Sep 15, 2020
Joe Biden Hispanic Heritage Month Event Speech Transcript September 15
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden spoke at a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Kissimmee, Florida on September 15. Read the transcript of the speech here.
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[inaudible 00:00:12]. Yay.
Joe Biden: (00:20)
I just have one thing to say. Hang on there.
Speaker 5: (00:25)
Speaker 3: (00:25)
All right. There you go. Dance a little bit, Joe. Come on.
Joe Biden: (00:38)
[crosstalk 00:00:38] I tell you what. If I had the talent of any one of these people, I’d be elected president by acclamation. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3: (00:50)
Joe Biden: (00:51)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hello and Happy Hispanic Heritage month. It’s great to be back in Florida and to be here to celebrate what is best in our democracy, our diversity. Our culture that is shaped by people from every part of the world, especially the rich, Hispanic heritage that enliven so much of our national story. We hear it in the rhythms that pour into our hearts and move our feet. To artists like [Louis 00:01:23] and Ricky, thank you both. Thank you both for being here, but more than being here, but thank you for actually jumping in and trying to help me win this election. It is, where I come from, they call that a big deal. It really is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Joe Biden: (01:40)
We see it represented in our television and our movie screens with actresses like Eva Longoria. Thank you, Eva, for both joining us tonight, for the outstanding work you did in hosting the first night of the democratic convention. You have changed political conventions forever. I don’t think we’ll ever see one like the old-fashioned conventions. You did an incredible job. You’ve become a great friend, and thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking with me. We recognize in the halls of power, and our Congress, and our leaders, and like my friend, Representative Darren Soto, who I had the pleasure of speaking with a few minutes ago. I have thanked him for the passport into his district. I appreciate it. Congressman, thank you for all you do for the people in this district.
Joe Biden: (02:25)
It’s in the scientists working in labs across the country on vaccines to fight this virus, and the doctors and the nurses in the front lines, working around the clock to care for people’s health. It’s in the diplomats who proudly represent the United States of America and our values in countries all over the world, and on our military members and the families who love this country so much, they’re willing to sacrifice everything for it. It’s in engineers who are working to develop new technology that’s going to help us grasp our clean energy future. And in the skilled union craftsmen who are going to build it. Hispanic Heritage month is an important reminder of just how much strength we draw as a nation from our immigrant roots and our values as a nation of immigrants. Unless you are a Native American or your ancestors were enslaved and brought here by force beginning 400 years ago, we’ve all come from somewhere else.
Joe Biden: (03:25)
For most of us, that journey began with a choice, to try for something better here in the United States, whether it’s my ancestors who boarded coffin ships in the Irish sea, in the famine in the 1840s, or families that fled oppressive regimes, and natural disasters in Latin American and the Caribbean, or any of the waves of immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity who have continually renewed our strength and have given us the important capacity to all of us to speak, to speak with grit and determination, to simply say, “I can do it. I can do it.” All of our ancestors, yours and mine, they came equipped with only one thing. The only thing they had in their pocket was hope. In so many ways, that’s part of what makes us Americans. And for people with Hispanic ancestries, those contributions date all the way back before our founding. There’s no separating out Hispanic heritage from American heritage.
Joe Biden: (04:28)
These stories are one and the same, and growing more vibrantly entwined every single day. Today, it is no exaggeration to say that the future of the success of this country depends on, depends on Hispanics having opportunities and the tools they need to succeed. I know my team here knows, my new team, that 24 of every 100 kids in school today speaks Spanish. The idea, the idea we are not going to encourage and build and invest in is just mindblowingly stupid. Folks, in the midst of this God-awful pandemic, we’ve seen even more clearly than ever how much we rely on people with Hispanic roots to keep our country running. Again, that’s not an exaggeration. So many of our frontline workers are Hispanic. The people stocking the grocery shelves, driving the delivery trucks, working in the meat packing plants, staffing our nursing homes, our hospitals. These include 200,000 dreamers working in those key roles, many of whom are of Hispanic heritage.
Joe Biden: (05:39)
We depend on them. A lot of people who are recognized for the first time by what they truly are, essential. What we do, we don’t just need to thank them. We need to pay them, pay them, and treat them with dignity. My dad used to say, “Joe, your job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, ‘Honey, it’s going to be okay.'” And to make sure we’re giving Hispanic Americans the support and respect they deserve and need at all times, we have to change our attitudes. How can we have a strong and thriving republic if we aren’t doing more to fully deal in Hispanic communities? And all those communities have, for too long, been left out and left behind to every aspect of American life.
Joe Biden: (06:30)
The answer is real simple. We won’t be able to. That’s why I’ve laid out extensive plans that demonstrate how we’re going to use every tool at our disposal to take on the inequities that hurt Hispanic communities by, number one, investing in economic mobility, improving our educational system, rooting out race-based disparities in our healthcare, and building out Obamacare, taking on the gun violence that plagues our communities, and finally, building an immigration system that treats people with dignity and is true to American values. Today, I released my agenda for Puerto Rico. Even after being president for nearly four years, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to grasp that the people of Puerto Rico are American citizens already. When you think about it, they deserve to have a leadership in government that understands that in America, there is no room for the idea of second class citizens, period.
Joe Biden: (07:35)
We’re all equal. All deserving. I’m running to be president of all America, including 3 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico. I’m not going to steal the money that’s desperately needed to reconstruct the island in order to build a wall along the border that does nothing to keep Americans safe. I’m not going to suggest that we sell our trade, as was mentioned earlier, Puerto Rico. I’m not going to throw paper towels at people whose lives have just been devastated by hurricane. The world saw that, not just the United… The world saw that. It was mortifying. I’m not going to deny the science of climate change that tells us hurricanes are devastating weather events that will only grow more frequent and more intense unless we take action. I’m certainly not going to say what the president allegedly said to the department of Homeland Security and the National Security officials when he allegedly said, “I got it. I got it. The way to keep these hurricanes from coming on board is nuke them.”
Joe Biden: (08:39)
Whoa, nuke them. I’m going to lead. I’m going to respect and support the islands we know and fully recovery, including investing in infrastructure, reconstruction to modernize standards, promote economic development initiatives to support for families, provide relief for the unsustainable debt that exists on the island, and expand access to education and workforce development. I’m going to work with representatives to support each of the status options in Puerto Rico on a fair and binding process to determine their own status. I happen to believe statehood to be the most effective means of ensuring that residents of Puerto Rico are treated equally with equal representation at a federal level. But the people of Puerto Rico must decide, and the United States federal government must respect and act on that decision.
Joe Biden: (09:35)
This much is certain. A Biden-Harrison administration will always have the back of every single American when they get knocked down. I’ve been knocked down, and many of you have too. I know what it’s like. But my dad would say, “Every time you get knocked down, just get up, Joey. Get up.” We’re going to get up. We’re going to honor the incredible contributions and service of Puerto Ricans. People from all across the Hispanic diaspora to this country, to this country, not only the names we know and like, like Emmanuel Miranda, who was helping me out. But remember the stories that don’t always make the headlines like Puerto Rico’s 65th infantry regiment, who General MacArthur described as, “Writing a brilliant record of heroism in battle during the Korean war.” How much did you all hear about that?
Joe Biden: (10:28)
We’ll work to build on Obamacare and expand its protections so that more Hispanic people have access to high quality affordable healthcare that they deserve. Under the Obama-Biden administration, 4 million Hispanic Americans gained coverage. The largest gain of coverage of any group. But President Trump is still, still trying to rip Obamacare away from people in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century. That’s on top of the total failure to manage COVID-19, which has now stolen, stolen the lives of almost 200,000 people in America, with disproportionately large share of those deaths among Hispanic communities. Over 25,000 deaths. That’s on top of the failure to adequately work to address the economic impacts of this pandemic, which again, have fallen more heavily on Hispanic pocketbooks. More than 25% of Hispanics here in Florida have reported being worried about how they’re going to pay their rent or their mortgage. A study found that one in three Hispanic small business owners have taken a hit during this pandemic with many more likely to close and close permanently. That’s on top of his failure, and, in fact, the complete disinterest in addressing the racial injustice crisis in America.
Joe Biden: (11:49)
He does exactly the opposite. He fans the flames of hatred and division in our country for his own gain. That’s on top of his failure to recognize the existential threat of climate crisis. Yesterday in California, he said, sitting with a group of scientists, “I don’t think science knows whether or not climate change is real.” That’s what he said, at a time on wildfires are racing across the West destroying homes and communities and another hurricane threatens our coast. Mr. President, science knows. Science knows. They do know. Look, Donald Trump has failed the Hispanic community time and time again, and that’s not a secret. Whether it’s in his heinous act of separating children from their families at our border or his repeated attacks on dreamers, or his neglect of the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, or his repeated failure to make sure essential workers have the personal protective equipment they need.
Joe Biden: (12:53)
Donald Trump has done nothing but assault the dignity of Hispanic families over and over, and over, and over again. It’s wrong. That’s not who we are. We have to do so much more than just defeat Donald Trump. We have to seize this opportunity to build back better for all of our communities because at the end of the day, all the American people are looking for is a shot. My dad would say, “The American people just given half a chance of never ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down, chance to work hard and get ahead.” But you can’t do it when your community is always the first and hardest hit and the last to get help instead of when they needed to dig out. I truly believe we have a tremendous opportunity to turn this moment of crisis in a moment of progress on healthcare, wages, housing, education, and so much more.
Joe Biden: (13:52)
We can reach for more as a nation. We can rebuild the backbone of this country and finally bring everybody along. We can build a new administration that reflects the full diversity of our nation, including Hispanic communities. Hispanic voters, especially right here in Florida, can help put our nation on a path moving forward. There are now 49 days left to election day. I’m asking for your vote. I’m going to work very hard every single day to get it. I used to, when I first ran as a kid, I’d knock on a door and say, “My name is Joe Biden. I’m running for the United States Senate. Look me over. If you like what I see and believe what I say, help me out. If not, vote for the other guy.” Well, I’m here in Florida to say, “Look me over again.” Here in Florida and all across the country, I hope that each and every one of you gets involved in this selection. Sounds like hyperbole, exaggeration, but our democracy depends on every voice being heard and every vote being counted.
Joe Biden: (14:57)
So, please, this election, make your vote hurt. Through your vote, your voice is heard. Make a plan to vote has been pointed out. Make a plan to help your community vote. I grew up in a heavily Irish Catholic community in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in a heavily Italian Polish community in Claymont, Delaware. These are communities built on two things: faith and family. They’ve been the core of my entire life. That’s what I come back to again and again, whether it’s losing my wife and daughter in an accident or my son dying from glioblastoma. It’s been the source of my strength in times of struggle and my comfort in times of grief: faith, and family. It seems to me, that’s the same strength that’s always animated the Hispanic community: faith and family. That’s the heritage we’re celebrating this month, and it’s profoundly American as well. It’s not only our past, it’s our future as well.
Joe Biden: (16:03)
And more than any other time, the Hispanic community, Latino community holds in their palm of their hand, the destiny of this country. You may not want to hear it, but it’s true. It’s true. You can decide the direction of this country. I’ve said many times when I decided to run, I said, “One of the reasons why I’m running is to restore the soul of America.” It’s a basic proposition. We’re so much better than we are acting now. The rest of the world is looking at us like, what has happened to America? America’s always led not just by the example of our power, but the power of our example.
Joe Biden: (16:51)
We hold these truths to be self evident. All men and women are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. And it goes on. We’ve never met that test. We’ve never walked away from it before. We got to keep bending that arc. we got to keep getting more inclusive because therein lies the power and the majesty of the United States of America. I want to thank you all, particularly thank the people who came here and introduced me today. And may God protect our troops. God bless you all. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (17:28)