Remarks at Virginia’s 2015 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner

Thank you all so much. I gotta tell you… [applause] Thank you. Hello, Viriginia! [applause]

I love your governor and I love your first lady. And I am so thrilled to be here with you on such an historic day for our country, a day when we affirmed the principle first set down more than two centuries ago by a wise Virginian, that every one of us is created equal. [applause]

I’m delighted to be here with so many friends. I had chance to visit with your two great Democratic senators. Both Senator Warner and Senator Kaine are doing such an extraordinary job in the Senate, representing you.

And of course for me, it’s a special treat to be here with the tremendous, unbelievable, beyond description – I’m running out of superlatives – governor who has been a friend and a colleague to me. You know, they say Virginia is for lovers. Well, I’m not sure anyone loves this Commonwealth and all of you more than Terry McAuliffe. He may have the biggest heart and the most open mind of anyone you’ll ever meet – except, of course, for your first lady. There are not many people who can leave Terry speechless, but Dorothy does it every time she walks into the room. And I happen to know a thing or two about what it takes to be first lady of a state, and I have to say Dorothy is in a class by herself.

Now, we’ve always known Terry could talk the talk, but as governor he’s proving every day he can also walk the walk. [applause] Tens of thousands of new jobs, billions in new capital investment, exports surging, a stronger more diversified Virginia economy – that’s what your Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is delivering. And he’s my kind of leader – a pragmatic progressive, he understands that success should be measured by how many families get ahead and stay ahead, not by how big the bonuses are for the wealthiest Americans. So he’s making the investments Virginia needs in education and transportation, and he’s taking care of our veterans. He is working to expand preschool for Virginia’s children. He is defeating efforts to close women’s health centers across the Commonwealth. And from his first day in office, he’s been a champion for marriage equality. And through it all, Terryhas exemplified the Virginia Way. He always prefers common ground to scorched earth. He knows – he knows that we Americans may differ, bicker, stumble and fall, but we are at our best when we pick each other up, when we have each other’s back.

Today was one of those days when we’re reminded that like any family, our American family is strongest when we cherish what unites us and fight back against those who would divide us. It was an emotional roller coaster of a day. This morning, love triumphed in the highest court in our land. [applause]

Equality triumphed, America triumphed. Just listen to the final lines of the Supreme Court’s decision, because they have resonated with so many people across our country. And this is what that decision said:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. …marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

And to that I say, “Amen! Thank you!” [applause]

You know, like so many others, my personal views have been shaped over time by people I have known and loved. As a mother and now a grandmother, I remember the joy and pride I felt watching my daughter marry the love of her life. How could we deny that opportunity to any, anyone’s son or daughters solely on the basis of who they are and who they love?

Today’s decision confirms we’ve working toward equality as a nation, step by step, case by case, court by court, and that equality has been right there in the Constitution all along. There’s something quite remarkable about that.

Like the case here in Virginia that struck down bans on interracial marriage 48 years ago [applause], today was not about discovering new rights. It was about getting closer to the ideals that have defined our nation from the very beginning.

I took comfort in that this afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina, as I joined President Obama and Mrs. Obama and many others in honoring the life and legacy of Reverend Pinkney and the other eight men and women murdered for the color of their skin.

Our ideals persevere through every storm if we honor and defend them. America is a gift, but it’s a gift that must be earned by every generation.

And make no mistake – there are always forces pushing in the opposite direction to deny rights rather than defend or expand them. To constrict the circle of opportunity and equality rather than expand it. To lash out in hate and fear rather than embrace in love and hope.

Now [applause], I know it’s tempting to dismiss a terrible tragedy like Charleston as an isolated incident,  to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us. But despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with racism is far from finished.

And let’s be honest, let’s be honest. Despite today’s ruling, our struggle to end LGBT discrimination is also far from finished. [applause] That’s because fear and hatred are far from finished.

And so our march goes on. America’s march toward that more perfect union, toward equality, toward dignity, toward justice, toward a brighter future for all Americans.

The Supreme Court has done its work. Now we have to do ours.

I’m gonna talk a little politics here, not just because we’re at a political event and not just because I’m running for president., but because politics is about the choices we make – the choices we make. Not only about our leaders, but about how we govern ourselves.

Over the past weeks we’ve seen many moving displays of leadership that have really exemplified our country at our best. The president stirred us with his words both before and especially today as he spoke at the funeral.

Governors like Nikki Haley and Terry McAuliffe made us proud by removing the Confederate flag from statehouses am license plates

Mayors and pastors and community leaders came together in unity, Democrats and Republicans alike.

But we also saw the opposite from too many, even including many of the Republican candidates for president who seemed determined to lead us right back into the past. This morning they all decried the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding marriage equality. We even heard them call for a constitutional amendment to strip away the right to marry from our gay brothers and sisters, strip away equal dignity in the eyes the law. Instead of trying to turn back the clock, they should be joining us in saying loudly and clearly, No. No to discrimination once and for all.

I am asking them – please, don’t make the rights, the hopes of any American into a political football for this 2016 campaign. LGBT Americans should be free not just to marry but to live, learn and work just like everybody else.

Sadly, before the funerals of the nine murdered, church-going, faithful men and women were even finished, some Republicans in Congress voted to stop Centers for Disease Control from studying gun violence. How can you watch massacre after massacre and take that vote? That is wrong. It puts our people at risk. [applause] And I for one am never going to stop fighting for a better, safer, smarter approach to get that gun violence in this country under control. [applause]

I believe as the President said today in Charleston, a majority of Americans and a majority of gun owners support common-sense reforms. Let us join together.

There’s so much for us to do. We have a long agenda in front of us and we need to show respect for one another. We need to call out derogatory language, insults, personal attacks wherever they occur. There is enough for us to debate without going there.

Recently a Republican candidate for president described immigrants as drug dealers. rapists and criminals. [boos] Maybe he’s never met them. Maybe he’s never stopped to ask the millions of people who love this country, work hard and want nothing more than a chance to build a better life for themselves and their children what their lives are like.

Now, these are not…and these are not the only problems. We need to condemn divisive rhetoric, but we also need to make sure that people are looking at the real problems of our country.

A lot of Republicans make talk about having new ideas and fresh faces, but across the board they’re the party of the past, not the future. And when you ask them, “What are your new ideas on the economy?” Well, you guessed it – more tax cuts for the very wealthy and fewer rules for Wall Street. Now if that sounds familiar, it’s because those are exactly the same top-down economic policies that failed us before. Americans have come too far to see our progress ripped away. [applause]

Ask many of these candidates about climate change, one of the defining threats of our time, and they’ll say, “I’m not a scientist.” Well then, why don’t they start listening to those who are scientists? [applause]

Ask them about women’s reproductive health – they’re likely to talk about defunding Planned Parenthood [boos] Or maybe they’ll insist on forcing women to undergo some demeaning and invasive medical procedure as was attempted right here in Virginia. Well, one thing’s for certain: we don’t need any more leaders who shame and blame women rather than respect our right to make our own reproductive health decisions. [applause]

And then – then there’s the Affordable Care Act. All the Republican candidates were furious that earlier this week the Supreme Court once again confirmed what we’ve all known and believed for years –it is settled law and it is here to stay. That means health insurance for 16 million Americans and more than 335,000 Virginians is here to stay. That means millions of young people are able to stay on their parents’ plans. It means hundreds of billions of dollars in budget savings are here to stay. And yes, you heard that right – because contrary to all the fear-mongering, this law – the Affordable Care Act – does not grow the deficit, it shrinks the deficit. [applause] And you know what’s gone for good? Insurance companies discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions [applause] or charging women more for the same coverage. [applause]

Now the Republicans have already forced more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or dismantle this law – all without offering a viable alternative – yet even after two Supreme Court verdicts and a presidential election, they’re still fighting to take us backwards. [boos]

I think we can sum up the message from the court and the American people in just two words: Move on!

We still have work to do. There’s more to do to protect patients from high drug costs and insurance company abuses, to simplify and streamline to ease burdens on small businesses, to lower out-of-pocket costs for families.

And Governor McAuliffe is right – it is time, it is past time, to expand Medicaid right here in Virginia. That would provide coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need it. It would create or support tens of thousands of jobs. And, it would potentially save about a $100 million  in the state budget.

So it’s time to drop the excuses, drop the obstruction and get the job done for Virginia families, for hard working men and women. It’s time to turn the page on failed Republican policies in Washington and Richmond and across our country, so that we can together focus on the future.

Look across this commonwealth. You see so much that’s working, so much to build on. After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Virginians across this Commonwealth are making a new beginning for themselves. And I know what you did. You worked extra shifts. You took second jobs. You postponed those home repairs. You figured out how to make it work.

We’re standing again, but we all know we’re not yet running the way America should. And you see the record profits of corporations and the record pay of some CEO’s, but too many paychecks have barely budged.

The question is: when does all your hard work pay off? When does your family get ahead? Now! Now! You brought our country back and it is your time. [applause]

And you know what? America succeeds when you succeed.

I’m running for president to make our economy and our country work for you and for every American. I will go to bat for the successful, the striving and the struggling, for the innovators and the inventors, for the factory workers and food servers who stand on their feet all day, for the nurses who work the night shift, for the truckers who drive for hours, for the farmers who feed us, for the veterans who served our country, for the small business owners who took risks, for the gay couple who love each other, for the black child who still lives in the shadow of discrimination and the Hispanic child was still shadow of deportation. [applause]

Just as Terry said, I’m on the side for everyone who’s ever been knocked down but refused to be knocked out. [applause]

I’m not running for some Americans, but for all Americans.

I will always stand my ground so you and our country can gain ground. [applause]

If you’ll give me the chance, I will wage and win four fights for you and we’ll do it together to build that economy for tomorrow not yesterday; to strengthen America’s families, because when our families are strong America is strong; to harness all our power, our smarts and our values to maintain American leadership in the world; and to reform our government and revitalize our democracy so it works for everyday Americans.

Now, to win these fights, our next president will have to work with Congress and every other willing partner in our country. I will do just that. I did it before. I worked across the aisle.

It’s not going to be easy. I know as well as anyone how hard this job really is. I have seen it up close and personal. [applause]

You know how all our presidents come into office looking so vigorous and then we watch their hair grow grayer and grayer? Well, you won’t see my hair turn white in the White House. [laughing] [applause]

I may not be youngest candidate in this race, but with your help I will be youngest woman president in the history of the United States! [applause]

So, Virginia… [applause] Virgin1a, let’s work together to make sure this beloved Commonwealth is blue, that we have Democrats in the state legislature to work with that governor, and that we do have a Democratic president in the White House in 2017! [applause]

Thank you all and God bless you! [applause]

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