First of all, I want to thank, uh, the other entertainers who are here today, uh, a great friend and an extraordinary musician, Ben Harper. Please give it up for Ben. Tony, uh, Tony nominee (unintelligible.) Give it up for Raul. Before they walk off the stage, please give a big round to the band. Come on out here. Take a bow, guys. Thank you so much. And for one of the greatest singers of our generation, and entertainers, Barbra Streisand.
You know, this, uh, this should be a celebratory evening. We’ve got, we’ve got 48 days to go in the campaign, a campaign that started 19 months ago, at a time when a lot of folks thought we might not get here. Uh, they were skeptical that we could raise the money. They didn’t think we had the support. There was a sense that this skinny kid with a funny name, uh, you know, might not have what it took. But a lot of you out here said yes we can. And 19 months later, yes we can. And 48 days from now, yes we will.
So this should be a celebratory, but the truth is that, uh, I’m in a different mood tonight, um, partly because, uh, we just saw this week, uh, uh, a storm sweep through the Gulf, and there are millions of people without power, tens of thousands of people without a place to live. Uh, here in Los Angeles, there was a tragedy that, uh, took the lives of so many. Uh, and over the last couple of days, we’ve seen reports of the worst financial crisis that we’ve had in generations. Uh, and we don’t yet know how it’s going to play itself out. But what we know is that in addition to the storms that have been happening in the Gulf, and the tumult that’s been happening on Wall Street, a whole lot of Americans have been going through their own quiet storm. Long before it hit Wall Street, long before it hit the financial phase, wages were flat, incomes were declining, people were working harder and harder just to get by. Uh, they were losing jobs as plants shut and equipment was shipped overseas and people lot not just their jobs but their health care, their pensions and their sense of dignity, their sense of self-worth. Uh, all across this country, there are children languishing in poverty, and there are children who, uh, are children of middle class yet are finding themselves unable to finance their college education. All across America there are people who have worked all their lives, done everything right, and yet find themselves at the age of 55 or 60, uh, without health care, and without any savings to retire on. And they ask themselves what went wrong? What happened? How did we find, find ourselves, uh, in this situation? And all around the world, people, uh, are looking at America and wondering, um, you know, what’s happened to that, that bright and shining light, uh, that, that has stood for what’s best in the world, opportunity and, and, and unity and, and prosperity and freedom and due process and, uh, a Constitution that will respect and provide…
So I’m not in a celebratory mood. We are, uh, in a defining moment in our history. Our nation’s involved in two wars, our economy is in crisis, um, but more than that, we feel, all of us, that somehow we’ve gotten badly off track, and that, uh, unless we do something about it, unless we seize this moment, that we may be passing on an America to our children that is less prosperous, maybe meaner, uh, more divided than the country we inherited from our parents. And there’s something perverse about that. It’s the reverse of the American dream. It’s the reverse of what is best and essential in this country, which has always been that we’ve been willing to work hard and sacrifice to ensure that the next generation has it better. And that’s the spirit that you still see in the American people. That’s what I see in diners and VFW halls and on, on farms and in factories all across America. Uh, and yet, as hard as people are working, as determined as they are to make it for their families, as willing as they are to contribute to their communities, they feel this complete disconnection from government, the sense that nobody’s hearing them, nobody’s fighting for them, that, that, that, that the, that the, the game has gotten fixed, that the game’s gotten fixed for the insiders and the power brokers and the insiders, that even in the midst of the kind of economic crisis that we’re seeing right now, that somehow, uh, they’re the ones who are going to end up suffering the most.
So there’s enormous cynicism about the possibilities of government, and, and, and rightfully so, because Washington over the last eight years has been in the grips of what George Bush called the ownership society, but, uh, what really translates into the you’re on your, you’re on your own philosophy, you know? If you, uh, lost your job, tough luck. You’re on your own. You don’t have health care? Suck it up. You’re on your own. Born into poverty? Didn’t choose the right parents? Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You’re on your own. It, it, it, that, uh, we, we’ve become almost numb to this, this accepted wisdom in Washington, uh, and in the White House that, uh, that there’s no role for government to provide people with the ladders, the steps to get into the middle class and stay in the middle class, and, and, and lift up their sights and achieve their dreams. And, and I think there’s something wrong about that. And it turns out that, uh, when we started this campaign, uh, my bet was that the American people did, too, and that if we could tap into that spirit, if we could tap into the sense you have in your gut that we can be doing better than we’re doing right now, that as daunting as it might be, as hard as the status quo might fight against us, that as long as, as, as deeply entrenched as the special interests might be, uh, that this might be one of those turning points, and one of those crossroads, one, one of those forks in the road where we could get America back on, uh, uh, a path that, that inspires us, that excites us.
Well you know what? With 48 days to go, we can do that. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States, and that’s why you’re here tonight, because all of us believe that we are going to seize this moment, and we’re not just going to win the White House, we’re going to change this country. That’s what this evening’s about. Now it’s going to require some hard work. It’s not going to be easy, because, uh, even as people have gotten cynical about politics, politics itself has become, uh, this game, this sport, uh, full of distractions and distortions and tit for tat. And over the last several weeks, we’ve been seeing ample example of what this kind of politics is. It’s all about lipstick and pigs, and it’s understandable that John McCain has gone down this path, because, uh, if you don’t have new ideas, then you rely on the old politics. And what we’ve been seeing is an old politics to hide the fact that, uh, my opponent essentially wants to implement the same policies we’ve had over the last eight years, same tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, leaving the middle class out of luck, uh, that, uh, the same absence of a strategy to boost our education system so that every child can compete in this new global economy, the same, uh, indifference to millions of people without health care, and, and the burden that rising health care cost places on businesses large and small, uh, the same, uh, the same misguided attitude when it comes to the war in Iraq, even as we neglect a war that has to be won in Afghanistan, and bin Laden is setting up, uh, safe havens in camps where he’s training to potentially attack America once again.
Um, on, on the central issues of this election, there is not a dime’s bit of difference between George Bush and John McCain. Not…the same attitude with respect to regulation, that says that oh, the market takes care of itself, so that whether it’s sub-prime lending or cooking the books or piling up debt and risks that now are manifesting themselves in, uh, we don’t know yet what, um, that that’s sort of the philosophy we have. The market’s king and, and that the government deregulates and doesn’t worry about it. So, so it’s not surprising since there are no new ideas there that we’ve been seeing a lot of the old politics. Uh, and you know what? Let’s face it, in the past, it’s worked. Uh, I mean, my opponents, they, uh, they’re not very good at governing, but they’re pretty good at, and that, that they’re pretty good at, at running elections. Uh, but you know what’s been interesting over the last couple of, uh, couple of days, I think some of you may have noticed this, because you know, you guys get nervous, the election’s close and, whenever I come to L.A., I hear a lot of suggestions about, um, what we should be doing, and we get a lot of scripts for TV ads that this is going to be the killer, this is the one that’s going to put you over the top. But I don’t know if you’ve noticed that in the last couple of days, uh, that suddenly, the coverage has changed because what happens when times are, are really tough is that people are reminded this is not a sitcom, it’s not a reality show, that we need leadership that understands what this 21st Century economy requires, that understands the nature of 21st Century threats, uh, that recognizes, recognizes that the world has changed and will continue to change, and we have to change with it. And we have to change in a way that’s reflective of our values. We have to change to make sure that the American promise doesn’t slip away.
Uh, and that’s why people wonder sometimes you know, he seems pretty calm. And the reason I’m calm is because I have confidence in the American people, that when they focus their attention on this election, that they see that we have a choice between more of the same economic neglect than we, and policies that are absolutely going to lift up the middle class and give them a chance. When people see the choice between the same broken health care system and a system that would provide a portable health care to every single American, when they see a choice between substandard schools and reforms that pay our teachers more and invest in early childhood education, that make college affordable for every young person in American, when they see a choice between a continuation of a war that has not made us more safe, and an end to this war in Iraq so we can start dealing with al Qaeda but also reinvesting in America, when they see a choice between an, an administration and a president and a White House that is abiding by the Constitution, that believes in civil rights and due process and habeas corpus, and one that does not, when we, when the American people see that choice, I trust that they will make the right choice. And our job in the next 48 days is to make that choice crystal clear, so there’s no ambiguity, that you can put a slogan with change on the same old policies, and the American people will not be tricked? They know what is real change and what is just a bunch of politicking and repackaging.
But I need you to do it. I’m not going to be able to do this alone. We are going to need everybody to decide that over the next 48 days, we are not going to allow, uh, a, a small politics when we need big ideas. So I’m going to need everybody here to understand this is not the end. You know, it’s nice to have Barbra singing, and it’s nice to have Ben and Raul performing. But that’s not what this is about. This is about a struggle for the future, it’s about the struggle for the next generation. It’s about who we are as a country, and who we are as a people, and this is a serious fight, and I intend to win it, but I’m going to need your help. And I need you to knock on doors and I need you to make phone calls. I need you to e-mail your friends. I need you to keep on going out there and arguing and fighting. And if you do that, then I guarantee you we’re not just going to win this election, but we are going to spend the next four years transforming this country, and making sure that we’ve got a better world for our children and our grandchildren. Thank you very much, Los Angeles. I love you. Good night.