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Clinton Thanks Supporters in Puerto Rico

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Monday, June 2, 2008; 10:43 AM

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-N.Y.): Thank you so much. I have four words for you: Te quiero Puerto Rico! Never before have these beautiful islands had such an important voice in a presidential election. And I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I cannot thank you all enough. Bill and Chelsea and I are so grateful to the bottom of our hearts for your generosity and your kindness, and I hope that we have helped to draw attention to the concerns of Puerto Rico and we have also helped to spotlight the beauty and the spirit of this wonderful place.

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I am grateful for this show of overwhelming support. I came to Puerto Rico to listen to your voices because your voices deserve to be heard. And I hear you, and I see you, and I will always stand up for you.

I also want to recognize Senator Obama and his supporters. Our two campaigns have turned out record numbers of new voters, determined to chart a new course for America. Now, this primary election has been hard fought because there is so much at stake and we must elect a Democratic president.

I am I am overwhelmed by this vote today and I cannot complete this journey without your help. We have two contests left in South Dakota and Montana, and you can make the difference by visiting hillaryclinton.com and helping us make sure we go strong. Every contribution will help us make our case to the voters who are going to be heading to the polls.

And I want you to know that this election is really about your future. You voted even though some tried to tell you that your votes wouldn't count. You voted for the person you believe will be the stronger nominee and the strongest president. And you are not alone. You are joining millions of people across the United States, more than 17.6 million, plus the votes that we've received today. People who don't always make the headlines; who don't always feel like your voices are being heard.

I think about these people all the time, because that's who I care most about. The nurse on her second shift who still can't pay her credit card bills; the worker who can't afford the gas on the way to work, the waitress on her feet without health care. The small business owners saddled with rising energy bills; the college student who can't afford to continue college; the farmer, the teacher, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran. The people yearning for a president who will rebuild the economy and a Commander-in-Chief who will restore our leadership and moral authority in the world.

I know that people face tough times. But what I've been impressed by is the resourcefulness and resilience that the people here and across the United States use to face whatever challenges they confront, because they believe they can keep working for a better tomorrow. The American Dream may bend under the weight of challenges we failed to meet and presidents who have failed to lead. It may bend, but it will never break, because that's what keeps so many of us going; the thought of a better life tomorrow and a better future for our children.

I believe that the people of the United States need a champion in the White House, someone who will be a president in their corner and on their side. I believe you are voting because you want a president who will stand up for universal health care. Who will stand up for action to address the housing crisis, who will stand up for better jobs to protect Social Security. You want to cut through the speeches and the sound-bites to real solutions.

And so today you've come out strong. You have defied the skeptics. More people across the country have voted for our campaign, more people have voted for us than for any candidate in the history of presidential primaries.

We are winning the popular vote. Now, there can be no doubt, the people have spoken and you have chosen your candidate. And it's important where we have won. We are winning these votes in swing states and among the very swing voters that Democrats must win to take back the White House and put this country back on the path to prosperity. Together, we've won the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, West Virginia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, and, yes, Michigan and Florida.

And I hope by my second term, regardless of what the people of Puerto Rico decide about the status option you prefer, you too will be able to vote for the next president of the United States.

So, when the voting concludes on Tuesday, neither Senator Obama nor I will have the number of delegates to be the nominee. I will lead the popular vote. He will maintain a slight lead in the delegate count. The decision will fall on the shoulders of those leaders in our party empowered by the rules to vote at the Democratic Convention.

I do not envy the decision you must make, but a decision has to be made, and in the final assessment, I ask you to consider these questions: Which candidate best represents the will of the people who voted in this historic primary? Which candidate is best able to lead to us victory in November? And which candidate is best able to lead our nation as our president in the face of unprecedented challenges at home and abroad?

I am in this race because I believe I am that candidate, and I will be that president. We are winning the popular vote because we have stood for the core principle of our party, a party that believes in universal health care - no one left out. A party that believes hard working, middle-class families deserve a fair shot at the American Dream, a party that believes we must bring our troops home from Iraq safely, responsibly, and honorably. A party that cherishes every child, values every family, and counts every single vote.

We are winning against John McCain and beating him in the key states. We have what it takes to get the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the White House. And the majority of voters know who is ready on Day One to serve as our president. A president who will bring strength, knowledge, and experience to the White House to solve our toughest problems. A president who knows firsthand the challenges of the job, as well as its power to make a positive difference in people's lives. That's why I'm in this race. Ultimately it's not about Senator Obama or me. It's about you - your hopes, your interests, your futures. It's about the direction we choose as a nation. With two wars abroad and an economic crisis at home, we have to get this right. Our country cannot afford four more years of more of the same.

So, today Puerto Ricans across this beautiful place that I have come to enjoy so much made your voices heard and your votes counted, and for that, I want to thank my co-chairs, Senate President Kenneth McClintock and Puerto Rico Democratic Chair Roberto Prats, political directors Rafi Rodriguez Aguayo and Representative Jorge Colberg, Elections Representatives, Representative "Junior" Gonzalez and Rene Estades. Jose Hernandez Mayoral, Former Governor Carlos Romero, Miguel Lausell, Virgilio Ramos, and Luisette Cabanas. And special thank you to coordinator Ramon Luis Lugo, deputy coordinator Francisco Domenech, and adviser Jeffrey Farrow.

And I want to thank all of my volunteers, my staff, my supporters; everyone who waved at us as we caravanned all day yesterday. And I want to reiterate what I have said across Puerto Rico, together, in my first term, we will finally enable the status question to be resolved, based on the principles that government should be representative at all levels, and the people of Puerto Rico deserve the opportunity to choose from among all of the options.

Together we will work to ensure that Puerto Rico is treated equally when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, tax breaks for creating jobs, and more. I will be your champion. And I want to thank all of my friends in our labor unions, all of them who have done so much for us. It has been a joy to work with every single union that has been here supporting me. We would not be here without you tonight. And I want to say a special word of thanks to the Hispanic community, not just in Puerto Rico, but across the United States. I am so honored you have stood by me throughout this campaign. I am grateful for your love, your friendship, and your support.

What we have seen in this campaign and what we have always known is that Hispanic Americans, Latinos from every part of Latin America, care deeply about the future of the United States. You contribute so much to the greatness of this country, to business and academia, to labor, to the professions, to entertainment, to sports, to every part of society. And you have also contributed greatly to expanding the horizons and the diversity of our country. I am so grateful to you, and I am so proud of the support you have given me.

I also wish to thank my family for their incredible love and support, Bill and Chelsea, my mother, my brothers, Hugh and Tony, my sister-in-laws, Maria and Megan, and all who are helping here in Puerto Rico and South Dakota and Montana. Because we are in this to choose a candidate who we know will not only stand up for us but unite us. We will be strengthened by the enthusiasm of the millions of people who have voted and volunteered in all of these contests. We are propelled by this unique moment in history.

The campaign has been an extraordinary journey, and I am grateful for every day of it; every single day something happens which reinforces my commitment and lifts my spirits. It might be a young child who is introduced and says, "I want to grow up to be president." It might be a young mother who says, "I have no health insurance. I hope you will help me." It might be an older man, who says, "I am a veteran, but I cannot get the help I deserve."

Every story like that reinforces my commitment to what we are doing together. People deserve better from their government. The people of Puerto Rico deserve better from the federal government. So, I call on you to travel this final stretch with me, to join me as we take America back and lead our country with confidence and optimism into this new century.

Let's keep fighting for our dream. Let's keep fighting for what we believe. Let's keep fighting for one another. Let's keep fighting for America. America is worth fighting for. Thank you, and God bless you and God bless America.

END


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