Barack had to sit at the end of his mom's hospital bed and watch her fight cancer and fight her insurance companies at the same time. I was a kid, but I can remember the day that my dad sat at the end of my bed, and said, things are going to be tough for a while. I have to go to Delaware to get a new job. But it's going to be better for us. The rest of my life, my dad never failed to remind me--that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your children in the eye—and say honey, it’s going to be okay, and believe it was going to be okay. When Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding. If you took responsibility, you’d get a fair shot at a better deal. The values behind that deal--were the values that shaped us both. And today, they are Barack’s guiding star.
Folks, I’ve watched him. He never wavers. He steps up. He asks the same thing over and over again: How is this going to work for ordinary families? Will it help them? And because of the decisions he’s made, and the strength the American people have demonstrated every day, America has turned the corner. After the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months.
President Obama and Governor Romney are both loving husbands and devoted fathers. But they bring vastly different values and visions to the job. Tonight I’d like to focus on two crises--that show the character of the leadership each man will bring to the job. The first is the rescue of the automobile industry.
Let me tell you about how Barack saved more than 1 million American jobs. In our first days in office, General Motors and Chrysler were on the verge of liquidation. If the President didn’t act immediately, there wouldn’t be an industry left to save.
We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors say--we shouldn’t step in, the risks were too high, the outcome too uncertain. The President patiently listened. But he didn’t see it their way. He understood something they didn’t. He understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the Americans who built those cars and the America they built.
In those meetings, I often thought about my dad. My dad was an automobile man. He would have been one of those guys—all the way down the line—not in the factory—not along the supply chain—but one of those guys selling American cars to the American people. I thought about what this crisis would have meant for the mechanics, the secretaries, the sales people who he managed. And I know for certain, that if my dad were here today, he would be fighting for this President, who fought to save all those jobs, his job, and the jobs of all the people he cared about. He would respect Barack Obama for having the guts to stand up for the automobile industry, when others walked away.
When I look back now on the President’s decision, I also think of another son of an automobile man--Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. His father ran American Motors. Yet he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. I just don’t think he understood—I just don’t think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant-to all of America. I think he saw it the Bain way. Balance sheets. Write-offs.