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Hillary Clinton's Remarks on Feb. 12 Primaries
(Delivered in El Paso, Texas)

Courtesy CQ Transcripts Wire
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:49 PM

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CLINTON: Oh, it is so wonderful to be here.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the congressman so much. He does an extraordinary job representing you, and I know how proud you are to have him as the chairman of one of the most important committees in the United States Congress. Thank you so much.

He and his wife, Carolina, have been friends and colleagues for a long time, and so it is especially a privilege to be introduced by him tonight and to be part of this extended family, because it is family, and I am proud to be part of the El Paso, Texas, family starting right now.

(APPLAUSE)

There are so many people who have come tonight and who have helped make this extraordinary event possible. I want to thank Rick and Louis Bolanos. They are part of Texas Veterans for Hillary. And the Bolanos family is so well-known because of their service to our country, and I am honored to have them supporting me. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank my old friend, Alicia Chacon, the former county judge, the UTEP Young Democrats for hosting me tonight...

(APPLAUSE)

... Norma Flores Fisher, Danny Achando (ph), Aaron Rosas (ph), Senator Eliot Shapleigh.

I want to thank the students and the staff of the university, and I want to thank my huge, Texas-sized steering committee.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, I can't think of any better place to start our campaign for Texas than right here in El Paso. And I am honored to be an honorary miner.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're going to sweep across Texas in the next three weeks, bringing our message about what we need in America, the kind of president that will be required on day one to be commander-in-chief to turn the economy around. I'm tested. I'm ready. Let's make it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, there's a great saying in Texas -- you've all heard it -- "all hat and no cattle." Well, after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and a lot more cattle.

Texas needs a president who actually understands what it's going to take to turn the economy around, to get us universal health care, to save hardworking Americans homes from foreclosure at the abusive practices of the mortgage companies.

We have a lot of work to do. And I know that El Paso understands that picking a president is one of the most important jobs we're going to do in this country in the next couple of weeks.

When I think about Texas, I think about, as the congressman said, coming here 35 years ago. I was working for the Democratic National Committee. And I was going along the border registering voters. And we had the greatest time. I met some of the best friends that I've ever had in my life.

We had a chance to go into people's homes. We ate a lot of great food.

(APPLAUSE)

We listened to some wonderful music. And we registered a few voters, too.

Well, here I am back in Texas, and I'm asking the children of those voters to vote for me for their future.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, some people, when they run for a political office, they only think about the next election. But I like to think about the next generation, because that's what I think this election is about.

It is about what kind of country and world we're going to pass onto the young people who are students here, to that beautiful young boy who came up and gave me the flowers, for each of our children and grandchildren. Are we going to give them the same shot at the American dream that many of us were given?

Well, if we make the right decision in this election, we sure are. We're going to give our young people not only confidence and optimism, but real results, 21st-century solutions for what we need to do to fix our problems, meet our challenges, and seize our opportunities.

As I travel around the country, I know from what people tell me that a lot of really hard-working folks are concerned. You know, they're working as hard as they can, but they don't feel like they're getting ahead. They're not getting the kind of health care and educational opportunities that they want for themselves and their children.

I hear the mothers who tell me they don't know what they're going to do because they can't afford health care, and they have sick children, and the only place they have to turn to is the emergency room.

I've been in the homes of families that are on the brink of losing the American dream because they got sucked into one of these subprime mortgages and they can't afford to stay in their home. They're looking for somebody to say this was wrong and we will help you.

I meet the people who work hard every single day but can't pay their energy bills; they can't fill up their gas tank. They're looking for answers.

And then I meet all of the people who want to solve the problems, the young people who are focused on a better future and want to make it happen.

(APPLAUSE)

There isn't anything America can't do if we make up our minds to do it. Every once of us, every single one of us knows that tomorrow can be better than today, but it doesn't happen just by wishing it or hoping for it. It happens by working really, really hard to make it a reality to give everybody a better chance.

(APPLAUSE)

I see an America where everyone willing to work hard has a job with a rising income. And if you're willing to work full-time, you have wages that lift you out of poverty. I want to make sure every American who works full-time has a minimum wage of at least $9.50.

(APPLAUSE)

In fact, I would require that Congress cannot raise its own salaries unless it raises the minimum wage.

(APPLAUSE)

I see an America where health care is a moral right, not a privilege, where every man, woman and child has access to quality, affordable health care. We can do this. We can have a uniquely America solution.

We already have a plan that we can make available to everyone. It's the plan that provides health care to members of Congress. And it works well for members of Congress and our staffs and federal employees. It has lots of choices.

I want to make sure you have the same choices as your member of Congress does.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will help people pay for it because I want everybody, everybody, to have quality, affordable health insurance.

And I also see an America where we end our dependence on foreign oil and we start growing and making our own energy right here in Texas and America.

(APPLAUSE)

Aren't you tired of paying those exorbitant costs at the gas pump? Aren't you tired of sending billions of our dollars to countries that turn around and use it against us?

(APPLAUSE)

Well, why don't we get smart and start creating our own energy? We have the sun; we have the wind; we can grow the products; we can turn what we have here in Texas into the energy of the future.

(APPLAUSE)

I think that if we do this we will create millions of new, good jobs, jobs with rising incomes, jobs that will be right here in El Paso, right here in Texas, jobs that will give a family a good potential opportunity to raise their kids, and send them to school, and feel like they're part of the American dream.

Energy can be the key that unlocks our economic future, makes us more secure in the world. And, if we do it right, we will begin to deal with the problem of global warming, which is a real problem that has to be attacked.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I see an America where children are better prepared before they ever go to school, where we help families prepare their own children, where we have a universal pre-kindergarten program, so that 4-year-olds can get off to a good start.

I see an America where the federal government doesn't tell the teachers, and the principals, and the superintendents in El Paso what they're supposed to teach and what they're supposed to test.

(APPLAUSE)

I will the end the unfunded mandate known as No Child Left Behind.

(APPLAUSE)

And, together, we will come up with a 21st-century educational system for our children, where we look at each individual child and try to decide what we need to do to lift that little boy or girl to his or her God-given potential. That is the purpose of education, not test after test after test after test after test.

(APPLAUSE)

I see an America where every young person who is willing to work hard will be able to go to college. They will not have the door slammed in their face because of the costs of higher education.

In my America, we're going to make sure that the federal government gets back into loaning people money at a low interest like they did when I went to school instead of the student loan companies.

(APPLAUSE)

We're going to give young people the opportunity for national service so that you can earn money to go to college. One year of national service, you can earn up to $10,000. That would give you the resources to be able to go to school.

It is wrong in America when families have to mortgage or sell their homes to send their sons or daughters to college. It should be an investment we all make in you.

I see an America where we finally have comprehensive immigration reform with a path to earned legalization.

(APPLAUSE)

Of course, we're going to have secure borders. We're going to work very hard on that. And, yes, we're going to make sure employers don't exploit undocumented workers.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will do more to help communities like El Paso that need resources for health and education and law enforcement. And I want to work more with our neighbors and friends to the south to help those countries create more jobs for their own people, so that everyone would have a chance at a better life.

(APPLAUSE)

But we're going to bring people out of the shadows. We're going to tell them that, if they meet certain conditions, like paying a fine for coming here illegally, like paying back taxes, like learning English, we're going to give people a path to citizenship, because so many of the people who are here work hard, send their children to school, and deserve a chance at the American dream.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, I see an America where we, once again, are builders and architects of our future, where we're investing in all of the different kinds of transportation and physical buildings that are required.

We need more roads; we need more bridges; we need more tunnels. We should be putting millions of Americans to work building the 21st- century America, investing in that richer and brighter future.

(APPLAUSE)

And I see an America where we know that we have to be respected around the world again, where we have to repair our reputation, where we have to work with other countries to solve our problems.

(APPLAUSE)

I have said that, when I become president, I will begin to put a plan into place to bring our troops home starting within 60 days.

(APPLAUSE)

Many of you are veterans. You know that planning to withdraw our troops has to be done carefully and responsibly, but we must start. Our young men and women who serve our country have done everything they were asked to do.

(APPLAUSE)

They have performed bravely and heroically, but there is no military solution. It is up to the Iraqis themselves to make the tough decisions about their country's future.

(APPLAUSE)

So as we bring our sons and daughters home, let's take care of our veterans. Let's give our veterans the services, the health care, the other programs that they so richly have earned, because when someone signs up to serve America, America signs up to serve that veteran.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to be sure that all of our veterans, from our youngest to our oldest, get taken care of. I'd like to see our youngest veterans get a 21st-century GI Bill of Rights, with money for college, and money to buy a home, and money to start a business.

(APPLAUSE)

And as a president, President Bush has not done what needed to be done for our veterans. We haven't funded the VA. We have so many coming home who are injured and not being taken care of. I think it is the highest obligation of the president, who is also our commander- in-chief, to take care of those who have served our nation, and I pledge to you I will take care of our veterans.

I will make sure our youngest veterans get what they need. We will honor our oldest veterans from World War II. And I want to pay special attention to the veterans of my generation who served and fought in Vietnam, to give them what they deserve to have.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, every problem we face can be solved because we're Americans. We are problem-solvers. We are the people who are constantly creating the future. We believe that tomorrow not only can be, but will be better than today. And we have to keep faith with these young men and women to make sure that they have the opportunity to pursue their own dreams.

So this election could not be more important. And there are some real differences that have to be sorted out by the voters of Texas.

One of the biggest differences between me and my opponent is that I believe with all my heart that we must have universal health care, that we must do everything possible, finally, to realize the dream of Democratic presidents going back to Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Now is the time when we will achieve this goal. We cannot give up on it; we cannot back down from it. Senator Obama won't come forward with a universal health care plan, but I have, I will, and with your help we will achieve universal health care in America.

(APPLAUSE)

Another difference is that I want to stop the foreclosures of peoples' homes. I want to give people a chance to work out a way to stay in their homes.

The home is the most important refuge that any of us have, isn't it? And too many people are being forced out of their homes across Texas because of abusive mortgage practices, predatory lending.

And it's not just affecting the people who lose their homes; it's affecting the people who live next door or down the street, because a vacant home lowers property values for everyone.

So I have been saying let's have a moratorium. Let's freeze interest rates. This is a very big deal, because we can't fix the economy if our home market doesn't start working again.

(APPLAUSE)

And so I was somewhat amused today when President Bush and his secretary of the treasury said they were actually going to do some of what I've been urging them to do for several months. Let's try to save people's homes.

I am a problem-solver. I believe that we need a president, starting on day one, who's going to roll up his or her sleeves and get to work.

(APPLAUSE)

Because I want you to imagine for a minute what is waiting for our next president in the Oval Office in the White House. You know, on January 20, 2009, our next president will be sworn in. And waiting on that desk in the Oval Office are two wars -- two wars -- an economy in trouble, a health care system that is not taking care of people, an energy reliance on unstable regimes, and all of the problems that comes from that.

So many of these challenges are going to be just sitting there, waiting for the next president. And some people say, "Well, there's going to be a lot of work to do." Well, there is going to be a lot of work to do, but are we up to doing that work and taking our country back?

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I am so excited to be making this campaign, but I can't do it without all of you. I need you here in El Paso and across Texas to stand up for me, because...

(APPLAUSE)

... because if we stand up together, if we work together, if we fight together, we will take back America, and we will make history together.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

END

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