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Vilsack's Speech at the Democratic National Convention, September 2012

Speaker: Tom Vilsack
Published September 5, 2012

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave these remarks at the Democratic National Convention on September 5, 2012.This transcript was provided by Politico.

[Editor's Note: Click here for more CFR 2012 campaign resources, which examine the foreign policy and national security dimensions of the presidential race.]

Good evening. You know, rural Americans are a special people. Their labor puts food on our table and fuel in our gas tanks. Their service in our military sets a powerful example of leadership, honor and sacrifice. Their spirit of community inspires us all.

President Obama's fight for rural America is personal. He was raised by a single mom and grandparents from Kansas. He hails from a farming state, Illinois. And he understands the challenges that rural communities and families face today: protecting their middle-class way of life, preserving their heartland values.

Last week, we heard folks at the other convention say they want to "take our country back." But here's what I noticed: they didn't say back to what. Well, we know what backwards looks like. We know what happened to middle-class families after two tax cuts for people who didn't need them; after deregulation of the banking and housing sectors; after the historic recession that followed.

And we know how far we've come. Today, President Obama is helping farmers sell their products in new markets—here and abroad—spurring economic opportunity and development in rural areas. Today, President Obama is infusing new capital into rural communities, providing a record number of loans to farmers and small business owners, revitalizing aging infrastructure and boosting job creation.

Today, President Obama is making smart investments in clean energy—wind, solar, biofuels —as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that supports thousands of jobs, not in the Middle East, but in the Midwest. And in this season of severe drought, President Obama has acted to help, while calling on Congress to act as well. Because he understands that, in tough times, Americans pull together.

From here, we have more to do—much more. And President Obama has a detailed plan for a new rural economy: more support for small businesses making, creating and innovating; more investment in the production of bio-fuels and other bio-materials; more trade and more markets. Rural Americans want leaders who help middle-class communities to plan and prosper over the long-term—not opportunists who reap the rewards for themselves, leaving nothing for the people who do the sowing. They deserve leaders who appreciate their contributions, who believe in their potential, and who care enough to invest in their communities. And that's what they have in President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Last week, we heard from the party that wants to take the country back. Well, in America's heartland, we're voting for President Obama, the president who will keep our country and rural America moving forward.

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