Oh, my goodness. Thank you, Senator Al Franken. It was worth all those extra months to get those last 312 votes, Senator. Thank you so, so much.
Oh what a night! Look at this room. Thank you so much to our event chairs and to our millions of members across the country. What a great celebration.
Thank you to the great leader Nancy Pelosi for all you do. Thank you so, so much.
And let's just take a moment, because I know we had the House candidates stand up, but I'll tell you what – at EMILY's List we believe that is the bravest thing you can do is to put your name on the ballot. So I want every elected woman and man and anybody who's running for office, who's ever put their name on the ballot, please stand up so we can thank you. Thank you for your courage. Thank you.
And now we're going to do the opposite, because now I want everyone to stand up so we can properly salute Barbara Mikulski, who with her shoulders square and her lipstick on showed what strong women's leadership looks like. Barbara Mikulski, thank you.
And thank you to the woman who made this all possible, our founder and my friend, Ellen Malcolm.
And I'd also like to acknowledge one more person who's with us tonight. Now, he grew up in Minnesota, raised his family in Montana and now lives in Kansas. He's a grandpa, a Vietnam veteran, a proud sportsman, a gun owner – and I do mean he owns a few guns – so you might be surprised that he's a Democrat. I know I was and that's saying something because he's my dad. Dad, thank you for being here tonight. Thank you.
My parents had a very strong sense of what they wanted for me. They raised me to take risks and dream big and believe that nothing was off the table, nothing was impossible. Not every young girl gets to grow up like that. But more do today than ever before and we've helped make that happen.
For 30 years now, EMILY's List has been electing pro-choice Democratic women working toward an America in which women have an equal stake in our democracy and an equal say in the decisions we make as a country. A generation of young women and men have grown up watching leaders like Geraldine Ferraro and Barbara Boxer and Elizabeth Warren and Barbara Mikulski and Hillary Clinton make their mark on history.
And by the way – we are just getting started. Just imagine what we'll be able to celebrate at our 60th anniversary gala. Imagine what that first EMILY's List generation will teach its sons and daughters. Imagine working to elect the third and fourth women presidents.
So we should be proud of the last 30 years and excited about the next 30 years.
But tonight I want to focus on the work ahead of us over the next 20 months. Because the way we at EMILY's List make an impact, the way we keep moving our country forward is by winning elections. And when we win, we get leaders who listen for the voices that don't usually get heard in Washington.
We get leaders who understand – really understand – that equal pay and paid sick leave and access to contraception aren't women's issues, they're economic issues that affect every single American family.
We get leaders with the common sense to know that, yes, climate change is real, yes, early education makes a difference and yes, our economy does work best when we invest in the middle class.
We need more leaders like that – leaders who will stand up to the Republicans when they try to play politics with our families' lives, leaders who will make America more free and more fair and more progressive, leaders who will get results.
And let me tell you, that sounds like a job for a whole bunch of pro-choice Democratic women.
Because here's the truth – it's inspiring when women run and it's exciting when they win, but what really matters is when they get a chance to govern. It also matters what Republicans do when they get a chance to govern.
So after 2012, we heard a lot of talk about this Republican rebranding. No more Todd Aikens, they promised us, and that war on women – that was just in our imagination. So they held a couple media trainings, they looked for candidates who didn't talk about rape so much, they came up with some phony sales pitch about over-the-counter birth control, and then when they won full control of Congress what did they do? In their first three days, they introduced five new anti-choice bills. They even started talking about rape again.
Folks, make no mistake – this is your father's Republican Party. This is the exact same transvaginal ultrasound, all-white-guy committee chair, aspirin-between-your-knees Republican Party we've been fighting for 30 years.
Shame, shame on them for trying to fool women and shame on us if we let them get away with it. They don't support women, they don't trust women, they don't respect women. So don't tell me that there's no war on women and don't bother asking for a truce. We didn't start this fight but mark my words we're going to win it.
But if we don't show up for this battle in 2016, we will pay the price for a generation to come. Just imagine what a Republican president and a Republican Congress would do.
Actually, you don't have to imagine. Just look at what Republican governors and Republican legislatures have already done. They will raise taxes on middle-class families and cut funding for public schools to fund more tax breaks for the wealthy. And we know they'll do it because they've already done it in Kansas.
And they will strip away basic bargaining rights that help working men and women secure fair treatment in the workplace. And we know they'll do it because they've already done it in Wisconsin.
And they will mandate that a woman seeking an abortion undergo an invasive ultrasound against her will. And we know they'll do it because they've already done it in Texas and North Carolina.
So we've already seen what Republicans will do when they have full control over our states. What do you think they'll do when they get full control of Washington? What do you think will happen if they get their hands on Medicare or Social Security or the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Justice or the courts?
A Republican president and a Republican Congress would mean the end of the Affordable Care Act, the end of Roe v. Wade, the end of every right we have won through struggle and sacrifice, every opportunity we have fought so hard to earn so we could pass it on to our own daughters and sons as their birthright.
Give them a chance and they'll destroy generations of hard work, just like that. We can't give them that chance.
So here's what I want. I want you to get ready. This has been an inspiring evening – and by the way it's about to get a whole lot better – but not everything is going to be this much fun. We're going to have some tough days in the next 20 months. Republicans are going to spend a lot of money to throw a lot of mud on our candidates. And some of that mud is going to stick.
Between all the polls and the attack ads and the white guys telling us what's good for us, there's going to come a moment when you feel like you just can't anymore, a moment when you get tempted to throw up your hands and quit. And that's the moment that matters, because the people who choose to fight on in that moment are the people who get to write the next chapter in our country's history. And that has to be us.
So get ready. The next 20 months are going to be some of the hardest we've ever faced, but nobody makes history without a fight.
And nobody knows that better than the woman we're honoring tonight. We admire Hillary Clinton because she has successfully fought to expand opportunity here at home and freedom all around the world. Because without her, we'd still be talking about universal healthcare as if it were some sort of pipe dream. And yes, because she did put 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling.
But she didn't get to do any of that stuff the easy way. Nobody in American political history has faced more unfair attacks, more desperate opposition, more overwhelming adversity than Hillary. And yet through her courage and resiliency and integrity, she's shown us all how to shake off the setbacks, ignore the haters, and keep focus on moving our country forward.
That's why she's more than an idol – she's an inspiration and a leader whose talents we desperately need now more than ever. I am so proud to have her with us tonight.
Neither the Catt Center nor Iowa State University is affiliated with any individual in the Archives or any political party. Inclusion in the Archives is not an endorsement by the center or the university.