Oct 3, 2020
Joe Biden Campaign Speech Transcript October 3
Joe Biden gave a virtual campaign speech for his 2020 presidential election run on October 3. He said he doesn’t want to attack President Trump following his COVID-19 diagnosis. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
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-offs and thousands of others could lose their jobs soon. Race relations are at an all time low. These are the dark days that we have ever experienced. But, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, a chance to turn things around and get our country back where it belongs. It will happen one month from today on November 3rd when we have a chance to elect a man who has always been with us, a working class guy from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who will restore decency and honesty to the White House. It is my great honor to introduce the next President of the United States of America, my friend, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (00:46)
Well, John, you are my friend, Mr. President. I want to say good afternoon to everyone, and it’s great to see you all. I’m here today above all else to say thank you. Thank you, President Costa and the entire executive board for the chance to speak with you all today. And thank you for being one of the first juniors to endorse me last year. You stepped up for me and I won’t forget it. And I thank you for the bravery and commitment you show to your jobs and to the people you serve every single day. A lot of people don’t get it. You’re in the front lines of this pandemic. And as we’ve all seen too clearly this week, COVID-19 is still a threat to our health, as well as our economic security. We have to do so much more to step up to get this virus under control.
Joe Biden: (01:32)
We need to take science, the science of fighting this disease seriously if we’re going to save lives. That means making sure essential workers, and you all are that and more, folks like you get to, and the people who are doing all of the work on the buses, subway system, keeping the country moving every single day, you have to make sure you get all the PPE you need. You need it for job safety, and for our safety, to be able to continue to transport people. We need a nation-wide mask guidance so that no one gets on a public transportation unit without a mask. When they turned that request down, the Department of Transportation, they made a gigantic mistake. It’s everyone’s pay … It’s not something that has taken away someone’s freedom. It’s a patriotic duty to wear a mask. You do it not just to protect yourself, but to protect one another.
Joe Biden: (02:27)
It’s essential. You should be worried about the person next to you, in front of you, your husband, wife, mother, father, friend, neighbor. It’s essential. And it can save, as the experts have told us, up to a hundred thousand lives just between now and the end of the year, where it’s estimated by the University of Washington, as many as 200,000 more people will die from COVID unless we do something. 89 ATO members, as you’ve already … We just had a moment of silence, lost their lives to this virus. It’s heartbreaking. Think of the families that get up this morning and there’s an empty chair at the table. It’s unacceptable. We all know. I know what it’s like to have that kind of loss. It’s unacceptable. Even before this pandemic, we knew that your jobs were dangerous. You face harassments and threats of violence and so much more.
Joe Biden: (03:19)
So, we need to put in place the protections and precautions to keep you safe in your work. You’re there every single day for the people who depend on you. You deserve leadership in government who will be there for you, will fight for you, prioritize your health, your safety, and in the process, prioritizing everybody’s health and safety. You’re the ones who fight for the right to organize and bargain collective. And I promise you, the National Labor Relations Act way back in the ’30s, everybody thinks that said, okay, now we can have unions. If you go back and read it, it said we should encourage unions, encourage unions. That’s what it was intended to do. My dad used to have an expression. He said the only way to fight the abuse of power is with power. Power. And the only power we have to fight back is unions, unions who understand that Wall Street didn’t build this country.
Joe Biden: (04:16)
Middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact. And I’ll be a president who sees you, respects you, and that’s my promise to you. I’ve been running on support for public transit my entire career. Our transportation workers were with me since my first Senate campaign back a hundred years ago in 1972 when I was a 29 year old kid, and I won by 3,200 votes in no small part because you guys came out for me. Enhancing and upgrading our public transportation structures is an essential part of my build back better plan to get us out of this recession. But I also know that people need help right now. You need help right now. With so many fewer people riding public transit right now, we need to make sure that state and local governments have the funding they need to keep you running.
Joe Biden: (05:11)
Thanks to your leadership, the Cares Act secured $25 billion in emergency operating aid for transit. But I think we need to do more. We need to do more than just thank you. We need to pay you. Excuse me. This pandemic has taken the blinders off so many Americans. It’s shown us so clearly just how much we depend on you and all essential workers and how much we owe you. I’m not just saying that. That’s a fact. So, I’m going to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for all you do for this country. And I know there’s so much more to say, but I know you have questions for me, John. And I’d just like to say again, thank you, and I’m happy to take a few questions.
Thank you, Vice President. Yes, we have two questions. The first question is, for transit workers, the current President’s failure to manage COVID-19 crisis has cost our members their lives. As mentioned, we have lost 89 ATU brothers and sisters to this horrible virus. A recent ATU survey found that 50% of employers have not provided bus operators with the basic personal protection equipment, PPE like masks and gloves. Without federal government help, transit agencies have been forced to bid against each other for PPE. And as a result, securing the lifesaving equipment has been difficult.
The President has said that the federal government is not a shipping clerk. It’s every state and every transit agency for themselves. Defying all common sense, the first few critical weeks of this pandemic, Trump’s Department of Transportation remarkably said on its website that PPE is not recommended at this time. Even now after the CDC recommended wearing face covering in a public setting where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, the DLT has still not mandated masks on transit vehicles. So my question is, as a result, passengers with Coronavirus keep getting on the bus, infecting other passengers and transit workers, and there is no end in sight. So, how would you handle things differently?
Joe Biden: (07:44)
Fundamentally differently. And I’m in a little bit of a spot here because I don’t want to be attacking the President and the First Lady now because they now have contracted Coronavirus, and Jill and I pray for their quick and full recovery, but our thoughts are with the families and the members you’ve lost as well. We have to bear the grief of an empty chair, an empty kitchen table chair, of not being able to turn and … I find myself when I lost folks in my family, you just tend to go. And you realize, no, it’s never coming back. This isn’t about politics. More than 200,000 Americans have died from COVID. 7.3 million have been infected. 30 million have lost paychecks, hours, or their jobs entirely. And throughout it all, you’ve kept the nation running. You’ve kept people connected.
Joe Biden: (08:50)
You put others before yourselves, and whether they understand it or not, and I think average Americans do now, we can’t thank you enough. It’s always been essential, even if the rest of the country is just learning what an essential worker really is. Now look, here’s what else is essential. Getting you the support you need to do your job. It’s not enough just to praise you. We have to protect and pay you. We have to work as hard as you, as hard work as you do for your communities. And here’s what I’ll do as President. Number one, call on every single American to wear a mask when they’re around other people outside their households. That includes when they ride public transportation, buses, trains airplanes. Yesterday, the transportation department, stupidly in my view, rejected a petition to require just that, wear a mask when you’re on public transportation.
Joe Biden: (09:43)
If I can say something here, this is not about freedom. It’s about patriotism. You wear a mask to protect the person next to you. You wear a mask to protect the bus driver. You wear a mask to protect the person you’re sitting next to on the bus. And to reject the chance to do the easiest thing possible to save lives, I find it appalling. I promise you my Department of Transportation will insist on it. Two, get protective gear to every worker on the front lines. It’s unconscionable that for so long Washington left our states, cities, and transit agencies to bid against one another. If that’s not the President’s responsibility, what the heck is his responsibility? Not my fault. I have no responsibility. Go to your mayor, your governor, your employer. It’s unconscionable that seven months in so many transit employees still aren’t provided enough PPE to keep you safe on the job.
Joe Biden: (10:42)
By the way paranthetically, it’s not just you guys he doesn’t care about. They don’t care about much of anybody. They started off promising they were going to give school teachers and school children masks to go back to school. Then, famous said, “No, it’s not an essential requirement.” Not essential. As President I’d use the full power of the Defense Production Act to get PPE out to every single transit worker, hospital, job site, and school in this country, and I’d appoint a supply commander to make sure it’s distributed fast and fairly. It’s within our power to do this, John. We can do this. And the idea that they’re kicking it off to the, “No, talk to your governor, not my responsibility,” come on. I don’t know. If that’s not a responsibility of a President in the middle of a crisis, I don’t know what in God’s name a responsibility is.
Joe Biden: (11:40)
Thirdly, we’ve got to fix the testing fiasco. Surging tens of millions of test kits where they’re needed most provide free testing and treatment and vaccine when it’s available for everyone, and make sure politics plays no role in vaccine approval. Period. I’ve actually told some governors, John, I probably shouldn’t say this, but you know me, told some governors, “Don’t endorse me. Don’t endorse me because you’ll pay a penalty. You won’t get what you need from the federal government in terms of his covert crap.” Not a joke. My word. Not a joke. We aren’t blue states and red states. We’re the United States. United States. If you elect me President, I’m going to be President for all Americans. I’m running as a Democrat proudly, but I’m going to make sure I’m President for the people who voted against me as much as those who voted for me.
Joe Biden: (12:38)
This division of our country is just devastating. Thirdly, or fourthly, I’m going to enforce tougher safety standards and get schools and businesses clean safety guidelines and resources, implement them. Tell people to stay healthy when they ride with you. And I’m going to fight to get you the hazard pay you deserve. And by the way, it’s not just about getting you masks. We also have to protect you. Look at the people. Look what’s happened to your drivers. A guy getting off a bus and says goodbye, and he slits the driver’s throat and kills him. Look what’s happening. We got to get you the protective gear. Not only that, we’ve got to get you separation. We’ve got to get plastic and coverings around the drivers. You’ve got to make sure that you have separation. There’s so much we can do.
Joe Biden: (13:28)
And it doesn’t cost that much. It doesn’t cost that much. But even if it did, it’s an obligation we have. I really mean it. I find this one of the most despicable things that I’ve encountered in my whole career. When the administration was told that there’s a thousand people a day dying of COVID, the response was, “It is what it is.” It is what it is? It is what it is because they are who they are. That’s why it is what it is. We can change this. I promise you on day one, I will.
Thank you, Mr. President, Vice President. You kind of touched on, Joe, my second question. And that is, what is your plan to save transportation services in this country? Transit systems are running out of money. School bus contractors and motor coach companies are going out of business. Right now, we are facing layoffs all across the country. And the safety situation on the bus right now is terrible. Our members, they serve as mass police.
Joe Biden: (14:44)
[inaudible 00:14:45] regulations while trying to drive a bus at the same time. Even before the pandemic, our ATU brothers and sisters had been getting attacked behind the wheel.
Joe Biden: (14:57)
Slapped. They get punched, spit on, held up at gunpoint, and stabbed. So Joe, I know you had brought a little bit of this up. We’ve been fighting for safe buses and the industry to make changes, but what are your thoughts on these transport … What are your thoughts on these, and transportation funding on safety issues?
Joe Biden: (15:23)
Well first of all, we have to come together to beat the virus. Every path forward starts there. That’s how we get people back on the train, back on the buses, back on the school buses, back to go. They’re getting their lives back. And it’s how we keep our transit system solid. But along the way, one of the most urgent things we have to do is get emergency fundings out to states, cities, and transit authorities now. Now. Because of the ATU working with the House, you were able to work hard to see the 25 billion in aid that was included in the so-called Cares Act, those first pieces of relief legislation. But I know it’s not enough. Tens of thousands of transit workers have already been laid off. Tens of thousands. And I said for months, the Republican Senate needs to step up and pass another economic relief package right away so painful cuts don’t make this crisis worse.
Joe Biden: (16:18)
You may remember, John, when we went through this with the single-most significant recession in American history short of a depression, when Barack and I came into office and we were inherited the Bush recession. I was asked to manage the Recovery Act, which was $80 billion. Excuse me, $800 billion. And the first thing I was able to do is get over $140 billion to the states and localities so they didn’t have to lay off transit workers. They didn’t have to lay off school teachers. Didn’t have to lay off firefighters. They didn’t have to lay off police officers, because all the cities and counties have to work on balanced budgets. That’s why the founders said we didn’t have to balance budgets nationally to be able to compensate when things got bad. Well, House passed the package twice. It’s time for Mitch McConnell to do his job and save millions more hardworking Americans that don’t lose theirs.
Joe Biden: (17:15)
By the way, we said, “The states are going to go bankrupt.” He said, “Let them go bankrupt.” Well, we need better protection to keep you safe as well during this COVID crisis, as we discussed, but go far beyond. I’m never going to forget the bravery of Thomas Dunn, who was so viciously attacked while driving his route in Tampa last year. But somehow, still steered his passengers safely to roadside before he died. He warned about driver’s safety months before, but was left unprotected. As President, I promise you I’ll fight to get past the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act to get barriers installed to stop that kind of assault, to reduce blind spots, to make so many other things possible for you. It’s ridiculous. Like I said, I just had my license to drive a school bus when I was in law school. I can tell you what. It was hard just working out what the kids were doing behind me.
Joe Biden: (18:16)
I can’t fathom today. I can’t fathom today driving a bus or running a subway without having more protection. I promise you I’ll invest a record amount in infrastructure, dramatically increasing the funding for public transit to help power our recovery. That includes improving transit bus lines, helping cities and towns and small new light rail networks, investing funds in low-income communities. Somewhere between 60 and 70% of the American people who live in inner cities, their jobs are outside the city and they don’t have vehicles. They need transportation to get to their work, to improve their neighborhoods, to improve their schools. Look, this is a crisis, and we have a real opportunity to build back better. And you all, your dedication is going to get us there. But here’s the thing. Can I go on another minute, John, because I think this is pretty important?
Joe Biden: (19:16)
Look. What people don’t get, you guys get it, is if we invest significantly in transit, I want to invest about three quarters of a trillion dollars in transit overall, because it does two things. One, it gets people off the highways. And if you know if you have long distance transit, if you can get there as fast in a train or on a rail as you can in a vehicle, people leave their cars and get in the rail. That will save billions of gallons of oil over time and deal with pollution. Light rail in cities. I’m going to say something. One of your executive vice-presidents from Detroit, one of the things I was able to do in addition to getting our 200 buses in Detroit, we put in a light rail system. Why? Because an awful lot of those people there worked in the hospitals outside of town. And then in town, they could get back and forth to work.
Joe Biden: (20:21)
It saved the city, and has significantly increased the capacity to do more in the city and outside the city. We’re in a position that if we invest in rail, light rail, if we invest in buses, and we’re going to change the way buses run, we’re going to have buses that run. We’re going to get electric buses down the road. We’re going to own the electric market in vehicles, both in buses as well as automobiles, creating well over a million new jobs. Not a joke. And by the way, the Wall Street guys looked at my numbers and what I was talking about and acknowledged my plan will create seven million more jobs than the President’s, and increase by $1 trillion economic growth, because we have to start using our brain. We can both deal with climate, employment, and health if we in fact move in a direction to focus heavily on transit.
Joe Biden: (21:17)
If I can give you one little example, and I know the folks who are … That’s a slightly different operation, but Amtrak. In order to build, if we eliminated Amtrak on the Northeast Carter, we’d have to build eight new lanes of I-95 from Washington to New York. One mile of I-95, the cement and all that’s needed, is $20 million. $20 million. Imagine what would happen if we didn’t have rail, and imagine what would happen if we had high-speed rail. Imagine what would happen if all these towns and cities had light rail that could get people to and from work. It would save them money, save them opportunities, provide more opportunities for them. I know I’m going on too long, but this transportation is such an incredible part of our economic recovery. And by the way, we’ve got to make sure you start to get paid what you deserve. Paid what you deserve.
Joe Biden: (22:30)
But first and foremost, I promise you I’m going to get you all the PPE that’s necessary. That’s a promise. Secondly, we’re going to make sure you are safe on your transportation system where you are operating it. And that means plexiglass. That means mirrors. That means a whole range of things we can change in order to deal with this. And because I tell you what, you’re the guys and women I grew up with. You’re the people who make it run. Like I said, I’ll end where I began. I view things from Scranton, not from Wall Street. I view things from the folks I was raised with. A trolley line ran by my house. It was a great equalizer for everybody. We’re in a situation where we can change things drastically for the better and help everyone across the board. The wealthy will do just fine when we do better.
Joe Biden: (23:21)
Everybody does fine. Everybody does fine. But most important, your personal safety is critical. And I really mean it. I give you my word. So thank you, John. Thank you for your help. And thank all of you. In case you see me looking to my left here, that’s where all of you are up on the screen. There’s about 500 of you on a screen up here. So hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. And I’m looking at … Where was a beautiful little baby being held by a dad a moment ago? Anyway, that’s awful punishment to make a kid have to watch me on television here on a Zoom, but thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Mr. Vice President, you didn’t go on too long. Actually, it was great to hear someone that gets it and someone that actually felt like they know our job. I haven’t heard that in a long time.
Joe Biden: (24:11)
We can do so much, John. We are in position. If we win this thing, we’re in a position to change the country. I really mean it. I really mean it. There’s gigantic hope out there. I’m confident. There’s so much we can do. And transportation is such a critical part of it all. The overall infrastructure, the overall economic recovery, making sure people … Anyway, I am going on too much, but I love you guys. Thank you.
Thank you, and I just wanted to say some closing remarks. Vice President Biden, thank you for joining us today. Our members learned a lot about your views on the key issues that matter most to them. We hope you will stay safe and healthy and go on to win back this country. Brothers and sisters, thank you for joining us today for this special event. Early voting has already begun in many states. If you’re going out to the polls, be safe. If you are voting by mail, get your ballot in. Despite what you are hearing from the other side, voting by mail is totally fine. However you do it, just vote. Vote as if your job is on a line because it is. Vote as if your health is on a line because it is. Vote as if our way of life is on the line because it is. Get out and vote for this courageous, honest, and decent man who will lead our country back from the brink, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (25:55)
We can do this, folks. I promise you.
Thank you. Thank you, Joe. And have a good evening.
Joe Biden: (26:01)
Putting on my mask.
Thank you everybody. Be safe. Brothers and sisters, I hope you enjoyed. Please vote. We need to change this.