Cleveland State University
2:36 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Cleveland State! (Applause.) How's it going, Vikings? (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody! (Applause.)
Can everybody give Tatiana an -- just give her a huge round of applause for that great introduction. (Applause.) It’s good to see our members of Congress who are here -- Marcia Fudge, Betty Sutton, Marcy Kaptur. (Applause.) Your Mayor, Frank Jackson. (Applause.) Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. (Applause.) And it's good to see all of you in the rain here. (Applause.) I appreciate it. Thank you.
I know everybody is a little wet. Ladies, I know of you some of you just went to the hairdresser. (Laughter.) I mean, so that's a big sacrifice. I want to thank everybody who's up there in the stands. We appreciate you. (Applause.)
Now, before I begin, Ohio, I just have one question: Are you registered to vote? (Applause.) Because if you’re not, if you are not, you’ve got four days left. If you are, you can vote right now. Just go to Vote.BarackObama.com -- that's Vote.BarackObama.com -- to find out how to register and where to vote. Because, Ohio, you’ve got a big choice to make. Not just a choice between two candidates or two parties -- we've got a choice between two fundamentally different visions for America.
Today, I believe that as a nation, we're moving forward again. (Applause.) When I was sworn into office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Now our businesses have added 5.2 million jobs over the past two and a half years. (Applause.) This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office. (Applause.) So more Americans entered the workforce. More people are getting jobs.
Now, every month we understand, especially here in Cleveland and all around Ohio, that there are too many friends and neighbors who are still looking for work, too many families who are still struggling to pay the bills. And they were struggling even before this recession hit. But today’s news should give us some encouragement. It shouldn’t be an excuse for the other side to try to talk down the economy just to try to score a few political points. It’s a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now.
Because of the strength and the resilience of the American people, we've made too much progress to return to the policies that led to this crisis in the first place. (Applause.) We can’t allow that to happen. We won’t allow that to happen. And that is why I'm running to be your President for four more years. (Applause.) Four more. Four more. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT: I have seen too much pain and too much struggle to let this country go with another round of top-down economics. (Applause.) One of the main reasons we had this crisis was because we had big banks on Wall Street making bets with other people’s money, and now Governor Romney wants to roll back those rules that we put in place to stop that behavior.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Don’t boo -- vote. (Applause.)
One of the main reasons we went from record surpluses into record deficits is because we put two wars and two tax cuts on a credit card. We didn’t pay for them. And now Mr. Romney wants another $5 trillion in tax cuts that he can’t pay for. We’re not going to let that happen. (Applause.) We are not going to fall backwards -- not with so much at stake. Not now. It didn’t work then, it won’t work now. And that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States. (Applause.)
I will tell you what we need to move forward. We’ve got to invest in small businesses. We’ve got to invest in manufacturers who are creating jobs here in Ohio, here in the United States of America. We’ve got to recruit 100,000 new math and science teachers to train, to make sure that our young people have the skills that they need.
We’ve got to train 2 million workers at community colleges to bring down college tuition costs. (Applause.) We’ve got to cut our oil imports in half and create thousands of new jobs in energy. We’ve got to use the savings from ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our deficit, put some people to work doing some nation-building right here at home.
That’s the agenda we need. That’s how you strengthen the middle class. That’s how you keep moving forward. That’s the choice in this election. That’s why I’m asking for your vote. (Applause.)
Now, my opponent, he was doing a lot of -- a little tap dance at the debate the other night, trying to wiggle out of stuff he’s been saying for a year; doing, like, a -- it was like “Dancing with the Stars.” (Laughter.) Or maybe it was “Extreme Makeover” -- (laughter) -- debate edition. But no matter what he says, my opponent, he’s a big believer of these top-down economics. He thinks that if we spend another $5 trillion on tax cuts that favor the wealthiest, we get rid of more regulations on Wall Street, all of our problems are going to be solved. Jobs and prosperity will rain down from the sky. (Laughter.) Deficits will magically disappear. We’ll live happily ever after.
Even though he’s been proposing this plan for months now, he’s run into a little trouble explaining how it would work without blowing up the deficit or making it work for middle-class families. The other night, he ruled out asking millionaires and billionaires to pay even a dime more in taxes. He said, no way he was going to close loopholes that are giving big oil companies billions of dollars each year in corporate welfare. Ending tax breaks for corporations that are shipping jobs overseas and profits overseas -- he said he’d never heard of such a thing. Never heard of it. Who knew, he said. He acted shocked, said he needs a new accountant. (Laughter.) His current accountant is doing just fine.
When he was asked how he’d actually cut spending and reduce the deficit, he said he’d go after funding for public television.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: So for all you moms and kids out there, don’t worry, somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. (Laughter.) Elmo, you better make a run for it. (Laughter.) Governor Romney is going to let Wall Street run wild again, but he’s going to bring the hammer down on “Sesame Street.”
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: You want me to save Big Bird? (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Save Big Bird! Save Big Bird! Save Big Bird!
THE PRESIDENT: (Laughter.) Look, Cleveland, we cannot afford to double down on the same, old, top-down economic policies that caused this mess in the first place. We can't afford another round of tax cuts for wealthy folks, we’ve got to give and maintain tax cuts for you.
That's what I did when I came into office, and we’re going to keep them in place. We can't afford to cut investments in education or clean energy or research or technology. We can't afford to roll back regulations on Wall Street or oil companies or insurance companies. That's not a jobs plan. That's not a plan to grow the economy. That's not a plan to grow the middle class. We have been there. We have done that. It didn't work. We’re not going back. We’re moving forward. That's why I’m running for a second term as President. That's why I need your vote, Ohio. (Applause.)
We’ve got a different view about how you create jobs and prosperity. This country succeeds not just when folks at the top are doing well. This country succeeds when everybody has a shot, when the middle class is growing, when people who are willing to work hard have ladders into the middle class.
Our economy grows from the middle out -- not the top down. Now, I understand we don't believe anybody is entitled to success in this country, but we do believe in something called opportunity. We believe in a nation where hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded. Everybody is getting a fair shot. Everybody is doing their fair share. Everybody is playing by the same rules -- not just rules benefiting a few.
But in order for us to make this happen, you guys are going to have to vote. And you’re going to have to rally around the plan that I’ve presented: Number one, making sure we’ve got the best education system in the world. (Applause.) Tatiana is an example of the incredible potential that our young people have, but we’ve got to make that real for them. So I want to help hire another 100,000 new math and science teachers. (Applause.) I want to make sure that anybody who wants to get retrained for a job that's out there right now knows they’ve got a slot at the community college. I want to make sure that tuition is affordable for anybody who wants to go to Cleveland State -- (applause) -- anybody who wants to go to Ohio State, anybody who wants to pursue a higher education and is willing to put the work in.
I want to make sure that we’re investing in companies that are putting down roots here in Ohio and here in the United States. (Applause.) Remember, when we saved that auto industry, Mr. Romney said, let’s “let Detroit go bankrupt.” I put my bet on American workers and American industries.
And so now we’ve got to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, and give them to companies that are hiring right here in Ohio, hiring right here in Cleveland. That's what we need. (Applause.)
We need to develop our energy sources. But in addition to oil and gas and clean coal technology, which we, by the way, have made the largest investment ever in clean coal technology -- but we also need to develop wind and solar, because there are jobs in Ohio right now -- folks making wind turbines and making long-lasting batteries. We’ve got to continue to do that.
We’ve got to reduce our deficit, but we got to do in a sensible way. I am not going to kick kids off of Head Start. I’m not going to make college more expensive for the students here at Cleveland State -- (applause) -- just to give another tax break to folks who don’t need and weren’t even asking for it. (Applause.)
And when it comes to overseas, I am proud that when I promised to end the war in Iraq, I did. I said I’m going to wind down the war in Afghanistan, and I have. Mitt Romney has different ideas. He likes to talk tough. But what I know is, is that thanks to the incredible service of our men and women in uniform, al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is no more. (Applause.)
That’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I will maintain the strongest military the world has ever known. But I’m also going to make sure when our troops come home and they take off their uniform, we serve them as well as they have served us. (Applause.) They shouldn’t have to fight for a job when they come home after they’ve fought for us all these years.
So look, here’s the bottom line, Ohio. We’ve got more work to do, but the only way we’re going to do it is with you. You're the reason we passed health care reform so that children out there are all able to get insurance even if they’ve got a preexisting condition. (Applause.)
You’re the reason that we’ve been able to help young people attend college by trying to give them more Pell grants and more financial aid. (Applause.)
You're the reason that families all across Ohio have been able to get a little bit of a tax break, a little extra money in their pockets -- which then means businesses have more customers, which means businesses then hire more workers, which means the economy begins to heal from the mess that we inherited.
You made these things happen. You were the ones who helped us end "don't ask, don't tell.” You’re the ones who are helping to make sure that we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars.
You’re the ones who are helping us to go into neighborhoods that have had tough times in Cleveland and all across this country and say, let’s put people back to work rebuilding foreclosed homes; let’s put folks back to working making sure that we’re rebuilding our roads and our bridges. But if that progress is going to continue, you’ve got to step up.
And I know I’m preaching to the choir here because you all are standing in the rain. (Applause.) But a little rain never hurt anybody. (Laughter.) Some of these policies from the other side could hurt a whole lot of folks. So we’ve only got just a little over a month left, and you can start voting right now. And the way we’re going to do it is reminding ourselves that the only way this country makes progress is when we do it together -- black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, abled and disabled. All of us together have to do this.
When I was elected in 2008, 47 percent of the people did not vote for me. But I didn’t say, well, I'm not going to worry about those folks. I didn’t say that. I stood in Grant Park, and I looked at the camera and I said, even though you didn’t vote for me, I've heard your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President, too. (Applause.) I will fight for you, too. (Applause.)
And so, I don’t know how many folks will vote for me this time in Ohio -- (applause) -- but I'm here to tell everybody -- independents, Republicans, tea partiers, all of you -- I will be your President, too. (Applause.) I will fight just as hard for you -- because I still believe in you. And if you still believe in me -- (applause) -- if you're willing to make some phone calls, if you're willing to knock on some doors, if you're willing to talk to your friends and your neighbors, your uncles, your cousins, your aunts, you co-workers, and tell them this election counts and it matters, and it will help determine not just our future but our children's future and our grandchildren's futures and our great-grandchildren's futures -- if you're willing to make that commitment, I promise you I will fight for you every single date that I've got the privilege of being your President. (Applause.)
We will win Ohio. We will win this election. (Applause.) We'll finish what we started, and we'll remind the world why the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
God bless you, everybody. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
2:56 P.M. EDT