Yesterday, President Obama spoke to a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
If you’ve been marching for criminal justice reform, that’s great. But you know what, you better vote for a President and a Congress who actually care about disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. Protests aren’t enough if you’re not voting. You’ve been marching for the environment and to do something about climate change — I’ve heard you. But you better vote for the next President and Congress believing in science, and who will protect the progress we’ve made so we can leave behind a world that we’re proud of for our children.
If you want more good jobs, you want to have a higher minimum wage, you want help with respect to student loans — don’t just sit there and complain. Don’t just sit there in the barber shop and the beauty shop and watching the Tar Heels and say, you know, politics is all messed up, but what’s the score. No, no, no. You can watch the game after you vote.
And the good news is, you’ve got a proof point. You know it works. You know it works because so many of you voted in ’08. And it’s because of you that millions of people have health care today that didn’t have it before. It’s because of you that millions of young people are going to college that couldn’t afford it before. It’s because of you that a Marine can serve his country without hiding the husband he loves. It’s because of you that more young immigrants came out of the shadows and are serving our country.
North Carolina, I’m asking you today what I asked of you eight years ago. I’m just asking you to believe not in my abilities to change, not even just in Hillary’s ability to bring about positive change. I’m asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change. I am not on the ballot, but I tell you what, fairness is on the ballot. Decency is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Progress is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot right now.
And Hillary gives you a chance to advance our democracy. But you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure everybody votes — your friends, your family, your cousins, your uncle, your neighbors, your coworkers. Tell them this is the moment where America stands up for our best selves. Stand up and reject cynicism. Stand up and reject fear.
Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Vote!
Full transcript below.
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Raleigh, North Carolina
3:44 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, North Carolina! (Applause.) Hello, Tar Heels! (Applause.) Are you fired up? (Applause.) Are you ready to go? (Applause.) It is good to be back in Chapel Hill. I love me some North Carolina. (Applause.) I do. I said this before. I love North Carolina. I love the state. I love the people. I love the basketball. (Applause.) I mean, I — you know, I always say that North Carolina, that’s one place where even the people who don’t vote for me are nice. (Laughter.) It’s true. Just good people. Just good people.
And we got a beautiful summer day in November. I know you guys are a little hot, so make sure everybody kind of bends their knees. Don’t stand up too stiff. If anybody faints, just give them a little room. They’ll be okay. Hydrate. I don’t mean to sound like your mom or your dad.
So can everybody please give Isabel a big round of applause for the wonderful introduction. (Applause.) We have a couple of outstanding members of Congress here. G.K. Butterfield is here. (Applause.) And David Price is here. (Applause.) One of the finest public servants in North Carolina history, your former Governor, Jim Hunt, is in the house. (Applause.) Your current Attorney General and your next Governor, Roy Cooper, is here. (Applause.) And your next United States Senator, Deborah Ross, is here. (Applause.) And you’re here too. (Laughter.) Somebody hollered, what about me? I was like, you guys are here too. And I’m going to talk about you and how much this country is going to depend on you over these next few days.
I want to thank all the organizers who are here. I know you’ve helped rally tens of thousands of volunteers and registered more than 100,000 voters right here in North Carolina. (Applause.) And it is that grassroots work that led us to win North Carolina in 2008. And you are why we will win North Carolina in 2016. (Applause.)
And we got six days — six days.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Love you, Obama!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you, too. But I got some business I got to do here. (Laughter.) I’ll give you a hug on the way out. (Applause.) But right now, we got to focus on some business. Not business — but business. We got six days — six days to decide the future of this country that we love. And the good news is, you don’t have to wait until Election Day to do the right thing. You can vote right now. If you’re not registered, you have until Saturday to register and vote at any One-Stop location in your county. If you don’t know where to go, then go to IWillVote.com — IWillVote.com. You can find the One-Stop location near you, and we can finish what we started eight years ago.
Now, some of you, eight years ago, were 10. (Applause.) You know who you are. So you may not remember exactly where we were as a country. When I visited Raleigh in the final days of the 2008 campaign, we were living through two long wars; we were in the early days of the worst economic crisis in 80 years. People had lost their homes, their jobs. Their 401(k)s had crashed. Their home values were sinking. The economy was teetering on the edge of a Great Depression.
But we turned the page. We’ve seen America battle back. Last year, incomes rose faster than at any time since at least 1968. Poverty fell at the fastest rate since at least 1968. Businesses turned job losses into 15 million new jobs. Twenty million more people have health insurance who didn’t have it before. (Applause.) We kicked our addiction to foreign oil, doubled our production of renewable energy, became the world’s leader in fighting climate change, brought home more of our men and women in uniform, took out Osama bin Laden, made sure that in all 50 states people have the freedom to marry who they love. (Applause.) We did that! That’s what we did over these last eight years. That’s what you helped to make happen.
And as I’ve traveled across all 50 states, as I’ve gone to big cities and small hamlets, what I have always seen is what makes America great — and that is its people. I have seen you — Americans of every faith, every race, every party, who know that we’re stronger together. People young and old; men, women; gay, straight; Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; folks with disabilities — all pledging allegiance to the red, white, and blue.
That’s the America I know. That’s the America we love. And there’s only one candidate in this race who has devoted her entire life to lifting up that better America — and that is next President of the United States, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.) She’s the right person. She’s the right person at the right time.
But keep in mind, North Carolina, all the progress that we’ve made over the last eight years, all the progress we hope to make over the next eight years — all of that goes out the window if we don’t win this election. And we don’t win this election, potentially, if we don’t win North Carolina.
So I hate to put a little pressure on you, but the fate of the Republic rests on your shoulders. (Laughter.) The fate of the world is teetering, and you, North Carolina, are going to have to make sure that we push it in the right direction. (Applause.)
Now, I know that at the end of a campaign, you must be tired of TV commercials. There are so many negative ads, and there’s so much noise, and there are so many distractions. And everything is — every day is just hysteria and over-the-top coverage. And at a certain point, there’s a temptation to want to just tune it out. You kind of feel overdosed. Even those of us in politics sometimes feel like, I’ve had enough politics. (Laughter.) I understand the feeling, I promise you.
But I want you to push away the noise for a second and just focus on the choice you face in this election — because the truth is, the choice, if we put aside all the noise, all the distractions, all the hype, all the nonsense — if you push all that away, this choice actually could not be simpler, it could not be clearer. It really couldn’t. (Applause.)
Okay, we got somebody who fell, which is what I expected. Give them some room. Make sure they get a little water. And if the emergency medical is available, just make sure that you know that there is somebody down right here in the middle. They’ll be okay. They’ll be okay. It happens all the time.
Now — okay, but hold on a second, I’m still focused on business. (Laughter.) Not business — business.
This choice actually is pretty clear, because the guy that the Republicans nominated — even though a bunch of them knew they shouldn’t nominate him — the guy they nominated who many of the Republicans he is running against said was a con-artist and a know-nothing and wasn’t qualified to hold this office — this guy is temperamentally unfit to be Commander in Chief and he is not equipped to be President. (Applause.)
And this should not be a controversial claim. It really shouldn’t. I mean, it’s strange how, over time, what is crazy gets normalized and we just kind of assume, well, you know what, he said a hundred crazy things, so the hundred-and-first thing we just don’t even notice.
But think about it. This is somebody who claims to be a great businessman. But I will tell you, I know a lot of businesspeople, right here in North Carolina and all across the country, who’ve done really, really well without stiffing small businesses or workers out of what they owed them. (Applause.) We don’t have a history of somebody who refuses to release any tax returns at all. And maybe it’s because he’s not as rich as he says he is. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t paid federal income taxes in years. Now, this is something he said — this is not me making it up — he hasn’t paid a dime. Not for our troops, not for our veterans, not for our great universities, not for our community colleges, not for building roads, not for maintaining our National Parks, not for any of the things that help keep America the greatest nation on Earth. (Applause.)
He says he’ll be his own foreign policy advisor. He says he can do that because he has a “good brain.” Now, that is contestable. (Laughter.) But what I can tell you is, we can’t afford a President who suggests that America should torture people, or that we should ban entire religions from our country. (Applause.) We deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who insults POWs, or attacks a Gold Star mom, or denigrates our troops. We have had a Republican senator – not me, a Republican senator — say we can’t afford to give the nuclear codes to someone so erratic. Now, if a Republican senator says that about the guy, why would we consider giving him the nuclear codes? It’s like Hillary said — “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” You can’t do it. (Applause.)
And yet, look, we have to acknowledge, he’s got support. He’s got support here in North Carolina. He’s got support in other states. And part of it is, is because he’s been able to convince some people that he’s going to be their voice. Now, keep in mind, this is somebody who spent 70 years on this Earth showing no respect for working people. Working people weren’t invited to his hotels or his golf courses unless they were the maid or mowing the fairway. I mean, this is somebody who vilifies minorities, vilifies immigrants, vilifies people of Muslim faith, makes fun of Americans with disabilities. How is that person going to be your voice? Do you want somebody to be your voice who on tape brags about how being famous allows him to get away with sexual assault?
THE PRESIDENT: Who calls women “pigs,” or “dogs,” or “slobs” and grades them on a scale of one to ten?
THE PRESIDENT: That is not the voice of America. That’s not the better angels of our nature. And we have a choice. We can choose that, or we can choose to teach our kids that our diversity is our strength; that women are full and equal citizens capable of doing anything a man does — (applause) –that our job, particularly when we have positions of authority, particularly when this country has blessed us, is to treat everybody with dignity, treat everybody with respect, to treat everybody with generosity and kindness.
We have to stop thinking that his behavior is normal, that it’s within the bound of what has, up until this point, been our normal political discourse. And you hear some folks now justifying it and making excuses. You hear some Republicans who — they know he’s not qualified but they say, well, you know what, character doesn’t matter and knowing the issues doesn’t matter and policy doesn’t matter so long as he supports Republican agenda.
But I have to tell you — this office, it’s about who you are and what you are, and it doesn’t change after you occupy the office. It just magnifies it. If you disrespect women before you are elected President, you will disrespect women when you’re in office. (Applause.) If you accept the support of Klan sympathizers — the Klan — and hesitate when asked about that support — then you’ll tolerate that support when you’re in office. If you disrespect the Constitution before you’re elected President, and you threaten to shut down the press when it writes stories about you that you don’t like, or you threaten to throw your opponent in jail without any due process, or you discriminate against people of different faiths, then imagine what you’ll do when you actually have the power to violate the Constitution along those lines.
And I want to speak not just to Democrats — I want to speak to Republicans here in North Carolina, as well. You know, look, I am obviously a partisan Democrat. I understand that. But we’re not Democrats or Republicans first. We’re Americans first. (Applause.) And there are certain standards of behavior that we should expect out of our leaders.
I’ve got Republican friends who don’t think or act the way Donald Trump does. This is somebody who is uniquely unqualified. I ran against John McCain. I ran against Mitt Romney. I thought I’d be a better President, but I never thought that the Republic was at risk if they were elected. And guess what, North Carolina — the good news is, all of you are uniquely qualified to make sure this guy who is uniquely unqualified does not become President. You just got to vote. You just got to vote. (Applause.) And the nice thing is, you don’t just have to vote against that guy because you’ve got a candidate who is actually worthy of your vote — who is smart, and who is steady, and who is tested, is probably the most qualified person ever to run for this office, and that is the next President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. (Applause.)
Here is somebody who has dedicated her life to making this country better. Think about how she got her start. While Donald Trump and his dad were being sued by the Department of Justice for denying housing to African American families — no, I’m not making this up, I’m just stating facts — at that same time, Hillary was going undercover from school to school to make sure disadvantaged kids were getting an equal shot at a good education. (Applause.) That tells you something about their respective values.
And Hillary hasn’t stopped fighting for justice, hasn’t stopped fighting for equality ever since. Her heart has always been in the right place, and she works hard every single day. I know — she worked for me.
First of all, she ran against me, and she worked really hard. (Laughter.) And then she worked for me, and she worked really hard. And she was there in the Situation Room, and she was there in the Oval Office. And when we were making big decisions about going after bin Laden even when it was risky, when it was time for us to figure out how to win back world opinion in the wake of the Iraq war, she circled the globe tirelessly as Secretary of State, earned the respect of world leaders.
And you know what, she’s not flashy. She’s not going around spending all her time giving big stem-winders. And as a consequence, sometimes she’s underappreciated here at home. But she made me a better President. And she’s an outstanding public servant. And she knows her stuff. (Applause.) And she understands the challenges we face. And she is tough. And when things don’t go her way, she doesn’t whine, and she doesn’t complain. She doesn’t blame others, suggesting everything is rigged. (Laughter.)
I had a chance to meet the Tar Heels basketball teams, the men and the women. (Applause.) And you know, here’s one thing I know — if in the middle of a game you’re spending all your time arguing with the refs, and starting to make excuses about how you’re going to lose because the refs aren’t doing the right thing, then you’re a loser and you shouldn’t win. (Applause.)
And Hillary, she just works through whatever is in front of her. She’s got grit and she’s got resilience. And if she gets knocked down, she just comes back up and she goes back at it. And she knows, most importantly, what the decisions that a President makes means to you.
This isn’t abstract stuff we’re talking about here. If you’re a student, whether you get a Pell grant or were able to make sure that you don’t have a mountain of debt when you get out of school, that depends on decisions that are made in part by the President. If you’re a soldier, whether you get deployed to some far-off land, that is up to the Commander-in-Chief.
If you’re a young person who was brought to this country as a child, has grown up as an American but maybe doesn’t have the papers and now you’re trying to figure out how you can contribute to this country you call home, that is something the President has influence over. Veterans, seniors, a single mom who needs some help with child care — that’s what these decisions are about. And Hillary understands that, and she knows those folks need a champion.
And she’s actually got plans to help. She’s actually got plans. The other guy is not a big plan guy. She’s got plans. (Applause.) She can show you how she’s going to make sure more people have early childhood education. She’s going to show how young people can have more affordable college education. And while she’s executing those plans, she’s also going to respect working Americans and the values we care about.
She’ll be a Commander-in-Chief who finishes the job defeating ISIL. She will be smart and she will be steady. And, by the way, she’s going to need help, and that’s why I want all of you to also focus on making sure Deborah Ross is going to be a senator right alongside her when Hillary gets elected. (Applause.) Because Deborah has heard your stories. She’s been out there fighting for working families, making sure they get a fair shot and a great education, and that seniors are secure with the retirement that they have earned. And, unlike her opponent, she doesn’t support Donald Trump.
I want to take a minute just to talk about Senator Burr. He and I came in together when we were in the Senate, and personally he’s a decent guy. I’ve got nothing wrong — nothing against Richard Burr. But when I hear him say there’s not a separation between me and Donald Trump — that’s troubling. Either he actually means it, in which case he agrees with everything Donald Trump says; that what it says — that’s what you mean when you say there’s not a separation. Or he doesn’t mean it and he’s just saying it to get elected. That’s not good either way. You don’t want a senator who spends all his time saying, “Yes, sir, Mr. Trump. What do you want me to do, Mr. Trump?”
And lately, he’s been mimicking Donald Trump. Last week he actually joked about violence against Hillary. That’s not something we do. That’s not something — I tell you, if I heard a Democrat saying that, I would condemn them in a hot second. You don’t talk about violence against public officials, even in a joke. (Applause.)
And you know, I want to acknowledge he apologized. But the problem is this is becoming normal. This is sort of the red meat they’re throwing their audiences. And it’s not normal. And it’s not who North Carolina is. North Carolina is full of good and decent people, and courteous people, and people who are willing to cooperate with each other to try to make things better. And that’s what America is about.
So let me be clear, North Carolina — business. (Applause.) Let me be clear. There is something more at stake in this election than just plans or policies. This is about the character of our nation.
When Hillary was young, her mom taught her the Methodist Creed: Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you ever can. That’s her North Star. That’s what guides her. She believes in that. She believes we can summon what’s best in each of us and make this country better for all of us.
That’s what America is about. We are a country like no other not because of the size of our skyscrapers or the power of our armies, but because we are a place founded for the sake of an idea. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.” We don’t have to be born into wealth or privilege in this country. We don’t have to practice a certain faith. We don’t have to have a certain last name. We just have to be willing to contribute. We just have to be willing to put our shoulder to the wheel of history, and we can be a part of this community that we call America. (Applause.)
That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny. That’s what led GIs to liberate a continent. That’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot. (Applause.) That’s what gave marchers the courage to cross a bridge in Selma. (Applause.) That’s what allowed workers to organize for collective bargaining and better wages. That’s what made America exceptional. That’s what makes America great. (Applause.)
In other words, America depends on you — you, all of you. America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. I didn’t say “Yes, I can.” I said, “Yes, we can.” (Applause.) It’s about what can be achieved by us, each of us, together, through that hard, slow, and, yes, sometimes frustrating work of self-government. That means all of us.
Just as Louis Brandeis once said, “The most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen.” Not President, not senator, not mayor, congressman — citizen. That’s you. And that’s what Hillary is counting on. Because she understands that in a big democracy like this, a diverse country like this, it all comes down to what the people say. And she understands it doesn’t work — our democracy doesn’t work if we demonize each other, if we just make stuff up, if we spend all our time just trying to tear the other person down just for the sake of seeing if we can get a little more power.
She understands that issues aren’t black and white, and yes, progress requires compromise, even when you’re right. And she knows that none of us are perfect, not even our presidents, but that we should try to conduct ourselves with basic honesty and decency and big-heartedness, because that’s what our moms and dads taught us. And they were on to something. They understood that sometimes what life is about is pretty simple — it’s like, how do you treat people; are you useful; are you kind; are you generous; do you treat people with respect. She understands that. And Hillary will continue the progress that we’ve made, and she’ll need allies like Deborah Ross.
Because it’s not enough just to stick Hillary with a Republican Congress the way they’re behaving right now. I wish they were behaving differently. I’ve tried. I’ve reached out to them. They didn’t work with me when I took office, even when we were trying to save folks’ jobs and prevent a depression. Even when they control the Senate and the House, they have trouble passing their own stuff. And so they just resort constantly to gridlock and obstruction, and threats to shut down the government and wreck the economy if they don’t get their way. That’s not how democracy works. That’s not what your parents taught you. We teach — even our little kids in the sandbox will share and cooperate and don’t hit each other.
And right now, because a lot of them think that Trump will lose, they’re already promising even more unprecedented dysfunction in Washington, which is pretty hard to do. (Laughter.) They’re promising years of investigations, years hearings. More shutdowns. More obstruction. I am not making this up. Take a look. This is what they’re saying. More repeal votes. Some are saying they won’t appoint a ninth Supreme Court justice at all. Deborah’s opponent, Senator Burr, just said — just said — that if Hillary wins, he’ll do everything he can to block all Supreme Court nominations. Now, keep in mind that the reason they said they would not have a hearing or vote for my Supreme Court nomination, bucking all of American history, was because we thought the American people should decide the next Supreme Court justice. Now they’re saying, well, if they don’t decide the way we want them to decide, maybe we won’t even do that.
Eleven years ago, Richard Burr said a Supreme Court without nine justices would not work. Well, what changed? What, only Republican Presidents get to nominate judges? Is that in the Constitution? I used to teach constitutional law. I’ve never seen that provision. (Applause.)
You’ve got some Republicans in Congress who are already suggesting they will impeach Hillary. She hasn’t even been elected yet. (Laughter.) It doesn’t matter what evidence, they just — they’ll find something. That’s what they’re saying already. How does our democracy function like that?
Look, nobody likes gridlock. But I want to be clear about something: Gridlock is not some mysterious fog that just kind of descends on Washington. It’s not like some apparition that shows up. It’s not like a monster movie — oh, “Gridlock” is coming. That’s not how it works. Gridlock is not happening because both sides, Democrats and Republicans, are being equally unreasonable. I mean, I know it’s hard to view me as objective here, but I’m about to leave, so I just — I’m just letting you know the truth. (Applause.) Wait, wait — hold on, I still got some business to do. Gridlock is what happens when Republican politicians like Richard Burr decide — not based on the merits, not based on what’s good for their constituents, but based on political calculation — that they are going to oppose anything that is good for the country just because a Democrat proposes it. That’s how gridlock happens. And that’s essentially Richard Burr’s campaign platform at this point.
And I said before, I know Richard Burr. I used to work out with him in the gym in Senate. He’s a perfectly nice guy. But what’s happened is, is that they have built up this new normal in their party where he’s got to say anything in order to get elected. So if you think “Vote for gridlock” is a good slogan, then you should vote for the Republicans. But if you believe, like I believe, that America can do better; if you believe that we should be out there not trying to block each other from doing stuff, but creating jobs for families, lifting wages, childcare. If you care about equal pay for women and raising the minimum wage — (applause) — then I need you to vote for Democrats up and down the ticket. I need you to vote for Hillary Clinton. I need you to vote for Deborah Ross. (Applause.) They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and move this country forward. They don’t want to look backwards; they want to go forward. (Applause.)
Look, I know it’s easy to get cynical. There’s a lot in this election season that can give you reason to be cynical. But right now, I just want you to know, all of you — it’s in your power to reject the divisive, mean-spirited politics that would take us backwards. That’s not how it has to be. That’s not how it’s always been. But it’s going to depend on you. You can elect a leader who has spent her entire life trying to move this country forward; our first female President who will be an example for our daughters and our sons that everybody has a chance to contribute and serve. (Applause.)
You have a chance to shape history. What an amazing thing that is. If Hillary wins North Carolina, she wins. (Applause.) And that means that when I said the fate of the Republic rests on you, I wasn’t joking. But that shouldn’t make you fearful, that should make you excited. It’s not often when you can move the arc of history. Don’t let that chance slip away. Young people here, it’s not often that you know your voice will have an impact. Don’t let it slip away. Don’t give away your power.
Don’t fall for the easy cynicism that says my vote doesn’t matter, or all politicians are the same. It does matter, and they’re not all the same. That’s what Hillary’s opponent wants you to think, because they don’t want you to vote. And I’ve got to say, he has been getting help from Republican politicians in this state who have been trying to keep you from voting. We’re the only advance democracy on Earth that purposely tries to make it harder for people to vote.
But even within sometimes unfortunate traditions in America, what’s been going on lately here in the States has been really troubling. A few years ago in North Carolina, Republicans passed a law that made it harder for African Americans to vote. That is not my opinion. Earlier this year, a federal judge said that, based on the evidence, those who voted for these laws targeted black voters with — and I’m quoting — “surgical precision.” It was one of the worst voter suppression laws in the country. Here, in North Carolina. Not back in the 1960s — now.
Already, right now, Donald Trump is calling on his supporters to monitor “certain areas.” Where are those certain areas he’s talking about? They are groups that are not even making secret plans. They’re just out in public saying we’re going to try and suppress the African American vote on Election Day, or the youth vote on Election Day.
If you think that is an accidental, then I want you to think about a woman named Grace Bell Hardison. Grace Bell lived in Belhaven, North Carolina her entire life — all 100 years of her life. Just a few weeks ago, Republicans challenged her voter registration status and tried to remove her from the voter rolls. And she heard about it and she said, “I can’t vote” — 100 years old.
Now, Grace got her voter registration reinstated. And you better believe she’s going to vote. (Applause.) But this 100-year-old woman wasn’t alone in being targeted. The list of voters Republicans tried to purge was two-thirds black and Democratic. That didn’t happen by accident. It’s happening in counties across the state. Now, there was a time when systematically denying black folks the right to vote was considered normal as well.
And so, young people, I want you to listen up. Parents, I want you to talk about this: It was not that long ago that folks had to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar, or bubbles on a bar of soap, or recite the Constitution in Chinese in order to vote. It wasn’t that long ago when folks were beaten trying to register voters in Mississippi. It wasn’t that long ago that a man named Henry Frye in Greensboro – the first African American chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court — was denied the right to register to vote because he had failed a so-called literacy test — after he had graduated from college. It wasn’t that long ago. (Applause.)
Grace Bell Hardison, 100 years old — imagine what she’s seen in the arc of her life. Born in a time where there were barely cars on the road, no planes in the sky. Think about everything she’s seen. A great grandmother, probably a great-great grandmother. How are we going to let, after all she’s been through, folks disrespect her like that? How are we going to betray all those who worked so hard, risked everything for the vote so that we could pull the lever — and we’re not going to vote? What’s our excuse?
Now, those who wanted to suppress the vote, they’re going to fail. The law was struck down. Your rights have been restored. (Applause.) Right now, there are more one-stop early vote sites in North Carolina than ever before. (Applause.) You can register and vote at any site in your county, as long as you do it by Saturday. It’s easier to vote than ever in North Carolina. (Applause.) But if you don’t vote, then you’ve done the work of those who would suppress your vote without them having to lift a finger. Come on.
Back in 2008, I won North Carolina by 14,000 votes. That’s about two votes per precinct. If just two votes per precinct had gone the other way, I would have lost North Carolina. How can you say your vote doesn’t count? (Applause.) Each of you could swing an entire precinct for Hillary if you vote. (Applause.) Or you could swing it for her if you don’t vote. (Applause.) Your vote matters. Young people especially, your vote matters. (Applause.)
If you’ve been marching for criminal justice reform, that’s great. But you know what, you better vote for a President and a Congress who actually care about disrupting the pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. (Applause.) Protests aren’t enough if you’re not voting. You’ve been marching for the environment and to do something about climate change — I’ve heard you. But you better vote for the next President and Congress believing in science, and who will protect the progress we’ve made so we can leave behind a world that we’re proud of for our children. (Applause.)
If you want more good jobs, you want to have a higher minimum wage, you want help with respect to student loans — don’t just sit there and complain. Don’t just sit there in the barber shop and the beauty shop and watching the Tar Heels and say, you know, politics is all messed up, but what’s the score. No, no, no. You can watch the game after you vote. (Applause.)
And the good news is, you’ve got a proof point. You know it works. You know it works because so many of you voted in ’08. And it’s because of you that millions of people have health care today that didn’t have it before. (Applause.) It’s because of you that millions of young people are going to college that couldn’t afford it before. (Applause.) It’s because of you that a Marine can serve his country without hiding the husband he loves. (Applause.) It’s because of you that more young immigrants came out of the shadows and are serving our country. (Applause.)
North Carolina, I’m asking you today what I asked of you eight years ago. I’m just asking you to believe not in my abilities to change, not even just in Hillary’s ability to bring about positive change. I’m asking you to believe in your ability to bring about change. I am not on the ballot, but I tell you what, fairness is on the ballot. Decency is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. (Applause.) Progress is on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot right now. (Applause.)
And Hillary gives you a chance to advance our democracy. But you’ve got to do everything you can to make sure everybody votes — your friends, your family, your cousins, your uncle, your neighbors, your coworkers. Tell them this is the moment where America stands up for our best selves. (Applause.) Stand up and reject cynicism. Stand up and reject fear.
Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. Choose hope. (Applause.) Vote! And if you do, we will elect Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States. (Applause.) We will elect Deborah Ross the next senator from the great state of North Carolina. (Applause.) We’ll continue this amazing journey and finish what we started, and remind the world why this is the greatest country on Earth.
God bless you, North Carolina. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
4:28 P.M. EDT
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