The following is a transcript of President Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6, 2012.
OBAMA: Michelle, I love you.
OBAMA: A few night nights ago, everyone was reminded just
what a lucky man I am.
Malia and Sasha, we are so proud of you.
And yes, you do have to go to school in the morning.
And Joe Biden, thank you for being the best Vice President
I could have ever hope for, and being a strong and loyal friend.
Madam Chairwoman, delegates, I accept your nomination for
President of the United States.
(AUDIENCE MEMBERS): Four more years, four more years, four
Now, the first time I addressed this convention in
2004, I was a younger man; a Senate candidate from Illinois who
spoke about hope, not blind optimism or wishful thinking, but
hope in the face of difficulty; hope in the face of uncertainty;
that dogged faith in the future which has pushed this nation
forward, even when the odds are great; even when the road is
Eight years later, that hope has been tested, by the cost
of war; by one of the worst economic crises in history; and by
political gridlock that's left us wondering whether it's still
even possible to tackle the challenges of our time.
I know campaigns can seem small, and even silly sometimes.
Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become
sound bites. The truth gets buried under an avalanche of money
and advertising. If you're sick of hearing me approve this
message, believe me, so am I.
But when all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot
to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a
generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made
in Washington, on jobs, the economy; taxes and deficits; energy,
education; war and peace, decisions that will have a huge impact
on our lives and our children's lives for decades to come.
And on every issue, the choice you face won't be just
between two candidates or two parties.
It will be a choice between two different paths for
A choice between two fundamentally different visions for
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the
largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has
The values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton's
Army; the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber
assembly line while he was gone.
They knew they were part of something larger, a nation that
triumphed over fascism and depression; a nation where the most
innovative businesses turned out the world's best products, and
everyone shared in that pride and success, from the corner
office to the factory floor.
My grandparents were given the chance to go to
college, buy their own -- their -- their own home, and fulfill
the basic bargain at the heart of America's story: the promise
that hard work will pay off; that responsibility will be
rewarded; that everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does
their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, from
Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.
And I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain
slipping away. I began my career helping people in the shadow
of a shuttered steel mill, at a time when too many good jobs
were starting to move overseas. And by 2008, we had seen nearly
a decade in which families struggled with costs that kept
rising, but paychecks that didn't; folks racking up more and
more debt just to make the mortgage or pay tuition; put gas in
the car or food on the table.
And when the house of cards collapsed in the Great
Recession, millions of innocent Americans lost their jobs, their
homes, their life savings, a tragedy from which we are still
fighting to recover.
Now, our friends down in Tampa, at the Republican
convention, were more than happy to talk about everything they
think is wrong with America, but they didn't have much to say
about how they'd make it right.
They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their
plan. And that's because all they had to offer is the same
prescription they've had for the last thirty years:
``Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.''
``Deficit too high? Try another.''
``Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some
regulations, and call us in the morning.''
Now, I've cut taxes for those who need it, middle-class
families, small businesses. But I don't believe that another
round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our
shores, or pay down our deficit. I don't believe that firing
teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the
economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers
coming out of China.
After all that we've been through, I don't believe that
rolling back regulations on Wall Street will help the small
businesswoman expand, or the laid-off construction worker keep
his home. We have been there, we've tried that, and we're not
We are moving forward, America.
I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I
never have. You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to
You elected me to tell you the truth.
And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us
solve challenges that have built up over decades. It'll require
common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold,
experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only
worse than this one.
And by the way, those of us who carry on his party's legacy
should remember that not every problem can be remedied with
government program or dictate from Washington.
But know this, America: Our problems can be solved.
Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be
it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that
I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country,
in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the
deficit; real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more
opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation.
That's what we can do in the next four years, and that's why I'm
running for a second term as President of the United States.
We can choose a future
where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs.
After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed,
we're getting back to basics, and doing what America has always
We're making things again.
I've met workers in Detroit and Toledo who feared they'd
never build another American car. And today, they can't build
them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry
that's back on top of the world.
I've worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs
back to America, not because our workers make less pay, but
because we make better products. Because we work harder and
smarter than anyone else.
I've signed trade agreements that are helping our companies
sell more goods to millions of new customers, goods that are
stamped with three proud words: Made in America.
After a decade of decline, this country created over half a
million manufacturing jobs in the last two and a half years.
And now you have a choice: we can give more tax breaks to
corporations that ship jobs overseas, or we can start rewarding
companies that open new plants and train new workers and create
new jobs here, in the United States of America. We can help big
factories and small businesses double their exports, and if we
choose this path, we can create a million new manufacturing jobs
in the next four years. You can make that happen. You can
choose that future.
And now more than ever, it is the gateway to a
middle- class life.
For the first time in a generation, nearly every state has
answered our call to raise their standards for teaching and
Some of the worst schools in the country have made real
gains in math and reading. Millions of students are paying less
for college today because we finally took on a system that
wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on banks and lenders.
And now you have a choice. We can gut education, or we can
decide that in the United States of America, no child should
have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a
crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college
acceptance letter because they don't have the money. No company
should have to look for workers overseas because they couldn't
find any with the right skills here at home. That's not our
future. That is not our future.
A government has a role in this. But teachers must
inspire; principals must lead; parents must instill a thirst for
learning, and students, you've gotta do the work.
And together, I promise you, we can out-educate and
out-compete any nation on Earth. Help me recruit 100,000 math
and science teachers within ten years, and improve early
Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at
their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help
us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth
of tuition costs over the next ten years. We can meet that goal
You can choose that future for America.
That's our future.
You know, in a world of new threats and new challenges, you
can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four
years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did.
I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually
attacked us on 9/11. And we have. We've blunted the Taliban's
momentum in Afghanistan, and in 2014, our longest war will be
A new tower rises above the New York skyline, Al Qaeda is
on the path to defeat, and Osama Bin Laden is dead.
And tonight, we pay tribute to the Americans who still
serve in harm's way. We are forever in debt to a generation
whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected.
We will never forget you. And so long as I'm
Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the
world has ever known.
When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as
you've served us because no one who fights for this country
should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or
the care that they need when they come home.
Around the world, we've strengthened old alliances and
forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
We've reasserted our power across the Pacific, and stood up to
China on behalf of our workers. From Burma to Libya to South
Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human
beings, men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews.
But for all the progress we've made, challenges remain.
Terrorist plots must be disrupted. Europe's crisis must be
Our commitment to Israel's security must not waver,
and neither must our pursuit of peace.
The Iranian government must face a world that stays united
against its nuclear ambitions. The historic change sweeping
across the Arab World must be defined not by the iron fist of a
dictator or the hate of extremists, but by the hopes and
aspirations of ordinary people who are reaching for the same
rights that we celebrate here today.
So now we face a choice. My opponent and his running mate
are new to foreign policy,
but from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take
us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America
After all, you don't call Russia our number one enemy, not
Al Qaeda, Russia, unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind
You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you
can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.
My opponent -- my opponent said it was ``tragic'' to end the
war in Iraq, and he won't tell us how he'll end the war in
Afghanistan. Well I have, and I will. And while my opponent
would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint
Chiefs don't even want, I will use the money we're no longer
spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to
work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways.
Because after two wars that have cost us thousands
of lives and over a trillion dollars, it's time to do some
nation- building right here at home.
You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without
sticking it to the middle class. Independent experts say that
my plan would cut our deficits by $4 trillion. And last summer,
I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut billion in spending
because those of us who believe government can be a force for
good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it's
leaner, and more efficient, and more responsive to the American
I want to reform the tax code so that it's simple, fair,
and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on
incomes over $250,000, the same rate we had when Bill Clinton
was president; the same rate we had when our economy created
nearly 23 million new jobs, the biggest surplus in history, and
a whole lot of millionaires to boot.
Now, I'm still eager to reach an agreement based on the
principles of my bipartisan debt commission. No party has a
monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise. I
want to get this done, and we can get it done. But when
Governor Romney and his friends in Congress tell us we can
somehow lower our deficits by spending trillions more on new tax
breaks for the wealthy, well, what'd Bill Clinton call it? You
do the arithmetic, you do the math.
I refuse to go along with that. And as long as I'm
President, I never will.
I refuse to ask middle class families to give up their
deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay
for another millionaire's tax cut.
I refuse to ask students to pay more for college; or kick
children out of Head Start programs, to eliminate health
insurance for millions of Americans who are poor, and elderly,
or disabled, all so those with the most can pay less.
I'm not going along with that.
And I will -- I will never turn Medicare into a voucher.
No American should ever have to spend their golden years at
the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the
care and the dignity they have earned. Yes, we will reform and
strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we'll do it by
reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay
thousands of dollars more. And we will keep the promise of
Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen
it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election
comes down to. Over and over, we have been told by our
opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the
only way; that since government can't do everything, it should
do almost nothing.
If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't
If a company releases toxic pollution into the air your
children breathe, well, that's just the price of progress. If
you can't afford to start a business or go to college, take my
opponent's advice and ``borrow money from your parents.''
You know what? That's not who we are. That's not what
this country's about. As Americans, we believe we are endowed
by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that no
man or government can take away. We insist on personal
responsibility, and we celebrate individual initiative. We're
not entitled to success. We have to earn it. We honor the
strivers, the dreamers, the risk- takers, the entrepreneurs who
have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise
system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world
has ever known.
But we also believe in something called citizenship
a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very
essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works
when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future
We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to
buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.
We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into
signing a mortgage they can't afford, that family is protected,
but so is the value of other people's homes, and so is the
We believe the little girl who's offered an escape from
poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become
the next Steve Jobs, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the
President of the United States, and it's in our power to give
her that chance.
We know that churches and charities can often make more of
a difference than a poverty program alone. We don't want
handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we
certainly don't want bailouts for banks that break the rules.
We don't think the government can solve all our problems.
But we don't think that the government is the source of all our
problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations,
or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we're told
to blame for our troubles.
Because -- because America, we understand that this
democracy is ours.
We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as
well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a
freedom which asks only what's in it for me, a freedom without a
commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty
or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who
died in their defense.
As citizens, we understand that America is not about what
can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us,
together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of
self-government. That's what we believe.
So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me.
It was about you. My fellow citizens, you were the
You're the reason there's a little girl with a heart
disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an
insurance company can't limit her coverage.
You did that.
You're the reason a young man in Colorado who never thought
he'd be able to afford his dream of earning a medical degree is
about to get that chance.
You made that possible.
You're the reason a young immigrant who grew up here and
went to school here and pledged allegiance to our flag will no
longer be deported from the only country she's ever called home,
why selfless soldiers won't be kicked out of the military
because of who they are or who they love; why thousands of
families have finally been able to say to the loved ones who
served us so bravely: ``Welcome home, welcome home.''
You did that. You did that.
If you turn away now -- if you turn away now, if you buy
into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn't possible,
well, change will not happen. If you give up on the idea that
your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill
the void: the lobbyists and special interests; the people with
the $10 million checks who are trying to buy this election, and
those who are making it harder for you to vote; Washington
politicians who want to decide who you can marry, or control
health care choices that women should be making for themselves.
Only you can make sure that doesn't happen. Only you have
the power to move us forward.
You know, I recognize that times have changed since I first
spoke to this convention. The times have changed, and so have
I'm no longer just a candidate. I'm the President.
And -- and that -- and that -- and that means I know what
it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in
my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn't return.
I've shared the pain of families who've lost their homes, and
the frustration of workers who've lost their jobs. If the
critics are right that I've made all my decisions based on
polls, then I must not be very good at reading them.
And while I'm very proud of what we've achieved together,
I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what
Lincoln meant when he said, ''I have been driven to my knees many
times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to
But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more
hopeful about America.
Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because
naive about the magnitude of our challenges.
I'm hopeful because of you.
The young woman I met at a science fair who won national
recognition for her biology research while living with her
family at a
homeless shelter, she gives me hope.
The auto worker who won the lottery after his plant almost
closed, but kept coming to work every day, and bought flags for
whole town and one of the cars that he built to surprise his
gives me hope.
The family business in Warroad,
Minnesota that didn't lay off a single one of their 4,000
employees during this recession, even when their competitors
shut down dozens of plants, even when it meant the owners gave
up some perks and some pay, because they understood their
biggest asset was the community and the workers who helped build
that business, they give me hope.
I think about the young sailor I met at Walter Reed
hospital, still recovering from a grenade attack that would
cause him to have his leg amputated above the knee. Six months
ago, We would watch him walk into a White House dinner honoring
those who served in Iraq, tall and 20 pounds heavier, dashing in
his uniform, with a big grin on his face; sturdy on his new leg.
And I remember how a few months after that I would watch
him on a bicycle, racing with his fellow wounded warriors on a
sparkling spring day, inspiring other heroes who had just begun
the hard path he had traveled.
He gives me hope.
I don't know what party these men and women belong to. I
don't know if they'll vote for me. But I know that their spirit
defines us. They remind me, in the words of Scripture, that ours
is a ''future filled with hope.``
And if you share that faith with me, if you share that hope
with me, I ask you tonight for your vote.
If you reject the notion that this nation's promise is
reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.
If you reject the notion that our government is forever
beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our
landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new
schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of
dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair
shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by
the same rules, then I need you to vote this November.
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I
won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but it leads
to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it
together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull
each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we
learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that
distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we
are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United