6 July 2017 Commonwealth Club of California, California, USA
You know, in my book I write, I start off basically saying why I'm a Democrat, that's my first chapter. I'm a Democrat because I grew up in Minnesota, in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, and my dad didn't graduate high school, he's was a printing salesman.
I grew up, my brother and I and my parents grew up in, we grew up in a two bedroom, one bathroom house. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world because - I was! I was growing up middle class, at the height of the middle class, in America, in Minnesota, in Saint Louis Park,
I thought I could do anything, and I think that people don't feel like that any more and for very good reason. I think that's why we lost this election because there's so many people angry about 40 years of that.
My wife, who I met my freshman year of college, she grew up very differently. Her father, a decorated World War II vet, died in a car accident when she was 18 months old. She had a three month old sister then and three older siblings, and her mom was 29 years old and widowed with five kids. She had a high school education and they barely made it.
They made it because of Social Security survivor benefits. Sometimes they were hungry, sometimes they turned the heat off in the winter, this is Portland, Maine, but they made it. Every one of the girls in the family, the four girls when to college. They went to college on combinations of scholarships and Pell Grants.
At that time a full Pell Grant paid 80% of a public college education, today it pays about 35%.
I know kids, one of the big issues in my first campaign was the affordability of college and it still continues. We fight, I mean, we fight on that, but we're not in the majority, and that's a lot to do with the states, how much the states kick in on public education.
They made it. When the baby, when Bootsie went to high school, my mother-in-law got a GI loan, $300 to go to college. She got three moreloans, graduated from college, became a grade school teacher and because she taught Title One kids, poor kids, she had all her loans forgiven. My brother-in-law went in the Coast Guard. Every member of that family became a contributing member of our society, middle class, and that's why I'm a Democrat.
They tell you in this country you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but first you have to have the boots.
The government gave my wife's family the boots, and that's why I'm a Democrat.