Remarks at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio
Secretary Clinton: "Thank you so much! Wow, it is great to be back in Cincinnati. What a beautiful night on the banks of this magnificent river. I am grateful to all of you. I am thrilled to be here with my dear friends Mark and Gabby, and with all of you, because there are just eight days left in what is the most important election of our lifetimes.
Are you ready to work hard in this election and win it? Are you ready to send Ted Strickland to the United States Senate? I've known Ted a long time. He is a champion for workers and families. He knows that Ohio needs more good jobs with rising wages. And he is the kind of person who will actually work to get things done, breaking through the gridlock in Washington. And this is important: unlike his opponent, Ted Strickland has never been afraid to stand up to Donald Trump.
I also want to thank Mayor John Cranley and State Representative Alicia Reece and all the other elected officials, including my friend, the Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, from across the river in Kentucky. And we are so fortunate to have two other champions for American families with us today. I am awed by the courage and commitment that both Mark and Gabby bring to their work, to do everything they can to help save lives in America.
You know, as Gabby says every day when she goes out, fight, fight, fight. And fight she does. She fights to make sure that we save lives and we prevent injuries and we do it together – to end the epidemic of gun violence that threatens our children, our fellow men and women, our country. And Gabby and Mark know something very important: there is a big majority of Americans, including a majority of gun owners, to stand behind and achieve commonsense gun safety measures. And I am looking forward to working with them as their partner.
You know, you go through life, you go through the campaigns, there are ups and there are downs. And my mother, who had a really difficult life, she told me something that has stayed with me and certainly has come in handy in this campaign. Everybody gets knocked down; what matters is whether you get back up. And throughout this campaign, I have stayed focused on one thing: you – your lives, your families, the problems that keep you up at night. Because that's really what this election is all about. It's not about the noise and the distractions. It's about what kind of country we want for our kids, and what kind of president can help get us there.
I have so much that I want to do with you on behalf of Cincinnati and Ohio and America. And whether or not I get the chance to serve you really depends upon what happens in this election.
Now, earlier today, I was up at Kent State, a great university, and I told them about some of the reasons why I think it's really important to get everybody out to vote in this election. But I started by saying that there's this new email story about – why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election without evidence of any wrongdoing with just days to go. That's a really good question. But I want you to know – look, I've said repeatedly I made a mistake, I'm not making any excuses, but I will tell you this. If they want to look at some more emails of one of my staffers, by all means, go ahead, look at them. And I know they will reach the same conclusion they reached when they looked at my emails last year, right? It wasn't even a close call, and I think most people have moved on. They're looking and focused on, okay, who is going to be the next president and commander-in-chief?
Did any of you see the debates? Any of you see the debates? Well, I am – I got a little bit of a chance. I did stand there for four and a half hours with Donald Trump, proving conclusively I have the stamina to do the job. But I did occasionally get a chance to ask people to take a look at my 30 years of public service, my plans for our country, what Tim Kaine and I have said we want to do, and then weigh that against my opponent, what he's done and said. I am running against someone who says he doesn't understand why we can't use nuclear weapons. He actually said, "Then why are we making them?" He wants more countries to have nuclear weapons. He's mentioned Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia. Now, if you are hoping that he might surround himself with good people who would stop his crazy ideas, remember this. When he was asked who he consults with on foreign policy, Donald Trump said he didn't need to consult because, and I quote, "I have a very good brain." He said he knows more about ISIS than our generals do. [Booing.] No, Donald, you don't. And of course, the people that Donald Trump has around him include two men whose activities are also reportedly being investigated because of their ties to Russia, Vladimir Putin, and their allies.
So in these last days, let's not get distracted from the real choice in this election. Donald Trump has proven himself to be temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president and commander-in-chief.
I have to tell you, it does not give me any pleasure saying that. It's not a small thing. I have watched and known a lot of the people who have run for president, both Republicans and Democrats. And look, I've had my disagreements with Republicans. I might have disagreed on policies or principles, but I never doubted their fitness to serve in this office. Donald Trump is different, and that's why there is so much at stake in this election. He has a dark and divisive vision for America that could tear our country apart. Abraham Lincoln understood a house divided against itself cannot stand, and that was over the greatest of challenges – the challenge posed by slavery – and we fought a civil war. But we also have to take stock of how divided we are today, the kinds of divisions that need to be healed to bring people together.
I will tell you this. I want to bring not just Democrats, but Republicans and Independents, people who vote for me and people who vote against me, together. Because I have a very different vision of America. Instead of dark and divisive, it's hopeful and inclusive. It's big-hearted, not small-minded. It is about lifting people up, not putting them down. It's a vision that says, and I believe this with all my heart, we are stronger together. And America is great because America is good. Never forget that. Yes, we have our flaws; of course, we're only humans. But what we have done over the course of our history to keep widening the circle of opportunity and equality and freedom is unlike any other place in the history of the world. So we want an America where women are respected – where our veterans are honored – where parents and families are supported and workers are paid fairly. And we believe in an America where marriage is a right, and discrimination is wrong. An America that leads in the world and lives up to our values, where everyone counts, everyone has a place, and the American dream is big enough for everybody. So the choice could not be clearer and the stakes could not be higher.
When I was at Kent State talking about the threats that Donald Trump poses to our national security, I was really struck. It was a very big crowd, and it was primarily students. And I thought to myself, well, I'm not going to give a rah-rah speech because I really want to talk about what this means to national security. And I was introduced by a gentleman named Bruce Blair, a former Air Force officer in charge of the nuclear codes and keys. A launch officer. And he came out for me, along with now more than 30 launch officers, and basically they said, we cannot support Donald Trump because he should never, ever be near the nuclear codes and keys.
And even the prospect of an actual nuclear war doesn't seem to bother him. "Good luck. Enjoy yourselves, folks," is what he had to say about a potential nuclear conflict in Asia. I wonder if he even knows that a single – a single – nuclear warhead can kill millions of people? That is why dozens of retired nuclear launch officers took the unprecedented step of saying that Donald should, and I quote, "not have his finger on the button." And when it comes to handling a crisis, we've seen in this campaign that Donald Trump loses his cool at the slightest provocation – when he's gotten a tough question from a reporter, or when he's challenged in a debate, or when he sees a protestor at a rally, when he's confronted by his own words. So imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. [Cries of "No!"] Imagine him plunging us into a war because somebody got under his very thin skin. I hope you'll think about that when you cast your vote in this election. Think about what it takes to lead in a very complicated world, and in whose hands you want to put the safety of our children and grandchildren.
And think about the difference between electing a president who will do nothing and president who will tackle the epidemic of gun violence in America. As Gabby knows so well, 33,000 Americans a year are killed guns. Thousands more are injured. It's an average of 90 people a day dying. Here in Ohio more people are killed by guns than die in car crashes. We have seen moviegoers gunned down in theaters, little children killed in their classrooms, clubgoers massacred in Orlando, nine faithful people murdered at Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. And we've seen far too many young African American men and women killed by gun violence, which is now the leading cause of death for young black men. And when we think about that, we think of Dontre Hamilton or Jordan Davis or Trayvon Martin and others. I've had the great honor of getting to know their mothers, who have turned their grief into action and their mourning into a movement.
But here's what I want to say. If anything else in our country were killing as many people, people of good faith, people who believe, like we do, in the Second Amendment, people who own guns, people who go hunting, people who are collectors, we would say, hey, wait a minute. This can't go on. We need comprehensive background checks to close the gun show loophole, close the online loophole. And we know here in Ohio a majority of gun owners support these common-sense steps to prevent gun violence because they know we can respect the Second Amendment and keep our kids and communities safe at the same time. And we need to keep guns out of the hands suspected terrorists. If you are too dangerous to fly, you are too dangerous to buy a gun, period.
And look. There is a very clear difference. Donald Trump won't stand up to the gun lobby. He's sold out to them. In fact, the gun lobby is spending more on ads to get Donald Trump elected than any other group, more than $7 million in Ohio alone. And in return, Donald Trump has promised to repeat President Obama's actions to strengthen criminal background checks. Donald says guns should be allowed in nightclubs that serve alcohol. He's even said, on his very first day in office, he would require every school in America to let people carry guns into our classrooms. How can anyone think our schools would be safer with more guns?
So I have stood up to the gun lobby for years, which is why they are running all of these ads against me. And I will stand up to them as president. I will work with Gabby and Mark and Americans for Responsible Solutions to pass common sense reforms because we've got to keep guns out of the wrong hands and help save lives.
I will also get up every day in the White House working my heart out for you, whatever I can do to knock down barriers to empower people, to get the economy working for everybody, not just those at the top. That's how I was raised. I was raised to believe that if you work hard – and I believe in hard work – you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead in America. And I will never ever quit on you. When I tell you I'm going to try to do something that will make a positive difference in your life, I don't care what the political or other barriers are. We're going to find a way over, under, around, or through until we get it done. I've been fighting for families and underdogs my entire life, and I'm not stopping now. Remember, when our opponents go low, we go high. We're not going to be distracted. We're not going to be knocked off course. We know how much this election matters. And everything all of you can do between now and the time that the polls close is going to really count.
Now, the Donald Trump campaign strategy is pretty simple. They've announced it. Their strategy is: get women to stay home, get young people to stay home, and get people of color to stay home. It's all part of his scorched-earth campaign, but it actually adds up to more than half of our whole population when you stop to think about it. And it goes against everything we stand for. So if you're as upset as I am by the campaign that he has run, the things he has said, insulting not just women but immigrants, Latinos, African Americans, prisoners of war, Muslims, veterans, the military – I mean, the list goes on and on. It's almost impossible to understand how somebody could run for president who seems not to like America as much as he does.
So you know the best way to stop him: by showing up with the biggest turnout in history. We need more Americans to vote. And I think we have a chance to get more Americans from all walks of life to vote because we're already seeing record turnout. Twenty-three million people have already voted in this election. And more than one million of them are right here in Ohio. There is no doubt if we vote, we win. So, please, if you haven't voted early, please do so. And please get your friends and your family, everybody you know to vote. Take people to vote with you. Try to help those who might have a little problem getting there.
Make sure that everybody you know understands early voting has begun. And you can go to iwillvote.com to find your nearest early voting location because, make no mistake, whatever issue you care about – I've only mentioned a few tonight, but whatever issue you care about is on the ballot. Now, it may be my name and my opponent's name, but where we stand on these issues, what we've done in the past, what we have said we want to do in the future, that is all on the ballot. The future of our economy is at stake, of our education system is at stake. Fighting climate change and clean, renewable-energy jobs are at stake. LGBT equality is at stake. Equal pay for women is at stake. Actually, in the end, the American dream itself is at stake. So I want you to think about how you will feel on November 9th.
Audience Member: Happy.
Secretary Clinton: Happy. I think that's the right answer. But just suppose, just suppose you go to bed early. Suppose you go to bed early. Maybe you were too busy to vote or maybe you didn't make calls or knock on doors. I want you to imagine. So you get up early on the morning of the 9th. And you log on to the news to find out, hey, what's going on, or maybe you turn on the TV or the radio, and you hear.
Audience Member: No!
I want you to really understand what that means for you and for all of us because I prefer for us to be motivated by what we're for, not what we're against. But I also think it's prudent to imagine what could happen if we don't do our part. And when in the future somebody asks you, maybe your kids or your grandkids, 'What did you do when everything was on the line?' I want you to be able to say, 'I voted for a better, fairer, stronger America.'
Let's go out and, in these next eight days, do everything we can to make it clear we're going after the kind of future that includes everybody. We're going to build this economy: new jobs, rising wages. We're going to make college affordable and help you pay down your student debt. We are going to do what will give you the best chance for your own lives and the lives of our kids and our grandkids. So if we build that future together, we will be able to say we were part of making sure that America's best days are still ahead of us. And we will prove, once and for all, that love trumps hate.
Thank you all."
NOTE: Speech as delivered. Secretary Clinton was introduced by both Mark and Gabby Kelly, the former a retired astronaut, engineer, and US Navy Captain.
Hillary Clinton, Remarks at Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati, Ohio Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/319035