Aug 12, 2020
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Speech Transcript August 12: First Campaign Event as Running Mates
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke at their first campaign appearance as running mates on August 12. Read the transcript of the event here.
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Joe Biden: (17:08)
Please welcome Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris.
Joe Biden: (17:27)
Hello hello. Thanks for being here. I wish we were able to talk to the folks outside but we’re keeping our social distancing and playing by the rules. Good afternoon everyone. To me and to Kamala, this is an exciting day. It’s a great day for our campaign and it’s a great day for America in my view. Over the past several weeks I have had the incredible privilege of meeting and spending a good deal of time with a group of talented women leaders, all of whom are qualified to be president. With each one, the more I learned about them, the more I talked to them, the more impressed I was even though I knew them before. I want to thank each and every one of them for being part of this process and I look forward to working with them as we rebuild this country to get elected and once we are elected God willing.
Joe Biden: (18:27)
I approached this with a seriousness of purpose and of mind because this is a serious moment for our nation. We’re at one of those inflection points, you’ve heard me say that before, in our history. A life-changing election for this nation and the choice, the choice we make this November is going to decide the future of America for a very, very long time and I had a great choice. Great opportunities. I had a great choice but I have no doubt that I picked the right person to join me as the next Vice President of the United States of America and that’s Senator Kamala Harris. You know, it seems Americans all across this nation, at least at the outset here agree with me. Yesterday we had our best grassroots fundraising day of the campaign, more than double our previous record, and in doing so, we set a single day record for online political fundraising and I think I know why. So I hope that you’ll join us as well, those of you listening today. Go to joebiden.com today, $5.00, $10.00, whatever.
Joe Biden: (19:45)
Kamala, as you all know is smart, she’s tough, she’s experienced, she’s a proven fighter for the backbone of this country, the middle class, for all those who are struggling to get into the middle class. Kamala knows how to govern. She knows how to make the hard calls. She’s ready to do this job on Day One and we’re both ready to get to work, rebuilding this nation and building it better. As attorney general of the largest state in the country, Kamala took on the big banks over mortgage fraud and won. Took on big oil that wanted to pollute without consequences. She was a pioneer in marriage equality and tackled the gun lobby. You know, we’ve all watched her in the United States Senate go toe to toe with Trump officials trying to hide the truth, asking the tough questions that needed to be asked and not stopping until she got an answer and when none was forthcoming it was obvious what the answer was.
Joe Biden: (20:51)
As a member of the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee, she’s been the center, in the middle of the most critical national security challenges our country faces. Well aware, well aware of all the threats to this nation and ready to respond to them. As a child of immigrants, she knows personally how immigrant families enrich our country as well as the challenges of what it means to grow up black and Indian-American in the United States of America. Her story is America’s story, different from mine in many particulars, but also not so different in the essentials. She has worked hard, she has never backed down from a challenge, and she has earned each and every of the accolades and achievements that she has gained. Many of them often in the face of obstacles that others put in her way but never quit, and this morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up, especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities, but today, today just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way, as the stuff of presidents and vice presidents.
Joe Biden: (22:20)
In her campaign in the primary, Kamala often talked about what she referred to as the 3:00 a.m. agenda, about moms and dads awake late at night in their kitchens, worried, scared, uncertain about how they were going to take care of their families, about how they were going to pay the bills, about how they were going to make it, simply make it. Growing up in Scranton and Claymont, Delaware, I saw that struggle with my family as well. Kamala saw it with hers as well and millions of Americans are living that struggle as we speak, especially in this moment of crisis, especially with so many jobs lost. Kamala and I both know that all folks are looking for as my dad would say is an even shot, just give me a shot, a fair shot, a shot at making it and it will be the work of our administration to make sure they get a fair shot.
Joe Biden: (23:24)
Working families need someone on their side in this nation because they certainly don’t have anyone in the president now on their side. That’s going to change in a Biden-Harris administration. It’s going to be gratifying to see the strong, enthusiastic reaction to Senator Harris as our next vice president. It comes from people all over the country, it’s already occurring. All over the country, all ideological views, all backgrounds. Events of course, we are predictable, some of them. It comes from all over except of course from Donald Trump’s White House and his allies. You all knew it was coming. You could have set your watches to it. Donald Trump has already started his attacks, calling Kamala “nasty”, whining about how she is “mean” to his appointees. It’s no surprise because whining is what Donald Trump does best, better than any president in American history.
Joe Biden: (24:37)
Is anyone surprised Donald Trump has a problem with a strong woman or strong women across the board? We know that more is to come, so let’s be clear. If you’re a working person, worried about whether or not you have a job to go to, whether or not you’ll be able to pay your mortgage, pay your rent, worried about the poison in the air you breathe, the water you drink, worried about your civil rights, even your basic right to dignity which is under attack with this administration, Kamala Harris has had your back and now we have to have her back. She’s going to stand with me in this campaign and all of us are going to stand up for her. On January 20, 2021, we’re all going to watch Senator Harris raise her right hand and swear the oath of office as the first woman ever to serve in the second highest office in America in this land, and then we’re going to get to work, fixing the mess that President Trump and Vice President Pence have created, both at home and abroad through four years of mismanagement and coddling of terrorists and thugs around the world. Not only will America dig itself out of this hole they put us in, we’re going to build. We’re going to build back and we’re going to build back better. We have a public health crisis. While he’s in court trying to do away with health care, with more than five million reported infections, 165,000 people dead and climbing as a consequence of COVID-19 and still, months later, no real leadership or plan from the President of the United States how to get this pandemic under control. No real help for the states and local governments trying to fill the vacuum of leadership from the White House. No real help for children and educators, for small businesses and frontline workers, they’re the ones that are holding our country together. Instead, he’s issuing executive orders and making promises that in the end will defund the Social Security system while insisting that this virus will disappear.
Joe Biden: (27:12)
The Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration will have a comprehensive plan to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and turn the corner on this pandemic. Masking, clear science-based guidance, dramatically scaling up testing, getting states and local governments the resources they need to open the schools and businesses safely. We can do this. We just need a president and vice president willing to lead and take responsibility. Not as this president says, “It’s not my fault. The governor should thank me more.” As that old saying goes, give me a break. We have an economic crisis and more than 16 million Americans, 16 million, still out of work. Donald Trump is on track to break another record. On track to leave office with the worst jobs records of any American president in modern history, but instead of doing the hard work, of meeting face to face with congressional leaders, Democrats and Republicans in the White House like every other president has done in a crisis, to get Americans the relief they need and deserve, Donald Trump is on the golf course. If I told you this three years ago you’d look at me like I was being crazy. He hasn’t even met with the leadership. He doesn’t have time it appears.
Joe Biden: (28:58)
We have a climate crisis that Donald Trump refuses to even acknowledge. When he thinks about climate change, all we hear is the word hoax. A Biden-Harris administration is going to meet the climate crisis, protect the health of the American public. Along the way, we’re going to deliver one word, jobs. Good paying jobs. We have a racial justice crisis. Donald Trump seeks only to inflame it with his politics of racist rhetoric and appeals to division. Today’s not only the day I’m proud to introduce Senator Kamala Harris as the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. It’s also the third anniversary of that terrible day in Charlottesville. Remember? Remember what it felt like to see those neo-Nazis, close your eyes, and those Klansmen, white supremacists, coming
Joe Biden: (30:03)
… close your eyes, and those Klansmen, white supremacists, coming out of fields, carrying lighted torches, faces contorted, bulging veins, pouring into the streets of a historic American city, spewing the same antisemitic bile we heard in Hitler’s Germany in the ’30s. Remember how it felt to see a violent clash ensue between those celebrating hate and those standing against it? It was a wake up call for all of us as a country. For me, it was a call to action. My father used to say, silence is complicity, not original to him, but he believed it. At that moment, I knew I couldn’t stand by and let Donald Trump, a man who went on to say when asked about what he thought he said, there were very fine people on both sides, “Very fine people on both sides.” No president of the United States of America has ever said anything like that, see him continuing to attack everything that makes America America. I knew we were in the battle for the soul of the nation. That’s when I decided to run. I’m proud now to have Senator Harris at my side in that battle because she shares with the same intensity I do, for she’s someone who knows what’s at stake.
Joe Biden: (31:37)
The question is for all Americans to answer, who are we as a nation? What do we stand for? And most importantly, what do we want to be? Someone who knows that the future of this country is limited only by the barriers we place on our own imaginations because there’s nothing Americans cannot achieve what we put our minds to it and we do it together.
Joe Biden: (32:09)
One of the reasons I chose Kamala is because we both believe that we can define America simply in one word, possibilities. Possibilities. Let me say it again, possibilities. That’s America. That’s what sets this nation apart, is that everyone, everyone, the ability for everyone, and we mean everyone, to go as far and dream as big as hard work and their God-given ability will take them.
Joe Biden: (32:48)
When I agreed to serve as President Obama’s running mate, he asked me a number of questions, as I’ve asked Kamala, but the most important was he asked me, what I wanted most importantly. I told him I wanted to be the last person in the room before he made important decisions. That’s what I asked Kamala, I asked Kamala to be the last voice in the room, to always tell me the truth, which she will, challenge my assumptions if she disagrees, ask the hard questions because that’s the way we make the best decisions for the American people. I got a chance to spend some time at my home today with Kamala and Doug, and I want to thank them. I thanked them then, but thank them publicly for agreeing to join and take this journey with Jill and me. Doug, you’re going to have to learn what it means to be a barrier breaker yourself in this job you’re about to take on, America’s first Second Gentlemen. And although they’re not with us here today, I want to thank Ella and Cole as well.
Joe Biden: (34:07)
I had a chance to speak to Doug’s mom and dad, and Ella and Cole, and we’re going to get our kids together to let them know what’s coming. My grandchildren are about the age of their children. I got to speak to them. My campaign has always been a family affair, every campaign I’ve run. So I’ve got some news for you, you’re all honorary Bidens. And here’s the best part, Kamala, you’ve been an honorary Biden for quite some time.
Joe Biden: (34:47)
I came first to know who Kamala was through our son, Beau Biden. They were friends. They served as attorneys general at the same time. They took on the same big fights together, Kamala in California, Beau here in Delaware. Big fights that helped change the entire country. I know how much Beau respected Kamala and her work, and that mattered a lot to me, to be honest with you, as I made this decision. So now we need to get to work, pulling this nation out of these crises we find ourselves in, getting our economy back on track, uniting this nation, and yes, winning the battle for the soul of America. My fellow Americans, now let me introduce to you for the first time, your next vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris. Kamala, the floor is yours.
Kamala Harris: (35:57)
[inaudible 00:35:57] Thank you, Joe.
Joe Biden: (36:03)
Kamala Harris: (36:04)
Thank you, Joe. As I said, Joe, when you called me, I am incredibly honored by this responsibility and I’m ready to get to work. I’m ready to get to work.
Kamala Harris: (36:19)
After the most competitive primary in history, the country received a resounding message that Joe was the person to lead us forward. Joe, I’m so proud to stand with you. I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination and resilience makes my presence here today even possible. This is a moment of real consequence for America. Everything we care about, our economy, our health, our children, the kind of country we live in, it’s all on the line. We’re reeling from the worst public health crisis in a century. The president’s mismanagement of the pandemic has plunged us into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and we’re experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country, demanding change. America is crying out for leadership, yet we have a president who cares more about himself than the people who elected him. A president who is making every challenge we face even more difficult to solve.
Kamala Harris: (37:58)
But here’s the good news, we don’t have to accept the failed government of Donald Trump and Mike Pence in just 83 days. We have a chance to choose a better future for our country. So Joe, Dr. Biden, thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me. Jill, I know you will be an incredible First Lady. My husband, Doug, and I are so grateful to become a part of your extended family.
Kamala Harris: (38:39)
Ever since I received Joe’s call, I’ve been thinking, yes, about the first Biden that I really came to know, and that of course is Joe’s beloved son, one of his beloved sons, Beau. In the midst of the Great Recession, Beau and I spoke on the phone practically every day, sometimes multiple times a day, working together to win back billions of dollars for homeowners from the big banks of the nation that were foreclosing on people’s homes.
Kamala Harris: (39:14)
Let me just tell you about Beau Biden. I learned quickly that Beau was the kind of guy who inspired people to be a better version of themselves. He really was the best of us. And when I would ask him, “Where did you get that? Where did this come from?” He’d always talk about his dad. I will tell you the love that they shared was incredible to watch. It was the most beautiful display of the love between a father and a son. Beau talked about how Joe would spend four hours every day riding the rails back and forth from Wilmington to Washington so he could make breakfast for his kids in the morning and make it home in time to tuck them in bed each night. All of this so two little boys, who had just lost their mom and their sister in a tragic accident, would know that the world was still turning, and that’s how I came to know Joe.
Kamala Harris: (40:26)
He’s someone whose first response when things get tough is never to think about himself, but to care for everyone else. He’s someone who never asks, why is this happening to me? And instead asks, what can I do to make life better for you? His empathy, his compassion, his sense of duty to care for others is why I am so proud to be on this ticket.
Kamala Harris: (41:03)
Joe and I, yes, we are cut from the same cloth, family is everything to me too. I cannot wait for America to get to know my husband, Doug, and our amazing kids, Cole and Ella. Because whether I’m cheering in the bleachers at a swim meet, or setting up a college room dorm, or helping my goddaughter prepare for her school debate, or building Legos with my godson, or hugging my two baby nieces, or cooking dinner, Sunday dinner, my family means everything to me. I’ve had a lot of titles over my career, and certainly vice president will be great, but Mamala will always be the one that means the most.
Kamala Harris: (41:51)
My mother and father, they came from opposite sides of the world to arrive in America, one from India and the other from Jamaica, in search of a world-class education. But what brought them together was the civil rights movement of the 1960s. That’s how they met, as students in the streets of Oakland, marching and shouting for this thing called justice in a struggle that continues today, and I was part of it. My parents would bring me to protests, strapped tightly in my stroller. My mother, Shyamala, raised my sister, Maya, and me to believe that it was up to us and every generation of Americans to keep on marching. She’d tell us, “Don’t sit around and complain about things, do something.” So I did something, I devoted my life to making real the words carved in the United States Supreme Court, equal justice under law.
Kamala Harris: (42:59)
30 years ago, I stood before a judge for the first time, breathed deep and uttered the phrase that would truly guide my career and the rest of my career, Kamala Harris for the people. The people, that’s who I represented as district attorney, fighting on behalf of victims who needed help. The people, that’s who I fought for as California’s Attorney General when I took on transnational criminal organizations who traffic in guns and drugs and human beings. And it’s the people who I have fought for as the United States Senator where I’ve worked every day to hold Trump officials accountable to the American people. And the people are who Joe and I will fight for every day in the White House.
Kamala Harris: (43:52)
Let me tell you, as somebody who has presented my fair share of arguments in court, the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut. Just look where they’ve gotten us, more than 16 million out of work, millions of kids who cannot go back to school, a crisis of poverty, of homelessness afflicting black, brown, and indigenous people the most, a crisis of hunger afflicting one in five mothers who have children that are hungry and tragically, more than 165,000 lives that have been cut short, many with loved ones who never got the chance to say goodbye. It didn’t have to be this way. Six years ago, in fact, we had a different health crisis, it was called Ebola. We all remember that pandemic, but you know what happened then? Barack Obama and Joe Biden did their job, only two-
Kamala Harris: (45:03)
… and Joe Biden did their job. Only two people in the United States died. Two. That is what’s called leadership. But compare that to the moment we find ourselves in now. When other countries are following the science, Trump pushed miracle cures he saw on Fox News. While other countries were flattening the curve, he said the virus would just poof, go away, quote, like a miracle. So when other countries opened back up for business, what did we do? We had to shut down again. This virus has impacted almost every country, but there’s a reason it has hit America worse than any other advanced nation. It’s because of Trump’s failure to take it seriously from the start, his refusal to get testing up and running, his flip flopping on social distancing and wearing masks, his delusional belief that he knows better than the experts.
Kamala Harris: (46:17)
All of that is reason. And the reason that an American dies of COVID-19 every 80 seconds. It’s why countless businesses have had to shut their doors for good. It’s why there is complete chaos over when and how to reopen our schools. Mothers and fathers are confused and uncertain and angry about childcare and the safety of their kids at school. Whether they will be in danger if they go, or fall behind if they don’t. Trump is also the reason millions of Americans are now unemployed. He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground. Because of Trump’s failures of leadership, our economy has taken one of the biggest hits out of all the major industrialized nations with an unemployment rate that has tripled as of today. This is what happens when we elect a guy who just isn’t up for the job. Our country ends up in tatters, and so does our reputation around the world.
Kamala Harris: (47:51)
But let’s be clear. This election isn’t just about defeating Donald Trump or Mike Pence. It’s about building this country back better. And that’s exactly what Joe and I will do. We’ll create millions of jobs and fight climate change through a clean energy revolution, bring back critical supply chains so the future is made in America, build on the affordable care act. So everyone has a peace of mind that comes with health insurance, and finally offer caregivers the dignity, the respect, and the pay they deserve. We’ll protect a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body, root out systemic racism in our justice system, and pass a new voting rights act. A John Lewis voting rights act that will ensure every voice is heard and every voice is counted.
Kamala Harris: (48:55)
The civil rights struggle is nothing new to Joe. It’s why he got into public service. It’s why he helped reauthorize the voting rights act and restore unemployment discrimination and employment discrimination laws. And today, he takes his place in the ongoing story of America’s march toward equality and justice, as the only, as the only who has served alongside the first black president and has chosen the first black woman as his running mate. But as Joe always points out, this election is about more than politics. It’s about who we are as a country. And I’ll admit over the past four years, there have been moments when I have truly worried about our future. But whenever I think that there is a reason for doubt, whenever I’ve had my own doubts, I think of you, the American people, the doctors and nurses and frontline workers who are risking your lives to save others, the truck drivers and the workers in grocery stores, in factories, in farms, working there, putting your own safety on the line to help us get through this pandemic. The women and students taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers. The dreamers and immigrants who know that families belong together. The LGBTQ Americans who know that love is love. People of every age and color and creed who are finally declaring in one voice that yes, black lives matter.
Kamala Harris: (50:38)
All across this country, a whole new generation of children is growing up hearing the cries for justice and the chance of hope on which I was raised. Some strapped into strollers of their own. And trust me, it’s a song you’ll never forget. So to everyone, keeping up the fight, you are doing something. You are doing something great. You are the heroes of our time and you are the reason I know we are going to bring our country closer to realizing its great promise, but to do it, we’ll need to work, organize and vote like never before, because we need more than a victory on November 3rd. We need a mandate that proves that the past few years do not represent who we are or who we aspire to be.
Kamala Harris: (51:36)
Joe likes to say that character is on the ballot. And it’s true. When he saw what happened in Charlottesville three years ago today, he knew we were in a battle for the soul of our nation. And together with your help, that’s a battle we will win. Earlier this year, I said, “I do whatever Joe asks me to do.” And so now I’m asking you to do the same. So visit joebiden.com to get involved in this campaign and vote, because electing Joe Biden is just the start of the work ahead of us. And I couldn’t be prouder to be by his side, running to represent you, the people. Thank you and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.