As prepared for delivery:
As many of you know, we had a challenging summer in Colorado: wildfires that devastated homes and businesses, took livelihoods and lives; then, a few weeks later, terrible shootings in a darkened theater. So, on behalf of everyone in Colorado, let me start tonight by saying thank you. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your generosity to families who lost so much.
The president came to Colorado. He walked the charred landscape, met with firefighters and also with those who lost homes or businesses. He and Michelle visited hospitals to comfort families of loved ones killed and injured. They shared in our grief and brought a message of support on behalf of the entire country. We weren't Democrats or Republicans in that moment, we were simply Americans trying to help one another.
These tragedies remind us not to waste time bickering. We have the power to come together. We need to do this as a nation. It will take a spirit of generosity and collaboration to meet the difficult challenges we face. We recognize this in Colorado, where we've been able to pass vital legislation with strong bipartisan majorities. I'm luckier than President Obama. After my inauguration, Colorado's Republican legislators didn't immediately start planning my defeat. We worked together. Some even complimented me for releasing my tax returns in the campaign, 22 years of them. We don't always agree, but when push comes to shove, Colorado's elected leaders cooperate for the good of our state. Consequently, we are moving forward.
And we need to keep moving forward with President Obama. And the president's policies are helping. He set a goal of doubling exports in five years, and so far, they're up by almost 40 percent. In Colorado, agricultural exports jumped 59 percent. Overseas tourism is up nearly 30 percent in Colorado. The president's "all of the above" energy strategy means thousands of jobs. Using wind, solar and vast new reserves of natural gas, we are closer to true energy independence than we have been in recent history. And as the first governor since Sam Adams to get his start brewing beer, I'm happy to announce that even craft beer production is up 35 percent.
We've still got a lot of ground to cover as a country, but we are coming back. Not as fast as we want or need, but unlike four years ago, we are finally moving in the right direction. I know it's hard right now for a lot of people. And I've been there. Like too many Americans today, I was laid off and out of work for two years during the last really bad recession in 1986. So we started a brewpub.
We were turned down by 32 banks and scores of investors. My own mother wouldn't invest. But we got there, because like so many other things in life, our business was not just me. It was we. We worked 70 hours per week. We drafted the business plan with a librarian from the Denver Public Library. We secured a development loan from the city. My landlord invested. My Little League baseball coach invested. We worked long hours. It was "we," not just "me."
In Colorado, we know that western history is not just about rugged individuals; it's also about communities coming together to raise barns, build schools and, yes, to help one another. Colorado and the United States are places that will be defined more by their future than by their past. The president knows this. He knows that to move our country forward, it takes "we" and not just "me." My mother, the lone Democrat in a family of Republicans, was widowed twice and raised four kids on her own. She used to say, "You can't always control what life gives you, but you can control how you respond." President Obama inherited many crises, among the worst any President has faced, and in every case he's responded with optimism, compassion and courage. He provided hope when there was none. And he has transformed that hope into a plan rooted in reality.
It's hard work, and it takes time. But it's working. He understands that America is indeed a collection of talented, self-motivated individuals competing in a marketplace. But it's more than that; it's also a community that believes in the common good. As another skinny Democrat with a funny last name, I was proud to host the convention in Denver that nominated President Obama four years ago. I am proud to support his re-election and ask that you join me--well, we--in moving Colorado and America forward. We need to finish what we started.