Remarks from President Barack Obama and Former President Bill Clinton at Barack on Broadway Fundraiser

By Andrew Gans
05 Jun 2012

President Obama addresses the audience

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) It is good to be back on Broadway! (Applause.) But before I get to this unbelievable opening act -- (laughter) -- let me thank my producer. That’s usually what you do when you’re on Broadway. (Laughter.) Margo Lion has been such a great friend of mine for so long. (Applause.) Bill, during the campaign, Margo set up I think a couple of these.

And for all those who performed tonight, I could not be more grateful and more appreciative. Many of you have put in a lot of time and effort, not just this time out but last time out. And it is just a great joy to be with all of you. But Margo especially -- I just want to give her a public acknowledgment because she has been a great friend. (Applause.)

Before we get to the some of the more serious items, I do want to just share a quick story about Margo. Shortly after I had been elected -- Bill can relate to this -- the Secret Service bubble shrinks and it starts really clamping down. (Laughter.) And the thing that you miss most when you’re President -- extraordinary privilege, and really nice plane and all kinds of stuff -- (laughter) -- but suddenly, not only have you lost your anonymity, but your capacity to just wander around and go into a bookstore, or go to a coffee shop, or walk through Central Park.



So I was saying -- it was a beautiful day and I had just been driving through Manhattan, and I saw Margo. And I said, you know, I just desperately want to take a walk through Central Park again, and just remember what that feels like. But the problem is, obviously, it’s hard to do now. And so my idea has been to see if I was -- if I got a disguise -- (laughter) -- could I pull this off. (Laughter.)

And so Margo thought about it, and about a week later I got this fake moustache -- (laughter) -- that I guess she got from one of the makeup artists on Broadway. And I tried it on and I thought it looked pretty good. (Laughter.) But when I tested this scheme with the Secret Service, they said it didn’t look good enough. (Laughter.)

But I kept it. I have kept this moustache just in case in the second term I -- (laughter and applause.) So if you -- so if a couple years from now you see a guy with big ears and a moustache -- (laughter) -- just pretend you don’t know who it is. Just look away. (Laughter.) Eating a hotdog, you know. (Laughter.) Going through the -- you know.

President Obama and former President Clinton

I want to thank Bill Clinton – (applause) -- not only for the extraordinary support that he’s shown tonight and the support he’s showing throughout this campaign, not only for the fact that he is as good at breaking down what’s at stake at any given moment in our history, his inexhaustible energy and knowledge, the work that he’s doing around the world on behalf of folks in need -- but I also want to thank him for his legacy. (Applause.) Because in many ways Bill Clinton helped to guide the Democratic Party out of the wilderness –- (applause) -- and to lay the groundwork for a sensible, thoughtful, common-sense, progressive agenda that is important to remember at this moment.

When many of us came together in 2008, we came together not just because of me. In fact, folks weren’t sure whether I was going to win. When you support a guy named Barack Hussein Obama, the odds are always -- (laughter) -- a little long. But we came together because of a shared commitment we made to each other as American citizens, a basic compact that defines this country -- that says if you're willing to work hard, if you're willing to take responsibility, then there's nothing you can't accomplish. It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, whether you're black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, able, disabled -- it doesn’t matter -- that you've got a stake in this country. You've got a claim on this country. (Applause.) And if you're willing to work hard, you can make it if you try in the United States of America. (Applause.)

And in 2008, we understood that that compact seemed like it was eroded. A few people were doing very well, but more and more people seemed to be struggling to get by. We had squandered a surplus on tax cuts for folks who didn’t need them and weren't even asking for them. (Applause.) We had paid for two wars on a credit card. Because we hadn't enforced basic rules of the marketplace, we saw more and more of our economy built on speculation and financial schemes that were inherently unstable. And it all came crashing down in the worst crisis that we've seen in our lifetimes.

But part of the reason why we understood both what was possible and what had been lost was because of our memories of Bill Clinton's tenure as President -- (applause) -- and our recognition that there's no contradiction between growing an economy and making sure that everybody is taking part -- in fact, that’s how you grow an economy, is because you're giving everybody a shot and everybody is doing their fair share, and everybody is playing by the same set of rules.

We understood there’s no contradiction between economic growth and caring for our environment; that, in fact, if we make smart investments in clean energy, that’s an entire industry of the future that can put people back to work.

We understood that there wasn’t a contradiction between being fiscally responsible, but also making sure that kids got Head Start, kids could go to college, and we were investing in basic science and basic research. This wasn’t some fantasy of ours. This wasn’t some pie in the sky, wild imaginings. We'd seen it. We knew it was possible. And that’s what we fought for.

Of course, we didn’t know at the time that we were going to see this incredible crisis -- 3 million jobs lost in the six months before the election, and 800,000 lost the month I was sworn into office.

But here’s one thing we understood. The campaign taught us this -- the incredible resilience and the incredible strength of the American people. (Applause.) And so part of what allowed us to fight our way out of this hole was some tough decisions that we made -- to save the auto industry even when some people said, let’s let Detroit go bankrupt -- (applause) -- and getting management and workers together to save over a million jobs. And now GM is back on top. The American auto industry is making better cars than ever. (Applause.)

We made tough decisions to make sure that credit was flowing again to businesses large and small, and they could keep their doors open and start hiring again and make investments again in the future. And we’ve seen over 4 million jobs created. We’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created at any time since the 1990s.

And so, in part, the reason that we have been weathering this storm was because of some tough policies, but the right policies. But a lot of it just had to do with the resilience of the American people. They don’t give up. They don’t quit. So some 55-year-old gets laid off and they decide, you know what, I’m going to back to school. I’m going to get myself retrained to find the job of the future. I’m not giving up. A small business owner, they patch together whatever money they can to keep their doors open and to make sure that they can keep their employees on, even if it means maybe they don’t get paid for a while, even if it means that the owner of that business is having to scrimp. That’s how much they care about their employees.

Folks decided, you know what, we were going to retire at 65, but maybe we’re going to have to work an extra five years because I’m going to make sure my child or my grandchild gets to go to college. All kinds of decisions like that made all across America.

And so after this incredible crisis, America is moving in the right direction. We’re not there yet; we’re not where we need to be. There are still too many people out there who are looking for work, too many homes that are still underwater, too many kids in poverty who still don't see prospects for the future. But we started to right the ship and we’ve moving in the direction that we imagined in 2008.

And that is why this election in a lot of ways is even more important than the last one, because as hard as we’ve worked over the last four years, as much as we’ve done to start rebuilding a country that's not built on how much we consume or some sort of Ponzi schemes, but built on what we’re producing and what we’re making, and the skills of our people, and the ingenuity of our scientists, and the risk-taking of our entrepreneurs -- after all that work that we’ve done, the last thing we’re going to do is to go back to the very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. We’re not going backwards. (Applause.) We’re not going backwards, New York! We intend to go forwards! nd that's why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States of America. (Applause.) We’re not going back.

AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

 Continued...