Nov 7, 2022
Obama campaigns for Democrat John Fetterman in Pittsburgh ahead of midterms Transcript
Former US president Barack Obama campaigns for Democrat John Fetterman in Pittsburgh ahead of midterms. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:09):
Bring this down.
It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, Pittsburgh. How y’all feeling? We have three days left and this is the energy that we are going to need every single one of those days because let me tell you, we are about to make a lot of history in these next three days. I hope that you are excited. Let me just say, how many of y’all have heard that this election, meaning every election is the most important election that we have?
We’re telling the truth every single time because every single election in the primary and the general every year is a choice that we make for who we want to be as a country, as a community, as a society. And we ought to take that very seriously because we know that there is a lot of noise out in the world right now. You can’t cut your TV on without hearing a noise. It comes in your mailboxes now. It’s on your ads, it’s in the radio. There’s just people out there who want to divide us. They want to stoke fear. They want to make you think that we have less in common with each other than we do with people who would storm the capital. And we have to send a very clear message about who we are going to be.
So I would love to tell you about who I am because I know that you’ve all seen ads about me, but I don’t know that you all actually know the real me. But I’m proud today because my mom and my grandma are here, and they’ve been through a lot with me. And when we think about the American story, I just want to tell you all that I am a young black woman who grew up in Mon Valley and I was raised by those two women, a single black mother and a grandma who stepped in the gap to make sure that I had everything I need. I grew up in our public school system.
In my summers, I spent my time in our public libraries. And when we needed to get around, we used public transportation. We relied on our community standing in the gap for each and every one of us. And that’s why we as a family are proud to stand in the gap for others when we get to. But there are people now who will look at my story and not see the American story, but see opposition. My family put me through college. Right now when we are in the midst of a loan debt crisis. I was first generation and after I left Penn State… Hail the pit.
After I graduated from Penn State, I then went on… Penn State. We always have one, at least one of us.
After I graduated from Penn State, I went to law school, Howard University School of Law because I wanted to be a credit to my community. But back when I was at Penn State, I used to, in the rain and the snow, whatever the weather was, I would register people to vote. It was 2008 and we were about to make another history. We were about to elect the first Black president in this country.
And I was so proud. I didn’t consider myself political back then. I was just a college student. But there was something that urged me out, something that compelled me to go and do my part to register young people because I knew that young people would be a difference maker in this country. And when I left Howard, instead of going to be a lawyer, I felt that same move, that same urge to get back out and do something about politics and elections. So instead of going to a big law firm, I went to the Hillary Clinton campaign, and I spent 2016 working to get a sane, compassionate ticket elected in the midst of a cartoon character. I’m saying that right now because again, every opportunity, every campaign is a choice. And right now we are looking at those same choices.
I want to tell a story really quickly because a couple days ago, and I shared this yesterday, a couple days ago, I had a phone call. I called my primary opponent, who I’m actually looking at right now. I called my primary opponent, one of his donors. And his donor’s a good man. And he said, “I’m going to give you some funds, but I want to tell you something.” He’s like, “We don’t agree on anything.” He’s like, “But saving democracy.” And I was like, You know what? Someone’s going to give you some funds when you need some. And usually. You just nod your head and you are politely like, “Okay, okay, okay.” But this time I was like, you know what, I’m going to push back on that because that’s a dangerous rhetoric today. If we are Democrats and you say that we don’t have anything in common, I can’t believe that. Because if you are somebody who believes that in the wealthiest country on earth, that irrespective of your zip code, your student, your child deserves to have a quality education, then we agree.
If you are somebody who believes that every student deserves access to these amazing institutions that we stand in the shadow to, then we agree. If you are somebody here in Pittsburgh, this great union town, who believes that every single worker has a right to a union without being union busted, has a right to a living wage and worker’s protections and paid family and sick leave, then we agree. If you are somebody who believes that every one of our neighbors deserves housing, that they all deserve affordable housing in the communities that they call home, then we agree on stuff. If you are somebody who would look at our mass shooting and our gun violence epidemic and say that we should be ashamed of ourselves as a nation to not take steps that we know would fix this situation, then we agree.
Or maybe you are somebody who believes that no matter your racial background, or your cultural background, or your religious background, or your sexual orientation, that you should have the same opportunities as everybody else in this country. If you believe that, then we agree. Maybe you believe that we should build bridges and not walls, then we agree.Maybe you believe that women and birthing folks should be able to make their own medical decisions without having our local elected officials in the hospital room with us. We agree.
There are so many more things that connect us than that divide us. And right now our challenge in these next three days and beyond, it’s going to be the push back on people who would drive wedges between us, who would drive wedges between urban communities and suburban communities and tell them that they’re different. Who would drive wedges between progressives and moderates and tell them that we’re more different? Who would drive wedges between black and white folks, between Christian and Jewish folks, who would drive wedges between poor and working class folks and middle class folks, who would drive wedges between folks who want to trade score, folks who went to Pit, who would drive grudges between folks who are just trying to get by in this country, but believes that everybody deserves equal opportunities and rights in this country, those people… Let me say something, those people don’t deserve your attention, but they have a lot of money.
So I want you to be thoughtful in these next few days because this is the charge, right? So as we see the ads and we see people talk about who is the party of public safety, remember who is the party that would give you guns but not give your child a book? The party that would give you guns but would not fix your classrooms. They would give you guns but not fund your libraries. They would give you guns but not fix your roads. They would give you guns, would not give you Medicare. They’d give you guns, would not give you housing. They’d give you guns, but they wouldn’t give you clean air and clean water. They give you guns, they give you guns, they give you guns. And then they would allow us to continue to fight each other while they steal our democracy. We cannot allow it.
So if you’re wondering what we need to do in the next three days, we need to be very clear about who we’re going to send to office. That means that in these next three days, we need to find everybody we can and we need to turn them out for Josh Shapiro and Austin Davis. We need to turn them out and make sure that John Fetterman, who you are here for, is the 51st vote in our Senate. And then we need to take that energy and we need to send up and down the ballot. You make sure that we are not fooled by con men and snake and oil salesmen. Let’s make sure that we’re not fooled by reality TV stars masquerading as politicians. Because I can assure you, no one who refuses to fund our education system, refuses to fund our children, refuses to fund our roads, can tell me anything about public safety.
And we need you all to be fired up like you are right now. And we need you to march to every polling place. We need you to take out your phones and call 10 people. So this is what I’m going to leave you with. If you are somebody who cares about somebody, who cares about your neighbor, who cares about your disabled friend or family member, your female family member, who cares about housing justice and education, the choice is so clear. The choice is so clear.
In these next three days, let’s take the blinders off of anybody who still has them. Let’s go and get them because we don’t want to wake up on November 9th and feel the way that I did back when I was working in 2016 and we woke up on November 7th and we thought maybe if we had gotten one more volunteer, one more door, what could we have done differently? I’m going to tell you what we can do differently right now. We can all vote and we can send the party of insurrection packing and we can let them know that they will not steal our democracy. And in three days we can make multiple types of history. We can send me to be the first black woman ever elected from Pennsylvania to Congress. We can send my brother and colleague, Austin Davis could be the first Black lieutenant governor, and we can welcome and show a mighty yenser welcome to the first Black president when he comes up here to get us fired up about our 51st Senator. So thank all so much. See you at the polls.
Speaker 2 (11:28):
Please welcome DNC Chair, Jamie Harrison.
Jamie Harrison (11:31):
What’s going on folks? Pennsylvania Democrats, are you ready?
Are you ready? Are you ready?
Folks, three days. Three days. Folks, I love you too. Thank you. Three days, folks. Democracy is on the ballot. Freedom is on the ballot. Hope is on the ballot. So the question is, are you ready to send John Fetterman to the United States Senate? Are you ready to send Josh Shapiro to the Governor’s Mansion? Folks, I am so proud. I almost feel like I brought South Carolina Weller here to Pennsylvania.
But I am so proud to be here with John, to be here with President Barack Obama and so many other Democrats. This election we have a choice. Democrats, we want to deliver hope. We want to continue to build on the progress that we’ve made and to keep moving this nation forward. Republicans, they want to take us back.
Oh, somebody’s just arrived. I tell you, that ain’t a bad living to have, y’all. But Democrats, we want to solve the problems that keep folks up at night and we’ve got a track record of getting real results and we have delivered on our promises. But the Republicans folks, they have an extreme agenda. They want to ban abortion nationwide. They want to, as Senator Legia said, they want to rip Social Security and Medicare from its roots. They want to rip Social Security and Medicare from its roots. They voted against lowering costs like prescription drugs and gas, and they want to make it harder for Americans to vote. And folks, they’re not hiding the ball. They’re coming right out and saying what they want to do. Just look at, I guess you can call him a doctor. Look at Dr. Oz, as we say in the south, bless his heart. He thinks extreme local political like Doug Mastriano should be in charge of women’s healthcare decisions. Who wants Doug Mastriano in the doctor’s room with him? Folks, we can’t let that happen. And that is why we need to elect John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro. John understands the struggles that families across Pennsylvania are going through and he has to backbone to take on the Republicans extreme agenda in Washington and actually get things done for the people of Pennsylvania. He doesn’t need a GPS to get here to Pittsburgh. He knows that when you get knocked down, you get back up.
And that’s why we are working to make sure Democrats up and down the ballot have the resources that they need to win in November. Folks, I want you all to notice this, that you are not in this by yourselves. The DNC has quadrupled. I didn’t say double, I didn’t say triple, quadrupled its resources right here in Pennsylvania.
And that means we’re investing in coalition building, organizing, voter protection staff, because we know the hanky panky stuff that Republicans will do on election day. They’re already trying to keep many of our young people from voting, many of our communities of color from voting. But I want them to know right now we are not going back. And if you want to fight, you’re going to get one. Because we will take you to court, we’ll do whatever it is to make sure that every voter, regardless of your background, but every voter gets to have their voice and have it be heard.
Folks, three days. Three days. And I’m going to close with this. Fear and division are the superpowers of the Republican party. Hope and unity are the superpowers of the Democratic party. And we know that President Obama and John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro, they know a little thing or two about hope. But I’m going to close and tell you my story of hope. Why hope is so important, why hope underlines who we are and why we do this work. I used to work for Jim Clyburn in the House of Representatives Mr. Clyburn’s a great man. I used to run the Whip operation for him and Nancy Pelosi. So there was one night I was in my office late at night, and my office was on the third floor of the US Capitol. I could look out my window and see straight out to the mall. As I tell folks, I will never have better real estate in my life. So one night I’m in my office late at night and it’s so late that the custodial staff starts to clean up and there’s this African American woman, middle age and she’s wiping things down and she’s vacuuming. And then I feel like somebody’s looking at me and I see her right there in the doorway. And I say to her, “Ma’am, come on in.” I said, “You’re my boss. I’ll go work in the hallway.”
And she just smiled at me and she said, “You know, son, I come and clean your office every night.” She said, “You have a nice office.”
And I said, “Thank you, ma’am.”
She said, “Now are you from South Carolina?”
I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.”
She said, “I love looking at these pictures on your wall. Is this pictures of your family?” I said, “Yes ma’am, they are.”
She said, “Is this your mom in the picture?” I said, “Yes, that’s my mom.” She then said, “Is your mom’s name Patricia?”
I said, “Yes ma’am. My mom’s name is Patricia.””Patricia Harrison?””Yes, Patricia Harrison’s my mom.”
And she stopped in the middle of the room and she started shaking and she put her hand up to her mouth and she said, “Oh my God, I know your mother. I went to high school with your mom. I remember when your mom became pregnant with you and had to stop school in order to have you.” And tears started rolling down her face. And she came over and she hugged me and she said, “I would’ve never thought that Patricia Harrison’s son would be right here. You give me hope.”
My friends, hope is a powerful thing. For four years, we had a president in the White House who all he did was preach bigotry and hatred and division. And people in those four years started to give up on hope. But in November 2020, 80 million of us stood up and said, “Guess what? We are going to double down on hope.” In my home state of South Carolina, our motto is, while I breathe, I hope. While I breathe, I hope. But folks, if we are really serious about hope, we know that hope alone is not enough. In order to make hope real, you got to put some elbow grease into it. You got to put some work behind it. So that means in these next three days, I need you to knock on some doors. I need you to pick up the phone. I need you to send some text messages. That friend who says, I don’t know about going to vote, you need to drag his butt to the polls. That that auntie, that uncle said, “I got to get my hair done.” You need to say, “Well, guess what? Go vote first. Go get your hair done later.” I need you to put in the work folks, because in order to make that hope real, we got to do the work.
So for the next three days, this motto is not going to be while I breathe, I hope. It will be, while I breathe, I vote. Because that is how we bring hope to Pittsburgh, that is how we bring hope to Philly. That is how we have hope all over this country. And you got two hope Warriors in Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman. Folks, you know what to do, let’s turn out the vote and let’s prove the naysayers is wrong. You can do it. The eyes of the world are on you. The hope of this country is in your hands. Pittsburgh, let’s do this thing. Go and vote. Thank you all.
Speaker 3 (21:27):
Speaker 6 (21:27):
Speaker 4 (21:27):
Speaker 3 (21:27):
Speaker 6 (21:27):
Speaker 3 (21:27):
Speaker 5 (21:27):
Speaker 7 (26:57):
Please welcome Second Lady Gisele Fetterman.
Speaker 8 (27:09):
Gisele Barreto Fetterman (27:34):
Hi, Pittsburgh. After traveling across the Commonwealth, it feels really good to be home, even if it’s just for 10 hours. Thank you all for coming out on this beautiful Saturday morning. Thank you to all our speakers and of course, thank you to number 44, one of the greatest, former president Barack Obama for making the trip today. My name is Gisele Barreto Fetterman and I am the second lady of Pennsylvania, or as I like to call it, the Slop. I’m a former dreamer, I’m an activist, and I love living in Pennsylvania.
15 years ago, I sent a note to a mayor of a small town to learn about the work that he was doing, I was very inspired. I wanted to visit so I could learn and maybe help. And I immediately fell in love with Braddock as quickly as he fell in love with me, obviously. That mayor, of course, was John Fetterman, my now husband, and that town was Braddock, my home for the last 15 years. Around the same time John and I met, he also met a senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. And when that senator ran for president in 2008, John became the first mayor in western Pennsylvania to endorse his campaign.
John saw how deeply President Obama cared about people and how hard he fought for them. Much like President Obama, john has dedicated his life to making the lives of people around him better. He cares deeply and he fights hard. My grandmother BB used to say that he had to be made so big so that his whole heart could fit.
But in this election, we’re up against a lot. John’s politics of compassion, and love, and care is up against Dr. Oz’s politics of hate, of division, and fear. There is so much on the line in this election. In three days… I can’t believe. Finally, three days. The future of our democracy is on the ballot. Healthcare for millions of Americans is on the ballot. Abortion rights are on the ballot. We have to fight back, we have to come together, and we have to vote. And this Tuesday, we will. We will reject… We will reject Dr. Oz and the GOP’s politics of hate, and elect strong democratic leaders who will fight for our rights, our democracy, and our future. It is now my distinct honor to introduce you to someone I know pretty well. My favorite person, your lieutenant governor, and the future senator from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman.
Speaker 9 (31:24):
Jamie Harrison (31:57):
This is unbelievable. Look at this. Thank you, Pittsburgh. Gosh. There’s a pro tip. Please, if you’re going to give a speech after you’ve been recovering from a stroke, you really don’t want to have to come before Barack Obama, as the goat. So today Dr. OZ is going to be standing with Donald Trump on the stage, and I’m going to be proud to be standing with a President that is a hundred percent sedition-free. I’m running to serve Pennsylvania, he’s running to use Pennsylvania. He spent $27,000,000 to try to buy his seat. But Pennsylvania’s seat is not for sale.
I had a stroke… I had a stroke, I got knocked down, but I got back up. I’m going to fight for everyone in Pennsylvania that’s ever gotten knocked down, or ever has to get back up. This is what recovery looks like. In January, I’m going to be much better. In DC…
Speaker 10 (34:11):
Jamie Harrison (34:44):
But anyway, Dr. Oz might be a joke, but this isn’t funny. Abortion rights are on the ballot right now. Oz believes that that decision should be with local political leaders, and staying with people like Dr… Like Doug Mastriano. I will always stood with abortion rights and will always will. We need a senator that understands what Pennsylvanians are going through on. Inflation is a tax on all working people. You can’t fight inflation if you don’t ever experience or would understand what inflation is. You have 10 gigantic mansions, you don’t understand what you’re up against.
We have to push back against the corporate greed and we have to push back against the price gouging. We need to make more stuff right here in Pennsylvania… Make more stuff right here in Pennsylvania and in America. So here’s my bargain to all of you: send me to DC and I’ll be that 51st vote… To eliminate the filibuster, to raise the minimum wage. How can anybody live on $7.25 an hour? How many union members do we have with us today, right now? You want to pass the PRO Act? The union way of life is sacred. We need to protect Medicare and social security. We have to expand healthcare, exactly the same kind of healthcare that saved my life. We need to protect marriage equality, and also, given a chance, we must codify Roe v. Wade. That choice belongs only between a woman and a choice with her doctor.
This is one of the most important races in the country right now. They’ve spent $100,000,000 to try to tear us down. And after all $100,000,000, we’re still standing. We have three days left and we’re going to need every last one of you to be out and help get the votes out. So, please, my last favor of all of you is please send Dr. Oz back to New Jersey. And please send me to Washington DC. Thank you.
Speaker 11 (38:24):
Barack Obama (40:36):
Hello Pittsburgh. Oh. It’s good to be back in Pennsylvania. It’s great to be in Steelers country. Even if, like the Bears, we’re both doing a little rebuilding right now. It’s okay. These things kind of go in waves. Pittsburgh, I am here to ask you to vote for your next members of Congress, Chris Deluzio and Summer Lee, vote for them. For your next governor, Josh Shapiro, and for your next great senator, John Fetterman. In case you don’t know, you can vote at your polling place on November 8th from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. And if you need more information, just go to iwillvote.com. Find out where to go, make a plan.
Speaker 12 (41:50):
I love you.
Barack Obama (41:52):
I love you back, but you’ve got to vote. If you have a ballot in your hand, get it to a drop box or your county clerk’s office as soon as possible, before 8:00 PM on election day. And then you need to get your friends and family to vote. Because we all have, you know, Cousin Pookie. We all have Uncle Joe. They’re sitting on the couch right now as we speak. They’re watching college football, and that’s okay except they’ve forgotten that they’re supposed to vote. So you got to remind them. Take them with you when you go. Because this election requires every single one of us to do our part, it’s that important.
Now, I think it’s fair to say that this whole country has gone through some tough times these past few years.
Speaker 13 (43:02):
We miss you.
Barack Obama (43:02):
We’ve been through some stuff. We’re just now coming out of a historic pandemic, the direct havoc on families, and schools, and businesses, and communities. Everybody was impacted, some were impacted more. We had a new phrase, essential workers. That means workers actually who work. And then some folks lost people they loved, probably some people in this crowd lost somebody they loved. And the pandemic also highlighted, and in some cases made worse, problems we’ve been struggling with for years. An economy that works for folks at the very top, but not so much for ordinary people. Communities where too many kids are out of school and out of work and out of hope, and that sometimes leads them to violence and despair.
Barack Obama (44:01):
And that sometimes leads them to violence and despair. And then just an erosion of civility and basic democratic norms. And you’ve got politicians who work, not to bring people together but to stir up division, and to make us angry and afraid of one another, just for their own advantage so they can take power. And all of this gets hyped up and amped up 24/7 by social media that has decided it’s more profitable to promote controversy and conflict and conspiracies rather than facts and truth. It was just a few days ago that a friend of mine, Paul Pelosi, was attacked in his own home. Somebody breaks into his house looking for his wife, Nancy, the Speaker of the House. And thankfully he’s back home now. And we’re going to let investigators do their jobs.
But here’s what’s clear, Pittsburgh. This habit we have of demonizing political opponents, of saying crazy stuff, it creates a dangerous climate. And when you have people who are in leadership positions who promote or ignore over the top rhetoric, and then when there’s an attack like this, they make light of it, they joke about it, then more people are going to get hurt. And more than that, we violate the basic spirit of our democracy, the spirit of who we are as Americans. And by the way, it’s not just politicians. Whether it’s out of malice or ignorance, we’ve seen recently big celebrities re-posting vile antisemitic conspiracy theories online. You don’t have to be a student of history to understand how dangerous that is, and how unacceptable it is.
I don’t know when we decided that we were just going to believe everything we read on the internet. Here’s a tip for you, if you read or see something online that has some grand theory about how some particular group, whether it’s black folks or white folks or Jews or Catholics or immigrants or gays, if you read and or see something that says they’re the cause of all your problems, then it’s safe to say it is garbage. It is a lie, it is dangerous poison. We’ve got to call it out and put an end to that kind of mindset. But unfortunately it seems as if this kind of poison gets more and more attention. So I understand why people would feel anxious. I get you might be worried about the course of our country. I get worried too. I understand why sometimes it may be tempting just to tune out, just to watch football or HGTV or the Great British Baking Show, whatever floats your boat.
But I’m here to tell you, Pittsburgh, that tuning out’s not an option. Sulking and moping, that’s not an option. The only way to make this economy fair is if we, all of us, fight for it. The only way to save democracy is if we together fight for it. And it starts with electing people who know you, who see you, who care about you, who stood in your shoes. You did that two years ago when you sent Joe Biden to the White House. He’s fighting for you every day. He’s got your back, doing everything he can to put more money in your pockets, to make our streets safer, to bring more good paying jobs here to Pennsylvania. Now you need to do it again. Because while there may be a lot of issues at stake in this election, there is one basic question that you should be asking yourself right now. And that is, who will fight for you? That’s the choice in this election. Who will fight for you? Who will fight for working people, who are struggling to pay their bills? Listen, inflation’s a real problem right now. It’s not just here in America, it’s worldwide. And it has to do with the legacy of the pandemic. It wrecked supply chains, disrupted the economy. Then you’ve got a war in Ukraine that sent energy prices through the roof. So, yeah, folks see grocery prices going up, gas price going up. It takes a real bite out of their paychecks. It hurts. I get that. But the question you’ve got to ask yourself is who’s actually going to do something about it? The Republicans like to talk about it. But what’s their answer? What’s their economic policy? They want to gut social security, they want to gut Medicare, they want to give rich folks and big corporations more tax cuts. By the way, don’t boo, vote. They can’t hear you boo, but they’ll hear your vote.Now it should come no surprise that Republicans want to cut taxes for the wealthy and big corporations, because that’s their solution to everything. When inflation’s low, they say, “Let’s cut taxes for the wealthy.” If unemployment’s high, “Let’s cut taxes.” When it’s the reverse, they want to cut taxes on the wealthy. If there was an asteroid headed towards Earth, they’d all get in a room and say, “You know what we need? Tax cuts for the rich.” It’s nice if you’ve got one answer to every economic problem.
We got some students here. You remember when… Maybe you’re more responsible than me. There were some times when I was in school where I did not study. And you go in, and let’s say there’s a math test, you didn’t study for it. It’d be nice if you could just write down the same answer for every question. Just write down eight, and then you’d get an A.But you know what? That doesn’t work in math, and it doesn’t work in economics. And that’s why Democrats have an actual plan to take on the drug companies to lower prices, to pass laws to make housing more affordable, to make sure big corporations create jobs here in Pennsylvania instead of overseas. That’s the choice in this election. That’s what this is all about.
There’s a lot of talk about crime right now. Violent crime has gone up. But it went up over the last seven years, not just the last two. They don’t talk about the previous guy. It’s gone up in conservative, rural places, not just cities. But the question is, who will fight to keep you and your family safe? Is it Republican politicians who want to flood our streets with more guns, who actually voted against more resources for police departments? Or is it the Democratic leaders who worked with President Biden to pass the first major gun safety legislation in 30 years? That’s the choice in this election.
Who will fight for your freedoms? Is it Republican politicians and judicial appointees who think they should get to decide when you start a family and how many children you have, or who you marry and who you love? Or is it Democratic leaders who believe that the freedom to make these most personal of decisions belong to you, to every American, and not politicians in Washington? That’s the choice in this election. And Pittsburgh, who’s going to fight to make our democracy actually work for you? Republican politicians have promised if they get control of Congress, they’re going to spend the next two years investigating their political opponents. They’ve said it. Some of them have said they’re going to impeach President Biden. They’re not sure what for, but apparently that’s beside the point.
How’s that going to help you pay your bills? Or do you think you maybe stand a better chance of getting help and things improving if you’ve got President Biden and Democratic leaders who’ve worked together and sometimes have gotten Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill that creates new jobs, who are making healthcare prescription drugs cheaper, who’ve made unions stronger, who’ve made the single largest investment ever in the fight against climate change? That’s the choice in this election. Pennsylvania, you’ve got a choice between politicians who seem willing to say anything and do anything to get power, and people who see you and know you, and care about you and share in your values, who want to make your lives better and move this country forward and bring people together.
And let me be clear about this. This hasn’t always been a partisan thing. One of the tough things about campaigning, it makes it sound as if it’s blue team versus red team, and that’s all I care about. Listen, my favorite president ever was a guy named Abe Lincoln. He helped found the Republican Party. There used to be GOP members who championed progress and civil rights and rule of law. But I’ve got to look at the facts. And the facts are these days just about every GOP politician seems obsessed with two things. They want to own the libs, “Let’s get the libs.” And let’s get Donald Trump’s approval. “We need Donald to really…”
Hey, what did we say about… Vote. Don’t boo now. But that’s their agenda. They’re not interested in actually solving problems. What they want to do is make you angry, and then find somebody to blame. Because that way you may not notice they’ve got no answers of their own. John’s opponents, he has answers, they’re just the wrong ones. You want to lose weight, take raspberry ketones. Got leg cramps, try lavender soap. Want to prevent dementia, palm oil, a miracle solution. Nevermind that none of these things have been proven to work. In some cases it might be harmful. You’ve just got to believe, and then hand over your credit card information. Snake oil man. Listen, it’s easy to joke about Dr. Oz and all these quack remedies he’s pushing on TV. But it matters. It says something about his character. If somebody’s willing to pedal snake oil to make a buck, then he is probably willing to sell snake oil to get elected.
You deserve better than somebody who’s just trying to make a quick buck. Somebody willing to say anything to get attention. You deserve somebody who knows you. You deserve somebody who’s stood side by side with you, somebody who will work every day and fight for you. Somebody who’s actually from Pennsylvania. You deserve somebody like John Fetterman. John has been fighting for other people his whole life. Here’s a guy who found his calling as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Somebody who joined AmeriCorps to teach GED classes for young parents. Who ran for mayor of a small town to create jobs and reduce gun violence. John doesn’t just talk the talk, he’s walked the walk, alongside you. So you know then that he means what he says. John will help build an economy that works for everybody. And you know that because he’s worked for everybody, not just folks who write big checks, not just for special interests and those in power. He’ll stand up for unions, he’ll improve the criminal justice system, he’ll lower the cost of prescription drugs. You think Dr. Oz is going to do all that?
Barack Obama (58:11):
Right answer. And you also know that John is tough. And not just because he wears shorts in the middle of winter. Like a lot of Pennsylvanians, like a lot of working people, he knows what it’s like to get knocked down and then get back up. John’s stroke did not change who he is. It didn’t change what he cares about. It didn’t change his values, his heart, his fight. It doesn’t change who he will represent. When he gets to the United States Senate, he’ll represent you, and that’s what you deserve. That’s why the choice is pretty simple, Pennsylvania. You don’t want a leader who’s just looking out for himself. You don’t need slick talk. You want a leader who’s going to work hard for you. And who knows enough about hardship that when you get knocked down, he’s going to be there to help you back up. That’s what this election’s about.
And it applies to your congressional races as well. Are you going to vote for Republicans who oppose common sense gun safety measures? Who want to cut social security, cut Medicare. Or are you going to vote for folks like Chris Deluzio, an Iraq war veteran, who’s going to work to bring back manufacturing jobs to Pennsylvania. Or Summer Lee, who’s got a history of standing up for working people. That’s what you have to decide. And while you’re at it, you’re going to have to decide whether you want leaders who are going to stand up for women. For women having the right to make their own healthcare decisions.
Abortion is controversial in this country, it always has been. I genuinely believe there are good people of conscience who may differ with me on this issue, but I believe strongly, and I think you do too, that women everywhere should be able to control what happens with their own bodies. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that the most personal of healthcare choices should be made by a woman and her doctor and not a bunch of mostly male politicians. And that’s why when the Supreme Court struck down Roe, it was a wake-up for a lot of young people, especially young women, who may have taken Roe for granted. And it was a reminder that a politicized court, they can reinterpret what we thought were well settled constitutional rights. We can go backwards.
If Republicans take back the House and Senate we could be one presidential election away from a nationwide ban on access to abortion. And that might just be the beginning. I taught constitutional law for a decade, I can tell you this. If a court does not believe in a zone of privacy, that allows each of us to make our own decisions without government interference, then other freedoms we take for granted could be at risk. Clarence Thomas has said as much. If there’s no right to privacy, then same- sex marriage could be at risk. Almost every Republican in the House of Representatives already voted against guaranteeing a right to use contraception. That’s not in the constitution. That’s interpreted as a part of the right to privacy. If we don’t have that and they take back power, there’s no guarantee birth control won’t be next. Think about that.
You got to vote. Here in Pennsylvania. I’m sorry, what was that?
Barack Obama (01:02:39):
Here in Pennsylvania, John’s opponent… Go ahead, go ahead.
Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote, vote.
Barack Obama (01:02:43):
Here in Pennsylvania, John’s opponent said the decision about whether to have an abortion should be made, I’m quoting here, “By women, doctors and local political leaders.” Really? The mayor gets to decide what you do with your body. Which school board member? The County sheriff? Who exactly are you talking about should tell you about when to start a family? John Fetterman believes women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions. And if you send him to Washington, he’ll make sure women in Pennsylvania always have access to the care that they need. I think somebody mentioned earlier we’re setting our clocks back tomorrow, by an hour. On Tuesday, let’s make sure our country doesn’t get set back 50 years. And let me just say it. That’s got to be worth 15 minutes of your time. We got some young people out here. Most of you have voted. Maybe not all of you. Maybe some of your roommates or whatnot are still not sure whether it’s worth… If that’s not worth 15 minutes, what is? Well, maybe if you need another reason to vote, let me tell you, consider the fact that our democracy’s also on the ballot. I’ve been traveling through the country, and I’ve got to admit, going out on the campaign trail feels a little harder than it used to be. And it’s not just because I’m grayer and stiffer. Part of it is back when I was first running for office, I remember when I first started campaigning here in Pennsylvania, I’d go to various towns, and people didn’t always agree with me on everything. But I could go into a small town, maybe mostly Republican town, not a lot of folks look like me. And I’d go to a VFW hall or I’d go to a diner, maybe if it was a rural area, I’d go to a county fair.
And I’d sit down and I’d have a piece of pie and coffee, because I like pie. And you’d have a conversation with somebody. And you’d talk about your kids, you’d talk about your parents, maybe somebody got sick in your family, and what that was like. You talk about the hopes you have for the future. And you might not agree on everything, but at least you suddenly felt some connection. You saw, okay, even though we come from different places, we have a tie that binds. And maybe we might persuade each other about some things. And I’d learn something and they’d learn something about each other’s lives. And that was one of the joys, one of the glories of campaigning.
Barack Obama (01:06:00):
And that was one of the joys, one of the glories of campaigning, was seeing this incredible diversity of the country, but also understanding that there was this thread that tied us together. By the way, that’s why I ended up getting a bunch of Republican votes. Hard to believe, but it was true. Then after I won, my Republican opponent, John McCain graciously conceded, and he wished me luck for the sake of the country. We still had arguments. He was still in the Senate, and he’d give me a tough time. He could be cranky sometimes, but we all agreed on the basic foundation of our democracy, and that even if we were competing, we were still basically on the same team.
That’s what’s at risk right now. Democrats may not be perfect. I’m the first one to admit it. I’m not perfect. No politician is. We’re just like all of you. We can make mistakes. But right now, with a few notable exceptions, most Republican politicians aren’t even pretending that the rules apply to them. They just make stuff up. I mean, John’s opponent still refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the 2020 election. He says he needs more information to determine if the results were illegitimate. What information are you talking about? He won’t say. Just more.
He’s hired people who march to the capital on January 6th. They’re on his campaign. Donald Trump says he needs Dr. Oz in the Senate in case there is a close election again. Think about that. So, he’s basically saying, “Look, if I lose again, I need him to see if he can put his thumbs on the scale.” That is not what this country’s supposed to be about, and I understand democracy might not seem like a top priority right now when gas prices are high and grocery prices are high. Sometimes it feels like government isn’t making enough progress on the issues that matter to you and your family.
I get that, because sometimes progress is slow. This is a big, complicated country with a lot of different interests, and it’s hard to get stuff done sometimes. But let me tell you something, Pennsylvania. We’ve seen throughout history, we’ve seen around the world what happens when you give up on democracy. We can see it in other countries where government tells you what books you can read and what books you can’t, countries that own all the media and just pump out propaganda, and put dissonance and reporters in jail, countries where it really doesn’t matter who you vote for because the fix really is in. People in power do whatever they want, and where corruption is rampant because there’s no accountability. When that happens, people get hurt.
That has real-life consequences, and that’s why generations of Americans fought and died for the idea of self-government. That’s why suffragettes marched so women could be part of We the People. That’s why the civil rights movement marched to make sure that all of us were included, and that’s why we set up rules to make our democracy work. By the way, these aren’t really that complicated, these rules. We teach them to our kids when they’re in the sandbox. Be honest. Be fair. If you’re in a group, everybody gets a say. Everybody gets a turn. If you don’t get your way, don’t throw a tantrum. Don’t pick up your ball and go home. When I ran for Congress the first time in a primary, I got whooped, lost by 30 points.
I did not feel good about that. You know what I didn’t do though? I didn’t say it was rigged. I didn’t start an insurrection. I went back and did some soul searching, and figured out what I had done wrong, and tried to do better the next time. That’s what we teach our kids when things don’t work out exactly as they want. Okay. Think about it. Figure it out. Do better the next time. These are basic rules that we teach our kids. They undergird our democracy, and that is at stake in this election, because right now we’ve got folks who don’t tell the truth, and are willing to play around with the rules so they get their way no matter what. That’s why it’s not enough to elect Democrats like Chris Deluzio and Summer Lee and Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman. You’ve got to elect good people up and down the ballot. State legislatures, local seats, you’ve got to elect people who believe every vote should count full stop, and that’s not a radical idea. It didn’t used to be. You’ve got to vote for people who will protect the integrity of our elections, because that could make a difference if this thing gets close. Now, here’s the good news. I’m going to give you some good news right now. The good news is, you have the power in your hands to steer this country in a better direction. But it only happens if you vote. It only happens if you participate.
We joke in my house sometimes that between Michelle and me, Michelle can be a little bit glass half empty. I, on the other hand, I’m the hope and change guy. I’m usually a little more optimistic. When she’s reading the papers or watching the news and she gets a little down on the state of the country or the state of the world. I tell her, “Hun, everything’s going to be okay,” and I believe it will, but it won’t be okay on its own. It’ll be okay because we worked for it. It’ll be okay because we fought for it, not just on election day, but every day in between. These are tough times, Pennsylvania, but we’ve been through tougher times before.
The important thing is, we don’t give in to the temptation to give up, to get cynical. The important thing is we don’t turn inward. The important thing is we don’t see politics as a zero sum game, where anything goes and rules are made to be broken, and the only way for us to win, people like us, is for people like them to lose that kind of division in our minds. We got to get out of that mindset, because even in our darker moments, and there have been darker moments before, we’ve always had more in common than our politics suggest. Even when times are tough what unites us has always been stronger than what divides us. There’ve always been certain rules that bind us together as citizens, no matter where we come from, no matter what we look like, what our last names are, how we worship, who we love. That’s the promise of America.
That’s who we are. We may not fix all our problems overnight, but we can make things better, and better is worth fighting for. So, if you’re anxious, if you’re frustrated right now, don’t complain. Don’t boo. Don’t tune out. Vote. Get off your couch, and what?
Barack Obama (01:14:58):
Put down your phones, and what?
Barack Obama (01:15:00):
Vote for leaders like Chris Deluzio. Vote for folks like Summer Lee. Vote for Josh Shapiro. Vote for John Fetterman. Vote for leaders who are going to fight for that big, inclusive, hopeful, forward-looking America that we believe in. Vote for a country that is more fair and more equal and more just and more free. It is in your hands. Let’s get to work. I love you Pittsburgh. Thank you, Pennsylvania. Come on.
Speaker 14 (01:15:32):