Gabrielle Giffords

Election Night Speech - Nov. 5, 2008

Gabrielle Giffords
November 05, 2008— Washington, DC
Victory speech
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Two years ago Southern Arizona told Washington that, "Change Can't Wait." Tonight, the rest of America said that it can't wait for change either.

Tonight is a night we will remember the rest of our lives. We will all remember tonight as the time our nation took a courageous step forward not just for one man, but for all of humanity.

Think about what has happened. Forty-five years after Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us that we judge a person not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, this country has elected its first African-American President. Barack Obama transcends the boundaries of race and political parties and has promised to bring all of us together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

Across Arizona tonight and across the whole of America, little boys and little girls who not until tonight have looked like any President this nation has ever elected, will now know that they too can grow up to serve our country as President, Vice President or a member of Congress - or to be a mayor, a city councilperson or a school board member or wherever they feel called to serve this great nation.

We will all look back on tonight and be able to tell our children and our children's children that not only were we there, but that WE made the change happen. We knocked on the door of change, we took a deep breath, and tonight, we're walking through that door together.

Two years have passed since you elected me to serve as your Congresswoman. We were tired of the partisanship and the nastiness and the name-calling in Washington. We were tired of the laws and policies that didn't reflect our values. We were tired of a broken Congress that put special interests and lobbyists ahead of most Americans who are struggling just to keep food on the table, put gas in the tank and go to see a doctor when they are sick.

After electing me to serve as your Congresswoman, I did what you expected me to do - I went to work and took some Arizona commonsense with me. One of the first hard lessons I learned is that commonsense is needed by some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

We took early action to pass lobbying reform and a long-needed ethics overhaul. No trips, no gifts and no meals from lobbyists. Thank you very much, but we ought to buy our own lunch. And now we do.

We raised the minimum wage, for the first time in 10 years.

One of our finest decisions was to pass legislation to increase funding for our VA and to implement the largest expansion of the GI Bill of Rights in history. Not every man or woman volunteers to put on the uniform, but for those that do, we will invest in them by funding their College education, which in turn makes us a stronger nation and makes our future more secure.

We enacted legislation to increase fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles - the first increase in over 30 years. Foreign car manufacturers are now beating us at our own industry, and we must stay competitive by embracing a future of renewable energy instead of clinging to the past.

And something that I'm especially proud of, I sponsored and passed legislation that promotes our God-given natural resource here in Arizona - Solar Energy! With all of your help we will end our dependency on foreign oil, improve our national security, stop global warming and make our state the Solar-con Valley of the world.

But we didn't stop there. We helped small businesses, took initial steps to overhaul our immigration laws, enacted legislation to require accountability and to move us toward a responsible end to the war in Iraq and passed bills to improve our public schools.

We almost passed legislation to expand health insurance to more of our children in fact, we passed it repeatedly but it was vetoed by the President. That's another thing that's going to change after President Obama is sworn into office.

I know that we haven't accomplished all that we had hoped to, but we got the wheels of change rolling and tonight we learned that we are about to embark on a journey for change that has only just begun.

I am awed tonight. Awed with our nation's ability to look past the divisions of race and the toxic politics of Washington to make our voices heard for change. And I'm proud of the campaign that we have run here in Southern Arizona. I am proud that we had a direct conversation with the people of Congressional District 8 about the issues that really matter.

The time I have spent talking to people in small border towns like Douglas, Bisbee and Naco, confirms what we all know: sound bites and rhetoric won't solve our immigration crisis.

When I met with our troops at Davis-Monthan, Fort Huachuca and the 162nd Air National Guard, they made it clear that they want our country to walk the talk when it comes to military and veterans issues. Supporting the troops not only when they are in the battlefield but in the difficult issues they must navigate when the parades are over and the passions have cooled.

I heard from retirees throughout our district from Oro Valley to Green Valley, who are fearful about our economic crisis and who have seen their life savings evaporate because of deregulation and fiscal greed. Inaction on legislation to respond to this crisis was simply not an option.

Tackling this challenge and others like education and health care requires vision and dedication. Congress can't just talk about change. Change happens when leaders have the courage and decency to do what the American people know is right.

What is right for us here in Southern Arizona is to continue working as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to get America back on track and stronger than ever. Tonight I want to thank everyone in the Cactus Roots who has joined me on this mission.

I'm proud of the campaign that we have run here in Southern Arizona. We stayed positive, didn't engage in personal attacks and discouraged such activities made by others. We had a direct conversation with the great people of CD8 about the issues that matter to them.

Tonight's victory is a result of the tremendous work of was made possible by our incredible campaign team - a team led by Zach Wineburg, our Campaign Manager and Cathy Nichols and an office full of the smartest hardest working people this country has to offer.

This achievement also came about because of our congressional offices led here by Ron Barber and in D.C. by Maura Policelli. My incredibly hardworking and dedicated staff are all responsible for helping the thousands of our constituents get solutions to their problems and helping to support me at the over 350 public meetings in my district since being sworn in.

Tonight's victory would not have been possible without the unbelievable generosity and tirelessness of our Steering and Finance Committee led by our Chairman Michael McNulty, our Treasurer Lolly Almquist and finance co-chairs Joan Kaye Cauthorn and Judy Abrams.

But most of all, tonight's victory happened because of you. The thousands of volunteers - all of you who have given your heart, your soul, your time, your energy and your resources to keep this district moving forward and take America back to the kind of thinking that says all of us, working together, can make our communities stronger and more prosperous.

Thank you all for your efforts. Generations from now, they will look back on your sacrifices and a nation will be grateful for your wisdom and the audacity of hope.

I also thank Tim Bee and his supporters. They too worked hard and they are an important part of this great democratic process. Even though they didn't vote for me, I will work hard to represent them to the best of my ability.

A final thanks to my family - my husband Mark our daughters Claudia and Claire and my parents Gloria and Spencer for keeping me going when times get tough.

Southern Arizona, I look forward to another incredible two years.

I will not grow tired, I will not stop listening to you, and I will never forget where I came from and where my values lie. You have given me the honor of representing you for two more years and I pledge to work hard for the change we need, for this place that we all love.

Thank you and goodnight.

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