It was a busy night at the 2016 Democratic
National Convention in Philadelphia, as the party’s
leading lights like Barack Obama, Joe Biden and
others made their case for Hillary Clinton.
Obama blasted Trump as a man who did business
with people and left his workers feeling used and
also praised Hillary Clinton, saying she was even
more qualified for the presidency than him, or
even her husband- Bill Clinton. Read the full
transcript of President Obama’s speech after the cut.
Twelve years ago tonight, I addressed this
convention for the very first time.
You met my two little girls, Malia and Sasha – now
two amazing young women who just fill me with
pride. You fell for my brilliant wife and partner
Michelle, who’s made me a better father and a
better man; who’s gone on to inspire our nation as
First Lady; and who somehow hasn’t aged a day.
I know the same can’t be said for me. My girls
remind me all the time. Wow, you’ve changed so
And it’s true – I was so young that first time in
Boston. Maybe a little nervous addressing such a
big crowd. But I was filled with faith; faith in
America – the generous, bighearted, hopeful
country that made my story – indeed, all of our
stories – possible.
A lot’s happened over the years. And while this
nation has been tested by war and recession and
all manner of challenge – I stand before you again
tonight, after almost two terms as your President,
to tell you I am even more optimistic about the
future of America.
How could I not be – after all we’ve achieved
After the worst recession in 80 years, we’ve
fought our way back. We’ve seen deficits come
down, 401(k)s recover, an auto industry set new
records, unemployment reach eight-year lows,
and our businesses create 15 million new jobs.
After a century of trying, we declared that health
care in America is not a privilege for a few, but a
right for everybody. After decades of talk, we
finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil, and
doubled our production of clean energy.
We brought more of our troops home to their
families, and delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.
Through diplomacy, we shut down Iran’s nuclear
weapons program, opened up a new chapter with
the people of Cuba, and brought nearly 200
nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our kids.
We put policies in place to help students with
loans; protect consumers from fraud; and cut
veteran homelessness almost in half. And through
countless acts of quiet courage, America learned
that love has no limits, and marriage equality is
now a reality across the land.
By so many measures, our country is stronger and
more prosperous than it was when we started.
And through every victory and every setback, I’ve
insisted that change is never easy, and never
quick; that we wouldn’t meet all of our challenges
in one term, or one presidency, or even in one
So tonight, I’m here to tell you that yes, we still
have more work to do. More work to do for every
American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid
leave or a decent retirement; for every child who
needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-
class education; for everyone who hasn’t yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years.
We need to keep making our streets safer and our
criminal justice system fairer; our homeland more
secure, and our world more peaceful and
sustainable for the next generation. We’re not
done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed – that all of us are created equal
and free in the eyes of God.
That work involves a big choice this November.
Fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not
just a choice between parties or policies; the usual
debates between left and right. This is a more
fundamental choice – about who we are as a
people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.
Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of
differences with the Republican Party, and there’s
nothing wrong with that; it’s precisely this contest
of ideas that pushes our country forward.
But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t
particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t
conservative. What we heard was a deeply
pessimistic vision of a country where we turn
against each other, and turn away from the rest of
the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems – just the fanning of
resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.
And that is not the America I know.
The America I know is full of courage, and
optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is
decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties
– about paying the bills, protecting our kids,
caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with
political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of
Orlando or Nice. There are pockets of America that
never recovered from factory closures; men who
took pride in hard work and providing for their
families who now feel forgotten; parents who
wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had.
All that is real. We’re challenged to do better; to be
better. But as I’ve traveled this country, through all
fifty states; as I’ve rejoiced with you and mourned
with you, what I’ve also seen, more than anything,
is what is right with America. I see people working
hard and starting businesses; people teaching kids and serving our country. I see engineers
inventing stuff, and doctors coming up with new
cures. I see a younger generation full of energy
and new ideas, not constrained by what is, ready
to seize what ought to be.
Most of all, I see Americans of every party, every
background, every faith who believe that we are
stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian,
Native American; young and old; gay, straight,
men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging
allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.
That’s the America I know. And there is only one
candidate in this race who believes in that future,
and has devoted her life to it; a mother and
grandmother who’d do anything to help our
children thrive; a leader with real plans to break
down barriers, blast through glass ceilings, and widen the circle of opportunity to every single
American – the next President of the United States,
Now, eight years ago, Hillary and I were rivals for
the Democratic nomination. We battled for a year
and a half. Let me tell you, it was tough, because
Hillary’s tough. Every time I thought I might have
that race won, Hillary just came back stronger.
But after it was all over, I asked Hillary to join my
team. She was a little surprised, but ultimately said
yes – because she knew that what was at stake
was bigger than either of us. And for four years, I
had a front-row seat to her intelligence, her
judgment, and her discipline. I came to realize that her unbelievable work ethic wasn’t for praise or
attention – that she was in this for everyone who
needs a champion. I understood that after all
these years, she has never forgotten just who
she’s fighting for.
Hillary’s still got the tenacity she had as a young
woman working at the Children’s Defense Fund,
going door to door to ultimately make sure kids
with disabilities could get a quality education.
She’s still got the heart she showed as our First
Lady, working with Congress to help push
through a Children’s Health Insurance Program
that to this day protects millions of kids.
She’s still seared with the memory of every
American she met who lost loved ones on 9/11,
which is why, as a Senator from New York, she
fought so hard for funding to help first
responders; why, as Secretary of State, she sat with
me in the Situation Room and forcefully argued in favor of the mission that took out Bin Laden.
You know, nothing truly prepares you for the
demands of the Oval Office. Until you’ve sat at that
desk, you don’t know what it’s like to manage a
global crisis, or send young people to war. But
Hillary’s been in the room; she’s been part of those
decisions. She knows what’s at stake in the decisions our government makes for the working
family, the senior citizen, the small business owner,
the soldier, and the veteran. Even in the middle of
crisis, she listens to people, and keeps her cool,
and treats everybody with respect. And no matter
how daunting the odds; no matter how much people try to knock her down, she never, ever
That’s the Hillary I know. That’s the Hillary I’ve
come to admire. And that’s why I can say with
confidence there has never been a man or a
woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve
as President of the United States of America.
And, by the way, in case you were wondering
about her judgment, look at her choice of running
mate. Tim Kaine is as good a man, as humble and
committed a public servant, as anyone I know. He
will be a great Vice President, and he’ll make
Hillary a better President. Just like my dear friend and brother Joe Biden has made me a better
Now, Hillary has real plans to address the concerns
she’s heard from you on the campaign trail. She’s
got specific ideas to invest in new jobs, to help
workers share in their company’s profits, to help
put kids in preschool, and put students through
college without taking on a ton of debt. That’s what leaders do.
And then there’s Donald Trump. He’s not really a
plans guy. Not really a facts guy, either. He calls
himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to
say, I know plenty of businessmen and women
who’ve achieved success without leaving a trail of
lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.
Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent
his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for
working people is suddenly going to be your
champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for
him. But if you’re someone who’s truly concerned
about paying your bills, and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for
everybody, then the choice isn’t even close. If you
want someone with a lifelong track record of
fighting for higher wages, better benefits, a fairer
tax code, a bigger voice for workers, and stronger
regulations on Wall Street, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton.
And if you’re concerned about who’s going to
keep you and your family safe in a dangerous
world – well, the choice is even clearer. Hillary
Clinton is respected around the world not just by
leaders, but by the people they serve. She’s
worked closely with our intelligence teams, our diplomats, our military. And she has the judgment,
the experience, and the temperament to meet the
threat from terrorism. It’s not new to her. Our
troops have pounded ISIL without mercy, taking
out leaders, taking back territory. I know Hillary
won’t relent until ISIL is destroyed. She’ll finish the job – and she’ll do it without resorting to torture,
or banning entire religions from entering our
country. She is fit to be the next Commander-in-
Meanwhile, Donald Trump calls our military a
disaster. Apparently, he doesn’t know the men
and women who make up the strongest fighting
force the world has ever known. He suggests
America is weak. He must not hear the billions of
men, women, and children, from the Baltics to Burma, who still look to America to be the light of
freedom, dignity, and human rights. He cozies up
to Putin, praises Saddam Hussein, and tells the
NATO allies that stood by our side after 9/11 that
they have to pay up if they want our protection.
Well, America’s promises do not come with a price tag. We meet our commitments. And that’s one
reason why almost every country on Earth sees
America as stronger and more respected today
than they did eight years ago.
America is already great. America is already
strong. And I promise you, our strength, our
greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.
In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And
that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in
this election – the meaning of our democracy.
Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a
hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene”
that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that
illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as
they’ve been in decades, because he’s not offering
any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if
he scares enough people, he might score just
enough votes to win this election.
That is another bet that Donald Trump will lose.
Because he’s selling the American people short.
We are not a fragile or frightful people. Our power
doesn’t come from some self-declared savior
promising that he alone can restore order. We
don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right
here in Philadelphia all those years ago; We hold
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal; that together, We, the People, can
form a more perfect union.
That’s who we are. That’s our birthright – the
capacity to shape our own destiny. That’s what
drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny
and our GIs to liberate a continent. It’s what gave
women the courage to reach for the ballot, and
marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for better wages.
America has never been about what one person
says he’ll do for us. It’s always been about what
can be achieved by us, together, through the hard,
slow, sometimes frustrating, but ultimately
enduring work of self-government.
And that’s what Hillary Clinton understands. She
knows that this is a big, diverse country, and that
most issues are rarely black and white. That even
when you’re 100 percent right, getting things
done requires compromise. That democracy
doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other. She knows that for progress to happen, we
have to listen to each other, see ourselves in each
other, fight for our principles but also fight to find
common ground, no matter how elusive that may
Hillary knows we can work through racial divides
in this country when we realize the worry black
parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t
so different than what a brave cop’s family feels
when he puts on the blue and goes to work; that
we can honor police and treat every community fairly. She knows that acknowledging problems
that have festered for decades isn’t making race
relations worse – it’s creating the possibility for
people of good will to join and make things better.
Hillary knows we can insist on a lawful and orderly
immigration system while still seeing striving
students and their toiling parents as loving
families, not criminals or rapists; families that came
here for the same reasons our forebears came – to
work, and study, and make a better life, in a place where we can talk and worship and love as we
please. She knows their dream is quintessentially
American, and the American Dream is something
no wall will ever contain.
It can be frustrating, this business of democracy.
Trust me, I know. Hillary knows, too. When the
other side refuses to compromise, progress can
stall. Supporters can grow impatient, and worry
that you’re not trying hard enough; that you’ve
maybe sold out.
But I promise you, when we keep at it; when we
change enough minds; when we deliver enough
votes, then progress does happen. Just ask the
twenty million more people who have health care
today. Just ask the Marine who proudly serves his
country without hiding the husband he loves. Democracy works, but we gotta want it – not just
during an election year, but all the days in
So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in
our economy, and too much money in our politics,
we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as
persistent as Bernie Sanders’ supporters have
been. We all need to get out and vote for
Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.
If you want more justice in the justice system, then
we’ve all got to vote – not just for a President, but
for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and
state legislators. And we’ve got to work with
police and protesters until laws and practices are
If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to
engage not only young people on college
campuses, but reach out to the coal miner who’s
worried about taking care of his family, the single
mom worried about gas prices.
If you want to protect our kids and our cops from
gun violence, we’ve got to get the vast majority of
Americans, including gun owners, who agree on
background checks to be just as vocal and
determined as the gun lobby that blocks change
through every funeral we hold. That’s how change will happen.
Look, Hillary’s got her share of critics. She’s been
caricatured by the right and by some folks on the
left; accused of everything you can imagine – and
some things you can’t. But she knows that’s what
happens when you’re under a microscope for 40
years. She knows she’s made mistakes, just like I have; just like we all do. That’s what happens
when we try. That’s what happens when you’re
the kind of citizen Teddy Roosevelt once described
– not the timid souls who criticize from the
sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the
arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…[but] who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high
Hillary Clinton is that woman in the arena. She’s
been there for us – even if we haven’t always
noticed. And if you’re serious about our
democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just
because she might not align with you on every
issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport.
America isn’t about “yes he will.” It’s about “yes
we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory
this fall, because that’s what the moment
You know, there’s been a lot of talk in this
campaign about what America’s lost – people who
tell us that our way of life is being undermined by
pernicious changes and dark forces beyond our
control. They tell voters there’s a “real America”
out there that must be restored. This isn’t an idea that started with Donald Trump. It’s been peddled
by politicians for a long time – probably from the
start of our Republic.
And it’s got me thinking about the story I told you
twelve years ago tonight, about my Kansas
grandparents and the things they taught me when
I was growing up. They came from the heartland;
their ancestors began settling there about 200
years ago. I don’t know if they had their birth certificates…
They were Scotch-Irish mostly, farmers, teachers,
ranch hands, pharmacists, oil rig workers. Hardy,
small town folks. Some were Democrats, but a lot
of them were Republicans. The party of Lincoln. My
grandparents explained that they didn’t like
show-offs. They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks
who were always looking for shortcuts in life.
Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard
work. Kindness and courtesy. Humility;
responsibility; helping each other out.
That’s what they believed in. True things. Things
that last. The things we try to teach our kids.
And what my grandparents understood was that
these values weren’t limited to Kansas. They
weren’t limited to small towns. These values could
travel to Hawaii; even the other side of the world,
where my mother would end up working to help
poor women get a better life. They knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could
be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a
half-Asian granddaughter; in fact, they were the
same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of
slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow
on the South Side of Chicago. They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here,
and they believed that the children of those
immigrants were just as American as their own,
whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke; a
baseball cap or a hijab.
America has changed over the years. But these
values my grandparents taught me – they haven’t
gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever; still
cherished by people of every party, every race,
and every faith. They live on in each of us. What
makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what’s in here. That’s what matters. That’s why we
can take the food and music and holidays and
styles of other countries, and blend it into
something uniquely our own. That’s why we can
attract strivers and entrepreneurs from around the
globe to build new factories and create new industries here. That’s why our military can look
the way it does, every shade of humanity, forged
into common service. That’s why anyone who
threatens our values, whether fascists or
communists or jihadists or homegrown
demagogues, will always fail in the end.
That’s America. Those bonds of affection; that
common creed. We don’t fear the future; we shape
it, embrace it, as one people, stronger together
than we are on our own. That’s what Hillary
Clinton understands – this fighter, this
stateswoman, this mother and grandmother, this public servant, this patriot – that’s the America
she’s fighting for.
And that’s why I have confidence, as I leave this
stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good
hands. My time in this office hasn’t fixed
everything; as much as we’ve done, there’s still so
much I want to do. But for all the tough lessons
I’ve had to learn; for all the places I’ve fallen short; I’ve told Hillary, and I’ll tell you what’s picked me
back up, every single time
It’s been you. The American people.
It’s the letter I keep on my wall from a survivor in
Ohio who twice almost lost everything to cancer,
but urged me to keep fighting for health care
reform, even when the battle seemed lost. Do not
It’s the painting I keep in my private office, a big-
eyed, green owl, made by a seven year-old girl
who was taken from us in Newtown, given to me
by her parents so I wouldn’t forget – a reminder of
all the parents who have turned their grief into
It’s the small business owner in Colorado who cut
most of his own salary so he wouldn’t have to lay
off any of his workers in the recession – because,
he said, “that wouldn’t have been in the spirit of
It’s the conservative in Texas who said he
disagreed with me on everything, but appreciated
that, like him, I try to be a good dad.
It’s the courage of the young soldier from Arizona
who nearly died on the battlefield in Afghanistan,
but who’s learned to speak and walk again – and
earlier this year, stepped through the door of the
Oval Office on his own power, to salute and shake
It’s every American who believed we could
change this country for the better, so many of you
who’d never been involved in politics, who picked
up phones, and hit the streets, and used the
internet in amazing new ways to make change
happen. You are the best organizers on the planet, and I’m so proud of all the change you’ve made
Time and again, you’ve picked me up. I hope,
sometimes, I picked you up, too. Tonight, I ask
you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I
ask you to carry her the same way you carried me.
Because you’re who I was talking about twelve
years ago, when I talked about hope – it’s been you who’ve fueled my dogged faith in our future,
even when the odds are great; even when the
road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty; hope in
the face of uncertainty; the audacity of hope!
America, you have vindicated that hope these past
eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton
and do my part as a private citizen. This year, in
this election, I’m asking you to join me – to reject
cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us;
to elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, and show the world we still believe
in the promise of this great nation.
Thank you for this incredible journey. Let’s keep it
going. God bless the United States of America..
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