October 27, 2008

Senator Obama in Canton, OH, today speaking about what's at stake in this election and why we can't afford four more years of the same old politics that pits Democrats against Republicans, rich against poor, black against white.

In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up.

In one week, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future.

In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.

In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.

That’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this – we will not just win Ohio, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country andwe will change the world.

Full remarks below the fold:

After decades of broken politics in Washington, eight years offailed policies from George Bush, and twenty-one months of a campaign that hastaken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we areone week away from change in America.

In one week, you can turn the page on policies that have putthe greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work andsacrifice of folks on Main Street.

In one week, you can choose policies that invest in ourmiddle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so thateveryone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and thejanitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.

In one week, you can put an end to the politics that woulddivide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region againstregion, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear ata time when we need hope.

In one week, at this defining moment in history, you cangive this country the change we need.

We began this journey in the depths of winter nearly twoyears ago, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield,Illinois. Back then, we didn’t have much money or manyendorsements. We weren’t given much of a chance by the polls or thepundits, and we knew how steep our climb would be.

But I also knew this. I knew that the size of ourchallenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believed thatDemocrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe were hungryfor new ideas, new leadership, and a new kind of politics – one thatfavors common sense over ideology; one that focuses on those values and idealswe hold in common as Americans.

Most of all, I believed in your ability to make changehappen. I knew that the American people were a decent, generous peoplewho are willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations. And Iwas convinced that when we come together, our voices are more powerful than themost entrenched lobbyists, or the most vicious political attacks, or the fullforce of a status quo in Washington that wants to keep things just the way theyare.

Twenty-one months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That’s how we’ve come so far and so close– because of you. That’s how we’ll change this country –with your help. And that’s why we can’t afford to slow down,sit back, or let up for one day, one minute, or one second in this lastweek. Not now. Not when so much is at stake.

We are in the middle of the worst economic crisis since theGreat Depression. 760,000 workers have lost their jobs this year. Businesses and families can’t get credit. Home values are falling.Pensions are disappearing. Wages are lower than they’ve been in adecade, at a time when the cost of health care and college have never beenhigher. It’s getting harder and harder to make the mortgage, orfill up your gas tank, or even keep the electricity on at the end of themonth.

At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is fourmore years of the tired, old theory that says we should give more tobillionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down toeveryone else. The last thing we can afford is four more years where noone in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street because politicians andlobbyists killed common-sense regulations. Those are the theories thatgot us into this mess. They haven’t worked, and it’s time forchange.

That’s why I’m running for President of the UnitedStates.

Now, Senator McCain has served this country honorably. And he can point to a few moments over the past eight years where he has broken from George Bush – on torture, for example. He deserves credit forthat. But when it comes to the economy – when it comes to thecentral issue of this election – the plain truth is that John McCain hasstood with this President every step of the way. Voting for the Bush taxcuts for the wealthy that he once opposed. Voting for the Bush budgetsthat spent us into debt. Calling for less regulation twenty-one timesjust this year.

Those are the facts.

And now, after twenty-one months and three debates, Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thinghe’d do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. Senator McCain says that we can’t spend the next four years waiting forour luck to change, but you understand that the biggest gamble we can take isembracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the lasteight years.

It’s not change when John McCain wants to give a$700,000 tax cut to the average Fortune 500 CEO. It’s not changewhen he wants to give $200 billion to the biggest corporations or $4 billion tothe oil companies or $300 billion to the same Wall Street banks that got usinto this mess. It’s not change when he comes up with a tax planthat doesn’t give a penny of relief to more than 100 million middle-classAmericans. That’s not change.

Look – we’ve tried it John McCain’sway. We’ve tried it George Bush’s way. Deep down,Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said that “if wekeep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.” That’s why he’s spending these last weeks calling me every name inthe book. Because that’s how you play the game in Washington. If you can’t beat your opponent’s ideas, you distort those ideasand maybe make some up. If you don’t have a record to run on, thenyou paint your opponent as someone people should run away from. You make a bigelection about small things.

Ohio, we are here to say “Not this time. Not this year. Not when so much is at stake.” Senator McCainmight be worried about losing an election, but I’m worried aboutAmericans who are losing their homes, and their jobs, and their lifesavings. I can take one more week of John McCain’s attacks, butthis country can’t take four more years of the same old politics and thesame failed policies. It’s time for something new.

The question in this election is not “Are you betteroff than you were four years ago?” We know the answer tothat. The real question is, “Will this country be better off four years from now?”

I know these are difficult times for America. But Ialso know that we have faced difficult times before. The American story has never been about things coming easy – it’s been about rising tothe moment when the moment was hard. It’s about seeing the highestmountaintop from the deepest of valleys.

It’s about rejecting fearand division for unity of purpose. That’s how we’ve overcomewar and depression. That’s how we’ve won great struggles forcivil rights and women’s rights and worker’s rights. Andthat’s how we’ll emerge from this crisis stronger and moreprosperous than we were before – as one nation; as one people.

Remember, we still have the most talented, most productiveworkers of any country on Earth. We’re still home to innovation andtechnology, colleges and universities that are the envy of the world. Some of the biggest ideas in history have come from our small businesses andour research facilities. So there’s no reason we can’t makethis century another American century.

We just need a new direction. We need a new politics.

Now, I don’t believe that government can or should tryto solve all our problems. I know you don’t either. But I dobelieve that government should do that which we cannot do for ourselves –protect us from harm and provide a decent education for our children; invest innew roads and new science and technology.

It should reward drive andinnovation and growth in the free market, but it should also make surebusinesses live up to their responsibility to create American jobs, and lookout for American workers, and play by the rules of the road. It should ensurea shot at success not only for those with money and power and influence, butfor every single American who’s willing to work.

That’s how we create not just more millionaires, but more middle-class families. That’s how we make sure businesses have customers that can afford theirproducts and services.

That’s how we’ve always grown theAmerican economy – from the bottom-up. John McCain calls thissocialism. I call it opportunity, and there is nothing more American thanthat.

Understand, if we want get through this crisis, we need toget beyond the old ideological debates and divides between left andright. We don’t need bigger government or smaller government. We need a better government – a more competent government – a governmentthat upholds the values we hold in common as Americans.

We don’t have to choose between allowing our financialsystem to collapse and spending billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out Wall Street banks.

As President, I will ensure that the financial rescue planhelps stop foreclosures and protects your money instead of enriching CEOs. And I will put in place the common-sense regulations I’vebeen calling for throughout this campaign so that Wall Street can never cause acrisis like this again.

That’s the change we need.

The choice in this election isn’t between tax cuts andno tax cuts. It’s about whether you believe we should only reward wealth, or whether we should also reward the work and workers who createit.

I will give a tax break to 95% of Americans who work every day andget taxes taken out of their paychecks every week. I’ll eliminateincome taxes for seniors making under $50,000 and give homeowners and working parents more of a break. And I’ll help pay for this by asking the folks who are making more than $250,000 a year to go back to the tax rate they were paying in the 1990s.

No matter what Senator McCain may claim, hereare the facts – if you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxesincrease by a single dime – not your income taxes, not your payrolltaxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing. Because the last thing we should do in this economy is raise taxes on themiddle-class.

When it comes to jobs, the choice in this election is notbetween putting up a wall around America or allowing every job to disappearoverseas. The truth is, we won’t be able to bring back every job that we’ve lost, but that doesn’t mean we should follow John McCain’s plan to keep giving tax breaks to corporations that send American jobs overseas.

I will end those breaks as President, and I willgive American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create righ there in the United States of America. I’ll eliminate capital gains taxes for small businesses and start-up companies that are the engine of job creation in this country.

We’ll create two million new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling roads, and bridges, and schools, and by laying broadband lines to reach every corner of the country. And I will invest $15 billion a year in renewable sources of energy to create five million new energy jobs over the next decade – jobs that pay well and can’t beout sourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and a new electricity grid; jobs building the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, not in Japan or South Korea but here in the United States of America; jobs that will help us eliminate theoil we import from the Middle East in ten years and help save the planet in the bargain.

That’s how America can lead again.

When it comes to health care, we don’t have to choose between a government-run health care system and the unaffordable one we have now. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that willchange under my plan is that we will lower premiums. If you don’thave health insurance, you’ll be able to get the same kind of health insurance that Members of Congress get for themselves.

We’ll invest in preventative care and new technology to finally lower the cost of healthcare for families, businesses, and the entire economy.

And as someone who watched his own mother spend the final months of her life arguing with insurance companies because they claimed her cancer was a pre-existingcondition and didn’t want to pay for treatment, I will stop insurancecompanies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care most.

When it comes to giving every child a world-class education so they can compete in this global economy for the jobs of the 21st century, the choice is not between more money and more reform – because our schools need both. As President, I will invest in early childhood education, recruit an army of new teachers, pay them more, and give them more support.

But I will also demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers and our schools. And I will make a deal with everyAmerican who has the drive and the will but not the money to go tocollege: if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford your tuition. You invest in America, America will invest in you, and together, we will move this country forward.

And when it comes to keeping this country safe, wedon’t have to choose between retreating from the world and fighting a war without end in Iraq. It’s time to stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a huge surplus.

As President,I will end this war by asking the Iraqi government to step up, and finally finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked uson 9/11. I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment togive them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will build new partnerships to defeat thethreats of the 21st century, and I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the causeof freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

I won’t stand here and pretend that any of this will be easy – especially now. The cost of this economic crisis, and thecost of the war in Iraq, means that Washington will have to tighten its belt and put off spending on things we can afford to do without.

On this,there is no other choice. As President, I will go through the federal budget, line-by-line, ending programs that we don’t need and making theones we do need work better and cost less.

But as I’ve said from the day we began this journey all those months ago, the change we need isn’t just about new programsand policies. It’s about a new politics – a politics that calls on our better angels instead of encouraging our worst instincts; one that reminds us of the obligations we have to ourselves and one another.

Part of the reason this economic crisis occurred is becausewe have been living through an era of profound irresponsibility.

On WallStreet, easy money and an ethic of “what’s good for me is good enough” blinded greedy executives to the danger in the decisions they were making.

On Main Street, lenders tricked people into buying homesthey couldn’t afford. Some folks knew they couldn’t afford those houses and bought them anyway. In Washington, politicians spent money they didn’t have and allowed lobbyists to set the agenda. They scored political points instead of solving our problems, and even afterthe greatest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, all we were asked todo by our President was to go out and shop.

That is why what we have lost in these last eight yearscannot be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits alone. What has also been lost is the idea that in this American story, each of us has a roleto play. Each of us has a responsibility to work hard and look after ourselves and our families, and each of us has a responsibility to our fellow citizens. That’s what’s been lost these last eight years – our sense of common purpose; of higher purpose. Andthat’s what we need to restore right now.

Yes, government must lead the way on energy independence,but each of us must do our part to make our homes and our businesses moreefficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fallinto lives of crime and despair.

But all of us must do our part as parents to turn off the television and read to our children and takeresponsibility for providing the love and guidance they need.

Yes, we can argue and debate our positions passionately, but at this defining moment, allof us must summon the strength and grace to bridge our differences and unite incommon effort – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; Democratand Republican, young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight, disabled or not.

In this election, we cannot afford the same political game sand tactics that are being used to pit us against one another and make usafraid of one another. The stakes are too high to divide us by class and region and background; by who we are or what we believe.

Because despite what our opponents may claim, there are noreal or fake parts of this country. There is no city or town that is more pro-America than anywhere else – we are one nation, all of us proud, allof us patriots. There are patriots who supported this war in Iraq and patriots who opposed it; patriots who believe in Democratic policies and those who believe in Republican policies. The men and women who serve in ourbattlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proudflag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America – theyhave served the United States of America.

It won’t be easy, Ohio. It won’t bequick. But you and I know that it is time to come together and change thiscountry. Some of you may be cynical and fed up with politics. A lotof you may be disappointed and even angry with your leaders. You haveevery right to be. But despite all of this, I ask of you what has beenasked of Americans throughout our history.

I ask you to believe – not just in my abilityto bring about change, but in yours.

I know this change is possible. Because I have seen itover the last twenty-one months. Because in this campaign, I have had the privilege to witness what is best in America.

I’ve seen it in lines of voters that stretched around schools and churches; in the young people who cast their ballot for the first time, and those not so young folks who got involved again after a very longtime. I’ve seen it in the workers who would rather cut back theirhours than see their friends lose their jobs; in the neighbors who take astranger in when the floodwaters rise; in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb. I’ve seen it in the faces of the men and women I’ve met at countless rallies and town halls across the country, men andwomen who speak of their struggles but also of their hopes and dreams.

I still remember the email that a woman named Robyn sent meafter I met her in Ft. Lauderdale. Sometime after our event, her sonnearly went into cardiac arrest, and was diagnosed with a heart condition thatcould only be treated with a procedure that cost tens of thousands ofdollars. Her insurance company refused to pay, and their family justdidn’t have that kind of money.

In her email, Robyn wrote, “I ask only this of you– on the days where you feel so tired you can’t think of utteringanother word to the people, think of us. When those who oppose you haveyou down, reach deep and fight back harder.”

Ohio, that’s what hope is – that thing inside usthat insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better iswaiting around the bend; that insists there are better days ahead. Ifwe’re willing to work for it. If we’re willing to shed our fears and our doubts. If we’re willing to reach deepdown inside ourselves when we’re tired and come back fighting harder.

Hope! That’s what kept some of our parents andgrandparents going when times were tough. What led them to say, “Maybe I can’t go to college, but if I save a little bit each week my child can; maybe I can’t have my own business but if I work really hard my child can open one of her own.” It’s what led immigrants from distant lands to come to these shores against great odds and carve a new life for their families in America; what led those who couldn’t vote to march and organize and stand for freedom; that led them to cry out,

“It may look dark tonight, but if I hold on to hope, tomorrow will be brighter.”

That’s what this election is about. That is the choice we face right now.

Don’t believe for a second this election is over. Don’t think for a minute that power concedes.

We have to work like our future depends on it in this last week, because it does.

In one week, we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates new jobs and fuels prosperity from the bottom-up.

In one week, we can choose to invest in health care for our families, and education for our kids, and renewable energy for our future.

In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo.

In one week, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.

That’s what’s at stake. That’s what we’re fighting for. And if in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and talk to your neighbors, and convince your friends; if you will stand with me, and fight with me, and give me your vote, then I promise you this – we will not just win Ohio, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country andwe will change the world.

Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless America.

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