Aug 6, 2020
Joe Biden Interview Transcript August 6: Compares Black and Latino Diversity & Faces Criticism
Joe Biden participated in an interview with the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists that aired on August 6. Biden faced criticism for comparing the diversity in Latino and Black communities in the interview. He spoke about his mental fitness, healthcare, immigration, and more. Read the transcript of the full interview here.
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Speaker 1: (00:29)
Streaming now from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists an interview with 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (00:40)
Everybody knows who Donald Trump is and we have to let them know who we are and what we stand for.
Barack Obama: (00:46)
I’m so proud to endorse Joe Biden for President of the United States.
Julian Castro: (00:50)
He’s the candidate that meets this moment.
Kamala Harris: (00:53)
Racial justice is on the ballot in 2020, and Joe Biden is on the ballot in 2020.
Speaker 1: (01:01)
On the interview panel: Two-time author and Mexico border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, Alfredo Corchado; Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Tia Mitchell; former foreign correspondent and host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, Lulu Garcia-Navarro; and CBS News national correspondent, Errol Barnett.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (01:27)
Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for joining us today.
Joe Biden: (01:29)
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (01:30)
I am going to jump right in.
Joe Biden: (01:32)
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (01:33)
Because there is of course a question on everybody’s mind, I’m sure you know what it is. Have you selected your vice president and who is she?
Joe Biden: (01:41)
Well, since this is embargoed to Thursday, I’m not going to tell you.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (01:47)
Do you know who she is yet? I mean, there are 11 names circulating. There has been some criticism within your party that the process has been messy. It’s been drawn out. How many women are on the shortlist exactly?
Joe Biden: (02:00)
Well, first of all, if they think it’s been drawn out, they’ve not watched any other vice presidential picks in history. This is in fact ahead of time, as a matter of fact. Notice most vice presidential nominees aren’t announced until a day, two or three before the convention. I’ve gone through it. It’s been very orderly. Every one of the women we’ve interviewed is qualified. I’ve narrowed it down, and I’ll be ready to make that ann-
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (02:28)
How many? To how many, sir?
Joe Biden: (02:28)
You’ll find out shortly. You’ll find out shortly.
Errol Barnett: (02:33)
Just want to follow up to you on that point, Mr. President.
Joe Biden: (02:35)
Errol Barnett: (02:35)
Mr. Vice President, you’ve been through this experience before, the vetting process, the speculation, but someone on your own VP selection committee, former Senator Chris Dodd, reportedly has been critic critical of some in contention like Senator Kamala Harris for not being more conciliatory since she went toe to toe with you during the debates. He says that’s a reason she should be disqualified. Is that fair?
Joe Biden: (03:03)
No. Well, he didn’t say that to the press. He was talking to somebody offline and it was repeated. Now I don’t hold grudges. I’ve made it really clear that I don’t hold grudges. I think it was a debate. It’s as simple as that, and she’s very much contention.
Errol Barnett: (03:19)
Now on day one of your presidency, if we listen to the scientists and the doctors, as you say you will do, you’re likely to begin your presidency in the middle of this ongoing pandemic. How likely is a rollback on day one of the re-openings of businesses that we’ve seen nationwide?
Joe Biden: (03:40)
That’s a good question, but an unfair question, because I have no idea what this president’s going to leave me with. If he acts responsibly, which he hasn’t done thus far, if he acts responsibly I may be in a position where we don’t have to roll back. But if he continues to walk away, wave the white flag and just say open and then listen to some quacks telling him that what we should be doing and you can mass cause COVID-19, the whole thing is he’s got to be more responsible. It depends on what I inherit to determine what I’ll be able to do and say and should be saying on the day I sworn in, if that in fact happens.
Errol Barnett: (04:19)
Based on what you see now, would you roll back the re-openings?
Joe Biden: (04:24)
I’m not going to speculate on that, because I don’t know what it’s going to be.
Errol Barnett: (04:27)
Based on what you see now? If you were president today.
Joe Biden: (04:33)
Oh, I’m sorry, if I were president today, I would roll back the re-openings in a number of places because, look, it’s clear mask and social distancing make a gigantic difference in terms of the spread of this disease. It’s simple, it’s factual, it’s real. Everyone, wherever there is a significant percentage of people with COVID should be required to keep social distancing and masks. Bars should not be open. There should not be congregations of more than 10 people. We should have circumstances where, in fact, we act responsibly, including in places of work where people are, where they’re able to go in and continue to work in terms of social distancing testing and alike. He’s done none of that. None of that is part of what he is suggesting.
Joe Biden: (05:23)
I’ve laid out in detail what I would do and all the way back in January, when this first came out. Then I did again in March, talked about how I would invoke the Defense Act to require significant stockpiling of PPE. I would also have made sure that we wouldn’t have fired the overseers of the folks who determined the allocation of the money that the Congress has allocated so that the inspector generals know where the money’s going. I have laid out in detail what I thought he should be doing with regard to the OSHA and the standards that are required for businesses to open. I’ve laid it all out, and he’s followed none of it.
Tia Mitchell: (06:11)
Mr. Vice president, …
Joe Biden: (06:12)
Tia Mitchell: (06:12)
How often are you being briefed on the pandemic and who’s in charge of keeping you up to date on what’s going on?
Joe Biden: (06:21)
Four times a week, an hour a day. I just went through an 87 page memo with my team, including Vivek Murthy, who you know, and other docs, former heads of the CDC that are part of an entire team that I have, that we put together and go through it at least four times a week. I spent an hour-and-a-half today on the telephone. I mean, excuse me, on what we’re doing right now, on camera.
Tia Mitchell: (06:51)
Based on what you’ve heard, a lot of people are concerned about schools, do you think children should be in schools in person while we’re waiting on a vaccine to be developed?
Joe Biden: (07:02)
The answer is it depends. Look, I want our schools to open. The question is, will the president do the work he needs to make them safe? Just ordering your schools to open, like Trump has done, isn’t it going to be good enough.
Joe Biden: (07:13)
I’ve laid out a roadmap to reopen schools safely and effectively. First, get the cases down in the communities through social distancing, masking, testing, tracing, and PPE. Second, give school districts uniform guidance without political interference on effectively and safely, the safety protocols, including ventilation, physical changes in classrooms. Third, give those districts the resources to implement the guidance. Studies show that we need $34 billion to make school safe nationwide. For schools that can’t reopen safely, help them improve the virtual learning. Start working now to close the learning gap in terms of distance learning because of COVID. President Trump should stop tweeting and start doing his work.
Errol Barnett: (07:59)
What’s key to people feeling safe to go back to work and school is a vaccine. A recent CBS News, UGOV poll found that some 70% of Americans would either wait to get a vaccine and see what happens to other people or not get one at all. That’s a huge segment of the population. How then would you secure that every American gets a vaccine as soon as possible considering that distrust?
Joe Biden: (08:27)
Tell the truth. Listen to the science. Lay out explicitly whatever vaccine comes first. Make it totally open for review by every medical facility in the country, making clear that in fact it is safe, instead of what Trump is talking about. He’s talking about all these different vaccines. They’re going to be ready to go, and so on and so forth.
Joe Biden: (08:54)
Much earlier I laid out what would we constitute a business being able to reopen. When I talked about it, I said we should have a circumstance where they were able to meet all the criteria that are recommended by the CDC and others and be able to put on a sticker on their window saying, like a good housekeeping seal, “You can come in here because we test, we distance, we do all alike.”
Joe Biden: (09:20)
The fact is that the way he talks about the vaccine is not particularly rational. He’s talking it being ready. He’s going to talk about moving it quicker than the scientists think it should be moved. It matters to let the people know that it is all transparent, exactly what the facts are. Let the medical community writ large speak to it so that there’s transparency. Look, I think people are going to, as the poll show and we talked about it today with the two docs and my staff, that in fact people don’t believe that he’s telling the truth. Therefore, they’re not at all certain they’re going to take the vaccine. One more thing, if and when the vaccine comes, and it’s not likely to go through all the tests that needs and the trials that are needed to be done, and the question is, is he going to seek emergency move? Well, I think it’s really important right now. I proposed a $25 billion plan for the distribution to guarantee that every single American has access to the vaccine because what’s going to happen, you know as well as I do, if the vaccine came out tomorrow, how in the heck would we get it to people? There is no game plan they have. How would everybody in America have access to it? It is a gigantic, gigantic problem to distribute, even if we have it. That’s we should be planning for now. Now. Not when we get it.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (10:46)
Mr. Vice President, I’d like to ask you about healthcare because obviously this pandemic has exposed many weaknesses in healthcare. In your platform, you’d extend medical benefits to DACA recipients. But what about the workers who have no protection, specifically farm workers now deemed essential to make Americans sure that they have food on their table? Should undocumented immigrants also be able to get subsidized healthcare?
Joe Biden: (11:15)
If they are working in the United States of America and they are paying taxes, they should have access to healthcare. They should have access to what everybody else has access to. The most important thing to do-
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (11:27)
This is every undocumented worker?
Joe Biden: (11:30)
No, it depends. Not all undocumented workers are working. You say on every undocumented worker. Every person in the country, whether they’re undocumented or documented, should have access to a vaccine if and when it occurs, should have access to testing and treatment and hospitalization, if it relates to the virus. That should occur, period. It’s in the interest of everyone that everyone be taken care of, and everyone should be able to be eligible for that.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (12:02)
Just to clarify, you are saying that if you are undocumented, you would be able to get a vaccine for free, subsidized?
Joe Biden: (12:08)
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (12:11)
I’d also like to ask you this, this pandemic has exposed, as I’ve mentioned, so many weaknesses in the healthcare system. The most vulnerable, often black and brown communities, have been handling much of the financial burden. Before the pandemic, you were against comprehensive single-payer system. Now, if Medicare-For-All came across your desk, as the pandemic has hit so hard, would you veto it?
Joe Biden: (12:40)
It’s not going to come across my desk. But, look, the pandemic has not only torn through our nation, devastating families and wrecking economies, it’s exacerbated some of the worst inequities. I’m going to fight for health equities, but the quickest way to get that is for black and Latino Americans to have access to the Obamacare with a public option. That’s the quickest way we can get everybody covered.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (13:07)
But hasn’t this pandemic and the tsunami of layoffs shown the limits of private health care that is tied to employment?
Joe Biden: (13:14)
No, it hasn’t, in my view. There’s countries that have, in fact, single-payer systems that hadn’t helped them very much either. The question is, what do we do about corralling the pandemic and treating those who are affected by it? Everyone who’s affected by the pandemic has access to free care for anything having to do with that pandemic.
Errol Barnett: (13:38)
Now, some of your most ambitious legislative goals, Mr. Vice President, are likely to face fierce Republican resistance. In fact, President Obama during his eulogy for civil rights icon John Lewis said the way to fully restore the Voting Rights Act is to abolish the Senate filibuster. Do you agree?
Joe Biden: (13:59)
I don’t think we have to. We’re going to be able to do that anyway. Look, we’re going to elect-
Joe Biden: (14:03)
I don’t think we have to, we’re going to be able to do that anyway. Look where we’re going to elect at least five to six democratic senators. The Democrats are going to control-
Errol Barnett: (14:09)
That still won’t get you enough of a super majority-
Joe Biden: (14:10)
Errol Barnett: (14:12)
Joe Biden: (14:12)
That’s your judgment. That’s your judgment. I’m pretty good at this. I’ve done that pretty well my whole career in the United States Senate. I got a lot done and here’s the deal. The deal is that with President Trump gone and the fear of retribution and his, how can I say it? His ego of following and ruining any Republican who disagrees with him, that’s gone. That’s gone, number one. Number two, you’re going to see a lot of Republicans, at least a half a dozen of them, beginning to vote their conscience because they no longer have the fear of Trump being there. And thirdly, when we gain control of the United States Senate, which I believe we will on the House, you’re going to find people willing to take a vote that was controversial before, because this time it will pass.
Joe Biden: (15:04)
There’s no sense in making the reason why … The way human nature works and you all work the same way, if you’re going to have to go against the grain of the folks you hang out with in order to vote for something that is not going to pass anyway, you’re not going to take the shot. But if you’re hanging out with a group of people as against the grain, but you know it’s going to pass with your vote, then that’s a very different thing. I just don’t believe that you’re going to have this kind of resistance before, that we had before.
Joe Biden: (15:34)
And by the way, everybody said, we didn’t get anything done. After President was elected, after Trump was elected, before he was sworn in, I put together a coalition to Democrats and Republicans to provide for over $9 billion to NIH and almost $2 billion for cancer research. We only had something like a hundred votes for it in the house and we only had something like 36 in the Senate. It passed in January. It passed in late December, before he was sworn in. 96 votes in the Senate, over 398 votes in the House. Everybody’s telling me we can’t get things done. We’ll get it done.
Errol Barnett: (16:18)
Just to be clear, you do not agree with president Obama that getting rid of the filibuster is necessary. He described it as a relic of Jim Crow.
Joe Biden: (16:26)
What I said was that if in fact they are as obstreperous as is expected, we’d have to get rid of the filibuster, but the filibuster has also saved a lot of bad things from happening too.
Joe Biden: (16:43)
Yeah, no, no, I’m sorry. I thought … I’m on record as saying that if the Republicans, if there’s no way to move, other than getting rid of the filibuster, that’s what we’ll do.
Tia Mitchell: (16:57)
I’ll jump in Mr. Vice President and ask, as we’re talking about elections, the pandemic, as you know, is keeping a lot of people at home and there’s a lot of interest in voting by mail, but there has been a lot of comments from President Trump and other Republicans casting doubt on the security of the election system. What should states be doing now to ensure voter confidence in the election?
Joe Biden: (17:22)
What many of them are doing, voter suppression is what he’s trying to make a big deal out of it. There’s nothing we’re more focused on because frankly, this is the thing that keeps me up most nights, making sure everyone who wants to vote gets to vote, making sure that everyone’s vote is counted. And we’re going to undertake a historic effort in terms of resources, commitment, to beat back every voter suppression effort and to make sure that the voters know that every legal option available. Our campaign has a strong, effective voter protection and anti voter suppression program. Voter protection campaigns we’re putting together for November, meet the unique requirements and challenges that we’re facing from this president. No campaign has ever built anything to the scale that we’ve built to make sure we can get out the vote. We have a major, major dedicated operation in states to address the head on voter suppression and any form of that’s going to take and steps we can take to go to court as well.
Joe Biden: (18:22)
But look, think about this. Did you ever think you’d live in a country where you had a President of the United States saying, “Let’s postpone an election.” People see through this. You have five mail in state voting places, two of them overwhelming Republicans. Republicans support mail in voting. Republicans. We saw with COVID has done to elections during the primaries. And we know there are voter suppression problems that have nothing to do with COVID.
Joe Biden: (18:51)
We’re going to be prepared to make sure people have an opportunity to be protected when they show up in person to vote and we’re going to have to work with election officials in key cities and battleground states to increase the number of early voting locations and in one recent case, almost double the number of people showed up to vote. In States where the law permits, we’re going to be providing voters, absentee ballot request forms, pre paid postage, and the like. We’re trying to raise money to be able to do that. The House when they passed the Cares Act, they provided $400 million for a voter to help states improve their voting systems. What’s the president doing? He’s talking about defunding the post office for God’s sake. What more do you need? Yes?
Alfredo Corchado: (19:43)
I’m sitting in El Paso, Texas, and it’s been one year since a gunman walked into a Walmart and killed 23 people. He told police, he came to kill Mexicans. This is the largest attack on Latinos in modern history. You’ve accused President Trump of bearing responsibility for the rise in hate crimes. How do you convince white supremacists that minority groups are vital to restore in the soul of America?
Joe Biden: (20:14)
I don’t convince white supremacists. They’re not going to be convinced. They have to be put in jail when they do things that are inappropriate. White supremacists are not going to be convinced, but the vast, vast, vast majority of people are not white supremacists. Look, here’s the deal. I’ve been involved in civil rights my whole life and one of the things I thought was that I thought we could really defeat hate. I thought there’s a way to defeat it. And when I got out of law school, I came back, my city was in flames. My city was the only city, Wilmington, Delaware, occupied by the National Guard for 10 months since the Civil War, it just hadn’t happened since then. And so what happened? What happened was, I came back, had a good job, decided to leave it, become a public defender.
Joe Biden: (21:04)
And I used to interview my clients down by the railroad station and here I was 40 years ago later to the month, standing under that same railroad station, waiting for a black man to come and pick me up to take me to Washington DC, be sworn in as President and Vice President of United States. So I called my three children up. My son was the Attorney General of the state of Delaware. My other son was the head of the world food program USA. And my daughter’s a social worker dealing with criminal justice. And so I said, “Don’t tell me things can’t change, look.” I looked over the East side and I said, “That was all barren and burned to the ground. Now it’s moving and so on.” And so I thought you could defeat hate.
Joe Biden: (21:47)
The reason I’m running is because of Donald Trump’s, what he said when those folks came out of the fields in Charlottesville. I realized hate doesn’t go away, it just hides. And when a president breaths oxygen under the rocks, he pulls them out. He legitimizes them. They make up a significant minority of the American public, but left unattended, they grow, they grow and they cause great damage. And that’s why we have to make sure we do a whole range of things. There’s a lot of things we’re going to do because look, for the first time, you have over 70% of the American people concluding that black lives matter. The phrase Black Lives Matter. You have almost as many whites marching with blacks to say, “Let’s end this systemic racism in America.” I think the country’s ready. They’re ready because they know we can make significant progress and they know the reason why they’ve been saved from COVID is because of the Latino and black communities have been doing all the hard work.
Joe Biden: (22:49)
You got thousands of DACA students out there doing the mainline work and making sure that people are safe. You have all kinds of folks, the woman making sure she’s stacking the grocery shelf to make sure we have food to eat. The farm worker, you talked about ma’am, but was making sure we have the food to get in the table. They’ve figured it out. And we have a confluence of three things that have happened, that are going to give us an enormous opportunity to change the dynamic in America. One, the COVID pandemic, two, the gigantic unemployment, three, the systemic racism that is so, so, so exposed. We can now move in a direction. That’s why I put this Build Back Better plan together, focusing the last, the last piece on racial equity. We can do this. The country’s ready. They know we must. I’m confident.
Errol Barnett: (23:43)
Mr. Vice President, I want to follow up on your point to Alfredo’s question that white supremacists can’t be convinced. You just said there that the extreme right wing folks in the country left unattended, will grow. Shouldn’t there be some sentiment to reach out to people who hold racist views to convince them otherwise?
Joe Biden: (24:04)
No, that’s different. That’s different than the white … Look, you’re talking about white supremacists. I thought you were talking about the people like the kid who showed up in El Paso and gunned down all those innocent people. Okay? That’s what we’re talking about. The Klu Klux Klan and the like, the white supremacists, those who belong to those groups, they are a minority. I’m reaching out to everyone else. I’ve done it my whole career. My state is the eighth largest black population in the United States of America as a percent of population. That’s where I started. That’s my support. That’s what I’ve been working with my whole career. And you can deal with those who, in fact, are prejudice. A lot of prejudice out there, but not everyone’s a white supremacist, like the kid who went in and gunned down those folks in El Paso. There’s a difference.
Errol Barnett: (24:54)
Now, you’ve apologized for your role in the 1994 Crime Bill that created the Three Strikes Law, expanded the list of crimes punishable by death. What will you do now to make up for what you have described as the pain brought by that bill, that many people still feel today?
Joe Biden: (25:13)
Well, let’s get something straight. The bill at the time it was passed, was overwhelmingly passed with every major black mayor in America. The black caucus supported it and violent crime against African Americans, fell by 57%. It had things in it that I did not like at all, like three strikes and you’re out, which I argued against. It also had some very good things in it; assault weapons ban, drug courts, it made sure that we were in a position where we were going to focus on dealing with rehabilitation. One third of it went to prevention, one third to rehabilitation, all of those things they in fact made sense. On balanced the whole bill, there were only three provisions that were really bad. One was three strikes and you’re out and two was a mandatory … And only employed twice.
Joe Biden: (26:08)
And two, the idea that carjacking was a mandatory minimum penalty, if you were convicted of it and three, money for state prisons, all three of which I opposed. But on balance, it was a much, much, much better bill. And so now we face a different problem. We have too many people in prison. That’s why President Obama and I reduced the federal population by 38,000. Of all the people in prison today, 93% are behind a bar in a state prison, a county jail and or a city jail. As we passed the Fair Sentencing Act, to reduce sentences related to crack cocaine. I’m running on a plan to reform the criminal justice system so we can fix it. It should be a rehabilitation system.
Joe Biden: (26:55)
No one should go to jail for a drug offense, for example, which I’ve argued for a long time. They should go to mandatory treatment. We automatically wipe out anyone’s record for using marijuana. Once people get out of the system, all their rights should be restored, including the Pell Grants and voting rights and access to housing. We also have to expand the power of the justice department to adjust systemic misconduct by police departments and prosecutors and establish an independent taskforce on prosecutorial discretion. That’s what I’ve been pushing. And I’ve been pushing in for now a long time. We’re going to get that passed.
Tia Mitchell: (27:29)
The city of Asheville, North Carolina recently approved what they call reparations to their African American community in the form of home ownership, affordable housing and access to capital for businesses. My question for you is, do you think the American government owes black people reparations and what form, if so, should it take?
Joe Biden: (27:54)
I think the studies suggested by my friend, Cory Booker, should be followed through and seen. In the meantime, we can’t wait. If you take a look at my Build Back Better plan, which you probably haven’t had a…
Joe Biden: (28:03)
Meantime, we can’t wait. If you take a look at my Bill Back Better plan, which you probably haven’t had a chance to read, it does all the things that Asheville just did. It provides for a down payment, first time down payment of $15,000 for black Americans and Hispanic Americans seeking housing and invest significantly more money in public housing, we used to call it public housing, subsidized rental. Nobody should be paying more than 30% of their income for rent. It fundamentally alters access to capital across the board for small businesses. They’re the vast majority. We have already 400,000 black, small business gone out of business. That should not be happening. They should be at the front of the line. I propose that we take the program Barack and I put together that said that there’s 1,000,000,005 that brought $3 billion off the sidelines for entrepreneurs, black entrepreneurs and [inaudible 00:29:01] has chased that to-
Alfredo Corchado: (29:03)
If I may, you rolled out a plan this week for Latinos. My first question is what took you so long to come up with a plan for the largest minority group in the country? And this plan talks a lot about the urgent actions. What’s at the top of that list.
Joe Biden: (29:22)
Well, first of all, everything in that plan, I’ve already said over the last year and a half, we just packaged it together. So everybody knew what it was. And so is a one place. Number one, the most urgent thing is to fix the… First of all, every executive order this president has issued relating to the border and relating to dealing with the Hispanic community is going to be pulled back. We’re not going to be fooling with that here. First thing I’m going to do and I’ve already written, sent to the United States Congress a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented folks. DACA is going to be preserved period. Period. And you’re going to be put on a path to citizenship. We’re going to invest in economic mobility, invest in wealth inside Latino communities especially Latino businesses, and ensuring Latinos have access to credit and capital by providing Latino businesses access to participate in federal contracts and critical assistance programs, ensuring economic relief reaches Latino businesses.
Joe Biden: (30:26)
That’s what my whole plan about manufacturing the United States and dealing with all the public money being spent under the control of the president. That is one that will in fact be available, those contracts and that chain, that supply chain for manufacturing is owned by many small business people, Latinos, as well as African Americans and other minorities. We’re going to expand that. I’m going to finish this answer. And the last piece is we’re going to tackle the inequities in education. That’s why I’m tripling the money for title one schools, providing university and pre-kindergarten… all across the board. We’re going to make sure that the funding gap is existed. We’re going to expand STEM curricula. We’re going to deal with underserved schools, and we’re going to make sure that anyone who comes from a family making less than $125,000 has free access to four years of public education college. There’s a lot more. So anyway.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (31:30)
Thank you. Thank you for that. I have a few questions that I’d just like to get through because they are incredibly important to the Latino community. First of all, you are extending TPS, temporary protected status, to Venezuelans. Cubans though, are now being deported in unprecedented numbers. Would you stop those deportations?
Joe Biden: (31:48)
What I said, I’m going to look at every single country in the world that in fact is being… and this guy’s sending them back. The reason why I came up with Venezuela is he not even allowing it to exist in the first place. And so the TPS program is something I will move on the first day I’m in office to make sure that we extend it to people. For too long we didn’t get it right, but here’s the deal. I think that we should be extending it. Anybody can prove that they are in jeopardy to go back to their country and the reason they came in the first place. They should be able to stay in the United States of America until the circumstance changes in our country. And that’s why, by the way, I put that program together to provide… Oh, go ahead. I’m sorry.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (32:41)
No. No. Are you going to reengage with Cuba though? I mean, I’m specifically wondering about the Florida communities that are incredibly interested in the Cuba issue and see status given to Venezuelans while Cubans are being deported. So will you engage with Cuba?
Joe Biden: (33:03)
The answer is yes. Yes. Yes. And by the way, what you all know, but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community, with incredibly different attitudes about different things. You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (33:29)
So president Obama was known as the deporter in chief from moving more than 3 million people during the Biden Obama administration. Trump campaigned to build that wall. I did. No. The Obama Biden administration. Trump campaigned on build that wall. Are you willing to tear that wall down?
Joe Biden: (33:48)
No, there will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration number one. Number two, what I’m going to focus on and the fact is that somebody in this group written a lot about the border. I’m going to make sure that we have border protection, but it’s going to be based on making sure that we use high-tech capacity to deal with it and at the ports of entry. That’s where all bad stuff is happening.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (34:16)
What about the land confiscations?
Joe Biden: (34:18)
End. End. Stop. Done. Over. Not going to do it. Withdraw the lawsuits. We’re out. We’re not going to confiscate the land.
Alfredo Corchado: (34:29)
Mr. Vice President, under the Trump administration, asylum has virtually ended. ICE detention centers are empty. Your new plan calls for reversing President Trump’s harsh plan, but won’t that restart a brand new border crisis? I mean, what would you do with all those people in camps now waiting in Mexico?
Joe Biden: (34:51)
It will if we don’t do it well, we don’t reach out to the charitable communities that will come in and help, and in addition to us spending millions of dollars providing for access, access for judges, access for asylum folks to be on the border to move quickly. Because if we just say, “Okay, all done. I’ve withdrawn the order.” You’re going to have a crisis on the other side of the border as well. And we shouldn’t be putting these people when they come across the border in jail. We should be doing monitoring. There’s ways to monitor without putting them in jail. Number one, but we have to make sure that we build up the infrastructure to be able to accommodate Trump’s cruel, inhumane border policies, ripping children from their mother’s arms and Trump’s migrant protection protocols, remain in Mexico program. I mean, all of this is going to take time, not a long time, but you have to be prepared so we don’t create another crisis as you pointed out.
Alfredo Corchado: (36:01)
Sorry. What are you trying [inaudible 00:36:01] the Department of Homeland Security? How do you hold it accountable?
Joe Biden: (36:08)
You hold it accountable by being president and acting accountable. I will have someone heading that department that listens to what we say. It’s outrageous what’s being done now. And by the way, ICE is going to go back to school. The idea that ICE is sitting outside of a mass on Sunday to arrest a parent coming out as undocumented, the idea that they’re going to schools, the idea they’re going to doctor’s appointments is wrong. This is about families. Families. And you have so many young children, so many young children under enormous pressure and psychological pressure, wondering whether or not they’re going to come home there’s going to be no one there. We need to do so much more. There’s a way. From my perspective, it’s all about families. We have to push humanitarian resources to make sure that we have public private partnerships to support people living in these conditions. We’ve got to surge resources for the asylum protectors. There’s so much we can do, but guess what-
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (37:12)
Are those asylum seekers?
Joe Biden: (37:12)
It’s going to cost a lot of money and I’ve been calling for it for a year and a half.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (37:16)
Are those asylum seekers that are on the other side of the border now in camps going to be allowed to come and do their claims inside the United States, something that has not been reported to them?
Joe Biden: (37:25)
There’s got to be an orderly process for that to occur as your colleague said. Otherwise, if I just say, “Tomorrow, everybody comes across the border.” This is the first time ever. You’ve had to seek asylum in a third country. It’s outrageous. It’s outrageous. It’s wrong.
Errol Barnett: (37:41)
Mr. Vice President, your opponent in this election, President Trump, has made your mental state a campaign topic. And when asked in June, if you’d been tested full cognitive decline, you’ve responded that you’re constantly tested in effect because you’re in situations like this on the campaign trail. But please clarify specifically, have you taken a cognitive test?
Joe Biden: (38:04)
No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on man. That’s like saying, “Before you got in this program, if you take a test where you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junky?”
Errol Barnett: (38:17)
What do you say to President Trump who brags about his test and makes you a message say an issue for voters?
Joe Biden: (38:27)
Well, if he can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Did you watch that? Look, come on, man. I know you’re trying to goad me, but I mean, I’m so forward-looking to have an opportunity to sit with the President or stand with the President in debates. There going to be plenty of time. And by the way, as I joke with him… I shouldn’t say it. I’m going to say something I probably shouldn’t say. Anyway, I am very willing to let the American public judge my physical as well as my mental fitness and to make a judgment about who I am and what state of affairs I have, what kind of physical shape I’m in, what kind of mental shape I’m in.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (39:18)
Someone who is on your VP shortlist, Senator Kamala Harris, told NPR last year that the Justice Department would have “no choice, but to prosecute Trump after his presidency.” Should you win, would you follow through on the many investigations? Could you envision him, a former president, being prosecuted if the evidence shows wrongdoing?
Joe Biden: (39:43)
Look, the Justice Department is not the President’s law firm. The attorney general is not the President’s private lawyer. I will not interfere with the Justice Department’s judgment of whether or not they think they should pursue the prosecution of anyone that they think has violated the law-
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (40:04)
Including a former president?
Joe Biden: (40:06)
It depends on what happens. It depends on what happens. I think it is a very, very unusual thing and probably not very… How can I say it? Good for democracy to be talking about prosecuting former presidents.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (40:23)
Well, what has to happen? You say, depending on what happens. What has to happen? What is the bar to you to have to-
Joe Biden: (40:30)
I don’t know what some of these cases going on in the New York courts are. I don’t know the detail of those cases. And so if there’s a case underway that in fact has to be pursued and I believe it should be pursued and the attorney general thinks it is, that’s a very different thing. But in terms of saying, “I think the President violated the law. I think the President did this, therefore go and prosecute him.” I will not do that.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (40:55)
But if it shows that there was wrongdoing, you believe that a president could actually be prosecuted?
Joe Biden: (41:04)
I don’t think anyone’s above the law. And I love the way you’re trying to get me into this thing about lock them up. I’m not going there.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (41:14)
Well, there are right now a number of investigations. I mean, the Southern District of New York just said that their extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump organization that they’re looking into. This isn’t speculative. This is something that’s actually happening.
Joe Biden: (41:29)
I said, those things that are underway, if they prove to be a criminal offense, then in fact that would be up to the attorney general to decide whether he or she want to proceed with it. I am not going to make that individual judgment. He’s not my lawyer or she’s not my lawyer.
Tia Mitchell: (41:53)
Mr. Vice President, I want to go back to voting rights. You talked a lot earlier about that you think there are some states that are engaging in voter suppression and my question-
Tia Mitchell: (42:03)
… some States that are engaging in voter suppression. And my question is if you were to become President, is there anything you’ve considered taking executive action in order to shore up voting systems or protect voting rights for American public without waiting for congressional approval or a bill to pass?
Joe Biden: (42:21)
Well, the answer is I’d do what Barack and I did in our administration, the Attorney General would go after, there are somewhere about 84, 85 attempts that have been made and I think it’s 31 States, don’t hold me to the exact number, to suppress voting, to make it harder to vote. And I would take those systems, and those I’d challenge in court, those attempts, those new attempts at Jim Crow. I would do that. I would have the Attorney General go out and make sure that we have, and the first thing I’m going to do in terms of the Justice Department, I was the guy who got the Voting Rights Act extended for 25 years. And along came the Shelby case and Shelby County in Alabama and the court came along and said, “There’s no longer a requirement that you have get pre-clearance because of the conduct in the past. So any change you wish to make an electoral process, you have to check through the courts.”
Joe Biden: (43:21)
They said that is old, but they can’t do that. We’re allowed to change. There’s no constitutional prohibition to change the provision in the law, I think it’s section four, I’m not positive, to change that provision to say they require pre-clearance under certain conditions, that requires a vote in the United States Congress that is now called, that is now the Lewis amendment to the Voting Rights Act. And that’s what I pushed very hard and I’ve been pushing it for a long time.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (43:53)
We just want to get in just one question in the international sphere, President Trump is not the first President to say China is ripping off the United States. President Obama made similar complaints. Some have said Trump’s stance is a good one to counter China’s influence. Would you keep the tariffs?
Joe Biden: (44:13)
No. Hey look, who said Trump’s idea is a good one? Who said Trump’s idea is a good one?
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (44:19)
Some feel that-
Joe Biden: (44:20)
Some. Two or three people. Manufacturing has gone on recession. Agriculture lost billions of dollars that taxpayers had to pay. We’re going after China in the wrong way. China is stealing intellectual property. China’s conditioning being able to do business in China based on whether or not you have 51% Chinese ownership. That’s got to end. I spent a fair amount of time when I was Vice President with President Xi, because the President wanted me to get to know him. He’s no Democrat with a small D at all, but here’s the deal, he made it real clear, he-
Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (44:54)
So he scrapped those tariffs, what do you want in return? Or you’re just going to scrap them without any concessions?
Joe Biden: (45:00)
No, no, here’s the deal. The question is what is the appropriate behavior that they have to engage in international trade with us and they have to play by the international rules. And what we have done is we have disarmed ourselves. We make up 25% of the world’s economy, but we poked our finger in the eye of all of our allies out there. The way China will respond is when we gather the rest of the world that in fact invasion and open trade and making sure that we’re in a position that we deal with WHO the right way, in fact, that’s when things began to change. That’s when China’s behavior is going to change. For example, when I was last there, he said to me, Xi, that they set up an error identification zone that they had an international airspace that said that you had to check with China before you could fly through it.
Joe Biden: (45:59)
I said, “We’re not going to pay attention.” He said, “What do you want me to do? Take it down.” I said, “You should, but we’re not going to pay attention.” So we flew B-1 bomber through it. We’ve got to make it clear, the international rules of the road in terms of airspace, sea space, and the way in which you deal with the trade and equity that have to be imposed. And what we did in our administration, when they started dumping steel, we responded. They just overproduced and they just started dumping steel through the state owned entities. We responded and it stopped. They also did the same thing with tires. And so you respond under the rules, the international rules of trade and hold them to it. That’s what you do.
Errol Barnett: (46:42)
And just as we run out of time here, Mr. Vice-President, how would you confront China on the alleged human rights abuses, not just toward Hong Kong, but toward Uyghur Muslims, as well, beyond these newly announced Senate sanctions?
Joe Biden: (46:56)
You may recall, I was the first one to say, we should act and go to the United Nations with the Uyghurs. I believe the first one, period. We should be in the United Nations condemning China’s action. They’re concentration camps, they are concentration camps. And look what happened when he didn’t respond to what was going on in Hong Kong, it emboldened China does just to go ahead and break what had been an agreement they had made about the quasi independence of Hong Kong. Now it’s done. And so now we’re taking action relative to Hong Kong, but look, folks, you have to speak up. He’s walked away. He has no conception of human rights. The way he’s embraced dictators and thugs around the world. The way he’s failed to take on Putin in terms of what’s going on in Afghanistan, what’s going on in Ukraine, what’s going on in Eastern Europe.
Joe Biden: (47:50)
What’s going on. Look, this is a man who’s embraced all the wrong people, all the wrong people. And he treats NATO like it’s a protection racket. So I just think that this is we get to say, “China, these are the international rules of the road. You play by them, or we’re not playing.” Period. Now what we most have to do, excuse me. What’s most is we have invest in our own people. We used to invest nationally about two to 3% of our GDP in technology as a government. It’s now down to 0.3, if I’m not mistaken, could be 0.4%. What are we doing? What in God’s name are we doing? They’re going to own the 5G market, they’re making sure they’re focusing extensively on IT.
Joe Biden: (48:42)
And we are doing what? What are we doing? Trump continues to focus on all those industries that are obsolete in America. We should be investing in made in America and make sure that our workers can out compete anybody in the world, anybody in the world, but what are we doing? They’re not being trained. We’re not focused on it. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Sir you had a question. I know we have to go and I have another event, but fire away.
Alfredo Corchado: (49:13)
I wanted to thank you for your time, Mr. Vice President. And wondering if you have any closing remarks for the membership of NABJ, NAFJ, people who are watching this interview right now?
Joe Biden: (49:26)
Well, first of all, I just want to thank especially want to thank President Tucker and Hugo, as he referred to the President for the leadership and inviting me to join you today. Look, I want to thank you for all the work you do by strengthening diversity in our press, strengthening quality and capacity of the press and is broadening our perspective and deepening our connection with each other. We need that more now than ever. We need people who know about it, especially at a time when black and Latino reporters have been targeted by this President for asking questions, honest questions, and condemn for standing strong and for doing their job. Look, America’s facing a confluence of crisis and immeasurable pain, but we’re also facing an incredible opportunity. It’s an opportunity to right a wrong that has festered since our founding fathers.
Joe Biden: (50:23)
The fact is black and Latino Americans have never been fully included in our democracy or our economy. And it’s a moral failure. It seeps into everything. I’ve said it already, in the course of this pandemic, black and Latinos Americans have been three times as likely to get infected and twice as likely to die. Black and Latino Americans are disproportionately out of work, facing evictions, losing hope. The communities are the first ones to get hit and the last ones to get any relief. We need overwhelming response to right that wrong. I’m proud of the sweeping plan I put together to build back better, including everyone in the deal. It’s long past time we deal with systemic racism in America and deliver black and Latino Americans their full share of the American dream. Every one of us has a role to play in that work.
Joe Biden: (51:15)
So I want to thank you for shining a light on all of this and the work you do, and the stories you communicate because you have great credibility in the people you communicate to, it matters a great deal. And folks, I know you may not agree, but I honest to God think we’ve been delivered to one of those inflection points in American history that hasn’t occurred since the ’30s, where the public has had the blinders taken off and they’ve looked around and said, “Oh my God, I didn’t realize it. I didn’t realize exactly what was going on here.” And you began to see it happening. I am convinced, and I’m also emboldened by the younger generation, the generation Z to the young millennials. They’re the best educated, the least prejudiced, the most open generation in American history. I think we’re ready.
Joe Biden: (52:10)
I’ll just say one last thing. When you have roughly 24 out of every 100 students in kindergarten through high school that speaks Spanish, how in God’s name does it make any sense for any other American to say there’s nothing we should do more than make sure they’re fully integrated, educated, and grow? They are the future. It’s the future of the country. It’s real. It’s not a joke. It’s real. And the idea we walk away makes no sense. And by the way, I make these talks and speeches, when we’re able to get out through the Chambers of Commerce to Republicans, I say, “Tell me how you don’t benefit when African Americans are better educated and have access to education, housing, and businesses? How are you not better off when Latino small business men and women profligate throughout the country? How are you not better off when they’re better educated?”
Joe Biden: (53:13)
People are beginning to figure it out, beginning to figure it out. And so I think we’ve been delivered this terrible time in our history, but it’s given us a great, great opportunity. I really honest to God believe the combination of COVID, the economic collapse, the situation we have with regard to racism in this country, and it’s been exposed by George Floyd and others what happened, and everybody now realizing science matters, and they’re beginning to focus on environment. We can provide millions of good paying jobs, grow the economy, even though I’m supposedly the liberal progressive guy, you got Wall Street people saying, “Hey, man, this can grow the economy.” We can generate economic growth. And once again, lead the world but we have to stop, we’ve always led the world, as I said, not by the example of our power, but the power of our example. And it’s messy, we’re being devastated all around the world. We can change that. I know how to do that. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. Thank you for taking the time and listening.
Errol Barnett: (54:22)
Well, Mr. Vice President, we appreciate you having this conversation on behalf of voters. So on behalf of myself, Tia Mitchell, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, Alfredo Corchado, and everyone gathered here today, thank you very much for your time.
Joe Biden: (54:33)
I hope you’ll have me back for real. I’m happy to, okay?
Errol Barnett: (54:37)
Open invite. You got it.