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RICK'S LIST

President Obama Speaks in Wisconsin

Aired September 6, 2010 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, as a matter of fact, we are in New York. And look how beautiful Columbus Circle looks behind us.

Hi, everybody. We do have a potential hurricane that could be striking parts of southern Texas. Its name is Hermine. It's spelled Hermine, but that's how you pronounce it, for what it's worth.

And we're going to be watching that very carefully, obviously, for you. But the big -- the big development today is this copy of the speech that I just got moments ago from the White House. This is what the president is going to be saying in a little bit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

So, topping our news right now, President Obama. There are the live pictures, as the president's about to be introduced. There's the head of the AFL-CIO, the man who's invited the president of the United States to this speech on Labor Day.

This is a big deal. This is a very big deal for this White House, given the numbers. This is the president's official Labor Day speech on the economy. Now, we should have some live pictures that are going to be coming from Milwaukee.

In fact, we will have different shots that we're going to show you from time to time. This is his big push to try and get Congress to tackle the nation's sagging economy. How is he going to be able to do in the polls?

Well, surprisingly -- this is what's interesting as we look at these pictures, OK? And, by the way, the president, we think, is going to come out in about eight minutes. They're introducing all the people who are going to be surrounding the president out there today.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 50 percent of Americans now approve -- all right? Stay with me here. Fifty percent of Americans now approve of how he's handling his job. Forty-nine percent say they disapprove of the president. And that may be partly because of his decision to remove combat troops from Iraq, because, on the economy, he's not doing as well.

Forty percent of Americans now approve of the way that the president is handling it, only 40 percent -- 59 percent disapprove. And given the state of the economy, most insiders would say that's understandable.

Now, Republicans are pouncing on those numbers. Here's South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. He's blasting the stimulus package, did so over the weekend. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS")

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The centerpiece of the Democratic agenda for the first two years has been the health care bill. Not one candidate on the campaign trail is talking about it. The stimulus bill that was supposed to keep us at 8 percent or below unemployment has been an absolute disaster.

It grew the government, instead of creating private sector jobs. Let's go into the stimulus bill, cancel a lot of the big government spending programs in the stimulus bill, look at health care, get it off the public's back, and extend all the tax cuts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: And Senator Graham also says the president's stimulus package caused the loss of 2.5 million jobs since it was passed. Now, that's interesting.

National political correspondent Jessica Yellin is traveling with the CNN Election Express bus in economically depressed Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. White House correspondent Dan Lothian is live from the White House. Republican National Committee communications director Doug Heye is joining me from Washington.

Hey, Jessica, just to set the record straight, is Lindsey Graham correct in what he said? And let me make sure I read it for the viewers correctly. What he said is, "We have lost 2.5 million jobs since the stimulus package passed."

Is that right? It almost -- it almost sounds like he's inferring that the stimulus package has resulted in the loss of jobs.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, and I'm sure Doug will have a different take and he can defend Lindsey Graham, but this is essentially about an economy in which many more -- the White House would argue many more jobs would have been lost had the stimulus not existed and that the stimulus has shored up the economy to a certain extent, they would say, and we would be in a much worse situation, the jobs picture would, had stimulus not been around.

So, while we're losing jobs, they say this has staved the hemorrhaging.

SANCHEZ: Doug...

YELLIN: Does that make sense?

SANCHEZ: Yes.

Doug -- Doug, let me bring you into that conversation. What's your take on what Lindsey Graham said yesterday that seems to be getting a lot of attention?

DOUG HEYE, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, he's absolutely right.

You look at what we were promised from the stimulus bill -- and now, apparently, we have another $50 billion stimulus package coming at us -- we were promised that unemployment would be under 8 percent. And it just isn't the case nationally. And, certainly, in a lot of states -- take Nevada, for instance.

SANCHEZ: Who -- who made -- who made -- Doug, Doug, who -- who -- Doug, who made -- Doug, who made that promise? I -- I never recall hearing the president of the United -- in fact, I recall the very first speech the president of the United States made after being sworn in and the very first thing he said to Americans was, expect unemployment to go into double digits.

Those were his exact words. So, now you're saying that the president promised Americans that unemployment would be below 8 percent? I just -- I'm not -- I don't think you're right. Prove me wrong.

HEYE: Well, I think -- I believe -- well, I don't have anything documents I can hold up right now, since we're live. But I believe it was the vice president who promised that.

And we certainly heard about prevented depressions and saved jobs, but it's a bit like claiming to see a unicorn. It's nice to talk about, but absolutely impossible to prove or disprove.

But what we know is, unemployment is on the rise. Underemployment, the number of people who have got a job that doesn't may as much, the number of people who have stopped looking for work, the people who have given up on that key...

SANCHEZ: Right.

HEYE: ... Obama word, hope, has risen.

SANCHEZ: But I'm just -- I'm just trying to figure out -- I mean, yes, a lot of those things are true.

But we're trying to be disciplined in terms of where and how we make the accusations, because those things were true before this president took office. So, in -- whether he's done a good job or a bad job, I don't know. Look, I'm not an economist.

But here's what he says, by the way. Here's one of the things he's going to say in his speech.

Dan Lothian, let -- let -- let me bring the -- you into this. The president's going to talk about what the leader of the other party says. He says: "When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would like to do if they took over Congress" -- now, this is obviously the president making a pitch to Americans that they they should vote Democrats, and that's political.

But, regardless, here's what he says. Take it for what it's worth -- "He actually said they would follow the exact same agenda as they did before I took office, the exact same agenda," quote, the president will say. "So, basically, they're betting that between now and November, you will come down with a case of amnesia. They think you will forget what their agenda did this to country."

So, here's the president, once again, Dan -- and -- and I guess this is going to be a message we will probably hear a lot between now and November -- saying, look, I know things aren't perfect, but, remember, prior to my taking office, they were even worse.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.

And -- and this is not anything new that we will hear from the president today, Rick. Over the past couple of months for so, we have seen this White House really step up the criticism of the Republicans, the former administration.

You hear that line from the president, how Republicans drove the economic car into the ditch. And now they're standing there criticizing as this administration is trying to get the car out of the ditch.

You will continue to see that, with the president hitting Republicans for what they didn't do and then also hitting them for having any new ideas, while yet criticizing Democrats.

SANCHEZ: Hmm.

LOTHIAN: But, also, what you will hear from the president today is that, listen, I'm trying everything I can to turn this economy around. I'm -- I'm proposing this $50 billion. Later in the week, another $100 billion, he will talk about for research and development -- all of these believing that they will eventually lead to jobs.

SANCHEZ: Yes, but -- but...

LOTHIAN: But I should point out...

(CROSSTALK)

LOTHIAN: ... let me...

(CROSSTALK)

LOTHIAN: Let me -- let me just make one quick point here, is that...

SANCHEZ: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

LOTHIAN: ... the president on down -- from the president on down, everyone in this administration is saying, there is no silver bullet here, that even though the president is talking about rolling out infrastructure spending today, he will talk about some other ideas on Wednesday, they're admitting that no jobs from this will be created until 2011.

And they can't even say when in 2011.

SANCHEZ: Yes.

LOTHIAN: Will it be January or at the end of 2011?

SANCHEZ: That...

LOTHIAN: So, there's no immediate solution to this problem, this deep economic pit that this country...

SANCHEZ: That's...

LOTHIAN: ... is in right now.

SANCHEZ: That -- that -- and that -- that -- that -- exactly. And that's where Doug, who -- who's kind enough to join us today, is going to say, well, it's all well and good for the president to go out and make these declarations and this, as he said, $50 billion new pitch, if I got the numbers right. I apologize if I didn't.

But this isn't going to -- this isn't going to do anything between now and November, which is when people are going to be voting. So, in terms of actualities, in terms of concrete evidence that should turn Americans around, this is a speech. And a speech is made of words. Unfortunately, Americans are looking for results at this point.

That's what's going to make this a hard sell for this president as we move forward.

And, Doug, that's what I want you to address in just a little bit. We expect the president to go to the mike some time in the next five minutes.

So, here are some of the folks who are the warmup acts for the president of the United States. We're going to come back with our guests and you will hear the president in his own words live from Milwaukee talking to the AFL-CIO.

This is Rick Sanchez. This is RICK'S LIST. And we're going to be right back.

By the way, tweet me. I just got on and I will be responding to you during the spot -- during these commercials.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SANCHEZ: And here we go. The president of the United States has just arrived.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SANCHEZ: And there he is. Uh-oh. He took off his suit. He's going to do this in shirt sleeves. That means he's either fired up or he wants to get folks fired -- oh, my God, he's got no tie either.

(LAUGHTER) SANCHEZ: Here now, the president of the United States.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: He's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Hello, Milwaukee.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Oh, it is good to be back in Milwaukee.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It is good to be back -- yes, I -- I'm almost home.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I just hop on the 94, and I'm home.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Take it all the way to the South Side.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It is good -- it is good to be here on such a beautiful day.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Happy Labor Day, everybody!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I want to say thank you to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and all of my brothers and sisters in the AFL-CIO for inviting me to spend this day with you...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... a day that belongs to the working men and women of America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: I want to acknowledge your outstanding national president, a man who know that a strong economy needs a strong labor movement, Rich Trumka!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Thank you to the president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Dave Newby...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... our host, your area labor council secretary-treasurer, Sheila Cochran.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I hear it's Sheila's birthday tomorrow.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Where is she?

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Happy birthday, Sheila.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I'm proud to be here with our secretary of labor, a daughter of union members, Hilda Solis...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And our secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood, is in the house.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I want everybody to give it up for people who are at the forefront of every fight for Wisconsin's working men and women, Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Gwen Moore...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Your outstanding mayor and I believe soon-to-be outstanding governor Tom Barrett is in the house.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I know -- I know your other great Senator Russ Feingold was here earlier standing with you and your families, just like he always has.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now he's in his hometown of Janesville to participate in their Labor Day parade.

So, it is good to be back.

Now, of course, this isn't my first time at Laborfest. Some of you remember I stood right here with you two years ago...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... when I was still a candidate for this office.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And during that campaign, we talked about how, for years, the values of hard work and responsibility that had built this country had been given short shrift, and how it was slowly hollowing out our middle class.

Listen, everybody who has a chair, go ahead and sit down, because everybody's all hollering.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Just relax. I'm going to be talking for a while now.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Everybody, take...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Got a lot of hardworking people here. You deserve to sit down on -- for a day.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You have been on your feet all year, working hard.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But -- but -- but, two years ago, we talked about some on Wall Street who were taking reckless risks and cutting corners to turn huge profits, while working Americans were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.

We talked about how the decks all too often were stacked in favor of special interests and against the interests of working Americans. And what we knew even then was that these years would be some of the most difficult in our history.

And then, two -- two weeks later, two weeks after I spoke here, the bottom fell out of the economy, and middle-class families suddenly found themselves swept up in the worst recession of our lifetimes.

So, the problems facing working families, they're nothing new. But they are more serious than ever. And that makes our cause more urgent than ever. For generations, it was the great American working class, the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world.

It's got to be that way again.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Milwaukee, it was folks like you that built this city.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It was folks like you that built this state. It was folks like you who forged that middle class all across the nation.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It was working men and women who made the 20th century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: The 40-hour workweek, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... retirement plans, the cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And it was that gen -- that greatest generation that built America into the greatest force of prosperity and opportunity and freedom that the world has ever known, Americans like my grandfather, who went off to war just boys, and then returned home as men.

And then they traded in one uniform and set of responsibilities for another, Americans like my grandmother, who rolled up her sleeves and worked in a factory on the home front. And when the war was over, they studied under the G.I. Bill. And they bought a home under the FHA, and they raised families supported by good jobs that paid good wages with good benefits.

It was through my grandparents' experience that I was brought up to believe that anything is possible in America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But, Milwaukee, they also knew the feeling when opportunity is pulled out from under you. Now, they -- they grew up during the Depression. So, they would tell me about seeing their fathers or their uncles or -- losing jobs, how it wasn't just the loss of a paycheck that hurt so bad; it was the blow to their dignity and their sense of self-worth.

I will bet a lot of us have seen people who have been changed after a long bout of unemployment. Yes, it can wear you down. Even if you have got a strong spirit, if you're out of work for a long time, it can wear you down.

So, my grandparents taught me early on that a job is about more than just a paycheck. The paycheck is important, but a job is about waking up every day with a sense of purpose and going to bed at night feeling like you have handled your responsibilities.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It's about meeting your responsibilities to yourself and to your family and to your community.

And I carried that lesson with me all those years ago when I got my start fighting for men and women on the South Side of Chicago after their local steel plant shut down. And I carried that lesson with me through my time as a state senator and a U.S. senator. And I carry that lesson with me today.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And I know, I know that there are folks right here in this audience, folks right here in Milwaukee and all across America who are going through these kinds of struggles.

Eight million Americans lost their jobs in this recession. And even though we have had eight straight months of private sector job growth, the new jobs haven't been coming fast enough.

Now, here's the honest truth, the plain truth. There's no silver bullet. There's no quick fix to these problems. I knew when I was running for office, and I certainly knew by the time I was sworn in, I knew it would take time to reverse the damage of a decade worth of policies...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... that saw too few people being able to climb into the middle class...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... too many people falling behind.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We all knew this. We all knew that it would take more time than any of us want to dig ourselves out of this hole created by this economic crisis.

But on this Labor Day, there are two things I want you to know. Number one, I am going to keep fighting every single day, every single hour... (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... every single minute...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... to turn this economy around and put people back to work and renew the American dream, not just for your family, not just for all our families, but for future generations.

That, I can guarantee you.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Number two -- I believe this with every fiber of my being -- America cannot have a strong, growing economy without a strong, growing middle class and the chance for everybody...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... no matter how humble their beginnings, to join that middle class...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... a middle class built on the idea that, if you work hard, if you live up to your responsibilities, then you can get ahead, that you can enjoy some basic guarantees in life, a good job that pays a good wage, health care that will be there when you get sick...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... a secure retirement even if you're not rich...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... an education that will give your children a better life than we had.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: These are simple ideas. These are American ideas. These are union ideas. That's what we're fighting for.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: I -- I was thinking about this last week. I was thinking about this last week on the day I announced the end of our combat mission in Iraq.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And -- and I spent some time, as I often do, with our soldiers and our veterans.

And this new generation of troops coming home from Iraq, they have earned their place alongside the greatest generation.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Just like that greatest generation, they have got the skills, they have got the training, they have got the drive to move America's economy forward once more.

We have been investing in new care and new opportunities and -- and a new commitment to our veterans, because we have got to serve them just the way they served us.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: But, Milwaukee, they're coming home to a -- an economy hit by a recession deeper than anything we have seen since the 1930s. So, the question is, how do we create the same kinds of middle-class opportunities for this generation as my grandparents' generation came home to?

How do we build our economy on that same strong, stable foundation for growth?

Now, anybody who thinks that we can move this economy forward with just a few folks at the top doing well, hoping that it's going to trickle down to working people who are running faster and faster just to keep up, you will never see it.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: If that's what you're waiting for, you should stop waiting, because it's never happened in our history. That's not how America was built. It wasn't built with a bunch of folks at the top doing well and everybody else scrambling.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We didn't become the most prosperous country in the world just by rewarding greed and recklessness.

We didn't come this far by letting the special interests run wild. We didn't do it just by gambling and chasing pay for profits and -- on Wall Street. We built this country by making things, by producing goods we could sell.

We did it with -- with sweat and effort and innovation.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We did it on the assembly line and at the construction site.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: We did it by investing in the people who built this country from the ground up, the workers, middle-class families...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) OBAMA: ... small business owners. We outworked folks and we outeducated folks and we outcompeted everybody else. That's how we built America.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And, Milwaukee, that's what we're going to do again.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's been at the heart of what we have been doing over these last 20 months, building our economy on a new foundation, so that our middle class doesn't just survive this crisis. I want it to thrive.

I want it to be stronger than it was before. And -- and, over the last two years, that's meant taking on some powerful interests, some powerful interests who had been dominating the agenda in Washington for a very long time. And they're not always happy with me.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: They talk about me like a dog.

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's not in my prepared remarks. It's just -- but it's true.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You know, that's why -- that's why we passed financial reform, to provide new accountability and tough oversight of Wall Street...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... stopping credit card companies from gouging you with hidden fees and unfair rate hikes...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... ending taxpayer bailouts for -- of -- of Wall Street once and for all. They're not happy with it, but it was the right thing to do.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: That's why we eliminated tens of billions of dollars in wasteful taxpayer subsidies, handouts to the big banks that were providing student loans.

We took that money, tens of billions of dollars, and we're going to go to make sure that your kids and your grandkids can get student loans and grants at a cheap rate and afford a college education.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: They're not happy with it, but it was the right thing to do.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Yes, we're using those savings to put a college education within reach for working families. That's why we passed health insurance reform, to make coverage affordable...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... reform that ends the indignity of insurance companies jacking up your premiums at will, denying you coverage just because you get sick...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ... reform that gives you control, gives you the ability, if your child is sick, to be able to get an affordable insurance plan, making sure they can't drop it.

That's why we're making it easier for workers to save for retirement, with new ways of saving your tax refunds, a simpler system for enrolling in -- in plans like 401(k)s, and fighting to strengthen Social Security for the future.

And, if everybody is still talking about privatizing Social Security, they need to be clear, it will not happen on my watch, not when I'm president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

That's why we've given tax cuts, except we give them to folks who need them. We've given them to small business owners. We've given them to clean energy companies. We've cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans just like I promised you during the campaign. You all got a tax cut.

(APPLAUSE)

And instead of giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, we're cutting taxes to companies that are putting our people to work right here in the United States of America.

We want to invest no growth industries like clean energy and manufacturing. You've got leaders here in Wisconsin -- Tom Barrett, Jim Doyle -- they've been fighting to bring those jobs to Milwaukee, fighting to bring those jobs here to Wisconsin.

I don't want to see solar panels and wind turbines and electric cars made in China. I want them made right here in the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I don't want to buy stuff from someplace else. I want to grow our exports so that we're selling to someplace else, products that say "Made in the USA."

(APPLAUSE)

There are no better workers than American workers. I'll put my money on you any day of the week. And when the naysayers said, you can't save the auto industry, just go ahead and let hundreds of thousands of jobs vanish. We said, we're going to stand by those workers.

If the management is willing to make tough choice, if everybody's willing to come together, I'm confident that the American auto industry can compete once again. And today, that industry is on the way back. They said, no, we said, yes to the American worker. They're coming back.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, let me tell you -- another thing we've done is to make long, overdue investments in upgrading our outdated, our inefficient national infrastructure. We're talking roads, we're talking bridges, we're talking dams, levees. But we're also talking a smart electric grid that can bring green energy to new areas. We're talking about broadband internet so that everybody's plugged in. We're talking about high-speed rail lines required to compete in a 21st century economy.

I want to get down from Milwaukee down to Chicago quick.

(APPLAUSE)

Avoid a traffic jam.

We're talking investments in tomorrow that are creating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs right now. Because of these investments and the tens of thousands of projects they spurt all across the country, a battered construction sector actually grew last month for the first time in a very long time.

(APPLAUSE)

But, you know, the folks here in the trades know what I'm talking about. Nearly one in five construction workers are unemployed, one in five. Nobody's been hit harder than construction workers. And a lot of those folks had lost their jobs into manufacturing went into construction. Now they've lost their jobs again.

It doesn't do anybody any good when so many hardworking Americans have been idle for months, even years at a time when there's so much of America that needs rebuilding.

So that's why, Milwaukee, today I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America's roads and rails and runways for the long term. I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We can have it again. We are going to make it happen.

(APPLAUSE) Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads. That's enough to circle the world six times. That's a lot of road. We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways, enough to stretch coast to coast. We're going to restore 150 miles of runways. And we're going to advance a next-generation air traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers.

(APPLAUSE)

I think everybody can agree on that. Anybody want more delays at airports? No, I didn't think so. That's not a Republican or a Democratic idea. We all want to get to where we need to go.

I've got air force one now, it's nice. But I still remember what it was like.

(LAUGHTER)

This is a plan that will be fully paid for. It will not add to the deficit over time. We're going to work with Congress to see to that. We want to set up an infrastructure bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on the smartest investments. We're going to continue our strategy to build a national high-speed rail network that reduces congestion and travel times and reduces harmful emissions.

We want to cut waste and bureaucracy and consolidate and collapse more than 100 different programs that too often duplicate each other.

So we want to change the way Washington spends your tax dollars. We want to reform a haphazard, patchwork way of doing business. We want to focus on less-wasteful approaches than we have right now. We want competition and innovation that gives us the best bang for the buck.

But the bottom line is this, Milwaukee, this will not only create jobs immediately. It's also going to make our economy hum over the long haul. It's a plan that history tells us can and should attract bipartisan support. It's a plan that says even in the aftermath of the worst recession in our lifetimes America can still shape our own destiny. We can still move this country forward. We can still leave our children something better. We can still leave them something that lasts.

(APPLAUSE)

So these are the things we've been working for. These are some of the victories you guys have helped us achieve. And we're not finished. We've got a lot more progress to make. And I'm confident we will.

But there are some folks in Washington who see things differently. You know what I'm talking about. When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen our middle class, to rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress says, no.

Even on things we usually agree on, they say, no. If I said the sky was blue, they'd say, no. If I said fish live in the sea, they'd say, no.

(LAUGHTER)

They just think it's better to score political points before an election than to solve problems. So they said "no" to help for small businesses, even when the small businesses said we desperately need this. This used to be their key constituency, they said. They said, no.

No to middle class tax cuts. They say they're for tax cuts. I said, OK, let's give tax cuts to the middle class. No.

No to clean energy jobs, no to making college more affordable, o to reforming Wall Street. They're saying right now "no" to cutting more taxes for small business owners and helping them get financing.

You know, I heard somebody out here was yelling "Yes, we can." Remember, that was our slogan? Their slogan is "No, we can't." No, no, no, no.

(LAUGHTER)

CROWD: Yes, we can!

OBAMA: I personally think "Yes, we can" is more inspiring than "No, we can't." To steal a line from our old friend Ted Kennedy, what is it about working men and women that they find so offensive?

(LAUGHTER)

When we passed a bill earlier this summer to help states save jobs, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and nurses and police officers and firefighters that were about to be laid off, they said "no."

(APPLAUSE)

And the Republican who thinks he's going to take over as speaker --

(BOOS)

I'm just saying that's his opinion. He's entitled to his opinion. But when he was asked about this, he dismissed those jobs as government jobs that weren't worth saving. That's what he said. I'm quoting, "government jobs."

Now, think about this -- these are the people who teach our children. These are the people who keep our streets safe. These are the people who put their lives on the line, who rush in to a burning building. Government jobs? I don't know about you, but I think those jobs are worth saving.

(APPLAUSE)

I think those jobs are worth saving. By the way, this bill that we passed to save all those jobs, we made sure that bill wouldn't add to the deficit. You know how we paid for it? By closing one of these ridiculous tax loopholes that actually rewarded corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas.

(APPLAUSE)

I mean, this was one of those loopholes that allowed companies to write off taxes they paid to foreign governments even though they weren't paying taxes here in the United States. So middle class families were footing tax breaks for companies creating jobs somewhere else.

I mean, even a lot of America's biggest corporations agreed that this loophole didn't make sense, agreed that it needed to be closed, agreed that it wasn't fair. But the man who thinks he's going to be speaker, he wants to reopen this loophole.

(BOOS)

Look, the bottom line is this -- these guy, they just don't want to give up on that economic philosophy that they've been peddling for most of the last decade. You know that philosophy. You cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, you cut all the rules and regulations for special interests, and then you just cut working folks loose. You cut them loose to fend for themselves.

You remember they called it the ownership society, but what it really boiled down to was, if you couldn't find a job, you couldn't afford college, you were born poor, your insurance company dropped you even though your kid was sick, that you were on your own.

Well, you know what, that philosophy didn't work out so well for middle class families all across America. It didn't work out so well for our country. All it did was rack up record deficits and result in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Think about it. We have tried what they're peddling. We did it for ten years. We ended up with the worst economy since the 1930s and record deficits to boot.

(APPLAUSE)

It's not like we haven't tried what they're trying to sell us.

Now, I'm bringing this up not because I'm trying to re-litigate the past. I'm bringing it up because I don't want to relive the past.

(APPLAUSE)

It would be one thing, Milwaukee, if Republicans in Washington had some new ideas, if they'd said, you know what, we really screwed up and we've learned from our mistakes. We're going to do things differently this time.

That's not what they're doing. When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, you know what he said? He said, we'll do exactly the same thing we did as last time. That's what he said. It's on tape.

So basically here's what this election comes down to -- they're betting that between now and November, you're going to come down with amnesia. They figure you're going to forget what their agenda did to this country. They think you'll just believe that they've changed. These are the folks whose policies helped devastate our middle class. They drove our economy into a ditch.

And we got in there and put on our boots and we pushed and we shoved and we were sweating and these guys were standing, watching us and sipping on a slurpie, and they were pointing at us saying, how come you're not pushing harder? How come you're not pushing faster?

(LAUGHTER)

And when we finally got the car out -- and it's got a few dings and a few dents. It's got some mud on it. We're going to have to do some mud at it. They point at us and say, look what these guys did to your car, after we got it out of the ditch.

And then they've got the nerve to ask for the keys back.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I don't want to give them the keys back. They don't know how to drive.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want everybody to think about it here. When you want to go forward in your car, what do you do? You put it in "D." They're going to pop it in reverse. They'd have those special interests riding shotgun. Then they'd hit the gas, and we'd be right back in the ditch.

Milwaukee, we are not going backwards. That's the choice we face this fall -- do we want to go back or do we want to go forward? I say we want to move forward. America always moves forward. We keep moving forward every day.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me say this, Milwaukee -- I know these are difficult times. I know folks are worried. I know there's hill a lot of hurt out there. I hear it when I travel around the country. I see it in the letters that I read every night from folks who are looking for a job or lost their home.

It breaks my heart, because those are the folks that I got into politics for. You're the reason I'm here.

(APPLAUSE)

And when times are tough, I know it can be easy to give in to cynicism. I know it can be easy to give in to fear and doubt. And, you know, it's easy sometimes for folks to stir up stuff and turn people on each other. And it's easy to settle for something less, to set our sights a little bit lower.

But I just want everybody here to remember, that's not who we are. That's not the country I know. We do not give up. We do not quit. We face down war. We face down depression. We face down great challenges and great threats. We have lit the way for the rest of the world. Whenever times have seemed at their worst, Americans have been at their best.

That's when we roll up our sleeves. That's when we remember we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people. That's the spirit that started the labor movement, the idea that alone we may be weak, divided we may fall. But we are united, we are strong. That's why they call them unions. That's why we call them the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I'm going to make this case across the country between now and November. I'm asking for your help. If you are willing to join me and Gwen Barrett and Tom Moore and Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl we can strengthen our middle class and make this economy work for all Americans again and restore the American dream and give it to our children and our grandchildren.

God bless you, and god bless the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Is this the post Labor Day presidency of President Barack Obama? It certainly would seem to be a more energized president. He said, "I'm going to make this case across America from now until November," and in a Reagan-esque fashion, asking the American people who are listening to this speech, "do we want to move back or do we want to move forward? America always moves forward."

This is a pepped up president of the United States, certainly as excited as we've seen him in quite some time. The president in tone and in pitch, and in manner, even in dress seeming more fired up certainly than he has been in the past.

Look at this. He is leaving the stage now. He is going to go down and he'll probably do what he always does, and that's shake hands and hangout with the people who obviously have responded in kind to this speech about restoring America and this speech given to mostly union representatives.

So it was an interesting speech. The president certainly has his work cut out for him. Doug Heye is joining us once again, as is our own Jessica Yellin, who are going to be joining us on the other side of this.

As we watch the president, by the way, it's important to point out, and I mentioned a little while ago that he has his work cut out for him. I also mentioned before the president's speech that -- because Doug had mentioned, well, the White House had promised an unemployment rate of below eight percent.

I asked him, had the president ever said that? Because the president had said you can almost guarantee double digits, though I'm not sure we got that as a nation, although a lot of states have seen double digit unemployment. You know what, Doug? I got the chart that you were referring to. It wasn't the president. It wasn't the vice president. It was Christina Romer.

Come on over. Let's show this to our viewers before we go to break. Put it in a box there if you want so we can continue to see the president. We'll leave the president on one side, and I'll show you this chart. See it right there? See the bold line? That's the line that Christina Romer said -- and there is eight percent -- this is with the stimulus plan. She said we'd stay under eight percent. She said without stimulus we'd get up to nine percent. Obviously she was wrong.

So, Doug, you were right, man. We're going to come right back. This is "RICK'S LIST." We'll continue our conversations. Go ahead Doug. I'll let you finish it out. Don't brag now!

DOUG HEYE, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, RNC: Barney Frank, Representative Barney Frank from Massachusetts said such a prediction, last month he said that was dumb. I tell you, it's not often a Republican like myself agree with Barney Frank, but Barney Frank was right.

SANCHEZ: That's exactly what he said. You're right. I read the quote while we were listening to the president, by the way.

But I have to tell you, Doug. You got some stuff to answer to. The president is really hammering the GOP. Some of the things he said were all but personal. So we'll come back and I want to hear how you respond to the president's message right here on "RICK'S LIST," as we continue to follow what the president plans to do post Labor Day in America. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Here we go. We have Wolf Blitzer, we've got Jessica Yellin, and we're got Doug Heye.

And Doug, I'm going to start with you, because, as I said, the president has really hammered the GOP during this speech. He essentially said if he was to come out tomorrow and declare that there are fish in the oceans, or fish in the sea, I think he said, you guys would say, no, there aren't.

He basically said that Republicans are going to disagree with everything he said because they're putting politics ahead of what's good for the American people. In fact, he nailed the biggest applause when he said that he has represented the party of "yes, we can" while your party is the party of "no, we can't."

Defend the honor of the GOP, Doug. Go ahead.

HEYE: Well, I'll tell you first, as a big fan of Frank Sinatra, that's an old joke he used to use. And if you are going to quote the chairman of the board you might want to use that attribution.

What I found comical about the president's attacks is he made all of these really rather personal attacks on Republican leader Boehner, we certainly hope he'll be Speaker Boehner, and talked about how people try to divide us and tear us down. You can't credibly make those remarks after you have gone so personally against somebody.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: But let me just stop you. Most people who watched the back and forth between Republicans and this administration would say that on certain occasions Republicans have been all but personal with him. So why is it wrong for him to play hardball now when Republicans have been playing hardball against him?

HEYE: Well, all politics are hardball. But remember, Barack Obama was going to be a transformative president. He was going to change this country and how business was done in this town.

Instead, we saw a health care bill that was negotiated behind closed doors. We've seen personal attacks that were used just like this today. And again, he had the moxie to talk about railing against special interests while he was doing so in a speech to labor unions on Labor Day. It doesn't add up. It's not just what he said that was interesting --

SANCHEZ: You didn't answer the original question. He says that the GOP is the party of "no" and "no, we can't." How is he wrong?

HEYE: Well, he's wrong that we have presented ideas. Look at the health care bill. Look at the economy. We have put forth actual proposals. We handed, the House Republicans handed President Obama a copy of an economic plan.

And, you know, if the president or Nancy Pelosi, like the forest and the trees. You know, if a Republican introduces a bill and Democrats ignore it, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

And the president again talked about, you know, "r" for reverse and "d" for drive. The Obama administration right now is in "p" for park. Jobs are stuck. We're losing home sales. We're losing foreclosures. Two things he didn't talk about in his speech -- 4 million homes have been foreclosed since President Obama has been president.

SANCHEZ: "P" for park interesting choice of words. Jessica Yellin joins us now in the conversation.

Heye is right. There have been proposals. I'm thinking of Paul Ryan, for example, who was very careful to create proposals both on health care and stimulus type action, Jessica.