Tammy Duckworth’s Primary Night Remarks

Thank you. Thank you!

Tonight, we sent a message that a positive campaign that is focused on solutions for working families and the challenges they face can still be successful.

We sent a message that standing firmly by the values we hold dear — respect, compassion, and tolerance — resonates more deeply than attack ads and negative soundbites.

And we sent a message that our grassroots army, filling field offices and labor halls all across this state, will not let big-money outside groups stop us from winning back this Senate seat.

I want to thank my campaign staff and volunteers for all of their tireless work. You may be losing your voices after weeks of talking to voters, but the message you’ve delivered is unmistakable.

Thank you, Senator Durbin, for all of your support and encouragement through the years. None of this would have been possible if you hadn’t shown me a new way to serve my country after I sustained my injuries — and I’m so grateful.

And of course, thank you to my family: my husband Bryan, my mom and my brother. And my daughter Abigail, who’s not with us tonight because, well, she’s a one-year old and it’s past her bed time.

A little while ago, I spoke with both Andy and Napoleon, and they were very gracious. I appreciate what they brought to the campaign trail. I let them know that our campaign wants their help going forward and we will all be stronger for it.

Because at the end of the day what’s most important is that Illinois Democrats are working together to beat Mark Kirk, to deprive Mitch McConnell of another vote, and to take back the Senate.

We sent a loud-and-clear message tonight: we reject the politics of fear and division that have no place in Illinois. We’re Americans, we believe in this country, and we’re going to lead through strength, not fear.

That’s a message lost on Mark Kirk. He’s been running attack ads for months. And just last week he said he, quote “certainly would” support Donald Trump in the fall. It’s not all that surprising: Mark Kirk has long embraced Trump’s brand of divisive rhetoric and fear mongering, and now he is embracing the man himself. Well, those aren’t OUR values. Those are NOT Illinois values.

It’s such an honor to be the Democratic Party’s nominee to take on Mark Kirk, and everyone who has a part in this campaign should feel pride tonight. But tonight, I also want to say a few words about some people who aren’t celebrating.

TONIGHT, a recently laid-off steelworker in Granite City is not sure what to tell his family. Unfair trade policies, unchecked dumping of Chinese steel and currency manipulation have taken their toll, and the job security he once took for granted is gone. He’s wondering if the years of service and his deep pride in the “Made in America” label means anything anymore.

TONIGHT, a young girl in Chicago is studying and dreaming about being the first person in her family to go to college, but with no idea how she’s going to pay for it.

TONIGHT, that girl’s mother is downstairs, just thanking God her little girl made it home safely today. The violence that plagues her neighborhood, and far too many of our neighborhoods, has made even the most innocent walk imaginable — to and from school — no sure thing. So tonight she’s breathing easier, but tomorrow morning brings that fear right back.

TONIGHT, an American Warrior is standing guard in a foreign country. She’s a volunteer, and is proud to serve her country. But it’s lonely away from her loved ones and it’s dangerous and she’s counting on us to conduct ourselves on the global stage in a way that reflects our values, makes her sacrifices worthwhile, and enhances the security of the Nation. And when she comes home, she will be counting on us to honor our commitment to her, by ensuring she has access to education, a job, and quality healthcare.

AND TONIGHT, an undocumented young man who has only known life in this country and sees himself as American as any of us will spend another night in the shadows.

Tonight, people all across Illinois — and this nation — are wondering when they’re going to catch a break.

Well, tonight, we see them. We hear them. We understand what they’re going through. And come November, I will be their champion in the United States Senate.

I will be a Senator who is focused on making college more affordable, not one like Mark Kirk who opposes letting Americans refinance their student loans and who called free community college for qualified students ‘a handout.’
I’ll be a Senator who knows the economy works best when it’s growing from the middle out, not the top down; and not one who still believes that tax cuts for millionaires at the expense of squeezing the middle class will magically grow the economy and create jobs.

I’ll be a Senator who supports American manufacturing and workers by pushing for fair trade policies, not one who supports corporations shipping jobs overseas, or avoiding paying their fair share of U.S. taxes by setting up a mailbox in another country. Those policies — Mark Kirk’s policies — have left factories idle and dreams destroyed in places like Granite City, Bloomington, and Galesburg.

I’ll be a Senator who supports comprehensive immigration reform, and expanding opportunities for undocumented young people to earn legal status and a pathway to citizenship by serving in the military. To me, there is no greater proof of dedication to our nation than to wear her uniform and place your life on the line in her defense.

I’ll be a Senator who is committed to comprehensive reform of our criminal justice system so that it’s fairer and smarter and emphasizes treatment and second chances — not mindless punishment and for-profit prisons.

I’ll be a Senator who understands the true costs of war, and will articulate a thoughtful foreign policy that recognizes our influence abroad comes as much from our economic might and diplomatic efforts — not to mention our values — as it does our military muscle. Won’t that be a welcome change from Mark Kirk’s knee-jerk tough talk and poor judgment?

And I will be a Senator who’s guided by policies that ensure that ‘all boats rise’ rather than only benefiting those who are already doing well. Because, you see, we Americans are in this together — and we will not leave other Americans behind. I’m alive today because, at my weakest moment, a handful of great Americans refused to leave me on the battlefield. Their selfless and heroic actions that day reflect our highest ideals as a nation.

I was able to attend college, become an Army Officer and serve in Congress because this great nation made it possible for me to get an education, even after my father lost his job and my family was laid low. It was no “handout” — I worked hard at multiple jobs, and studied during every available moment.

Our nation never gave up on me, and I will make sure that as long as I have anything to say about it, we won’t give up on any American who continues to work to better his or her situation. I believe our nation is strongest when every citizen has the opportunity to improve his or her lot in life. Our nation is strongest when it is inclusive and supports all of its citizens.

So tonight, let’s celebrate. But tomorrow, let’s get right back to work investing in each other, rebuilding our middle class, and laying a foundation for a future that is worthy of our highest ideals — as well as future generations.

May God bless you. May God bless our troops standing guard in harm’s way, as well as those in military hospital beds around the globe, or in VA facilities here at home. And, as always, may God bless the United States of America.

Thank you.