Senator Tester's Remarks at the Mansfield Metcalf Dinner

We had some tough news in my family last year. My mother, Helen Tester, passed away. My family had a lot of support from folks in this room. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers.

Helen Tester was a strong Democrat. She was a hard worker. A good volunteer.

You know, she always said our Democracy hinges on two things that have a high place in rural America:

Good public education. And family agriculture.

I guess that’s why I became both a farmer. And a teacher.

I spend a lot of explaining what rural and frontier America is to folks back in Washington. A lot of them will never get it.

But Montana Democrats do.

We understand that we have a lot to lose if we let go of our rural values: education — family agriculture — clean places to hike, hunt and fish — quality health care — common sense — working together.

They’re values we stand up for. And fight for — as Democrats — to keep rural America glued together.

So what are we up against?

We are up against folks who have no regard for the truth. We’re up against folks who would rather stick up for Wall Street instead of Main Street.

Let me give you an example.

A few weeks ago, a group called — get this — the Committee for Truth in Politics — pumped millions of dollars into TV ads.

The ads labeled the Wall Street reform bill a “four trillion dollar bailout.” Why? Because that’s the best way to keep referees off Wall Street — by calling it a bailout.

I should know. There is no — bailout. There never was.

The last bailout we had was the one President Bush asked for a year and a half ago. The one I voted against.

So I challenged the Committee for Truth in Politics to come clean about the truth in politics. I told them to tell Montana who they are. And wouldn’t you know it? We haven’t heard back.

All we got, was NO.

We are the party that’s getting things done. They are the “Party of NO.”

In Congress, when Democrats reach across the aisle to work together…the answer we hear is NO.

When it comes to health care reform, we can either do something, which is what Democrats want to do. What did the other side say? NO.

And let me tell you what happens if we say NO:

· Medicare will go bankrupt.
· Health care costs will continue to break Montana families.
· And no one will hold insurance companies accountable.

Those are NOT Democratic values. They’re not Western values. They’re not Montana values.

Democrats are cutting taxes and create jobs. Don’t forget the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act did both.

But what did Republicans say to new jobs and tax cuts? NO.

Democrats are making smart investments in Montanans. In jobs. In education. In critical infrastructure.

What did Republicans say? NO.

But that didn’t stop some of them (ahem) from showing up to claim credit anyway.

We are not the Party of No. We are the party of hard work. We are the party of new ideas. We are the party of moving forward.

And we’re doing all those things with our strong values.

No matter how ugly things get — or whenever we disagree amongst each other — let’s never lose sight of that.

Who’s in?

I have the honor of introducing our next speaker.

She had an impressive reputation — even before she came home to Montana to run my campaign four years ago.

She’s damn good at what she does. She’s a gifted leader. She earned a lot of respect as my chief of staff.

What’s the secret, Stephanie?

Stephanie Schriock can put up a good fight. She is, after all, from Butte.

Stephanie’s leadership helped me — and my entire staff — make the transition to the U.S. Senate. A transition like ain’t always easy.

But you know what? Stephanie did it.

Then, a little shy of two years ago, Stephanie was asked to go win another U.S Senate race. This time in Minnesota.

It was one of the biggest, toughest, most expensive races in the country. Winning it wasn’t easy.

But you know what? Stephanie did it.

A few months ago, Stephanie accepted a new challenge. As a father, and as a grandfather, it’s a challenge I’m pretty damn very proud of. Her challenge is to get more women leading the way in Congress.

You know what? Stephanie is doing it.

In one word, Stephanie Schriock is a WINNER. It’s my honor to introduce her as my friend, and as a fellow Montana Democrat.