Speeches and Remarks

Remarks by President Biden at the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in Honor of General Mark A. Milley | Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall

Fri, 09/29/2023 - 14:49

Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall
Arlington, Virginia

11:19 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Before I begin, I want to say a brief word about Senator Dianne Feinstein, who passed away this morning.

She was a historic figure, a trailblazer for women, and a great friend.  Diane made her mark in everything from national security to the environment to gun safety to protecting civil liberties. 

The country is going to miss her dearly, and so will Jill and I.  I’ll have more to say about her later today.  

Vice President Harris; our Second Gentleman; Secretary Austin; members of Congress; leaders of the Department of Defense, both current and former; friends and officials from around the world, thank you for being here today to mark the change of responsibility and to celebrate the service of General Mark Milley. 

A combat infantryman.  A master parachutist.  A Green Beret.  A warrior who served a total of five years in warzones, from Panama to Haiti to Bosnia to Afghanistan to Iraq, with a chest full of medals to show for it.  A leader who once ran across a bridge booby-trapped with mines to stop two battle tanks evacuating wounded troops from driving across it.  A patriot, uncompromising in his duty, unflinching in the face of danger, and unwavering in the service to the country. 

And Hollyanne, none of us can say as m- — enough about you.  You served right alongside him, every step of the way.  And that’s not hyperbole.  You served alongside him, every step of the way.

You pulled double- and triple-duty to make sure you and Mark were always doing right by your family, supporting the military community while maintaining your own career as a nurse.  It’s incredible what you’ve achieved, Hollyanne.  The work you’ve done to increase support for military spouse employment is going to keep improving the lives of military families for a long time. 

And, Peter and Mary, thank you for sharing your dad with us.  I know it wasn’t easy: all those moves, all those schools, all those months when your dad was deployed and you couldn’t be together.  Thank you for all — all you’ve given to our country. 

And, Mark, I know one of the best parts of retirement for you, as has been already mentioned by our Secretary, is you’re going to spend more time with your kids.  That’s going to be fun, man.  I tell you what, I love my kids.  I’m crazy about my grandkids.

Now, everyone who has spent time with Mark knows three things about him, several were already mentioned. 

One, he’s from Boston.  Heparks his car in car garages.  (Pronounced in a Boston accent.)  He likes maps.  And he loves the Constitution. 

But each of these three things points to something deeper about Mark’s character. 

His Boston heritage isn’t just about pride of place.  It’s pride in what shaped him — the values that have guided his whole life. 

It’s about the father and mother, both veterans of World War II, who set the example of nobility — of the nobility of serving your country. 

It’s about knowing that his dad was among those who landed at Iwo Jima.  And that if those young men his father served alongside could raise the flag on Mount Suribachi, then there’s nothing, nothing, nothing America cannot accomplish when we work together. 

It’s about how his parents strived and sacrificed so their children would have every opportunity to chart their own future. 

It’s knowing that everyone who served under his command had their own story — in his view, just as important as his. 

And this — to this day, whenever Mark has attended events, I’ve watched him — we’ve attended many events together — I’ve watched him: He’ll talk to every young person, every veteran, every Gold Star family who wants to speak to him, no matter how long it takes, so he can hear their story as well and show his respect. 

The Boston pride is about knowing where you come from. 

The maps are about knowing where you are and where you’re going.  Mark wants to make sure he has the necessary facts to inform his decisions as a leader and his advice to others. 

As Commander-in-Chief, I’ve relied on Mark’s counsel because I know he always gives it to me straight no matter what.  He always gives it to me straight.  He’s working with the best information possible, and he doesn’t hold anything back. 

During his tenure as Chairman, Mark has been a steady hand, guiding our military as we navigate what, I would argue, is one of the most complex security environments our world has faced in a long time.  

He’s been critical to strengthening America’s exi- –existing alliances, from NATO to the Indo-Pacific to building the new strategic partnerships like AUKUS; and keeping our force on the cutting-edge of the fields of cyber and space; ending America’s longest war and continuing to take terrorists off the battlefield; standing with the brave people of Ukraine and making sure they have the equipment, the support they need, when they need it, to defend their freedom — letting them know — and letting them know how much he respects them.

Mark, your partnership has been invaluable to me.  And I give you my word to that.  And I think it’s been invaluable to Secretary Austin as well.

I want to thank you for always seeing, always sharing the whole map with me — the whole map.  Thanks, pal.  (Applause.) 

When it comes to the Constitution, that is and has always been Mark’s North Star. 

I’m so damn proud to serve with him.  I —

He’s made — he’s made it the central image on his challenge coin, those three little words that mean so much to every American, but especially to those who stand in the service of our nation.  The middle of his challenge coin says, “We the People.”  “We the People.”

It’s a reminder to all of us what makes us a strong nation, who we are as a democracy, and how the United States — for more than two centuries — has always managed to keep moving forward.  Not fealty to any one person or to a political party, but to the idea of America — idea unlike any other in human history: the idea that we’re are all created equal. 

That is what the Constitution safeguards.  That’s what we swear an oath to.  And that is why generations of young women and men, Americans of every background and creed, have stepped forward to be part of the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.  And that’s not hyperbole.  You’re the greatest fighting force in the history of the world.  (Applause.)  I’ve seen you in Afghanistan, Iraq, and — but I don’t want to get started.

And our military is going to keep growing stronger — keep growing stronger with General C.Q. Brown — Charles Q. Brown, Jr., as our 24th [21st] Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Congratulations, old buddy.  (Applause.) 

As Mark will tell you, I’ll be meeting a lot with you.  (Laughter.)

I said when I nominated General Brown as a seasoned warrior with deep combat experience — an experienced commander of the joint force, a top-flight strategist, a leader known throughout the force for his unmatched judgement and unflappable demeanor.  

Like General Milley, General Brown is a patriot through and through, sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.  He and his wife, Sharene, have de- — dedicated themselves to keeping our military and their families healthy and vibrant.  I thank you both and your sons, Sean and Ross, for everything you’ve given to our country over the years. 

And I look forward to working even more closely with you, C.Q., as we take on all the challenges ahead to ensure that our force can continue to deter and defeat any potential threat to the American people. 

As Secretary Austin noted, I am glad that General Brown was confirmed by the Senate, along with the new Commandant of the Marine Corps and Army Chief of Staff, but — I must be careful here how I say this — but it’s thoroughly, totally unacceptable that more than 300 other highly qualified officers are still in limbo.  I’ve been here a long time; I’ve never seen anything like this.  It’s outrageous, and it must stop.

Their promotions, their careers, their families, their futures held hostage by the political agenda of one senator and the silence of another 47 of them.

It’s a drag on our force.  It impacts everything from readiness to morale to retention.  And it’s an insult — an insult to the officers’ years of dedicated service. 

Our troops deserve so much better.  And if the House fails to fulfill its most basic function, if it fails to fund the government by tomorrow, it will have failed all of our troops. 

Our service members will keep upholding their oaths, showing up for work, standing sentinel around the world, keeping our country secure — but they won’t get paid.  It’s a disgrace.  Thousands of Defense Department civilian and — civilian servants will be sent home.

And the longer the shutdown lasts, the harder it will be to become — the harder it will become for military families to pay their bills.

We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach.  It’s an absolute dereliction of duty. 

As leaders, we must never lose sight of the direct impacts of the decisions we make and the impact they have on the lives and families around the world.

General Milley, General Brown, Secretary Austin, and all the many great leaders across every branch of our military — you got to where you are by demonstrating extraordinary care and concern for the troops you command.  It’s a lived leadership of being in the field alongside your troops, sharing their hardships, holding each other together when times are hard, never forgetting the humanity beneath the uniform.  It’s an enormous credit to each of them personally and an enormous asset for our country. 

Secretary Austin told the story of how he and General Milley got blown up together by an IED in Iraq.  But the part of the story that stands out to me is the reason they were on Route Irish that night to begin with.  The reason they were there: They were going to see one of Milley’s soldiers who had been wounded. 

In fact, during that tour in Iraq, you’d often find then-Colonel Milley down at that hospital sitting with the wounded so they wouldn’t be alone; rounding up his troops for an impromptu blood drive if the docs let him know they were running low on units; putting an arm around his team, gathering them together, seeing to their injuries — both physical and mental — when war extracts the greatest of tolls. 

That’s leadership.  That’s patriotism.  That’s strength.  That’s Mark Milley.  (Applause.)

Mark, you know how strongly I feel about you.  You’ve given remarkable service to our country.  You have done honor for the uniform of our nation.  You have upheld your oath. 

Thank you.  Thank you, my friend.  Thank you for being my friend. 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  (Applause.)

11:33 A.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden Honoring the Legacy of Senator John McCain and the Work We Must Do Together to Strengthen Our Democracy

Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:07

Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, Arizona

12:05 P.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you. Please — please, sit down. Thank you.

I’m going to put a little bit more meat on that bone — that last one. (Laughter.)

John and I used to travel together. When John got back from all the time in Vietnam in prison — when he was released, he decided he wanted to go back to stay in the military. And he was assigned to the United States Senate and to the military office there that travels with senators when they travel abroad.

And John and I put in a couple hundred thousand miles together. And on our way to — I think I was going to either China — I forget what the destination was — China, I think. And we stopped in — we stopped in Hawaii. And the — the Chief Naval — of Operations was there showing me around. They did an event for me.

And John kept looking at your mom. Oh, I’m serious. (Laughter.) And he said, “My God, she’s beautiful.” (Laughter.) I said — and I said, “Yeah, she is, John.” And I said, “Well, you to go up and say hi to her.” He said, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” (Laughter.) “I’m not going to do that.”

Well, as your mom come — I won’t go into more detail, but I’ll tell you: I insisted that they meet. (Laughter.) And I take credit. I take credit for you guys. (Laughter and applause.)

And I just told your mom: John and I had something in common, we both married way above our station — (laughter) — way above our station.

Cindy — or I should call you Madam Ambassador — thank you for all you’ve done, all you do, you continue to do. Jack and Bridget, the entire McCain family, and to all those who love the McCain family. (Applause.)

Oh, I didn’t see all up there. (Applause.) Whoa! Don’t jump. Don’t jump. (Laughter.)

Well, I tell you what, it’s an honor to be with you. It’s a genuine honor.

Governor Hobbs, you’ve done an incredible job. You’ve been a leader and defender of democracy. And you’ve always been available when I’ve called, and I hope I’ve been available when you called as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests — (applause) — in the end, John McCain thought about the beginning. Five years ago, as John was dying from brain cancer, John wrote a farell- — a farewell letter to the nation that he said — that he served so well in both war and in peace.

His words tracked back centuries to America’s founding and then toward a triumphant future. Here’s what John wrote, and I quote, “We are citizens of the world — the world’s greatest republic. A nation of ideals, not blood and soil. Americans never quit. They never hide from history. America makes history.”

And John was right. Every other per- — every other nation in the world has been founded on either a grouping by ethnicity, religion, background. We’re the most unique nation in the world. We’re founded on an idea — the only major nation in the world founded on an idea. An idea that we are all created equal, endowed by our Cr- — in the image of God, endowed by our Creator to be — to be able to be treated equally throughout our lives.

We’ve never fully lived up to that idea, but we’ve never walked away from it. But there’s danger we’re walking too far away from it now, the way we talk in this deba- — in this country. Because a long line of patriots from — like John McCain kept it from ever becoming something other than what it is.

I often think about our friendship of 40 years. The hammer-and-tong debates we’d have in the Senate. We’d argue — we were like two brothers. We’d argue like hell. (Laughs.) I mean really go at one another. Then we’d go lunch together. (Laughter.) No, not a joke. Or John would ride home with me. I mean, we — we traveled the world together.

And, by the way, when he found this magnificent woman and got married, I’m the guy that convinced him to run in Arizona as a Republican. Bless me, Father, for — (makes the sign of the cross). (Laughter and applause.) No, but it’s — you’ve got to admit, Cindy, I did. I talked to him, and I said, “John, you can do this job. My only worry is you’ll do it too well.” (Laughter.)

But, look, running on opposite sides of the nation’s highest office when — when he was running for president and I was on the vice presidential ticket — we still remained friends.

The conversations we had — he had with my son, Beau — the attorney general of the state of Delaware, a decorated major in the U.S. Army, was a guy who spent a year in Iraq — about serving in a war overseas, about the courage in battle against the same cancer that took John and my son.

Two weeks ago, I thought about John as I was standing in another part of the world — in Vietnam. I don’t want to be — I — excuse me if I — it was an emotional trip.

I was there to usher in a 50-year arc of progress for the two countries, pushed by John and, I might add, another John — this is the former Secretary of State, John from Massachusetts, won the Silver Star as well.

Once at war, we are now choosing the highest possible partnership, made possible through John’s leadership. I mean that sincerely. Think about it.

While in Hanoi, I visited a marker depicting where John — what John — where John had endured all the pain. Imprisoned five and a half years. Solitary confinement for two years. Given an opportunity — an opportunity to come home if he just said a couple things. He was beaten, bloodied, bones broken, isolated, tortured, left unable to raise his arms above his shoulders again.

As I stood there paying my respects, I thought about how much I missed my friend. And it’s not hyperbole. I — from the bottom of my heart, I mean this.

I thought about something else as well. I thought about how much America missed John right now, how much America needed John’s courage and foresight and vision. I thought about what John stood for, what he fought for, what he was willing to die for. I thought about what we owed John, what I owed him, and what we owe each other — we owe each other — we owed each other as well — and Americans as well.

You see, John is one of those patriots who, when they die, their voices are never silent. They still speak to us. They tug at both our hearts and our conscience.

And they pose the most profound questions: Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe? What will we be?

For John, it was country first. Sounds like a — like a movie, but it’s real with John: honor, duty, decency, freedom, liberty, democracy.

And now, history has brought us to a new time of testing. Very few of us will ever be asked to endure what John McCain endured. But all of us are being asked right now: What will we do to maintain our democracy? Will we, as John wrote, never quit? Will we not hide from history, but make history? Will we put partisanship aside and put country first?

I say we must and we will. We will. (Applause.)

But it’s not easy. It’s not easy.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: When will you stand against corruption, Mr. President?



AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) ask why you have yet to declare a climate emergency? Why have you yet to declare a climate emergency? Hundred of Arizonians have died!


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hundreds of Arizonians have died because you won’t —

THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t you wait at —


Well, hang on one second. Hang on a second. I’ll be happy to meet with you after I speak, okay?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You promised no new drilling on fossil fuels. Why have you yet to declare a climate emergency? Not (inaudible) —


AUDIENCE MEMBER: We need your leadership, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I tell you what, if you shush up, I’ll meet with you immediately after this. Okay? (Applause.)

But democracy never is easy, as we just demonstrated. (Laughter.) The cause — the cause is worth giving our all, for democracy makes all things possible.

Let me begin with the core principles. Democracy means rule of the people, not rule of monarchs, not rule of the monied, not rule of the mighty. Regardless of party, that means respecting free and fair elections; accepting the outcome, win or lose. (Applause.) It means you can’t love your country only when you win. (Applause.)

Democracy means rejecting and repudiating political violence. Regardless of party, such violence is never, never, never acceptable in America. (Applause.) It’s undemocratic, and it must never be normalized to advance political power.

And democracy means respecting the institutions that govern a free society. That means adhering to the timeless words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” A mission statement embodied in our Constitution, our system of separation of powers and checks and balances.

Our Constitution — the bulwark to prevent the abuse of power to ensure “We the People” move forward together under the law, rather than believing the only way is one way or no way at all.

But our institutions and our democracy are not just of gov- — of government. The institutions of democracy depend on the Constitution and our character — our character and the habits of our hearts and minds.

Institutions like the McCain Institute and the new McCain Library that will be built at Arizona State University with the funding from the American Rescue Plan, which I signed into law when I came to office. (Applause.) A library that’s going to house John’s archives, host dialogue and debate, inspire future leaders around the world, to serve tens of thousands underserved Arizonans as a reminder of our obligation to one another.

These principles of democracy are essential in a free society, but they have always been embattled.

Today, let’s be clear. While we’ve made progress, democracy is still at risk. This is not hyperbole; it’s a simple truth — a simple truth.

I’ve made the defense and protection and preservation of American democracy the central issue of my presidency. From the speech I made at Gettysburg, an Inaugural Address, to the anniversary of the June 6th insurrection — or January 6th insurrection, to Independence Hall in Philadelphia — to the speech I made at Union Station in Washington, I’ve spoken about the danger of election denialism, political violence, and the battle for the soul of America.

Today, in America [Arizona], to honor an institution devoted to the defense of democracy, named in honor of a true patriot, I’m here to speak about another threat to our democracy that we all too often ignore: the threat to our political institutions, to our Constitution itself, and the very character of our nation.

Democracy is maintained by adhering to the Constitution and the march to perfecting our union —

(A toddler in the audience babbles.)

THE PRESIDENT: — by protecting and expanding rights with each successive generation, including that little guy. He’s going to talk about it. (Laughter.)

That’s okay. In my house, kids prevail. Okay? (Laughter.)

This adherence isn’t op- — this isn’t optional. We can’t be situational. We can’t be only going there when it’s good for yourself. It’s constant and unyielding, even when it’s easy and, most important, when it’s hard.

For centuries, the American Constitution has been a model for the world, with other countries adopting “We the People” as their North Star as well. But as we know, we know how damaged our institutions of democracy — the judiciary, the legislature, the executive — have become — become in the eyes of the American people, even the world, from attacks from within the past few years.

I know virtually every major world leader. That’s what I did when I was a senator, as vice president, and now. Everywhere I go in the world — I’ve met now with over a hundred heads of state of the nations of the world — everywhere I go, they look and they ask the question, “Is it going to be okay?”

Think about this: The first meeting I attended of the G7 — the seven wealthiest nations in the world — in Europe, the NATO meeting, I sat down — it was in Feb- — Feb- — January, after being elected — so, late Janu- — early February — and it was in England. And I sat down, and I said, “America is back.” And Macron looked at me, and he said, “Mr. President, for how long — for how long?”

And then, the Chancellor of Germany said, “Mr. President, what would you think if you picked up the paper tomorrow — tomorrow, the London Times — and it said a thousand people broke down the doors of Parliament, marched, and killed two bobbies in order to overthrow an election of the new prime minister? What would you think then? What would America think?”

What would we think, the leading nation in the world, having gone through what we went through?

And many of you travel internationally. Many of you know people from around the world. I’d be surprised if you heard anything different than the concern about: Are we okay? Is the democracy going to be sustained?

And from that institutional damage, we see distrust and division among our own people.

I’m here to tell you: We lose these institutions of our government at our own peril. And I’ve always been clear: Democracy is not a partisan issue. It’s an American issue.

I have come to honor the McCain Institute and Library because they are a home of a proud Republican who put his country first. Our commitment should be no less because democracy should unite all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.

And there is something dangerous happening in America now. There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs in our democracy: the MAGA Movement.

Not every Republican, not even a majority of Republicans, adhere to the MAGA extremist ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with Republicans my whole career. But there is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA Republican extremists. Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American democracy as we know it.

My friends, they’re not hiding their attacks. They’re openly promoting them — attacking the free press as the enemy of the people, attacking the rule of law as an impediment, fomenting voter suppression and election subversion.

Did you ever think we’d be having debates in the year — stage of your careers where banning books — banning books and burying history?

Extremists in Congress — more determined to shut down the government, to burn the place down than to let the people’s business be done.

Our U.S. military — and this in not hyperbole; I’ve said it for the last two years — is the strongest military in the history of the world. Not just the strongest in the world — in the history of the world. It’s the most diverse, the most powerful in the history of the world. And it’s being accused of being weak and “woke” by the opposition.

One guy in Alabama is holding up the promotion of every — hundreds of these officers.

Frankly, these extremists have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. (Laughter.) No, I’m serious.

They’re pushing a notion the defeated former President expressed when he was in office and believes applies only to him. And this is a dangerous notion: This president is above the law, with no limits on power.

Trump says the Constitution gave him, quote, “the right to do whatever he wants as President,” end of quote. I’ve never even heard a president say that in jest. Not guided by the Constitution or by common service and decency toward our fellow Americans but by vengeance and vindictiveness.

We see the headlines. Quote, “sweeping expansion of presidential power.” Their goal to, quote, “alter the balance of power by increasing the President’s authority over every part of the federal government,” end of quote.

What do they intend to do once they erode the constitutional order of checks and balances and separation of powers? Limit the independence of federal agencies and put them under the thumb of a president? Give the President the power to refuse to spend money that Congress has appropriated if he doesn’t like what it’s being spent for? Not veto — he doesn’t like what it’s being spent for — it’s there. Get rid of longstanding protections for civil servants?

Remember what he did as he was leaving office: He imposed a new thing, the Civil Service — but then he imposed a new pro- — schedule. “Schedule F,” it was called. These civil servants had to pledge loyalty to the President, not the Constitution. It did not require that they had any protections, and the President would be able to wholesale fire them if he wanted, because they had no so- — no — no Civil Service protection. One of the first things I got rid of when I became President.

Just consider these as actual quotes from MAGA — the MAGA movement. Quote, “I am your retribution.” “Slitting throats” of civil servants, replacing them with extreme political cronies. MAGA extremists proclaim support for law enforcement only to say, “We…” — quote, “We must destroy the FBI.”

It’s not one person. It’s the controlling element of the House Republican Party.

Whitewash attacks of January 6th by calling the spearing and stomping of police a leg- — quote, a “legitimate political discourse.”

Did you ever think you’d hear leaders of political parties in the United States of America speak like that? Seizing power, concentrating power, attempting to abuse power, purging and packing key institutions, spewing conspiracy theories, spreading lies for profit and power to divide America in every way, inciting violence against those who risk their lives to keep America safe, weaponizing against the very soul of who we are as Americans.

This MAGA threat is the threat to the brick and mortar of our democratic institutions. But it’s also a threat to the character of our nation and gives our — that gives our Constitution life, that binds us together as Americans in common cause.

None of this is surprising, though. They’ve tried to govern that way before. And thank God, they failed.

But they haven’t given up. Just look at recent days: their accusations against — of treason — treason against the major new net- — news network because they don’t like its coverage. I don’t know what the hell I’d say about Fox if that becomes the rule. (Laughter.)

But think about it. I’m joking, but think about it.

Tomorrow, I have the honor of overseeing the change of responsibilities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States military from one genuine hero and patriot, General Mark Milley, to another, General CQ Brown — both — both defining leaders of our time.

And yet, here is what you hear from MAGA extremists about the retiring patriot general honoring his oath to the Constitution: quote, he’s “a traitor,” end of quote. “In times gone by, the punishment…” — quote, “In times gone by, the punishment would’ve been death,” end of quote.

This is the United States of America. This is the United States of America.

And although I don’t believe even a majority of Republicans think that, the silence is deafening. The silence is deafening.

Hardly any Republican called out such heinous statements, just as they watch one MAGA senator outrageously — instead, blocking the promotions of hundreds of top military leaders and affecting not only those leaders but their families, their children.

MAGA extremists claim support of our troops, but they are harming military readiness, leadership, troop morale, freezing pay, freezing military families in limbo.

Just as they looked the other way when the defeated former President refused to pay respects at an American cemetery near Paris, referring to the American servicemen buried there — and I’ve been to this cemetery — as “suckers” and “losers,” quotes.

I’m not making this up. I know we all tried not to remember it, but that’s what he said. He called servicemen “suckers” and “losers.”

Was John a sucker? Was my son, Beau, who lived next to a burn pit for a year, came home, and died — was he a sucker for volunteering to serve his country?

The same guy who denigrates the heroism of John McCain. It’s not only wrong, it’s un-American. But it never changes.

The MAGA extremists across the country have made it clear where they stand. So, the challenge for the rest of America — for the majority of Americans is to make clear where we stand.

Do we still believe in the Constitution? Do we believe in the basic decency and respect? The whole country should honestly ask itself — and I mean this sincerely — what it wants and understand the threats to our democracy.

I believe very strongly that the defining feature of our democracy is our Constitution.

I believe in the separation of powers and checks and balances, that debate and disagreement do not lead to disunion.

I believe in free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power.

I believe there is no place in America — none, none, none — for political violence. We have to denounce hate, not embolden it.

Across the aisle, across the country, I see fellow Americans, not mortal enemies. We’re a great nation because we’re a good people who believe in honor, decency, and respect.

I was able to get the infrastructure bill passed. It’s over a trillion dollars. The majority of it so far has gone to red states who didn’t vote for me. Because I represent all — no, I’m serious. I represent all Americans. (Applause.) Wherever the need is.

And I believe every president should be a president for all Americans. To use the Office of the President to unite the nation, uphold the duty to care for all Americans.

I’ve tried my very best, and I’m sure I haven’t met the test of every — all of you want me to meet. But I tried to do my very best to meet the highest standards, whether you voted for me or not. Because that’s the job: to de- — deliver light, not heat; to make sure democracy delivers for everyone; to know we’re a nation of unlimited possibilities, of wisdom and decency — a nation focused on the future.

I’ve spent more time with Xi Jinpin [sic] than any world — -ping — than any world leader has. Sixty-eight hours alone with just he and I and an interpreter. Traveled 17,000 miles with him here and in China. On the Tibetan Plateau, he turned to me and he asked me — he said, “Can you define America for me?” And I was deadly earnest. I said, “Yes. In one word: possibilities.”

We, in America, believe anything is possible if we try it. Anything we do together, we can get done.

We’ve faced some tough times in recent years, and I am proud of the progress we made as a country. But the real credit doesn’t go to me and my administration for the progress — for this progress. The real heroes of the story are you, the American people. And that’s not hyperbole again.

Which is why I’m asking you that regardless of whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, or independent, put the preservation of our democracy before everything else. Put our country first.

Over the past few years, we can and should be proud of American democracy, proud of what we’ve been able to hold on to. We can’t take democracy for granted.

Remember when you were in high school and college, if you took political science, they said every generation has to protect democracy. I used to think that that was just a saying. But here I am, as President of the United States of America, making this speech about my fear of the diminishment of democracy.

Folks, every generation has to be vigilant.

You know, toward the end of my Senate campaign, I convinced Strom Thurmond to vote for the Civil Rights legislation — not a joke — and I thought, “Well, you can — you can defeat hate.”

You can’t defeat it. You just bury it. But when someone comes along and lifts up the rock and breathes a little oxygen in there, it comes roaring back. It comes roaring back.

We should all remember: Democracies don’t have to die at the end of a rifle. They can die when people are silent, when they fail to stand up or condemn the threats to democracy, when people are willing to give away that which is most precious to them because they feel frustrated, disillusioned, tired, alienated. I get it. I really do. I get it.

For all its faults, though, American democracy remains the best pass [path] forward to prosperity, possibilities, progress, fair play, equality.

And democracy requires all of us in all of the major parties. You matter. And, again, I’m not just trying to be nice here. You matter — all of you in this auditorium — because history and common sense tell us that we can change things by adhering to our Constitution and our institutions of democracy.

Our task — our sacred task of our time is to make sure that they change not for the worse, but for the better. That democracy survives and thrives, not be spa- — smashed by a movement more interested in power than in principle. It’s up to us, the American people.

In my view, the more people vote, the more engaged the whole nation becomes, the stronger our democracy will be.

So, the answer to the threats we face is engagement. It’s not to sit in the sidelines; it’s to build coalitions and community, to remind ourselves there is a clear majority of us who believe in our democracy and are ready to protect it.

To the students here today and the young people across country, you’re the reason I’m so optimistic.

I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been doing this for a long time. (Laughter.)

But all kidding aside, I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s chances in domestic and foreign policy as I am today. I really mean it. To see young people — a hundred thousand students at this university and all across America — they are the most gifted, the most tolerant, the most talented, and the best-educated generation in American history.

And it’s your generation, more than anyone else’s, who will answer the questions — the legitimate questions the young man asked me a moment ago — who I’m going to meet with — questions for America: Who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe? Who will we be?

It’s not your burden alone, but your generation will not be ignored, will not be shunned, will not be silenced.

I’ve said it before: We’re at an inflection point in our history. One of those moments that not only happens once every several generations, it happens once every eight or nine generations, where the decisions made in the short period of time we’re in now are going to determine the course of this country and the world for the next six or seven decades.

So, you, me, every American who is committed to preserving our democracy and our constitutional protections, we carry a special responsibility. We have to stand up for American values embedded in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, because we know the MAGA extremists have already proven they won’t.

You know, Madeleine Albright wrote a book — the former Secretary of State — saying we’re the “essential nation.” We are. And I think you’ve fe- — sensed it abroad, Cindy, haven’t you? Any room I walk in and no matter what heads of state I’m with, everything stops. Not because of Joe Biden, but because I’m President of the United States of America.

We are the essential nation. We are the essential nation. The rest of the world is looking, so we have to stand up for our Constitution, our institutions of democracy, because MAGA extremists have made it clear they’re not going to.

History is watching. The world is watching. And most important, our children and grandchildren will hold us responsible.

So, let me close with this. In three years, we’ll commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — a moment not only about our past, celebrating all we’ve done, but a moment about the future, about all we can be — still be.

Imagine that moment and ask: What do we want to be? Now is our time to continue to choose and secure a sacred cause of the American democracy.

I know we can meet this moment. John knew we could meet this moment. He believed, as so many patriots before him did, that character [is] destiny in our own lives and the life of this nation. He believed in us.

That’s what we see in the McCain Institute and Library and everyday places across America doing extraordinary things. And remember that the soul of America depends on the souls of all Americans — how we choose to see our nation, how we choose to see ourselves, how we choose to lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example.

So, let’s never quit. Let’s never hide from history. Let’s make history.

If we do that, we’ll be — have done our duty to our country and to each other. Future generations will say we kept the faith.

We’ll have proved, through all its imperfections, America is still a place of possibilities, a beacon for the world, a promise realized — where the power forever resides with “We the People.”

That’s our soul. That’s who we truly are. That’s who we must always be.

And that’s why I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future. We just need to remember who we are.

We are the United States of America. There is nothing — nothing beyond our capacity when we act together.

Well, God bless you all.

May God bless John McCain and his family. And may God protect our troops. Thank you. (Applause.)

12:41 P.M. MST

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Remarks by President Biden at a Campaign Reception | Tempe, AZ

Thu, 09/28/2023 - 20:00

Private Residence
Tempe, Arizona

1:48 P.M. MST

THE PRESIDENT:  I want to take your mayor home with me.  (Laughter.)  Please have a seat if you have one. 

And I’ll be — I’ll be necessarily brief.  (Laughter.)  I’m taking off my coat not to speak longer, just to let you know I understand — hey, I understand that this is a cool day for you all.  (Laughter.)   Oh, thanks, man. 

Look, Mayor, you’ve done a hell of a job.  And — no, I really mean it.  And you have a way about you that people look at you and listen to you and know you mean we just say.

When I — when I was a young senator, they used to say Biden — tell you he always means what he says; the problem is he sometimes says all that he means.  (Laughter.)

And Greg is in Washington.  We’re trying to avoid what is totally avoidable.  You know what was going on out —

Look, you know, what happened was I actually negotiated with the Speaker of the House, the — for preventing us from reneging on a national debt that’s over 200 years old because they wanted some ridiculous request.  And we got it done, and we shook hands, and we said that’s the deal.  And it still cut the deficit by a trillion dollars and we maintained all the major programs. 

And that was — we made a deal.  Where I come from, you shake hands, you make a deal — it’s a deal.  And immediately upon taking office, they tried to change it already.  Everything we’re — everything we’ve been talking about, they wanted to change.  I won’t go into detail, in the interest of time and the heat.  But you know — you know, I — I think what they need is they need a little bit of a Brittney Griner going to (inaudible).  (Applause.)  Slam dunking those suckers, Brittney.  I tell you what.

And what I need is — I tell you what, your — your wife, Cherelle, I’d like to keep — keep her in the Oval Office.  She is relentless.  She is relentless. 

Look, you know, I’d talk about what Kamala and I have accomplished, but I don’t want to take all that time right now.  The bottom line is that the times that I’ve been in public life — and it’s only been a couple of years.  (Laughter.)  You know, I know I’m not old.  You know, I mean, I can’t even pronounce the number of — the number of years I’ve occupied so far. 

But all kidding aside, one of the things we’ve — I’ve always argued was — and I come from the corporate state of the world, in Delaware.  So I’m not anti-business.  I’m not anti-corporation.  But I think it’s about time we changed the dynamic about how to grow this country.

For the longest time, in the last, really, actually, almost 30 years, we’ve not invested in America — invested in America.  We have not invested in the American people, and we’ve had a — a notion of economic growth that was trickle-down economics.  What was good at the top would trickle down and help everybody. 

Not a whole lot of that trickled down to my dad’s kitchen table, growing up.  And so, I’ve always been of the view in the Democratic Party and in the Congress and as vice president and now — the notion that the best way to build a country is from the middle out and the bottom up.  That way, the wealthy do very well — no problems — and — as long as they pay their taxes, and I’m not being facetious when I say that — and we grow.  We grow. 

Well, that’s what we’ve done.  And in the first — not even — you know, just a couple of years, we have — we have made sure that we’ve hired more new people in America — 13 million 500 — 400 thousand — than any president has in a four-year period — any president has in a four-year period.  We moved in a direction where we have — where middle-class people are really having a shot.  They’re having a shot and they’re doing well.  And they’re beginning to — but there’s a lot else going on around them that — a little bit I want to talk about. 

But you know, I wasn’t going to run again in nine- — in 2020.  I had just lost my son in Iraq.  And he was the attorney general of the state of Delaware, but he was also a decorated war veteran, a major with a Conspicuous Service medal and a Bronze Star, et cetera.

And — and I decided I was — I was out.  And what I did was I spent my time setting up a foreign policy institute at the University of Pennsylvania, where I was a professor.  And they gave me a stipend to hire — $2 million to hire people.  And so, I had — I had people teaching with me up there — guys who didn’t know — don’t know much about foreign policy, like the Secretary of State and others — (laughter) — who came along.

And — and so, but there was a lot of — it was kind of a drumbeat among my friends that I should run.  And I said I wasn’t going to do it — until something happened. 

What happened was — you may remember that in — sometime in August, there was a — a group of people down in Charlottesville, Virginia, who came marching out of fields — literally marching on the fields at night with lighted torches, carrying swastikas, accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan, and reciting the same anti-Semitic bile that was sung in — throughout Germany in the early ‘30s.

And that’s when I decided I just couldn’t keep silent anymore.  And when that young woman was killed, I spoke to her mom. 

And the President was asked what he thought.  And his comment was — he said there were “very good people on both sides.”  “Very good people on both sides.”

Well, silence is complicity in my family — and a lot of yours as well.  And so, we got engaged.  We got engaged and decided to run. 

And, you know, one of the things that we did was — was to focus on trying to just get the — stabilize the economy, get things moving a little bit so ordinary people have a shot. 

And in addition to that, you know, we’ve created more manufacturing jobs in America than anybody ever has: 800,000 — 800,000 manufacturing jobs. 

I went around the world — (applause) — because I believe there’s nothing the American people aren’t — can’t do or aren’t willing to do if they get a fair shot — if they get a fair shot. 

And so, what happened was I spent a lot of time traveling the world and was able to get over $500 billion in private investment in government programs.  We — we brought along the CHIPS Act — a whole range of things I’m not going to bore you with. 

But the end result is: It meant jobs.  For example, these, quote, “fabs” that are being built — we invented that little computer chip.  We invented it when we went to the moon.  We refined it.

We used to have 40 percent of all of it was produced in America.  And then along came — along came the — the serious loss of a million people in the nation because of a virus.  And the chain of control for access to these materials started to dry up. 

So, I went around the world.  For example, I went to the South Korean — to SK, one of the major chip manufacturers, and I asked them whether they’d be engaged in providing for investing in America because we didn’t have those chips.  Remember, automobile prices skyrocketed? 

Everything — everything from your cell phone to an automobile, they all need these little chips smaller than the end of your finger.  And so, I went to them, and I said, “I want you to invest in America.” 

He said, “I want to invest in America,” so he invested a total of $100 billion in America.  And the first major investment is going to be in — they’re doing it now — outside of Columbus, Ohio.  There’s a thousand acres there.  And I dubbed it the “Field of Dreams,” because what’s going to happen is when they build their “fabs,” as they call them — they’re about the size of football fields, building these computer chips. 

The average salary is between $121- and $136,000 in the “fab.”  Well, guess what?  You don’t need a college degree.  And all of a sudden, an awful lot of people are given the chance to make a living — a decent living for their families in a way. — and everything is building around them as they build this facilities — and these facilities.

They’re building everything from supermarkets to drugstores to beauty shops.  Everything is changing.  And it’s happening all across America. 

And so, the end result of all this was we’re really beginning to — to — to move.  But in the meantime, there’s a lot of other things.  I’m very proud of what we’ve done. 

But in the meantime, I thought — when I ran in 2020, I really did think democracy was at stake.  And I wasn’t — that’s not hyperbole.  I really thought it was.  And when that — you know, the idea that today — that doubts democracy was at stake in 2020, there are not many people. 

And I might add we won convincingly and clearly, you know, without question.  We won by 7 million votes nationwide.  But we also had — there were a total of 60 legal challenges in courts.  Every single one we won, and the other team lost — every single one, including the Supreme Court. 

And then you had the insurrection on — on the 6th of January.  It’s off of my office, a little dining room just off the Oval Office.  He sat there and watched what was happening, watched what was going on. 

And so, here we are.  We’re running again because I still think that if we were to give up this seat, we’re going to — if the Democrats don’t own the presidency, we’re going to find ourselves in the position where democracy is literally — literally at stake. 

And, you know, something else I know, and that is that, you know, notwithstanding the fact that I’m the old guy here, you know, there comes — there hopefully comes a little bit of wisdom with age. 

And, you know, Kamala and I came to office with the notion that we’re flat on our back, and what happened was we — we put together programs that generated some real growth.  I know what to do to bring NATO together again.  I know what to do to unite Europe against the Russians in Ukraine.  It’s what I’ve done my whole life.  I know what to do when we’re dealt with a whole range of these issues. 

But here’s the point — and I’m skipping around, but I want to get to the — so you don’t have to sit there that long.  (Laughter.)

What — what — you know, I thought — I thought when I was — when I left the United States Senate, I was able to convince Strom Thurmond — remember who he was?   Old segregationist?   Strom Thurmond voted for the extension of the Voting Rights Act — Strom Thurmond.  And I thought you could defeat hate — you could defeat it.

All you can do — all you can do is bury it, hide under a– hide it under a rock.  But it doesn’t die.  It’s there.  If someone comes along and breathes oxygen into it, it rises up again.

Think of all the hate rhetoric that is going on today in American politics.  Think of what’s happening.  It was a real lesson for me.  I thought we could actually defeat it.  But you just have to stay at it.

So, we’re running because, you know, we want to send the strongest, clearest, most powerful message that we’re never, never, never, never going to accept the MAGA Republican philosophy about how we run this country. 

And, folks, you know, one of the things that is — just a few months ago, after a long negotiation with me and the Speaker, these guys came along and they decided to change everything to try to shut down the government, in large part because they want to fundamentally change the agreement they made. 

These guys think that, for example, cutting a hundred thousand teachers is a good idea — funding teachers.  They think that we should be moving in a direction where we fundamentally change our contributions to — they want to do away with what I did with — with the — with the drug companies. 

I’ve been trying to — I’ve been arguing with the drug companies my whole career because we should be able to bargain with the drug companies.  We pay them billions of dollars in Social Secur- — I mean, excuse me, Medicare payments.  Well, guess what?  We’re not allowed to negotiate.  Well, we are now. 
And guess what?  Instead of paying 400 bucks a month for insulin, you’re going to pay 35 bucks a month.  (Applause.) 

No senior in America — no senior in America — no senior in America is going to be in a position in the next two years where they have to — no matter how expensive all of their — all their drug bills are, all their prescriptions — including prescriptions that cost $13- to $15,000 a year for cancer — they will never have to pay more than $2,000 a month, period, for that. 

And guess what?  It’s not only is it the right thing to do; it saves the federal government billions of dollars — billions of dollars — billions of dollars not having to be paid out of your taxes to pay for these exorbitant — do you know how much it costs to make that insulin, by the way?  Ten dollars.  To package it is another $2.40.  They’re still making 35 bucks a shot.  That’s, you know, triple. 

My — my point is that there’s this small group of Republicans who are controlling the Republican Party right now, and particularly in the House.  And, you know — and they believe if you — some of the things they say, for example — you know, we don’t think, Kamala and I, that this is a dark, negative nation, that we’re a mean-spirited people, that we don’t care.  We don’t believe that. 

You know, Trump does, though.  Here’s the things he says.  He says to his supporters, “I am your retribution.”  Isn’t that a great way to run for president?  “I am your retribution.”  “We’re a failing nation.”  “Either we…” — these are quotes.  “Either we win — either they or we win; if they, then we no longer have a democ- — we no longer have a country.”  And it goes on.

Did you see recently where he called for the assassination — or the death penalty for General Milley, one of the leading military minds we have had in the last 20 years in America, because he disagreed with — Trump disagreed when he gave him an honest answer.  Think about that.  Think about that. 

And so, the point is simple, that we’re in a situation where unless we are able to fundamentally nail down who we are as a country and what kind of democracy we are, we’re in trouble. 

I’m going walk up here and speak louder.  (Inaudible.)  (Laughter.)  You’re a great American.  (Applause.)  All right.  That’s true. 

But, look, we wonder — the rest of the world is really looking to us.  Madeleine Albright was right; we are the “essential nation.”  They’re looking to us.  Are we going to continue to lead the world?  Who leads the world if we step back?  Who holds NATO together?  Who deals with what’s going on in the Middle East?  Who puts India — who puts Japan and North and South Korea together?  Who deals with what we’re doing down in the Indian Ocean? 

Who deals with this major, major, major challenge coming from China?  Which, by the way, as we say in the sports I used to play, “They’re not a patch on our jeans, man,” right now.  (Laughter.)   No, I’m serious.  Think — think. 

I asked every world leader — and I’m not joking.  I say, “Would you trade places with Xi Jinping?”  I haven’t found one leader in the world who would trade places with his problems.   And we walk around like, “Whoa, whoa.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not looking to have a fight with China.  But I’m making clear to China we’re not going to be bent to what they’re doing, what they’re trying to do. 

And so, there’s a lot going on that, if we step out of the picture — and, by the way, you talk to Trump — what’s he say about — he says, “You know what…” — I’m paraphrasing — “Putin I can deal with; he’s a decent guy.”  (Laughter.)  As we say in my religion, “Bless me, Father, for he has sinned.”  (Laughter.)

I’ve spent more time with Putin about [than] any world leader has over the last 23 years.  Putin does not have a democratic bone in his body.  When he — when he invaded Ukraine, he — no one listened to what I was urging them to say — to listen to.  He made his speech right after the invasion, which I predicted they were invading, and then went in with the 158,000 people. 

And guess what?  The speech he made was very straightforward.  “Kyiv is the motherland of Russia — Mother Russia.  It’s our — they’re a bunch of Nazis trying to take away — they’re going to invade Russia.  They’re going…”  I mean, all this stuff.  And look what’s happened. 

And now we’re talking about stepping back and not supporting Ukraine?  Look, Ukraine is not perfect.  I spent two years before this war began in Ukraine trying to deal with the oligarchs and the corruption listed there.  We made real progress.  There’s more to do.  But these folks are incredible. 

Did you ever think you’d see a group of people — men, women, and children — fighting so bravely for their lives and their land?

So, look, there’s a lot we can — we’re on the cusp of doing an awful lot of things that can literally change the trajectory of the world if we, in fact, stick to who we are.   And I’m not just talking about Ukraine.  I’m talking about everything we do in terms of where we invest, how we invest, what we do, and how we give people a chance. 

And so — I know it’s hot.  (Laughter.)

But, look, let me end this way.  If we are able to continue to be straightforward with the American people, tell them what we want to do, how we want to do it, and why it’s so important, and talk about the alternative — talk about the alternative as well so they understand what the choice is — this is a serious, serious choice the country is about to make.  And we’re either on a trajectory to fundamentally improve our relations around the world and our economy at home, or we’re going to risk fighting like hell just to maintain our democracy — just to maintain it.

When I say maintain our democracy — and what I’ll do — if any of you want it, I just made a major speech down at the university — is I’m talking about the constitutional guardrails that protect democracy.  We the — when you talk about everything from how we deal with the Declaration of Independence, “We the People,” it’s about who we are.  The Constitution, the separation of powers. 

When you have a president who says he wants to set up a new Civil Service called the (inaudible) service, which is answerable not to the American people, but directly to the President.  Not loyalty to the country; to him.  First thing I did, I ve- — I got rid of it when I got in office. 

But he’s coming back talking about having to hire a hundred thousand people that will displace the Civil Service.  Since when?  Since when are we in the United States have the secret — what was the Civil Service, the new one they’re talking about, answerable to the President — answerable to the President and not the people and not to the laws? 

So, there’s a lot going on — a lot going on.  But the fundamental reason why I’m so optimistic is because of the young people in this country.  I mean it.  (Applause.)  No, no, no, I’m not being solicitous.

They are the best educated, the most engaged, the least prejudiced, and the most competent generation in American history.  And they get it, but what we have to do is make it clear to them we understand what’s at stake too.

And by the way, you know, this guy, the argument he’s making now about auto workers is “Biden’s your problem because Biden wants to have electric vehicles.”  (Laughter.) 

I’m serious.  That’s what he’s saying.  That’s the argument.  And the idea he goes to a union hall — it’s not a union hall — management, and he pays them to hold up signs saying they’re union members?  Come on. 

The rest of the world is looking.  And I’m going to try like hell not to let you down.  Because, I tell you what, we got to get by this election.  We’ve got to reestablish, with firmness, American democracy so there’s no questions anymore.   And we still have a lot to do.  (Applause.)

So, thank you. (Applause.)

2:11 P.M. MST

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Remarks by President Biden at a Campaign Reception | San Francisco, CA

Thu, 09/28/2023 - 15:42

Private Residence
San Francisco, California

(September 27, 2023)

5:22 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT: Before you — before you go, I’ve got to tell a little story. (Laughter.) You know, I didn’t realize, even though I’d been vice president and sat in that seat next to the President in front of the fireplace in the Oval Office for eight years, that the outgoing president has to be out of the office by — I think it’s 10 o’clock on Inauguration Day. And the incoming president doesn’t — can’t come in — I believe it isn’t until four o’clock.

And so, I asked my brother, Jim, my best buddy — who has better taste than I do — to pick which desk I would — I knew what desk and rug I wanted in the room, but pick out and lay out the furniture.

And for — I was there for a long time as a U.S. senator and then as vice president. And there was one portrait that hung over — the Secretary of the Interior knows this — one portion that — portrait that hung over the mantelpiece, and it was George Washington. And it was a normal size; it was probably about two and a half or three by four, or something like that.

And so, I came in, and there was this gigantic picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt — portrait, not picture. Portrait. And next to him, there’s four other presidents: Jefferson and Madison on the one side, and Washington and Lincoln.

So, I looked at my brother. I said, “Why Roosevelt?” I admired him, but why? And Jon Meacham, who is a presidential historian — was helping my brother set the office up — figure the office — said, “Well, because no president has ever taken office with the world in more financial disarray than he.” And I said, “Oh, that’s wonderful.” (Laughter.)

And then I said, “Why Lincoln?” He said, “Because the country hasn’t been as divided since Lincoln.”

I said, “I’m out of here.” (Laughter.) (Inaudible.)

But, look, thank you all so very, very much. And as you can tell, I like kids better than people, so — (laughter) — I’m not going to go long because I want to see the kids. She brought everybody — her two sons out, but her beautiful daughter is sitting in the back on a bench back here.

Folks, Gretchen and Andrew, I want to thank you for organizing the event.

And your lieutenant governor, we were talking about — not the Pacific Ocean, but the Bala- — Lake Balaton in — when she was the Ambassador to Hungary, which I spent a lot of time in with — putting Hungary together. And thank you.

And Deb — Deb Haaland has not only made history as the first Native American Cabinet Secretary, but has helped me get so much done.

And I was raised politically by Danny Inouye. For real. He was the first guy to urge me to run for president. And Danny used to say, “Joe, it’s Indian Nations — Indian Nations.” And it is.

And, Deb, you’re the best. You really are. You’re doing a heck of a job. (Applause.)

And just like you, I owe it all to my sister, sitting to your left. Sis, welcome. Thank you. (Applause.)

Normally at events like this, I would talk about how much Kamala — and Kamala has been an incredible, incredible ally. (Applause.) No, she really has. She is so bright. She is so tough. She is just doing a first-rate job making me look better. (Laughs.)

But I want — I ordinarily talk about what Kamala and I have accomplished in the first almost two years of our administration because today, a lot of Americans don’t know it. You know, we’ve created 14 — 13.4 million jobs. More jobs created in — in two — about two years than any president has in four years. (Applause.)

And — and we — together, we rallied the world to confront Russia aggression in Ukraine by holding NATO together and keeping cohesion in their — in the G7.

And we put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown. (Applause.) By the way — and she’s the brightest person on the Court. (Laughter.) Anyway, she’s really first rate. I wish we could — I wish I could bring her along to meet all of you guys.

But — and we passed the biggest investment in history to combat climate change, because I believe climate change is the only existential threat we have. I mean that in a literal sense. Not a joke. If we don’t get it under control, we will have mortgaged not only the next generation, but mortgaged humanity. I believe that with every fiber of my being.

And I especially want to thank — (applause) — and I especially want to thank Kamala for her leadership in so many really important issues. I told her, “Look, when I was vice president, all the tough issues, Barack gave to me.” Well, I gave them all to her. (Laughter.)

But no — but all kidding aside, she’s done a remarkable job in so many issues: protecting women’s freedoms, combatting gun violence, and I could go on all the issues that she’s brought to — she’s fought like hell for.

And we have lunch once a week, and we talk over what more she wants to do. And she’s doing an incredible job.

But, folks, tonight I want to talk about something else. I want to talk about what’s at stake for America. And I mean it sincerely: what’s at stake for America.

You know, when I left the vice presidency at the end of the Obama-Biden administration, I had no intention of running for office again.

Do we need all those fans on? Because — can you hear clearly in the back? (Applause.) Oh, okay. All right.

The — and I had no intention of running again because I had lost my son, the attorney general of Delaware and a decorated war hero out of Iraq. He had a Bronze Star, a Conspicuous Service Medal. And unfortunately, he — his — his — where he slept in his tent was about a hundred yards from a massive burn pit. And he went over one of the healthiest men in his — in his group, and he came back with stage four glioblastoma. It wasn’t if he’d make it; it’s just how long he’d have.

And I was going to write a book. I was going to write a book about foreign policy. I set up an institute at the University of Pennsylvania, where I — I had the foreign policy institute, where they gave me not only professorship but gave me a budget to hire key staff. And the staff included Tony Blinken, who’s now Secretary of State, and many other really serious foreign policy folks.

And I became a professor there. And then I set up an institute of domestic policy at the University of Delaware, my alma mater.

But — but that’s what I did. That’s what I decided to do.

But then along came Charlottesville in Virginia, in August of 2017. You all may remember what happened. I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime. You had hundreds of people marching out of the woods and the fields — not a joke — out of — marching from the fields carrying torches, their veins in their necks bulging in anger, singing the same anti-Semitic bile that was sung on the streets of Germany in 1932 and -3 and -4, and carrying swastikas — carrying swastikas. If you remember, try to think back at the time. Accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan and one of the leaders of the Klan.

And a young woman was killed — a bystander. And I talked with her mom.

After it was over, the President — the then-President was asked — he said, “What — what do you think about what happened?” And I’ll never forget the comment. He said, “There are very fine people on both sides.” “Very fine people on both sides.”

Those words coming out of the mouth of a president in that year just stunned me. It actually stunned me. And, you know, I — making a moral equivalency between that young woman and those racist SOBs — excuse my language — I — I just knew I couldn’t stand by.

Because, you see, I was raised to believe silence is complicity. I mean that sincerely. And so, I would not be silent, so I ran.

And I ran because I thought — I genuinely thought everything this country stood for and believed in, everything that made America “America,” even our democracy, was literally at risk. Again, not hyperbole. I believe that.

And we had no choice. You might remember, I — some thought I was being hyperbolic at the time when I — they said, “Joe, what do you mean democracy is at risk?” or “What do you mean you’re going to restore the soul of America?”

The soul is who we are. It’s who we are. And we were not anything remotely like what was happening.

I come out of the Civil Rights Movement. I thought we could change things when I convinced Strom Thurmond to vote for the Voting Rights Act before he died. I thought we could change things. I was wrong.

You can never defeat hate. Hate just hides under a rock, and when a little oxygen is breathed under that rock, it comes out — it comes back out. That was happening. It was happening.

And, look, the fact of the matter is I don’t think anyone today doubts democracy was at risk that last election and — in 2020. And thank God, because of people like you, Kamala and I won.

And I might add, we won con- — (applause) — and I might add, notwithstanding what’s even being bandied about now, we won convincingly, without question, by a margin of 7 million votes — more votes cast for a president than at any time in American history. (Applause.)

The victory — but here’s the thing: A victory that has not only withstood 60 court challenges, all the way to the Supreme Court, but an insurrection on January the 6th — an insurrection.

I walk into that little dining room off my office where the President sat while that was going on, and think to myself, “How could you sit there? How could you sit there and watch what was happening?”

I told someone earlier tonight that, you know, when I made the first visit as chair — as President of the United States over to England, to the G7, to the European leaders, I sat down and I said, “America is back.” And Macron looked at me and he said, “For how long?” And then the Chancellor of Germany said, “What would you think, Mr. President, if you read tomorrow in the morning paper here in London that a group of a thousand people stormed the Parliament…” — think about this in the literal sense — “…stormed the Parliament, broke down the doors of the House of Commons, killed two bobbies in the process in order to overthrow an election? What would you think about England? What would you think about anyone?”

And, you know, I never quite thought about it as profoundly as that. What would we think if we picked up the paper and read that about the Chancellor — about Germany or France or England now?

And so, folks, you know, democracy was at stake. And notwithstanding the fact that we have in this posi- — in the position that we have moved to rebuild this country in a way that we now have the strongest economy in the world.

We have more to do. I’m not suggesting it’s over. We have more to do, but we have the strongest economy in the world.

But guess what? I’m now running again because we made progress but because our democracy, in my view, is still at stake. I mean that sincerely.

We’re running because our most important freedoms — the right to choose, the right to vote, the right to be who you are, to love who you love — is being attacked and shredded. Literally, think about it: It’s a constant attack.

We’re running because our children should have the right to go to school without fear of being gunned down by a weapon of war. More children in America die every year in America from gun violence than any other cause — any other cause: car accidents, anything. More children die in the United States of America.

Did any of you think as parents that you’d ever see your children having duck-and-cover drills in school?

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you know, I’m running also because it’s still too often that you can be attacked walking down a street just because you’re Black or because of the symbol of your religion you may be wearing.

I’m running because — no, I’m not on the side of dictators like Putin. I know Putin better than anybody who’s held this office. I met with him many, many times over the years.

But maybe Trump and his MAGA friends know how to deal and praise Putin, but I will not. I think it’s outrageous what they say — outrageous and undermines all of our interest. And by — I’m going to stand up to him, and we always will.

Look, Kamala and I are running because we hear this: We want the entire nation to join us in sending the strongest, clearest, most powerful message possible that political violence in America is never, never, never, never acceptable. Never acceptable (inaudible). (Applause.)

And we’re running because democracy is still at stake in 2024, and democracy is on the ballot.

And let there be no question: Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy because they want to break down the institutional structures that allow it to happen.

We are — we are the most unique nation in the world. That sounds like the usual American chauvinism, but we are. We’re the only nation in the world that is not based on ethnicity, religion, or any — we’re the only nation in the world based on an idea — not a joke — an idea: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by…” and the list goes on.

We’ve never lived fully up to that, but we’ve never walked away from it. But we’ve been walking away from it of late.

And those of you — you’re all successful business women and men. I lay eight to five, Madam Ambassador, if you went back to Hungary, they’d be asking you, “What’s going on? What’s going on?” Whether they are — no matter who they are, there’s a great concern about: Is America still the beacon of democracy and liberty in the world?

Well, we are.

But here’s the deal: You know, the country we lieve [live] in is — in my view, is — is special. But there are those in Congress who are sowing such division, they’re willing to shut down this government right now.

You know, just a few months ago after a long negotiation between myself and the Speaker of the House, we agreed to — on spending levels for the government that — to fund essential domestic and national security priorities while still cutting more than $1 trillion over the next decade. We shook hands on it. We agreed.

Well, only a couple months later, they’re changing the whole deal. They’re rejecting — they’re trying to go back and take away everything that we fought for, including people going without pay in the military.

I could go on. I won’t start. I’ll get just angry a little bit.

But now a small group of these extreme Republicans don’t want that deal anymore, and so now everyone in America could face a significant price to pay.

Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of the Congress. And it’s time for the Republicans in the House of Representatives to stand up and do their job because the Republicans in the Senate, including the Senate leadership from Kentucky, are ready to stand up and work with a bipartisan agreement.

America elected them as well.

You know, Kamala and I don’t believe America is dark or a negative nation, not a — not a nation of carnage driven by anger, fear, as well as the sense of revenge.

You hear the — the former president saying, you know, he will seek revenge for what has happened. The president of the United States will seek revenge for what’s happened.

I mean, I could go on. I won’t — you know all the assertions he’s made.

Ladies and gentlemen, Donald Trump does believe we are a nation driven by anger and fear and playing on it. To his supporters, he says, “I am your retribution.” He says we’re a failing nation. “Either…” — I’m quoting — “Either they win, or we win. And if they win, we no longer have a country.”

Did you ever think you’d hear a president or former president of the United States say those kinds of things? But it’s constant.

And he has some significant support among the — what I call the MAGA Republicans. It’s probably only — it makes up 25 percent of the population. But it’s real, and it’s serious.

I believe we are a hopeful, optimistic nation — I really do — driven by a simple proposition that everyone deserves just a shot — just a free shot. We can disagree on detail of what we should — how we should govern, what we should do, what before — but everyone deserves a shot.

Folks, that’s what at stake in my view. And Kamala and I, we need you. We genuinely need you. Not a joke.

You know, instead, we need every Americ- — indeed, we need every American who loves this country to step up and vote in 2024. If we do that, we’re going to do something few generations will be able to say. We’re going to be able to say we’ve — we’ve saved democracy and we’ve buried this ugly hate again, until someone else tries to come along and breathe hate into it.

Folks, I mean this sincerely. I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s chances in the world than I am today.

And I know I don’t look it, but I’m 180 years old. (Laughter.) I’ve been around a long time. But I mean it. Think about it.

What we’ve done internationally: We’ve put the alliances — we pulled together; the idea we’re going to unite Israel and Saudi Arabia, for God’s sake; the idea that we have the North — South — South Korea and Japan in alliances working with us to defend Ukraine. I mean, just — the list goes on.

Or domestically, we’re really actually moving, making significant progress.

But if we — if we do what we need to do, we’ll be able to say we’ve not only saved democracy, but we’ve generated a new economic growth and political reality in the United States of America.

We have to remember — and that’s the best way to say it. We have to remember who are, for God’s sake. We are the United States of America — the Unites States of America.

There is nothing we’ve ever set our mind to as a nation that when we’ve joined together to get it done, we failed. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. And that’s not hyperbole.

We’ve come out of ever crisis stronger than when we went in. That’s America. That’s who we are. (Applause.)

And, folks, we’ve just got to remember, we are the United States of America. There is nothing, nothing beyond our capacity.

May God bless you all. And may God protect our troops.

Thank you. (Applause.)

5:43 P.M. PDT

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Excerpts of Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by President Joe Biden on Democracy in Tempe, AZ

Thu, 09/28/2023 - 05:00

“I have made the defense, the protection, and the preservation of American Democracy the central cause of my presidency.
“From Gettysburg to my Inaugural Address, to the anniversary of the January 6th insurrection, to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and Union Station in Washington, I’ve spoken about the danger of election denialism and political violence and the battle for the soul of America.
“Now today in Phoenix, Arizona, at an institute devoted to the defense of democracy named in honor of a true patriot, I’m here to speak about another threat to our democracy that we too often ignore: the threat to our institutions, to our Constitution itself, and the very character of our nation.”

“As I’ve always been clear, democracy is not a partisan issue. It’s an American issue.
“I have come to honor the McCain Institute and Library because they are home to a proud Republican who put country first. Our commitment should be no less because democracy should unite all Americans – regardless of political affiliation.
“But there is something dangerous happening in America. There is an extremist movement that does not share the basic beliefs of our democracy. The MAGA Movement.
“Not every Republican – not even the majority of Republicans – adhere to the extremist MAGA ideology. I know because I’ve been able to work with Republicans my whole career. But there is no question that today’s Republican Party is driven and intimidated by MAGA extremists.  Their extreme agenda, if carried out, would fundamentally alter the institutions of American Democracy as we know it.”

“As I’ve said before, we’re at an inflection point in our history – one of those moments that only happens once every few generations. Where the decisions we make today will determine the course of this country – and the world – for decades to come. 
“So, you, me, and every American who is committed to preserving our democracy carry a special responsibility. We have to stand up for America’s values embodied in our Declaration of Independence because we know MAGA extremists have already proven they won’t. We have to stand up for our Constitution and the institutions of democracy because MAGA extremists have made clear they won’t. History is watching. The world is watching. Most important, our children and grandchildren are watching.


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Remarks by President Biden at a Campaign Reception | San Francisco, CA

Wed, 09/27/2023 - 23:30

Private Residence
San Francisco, California

3:34 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Kat, you done good educating this boy.  (Laughter.)
Kamala and I wouldn’t be here without you all.  Some go back 40 years.  I don’t want to ruin Joe’s reputation, but he goes back a long, long way.
Look, I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that the only truly existential threat to humanity is climate and failure to act.  I mean it sincerely.  And it is the one thing that — that could end it all.  I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s real.
And so, you know, with the increasing wildfires, historic floods, droughts, our — no one except our MAGA extremist Republican friends think climate is not a gigantic issue.
And the thing that makes me optimistic is that, for the first time ever, when we announced — with all your help, we announced, and we had immediately the support of every major organiz- — organized labor institu- — outfit, all got together, along with the — every environmental group — in large part, because of you guys — as well as the business community, and endorsed us. 
I mean, that’s evidence to the fact of two things.  One, I think I put together a hell of a team to deal with this.  And, two, the realization that there’s so much at stake. 
You know — you know, the League of Conversation Voters and the AFL-CIO don’t often hang out together in the same room.  (Laughter.)  But they did.  They did.
And, look, last week, we launched a — I’ve been trying to put this together for a while — the American Climate Corps.  We think it’s going to have two — two effects.  Number one, it’s going to train young people for clean energy jobs in the future, but — and Tom and Kat led this through the — your Next Generation effort. 
But I think, in addition to that, it is the same thing that is going affect — as — as other of these organizations have done — make young people realize they can make a difference.  I mean, they want to know what to do.  They want to — they want to get engaged, and we give them an opportunity to do something that will benefit them, as well as clearly benefit the community.  And it has a way of spreading some enthusiasm.
And the Inflation Reduction Act — we’ve already referenced this — you know, $369 billion.  We didn’t get a single, solitary vote from the other team for that.  But it’s $369 billion. 
And, you know, it’s going to reduce by one billion tons a year, beginning in 2030, emissions; and attracting $510 billion in private investment to deal with climate; and solar factories in the Midwest and the South, wind farms across the plains and off our shores, electric vehicle plants, clean steel, and clean cement.
And, by the way, I doubt whether the vast majority of Americans realize what an enormous polluter cement manufacturing is.  I mean, people — so, there’s — it’s just been an education process as well for people.  Not that they would oppose it, but they just didn’t understand. 
And so, tax credits for families to buy energy-efficient appliances.  We conserved more land in the first year we were in office since John F. Kennedy.  And by 2030, I made a commitment that 30 percent of all federal land and waters will be — 30 percent will be conserved.  And we’re on our way to do that by 2030.  We’re going to get that done.
For example, 25 million acres in Alaska, the Alaska arctic and North Slope, Tongass Forest.  And there’s now 6,000 — 60,000 farms and 25 million acres of climate-smart agriculture with incentives from the federal government following the lead of the TomKat Ranch.  (Laughter.)
That was amazing.  That was amazing.
And we’re leading the world.  We moved and reentered a — the Paris Accords the first day.  We mobilized the world’s leading emitters to help poor countries deal with climate change.  We’re making massive investments in infrastructure to help them do that in the — in the Global South — in Africa, in particular. 
And the U.N. conference in Scotland, we launched a — we got commitments for — from — for global methane reduction that — a hundred countries have followed our lead, and strong standards are being set.
So, things are changing.  But there’s a hell of a lot more to do, if you’ll excuse the expression.
Getting to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, all electric vehicles, 50,000 charging stations — we have that all set up to do.  We just have to keep pushing it.  We can’t walk away.
And Republicans want to undo all this by repealing the Inflation Reduction Act.  That’s what they try to do when they threaten to shut down — it’ll be the first outfit in Amer- — in American history over 240 years to renege on our national debt. 
That’s what they threat- — that’s what they wanted to get done.  We were able to push that back and win that fight.
And — but also, you know, they’re — they’re, you know — well, I don’t want to get started on them.  I’ll get a little upset.  (Laughter.)
But, look, we made a deal.  We made a deal when they tried to shut this down after the election was over this last — and — and I personally negotiated —
I’m going to use this mic behind me.  Is this working?  Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT:  I personally negotiated with the — with the Speaker to see to it that we did not renege on the debt and we did not give up anything of any consequence.  And the same process with doing that, we still were going to reduce the federal debt long-term by $1 trillion.
And now they come along, and they’re saying, “We’re going to change it all; we didn’t mean it.  We’re going to…”
And what they’re doing now is — I don’t — I — look, I don’t want to be too personal here, but the fact is that I think that the Speaker is making a choice between his speakership and American interests.  And we’re — we’re deeply involved with the Democrats in the House and the Democrat and Republican leadership in the Senate to try to avoid this kind of shutdown.
It would be disastrous for us, especially if it became long-term.
But, look, why don’t I, as my mother would say, “Hush up” and answer questions.  (Laughter.)
3:43 P.M. PDT

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Remarks by President Biden Before Meeting with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology | San Francisco, CA

Wed, 09/27/2023 - 18:29

Fairmont San Francisco Hotel
San Francisco, California

12:13 P.M. PDT

THE PRESIDENT:  This is a 14-hour meeting.  (Laughter.)

Look, let me begin by saying that one of the things that disturbed me — being involved in elective office for a long time — is how, over the last 30 years, the federal government has paid less and less attention to investments in science and technology. 

And we’re in a situation where we used to have a significant portion of our GDP going into research and development.  And it got down to 0.7 percent from 2 percent.  We used to lead the world.

And I don’t know how we can be the safest, most secure, and healthiest nation in the world without significant investment in — in science and technology, and I mean that.  And so, you’ve all really stepped up.

And one of the things that I also — it doesn’t directly relate today, but Arati and I talked a little bit about it earlier this morning — is that: What leaders say matter, in terms of people’s confidence in things they’re not sure about. 

And one of those areas — you saw what happened with regard to the crisis — health crisis that we had that cost us — we lost well over a million people.  And as time began to move on, you had more and more voices saying, “No, no, no.  You don’t need to get that shot.  You don’t need to be — get — you don’t need to.” 

And we have a new strain of COVID now, and we have answers for it.  But I just would urge those in public life and both political parties or no political party to be cautious about the ac- — the sometimes inflammatory things you say about this, because people’s lives are at stake. 

And the last piece was: When I was vice president, for a slightly different reason, I spent a lot of time going between rural areas and urban areas.  And one of the things that we — you’re going to talk about here is the — the healthcare workers reflecting the community.  We need not only to have more focus on rural communities and rural hospitals in order to get the kind of care and — and attention they need, but we need to have people from those communities to be the ones who are trained and engaged in that effort.  And I think that — again, Arati raised that with me this morning. 

I — I can’t tell you how certain I am that that is necessary, and I’m not a scientist.  It matters.  It matters who you go to and do you trust what they’re doing.  Do you think they know what they’re talking about?

And so, Dr. Zuber, thank you.  I’m really looking forward to this discussion.

And this group represents some of the top minds in America.  And that’s, again, not hyperbole.  That’s a fact.

I’ve often said, America is the only nation in the world  that can be defined by one word.  I spent a lot of time with Xi Jinping when I was vice president and subsequent to that.  And he once asked me, on the Tibetan Plateau, could I define America for him?  And I mean this sincerely — not a joke.  I said, “Yes.  One word: possibilities.”

We’ve always believed that anything is possible if we set our mind to it.  Possibilities.

And science and technology is allowing us to unlock the potential as a nation and meet the challenges of our time with some sense of urgency and purpose.  I can’t emphasize the word “urgency” too much. 

I’d hate like hell if three generations from now, them to look back on this period where we had the potential tools to explore and increase significantly our ability to help, and we somehow mes- — messed it up.  No, no, I mean it sincerely.  I’m sorry to talk so plainly, but I think that’s what it gets down to in many cases.

So, I’m looking forward to discussing actions that we’re taking on two priorities: AI — artificial intelligence — and expanding high-quality healthcare for every American no matter where they’re quartered, where they live, what their background is.

You know, as we just heard, AI has the potential to transform research, and I’m looking forward to learning much more today.

And, by the way, I’m not joking.  My latest two trips around the world — and not figuratively; literally around the world — to meet with other world leaders, ev- — well, I wouldn’t say “everyone.”  I can think of — I can’t think of anybody who didn’t, but I’m sure I will — there was some world leader who didn’t ask me. 

They wanted to talk about our leadership on artificial intelligence and what the meetings — what we — I’ve conducted already around tables similar to this with the 10, 12 major, major initiators within AI — and the vast differences that exist among them in terms of what potential it has, what dangers there are. 

And so, you know, I’ve been keen — I have a keen interest in AI and convened key experts on how to harness the power of artificial intelligence for good while protecting people from the profound risk it also presents — we can’t kid ourselves — the profound risk if we don’t do it well. 

And the United States is committed to that goal.  And we’re going to work with world leaders to achieve it, including British Prime Minister Su- — Sunak and others that I’ve been — they want to do more together with us.  

And I want to thank — thanks to our administrations, 15 American technology companies have already begun to implement voluntary commitments to help ensure that AI technology is safe, secure, and trustworthy before it’s released to the public.  That includes extensive independent safety testing.  That includes watermarking and identifying images that have been generated by AI. 

And — and to state the obvious: AI — AI extends beyond health and security issues.  I applaud the tentative resolution from the writers strike, for example, here — not here — in California, in Los Angeles, including insurances on how the use of AI will occur. 

This fall, I’m going to take executive action, and my administration is going to continue to work with bipartisan legislation so America leads the way toward responsible AI innovation. 

We’re also taking action to ensure our loved ones have access to high-quality healthcare, starting with the PCAST release — report you released on strengthening patient safety.  I made very brief reference to it at the beginning, but it is really, really critical. 

And today, I’m announcing major investments in patient safety from ARPA-H to develop antibiotics and to fight deadly drug-resistant bacteria and save lives.  Think of that.  We’re talking about the potential for antibiotics to be used to deal with ca- — anyway, it just — 

When I start reading your reports, I think to myself, “My, Lord, what an incredible era we’re about to go through.”  But it has to be done well. 

And so, finding and implementing solutions to reduce medical errors and other problems for patients’ experiences when hospitalized is going to improve health outcomes and protect our loved ones as well. 

And Joe Kiani knows a lot about that — been working with it a long, long time. 

My administration is committed to ensuring every American receives high-quality care they deserve in every community — urban, rural, suburban, Tribal — I — and — and it varies as to who — think about your — I — I say to the public who may be listening: Think about whether or not — who you go to and how much you trust that doc is going to impact on whether you follow the instructions.  No, I — I mean it.  It is a very basic human nature element.  And that’s why having people from, quote, “the neighborhood” makes a big difference, I think. 

And — and so, it’s going to reduce medical errors and other problems patient fac- — face when they’re hospitalized.  And I believe it’s going to improve outcomes and protect the people we love. 

My administration is committed to ensuring every American receives high-quality care they deserve in every community, as I said.  And ultimately, it’s all about dignity — it’s all about dignity. 

The actions we take together are going to help protect people’s health.  They’re going to promote innovation.  And we’re going to win the economic competition of the 21st century, in my humble opinion. 

And I’ll just say: If we have a government shutdown, a lot of vital work in science and health could be impacted, from cancer research to food safety.  So, the American people need our Republican friends in the House of Representatives to do their job: fund the government. 

We’ve got a lot to discuss, so let’s get this meeting started.  I’d rather hear from you than me.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, do you think the government shutdown is inevitable at this point?  Over here, sir.  Do you —

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think anything is inevitable in politics.

Q    What — what can be done now to make — to make sure it doesn’t happen?

THE PRESIDENT:  If I knew that, I would have done it already.  (Laughter.)

12:22 P.M. PDT

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Remarks by President Biden at United Auto Workers Picket Line

Tue, 09/26/2023 - 16:37

United Auto Workers Local 174 Willow Run
Belleville, Michigan

1:03 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, UAW!  (Applause.)  I marched in a lot of UAW picket lines when I was a senator — since 1973 — but, I tell you what, it’s the first time I’ve ever done it as president.  (Applause.)

Folks, look, one thing is real simple — I’m going to be very brief — the fact of the matter is that you guys, the UAW — you saved the automobile industry back in 2008 and before.  You made a lot of sacrifices.  You gave up a lot.  And the companies were in trouble. 

But now they’re doing incredibly well.  And guess what?  You should be doing incredibly well too.  It’s a simple proposition.  (Applause.) 

Folks, stick with it, because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits.  Let’s get back what we lost, okay?  (Applause.) 

We saved them; it’s about time for them to step up for us.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Now, there is a guy I know you don’t know here, but I brought him along with me anyway.  (Laughter.)  Shawn Fain, your president.  (Applause.)

MR. FAIN:  All right.  Good afternoon, UAW family.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Local 174, “Home of Walter Reuther.”  (Applause.) 

Thanks to this local leadership and Director Laura Dickerson.  (Applause.)  (Inaudible) the workers because you’re all the reason we’re here.  This is all about the membership.  (Applause.)

You know, this site, Willow Run, it holds a historic place in the history of our union and our country.  You know, this was part of the Arsenal of Democracy during World War Two.  It’s where they built the B-24 Liberator bomber.  You know, that — that bomber — they built one of those per hour when they were at their peak.  It’s what helped us win the war. 

So, today, 80 years later, we find ourselves here again, with the arsenal of democracy.  It’s a different kind of arsenal of democracy, and it’s a different kind of war we’re fighting. 

Today, the enemy isn’t some foreign country miles away.  It’s right here in our own — in our own area.  It’s corporate greed.  (Applause.) 

And the weapon we produce to fight that enemy is the liberators — the true liberators — it’s the working-class people.  All of you working — working your butts off on those lines to deliver a great product for our companies. 

That’s how we’re going to defeat these people.  That’s how we’re going to defeat corporate greed is by standing together.  (Applause.) 

You know, this is a historic moment — the first time in our country’s history that a sitting USA president has came out and stood on the picket line.  (Applause.)  Our president has chosen to stand up with workers in our fight for economic and social justice.  (Applause.) 

So, it’s a historic day at a historic moment in time.  You know — and just as today, you know, it’s about the autoworkers, who are part of the fabric of the working class of this country.  We’re the people that make the world run.  It’s not the billionaire class, not the elite few.  It’s the working class of the billions of people who have been left behind.  That’s what this battle is about — changing that.

You know, what’s going to move this — it’s not some executive that owns our future, it’s us.  It’s working-class people from all walks of life. 

You know, it’s what we decide to do together that’s going to change and it’s going to shape the future of this Earth and for future generations.  And that’s the economic reality that corporate executives don’t want us to recognize.

I see these CEOs try to justify a system where they take all the profit and the workers are left to fight for the scraps and live paycheck to paycheck.  That’s got to end.

They say they deserve all the profit because they say they’re different.  You know what?  They are different.  They have different degrees.  They have different responsibilities.  They have different titles, different positions.

You know what?  I agree, though.  They’re different.  We — let’s talk about some of that. 

These CEOs sit in their offices, they sit in meetings, and they make decisions.  But we make the product.  (Applause.)

They think they own the world, but we make it run.  (Applause.)

The CEOs think the future belongs to them.  Today belongs to the autoworkers and the working class.  (Applause.) 

And the difference between them and us is, just as our theme song, “Solidarity Forever,” says, “Without our brain and muscle, not a single wheel would turn.”  (Applause.)

That’s what’s different about working-class people.  Whether we’re building cars or trucks or running parts distribution centers; whether we’re writing movies or performing TV shows; whether we’re making coffee at Starbucks; whether it’s nursing people back to health; whether it’s educating students, from preschool to college — we do the heavy lifting.  We do the real work.  Not the CEOs, not the executives.  (Applause.)

And though we don’t know it, that’s what power is.  We have the power.  The world is of our making.  The economy is of our making.  This industry is of our making. 

And as we’ve shown: When we withhold our labor, we can unmake it.

And as we’re going to continue to show: When we win this fight with the Big Three, we’re going to remake it.  (Applause.)

In this union, the members are the highest authority.  (Applause.) 

In this country, the people are the highest authority.  (Applause.)

And so, today, I just want to take a moment to stand with all of you, with our President and say thank you to the President.  Thank you, Mr. President, for coming.  (Applause.)  Thank you for coming to stand up with us in our generation’s defining moment. 

And we know the President will do right by the working class.  And when we do right by the working class, you can leave the rest to us, because we’re going to take care of this business.  (Applause.)

So, thank you for coming out.  Thank you for being a part of this fight.  And let’s get back to winning solidarity for all of our members and economic and social justice for all of our members.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  You’ve heard me say it many times.  Wall Street didn’t build the country.  The middle class built the country, and unions built the middle class.  (Applause.)  And that’s a fact.  So, let’s keep going.

You deserve what you’ve earned, and you’ve earned a hell of a lot more than you’re getting paid now. 

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

(The President visits with UAW members on the picket line.)

Q    Mr. President — Mr. President, should the UAW get a 40 percent increase?


THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I think they should be able to bargain for that.

1:15 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and Vice President Harris Before Meeting with the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 22:26

Roosevelt Room

3:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  I’m going to turn the meeting over to the fellow I asked to chair all this.  We used to — I used to be a really good senator because of this guy.  He was running my show. 
And all of a sudden, he got a PhD from Delaware State University and quit.  What the hell?  (Laughter.) 
Tony, it’s yours.
DR. ALLEN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And thank you, Madam Vice President.  I just want to say we’ve had an excellent meeting with all of you.  We had the great pleasure of being appointed by you in March of ‘22 and have really gone about the work of building on what I think is an incredible foundation this administration has set for HBCUs.
I’ve said it publicly many times, and I’ll say it once more: No other president, no other administration in American history has given so much to HBCUs so quickly, so clearly, and with a clear vision for doing more.  And we just want to applaud this administration for that work.
Your initial investment from — of $7 billion just in the Department of Education alone is outstanding.  And I want to add that that includes 3.6 million dollars — billion dollars — excuse me — during the pandemic, which was critical for us; $1.6 billion in loan forgiveness for infrastructure concerns at HBCUs — 45 public and private HBCUs benefited from that work; another 1.4 — -5 billion dollars in annual appropriations; and $12 million, which might not sound like a lot of money to any of you, but was really important when HBCUs were under terroristic threat not so long ago. 
So, just to give you a sense of that commitment, we have framed our recommendations around President Biden, Vice President Harris’s core fundamental tenets in that regard.  And there are four. 
One, let’s continue to work on infrastructure, both as it relates to physical infrastructure and technological infrastructure. 
We already know that HBCUs were the best return on investment in higher education and provide a quality education, and we want our living and learning spaces to match that quality education. 
Two, let’s make sure we’re spending time continuing to build the research capacity of our institutions.  We think we have unique expertise across an array of disciplines that will help the American economy.  And we have a number of HBCUs who are in the R2 position, which is a cla- — a Carnegie Classification that are ready for their R1 status. 
Three is connected pathways.  And the President and the Vice President have already done this, particularly as it relates to using the bully pul- — pulpit to spend time with industry supporting this notion of real opportunities for our students from the time they come to our campuses through graduate school. 
And then finally is HBCU preservation and growth.  We believe that that is critically important because, as many know — particularly my colleagues in this room — still the number one factor for a low-res- — low-resourced student getting into the middle class who is African American is their attendance at an HBCU. 
So, I’m very proud to chair this body.  I’m very proud of my colleagues and the continued work.  I’d only add that our report comes with a detailed fact pattern established by the Institute for Black Economic Mobility at the McKinsey Institute that they provided pro bono. 
So, we believe our work is real, sound, and will really help set the trajectory for our institutions. 
With that, I am proud to introduce and turn it over to my dear friend, the president of the United States, Joe Biden. 
THE PRESIDENT:  Tony, thanks for the introduction.  And — and, Dr. Glover, thank you for co-chairing this effort.  Look — and the board of advisors.  I think we’re making — with your help, we’re making a lot of progress.  And there’s a lot more to do. 
But, you know, we just finished a meeting about the critical role HBCUs play — in the private discussion we had in here — and what they can do to continue this legacy of excellence and growth. 
You know, it’s not just about, you know, hourly wages.  It’s about being able to accumulate wealth.  It’s being able to focus on more than just what’s — what you’re going to put on the table tonight.  And we’ve done a good job on that, but there is a lot more to do.
And HBCUs produce 40 percent of all Black engineers in America, 50 percent of all Black lawyers, 70 percent of all Black doctors and dentists, and 80 percent of all Black judges.
And — and HBCUs are engineers of economic mobility because — helping form — increase the Black middle class.
I know everybody talks — I’m focused too much on the middle class.  When the middle class does well, everybody does well.  The poor have a road up, and the wealthy still do well — although they got to start paying their taxes.
And that’s why it’s — we — it’s critical we invest in these universities.
Folks have the audacity to say I cut funding for — I saw — heard something I want to — on the Internet — that I cut funding for HBCUs.  And I — that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  But then again, there’s a lot on the Internet.
But I’ve kept my promise to make historic investments in HBCUs.  Tony mentioned $7 billion so far, including research investments, the largest increase in Pell Grants in over a decade — the significant percent- — percentage of African Americans going to college who receive Pell Grants.  The student debt repayment plan is — the total lifetime payment per dollar borrowed for Black students and families is cut in half, and I established a board to do even more.
We just had a good discussion around ensuring HBCUs continue to be strong financially and affordable for students.
And, Tony, you mentioned the four things that you suggested in your report: growth, infrastructure, the whole idea of student support, and research. 
And I was reminiscing about when I was a senator and then as vice president, I realized we had the ability as vice president — the president had the ability to assign government programs that were funded to — if you’re going to build a new aircraft carrier, who puts that on the deck?  Well, we’re supposed to pick Americans and American — American material and American personnel. 
And — and I remember going down to an HBCU in Northeastern Virginia, and they had the capacity to do anything anybody else did, except one thing: They had no laboratories.  They had no laboratories. 
And so, the infrastructure of the school is not just housing, not just the classrooms in which you meet in; it’s the laboratories to be able to take advantage of the opportunities to compete for the contracts that are being put out by the federal government that generate — and with artificial intelligence around the corner — not around the corner — on our back right now, you know, we have to increase that even more.
And with regard to the making sure that we engage in — making sure you — you have student support — well, that’s why we increased Pell Grant so significantly.  And we’re going to continue to do that.  And that’s why we’re focusing so much on — on infrastructure and research.
And so, the point is that — in the meantime, I want to say a word about — about — well, about those in Congress who are willing to shut down the government.  I know — I — I know you all want me to stick exactly to the subject.  You don’t want to ask me any questions about anything else.  (Laughter.)  I know that. 
But — excuse me.  You’re having trouble hearing me?
I know you’re — you know, anyway.  In the meantime, I want to say a word about those in Congress who are willing to shut down the government. 
Just a few months ago, the Speaker of the House and I agreed to spending levels for the government.  We were up right to the very edge, almost reneged on our debt, and — that we could fund essential priorities and still cut the deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade.
Now, a small group of extreme House Republicans, they don’t want to live up to that deal, and everyone in America could be faced with not — with paying the price for that. 
They’re changing it.  We made a deal.  We shook hands.  We said, “This is what we’re going to do,” and now they’re reneging on the deal, which is not much of a surprise these days.
And the Black community, in particular, is going to suffer if that occurs.  For example, a shutdown is going to risk nutrition assistance to nearly 7 million moms and children, and it’s going to disproportionately affect Black families.  
The Department of Housing and Urban Development would have to stop nearly all of its enforcement work fighting housing discrimination.  
EPA would have to stop its important work bringing environmental justice to frontline and fence-line communities because most of the inspections in hazardous waste sites and chemical facilities would come to a halt.
The historic work we’re doing to increase the share of federal contract dollars going to small, disadvantaged businesses would be disrupted. 
Funding the government is one of the most basic fundamental responsibilities of the Congress.  And if Republicans in the House don’t start doing their job, we should stop electing them. 
Now, there’s a lot more to say, but let me turn it over to Kamala. 
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want to, as the President has said, welcome and thank each of you for your service: Chair Dr. Allen, Co-Chair Dr. Glover, and the Advisory Board. 
I am proudly the first vice president of the United States who was an HBCU graduate.  And so — (applause) — so the work —
THE PRESIDENT:  She made her staff wear the Howard jersey.  (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, the work of this esteemed group of leaders, under the guidance of our President, is especially meaningful to me for many reasons. 
I strongly believe — based on experience and knowledge about what our country needs, in terms of its strength and growth and development — that our HBCUs are extraordinary centers of academic excellence and must continue to be supported, not only because of the historical role that they have played in building and helping to contribute to America’s leadership and global leadership, but also because, as the President has said: As we look forward, we know that our HBCUs are also pipelines for very extraordinary young people to enter the fields of work that we require to cure disease, to create that which we have not imagined, to supply us with the innovative approaches that will allow us to continue to work on the strength, prosperity, and security of our nation.  
So, for all of those reasons, I thank this group for the work you do in advocating for the resources and the growth of our HBCUs.
HBCU graduates are in every room where important decisions are made, and they should be.  
Right now, among the many issues that we are tackling is how will we address artificial intelligence. 
One of the issues therein that we have discussed a lot — at this very table, in fact — is that we want to ensure that machine learning adapts to and includes the experiences of all people.  We therefore will all benefit from HBCU graduates being at the table where those decisions are being made. 
We came out of a pandemic some time ago.  What we know is that when we look at health issues and public health crises, there will be disparities based on people’s background, based on their race.  And in order to best address those, we’re going to want to have people in those fields of research who understand the culture, the mores, and the particular impact that certain communities have.  
In the media, we want to make sure that those voices are represented, so when the stories are told, the stories will take into account the experiences of particular groups based on experience and — and tradition and culture.  
So, for all those reasons, we need our HBCUs.  They benefit everyone in our country.  
The President has been very adamant since we came in office that we will — as Dr. Glover said, we will not just think of our HBCUs as an afterthought, but they will be at the forefront of our mind. 
So, our administration has at least — dedicated at least $7 billion — Dr. Allen, I think you rightly calculated more —
DR. ALLEN:  Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — to what we need to do to support these schools. 
And we will continue to do it, understanding that our HBCUs also have particular challenges.  Their endowments tend to be smaller than other universities who are similarly situated, 50 percent of our HBCU buildings are in need of repair, and 70 percent of the students at HBCUs are Pell Grant eligible.  
These are all areas that our administration has been working on, and we will continue to do that work.  
And again, I cannot thank our president enough.  Sometimes he — I think he almost wants to let me know that he has spent more time at an HBCU than I have.  (Laughter.)  It becomes a source of a healthy debate — (laughter) — between he and I in the Oval Office, quietly. 
But, President Biden, I thank you for all that you do on leadership on this issue and so much more.  And I’ll turn it over to Mayor Benjamin.
THE PRESIDENT:  Before you do, Steve.
MR. BENJAMIN:  Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT:  I — look, one of the things that — to keep in mind as a good measure, I think, is that land-grant universities — and HBCUs are mostly land-grant universities, as my university of Delaware — the State University of Delaware.
Land-grant universities used to be robustly supported by their state legislative bodies.  They would support, in some cases, up to 60 percent of the land-grant budget for that university.  
Well, since the — 1987 to 2000, land-grant universities have lost — Black and white — more than $13 billion in investments from the state — from the state univer- — from the states and government to help them.  And that has exacerbated the problem in — for particularly Black land-grant universities, HBCUs. 
And I — I think it’s important that we understand that, you know, the one thing I — and I know you’re tired of hearing me say this about all my initiatives — on the economy as well — is that if land-grant universities and, for example, HBCUs are doing extremely well — they’re producing students that are going to make us wealthier, make us smarter, make us more compatible — it helps everybody.  Everybody does better in the whole United States when the potential of HBCUs is realized.  Everybody.
And so, I just — I make no apologies for the kind of effort we’re expending on HBCUs.
And — and I did spend probably more time on campus.  (Laughter.)  But I didn’t do nearly as well — (laughter) — either in the land-grant university I went to at Delaware or —
THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Howard University.  (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT:  — Howard University.
But all kidding aside, it really makes a lot of difference.
But I’ll turn it back to you, Steve. 
MR. BENJAMIN:  Thank you so much, Mr. President; Madam Vice President; our chairs, Dr. Allen, Dr. Glover; and this amazing body for your leadership. 
We’re going up wrap it up right now and let the press exit. 
Q    Mr. President, do you support UAW demands? 
THE PRESIDENT:  Do I support a what? 
Q    UAW demands.
Q    Do you support the UAW demands, Mr. President? 
THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t hear — I heard — I heard —
Q    Do you support the UAW demands?
THE PRESIDENT:  One at a time.
Q    Mr. President, do you support the UAW demands?
THE PRESIDENT:  I think the UAW gave up an incredible amount back when the automobile industry was going under.  They gave up everything from their pensions on.  And they saved the automobile industry. 
And I think that now that the industry is roaring back, they should pr- — they should participate in the — in the benefit of that.  And I — if you take a look at the significant increase in salaries for the executives and growth of their industry, they should benefit from it. 
So, yes, I support — I always support the UAW. 
Q    Have you spoken to Speaker McCarthy?  Have you spoken to Speaker McCarthy?
THE PRESIDENT:  I haven’t.
Q    Will you speak to him? 
THE PRESIDENT:  (Shakes heads.)
Q    Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.
4:03 P.M. EDT 

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Remarks by First Lady Jill Biden at Welcome Reception for the White House Historical Association 2023 Presidential Sites Summit

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 20:17

East Room

 THE FIRST LADY:  Thank you.  (Applause.) Thank you. Oh, thank you very much.  (Applause.) Thank you. 

Please, really, thank you. Please sit, really.  Thank you. 

Thank you, John.  You know, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you, Stewart, and the entire, you know, WHHA — WHHA board better.  (Laughter.)

And your dedication to preserving our history and sharing the White House with the nation is a special service that is really not recognized as it should be.  So, with all of my heart, thank you. 

And with the new 1700 Penn Project, you will bring this house to so many more people, which I’m so excited about.  And it’s going to be amazing.  And I hope all of you have learned about it.  Have you?  Yes?


THE FIRST LADY:  Oh, not yet?  Oh, my gosh.  (Laughter.)  It’s the best part of your summit, I bet.  (Laughter.)

Anyway, and, Anita, you know, thank you for your leadership in bringing all of us together today and for your work to shine a light on the stories of first ladies.  Congratulations on the publication of your textbook –- the first ever on first ladies.  And she told me it came out today.  Correct?  Yes.  (Applause.)  

But I have to tell you, Anita, you know, as I was going over remarks and I saw how exciting it was that your textbook was coming out, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should write, you know, ‘The First Ladies: The Real Story.’”  (Laughter.)

So, anyway — no, I’m just kidding.  (Laughter.)

Anyway, my husband, President Biden, and I are humbled to live here in the People’s House and to be entrusted with upholding its legacy.  And it’s something that we take very seriously.

Our gathering here today is a testament to the bonds that connect us as caretakers of the past.  Just as this house belongs to all Americans, so too does the history of the presidency.  It transcends party lines and political ideologies, reminding us of the shared values and the strength of our democracy.

We can and should look to historic sites, organizations, and institutions to provide common ground that unites us all as a nation.

As we celebrate the legacy of the White House and the remarkable presidents who have lived and worked within these walls, let us also remember the importance of preserving our history and passing it on to future generations.  It’s our duty to ensure that this house continues to stand as a symbol of freedom, democracy, and our commitment to creating a more perfect union.

Earlier this month, just a few blocks away at the National Archives, I had the opportunity to attend the swearing in of the 11th archivist of the United States, Colleen Shogan — (applause) — the first woman — Colleen, are you here?  Colleen.  Amen.  (Applause.)

And I’m going to repeat that: She’s the first woman archivist.  (Applause and laughter.)

And as I sat under the building’s towering rotunda, surrounded by the founding documents that have so profoundly shaped the arc of our country and the world’s along with it, I was reminded of the immense power of history and the importance of its preservation.  Because, in a democracy, history belongs to the people, and we must preserve it with care for future generations.

And during that ceremony, Dr. Shogan — I wish you could have heard her speech; she wrote it herself, she told me — (laughter) — talked about the Declaration of Independence and its bold statements that all men and women are created equal.

And she said, “Although this truth is self-evident, we know from our almost 250 years of American history that it is not self-executing.  It’s our job, collectively, to uphold these principles and protect them.”  Well done.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Each of you in this room is on the frontlines of that effort.  Each of you is a caretaker of this exquisite and extraordinary history.  With every tour, with every exhibit, with every new library addition, you are cultivating an engaged and informed citiz- — citizenry, the bedrock of this grand experiment in democracy, as John alluded to.

The presidents who have occupied the Oval Office have each bent our universe in profound and lasting ways.

Your work to study them, to interpret them, and to catalogue their influences and evolutions, their setbacks, their triumphs, you know, and their exceptionalism help us understand our own history a little better and helps us learn from it.

As an educator, I know this well, that our present and our future are inextricably linked to our past.

And we — when we learn from that past, you know, we come away changed, not just better informed, but with a deeper understanding of the responsibility we hold as citizens of this country — a responsibility to democracy, to upholding our freedoms, and to imperfectly march toward a more perfect union.

I think that’s needed now more than ever.

The President and I are so grateful for your commitment to that mission.

And together, we can continue to open the doors of the President’s house wider and wider so more people can feel the invisible threads that connect us to — to one another so we may understand our past and use it to help guide our present and inspire us to build an even brighter future together.

So, thank you for being here.  Welcome to the White House.  I hope you enjoyed the reception and the summit.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)



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Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Mark Brown of the Cook Islands Before Meeting with Pacific Islands Forum Leaders

Mon, 09/25/2023 - 15:00

East Room

10:46 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, fellow leaders and friends, welcome.  Welcome to the White House.

Following our historic summit last year, I was honored to host all of you at the Pacific Islands Forum in the White House today.  And I know it’s two more days of this.  You’re going to get to see more of our — our staff and our — our administration.

And I want to apologize again for not being able to join you in Papua New Guinea this past May — the place holds a special meaning to my family.  I want to thank the Prime Minister for his incredible gift: a small piece of an A-20 aircraft that —

During World War Two, my — my mother’s number-two brother, Ambrose Finnegan — number-three brother, I should say — my uncle was in the Army Air Corps, and he flew many missions in that A-20 across the Pacific. 

And in 1944, during one of those missions, his plane crashed off the coast of Papua New Guinea.  And like so many soldiers who served freedom’s cause during that time, my uncle’s remains were never recovered — never found. 

But his sacrifice was always remembered, including when General MacArthur, who sent my family a condolence letter, wrote, and I quote, “He died serving in a crusade from which a better world for all will come.”  “A better world for all will come.”
My friends, that’s why our nations come together here today.  That’s why they came together in World War Two and where we are today.   And that is why we’re going — because I’m — our objective is to build a better world.  

One of the great opportunities for security, prosperity, and dignity for all our people, no matter where they live — that starts by building stronger partnerships with each other.  

And that’s why the United States has delivered on the promises we made last year to, one, open new embassies in Tonga and the Solomon Islands, establish a USAID mission in Fiji, and return the Peace Corps to Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and Vanuatu.

And that’s why we’ve signed a new economic agreement with Micronesia and Puala [Palau].  Aiming to do the same for the Marshall Islands as well.   

And that’s why the United States is formally  establishing diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands.  And the real reason is: We’re both from Baltimore.  (Laughter.)  That’s a long story, but — but all kidding aside, the Cook Islands and Niue.

Additionally, as the White House honors National Asian Americans and Native American Pacific Islanders Serving Institutions Week for the first time, I’m proud to announce that we are going to double the number of academic exchanges of Pacific Island students, beginning this year.  We’re going to double it.

All of these steps are going to help build a strong foundation from which we can tackle the challenges that matter most to our people’s lives.

And key among them is climate change.  I want you to know: I hear you.  The people of the United States and around the world hear you.  We hear your warnings of a rising sea and what — they pose an existential threat to your nations.  

We hear your calls for reassurance that you never, never, never will lose your statehood or membership at the U.N. as a result of a climate crisis.

Today, the United States is making it clear that this is our position as well.  And alongside our Partners in the Blue Pacific, we’re increasing our climate assistance, including more than $20 million for new investments to prepare for climate and natural hazards.

The second point I’d like to make is economic development.   Strong growth begins with a strong infrastructure.  So, today, I’m pleased to announce we’re working with Congress to invest $40 billion [million] in our Pacific Islands Infrastructure Initiative.  We call it the PG- — PI- — anyway, it doesn’t matter what we call it, but that’s what it is.  (Laughter.)  I was going to get back to acronyms, and I’m going to — I’m going to — withstand not doing that.

Including investments in digital connectivity through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.  We’re also working to launch a new microfinance facility in the Pacific to expand access to finances for small business.  We realize how difficult it is and how important it is.

And we have signed a new 10-year $600 million agreement to support the sustainable development of the Pacific Island fisheries, as I pledged to you last year.

Finally — finally — and finally, I want to talk about security.  The United States is committed to ensuring an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, prosperous, and secure.  We’re committed to working with all the nations around this table to achieve that goal.

So, this year, we shall send the U- — first U.S. Coast Guard vessel solely dedicated to collaborate and train with Pacific Island nations.

And alongside our Quad partners, we intend to invest more than $11 million in bringing cutting-edge maritime domain awareness technology to the region. 

All told, today, in the — in consultation with the Congress, we’re launching $200 million in new proposals.

Let me close with this.  Like our forebearers during World War Two, we know that a great deal of the history of our world will be written across the Pacific over the coming years.

And like them, we owe it to the next generation to help write that story together — to do the hard work, the historic work — that General MacArthur said — and I quote him again — for “which a better world for all will come.”  That’s the objective here.

So, today, let’s recommit to that goal and let’s recommit to each other because, with the past as our proof, we’re stronger and the world is safer when we stand together.

So, thank you very much.

And I think I’m now turning this over to the Cook Islands?  Or am I —


PRESIDENT BIDEN:  — turning it to you?  Mr. Pre- —

PRIME MINISTER BROWN:  Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Mr. Prime Minister, the floor is yours.


Thank you very much, President Biden.  Honorable leaders, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, kia orana to you all. 

As we, the leaders of the United States and the Pacific Islands Forum, gather today to recommit our resolve to partnerships for prosperity, we are reminded of historical milestones that should inspire us to reach meaningful outcomes today. 

The United States is a country that’s 247 years old.  Our Pacific countries here celebrate 40, 50, and 60 years as independent nations from decolonization.  Our own organization, the Pacific Islands Forum, is 52 years old this year.  And as mentioned, today, the Cook Islands and Niue celebrate milestones of formal diplomatic relations with the United States respectively.

These milestones celebrate eras of change and demonstrate that with unshakable resolve and leadership, remarkable achievements are possible. 

In our discussions today, let us be empowered by the needs and aspirations of the people of the Pacific and the United States.  We have an opportunity here, as the Pacific Islands Forum and as the United States, to develop our partnerships for prosperity.

Excellencies, last year, the Pacific Island Forum leaders launched the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.  Our strategy sets out our long-term approach to working together as a region and as countries, communities, and people of the Pacific.  It frames our regional cooperation and broader actions around seven key theme — thematic areas, which are designed and developed to support the achievements of our region.  Our strategy also outlines how our international partners, including the United States, can partner with us to deliver partnerships for prosperity. 

In a few weeks, I will host the 52nd Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting, where we will endorse the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan.  A plan by the Pacific and for the Pacific that will ensure the security and prosperity of all Pacific people to lead free, healthy, and productive lives.  A plan that requires international partnerships to succeed and can serve as a cornerstone of our U.S.-Pacific framework for future cooperation. 

We know this partnership is not only attainable but also rests on three key pillars. 

Firstly, the successful implementation of our 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan.  At its core, our plan identifies key regional collective actions under each of the seven thematic areas that we believe will propel our development.  For the Pacific, access to development and climate finance — which, in the Pacific content — context, is exactly the same thing — is the only way to achieve meaningful change at the grassroots level and at the national level.  Let us remember that our people at home must feel connected to the decisions that we make here.

Mr. President, our strategy calls for more engaged and effective partner coordination.  I strongly encourage the U.S., as a critical founding dialogue partner, to actively engage at the highest level in the upcoming Forum Dialogue Partners meeting in Rarotonga this year. 

That engagement cannot be restricted to annual summits.  It must be year-long efforts working to an agreed plan of action and supported by requisite resources to deliver transformative actions on the ground. 

Secondly, the significance of global collaboration.  Just last week, our nations actively engaged in the discussions at the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly. 

Mr. President, you wisely stated that “no nation can meet the challenges of today alone” — that the world must recognize the need for more diverse leadership and capability, particularly from regions that have not always been included. 

Those narratives, Mr. President, were born in regions like ours.  I therefore applaud the G7 and ASEAN chairs of Japan and Indonesia, respectively, for the opportunity afforded to me as the Pacific Islands Forum chair to attend and speak at these important forums earlier this year. 

My attendance to the G7 and ASEAN Leaders’ Summit is partnerships for prosperity in action.  It demonstrates a genuine commitment to not just talk, but to really hear our voices on the challenges we’re confronted with — but, more importantly, the solutions to those challenges and how and in what way international partners can support our region. 

Our gathering today is our joint commitment to elevating our efforts as the Pacific Forum and the United States.  It follows our first summit a year ago in this very building and our gathering in Papua New Guinea with Secretary Blinken. 

I cannot emphasize enough the centrality of the forum for U.S. forward engagement with the Pacific.  And I wish to commend you, Mr. President, for your foresight and the significant elevation of engagements over the last year. 

And this brings me to the final pillar of security.  This concept takes on various forms in the U.S., but for the Pacific, it represents the ability to provide our people with security — climate security and economic security. 

As leaders, this requires international partnerships to deliver financing initiatives to address areas that we have long identified as being important to our countries.  And I’m encouraged, Mr. President, with your opening comments in this regard. 

This includes building infrastructure that will help build our resilience to climate change impacts, reestablishing transportation and connectivity links to help grow our economies, and forging partnerships that will allow business and investments to flow between our regions. 

Mr. President, our development agenda is uniquely Pacific, and partnerships built on mutual understanding and mutual benefit that will deliver a Pacific that we can all be proud of.  As we engage with you and your leaders — both in government, in the private sector, and in civil society — we do so with a clear understanding that our voice, our agency, and our values are respected. 

Through this lens of inclusivity and respect, we seek to build a genuine partnership with the United States.  Unlocking our full potential for development begins today. 

Let our deliberation set our compass on the same path as we re- — recommit ourselves to achieving a truly resilient and prosperous Blue Pacific. 

With these remarks, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to each of you, my fellow leaders, and offer our sincere appreciation to you, Mr. President, for hosting this second summit of the U.S. and Pacific. 

Kia orana.  Thank you very much.  God bless. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very, very much, Prime Minister Brown.  And thank you, Mr. President. 

We’ll now just hold for a moment to give our colleagues from the press a chance to depart.  Thank you.

11:00 A.M. EDT

The post Remarks by President Biden and Prime Minister Mark Brown of the Cook Islands Before Meeting with Pacific Islands Forum Leaders appeared first on The White House.

Remarks by President Biden and Vice President Harris at the 2023 Congressional Black Caucus Phoenix Awards

Sat, 09/23/2023 - 23:00

Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.
(September 23, 2023)

9:17 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, CBC.  (Applause.)  Good evening, everyone.

To our CBC Chair Steven Horsford, our CBCF Chair St- — Terri Sewell, I want to thank you both for your years of service to the CBC and to our nation.

I also thank our Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, for your outstanding leadership at this time.

And, of course, always, Assistant Leader Jim Clyburn.

And then, of course, there is the Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development and the former CBC Chair, the incredible Marcia Fudge.  (Applause.)

I also extend congratulations to all our Phoenix Award winners, including LL Cool J and MC Lyte representing 50 years of hip-hop.  (Applause.)

And to all the members of the CBC here tonight, we have worked together on so many issues over the years: from combatting maternal mortality, to protecting voting rights; from eliminating lead pipes, to expanding access to capital.

So, as a proud former CBC member, I thank you for your partnership and for your leadership.

The CBC has always been a conscience of our country, a truthteller.  Truths about where we have been and where we must go.

Tonight, let us continue to speak truth.  Across America there is a full-on attack on many of the hard-fought, hard-won freedoms that the CBC has achieved: the freedom to vote; to teach America’s full history; to address inequity and divers- — diversity; to love who you love; to access education, healthcare, and economic opportunity; and the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body.  (Applause.)

And on that last point, let us be clear.  Just consider: The highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood — just took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.

And as a result, in state after state across our country, extremist so-called leaders passed laws to criminalize doctors and punish women.  Many with no exception even for rape or incest.

And let us be clear: One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.  (Applause.)

And so, so many of us decided before the midterms to take it to the streets — to energize, to organize, and mobilize.

And let us remember all those pundits who predicted a red wave.  Well, that didn’t happen. 

Instead, up and down the ballot, the American people elected leaders who stand for freedom and liberty, including several new members of this caucus.

Together, the CBC is helping to lead the fight for reproductive freedom, just as you continue to lead the fight for civil rights. 

And I do believe the right to be safe is also a civil right.

Today, however, gun violence is the number-one cause of death for children in America.  But instead of protecting our children, extremists obstruct.

We all know the story of the Justins: silenced microphones, expulsion from the chamber.  So outrageous that the next morning, I got on Air Force Two and flew down to Nashville — (applause) — where I saw thousands of young leaders with the courage, determination, and moral clarity to demand action.

Demanding, as we all do: red-flag laws, universal background checks, and a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban.  (Applause.)

And, CBC, please, let us just take a moment to call out the hypocrisy.  That while we tried to ban assault weapons, they tried to ban books.  (Applause.)

We want to keep guns out of schools.  They want to keep books out of schools.

And it does not stop there.  In Florida, they intend to tell our children that enslaved people benefitted from slavery.  And then proposed a debate on this point. 

Well, I said, when I went down to Florida, there is no roundtable, no lecture, no invitation we will accept to debate an undeniable fact: There were no redeeming qualities to slavery.  (Applause.) 

I have also been on a national college tour to convene our best and brightest on the importance of defending our hard-fought freedoms.  And with great joy, I can report back: These young leaders are in the fight, because they know it does not have to be this way. 

They know when Congress passes a bill to put back in place the protections of Roe v. Wade that our President, Joe Biden, will sign it.  (Applause.)

When Congress renews the Assault Weapons Ban, President Joe Biden will sign it.  (Applause.)

And when you pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, Joe Biden will sign them.  (Applause.)

So, I conclude with this: I believe — I believe that it is a sign of the strength of a leader to have some level of curiosity, concern, and care for the struggles of the people.  That a real leader has empathy. 

Well, our President, Joe Biden, is such a leader.  He has the courage and compassion, the skill and purpose that meet this very moment in our country.  And he is ready to fight.

So, please join me in welcoming the President of the United States, Joe Biden.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Whoa.  Hello, hello, hello.  (Applause.)  It’s good to be home.  (Applause.)  Hello, CBC.  

Look, I came for one really important reason: to say thank you.  Thank you for all you’ve done for the country.  And selfishly, thank you for what you’ve done for me.  (Applause.) 

I started off in — a kid in the Civil Rights Movement in Wilmington, Delaware, when I was in high school. And the community — we won the com- — we won by a staggering 31- or 3,200 votes when I ran the first time for the Senate at 29 years old.  And — and Nixon won by 64 percent of the vote in my state.  I won because virtually 90 percent of the African American community — we have a large community — voted for me.  I owe you.  I owe you.  I owe you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And thank you, Kamala, for that introduction and for your partnership.  Always fighting for freedom — she’s doing an incredible job.  And she really is. 

I told you I was going to — (applause) — have a smart Vice President and an African American woman.  And we got one.  And I’m honored to be with all of you tonight.

Steven, the CBC Chair, and, Terri, thank you very much for — your foundation’s co-chair.

And Senator Warnock and Congressman [Congresswoman] Plaskett and (inaudible) these chairs. 

Look, the CBC members, staff, and alum here include those who serve across my administration like the Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs [Development], the great Marcia Fudge — (applause) — who is joined by several other Cabinet members.

Tonight’s awardees.

Hakeem Jeffries, a leader with integrity and courage.  Courage.  Courage.  (Applause.)

And Karen Bass, a visionary mayor — and mayor, and does whatever she says she’s going to do.  (Applause.)

And Karine Jean-Pierre, my press secretary.  (Applause.)  No wonder I’m doing okay.  (Laughter.)  

And Justin Jones, a new voice who gives us hope for the future.  Justin.  (Applause.)

And two of the great artists of our time, representing the groundbreaking legacy of hip-hop in America: LL J — Cool J — uhh — (laughter) — by the way, that boy has got — he’s got — I think that man has got biceps bigger than my thighs.  I think he’s been — (laughter) — and MC Lyte.

Both of you, thank you.  (Applause.)

Because they’re both have the night off on the mic, you know, you’re — you’re all here to listen to the New Edition.  Mike Bivins, 40 years producing music that lifts our souls.  Forty years and still considered new, I can understand that.  (Laughter.)

In February of 1971, the year before I got to the United States Senate — 200 years ago — (laughter) — 13 Black members of Congress, determined to create a better future and leverage their collective strength, formed the Congressional Black Caucus.

The conscience of Congress calling us to follow our nation’s North Star.  A light for the dreams and the pains of centuries of enslaved people in America.

The idea — once the most simple and the most powerful idea in the history of the world — that we’re all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our entire lives.  We’ve never lived up to that fully, but we’ve never walked away from it either. 

Look, because of members of CBC, I think about the progress we’ve made together in the past two and half years.  I think of the incredible resilience and spirit of the American people, especially Black Americans.

In 2020, in the middle of a deadly pandemic, the historic march for justice and equality — you showed up in historic numbers.  Your voices were clear.  Your votes were decisive.  You elected me and Kamala and more members of the CBC. 

And together, we enacted historic laws to fundamentally transform this natur- — nation and deliver the promise of America to all Americans.

But we need — we need to get the word out on promises made and promises kept.  We must get the word out.

With so much information [misinformation] and outright lies and the media that dwells on negative, the people don’t know the progress we’ve made. But they’re going to or they’re in a process.

You know, folks have the audacity to say I cut HBCU funding, and people believed it.  Let me clear: We’ve invested more than $7 billion in HBCUs, and it’s just starting.  More than at any time in American history.  (Applause.)

A promise made and a promise kept.

Let’s be clear, Kamala and I came into office determined to transform how the economy works — change the way it literally functions. 

If you notice, a lot of the mainstream economists are starting to talk about Bidenomics that grow the economy from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.  

Because when you do that, the poor have a ladder up and the middle class do well and the wealthy still do very well, expect they got to start paying their taxes.  (Applause.)

We all do well.

Folks, our plan is working.

A record 13.5 million new jobs just since we came to office two years ago — more jobs than any president has created in a single four-year term.

Black unemployment reaching historic lows.  Black small businesses starting up at a faster rate than at any time in the last in 25 years.

Without a single Republican vote, we took on Big Pharma — that I’ve been fighting for 30 years.  We capped — and we won, by the way.  We won.  We capped the cost of insulin for seniors at 35 bucks instead of 400.  (Applause.)

We capped out-of-pocket expense for drugs, for seniors at $2,000 a year for all medications, all expensive drugs, including those cancer drugs that are 10-, 12-, $14,000.  They’ll never have to pay more than $2,000 a year, no matter what your bills are.  (Applause.)  

And we did it without a single Republican vote. 

And, by the way, we got to do it for everybody, not just seniors. 

Look, we passed the most significant climate law ever, anywhere in the history of the world.  And that’s not hyperbole; it’s a fact. 

Environmental justice and jobs to frontline and fence-line Black communities suffering from a legacy of pollution like Cancer Alley in Louisiana, Route 9 in Delaware.

Thanks to my Justice40 Initiative, 40 percent of all the benefits that flow from climate investments must flow directly to disadvantaged and underserved communities like electrifying school buses so kids don’t have to breathe polluted air from diesel buses.  (Applause.)  And this — all this matters. 

I made a promise in my campaign to put the first Black woman on the United States Supreme Court.  (Applause.)  And I meant it.  And we did it.  And with the support of the CBC, Ketanji Brown Jackson is on the bench.  And she’s the brightest of anybody on that bench.  (Applause.) 

And I want to publicly thank Cory Booker and Dick Durbin on the Judiciary Committee for getting it done. 

Look, with their help, I’ve appointed more Black women federal appellate judges than every other president in the history of the United States combined.  (Applause.)  More than every one. 

We made the largest increase in Pell Grants in over a decade, helping students from families who near — who nearly make less than 60,000 bucks a year afford college.  It matters when more than 70 percent of Black undergraduate borrowers are Pell Grant recipients.  It matters. 

And our new student debt repayment plan is going to help millions of borrowers, including a significant number of Black students.

We know Black college graduates have an average of 25,000 more — dollars more in student debt than white graduates.  My plan is to help Black students and families cut their total lifetime payments per dollar in half.  In half.  (Applause.)   And I’m going to get it done. 

I’m keeping my promise that no one — no one should be in jail merely for the use of, possession of marijuana.  God Almighty.  (Applause.) 

And those who are in jail are out — they’re going to be released, and their records are going to be expunged.  (Applause.)

Look, folks, thanks to your advocacy, especially Lucy — Jordan’s mom — we passed the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years, and we’ll continue to fight to reinstate Assault Weapons Ban, which, when I was a United States senator, I got passed.  It — only could keep it for 10 years, but we’re going to get it back again.  It matters.  It matters.  It matters. 

And, by the way, look at the numbers.  When it was there for 10 years, mass shootings dropped precipitously across the nation.  It works. 

And we stand with the CBC to reduce disparities in jobs, healthcare, and education.  Working hand-in-hand to close the racial wealth gap and staying committed to Black America’s prosperity.

I was proud to sign a permanent authorization of the Minority Business Development Agency for the first time in history, helping even more Black borrowers — Black-owned businesses grow.

Last month, Vice President Harris announced the recipient of more than $100 million in federal funding to help under-served entrepreneurs start small businesses in high-growth, high-wage industries like healthcare and infrastructure.

Plus, my administration oversees hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts: everything from refurbishing the decks of aircraft carriers to installing handraile- — handrails in federal buildings.

I made a commitment that I would increase the number of those contracts going to African American small businesses by double — to 10 percent that will bring — 15 percent — that will bring my — by 2025, 15 percent. 

That will mean an additional $100 billion going to Black small businesses.  One hundred billion dollars.  (Applause.) 

To help close the racial wealth gap, Secretary Fudge is expanding efforts to build a Black generational wealth through homeownership, like all middle-class folks made it. 

That means addressing the cruel fact that Black families’ homes, often appraised at half of the value — a significant — 20 percent less value — same home built across the highway, different neighborhoods.  If the same home — the Black home will be li- — will be valued at 20 percent less — built by the same builder, by the same outfit.

Look, folks, we’re aggressively combatting racial discrimination in housing, including working to restore the rule that says: If a community gets federal housing aid, it’s not enough to just say it won’t discriminate.  It has to be meaningful — take meaningful, affirmative steps to overcome patterns of segregation to give everybody — everybody a fair shot that lives there. 

We’re also working with leaders to strengthen programs to redress the negative impacts of redlining. 

We’re launching a $1 billion private project — a pilot project, funded by my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to help connect — reconnect communities that highways have rolled through. 

If any of you ever been to my city of Wilmington, Delaware, you go up I-95, it goes underground for a long ways.  It divides a community that — the Black community.  They’re separated.  No way to get together.

Highways have physically broken up, blocked out predominantly Black communities from opportunities and economic growth. 

These things matter.  They matter in terms of growth. 

With the American Rescue Plan passed without — I might add — with a single Re- — without a single Republican vote — we reduced Black [child] poverty by half by expanding the Child Tax Credit.  (Applause.)

Well, when we tried to renew it, with your help, we’re going to fight to make it permanent and expand the Child Care Tax Credit.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, it doesn’t just help children and their families.  It helps everyone.  When a mom can go to work and their child is cared for, everything gets better.  The economy grows.  Everyone grows.  It’s good for everybody. 

“Just a little breathing room,” as my dad would say.

Look, and while we’re at it, we’re building new roads and bridges; high-speed Internet — affordable Internet for every American; replacing every lead pipe in America — in as many as 10 million homes, 400,000 schools and childcare centers — so everyone can turn on a faucet and be sure they’re drinking clean water and not damaging their brains.  (Applause.)

Folks, presumptuous to say, but it’s true.  Our economic vision is working: creating jobs, building wealth, providing communities with a sense of dignity.

My dad used to have an expression.  He’d say, “Joey…” — and I swear to God this is what he would say.  He said, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck.  It’s about your dignity.  It’s about your — your competence.  It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay.’”
From our administration, a promise made is a promise kept.

Because of you, we’re putting in work — we’re putting the work in, and we’re getting the results.  But we’ve got to get the word out.  We have to get it out.

Just think about it.  There are those in Congress who are sowing so much division, they’re willing to shut down the government.  You know it better than anybody. 

Just a few months ago, after a long nego- — negotiation between mys- — myself and the new Speaker, we agreed to spending levels.  The government will fund essential domestic and national security priorities, while still — while still cutting the deficit by $1 trillion over the next decade.

Now, a small group of extreme Republicans don’t want to live up to the deal.  So, now everyone in America could be forced to pay the price.

Let’s be clear.  If the government shuts down, that means members Congress — members of the U.S. military are going to have to continue to work and not get paid. 

A government shutdown could impact everything from food safety, to cancer research, to Head Start programs for children.

Funding the government is one of the most basic responsibilities of Congress.  And it’s time for Republicans to — Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do.  (Applause.)

Let’s get this done.

And, folks, you know, when I was vice president at the end of the Obama-Biden administration, I had no intention of running for office again. 

I’d just lost my son, Beau, a major — decorated — anyway.  My son, Beau — who I wish some of you had gotten to know. 

I was going to write a book.  I wasn’t going to run again.  And I set up a foreign policy institute at the University of Pennsylvania, where I became a professor, and a domestic policy institute at the University of Delaware.  That’s what I did.

But then along came Charlottesville in August of 2017 –something I never, never thought I’d see in America.  I’m sure you remember what happened, along with me.

We saw people marching out of fields with lighted torches, literally carrying swastikas, their veins bulging, and chanting the same anti-semitic bile, the racist bile we heard in Germany in the ‘30s — neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists.  And in the process of this ugly demonstration, a young woman was murdered.

And when the president at the time was asked what happened, he said, quote, “There were very fine people on both sides.”  Very fine people on both sides. 

When I heard that, I knew I could no longer sit in the sidelines, because the president of the United States had just drawn a moral equivalency between those who stood for hate and those who stood against it.  (Applause.)

Folks, in 2020, hate was still on the march in America, and the sitting president was breathing oxygen into that hate. 

Everything we stood for, everything we believe in, everything that made America “America,” even our very democracy was at risk.

So, I chose to run, because silence is complicity, and I would not be silent.  I thank the people here tonight for being —

And some thought, by the way, at the time — when I made that speech at Independence Hall — thought I was being hyperbolic.  “Joe, what do you mean our democracy is at risk?  What do you mean we’re in a battle for the soul of America?”

Well, people don’t say that anymore, because they’ve seen it.  And they don’t think anymore — and they don’t doubt it.  Democracy is at stake — was at stake in 2020. 

And thank God, because of all of you, we won.

I might add, we won convincingly and clearly with a — by a margin of 7 million votes, 81 million votes cast — the most in history.  (Applause.)

And that victory withstood not one, but 60 legal court challenges and an insurrection on January 6th.

So, I’m running again.  And you may have noticed, a lot of people have focused on my age.

Well, I get it, believe me.  I know better than anyone.  (Laughter.) 

But there’s something else I know.  When I came to office and this nation was flat on its back, I knew what to do.  I vaccinated the nation and it rebuilt the economy.  (Applause.)

When Russia invaded Ukraine, I knew what to do.  I rebuilt NATO and brought our Alliance to rally the world.  (Applause.)

And above all, when democracy was at stake, I knew what to do.

But you know what?  I wish I could say the threat to our democracy has ended with our victory in 2020, but it didn’t.  Our democracy is still at stake.  Don’t kid yourself. 

So, we have more work to do, you and I, because our most imphor- — important freedoms — the right to choose, the right to vote, the right to be who you are, love who you love — these basic rights are being attacked.  They’re being shredded.

Because our children should have the right to go to school without fear of being gunned down with a weapon of war.  (Applause.)

Because of people banning books — did you ever think we’d be banning books in America in our —


THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t. 

Because all across America, hate groups have been emboldened. 

Our intelligence people say the greatest threat is domestic.  That’s the greatest terrorist — is domestic.  Because far too often it’s still the case that you can get killed or attacked walking the streets of America just because you’re Black or because you’re wearing a symbol of your faith.

Look, because hear — hear this.  Hear it clearly.  I want the entire nation to join me in sending the strongest, clearest, most powerful message possible that political violence in America is never, never, never acceptable in our democracy.  Never!  (Applause.)  Because democracy is at stake.

And let there be no question: Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to spread anger, hate, and division.  They seek power at all costs.  They’re determined to destroy this democracy. 

I cannot watch that happen, nor can you.  And I’ll always defend, protect, and fight for our democracy.

Let me close with this.  In the last two years, we’ve shared some powerful moments together.

I stood with the CBC and Bennie and Danny and the family of Emmett and Mar- — and Ma- — and Mamie Till at the lynching — they — it allowed us for the first — think about this.  We’ve been fighting to make lynching a federal hate crime, and I finally got to sign an executive order doing that.  Established a national monument so we’d always remember them and they couldn’t rewrite history. 

I joined Jim and Emanuel at the National Archives to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the execution — the executive order that President Truman signed to desegregate the military.

And with your support, I made Juneteenth a federal holiday — the first federal holiday since the Martin Luther King’s (inaudible) day.  (Applause.)

These weren’t symbolic gestures.  These were just statement of fact for this country to acknowledge the legacy of slavery and subjugation.

To understand the war that was fought over it.  It wasn’t just about the union; it was about fundamental freedom.

And remember — to remember the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t just a document.  It captured the essence of America that galvanized a country and proved that some ideas are so powerful they cannot be denied no matter how hard people try.

This summer, Kamala and I hosted the first Juneteenth concert in the White House.  We heard the great Jennifer Hudson sing her soul — from her soul about the glory that will come and the — echo an anthem of the movement with the words of the Sam Cooke.

I can’t sing with a damn, so I’m not even going to try.  (Laughter.)  But I’ll quote, “It’s been a long time in coming, but I know a change is going to come.  Oh, yes, it will.”  (Applause.) 

That anthem echoed 52 years — when 13 Black members of Congress established the Congressional Black Caucus.  And one that we commemorate tonight, as we secure our democracy, protect our freedoms, uplift our culture.

So, on this night, let’s remember that change does come.  Let’s look to see our North Star shining bright.  For if we do, we’ll do something few generations can say: We will have saved and extended our democracy.

I know we can.  I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future.  We just have to remember who in the hell we are.

We are the United States of America.  There is nothing beyond our capacity — nothing, nothing, nothing.  (Applause.)  

God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.) 

9:49 P.M. EDT

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Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at Cancer Moonshot Listening Session at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center

Fri, 09/22/2023 - 19:29

Seattle, WA


Thank you, Dr. Lynch, and the staff here at Fred Hutch for hosting me here today.

Of all the things cancer steals from us, time is the cruelest. We can’t afford to wait another minute for better solutions, better treatments, better cures.

That’s why my husband, President Biden, and I reignited the Biden Cancer Moonshot – our White House initiative to build a world where cancer is not a death sentence. Where we stop cancer before it starts. Where we catch it early and help people live longer, healthier, happier lives. Where we invest in innovative research and help patients and their families navigate this journey.

For survivors, that journey doesn’t end when they are declared “cancer free.” Side effects from treatment and the constant fear of that next doctor’s appointment linger through remission.

But with research and the right care for survivors, we can mitigate those side effects and help ease those fears.

That’s what’s happening here at Fred Hutch, where researchers are working to prevent breast cancer from coming back and metastasizing in survivors, and where clinicians are supporting survivors with quality care that’s designed to meet their unique needs.

There are 18 million cancer survivors across our country, and thanks to the amazing work being done here, we are adding to that number each day.

As I’ve traveled the country and the world – I’ve seen innovative programs and partnerships that are making progress. I’ve seen what is possible when we invest in cutting edge research. And I’ve seen that there is so much hope to be found.

I see that hope here today as well. Your work will change lives, and save lives.

Through the Biden Cancer Moonshot, we are putting American innovation to work for patients.

And together, we will make it so the word cancer loses its power, so fewer families know the pain of losing a loved one to this disease.

That’s the reason we’re all here. That’s why I’m asking you to lean in just a little more, to push your staffs just a little harder – for all the families touched by cancer across the country that are in a race against time.

That is the urgency of now.

For Joe and me, this is the mission of our lives. And we are ready and proud to work beside you.

Now, I look forward to hearing your insights today, and I will bring your stories back to the White House so that others can benefit from your expertise.

Thank you.


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Remarks by President Biden at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute 46th Annual Gala

Fri, 09/22/2023 - 18:59

Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.
(September 21, 2023)

8:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello.  (Applause.)  Whoa.  My Lord, this dinner gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  Thanks for inviting me.  (Applause.)  Please, have a seat if you have one.  If you don’t, come on up with me.  

Adriano, thanks for that introduction.

And thank you, too, to Nanette and the 42 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — a record number.

Thanks also to the members of my Cabinet who are here tonight — the most diverse Cabinet in American history — including — (applause) — Secretary Becerra — Mr. Secretary; Secretary Cardona; Secretary Mayorkas; Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman, an alum of this institution.  (Applause.)

I’m proud to have so many other alumni of this institution serving all across our administration.  We have — we have Alma Acosta, executive director of the caucus for five years.  She’s a member of my White House team.

And I especially want to thank a great leader, Tom Perez — my director of Interna- — Intergovernmental Affairs.  (Applause.)

Congratulations to tonight’s awardees, includes Sister Norma.  Sister, I don’t know where you are, but bless me, Father, but I have not sinned so far tonight.  (Laughter.)  I want you to know.  Look, you’re known as the “Mother Teresa of Texas.”

And, Sister — I know Sister Norma lives the lessons she — the nuns taught me growing up — lessons based on the Gospel of Matthew: to feed the hungry, care for the sick, to welcome strangers.

They echo what my dad taught me — and I mean this sincerely.  My dad used to say “Everyone — everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.”  The Congressional Black [Hispanic] Caucus embodies those values.

Just think of the work we’ve done together on civil rights, labor rights, healthcare, education, and, folks, to fundamentally change the direction of our economy — to grow it from the middle out and the bottom up, not the top down.

Folks, the press started calling it — the Wall Street Journal and others started calling it “Bidenomics,” as if it was a bad thing.  Well, I think it’s a pretty damn good thing; it’s working.  It’s working.  (Applause.) 

We created 13.5 million jobs and about 4 million of those jobs are Latinos.  (Applause.)  Eight hundred thousand manufacturing jobs. 

Unemployment under 4 percent for the longest stretch in half a century, and Latino unemployment at record lows.

And now, we have the lowest inflation and the fastest recovery and the strongest economy of any major economy in the world.  (Applause.) 

Folks, with the help of many of you, as was re- — mentioned earlier, we passed the American Rescue Plan, cutting child poverty in half among Latinos to the lowest level on record.  On record. 

And now we need Congress to expand that Child Tax Credit and make it permanent.  Make it permanent. 

We also helped more Latinos gain health insurance than ever before and expanded access to health services in Spanish.

We passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to rebuild our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports; provide high-speed Internet for every American household; and replace every lead pipe in America so every child when they turn on the faucet can drink clean water and there no (inaudible) damage. 

We’ve already announced 37,000 projects nationwide investing in the future of Latino communities.

We’ve made Puerto Rico’s economic recovery and development a priority with funding for infrastructure, clean energy, and transportation updates.  (Applause.)

Meanwhile, with your help, the Inflation Reduction Act is reducing the cost of prescription drugs for Latino families.  We finally beat Big Pharma.  I’ve been fighting it since I’ve been a — since I was a freshman.  (Applause.)  Finally.  

So, Medicare — Medicare can negotiate for lower drug prices.  Insulin for seniors is now $35, instead of 400 bucks a month.  Seniors’ out-of-pocket drug costs will be capped at $2,000 a year for all their medication, including those who need very badly cancer drugs that can cost anywhere from $12- to $14,000.

With your help, we’re making the biggest climate investment ever in the history of the world: $369 billion.  (Applause.) 

We’re helping those fence-line communities — the ones that got caught in all of this — bringing environmental [justice and] jobs to frontline and fence-line communities suffering from a legacy of pollution.

My budget — my budget secured a 30 percent increase in federal childcare funding and an additional $1 billion for Head Start, where one in three beneficiaries are Latinos.

Folks, a record $15 billion for Hispanic-serving colleges and universities, including $40 million in a — new grants we announced today.  (Applause.)

I’m keeping my commitment to do what I can to ease the burden of student debt, which fall heavi- — heaviest on Black and Latino borrowers.

On my watch, more than $117 billion in student loans have been cancelled.  Cancelled.  (Applause.)  And our new SAVE program will cut in half what the average Latino borrower has remaining to pay.

I want to thank the Caucus — the Hispanic Caucus for your leadership on this issue.

At the same time, we’re investing in Latino small businesses.  And with your help, we’ve awarded small disadvantaged businesses a record $70 billion in federal contracts.  (Applause.) 

You all — there’s a law that’s been around a long time no one talks about.  In the mid-‘30s, we passed a law that said that we should — when you — you appr- — when the Congress appropriates money and the president has to spend it, he should spend in using American workers and using American product.  No one paid much attention to that.  But I have.  (Applause.)

Under my administration, Lati- — Latino entrepreneurs are — are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in over a decade, faster than any group in America.

And we’re doing all this while reducing the deficit.

I love our friends on the right talk about — MAGA guys — about reducing the deficit.  Give me a break.  (Laughter.)

On my watch, deficit has already fallen over $1 trillion.  (Applause.)  And I signed legislation to reduce the deficit by another $1 trillion the next decade.

The last guy had a $400-billion — -billion-dollar deficit over four years. 

We’re doing it by making the wealthy and big corporations begin to start to pay their fair share.

Anybody out here think the tax system is fair?  Raise your hand.

Well, we have about a thousand billionaires in America.  You know what the average rate the — how mu- — the average rate that they pay for federal taxes?  Eight percent in federal income taxes a year.  Eight.  That’s less than a firefighter or a teacher.

It’s wrong.  And I’m promising a bil- — I’m proposing a billionaire minimum tax.  (Applause.)  And I’m keeping my commitment: I won’t raise federal tax on anybody making less than $400 grand a year. 

But let me — you — I want you to know this: We can do a lot more. 

In the wake of the historic shooting in Uvalde, Jill and I visited and spent hours with — I met with every family member.

We signed the most significant gun safety law you all passed in nearly 30 years.  And now — (applause) — now we have to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  (Applause)

I did it once as a senator.  We’ll do it again.

We also have to codify Roe v. Wade and defend — (applause) — and defend the sacred right to vote.  (Applause.)

And we have to finally fix the broken immigration system, for God’s sake.  (Applause.)

First piece of legislation I introduced — on my first day in office, I sent an immigration reform bill to the Congress, one that recognizes immi- — immigrants’ contributions to this country and provides a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, temporary status holders, farmworkers, and others.  (Applause.)

We need our colleagues to act.

For decades, immigration reform had been a bipartisan [issue] in this country.  

Unfortunately, the MAGA Republicans in Congress and my predecessor spent four years gutting the immigration system — under my predecessor. 

They continue to undermine our border security today, blocking bipartisan reform.

So, until Congress acts, I’m going keep using every tool at my disposal as president of the United States to preserve and protect DACA, keep fighting for DREAMers, and build a safe, orderly, humane immigration system.  (Applause.)  I mean it.

First, we’ve put in place policies that process people in a fair and fast way.

Second, we’re significantly expanding legal pathways for entry so businesses can get the workers they need, families don’t have to wait for a decade to be together.

I’ve also directed my team to make a historic increase in the number of refugees admitted from Latin America — (applause) — people fleeing violence and persecution who simply want their kids to have a better life.

Next week, my team will consult with Congress on this plan.

Third, we’re supporting states and cities that have seen a surge in immigrants.  We’ve developed federal experts and deployed them to help train city workers.  We’ve launched outreach campaigns helping over a million eligible migrants apply for work permits.  (Applause.)  And we’re accelerating a process for work permit applications.

Right now, most migrants have to wait six months after filing their claim before they can go to work.  Only Congress can change that. 

But the Secretary of Homeland Security can take extraordinary action.  And yesterday, given the poor conditions in Venezuela, Secretary Mayorkas announced temporary protections for hundreds of thousands — (applause) — of Venezuelans already in this country.

These migrants will be able to apply for a work permit.  But that’s not all.  We’ve already delivered over $1 billion that Congress appropriated to states and cities receiving immigrants — migrants.

I’ve requested more funding.  But instead of stepping up with solutions, Republicans are threatening to shut down the government.

Now, I want you to think about this, man.  Think how many people it’s going to hurt.  Think of the people who are going to get hurt.  It’s time to act.

Meanwhile, we appreciate what businesses and nonprofits and churches and everyday Americans are doing with inspirational leaders like Sister Norma — are doing to keep those in need what they need to just stay alive. 

You know, my dad used to have an expression.  He’d also say, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck.  It’s about your dignity.  It’s about respect.  It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay.’”

Well, guess what?  We’re going to ask them to join us in doing a hell of a lot more.

Folks, let me close with this.  We’re the only country in the world not built on ethnicity, geography, religion.  We’re the only country in the world built on an idea.  And that’s no — that’s not hyperbole.  America is built on an idea.  Almost every other country in the world is built on ethnicity or religion. 

The idea is simple — and it sounds profound, but it’s real.  The idea is that we’re all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives.

We have never fully lived up to that.  But we’ve never attempted to walk away from it either like our MAGA friends have.  We’re not going to walk away from it now.  (Applause.)  And I believe we’re a hopeful and optimistic nation that draws our strength from our diversity.  I really believe it: Our diversity is our primary strength.  (Applause.) 

That’s why I keep fighting for a dedicated museum on the National Mall to celebrate the significance and contributions — (applause) — of Latino — not a joke.  It’s consequential. 

That’s why at the time when there are those who want to ban books, erase parts of our history, we’re going to make it clear, as we have here tonight, during Hispanic Heritage Month: The Hispanic heritage in America is American heritage.  (Applause.)  That’s what it is.

No, think about it, folks.  I’m not — I’m not trying to just be nice.  Let’s be (inaudible). 

Twenty six of every one hundred children in grade school from kindergarten through high school come from Spanish-speaking homes.  Twenty-six.  (Applause.)  Folks, what are we doing if we don’t respond?  This is our future.  You’re our future. 

The idea of America lives in all of us.  The idea lives in the dreams of those who’ve only just arrived, in the legacy of families who’ve been here for generations.

I want you all to know: I see you.  I hear you.  We need you.  The American people are the heroes of this story.

You never give up.  We always dream.  We always believe.  And that’s why I can honestly say I’ve never been more optimistic in my entire career.  We just have to remember who in God’s name we are.  We are the United States of America.

There is nothing — nothing beyond our capacity when we work together.  (Applause.)  Nothing.  Think about it.  There’s not one goal we’ve ever set as a community we haven’t achieved.  So let’s get the hell on with the job we have at hand.

God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)

8:18 P.M. EDT 

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Remarks by Vice President Harris on Gun Safety

Fri, 09/22/2023 - 18:51

Rose Garden

2:52 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Please be seated.  Good afternoon. 

So, I will start by thanking our president, Joe Biden, for his longstanding leadership in the fight to save lives from gun violence.

I also want to thank my husband, the first Second Gentleman of the United States, and the extraordinary members of our administration, the members of Congress, survivors, advocates, and our incredible young leaders who raise their voice and demand change.

So, we are all gathered here today for a simple reason.  We agree that in a civil society, the people must be able to shop in a grocery store, walk down the street, or sit peacefully in a classroom and be safe from gun violence.

But instead, our nation is being torn apart by the tragedy of it all and torn apart by the fear and trauma that results from gun violence.

Recently, I have met with students on college campuses across our country.  And when I’m there, every time, I turn to the students and make a request of them.  And what I ask is: Please raise your hand if you have had an active-shooter drill while you were in elementary or middle school.

Every time — every time, a sea of hands goes up, because in today’s world, on the first day of school, students, yes, learn the name of their teacher; yes, they learn the location of their cubby; and they learn how to quietly hide from an active shooter.

In fact, when having this conversation, a student once told me, “I don’t like going to fifth period.”  “Why honey?” I asked.  “Because in fifth period, there is no closet.”

In our country today, one in five people has lost a family member to gun violence.  Across our nation, every day, about 120 Americans are killed by a gun. 

And while this violence impacts all communities, it does not do so equally.  Black Americans are 10 times more likely to be victims of gun violence and homicide.  Latino Americans, twice as likely.

And as a former courtroom prosecutor, I will tell you, I have personally prosecuted homicide cases.  I have seen with my own eyes what a buil- — bullet does to the human body.

We cannot normalize any of this.  These are not simply statistics.  These are our children, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers.

As a former district attorney, attorney general, and U.S. senator, and, now, as vice president of the United States, I have grieved with parents who have lost a child.  I have comforted children who have been traumatized by losing a parent or a sibling.

We owe it to them and to those living in fear to act without delay.

And on this issue, we do not have a moment to spare, nor a life to spare.

And here’s the thing: Solutions do exist.  It’s a false choice to suggest you either have to choose between supporting the Second Amendment or passing reasonable gun safety laws.  That’s a false choice. 

President Biden and I believe in the Second Amendment, but we also know commonsense solutions are at hand.

So, I’ll close with just a couple points. 

First, President Biden and I continue to be deeply inspired by the students who are leading this movement.  (Applause.)  So many of whom are here. 

And second, in many ways, we are then propelled by their work, by your work.  And being propelled by what you are doing, we are expanding our work. 

With this new office, we will use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students and teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the right of all people to be safe from fear and to be able to live a life where they understand that they are supported in that desire and that right. 

And with that, I will now introduce a national leader on this issue. 

He was only 15 years old when he joined this movement.  He is an organizer, he is an advocate, he is a coalition builder, and he is the first Gen Z member of the United States Congress — (applause) — Representative Maxwell Frost.  (Applause.)

                          END                 2:58 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden on Gun Safety

Fri, 09/22/2023 - 18:33

Rose Garden

3:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Everyone should sit, except Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad, stand up. I want everybody to see the parents of this proud, young, new congressman. (Applause.) You did a heck of a job.

Congressman Frost, thank you for the introduction. And you’ve helped power a movement that’s turning a cause into reality. You know, you’re a big reason why I’m so optimistic about America’s future. So many — so many engaged young people — so many engaged.

I remember when I was young. (Laughter.) We have something in common: I got elected to the Senate when I was 29 years old. Only difference was he was eligible when he got elected to take office; I had to wait 17 days to be eligible. That was 827 years ago, but it was a while. (Laughter.)

And folks, Vice President Harris, members of the Cabinet, and so many members of Congress who are here and the relentless leaders on this critical issue.

You know, one of the members who couldn’t be here today is a really important member: Senator Chris Murphy. With Chris, who, together with Congressman Frost, introduced the bill that created a dedicated gun violence prevention office — he couldn’t be here today.

Since the tragedy in Sandy Hook — and I remember being there. I remember that — how I met with every one of the parents who were there. I met with every member — every family member.

And what I do also remember is that — I remember as we were leaving, the state police doing the investigation asked the senator if they’d meet with me — if I could meet with them. And I said of course I would. And I think there were about 12 to 14 of them. I walked in a room, and two of them started crying. And they said, “We need help. We need help.” And I looked at them; I said, “What can I do?” They said, “We need psychiatric help. We need help. We need help.”

Anyone who doesn’t think that these kinds of engagements have a permanent effect on young children — and, in many cases, alter their entire lives even if they’ve never had a bullet touch them — misunderstands. These were hard and tough cops asking me could I get them psychiatric help.

To all the state and local leaders and advocates from all across the country — and to the survivors and families who are with us today, many of whom Jill and I have gotten to know —

And, by the way, our losses may be different circumstances, but I know events like this are really hard to attend. You want to be here to promote the change, but it brings back all the memories as if it happened a day ago.

And I thank you, those of you who are parents, for being here — brothers, sisters for being here. It matters. You have absolute courage; you found purpose in your pain.

And because of all of you here today, all across the country, survivors, families, advocates — especially young people who demand our nation do better to protect all; who protested, organized, voted, and ran for office, and, yes, marched for their lives — I’m proud to announce the creation of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention — the first office in our history. (Applause.)

I created — by executive order, I determined to send a clear message about how important this issue is to me and to the country. It matters.

And here’s why: After every mass shooting, we hear a simple message — the same message heard all over the country, and I’ve been to every mass shooting: Do something. Please do something. Do something to prevent the tragedies that leave behind survivors who will always carry the physical and emotional scars, families who will never be the same, communities overwhelmed by grief and trauma. Do something. Do something.

Well, my administration has been working relentlessly to do something.

To date, my administration has announced dozens of executive actions to reduce gun violence — more than any of my predecessors at this point in their presidencies. And they include everything from cracking down on ghost guns, breaking up gun trafficking, and so much more. (Applause.)

And last year, with the help — your help, I signed into law the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act: the most significant gun safety law in almost 30 years. (Applause.) It strengthens background checks, expands the use of red flag laws, improves access to mental health services, and so much more.

This historic law will save lives. It’s a really important first step.

And, by the way, I was the guy — along with a woman in California — who also — we once banned assault weapons and multiple magazines. We’re going to do it again.

A call to action. A reason to hope. Because for so long, the conventional wisdom was we’d never get any Republicans to support gun safety legislation. But we did.

For the first time in three decades, we came together to overcome the relentless opposition from the gun lobby, gun manufacturers, and so many politicians opposing commonsense gun legislation. And we beat them. (Applause.)

And we did it through a bipartisan effort that included the majority of responsible gun owners.

We’re not stopping here. Again, it’s — I’ll say it again. I’m not going to be quiet until we get it done: It’s time again to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. (Applause.)

If you need 80 shots in a magazine, you shouldn’t own a gun.

Because, look, last time we did it, it worked.

We also — last time, we established universal background checks and require safe storage of firearms. It’s time. It’s time. (Applause.)

Look, while we push — we push for Congress to do more, we’re going to centralize, accelerate, and intensify our work to save more lives more quickly.

That’s why this new White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention — it’s what it’s designed to do. It will drive and coordinate a government and a nationwide effort to reduce gun violence in America.

And it will be overseen by an incredible vice president, who understands this — (applause) — more than any vice president has. No, really. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact. She’s been on the frontlines of this issue her entire career as a prosecutor, as an attorney general, and as a United States senator. Her deep experience will be invaluable for this office.

And Stef — where is Stef Feldman?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: She’s right there.

THE PRESIDENT: Stef, I want you to stand up, please. Stef Feldman — (applause) — who’s been working on this issue with me since the Sandy Hook in 2012 — she was 13 years old when she joined me, but — (laughter) — since 2012 — will serve as director of the office.

An office — and the office will have four primary responsibilities:

First, to expedite the implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the executive actions already announced. And I mean it: We’re going to fully implement it.

Second, coordinate more support for survivors, families, and communities affected by gun violence, including mental health care, financial assistance — the same way FEMA responds to natural disasters. (Applause.) The same way. And it helps folks recover and rebuild and alter. Look, folks, shootings are the ultimate superstorm, ripping through communities.

Third, identify new executive actions we can take within our legal authority to reduce gun violence.

And fourth, expand our coalition of partners in states and cities across America because we do have partners to get more — we need more state and local help to get these laws passed locally as well — and to strengthen our laws and give us more hope.

Folks, to be clear, none of these steps alone is going to solve the entirety of the gun violence epidemic. None of them. But together, they will save lives. (Applause.) And it’s going to help — it will help rally the nation with a sense of urgency and seriousness of purpose.

Today, guns — I never thought I’d even remotely say this in my whole career — guns are the number one killer of children in America. Guns are the number one killer of children in America — the United States of America. More than car accidents, more than cancer, more than other diseases.

In 2023 so far, our country has experienced more than 500 mass shootings and well over 30,000 deaths due to gun violence. That’s just totally unacceptable. It’s not who we are. And we have to act, and we have to act now.

And let me be very clear: If members of the Congress refuse to act, then we’ll need to elect new members of Congress that will act. (Applause.) Democrat or Republican.

Look, folks, there comes a point where our voices are so loud and our determination so clear that our effort can no longer be stopped. We’re reaching that point — we’ve reached that point today, in my view, where the safety of our kids from gun violence is on the ballot.

At the end of the day, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, we all want our families to be safe. We all want to go to school, houses of worship, grocery stores, gyms, malls, movies without constant anxiety.

We all want our kids to have the freedom to learn how to read and write in school instead of duck and cover, for God’s sake. And it matters.

So, let me close with this. Earlier this summer, I was in Connecticut at a summit on gun safety hosted by Senator Murphy. Four students impacted by gun violence, who are here with us today, summoned extraordinary courage and stood and shared their stories on stage. Four of them.

They each came from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, different shootings. But they shared a common, singular message that one of them summed up in just a few words, and I quote, “the deadly and traumatic price for inaction.” That’s what he talked about: the deadly and traumatic price for inaction.

They made clear what all of you know too well — that price can no longer be the lives of our children and the people of our country. They spoke for an entire generation of Americans who will not be ignored, will not be shunned, and will not be silenced. (Applause.)

And I know — I know progress is hard. I’ve been at this a long time. But we’ve done it before, and we can do it again. If we’re here, I’m here to tell you that you — and Vice President Harris hears you as well.

You’re right. You’re right. We’re by your side, and we’re never going to get up — give up dealing with this problem. We’re never going to forget your loved ones. We’re never going to get there unless we remember.

You know, I know we’ll do this because I know you: heroes. Heroes proving that even with heavy hearts, you have unbreakable spirits. In memory of your loved ones, you’re building a movement that endures.

Above all, you’ll never give up on the one thing we must never lose: hope, hope, hope.

Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, our entire administration are more determined than ever to carry forward that hope, that inspiration, that light that you continue to give us all.

For the lives we have lost — for the lives we can save, we can do this. We just have to keep going. We just have to keep the faith. We just have to remember who we are.

Every time I’d walk out of my grandpop’s house up in Scranton, he’d yell, for real, “Joey, keep the faith.” And my grandmother would yell, “No, Joey, spread it. Spread it.” (Applause.) That’s what we have to do: spread the faith.

And remember — remember — and I mean this sincerely: We are the United States of America. There is nothing — nothing beyond our capacity when we do it together. Nothing we’ve ever tried to solve, when we’ve done it together, we haven’t succeeded.

May God bless you all. May God protect our troops. And may God protect our children. Thank you so very much. (Applause.)

3:30 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine Before Bilateral Meeting

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 21:12

Oval Office

3:42 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Mr. President, it’s an honor to welcome you back to the White House and to the Oval Office. 
And earlier this week at the U.N. General Assembly, I made it clear that — that no nation can be truly secure in the world if, in fact, we don’t stand up and defend the freedom of Ukraine from facing this Russian brutality and aggression.
That’s why we brought together a coalition of more than 50 countries — more than 50 countries to help Ukraine defend itself, and it’s critical. 
And that’s why, together with our partners in Ukraine, we have provided humanitarian aid as well as tens of millions of people with food, clean water, and so much more.
And that’s why — that’s why we’ve begun the process of formalizing our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s security, alongside the G7 and with other partners.
And that’s why we support a just and lasting peace, one that respects Ukrainian sovereignty and its territorial integrity.
Mr. President, the brave people of Ukraine — and that’s not hyperbole; the people of Ukraine have shown enormous bravery —  enormous bravery — have inspired the world — literally inspired the world with their determination to defend these principles.
And together with our partners and allies, the American people are determined to see to it that we do all we can to ensure the world stands with you, and that is our overwhelming objective right now.
So, welcome, welcome.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  We have much to talk about.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much, Mr. President — such warm and strong words to all the Ukrainians from — from you.  Thank you.  Appreciate it.
I’m glad to meet you.  It’s already the third time this year.  Thank you for the invitation.  Our regular dialogue has proved that our countries are really, truly allies and strategic friends.  And we greatly appreciate the vital assistance provided by the United States to Ukraine to combat Russian terror — really, terror.
Today, I’m in Washington to strengthen our coalition to defend Ukrainian children, our families, our homes, freedom, and democracy in the world. 
And I started my day in the U.S. Congress to thank its members and to people of America for all the big, huge support.
I’ve felt trust between us, and it’s allowed us to have a frank and constructive dialogue, Mr. President.  And this trust and support I felt from both chambers and both parties.  I’m grateful for this.
Then, with the First Lady, I honored innocent victims of September 11 Memorial in Pentagon.  All those who — tragedy — death — who died on American Airlines Flight 77.  It’s very important to all in the world to remember the victims of terror and value everyone who fights with it.
And now, I look forward, Mr. President, to our discussion for the benefit of our nations and the world. 
When it comes to weapons, we will discuss everything, with a special emphasis on air defense.  And just to say that — especially this day — one year ago, we had — we made a big exchange of prisoners — war prisoners and journalists.
And it was on this day when we got and brought home defenders of Azovstal.  And also citizens of the United States — not — that we — we did it — Alexander Drueke and Andrew Tai Huynh, both from — both from Alabama. 
Thank you, Mr. President.
Thank you all very much.
Q   Mr. Zelenskyy, are you — aren’t you concerned that you’re losing Poland over the grain export dispute?  Are you concerned that you’re losing a friend?
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Our friends with Poland?  Our friends, we are very thankful to Polish people, Polish society for all of — for their support. 
That’s it.  Thank you.
3:47 P.M. EDT

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Remarks by President Biden and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine After Expanded Bilateral Meeting

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 20:42

East Room

5:30 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Mr. President, 575 days.  It’s been 575 days since Putin launched his brutal war of conquest against Ukraine.
Putin thought he would break Ukraine.  He thought he could break you.  He had underestimated the consequence of taking on Ukrainian people.  From your children to your grandparents, I’ve never seen so much courage exhibited by civilians.  It really is amazing.  It’s amazing.
And — and he also thought he could break the Western alliance and NATO in the support of you.  And he also thought that he’d break the will of nations around the world.  Many more have stood with Ukraine — who still stand with Ukraine.
Well, he was wrong.  He continues to be wrong.  Ukraine is unbroken, unbowed, and unconquered, proving that nothing can dim the flame of liberty that burns in the heart of free people.
And, Mr. President, the American people — Democrats and Republicans alike, families all across our nation — understand what Ukraine is fighting to defend, what generations of Americans have also stepped up to protect and preserve.  It’s pretty basic: freedom, liberty, and sovereignty.
And as I made clear at the U.N. this week — and you were there — the entire world has a stake in making sure that no nation, no aggressor is allowed to take a neighbor’s territory by force.
The American people will never waver in our commitment to those values.
That’s why, together with our allies and partners, we will continue to provide security assistance to support Ukraine’s progress in reclaiming its territory.  And we’ll continue to provide humanitarian aid to help millions of innocents suffering from your — Russia’s aggression.  And what they’ve done to your children is just — it’s criminal.
And we’re going to continue to support Ukraine’s diplomatic effort to deliver a just and lasting peace — a peace that protects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. 
Russia alone — Russia alone stands in the way of peace.  It could end this today.
Instead, Russia is seeking more weapons from Iran and North Korea.  It would violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions that Moscow itself voted to put in place.
Instead, as the threat of famine still stalks families around the globe, Russia is bombing grain silos in Ukraine and separating families, kidnapping — this is what I can’t get over — kidnapping thousands of Ukrainian children.
Instead, with the days beginning to turn colder, Russia hopes to once more use winter as a weapon against the people of Ukraine.  But as I discussed with President Zelenskyy, the people of Ukraine are steeled for this struggle ahead.  And the United States is going to continue to stand with you.
Today, I approved the next tranche of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, including more artillery, more ammunition, more anti-tank weapons.  And next week, the first U.S. Abrams tanks will be delivered to Ukraine.
We also focused on strengthening Ukraine’s air defense capabilities to protect the critical infrastructure that provides heat and light during the coldest and darkest days of the year.  That includes providing a second HAWK air defense battery with steady deliveries of additional HAWK and other systems each month through the winter.  And a new package of launchers and interceptors that’s going to protect Ukraine — Ukraine’s grain silos, hospitals, schools, and power plants.
That will help save Ukrainian lives.
Just as we are committed to helping the Ukrainian people defend themselves now, we’re also committed to helping them recover and rebuild for the future, including supporting reforms that are going to combat corruption, creating an environment where businesses can thrive and where American and European businesses want to invest.
Ladies and gentlemen, last week I announced the appointment of Penny Pritzker as our new Special Representative.  Penny, thank you for being willing to come back in.  Of you — she’s the — going to be the Special Representative for Ukraine Economic Recovery to help Ukraine reopen markets, mobilize investments, and make the necessary economic reforms that are needed. 
And together with 29 other partners — partners — partners, partners, and their partners — we’re committed to help Ukraine build a force capable of ensuring Ukraine’s long-term security — capable of deterring future threats against its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and freedom, which are underway now.
Because that’s what this is all about: the future.  The future of freedom.  America can never, will never walk away from that.
That’s why, 575 days later, we stand with Ukraine and we’ll continue to stand with you, Mr. President.  And that’s why we’re so proud of being able to be with you.
Mr. President, we’re — we’re with you, and we’re staying with you.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much, Mr. President.  Thank you for all these 575 days. 
Yes, and thanks to American people.  They — all — all these days, they are together with us, with Ukrainians, with ordinary people, all of us.  Thank you so much. 
Thanks you, your team, Congress.  And thanks, journalists, that — for all your messages to your society and to the world that you share the truth about this — this, you know, tragedy, aggression from Russia. 
So, thank you very much, dear Mr. President Biden.  Thank you for a warm meeting and very productive, strong negotiations.
And today, we have some important results. 
First, we agreed to work on the future force of Ukraine.  It’s very important.  It is strategic decision that will allow us to prevent any — any new aggression against us, against Ukraine, our people.  And this will be one of the outcomes of Vilnius G7 Declaration and our bilateral security arrangements.
Second, we reached new agreement that will strengthen Ukraine’s defense cap- — capabilities.  Thank you so much.  More details will be announced shortly. 
And thirdly, I thank United States of America and Mr. President for the new defense package for Ukraine — a very powerful package.  Thank you so much.  And it has exactly what our soldiers need now.
Fourthly, the United States will be helping Ukraine with strengthening our air defense during this winter season.
And fifths, we agreed on specific steps to expand exports of grain from Ukraine.  And — and we will continue to work on the peace formula and — and preparing (inaudible) summits.  So, thank you so much not only for these points — for all these points, for all these 575 days.  Thank you.
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Thank you all.
Q    President Zelenskyy, are you — are you confident that Congress is going to support your efforts to get the supplemental aid?  Did you get any assurances?
PRESIDENT BIDEN:  I’m counting on the good judgement of the United States Congress.  There’s no alternative.
Thank you.
All right, we ready? 
PRESIDENT ZELENSKYY:  Thank you so much.
5:39 P.M. EDT

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Press Call by Vice President Harris on an Announcement to Ease the Burden of Medical Debt on American Family Budgets

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 18:20

Via Teleconference

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  And good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for joining us to address a subject that is critical to millions of Americans, and that’s the issue of the tremendous burden of medical debt. 

And I will tell you, I’ve traveled the country and met with families from every region who talk about and — and often silently suffer under the burden and weight of this debt. 

And President Biden and I are firm, therefore, in the belief that access to healthcare should be a right and not a privilege just for those who can afford it.  And that means that no one in our nation should have to go into debt just to get the quality healthcare that they need. 

However, right now in our country, one in three adults — some 100 million Americans — struggle with unpaid medical bills.  They just can’t afford those bills.  A disproportionate number are Black, Latino, or live in rural areas.  Many of these debt — of the debt that people have accrued are due to a medical emergency — a student with a burst appendix, a grandmother who took a nasty fall — and, years later, they are still paying off tens of thousands of dollars in bills that they didn’t plan to have. 

For years, this medical debt has also harmed people’s credit scores.  And this is a point of emphasis: We know credit scores determine whether a person can have economic health and well — well-being, much less the ability to grow their wealth.  Because think about it: Credit scores determine whether a person can buy a home, whether they can buy a car, rent an apartment, or own a small business. 

Today, we are offering a solution to fix this problem.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will propose a new rule to make clear that medical debt cannot impact the credit scores of the American people.  Once this rule is final, it will mean, one, that consumer credit reports will not include medical debt and, two, that creditors will not be able to use medical debt to determine a person’s eligibility for credit. 

Together, these measures will improve the credit scores of millions of Americans so that they will better be able to invest in their future.  For example, more people will qualify for a car loan.  Instead of taking three buses to work, they can drive themselves.  More working people will qualify for a home mortgage from a local bank instead of continuing to pay rent or resorting to a predatory lender.  That home, in turn, will help them to pass on intergenerational wealth.  And it will be easier for entrepreneurs to get a loan and open a small business, which we know benefits the economy of entire communities. 

I have spent my entire career fighting to lower medical bills for families and to protect consumers.  When I was attorney general of California, I intervened in the merger of hospitals that could have resulted in less competition and increased cost for patients. 

As a United States senator during the pandemic, I worked to reduce out-of-pocket healthcare costs. 

And since taking office, President Biden and I have focused on the burden of medical debt, ensuring consumers know that they have the right to contest inaccurate charges on their medical bills and how to file a dispute; cracking down on debt collectors who threaten, harass, and deceive consumers.  We cancelled or refunded about $1 billion in copays for more than one and a half million veterans, and we continue to work to bring down the cost of healthcare. 

By one, we capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month, and we will cap the cost of prescription drugs for our seniors — the total cost — at $2,000 a year.  We allowed Medicare to negotiate the price of medications with Big Pharma companies to the benefit of 65 million Americans. 

And President Biden and I will continue to create a future where every person has the opportunity to build wealth and, in turn, build a stronger economy that benefits us all.

So, I thank you for participating in this call.  And I will now turn it over to the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rohit Chopra. 

And I thank you for the work that you do, Mr. Director.  And you are indeed a leader in the fight to reduce the burden of medical debt.  Thank you. 


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Remarks by President Biden at a Campaign Reception | New York, NY

Wed, 09/20/2023 - 22:00

5:43 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Brad.  (Applause.)  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

After that introduction and reception, it’s been nice being with you.  (Laughter.)

Well, Brad, thank you, pal.  And I really mean it.

And, Doug, thank you for being here.  You’re doing double duty.  The — you know, Doug not only made history as the first Second Gentleman — (laughter) — I don’t know how the hell you do that.  (Laughter.)

THE SECOND GENTLEMAN:  I married well.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you — well, the thing we have in common: We both married above our — above our stations.  (Laughter and applause.) 

Kamala has been a great, great partner. 

And normally at these events, I talk about the record, but it seems to me that Brad did a better job than I could do.  (Laughter.)

Folks, look, we’re in a situation where — and, by the way, there’s a guy standing back there who is one of the smartest guys ever, one of my closest friends in life, and a guy who you’ve probably heard about.  He ran my operation for a long time.  I don’t remember his name.  He has a mask on. 

(Laughter.)  But I don’t — Ron, thank you buddy.  (Applause.)

Ron started working with me when he was 12 years old and — (laughter) — but, Ron, thank you.  It’s great to see you, buddy.

Hey, look, you know, because there is a — there’s a lot of things that we have to do between now and — and next November — not this coming November, but next November.  And — and part of it is to talk about my record as — and what we’ve done — our record — and what we’ve accomplished thus far.
But — but the fact is that, you know, we did create more than 13.4 million jobs.  Well, that’s more jobs than any president has ever created in four years.  We did that in two and a half years with Ron’s help and others.  And we rallied the world to confront the aggression in Russia.  That’s true.  And — but we also appointed the first Black woman on the Supreme Court and the first African American woman on — to be vice president of the United States.  (Applause.)  And — both of whom are smarter than that guy and me.  (Laughter.)

But, look, folks, the — you know — or how we made the biggest investment ever in the history of the world in climate change, which is a passion of mine, and we’re going to get it done.  (Applause.)  We’ll have a few major announcements about that in the next couple of days, as well.
But, folks, look, tonight I want to talk about something else. 

You know — you know, when I left the vice presidency of the Obama-Biden administration, I had no intention of ever running again for office, and that’s the God’s truth.

I had just lost my son Beau, a major in the U.S. Army, Attorney General in Delaware.  And I was going to write a book instead.  I was going to write a book to set up the — talk about how we could — that we were at a real inflection point in world history, and things that we’re going to do in the next couple of years are going to affect what’s going to happen in the next four decades or five decades.  It happens about every five of six generations, and we’re in the midst of one of those kinds of changes.
But, you know, I was going to write that book, but I — and I set up an Institute of Foreign Policy — well, the University of Pennsylvania did — at the University of Pennsylvania.  They gave me a couple million dollars to hire staff.  I hired some moderate staff, like the son of a woman that’s here.  His name is Tony Blinken.  (Laughter.)  And a few others working with me at that — and by the way, your son is incredible, Mom.  (Applause.)  Your son is incredible. 

And I became a professor there, and we also had a Domestic Policy Institute at the University of Delaware.  And that’s what I did.

But then, along came Charlottesville.  You may remember it in 2017. 

And, you know, these guys walking out of the woods, carrying torches — literally, carrying torches, holding swastikas, singing the same anti-Semitic bile they sang during the — that they chanted in — in Germany in the ‘30s, accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan.  And a young woman — I spoke to her mom — was killed in the — in the melee.

And — and the President was asked, “What do you think?”  He said, “I think there are very fine people on both sides.”

That’s when I knew I could no longer stand on the sidelines.  I had to get engaged because the President of the United States had just made a moral equivalency between those who stand — stood for hate and those who rejected it.

And, you see, I believe that silence is complicity.  I really do.  And — and I wasn’t going to be silent, so I ran.

I ran because I thought everything this country stood for, everything this country believed in, everything this country — that made America what it was, even our very democracy, was at risk.  And I mean it.  I believe that.  We talked a lot about it, didn’t we?  And — but I didn’t think I had any choice at the time.
And, you know, I think — I think people tonight understood what I was doing.  But the truth of the matter was that they thought, when I talked about democracy being at risk, they thought I was being hyperbolic.  But I wasn’t.  I really believed our democracy was at risk.  And — and did I — and I got asked all the time when I said I was running because I wanted to restore the soul of America, wanted to restore a sense of decency, the idea that we talk to each other the way we do —

I’ve been around — I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been around a long time.  (Laughter.) 
But, look, you know, people — and I made a speech at Independence Hall about the threat to democracy and why it was so important.  I’m going to make another one very shortly.  And — and I — but I think, you know, I taught at Penn.  I taught — and I taught constitutional law for 13 years on Saturdays at Delaware Law School.  And, you know, you always hear that every generation has an obligation to protect democracy. 

And I thought — well, you just think, “No, not in America.  This is — it’s just automatic.”  But it really, I believe, is under siege. 

And I might add that, you know, I don’t think anyone doubts any longer that democracy was at risk in 2020.

And, you know, thank God, because people like all of you were here, and you jumped in and we won.  And many of you are repeat — it was your — it was your fault the first time.  (Laughter.)  The second time, I don’t know why you did it, but thank you.

But I might add, we won convincingly by 7 million votes.  The victory withstood — (applause) — the victory not only withstood 60 legal challenges — 60 — but we also overcame what — a literal insurrection. 

I have a dining room — a private dining room off of the Oval Office.  This guy sat there on January 6th watching what happened on television — watching it, doing nothing about it. 

And so, I’m now running again.  Because guess what?  I think that it’s likely to be the same fellow, and it’s likely that I think I can beat him again.  (Applause.) 

But, you know, a lot of people talk about my age.  I get it.  I get it.  Believe me, I know better than anyone, you know.  (Laughter.)

But here’s something else I know.  When I came to office, the nation was flat on its back, but I think I knew what to do with the help of Ron and a lot of other people.  (Applause.) 

We rebuilt the economy.  We vaccinated the nation, rebuilt the economy.  When Russia invaded Ukraine, I knew what to do — because I’ve been doing it for a long, long time — to rebuild our alliances and rally the world.

And — and above all, when democracy was at stake, I knew what to do to redeem literally the soul of this nation.

So, look, I want to answer — I want to answer the question very simply, as I can.  I’m running because we’ve made progress, but our democracy is still at stake.

There’s a lot of specific things we have to do, and we will do them.  Kamala and I will get them done, in terms of legislation and things we have to do.  But democracy is literally still at stake.

I’m running because the most important freedoms — the freedom to choose, the freedom to vote, the freedom to be — have the right to be who you are and say who you are, love who you love —

My dad, I remember I was — when I was a kid, I wanted a — I was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and I wanted to be the only — there’s a woman from Delaware here.  I worked in the east side.  It’s the only African — an all-African-American community.   And the — the city swimming pool, and I wanted to be a lifeguard there.  I was the only lifeguard — of 13 lifeguards, I was the only white guy that worked there for three years. 

And I remember being dropped off at the Rodney Square, which is a — which is the center of the city — DuPont Building, Hercules Building, and so on.  And I — getting out of the car, my dad dropping me off to go and get an application.  And I looked over, and two men leaned up and kissed one another. 
And I looked — I looked at my dad.  I had never seen that before.  He said, “Joey, it’s real simple.  They love each other.  It’s just simple.”

And so, folks, look, there’s an awful lot that’s at stake, including all the things that we teach our children to be proud of.

I’m running because our children should have the right to go to school without fear of being gunned down at school.  (Applause.)

I’m running because there are people banning books.  Did you ever think we’d be having debates in the United States of America in this year about banning books in our schools?  I mean, it’s bizarre.
I’m running because, all across America, hate groups have been emboldened.

I’m running because too often it’s still the case that you can get killed or attacked on our streets because you’re Black or because you’re wearing a symbol of your faith.  That’s happening in America today in ways that it hadn’t happened in a long, long time.

And I’m running because, no, I’m not going to side with any dictators.  And I know Putin, unlike the other guy doing it.  (Applause.)  I mean it.  I won’t, and I’ll stand up to him, and I always have.

Look, I’m running because I — hear this: I want the entire nation to join me in sending the clearest, strongest, most powerful message possible that political violence in America is never, never, never, never justified.  (Applause.)  I mean it.  Think about it.

I’m running because our democracy is at stake in 2024.  Democracy is on the ballot again.  And I really mean it.  I know that sounds like hyperbole, but think about it. 

Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy, the institutional structures.  Listen to some of the things — you know, and the idea that — that, you know, the country we live in is, I think, so special; he talks about it being a failed country, about how the American people are doing — it goes on and on. 

We’re the only country in the world that is — we’re unique in the world.  We’re the only country in the world that’s not based on our ethnicity or our religion or geography.  America is built on an idea.  It’s not hyperbole.  America is built on an idea: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women and men are created equal.  It goes on. 

Think about it.  That’s who we are.  We’re the most heterogeneous nation in the history of the world.  Not a joke.  That’s who we are.

But, ladies and gentlemen, the idea that we’re all created equal is something that the — that this other team doesn’t seem to buy into. 

You know, we’ve — you know, we’ve never fully lived up to the commitment, but we’ve never walked away from it before. 

And I don’t believe America is a dark.  I don’t believe America is a negative nation.  I don’t think America is on its last legs.  I think America is just getting ready to get up and roar.

Folks, you know, I think this is a — the other team is driven by anger, fear, revenge.  You know, think of the things the guy who’s likely to be their nominee is saying.

He tells his supporters, and I’m quoting him, “I am your retribution.”  What a hell of a good way to run.  (Laughter.)   He goes on to say, “We are a failing nation.  Either…” — I’m quoting him — “Either they will win, or we will win, and if we win — if they win, we will no longer be a country.  If they win, we will no longer be a country.”

He talks about the institutions.  He wants to fundamentally change the — you’re all lawyers.  He wants to change the institutional structures of America.  Not a joke.  He talks about being — having to hire — firing a — fire 100,000 people.  He’s going to un- — I mean, you know, he talked about the deep state. 
Guess what?  When I got to be president, I found the deep state.  (Laughter.)

I mean, think about what he’s done.  (Laughter.)  Think about what they’ve done.

And, folks, look, I believe we are a hopeful and optimistic nation.  I really do.  And as I said, I’ve been doing this a long time.  But I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s chances.  I really haven’t. 

The rest of the — I — look, Madeleine Albright talked about America being the essential nation.  Well, as I go around the world, and I’ve known — I’ve been to now 140-some countries.  I go around — I know virtually every head of state because I’ve been doing this for so long. 

Without exception, I have everybody come up to me and say, “You’ve got to win.”  Not because of me, but because of the alternative they fear.

You know, when — the first G7 meeting of the European nations, the major economies, was in February after I got elected, in England.  And we’re sitting down, and I — we were introduced.  It was very casual, all the heads of state.  And I looked at Macron.  I said, “America is back.”

Macron looked at me and said, “For how long?  For how long?” 

And then the Chancellor of Germany said to me, “What would you think, Mr. President, if tomorrow you picked up the London Times and found out that a thousand people stormed the British Parliament, broke down the doors of the House of Commons, killed two bobbies in order to overthrow an election?”
And I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective.  But think what the rest of the world thinks and wonders about.

And so, folks, that’s what’s at stake.  Everybody, everybody, everybody should understand just how consequential this election is.  Not because of Joe Biden; because of the potential alternative.
And, folks, you know, I need your help.  I need every American who loves this democracy to join us in 2024.  Because if we do that, we’ll have done something few generations get a chance to do: You will have literally — not hyperbole — saved American democracy.

And, again, listen to the words they use.  Listen closely.  You’ve never heard them in politics in American history since a long time ago, since back all the way to Abraham Lincoln’s day.  Think about it.  Think about what they say. 

Even if they didn’t mean it, think about — think about who used that.  They make George Wallace look like a liberal.  (Laughter.)

I mean, think — I mean, it’s just astounding. 

So, look, folks, you know, as I said, I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s chances.  The rest of the world is looking to us.  The American people are looking to us.  And they do not represent a majority.  They do represent somewhere around 30 percent of the American people. 

And one of the reasons is there’s no longer any editors out there anymore.  Everything — everybody gets their news in ways that they — anyway, I won’t get into all that.  (Laughter.)  That’ll be another story.

But the point is that I need your help.  We need your help.  And there’s no group of people who understand the Constitution, understand our democratic institutions more than this group here.  I really mean it.

And so, I can’t thank you enough for your help.  I can’t tell you how much — how important I think it is.  And I promise you — I promise you: You’ll never have to wonder where I stand.  The problem is no one ever doubts I mean what I say; I just sometimes say all that I mean.  (Laughter.)

But we have a shot.  We have a shot to make an incredible contribution to America.  The world is waiting for us.  The American people are ready.  They’re ready.

And, by the way, all the things he was kind of enough to mention that we’ve done, we did it at the same time we reduced the debt by $2 trillion.  Okay?

The last guy increased it by $40 billion.

So, folks, we can do this.  It’s not above our paygrade.  I want to thank you all very much, and — and I truly appreciate the help.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  (Applause.)

6:01 P.M. EDT

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