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Two Barnburners from Tuesday’s DNC

While First Lady Michelle Obama and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro were the highlights of Tuesday’s DNC speeches, there were two barnburners that warrant attention from Democratic governors Deval Patrick, who succeeded Mitt Romeny in Massachusetts and ted Strickland of Ohio. Both speeches resonated with the crowd and fired up Democrats for the fight ahead.

Here’s Strickland’s speech which referenced Romney’s offshore accounts and his state’s reliance on auto industry jobs.

Ina Sidney is a grandmother who lost her ability to provide for her family when they closed down the auto plant in Perrysburg, Ohio. Ina says thanks to Barack Obama for having the courage to back an industry that others had given up on. She’s an autoworker and a breadwinner once again.

As he celebrated the birth of his newborn baby boy, Brian Slagle lost his job just at the moment he needed it most. But today he’s back making auto batteries in a factory in Springfield Township, Ohio. And he said there’s one reason he has a steady paycheck again: Barack Obama refused to let the American auto industry die.

James Fayson felt like there was no tomorrow when he was laid off. “I believe in working every day,” he said, “and that was taken from me.” Today, James is working sixty hours a week on the Jeep Liberty line in Toledo. He is thrilled to say that his life right now is “eat, sleep and Jeep.” He’s back, he said, because Barack Obama gave us a chance for a comeback.

The auto industry supports one of every eight jobs in Ohio, and it’s alive and growing in America again. Late last year, Chrysler announced they were hiring eleven hundred new autoworkers in Toledo. Just last month, GM announced a plan to invest 200 million dollars in Lordstown, keeping five thousand jobs in Ohio and building the next generation of the Chevy Cruze—a car we are proud to say is made entirely in Ohio.

It’s been a long slog back, and we’ve still got a long way to go. But all over Ohio—all over America—men and women are going back to work with the pride of building something stamped “Made in America.” Before Barack Obama took office, it looked like that pride could have vanished forever, but today, from the staggering depths of the Great Recession, the nation has had 29 straight months of job growth. Workers across my state and across the country are getting back the dignity of a good job and a good salary.

Vince Lombardi was right when he said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” And my friends Ina Sydney, Brian Slagle and James Fayson were all knocked down. But Ina, Brian and James are all standing today. The auto industry is standing today. The middle class is standing today. Ohio is standing today. America is standing strong today.

That’s what happens when you have a president who stands up for average working people. President Barack Obama stood up for us, and now by God we will stand up for him. Quite frankly, Barack Obama knows what it’s like to pay a mortgage and student loans. He knows what it’s like to watch a beloved family member in a medical crisis and worry that treatment is out of reach. Barack Obama knows our struggles. And, my friends, he shares our values.

Now, Mitt Romney, he lives by a different code. To him, American workers are just numbers on a spreadsheet.  To him, all profits are created equal, whether made on our shores or off. That’s why companies Romney invested in were dubbed “outsourcing pioneers.” Our nation was built by pioneers—pioneers who accepted untold risks in pursuit of freedom, not by pioneers seeking offshore profits at the expense of American workers here at home.

Mitt Romney proudly wrote an op-ed entitled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” If he had had his way, devastation would have cascaded from Michigan to Ohio and across the nation. Mitt Romney never saw the point of building something when he could profit from tearing it down. If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.

Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps. In Matthew, chapter 6, verse 21, the scriptures teach us that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. My friends, any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America. And it’s well past time for Mitt Romney to come clean with the American people.

On what he’s saying about the president’s policy for welfare to work, he’s lying. Simple as that. On his tax returns, he’s hiding. You have to wonder, just what is so embarrassing that he’s gone to such great lengths to bury the truth? Whatever he’s doing to avoid taxes, can it possibly be worse than the Romney-Ryan tax plan that would have sliced Mitt’s total tax rate to less than one percent?

My friends, there is a true choice in this election. Barack Obama is betting on the American worker. Mitt Romney is betting on a Bermuda shell corporation. Barack Obama saved the American auto industry. Mitt Romney saved on his taxes. Barack Obama is an economic patriot. Mitt Romney is an outsourcing pioneer. My friends, the stakes are too high, the differences too stark to sit this one out. Let us stand as one on November 6th and move this country forward by re-electing President Barack Obama.

And Deval Patrick’s speech was equally stirring:

In Massachusetts, we know Mitt Romney. By the time he left office, Massachusetts was 47th in the nation in job creation—during better economic times—and household income in our state was declining. He cut education deeper than anywhere else in America. Roads and bridges were crumbling. Business taxes were up, and business confidence was down. Our clean energy potential was stalled. And we had a structural budget deficit. Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he’s fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn’t one of them. He’s a fine fellow and a great salesman, but as governor he was more interested in having the job than doing it.

When I came to office, we set out on a different course: investing in ourselves and our future. And today Massachusetts leads the nation in economic competitiveness, student achievement, health care coverage, life sciences and biotech, energy efficiency and veterans’ services. Today, with the help of the Obama administration, we are rebuilding our roads and bridges and expanding broadband access. Today we’re out of the deficit hole Mr. Romney left, and we’ve achieved the highest bond rating in our history. Today—with labor at the table—we’ve made the reforms in our pension and benefits systems, our schools, our transportation system and more that Mr. Romney only talked about. And today in Massachusetts, you can also marry whomever you love. We have much more still to do. But we are on a better track because we placed our faith not in trickle-down fantasies and divisive rhetoric but in our values and common sense.

The same choice faces the nation today. All that today’s Republicans are saying is that if we just shrink government, cut taxes, crush unions and wait, all will be well. Never mind that those are the very policies that got us into recession to begin with! Never mind that not one of the governors who preached that gospel in Tampa last week has the results to show for it. But we Democrats owe America more than a strong argument for what we are against. We need to be just as strong about what we are for.

The question is: What do we believe? We believe in an economy that grows opportunity out to the middle class and the marginalized, not just up to the well connected. We believe that freedom means keeping government out of our most private affairs, including out of a woman’s decision whether to keep an unwanted pregnancy and everybody’s decision about whom to marry. We believe that we owe the next generation a better country than we found and that every American has a stake in that. We believe that in times like these we should turn to each other, not on each other. We believe that government has a role to play, not in solving every problem in everybody’s life but in helping people help themselves to the American dream. That’s what Democrats believe.

If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it’s time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe. Quit waiting for pundits or polls or super PACs to tell us who the next president or senator or congressman is going to be. We’re Americans.

We shape our own future. Let’s start by standing up for President Barack Obama.

This is the president who delivered the security of affordable health care to every single American after 90 years of trying. This is the president who brought Osama bin Laden to justice, who ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan. This is the president who ended “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that love of country, not love of another, determines fitness for military service. Who made equal pay for equal work the law of the land. This is the president who saved the American auto industry from extinction, the American financial industry from self-destruction, and the American economy from depression. Who added over 4.5 million private sector jobs in the last two-plus years, more jobs than George W. Bush added in eight.

The list of accomplishments is long, impressive and barely told—even more so when you consider that congressional Republicans have made obstruction itself the centerpiece of their governing strategy. With a record and a vision like that, I will not stand by and let him be bullied out of office—and neither should you, and neither should you and neither should you.

What’s at stake is real. The Orchard Gardens Elementary School in Boston was in trouble. Its record was poor, its spirit was broken, and its reputation was a wreck. No matter how bad things were in other urban schools in the city, people would say, “At least we’re not Orchard Gardens.” Today, thanks to a host of new tools, many enacted with the help of the Obama administration, Orchard Gardens is turning itself around. Teaching standards and accountabilities are higher. The school day is longer and filled with experiential learning, art, exercise and music.

The head of pediatric psychology from a local hospital comes to consult with faculty and parents on the toughest personal situations in students’ home lives. Attendance is up, thanks to a mentoring initiative. In less than a year, Orchard Gardens went from one of the worst schools in the district to one of the best in the state. The whole school community is engaged and proud.

So am I. At the end of my visit a year and a half ago, the first grade—led by a veteran teacher—gathered to recite Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech. When I started to applaud, the teacher said, “not yet.” Then she began to ask those six- and seven-year-olds questions: “What does ‘creed’ mean?” “What does ‘nullification’ mean?” “Where is Stone Mountain?” And as the hands shot up, I realized that she had taught the children not just to memorize that speech but to understand it.

Today’s Republicans and their nominee for president tell us that those first-graders are on their own—on their own to deal with their poverty; with ill-prepared young parents, maybe who speak English as a second language; with an underfunded school; with neighborhood crime and blight; with no access to nutritious food and no place for their mom to cash a paycheck; with a job market that needs skills they don’t have; with no way to pay for college.

But those Orchard Gardens kids should not be left on their own. Those children are America’s children, too, yours and mine. And among them are the future scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, artists, engineers, laborers and civic leaders we desperately need. For this country to rise, they must rise—and they and their cause must have a champion in the White House.

That champion is Barack Obama. That cause is the American dream. Let’s fight for that. Let’s canvass and phone bank and get out the vote for that. Let’s go tell everyone we meet that, when the American dream is at stake, you want Barack Obama in charge.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States.