Nov 2, 2020
Barack Obama Drive-in Rally Speech for Joe Biden Transcript Atlanta, GA November 2
Barack Obama held a drive-in campaign rally for Joe Biden in Atlanta on November 2, the day before the election. Read the transcript of his speech remarks here.
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Barack Obama: (00:00)
Hello, Atlanta. Hello, Georgia. Can everybody please give [Temple 00:00:19] a big round of applause? That’s the kind of young people that are going to lead the way. Oh, I am excited. Thank you for arranging for good weather. It is good to be back. I’ve got one word for you, Atlanta: Tomorrow. Tomorrow. After four years of failure, you have the power to change America. Tomorrow, you can put an end to the politics that tries to divide a nation just to win an election, that tries to stoke conspiracy theories and fear at a time when we need competence and we need hope. Tomorrow is the most important election of our lifetimes, and you can deliver the change that we need.
Barack Obama: (01:24)
Well, you’re going to have to vote. If you haven’t dropped off your ballot yet, please do not wait any longer. If you voted already, help your friends and family find their polling places at iwillvote.com. Help them make a plan to vote tomorrow because this election is going to take every single one of us. Right here in Georgia, you’ve got an even bigger power to deliver the change that we need. You can be a state that sends Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House.
Barack Obama: (02:08)
I got a chance to campaign with Joe over the weekend. It felt like the old days. For eight years, he was the last one in the room whenever I faced a big decision. He made me a better president, and he’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country. He and Kamala are going to be in the fight not for themselves, but for every single one of us, but if they are going to deliver the change we need getting this pandemic under control, restarting our economy, protecting our healthcare, protecting our planet, reforming our criminal justice system, giving every young person a equal chance, then they’re also going to need a Senate that actually cares about those things.
Barack Obama: (02:58)
Georgia, not only can you put Joe and Kamala over the top, but you can be the state that gives us all a better chance because you’ve also said, “Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock to the United States Senate.” I didn’t originally plan to come to Georgia. You see all this gray hair I got?
Speaker 1: (03:28)
Barack Obama: (03:30)
It still looks good, you said? All right. I’ll let Michelle know. But the reason I’m here, look, I thought after my last campaign in 2012, I thought, “All right, I’ll campaign in ’16, and then I’ll just go off and write my book and work on my golf game and spend a little more time with my wife.” Things didn’t work out the way we expected because we weren’t focused. Each one of us didn’t do everything we needed to do, and so in this election, when I got a call and said, “Look, Georgia, Georgia could be the state, Georgia could be the place where we put this country back on track, and not just because Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have a chance to win Georgia, but you got the chance to flip two Senate seats?” I said, “Well, I got to go. I got to come.” I told Michelle, “I’m sorry, babe. I got to go to Georgia. This is a big deal.”
Barack Obama: (04:53)
You have two extraordinary candidates and Jon and the Reverend who deserve your vote. Let’s face it. You’ve also got two senators who badly need to be replaced. Look, I served in the Senate. I remember when we used to get briefings in the Senate for threats, including the kinds of briefings that your two current senators got about COVID-19. They got briefed. You go into this room, and it’s all top secret, and you got to close everything off and you can’t take anything out of the briefing room because this is part of your responsibility as a public servant. The point of these briefings is so that you can take quick action to protect the American people before it’s too late. That’s why the Senate gets these special briefings, to serve the interests of the people who have sent you to Washington, to serve their interests before your own.
Barack Obama: (06:05)
When I heard that your two senators here in Georgia… Understand what I’m about to say now is not a partisan statement. I’d be just as hard if I heard the Democrat was doing this. Your two senators publicly were telling you that the virus would be no big deal, but behind closed doors, they were making a bunch of moves in the stock market to try to make sure their portfolios were protected instead of making sure you are protected. Man, that’s shady.
Barack Obama: (06:53)
I mean, that ain’t right. They downplayed the pandemic in public and in private. They’re trying to see if they can profit from it. Both of them. Not just one of them. Both of them. They’re like Batman and Robin gone bad. It’s like the dynamic duo of doing wrong. I don’t know what they were thinking, but Georgia, I promise you, Georgia was definitely not on their mind. It was not.
Barack Obama: (07:44)
What’s the result of betraying the public’s trust? 230,000 Americans are dead. More than a hundred thousand small businesses have closed. Almost 200,000 jobs are gone in Georgia alone. If President Trump and your senators had been focused on COVID from the beginning instead of their portfolios or their TV ratings, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country. Just this week, nine months into the pandemic, America just had the single worst week of new cases. Think about that.
Barack Obama: (08:32)
All the people who voluntarily quarantined, all the folks who’ve been working at home, all the mothers and fathers who’ve been looking after their children at home trying to keep everybody safe, and after all that, we saw the worst week because we had people like your two senators who were not taking it seriously. We had a president who was pretending it was just like a bad flu. Now Trump’s chief of staff finally admits what we’ve known all along. He was quoted. Just a few days ago. He said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”
Barack Obama: (09:14)
Well, yeah, we noticed. You definitely are not, but you know what? Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can get on top of this pandemic. If we got two new senators from Georgia, we can have a government that’s making that happen. What’s Trump’s closing argument right now? Last night on his COVID spreader tour… He’s going around spreading COVID. He’s like a carrier because he cares more about having big crowds than he does about keeping people safe. He told his supporters-
Barack Obama: (10:03)
… say. He told his supporters, “Don’t tell anybody, but he’s going to fire Dr. Fauci after the election.” Don’t boo. Vote. We had signs up a couple of days ago, it was Halloween, had a ghost on there, said, “Don’t boo. Vote.” Come on.
Barack Obama: (10:26)
So just in case you were worried that Trump had been taking COVID too seriously, he’s stated publicly he’s going to fire the one person in the administration, a carry over, was also the president when I was in there, helped me deal with Ebola and H1N1, was one of the people who was at the front lines of dealing with HIV AIDS, one of the world’s leading experts on infectious disease, one of the few people in this administration who has been taking the seriously all along. And what did he say? His second term plan is to fire that guy.
Barack Obama: (11:08)
I mean, they’ve already said they’re not going to contain the pandemic. Now they want to fire the one person who could actually help them contain the pandemic. So Georgia, if you think they’ve done a bad job at managing COVID so far, basically what they’re telling you now is you ain’t seen nothing yet. Trump’s saying, in this election, he’s been saying he might declare victory before all the votes have been counted. Well, that’s just what he did on this virus. And how’d that turn out? Listen, America deserves better than this. Georgia, you deserve better than this. You really do. And here’s the good news. Tomorrow, you can choose something better. Tomorrow, you can send Jon Ossoff and Reverend Warnock to the United States Senate. And they can team up with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and get on top of this crisis. Yes, we can.
Barack Obama: (12:28)
Let me, just in case you’re unfamiliar with the track record of the two outstanding candidates for Senate that you’ve heard from. Jon Ossoff’s life has prepared him to serve as your Senator. He learned about public service from my dear friend, one of my lifelong heroes, John Lewis. He’s dedicated his career to fighting injustice. He knows we need a new Voting Rights Act that makes sure every Georgian is treated equally under the law, that makes sure every Georgian can exercise the right to vote that people like John Lewis bled for. Jon Ossoff runs a company that investigates crime and corruption around the world, which sounds like something we could use in Washington right now. That’s like kryptonite to Donald Trump and those corporate lobbyists that he’s all put in his cabinet. It’s like water on the Wicked Witch. You remember.
Barack Obama: (13:44)
Jon’s wife, Alisha, is a doctor. She delivers babies. And like so many doctors who’ve been risking their lives to save others, so many nurses and healthcare workers on the front lines, Alisha has been putting herself at risk. So you know that Jon’s not going to go around accusing doctors of trying to profit from the pandemic. You heard that’s what Trump said, right? He said, “Well, doctors are exaggerating this because they just want to make more money.” These doctors, these nurses, these healthcare workers, they are in there, they are exposing themselves to this disease. They are more at risk than anybody. And Jon Ossoff understands that because he’s seeing it in his own family. He’s going to listen to the experts and work with Joe Biden to get this pandemic under control with a plan to make testing and vaccines free for every American and make sure our frontline heroes never have to ask other countries for the equipment they need because it’s going to be here, right there ready for American workers.
Barack Obama: (14:53)
And you know the other thing Jon’s going to do is he’s going to protect your healthcare. There have been more than nine million cases of COVID-19 in America. And even for folks who get better, your insurer could still consider COVID-19 a pre-existing condition, which means you might not be able to get insurance next time if the protections that we put in place 10 years ago with the Affordable Care Act were eliminated. Republicans love to say right before an election they’re going to protect your preexisting conditions. Listen, with the Affordable Care Act, Joe Biden and I actually did it 10 years ago. Those protections are already in place. We were acquired insurers to cover your pre-existing conditions. And since then, Republicans have tried to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times. They’ve promised, “Don’t worry. After we repeal it, we’re going to replace it with a really wonderful plan.” Every two weeks for 10 years they’ve been promising a new plan. Have you seen this new plan? I haven’t either. Nobody’s seen it. You know why? Because they don’t have a new plan.
Barack Obama: (16:09)
They’ve just attacked the Affordable Care Act at every turn, and in the process, driven up costs, driven up the uninsured. Now they’re in the Supreme Court trying to get the Supreme Court to take your healthcare away in the middle of a pandemic. Why would you do that? Just to spite me? Why in the middle of a pandemic would you offer nothing but empty promises and try to kick people off their healthcare?
Barack Obama: (16:44)
Georgia, something got to go. It’s either your senators or your healthcare. If I were you, I’d choose your healthcare. Get rid of the senators who are trying to take it away. You know your senators aren’t going to stand up to protect it. They love to talk tough like President Trump. But one of the things they have in common with them is when you start calling them out, they cut and run. You saw president Trump. He’s in the middle of a 60 Minutes interview. He just walked out. It’s too tough. He quit in the middle of an interview. Somebody is asking them, “Well, what are you going to do in your second term?” “That’s too tough. I’m leaving.” And then you saw it again last week when Jon Ossoff called out Senator Perdue on healthcare in their debate. Perdue was like one of those chickens. I would have felt bad for the guy if he hadn’t voted four times to take away your pre-existing conditions protections. Four times he voted against it. They were supposed to have another debate last night. Perdue chickened out, pulled out. The scariest Halloween costume he saw this year was Jon Ossoff in debate.
Barack Obama: (18:25)
But let me tell you what’s really scary, Georgia. Republicans threatening to end preexisting conditions protections for 100 million people in the middle of a pandemic. That is scary. And you have the power to do something about it. Jon Ossoff and Joe Biden will protect your healthcare. They will expand Medicare. They will make insurance more affordable for everyone.
Barack Obama: (18:50)
And so will Reverend Raphael Warnock. Let me talk about the good Reverend right now. I won’t preach, but I will offer testimony. This is a man who preaches at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in the pulpit of its great pastor, Dr. King. He’s read the gospels and they might not have known about pre-existing conditions back then, but the Reverend will tell you Jesus spent time healing the sick, caring for the poor. When Georgia Republicans fought against expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of your fellow Georgians, Reverend Warnock followed the example of John Lewis and got himself arrested getting into good trouble. Reverend Warnock’s life prepared him to live in service to others. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. Here’s a man who grew up in public housing in Savannah with 11 brothers and sisters. That’s a lot of brothers and sisters-
Barack Obama: (20:03)
… in Savannah with 11 brothers and sisters. That’s a lot of brothers and sisters. That taught him a little bit about working together, by looking out for others, about sharing. His mom spent her summers as a young woman, picking cotton and tobacco. His dad was a veteran and a small businessman who preached on Sunday. He knows about the power of opportunity and the God-given right to dignity and decent wages for working people. Reverend Warnock earned his degree at Morehouse, a Morehouse man, but he did it with the help of Pell Grants and student loans, so, you know, he’s going to fight for every single young person who dreams of a college education, but doesn’t know how he or she’s going to pay for next semester’s classes.
Barack Obama: (20:55)
He’s been there. Last time I saw Reverend in person, was in Ebeneezer Baptist church for the Memorial service for John Lewis. He possesses the moral courage John did, to question right, and wrong and call things for what they are. He’s got the moral clarity to shine a spotlight on injustice and make the powers that be, uncomfortable. We need some folks who will shake things up a little bit, and he’s going to lead us in Washington to overcome our own complacency and our own fears and our own prejudices, to become better truer versions of ourselves. That’s who he is, and that’s who we all need to be.
Barack Obama: (21:44)
Look, we got one day left. I’ve been making a lot of arguments out there. Some of them should be obvious, and yet I know that there’s still people out there who aren’t voting. I want to talk to you right now. The people of Georgia right now, who decided not to vote. Maybe you don’t like who’s in the White House right now, but you just lost faith in government. You’re frustrated. You don’t think government makes a difference. Maybe you’re troubled by what the two current senators in Georgia have done, but you’re not really confident or certain about how much of a difference it’ll make in your lives. I understand that. The government’s not perfect. Government doesn’t solve every problem.
Barack Obama: (22:43)
We’ve got a long legacy in this country, of hardship and prejudice and people who are powerful and rich, taking advantage of folks who aren’t. We have a history right here in Georgia, that John Lewis fought and other fought, and sometimes I can get down. Michelle can get down. Sometimes we’re at dinner table. We’re just like, “Lord, why are we still fighting some of these battles? I thought we settled some of these arguments. I thought we had turned the corner. Why are we still hearing people praise folks who think that the color of your skin determines your status? Why are we still acting as if women shouldn’t be treated the same as men, and paid the same for doing the same work? Why are we having these old arguments? I thought these were done.”
Barack Obama: (24:03)
It can be discouraging sometimes. You drive through some neighborhoods in Atlanta or Chicago or Washington DC, or you go out in some rural areas and some small towns, and you think, “You know what? Folks are still having a hard time, and some of the things that should have been fixed, haven’t been fixed,” and you get discouraged. I get it. Even as President of the United States, there were times where I thought, “Man, I want … I thought I could get this done or that done, and somehow the special interests and the lobbyists and others are blocking it and making it hard.”
Barack Obama: (24:44)
You get frustrated. I get it. But you know what? Whenever I get in one of those moods, I just remind myself that when we work together, when we put in a little bit of effort, things may not get perfect, but they do get better. When John Lewis started marching across that bridge, it didn’t eliminate racism and bigotry in America, but it started something that got the Voting Rights Act passed. It made things better. I didn’t get everything done that I want to get done when I was president. But I could say, when I looked back at the end eight years, you know what? The country is better off now than it was when I took office.
Barack Obama: (25:47)
20-some million million people have healthcare that didn’t have it before. That’s a good thing. Children that were in poverty had been lifted up out of poverty, not all of them, but some of them. That’s a good thing. Maybe this next generation came up and saw that black and white can work together, that we don’t have to be at odds, that we can treat each other with dignity and respect, that we don’t have to be scared of each other, but should reach out to each other. A president by himself, can’t solve every challenge in the economy. But if we elect people like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, if we elect Reverend Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who are focused on working people and getting you the help that you need, it can make a difference for thousands of people and 10 thousands of people, maybe a few million people might be better off.
Barack Obama: (26:57)
A president, by himself, can’t eliminate all racial bias in our criminal justice system. But, if we elect district attorneys and state’s attorneys and sheriffs who are focused on equality and justice, it can make things better. John understood this. Dr. King understood this. Abraham Lincoln understood it. George Washington understood it. John, I remember talking to John Lewis right before he passed. We talked about all these young people who had come out to start this wave of marches, non-violent, peaceful protests all across the country. We talked about how this younger generation, they don’t have to choose between protest and politics. If we’re going to translate our aspirations into laws and practices, we’ve got to engage in both.
Barack Obama: (28:10)
There’s nothing un-American about protest. This country was founded on protesting against injustice. That’s what the American Revolution was about. John ran for office all those years, and kept protesting even while he was in office, because he understood they’re two sides of the same coin. It’s us acting on behalf of our highest aspirations, even though we know we won’t get there. We’re never going to get all the way to the Promised Land, but we can help lay the path for future generations to get there. That’s what public service should be about. That’s what citizenship should be about.
Barack Obama: (28:58)
That’s what voting is about. Not making things perfect, but making things better, laying that path, brick by brick, to a better future, putting us on track, so that a generation from now, two generations from now, three generations from now, we can look back and we can say, “Yeah, that was a moment when we turned towards our better angels, towards our better impulses, where we started to pull together as a nation, instead of being riven apart.” The fact that we don’t get 100% of what we want, is not a good reason not to vote. We got to keep at it.
Barack Obama: (29:38)
Typically, just over 50% of us vote. Think about that. Almost half the people who are eligible, typically, do not vote. Yes, part of this is because folks make it hard to vote. Your governor right here in Georgia, seems to make it his job to come up with ways to make it as hard as possible for some Georgians to vote. I-
Barack Obama: (30:04)
These folks sure are scared of folks voting, aren’t they? Think about that. If you’ve decided you don’t want to vote. Don’t you wonder why it is that the folks in power are so worried about you voting? There must be a reason why they’re trying to make it hard for you to vote, it’s because they know if you vote, things change, the answer is not to stay home, it’s to turn out like never before and show them what’s in your heart. Show them the spirit of community. Imagine if 60% of us voted. Imagine if 70% of us voted, not a hundred percent, just 70%.
Barack Obama: (30:53)
Imagine January 20th. When we swear in President Biden and Vice President Harris and Reverend Warnock and John Ossoff are in the United States Senate. Imagine having leaders in office who have a plan to get us out of this mess and who care about working Americans and have a plan to help you start getting ahead, who believe in science and have a plan to protect this planet for our kids, who believe in racial equality and are willing to do the work to bring us closer to an America where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or who you love, or how much money you got, everybody’s treated with dignity. Everybody’s treated with respect. Everybody, if they’re willing to work hard, has a chance to make it. Imagine having public officials who you abide by the values our mamas and our grandmas and grandpas taught us.
Barack Obama: (31:54)
Being honest, being responsible, working hard, looking after those who can’t look after themselves, showing compassion, believing in justice. All that is possible. All that is within our reach for all. And the reason I know it is, is because I’ve seen it all across the country. Every time I’ve gotten discouraged over these last four years, whenever I’ve seen our worst impulses revealed, I’ve also seen America at its best. I’ve seen folks of every age and background look out for other people, packing cities and town squares so that families wouldn’t be separated, rallying so that another classroom won’t get shot up, proclaiming that we need to do something to make sure our kids won’t grow up in an uninhabitable planet. We have seen healthcare workers risk their lives daily to save somebody else’s loved ones. We’ve seen people contribute and volunteer, bring food to neighbors, help out the elderly who are alone, who are having an especially hard time.
Barack Obama: (33:13)
WRight now we’ve seen Americans of all races join together to declare in the face of injustice and brutality that black lives matter no more, but no less. That we don’t want anybody feeling superior or better than anybody else. We just want everybody to treat each other with common decency and respect. That’s all we want, just basic fairness so that no child in this country should feel the continuing sting of racism and that they’re judged by the content of their character. We’ve seen people march all across this country. You’ve seen towns where they’re barely any black folks and they still got folks marching with signs up because they believe that we can be better. Georgia, America’s a good and decent place.
Barack Obama: (34:11)
We’ve just seen so much noise and so much nonsense and distraction. And we’ve seen media companies and politicians make a business of making us hate each other because it drives clicks and drives eyeballs. And so sometimes it’s hard to remember, but I’m asking you to remember what this country can be. Georgia is a better place than it used to be. There used to be a lot of violence and cruelty in this place. And it’s a better place because some folks went out there and made sacrifices, black and white. In America, it’s a better place than it used to be, but it can be better now, but you’ve got to do the work. It’s all up to you now. I’m asking you in your ability to believe in John Ossoff and Reverend Warnock and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, but most importantly, your collective ability to get us out of these dark times and help us build back better.
Barack Obama: (35:37)
I’m asking you to believe in your ability to change America. We can’t abandon the Americans who are hurting right now. We can’t abandon the young people who aren’t getting the education they deserve right now. We can’t abandon those young people who are out there who inspired us this summer. We’ve got to channel their activism in action. We can’t just imagine a better future. We’ve got to fight for it. If you haven’t voted yet, go out and vote. It’s not that much to ask, go out there and vote, do this basic thing that can make America better. Tomorrow we can choose to protect healthcare for our families. Tomorrow we can rebuild an economy that rewards working Americans and not just the wealthy of us. Tomorrow we can elect leaders who reflect our best instincts and not our worst. Tomorrow we can choose hope over fear and unity over division.
Barack Obama: (36:45)
The promise to change over the power of the status quo. And if we do, Georgia, we vote like our lives depend on it because they do, we will let John Ossoff and Reverend Warnock to the United States Senate, we will send Joe Biden, Kamala Harris to the White House, and we will leave no doubt about who we are and what this country stands for. Honk if you’re ready to go. Honk if you’re fired up. Georgia, let’s do this. Let’s go out there and show that we believe. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.