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Read President Obama's full campaign kickoff speech

May 05, 2012
  • President Obama speaks during a campaign rally Saturday in Richmond, Va.
President Obama speaks during a campaign rally Saturday in Richmond, Va. (Haraz N. Ghanbari / Associated…)

President Obama officially launched his re-election campaign with public rallies in Columbus, Ohio, and Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday.With that launch came a re-tooled stump speech which both defended his record in office and laid out the contrast with Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The speeches in both cities were largely the same. Here's a full transcript of his remarks in Columbus, following the acknowledgement of local leaders.

OBAMA: "I want to thank so many of our Neighborhood Team Leaders for being here today.  You guys will be the backbone of this campaign.  And I want the rest of you to join a team or become a leader yourself, because we are going to win this thing the old-fashioned way -- door by door, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood.

"Ohio, four years ago, you and I began a journey together.

"I didn’t run, and you didn’t work your hearts out, just to win an election.  We came together to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth.

"We came together because we believe that in America, your success shouldn’t be determined by the circumstances of your birth.  If you’re willing to work hard, you should be able to find a good job.  If you’re willing to meet your responsibilities, you should be able to own a home, maybe start a business, give your children the chance to do even better -- no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or what your last name is.

"We believe the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history; that businesses are the engine of growth; that risk-takers and innovators should be rewarded.  But we also believe that at its best, the free market has never been a license to take whatever you want, however you can get it; that alongside our entrepreneurial spirit and our rugged individualism, America only prospers when we meet our obligations to one another and to future generations.

"We came together in 2008 because our country had strayed from these basic values.  A record surplus was squandered on tax cuts for people who didn’t need them and weren’t even asking for them.  Two wars were being waged on a credit card.  Wall Street speculators reaped huge profits by making bets with other people’s money.  Manufacturing left our shores.  A shrinking number of Americans did fantastically well, while most people struggled with falling incomes, rising costs, the slowest job growth in half a century. 

"It was a house of cards that collapsed in the most destructive crisis since the Great Depression.  In the last six months of 2008, even as we were campaigning, nearly three million of our neighbors lost their jobs.  Over 800,000 more were lost in the month I took office alone.

"It was tough.  But I tell you what, Ohio -- the American people are tougher. All across this country, people like you dug in.  Some of you retrained.  Some of you went back to school.  Small business owners cut back on expenses, but did everything they could to keep their employees.  Yes, there were setbacks.  Yes, there were disappointments.  But we didn’t quit.  We don’t quit.  Together, we’re fighting our way back. 
 
"When some wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, we made a bet on American workers, on the ingenuity of American companies.  And today, our auto industry is back on top of the world.  Manufacturers started investing again, adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.  Businesses got back to the basics, exports surged.  And over four million jobs were created in the last two years -- more than one million of those in the last six months alone.  Are we satisfied?"

AUDIENCE: "No!"

OBAMA: "Of course not.  Too many of our friends and family are still out there looking for work.  The housing market is still weak, deficits are still too high, and states are still laying off teachers, first responders.  This crisis took years to develop, and the economy is still facing headwinds.  And it will take sustained, persistent effort -- yours and mine -- for America to fully recover.  That’s the truth.  We all know it.

"But we are making progress.  And now we face a choice. Now we face a choice, Ohio."

CHILD: "We love you, Barack Obama!"

OBAMA: "Thank you.  Now we face a choice.  For the last few years, the Republicans who run this Congress have insisted that we go right back to the policies that created this mess."

AUDIENCE: "Booo."

OBAMA: "But to borrow a line from my friend Bill Clinton, now their agenda is on steroids.  This time, they want even bigger tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  This time, they want even deeper cuts to things like education and Medicare, and research and technology."

AUDIENCE: "Booo."

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