Aug 8, 2019
Joe Biden Iowa Trump Rebuke Speech Transcript August 7, 2019
On August 7, 2019 Joe Biden delivered a campaign speech in Iowa that served as a blistering rebuke of Trump and his handling of the violence in recent days. Read the full transcript of the speech below.
Joe Biden: (00:01)
When he said after Charlottesville there were, and I quote, “very fine people on both sides”, I said, then it gave license and safe harbor to white supremacists and Neo Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan. These words not only stunned America, but they stunned the world and in doing so, he has signed a moral equivalence. A moral equivalence between those spewing hate, and those that have the courage to stand against it. I said at the time, we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation. I said it again when I announced my candidacy, and I say it here today. We are in a battle for the soul of this nation. That’s why primarily I’m running for president.
Joe Biden: (01:11)
Charlottesville was no isolated incident. When Trump announced he was running for president, he called Mexicans rapists. Days before the midterm, he formatted fears of a caravan heading to United States creating hysteria when he said, “Look, look, some marching up. This is an invasion, an invasion.” He asserted that immigrants would quote, “carve you up with a knife”. More recently, he called a major American center city, a disgusting rat infected road mess. “No human being”, he said would choose to live as though the vibrant diverse community around Baltimore somehow was less than human. At a rally in Florida, when he asked the crowd, “How do we stop these people?” Meaning immigrants, someone yelled back, “Shoot them!” And he smiled. In North Carolina, he basked in the chants of “send her back” echoing across the stadium.
Joe Biden: (02:29)
How far is it from Trump saying this is an invasion to the shooter in El Paso declaring quote, “this attack as a response to Hispanic invasion of Texas”. How far apart are those comments? How far is it from white supremacists in Neo Nazis in Charlottesville? Trump’s very fine people chanting “you will replace us”. To the shooter at the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh saying, “we’re committing genocide”. Jews are committing genocide on his people.
Joe Biden: (03:10)
I don’t think it’s that far at all. It is both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation. His low energy, vacant eyed mouthing the words written for him condemning white supremacists this week I don’t believe fooled anyone at home or abroad. His energetic embrace, an energetic embrace of this president by the darkest hearts and most hate-filled minds in this country say it all. When the white nationalist Richard Spencer celebrated Trump’s election by declaring, “hail Trump” at an alt-right conference where the Nazi salute was being used. In Charlottesville, David Duke, the former leader of the KKK said, “This is why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take back the country.”
Joe Biden: (04:19)
After Trump tweeted his go back [inaudible 00:04:23], the leading Nazi website, Neo Nazi website said, “this is the kind of nationalism we elected him for”. He knows it. He saw it, and on 8chan, a haven for radicalism on the internet where a declaration of hate linked to El Paso shooter was posted. One commentator wrote that Trump is helping normalize the most extreme radical sentiments because his perceived authority carries so much weight. We have a problem with this rising tide of white supremacy in America, and we have a president who encourages and emboldens it. The statistics are clear. Extremism is on the rise in America. The southern poverty center finds that of the 1020 hate groups operating in the United States in 2018, that’s how many there are. They pointed out that white nationalist groups have surged by over 50%. In 2017, an active shooter with ties to white extremism claimed 135 victims and 70 killed. According to the Anti Defamation League, all but one of the 50 extremists linked murders counted in 2018 had direct links to white supremacists.
Joe Biden: (06:03)
His own FBI director recently testified to Congress that extreme right-wing groups, white nationalists posed the greatest threat to racially motivated domestic terrorism. And what has Trump done? He’s poured fuel on the fire. He’s retweeted postings from extremists and white nationalists. He’s cutting funding, and in some cases, completely eliminated funding initiated by Barak, by the president and I, in our administration to counter violent extremism at home. Trump readily, eagerly attacks Islamic terrorism, but can barely bring himself to use the words white supremacy. Even when he says it, he doesn’t appear to believe it. He seems more concerned about losing their votes than beating back this hateful ideology. He says guns are not the problem in mass shootings. The issue is mental health. It’s a dodge. Hatred isn’t a mental health issue. I can tell you as the guy along with Senator Dianne Feinstein, got the assault weapons banned and the high capacity magazines banned in this country for 10 years, if elected presidents, we will do it again. We will do it again.
Joe Biden: (07:37)
A hundred rounds date, 30 round clips in El Paso. They’ll be banned. And when we do it, we will put in place a buy back program to get as many as these military style weapons of war as possible off the street, and we need a domestic terrorism law. We can do it without infringing on anyone’s free speech, without tampering with anybody’s liberties. Quite simply, we have to make the same commitment as a nation to root out domestic terrorism that we have stopping international terrorism.
Joe Biden: (08:34)
I wish I could say that this all began with Donald Trump and will end with him, but it didn’t and I won’t. American history is not a fairy tale. The battle for the soul of the nation has been a constant push and pull for 243 years between the American ideal that says we’re all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The same document that promised to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity also allowed for slavery, and the so-called three fifths compromise that discounted the very humanity of black people in America at the time. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character. At our best, the American ideal wins out, but it’s never a route. It’s always a fight and it’s a battle that has never fully finished.
Joe Biden: (09:53)
Go back to the beginning, Thomas Jefferson wrote what many believed to be the most important civil document in human history, but he was a slaveholder. We’ve never lived up to our American ideals, Jefferson himself didn’t. But what he wrote has pulled us towards justice for more than two centuries and still does. It remains this nation’s north star. Take a look at the Klan, Klu Klux Klan. After the Civil War, we saw a rise in the Klan. It was beaten down only to rise up again in the twenties. In fact, in August of 1925, 30,000 fully clad Klansmen in their robes and pointed hats marched down Pennsylvania Avenue, the streets of Washington. Imagine. Imagine that today. And then the Klan was once again beaten back as it was after the Civil War. How? The courts, the press, and yes, presidents stood against them, and that is the point. Our institutions, often imperfectly, stood against hate at moments when we’ve been most tested.
Joe Biden: (11:26)
American presidents have stepped up in the past. George H W Bush renouncing his membership in the NRA. President Clinton after Oklahoma City. George W. Bush going to a mosque after 9/11, President Obama after Charleston. Presidents who led, who oppose, chose to fight for what the best of American character is about. There’s deafening silence now. Sadly, we don’t have that today. Our president has aligned himself with the darkest forces in this nation and it makes winning this battle for the soul of our nation that much tougher, harder. Trump doesn’t understand what Franklin D Roosevelt did. Roosevelt said, the presidency is quote, “preeminently a place of moral leadership”. You don’t see what JFK did when he said “only the president represents the national interest”. He’s blind. Lyndon Baines Johnson said of the office when he said, quote, “nothing makes a man come to grips more directly with his conscience than the presidency.”
Joe Biden: (12:54)
Trump offers no moral leadership and seems to have no interest in unifying this nation. No evidence that the presidency has awakened his conscience in the least. Indeed, we have a president with a toxic tongue who has publicly and unapologetically embraced a political strategy of hate, racism, and division. So it’s up to us as it was in the 20s, it’s up to us. We’re living through a rare moment in this nation’s history where our president isn’t up to the moment, where our president lacks the moral authority to lead, where our president has more in common with George Wallace than he does with George Washington.
Joe Biden: (13:47)
You know, we are almost 330 million Americans. We’ll have to do what our president can’t, stand together, stand against hate, stand up for what’s best, our nation’s best. When we’re the best. In this nation, we believe, when we’re at our best, we believe in honesty, decency, treating everyone with respect, giving everyone a fair shot, leaving nobody behind, giving hate no safe harbor, demonizing no one, not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant or the other, leading by the power of our example, not by the example of our power. That’s allowed us to stand as a beacon to the world, being part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a code. It’s uniquely American code. It’s who we are, but Donald Trump doesn’t get it.
Joe Biden: (15:03)
What this president doesn’t understand is that like every other nation on earth, we’re unable to define what constitutes America by religion, by ethnicity, or by tribe. You can’t do it. America’s an idea. An idea stronger than any army, bigger than any ocean, more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the most destitute people on earth. It’s not only our values that are under assault, our democracy is as well. Free press, new independent judiciary, legislature. There’s a co-equal branch of government. These are the guard rails of our democracy. They’re written into our Constitution, and if you’ve noticed for the last two plus years, they’ve been under attack. Phrases like fake news, enemy of the people. They’re no joke. They’re insidious. They’re corrosion.
Joe Biden: (16:27)
Just look around the world. The worst despots are now using Trump’s language to justify their own abuses of power. Trump is trying to weaken our institutions, the press, the courts, the congress, precisely because they are the only checks on his power. That’s what this is all about. The abuse of power. There’s one thing I can’t stand and I know you can’t, is the abuse of power, whether it’s a boss taking advantage of his or her workers or a man raising his hand to a woman or a child or president who’s running rough shot over everything this country believes in standards.
Joe Biden: (17:25)
No matter how old or young you are, you’ve never seen anything like this in your lifetime. We’re being reminded every day there’s nothing guaranteed about democracy, not even here in America. We have to constantly earn it. We have to protect it. We have to fight for it. I believe America is in, as Lincoln named us the last best hope on earth. We have to remember why. It’s not because you’re the biggest economy, the strongest military in the history of the world, it’s not because we have the most innovative entrepreneurs and the greatest research universities. That’s all true, but it’s not why we’re America.
Joe Biden: (18:09)
The reason is what we believe. The most powerful idea in the history of the world, I think beats in the heart of the people of this country. It beats in all of us. No matter your race, your ethnicity, no matter your gender identity, your sexual orientation, no matter your faith, it beats in the hearts of the rich and poor alike, it unites America whether your ancestors were native to these shores, or they were brought here and forcibly enslaved, or they’re immigrants with generations back, like my family from Ireland or those coming today looking to build a better life for their families.
Joe Biden: (18:54)
The American creed that were all created equal was written long ago, but the genius of every generation of Americans has open it wider and wider and wider to include those who have been excluded in a previous generation. That’s why it’s never gathered any dust in our history books. It’s still alive today, more than 200 years after its inception. But I honest to God don’t believe Donald Trump’s sees it that way. On January 20th, 2017 in his inaugural address, Donald Trump painted a dark, bleak picture of our country in crisis when he declared, and I quote, “this American carnage stops right here. It stops right now”. But as the sitting president, Trump’s anger, hate and divisiveness, pitting Americans against one another, preying on our division and doing nothing, nothing about the endemic and the epidemic of guns is fueling a literal carnage in America.
Joe Biden: (20:09)
We now have more mass shootings in the year 2019 since January than we had day’s the past since January one 2019. As of Monday, according to the data from the gun violence archive, there’ve been 255 mass shootings in the first 217 days of this year. We can’t let this go on. We can’t, and I will not let this man be reelected President of the United States of America. We can’t. Folks. Folks.
Joe Biden: (21:10)
His incompetence, his amorality, his carnage stops with us right here, right now, starting in the Midwest. Limit it to four years, I believe, I really do believe this. In history, we’ll look back on this presidency as an abberant moment in American history, but if Donald Trump is reelected, I believe he will forever and fundamentally alter in the character of this nation. If we give Donald Trump four more years, this will not be the country envisioned by Washington and Adams and Jefferson. We give Donald Trump four more years, this will not be the nation bound together by Lincoln. We give Donald Trump four more years, this will not be the nation lifted up by Roosevelt or inspired by Kennedy. It will not be the nation. The Barack Obama proved bends toward justice.
Joe Biden: (22:17)
The danger Donald Trump and the alt-right pose to this nation isn’t hypothetical or exaggerating. It’s real. The core values is this nation, our standing in the world, our very democracy, everything that makes America America is at stake. Folks, everyone knows who Donald Trump is. Even the people who support him, we have to show who we are. We choose hope over fear. We choose science over fiction. We choose unity over division and yes, we choose truth over lies. If we stand together, we will win the battle for the soul of this nation. We are the United States of America. There is not a single thing beyond our capacity if we stand together and get up and remember who we are. This is United States of America. Period. Thank you, and may God protect our troops.