Arizona: We’re Counting On You
Remarks as Delivered at Rally in Support of Arizona Democratic Candidates
Hello, Phoenix! I’m fired up! It is good to be back in Arizona. I wanted to come out here not only because it’s sunny and warm, but also, there have been a lot of these rumors about me and the Phoenix Suns. No, I didn’t know I was in the market, and by the way, neither did Michelle. But I will say this: The Suns are looking pretty good. I’ve got to admit that. I think they have a few more wins than my Bulls right now.
The real reason that I am here is pretty simple.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I love you back, but that’s not just why I’m here. I am here to ask you to vote for your next Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes, for your next Attorney General, Kris Mayes, for your next governor, Katie Hobbs, and to send my friend, Mark Kelly, back to the United States Senate.
And as Mark already told you, you don’t have to wait for November 8 to cast your ballot. You can vote early by returning your ballot to an early vote location or drop box, or you can vote at your polling place on November 8. Just go to iwillvote.com to find out where. And then you’ve got to make a plan, and then you’ve got to get your friends and family to vote, too.
We all have Cousin Pookie or Uncle Joe. They say they’re going to vote, but then they’re still sitting on the couch. And you’re all, “Did you vote yet?” And he’s all like, “No, no, wait, hold on, the ball game’s on.” No, no, no, no! You’ve got to go and vote! You’ve got to pull them up, make sure they’re voting early or take them with you in person on Election Day, because this election requires every single one of us to do our part. It’s that important.
Now listen, I think it’s fair to say that this country and Arizona has gone through some tough times these past few years. We have been through some stuff. We’re just now coming out of a historic pandemic that wreaked havoc on families, and schools, and businesses and communities. Everybody was impacted, some more than others. I mean, we learned the phrase “essential workers,” which means people who actually work. We put a burden on some more than others, but everybody was impacted and some people lost people they love. It did something to all of us inside.
And the pandemic also highlighted, and in a lot of cases, made worse problems that we’ve been struggling with for years, an economy that’s very good for folks at the very top, but not always so good for ordinary people, communities where too many kids are —
Are you going to start yelling? Don’t start yelling. Don’t start yelling. Come on. Why did you start yelling?
Hold on a second, everybody. Don’t get distracted. Wait, wait, wait! Wait, wait, wait! Hold up! Hold up! Hold up!
Hey, young man, young man, just listen for a second! You have to be polite and civil when people are talking. Then other people are talking, and then you get a chance to talk.
Set up your own rally. A lot of people worked hard for this. Come on, man. Come on. Come on.
Hey, hey, hey, settle down. Settle down, settle down. Come on, settle down.
Hey, hey, hey! Everybody, stay focused. Hold on a second. Hold on a second.
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Hold up! Hold up! Listen up. Listen up for a second, please.
This is part of what happens in our politics these days. We get distracted. You’ve got one person yelling and suddenly, everybody’s yelling. You get one tweet that’s stupid, and suddenly everybody’s obsessed with the tweet. We can’t fall for that. We have to stay focused. All right?
Now, I was talking about the pandemic, and the fact that the pandemic made a lot of problems worse. It’s an economy that was already skewed for the folks at the top. That accelerated that. It made it harder for folks who were just struggling to get by. And then communities, you already had communities where there were too many kids who were out of school, out of work, out of hope, the strain on teachers. And then some of those kids, that leads them to violence and despair when they don’t have hope.
And then we just got an example of an erosion of civility and basic democratic norms, some of it which is encouraged by politicians who actually do their best to stir up division, and to make us angry and afraid of one another just for their own political advantage. And all of that gets amped up, and it gets hyped up on social media 24/7, because those platforms find it more profitable to stir up conflict and controversy than to lift up truth and facts. And so, and that puts a strain on the psychology of all of us.
And last week, a friend of mine, Mr. Paul Pelosi, was attacked. Somebody broke into his home looking for his wife, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, did him harm. Fortunately, the doctors believe he’s going to be okay. I had a chance to talk to him, thank goodness.
But even as we let investigators do their job to find out exactly what this person’s motives was, one thing is clear, and that is this increasing habit of demonizing political opponents, of just yelling and thinking not just that I disagree with somebody, but that they’re evil or wrong. That creates a dangerous climate.
And when we have politicians and elected officials in leadership positions who continue to promote over-the-top rhetoric, or at least ignore or make light of it, even after something like that has happened, when you’ve got elected officials encouraging supporters to stand outside voting places, armed with guns and dressed in tactical gear, more people are going to get hurt. We violate the basic spirit of who we are, who we should be as a people.
And by the way, it’s not just politicians. Whether out of malice or ignorance, we’ve seen big celebrities reposting vile, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online. That is dangerous. We know enough about history to know where that leads.
Here is a general rule that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with being a decent person. If you read or see something on the internet that has some grand theory about how some people, whether it’s blacks or whites or Jews or Catholics or immigrants or gays, that those people are the cause of all your problems, when you see or read something like that, it’s safe to say that’s garbage. It is false. It is a poison that is dangerous, and we need to call it out as such. But unfortunately, we’ve seen that poison get more attention because of the internet and social media.
I get why people are anxious. I get why you might be worried about the course of the country. I understand why sometimes, it might be tempting to just tune out, just to get your remote and turn on The Great British Baking Show, to just watch some NASCAR or the Suns, right? I understand.
But Phoenix, I am here to tell you that tuning out is not an option. Moping and sulking is not an option. The only way to make this economy fairer is if we, all of us together, fight for it. The only way to preserve our democracy is if we, together, nurture and invest in it. That starts with electing people who know you, who see you, who care about you, who know what you’re going through.
And two years ago, you did that when you sent Joe Biden to the White House. He’s fighting for you every day. He’s got your back. He’s doing everything he can to put more money in your family’s pockets, and make streets safer, and bring more good paying jobs to Arizona.
You did it when you sent Mark Kelly to the United States Senate. And Arizona, now you need to do it again, because there may be a lot of issues at stake in this election, but the basic question that you always have to be asking yourself right now is who will fight for you. That’s the choice in this election. Who will fight for working people who are who are struggling to pay the bills?
Listen, inflation is a real problem right now, not just here, by the way, in the United States, but around the world. It’s one of the legacies of the pandemic. It wrecked supply lines. And then a war in Ukraine sent energy prices through the roof. You see grocery prices, gas prices go up. That takes a real bite out of your paycheck.
But the question is, who’s actually going to do something about it. Let me tell you, the Republicans talk about it, but when you press them for an answer, things get real quiet. What’s their economic policy? They do have one. They want to gut Social Security and Medicare, and give rich folks and big corporations more tax cuts.
And by the way, the reason we know that’s their economic policy is it is their policy for everything. That is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. If inflation’s low like it was when I was president, well, we need to cut taxes. If unemployment’s high, they want to cut taxes. When it’s the reverse, what do they want to do? They want to cut taxes for their friends.
I was joking the other day. If there was an asteroid headed towards Earth, they’d all get a room and say, you know what we need to do? Tax cuts for the wealthy. That’s going to solve it. I guess it’d be nice to have one answer for every problem.
Yeah, I remember when I was a kid. Sometimes, you take a math test, you didn’t study. And you go in there and you’re all like, man… But imagine if there was just one answer. You could just write, “8,” on every question, and you’d get 100. You’d come home, Mom, look! Except you know what? That’s not how it works.
That’s why Democrats have actual plans to take on the drug companies to lower prices, to get the oil industry to clean up its act, to pass laws to make housing more affordable, to make sure big corporations are paying their fair share and creating jobs here in Arizona instead of overseas.
That’s the choice in this election. That’s the choice you have to make.
There’s also plenty of talk about crime right now. You watch ads, it’s crime everywhere. Now, listen, violent crime has gone up over the last seven years. But by the way, it’s not just the last two. Remember when the other guy was in charge and crime was going up? You never heard anything about it from these folks. And by the way, it’s gone up not just in cities, it’s gone up in conservative rural states, too.
The question is, though, who will fight to keep you and your family safe? Is it the Republicans who want to flood our streets with more guns, who actually voted against more resources for our police departments, or is it the Democratic leaders like Mark Kelly, who worked with President Biden to pass the first major gun safety legislation in 30 years?
That’s the choice in this election! That’s what’s at stake right now.
Here’s another quiz. Who will fight for your freedom? Is it Republican politicians and judges who think they get to decide when you start a family or how many children you have or who you marry or who you love, or is it Democratic leaders who believe that the freedom to make these most personal decisions belongs to every American, not to politicians in Washington?
That’s the choice in this election. That’s what you have to decide.
And finally, finally, who’s going to fight to make our democratic system actually work for you? Republican politicians, they’ve promised — I’m not making this up, you can look it up. They have said — I have to give them credit, they’re very open about this. They said if they get control of Congress, they will spend the next two years investigating their political opponents. Some of them have said they’re going to impeach President Biden. They’re not sure what for, exactly, but apparently, that’s beside the point.
Now, how’s that going to help your family pay the bills? How are they going to fix roads here in Arizona? How’s that going to build more affordable housing?
That’s one choice, or do you stand a better chance with President Biden and leaders like Mark Kelly who have worked together, sometimes with Republicans, to pass an infrastructure bill that will create new jobs, who are making healthcare and prescription drugs cheaper, who’ve made the single largest investment ever in the fight against climate change.
That’s the choice in this election.
On one side, you’ve got politicians who seem to be willing to say and do anything to gain power. And on the other side, you’ve got leaders who see you, and care about you and share your values, leaders who want to make your lives better, and who want to move this country together forward.
And let me be clear about this, Arizona, because Arizona is what’s called a purple state, right? It’s not just one way or another. This hasn’t always been such a partisan thing.
I always remind people my favorite president was a guy named Abe Lincoln. He was a Republican, helped found the Republican Party. And right here in Arizona and around the country, there used to be GOP members who championed progress, and civil rights and the rule of law. But these days, it seems like just about every Republican politician seems obsessed with only two things: They want to own the libs. They want to own the libs, even if that means solving no problems.
Think about this. This is a little bit of an aside, but think about this governor in in Florida. The guy takes $1.5 million of taxpayer money, hires a plane, sends it to Texas, picks up these 50 migrants who don’t know any better, pays for them to be sent to Massachusetts, all just to “own the libs” so he can get on TV and say, look, look, look what I did. Yeah, that was a good one.
I mean, imagine that. He wasn’t even trying to deal with the migrants in his own state. He had to go somewhere else. I mean, who does that? It’s unbelievable. And he’s using taxpayer money. That money could have been used for some afterschool programs for kids in his state.
They want to own the libs, and the other thing that we really want to do is get Donald Trump’s approval. That’s their agenda. They’re not interested in actually solving problems. They’re not interested in solving immigration. They’re not interested in solving crimes. They’re not interested in solving inflation. They are interested in making you angry and then finding somebody else to blame for it, because that way, you may not notice that they’ve got no answers of their own.
Now here in Arizona, there’s no question that that Katie Hobbs’ opponent, she’s good in front of the camera because she’s been doing it for a long time, right? Some people don’t know this, but apparently Kari Lake actually interviewed me back in 2016 when I was president. She was a local news anchor; she was doing her job.
I have to admit, I don’t have much a clear memory of the interview. It’s a little fuzzy. But I do know this: At the time, I don’t remember thinking that she was the kind of person who would push debunked COVID remedies, or promise to issue a declaration of invasion at our border, or a claim without any evidence that the 2020 election was stolen. I guess that stuff came later because she found it convenient, because she thought, well, here’s an opportunity to get attention.
Listen, if we hadn’t just elected somebody whose main qualification was being on TV, you could see maybe giving it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, now we know it doesn’t just work out just because somebody’s been on TV.
Turns out being president or governor is about more than snappy lines and good lighting. It’s about more than having a good anchor voice. It’s about understanding what people are going through. It’s about coming up with real solutions for how to make your life better.
This isn’t a reality show. If Kari Lake is your governor, we know what she’ll be focused on because Donald Trump told us. He said if somebody asked Kari, how’s your family, she says, the election was rigged and stolen. It’s her answer for everything, along with tax cuts. That’s her answer.
Now, that’s great if you’re running to be Donald Trump’s best friend, except you know what? Arizona needs a governor who actually cares about you, someone who will work and fight for you every day, somebody like Katie Hobbs!
Katie grew up in Arizona. Katie’s parents sometimes had to rely on help from their church community and food stamps to make ends meet. She knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why her first job out of college was as a social worker, helping young people here in Phoenix deal with homelessness.
You can see what her values are by her track record, helped to run one of the largest domestic violence shelters in the country. That’s what she cares about, you! She’ll work for you as your Secretary of State. As your Secretary of State, while her opponent tries to undermine the integrity of our elections, Katie’s been protecting them, even when it meant getting death threats for doing her job. So you know she stands up for what’s right.
As Governor Katie’s opponent is going to be focused on making Donald Trump happy, Katie, she may not be flashy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: She’s flashy!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: She could have been. She just chooses not to be because she’s serious about her work. If you elect her governor, she’s going to get up every day and work her tail off, trying to create jobs, trying to lower costs, trying to make our schools better, trying to help Arizona families get ahead!
That’s the choice in this election!
We know what Mark Kelly’s focused on. Listen, I’ve known this man for a while. To say Mark Kelly is not a normal politician is an understatement. Here’s a guy, decorated naval aviator. You know when they had the Top Gun movie, all those people in the movie, those are actors. He is actually Top Gun. He’s actually an astronaut.
Think about that. I mean, you’ve got to be serious. You have to know what you are doing. You have to know how to work hard and be prepared if you’re going to go up in space. You can’t half-ass going into space. That, I’m pretty sure. I’ve never been there, but I’m pretty sure you can’t just go, like, just show up– saying, yeah, yeah, I could be in space. No you can’t!
But aside from those accomplishments, most Americans got to know him when he supported his wife and my friend, Gabby Giffords, after she was shot. And I know the kind of tireless dedication that he and Gabby have shown, not just with her recovery, but in trying to give meaning to that tragedy.
Compared to what Mark has already done, the problems we’re facing right now, they’re not the hardest thing he’s gone through. And it’s hard to argue with a guy who made life or death decisions… in space. And like another legendary senator from Arizona, Mark has an independent streak. He knows how to work with anybody to get things done, whether it’s putting people back to work, whether it’s fixing roads, whether it’s making sure high tech manufacturing is done here in Arizona, instead over in China.
He’s the real deal! He’s got the right stuff, which brings me to Mark’s opponent. If you were trying to create in a lab a lackey Republican politician, it’d look a lot like this guy, Mr. Masters. Campaign backed by a tech billionaire who’s questioning the value of democracy? Check. Wants to give tax cuts to big corporations that are jacking up prices on consumers? Check. Thinks it’s a good idea to privatize Social Security and, quote, cut the knot on the benefits that more than a million seniors here in Arizona depend on? Check, check, check.
I got a little fired up about this the other day in Wisconsin, but it’s true here in Arizona, too. Folks in Arizona have Social Security, not because somebody is giving it to them as a payoff, as a gift. They earned it. They worked for it. They’ve got calluses on their hands, and sore backs and bad knees because of the work they did.
If somebody like Blake Masters doesn’t understand that, if he only understands giving big tax breaks to his donors more than he understands the importance of making sure people who have worked their entire lives can retire with dignity and respect, that means he does not understand you. He does not see you. He doesn’t care about you, and he sure as heck should not represent you in the United States Senate. Just doesn’t seem like a very compassionate guy, does he?
He opposes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. Don’t boo, vote! Although I know with this guy, it’s tempting to boo. But he can’t hear your boos. He will hear your vote.
Congress still needs to take care of Dreamers. But in the meantime, you can vote yes on Prop 308 here in Arizona to make sure Dreamers have the same access to higher education as the kids they grew up with. It’s the right thing to do. It’s good for Arizona. It’s good for our economy. Mr. Masters may not understand that.
But you know what, Arizona? You deserve a leader who has a heart, and a leader who will do the right thing. You also deserves somebody who’s going to stand up for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body.
Abortion is controversial in this country. It’s been for a long time, and I genuinely believe — I’ve met them — people of good conscience who differ from me on this issue. But, goodness, we all should agree that women everywhere should be the ones making decisions about their own body. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that the most intimate personal healthcare choices should be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor, and not a bunch of mostly male politicians. Come on!
When Roe was struck down, that was a wakeup call for a lot of young people, especially young women, who maybe took it for granted. And it was a reminder that when courts get politicized, they can reinterpret what we thought were well-settled constitutional rights. We can go backwards. There have been times in our history where we went backwards. If Republicans take back the House and Senate, we very well could be one presidential election away from a nationwide ban to access to abortion. And that might just be the beginning.
I taught constitutional law for over a decade. I can tell you this: If a court does not believe in a zone of privacy that allows us to make certain decisions without government interference, then other freedoms we take for granted are at risk. Justice Clarence Thomas already said as much. If there’s no right to privacy, then same-sex marriage could be at risk. Almost every Republican in the House of Representatives already voted against guaranteeing a right to use contraception.
That’s not in the Constitution. It was interpreted as part of a right to privacy, but there’s nothing explicit in the Constitution providing that right.
Think about that. If they take back power, there’s no guarantee birth control won’t be next. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve just read the case law. I know the case law.
I know a lot of women here in Arizona were devastated back in September when a judge reinstated a law that was passed in 1864, before Arizona was a state, about 60 years before women were even allowed to vote, banning abortion with no exception for rape or incest. And since then, an appeals court has blocked it temporarily, but the long-term fate of these rights in Arizona could hinge on this election.
We know where Mark’s opponent stands. He supports a nationwide abortion ban. You already heard he called abortion “demonic” and a “religious sacrifice.” Again, that’s the kind of over-the-top language that ends up getting people hurt, because if your opponents are demonic, well, then there’s no constraint on what you think you can do to them. Break into their homes, hit people with hammers because they’re demons; it’s demonic.
And just as an aside, have you noticed how the people who get the most fired up about a woman’s right to choose are men who’ve never needed an abortion, never had an OB/GYN, never had a Pap smear, never had a cramp, don’t know nothing about any of this? But they think they’re the experts. I think it’s fair to say I don’t tell Michelle what to do with her body. You notice that, men acting like you know something? You don’t know. Funny how that works.
Mark Kelly’s been fighting to restore abortion rights in Arizona. And if you send them back to Washington, he’ll fight to make sure women always have the care that they need. That’s who he is. That’s what’s at stake in this election. If that’s not worth 15 minutes of your time, I don’t know what is, because that’s about how long it takes to vote.
But you know what? If you do need one more reason to vote, consider the fact that our democracy is on the ballot, and nowhere is that clearer than here in Arizona.
I have to admit, sometimes going out on the campaign trail feels a little harder than it used to for me, partly, I’m just a little out of practice. And I’m a little stiffer, you know? But back when I was first running for office, I would go, and back then, I didn’t even have a driver, much less a motorcade. Young people won’t understand this, but there were these things called maps. And they’d be in your front seat, and you’d unfold them. And then you didn’t know how to fold them back. And then you’d have to trace out, and what road am I on?
And so, I’d drive around, and I was in Illinois. I’d drive out of Chicago, and we’d go into rural areas. And I’d go to a fish fry or a county fair or a VFW hall, or I’d just stop in a diner. And some of these areas were really conservative, and they weren’t used to a guy named Barack Obama. And I’d sit and have a piece of pie, coffee, because I really like pie. And we’d have a conversation.
And people did not agree with me on everything, and I didn’t always get people’s votes. But you felt at least you could talk to each other. And you could talk about your families and your kids, and Little League, and what your hopes were for the future. And maybe you shared a story about an ailing parent and dealing with the healthcare system. And people felt like, okay, I see you. You’re okay. I may not agree with you on every issue.
And that’s, by the way, why I ended up getting a whole bunch of Republican votes. I know that seems hard to believe, but I did. And it wasn’t that long ago. And then, after I won, your own John McCain graciously conceded. He wished me luck for the sake of the country. He knew it was important. And that basic foundation of decency, and democratic norms, and respecting the rules and facts, that’s at risk right now.
I mean, Democrats aren’t perfect. I’m the first one to admit it. I wasn’t perfect. Politicians, we all make mistakes, but right now, with a few notable exceptions — and I give them credit — most GOP politicians, they’re not even pretending that the rules apply to them. They seem to be willing to just make stuff up.
I mean, I know I’m old enough to remember when Arizona elected not just John McCain, but other Republicans who, they fought hard in elections. They didn’t agree with Democrats on stuff, but they were decent, honorable public servants. That feels like a long time ago.
Right now, you’ve got Republicans right here in the state, they’ve nominated a whole cast of characters, who at least say — I don’t know if they really believe it, but they have decided it’s advantageous for them to just assert that Donald Trump won the last election. And now, they want control over the next election, and their argument has no basis in reality. You had other Republicans conduct audits, and look and say, “No, I’m sorry, you’re wrong,” and it doesn’t matter. Then they got threats. They got drummed out of the party.
I mean, you don’t have to take my word for it. The other day, your own current Attorney General, who’s a Republican, called the election fraud claims made by Katie Hobbs’ opponent horse crap. I’m paraphrasing; he didn’t say it exactly that way. He said her whole act about how the election was stolen is a giant grift. And obviously, I wish he had said it a little bit earlier, but better late than never.
But the point is, Arizona, I want to talk to people who aren’t in this auditorium. Why would you vote for somebody who you know is not telling the truth about something? I mean, on something that important, I don’t care how nicely they say it. I don’t care how poised they are or how well-lit they are.
I mean, you have people from her own party saying that’s just not true. And yet, it seems as if it doesn’t matter anymore. What happens when truth doesn’t matter anymore? If you just repeat something over and over again, and it’s a lie, and yet because your side is saying it, it’s okay.
Like I said, Democrats are perfect, but I can tell you this. Mark will testify; Gabby will testify. If I just said something that was an outright lie, there would be Democrats in Congress who would say, I’m sorry, I like Obama, but that’s not true. But that doesn’t seem to be happening right now on the other side.
And that’s dangerous. That’s a problem. That’s not how we treat our democracy. Shoot, that’s not how we interact in our workplace. If somebody at work just lied all the time and just made stuff up, at a certain point, you’d be like, well, I can’t work with this person. They make stuff up. Now, you’re looking at the highest office in the state. And the person doesn’t seem to care.
Mark’s opponent’s been pushing conspiracy theories, too. He’s getting a little more nervous about it, right? During the primaries, his website had all kinds of lies about how the election was stolen. And then after he won the nomination, the — poof! — vanished. Along with his extreme views on abortions, that same poof. I mean, this guy’s supposed to know tech. Does he think people that track that, that they don’t notice?
It’s like every parent’s had this experience after Halloween, right? You tell your kid, “Only eat so much candy.” The kid’s, “I didn’t eat the candy,” and they’ve got the chocolate smudge. Come on, man.
Listen, Arizona, I get that democracy might not seem like a top priority right now. No, I read polls. It was like 75% of Americans think democracy is a serious risk and only 7% think it’s their top priority. I think that’s a troubling statistic, but it’s true. And I get it. Look, you’re worrying about making ends meet. You feel like the political process doesn’t work as fast as you’d like on the issues that matter most to you and your family. And so, you don’t prioritize it.
But we’ve seen around the world, and we’ve seen throughout history what happens when places lose democracy or never had democracy, places where governments tell you what books you can read and which books you can’t read, countries that put dissidents in jail and reporters in jail or force reporters to write what they want, to write whether it’s true or not, countries where it doesn’t matter who you vote for because it is actually rigged, where the people will do whatever they want, and corruption runs rampant because there’s no accountability.
When true democracy goes away, people get hurt. It has real life consequences. It’s not some abstract political science question. We are all affected, and we take this for granted, and we can’t.
There’s a reason why generations of Americans fought and died for this idea of self-government– and why we set up rules to make it work, and why, when people weren’t included, folks marched and struggled to bring them into our democracy as part of “We, the People.”
Women couldn’t vote, and we fought to make sure women could vote. Blacks and Latinos and Native Americans couldn’t vote, and we fought to make sure that they could vote. Gay people couldn’t be openly who they were. We fought to make sure they could be part of this “We, the people,” that determines together how our country is supposed to operate!
And we set up rules about how we make decisions as a group so that everybody gets a say, and there’s peaceful transfers of power. And if you don’t get your way, you don’t throw a tantrum.
Listen, I lost my first congressional race in the primary by 30 points. I got whooped. I was frustrated; that I didn’t feel good. I had to wake up the next day. You’ve got a big L on your forehead. That didn’t feel good.
You know what I didn’t do? I didn’t claim the election was rigged. I didn’t spin conspiracy theories. I didn’t instigate a mob to go up and storm the Capitol. You know what I did, is I got over it, and then I tried to do better the next time. That’s what I mean when I say democracy is at stake in this election.
It’s not enough, by the way, to elect Democrats like Katie Hobbs and Mark Kelly at the top of the ticket. We’ve got to elect good people up and down the ballot, like Adrian Fontes for your Secretary of State, and Kris Mayes as your Attorney General.
Adrian’s a former Marine. He’s an attorney. He’s an election administrator. He’s helped to make it easier for Arizonans to get registered and cast their ballots.
Kris has been one of the strongest advocates for consumers here in Arizona, working to save families money and conserve natural resources.
Their opponents, whoa, boy. Woo! Kris’ opponent, another election denier, exaggerated his experience, made anti-Semitic comments. Adrian’s opponent was at the Capitol on January 6. He was actually there. I mean, he might not have been the guy with the Viking helmet, but he was there, has ties to far right anti-government militia. Come on, people! Said it was perfectly fine for people to stand by ballot drop boxes carrying weapons, suggested he might use his power to reject Democratic votes in the future.
Again, I understand I’m preaching to the choir in this auditorium. I want Arizonans who are just regular folks, Republicans, ask yourself, that’s the guy you want in charge of your elections, somebody who was part of an insurrection and thinks it’s okay for armed people to stand to intimidate folks next to ballot boxes? That’s how America’s democracy is supposed to work? Doesn’t that override party labels?
And Arizona, let’s be honest with each other for a second. I know folks out there, including Republicans, may be thinking there’s no way somebody like that is actually going to get elected. You may think that’s too extreme for Arizona, but we’ve seen folks can win if we don’t do our part. And if you’ve got election deniers serving as your governor, as your senator, as your Secretary of State, as your Attorney General, then democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona. That’s not an exaggeration, that is a fact.
And that should transcend party labels. You shouldn’t have to be a Democrat to care about that. If there was a Democrat who was doing the same thing on the other side, I would renounce them.
When Donald Trump won, I stayed up till three in the morning so I could offer a congratulatory call to somebody who opposed everything I stood for. But I believed in the peaceful transfer of power. I sat at his inauguration. We welcomed him into the White House because that’s what America is supposed to be about.
Did we forget that? Did that only apply to one side? What has happened?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Trump!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, no, it’s deeper than that. It’s deeper than that, and we have to we have to do some soul searching here.
You deserve, just as a baseline, leaders who believe every one of your votes should count, full stop. You deserve what did not used to be a radical idea, which is that all of us participate. We cast our ballots. Whoever gets the most vote wins. Whoever doesn’t here, they concede. And then we move on to the next election, and we actually govern.
And that’s why it’s so important to vote for people like Kris and Adrian, who will protect the integrity of our elections, because if things get close, they could make all the difference.
So now, you get to make a difference, as long as you turn out, as long as you turn out to vote from Navajo Nation to Nogales.
We joke in my house that Michelle can be sometimes the glass-half-empty person.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love her!
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I love her, too– but she can sometimes get a little discouraged about what she’s seeing. And I’m the hope and change guy, so I try to be a little more optimistic. And so, sometimes, when she gets down about the state of the country or the state of the world, I tell her, “Honey, everything’s going to be okay.” And I believe it will be.
But I know that things won’t be okay on their own. We have to fight for it. We have to work for it, not just on Election Day, but every day in between. That’s what it means. That’s what it means to be part of “We, the People.” That’s why this election matters.
Yes, these are tough times, but we’ve been through tough times before. The important thing is that we resist the temptation to give up, that we resist the temptation to get cynical and we turn inward. And the important thing is to resist the temptation to see everything as a zero sum game where anything goes, and the rules are made to be broken as long as it helps our team. And the only way for people like us to win is for people like them to lose, because what this flag stands for is we’re supposed to be part of one team.
And even in our darkest moments, and there have been darker moments in this country before, we’ve always had more in common than our politics suggest. Even when times are tough, there’s always been a thread that unites us that’s stronger than what divides us. There are certain values that bind us together of honesty, and kindness and freedom, and a belief that no matter who we are or where we come from, what we look like, who we love, that we matter.
That’s the promise of America. That’s who we are. We may not fix all our problems overnight, but we can make things better. And better is worth fighting for!
If you’re anxious, if you’re frustrated, don’t complain! Don’t tune out, don’t get bamboozled or fall for the okey-doke!
Get out there and vote! Get off your couch and vote!
Put down your phone and vote for leaders like Kris Mayes, and Adrian Fontes, and Katie Hobbs and Mark Kelly, who will fight for that big, inclusive, hopeful, forward looking America that we believe in! If you do that, we will build a country that is more fair, and more just, and more equal and more free. That’s our job. Let’s get to work.
Thank you, Phoenix. Thank you, Arizona. I love you. Come on!