Presidential hopeful Barack Obama spent about an hour with the crowd at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio Sunday morning, addressing a variety of issues and topics important to not only Southeastern Ohio and Mid-Ohio Valley residents, but to the nation.
After being introduced by WV Senator Jay Rockefeller, Obama spent about 10 minutes addressing the crowd about the potential for green job growth in the rural Ohio town.
He then opened the event up to discussion, taking about 10 questions from audience members. The topics ranged from education reform, to the home foreclosure crisis and alternative energy production. Obama also addressed several topics not usually discussed at his events- his faith, and its correspondence with his stance on the issues of abortion and gay marriage.
You can watch WTAP-TV's entire live coverage of Senator Obama's speech by clicking on the links below.
The following is a full transcript of Senator Obama's rally:
Thank you so much, and I have to first of all thank Senator Rockefeller, from working in West Virginia as a Vista volunteer in the '60s, fighting for the rural agenda, rural Americans have few greater champions than Senator Rockefeller.
He is the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and has done an outstanding job trying to balance the needs of the security with us maintaining checks and balances in our government.
So to take the time to be here today to support us in this fashion is a great honor, so please give Senator Jay Rockefeller a big round of applause.
A couple of other acknowledgements that I want to make.
You know, you have a hometown boy here who has spent a little time in Chicago who became just a great friend of mine, someone I often sought counsel and advice from.
He and I shared a passion for figuring out how can we make business in the marketplace work for communities that have been left behind.
For a while, this gentleman did it through government, and then he realized that he could also do it working in the private sector and creating private partnerships.
He's now the president of Adventures, he happens to be one of the smartest political advisors, David Wilhelm.
I want to thank Hocking College for hosting us.
The story of this college is just outstanding, how it has, preparing young people throughout the region for work in green-color jobs that are this country's future, and it has shown the kind of innovation and adaptability that I think is the hallmark of America.
So I’mvery pleased to be here at the college, and I want to thank the staff and administrators who helped to set this up, and I also want to thank Dovetail Wind and Solar.
I understand some of the folks from Dovetail might be here, this gentleman right here.
Tell me your name again.
Some of you may have passed a trailer outside with a solar panel that is helping to generate the energy we're using in this event.
So I’m very pleased to hear the great work that Dovetail is doing, and since, you know, I don't always have cars at my events, I think I should explain, that this is a flex fuel vehicle, made by Chevrolet, and I think also highlights the opportunities for a green future, which we're going to be talking about in a conversation over the next few minutes.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been traveling to every corner of Ohio.
I've been meeting with workers, and I’ve been meeting with families, I’ve been meeting with students, I’ve been meeting with veterans, and I’ve seen a number of places where the plants, the life blood of the community, were shut down.
They've left people behind jobless and struggling to make ends meet.
This is not unique to Ohio, as David knows, we see the same scenario with this town in Ohio, and when the Rocky Shoes and Boots plants had to be shut down, Nelsonville was hard hit, 175 jobs shipped out at well.
Being here at Hocking, I’m hopeful about the future of Nelsonville and the future of Appalachia and the future of all those towns across Ohio and across this country that are struggling to meet the challenges of the 21st century economy.
Because what you are doing here is what Americans have always done in times of challenge, in times of uncertainty.
You're standing up to say that your destiny will not be written for you, but it will be written by you, that you are claiming your own future.
Here in the heart of what was once Ohio coal country, this kind of job training isn't just important for college-aged students who want to work in a cutting edge industry, it's important for those folks who used to work at Rocky Shoes and Boots and want a new skill set to compete in a new job, and this will only become more important in the coming years, because green jobs are the jobs of the future, not only because they pay well and can't be outsourced and because they strengthen the middle class, because they may save our planet for our children in the bargain.
That's why as president, I will invest $150 billion over ten years in establishing a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs, including jobs here in Ohio.
I'll pass a law that says that 25% of our electricity has to come from renewable energy sources by 2025 that could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on its own, I'll also invest in clean energy, and clean coal.
I will also provide funding to help manufacturers convert to green technology and help workers have the skills they need for these jobs and ensure that students across America are getting the same kind of cutting edge training here at Hocking, I’m going to help them pay for a $4,000 tuition credit for every student, every year, I'll create a community college partnership program that will help communities colleges analyze what skills that are needed nor students to work in local industries.
This is particularly important in rural America.
If we can create jobs of tomorrow and give him the training they need to get those jobs, we'll not only be strengthening our rural communities but encouraging people to stay and build a family and make sure the child in Nelsonville can dream as big as a child who is born in New York City or Los Angeles.
But understand, if we truly want to strengthen our world economy, it's not enough to invest in any kinds of particular jobs or particular training.
We're going to have to make broader investments in rural America, and that's what I intend to do as president.
I will foster the kind of entrepreneurial spirit we've seen here, protections to keep jobs right here in Ohio.
I intend to pass the Patriot Employers Act, that will give tax breaks to those companies that are creating good jobs with decent wages here in America and offer up to 20% tax credits on investments worth up to $50,000 in those businesses.
We'll also make sure rural America is connected to the rest of America.
That means rebuilding the roads and the rails, the locks and the dams, that so many rural communities depend on, showing the same kind of leadership Senator Rockefeller has shown in West Virginia and making broadband and wireless technology available in rural communities, too often they want to provide them but can't meet the cost.
It's time for folks here in Appalachia could to have a partner in the White House, who believes in the promise of rural America as much as Senator Rockefeller and David Wilhelm and you do, as much as Hocking does, and the business and community leaders that are with us today, and if you give me your support on Tuesday, that's the kind of support I intend to offer as President of the United States of America.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
So just wanted to provide some brief remarks to kind of set the stage, and the main reason I’m sure is not just to talk, but also to listen, and to learn.
And so what iId like to do, we've got some microphones in the audience, and I would love to start taking questions, comments, suggestions, and ideas.
Who wants to start?
Young lady right back there.
My name is Danielle Stanley, first off, I just want to say how proud I am of you.
That's so nice.
You represent a lot of the qualities I want my young boys to grow up with.
That is an honor.
Thank you very much.
I want you to be tough with your opponent.
A lot of the criticism is to say you have wonderful speeches but you don't have substance, and anybody who has followed your career knows that is not true
You are not a plant, by the way.
I have never met this woman before, in case the press starts getting suspicious.
One of my sayings, “When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.”
Don't be that guy.
From one parent to another, do all the things you say you're going to do, shine the brightest light on the darkest places in Washington, D.C.
People like me depend on someone like you.
I would be really proud to tell our children that our country can be led by the best, not the wealthiest and the most connected.
That's really nice of you.
I, you know, I mean, the truth is, is that -- you know, politics goes in cycles, and there's flux, and when I first got into the race, we had a couple of big rallies right after I announced and I made a couple of big speeches and then we started having a lot of town hall meetings like this, and it was interesting that some of the reporters started criticizing the fact that I sounded like a policy wonk, I would be talking all these details and explaining how we were going to apply tax credits to rural communities and how we were going to do this and do that, they said, boy, this is really boring.
What happened to the exciting guy we saw at the Boston Convention?
Then we got a lot of momentum and we had big crowds and I was making big speeches, then they said, well, this guy, he just making big speeches all the time.
So it goes in cycles.
But your point is well taken.
The American people feel like nobody's been fighting for them in Washington.
They feel as if Washington is where money and influence converge to take advantage of laws and loopholes and tax havens, deals are cut, and working families are left out in the cold.
And don't have a voice.
And aren't heard.
And the truth is, over the last 7 1/2 years, that is -- there's a lot of truth to that.
And part of what is happening in this campaign is that ordinary families who I meet all across the country are saying, enough is enough.
That we are going to take this government back because there are too many people who don't have healthcare who are struggling and going bankrupt because somebody in the family gets sick, too many people are struggling with the cost from college tuition, gas at the pump, heating bills they can't pay and wondering why the wealthiest among us get tax breaks and others don't.
In communities like this one, I’m sure if this is anything like parts of downstate Illinois, so many young people feel they have to move away for a future.
They don't feel like they can support a family here, despite the fact that they love the place where they grew up.
Because there's just not enough economic activity to support a family.
And those are the things that can be reversed.
All the things that I just talked about here, they are doable.
They're not pie in the sky.
Investing in green technology is something we can do, and we know how we can pay for it without breaking the bank or charging it on the credit cards that we've taken out in the name of our kids.
We can invest in infrastructure.
We've done it before.
There's no reason that building broadband lines in rural communities should be any different than building roads and bridges in rural communities and making sure there's universal access, like we did for the phone companies and the post office, we should do for the internet.
These things are not impossible.
We need a President and a Congress that is setting priorities for ordinary people.
And not just the well-connected and the powerful.
That's why I don't take pac money, I started as a community organizer for people who had been laid off from steel plants in the south side of Chicago, and that's why David and I worked together on some of these issues when he was in Chicago, and that's what I expect to continue to do when I’m President of the United States.
Yes, sir, gentleman right here.
My name is Dave Bayliss.
I'm a professor of mechanical engineering and one of the main things facing my industry, coal to liquid plants, is the uncertainty over carbon emissions, they know some kind of regulations coming, but they don't know what, and they are unwilling to invest in what we need.
I want to provide certainty, and I come from a coal state.
I'm one of 16 states that is a coal producer, in southern Illinois, the economy was devastated with a lot of the coal mines that were closed, and frankly, we've never entirely recovered, partly because western coal and our coal has been treated differently because of sulfur content.
These are things I think you're familiar with.
So it's never recovered, even though coal has been picking up steam, but I guess I’m mixing metaphors there.
But here is the truth as I see it.
I always try to be honest and not say different things to different audiences, so I will try to say the same thing as I would here in California in front of some environmental group.
I think that climate change is real.
I think the science is now overwhelming, and what we're seeing are changing weather patterns all across the planet that could have severe consequences for our children or grandchildren.
We've got an obligation to do something about that.
What is also true is that we are not going to eliminate coal as an energy source anytime soon.
We are heavily dependent on coal for economic growth, for electricity, and those who suggest no coal aren't looking realistically at what the energy mix is going to be.
So the question is, if we are going to have coal as an energy source, how do we make it work in a way that is environmentally sound?
I think the best way to do it is to have, as you say, a clear benchmark by capping the emission of greenhouse gasses, setting serious standards for what carbon emissions are going to be allowable, and industry is exceeding those benchmarks, then they're going to have to pay.
Then they will get a credit that they can trade, if they come under the benchmarks.
It pays to reduce carbon emissions, you are going to be charged for it and now you've got entrepreneurs and business people who are saying, you know, we can make money lowering carbon emissions, including coal companies.
So coal companies, then, have a financial incentive, power plants have a financial incentive, Wall Street has a financial incentive, to start investing in the types of funding necessary to burn coal cleanly.
The part of the billions of dollars that will be generated from charging those who are emitting carbon, we reinvest, that's how we pay for the investment in carbon over ten years in clean air, generally, but clean coal technology should be part of that mix and I’ve been challenged by some in the environmental community by saying we shouldn't take energy off the mix.
I mean, we should be investing in coal sequestration and other ways that we can capture carbon and still burn coal, and if we can figure out how to do that, not only is that good for our economy, not only could we start, then, putting people back to work, we are the Saudi Arabia of coal, and we have a strong incentive in doing this, but we also have technologies that we can license to China and license to India, because those folks are building a power plant twice a week to try to keep up with their energy growth.
If we think we can solve our problems here in the United States with carbon emissions without worrying what's happening in China and India, we're fooling ourselves.
We can export some of the technologies that we develop overseas and create more jobs in the United States of America.
I want to provide a clear benchmark.
Some of those are going to be hard to meet.
It also means that some power plants are going to end up having to retrofit and develop new ways of developing power.
That will boost electricity prices in the short term.
So I try to be very honest with folks about this.
It will mean higher electricity prices and some of the money that we generate from charging those who are emitting carbon, we're going to have to plow back to ensure that low-income people, people on fixed incomes, are protected from these spikes over cost.
Technology will catch up, and people will start using technology more efficiently.
One more point I want to make that's connected.
We talk about finding new energy sources, but the low-hanging fruit, you're an engineer and I pretend when I’m talking about this stuff, the low-hanging fruit is energy efficiency.
Part of my plan for green jobs is creating a whole new sector around making buildings for energy efficient.
I was at a place in Seattle called McKinstry, family business, maybe ten employees.
Somewhere along the line, they figured out, we can specialize in helping businesses become more energy efficient on the h-vex systems, on the lighting, so forth.
They are now a company with several thousand employees, and we visited their plant, you know, they work with big clients, schools, hospitals, big industries, and, you know, they're reducing the energy emissions, the energy utilization of these companies by as much as 75%.
Astonishing what they're doing.
But here's the kicker.
They do all their work on site.
Or in this plant, they're making, you know, heating ducts and they've got a bench of welders, and I’m walking through the plant floor, and you're talking to these folks, all unionized, all unionized jobs.
I asked one of the welders, what do you get paid?
With benefits, they're getting paid close to $100,000, they're getting $75,000 plus full healthcare and retirement benefits.
You're seeing this company that was just a little mom and pop plumbing outfit that is now this hugely successful business and creating good, unionized jobs that pay people a living wage.
That's the future that we want to create all across the country, and that is entirely compatible with us improving the environment.
The gentleman here.
Senator, good to see you, or President.
It's got a ring to it, but we've got a lot of work to do.
It depends on what Ohio does.
I’m Pastor Leon Forte.
Good to see you.
I'm the father of two bi-racial children that your campaign has lifted them into a whole new dimension.
I'm proud as an African-American.
I appreciate that.
I have two questions.
One is concerning home foreclosure.
I have to deal with that, people within the congregation.
It's something that's happening in southeastern Ohio and in Appalachia and around the country.
I need you to speak to that.
And secondly, I need you to speak to your faith.
We know about all the controversial statements from the Jeremiah Wright.
I know you respect him as a pastor, and I do too.
But we need to know where you stand.
Your campaign sets a quandary for most evangelical Christians.
They have a problem in what the conservatives have laid out as the moral litmus test as to who is worthy and who is not.
I ask you to speak to those two questions.
Those are both great questions.
Let me first talk about the home foreclosure crisis.
This is a story I’m hearing all across Ohio and all across the country.
I mean, I’ve been -- I’ve met couples who took out what they thought was a home improvement loan and are suddenly seeing their payments on the loan double in two weeks, finding themselves on the brink of foreclosure, and having to cut back on medicines that they need to stay well, and some -- and having to defray buying a new car for their kids, heartbreaking stuff.
People losing their homes that they'd lived in 15, 20 years.
Families who think they'd finally achieved the American dream, not only do they suffer foreclosure, but they have to pay money to get out of the crushing debt that has been created.
There are a couple of things we need to do.
Number one, we need some immediate relief.
What I’ve called for is $10 billion in initial bonding to state and local governments, so that they can use those funds to help in some cases purchase some of these mortgages and help people stay in their homes, a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund that will have counseling and help people working out terms with the banks and the lenders.
So that's immediate relief.
We're also expanding the interest rate deduction that is currently available to people who itemize on their income taxes.
We're going to provide that to everybody.
An additional income, interest rate deduction, for homeowners who just take the standard deduction.
That will save about 10% of their interest payments through this deduction.
It means lowering their interest rate by a point.
That's important for those who have these adjustable rate mortgages and may be pressed with high interest rates coming up.
But understand how we got here.
It was a lack of regulation of the mortgage industry.
Where we basically said, it's the wild west, you can give people any kind of terms, we're not going to be paying a lot of attention to what's disclosed, you get these teaser rates, people think that they're paying one set of rates and suddenly two years down the road, it's skyrocketed.
So we've got to crack down on the predatory lending and the subprime market, and that means overcoming some of the special interest resistance that we've seen.
Mortgage lenders spent $185 million preventing proposals like the one I put worth two years ago, called the Stop Fraud Act, that would ensure proper disclosure and proper terms in the mortgage lending industry.
We've got to move forward aggressively in regulating that industry, because not only are they harmful for the family, they're harmful for the whole community.
You get one home foreclosed in the neighborhood, and that's lowering property appraisals for everybody.
And property values for everybody.
So this is something that we're going to have to fight.
Now, it's going to take some time to unwind.
And it's going to be expensive, and we are going to have to be smart about how we do it.
For example, my plan, is targeted at people who are in their first home, or in a home that they're actually living in, because some folks who got into this subprime lending mess were speculators who were trying to flip property, not so true here, but in California and Florida where there was a housing bubble and people were trying to make a quick profit.
And we don't want to bail them out, because we have targeted resources.
That's on the housing front.
In terms of my faith, you know, there's been so much confusion that has been deliberately perpetrated through e-mails and so forth, so just here are the simple facts.
I am a Christian.
I am a devout Christian.
I have been a member of the same church for 20 years.
Pray to Jesus every night and try to go to church as much as I can when they're not working me.
Used to go quite often.
These days, you know, we haven't been to the home church, I haven't been home on Sunday for several months now.
So my faith is important to me.
It's not something that I try to push on other people.
But it's something that helps to guide my life and my values.
My pastor is actually retiring this Sunday, Jeremiah Wright is retiring, and Otis Moss III, the son of Otis Moss of Cleveland, is the new pastor, and he's a wonderful pastor.
I don't think my church is particularly controversial.
It's a member of the United Church of Christ.
It's got a choir.
We read scriptures.
You would feel at home if you were there.
Jeremiah Wright has said some controversial things, calling for divestment of South Africa and things like that and he thinks it's important for to us focus on what's happening in Africa, and I agree with him on that.
I think what you pay be referral to probably has to do with two issues, which is abortion and gay marriage.
Which has become, I think, how people measure faith in the evangelical community, and, you know, I think that there are genuine differences of opinion in this area.
I will tell you that I don't believe in gay marriage.
But I do think that people who are gay and lesbian should be treated with dignity and respect and that the state should not discriminate against them.
I believe in civil unions that allow a same-sex couple to visit each other in the hospital or transfer property to each other.
I don't think that it should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state.
If people find that controversial, then I would refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think, you know, is in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.
That's my view.
But we can have a respectful disagreement on that.
And on the issue of abortion, that's always a tragic and painful issue, and I think that if the past, we've made some mistakes, I think, people who are pro-choice, in not focusing on the fact that there's a real moral element to that.
I think that's how it's experienced by women.
It's never an easy decision.
And I don't think women make those decisions casually.
I think it's always tragic and we should prevent it as much as possible, by making sure that young people are engaging in responsible behavior and we are encouraging the kind of good decisions that prevent unwanted pregnancy, that we are encouraging adoption as an alternative.
But in the end, I think women in consultation with their pastors and their doctors and their families are in a better position to make these decisions than some bureaucrat in Washington.
That's my view.
Again, I respect people who may disagree, but I certainly don't think it makes me less Christian.
A gentleman back here had a question.
I don't want to ignore people behind me.
I'm going to turn around after this.
I’m Doug Kitchen, a small biodiesel producer, a proud hocking college graduate and have a daughter going here at this time.
My question has to do with the -- how do you see yourself with the U.S. going toward using food or using food for fuel?
The stabilization of -- how can we have the prices back where not only can the United States citizens continue to have the corn and the soybean use for fuel, but only -- not only that, but using it for food at the same time and getting to an equilibrium on that?
Well, this is a real challenge, and we're sort of in a transition period.
I come from an agriculture state.
We've got a lot of corn in Illinois.
And I have been a big supporter of ethanol.
Corn-based ethanol has been very important to a lot of rural communities.
In some cases, it makes the difference between whether a farmer is profitable or not, can stay on his farm or not.
It makes a huge difference to the merchants and the business people in those communities.
And so it has been important as a strategy for us to pursue energy independence.
But, I think anybody who looks at this carefully also, I know that engineers are taking a look at this, would also acknowledge that corn-based ethanol is not as efficient as we need it to be.
Because it takes a lot of energy to produce energy out of corn.
And it is having some unintended consequences when it comes to the price of feed and as a consequence to the price of food.
So what I’ve said is we need to continue to set goals of making corn-based ethanol more efficient, and I continue to support us, you know, investing in the research and development that's needed to do that, but where the real future lies is going to be in areas like cellulosic ethanol, using wood chips, switchgrass, using fuels that don't impact on our food prices, but also are just more efficient energy producers.
Brazil has done an amazing job in creating alternative fuels, but part of that is because sugar cane is just very efficient.
It is a very efficient fuel source.
Much more so than corn.
And so we've got to find these alternatives, and that's where investment in research and development, investment in colleges and universities like Hocking that are doing work on this area can be so important, because this should be a huge boon to rural economies.
But we've got to pump in the money to get it to work.
And the nice thing about this area, biofuels and alternative energy, is you can actually tailor the fuel production to what exists in a particular community.
So in some communities, wood chips may be right and you can put some of the old paper mills back to work.
In some areas, it might be algae, pond scum that is converted into energy.
The question is, is the federal government really approaching this the same way that J.F.K. approached us going to the moon.
You know, when Kennedy said, we're going to the moon, we're going to beat the Russians to the moon, there were a bunch of engineers back in Houston, you know, with the pen pocket protecters and the slide rules and stuff.
The truth was, they didn't know how to do it.
The science didn't exist when he set the goal.
But just by setting the goal, American ingenuity was able to make it happen in a very short time.
From the time he announced it to the time we landed on the moon was just a few years.
If we can do something like that that scientifically isn't yet proven, if we set a bold goal that says we're going to reduce our foreign oil consumption by a quantum leap, there's no reason why we can't do it this time.
In fact, I have great confidence that we can, but we've got to have a sense of urgency about it.
Sharing the microphone with Barack Obama.
My name is George Wood.
I'm principal at Federal Hocking Middle and High School in Stewart, Ohio, and it's a great school, and after you're elected president and you have a little time, come down and visit.
I heard what you had to say in Beaumont, Texas, yesterday, and the single most important thing about childhood education is the teacher, and one of the things we face is the recruitment, the retention, the support of teachers in schools that serve our most school-dependent children, in particular, schools that serve children in Appalachian, rural poor settings and urban poor settings, and I wonder if you picture a federal rule in recruiting and maintaining teachers to those settings.
Not only do I imagine that, I proposed very specifically how we can do this.
I've proposed $18 billion a year in additional federal money for the schools, and it's focused primarily on two areas.
Early childhood education, which is very important for poor children, and minority children, in closing the achievement gap.
Too many of our kids are showing up to school, already behind.
That first day in kindergarten, their vocabularies are smaller, they don't know their shapes, their colors, their letters, and that has an impact that carries forward throughout their school careers.
So investing in early childhood education, not just Pre-K but also working with at-risk parents so we're giving them the skills they need to read to their children and parent effectively.
That is the main focus.
The second is what you just discussed -- recruiting, retaining high quality teachers.
We've got to pay our teachers more.
And what I’ve said is that I want teachers across the board to get pay increases and the federal government should help local school districts that have low property values and have a difficult time, I want to pay them across the board more, and then I want to reward teachers, not on a single standardized test on a classroom, but are they getting nationally board certified, do they have skills in math and science that are harder to recruit, are they master teachers matching up with new teachers and providing them support so that there's an apprenticeship program that goes on.
All of these earned increases in compensation that are attainable, and they're worked out with the teachers' unions, I think are important.
So paying them more, providing better training.
The majority of teachers leave the profession in the first five years because they feel as if, you know, they're dropped into a classroom.
And my sister is a teacher, and I remember those first couple of years, she would come home sometimes in tears, just because she felt as if she was failing her kids.
It wasn't that she didn't love the kids and love the work, but she was teaching in some very tough schools, and she'd feel like she wasn't making progress and would get frustrated.
That's why it's important to get those teachers early, in the first five years.
One of the ways to provide them support, first of all, we've got to do a better job accrediting colleges and education.
Not all of them are equal.
We've got to boost their standards.
Number two, something that's been working very well are teachers academies where a first-year teacher functions as an apprentice in a school with a master teacher and can learn the trade before they are plopped into their own classroom, and number three, matching them up with master teachers and devoting the time to provide them opportunities during the course of a school year.
And the final area is giving teachers more financial incentives to then teach in tougher to teach schools.
So as part of a broader national service program that I’m proposing, I want to fund teachers who are willing to go and teach in a rural school or an inner city school.
We'll give them a full ride if they are willing to make the commitment to teach.
If we do all of those things, then I think that we can raise our standards, K through 12, and that is critical, if we then want to produce the engineers and the scientists that are going to be necessary for our long-term economic agenda.
And that is going to be one of the most important criteria for economic success in this community and any community around the country.
I mean, one of the things that I’ve been saying around Ohio, we've been talking about trade.
And I say, I want trade -- I want trade agreements that have labor standards, environmental standards, safety standards, because we should be on a level playing field with China and India and other countries that we trade with.
Back in the 1960s when we were such a dominant economy, we could afford to let people send in products without us asking for much reciprocity, because we were the biggest, baddest thing on the block.
We still are the biggest economy and the wealthiest country on earth, but relative to other countries, that gap has closed, and we have to be tougher bargainers.
I'm going to continue to speak out against NAFTA and other agreements that don't provide reciprocity.
But here is the truth, is that globalization is not going away.
It's not going away.
Senator Clinton talks about she wants a pause in our trade deals.
The world will not pause.
China is not pausing.
India is not pausing.
They are going full guns.
The only way we are going to compete is if our children are better prepared, better equipped, are stronger in math, stronger in science, are creating the innovation, that create, you know, high value and as a consequence, high wages.
There's no way of getting around that.
Not all of the manufacturing that has left Ohio or has left my home state of Illinois is coming back.
That's just the truth.
And so, you know, we -- as much as I want to work on trade, and as much as I want to stop giving tax breaks and incentives for companies shipping jobs overseas, we have to acknowledge that what you are doing in your school and what is going on in Hocking, this will probably have more to do with our long-term standard of living, whether it's in Nelsonville or Decatur or Brownsville or wherever you're talking about.
How much more time do we have in time for one more question?
Gentleman right here.
How do you do, Senator Obama.
>> Doing well, thank you.
>> My name is Benjamin Schafer, I’m president of American Hydrogen Corporation.
We're a new start-up in Athens.
And my question for you today is this, and it goes to your vision.
You envision spending $150 billion over ten years to secure America's environment, our economy, our security, and you're basing that on energy.
If you look at the $18 million an hour, if you will, I think it's an hour.
Is that right?
$18 million an hour we spend on foreign oil and you look at the ten years of $150 billion, that comes out to less than 15 cents for every $10 we spend on imported oil.
I would ask you to look at your vision and expand it.
You want more money?
I want more opportunities for our communities.
And I want you to think about the technologies that would be involved.
Well, hydrogen would be inside the list, I’m assuming since the name of your company has the word "hydrogen" in it, that's a technology you would want to pursue, and it is one we should pursue.
But keep in mind, this $150 billion I’m talking about, which would be unprecedented in clean energy, would not displace investments that are currently being made, in all sorts of research and development.
This would be in addition to any current spending that is taking place right now.
So the net amount that we're actually spending in this area, in the public sector would grow exponentially and the private sector is still going to be making its investments in research and development.
One of the key tasks for the federal government is to make sure that all of these different laboratories of new technology, whether it's in hydrogen or biofuels or wind energy or solar, that all of these -- all of these laboratories are talking to each other.
You know, you think about the internet, and what -- how that developed.
You know, it really was one of the premier research labs in the world, based out of our defense department, working with a bunch of local universities and professors and starting to network and not even knowing exactly what they had at first, but over time, that synergy, because all these folks were talking to each other, blossomed into what has become one of the driving forces of our economy.
We don't want it all just focused in one federal lab.
We want this money disbursed, distributed, we want it to go to different technologies and there's no silver bullet energy source.
That's why coal is still going to be important.
If we can find a way to do nuclear storage properly, that's something we have to consider, because it does emit greenhouse gasses.
All of these things have to be on the table.
And my job is president is to set the goal.
We're going to the moon, and we're going to make the resources available to do it, and we're going to train our people to do the research and to work in these areas, and we're going to let, you know, 1,000 flowers bloom and see which ones work and which ones we can really take advantage of.
So this has been a wonderful conversation.
I'm grateful to all of you for your interest and your time.
Let me close by making this point, which I make in every talk that I have.
I'm reminded every day of my life, if not by events, than by my wife, that I’m not a perfect man.
I will not be a perfect president.
But I can promise you this -- I will always tell you what I think, and I will always tell you where I stand, which I think is very important from the President.
We have to restore a sense of trust between our government and the voters.
I will be honest with you about the challenges that we face, and creating economic development and jobs in this community will be challenging.
It's not going to be easy.
If people tell you it's going to be easy, they're not telling you the truth.
You know that, because you've been hearing these promises for years.
I will be honest with you about the challenges we face.
I will listen to you, and I'll listen to you, even when we disagree.
Because I think one of the most important lost arts in politics and in Washington is listening to people who have different points of view.
That's why we've had so much bickering and politics in Washington and not a lot of getting stuff done.
Because everybody comes in with their own preconceptions and ideologies and don't listen to each other, and in energy, we should be practical and experimental and shouldn't come in with a bunch of preconceptions, we should see what works and keep trying different things until we get it right.
That's the kind of approach and ethic I want to bring to the White House.
But here's the most important thing.
I will spend every single day thinking about how to make this community stronger, your lives better, your children's lives better, your grandchildren's lives better.
The young lady who started the question saying “Don't be just talk.”
I got into this work as a community organizer, helping folks who had been laid off at steel plants, thousands of them, on the south side of Chicago, trying to help them find work.
That's how I got into this thing.
That's why I’ve stayed in this thing.
And so I can make this solemn promise, every day, what I'll be thinking about is how am I making this community better.
How am I making the south side of Chicago better.
How am I making Brownsville, Texas, better.
How am I making people's lives more filled with opportunity and possibility and hope.
That will be my job, and if you give me that opportunity, I will be honored to serve you as President of the United States.
So thank you very much, everybody.