Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave this speech at the Solutions for America event in Youngstown, Ohio on February 19, 2008.
Thank you. Thank you all very, very much. It is wonderful to be with you. I want to thank Gerry Mcentee and Tom Buffenbarger. I want to thank your Congressman Tim Ryan. Also, I want to recognize Representative Ron Gerberry, Representative Linda Bolon, Representative Lorraine Fende, Representative Sandy Harwood. I also want to thank Shelley Murray, the School Board President, and Amy Litkey the Student Rep to the School Board. And I particularly want to thank the Cheney high school and East high school marching bands.
Well, hello, Youngstown, how are you tonight? I am thrilled to be here with all of you. And, it is great to see this enthusiasm and this energy. Tonight, I want to talk to you about the choice you have in this election and why that choice matters. It is about picking a president who relies not just on words, but on work, on hard work to get America back to work. That's our goal.
You know, when I think about what we're really comparing in this election, you know, we can't just have speeches, we've got to have solutions and we need those solutions for America. We have got to get America back in the solutions business. Because, while words matter, the best words in the world aren't enough unless you match them with action.
But, this election is not about me or my opponent, it is about you. It's about your lives and your dreams and your future. I can't do this without all of you here in Youngstown and across Ohio. It is going to take an effort from all of us. You may have heard that I actually loaned my campaign some money and I was honored and humbled by the support that I have received since from people like the young mom who sent me $10 and wrote that "my two daughters are two and four and I want them to know anything is possible."
Or the gentleman who described himself as an independent voter, a veteran and a generally cranky conservative who decided to support me. If we put pull together, I know we can do this. I hope you will go to and support this campaign because it is your campaign. I hope you will go to my website. Because if you do, you'll find at Hillaryclinton.com all of my positions, everything that I have been working on. Because I know what's happening in America. People are struggling. They are working the day shift, the night shift; they are trying to get by without health care. They are just one paycheck away from losing their homes. They cannot afford four more years of a president who just doesn't see or hear them at all.
They need a president ready on day one, to be commander and chief, ready to manage our economy and ready to beat the Republicans in November. With your help, I will be that president.
This is the choice we face-- one of us is ready to be commander in chief in a dangerous world. Every day, around the world, situations arise that present new threats and new opportunities. Situations like the change of leadership in Cuba today. I have served on the Armed Services Committee. I have been to more than 80 countries, worked with world leaders, stood up to the Chinese government to declare women's rights are human rights.
And I am ready to end this war in Iraq, end this era of cowboy diplomacy. I will restore our leadership and moral authority in the world without delays, without on the job training from day one. One of us has a plan to provide health care for every single American, no one left out. I believe, I believe health care is a right, not a privilege and I will not rest until every American is covered. That is my solemn promise to you.
The question is: who would we leave out? Do we leave out the mother I met who grabbed my arm and said the insurance company wouldn't pay for the treatment that her son needed? Will we leave that family out? Who will pay for those we leave out? I don't want to leave anyone out. I am not running to put band-aids on our problems; I am running to solve our problems.
One of us has a plan to actually address the growing foreclosure crisis which is so terrible here in Ohio. I've called for a freeze on subprime foreclosures and interest rates to ensure that millions of families across the country won't be receiving that grim letter from the bank. I've proposed $30 billion in assistance to help families avoid foreclosures and to help communities rebound from this housing crisis because no one should foreclose on the American dream and we're going to stop it.
One of us has a plan to revitalize our economy right now by creating millions of new clean energy jobs. And we can do that right here in Youngstown. We can put people to work. And I will also rein in the corporate special interests by eliminating more than $50 billion of George Bush's special breaks for the oil companies, the drug companies and Wall Street.
We're going to give the middle class a break instead. We'll put that money right back in your pockets once we get it back. The corporate special interests have had seven years of a president who stands up for them. I think it's time we had a president who stands up for you and I will be that president.
Finally, one of us has faced serious Republican opposition in the past and one of us is ready to do it again. The contrasts between me and our likely opponent on the republican side could not be starker. Senator McCain is willing to continue the war in Iraq for 100 years he said. I will start bringing troops home within 60 days. He admits he doesn't understand the economy. Well, I have a plan to turn our economy around and create five million new jobs and we can. We can do that working together. Senator McCain really wants eight ears more of the same. Well, I'm going to deliver 21st century solutions that will move our country forward again. We'll focus on the problems right here in Ohio and begin to solve them.
Both Senator Obama and I would make history but only one of us is ready on day one to be commander in chief, ready to manage our economy and ready to defeat the Republicans.
You know, only one of us has spent 35 years being a doer, a fighter and a champion for those who need a voice. That is what I would bring to the White House again. That is the choice in this election. After the past seven years that choice couldn't be more important because for seven long years we've had a government of, by and for the corporate special interests. They have been heard first, they have been heard loudest and they have drowned out everyone else. And while you pinch pennies to stay within your budget, the president blew the bank on tax breaks for his friend and no-bid contracts for his cronies, borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from China to pay for it all. He has signed a subprime mortgage on America's economic future and that's your future. And so when people ask me "why can't we get tough on China?" well, when was the last time you got tough on your banker. And so we have to get back to fiscal responsibility in order to get tough on China because we shouldn't be borrowing so much money from them.
China's steel comes here and our jobs go there. We play by the rules, they manipulate their currency. And we get tainted fish, lead laced toys and poisoned pet food in return.
I think that's a pretty raw deal, don't you?
Let's be honest about something. When President Bush and Vice President Cheney say the economy is booming even though three million manufacturing jobs have been lost, when their administration says outsourcing is a plus for our economy, or when Senator McCain that business as usual on trade is just fine, when he thinks making tax cuts for the wealthy permanent is a top economic priority, they're sending you a clear message-the struggle of middle class and working families simply don't matter. Your voices just don't matter. They think the economy works as long as it works for their friends at the top. When good jobs leave, they think that's just the price of admission to the global marketplace. They think it would be fine if every plane, every piece of machinery, every computer and every car were made somewhere else. I could not disagree more and don't you also Youngstown?
Some people may call this the rust belt but that's not what I see; I see some of the hardest working people in the world. I see great universities and strong neighborhoods and families. I see communities where young people should be able to find good jobs and no one should ever have to leave their family to earn their living.
I see a 21st century manufacturing belt, an innovation belt, an opportunity belt that will once again put us on the forefront of the world's economy. I see a middle class comeback that starts right here and right now in places like this, places just like Youngstown. In Youngstown, you have start up companies thriving as a new business incubator. Places like Warren where the GM plant I visited is. You are leading the way and producing the fuel efficient cars of the next generation. Places like Akron where cutting edge manufacturing jobs and technological innovations are really attracting and keeping highly skilled young workers. Let's start working together to build the America that we believe in and let's level the playing field against the corporate special interests.
We're going to deliver 21st century solutions to rebuild the middle class. Let's get real about our future starting right now. Let's get real about the future of trade in this country. Let's get real about NAFTA - it simply isn't working for all Americans. I'm not just going to talk about what's wrong with NAFTA, I'm going to fix it and I have a four-point plan to do exactly that.
First we'll have the strongest possible labor and environmental standards in the core NAFTA agreement. Second, we wont let foreign countries undermine worker protection as they do right now. These companies can challenge American regulation intended to protect American workers and the environment. That is not acceptable and I will change that. I will strengthen NAFTA's enforcement mechanisms to remove trade barriers and better protect American jobs. And finally, we'll review this agreement and every other trade agreement regularly. If it's not raising living standards right here in America and protecting American workers, then we're not going to have it be a race to the bottom. We will never again let fourteen years go by without updating and modernizing our trade agreements. My opponent has taken to attacking me on NAFTA. The fact is neither of us were in the Senate at the time and I've long been a critic of the shortcomings of NAFTA.
In 2005, when we were both in the Senate, Senator Dorgan proposed amendment that I thought was just common sense. It said that our trade negotiators shouldn't enter into any agreement that undermines basic protections for American workers. It said we shouldn't allow foreign countries to unfairly dump their products into the American marketplace in a way that damages U.S competitiveness. So I stood with American workers and I voted for it. Senator Obama stood with the Bush administration and voted against it. That is a big difference between us.
My opponent claims to stand up for workers - he often talks about the plight of the Maytag workers in his home state. But the union at that plant supports me because when 1,600 jobs were being lost, they say he didn't do a thing to help.
We're also going to get tough with China. Otherwise we'll keep losing jobs. The currency manipulation has to stop, the trade barriers have to come down. China is going to have to be our trade partner, not our trade master. We're going to level the playing field. It's time that we make trade work for working families. That's why I opposed fast-track authority for George Bush, because we can't allow him to ram through deals on his way out the door. When I am president, we will take a time-out from new agreements until we have a trade policy that is genuinely pro-worker and pro-American.
No one will get away with violating our trade agreements anymore because we'll start enforcing them vigorously and without fail. Let's get real about creating jobs right now; good jobs that pay the bills because our families can't wait another minute. Manufacturing because a strong economy and strong military require a strong manufacturing base. Green collar jobs - five million of them - Jobs we'll create by investing oil company's record profits in clean renewable energy.
How about ending their special tax rates? You've been emptying your wallets at the pump, isn't it time they paid their fair share?
Let's get real about keeping jobs right here in Ohio and America where they belong. As president, I will send a loud and clear message to any company shipping jobs overseas. If you take jobs away from the families of Youngstown, you'll pay a price because when I am president, you will never again be able to use our tax dollars to help outsource our jobs.
Finally, let's get real about supporting the working men and women of this country again. I'm proud to be here with so many of my friends from labor. I'm proud to have the support of more than a dozen unions representing six million working families nationwide. Sheet metal workers and sanitation workers...and machinists and bus drivers and farm workers and letter carriers and painters and teachers and nurses and child care workers and law enforcement workers and brick-layers and so much more. I am proud to be a pro-labor candidate because I always tell people if you want to know how America got its great middle class, how we got fair wages, how we got benefits and a shot at the American dream - because of unions. Because they stood up, they spoke out and they refused to back down.
People sometimes ask me, when you are president will labor have a seat at the table? Here's my answer - labor built that table. You better believe labor will have a seat at the table.
In the end, this election comes down to one simple question. When the speeches are over and the cameras are gone, who can you count on to listen to you? You know you can count on me to stand up for you and to deliver solutions for you. If you know one thing about me it is this - when I say I'll stand up for you I will and when I say I'll fight for you, I will. That is what I've always done. It's what I've done fighting for universal health care. We didn't succeed at first but I didn't give up and we're going to keep fighting. We got six million kids insured, we're going to get other kids insured and we're going to get universal health care when I am president of the United States.
Right here, that's what you are doing in Youngstown. I know everyone in this room knows someone who has lost a job, maybe you're that person and I know how hard that is. But you're still here, you're still fighting, you're not going to give up on this community and neither am I. I'm in this race because this nation gave me every opportunity. I believe we can do the same for every family and every child here in Ohio and across America.
Ohio was one of our first frontiers. It has always led us to new ones - you gave us the airplane that first raced the skies, you gave us the astronauts who explored the heavens, including my friend and hero Senator John Glenn. You gave us steel from the mills that armed America through two world wars. You put cars in our garages, you built our cities, you created those sky scrapers rushing skyward. And here in Ohio, you always dreamed big about the future. Now it's time to fulfill those dreams. The question is not whether we can build the future we want, it's whether we will. It is whether we will.
Here's my answer. We will create good jobs. We will provide health care for all. We will leave the next generation better off than the last. We will end this war. We will bring home our troops; we will take care of our veterans and serve them as honorably as they have served us.
And yes, with your help, we will shatter the highest and hardest glass ceiling because that's what we do in America. We break barriers, we open doors. We make sure every voice is heard. It will take leadership and hard work but we've never been short on either so I hope you will join with me. Together we will seize this moment, lift this nation and, once again, lead this world to peace and prosperity. Thank you and God bless you.