8:34 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Everybody, please have a seat.
First of all, let me just thank David for all of his extraordinary efforts. There are a lot of longtime, hardcore supporters in this room, but David has been tireless and Ruth has put up with him in support of my campaign back when people couldn't pronounce my name. And so I just couldn't be more grateful to them, and I just want to acknowledge all your leadership on this.
I also want to acknowledge a couple of other extraordinary leaders -- your outstanding mayor, Michael Nutter, who is here. (Applause.) One of my best friends in Washington -- or anywhere -- Bob Casey is in the house. (Applause.) He’s around here somewhere. And we have with us soon-to-be attorney general of the great state of Pennsylvania, Kathleen King, who is here. (Applause.)
And all of you are here. And so because you are here I don't want to spend a lot of time giving a long speech -- I just gave one -- and many of you have had the chance to hear me in larger settings before. I want to take advantage of this more intimate setting so that we can have more of a conversation.
Those numbers David provided are a good starting point for what this election is all about. I am very proud of the record and what we’ve done in this administration during as challenging a time as we’ve experienced in this country’s history. But this election ultimately is also going to be about where we go from here, because as much progress as we’ve made, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. There’s still too many people who are out of work, too many homes underwater, and middle-class families still don't have confidence that the future for their kids and their grandkids are going to be brighter than their futures have been.
And so the question in this election is going to be whose vision is more likely to create that basic bargain, to affirm that basic bargain that made America the economic superpower and the greatest country on Earth? And that bargain says that if you work hard in this country regardless of what you look like, where you come from, what faith you hold, who you love, that you can make it if you try.
The question in this election is going to be whose vision is most likely to lead us back to a point where economic growth is strong and is steady and is broad-based so that people who are willing to take initiative and work hard can succeed; that we’re not just a nation of consumers, but we’re a nation of producers; that we’re not just importing, but we’re exporting; that we’re a magnet for good, well-paying middle-class jobs in this society.
And the choices in this election could not be starker. I said before, back in 2008, I had some strong disagreements with John McCain, but there were certain baselines that we both agreed on. We both agreed on things like immigration reform. We agreed on the existence of climate change. We agreed on the need to control campaign finance spending.
This time out, across the board, there is just a fundamental disagreement, a difference of vision in terms of where we want to go. And Governor Romney’s vision is pretty much in sync with the vision of the House Republican Party right now, and it can be described basically with two ideas. One is that we need to slash taxes even more, particularly for the wealthiest, most successful among us. And two, we need to eliminate any kind of regulations, whether consumer or worker regulations or environmental regulations, that in any way impede the free market from operating however it will.
And the vision that I’m presenting in this campaign is consistent with what we talked about in 2008, and what I’m going to continue to talk about, and that we put into practice over the last three and a half years -- and that says, government can’t solve every one of our problems and it shouldn’t try, that there are some government programs that don’t work and should be ended, and there are some things that have to be done at a local level, but there are also some things that we have to do together.
We have to invest in an education system that ensures we have the strongest, most skilled workforce on Earth. We have to invest together in things like basic research and science to ensure that we continue to innovate. Together we’ve got to make sure that we continue to build the infrastructure for the 21st century, whether it’s basics like roads and bridges or it’s things like broadband lines and improved Internet access and the kinds of things that will ensure that we’re a platform for success for businesses coming from all around the world.
Together we’ve got to make sure that we reduce our debt and our deficit in a balanced way, where everybody is doing their fair share, so that we’re not just relying on cuts to programs for the vulnerable or for our kids, but we’re also asking those of us who have been incredibly blessed to be born in this country, for us to give a little back and to think about the future.
And that’s really what this election is going to come down to -- whose vision is more consistent with our history and those moments when we’ve been most successful as a country. And I think history is on our side, and the facts are on our side. When you think of recent history, when did we grow fastest? It was when Bill Clinton decided we’re going to raise taxes a little bit, close our deficit in a responsible way, make investments in the future. Prior to that, when did we grow fastest? In the postwar consensus, when the middle class was getting a decent wage and we began to invest in our infrastructure and our schools and our public colleges and universities, and basic research and basic science, and things like environmental protection and worker safety laws. Those didn’t impede our growth, they accelerated our growth.
And so I am looking forward to having this debate, and it’s a debate that this country needs to have. Because I know a lot of folks are frustrated by gridlock. Well, the reason we’ve got gridlock is there is just an honest disagreement about how we need to move this country forward. And I’m looking forward to taking that debate to the American people. And the good news is I think the American people agree with us. They’re not following, as David said, the ups and downs, the ins and outs of this campaign. But they do have a sense of what’s true, and they have pretty good instincts about what works. And they’re not persuaded that an economy built on the notion that everybody here is on their own is somehow going to result in a stronger, more prosperous America.
So our job is just to make sure that we get that message out, that the facts are presented fairly, that we push back against misinformation. But if we can just have a straight, honest, clear debate about the choices presented, then not only are we going to win this election, but, more importantly, we’re going to keep this country moving forward.
So thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
8:43 P.M. EDT