Obama Comes Home
Rush transcript of Barack Obama’s remarks to Hawaii at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park:
Aloha! First of all, everybody who doesn’t know, this is Michelle Obama. My partner, my love, and the person who knocks sense into me every once in a while. First I want to thank… Mayor Mufi Hanneman. I want to thank my great colleague from the Senate who’s here, one of the sweetest people, someone who embodies the Aloha Spirit, Danny Akaka. I know he’s not here today, but I also want to acknowlege my senior Senator — Danny, you’re the young guy — our senior Senator from Hawaii who has just done such great work on behalf of the islands for so long, Sen. Dan Inouye. And finally, I want to say thank you to somebody who’s been such a good friend to me… some of you may know this, but this guy actually knew my father, and was actually there when my father and mother were together, he knew me when I was a baby, and he’s been a friend of the family ever since. Nobody’s been fighting harder on behalf of this campaign, a champion of working people here in Hawaii, please give a huge round of applause to Congressman Neil Abercrombie.
So listen. I love you back! So, I have to tell you guys. I just want to give you a little secret here. I’m actually here on vacation. Some reporters just asked me, “What are you going to do?” I’m going to get a plate lunch. I might got to Zippy’s, I might go to Rainbow Drive-Inn, I haven’t decided yet. Get some Zip Min. I’m going to go get some shave ice. I’m going to go bodysurfing in an undisclosed location. I’m going to see my tutu, my grandma. And I’m going to watch my girls play at the beach. And maybe once in a while I’ll go in the water, but mostly I’m going to sit there and watch them.
I’m not here to politic. What we’re mainly here to do is to say thank you. Because I’ve traveled an awful lot of places during the primary, through 47 states, except when I told my staff I want to go to Hawaii, they said, “You can’t do that. First of all, Hawaii’s too nice, you’re working doing the primary, and second, if you don’t win Hawaii, you’re in trouble.” So we didn’t end up coming to Hawaii to campaign during the caucuses. And despite the fact that I didn’t show up, we had volunteers all across the island. People were coming out, and volunteering, and knocking on doors… and when the caucuses finally came, we saw more people than we had ever seen caucusing in Hawaii. Lines going around the block, waiting two hours… and we had won 70 percent, 75 percent of the caucus vote.
And so the main purpose of me being here right now, before I head off and see my grandma, is to say thank you to all of you, because all of you worked so hard to put me in the position where I may have the honor as serving as your president of the United States.
A lot of times reporters ask me, “What is it you still carry from Hawaii?” I now live in Chicago, I live in Illinois… some Chicago folks in the house… I have to admit, December in Chicago is different than December in Hawaii. So they ask, “What do you still bring from Hawaii? How does it affect your character, your politics?” And I try to explain to them something about the Aloha Spirit. This basic idea that we all have obligations to each other, that we’re not alone. If we see someone in need, we should help… if there’s a child that… if there’s someone elder, that we should make sure they have a life of comfort and dignity. We look out for… Deal in courtesy and respect. And most importantly, you start understanding that what’s on the surface, what people look like, that doesn’t determine who they are. And the power and strength of diversity, the ability of people from everywhere, black or white, Japanese American or Korean American or Filipino American, they’re just Americans. All of us can work together and all of us can join together to create a better country.
You know what that change will mean. An energy policy that finally starts investing in solar and wind and biodiesel and no longer depends on foreign oil. And I know here in Hawaii people are especially hard hit… It’s time you got some real relief, that’s what we’re fighting for in this election. That’s the choice in this election.
It’s time we had an education policy that doesn’t just have a slogan, “No child left behind,” but leaves the children behind. Early childhood education… makes college affordable for every young person in America, that’s what we’re fighting for in this election.
It’s about time we had a healthcare system that works for every American. I know people in Hawaii are healthier than they are in a lot of places, it’s hard to get sick around here. But there’s still a lot of people here who aren’t getting the checkups, the screenings they need, paying higher premiums, higher copayments… We need a healthcare system that invests in prevention. Anybody who needs health insurance can get health insurance… that’s what we’re fighting for in this election. A healthcare system that works for every American.
We need to be investing in roads and bridges and putting people to work, strategies that create jobs across America… We are spending 10-12 billion in Iraq, and if we’re spending that money in Iraq, we can spend that here, in Hawaii and across the country.
And we’re fighting for a foreign policy that keeps America safe but also promotes our values and ideals in the world. People in Hawaii understand military service. We have a lot of bases here, and a lot of young men and women who serve, and they serve with distinction, courage, and bravery in Afghanistan and Iraq. And they deserve our honor and respect. but they also deserve a civilian leadership that understands that the most important thing we can do to keep safe is to fight the right wars. We need to finish the job in Afghanastan, bring the war in Iraq to a close, and bring our troops home… and we need to treat them with respect, no more homeless veterans… That’s what we’re fighting for in this election.
So let me say this. This election is going to be close. And we’re going to have to fight every inch of the way. Because change is hard. People, sometimes, they accept what is as inevitable. They get cynical, and say Washington serves the special interests, the oil companies, the banks, the drug companies… Nobody is going to hear our voices, nobody is working for us. That’s a lot of times what people feel about our government.
But one of the things this campaign is here to say is, this is your government. Of, by, and for the people. Of the single mom, like my mother, here in Honolulu, who sometimes had to get food stamps buts still gave me a good education and still sent me to college, that’s what this government is.
This is the government that, when my grandfather came back from World War II, gave him a GI loan so he could go to college. Gave him a HA loan so he could have a house, and gave him the kind of burial he deserves, on Punchbowl Cemetery. That’s the government we deserve, that’s the government we’re fighting for.
The people of Hawaii understand that if we stand up and let our voices be heard, there’s no reason we cannot bring about change. And you also understand that if you don’t, we might pass on a planet that’s a lot more polluted, a government that’s more neglectful of its people, and an economy that’s not giving people the opportunities… that’s not what this country is about. That’s not Hawaii is about.
My grandparents moved here in 1959, 1960… this was going to be the new frontier, part of the American Dream, move west, get a fresh start… And they succeeded in doing that. And everyone here understands that story, whether you’re coming from the east or west… if you tried, you can make it. We have to make sure that American Dream still lives. If you will work as hard as you already worked, continue to knocking on doors, making phone calls, sending those contributions, talk to friends and neighbors, send emails… remind them, this is our moment, our time, to make sure America lives up to our ideals. And we will not just win here in Hawaii, we will win all across the country, we will change this country and the world.
God bless you all. Aloha, thank you everybody. I’ll see you on the beach.