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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver spoke at the Saturday night dinner for Truman Days held at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D) at Truman Days in Kansas City.

…[applause] [cheers] Thank you. [cheers] I think it’s important to know, it is important to know that had Jay Nixon not won the governor’s office we would be in terrible trouble. Missouri has nine members in the United States House of Representatives, four Democrats, five Republicans. All five, all five. One, two, three, four, five. All five. Five, four, three, two, one. [laughter] All of them opposed, voted against trying to stimulate the economy. All of them. And had he not been in the governor’s office we would have suffered the same fate as Texas. Texas, where I was born and I’m ashamed of [laughter] tonight. They’re turning their money back in. With record unemployment. With a devastating economy. And they don’t want the money. And so I hope everyone understands how gratuitous we are to have Jay Nixon come in to office as governor at such a time as this. [applause]

We are right now in the, in the beginning stages of a new, sweet spirit in Washington. It is a can do spirit. It is infinitely more compassion than it was before. I was there. I experienced it. It is different. One of the sad things is that our opposition party has concluded that they lost, not because of bad ideas, not because of a bogus excuse to go to war, but because they were not right winged enough. [laughter] And it’s, it’s kind of sad to see what has happened. All of the moderates that were in Congress are gone. There’s not a single Republican member of the House of Representatives in New England. They’ve all been wiped out.

Because they have bad ideas. We tried their ideas for eight years. And as a result Barack Obama ends up in the White House during the great recession. The nation was and still is in trouble. We’re expecting about three million more foreclosures around the nation. And the commercial real estate market is already in trouble, and no one knows exactly what’s going to happen there.

But the good news is that we have a new, bright, articulate, visionary leader in Washington. [applause] And there are those who criticize him because they say he’s trying to do too much. There are many, many ways of being a failure. Doing nothing is the most successful. [laughter] And that is one thing you don’t have to worry about experiencing. We are doing a lot…

…We just overhauled the credit card bill. It goes over to the Senate. [applause] Most people probably don’t even know that my amendment to the bill deals with college students. The United States sends out four billion credit cards a year. I’m sorry, four billion solicitations a year. I didn’t make a mistake and, and say four billion, meant four million. I meant four billion. And then they send these college students credit card when they go into college and during their registration week they get a subway sandwich and a tee shirt if they fill out an application for a card. And they sent my son a credit card last year who’s in college in California. I would die for him. I wouldn’t send him a credit card. [laughter] [applause]

But rather than helping they, they just criticize, condemn, complain, and cop out. And they say there’s no bipartisanship. I want to remind you the first so called bailout was not proposed by Barack Obama. It was proposed by George W. Bush and his secretary Hank Paulson. Let me also let you know that my mail, like my colleague’s, was probably one thousand to one opposing. That was the case for every member of Congress all around the country. Because people didn’t understand at that time how bad things were. It would have been an easy vote for Democrats to say, “We have an unpopular president in the White House. let’s just vote ‘no.'” But bipartisanship is what happens when you want the country to succeed. We carried the Bush-Paulson bill. We did. Bipartisanship. And then when Barack Obama came to office they just couldn’t accept it. They still can’t accept it. And so not one single Republican, not one. Even after he invited some of them to the White House for the Super Bowl. [laughter] Some of us were opposed to them going over [laughter], messin’ up the White House, doing the Super Bowl. But not one. Not one. You know one could have thought it was a good idea. Not one voted for. And so when you hear people on television talking about this bipartisanship, correct them quickly. We supported a weak, unpopular president because the nation came first. [applause] [cheers]

And the nation now realizes we are right and they are wrong. I mean John Boehner [R-Ohio] is a good guy, actually he’s a, he’s a good guy. He said on television, he said, “Well, you know these Democrats they just think different.” Yeah. [laughter] Yeah. [laughter] I mean, right on soul brotha, I mean. [laughter] Of course we do. [laughter] I’ve been trying to tell ’em, “We’re right, they’re wrong. If you’re right you think differently.” [laughter] [applause] [voice: “Yeah!”] They’ve been wrong for eight years. [applause] And the nation is tired of wrong. [applause] [cheers]

I mean they, I mean there’s torture. A nation’s greatness does not depend on how strong it is, but how it handles its greatness. This nation is too great to torture. And our president has stood up and said, “No more.” {applause] [cheers]

But we’ve got to be careful. We got to get Robin Carnahan [voice: “Yeah.”] in the Senate. [applause] We can’t take it for granted. It is true that the Republican brand has been damaged. There’s no question about it. If you look at the, the generic polling, what people prefer, Republican or Democrat, we are just continuing to move up. Further and further. But even at that we cannot afford to sit down. A line, the line between confidence and arrogance is very narrow. And we cannot afford to come across as arrogant. That reminds me of the folk who were wrong [voice: “Right.”]

Let me conclude, just telling you a story about a guy who had tried to put a light in his shed in the back yard. So he rigged up a dynamo battery to operate the light And once he got it all connected the light flickered, went off and on, and finally, the light went out. So he called a friend and said, “Look, I’m trying to rig up a light for my backyard shed. Can you come over and help?” So this friend who was an electrician worked around and he finally said, “Look, I cannot rig this in a way that would create enough power for the light to come on. But I can rig it, because you have enough power, for a bell.” Now, what does that have to do with us? A lot. It is infinitely easier to ring a bell then generate some light. It easier to make some noise then generate light. Light is what the nation needs during these days of darkness. [voice: Yeah.”] Light doesn’t make noise, it just shines brightly, makes people feel better, it tears away the darkness. And that’s what, that’s what’s happening around the country. We are tearing away the darkness. Now there are those who are still making noise. They don’t have enough power to generate light. So they just make noise. [voices] [applause] Noise. Noise. [applause] But the good news tonight. We have somebody [voice: “Come on.”] who can generate light and make noise. [laughter] [applause] ladies and gentlemen, our senator, Clair McCaskill [applause] [cheers]…

Congressman Cleaver after the conclusion of the Saturday night dinner.