It's great to be here, especially with my friends from Virginia! A few years ago, few imagined that Virginia would be a battleground state. Virginia had last voted for a Democrat for president in 1964, but we proudly cast our electoral votes in 2008 for President Obama. In 2006 and 2008, we elected two outstanding senators--Jim Webb and Mark Warner. And together, we're going to win again in 2012!
How did Virginia go from red to purple? We did it with grassroots excitement and hard work. And we showed Virginians that Democrats get results. When I was governor, during the worst recession since the Great Depression, Virginia maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates in America. We kept our AAA bond rating. We were named most business-friendly state, best managed state and best state to raise a child.
We cut billions from the state budget, while making critical investments in schools, roads and bridges. We worked with Democrats, Republicans and independents to get results.
Over the last four years, the GOP pushed ideology and wedge issues. Last week, they passed a platform demanding privacy for Super PACs and denying privacy to women making health care decisions. Meanwhile, Democrats fought for the middle class.
We cut taxes for 95 percent of American families. We went from 25 months of job losses to 29 straight months of private-sector job growth. The auto industry is back. Manufacturers are hiring again, but we've got to do more. And there's a real choice.
The other side fights to protect subsidies for Big Oil. We want to invest in our small businesses. They want bigger tax cuts for those who need it least. We want to invest in our communities--the roads, bridges and infrastructure that will make us more competitive. They want to slash education and job training. We want to invest in our future.
There's just as stark a choice when it comes to fixing our budget. The last time they were in charge, the other side turned a record surplus into a massive deficit with two wars, trillions in tax breaks, loopholes and entitlements they wouldn't pay for. Now, they're pushing budget-busting tax cuts and economy-busting spending cuts.
To pay for their plan, they'd slash middle-class tax breaks, raising taxes on the middle class. They'd turn Medicare into a voucher system. And rather than raise taxes on the wealthy by a single penny, they'd put thousands of defense jobs at risk. Let's be clear: That's not fiscally responsible. That's fiscally reckless.
We can't afford to try it again! We need to move forward, because while we've made progress, we still have a long way to go. We'll only get there if we elect leaders who put results ahead of ideology.
I support President Obama, because he's that kind of leader. He said he'd end the war in Iraq, and he has. He said he'd draw down troops in Afghanistan, and today every Virginia National Guard unit is home for the first time in a decade. He said he'd go after bin Laden and take out al-Qaida. He did, and a SEAL team earned our nation's gratitude.
He said he'd pass health care reform, and he did. He promised he'd fight for equal pay for women, college affordability for students and fair treatment for LGBT Americans--and he's kept his word. He's a tough leader who gets results.
Next week, we commemorate the 11th anniversary of 9/11. Many Virginians lost their lives at the Pentagon that day and in the wars we've fought since. As governor, I went to funerals of Virginia Guard members. I know people who lost their kids and soldiers who returned, their lives forever changed. Their sacrifice reminds us we're not Democrats or Republicans first. We're Americans first.
We've been through tough times, but we're tough people. Tough times don't last. Tough people do. Let's come together, show how tough we are and prove our best days will always be ahead of us.