The second session of the 46th Democratic National Convention was called to order at 5:01 PM Eastern Daylight Time (2101 GMT) on Wednesday 5 September 2012 by Convention Permanent Chair Antonio Villaraigosa
Before proceeding any further, there was a little unexpected (by we who were looking on, that is) business to be attended to: a motion was made by former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (an ordained United Methodist Church minister) to suspend the rules in order to add an amendment to the Platform already adopted the evening before-- the motion to so suspend the rules was adopted (or so it seemed) viva voce. The amendment Strickland then put forth was two-part- one to add a reference to the "God-given potential" of working people, the other to add a provision that would indicate that the Party supported Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, while the city should "remain undivided" and "accessible to people of all faiths"; this amendment was eventually approved by the Convention viva voce (but only after three attempts during which many delegates- some of them holding signs reading "Arab-American DEMOCRATS"- yelled 'no' in a louder voice than those who had shouted 'aye': only after the third attempt was Chairman Villaraigosa willing to declare that the 'Ayes' actually had it [well... maybe! ;-)]: although not as rancorous as at least some of the voice votes gaveled through by John Boehner at the Republican Convention the week before, the reactions against this motion did make for a rather discordant moment).
[NOTE: Reports in the media later on, as the evening progressed, indicated that the above changes to the Platform were pushed by President Obama himself]
Only after all this, was the Invocation given by African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Vashti McKenzie (who had already addressed this Convention the night before as co-chair of the Credentials Committee);
the Presentation of Colors was by the West Charlotte (NC) Junior ROTC Color Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas. The National Anthem was performed by saxophonist Branford Marsalis
The first speaker of this session was Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois:
Tonight I want to celebrate a fundamental reason we are Democrats: we believe that America is never greater than when we protect the Rights we have won and strive to make real the call of our Founders to create a more perfect Union. We are never more American than when we demand that all people are treated with dignity and respect- we are never more patriotic than when we see a group of people being cast aside and say: "Stop". In America, we do not tolerate anyone being treated unfairly: we are truly American when we live up to our original promise of Liberty and celebrate those quintessentially American words, "all men are created equal"...
Now, America faces a stark choice: the future of a generation will be decided in this election- we cannot deny them. President Obama is protecting immigrants; Mitt Romney wants undocumented immigrants to "self deport". This election will determine whether high school valedictorians, football team captains and student council presidents will be treated with respect- or treated like suspects: whether they reach their dreams or whether Mitt Romney turns their dreams into nightmares.
This belief separates our Parties: Democrats have always been the Party of expanding the embrace of our democracy and humanity. It's not just dreamers: Democrats value all immigrants- Republicans blame undocumented immigrants for many of our problems. Democrats will fight for comprehensive immigration reform that keeps America secure while keeping immigrant families united: immigration reform stops the finger-pointing and allows immigrants to make America stronger.
He was followed by Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado:
My husband and I have raised two accomplished daughters... we didn't teach our daughters that they were second-class citizens: with proposal after proposal, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to make women second-class citizens again. We will not let that happen!...
The Romney/Ryan ticket promises to slash Planned Parenthood funding that helps women get affordable cancer screening and family planning services. Romney and Ryan support the so-called "Personhood Amendment" that would ban many forms of birth control, would ban all abortions (even in cases of rape, incest, or to save a mother's life), ban in vitro fertilization- which helps families have children of their own and would ban embryonic stem cell research, which holds the promise to cure so many diseases.
But, although these restrictions on Women's Rights are all Republican ideas- even in their Platform- my friends across the aisle now try to change the subject. "It's the Economy!" they cry- and they are right. When they break the guarantee of Medicare, it will hurt women and families right in the pocketbook; when they allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on the pre-existing condition of being a woman, it hits women and families right in the pocketbook...When they deny women access to birth control so we can plan when to have children, it hits women and families right in the pocketbook.
Reproductive freedom means economic freedom and that's what this debate is about. In short, the Romney/Ryan ticket would reverse more than a century of hard-fought progress for women. Mr. Romney, Mr. Ryan: the women of America have a message for you- we're not going back, we're going forward: forward with a President who understands and defends the rights and interests of American women!
Next up at the podium was California State Assembly Speaker John Perez:
Certainly, this close to the Election, much of our attention is focused on the nuts and bolts of victory: how we'll prevail in the swing districts and battleground States. But this Convention gives us the chance to discuss something much more important than how or where we fight- it gives us the chance to reflect on the question of why we fight: and the answer to that fundamental question can be summed up in one word- Opportunity...
That is the spirit of our Party and the guiding principle of President Obama. This election is our opportunity to rededicate ourselves to that commitment: our pathway to victory is to fight for everyone to have the opportunity to live for their American Dream- to fight for our proud national tradition of ensuring that our children will always enjoy more opportunities than their parents had: to fight to ensure that every person has the opportunities that come with being treated with dignity, respect, and equality in the eyes of the Law...
Opportunity is why we fight for Our Country: Opportunity is what our President fights for- and, in 61 days, Opportunity is why President Obama will win a second term.He was followed by Thomas Menino, the Mayor of Boston:
Mitt Romney may come from Boston but his campaign's values aren't Boston values because, in Boston, we know this country didn't become great by excluding folks and leaving each other on their own. In Boston, you know what we call immigrants? "Mom and Dad". You know what we call "same sex couples"? Our friends- our brothers and sisters. And, in Boston, we know Government isn't the answer or the enemy- it's our partner...
Now, Mitt Romney is a decent guy: as the Mayor of Boston, I worked with him when he was Governor. Much of the time, we worked together pretty well- but he made a lot of decisions that were bad for our State and now he wants to carry those wrong-headed policies to the rest of Our Country...
Think of me as a reference check: in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney had the one job in his life that's closest to being President and he wasn't all that good at it. Mitt Romney talked last week about broken promises- well: he would know! Even worse, Governor Romney is now running away from his major accomplishment- a Health Care reform that he called a model for the Nation.
Congresswoman Judy Chu of California then came to the podium:
No one ever said that achieving the American Dream was easy... The American Dream is why President Obama did what no President before had been able to do: ensure Health Care for all Americans. Despite all the good that President Obama has done, Republicans have attacked him at every step- they even turned Health Care reform into what they thought was a bad word: 'Obamacare'.
At first, I resented that term, but then I realized that this was the perfect phrase. 'Obamacare' is perfect because President Obama cares: Obama cares about the education of our children and the security of our seniors-Obama cares about our diverse communities: Obama cares about the Middle Class that makes America great.
She was followed by former California State Controller (and former eBay executive) Steve Westly:
Four years ago, President Obama pledged to double American exports by 2015: today, we're more than 60 percent of the way there... Mitt Romney and his Republican friends don't understand this 21st Century Economy: We open source- they outsource; we welcome the immigrants who build our businesses- Romney demands they "self-deport"; We're building an economy to last- they're chasing the last bubble.
Now came a video about the Obama Administration's policies and their relation to Small Business, after which Congressman John Larson of Connecticut, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, came forward to speak:
When I asked my dad why he worked so hard every day, he'd say: "Got to keep the eagle flying, son". Keeping the eagle flying was more than a metaphor for building the most dependable aircraft engines in the world- it was about pride: the pride of people who make things here in America; about the dignity of a fair wage for a hard day's work; about being able to send your kids to college; about getting good medical care and a secure retirement... Dad worried a lot... but knew his pension... was steadily growing and that Social Security and Medicare guaranteed that he and my mother could retire with dignity and security.
For years, paycheck after paycheck, my dad did his part, and- through his Social Security and Medicare contributions- paid it forward... Don't tell me- or any American- that that's a handout: it's insurance they've paid for!... What Republicans don't get is that, for many people like my family, this is personal!
Democrats get it. Together with President Obama, we passed Health Care reform to guarantee that every American has access to affordable care- and, by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse, we've added years to Medicare's life. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Republicans derisively call that 'Obamacare' Newsflash to the Republicans: Obama does care!... I know I'm preaching to the choir here but... it's the choir leads the singing.
Ken Myers, a Deputy Sheriff in Carroll County, Iowa now took to the podium:
Mitt Romney has talked about helping families: we help families every day, he declared. We need a President who fights for us: a President who stands up for the Middle Class jobs and the Middle Class communities. President Obama has our backs and, in this election, we have has.
The next speaker was Pedro Pierluisi, Resident Commissioner (who is the island Commonwealth's non-voting delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives) and Chair of National Community Mobilization for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
The President is a champion of comprehensive immigration reform and is preventing the deportation of thousands of young men and women who were brought here as kids, have played by the rules and have done nothing wrong: indeed, they are doing everything right by getting an education or serving in the military. But, if Mitt Romney gets into office, he has vowed to overturn that action and veto the Dream Act if it ever passes Congress.
The President has told the people of Puerto Rico that, when they express a clear desire to change their status, he will work to implement their will- and I know that Barack Obama will stand with my people the day they choose to have the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow American citizens.
Then came Congressman Steve Israel of New York, the Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Let me tell you something: House Democrats and President Obama will bet on America's Middle Class- we will protect that dream: that's the choice in this election. Remember who we fought for with a Democratic majority in the House and President Obama in the White House...
But that's not what America is getting from these Romney/Ryan Republicans: instead of fighting for Middle Class jobs here at home, they fought for tax breaks for big corporations sending jobs overseas... instead of reauthorizing the "Violence Against Women Act," they tried to redefine rape; instead of standing up for small businesses, they spent their time trying to shut down Planned Parenthood. And Mitt Romney sure liked what he saw: he picked the architect of this assault on the Middle Class to be his running mate!
Paul Ryan wrote the budget that turns Medicare into "voucher care" and could charge seniors $6,400 more every year, while funding tax breaks for millionaires. Here's their economic plan: if you're a millionaire, you win the lottery- if you're a senior, you lose your Medicare guarantee. They've had two years to put the Middle Class first- time's up. Folks, we're not going to convince them- we have to replace them.
He was followed by Senator Patty Murray of Washington State, the Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a very different vision for our Economy and it would mean a very different future for our Middle Class and everyone working to get into it. To them, every problem is a nail and the only hammer they have is cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires- they believe in this failed approach so deeply that they'll cut anything... to give the wealthiest Americans an even bigger break.
Their plan would cut away at the foundation of our great Nation- it would mean throwing in the towel on our Middle Class and we are not going to let them do it. Not with President Obama in the White House- and not with a strong Democratic majority having his back in the Senate.
Her presentation was followed by a video about the Obama Administration's policies as regards Energy which was, in turn, followed by Tom Steyer, the co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy an the founder of Farallon Capital Management coming up to the podium:
I think Mitt Romney and I share the same income bracket- although I guess we're never going to know. But the reason I'm here tonight is that Mitt Romney and I don't share the same vision for the future, especially when it comes to Energy. You see, this election is a choice- a choice about whether to go backward or forward and that choice is especially stark when it comes to Energy.
Take Mitt Romney's approach: Governor Romney would do nothing to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and much to increase it- he would gut President Obama's investments in clean energy. He wants to keep giving four billion taxpayer dollars to oil companies every year: the very same oil companies pouring millions into the outside groups backing his campaign. Or we could follow President Obama's long-term plan for the future for an Economy fueled by a safe, secure, sustainable energy supply.
Then it was time for the Official Photograph of the Convention (a period during which everyone present had to do their best to stand still for the few minutes required for the camera to pan the Convention Hall).
The next speaker was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, vice-chairman of the Senate Democratic Conference:
Today, families like the one I grew up in still believe in that American Dream but as President Obama says, it’s a make-or-break moment for the Middle Class.
Some say Mitt Romney would repeat the past: I disagree- he'd be worse!... The last Republican President tried to privatize Social Security: the Romney/Ryan ticket says, “Why stop with Social Security when you can privatize Medicare, too?” The last Republican President gave us an ultra-conservative Supreme Court: Mitt Romney would move the Court even further right...
Mitt Romney’s only bottom line is the one at the end of his own bank statement. The problem is that he confuses his own narrow, self-interest, and that of people like him, with the national interest. He thinks as long as we do right by the Mitt Romneys of the world, America will be just fine: we can’t afford a President with so narrow a perspective. We certainly want those at the top to do well but, if you base your entire Presidency and your entire economic platform on helping them do even better, you’re missing what makes the Economy tick.
He was followed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Congresswoman Karen Bass of California and Congressman Al Green of Texas both spoke briefly before giving way to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus:
We are the Party deeply committed to Diversity... There are some who make fun of us Democrats: they say we go too far with this "inclusion" stuff: they say that we have a caucus for tall people and a caucus for short people and a caucus for people who don't fit into the other caucus. Let me just tell you: God did not burden the United States with a diversity of backgrounds, ideals and religions- He blessed America with them! And, as such, we- the United States of America- is best able to demonstrate to the rest of the World what God intended when he created us: and we- in our diversity and all our differences- are all in this together!
Let me be clear: I'm not just talking about Black people! When I say "we", I'm not just talking about People of Color!... I not just talking about Democrats!... I'm not talking about anything but all of America!...
"We" means us- proud Americans: and, together, we must move the United States of America forward!
Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut next came forward to the podium:
I'm here to talk about America's choice in this election, so let me get right to the point: Mitt Romney has said that if he was President and Paul Ryan's budget passed, he would sign it into Law- that's what he said...
We Democrats have nothing against people who've earned their wealth: we salute their hard work and good fortune. But slashing what we invest in schools, in roads, in research and development, in clean energy and in the things that protect our most vulnerable just to cut taxes for those at the top is ridiculous and wrong! That's the Romney/Ryan budget- it isn't conservative: it's harsh, it's radical, and it's wrong. It would shred the safety net that protects the Middle Class and those striving to get there- it would undermine FDR's New Deal, unravel Harry Truman's Fair Deal and leave us with Mitt Romney's Raw Deal!...
We can- and should- ask every American to shoulder their fair share- not just the squeezed Middle Class, but also those at the very top who have done so well these past few years. We can- and should- invest in what will strengthen and grow the Middle Class: good schools, affordable Health Care, medical research, clean energy, modern roads and high-speed trains. That's what President Obama believes: that's what we Democratic Governors believe- and that's what we've done!
The next speaker was Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations):
Last week, Mitt Romney told us that he and his friends built America without any help from the rest of us. Well, let me tell you: Mitt Romney doesn’t know a thing about hard work or responsibility- we are the ones who built America: we are the ones who build it every single day because it is our work that connects us all... My friends, Our Country has a big job to do: we have to rebuild our Middle Class together. Our Economy works best when it works for everyone, not just a select few; Our History teaches us that shared prosperity is the only kind that lasts...
We know that the wealthiest and most powerful among us, those who have benefited most in recent years, must do their part to help rebuild America: prosperity requires economic security. We will stand with leaders who protect and strengthen Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid- not those who plan cuts to benefits working people have paid for, earned and are counting on... President Obama and Vice President Biden have put the country on the right path- toward jobs and shared prosperity: despite the obstruction they faced from a dishonest, politically motivated, economically challenged Republican majority in Congress.
We face a choice in November: between division and decline and unity and growth. We love Our Country: we built it. We defend it; we wake it up each morning; we make it run and we put it to sleep each night. Our Country needs unity- Our Country needs leadership: Our Country needs Barack Obama!
Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau was next to come to the podium:
Teachers do the noble work of educating our children- the work that matters and we can't thank them enough for the hard work they put in every day to ensure a bright future for all of us... President Obama knows that the value of Education is not just in the equations our students memorize or the books they read: for some students, school is the only place where they get a hot meal and a warm hug. Teachers are sometimes the only ones who tell our children they can go from an Indian Reservation to the Ivy League, from the home of a struggling single mom to the White House. Our schools are where we pass down our stories and our History.
After a short video presentation, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi came onto the dais:
Democrats believe in reigniting the American dream by removing barriers to success and building ladders of opportunity for all, so everyone can succeed... This year, we are determined to re-elect an extraordinary President who, in no ordinary time, led America back from the brink of Depression while Republicans tried to block him at every turn. This election offers the clearest choice of our time: many names are on the ballot- so, too, is the character of our country.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was the next to speak:
Last week, we heard folks at the other Convention say they want to "take Our Country back." But here's what I noticed: they didn't say back to what. Well, we know what backwards looks like- we know what happened to Middle Class families after two tax cuts for people who didn't need them: after deregulation of the banking and housing sectors- after the historic recession that followed.
And we know how far we've come... Today, President Obama is making smart investments in clean energy- wind, solar, biofuels- as part of an "all of the above" energy strategy that supports thousands of jobs, not in the Middle East, but in the Midwest.
Then came a presentation of the Democratic Women of the Senate, each of the 12 so currently serving being announced and then taking the stage in turn: the final one to take the stage was the next speaker- Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving female United States Senator in American History.
I was a social worker for Baltimore families: now I'm a social worker for families all over America... We know that every issue is a Women's Issue and Equal Pay for Equal Work is an all-American issue.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan now came to the podium:
Our President knows education is about jobs: it's about giving every child a shot at a secure Middle Class life. Right now, we're in a race for jobs and industries of the future: if countries like China out-educate us today, they'll out-compete us tomorrow. The President believes that Education begins at home with parents who take responsibility but he also believes that teachers matter...
And President Obama didn't just invest resources; he demanded reform... The President also believes teachers must be respected and paid like the professionals they are: no teacher should have to teach to the test- great teachers should be recognized and rewarded.
His remarks was followed by a film on the Obama Administration's policies as they relate to Education after which Johanny Adames of Miami, Florida- the subject of the film- came to the podium to speak to the Convention about how Pell Grants had helped her get an education and become a naturalized American citizen.
Former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt of North Carolina now came to the podium:
Teachers have the hardest and most important job in America: they are building Our Nation and, folks, we should appreciate them, respect them and we should pay them well!
Singer Jessica Sanchez with the God's Appointed People Choir now entertained the assembled.
This was followed by a film about the Obama Administration's policies as they relate to issues of Women's Health.
Elizabeth Ann "Libby" Bruce of Columbus, Ohio who- after telling her own story of how Planned Parenthood helped her discover a medical condition that might, otherwise, have left her sterile- introduced Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Two years ago, when John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Todd Akin and the Tea Party took control of the House of Representatives, they promised to create jobs and jump-start the economy. But, instead, on day one, they came after women's health. And they haven't let up since... And now, Mitt Romney is campaigning to get rid of Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade. This year, women learned that, if we aren't at the table, we're on the menu. So, this November, women are organizing, mobilizing and voting for the leaders who fight for us.
Nearly 100 years ago, when Planned Parenthood was founded, birth control was illegal... We've come so far. So why are we having to fight in 2012 against politicians who want to end access to birth control? It's like we woke up in a bad episode of Mad Men! Because, when Mitt Romney says he'll get rid of Planned Parenthood and turn the clock back on a century of progress, it has real consequences for the three million patients who depended on Planned Parenthood last year... Romney and Ryan are campaigning for women's votes by saying, "Women need our help": this is coming from two men who are committed to ending insurance coverage for birth control, who would turn women's Health Care decisions over to our bosses and who won't even stand up for equal pay for women...
The good news is: we already have a President who's on our side. President Obama understands women- he trusts women: and, on every issue that matters to us, he stands with women... Back in Texas, we say that you dance with them what brung you: President Obama brought women to this dance and we're staying with him all the way through November!
Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, House Minority Whip and Convention Parliamentarian was next at the dais:
A strong America depends on a successful and growing Middle Class and this election is a moment of truth for Middle Class families. The choice we have to make this fall is a critical one but I don't believe it's a difficult one.
Last week, Mr. Romney said he wished President Obama had succeeded when he took office: if so, he was alone in his Party. Let's review the history: Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said that Republicans' number one priority was the defeat of President Obama- not the defeat of terrorism, not the creation of jobs, not the reduction of our deficit and debt, not ensuring access to Health Care, not educating our children: but to simply defeat our President... they want to drown the captain and they're prepared to sink the ship to do so.
For four years, Republicans in Congress have pursued a strategy of confrontation, refusal to compromise and obstruction: that's why not a single House Republican voted for the law that brought our economy back from the brink- that's why President Obama's jobs plan was not even put to a vote in the House. Instead of trying to fix the problem, the Republicans unfortunately played Politics... These past four years, while President Obama was fighting for the Middle Class, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their Tea Party allies cared more about tearing down the President than building up America. They're hoping that we will forget that.
They're also hoping that we will forget their role in piling up a mountain of debt being left to our children and grandchildren. My friend Paul Ryan talks about fiscal responsibility but voted to put two wars on a credit card... and he voted against the balanced deficit reduction plan produced by a bipartisan commission- a fact he didn't tell you in his speech last week. He also didn't tell you that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to end the Medicare guarantee and turn it into a voucher, which would leave seniors with the increased costs; he also didn't tell you that President Obama has strengthened Medicare by taking away big subsidies to insurance companies and by tackling waste, fraud and abuse- that President Obama has saved seniors more than $4 billion on prescription drugs by closing the "donut hole" and that President Obama added years to the life of Medicare...
President Obama and Democrats are working tirelessly to move our country forward over the near unanimous opposition of Republican leaders and Republican members of Congress. The decision we have to make this November is simple: do we keep moving forward, or do we join the Romney/Ryan retreat and go back to the same failed policies of the past? Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been working hard to help Middle Class families make it in America: let's send them back to the White House with a Democratic House and Senate ready to get to work, ready to make tough choices, ready to meet our challenges head on.He was followed by a film about the Obama Administration's policies as they relate to Veterans' Affairs after which Edward Meagher of Great Falls, Virginia- a Vietnam War veteran who was the subject of this film- came to the podium to introduce retired U.S. Army General Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans' Affairs who now came to the podium:
No President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has done more for veterans: we could not ask for a stronger advocate. We've made tremendous progress under this President's leadership but there is much more to be done for the men and women who guarantee our way of life. They have served selflessly- with unmatched valor, sacrifice, and distinction- and President Obama is determined that we will repay the debt we owe them.
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado was next on the dais. Citing such recent difficult days in his State as those which produced wildfires and, then, the shootings inside that movie theater in Aurora, Hickenlooper praised President and Mrs. Obama: He and Michelle visited hospitals to comfort the families of loved ones killed and injured: they shared in our grief and brought a message of support on behalf of the entire country. We weren't Democrats or Republicans in that moment- we were simply Americans trying to help one another.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the Roman Catholic social justice organization NETWORK now stepped up to the podium:
Paul Ryan claims [his] budget reflects the principles of our shared Faith- but the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test: because it would harm families living in poverty. We agree with our bishops.
Another Governor Jack Markell of Delaware, addressed the assembled:
Mitt Romney says that he should be your President because he was a business executive. Now, I've got nothing against business executives running for office- after all, I am one... But, as someone who has been a businessman and a Governor, let me level with you: just because Mitt Romney was a successful private equity executive, that does not mean he deserves to be President- because, when you move from business to Government, what matters are the lessons you learn and what those lessons say about your priorities. And Mitt Romney learned all the wrong lessons: as an executive in private equity, Mitt Romney's focus was on the bottom line...
When you are a Governor- or the President- it's different. Your shareholders are teachers, construction workers, and hardware store owners- and your bottom line is not what goes into your pocket, but what goes into theirs. That's the difference... Mitt Romney saw the death of Detroit as good for investors: he couldn't see what the auto industry meant for the millions of Middle Class families who depend on those jobs.
And Barack Obama? He immediately understood what was at stake: he saw saving the auto industry as good for his shareholders- the American People. President Obama made the tough call and saved the auto industry.
Next on the podium was Karen Mills, Administrator of the Federal Small Business Administration:
From Day One, President Obama has made Small Business a top priority in his White House, giving them the tools they need to turn their dreams into small businesses and their small businesses into world-class companies- giving them help and then getting out of their way. President Obama understands that Small Business is the backbone of the Economy: after all, half of Americans who work own, or work for, a small business- they create two-thirds of all new jobs: small businesses are a big part of who we are.
This was followed by a film about the Obama Administration's policies as they have related to Small Business and then Bill Butcher- founder of Port City Brewing of Alexandria, Virginia came forward to speak briefly before Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, stepped up to the podium:
Let's get right down to business: we are here because we love Our Country and we firmly believe in the American ideal that Our Country should work for everyone: that ideal is written into our laws- the rules of the road that create a level playing field in this country... those are the rules Mitt Romney would have us roll back: he would roll back the rules that protect the air we breathe and the water we drink- roll back the rules that protect the health and safety of women and families: roll back the rules that prevent the kind of recklessness that got our Economy into this mess in the first place.
Well, I've seen all that happens when you roll back those rules: what happens are rows of 'Foreclosure' signs- what happens are mountains of family debt: what happens is a Middle Class that's hurting- that's what we've seen in towns across California and across this country. When it comes to the housing crisis, the choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is clear.
She was followed by a film about the Obama Administration's policies as they have related to Immigration which, in turn, was followed by the appearance of Benita Veliz of San Antonio, Texas- a DREAM Act advocate- at the podium who told the story of her having been brought to the United States as a child by illegal immigrants before introduced Cristina Saralegui, former host of the Spanish-language TV talk show 'Cristina':
If 2008 was an important election, it is nothing compared to 2012... like Benita, I know what it is like to come to this country at a young age: I was twelve years old when- like so many Cubans- my parents fled the Castro regime. Viva Cuba! For us, America meant Freedom: America was the place that said it doesn't matter where you come from- it doesn't matter what your last name is... here, if you work very hard, anything is possible...
For me, the American Promise- it's not just a dream, it's a promise- is not a theory, it's my life story... and that is what this election is about.
She was followed by Austin Ligon, the founder of CarMax:
We worked hard to build and conceive an idea for CarMax, but we didn't do it alone: we succeeded because we had intensely committed associates- healthy and flexible capital markets, good roads and bridges that let us move product rapidly- and cooperative Federal and local Governments that helped us have clear rules of the road and plan and grow our business. As a businessman, I know President Obama has what it takes to spark Economic Growth because I've seen him in action.
Next there was a short film about the Obama Administration's policies as they have related to the Auto Industry which was followed by Karen Eusanio - an assembly line worker at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio who spoke briefly before Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers union, came to the podium:
In some of America’s darkest economic days since the Great Depression, and in the face of tremendous political venom, President Obama met that true test of moral character. He stood up: not for what was popular and easy, but for what was right. He stood with American workers-not just autoworkers- but a million workers in towns all across America who, if the auto industry went under, wouldn't be able to put food on the table...
And Mitt Romney’s record? At Bain Capital, the corporate buyout firm he founded, too often he and his partners made their money not by building companies up, but by taking them apart. And too often, the workers ended up in the street, even as Romney and his partners walked away with millions.
Former employees of companies controlled by Bain Capital next came onto the dais: Randy Johnson (American Pad and Paper: Marion, IN) who declared that Mitt Romney had been making money without a moral compass: I fault him for putting profits above people by me, Cindy Hewitt (Dade Behring Medical Supply in Miami) said, of Romney's business experience, that it is not experience creating good paying jobs, it is experience in cutting jobs and David Foster a steelworker at GST Steel in Kansas City, Missouri also spoke briefly to the assembled.
The next speaker was Congressman Chris van Hollen of Maryland, Ranking Minority Member on the House Budget Committee chaired by Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan:
The Republicans had this gigantic clock in the arena showing the size of the National Debt. Paul told America: "If you elect Republicans, we can fix that"- but, if Paul Ryan was being honest, he would have pointed to that debt clock and said: "We built that"... When President Clinton left office, America had projected surpluses of trillions of dollars over the next decade. Then came two wars, two huge tax cuts tilted to the wealthy and a new entitlement: Republicans didn't pay for any of it- Paul Ryan voted for all of it... Congressman Ryan, America is- literally- in your debt...
And. last week, Paul Ryan criticized the president for not acting on the bipartisan plan that he himself opposed. Then, he said that President Obama doesn't have a plan to reduce the deficit. But the president does have a plan. Here it is. He submitted it to Congress. It's on the Internet... So when Paul Ryan told America that President Obama didn't have a plan, that was false. The truth is: he and Mitt Romney just don't like the president's plan- they both pledged that they would never ask millionaires to pay one more dime to reduce the deficit.
Sandra Fluke, a Public Interest Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center who got trashed by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh (who called her a "prostitute" because she was advocating for affordable Birth Control as an inherent part of a woman's health care plan [Limbaugh's argument was that Fluke was, effectively, asking to be paid so she could have sex: even though Birth Control pills- in particular- are used for purposes other than contraception]) was next at the podium:
Some of you may remember that, earlier this year, Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception. In fact, on that panel, they didn't hear from a single woman, even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman. Because it happened in Congress, people noticed. But it happens all the time: many women are shut out and silenced. So while I'm honored to be standing at this podium, it easily could have been any one of you. I'm here because I spoke out and, this November, each of us must do the same...
Your new President could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs, who won't stand up to the slurs or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own Party. It would be an America in which you have a new Vice-President who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms, an America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don't want and our doctors say we don't need- an America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again, in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help and which don't. We know what this America would look like. In a few short months, it's the America we could be- but it's not the America we should be: it's not who we are.
We've also seen another future we could choose: first of all, we'd have the right to choose. It's an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance; in which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives; in which we decide when to start our families- an America in which our President, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters- not his delegates or his donors- and stands with all women...
Over the last six months, I've seen what these two futures look like. And six months from now, we'll all be living in one, or the other- but only one: a country where our President either has our back or turns his back... We talk often about choice. Well, ladies- and gentlemen!- it's time to choose.
She was followed by Jim Sinegal, the co-founder of Costco:
Our small company has been blessed with success- huge success: I might say "bulk success"... In Tampa last week, we heard all about job-creators: but at our company we recognize that job creation requires time and investment and commitment to the long term - it requires companies that plant and grow, not executives that reap and run. That's how we do our part to build an Economy that lasts.
Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Massachusetts (who is running against Republican Senator Scott Brown who, in turn, had won the seat of the late Ted Kennedy in a Special Election back in early 2010) came forward to speak. She started out by praising former President Bill Clinton (who would be speaking after her) for having the good sense to marry one of the coolest women on the planet.
People feel like the system is rigged against them, Warren opined. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged... Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs- the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs- still strut around Congress with no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them. Anyone here have a problem with that? Well I do...
The Republican vision is clear: "I've got mine, the rest of you are on your own." Republicans say they don't believe in Government- sure they do! They believe in Government to help themselves and their powerful friends. After all, Mitt Romney's the guy who said corporations are people. No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters- that matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people. And that's why we need Barack Obama...
President Obama believes in a level playing field: he believes in a country where nobody gets a free ride or a golden parachute... President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do, and- I can't believe I have to say this in 2012- a country where women get equal pay for equal work. He believes in a country where everyone is held accountable: where no one can steal your purse on Main Street or your pension on Wall Street...
I grew up in the Methodist Church and taught Sunday school. One of my favorite passages of scripture is: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40. The passage teaches about God in each of us, that we are bound to each other and called to act: not to sit, not to wait, but to act- all of us together...
So let me ask you, America: are you ready to answer this call?... Are you ready to prove to another generation of Americans that we can build a better country and a newer world? Joe Biden is ready. Barack Obama is ready. I'm ready. You're ready. America's ready.
Permanent Chair Villaraigosa then came forward to announce that only one candidate had- under the rules of the Convention- qualified to be nominated for President of the United States. After a short film recounting his own campaign for the Presidency, former President Bill Clinton (to the Democratic Party that which Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey rock musicians- an unquestioned star) came to the podium to formally nominate Barack Obama for President before the Convention.
We are here to nominate a President and I've got one in mind, the former President began. 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 the 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 how many jobs that he had saved and created, there were still millions more waiting, trying to feed 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 a man who believes- with no doubt- 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 want Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States and I proudly nominate him to be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party.
In Tampa, a few days ago, we heard a lot of talk all about how the President and the Democrats don't believe in free enterprise and individual initiative, how we want everyone to be dependent on the Government, how bad we are for the Economy. This Republican narrative- this alternative universe- says that everyone of us in this room who amount to anything are completely self-made... We Democrats 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 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 produced 66 million private sector jobs. So, what's the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 [million]! Now, 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... 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 of us.
Now, there's something I've noticed lately- you probably have, too- and maybe it's 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. That would be impossible for me because President Eisenhower sent Federal troops to my home State to integrate Little Rock Central High: President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System...
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... because nobody's right all the time, and a broken clock is right 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...
One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation... He appointed Republican Secretaries of Defense, the Army and Transportation. He appointed a Vice President who ran against him in 2008... President Obama appointed several members to his Cabinet even though they supported Hillary in the Primaries. Heck, he even appointed Hillary!...
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 that could have been because- as the Senate Republican Leader said, in a remarkable moment of candor two full years before the election- their No. 1 priority was not to put America back to work, it was to put the President out of work! Senator, I hate to break it to you: but we're going to keep President Obama on the job.
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... In order to look like an acceptable, reasonable and moderate, alternative to President Obama, they just didn't say very much about the ideas they have offered over the last two years. They couldn't!- because they want to go back to the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place: they want to cut taxes for higher income Americans even more than President Bush did; to get rid of those pesky financial regulations designed to prevent another crash and prohibit future 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; to make enormous cuts in the rest of the budget, especially programs that help the Middle Class and poor children. As another President once said: "there they go again!".
Now, 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 innovators. Now, are we where we want to be today? No. Is the president satisfied? Of course not. Are we better off than we were when he took office?... When President Obama took office, the Economy was in free fall- it had just shrunk 9 full percent of GDP- we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. Are we doing better than that today? The answer is 'yes'...
A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this Economy... employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again and, in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up, but too many people do not feel it yet... President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did... No President- not me, not any of my predecessors- no one could have repaired all the damage he found in just four years... but, if you'll renew the President's contract, you will feel it...
In 2010, as the President's recovery program kicked in, the job losses stopped and things began to turn around. The Recovery Act saved and created millions of jobs and cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people. In the last 29 months the Economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. But, last year, the Republicans blocked the President's jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs. So here's another jobs score: President Obama plus 4.5 million, congressional Republicans zero.
Over that same period, more than more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama- the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s. The auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs- not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country: that's why even auto-makers that weren't part of the deal supported it- they needed to save the suppliers too. Like I said, we're all in this together. Now there are 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than the day the companies were restructured. Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here's another jobs score: Obama 250,000, Romney, zero...
President Obama's "all of the above" energy plan 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. Renewable energy production has also doubled. We do need more new jobs, lots of them, but there are already more than three million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly because the applicants don't have the required skills. We have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are being created in a world fueled by new technology. That's why investments in our people are more important than ever...
That brings me to Health Care: the Republicans call it 'Obamacare' and say it's a government takeover of health care that they'll repeal. Are they right? Let's look at what's happened so far: individuals and businesses have secured more than a billion dollars in refunds from their insurance premiums because the new law requires 80 percent to 85 percent of your premiums to be spent on Health Care, not profits or promotion. Other insurance companies have lowered their rates to meet the requirement: more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time because their parents can now carry them on family policies... Soon the insurance companies, not the Government, will have millions of new customers- many of them Middle Class people with pre-existing conditions and, for the last two years, Health Care spending has grown under 4 percent, for the first time in 50 years. So are we all better off because President Obama fought for it and passed it? You bet we are!
There were two other attacks on the President in Tampa that deserve an answer. Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion. Here's what really happened: there were no cuts to benefits- none! What the President did was save money by cutting unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that weren't making people any healthier: he used the savings to close the "donut hole" in the Medicare drug program and to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund: it's now solvent until 2024. So President Obama and the Democrats didn't weaken Medicare, they strengthened it. When Congressman Ryan looked into the TV camera and attacked President Obama's "biggest coldest power play" in raiding Medicare, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You see: that $716 billion is exactly the same amount of Medicare savings Congressman Ryan had in his own budget.... it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did!
At least on this one, Governor Romney's been consistent: he wants to repeal the savings and give the money back to the insurance companies, re-open the "donut hole", forcing seniors to pay more for drugs, and reduce the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years. So now- if he's elected and does what he's promised- Medicare will go broke by 2016. If that happens, you won't have to wait until their voucher program to begins in 2023 to see the end of Medicare as we know it. But it gets worse. They also want to block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming decade. Of course, that will hurt poor kids, but that's not all. Almost two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for seniors and on people with disabilities, including kids from Middle Class families with special needs like Down syndrome or autism. I don't know how those families are going to deal with it. We can't let it happen- we can't!
Now let's look at the Republican charge 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. Here's what happened: when some Republican Governors asked to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama Administration listened and said they could only do it if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent. You hear that? The requirement was more work, not less! So the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform's work requirement is just not true. But they keep running ads on it. As their campaign pollster said "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Now that is true: I couldn't have said it better myself- I just hope you remember that every time you see the ad.
Let's talk about the debt. We have to deal with this long-term debt problem or it will deal with us. President Obama has offered a plan with $4 trillion in debt reduction over a decade, with $2 of spending reductions for every $1 of revenue increases, and tight controls on future spending... I think the President's plan is better than the Romney plan because the Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility: the numbers just don't add up. It's supposed to be a debt reduction plan but it begins with $5 trillion in tax cuts over a 10-year period. That makes the debt hole bigger before they even start to dig out. They say they'll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the Tax Code. When you ask "which loopholes and how much?" they say, "See me after the election on that."
People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic!
If they stay with a $5 trillion tax cut in a debt reduction plan, the arithmetic tells us that one of three things will happen:
1. 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 bill go up $2,000 year while people making over $3 million a year get will still get a $250,000 tax cut; or
2. they'll have to cut so much spending that they'll obliterate the budget for our national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel; or they'll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education and other programs that help Middle Class families and poor children, not to mention cutting investments in roads, bridges, science, technology and medical research; or
3. they'll do what they've been doing for thirty plus years now- cut taxes more than they cut spending, explode the debt, and weaken the Economy. Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt over the 12 years before I took office and doubled it over the 8 years after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down!
President Obama's plan cuts the debt, honors our values, and brightens the future for our children, our families and Our Nation.
My fellow Americans, you have to decide what kind of country you want to live in. If you want a "you're on your own", winner take all society you should support the Republican ticket- if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities- a "we're all in it together" society- you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden...
I love our country- and I know we're coming back. For more than 200 years, through every crisis, we've always come back- stronger than we went in: and we will again as long as we do it together. We champion the cause for which our Founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor- to form a more perfect Union. If that's what you believe, if that's what you want, we have to re-elect President Barack Obama.
After he had finished speaking, President Clinton was joined by the incumbent in the White House- Barack Obama himself- on stage (for what was, in the main, a necessary photo op of the last two Democratic Presidents together- seemingly on the same page).
Permanent Chair Villaraigosa who came to the podium and joined the delegates already chanting "We're all fired up!" before asking for second to President Obama's name having been put up for nomination.
Convention Secretary Alice Germond now came forward to conduct the ROLL CALL OF THE STATES re: the PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION.
When OHIO (after having been yielded to by MISSISSIPPI) put President Obama over the minimum needed to nominate a presidential candidate, there was a brief- rather subdued- celebration on the floor before the Roll Call was immediately resumed.
After the ROLL CALL was completed, Permanent Chair Villaraigosa returned to the podium and entertained a motion to make President Obama's nomination unanimous which was approved by the Convention viva voce. The Benediction was delivered by Rabbi David Wolpe of Temple Sinai in Los Angeles, California, after which Chairman Villaraigosa entertained a motion to recess which was approved viva voce-- it was 1:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time (0502 GMT) on Thursday 6 September.