Remarks by the President at a DNC Dinner in Palo Alto, California

October 21, 2010

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by the President at a DNC Dinner in Palo Alto, California

Mayer Residence, Palo Alto, California

THE PRESIDENT:  Please have a seat.  I’m going to come to you and I’m not going to bore you with a long speech because I’m going to be able to sit with each of you at your table and to have a terrific conversation.

My main message is to say thank you to Zachary and Marissa for opening up this wonderful home.  I was especially thrilled to see the pumpkins — (laughter) — and the Halloween stuff out there because in the Obama household, Halloween is big.  And in fact, for all the campaigning I’m going to be doing over the next 10 days, I will be home on Sunday night — (laughter) — when the girls get dressed up and do some trick-or-treating.

I see a lot of old friends here, people who have supported us for a very long time, and I see some new ones as well.  Some of you I had a chance to meet around the same time I first met Marissa.  I remember that first visit to Google very well.  In fact, it made it into my second book.  And I talked about how inspiring it was and how it spoke to the essence of America — the American idea that if we’re innovating, if people have the tools to let their imaginations run, that there’s nothing we can’t do in this country.

And that’s I think the spirit that all of us want to see recaptured after a decade in which, frankly, that can-do spirit had been lost.  Obviously we’re going through a very difficult time right now — the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the worst recession since the Great Depression.  But my task over the last two years hasn’t just been to stop the bleeding.  My task has also been to try to figure out how do we address some of the structural problems in the economy that have prevented more Googles from being created, prevented more Hewlett-Packards from being created, prevented more engineers from being trained in our schools — how do we unleash this incredible energy and dynamism that we know has always driven America, decade after decade.

We’ve made a start on all these fronts.  I think our education reform agenda has been as innovative and aggressive as anything that we’ve seen, and we’re now partnering with the private sector to figure out how do we get more math and science education so that we can train more engineers and more computer scientists and more mathematicians and more researchers to help drive the next wave of technology.

We have tackled things like health care that have been weights around the necks of not just individual families and businesses but also our federal budget.  We’re taking on clean energy in ways that we have not seen before.  We’ve raised the national CAFE standards on cars and trucks for the first time in 30 years; made the largest investment in clean energy in history.  We’re seeing solar panels and wind turbines and advanced battery manufacturing all across the country because of the efforts that we’ve been making.

And so I’m optimistic about the future.  But in the short term, we’ve got a long way to go.  There are a lot of people out there who are hurting, a lot of families who are struggling to make a mortgage payment or pay the bills, a lot of kids who still aren’t sure whether they can finance their college educations.

And so we’re going to have a big choice in this election in an environment in which people are frustrated and hurting.  And it’s going to be very important that we’re able to make the choice clear about going forwards or going backwards.  And the only way we can get that message out effectively is if we’ve got the support of folks like you, because in a place like California, frankly, as many people as I meet when I travel here, I can’t meet everybody.  At some point, we’re going to have to be able to get the message out, and you help us do that.

So I’m grateful to you.  We are excited about these last 10 days.  I’ve been traveling around the country.  We had rallies in Portland and Seattle earlier over the last couple of days, I think 15,000 in each place; 35,000 in Columbus, Ohio; 30,000 in Madison, Wisconsin.

And as we travel around the country, although everybody recognizes that the last two years have been tough, what has been remarkable is the degree of resilience people feel and the sense that as hard as things have been, we’re still going to keep on fighting to make sure that we have a better future for our kids and our grandkids.

Your presence here represents that.  I am going to be quiet now because I want to make sure that I have a chance to talk to all of you and hear from all of you.  And if at any time people want to come in here and provide an update on the Giants game — (laughter) — I am perfectly happy to hear from them.

So, again, to our hosts, thank you very much.  To all of you, it’s great to see you again and I look forward to a good conversation.  (Applause.)

END           6:39 P.M. PDT