Hillary Clinton addressed a crowd of about 2,000 at Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.
This is the full, unedited recording:
Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. (audience chants "Hillary")
Wow, I am thrilled to be here at Carnegie Mellon University (audience cheers) and to be in this great American city as the mayor so rightly said — a city that has not only built bridges but moved into the future demonstrating absolutely that you can have resilience if you are resourceful. If you don't give up, you keep working together, we can make it here in Pittsburgh and America. (audience cheers)
I come out of a tradition of American progressivism, which believes with all our hearts that we are one country, one people, one future and we have to work with each other, lift each other up. We have to respect each other. (audience cheers) We have to demonstrate by what we do that our diversity is an asset. (audience cheers) It makes us, it makes us the luckiest nation in the world to have the talents, the dreams, the aspirations of countless people.
But what I want to do if I'm so fortunate as to be your president (audience cheers) is to knock down, knock down every barrier that stands in the way of any American being able to fulfill his or her God-given potential. (audience cheers) Every American deserves the building blocks of a personal future that will help us build America's future.
So I've been very clear in this campaign: I take a back seat to nobody (audience cheers) when, when it comes to being a progressive. But I do believe if you are a progressive, you need to make progress. (audience cheers) You gotta get things done, you've gotta bring people together, and that's what I intend to do.
You see, I think there are three big tests the next president has to meet. And if you think about it, you're actually doing a big job interview. You wanna know, who are these people running for president? Where do they come from? What are they believe — what have they done in the past? What have they not just said, but what have they accomplished? (audience cheers) And can we — can we count on them? Can we count on them to stand up for Americans and America?
And so here are these tests. Number one: can the next president actually deliver results that make differences, positive differences, in the lives of Americans of all ages? You gotta be able to ask that. Well I think one of the ways you look is, what have you done already? Who have you helped? (audience cheers) Who have you fought for? Who have you taken on? Who have you stood up against? (audience applauds)
Now the second test is: can you keep us safe and continue to lead the world on behalf of American values? (audience cheers) And the third is: can you unify America? Can you bring us together? Can you end the divisiveness that has become all too common in our politics? (audience cheers)
So, when I think about producing results, I think about my grandfather who came with his family as a young immigrant to northeast Pennsylvania to Scranton. (audience cheers) I think about how he went to work in the Scranton Lace Mills when he was still a teenager. And he worked there his entire life. And he built a good middle-class life in those times for his three sons. And then, his sons went to college, Penn State. (audience cheers) And, when they got out of college — I know, it's a little school up the road (audience laughs) — when they got out of college they had a better future. And my dad was a small businessman and my mom had a really tough upbringing but she got through it and she showed resilience and grit that was such a great example to me.
Now every one of us has a story. Your own families, you've seen the struggles. Maybe not in your time, but in the prior generations. And what's been so extraordinary about America — this amazing experiment — is that we delivered. We weren't perfect and we had a lot of problems to overcome, but we delivered. And we never gave up, and we just kept going. And yes, sometimes we fell short of our own dreams, but that didn't stop us.
So what I want you to understand as I look out at all of you — particularly those in front of me — this election is much more about your futures than anything else. It's about what kind of country will be waiting for you as you make your decisions over the next years and what kind of world will be out there.
So I want you to imagine with me what we can build together. Imagine an economy that creates enough good paying jobs for every American to feel that he or she counts, to have the purpose and dignity (audience cheers) that comes with a good job, with a rising income. Imagine that we put millions of Americans to work again, fixing our infrastructure — our roads, our bridges (audience cheers) our tunnels, our ports, our airports.
Not only what can see, but what we can't see. No person in America should ever drink water contaminated by lead (audience cheers) or anything else. Imagine that we once again become the manufacturing engine of the world, that we are building what the world needs, what is creating our future. I was just over at the robotics institute, and (audience cheers) I saw the extraordinary work they are doing in medicine, in manufacturing, in the kind of home care delivery that will be part of the work done at this great university (audience cheers) by the faculty, by the students.
I want us once again to believe that we can make the future by making the goods that we then can export around the world. I know we can do this because, not only at the robotics institute, but in many places across our country I have seen that future. I know what we can accomplish, but we've gotta make sure our tax code rewards that kind of work, we invest in research again at the level that we should from the federal government. (audience cheers)
So that's why for both infrastructure and manufacturing I've laid out very specific plans on how to do this. We need a national infrastructure bank that can continue to fund the kind of work that needs to be done in our country, and in manufacturing I have a $10 billion plan that will invest in the kind of inventions and productivity increases that can come right out of this great university (audience cheers) and put people to work.
And I want you to join me in one of the great goals that has ever been set by human beings, and that is to combat climate change (audience cheers) and begin to reverse the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
I care passionately about this because I actually listen to the scientists. (audience cheers) And when you ask the Republicans who are running (several audience members boo) you know, they all say — they all say, "Well, I'm not a scientist." (audience laughs) But I bet Carnegie Mellon could help teach them (audience cheers) about climate change and what means for our country.
But it's not only because we face this existential threat, but because there are economic opportunities if we put our heads together and work to create them. I was there in 2009 — President Obama and I had to crash a meeting in Copenhagen during one of the climate conferences — literally had to stalk the Chinese and the Indians. They kept telling us they couldn't meet with us. They said, "Well, we're on the way to the airport." On the way to the airport? Meeting's not over! So we sent out scouts throughout this huge convention center and word came back — "they're way in the back, they're having a secret meeting." So the president and I said "Well, I think we'd like to attend," (audience laughs) So off we went! (audience cheers) And they had been dodging and avoiding us for days. So we marched up the stairs and the security guards were saying "no, no, no!" And President Obama and I just kept smiling "hi, hi, hi." (audience laughs) And the room they were in was all, you know, covered with curtains so you couldn't see who was in there. And so the president just went up and kinda pushed through the security guard's arm, and then his arm went back up so I ducked under the security guard's arm. (audience laughs) And we got into the room and the president said, "We've been looking for you," (audience laughs) and then we pulled up chairs and we sat down and we said, "Let's reach some agreements so we can start to move the world toward actually facing up to dealing with and reversing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions." (audience cheers)
And that's why I was thrilled when a hundred and ninety-five countries signed the agreement in Paris. My opponent said, "Oh, no." He didn't like it, it wasn't good enough. You know, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (audience cheers) We finally got 195 countries on board.
So now here's our challenge: some country is going to be the 21st century clean energy superpower. As things stand right now, I think it's gonna be either Germany, China or us — I want it to be us. (audience cheers) And I want Carnegie Mellon to help lead the way. (audience cheers)
I'll tell you what, I've set two big goals — I've set a lot of them about climate. I want to have a North American climate agreement. We need to be working with Canada and Mexico. As we redo our grid, we need to be understanding how we're going to challenge states, on top of the president's clean power plan, to go even further. And I've said, "Let's have half-a-billion more solar panels deployed by the end of my first term (audience cheers) and enough clean energy to power every home by the end of my second term." (audience cheers)
These are jobs that have to be done right here in Pennsylvania and across the United States. And these are opportunities for us and I really challenge all of you to think about what each of you can do to contribute to our efforts to take on what is the 21st century global challenge.
Now I believe too that as we move forward with these big opportunities, we've gotta do more for small businesses, especially to help young people start their small businesses. (audience cheers) Follow their dreams.
I have been told — and I believe it to be true — that Carnegie Mellon has the best return on federal dollar research money coming to any higher ed institution in the country. (audience cheers) And one of the reasons is because you have made it easier for faculty and grant students and maybe even undergrads to start businesses. I want to unleash that, I want to see millions of new American small businesses because that is where most of the new jobs will come from (audience claps) I want to open up opportunities for you. I also want our economy to be fairer. So imagine that people who work full time get paid a minimum wage that doesn't end up in poverty at the end of the year. (audience cheers)
And imagine, imagine, that finally women get equal pay for the work we do! (audience cheers)
This, this is, this is not just a women's issue. This is a family issue. (audience cheers) If you have a wife or a mother or a sister or a daughter who's working and they're not being paid fairly and equally, when they go to the store, when they're in supermarket checkout line, the cashier doesn't say, "Oh, OK, you only have to pay 78 cents on the dollar." (audience shouts approval) Or if you're an African-American woman, "You only have to pay 68 cents on the dollar." (audience cheers) Or if you're a Latino woman, "You only have to pay 58 cents on the dollar." (audience cheers) Last time I checked there was no woman's discount for failing to get equal pay in the first place. (audience cheers)
Now, everything I've just said the Republicans are against. (several audience members boo) Every single thing. And you know, I'm proud that we've run an issue-oriented campaign in the Democratic primary. (audience cheers) Far as I can tell, the Republicans have run an insult-oriented campaign. But make no mistake about it, they are going to do everything they can to take back the White House. And if they get the White House, plus a Republican Congress, we will not recognize our country. This is one of the most consequential elections. We have to build on the progress that President Obama has made and we've gotta go further. (audience cheers)
And here's one of those inconvenient facts that you might wanna share with your Republican friends: our economy does better when we have a Democrat in the White House. (audience cheers)
I mean, we don't have to go back to ancient history. During the 1990s, under my husband's presidency (audience cheers) at the end of eight years we had 23 million new jobs and incomes went up for everybody (audience cheers) Not just people on the top, middle-class families, working families, poor families. The median family income went up 17 percent in those eight years (audience cheers) And the median African-American income went up 33 percent (audience cheers) because there were so many jobs and we ended up with a balanced budget and surplus — pretty hard to beat that record.
But, I'll tell you what, you know the Republicans — you give them credit for consistency. They are consistently wrong when it comes to the economy. (audience cheers)
So in comes George W. Bush, I was in the Senate representing New York. (several audience members cheer) I stood up on the Senate floor, I said, "They don't wanna take us back before the Clinton years, they wanna take us back before Franklin Roosevelt, they wanna take us back before Teddy Roosevelt." They were slashing taxes, they were absolutely taking their eyes off the financial markets and mortgage markets, and we know what happened — the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. And I don't think President Obama gets the credit he deserves for digging us out of the ditch that the Republicans put us in. (audience cheers)
So, beware, because they're peddling the same economic snake oil. Trickle-down economics all over again. (audience boos) We're not gonna let 'em get away with it (audience members shout "No!") because it may be uncomfortable for them, but we have history, the facts, and common sense on our side. (audience cheers)
So that's why I want us to build on the progress we've made but go further. And a key to the economy that I imagine, that we can create, is education. And I think we have to start with early childhood education. (audience cheers) When I got out of law school I went to work for the Children's Defense Fund (several cheers) and working for children and giving children a chance and evening the odds for every child is really at the core of what I believe we must do. So for me, making sure every kid has a chance to fulfill that potential is critical to our economy, critical to our democracy. And that's why we need universal pre-K and why we need to help kids so that when they get to school they're prepared and ready to actually learn (audience cheers) and when we're looking at elementary and secondary education, I want to be a good partner with our nation's public school teachers. (audience cheers) I want to give them the support that they need.
You know, before I came out here, I had the incredible honor of meeting a family — a family of a young high school student from here in Pittsburgh, went to Woodland High School. Her name was Caleigh McDowell. And I met the family because Caleigh had been an ardent supporter of mine. And she'd come to meet me when I'd be here in Pittsburgh, even when she was just a little girl. And it was her dream to someday go into politics herself. So, tragically, Caleigh had a disease that just wasn't properly treated in the very beginning and she passed away just a few days ago. And the school actually called off — the school district called off school — because she was the kind of young woman that everybody knew and everybody liked. You know, she was popular but she also was kind to the kids who weren't. And the teachers told her parents, who I met with, her grandparents, her aunts, uncle, her little brother, that they were sure that Caleigh would've realized her dreams. And I wanted to just mention her because she won't be able to fulfill those dreams for the kind of world, the kind of country she wanted to see. But every one of us can do our part, and for those in education, it is such an important role and I want to be a good partner. And I want to give young people the chance to be able to afford to go to college without drowning in debt. (audience cheers) Every single young person.
I know we can do this because right now it's just not fair, it's wrong. Too many kids are being shut out, or they start and they can't finish, or they never graduate. Not because they're not trying, not because they're not able — they can't afford it. And then if they do get out, they often end up with a huge debt. How many of you student debt? (audience members cheer, raise hands) Yeah, exactly. Well, I want you to be able to get out from under it so here's what I want to do. In addition to having debt-free tuition for people going to college, if you come out with debt, I want you to be able to refinance that debt to save thousands of dollars to get it down — just like the way you can refinance a mortgage or a car payment. (audience cheers)
And we're gonna revamp the whole student aid industry because I want more people to have the chance I did, because when I got out of law school and I went to work for the Children's Defense Fund I made very little money. But I didn't care, I wanted to do that work. But I was also fortunate because I was in a plan at that time where I could pay back my debt as a percentage of my income. So even though I was making only $14,000 a year, I could actually afford to rent a place and, you know, all the other things you have to pay for. I want you to have that chance, and then I want to end your debt after a certain number of years — maybe 20 years, you're done (audience cheers) even if you still have unpaid debt ahead of you. And we are going to get the harassing bill collectors out of your life and we're gonna end the practice of the government making money (audience cheers) off of lending money to kids to go to school.
And we're gonna continue the work of the Affordable Care Act and make sure that we get the cost down and we expand the opportunities under it and take on high prescription drug costs. (audience cheers) Now again, everything I've just said Republicans don't agree with. And they also want to limit our rights — all of our rights. I want you to know where I stand, I will defend a woman's right (audience cheers) to make her own health care decisions. And I will defend Planned Parenthood against the partisan attacks (audience cheers) that the Republicans are throwing at them. And I will defend marriage equality (audience cheers) end discrimination against the LGBT community. I will defend voting rights, which are under attack by states across our union. (audience cheers) And I will do everything I can to either reverse or pass a constitutional amendment to absolutely end Citizen's United and its corruption (audience cheers) on our political system.
You know, a lot of people say they're against — I take it really personally — it was about me. It was of the many, many, many, many, many attacks that the right wing has waged against by this group, Citizen's United. And they were, you know, once again making stuff up about me and running, you know, pretend documentaries about me and they were told they couldn't do it. So they appealed to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court said, "Oh, oh yes of course. You know, speech equals money, so the more money you have the more speech you have." Somehow I don't think that was part of the logic behind the First Amendment. (audience cheers) So I think this is truly one of the worst decisions ever in our history. We're also going to work hard on a range of issues the Republicans are also against. I do not believe we should privatize Social Security, we ought to extend the life of the Social Security trust fund (audience cheers). We should fix the problems with the Veterans Administration, not privatize it. We should keep working for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. (audience cheers). And we should bring the country together to stand up to the gun lobby to get common sense gun safety reforms. (audience cheers)
So we have a big agenda. And it's important when we imagine that future we want, for you to think, "ok, who can deliver?" You know, before there was something called Obamacare there was something called Hillarycare, right? (audience cheers). I have been in the trenches fighting for opportunity for justice, for fairness, for equality my entire adult life. And I - I am proud to continue that fight. Because it's at the core of who we are as Americans. So we need to stand up and make sure our voices and our votes count.
And the second test is, "can you keep us safe?". And here, you have to recognize you're voting for a president and a commander in chief. (audience cheers). National security - national security is not an afterthought. It is a core responsibility of the presidency. And it is essential that we do everything we can to lead the world, to bring it together, to further our interests, advance our values, and keep us safe at home. I was part of the biggest counter-terrorism decision in the last decades. The decision to go after bin Laden. (audience cheers). And as a senator from New York I wanted to bring him to justice. (audience cheers). And so I advised the president to go forward but the president had to make the decision. And President Obama made the right decision (audience cheers).
Now finally, the third test is, "can you bring us together?". And boy, do we need that right now. You know, when I listen to the rhetoric coming out of Donald Trump's campaign - (audience boos) it is deeply disturbing because it is intended to set people against one another. It is intended to incite prejudice and paranoia. It is even intended to incite violence as we have seen. It is so contrary to who we are and who must be if we're gonna own the future and I intend for our country to own the future, to make the future, to be the future. (audience cheers).
So let me tell you, I will go anywhere, anytime, meet with anyone to find common ground. I did it as First Lady, I did it as Senator, I did it as Secretary of State. You know, after we weren't successful on health care reform, I got back up and said, "ok, what can we do?". You always have to look to determine, "what can we do?". That is the progressive tradition. So I worked with Democrats and Republicans and we created the Children's Health Insurance Program and 8 million children got health care for the first time, in many instances (audience cheers).
And when I was in the Senate, I worked with, I think, practically every Republican. I worked to find that common ground. Sometimes it was only a sliver of ground, but that's our obligation when we're in public life. We don't have the luxury as some do in dictatorships or religious theocracies to say, "my way or no way." That's not the way a democracy is supposed to work. So we made progress, sometimes way too slowly to satisfy me. And when I was Secretary of State, I helped to negotiate a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, to reduce the number of nuclear weapons on both sides which remains the biggest threat - the biggest immediate threat that our world faces and we got the agreement signed (audience cheers) but we had to get two-thirds vote in the Senate. That meant I had to get 13 Republicans to vote. And so I started working on it. I just kept working and working and working. It's kind of a dull, boring, but necessary kind of work. You know, you just get up every day and you think, "how can I push this forward an inch or two?". Maybe I can even get six or seven inches if I'm lucky. Well, I got those votes, we got that treaty, the world is safer because we lowered the number of nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States (audience cheers).
So, here is what I'm asking you. I'm asking you to imagine this future with me because I want your support, of course, in this upcoming primary on April 26 but I also will want it if I'm fortunate enough to be the nominee in November. But I'll tell you when I really want it (audience cheers) I really want it when I'm sworn in as President and we all begin to work together to fix these problems, to make the future happen (audience cheers). So, Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, Western PA, please, come support me on April 26 and I will fight for and support you for the next four to eight years. (audience cheers)
Thank you and God bless you.