Hello, Virginia! It is good to be back in Norfolk and it is good to be back in Virginia, a place that has been so good to me. And I’m proud to stand up here with two Virginia leaders; two men who wake up every day thinking about your future; your family’s future; and the future of this commonwealth – your Governor, Tim Kaine, and your next Governor, Creigh Deeds.
Now, one of the things I like so much about Virginia is that you’ve got a good pattern emerging here. And it began with Mark Warner, who is doing an extraordinary job as your senator. Eight years ago, he recognized that the old tired politics of division weren’t serving the American people or the people of Virginia very well. He saw an awful lot of arguing going on, but not a whole lot of doing. So he thought, you know what, let’s try something different. Let’s run a campaign that proves that we’re all in this together – that there is not a northern Virginia, or a southern Virginia, or a coastal Virginia; there is one commonwealth of Virginia.
And he governed in a way that wasn’t ideological, but pragmatic. He focused on what works, and he made it work not by pushing people apart, but by bringing them together. He shaped a better kind of politics here in the commonwealth, and made the long-term investments necessary to make Virginia competitive in the global economy and to chart a course to growth and success.
Then Tim Kaine came in and built on that legacy. He invested in education so that every child in Virginia could have the tools they need to succeed. He refused to be distracted by petty politics, and even through tough times, he remained focused on his vision for Virginia’s future. And because of the tradition they established, Virginia became one of the best-managed states in the country; a state that was able to make critical investments even as it was dealing with a fiscal crisis; and a state that became better-positioned to navigate some of the toughest economic times we’ve seen in the history of this nation. All because of leadership based on smart decisions, sound investments, and a renewed civility to our politics.
But here’s the thing, Virginia. It wasn’t just a stroke of good luck. These guys didn’t just come out of nowhere. It’s because you stood up and chose that kind of politics. And in one week, you’ll have the opportunity to continue that tradition. You’ll have the opportunity to elect someone who is cut from that very same cloth; someone who listens to folks even when we don’t always agree; someone who focuses not on the short-term politics of an issue, but on a practical and pragmatic vision for the future of this commonwealth – and that man is Creigh Deeds.
This is a man who, for more than two decades – as a county prosecutor, as a delegate, as a state senator – has asked for nothing more than to serve you. When Virginia families needed to make sure their children were safe, he wrote Megan’s Law and advocated for the Amber Alert program. When Mark Warner needed help reforming the budget and controlling spending amidst a financial crisis, it was Creigh Deeds who he turned to; and even in the face of that crisis, they had the foresight to make record investments in education and lay a foundation for Virginia’s long-term growth. And when Tim Kaine needed support for a new pre-kindergarten program that will give Virginia’s kids a better start in life, Creigh Deeds was there.
Again and again, Creigh Deeds has been there for the people of Virginia. Now he needs you to be there for him.
There’s no doubt this is a tough race. It was always going to be. Even though Virginia’s been moving in the right direction, it’s still a pretty evenly-split state with some pretty independent-minded folks. And that’s good. That’s healthy. We are at our best when engaged in great debate where ideas are tested and assumptions are challenged. That’s how we strengthen our proposals. That’s how our democracy works.
But I’ll tell you what we don’t need right now. What we don’t need are politicians who are more interested in scoring points than solving problems. What we don’t need are politicians who say we should go back to the policies of yesteryear when it was those very same policies that got us into this mess in the first place. We’ve had enough of those kinds of politicians. We don’t need any more. What we need now are leaders who are committed to moving us forward. What we need are leaders who will fight on behalf of hardworking men and women, on behalf of middle class families, on behalf of the people of Virginia. What we need are more leaders like Creigh Deeds.
Creigh Deeds realizes that Virginia faces tough challenges, and solving them will require more than just lip service in political ads – it will require a realistic vision. When you’re governing, as Tim would tell you, nothing comes for free. Governing means you have to prioritize. You have to make tough choices. And you also have to recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight.
But if we make the right decisions now; then five, ten, fifteen years down the road, we’ll look back and realize that we’re in a much better place than we otherwise would have been. That’s what’s happened with the sound decisions Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have made. Virginia is in a better place today than it otherwise would have been. And that’s what you can expect with Creigh Deeds. As a consequence of the choices he’ll make in office – choices that improve transportation, that give our children every chance in life, that continue the thoughtful pro-business policies in the Warner-Kaine tradition – Virginia will keep moving down the right path.
Virginia will keep moving toward giving every child the world-class education they need to compete for any job in the world. Virginia will keep moving toward a secure energy future that frees our nation from the grip of foreign oil and creates millions of new jobs that pay well right here in America. Virginia will keep moving toward a stronger economy that works for all Americans and allows folks to retire with some dignity and some respect. And yes, Virginia will keep moving toward a health care system that finally makes quality insurance affordable for Americans who don’t have coverage; that finally offers stability and security to Americans who do; and that finally slows the skyrocketing costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our state and federal budgets.
Opportunity in every corner of Virginia. That’s what matters to Creigh Deeds. And that’s what he will keep fighting for if the people of Virginia give him that chance.
Now, I know there are folks here who may still be cynical about politics. I know that there are folks watching or listening who are skeptical about whether their elected leaders can or will do anything about the problems they face. And you’ve got a right to be. Year after year, decade after decade, you've seen progress stymied by special interests and partisan gridlock, whether it’s in Richmond or Washington.
But I’ve come here today because you have the opportunity to elect a man who represents a better kind of politics. He’s not perfect – none of us are. He may not be slick or polished. His hair might get frizzy sometimes; his suits might get rumpled. But I hope that’s not what will determine your vote. I hope you’ll vote based on how good a governor he’ll be for the people of Virginia. And I have every confidence Creigh Deeds will be a terrific governor. He’s smart. He’s honest. He’s devoted to the people of this commonwealth and to the American Dream that he discovered and lived here. He’ll always be straight with you about the challenges you face, and he’ll be out there every single day working as hard as he can to meet them.
So I’m urging you to cast aside the cynics and the skeptics and anyone who says this race is as good as over. Because the final word doesn’t belong to them – it belongs to you. And nobody knows that better than I do.
Last year, before we won the primary here, and before we won here in November, few gave us a chance. Remember that? The pundits and the pollsters and everyone who spends all their time focused on who’s up and who’s down thought we were cooked. But you proved differently, Virginia. You helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference – a movement of young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not who stepped into that voting booth and demanded something better.
We have just begun to deliver on the change you voted for, and we need a partner like Creigh Deeds to help us finish what we started. So if you were fired up last year, then we need you out there working just as hard right now, knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to your friends and neighbors and telling them what’s at stake. And if you’re willing to do that; if you’re willing to not only cast your vote for Creigh Deeds but get out the vote for Creigh Deeds; then he won’t just win an election; but we will do what previous generations have done and build something better to leave our children and secure our future. Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.