Transcript: Clinton Weighs Next Steps After Primary Ends
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Thank you all so much. Thank you and thanks so much to South Dakota. You had the last word in this primary season, and it was worth the wait.
I want to start tonight by congratulating Senator Obama and his supporters on the extraordinary race that they have run. Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics and empowered so many more to get involved, and our party and our democracy is stronger and more vibrant as a result. So, we are grateful, and it has been an honor to contest these primaries with him, just as it is an honor to call him my friend. And tonight, I would like all of us to take a moment to recognize him and his supporters for all they have accomplished.
Now, sixteen months ago, you and I began a journey to make history and to remake America. And from the hills of New Hampshire to the hollows of West Virginia and Kentucky, from the fields of California to the factories of Ohio, from the Alleghenies to the Ozarks to the Everglades, to right here in the great state of New York, we saw millions of Americans registering to vote for the first time, raising money for the first time, knocking on doors, making calls, talking to their friends and neighbors, mothers and fathers lifting their little girls and their little boys on to their shoulders and whispering, “See, you can be anything you want to be.”
I think, too, of all of those wonderful women in their nineties who came out to see me because they were born before women could vote, and they wanted to be part of making history. And the people who drove for miles, who waved their handmade signs, who went to all the events that we held, who came to hillaryclinton.com and showed the tangible support that they felt in their hearts. And I am just enormously grateful, because in the millions of quiet moments, in thousands of places, you asked yourself a simple question: Who will be the strongest candidate and the strongest president?
Who will be ready to take back the White House and take charge as Commander-in-Chief and lead our country to better tomorrows? People in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the territories, all had a chance to make your voices heard and on Election Day after Election Day, you came out in record numbers to cast your ballots. Nearly eighteen million of you cast your votes for our campaign, carrying the popular vote with more votes than any primary candidate in history. Even when the pundits and the naysayers proclaimed week after week that this race was over, you kept on voting.
You are the nurse on the second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran, the student, the hard working men and women who don’t always make the headlines but have always written America’s story. You have voted because you wanted to take back the White House, and because of you, we won together the swing states necessary to get to 270 electoral votes.
In all of the states you voted because you wanted a leader who will stand up for the deepest values of our party. A party that believes everyone should have a fair shot at the American Dream. A party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote.
I often felt that each of your votes was a prayer for our nation, a declaration of your dreams for your children, a reflection of your desire to chart a new course in this new century and in the end, while this primary was long, I am so proud we stayed the course together because we stood our ground, it meant that every single United States citizen had a chance to make his or her voice heard.
A record thirty-five million people voted in this primary, from every state, red, blue, purple, people of every age, faith, color and walk of life. And we have brought so many people into the Democratic Party and created enthusiasm among those we seek to serve. And I am committed to uniting our Party, so we move forward, stronger and more ready than ever to take back the White house this November.
For the past seven years, so many people in this country have felt invisible, like your president didn’t even really see you. I have seen the shuttered factories, the jobs shipped overseas, the families struggling to afford gas and groceries, but I’ve also seen unions retraining workers to build energy efficient buildings, innovators designing cars that run on fuel cells and bio-fuels and electricity, cars that get more miles per gallon than ever before, cars that will cut the cost of driving, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and fight global warming.
I have met too many people without health care, just a diagnosis away from financial ruin, but I have also seen the scientists and researchers solving the medical mysteries and finding the treatments and cures that are transforming lives. I have seen the struggling schools with the crumbling classrooms and the unfair burdens imposed by No Child Left Behind, but I have also met dedicated and caring teachers who use their own savings to buy supplies, and students passionately engaged in the issues of our time, from ending the genocide in Darfur to once again making the environment a central issue of our day.
None of you is invisible to me. You never have been. I see you, and I know how hardworking you are. I’ve been fighting for you my whole adult life, and I will keep standing for you and working for you every single day because in your courage and character, your energy and ingenuity, your compassion and faith, I see the promise of America every day. The challenges we face are great, but our determination is greater.
You know, I understand that a lot of people are asking, what does Hillary want? What does she want? Well, I want what I have always fought for in this whole campaign. I want to end the war in Iraq. I want to turn this economy around. I want health care for every American. I want every child to live up to his or her God-given potential, and I want the nearly 18 million Americans who voted for me to be respected, to be heard and no longer to be invisible.
You see, I have an old-fashioned notion, one that’s been the basis of my candidacy and my life’s work, that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their own dreams. This nation has given me every opportunity, and that’s what I want for every single American.
That’s why I want universal health care. It is wrong that Americans pay 50% more for health care than the people of any other wealthy nation, with costs doubling this decade and nearly 50 million people without any health insurance at all. It is wrong for parents to have to choose between care for themselves or their children, to be stuck in dead-end jobs just to keep their insurance or to give up working altogether so their kids will qualify for Medicaid. I have been working on this issue not just for the past 16 months, but for 16 years. And it is a fight I will continue until every single American has health insurance. No exceptions and no excuses.
I want an economy that works for all families. That’s why I have been fighting to create millions of new jobs in clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure, jobs to come to all of our states and urban and rural areas and suburban communities and small towns. That’s why I sounded the alarm on the home mortgage crisis well over a year ago, because these are the issues that will determine whether we will once again grow together as a nation or continue to grow apart. And I want to restore America’s leadership in the world. I want us to be led once again by the power of our values, to have a foreign policy that is both strong and smart, to join with our allies and confront our shared challenges from poverty and genocide to global terrorism and global warming.
These are the issues that brought me into this race. They are the life blood of my campaign, and they have been and will continue to be the causes of my life. And your spirit has inspired me every day in this race.
While I traveled our country talking about how I wanted to help you, time and again, you reached out to help me, to grab my hand or grip my arm, to look into my eyes and tell me, don’t quit, keep fighting, stay in this race for us.
Now there were days when I had the strength enough to fight for all of us, and on the days that I didn’t, I leaned on you, the soldier on his third tour of duty in Iraq who told his wife, an Iraqi veteran herself, to take his spending money and donate it to our campaign instead. The 11-year-old boy in Kentucky who sold his bike and video games to raise money for our campaign. The woman who came to a rally hours early, waited and waited to give me a rosary. And all those who whispered to me, simply to say I am praying for you.
So many people said this race was over five months ago in Iowa, but we had faith in each other and you brought me back in New Hampshire and on Super Tuesday and in Ohio and in Pennsylvania and Texas and Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Puerto Rico and South Dakota. I will carry your stories and your dreams with me every day for the rest of my life. I will carry your stories and your dreams with me every day for the rest of my life.
Now the question is, where do we go from here, and given how far we’ve come and where we need to go as a party, it’s a question I don’t take lightly. This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight. But this has always been your campaign, so to the 18 million people who voted for me and to our many other supporters out there of all ages, I want to hear from you. I hope you’ll go to my website at HillaryClinton.com and share your thoughts with me and help in any way that you can.
In the coming days, I’ll be consulting with supporters and party leaders to determine how to move forward with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way. And I want to conclude tonight by saying thank you. Thank you to the people across America for welcoming me and my family into your homes and your hearts. Thanks to all of you in every corner of this country who cast your votes for our campaign. I am honored and humbled by your support and your trust. Thanks to my staff and volunteers for all those long hours and late nights, and I thank your families and your loved ones as well, because your sacrifice was theirs. And I especially want to thank all of the leadership of my campaign. Our chairman, Terry McAuliffe and everyone who worked so hard. And, of course, my family for their incredible love, support and work. Bill and Chelsea, Hugh and Maria, Tony and Megan, Zach and Fiona and my mother who turns 89 tomorrow. And, finally, I want to thank all of the people who had the courage to share your stories with me out on the campaign trail.
Tonight, I am thinking of a woman I met just yesterday in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were outside Talley’s Restaurant. There was a crowd there as I was walking into the restaurant. And she was standing right up against the barrier. She grabbed my hand and she said, “What are you going to do to make sure I have health care?” And as she was talking, she began to cry. She told me she works three jobs. She has suffered from seizures since childhood. She hasn’t been able to afford insurance ever since she left her parents’ home. It is shameful that anyone in this country could tell that story to me. And whatever path I travel next, I promise I will keep faith with her and with everyone I met across this great and good country.
You know, tonight we stand just a few miles from the Statue of Liberty. And from the site where the Twin Towers fell and where America rose again. Lady Liberty’s presence and the towers’ absence are a constant reminder that here in America, we are resilient, we are courageous, we embrace all of our people and that when we face our challenges together, there is no barrier we can’t overcome, no dream we can’t realize, nothing we can’t do if we just start acting like Americans again.
Thank you all very much. God bless you and God bless America.
— Transcript provided by HillaryClinton.com