Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Fundraiser for Senatorial Candidate Representative Edward J. Markey in Boston, Massachusetts

June 12, 2013

The President. Hello, Boston! It is great to be back in Boston. Good to be back in Massachusetts. And most of all, it is great to be here with the next Senator from Massachusetts: Ed Markey.

First of all, I want to thank Ed for that great introduction. Because I am here with my great friends from Boston, because I'm here to campaign on behalf of somebody who will be an outstanding Member of the United States Senate, I am not going to talk trash about the hockey game. [Laughter] I'm not going to say anything about the outstanding qualities of the Chicago Blackhawks. [Laughter]

Audience members. Boo!

The President. I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to do it. [Laughter] Because I don't want to make you all feel bad. [Laughter] I want you to feel good.

Part of the reason you should feel good is not only do you have an outstanding congressional delegation, you also have a great Governor, my good friend, Deval Patrick. You've got one of the finest mayors in the United States of America; we love Tom Menino. I was just backstage talking to Tom, and he doesn't just inspire Boston and make it a better place, he inspires the country. And we're grateful for his lifetime of service.

The last time I saw Tom, the last time I saw a lot of you was for the memorial service honoring the victims of the marathon bombing. So this morning, before I came here, I wanted to spend some time with some Bostonians, so we stopped by Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, and I got a burger and fries. And we were saying hi to everybody and hugging folks, and Ed was with me. And one of the people I met in the shop just by happenstance was a young man whose family had been injured by the bombing. And he was with a nurse who had been at Mass General the day those folks got brought in. And she was on her day off. But I gave her a big hug, and I reminded her of how much what she did had meant to so many people all throughout the city and she was an example of the spirit of Boston during a very difficult time.

And I asked people, how is the city doing? And they said, you know, we're bouncing back. Boylston Street may be open again. Life may be back to normal in a lot of ways. But we know there's still too many middle class families that aren't seeing their hard work rewarded, too many young people who are looking for work and can't find it, too many Americans who feel like the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart. And that's why Ed and I are focused on building the true engine of long-term economic growth, and that is, a rising, thriving middle class.

And every day I wake up, I ask three questions: How do I make America a magnet for good jobs? How do we make sure our workers earn the skills and education they need for those jobs? How do we make sure those jobs are paying a decent living? And the answer to that is, government can't do it by itself. Obviously, the private sector is the driver of our economy. It's the engine of our growth.

But when people say the whole problem is government, they don't understand government can help by establishing smart priorities, by making smart choices: by investing in American manufacturing so we're bringing more of our jobs back from overseas; investing in our roads and our bridges and our ports to make sure that we are staying competitive all around the world; educating our children from the earliest years; keeping them safe from gun violence; rethinking our high schools; making college more affordable; making sure we stay at the cutting edge in science and technology; securing our energy future; addressing climate change. There are some things that government can do that will help middle-class families, and that's what Ed Markey is committed to doing.

We can do all this. We have all the plans. We have all the policies. We have solutions to our challenges. We have all the ingredients for success. This is not only the greatest nation on Earth in the past, this is going to be the greatest nation on Earth for the foreseeable future. There's no country on Earth that would not gladly trade places with the United States. But what's holding us back right now is inaction in Washington, gridlock in Washington: too many folks in Washington who are putting the next election ahead of the next generation.

Now, Boston, I want you to know I've run my last campaign. Michelle is very happy about that. [Laughter] So my only concern is making sure that we advance the interests of the broadest number of Americans and we leave our children a stronger, safer, more prosperous country than the one we inherited. That's all I care about. And that means I'm willing to work with anybody; I'll work with Republicans, Democrats, Independents, anybody who wants to make progress. I'm ready to get going. I want to work with them.

So, for example, right now on immigration, we've got a good bipartisan bill moving through the Senate that strengthens our borders and reforms the system so that everybody is playing by the same rules, reform that will allow us to continue to attract talent from all around the world, the best and the brightest. And whenever Republicans are ready to work with me, I'm ready to work with them. I want to govern not just politic.

And I notice on gun violence, there are a lot of Republicans out there who recognize that we need some commonsense gun safety measures. Some Republicans may be rethinking the stances that they took in the past. That's the good news. We want to encourage that. But the fact of the matter is that a whole bunch of Republicans out there are not interested in getting things done. They think compromise is a dirty word. They think the problem we've got is just working people who join unions, that that's what holding us back. They think environmental regulations are what's holding us back. They think that we're spending, I guess, too much money on science and research and technology.

And because of those attitudes, we've got to have some Democrats like Ed Markey, who will stand up and do the right thing. That's what we need.

Ed mentioned that the idea of being a Democrat—look, I don't believe that any single party has a monopoly on wisdom. My favorite President is a guy from Illinois who founded the Republican Party, effectively: Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican President. But what does make me a Democrat is the basic idea that in this country, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, you should be able to get ahead if you're willing to work hard and act responsibly.

You should be able to buy a home and send your kids to college and save a little bit for retirement, make sure your kids get a good education, not go bankrupt when you get sick. Most Americans aren't asking for a lot. They know they've got to take care of themselves. They just want to make sure that if they're working hard, they can get ahead. That's the essence of what it means to be a Democrat.

And that's why we've got to have folks like Ed Markey, who are going to help keep weapons of war off the streets and out of our schools, make it harder for criminals to get a gun in their hands.

That's why we've got to have a Democrat who is going to make sure that we implement the Affordable Care Act, because in a nation this wealthy, nobody should have to go without affordable, accessible health care. They don't have to do it in Massachusetts. They shouldn't have to do it anywhere else. It's the right thing to do, and we need Ed Markey to make sure that it gets implemented.

We're fighting to make sure that when it comes to women's health, no employer or insurance company or politician gets to decide your health care. Women should make decisions about their health care, not some politician in Washington.

We need somebody who is going to be supportive of the Consumer Financial Protection Board that Elizabeth Warren and I started talking about even before I was elected President and that we've now implemented to make sure you're not getting cheated by unscrupulous financial practices. We need somebody who is going to support that robustly. That's what Ed is going to do.

We don't need politicians who are going to roll back these rights, we need somebody like Ed Markey who is going to fight to secure them, no matter how many times the Republicans in Washington want to refight the old battles.

Do you know that the House Republicans have held nearly 40 votes to repeal Obamacare? They did another one just 2 weeks ago because they figured that they were a couple new Representatives that hadn't had a chance to vote against Obamacare. That's not a productive thing to do, people.

This law is going to mean big things for the economic security of middle class families. We should be spending time figuring out how to spread the word that if you don't have health insurance, you can now get it.

We need a Senator from Massachusetts who will help me, work with me, to deal with climate change in an honest, realistic way. Ed has been fighting this battle for decades. If we want our children and our grandchildren to live in the same beautiful planet, the same abundance, and natural glory that we have enjoyed in our lives, we've got to double down on our investment in science and basic research. We can't just develop the energy sources of the past. We've got to develop the energy sources of the future.

We've got the tools and the capabilities to make huge strides. We've already doubled the production of clean energy. We've already doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. We've got to keep on going forward, not backwards. And that's what Ed Markey is going to help us do.

We've ended a war in Iraq; we're winding down the war in Afghanistan responsibly. Now we're going to have to take care of our veterans and keep Americans safe. And I will keep working with the other side of the aisle on these issues. But I want somebody like Ed Markey who every single day is going to be fighting on behalf of our veterans, going to be fighting on behalf of our first responders.

These budget battles we have in Washington, they have implications for whether or not we're helping cities and States fund their firefighters, fund their police officers. And everybody here in Boston knows how much those first responders mean to us when a crisis has hit. And we've got to make sure we're there for them.

So look, here's the bottom line: We've gone through some tough times over these last few years, and so many of you put your faith in me in 2008 and 2012. The folks here in Massachusetts were very kind to me back in 2004, when nobody could pronounce my name. [Laughter]

And every single day, I think about all of you. I look out on the faces in this crowd; some of you I know, some of you have knocked on doors for me, some of you poured your heart and soul into our efforts.

But here's the thing that I think all of us understand: The job of rebuilding America, the job of making sure our kids have a great education, the job of making sure everybody has health care, the job of making sure that financial institutions treat everybody fairly, the job of making sure our veterans have the care that they need, the job of making sure we have a bright energy future, the job of preserving our environment, the job of making sure we stay on the cutting edge when it comes to innovation, that job is not mine alone. I can't do it by myself. I've got to have folks with me who care as passionately about these things as I do. I've got to have folks in the United States Senate who are willing to stand up for working people just like I have. I need folks in the United States Senate who, every day, are waking up thinking about the people who sent them there and trying to figure out how do I make sure that they are getting a brighter future.

That's who Ed Markey is. I need Ed Markey in the United States Senate.

So this election is going to come down to turnout. We've got a whole lot of Democrats in this state and a whole lot of Obama voters, but you can't just turnout during a presidential election. You've got to turn out in this election. You can't think, oh, I did my work in 2012. You've got some work to do right now in 2013. You can't just pat your back and say, well, I knocked on some doors back in November. I need you knocking on some doors right now in June.

And if you work with the same focus and the same passion—if you are knocking on some doors and making some phone calls, if you're talking to your friends and you're talking to your neighbors, if you're talking to cousin Jimmy who doesn't always vote unless you give him a phone call—if you are making sure that people know Ed Markey's remarkable record in Congress, then I guarantee you, he will be the next United States Senator from Massachusetts. He'll join Elizabeth Warren. He'll carry on the legacy of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. He will be my partner, and we will continue the march forward on behalf of not just this generation, but future generations.

Thank you. Let's get to work. God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:27 p.m. at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. In his remarks, he referred to Jessica Wiggins, nurse, Massachusetts General Hospital; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in her former capacity as Assistant to the President and Special Adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in his former capacity as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Fundraiser for Senatorial Candidate Representative Edward J. Markey in Boston, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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