Barack Obama photo

Remarks at a Nevada State Democratic Party Fundraiser in Henderson, Nevada

August 24, 2015

Hey! Thank you, everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody, have a seat. Have a seat. Come on. We're among friends here. Thank you so much. Let me begin by thanking Brian and Myra for their hospitality in this humble abode. [Laughter] The last time I saw Brian, I have to admit that he and Derek Jeter stole money from me—[laughter]—at Shadow Creek.

And it was clearly a setup, because as we got—I knew Derek, but I hadn't played golf with him before, and as we got up to the practice range, he was shanking balls everywhere. And I said, well, do you play golf, Derek? He said, I just started 2 weeks ago. [Laughter] And Brian said, yes, I'll be his partner, because Brian is a better golfer than me. And we gave Derek Jeter, like, 30 strokes. And then, on the first tee, suddenly, the ball just went straight and down the middle of the fairway, and we had to take a picture of me handing Derek Jeter money at the end of it.

So despite that, Brian is a great friend and obviously an incredible leader in this community and nationally. And I could not be more grateful to him and Myra for hosting us here today. So please give them a big round of applause.

It's hard for me to express how much I love Harry Reid, but it's easier to do it in a room of people who love Harry Reid. Harry and I drove over here together, and we were doing a little reminiscing and then figuring out how we're going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems. And then, we talked about riding off into the sunset together.

Everything I've accomplished, I've accomplished because Harry Reid was there by my side. And I am forever grateful for his friendship and his strength, because the thing about Harry is, he's a great politician, but he's also a man with a lot of backbone and is willing to do hard things when it's required, and that's what you want out of a political leader.

That's part of the reason why Harry has made me so confident about Catherine and her capacity to do a great job in the United States Senate. Catherine Cortez Masto has already shown her leadership in this State. She has been a tireless advocate on behalf of children, on behalf of women, on behalf of folks who are vulnerable to fraud. She's the kind of person with the track record of integrity and fighting for people on the right side of the issues that you want in the United States Senate. And I think this will be a lasting part of what is already an incredible legacy of leadership in the United States Senate as Harry passes the torch on to Catherine. So we are thrilled that she has agreed to take on what is going to be always a tough fight. I don't know that there are ever any easier—easy fights around here, but I have full confidence that not only is she going to be a great candidate, but more importantly, she's going to be a great Senator.

And then, I've just got a lot of friends in the room, so—you know who you are. Hey, friends. It is wonderful to be back in Vegas, wonderful to be back in Nevada.

I'm coming off a couple of weeks of family time. I feel refreshed, renewed, recharged, a little feisty—[laughter]—and ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work, because we still have a lot of work facing this country. When I came into office, obviously, we had enormous challenges, almost unprecedented challenges. And systematically, we have dug ourselves out of the economic hole that we were in. Nevada was as hard hit as any State in the Union, and Nevada has bounced back. Still got a lot of work to do. But the economy is stronger; the housing market is stronger. People are seeing job creation once again. But what we also know is that the potential of America is so much greater than what is currently being realized, and part of the reason is because we've got a political system that's holding us back.

Right now we could be putting hundreds of thousands of people back to work rebuilding the infrastructure of this country, and yet we have a Congress that finances our highway bill for 3 months at a time. That's not what the greatest country on Earth does. That's not how the Hoover Dam was built. That's not how the Interstate Highway or the transcontinental railroad were built. That's not how we sent a man to the Moon or invented the Internet, by failing to invest in our future.

I just came back from a conference that Harry organized today about clean energy. When we came into office in 2008, one of our top priorities was to kickstart what was still a fairly nascent clean energy industry. We're now producing more solar energy in 1 year than we did in 8 or 10 years before I came into office. We've increased solar power by twentyfold, increased wind power by three, four times. And yet you've got a budget in Washington right now that's being structured that would rob us of the investments we need to innovate and move us in the direction of a clean energy future that also will happen to save the planet, a pretty good byproduct of the work that's already being done by the private sector and public sector all across the country.

We know that our kids are going to have to be trained for a new knowledge economy. And yet, unfortunately, we are still having debates about whether we should be making investments in K-12 education, whether we should make our community colleges more affordable for more people, whether we should be properly funding job training programs to make sure that every worker out there is trained for the jobs of the future as opposed to simply longing for the jobs of the past.

So, across the board, we have incredible opportunities. And I have never been more optimistic about America than I am right now. You'll recall that it was probably just a year, year and a half ago, where everybody was talking about China taking over. Let me tell you something: I spend a lot of time overseas, and around the world, if you ask people who's got the best cards, who's got the combination of the best universities and colleges, the best scientists, the best entrepreneurs, the best innovators, the most dynamic workforce—in part because we have the best tradition of immigration and attracting the best and brightest from around the world—people will say the United States of America. They envy us. But what's holding us back is too often our political debates are not about what's best for the country, but what's best for the next election.

And what's true here domestically is also true in terms of foreign policy. I mean, we've got enormous challenges around the world. But the fact is, is that since I came into office, not only have we been able to wind down two wars, take out bin Laden, but often without fanfare, we've saved millions of lives because of initiatives to stop malaria. We've provided billions dollars of new initiatives to help develop the poorest countries in the world. We're promoting the education of girls and women all around the world and championing human rights each and every day. We've been leaders in nonproliferation, which is part of the reason why I am so insistent that Congress not block a historic diplomatic effort when it comes to making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. And I'm so appreciative of Harry Reid's support for that effort.

And part of what we have to recognize is, is that in the same way that we can't let politics get in the way of our growth and prosperity here at home, the world is counting on us for leadership around the world. I've said this before: When there's a problem someplace, the first call isn't to Berlin, isn't to Beijing. The first call isn't to Moscow. The first call is to Washington, to the United States of America. If there is a hurricane somewhere, if there is an earthquake someplace, if there is a crisis that needs to be addressed, people understand that we have to lead.

And the fact is, is that we have led and can continue to lead. But in order for us to do so, we're going to need not just a strong executive branch, not just a President who after a few gray hairs seems to know what he's doing, but we also need a Congress that works, that functions. And listen, the happiest person on Earth that I cannot run for a third term is Michelle Obama. [Laughter] And so we're going to be observing, to some degree, what takes place in the election to come.

But what I can say is this. Democrats are not perfect. There are times where we have disagreements within the party. There are some folks in our party who sometimes are dogmatic. But Democrats govern. Democrats are willing to do things that are hard. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi had been willing to stand up for what's right, even when it's not popular. And that, more than anything, is what America needs right now. And so you being here tonight indicates that you believe in that kind of leadership.

And I would just urge you, especially those who were actively involved in my campaign back in 2008, we need you even more involved now because the stakes are so high, from education to infrastructure, to climate change, to clean energy, to making sure that we fight terrorism and the threats against this country, but we do it in a way that is lawful and in a way that is respectful to our values. The stakes are enormous. And your participation, your willingness to stand up for the America I think we all believe in, that's what's going to make a difference.

So thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:04 p.m. at the residence of Brian and Myra Greenspun. In his remarks, he referred to Derek S. Jeter, former shortstop, Major League Baseball's New York Yankees. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on August 25. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

Barack Obama, Remarks at a Nevada State Democratic Party Fundraiser in Henderson, Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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