Friday, October 17, 2008

John McCain at the Al Smith Dinner - Transcript

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Your Excellency and Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Patterson, Senator Schumer and Clinton. Senator Obama, Allen and Ann Smith, thank you all for the warm welcome.

It's a privilege to be with all of you for the 63rd anniversary dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation. And this is a very distinguished and influential audience and as good a place as any to make a major announcement.

Events are moving fast in my campaign and, yes, it's true that this morning I have dismissed my entire team of senior advisors, all of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber.



MCCAIN: Already -- but already, my friends, my opponents have been subjecting Joe to their vicious attack machine.


MCCAIN: His veracity has been questioned by Barack Obama's running mate, Joe the Six-term senator. He claims that this honest, hard-working small businessman could not possibly have enough income to face a tax increase under the Obama plan.

What they don't know, what they don't know, is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses.



MCCAIN: This campaign needed the common touch of a working man. After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival with a man known to Oprah Winfrey as the one. Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him that one.




MCCAIN: Friends, he doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me -- George Bush.



MCCAIN: It's been that kind of contest and I come here tonight to the Al Smith dinner knowing that I'm the underdog in these final weeks but if you know where to look there are signs of hope. There are signs of hope. Even in the most unexpected places, even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats.

I can't -- I can't shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me.


MCCAIN: I'm delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary.


MCCAIN: Where is Bill, by the way?


MCCAIN: Can't he take one night off from his tireless quest to make the man who defeated his wife, the next president? The man is a relentless advocate for the Obama campaign and he has a subtle approach to making the case.

When reporter asked him if Senator Obama was qualified to be president, Bill Clinton pointed out, sure, he's over 35 years of age and a U.S. citizen.


MCCAIN: He was pandering to the strict constructionist crowd.



MCCAIN: He's also been hammering away at me with epitaphs like "American Hero" and "Great Man," and with all the cameras running, he warmly embraced me at that global initiative of his.

My friends, this is nothing but a brazen attempt to suppress turnout among anti-Clinton conservatives.


MCCAIN: Finally when Larry King asked President Clinton a couple of weeks ago, what was the delay and why he wasn't out there on the trail for Barack, Bill said his hands were tied until the end of the Jewish High holidays.

Now you've got to admire that ecumenical spirit.


MCCAIN: I just know Bill would like to be out there now stumping for Barack until the last hour of the last day, unfortunately, he is constrained by his respect for any voters who might be observing the Zoroastian New Year.


MCCAIN: You know? Some.


MCCAIN: Some advocates for Senator Obama are less restrained in their enthusiasm even in the media. All right, he usually is at table 228, for example. My old friend and green room pal, Chris Matthews. He used to like me but he found somebody new. Somebody who opened his eyes, somebody who gave him a thrill up his leg.


MCCAIN: And we've talked about it. I told him maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.


MCCAIN: You know.


MCCAIN: . it's going to be a long, long night at MSNBC if I manage to pull this thing off.


MCCAIN: For starters.


MCCAIN: I understand that Keith Olbermann has ordered up his very own "Mission Accomplished" banner. And they can hang that in whatever padded room has been reserved for him.


MCCAIN: Seriously, Chris, if they need any decorating advice on that banner, ask Keith to call me so I can tell him right where to put it.


MCCAIN: You know I have fun with the media and we all -- we all know the press is really an independent, civic-minded, and nonpartisan group.




MCCAIN: In case -- in case you haven't been following my opponent's "Get Out the Vote" campaign, ACORN is helping to register groups previously excluded, overlooked, and underserved -- second graders, the deceased, Disney characters.


MCCAIN: In Florida they even turned up an ACORN voter registration form that bore the name of one Mickey Mouse. We're checking the paw prints, although I might let that one go, I'm pretty sure the big rat's a Republican.


MCCAIN: Anyway, we all know that Senator Obama is ready for any contingency, even the possibility of a sudden and dramatic market rebound. I'm told that at the first sign of recovery, he will suspend his campaign and fly immediately to Washington and address this crisis.


MCCAIN: All this will be for the voters to decide very soon. And though I do trust we can keep the turnout amongst deceased and fictional voters to a minimum, I have come out on both sides of elections and I have never lost my confidence in the judgment of the American people.

In the military they work pretty hard to impress the chain of command on your way of thinking. And one way or another, on the 4th of November, word will come down from the top of the chain and Senator Obama and I will both receive our orders.

I don't want it getting out of this room but my opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways. Political opponents can have a little trouble seeing the best in each other. But I have had a few glimpses of this man at his best. And I admire his great skill, energy, and determination.

It's not for nothing that he has inspired so many folks in his own party and beyond. Senator Obama talks about making history and he has made quite a bit of it already. There was a time when the mere invitation of an African-American citizen to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage and an insult in many corridors.

Today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time and good riddance.

I can't wish my opponent luck but I do wish him well.


MCCAIN: Whatever the outcome next month, Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country and I congratulate him. In his own day, Governor al Smith achieved great things as well and traveled a harder path than most any presidential candidate before or since.

America will always remember the boy born in an old tenement on South Street in Brooklyn who was four times elected governor of this state and the newsboy and fishmonger who went to Saint James Parochial School, and at his death received Apostolic Benediction from the Pope himself.

At the Al Smith Foundation and at the New York Archdiocese you're carrying on the spirit and work of this good man with your service to the poor. Your comfort for the sick and needy, your belief in the dignity of life, especially your gallant defense of the rights of the unborn.

I'm proud to count myself as your friend and ally.


MCCAIN: With that -- with that, my friend, let me make way for my opponent who, tonight, is making a comedy debut that, I guess, we could call the final test of this campaign.

Now a copy of the Senator's comedy routine was left on the table this evening. And I have to confess, Your Eminence, I looked at it.


MCCAIN: Now, of course it would be unfair and even a little unkind to put my opponent on the spot before he gets up here, or to throw him off his game with unreasonably high expectations.


MCCAIN: But I do need to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, you are are all out about to witness the funniest performance in this.


MCCAIN: . in the 63-year history of this event.


MCCAIN: Let's not add to the mounting pressure he must be feeling.


MCCAIN: Just prepare yourself for nonstop hilarity. The funniest 15 minutes of your life or any other. I think he knows that anything short of that would mar the evening, insult our host.


MCCAIN: . and perhaps even cost him several swing states.


MCCAIN: Senator Obama, the microphone is all yours.

John McCain, a U.S. Senator from Arizona, is the Republican presidential nominee.

Barack Obama at Al Smith Dinner - Transcript

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you to Al and to Your Eminence, to Governor Patterson and Mayor Bloomberg, to Senator and Mrs. McCain, to my wonderful colleague, Senator Clinton and Schumer, to all the distinguished guests.

There is no other crowd in the America that I'd rather be palling around with right now.


I'm sorry he couldn't be here. I do send regards to my running mate, Joe Biden, or as Senator McCain noted, he now actually likes to be called Joe the Senator.

I was thrilled to get this invitation, and I feel right at home here, because it's often been said that I share the politics of Alfred E. Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Newman.

But I have to say tonight's venue isn't really what I'm used to. I was originally told we'd be able to move this outdoors to Yankee stadium. And can somebody tell me what happened to the Greek columns that I requested?

I do love the Waldorf Astoria, though. You know, I hear that from the doorstep you can see all the way to the Russian Tea Room. It is an honor to be here with Al Smith. I obviously never knew your great-grandfather, but from everything that Senator McCain has told me, the two of them had a great time together before prohibition. So wonderful stories.

The mayor of this great city, Michael Bloomberg, is here. The mayor recently announced some news -- made some news by announcing he's going to be rewriting the rules and running for a third term, which caused Bill Clinton to say, "You can do that?"

The president's better half, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is also here. I'm glad to see you made it, Hillary. I'm glad to see that you made it, because I heard Chuck Schumer actually try to tell you that we really did move this event to Yankee Stadium.

But I'll tell you all from personal experience Hillary Clinton is one of the toughest and most formidable presidential candidates in history. She has broken barriers. She's inspired millions. She is the -- she is the primary reason I have all this gray in my hair now.

I am also glad to see that Senator Schumer is here, and I see that he's brought some of his loved ones. Those would be the people with the cameras and the notebooks in the back of the room.

Of course, I am especially honored to be here tonight with my distinguished opponent, Senator John McCain. I think it is a tribute to American democracy that, with two weeks left in a hard-fought election, the two of us could come together and sit down at the same dinner table without preconditions.

Recently, one of John wants top advisors told the "Daily News" that if we keep talking about the economy, McCain's going to lose, so tonight I'd like to talk about the economy.

Given all that's happened these past few weeks on Wall Street, it feels like an odd time to be dressed up in white tie, but I must say I got a great deal. I rented the whole outfit from the Treasury Department at a very good price. Looking around tonight at all the gourmet food and champagne, it's clear that no expenses were spared. It's like an executive sales meeting at AIG.

But I don't need to tell any of you that it's been a scary time on the stock market with people losing their investments, their entire fortunes. It's gotten so bad Bloomberg now has to take the subway.

And while the collapse of the housing market has been tough on every single homeowner, I think we all need to recognize that this crisis has been eight times harder on John McCain.

We have been debating a lot of these economic issues over the course of the campaign, but lately things have been getting a bit tougher. In the last few weeks John has been out on the campaign trail and asked the question, "Who is Barack Obama?" I have to admit I was a little surprised by this question. The answer is right there on my Facebook page.

But look, I don't want to be coy about this. We're a couple weeks from an important election. Americans have a big choice to make and, if anybody feels like they don't know me by now, let me try to give you some answers. Who is Barack Obama? Contrary to the rumors that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-el to save the planet earth.

Many of you -- many of you know that I got my name Barack from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for "that one." And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for president.

If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome.

One other thing: I have never, not once, put lipstick on a pig. Or a pit bull, or myself. Rudy Giuliani, that's one for you. I mean, who would have thought that a cross-dressing mayor from New York City would have a tough time winning the Republican nomination? It's shocking.

That was a tough primary you had there, John. Anyway -- anyway, that's who I really am. But in the spirit of full disclosure, there are a few October surprises you'll be finding out about in the coming weeks. First of all, my middle name, it's not what you think. It's actually Steve. That's right. Barack Steve Obama.

Here's another revelation. John McCain is onto something. There was a point in my life when I started palling around with a pretty ugly crowd. I've got to be honest. These guys were serious dead beats. They were low lives. They were unrepentant. No good punks. That's right, I've been a member of the United States Senate.

Come to think of it, John, I swear I saw you at one of our meetings. But I know Senator McCain agrees that some of the rumors out there are getting a bit crazy. I mean, Rupert the other day, FOX News actually accused me of fathering two African-American children in wedlock.

By the way, John, I'm just curious, is FOX News included in the media, because I'm always hearing about this love. Just curious.

Then at one of these campaign rallies someone in the crowd started yelling "Nobama," announcing to everyone in the room that I shouldn't be the Democratic nominee because there were far more qualified candidates. I really wish Joe Biden hadn't done that.

But at least, we've moved past the days when the main criticism coming from the McCain campaign was that I'm some kind of celebrity. I have to admit that that really hurt. I got so angry about it, I punched a paparazzi in the face on my way out of Spagos. I'm serious. I even spilled my soy chai latte all over my Tshi-tzu. It was really embarrassing.

But, in all seriousness, I'm so glad that I could make it tonight, and I'm honored to be among such wonderful public servants. I want to especially say a word of thanks to Senator McCain. We are in the midst of a tough battle right now, and American politics at the presidential level is always tough.

But I've said before, and I think it bears repeating that there are very few of us who have served this country with the same dedication and honor and distinction as Senator McCain. And I'm glad to be sharing the stage with him tonight as I am during the course of this nomination.

And before I close, I'd like to recognize one such servant who's not with us here tonight but who was mentioned earlier, and that's our good friend, Tim Russert. And I know that Luke and Maureen are here. And I know that Tim enjoyed these dinners very much, and I also know how much he would have enjoyed covering this election. And I know that John and I would have been quaking in our boots preparing for our appearances on "Meet the Press." And his absence is not just a personal loss for so many who knew him and loved him but a profound loss for the country. And we continue to miss him very much.

You know, the fact that each -- each October in the closing weeks of a hard-fought campaign, people of all political persuasions can come to this dinner and share a meal in honor of the work of this foundation underscores the reality that, no matter what differences or divisions or arguments we are having right now, we ultimately belong to something bigger and more lasting than a political party. We belong to a community. We share a country. We are all children of God.

And in this country there are millions of fellow citizens, our brothers and sisters, who need us very much, especially now. We are being battered by a very serious economic storm, and for many Americans it's only deepened the quiet storms they've been struggling through for years.

Beyond the walls of this hotel on the streets of one of the greatest cities in the wealthiest nation on earth, there are men and women and children who have fallen on hard times and hard luck, who can't find work on even a job that pays enough to keep a roof over their heads, and some are hanging on just by a thread.

The scripture says God creates us for works of service. We are blessed to have so many organizations like this one in the Catholic diocese that perform these acts of God every day. But each of us also have that responsibility. Each of us has that obligation, especially now.

So no matter who we are or what we do, what I believe is each of us in this room asks for and hopes for and prays for, enough strength and wisdom to do good and to seek justice and play our small part in building a more hopeful and compassionate world for the generations that will follow.

Before Al Smith was a candidate who made history, he was a man who made a difference, a man who fought for many years to give Americans nothing more than a fair shake and a chance to succeed. And he touched the lives of hundreds of thousands, of millions as a result. Simply put, he helped people. And that's a distinction we can all aspire to and we can all achieve. Young or old, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican or independent.

And I have no doubt that if we come together at this moment of crisis with this goal in mind, America will meet this challenge and weather this storm. And in the words of Al Smith, walk once more in eternal sunshine.

Thank you so much, everybody. God bless you.

Barack Obama, a Democratic Senator from Illinois, is the Democratic presidential nominee.

Warren Buffett Says "Buy American - I AM"

Warrent Buffett wrote a piece for the New York Times arguing it's time to Buy American.

New York Times Oct. 16 2008

THE financial world is a mess, both in the United States and abroad. Its problems, moreover, have been leaking into the general economy, and the leaks are now turning into a gusher. In the near term, unemployment will rise, business activity will falter and headlines will continue to be scary.

So ... I’ve been buying American stocks. This is my personal account I’m talking about, in which I previously owned nothing but United States government bonds. (This description leaves aside my Berkshire Hathaway holdings, which are all committed to philanthropy.) If prices keep looking attractive, my non-Berkshire net worth will soon be 100 percent in United States equities.


A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

Let me be clear on one point: I can’t predict the short-term movements of the stock market. I haven’t the faintest idea as to whether stocks will be higher or lower a month — or a year — from now. What is likely, however, is that the market will move higher, perhaps substantially so, well before either sentiment or the economy turns up. So if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

A little history here: During the Depression, the Dow hit its low, 41, on July 8, 1932. Economic conditions, though, kept deteriorating until Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. By that time, the market had already advanced 30 percent. Or think back to the early days of World War II, when things were going badly for the United States in Europe and the Pacific. The market hit bottom in April 1942, well before Allied fortunes turned. Again, in the early 1980s, the time to buy stocks was when inflation raged and the economy was in the tank. In short, bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price.

Over the long term, the stock market news will be good. In the 20th century, the United States endured two world wars and other traumatic and expensive military conflicts; the Depression; a dozen or so recessions and financial panics; oil shocks; a flu epidemic; and the resignation of a disgraced president. Yet the Dow rose from 66 to 11,497.

You might think it would have been impossible for an investor to lose money during a century marked by such an extraordinary gain. But some investors did. The hapless ones bought stocks only when they felt comfort in doing so and then proceeded to sell when the headlines made them queasy.

Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Equities will almost certainly outperform cash over the next decade, probably by a substantial degree. Those investors who cling now to cash are betting they can efficiently time their move away from it later. In waiting for the comfort of good news, they are ignoring Wayne Gretzky’s advice: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

I don’t like to opine on the stock market, and again I emphasize that I have no idea what the market will do in the short term. Nevertheless, I’ll follow the lead of a restaurant that opened in an empty bank building and then advertised: “Put your mouth where your money was.” Today my money and my mouth both say equities.

Warren E. Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.