Our previous coverage:
Congressman Cleaver addressed attendees before the start of the morning session:
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
21st Century Democrats – field organizer training
Uptown Theatre – Kansas City – August 16, 2008
…Most people don’t want to admit that they don’t know everything about politics. And I can tell you that I’ve not met anybody who knows everything about politics. And when I sat down with Bruce Watkins when he decided to run for mayor, he was asking me to run for his city council seat, I’m not sure that I knew the difference between a ward and a precinct. I knew, what a, what a, what a, you know, election day was, you know Tuesday [laughter], but that’s. When you got past Tuesday, I, I, I’m not sure I knew much of anything.
But politics today are so sophisticated that we can’t afford to go into the most significant election of our lifetime without knowing all of the intricacies of how to do this, and, and so this opportunity was out here and I wanted to take advantage of it…
…All of us had to learn at one, at one time or another. And we still need to learn, because I said it is now sophisticated [voice: “That’s right”] at a level we’ve never seen before. For people are using the Internet in ways that we never even thunk. [laughter] So, this requires your involvement. Let me just end this, the most important thing is what you will have the opportunity to learn today…
…In November the fate of the world will be announced. On November sixth. I think the election’s gonna be close, so we might not even most of the decision until the next day, November, the sixth.
We are in a perilous situation. More, much more so than most people know. I sit on what is essentially the banking committee. And I asked Ben Bernanke four or five weeks ago, “Mr. Chair, Mr. Chairman, do you think that the American public realize how fragile things are right now?” And he said, “Well, probably not.” I know that the American public is not aware of, of where we are. We’re nine point seven trillion dollars in debt. For most of you probably doesn’t mean anything, you know. It’s a nice day, and you want me to go ahead and get out of the way so we can learn. It means, particularly you young people, you’ve got a problem. And your children have a problem. [voice: “That’s right.”] That money has to be paid. [voice: “That’s right.”] Nine point seven trillion dollars. Those black trash bags that you put out, out on the curb, with your trash in them. A trillion dollars is a million dollars in those trash bags, one million times. One million trash bags with a million dollars each stretches all the way to St, Louis. This is just one trillion. What does that mean? It means we’re going out borrowing money from our enemies. China. Japan. We’re borrowing money from South Korea. Taiwan. The Canary Islands. And the money has to be paid back. The third leading expenditure in the U.S. budget is the interest on the debt. Which means that that money could be going to take care of schools, that money could be going to take care of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. But it’s going for the interest, not the debt, just the interest. On the debt. Everybody sitting in here plus everybody you know owes thirty thousand dollars this morning on the debt. What happens when the Chinese say, “We’re tired of buying the U.S. dollar. It’s weak. We’re not buying any more paper.” That will be the day that the United States can no longer boast of being the most powerful nation on the Earth. China. China has the most robust economy. And they know that we’re getting weaker and weaker and weaker as we borrow more money. And as we borrow that money, we’re borrowing the money from China to but oil from Saudi Arabia to put it in Japanese cars. [voices]
And so this election is important. We borrow fourteen billion dollars a month to fight in Iraq. Fourteen billion dollars a month. Not to mention the human tragedy. And as we’re borrowing that money, piling up the debt, we’re not taking care of, of home. The United States, the, the freeway system of, the highway system in the United States, it was built, not for you and I to drive on. It was one, it was one of the great marvels that we tried to capture from the Romans. The highway system across the United States was built to move troops. Not you and me. That’s, that’s, if you go study the, the history of highway systems, of highways that’s why it was built. Same way the roads were built in the Roman Empire. Well, as the automobile industry mushroomed we started using the highway systems to get each other around, it’s supposed to be to get troops around. Well, today, that highway system is collapsing. It’s in disrepair. We can’t even repair the highways in the United States of America. And as long as we keep fighting in Iraq, as long as we are audacious enough to tell the Russians to get out of Georgia, we are in trouble. [voices]
And so, I’m glad that you, you’re here…The best thing that, that has happened,as far as I’m concerned, so far, in, in, as we prepare for the work up to the convention, is you coming here today. And getting the opportunity to learn how we can be more effective as we run this campaign.
Barack Obama has to win. That, it’s simple…So, we got to win. And I think a part of our, our opportunity to win is in this room. Thanks Mark, appreciate it. [applause]
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver
…Missouri is critical. Only one president has reached the White House without winning Missouri in the last one hundred years. [voices] Dwight Eisenhower. The only president. Missouri went with Adlai Stevenson. And the country went with Eisenhower. Other than that, you win Missouri, you pretty much get ready to walk in the Rose Garden. You lose Missouri, chances are, you’re not gonna win the presidency.
We have a challenge here…One of the dangerous things I’m hearing is people saying. “Well, we’ve got this.” We, no we don’t. [voice: “No, we don’t.”] We don’t have it. And every time I hear people talking like that it just drives me crazy. [voice: “Um, hmm.”]…
…It’s gonna be a tough, tough race. To give you an example of how tough things are, the experts would have predicted that if you had two hundred thousand people show up in Berlin, that you would get a bump in the polls. Now, John McCain has run the most inept campaign that I have ever seen in my lifetime. It’s almost like he gets up in the morning and says, “What can I do to mess up?” [voice: “Uh, huh.”] And then goes out and does it. [laughter] Somebody presents him with some alternatives, and he takes the, you know, the alternatives. I mean. I’ve never seen a campaign like this. From his TV commercials. [voices] And the race, by the polls, is still neck and [voice: “Oh lord.”] neck. [voice: Uh, huh.”] And John McCain, I bet you cannot think or tell me one thing he’s done right in this campaign and it’s neck and neck. Neck and neck…
…we need to get rid of term limits…Term limits, all it does is, is hurt. I’m gonna say this, I’m finished. [voices] There’s not a single person in here. Well, I just had my knee replaced four years ago. I went out and got my knee replaced…”This guy has done hundreds of these knee replacements.” And I, I thought, “Yeah, I want to walk again, you know.” But, what I, what I didn’t do is say, “I’m sorry…you know, I’m, I don’t, I don’t need any of these career surgeons.” [laughter] “I want me a surgeon just out of medical school who’s not gonna make a career out of this.” [laughter] Nobody would do that. Nobody. [laughter] But we’ll put them in charge of our lives [voice: “Um, hm
m.”] in government. [voice: “Amen.”] And, and when you hear people say, “Well we, we need to get rid of…career. You need. Nobody would, would do that in any other sphere of life. I want my child taught by somebody just graduated from college. All these career teachers, I don’t need them. [laughter] That is just stupid. And we have got to change government back so that it works for us. [voice: “Amen.”]…