The following is a transcript of former President Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 5, 2012.
CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you.
Now, Mr. Mayor, fellow Democrats, we are here to nominate a
... and I've got one in mind.
I want to nominate a man whose own life has known its fair
share of adversity and uncertainty. I want to nominate a man
who ran for president to change the course of an already weak
economy and then, just six weeks before his election, saw it
suffer the biggest collapse since the Great Depression, a man
who stopped the slide into depression and put us on the long
road to recovery, knowing all the while that no matter -- no
matter how many jobs that he saved or created, there'd still be
millions more waiting, worried about feeding their own kids,
trying to keep their hopes alive.
I want to nominate a man who's cool on the outside...
... but who burns for America on the inside.
I want -- I want a man who believes with no doubt that we
can build a new American dream economy, driven by innovation and
creativity, by education and, yes, by cooperation.
And by the way, after last night, I want a man who had the
good sense to marry Michelle Obama.
I -- I...
I want -- I want Barack Obama to be the next president of
the United States. And...
... I proudly nominate him to be the standard bearer of the
Now, folks, in Tampa a few days ago, we heard a lot of
... all about how the president and the Democrats don't
really believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how
we want everybody to be dependent on the government, how bad we
are for the economy. This Republican narrative, this
alternative universe says that...
... every one of us in this room who amounts to anything,
we're all completely self-made. One of the greatest chairmen
the Democratic Party ever had, Bob Strauss, used to say that
every politician wants every voter to believe he was born in a
log cabin he built himself.
But, as Strauss then admitted, it ain't so.
We Democrats, we think the country works better with a
strong middle class, with real opportunities for poor folks to
work their way into it, with a relentless focus on the future,
with business and government actually working together to
promote growth and broadly shared prosperity. You see, we
believe that ``We're all in this together'' is a far better
philosophy than ``You're on your own.''
So who's right? Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the
Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats
24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66
million private- sector jobs. So what's the job score?
Republicans: twenty-four million. Democrats: forty-two.
Now, there's -- there's a reason for this. It turns out
that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is
both morally right and good economics. Why? Because poverty,
discrimination, and ignorance restrict growth.
When you stifle human potential, when you don't invest in
new ideas, it doesn't just cut off the people who are affected.
It hurts us all.
We know that investments in education and infrastructure
and scientific and technological research increase growth. They
increase good jobs, and they create new wealth for all the rest
Now, there's something I've noticed lately. You probably
have, too. And it's this. Maybe just because I grew up in a
different time, but though I often disagree with Republicans, I
actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that
now controls their party seems to hate our president and a lot
of other Democrats.
I -- that -- that would be impossible for me, because
President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to
integrate Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower
built the interstate highway system. When I was a governor, I
worked with President Reagan in his White House on the first
round of welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on
national education goals.
I'm actually very grateful to -- if you saw from the film
what I do today, I have to be grateful -- and you should be, too
-- that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the
lives of millions of people in poor countries. And...
... I have been honored to work with both Presidents Bush
on natural disasters in the aftermath of the South Asian
tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the horrible earthquake in Haiti.
Through my foundation both in America and around the world, I'm
working all the time with Democrats, Republicans, and
independents. Sometimes I couldn't tell you for the life who
I'm working with because we focus on solving problems and
seizing opportunities and not fighting all the time.
And -- so here's what I want to say to you. And here's
what I want the people at home to think about. When times are
tough and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and
uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good, but
what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real
world. What works in the real world is cooperation.
What works in the real world is cooperation, business and
government, foundations and universities. Ask the mayors who
Los Angeles is getting green and Chicago is getting an
infrastructure bank because Republicans and Democrats are
working together to get it.
They didn't check their brains at the door. They didn't
stop disagreeing. But their purpose was to get something done.
Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better
than constant conflict? Because nobody's right all the time,
and a broken clock is right twice a day.
And every one of us -- every one of us and every one of
them, we're compelled to spend our fleeting lives between those
two extremes, knowing we're never going to be right all the
time, and hopefully we're right more than twice a day.
Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the
Republican Party doesn't see it that way. They think government
is always the enemy, they're always right, and compromise is
weakness. Just in the last couple of elections, they defeated
two distinguished Republican senators because they dared to
cooperate with Democrats on issues important to the future of
the country, even national security.
They beat a Republican congressman with almost 100 percent
voting record on every conservative score because he said he
realized he did not have to hate the president to disagree with
him. Boy, that was a non-starter, and they threw him out.
One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President
Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation.
Look at his record. Look at his record. Look at his
record. He appointed Republican secretaries of defense, the
Army, and transportation. He appointed a vice president who ran
against him in 2008. And he trusted that vice president to
oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the
implementation of the Recovery Act.
And Joe Biden -- Joe Biden did a great job with both.
Now -- now, he -- President Obama -- President Obama
appointed several members of his cabinet, even though they
supported Hillary in the primary. Heck, he even appointed
Now, wait a minute. I am -- I am very proud of her. I am
proud of the job she and the national security team have done
I am grateful that they have worked together to make it
safer and stronger to build a world with more partners and fewer
enemies. I'm grateful for the relationship of respect and
partnership she and the president have enjoyed. And the signal
that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not
have a -- have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable
enterprise that advances the public interest.
Now, besides the national security team, I am very grateful
to the men and women who've served our country in uniform
through these perilous times.
And I am especially grateful to Michelle Obama and to Jill
Biden for supporting those military families while their loved
ones were overseas...
... and for supporting our veterans when they came home,
when they come home bearing the wounds of war or needing help to
find education or jobs or housing. President Obama's whole
record on national security is a tribute to his strength, to his
judgment, and to his preference for inclusion and partnership
over partisanship. We need more of it in Washington, D.C.
We all know that he also tried to work with congressional
Republicans on health care, debt reduction, and new jobs. And
that didn't work out so well.
But it could have been because, as the Senate Republican
leader said, in a remarkable moment of candor, two full years
before the election, their number-one priority was not to put
America back to work. It was to put the president out of work.
Well -- wait a minute. Senator, I hate to break it to you,
but we're going to keep President Obama on the job.
Are you willing to work for it?
Wait a minute.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
years! Four more years! Four more years!
CLINTON: In Tampa...
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
In Tampa -- in Tampa, did y'all watch their
convention? I did.
In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president's
re- election was actually pretty simple, pretty snappy. It went
something like this: ``We left him a total mess. He hasn't
cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.''
Now -- but -- but they did it well. They looked good, they
sounded good. They convinced me...
... that they all love their families and their children,
and we're grateful they've been born in America, and all --
really, I'm not being -- they did.
And this is important. They convinced me they were
honorable people who believe what they've said and they're going
to keep every commitment they've made. We've just got to make
sure the American people know what those commitments are.
Because -- because in order to look like an acceptable,
reasonable, moderate alternative to President Obama, they just
didn't say very much about the ideas they've offered over the
last two years. They couldn't, because they want to go back to
the same, old policies that got us in trouble in the first
They want to cut taxes for high-income Americans even more
than President Bush did. They want to get rid of those pesky
financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and
prohibit federal bailouts. They want to actually increase
defense spending over a decade $2 trillion more than the
Pentagon has requested, without saying what they'll spend it on.
And they want to make enormous cuts in the rest of budget,
especially programs that help the middle class and poor
As another president once said, there they go again.
Now, I like...
I -- I like the argument for President Obama's re-election
a lot better. Here it is. He inherited a deeply damaged
economy. He put a floor under the crash. He began the long,
hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern, more
well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good, new
jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for
Now, are we where we want to be today? No. Is the
president satisfied? Of course not. But are we better off than
we were when he took office?
Listen to this. Listen to this. Everybody (inaudible)
Everybody (inaudible) when President Barack Obama took
office, the economy was in freefall. It had just shrunk 9 full
percent of GDP. We were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we
doing better than that today?
CLINTON: The answer is yes. Now, look. Here's the
challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him
face. I get it. I know it. I've been there. A lot of
Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If
you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks
are beginning to lend again, and in a lot of places, housing
prices have even began to pick up.
But too many people do not feel it yet. I had this same
thing happen in 1994 and early '95. We could see that the
policies were working, that the economy was growing, but most
people didn't feel it yet. Thankfully, by 1996, the economy was
roaring, everybody felt it, and we were halfway through the
longest peacetime expansion in the history of the United States.
... the difference this time is purely in the
circumstances. President Obama started with a much weaker
economy than I did. Listen to me now. No president, no
president -- not me, not any of my predecessors -- no one could
have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four
Now -- but he has -- he has laid the foundations
for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And
if you will renew the president's contract, you will feel it.
You will feel it.
Folks, whether the American people believe what I just said
or not may be the whole election. I just want you to know that
I believe it. With all my heart, I believe it.
Now, why do I believe it? I'm fixing to tell you why. I
believe it because President Obama's approach embodies the
values, the ideas, and the direction America has to take to
build a 21st-century version of the American dream, a nation of
shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, shared
prosperity, a shared sense of community.
So let's get back to the story. In 2010, as the
president's recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped
and things began to turn around. The Recovery Act saved or
created millions of jobs and cut taxes -- let me say this again
-- cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people.
And in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about
4.5 million private-sector jobs.
We could have done better, but last year the Republicans
blocked the president's job plan, costing the economy more than
a million new jobs. So here's another job score. President
Obama: plus 4.5 million. Congressional Republicans: zero.
During this period -- during this period, more than 500,000
manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama.
That's the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since
And I'll tell you something else. The auto industry
restructuring worked. It saved...
It saved more than a million jobs, and not just at G.M.,
Chrysler, and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing
all over the country. That's why even the automakers who
weren't part of the deal supported it. They needed to save
those parts suppliers, too. Like I said, we're all in this
So what's happened? There are now 250,000 more people
working in the auto industry than on the day the companies were
So -- now, we all know that Governor Romney opposed the
plan to save G.M. and Chrysler. So here's another job score.
Are you listening in Michigan and Ohio and across the country?
Here -- here's another job score. Obama: 250,000.
CLINTON: Now, the agreement the administration made with
the management, labor, and environmental groups to double car
mileage, that was a good deal, too. It will cut your gas prices
in half, your gas bill. No matter what the price is, if you
double the mileage of your car, your bill will be half what it
would have been. It will make us more energy independent. It
will cut greenhouse gas emission. And according to several
analyses, over the next 20 years, it will bring us another
500,000 good, new jobs into the American economy.
The president's energy strategy, which he calls
all-of-the-above, is helping, too. The boom in oil and gas
production, combined with greater energy efficiency, has driven
oil imports to a near 20-year low and natural gas production to
an all-time high. And renewable energy production has doubled.
Of course, we need a lot more new jobs, but there are
already more than 3 million jobs open and unfilled in America,
mostly because the people who apply for them don't yet have the
required skills to do them. So even as we get Americans more
jobs, we have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that
are actually going to be created. The old economy is not coming
back. We've got to build a new one and educate people to do
The president and his education secretary have supported
community colleges and employers in working together to train
people for jobs that are actually open in their communities.
And even more important, after a decade in which exploding
college costs have increased the dropout rate so much that the
percentage of our young people with four-year college degrees
has gone down so much that we have dropped to 16th in the world
in the percentage of young people with college degrees.
So the president's student loan reform is more important
than ever. Here's what it does. Here's what it does. Here's
what it does.
You need to tell every voter where you live about this. It
lowers the cost of federal student loans. And even more
important, it gives students the right to repay those loans as a
clear, fixed, low percentage of their income for up to 20 years.
Now, what does this mean? What does this mean? Think of
it. It means no one will ever have to drop out of college again
for fear they can't repay their debt.
And it means -- it means that if someone wants to take a
job with a modest income, a teacher, a police officer, if they
want to be a small-town doctor in a little rural area, they
won't have to turn those jobs down because they don't pay enough
to repay the debt. Their debt obligation will be determined by
their salary. This will change the future for young Americans.
I don't know about you, but all these issues, I
know we're better off because President Obama made the decisions
Now, that brings me to health care.
And the Republicans call it, derisively, ``Obamacare.'' They
say it's a government takeover, a disaster, and that if we'll
just elect them, they'll repeal it. Well, are they right?
CLINTON: Let's take a look at what's actually happened so
far. First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more
than $1 billion in refunds from insurance companies because the
new law requires 80 percent to 85 percent of your premium to go
to your health care, not profits or promotion. And...
The gains are even greater than that, because a bunch of
insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply
with the requirement.
Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25
are insured for the first time because their parents' policies
can cover them.
Third, millions of seniors are receiving preventive care,
all the way from breast cancer screenings to test for heart
problems and scores of other things, and younger people are
getting them, too.
Fourth, soon the insurance companies -- not the government,
the insurance companies -- will have millions of new customers,
many of them middle-class people with pre-existing conditions
who never could get insurance before.
Now, finally, listen to this. For the last two years,
after going up at three times the rate of inflation for a
decade, for the last two years, health care costs have been
under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.
So let me ask you something. Are we better off because
President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.
Now, there were two other attacks on the president in Tampa
I think deserve an answer. First, both Governor Romney and
Congressman Ryan attacked the president for allegedly ``robbing
Medicare'' of $716 billion. That's the same attack they leveled
against the Congress in 2010, and they got a lot of votes on it.
But it's not true.
Look, here's what really happened. You be the judge.
Here's what really happened. There were no cuts to benefits at
What the president did was to save money by taking the
recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut
unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that
were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get
the providers to provide the service.
And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to
close the donut hole in the Medicare drug program.
And -- you all got to listen carefully to this. This is
really important -- and to add eight years to the life of the
Medicare trust fund so it is solvent until 2024. So...
So President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken
Medicare. They strengthened Medicare.
Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and
attacked President Obama's Medicare savings as, quote, ``the
biggest, coldest power play,'' I didn't know whether to laugh or
... because that $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the
same amount of Medicare savings that he has in his own budget!
You got to give one thing: It takes some brass to attack a
guy for doing what you did.
Now -- so -- wait a minute.
Now you're having a good time, but this is getting serious,
and I want you to listen.
It's important, because a lot of people believe this stuff.
Now, at least on this issue, on this one issue, Governor Romney
has been consistent. He...
He attacked President Obama, too, but he actually wants to
repeal those savings and give the money back to the insurance
He wants to go back to the old system, which means we'll
reopen the donut hole and force seniors to pay more for drugs,
and we'll reduce the life of the Medicare trust fund by eight
So if he's elected, and if he does what he promised to do,
Medicare will now go broke in 2016. Think about that. That
means after all we won't have to wait until their voucher
program kicks in, in 2023, to see the end of Medicare as we know
it. They're going to do it to us sooner than we thought.
Now, folks, this is serious, because it gets worse. And
you won't be laughing when I finish telling you this. They also
want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the
coming 10 years. Of course, that's going to really hurt a lot of
But that's not all. A lot of folks don't know it, but
nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for
Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid.
It's going to end Medicare as we know it. And a lot of
that money is also spent to help people with disabilities,
... a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down's
syndrome or autism or other severe conditions.
And, honestly, just think about it. If that happens, I
don't know what those families are going to do. So I know what
I'm going to do: I'm going to do everything I can to see that
it doesn't happen. We can't let it happen. We can't.
Now, wait a minute. Let's look...
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more
CLINTON: Let's look at the other big charge the
Republicans made. It's a real doozy.
They actually have charged and run ads saying that
President Obama wants to weaken the work requirements in the
welfare reform bill I signed that moved millions of people from
welfare to work. Wait. You need to know, here's what happened.
Nobody ever tells you what really happened. Here's what
happened. When some Republican governors asked if they could
have waivers to try new ways to put people on welfare back to
work, the Obama administration listened, because we all know
it's hard for even people with good work histories to get jobs
today, so moving folks from welfare to work is a real challenge.
And the administration agreed to give waivers to those
governors and others only if they had a credible plan to
increase employment by 20 percent and they could keep the
waivers only if they did increase employment.
Now, did -- did I make myself clear? The requirement was
for more work, not less.
So this is personal to me. We moved millions of people off
welfare. It was one of the reasons that, in the eight years I
was president, we had 100 times as many people move out of
poverty into the middle class than happened under the previous
12 years, 100 times as many. It's a big deal.
But I am telling you, the claim that President Obama
weakened welfare reform's work requirement is just not true.
But they keep on running ads claiming it.
You want to know why? Their campaign pollster said, ``We
are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.''
Now, finally I can say: That is true.
I -- I -- I couldn't have said it better myself.
And I hope you and every American within the sound of my
voice remembers it every time they see one of those ads, and it
turns into an ad to re-elect Barack Obama and keep the
fundamental principles of personal empowerment and moving
everybody who can get a job into work as soon as we can.
Now let's talk about the debt. Today, interest rates are
low, lower than the rate of inflation. People are practically
paying us to borrow money, to hold their money for them. But it
will become a big problem when the economy grows and interest
rates start to rise. We've got to deal with this big long-term
debt problem or it will deal with us. It'll gobble up a bigger
and bigger percentage of the federal budget we'd rather spend on
education and health care and science and technology. It --
we've got to deal with it.
Now, what has the president done? He has offered a
reasonable plan of $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade,
with $2.5 trillion coming from -- for every $2.5 trillion in
spending cuts, he raises a dollar in new revenues, 2.5 to 1.
And he has tight controls on future spending. That's the kind
of balanced approach proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission,
a bipartisan commission.
Now, I think this plan is way better than Governor Romney's
plan. First, the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal
responsibility: The numbers just don't add up.
I mean, consider this. What would you do if you had this
problem? Somebody says, ``Oh, we've got a big debt problem.
We've got to reduce the debt.'' So what's the first thing he
says we're going to do? ``Well, to reduce the debt, we're going
to have another $5 trillion in tax cuts, heavily weighted to
upper-income people. So we'll make the debt hole bigger before
we start to get out of it.''
Now, when you say, ``What are you going to do about this $5
trillion you just added on?'' They say, ``Oh, we'll make it up by
eliminating loopholes in the tax code.'' So then you ask, ``Well,
which loopholes? And how much?'' You know what they say? ``See
me about that after the election.''
I'm not making it up. That's their position. ``See me
about that after the election.''
Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus
budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I
always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.
If -- arithmetic.
If they stay with this $5 trillion tax cut plan in a debt
reduction plan, the arithmetic tells us, no matter what they
say, one of three things is about to happen. One, assuming they
try to do what they say they'll do -- get rid of -- cover it by
deductions, cutting those deductions -- one, they'll have to
eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages
and charitable giving, that middle- class families will see
their tax bills go up an average of $2,000, while anybody who
makes $3 million or more will see their tax bill go down
Or, two, they'll have to cut so much spending that they'll
obliterate the budget for the national parks, for ensuring clean
air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel. They'll cut way
back on Pell grants, college loans, early childhood education,
child nutrition programs, all the programs that help to empower
middle-class families and help poor kids. Oh, they'll cut back
on investments in roads and bridges and science and technology
and biomedical research. That's what they'll do. They'll hurt
the middle class and the poor and put the future on hold to give
tax cuts to upper-income people who've been getting it all
Or, three, in spite of all the rhetoric, they'll just do
what they've been doing for more than 30 years. They'll go and
cut the taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with
that big defense increase, and they'll just explode the debt and
weaken the economy, and they'll destroy the federal government's
ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax
Don't you ever forget, when you hear them talking about
this, that Republican economic policies quadrupled the national
debt before I took office, in the 12 years before I took
... and doubled the debt in the eight years after I left,
because it defied arithmetic.
It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates
that I was just a country boy from Arkansas and I came from a
place where people still thought two and two was four.
It's arithmetic. We simply cannot afford to give the reins
of government to someone who will double-down on trickle-down.
Now, think about this. President Obama...
President Obama's plan cuts the debt, honors our values,
brightens the future of our children, our families, and our
nation. It's a heck of a lot better. It passes the arithmetic
test and, far more important, it passes the values test.
My fellow Americans, all of us in this grand hall and
everybody watching at home, when we vote in this election, we'll
be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. If you
want a winner-take- all, you're-on-your-own society, you should
support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of
shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a
we're-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack
Obama and Joe Biden.
If you want -- if you want America -- if you want every
American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting
... just -- just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer,
minority, and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama.
And if you think -- if you think the president was right to
open the doors of American opportunity to all those young
immigrants brought here when they were young so they can serve
in the military or go to college, you must vote for Barack
If -- if you want a future of shared prosperity, where the
middle class is growing and poverty's declining, where the
American dream is really alive and well again, and where the
United States maintains its leadership as a force for peace and
justice and prosperity in this highly competitive world, you
have to vote for Barack Obama.
Look, I love our country so much. And I know we're coming
back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we've
always come back. People have predicted our demise ever since
George Washington was criticized for being a mediocre surveyor
with a bad set of wooden, false teeth. And so far every single
person that's bet against America has lost money, because we
always come back.
We've come through every fire a little stronger and a
little better. And we do it because, in the end, we decide to
champion the cause for which our founders pledged their lives,
their fortunes, their sacred honor, the cause of forming a more
My fellow Americans, if that is what you want, if that is
what you believe, you must vote and you must re-elect President
God bless you. And God bless America.