Clinton Promises to "Wage and Win" Four Fights

Jun 30, 2015

These are the remarks, as delivered, by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally June 14, 2015 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Thank you for that introduction.  Thank you for being committed to the right values, fighting for them in the political arena, in your home, across this state and country. I have to tell you I am thrilled to be here to see all of you. It is a special treat to be here not only the day after I kicked off the formal part of my campaign on Roosevelt Island, but to be here on Flag Day. Because after all, we care deeply about the country we love and we cherish. And political campaigns should be about what kind of future we can create together for ourselves, but most particularly our children and our grandchildren. Now, over the past months, I’ve been listening to what you, here in Iowa, have to say. In coffee shops, in community colleges, in businesses I’ve heard you share worries about the economy.  It still seems stacked for those at the top. But, I’ve also heard about your hopes for your families and our country. I met a single mom juggling a job and classes at community college while raising three kids. She doesn’t expect anything to come easy, but she did ask me what more can be done so it isn’t quite so hard for families like hers.  I believe the answer lies in the basic bargain of America. If you do your part, you ought to be able to get ahead. And, when everybody does their part, America gets ahead, too. That bargain inspired generations of families, including my own. It’s what kept my grandfather going to work as a factory worker in the same lace mill in Scranton, Pennsylvania, every day for 50 years. It’s what lead my father to believe that if he scrimped and saved he could start a small business printing drapery fabric in Chicago, and could provide us with a middle class life. And he did. And as much as our world has changed the structure of our economy and the shape of our families, and so much more, that basic bargain still holds the key to our prosperity.

Hillary Clinton speaks to hundreds of supporters at a campaign rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds June 14, 2015.
Credit Joyce Russell / IPR

Here in Iowa and across the country Americans are working themselves back from an economic crisis that exploded because time-tested values were replaced by false promises. You know what they were. Instead of an economy built by every American for every American we were told that if we let those at the top pay lower taxes and bend the rules, their success would trickle down to everyone else. And we know how that worked out. So Americans have made a new beginning, working extra shifts, taking second jobs, postponing home repairs. Families figured out how they could make it work again. And now, people - I hear it across Iowa - are thinking about the future. Ok, going to college, starting that business you’ve always dreamed about, buying a house, finally be able to put more away for retirement. So we’re standing again, but we’re not yet running. I said in my speech yesterday that both the two Democratic presidents of the last 35 years, one Barack Obama, the other, my husband, showed that it is possible to do better. They both inherited the problems from their Republican predecessors. And they had to dig us out of holes. But the facts speak for themselves. Producing more jobs for more people, creating more economic opportunity and prosperity, and trying to build a strong foundation for what we do next.

But you know what you see. You see corporations making record profits with CEOs making record pay while your paychecks have barely budged. While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined, and often paying a lower tax rate than those kindergarten teachers. So, you have to wonder when does my hard work pay off? When does my family get ahead? When? I say now. You know, prosperity can’t just be for CEOs and hedge fund managers. Democracy can’t just be for billionaires and corporations. Prosperity and democracy are part of your basic bargain, too. You brought our country back. Now it’s time, it’s your time to secure the gains and move ahead. And, you know what? America can’t succeed unless you succeed. People of all races, incomes, educational levels of every kind of American you can imagine, stand and pledge allegiance to this flag, don’t they? They sing the national anthem at sporting events or school assemblies. Well, it’s time that everybody felt like they were included. And that they had the same chance to live up to their own potential.

I believe together we can make America into the clean energy super power in the world. You're already showing the way here in Iowa with wind and advanced bio-fuels. We just need to organize our economy so that it invests in the renewables, the bio-fuels, the solar, the wind, on a national scale.

I’m running for president to make our economy work for you and for every American. I’m not running for some Americans, but for all Americans, and we have come too far to see our progress ripped away now. We can’t go back to the top down economic policies that failed us before. You know that old saying.  You know, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Now, there may be some new voices in the Republican presidential choir, but they’re all singing the same old song. It’s a song called “Yesterday.” Now, I know when I said this yesterday, you know the song, “all our troubles look as though they’re here to stay, and we need a place to hide away.” They believe in yesterday. And you’re lucky I didn’t try to sing that you know. But, when they heard me, a bunch of them jumped up and said, “No, no, yesterday is over.” Well, then end the policies that yesterday represents and think about our future together. They trip over themselves promising lower taxes for the wealthy and fewer rules for the biggest corporations without regard with how that would make income inequality worse. Now ask 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? You know, they pledged to wipe out tough rules on Wall Street rather than reigning in the banks that are still too risky, courting future failures, like they have a case of mass amnesia. That was tried. We saw what happened. They want to take away health insurance from 16 million Americans without offering any credible alternative. They shame and blame women rather than respect our right to make our own reproductive health decisions. And they want to put immigrants who work hard and pay taxes at risk of deportation, and they turn their backs on gay people who love each other. Now, fundamentally, they reject what it takes to build an inclusive economy. It takes an inclusive society, a village, with a place for everyone. My values, and a lifetime of experiences have given me a different vision for America. I believe our success isn’t measured by how much the wealthiest Americans have, but by how many children climb out of poverty; how many start-ups and small businesses open and thrive; how many young people go to college without drowning in debt; how many people find a good job, and how many families get ahead and stay ahead.

That’s why, if you here in Iowa give me the chance, I will wage and win four fights for you. The first is to make the economy work for everyday Americans, not just those at the top. In the coming weeks, I’ll propose specific policies to reward businesses who invest in long-term value rather than the quick buck, because that leads to higher growth for the economy, higher wages for workers, and yes, even bigger profits. I will rewrite the tax code so it rewards hard work and investments here at home, not quick trades or stashing profits overseas. I will give new incentives to companies that give their employees a fair share of the profits that their hard work earns. I will work to unleash a new generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing tax relief, cutting red-tape, and making it easier to get a small business loan. That was one of the stories I heard across Iowa. People who wanted to start a small business, struggling to make it grow, who were saying “I can’t get access to credit.” Well, the big guys can, it’s time you did too.

I will restore America to the cutting-edge of innovation, science, and research. You know, we’re on the brink of so many breakthroughs about disease. It breaks my heart that the Congress has cut back on our funding for finding out what to do about Alzheimer’s or autism or so many other diseases. Labs have been forced to close. Young scientists have been told, I’m sorry you’re just not important enough for us to continue funding you right now. This is such a short-term view of how we can all do better. I will get those science labs open. I will get those scientists back to work. I will make sure we stay in the lead. And you know, I believe together we can make America into the clean energy super power in the world. You’re already showing the way here in Iowa with wind and advanced bio-fuels. We just need to organize our economy so that it invests in the renewables, the bio-fuels, the solar, the wind, on a national scale.  And you know what? There are millions of jobs waiting for us.  If we don’t create them here at home, I can guarantee you the Chinese, the Germans, and others will create them over there. Let’s not give up until we have the cleanest, most prosperous energy economy in the world. As I roll out these policies, I want you to understand where I’m coming from. I’m going to propose an infrastructure bank and we’ll fund it with bonds. We need better roads. We need better airports. We need better bridges. We need better broadband. We need all of that. And it’s a shame that we’re allowing our infrastructure to crumble before our eyes. And it sends a message that we don’t want to send, that we’re not going to be competitive in the future.

Supporters listen at a campaign rally for Hillary Clinton at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
Credit Joyce Russell / IPR

But, it’s also important to remember - what’s our biggest asset? Our biggest asset is our people. And particularly our youngest. I want to make preschool and quality childcare available to every child in our country. I want to make sure we give our teachers the respect they deserve for sparking the love of learning in every child. I’ll be giving you specifics about how I intend to make college affordable and to lift the crushing burden of student debt, and how we will finally make life-long learning available for everybody to gain or improve the skills they need, and to set up more Americans for success.

But, I want to say a word about another issue. There’s a lot of discussion right now about the potential Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and I want to tell you what I think needs to be in that agreement. First, let me start by saying no president would be a tougher negotiator on behalf of American workers, either with our trading partners or Republicans on Capitol Hill, than I would be. In my time, eight years in the Senate, I voted for some trade agreements, and I voted against others. I think I have a pretty good idea of what we can do to meet the tests that I believe any trade agreement, especially TPP, must meet. It needs to, number one, protect American workers. Number two, it needs to raise wages and create good jobs at home. Number three, it needs to be in our national security interest. I’ve been saying that for months.

Now, here’s what I think should happen now. In order to get a deal that meets these high standards, the president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers to make sure we get the best, strongest, deal possible. And if we don’t get it, there should be no deal. Now in fact, I think this is the opportunity to speak out. You know, there are the voices, you’ve heard them that are for the deal no matter what’s in it, and there are voices that are against the deal, no matter what’s in it. Well, I kind of fall within the group that says let’s find out what’s in it, and let’s make it as good as it can be, and then let’s make a decision. And from my perspective, the president actually has this amazing opportunity now. Some of you know how to negotiate. So, you go to the trading partners, the people that have been involved in this negotiation, you go, unless you give me more, unless you meet the needs that have been laid out that my party in Congress have gone and spoken out about and made clear have to be in the deal, we’re not going to have a deal. But we could have a deal if we made sure that we did everything possible to protect American workers, to raise the wages of American workers, to make sure that it is in our national security interests. And there are some specifics in there that could and should be changed. So I am hoping that’s what happens now. Let’s take the lemons and turn it into lemonade. Let’s see if there is a way to get to an agreement that does do what I expect it to do. It has to include trade adjustment authority to provide the kind of protections for American workers that I am looking for. But, I am willing to try now to see whether you can push to get rid of the objectionable parts, to drive a harder bargain on some of the other parts, and to provide more transparency so that the American people can actually see what will be in a proposed final deal. And so, if I were in the White House that’s what I’d be doing right now. I would be trying to figure out whether there is a way to get a deal that does what it should do for the American workers. That people, starting with leader Pelosi, can say, you know what, we made some real changes here, this might work, or not. But let’s try and see whether there is this opportunity now.

We also have to recognize that if we don’t do more to help American families, we can have agreements from here to the moon, and we’re still not going to make it possible for most American families to feel like they’re getting ahead. And from my perspective, I believe that you should have the right to earn paid sick days. You should have the right to receive your work schedule with enough notice to arrange child care. You should be able to look forward to retirement with confidence. And you should certainly be able to count on your health care being there without breaking the bank. And it is way past time to end the outrage of so many women still earning less than men on the job. Look, this isn’t a woman’s issue, this is a family issue. Every American family should feel like they belong, and I will do everything to make sure that happens.

I would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would protect every citizen's right to vote rather than every corporation's right to buy elections. And, if necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case.

And here at home we do, we do, have to be aware that you know there are threats in the world. I think there are far more opportunities, but let’s admit there are threats. When our brave men and women come home from war or finish their service I will do everything I can to see that they get, not just our thanks, but the care and benefits they’ve earned. And when I was in the Senate, when I was in the Senate, I talked to my constituents in New York. One of the first things I heard was that our National Guard troops didn’t get access to the same health care benefits, but they were being called up more and more. So I worked across the aisle to make sure they did. And I have a lot of respect for what our service members and our vets have done for us. And it’s not enough just to give a speech. We’ve got to do much more. I’ve also stood up to adversaries like Putin. He attacked me publicly for standing up to him, which I took as a badge of honor. And I know we have to work more closely with our allies and partners around the world to build the kind of safe and secure prosperous world I’m looking for. That means our NATO partners in Europe, it means our treaty allies in Asia, it means friends right here in Latin America, it means Israel and the Middle East. We have to work more closely to make sure that they, and we, are on the same page. The United States can’t do this alone. We shouldn’t do it alone. We have to lead the world because the alternative to us leading the world is a vacuum that will be filled by some pretty dangerous characters. So, we do have to lead the world, but we need to lead it by pulling everybody together and moving in the same direction.

And, finally, the fourth fight undergirds so much I want to achieve in the other three, and that is, in order to be strong in the world, we have to be strong at home. That’s why we have to reform our government and revitalize our democracy so it works for everybody. We have to stop the endless flow of secret unaccountable money that is distorting our elections, corrupting our political process, drowning out the voices of people. I would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would protect every citizen’s right to vote rather than every corporation’s right to buy elections. And, if necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. But none of this, none of this will work unless people like you and millions and millions more across our country turn out and vote. I want to make it easier for every citizen to vote. We need universal, automatic registration when a young American turns eighteen so that they are signed up to vote. I gave a speech already giving notice to the Republicans. I will fight them on their efforts to disempower and disenfranchise young people, poor people, people with disabilities, and people of color, no matter what state they’re in.  What part of democracy are they afraid of? It’s time to hold them accountable.

Now, we Americans may differ and bicker and stumble and fall, that’s kind of in our DNA, but we are at our best when we pick each other up, when we have each other’s back. And like any family our American family is strongest when we cherish what we have in common and fight back against those who would drive us apart. From my first trip as Secretary of State to Asia in February of 2009 to my very last, people all over the world asked me, how could you and President Obama work together after you fought so hard against each other in that campaign? It was an understandable question considering that in many places if you lose an election you could be exiled, imprisoned or even killed - not hired as Secretary of State. And the first time I was asked this I was on a TV show, the morning TV show in Jakarta, Indonesia. And, I got asked the question, I mean it was unlike any TV show I’ve ever been on before or since - a lot of dancing and singing. I was worried they were going to ask me to sing my favorite songs, which, I do love to sing, but nobody loves to listen and I was getting a little tensed up, and then all of a sudden I get asked this question. And you know the TV cameras are going like they’re going right now and I had like a nanosecond to figure out what I’m going to say and I thought that’s kind of an odd question, and then I thought, no, that’s a really important question. Because it’s a new democracy. In many places in the world people put their family, their clan, their tribe, their race, their sect before their country. So I was being asked how do you do it in America?  And, I said, you’re right, we ran a really hard campaign against each other. He won, I lost, and when he asked me to serve I accepted for the same reason. We both love our country.

That’s how, that’s how we do it in America. And with that same spirit together, we can win these four fights. We can build an economy where hard work is rewarded. In fact, we will. We can strengthen our families. In fact, we will. We can defend our country and increase our opportunities around the world. In fact, we will. And we can renew the promise of our democracy. And we will.  Now, I know this is not going to be easy. I’ve been around awhile. In case you haven’t heard anybody say that, just thought I’d tell you. And I know as well as anyone how hard this job is. I’ve seen it up close and personal. 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. And I admit, I’ve been coloring it for years, and I may not be the youngest candidate in this race, but with your help, I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States. 

Clinton speaks to a group of small Iowa business owners at Capital City Fruit in Norwalk, as part of her first week of campaigning as a presidential candidate.
Credit Clay Masters / IPR

So I hope you will give me that chance, because I have spent my life fighting for children, for families, and our country. I’m not stopping now. You know, I have been called many things by many people. Quitter is not one of them. I have to say, like so much else in my life, I got that from my mother. She taught me that everybody needs a chance and a champion, and she knew what it was like not to have either one. I’ve talked a lot about her since we lost her, because I realized how much I owed to her not just because she was my mom, and did a great job for me, because she was such an incredible example of courage and resilience. Her own parents abandoned her. By the age of 14 she was out on her own working as a housemaid. I didn’t know any of that when I was a little girl. All I knew is that, you know, we picked cherries in the backyard and we played and she took me to learn how to play tennis. She tried to teach me to sew. One with more success than the other, I have to admit. But years later, when I was old enough to understand, I asked her what kept her going? And, you know, her answer was something very simple -- kindness from someone who believed she mattered.  The first grade teacher who saw she had nothing to eat at lunch, and without embarrassing her, brought extra food to share.  The woman whose house she cleaned, letting her go to high school so long as her work was done. That was a bargain she leapt to accept.  Because people believed in her, at critical moments, she believed in me.  And, because of her, I believe in the potential of every American.  

I have met hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of Americans over the course of my very blessed life. I’ve looked in the eyes of so many people. Little kids thrust into foster care, being treated for life threatening diseases. Of dads who’ve just lost a job and don’t know how they’re going to go home and tell their family. Of moms who are single doing the best they can to keep body and soul apart. I’ve looked in those eyes, and I believe so much that when you succeed, America succeeds. And there is a role, an important role, a critical role for our government to play. Where we all believe that America has our back. That when we do our best and we need a little help, it’ll be there.  But there’s also a huge role for everybody else to play too. I want us to start looking at each other again as fellow human beings and as fellow Americans. I want us to figure out how, through our own families, our own houses of worship, our own businesses, our own communities, we can reach out to those in need and we can be smart and compassionate at the same time. I want you to join me in this effort, of course. I want you to help me build this campaign and to make it your own.  I want you to talk to your family, your friends, your neighbors. I want you to text join JOIN to 47246 and to go to and sign up to make calls and knock on doors. But more than that, I want you to feel that this campaign is not about me. It’s about all of us.  And, it’s about the promise of this country, which is so unique in human history, that we can be more open, more generous, more respectful of each other.

It really it upsets me when I hear some of what’s said in our political debates right now.  But more than that, it really hits at my heart. I wonder, you know, did they not go and hear the same lessons that I did in Sunday school? Did they not sing the same hymns? Did they not have teachers who said you’re no better, nor worse than anybody else? Did they never hear "there but for the grace of God go I?" Where did this mean spiritedness come from? We are such a blessed nation. We have so many more opportunities even now with all of our challenges than anybody in human history has ever had. And so for me, this about not only waging a campaign and winning an election, but it is about what we do together to build an America where if you do your part, you reap the rewards, where we don’t leave anyone out or behind, where we remember that there are a lot of little boys and girls like my mom who got that extra bit of help when she most needed it. I’m absolutely confident and optimistic that this campaign can lay the foundation for us doing that with and for each other again. And yes, we will have an America where a father can tell his daughter, you can be anything you want to be, even President of the United States. Thank you all so much. Thank you.