Subject: Travel report 5: Speech

President Obama spoke to a large, friendly crowd on a sunny afternoon, and was introduced by Chris Harris, Vice President of United Steel Workers Local 2-209. Please check all the quotes against the transcript; we do not yet have a crowd count.

Noting that he had last spoken at Laborfest in 2008 when he was a presidential candidate, Obama touted the economic gains the country had made over the past five years, noting the U.S. had created 10 million new jobs over the past 53 months.

“I placed a bet on you, I placed a bet on America’s workers,” he said. “I’ve come back to Laborfest to say because of your hard work, because of what we’ve been through together, that bet is beginning to pay off.”

“By almost every measure, the American economy and American workers are better off than when I took office,” he added. “Every inch of it we have had to fight for.”
“The question now is, are we going to make the right decisions to accelerate this progress?” he asked.

Obama emphasized his support for several policies including a raise in the federal minimum wage and equal pay for women. “I’m not asking for the moon, I just want a good deal for American workers,” he said.

The large crowd responded enthusiastically to the president. When Obama said every American “can get a fair shot… But only if we’re willing to fight for it,” someone in the audience cried out, “We are!”

After Obama complained about Republicans’ obstructionism, sparking boos, the president said, “Don’t boo, vote. It’s easy to boo, vote.”
With persistence, Obama said, “We’ll break them down.”

“That’s how I got Michelle to marry me,” he added, prompting laughs from the crowd. “I wore her down.”

At 3:21 pm, Obama concluded his speech and began to shake hands with some members of the audience. We have not yet departed for the airport.
Juliet Eilperin
White House Correspondent
Washington Post