Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, delivered this speech in Hampton, Illinois, on Sept. 5, 2016. We wrote about this and other Clinton speeches in our story, “Clinton on the Stump,” Oct. 3, 2016.
Hello! Wow, thank you all. Thank you. Thank you so much. And it’s wonderful to be back. I had such a good time last year, I said, “Put that back on my calendar for Labor Day. I want to be on the banks of the Mississippi with friends from Illinois and Iowa, talking about how we’re going to make this economy work for everybody, not just those at the top.” And it gives me such a great sense of real privilege and honor to be up on this stage with the people you see before you, starting with my friend and former colleague, the great senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin, who has been – in so many ways the conscience of the United States Senate. You heard him say he comes from a union family, he knows what hard work is. He stands up every day in that Senate – I hope you get a chance to watch him on C-SPAN some time, because he carries such passion and conviction in his voice about everything that he’s fighting for. So thanks to our friends from Illinois for sending Dick Durbin to the Senate for all the years – and for however long he wants to be there.
And please be sure he is joined by Tammy Duckworth as your next senator. Dick reminded me that I endorsed Tammy here last year. I was looking for the right occasion to do that, and I figured right here in her state would be the perfect opportunity. I just can’t tell you how much I admire this brave woman. And she’s going to bring so much to the Senate, to our national debate about issues that are critical to America’s future. So please do everything you can to make sure that Tammy is in the Senate.
And let me also recognize and thank your congresswoman, Cheri Bustos. Thank you. Cheri’s already made a great impression in the Congress, and she is working hard every day. She’s another keeper. She’s somebody who will only do more and more as she is there longer and has the chance to really make things happen for her constituents.
I also want to recognize my friend, Congressman Dave Loebsack from across the river who was here earlier. I don’t think I need to remind everybody from Iowa, but please turn out and vote not only for Dave, but vote for Democrats. Vote for Patty Judge for Senate. Vote for other Democrats for Congress.
And it’s a thrill to be here with three great union leaders, people who I admire and really appreciate the chance to work with and look forward to working with as president. The UAW president, international, Dennis Williams; IBEW international president, Lonnie Stevenson; and of course, president of the NEA, for the educators, Lily Eskelsen. Now, each of these leaders are pretty special people, and I think you know, Doug was pretty happy that they’re here. He told me, “We’ve got three international presidents here.” And I said, “Knowing these three, they’re happy to be here.” This is not some kind of Labor Day obligation; they are with their members, they’re working on behalf not only of those in the union, but we know – it was just proven again last week – that unions not only raise incomes and provide benefits for union members, but because of unions, everybody is better off. And that’s a message I’m going to talk about every single day in this campaign.
Now, this is such a beautiful day, and you all came out here to celebrate Labor Day with all of us. And I am thrilled that I have a chance to just say a few words.
I really believe we are stronger together. That was the theme of our convention. And coming out tomorrow, Tim Kaine and I have a book called “Stronger Together,” and – I’ll tell you why we did this book. I think if you run for president, you ought to tell people what you want to do. Right? And what I’ve tried to do in this book – and it’s so great having Senator Kaine by my side now – is to lay out a blueprint for America’s future. How are we going to get more good jobs, infrastructure jobs, advanced manufacturing jobs, clean renewable energy jobs? How are we going to make sure that the economy not only is growing and producing more jobs with rising incomes, but is being fair so that people are treated fairly? That’s why we support, we support raising the national minimum wage so that you’re not living in poverty when you work full-time.
My opponent thinks wages are too high. I don’t know who he talks to – but he actually says that and he doesn’t believe in raising the national minimum wage. I also believe in doing more to support small businesses. My dad was a small-business man; I believe that we need to do everything we can to help small businesses succeed.
Tim Kaine and I were together in Cleveland earlier; we talked about that. Tim’s dad ran a union shop, ironworkers, and he’s proud of that, that he had a small-business father who ran a union shop and employed union workers, providing good products. I also believe that we have got to finally guarantee equal pay for women’s work. And that’s because I believe in fairness. I don’t want to see anybody treated unfairly and discriminated against. I don’t care who you are. If you’re willing to work and do your part, you should be able to get ahead and stay ahead. That is the basic bargain of America.
So if you look at this book, which I hope you will, it stands in stark contrast to Donald Trump. He says, “I alone can fix it.” Now, the folks I have met during this campaign, and for many years before, know that we have challenges, know we’ve got to come together, and believe we have to work together to fix what our problems are. That’s my view. I want us to bring people together just the way unions do. Just the way people and communities do. And here in the Quad cities, and across the country, we can see proof every day that we have to come together to meet our challenges.
So I’m going to continue to emphasize that we want to be the uniters in this campaign. We believe that America is already great and that we can become greater if we do our part. When somebody says, “I alone can fix it,” think of the people he’s leaving out. Everybody else. Leaving out our troops on the front lines, leaving out firefighters and police officers who run toward danger, leaving out teachers and educators who do their best to change children’s lives, leaving out everybody else. That is his campaign in a nutshell. And what we’ve got to do in the next 63 days is to present the vision of America we believe in.
So we’re going to continue to say, we’re stronger together, we’re going to work together, we’re going to run a campaign of issues, not insults. And we are going to be absolutely strong in our support for unions. Because we know nobody gets through life alone. Unions helped build the largest middle-class in the history of the world, in our country. They fought for fair wages, safe working conditions, they’ve helped so many people get on that rung to the middle class, and their kids, like Dick Durbin, go even higher. So I am going to say no to attacks on unions, I am going to say no to rolling back collective bargaining, I am going to say no to unfair trade deals like the TPP, I’m going to say no, no to pension cuts that deny you the secure retirement that you have worked for, and I’m going to say no to Right to Work. It’s not right for workers, and it’s not right for America.
But I will say yes to the American dream. And here’s what I believe. The American dream is big enough for all of us. If we build it, we will expand it and create more opportunities. And as we run this campaign on issues, our most, our most important goal is getting the economy to work for everybody. There’s nothing more important. And how do you do that? By creating more jobs. And what are some of the areas that I think we can really emphasize? Infrastructure: our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, our ports, our airports. Also, what we can’t see – our water systems – our sewer systems. We also need a new electric grid, a modern electric grid, to be able to take and distribute clean renewable energy. I have a goal for us to install a half a billion more solar panels by the end of my first term. It takes a lot of – a lot of jobs, a lot of people working to do that. And then enough clean energy to power every home by the end of my second term.
I also want to finish the work of broadband interconnectivity. We have places in our country that still have dialup. We have places where kids can’t do the homework assignments their teachers give them because they don’t have access to the internet. That is so unfair. Think of all the jobs we’ll create when we finish that off.
And then let’s look at advanced manufacturing. I believe we can compete with anybody if we put our minds to it, and I’m going to have a manufacturing renaissance policy – that will put people to work. I am so proud that Dennis and Lonnie are here because they’ve been doing so much to really create the new industries in autos and what the IBW does in so many important areas of our economy. I want to be your partner.
And I think it’s especially important to recognize that when the chips were down and the auto industry was on its back, President Obama did the right thing. He saved the American auto industry. I supported him then, and I support him just as strongly now. The American auto industry just had the best year it’s had in a long time, and that was because of the teamwork and the partnership that we had between the companies, between the union, and because the president of the United States knew we had to save the auto industry. Donald Trump basically said he didn’t care, didn’t matter to him; just shows you how he doesn’t understand or care about the real jobs that put bread on the table and give people a sense of purpose and dignity.
Well, you won’t have to look far to find me in the Oval Office if I’m fortunate enough to be your president to do everything I can every single day to create more jobs, to save jobs, to bring jobs back from overseas. And if you contrast that with Trump, his track record – his track record is just the opposite. He actually hired a union-busting firm for one of his hotels in Las Vegas. He built a career out of not paying workers for the work they did. We’re talking painters, plumbers, electricians, people who thought it was a big deal working for Donald Trump, one of his resorts, his casinos. He stiffed them. He stiffed small businesses.
Like I said, my dad was a small-business man. He printed drapery fabrics. He’d get an order, he’d buy the material, he’d get the silkscreens made. I would go sometimes to help him in his print plant. He’d have these long tables. The fabric would be laid out. You would take the silkscreen, you’d put it down, you’d pour the paint in, you’d take the squeegee, you’d push it across, you’d lift the screen up, you’d go all the way down, get on the next table, all the way back. Took a lot of time. Took a lot of hard work.
When he finished, he’d load up the fabrics in his car and he’d go deliver them. I am so happy he never got a contract from Donald Trump. I don’t know what my family would have done if my dad did business with people like Trump who has told hundreds and hundreds of small businesses – he’s been sued 4,000 times for not paying the bills that he owes – if my dad had been told, “Sorry. Just kidding. We’re not paying you.” This is a man who wants to be president of the United States? This is someone who doesn’t even honor contracts?
That’s what is so dangerous about this election. When Donald Trump says what he says about the economy, you know, that he knows how to create jobs, he had six bankruptcies. In one bankruptcy alone, 1,000 people lost their jobs. The numbers add up.
He talks about wanting to protect jobs in America, but everything he makes he’s made overseas. He could have made suits and ties and furniture in the United States, but, no, he made it overseas. He even hires workers from overseas, and he tells people, well, he couldn’t find Americans who wanted to work in the heat. You can’t make this stuff up, can you? It is truly unbelievable.
But what’s even worse is what he says about foreign policy. As bad as he is about our economy, he has insulted our allies, he has made common cause with dictators, he has basically endorsed Vladimir Putin and his policies. When he says, “I know more about ISIS than the generals,” when he claims our armed forces are a disaster, or he insults a Gold Star family, that’s not just offensive; that’s dangerous.
And just today our intelligence professionals said there was credible evidence for them to pursue an investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere with our election, hacking the Democratic National Committee. And when Putin was asked about it, didn’t deny it; in fact, he said it was probably a good thing it happened. And this is the person that Donald Trump praises.
We saw even more evidence last week that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be president. In just a few hours, he managed to turn his trip to Mexico into an embarrassing international incident. I mean, just look at what happened. He got into a Twitter war with the president of Mexico. And why? Because the president of Mexico said, “I told him in the meeting we weren’t paying for that wall.”
So not only did Trump mess up his first international engagement, he choked. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell the president of Mexico one of his very few policy demands. I mean, he went back to Arizona and gave another hate-filled speech about rounding up and deporting 16 million people. Even some of his own advisors are having a hard time explaining that away. So he’s going to try to distract and divide. He’s going to hope that we don’t pay attention to what he has been saying for 14, 15 months, that we just tune in now these last two months, that he is somehow softening his positions, that there is really another Donald Trump out there?
Well, you’ve got to ask yourself, if you can’t even go to a friendly foreign country without getting into a fight – can this person even claim to have the temperament to be in the Oval Office and deal with real urgent crises? As I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near nuclear weapons.
But we have a lot of work to do. I think every election is close and tight and tough. That’s why we have to work as hard as we can between now and when the last votes are counted, and that’s why I need your help. I want to get the economy working for everybody, not just those at the top. I want to be sure that we lead the world with strength and steadiness and that we protect America here at home and around the world. And I want to unify our country. I believe with all my heart – that every American must vote. Must vote.
I see a woman holding a sign, “You must vote. Please, it will make a difference.” And then she says, “I am a Gold Star daughter.” God bless you. God bless you.
I’ve spent my life fighting for kids and families. I don’t give up. I don’t quit. When we didn’t get health care reform, I went to work with Republicans and Democrats. We passed the Children’s Health Insurance Program that insures 8 million kids every year. As Dick said, after we were attacked on 9/11, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to make sure we could rebuild New York and the Pentagon, and make sure we were as safe as we possibly could be.
This election will determine so much about our future. And one thing I know for sure is we have to start listening to and respecting each other again. We may have differences; that’s the American way. But we are stronger together. We can do anything if we put our minds to it. I saw the picture of Mother Teresa that was being held up here, and I was fortunate enough to know Mother Teresa. I was fortunate enough to actually work with her. We didn’t agree on everything, but we found common ground.
She asked me, when I was First Lady, to get a home for babies started in Washington so mothers who couldn’t care for their babies could take their babies to a safe place and those babies could be adopted. And when Mother Teresa asks you to do something, the only answer was, “Yes, ma’am.” And I started working. And she would call me. She’d call me from India. She’d call me from Vietnam. She called me from everywhere. She’d say, “Where’s my home?” And I’d say, “Well, Mother, working with the Washington, D.C. zoning department requires divine intervention.” And so she did, and we got it done.
Here’s what I hope you will do. I hope you will get involved in this campaign for these last two months. I hope you will go to hillaryclinton.com and see how you can work, in Illinois, in Iowa. I hope you will text “join,” j-o-i-n, and go to 47246, to see what you can do. We need everybody involved. There has never been a more important, consequential election in our lifetimes. And we need to elect progressive leaders like Tammy and Sherry and Dave Loebsack and others who are on the ballot as well.
I am confident and optimistic about America’s future. When I listen to Donald Trump, when I watched his convention, I honestly did not know what country he was talking about. It was so dark, so dire, so depressing. That’s not the America I know. It’s not the America that I see. I don’t deny that we have problems. Of course we do. We’re human beings. But my goodness, would you live anywhere else? Would you give up our freedom, our values, our opportunity, for anywhere else? I traveled to 112 countries as your Secretary of State, and every I went, I was so proud to land that plane which said the United States of America on it and to come down those stairs and begin to meet on behalf of our values, our interests, and our security. And there is not a place, despite what they say, that doesn’t envy who we are and what we have. We cannot put any of that at risk, my friends.
So for these last two months, join this campaign. Help us make history. Make sure that we are continuing to be not just great but even greater, and that we’re creating opportunities for the next generation, like my grandchildren. That’s what we can do together if we remember we are stronger together. God bless you!