that's why I'm ready to go! And that's why I'm with her!

And that's why I need you to work just as hard to make sure that Hillary Rodham Clinton is the next President of the United States of America.

God bless you, North Carolina. God bless you! God bless the United States of America.

NOTE: The President spoke at 3:47 p.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center. In his remarks, he referred to Sen. Richard M. Burr; North Carolina State Attorney General Roy Cooper, in his capacity as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate; Donald J. Trump, chairman and president, Trump Organization, in his capacity as a Republican Presidential candidate; and Supreme Court Associate Justice-designate Merrick B. Garland.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Fundraiser for Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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