QUOTATIONS AS SENATOR.
No black and white and Latino America. “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there's the United States of America.” July 27, 2004.
Increasing debt limit ‘weakens us.’ “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” March 16, 2006.
Bush’s ‘surge’ won’t help Iraq. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse. I think it takes pressure off the Iraqis to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that every observer believes is the ultimate solution to the problems we face there. So I am going to actively oppose the president’s proposal.” Jan. 10, 2007.
Five-days before presidential signings. “When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as the president, the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it.” June 22, 2007.
Won’t leave Iraq “precipitously.” “Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis.” July 19, 2007.
Ignore genocide after Iraq withdrawal. “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done.” July 20, 2007, answering if he would change course if U.S. withdrawal from Iraq led to genocide and a bigger war.
Law not subject to whim. “The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example to the world that the law is not subject to the whim of stubborn rulers.” Aug. 1, 2007.
No more spying on Americans. “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime … No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.” Aug. 1, 2007.
Health law will be written in the open. “I respect the fact that Senator Clinton and President Clinton attempted in ’93 to get health-care reform passed, but I do think that they did it in the wrong way because it was behind closed doors and it did not enlist the American people in the process.” Jan. 21, 2008.
Average savings on health. “And if you’ve got health care, we’re going to work with your employer to lower your premiums by $2,500 per family per year.” March 14, 2008. Later: “I also have a plan that would save the average family $2,500 on their premiums.” May 3, 2008.
Marriage means a man and a woman. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union.” April 17, 2008.
Won't use signing statements. “What George Bush has been trying to do as part of his effort to accumulate more power in the presidency is, he’s been saying, well, I can basically change what Congress passed by attaching a letter saying, ‘I don’t agree with this part or I don’t agree with that part. I’m going to choose to interpret it this way or that way.’ That’s not part of his power. I believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress.” May 19, 2008.
Slow the rise of oceans. “If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” June 3, 2008, accepting Democratic presidential nomination.
Bring a gun to a knife fight. “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because, from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.” June 13, 2008, in Philadelphia.
Fatherlessness leaves ‘hole in your heart.’ “If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that too many fathers also are, is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it. … You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it. … We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. … I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother — how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me, not having a father in the house, the hole in your heart, when you don’t have a male figure in the home that can guide you and lead you and set a good example for you. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could do anything in life, I would be a good father to my children; that if I could do anything, I would give them that rock – that foundation – on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer them.” June 15, 2008.
$4 trillion debt unpatriotic. “The problem is that the way Bush has done it in the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion from the first 42 presidents. No. 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome. So we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back. $30,000 for every man woman and child. That’s irresponsible. That’s unpatriotic.” July 3, 2008.
I’ll leave Iraq ‘carefully.’ “To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.” July 14, 2008.
Afghanistan war must be won. “As President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.” July 14, 2008.
Iraq surge worked beyond dreams. “The surge has succeeded in ways that nobody had anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and some of its other supporters. It has gone very well. … I’ve already said it’s succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.” Sept. 4, 2008.
No more secrecy. “When I am president, meetings where laws are written will be more open to the public. No more secrecy. That’s a commitment I make to you as president. When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it.” Sept. 22, 2008.
We can’t ignore genocide. “When genocide is happening, when ethnic cleansing is happening … and we stand idly by, that diminishes us.” Oct. 7, 2008.
Balance new spending with cuts. “I’m a proponent of pay-as-you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut, so that it matches.” Oct. 15, 2008.
I’m better than my staff. “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” November 2008.
Projects are shovel-ready. “We’ve got shovel-ready projects all across the country that governors and mayors are pleading to fund. And the minute we can get those investments to the state level, jobs are going to be created.” Dec. 15, 2008.
No kicking the debt can. “What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.” Jan. 15, 2009.
QUOTATIONS AS PRESIDENT.
‘American exceptionalism’ has limits. “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this [NATO] summit [in France] and what it means, I don’t think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that. And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional. Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we’ve got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries.” April 4, 2009.
Keep your health plan. “If you like your private health insurance plan, you keep your plan, period.” Aug. 21, 2009. He made similar statements at least 36 times. More than 1 million Americans lost their plans and had to pay more for a new plan.
You can keep your doctor. “No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” June 15, 2009.
An IRS audit will teach foes. “President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.” May 13, 2009, joking about Arizona State University’s refusal to give Obama an honorary doctorate.
Not ‘lie’ that health bill excludes illegals. “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” Sept. 9, 2009, in an address to Congress on proposed health care reform. The statement prompted U.S. Rep. Addison “Joe” Wilson to shout, “You lie, you lie!” And Obama replied, “That’s not true.”
Law will cut health costs. “Everybody who’s looked at it says that every single good idea to bend the cost curve and start actually reducing health care costs are in this bill…. This is paid for and will not add a dime to the deficit. It will reduce the deficit.” March 20, 2010.
Solyndra for prosperity. “It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.” May 26, 2010. A year later, Solyndra, a maker of solar panels, defaulted on its $535 million government loan, laid off 1,100 workers and closed.
U.S. can ‘absorb’ another terror attack. “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever . . . we absorbed it and we are stronger.” July 2010.
Republicans take back seat. “We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they got to sit in back [of the car].” Oct. 25, 2010.
‘Can't drill our way’ out of costly gas. “We can’t just drill our way out of the problem [of rising gasoline prices, which were averaging $3.98 a gallon]. If we’re serious about addressing our energy problems, we’re going to have to do more than drill.” May 6, 2011.
Border fence is complete. “The fence is now basically complete.” May 10, 2011, five years after Congress passed a law to build a double-layer fence. Just 36.3 miles of the 652-mile fence really was complete.
Projects weren’t shovel-ready. “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” June 13, 2011.
Time for Assad to go. “The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. … For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Aug. 18, 2011.
Iraq is stable, self-reliant. “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making.” Dec. 14, 2011, as he announced the withdrawal of the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq.
Same-sex marriage is OK. “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” May 9, 2012.
Red line for Assad. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime … that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Aug. 20, 2012.
I ended the Iraq war. “Four years ago I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did.” Sept. 8, 2012.
Mustn’t slander Islam's prophet. “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” Sept. 25, 2012, two weeks after four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. The Obama administration said the Sept. 11, 2012, attack was the unpredictable reaction to a video making fun of Muhammed.
Russia flexibility vow. “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility” to abandon missile defense for eastern Europe, he says to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in remarks accidentally heard over an open microphone, March 26, 2012.
Iraq 2011 pullout wasn’t ‘tragic.’ “FACT: President Obama kept his promise to end the war in Iraq. Romney called the decision to bring our troops home “tragic.” — Barack Obama (@BarackObama)” On Twitter, Oct. 22, 2012.
‘I ended’ the Iraq war. “You know I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I said I’d end the war in Iraq. I ended it.” Nov. 4, 2012.
‘Absurd’ not to raise debt ceiling over $16.4 trillion. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip. The issue here is whether America pays its bills.” Jan. 14, 2013, as Congress threatened that, unless the president agreed to a spending reduction plan, it would reject Obama’s proposal to raise the national debt limit above $16.4 trillion. In February 2014, Congress did raise the debt ceiling to $17.2 trillion, and the borrowing and spending continued. In March 2015, the ceiling was raised to $18.1 trillion, allowing even more debt, never paying the government’s bills with a balanced budget. (See the July 3, 2008, quote by Senator Obama.)
‘Peace in our time’ from tolerance and justice. “And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice -- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.” Jan. 20, 2013
‘Most transparent administration.’ “This is the most transparent administration in history. I can document that this is the case. Every visitor that comes into the White House is now part of the record. Just about every law that we pass and rule that we implement we put online for everyone to see.” Feb. 14, 2013.
IRS targeting of conservatives ‘inexcusable.’ "I've reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that it uncovered was inexcusable. It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it." May 15, 2013, as he announced the resignation of interim IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.
Inaction on Syria is bad signal. “It’s important for us to recognize that when over 1,000 people are killed, including hundreds of innocent children, through the use of a weapon that 98 or 99 percent of humanity says should not be used even in war, and there is no action, then we’re sending a signal that that international norm doesn’t mean much. And that is a danger to our national security.” Aug. 30, 2013.
Want change? 'Win an election.' "You don't like a particular policy or a particular president? Then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election. Push to change it. But don't break it. Don't break what our predecessors spent over two centuries building. That's not being faithful to what this country's about." Oct. 17, 2013.
Take Mandela seriously. “There are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.” Dec. 10, 2013.
ISIS is JV team. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Jan. 4, 2014, dismissing the threat of ISIS, which had just captured Fallujah in Iraq.
Not going to wait for laws. “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone. And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions.” Jan. 14, 2014.
No IRS corruption. “Not even mass corruption -- not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS, which illegally delayed applications of conservative and independent political groups that sought IRS approval. Feb. 2, 2014.
ISIS not going to cut off heads in U.S. “They’re not coming here to chop our heads off.” Speaking to Valerie Jarrett in summer 2014, when ISIS was cutting off heads in Syria.
Leaving Iraq in 2011 wasn’t my decision. “What I just find interesting is the degree to which this issue keeps on coming up, as if this was my decision.” Aug. 9, 2014, with ISIS holding at least a quarter of Iraq’s territory.
We have to destroy ISIS. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” Sept. 10, 2014.
Blame me if Iran gets bomb. “Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” talking about pending Iran nuclear deal. May 21, 2015.
Listen and argue, don’t silence. “I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I’ve got to tell you I don’t agree with that. I don’t agree that when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, you can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say. That’s not the way we learn.” Sept. 14, 2015.
Russia needs ‘consequences’ for Ukraine invasion. “We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is violated. If it happens without consequences in Ukraine, it can happen to any nation here today.” Sept. 28, 2015, at the United Nations, six months after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
Left power vacuum in Libya. “Even as we helped the Libyan people bring an end to the reign of a tyrant, our coalition could have and should have done more to fill a vacuum left behind.” Sept. 28, 2015.
Syria slaughter is against humanity. “Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs -- it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all.” Sept. 28, 2015.
We have contained ISIS. “I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them.” Nov. 12, 2015, speaking of ISIS, which the very next day carried out an attack that killed 130 and injured 350 in Paris, France.
We will destroy ISIS. “We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us.” Dec. 6, 2015.
Iran won’t get nuclear bomb. “Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.” Jan. 17, 2016.
Libya failure is Europe’s fault. “I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up. We actually executed this plan as well as I could have expected. … And despite all that, Libya is a mess … a shit show.” Early March 2016.
Need for Middle East smart autocrats. “All I need in the Middle East is a few smart autocrats.” Joking, early March 2016.
U.S. ‘a force for good.’ “For all of our warts, the United States has clearly been a force for good in the world. If you compare us to previous superpowers, we act less on the basis of naked self-interest, and have been interested in establishing norms that benefit everyone. If it is possible to do good at a bearable cost, to save lives, we will do it.” Early March 2016.
Cuba should consider democracy. “Cuba has a one-party system; the United States is a multi-party democracy. Cuba has a socialist economic model; the United States is an open market. Cuba has emphasized the role and rights of the state; the United States is founded upon the rights of the individual. … So let me tell you what I believe. I believe that every person should be equal under the law. Every child deserves the dignity that comes with education, and health care and food on the table and a roof over their heads. I believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear, to organize, and to criticize their government, and to protest peacefully, and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights. … And, yes, I believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections. Not everybody agrees with me on this. Not everybody agrees with the American people on this. But I believe those human rights are universal. I believe they are the rights of the American people, the Cuban people, and people around the world.” March 22, 2016.
Hillary Clinton knows stuff. "She's not always flashy. And there are better speech makers. But she knows her stuff." July 22, 2016.
U.S. elections can’t be rigged. “If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else, then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job [the presidency]. There is no serious person out there who would suggest somehow that you could even rig America’s elections.” Oct. 18, 2016
I ‘have not had a major scandal.’ “Here’s a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history, despite the fact that actually, we have not had a major scandal in my administration." Oct. 23, 2016, speaking of U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who investigated Obama's IRS obstruction against non-Democrats trying to organize politically, the VA's falsified documents covering up how it allowed veterans to die without care, the coverup of the Democrats' principal role in wrecking the economy with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's unsound home-loan standards, the failure to save four Americans under attack for hours in Benghazi and the dishonesty about the incident, the State Department's bribe-seeking machine and the deleted emails to cover that up, the Fast and Furious sting operation that put guns in the hands of Mexican drug dealers, the deceptive way the Affordable Care Act was passed with the false promises that no one would have to switch doctors and that average health insurance prices would fall, and the Solyndra Inc. campaign donations that led to a $535 million federal "stimulus" loan for the solar panel company that promptly went bankrupt, among other scandals.
Trump’s victory part of ‘zig zag’ of history. “Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country.
“That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs ― a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin. …
“So this was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that’s the nature of campaigns. That’s the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it’s not always inspiring. …
“Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. The path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that’s OK. I’ve lost elections before. …
“That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.
“The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens ― because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.” Nov. 9, 2016.