Published September 04, 2012
The following is a transcript of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 4, 2012.
EMMANUEL: Good evening. From President Obama's hometown
... it's my honor to speak to you about the president I
served. I want to tell you what I saw up close while serving our
president in a time of crisis, about the values he leans on and
the voices he listens to.
When President Obama entered the White House, the economy
was in a freefall. The auto industry -- on its back. The banks
were frozen up. More than 4 million Americans have already lost
their jobs. And America's bravest, our men and women in
uniform, were fighting for what would soon be the longest war in
our history. You remember the uncertainty, and the fear that
seized our country. On the first day, I said, ``Mr. President,
which crisis do you want to tackle first?'' He looked me in the
eye with that look reserved just for his chief of staff, ``Rahm,
we were sent here to tackle all of them, not choose between
There was no blueprint for how to manual for preventing in
global financial meltdown, an auto crisis, two wars and a great
recession all at the same time. Believe me, if it existed, I
would have found it.
Each crisis was so deep and so dangerous. Anyone of them
would have defined another presidency. We faced a once in a
generation moment in American history, and fortunately for all
of us, we have a once in a generation president.
And in those unchartered waters, I saw where the president
finds his north star. Every night, President Obama reads ten
letters from everyday Americans. When I met with the president
at the end of each day, he made sure he had their letters to
read at his residence. Letters from people just hoping for
someone in power to understand their struggles.
I can't tell you how many times, whether we were discussing
the economy, health care or energy crisis, the president walked
to his desk, take out one of the letters and read them to us and
say, ``This is who we are fighting for.'' Parents working hard to
save for their child's education. Middle-class Americans
fighting tooth and nail to hold onto their jobs, their homes or
their life savings. It is their voices that President Obama
brings to the Oval Office. It is their values I saw him fight
In the first month, he fought for the American
Recovery Act to cut taxes for the middle-class, to put people to
work building America's roads, rails and runways. And today,
our economy has gone from losing 800,000 jobs a month, to adding
4.5 million private-sector jobs in the last 29 months.
Banks, are slowly but surely lending again, and never again
will taxpayers pay -- foot the bill for Wall Street's excesses.
In case we forgot, that was the change we believe in, that
was the change we fought for, that was the change President
Obama delivered. President Obama took office knowing full well
that, for the last century, presidents have tried to reform our
health care system.
Today, because of President Obama's courage to my kids can
stay on their parents' plan until they are 26. Insurers cannot
take you off your policy because you have a pre-existing limit.
Because you have hit the existing limit. They will be able to
deny you because you have any pre- existing condition. Because
of President Obama's leadership, every American will have access
to affordable quality health care.
That was the change we believed in print that was the
change we fought for. That was the change President Obama
I saw the president make the tough calls and the situation
room. Today, our troops in Iraq have finally come home so
America can do some nation-building here at home.
That was a change we believed in. That was the change we
fought for. That was the change President Obama delivered. I
remember when the president received a report that the auto
industry had a few weeks before its collapse. We met in the
Roosevelt room late into the night. Some of the president's
advisers said that them in order to save General Motors, you had
to let Chrysler go under. Others said, it is like throwing good
money after bad.
Among all the experts, there were only guesses and only put
it better than a one in four shot. Only the president suggested
going all in to save the industry and the jobs.
Rising above all the voices in Washington, President Obama
listened to the voices that mattered to him most, the voices of
the auto workers in the communities that depended on him. Just
like the voices of the steelworkers and the communities in the
south side of Chicago where he worked earlier in his career.
President Obama -- to President Obama, they were not just
companies that needed a loan. They were communities that need a
leader to stand up for them.
And because President Obama made the right choice, over 1
million Americans are still working today . The American auto
industry is not just surviving. It is thriving.
Where Mitt Romney was willing to turn his back on Akron,
Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio, the president said, ``I've got your
back''. That was the change we believe in. That was the change
we fought for. That was the change President Obama delivered.
In those first few months, the president worked to put
accountability in our children's schools with ``Race to the Top''
so that every child has an education that measures up to their
full potential. He was willing to demand change and embrace
reform. The president never changed his views to suit the
moment with the audience pinned and that is also a measure of
Every challenge is different. Every choice was difficult.
But every time the leadership was steady.
Now, the one thing I know with absolute certainty, having
served two great presidents, is that coming the next four years,
and unforeseen crisis, challenge or conflicts will show up and
sees this country. Whose leadership, whose judgment, whose
values do you want in the White House when that lands like a
thud on the oval office desk? That's right. A person who said
in four words, ``let Detroit to go bankrupt'', or a president who
had another four words, ``not on my watch''?
A person who believes in giving tax cuts to the more
fortunate or a president who believes in making college more
affordable for all Americans?
A person who wanted to keep the ``Don't ask, Don't tell'' or
a president who believes that who you love should I keep you
from serving in the country you love?
Believe me, having served two great presidents, when the
fog of uncertainty that surrounds the crisis storms into the
White House and all the advisers and chiefs of staff have only
guesses and hedges to offer the president, it will be the
president's leadership that determines how we as a nation meet
the challenges that face the middle-class. It is the
president's values that face the future in which the middle
class as hope.
The person who takes the oval office in the next four
months will shape not just the next four years, but the next 40
years of this great nation. In these next four years, we need
proven leadership, proven judgment and proven values.
America needs four more years of Barack Obama.
Thank you and God bless you!