tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 14, 2012 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT
columbia announced that the president rather than jill aim ram son would deliver the address after a call came from the white house asking to be put on the program. his speech today is not 9 only commencement speech that has political overtones. mitt romney i sought to downplay his mormonism and amp up conservative social values. white house correspondent and political director chuck todd joins me now. and the tale of two commencement speeches, president obama with women, this decision to speak at barnard came at the height of sandra fluke. mitt romney at the evangelical liberty university. i want to play the a clip about him and the mormon issue at liberty. >> people of different faiths like yours and mine sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose when there are so many differences in creed and theology. surely the answer is that we can
meet in service in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common world view. >> never using the "m" word, mormon. >> you know, i think the good news for the romney campaign is that basically this was a nonstory. when they scheduled this, i think this was in anticipation of this fear of needing to rally evangelicals and being of concern that somehow they will wouldn't be there for him simply because his faith. i think as you see the reaction to the speech there isn't this hand wringing going on. an odd way, evers assisted by the president. why? the gay marriage issue for evangelicals. >> that got the standing ovation when he came out against gay marriage. >> that sucked out any oxygen there might have been for this frankly theological debate that could have been taking place inside the base of the party. that's not there now. >> in other news, the obama team out today with a new video highlighting mitt romney's recovered at bain which they say
is the directly responsible for job losses in the early '90s. you mention today taking a page out of ted kennedy's book. is it trying to -- we also newt gingrich did a good job with this and won south carolina by making an the same attack. >> creating this image of romney as the heartless boss, the guy that comes in and he's the guy that's going to do whatever it takes to make a profit even if that means getting rid of your job, shipping your job overseas. they're trying to almost pull at the heart strings here of the anxious middle class if you will, particularly in the industrial midwest. it's an example of the steel industry in kansas city and where are they buying the ads? in pennsylvania and in ohio. this is those voters. i think that's fascinating here is how it's an interesting line the campaigns are starting to draw. we're not criticizing private equity they claim. we're not criticizing bain. we're criticizing it's the
lessons that romney learned from bain is how he's going to apply it to all of the economy. they say that makes him unacceptable as a president but not as head of bain. >> it is the age old political thing is going after someone's top strength and trying to make it a weakness. >> this has been the narrative romney's been trying to paint. a little reminder here of -- >> i want to talk about this. tonight of all nights, president obama has a fund-raiser hosted by none other than tony hamilton, who is very much a private equity guy. he said this about private equity back in february to bloomberg. let's take a listen. >> i think it will be hard, frankly. we're going to be facing an onslaught of something like a billion dollars spent to attack the industry for political purposes. we have an industry with hundreds of participants and many, many thousands of deals and they don't all work out. it's very easy to pick one or two for the benefit of hindsight that don't work out and create an ugly picture.
>> now, the obama campaign knew this was going to come up. stephanie cutter said in a conference call with the bain attack ad, no one is questioning the private equity industry as a whole saying this was about the lessons and values romtny drew from his time as a buyout specialist. it's pretty tough to make this bain capital private equities the bad guy and getting money the same night from a guy defending the industry a few months ago. >> they have a bain managing director by the name of jonathan lag vene who is a bundler for the obama campaign, raised $100,000, to 200,0$200,000. i can report there was some hand wringing inside the democratic fund-raising world about whether if the obama campaign was going to level these attacks at bane, was it going to look hypocritical taking money from a top executive at bain capital. they chose to go ahead and take the money and again, the line they walk here, i asked the
campaign directly, you don't see anything hypocritical about taking bain it's money. they say not at all. what they're criticizing is somehow the lessons mitt romney will take in the oval office. i think them are drawing a very thin line. it's very hard. >> this tough walk since obama. >> we're talking about this. what are people seeing on tv ads. that's what's has been effective. ted kennedy problemed. newt gingrich proved it. >> interesting to see if it resonates. this tough walk for obama on wall street started in 2006, still going forward. the white house says a $2 billion mistake by jpmorgan chase shows the need for more wall street regulation. on "meet the press," jamie dimon stopped short of saying it was illegal. >> did the bank break any laws? did it violate any accounting rules or sec rules? >> so we've had audit, legal risk compliance and our best
people looking into all of that. we know we were sloppy, stupid, we know there was bad judgment. we don't know the if any of that is true yet. regulators should look at something like this. they will come to their own conclusions. we inattend to fix it, learn from it and be a better company when it's done. >> brian sullivan is coanchor of street signs. explain how jp morgan was involved in it. as the law is written, it appears to be perfectly legal. >> it is. it was a bad trade and as jamie dimon has implied a stupid one. essentially they made this $100 billion bet on u.s. corporate debt. i don't want to get too in the weeds. corporations issue debt. jpmorgan chase had about a $100 billion billion position and this one guy they dubbed the london whale was trying to hedge that position, in other words, make bets in this one went bad
they could balance it out. everybody on wall street that dealt in those instruments knew what he was doing and sort of ganged up on him, right? and made sure that it damaged his trade to the point that they end up with this $2 billion and possibly more loss because jamie dimon himself has said that more losses could be revealed down the road. nothing illegal. just dumb. >> and brian, the question then needs to be asked, it was asked on "meet the press," carl levin spoke about this, if this is still going on, losses of this magnitude and you see apathy from wall street in regards to more regulation, is this the end of too big to fail? i want to play this video and get your opinion. >> these are the kind off bets that put us into the soup to begin with. if we can prevent this, we can avoid id ever having to bail out this banks. we bailed out this bank. tens of billions of dollars went to this bank before and we don't want this to happen again. >> does this prove that will too
big to fail is very much still around? >> well, it's hard to say that. listen, banks make these kinds of trades, maybe not this size but a lot and a lot of them win. if they made a $2 billion profit and it outd that and raised their dividend, everybody would be saying how smart they were. but instead they look dumb. it as far as too big to fail, as a percentage of assets against gdp, the four and five biggest banks in the united states are bigger now than they were prefinancial crisis. so if they were too big to fail before, then it's 100%% guaranteed they are too bigger to fail now because they are bigger. and we have only gotten larger and the concentration we talk about the 1% a lot in terms of individual wealth. the concentration of assets and capital at the top of the banking spectrum is now more concentrated at the very top than it was a few years ago. of course, regulators would like
to do something about that although the dodd-frank bill, lukas you probably know is what, 2300 pages and counting. the volcker rule which is not even in place yet is a couple hundred pages and counting. i mean, who knows what's going to be in there because the lobbying is pretty hard on the banking side, as well. >> there has been a move to weaken it as each house and senate vote goes on and on. one question i want to ask you, elizabeth warren running for senate in massachusetts said jamie dimon should step down from his position on the new york fed. do you think that will happen in any capacity? and give us a lehman's explanation of what the new york fed does in this regard and why his position there could look fishy to an average investor. >> yeah, it doesn't look good. i understand that. right? you think why is somebody dpr one of the biggest banks in the world sitting on the board of the new york area representative, the u.s. federal reserve? of it probably is not going to resonate vet positivetively with
parts of your audience. maybe it's not jamie dimon although he is perceived as one of the smarter guys out there despite this. it's that you need real bankers on these boards. you can't just have academics and policy wonks on these boards. you've got to have a the men and women who actually move the money around. banks have been taking a beating and probably should have over the last few years but banking as a service, i'm not talking about investment banking or trading which is what jpmorgan did here. we need to remember most banks still just borrow money, lend it out at a slightly higher rate and make the spread. that's literally the entire business you have banking. a lot of banking ceos, local or regional banks you know, the ceo has said the big banks that essentially they should repeal basically glass/steagall needs to be reinforced because you've got to the separate the trading from the banking. it's an interesting debate. i can see both sides of it.
most people now are tending to the side of we need a glass/steagall to come back a bit and shouldn't have the big banks we trust with our money in terms of deposits and checking accounts also making hundred billion dollar bets on the side. >> brian, there's a better chance of you and i being on the new york fed board than glass/steagall coming back the next few years. >> i would vote for you. >> likewise. >> and second you and i will go together. >> is the irish ticket. brian, thanks so much for being on the show. president obama is about to deliver the commencement address to graduates at barnard college in new york city. stay with us for live coverage next on "andrea mitchell reports." >> on puts you at 5 times greater risk of stroke. don't wait. go to afibstroke.com for a free discussion guide to help you talk to your doctor about reducing your risk. that's afibstroke.com.
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embarking on a strategy reminding is voters president and close advisers are well represented and well connected to wall street and some of the biggest companies in the financial sector. >> i did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on wall street. >> but guess who is gave $42 million to his last campaign for president. >> wall street bankers and financial insiders. but his white house is full of wall street executives. his first chief of staff, his next chief of staff, former military office director, ambassador to germany, treasury secretary. obama's new chief of staff took nearly a million dollar bonus from citigroup after taxpayers who bailed them out and jon corzine was obama's adviser on the stimulus. >> the president of the center for american progress, a liberal think tank joins us now. >> great to be with you. >> does this line of attack from
republicans work on the same day we see president obama trying to link mitt romney to bain capital and the way in which they tore down plants in the heartland and rearranging hem? you see these ads saying look, president obama is very much in the same boat, very much connected to wall street. look at all these people in his administration from big banks. does this sort of muddy the waters that everybody looks like they're on the same wall street team. >> i don't think so. people really care about whose side you're on, not whose staff you have. the essential issue is this shows that conservatives are worried that they recognize there's as economic populism that's really motivating voters. you saw it in the republican primary where republicans called romney a venture capitalist. with the news of jamie dimon, people will take a stronger look at the policies to regulate wall
street. you see the gop and mitt romney i assume still feels like we have to turn aside those regulations. what the ads show is that conservatives are legitimately worried because their policies are on the wrong side of the american people. >> do you think it's a problem president obama has a major fund-raiser at a you private equity's head tonight? >>ity think the what matters to us is what the president's policies are. i think the challenge is that you've had conservatives and some interests trying to roll back rules on dodd-frank, et cetera. it's important that you know, treasury and the white house stay firm on those issues and really demonstrate that we need properly regular tligs actually ensure proper growth. and when jamie dimon or these companies lose $2 billion there needs to be accountability. >> president obama giving the commencement today at bar nafrd chenille. obviously the white house wanted to be on this side of sandra
fluke. what exactly do you feel the president's message will be to the young women there and is does it is risk looking overly political? >> no, i think it's great when the president is talking to younger women about their academic aspirations. one of the issues in this election is really celebrating women's economic achievements or having a whole host of policies that would set women back. the fact that the republican party and the gop were really debating contraception a few weeks ago and whether every woman should have access to contraception was a wake-up call to young women what's at stake in the election. you've seen the president's numbers move dramatically amongst women. it's important for him to make clear that he has an agenda for women going forward. >> i want to get your opinion about this because obviously gay marriage is very much much come about in the last week. there's a very interesting memo fll george w. bush's pollster
and why conservatives is should promote gay marriage. emphasizes freedom in limited government, we have to recognize that freedom means freedom for everyone including the freedom to decide how you live and to enter into relationships of your choosing, the freedom to live without excessive interference of the regulatory force of government. very interesting. >> sounds libertarian. >> that stay out of my bedroom. do you see this issue moving in any way to side of sort of personal conservative freedom or do you think it will be bogged down with the religious aspects? >> that's the tragedy really which is that you think the that the tea party that argues for a certain sense of libertarian principles would hold firm and say that those libertarian principles apply everywhere that senator paul would be advocating for that an as well as mitt romney and you see really what's happened is that there's an evangelical base they are still reaching out to. the one thing interesting about
this is that this pole strl also referenced being on the wrong side of history on this. younger voters are moving dramatically support for these issues for same sex marriages at 80% for younger folks. so you know, in that case, the republican party is moving more and more and more out of step with the group of voters that will be the majority and it might be a short-term political gain but it's going to be a long-term political loser. >> indeed they have polling all in the way of young folks in support of gay marriage. neera, thank you so much for being on the program. up next, the political briefing, the lessons learned from 2008. this is andrea mitchell reports only on msnbc and the priz still to come. hey dad. see how the carrots i grow
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the commencement speech at barnard college. that's a woman's college affiliated with columbia university in new york city. right now a citation is being read about the president. we assume honoring him as is usually the custom for presidents when they speak at universities. and a very highly anticipated speech about to come from president obama. remember, he was not scheduled to give this speech back in march after the sandra fluke controversy came to the forefront and women's issues became the mantra of the democratic party, specifically president obama making up dozens of points about things like contraception coverage. the president felt it would be important for him to speak at this women's college. that's been historically recognized for years. let's listen in as president obama is about to give the commencement speech in new york city we presume to talk about women's rights and women's issues. a highly anticipated speech right about now.
>> signing the liltly leadbetter act into law. you have removed barriers to women in the military, improved access to health services and repeatedly supported our right to choose. [ applause ] and time and again, you have put your trust in the a long list of gifted and remarkable women leaders. supreme court justices sonia sotomayor and elena kagan, secretary of state hillary clint clinton, senior adviser valerie jarrett, janet napolitano, kathleen sebelius, hilda solis, susan rice is, lisa jackson, women running everything from homeland security to the epa.
your wisdom in these selections comes as no surprise because after all, it is the extraordinary women in your own life who shaped it most profoundly. the strength and level headedness you learned from your grandmother toots, the values of honesty is, fairness and independent judgment that your mother anne instilled along with her capacity for wonder. the special bond with your terrific sister and barnard alumal maya, the devoted partnership you share with first lady michelle obama who awes us in her own right and sasha and malia who give us hope. clearly, mrs. president, you know something that the 5949 bar nartd graduates seated proudly before you are well on their way to discovering, that there's no
opportunity they cannot embrace, no dream they cannot make real. you have demonstrated this truth through your own amazing story, your own compelling example, your own irrepressible spirit. it is a profound honor for us to come together on this historic day not only to present you, president barack obama, with the 2012 barnard medal of distinction, but to give you our unwavering promise to go forth like you in pursuit of a sounder, a freer, and a whole lot smarter world. you have our deepest thanks. >> thank you so much. thank you. >> you thank you. thank you so much. thank you very much. thank you.
thank you so much. thank you. thank you. thank you, everybody. please, please, have a seat. thank you. thank you, president spar, trustees, president bollinger, hello class of 2012! congratulations on reaching this day. thank you for the honor of being able to be a part of it. there are so many people who are proud of you. your parents, family, faculty, friends, all who share in this achievement. so please give them a big round of applause.
to all the moms who are here today, could you not ask for a better mother's day gift than to see all of these folks graduate. i have to say though whenever i come to these things, i start thinking about malial and sasha graduating and i start tearing up and it's terrible. i don't know how you guys are holding it together. i will begin by telling a hard truth. i'm a columbia college graduate. i know -- i know there can be a little bit of a sibling rivalry here. but i'm honored nevertheless to be your commencement speaker today. although i've got to say you set a pretty high bar given the past three years.
hillary clinton, meryl streep, sheryl sandberg, these are not easy acts to follow. but i will point out hillary is doing an extraordinary job as one of the finest secretaries of state america has ever had. we gave meryl the presidential medal of arts and humanities. cheryl is not just a good friend. she's also one of our economic advisers so it's like the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your barnard commencement speakers even closer. there is wisdom in that. now, the year i graduated, this
area looks familiar, the year i graduated was 1983. the first year women were admitted to columbia. sally ride was the first american woman in space. music was all about michael and the moon walk. we had the walkman. no moon walking. no moon walking today. we had the walkman, not ipods. some of the streets around here were not quite so inviting. times square was not a family destination. so i know this is all ancient
history. nothing worse than commencement speakers droning on about about bygone days. but for all the differences, the class of 19832003 had a lot in common with all of you. for we, too, were heading out into a world at a moment when our corrupt was still recovering from a particularly severe economic recession. it was a time of change, it was a time of uncertainty, it was a time of passionate political debates. you can relate to this. because just as you were starting out finding your way around this campus, an economic crisis struck that would claim more than 5 million jobs before the end of your freshman year. since then, some of you have probably seen parents put off retirement. friends struggle to find work, and you may be looking toward
the future with that same sense of concern that my generation did when we were sitting where you are now. of course, as young women, you're also going to grapple with some unique challenges like whether you'll be able to earn equal pay for equal work, whether you'll be able to balance the demands of your job and your family, whether you'll be able to fully control decisions about your own health. and while opportunities for women have grown exponentially over the last 30 years, as young people in many ways you have it even tougher than we did. this recession has been more brutal. the job loss ans steeper. politics seems nastier, congress more xwrid locked than ever. some folks in the financial world have not exactly been the model of corporate citizens.
no wonder that faith in our institutions has never been lower. particularly when good news doesn't get the same kind of ratings as bad news anymore. every day, you receive a steady stream of sensationalism and scandal and stories with a message that suggest change is impossible. that you can't make a difference. that you won't be able to close that gap between life as it is and life as you want it to be. my job today is to tell you don't believe it because as things -- as tough as things have been, i am convinced you are tougher. i've seen your passion. and i've seen your service. i've seen you engage and i've seen you turn out in record numbers. i've heard your voices amplified by creativity and a digital
fluency that those of us in older generations can barely comprehend. i've seen a generation eager, impatient even to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course. and that defiant can do spirit is what runs through the veins of american history. it's the lifeblood of all our progress. and it is that is spirit which we need your generation to embrace and to rekindle right now. see, the question is not whether things will get better, they always do. the question is not whether we've got the solutions to our challenges. we've had them within our grasp for quite some time. we know, for example, that this country would be better off if
more americans were able to get the kinds of education that you've received her at barnard. -- here at barnard. if more people col get the specific skills and training that employers are looking for today. we know that we'd all be better off if we invest in science and technology that sparks new businesses and medical breakthroughs, if we developed more clean energy so we could use less foreign oil and reduce the carbon pollution that's threatening our planet. we know that we're better off when there are rules that stop big banks from making bad bets with other people's money and when insurance companies aren't allowed to drop your coverage when you need it most or charge women differently from men.
indeed, we know we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect of american life whether it's the salary you earn or the health decisions you make. we know these things to be true. we know that our challenges are imminently solvable. the question is whether together, we can muster the will in our own lives in our common institutions, in our politics to bri about the changes we need. and i'm convinced your generation possesses that will. and i believe that the women of this generation that all of you will help lead the way.
now, i recognize that's a cheap applause line when you're giving a commencement at barnard. it's the easy thing to say, but it's true. it is -- and part, it is simple math. today, women are not just half this country. you're half its workforce. more and more women are outearning their husbands. you're more than half of our college graduates and masters graduates and ph.d.s. so you've got us outnumbered. after decades of slow, steady, extraordinarily progress, you are now poised to make this the century where women shape not only their own destiny but the
destiny of this nation and of this world. but how far your leadership takes this country, how far it takes this world, well, that will be up to you. you've got to want it. it will not be handed to you. and as someone who wants that future, that better future for you and for malia and sasha, as somebody who's had the good fortune of being the husband and the father and the son of some strong remarkable women, allow me to offer just a few pieces of advice. that's ob blligatory. bear with me. my first piece of advice is this. don't just get involved. fight for your seat at the table. better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.
it's been said that the most important role in our democracy is the role of citizen. and indeed, it was 225 years ago today that the constitutional convention opened in philadelphia and our founders, citizens all, began crafting an extraordinary document. yes, it had its flaws. flaws that this nation has strived to protect over time. questions of race and gender were unresolved. no women's signature graced the original document although we can assume that there were founding mothers whispering smarter things in the ears of the founding fathers. i think that's almost certain. what will made this document special was that is it provided the space, the possibility for those who had been left out of
our charter to fight their way in. it provided people the language to appeal to principles and dales that broadened democracy's reach. it will allowed for protests and movements and the dissemination nation of new ideas that would repeatedly decade after decade change the world, a constant forward movement that continues to this day. our founders understood that america does not stand still. we are dynamic, not static. we look forward, not back. and now that new doors have been opened for you, you've got an obligation to seize those opportunities. you need to do this not just for yourself, but for those who don't yet enjoy the choices that you've had, the choices you will
have. and one reason many work plays still have outdated policies is because women only account for 3% of the ceos at fortune 500 companies. one reason we're actually refighting long settled battles over women's rights is because women occupy fewer than one in five seats in congress. now, i'm not saying that the only way to achieve success is by climbing to the top of the corporate ladder or running for office although let's face it, congress would get a lot more done if you did -- that i think we're clear about. but if you decide not to seat yourself at the table, at the very least you've got to make sure you have a say in who does. it matters. before women like barbara
mikulski and olympia snow and others got to congress, just to take one example, much of federal rally funded research on diseases focused solely on their effects on men. it wasn't until women like patsy mink and edith green got to congress and passed title 9 .4years ago this year that we declares women should be allowed to compete and win on america's playing fields. until a woman named lily leadbetter had the courage to step up and say you know what? this isn't right. women aren't being treated fairly. we lack some of the tools we needed to uphold the basic principle of equal pay for equal work. so don't accept somebody else's construction of the way things ought to be. it's up to you to right wrongs. it's up to you to point out injustice. it's up to you to hold the system accountable.
and sometimes upend it entirely. it's up to you to stand up and to be heard. to right and lobby, to march, to organize, to vote. don't be content to just sit back and watch. those who is oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo have always bet on the public cynicism or the public's complacency. throughout american history though they have lost that bet. and i believe they will this time, as well. but ultimately, class of 2012, that will depend on you. so don't wait for the person next to you to be the first to speak up for what's right. because maybe, just maybe they're waiting on you. which brings me to my second piece of advice.
never underestimate the power of your example. the very fact that you are graduating let alone that more women now graduate from college than men is only possible because earlier generations of women, your mothers, your grandmothers, your aunts, shattered the myth that you couldn't or shouldn't be where you are. i think of a friend of mine who is the daughter of immigrants. when she was in high school, her guidance counselor told her you know what? you're just not college material. you should think about becoming a secretary. well, she was stubborn so she went to college anyway. she got her masters, ran for local office, won, ran for state osts, she won, she ran for congress, she won. and lo and behold, hilda solis did end up becoming a secretary.
she is america's secretary of labor. so think about what that means to a young latina gifrl when she sees a cabinet secretary that looks like her. think about what it means to a young girl in iowa when she sees a presidential candidate who looks like her. think about what it means to a young girl walking in harlem right down the street when she sees a u.n. ambassador who looks like her. do not underestimate the power of your example. this diploma opens up new possibilities. so reach back. convince a young girl to earn one, too. if you earned your degree in an area where we need more women like computer science or engineering, reach back and persuade another student to
study it, too. if you're going into fields where we need more women like construction or computer engineering, reach back. hire someone new. be a mentor. be a role model. until a girl can imagine herself, can picture herself as a computer programmer or a combatant commander, she won't become one. until there are women who tell her ignore our pop culture obsession over beauty and fashion, and focus instead on focus instead on studying and inventing and competing and leading. she'll think those are the only things that girls are supposed to care about. now, michele will say nothing caring about it a little bit. you can be stylish and powerful, too. that's michele's advice.
and never forget that the most important example a young girl will ever follow is that of a parent. malia and sasha are going to be outstanding women because michele and marion robinson are outstanding women. so understand your power and use it wisely. my last piece of advice, this is simple. but perhaps most important. persevere. persevere. nothing worthwhile is easy. no one of achievement has avoided failure. sometimes catastrophic failures. but they keep at it. they learn from mistakes. they don't quit. you know, when i first arrived on this campus, we had little money, fewer options.
but it was here that i tried to find my place in this world. i ni i wanted to make a difference but it was vague, how in fact i would go about it. i -- but i wanted to do my part to shape a better world. so even as i worked after graduation in a few unfilling jobs here in new york, i will not list them all, even as i went from motley apartment to motley apartment, i reached out. and i started to write and i started to write letters to community organizations across the country. one day a small group of churches on the south side of chicago answered offering me work with people in neighborhoods hit hard by steel mills that were shutting down. and communities where jobs were dying away. the community had been plagued by gang violence.
once i arrived, one of the first things we tried to do was to mobilize a meeting with community leaders to deal with gangs. and i work for weeks on this project. we invited the police. we made phone calls. we went to churches. we passed out flyers. the night of the meeting we arranged rows and rows of chairs in anticipation of this crowd and we waited and we waited and finally a group of older folks walked into the hall and they sat down. this little old lady sat down, is this where the bingo game is? it was a disaster. nobody showed he said. my first big community meeting. nobody showed up. and later, the volunteers i worked with told me, that's it. we're quitting. they had been doing this for two years even before i arrived. they had nothing to show for it and i'll be honest, i felt pretty discouraged as well i
didn't know what i was doing. i thought about quitting. as we were, i looked outside and i saw some young boys playing in a vacant lot across the street. they were just throwing rocks at a boarded building. they had nothing better to do late at night. just throwing rocks. and i said to the volunteers, before you quit, answer one question. what will happen to those boys if you quit? who will fight for them if we don't? who will give them a fair shot if we leave? and one by one the volunteers decided not to quit. we went back to those neighborhoods and kept at it. we registered new voters and we set up after school programs and fought for new jobs and helped people live lives with some measure of dignity, and we sustained ourselves with those small victories. we didn't set the world on fire. some of those communities are still very poor. there is still a lot of gangs
out there. but i believe that it was those small victories that helped me win the bigger victories of my last three and a half years as president. and i wish i could say this perseverance came from a toughness in me but the truth is it was learned. i got it from watching the people who raised me. more specifically, i got it from watching the women who shaped my life. yep. i grew up as the son of a single mom who struggled to put herself through school and makes ends meet. she had marriages that fell apart, even went on food stamps at one point to help he is get by but she didn't quit. she earned her education and made sure that through scholarships and hard work, mier and and i earned ours. she used to wake me up when we were living overseas. wake me up before dawn to study my english lessons. when i complained, she would look at me and say this is no
picnic for me either, buster! my mom ended up dedicating herself to dedicating women around the world access the money they needed to start their own businesses. she was an early pioneer in micro finance. that meant, though, that she was gone a lot. she had her own struggles trying to figure out balancing motherhood and a career. when she was gone, my grandmother step up to take care of me. she only had a high school education. she got a job at a local bank. she hit the glass ceiling and watched men she once trained, pro mode up the ladder ahead of her but she didn't quit. rather than grow hard or angry each time, she got passed over, she kept doing her job as best she knew how and ultimately ended up being vice president of that bank. she didn't quit. and later on, i met a woman who was assigned to advise me on my first summer job at a law firm
and she gave me such good advice that i married her. and michelle and i gave everything we had to balance our careers and a young family. but let's face it no, matter how enlightened i must have thought myself to be, it often fell more on her shoulders when i was traveling, when i was away. i know that when she was with our girls, she would feel guilty that she was not giving enough time to her work. when she was at her work she would feel guilty she was not giving enough time to our girls. both of us wish we had some super power that would let us be in two places at once. we persisted. we made the marriage work. and the reason michelle had the strength to juggle everything and put up with me and eventually the public spotlight was because she, too, came from a family of folks who didn't quit. she saw her dad get up and go to work every day even though he never finished college, even
though he had crippling m.s. she saw her mother, even though she never finished college. in that school, that urban school every day making sure michelle and her brother were getting the education they deserve. michelle saw how her parents never quit. they never indulged in self-pity no matter how stacked the odds were against them. >> there you have it. president obama giving the commencement address at barnard college in new york city, sounding very much like candidate obama in 2008 asking a new generation to join together and work toward bringing america out of a tough economic recession. it will be a very interesting speech. slice and dice the rest of the day. i'm luke russert. that does it for this edition of "andrea mitchell reports." if you are one of the millions of men
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we have some life pictures from barnard college in new york where the president is just wrapping up his commencement address. the "news nation" is following a new move by the obama campaign to label mitt romney as a job killing corporate raider. words once used by his senior adviser, david axelrod. the president's re-election team is out with a blistering new at attacking romney'secord at the helm of the private equity firm capital. it pits romney's job against form he workers of a kansas steel plant who accuse the plan of running their company into the ground. >> to get up on national tv and brag about making jobs when he has destroyed thousands of people's careers, just destroying people. >> he is running for president and if he's going to run the country the way he ran our business, i wouldn't want him there. he would be so out of touch with the nch after person in this country. >> the romney campaign a short time