Obama Speaks in Billings, MT

A transcription of Barack Obama’s speech from Billings, Montana as broadcast by Fox News:

{Snarky remarks all mine.}

Intros and thank yous not transcribed.

There were those who said, ‘why are you running so soon? You can afford to wait.’ And I had to explain, I’m not running because of some long-held ambition or because I think it’s something I owed to me, I’m running because of what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now’ – the fierce urgency of now. And what he meant by that was there are times when you can’t afford to wait. And I think this is one of those times. We’re at a moment… we’re at a defining moment in our history. Our nation’s at war, in fact our nation’s involved in two  wars, one war that we have to win – against Al Qaeda and those who killed 3,000 Americans and who are still at large in Afghanistan and the hills of Pakistan. But we’re also involved in a war that I believe should have never been authorized and never been waged in Iraq, and it’s cost us dearly.

This is a war that’s cost us hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. It distracted us from what we need to do in Afghanistan and it hasn’t made us more safe. But what’s on the minds of people these days as I travel around the country is not just war it’s also the struggles here at home. And Aaron spoke of some of them [Aaron introduced Barack]. We just went through an economic expansion during the Bush Administration in which the average family income actually went down by a thousand dollars. {and your family income increased by how much when you became a senator sir? Wasn’t there a promotion and an approximately 150% increase in one salary in your household once you were elected to the US Senate?} it had never happened before where the economy was growing, corporate profits were up, but you were seeing your real incomes actually going down.

All across this country I meet people who can’t afford health care {conflating health care with health insurance again} even though they’ve got two, three jobs. All across this country I meet people who’ve seen their jobs shipped overseas and they don’t just lose their job, but they also lose their health care {no, they might lose insurance, not health care}, their pensions and they lose a sense of who they are. They lose a sense of their place in a community.

All across this country I meet young people who’ve got the talent and the grades to go to college but aren’t sure whether they can afford to pay the tuition {did you vote to allow illegal aliens the state resident discount at Illinois universities? If you did, you are part of the reason that citizens might not be able to afford to tuition}.

All across this country we’re seeing people who are in threat of losing their homes because nobody was overseeing the financial markets and they were peddling predatory loans and people ended up being caught in a situation where they’re now about to be foreclosed on.

In such circumstances we can’t afford to wait. We can’t wait to fix our schools, we can’t wait to fix our health care system, we can’t wait to bring good jobs with good benefits to the American people, we can’t wait to end this war in Iraq. We can not wait. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States, right here and right now.

Now, what I also believed when I decided to run was that the American people were ready for something new. They were tired of a politics that was all about tearing each other down, they wanted a politics that was about lifting the country up. They… I believe that you were tired of spin and PR, you wanted straight talk from your elected officials {isn’t Straight Talk someone else’s line, Mr. Obama?} and I was also convinced that people were tired of division. They wanted to bring the country together. Aaron mentioned I used to be a community organizer and one of the things I learned working with people who had been laid off their jobs when the steel plants closed on the south side of Chicago is that when people work together, when ordinary people, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old. When people come together, when we are unified, then there is nothing we can’t accomplish. There is no challenge we can’t meet, there’s no destiny we can not fulfill.

And I am here to report that after traveling for 15 months {and not really doing the job of the junior senator from Illinois}, after talking to hundreds of thousands of people and shaking hundreds of thousands of hands, kissing hundreds of babies, {really? that many?} I am here to report that my bet on the American people has paid off. Because everywhere I go people are standing up, they’re saying we are tired of business as usual in Washington, we are going to vote, we are going to make ourselves heard, we’re gonna bring about change in America.

Now I know it’s been a long primary contest, so some democrats have been worried that maybe the party’s going to be divided. You know you’ve got Obama supporters over here, Clinton supporters over here. Let me tell you something. We are… we are not going to be divided. Because whatever differences exist between myself and Senator Clinton, we are unified in the idea that whatever else happens in November, the name George W. Bush isn’t going to be on the ballot. {Ya think? Wow, they’re unified in knowing that George W. Bush won’t be on the ballot. Of course, that’s something the rest of us have known since maybe the first time W was inaugurated. Oh well, I guess it’s finally time that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton have realized that George W. Bush ISN’T running this election…. They’ve been running against him up until now.}

And that means that we’ve got to make sure that George Bush’s policies are not on the ballot. {I think you can be sure of that. Policies aren’t on any ballots.} You know, I respect and honor John McCain’s service to our country. He’s a genuine war hero. But {here comes that “but”} McCain has decided to run for George Bush’s third term {and you are running for Jimmy Carter’s second!} and we can’t afford it. He wants to continue a war in Iraq and he’s willing to perpetuate it, he said he’d be willing to have a presence there for as long as a hundred years. {Mr. Obama, how long have we had a military presence in Germany? Japan? Korea? – Longer than you’ve been alive maybe? may not be 100 years now, but it will be, in less than 50} We can’t afford that.

John McCain looked at George Bush’s economic record and said we had made great progress. {George Bush was able to maintain steady positive growth even though he inherited a recession and there was 9/11 to boot. I’d call that progress.} Now I suspect he wasn’t talking to the hundreds of thousands of people who have already lost their jobs since the beginning of this year. He’s not talking to the people who lost their jobs because everything’s been shipped overseas. He’s not talking to folks who don’t have health care {conflating again}. He’s not talking to the millions of folks who are at risk of losing their homes {that they maybe couldn’t afford in the first place? I mean a $350K home on a $35K salary isn’t affordable} he’s not talking to you. I don’t think we’ve made great progress. You don’t think we’ve made great progress and that’s why we are going to be united to make sure that John McCain doesn’t make great progress in going to the White House. We’re going to be united on that.

And in fact, although we still have a number of contests, including Montana, before we’re able to secure the nomination and Senator Clinton has run a magnificent race and she’s still working hard, as am I, for all these last primary contests, we’re already seeing the kind of strategy that the Republicans are going to start employing in November. John McCain, yesterday, decided to attack me for saying that Iran does not pose as great of a threat as the Soviet Union did and so, if we were willing to talk to Gorbachev, if we were willing to talk to Khrushchev, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t talk to Iran. Seems like common sense. So John McCain gave… he … Obama doesn’t understand the threat of Iran. I understand the threat of Iran. But what I know is the Soviet Union had the ability to destroy the world several times over, had satellites spanning the globe, had huge masses of conventional military power, all directed at destroying us. {Yeah, it’s called MAD – mutually assured destruction. We have the same thing. We know what they have, they know what we have. Iran, on the other hand, is pretending that they only want Nukes for electrical power, not WORLD DOMINATION. We were able to keep the Soviets in check because they believed that we would retaliate, resulting in MAD if they were to attack us. Iran thinks we won’t have the balls. And with you in office, we won’t. Mrs. Clinton has a bigger set than you do.} So I’ve made it clear for years that the threat from Iran is grave, but I’ve said is that we should not just talk to our friends, we should be willing to engage our enemies as well {and they’ll just tell us what they think we want to hear, all the while doing whatever they please} that’s what diplomacy is all about. {you put your left foot in, you take your left foot out…}

So let me be absolutely clear, Iran is a grave threat, it has illicit nuclear program, it supports terrorism across the regions and militias in Iraq, it threatens Israel’s existence, it denies the Holocaust. But this threat has grown primarily, and this is the irony, the reason Iran is so much more powerful now than it was a few years ago is because of the Bush/McCain policy of fighting an endless war in Iraq and refusing to pursue direct diplomacy with Iran. {No sir, you are wrong. Mr. Carter did nothing when Iran took our embassy and took hostages and held them for more than a year. That told the Ahmadinejad that he could act with impunity since he “took office”. Diplomacy will not work if one party has no wish to make any compromise. And Ahmadinejad doesn’t. He wants his way and his way only.} They’re the ones who have not dealt with Iran wisely. Make no mistake, Iran is single biggest beneficiary of a war in Iraq that should have never been authorized and should have never been waged. Thanks to George Bush’s policies {I thought he wasn’t running this election?} Iran is now the greatest threat to the United States and Israel in the middle east for a generation. John McCain wants to double down on that failed policy. John McCain’s right that the greatest threat we face is a terrorist with a nuclear weapon, that’s why when he was busy supporting a war against a country that had no nuclear weapons, I…the Senate, working with Republican Dick Luger to pass legislation to secure loose nuclear weapons and loose nuclear materials around the world. That’s why I made it clear that I’ll secure all loose nuclear materials around the world during my first term. But when you’re running for George Bush’s third term {again, I thought he wasn’t on the ballot} it’s hard to make a case on the merits. So John McCain’s using the same George Bush textbook that we’ve seen year after year after year. Anything other than continuing the war in Iraq has been called, that has been called the greatest strategic blunder, in recent American history, he calls naive. Anything but their failed cowboy diplomacy that’s produced no results, is called appeasement. Here’s the truth, the Soviet Union had thousands of nuclear weapons and Iran doesn’t have a single one {not for lack of will or lack of trying} but when the world was on the brink of nuclear holocaust, Kennedy talked to Khrushchev and he got those missiles out of Cuba. Why shouldn’t we have the same courage and confidence to talk to our enemies? That’s what strong countries do, that’s what strong presidents do, that’s what I’ll do when I’m President of the United States of America.

So, for all their tough talk one of the things you have to ask yourself is what are George Bush and John McCain afraid of? Demanding that a country meets all your conditions before you meet with them, that’s not a strategy, it’s just naive wishful thinking. I’m not afraid that we’ll lose some propaganda fight with a dictator  It’s time for America to win those battles because we’ve watched George Bush lose them year after year {you’re not afraid to lose, but it’s time we start winning, because George Bush (who’s not on the November ballot) has been losing… huh?} It’s time to restore our security and our standing in the world. And you can vote for John McCain and nothing will change. We’ll keep fighting a war in Iraq that hasn’t made us safer, we’ll keep talking tough in Washington while countries like Iran ignore our tough talk. Or we can turn the page. We can restore the tradition of tough, disciplined, and principled direct diplomacy that we’ve always used to protect the American people and advance America’s interests. That’s what Kennedy did, that’s what Reagan did, and that’s what I will do as President of the United States of America. That’s a fundamental difference between myself and John McCain.

Now, that’s on the international front. But we’re going to have a debate about what’s happening here at home as well. There’s going to be a clear difference between myself and John McCain if I’m the democratic nominee. I want to provide universal health care {conflating again} to every single American {and illegal alien} If you’ve got health insurance, we want to lower it, we want to lower your premiums by $2,500 per family, per year {and what will employers do? They won’t contribute as much as they currently do towards your insurance premiums because the gummint will do it for you} If you don’t’ have health insurance, we want to provide you with a health care plan that’s as good as the health care I have as a Member of Congress. If you can’t afford it, then we will subsidize you. {Hey, Member of Congress insurance is much better than what I can get through work! I’ll drop my work plan so you can subsidize me with yours! Yeah, that’s the ticket!} You will not be excluded for pre-existing conditions and we won’t wait 20 years from now to do it, or 10 years from now to do it, we’ll do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States of America. That’s the difference between myself and John McCain.

I want to make sure that our economy is fair. John McCain wants to perpetuate Bush tax cuts that go to the wealthiest Americans {actually, no, they go to me too and my household doesn’t make enough to reach the social security cap – that you want to lift anyway…} and corporate tax loopholes and tax havens, I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Billings, right here in the United States of America. I want to roll back Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest and give middle class folks a tax break {we did get one} $1,000 per family per year to help offset the rising costs of gas, and the rising costs of food and medical care. {$1K will do soooo much to help. Especially as you are taking it from me in the first place!} I want senior citizens, if you make $50,000 a year or less, I don’t want you to pay income tax on your social security. You’re already on a fixed income, you’re having a hard time.

I want to invest in clean energy. Solar. Wind. Solar and wind and bio-diesel. {all sources that are not nearly as efficient as oil} Raise fuel efficiency standards on cars so we can free ourselves from dependency on foreign oil. {Raising fuel efficiency standards is all well and good, but there are millions of vehicles currently on the roads that will not meet those new standards. Millions of vehicles that will continue to be driven because the people can’t all buy new efficient cars. There are millions of trucks on the roads, transporting our food, clothing, shoes, diy supplies, everything we buy, to stores so we can buy them; parts and raw materials to the manufacturers who produce those products we buy. Those trucks won’t meet these new efficiency standards. Solar and wind won’t fuel my vehicle. Oil will. Drill in ANWR, drill offshore, exploit the oil shale and oil sands. Build new refineries and nuclear power plants. These will do more to reduce our dependency on foreign oil than a hypothetical new fuel efficiency standard that will only apply to new vehicles.} And save our planet in the bargain. That’s the difference between myself and John McCain.

I want to make college affordable. $4,000… [that’s all Fox broadcast…]

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