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Those of you assembled today are American success stories. You will make it and do great things.
In every neighborhood, white, black or brown, there are kids who are not succeeding because they messed up.
They had kids before they were married, or before they were old enough to support them, or they got hooked on drugs, or they simply left school.
Republicans are often miscast as uncaring or condemning of kids who make bad choices. I, for one, plan to change that.
I am working with Democratic senators to make sure that kids who make bad decisions such as non-violent possession of drugs are not imprisoned for lengthy sentences.
I am working to make sure that first time offenders are put into counseling and not imprisoned with hardened criminals.
We should not take away anyone’s future over one mistake.
Let me tell you the tale of two young men. Both of them made mistakes. Both of them were said to have used illegal drugs.
One of them was white and from a privileged background. He had important friends, and an important father and an important grandfather. You know, the kind of family who university’s name dorms after.
The family had more money than they could count. Drugs or no drugs, his family could buy justice if he needed it.
The other man also used illegal drugs, but he was of mixed race and from a single parent household, with little money. He didn’t have important friends or a wealthy father.
Now, you might think I’m about to tell you a story about racism in America, where the rich white kid gets off and the black kid goes to jail.
It could well be, and often is, but that is not this story. In this story, both young men were extraordinarily lucky. Both young men were not caught. They weren’t imprisoned.
Instead, they both went on to become Presidents of the United States.
Barack Obama and George Bush were lucky. The law could have put both of them away for their entire young adulthood. Neither one would have been employable, much less president