Here is the video clip of Bill Clinton's
Speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Scroll down for the transcript
It follows the full transcript of
Bill Clinton's Speech at the Democratic National
Convention in Charlotte, N.C. —
September 5, 2012.
Now, Mr. Mayor, fellow Democrats, we are here to
... 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 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.
You know... 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.
Now, folks, in Tampa a few days ago,
we heard a lot of talk ... 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:
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.
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 of us.
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.
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
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.
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 are here.
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 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
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
One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect
President Obama is that he is still committed to
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 did a great job with
Obama appointed several members of his cabinet,
even though they supported Hillary in the
primary. Heck, he even appointed Hillary.
Now, wait a minute. I am very proud of
her. I am proud of the job she and the national
security team have done for America.
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
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
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!
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 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 --
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 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 place.
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
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
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) 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?
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.
But 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 years.
Now, but 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
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 the
And I'll tell you something else. The auto
industry restructuring worked.
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 together.
So what's happened? There are now 250,000 more
people working in the auto industry than on the
day the companies were restructured.
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. Romney: zero.
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 those jobs.
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 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 he did.
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?
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
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
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 all, none.
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
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 cry 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 attacked President Obama, too, but he
actually wants to repeal those savings and give
the money back to the insurance company.
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 poor kids.
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, including a lot of middle-class families whose kids
have Down's syndrome or autism or other severe
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
Now, wait a minute. Let's look...
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four
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
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 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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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 $250,000.
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
office 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'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 every American to vote and you think it is
wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of
younger, poorer, minority, and disabled voters,
you should support Barack Obama.
And 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 Obama.
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
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 perfect union.
My fellow Americans, if that is what you want,
if that is what you believe, you must vote and
you must re-elect President Barack Obama.