Aug 31, 2020
Joe Biden Pittsburgh Speech Transcript August 31
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden spoke in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 31. He said: “Our current president wants you to live in fear, he advertises himself as a figure of order. He isn’t, and he’s not been part of the solution thus far”. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Joe Biden: (00:01)
I want to thank Carnegie Mellon for providing this space and all the promise it holds for future jobs in the high tech world. In recent days, we’ve had a lot of talk about who’s going where and how I’ve decided to come to Pittsburgh to talk a little bit about what’s going on right now. In the early days of World War II, Franklin Roosevelt told the country, and I quote, “The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better. And the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder.” Straight from the shoulder. The job of a president is to tell it straight from the shoulder, tell the truth, to be candid, to face facts, to lead, not to insight. That’s why I’m speaking to you today. The incumbant president is incapable of telling us the truth, incapable of facing the facts and incapable of healing. He doesn’t want to shed light, he wants to generate heat and he’s stroking violence in our cities.
Joe Biden: (01:12)
This is a tragic fact of the matter, how he’s dealing with this perilous hour in our nation. And now we have to stand against violence in every form it takes. Violence we’ve seen again and again and again, of unwarranted police shooting, excessive force, seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake. Knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment, violence of extremists and opportunists, right wing militias… And to derail any hope and support for progress, the senseless violence of looting and burning and destruction of property. I want to make it absolutely clear, so I’m going to be very clear about all of this, rioting is not protesting. Looting is not protesting. Setting fires is not protesting. None of this is protesting. It’s lawlessness, plain and simple. And those who do it should be prosecuted. Violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. It’s wrong in every way. It divides instead of unites, destroys businesses, only hurts the working families that serve the community. It makes things worse across the board, not better.
Joe Biden: (02:42)
It’s not what Dr. King or John Lewis taught and it must end. Fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames rather than fighting the flames. But we must not burn, we have to build. This president, long ago, forfeited any moral leadership in this country. He can’t stop the violence because for years he’s fomented it. He may believe mouthing the words law and order makes him strong. But his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is. Does anyone believe there’ll be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?
Joe Biden: (03:30)
We need justice in America. We need safety in America. We’re facing multiple crises. Crises that under Donald Trump have kept multiplying. COVID, economic devastation, unwarranted police violence, [inaudible 00:03:48] white nationalists, a reckoning on race, declining faith in the birth of the right American future. There’s no reason why we can’t just do so much more than we’re doing. The common threat, the incumbent president who makes things worse, not better, an incumbent president who sows chaos rather than providing order. An incumbent president who fails in the basic duty of the job, which is to advance the truth that all of us know, that we’re all born with the right to life, Liberty, and pursuit of happiness. That’s right. All of us, the moms and dads in Scranton, where I grew up, who have worked and scraped for everything they’ve ever gotten in life.
Joe Biden: (04:34)
The auto worker in Michigan, who still makes the best automobile in the world, single mom in Ohio, working three jobs just to stay afloat who’ll do anything for her child. Retired veteran in Florida who gave everything he had to this country. And now just wants us to honor the promises made to him. [inaudible 00:04:58] salesperson who just lost their job. A store closing after 194 years in business. Nurses and doctors in Wisconsin who’ve seen so much sickness, so much death in the past six months. And they wonder how much more can they take, but still they muster up the courage to take care of those patients in this pandemic while risking their own lives. Researchers in Minnesota who woke up this morning determined to find a breakthrough in treating cancer and who’ll do the same thing tomorrow and the day after and the day after, because she’ll never give up. White, Black, Latino, Asian American, Native Americans, everybody, I’m in this campaign for you. No matter your color, no matter your zip code, no matter your politics.
Joe Biden: (05:51)
When I think of the presidency, I don’t think about myself. It isn’t about my brand. It’s about you, the American people. We can do better and we have to do better. I promise you this. We will do better. The road back begins now in this campaign. You know me, you know my heart, you know my story, my family story. Ask yourself, do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really? I want a safe America, safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops. Let me be crystal clear, safe from four more years of Donald Trump. I look at this violence and I see lives and communities and the dreams of small businesses being destroyed and the opportunity for real progress on issues of race and police reform and justice being put to the test. Donald Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline. Having failed to protect this nation from the virus that has killed more than 180,000 Americans so far, Trump posts an all caps tweet, screaming, “Law and order,” to save his campaign.
Joe Biden: (07:23)
One of his closest political advisers in the White House doesn’t even bother to speak in code, just comes out and she says it. “The more chaos, violence, the better it is for Trump’s reelection.” Just think about that. This is a sitting president of the United States of America. He’s supposed to be protecting this country, but instead he’s rooting for chaos and violence. The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now he’s trying to scare America. Since Donald Trump and Mike Prince can’t run on their record that has seen more American death to a virus, this virus, then the nation suffered in every war since Korea combined, since they can’t run on their economy that has seen more people lose their jobs than any time since the Great Depression, since they can’t run on a simple proposition of sending our children safely back to school, since they have no agenda or vision for a second term, Trump and Pence are running on this.
Joe Biden: (08:36)
And I find it fascinating. “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” And what’s their proof? The violence we’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America. These are not images of some imagined Joe Biden America in the future. These are images of Donald Trump’s America today. He keeps telling you if only he was president, it wouldn’t happen. If he was president. He keeps telling us that he was president you’d feel safe. Well he is president. Whether he knows it or not, and it is happening, it’s getting worse. And you know why? Because Donald Trump adds fuel to every fire because he refuses to even acknowledge that there’s a racial justice problem in America because he won’t stand up to any form of violence. He’s got no problem with right-wing militia, white supremacists, and vigilantes with assault weapons often better armed than the police. Often in the middle of the violence at the protestors and aiming it there. And because tens of millions of Americans simply don’t trust this president to respect their rights, to hear their concerns or to protect them. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Joe Biden: (09:55)
When President Obama and I were in the White House, we had to defend federal property. We did it. We didn’t see it. You didn’t see us whipping up fears around the deployment of secret federal troops. We just did our job and the federal property was protected. When president Obama and I were in office, we didn’t look at cities as Democratic or Republican run. These are American cities. But Trump doesn’t seem himself as president for all of America. Frankly, I believe if I were president today, the country would be safer and we’d be seeing a lot less violence, and here’s why. I have said we must address the issue of racial injustice. I’ve personally spoken to George Floyd’s family, and to Jacob Blake’s family. I know their pain. And so do you. I know the justice they seek and so do you. They’ve told us, “None of this violence respects or honors George or Jacob.” I believe it can bring these folks fighting for racial justice to the table.
Joe Biden: (11:07)
I’ve worked with police in this country for many years. I know most cops are good, decent people. I know how they risk their lives every time they put that shield on and go out the door. I’m confident I can bring the police to the table as well. I’d make sure every mayor and governor had the support they needed from the federal government. But I wouldn’t be looking to use the United States military against our own people. If I were president, my language would be less divisive, I’d be looking to lower the temperature in this country, not raise it. I’d be looking to unite the nation. But look, if Donald Trump wants to ask the question, “Who will keep you safer as president?” Let’s answer that question. First, some simple facts. When I was vice president, violent crime fell 15% in this country. We did it without chaos and disorder.
Joe Biden: (12:09)
And yes, we did it with democratic mayors in most of the major cities in this country. The murder right now is up 26% across the nation this year under Donald Trump. Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump? COVID has taken this year, just since the outbreak, has taken more than 100… Look, the lives, when you think about it, more lives this year than any other year for the past 100 years. More than 180,000 lives in just six months, an average of 1,000 people dying every day in the month of August. Do you really feel safe under Donald Trump? Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America? Afraid they’re going to get COVID. They’re afraid they’re going to get sick and die. And that is in no small part because of you. We’re now on track to more than 200,000 deaths in this country due to COVID. More than 100,000 seniors have lost their lives to the virus.
Joe Biden: (13:26)
More cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol. Nearly one in six small businesses have closed in this country today. Do oyu really feel safer under Trump? What about Trump’s plan to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and with it, the protections for preexisting conditions that impacts more than 100 million Americans? Does that make you feel safer? Or how about Trump’s plan to defund social security? The social security administration’s chief actuary just released a report saying that if a plan like the one Trump is proposing goes into effect, the social security trust fund would be, and I quote, “Permanently depleted by the middle of calendar year 2023, with no ability to pay benefits thereafter.” To put it plainly, Trump’s plan with wipe out social security period. Do you feel safer and more secure now? The fear that reigns under this president doesn’t stop at our shores. The Kremlin has put bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
Joe Biden: (14:44)
And instead of telling Vladimir Putin that there’d be no putting up with this, that there’d be a heavy price to pay if they dare touch an American soldier, this president doesn’t even bring up the subject in his multiple phone calls with Putin. It’s been reported that Russian forces just attacked American troops in Syria, injuring our service members. Did you hear the president say a single word? Did he lift one finger? Never before has an American president played such a subservient role to a Russian leader. It’s not only dangerous, it’s humiliating and embarrassing for the rest of the world to see, it weakens us. Not even American troops can feel safer under Trump. Donald Trump’s role as a bystander in his own presidency extends to the economic plan and pain. The plan he doesn’t have and the pain being felt by millions of Americans. He said this week, and I quote, “You better vote for me, or you’re going to have the greatest depression you’ve ever seen.” Does he not understand and see the tens of millions of people who’ve had to file for unemployment this year so far?
Joe Biden: (16:12)
The people who won’t be able to make next month’s rent payment? The people who lost wages or the cost of groceries have gone up dramatically? President Obama and I stopped a depression in 2009. We took a bad economy that was falling and turned it around. Trump took a good economy and drove it back into the ditch. Through his failure to get COVID under control, his failure to pull together the leaders in Congress, his failure to deliver real relief to working people, has made our country’s economic situation so much worse, so much worse than it had to be. We talk about safety and security. We should talk about basic security of being able to look your child in the eye and tell them, “Everything’s going to be okay. Don’t worry, honey. We’re not going to lose our home. We’re going to be able to put food on the table. It’s going to be okay.”
Joe Biden: (17:13)
It’s the job of the president. I’ve laid out an agenda for economic recovery that will restore a sense of security for working families. We won’t just build things back the way they were before. We’re going to build them back better with good paying jobs. Building our nation’s roads, bridges, solar rays, windmills with investments in our healthcare and childcare workers so they get the pay and dignity they deserve while easing the financial burdens on millions of families with a clean energy strategy that has a place for the energy workers right here in Western Pennsylvania. I am not banning fracking. Let me say that again. I am not banning fracking. No matter how many times Donald Trump lies about me, the future, that’s what this is all about. We hear Donald Trump’s self centered rants and riffs, but the voice of Americans should be heard. And one you should listen to is Julia Jackson, the mother of Jacob Blake. Hers is a voice of courage, character and wisdom.
Joe Biden: (18:32)
Looking at the damage that has been done in her city, she said, “The violence and destruction doesn’t reflect my son or my family.” These are the words of a mom, a mother whose son had just been shot seven times in front of his children, badly injured, paralyzed, perhaps permanently. And even as she seeks justice for her son, she’s pleading for an end to the violence and for this nation to heal. She said she was praying for her son. Then she said something to me that that surprised me. She said she was praying for all police officers. She said was already been praying for America even before her son was shot. She’s publicly asked all of us to examine our hearts, citizens, elected officials, the police, all of us. And then she said, this. “We need healing. More than anything, that’s what we need to do as a nation. We need to heal.”
Joe Biden: (19:43)
Our current president wants you to live in fear, he advertises himself as a figure of order. He isn’t, and he’s not been part of the solution thus far. He’s part of the problem. The problem, I, as president, will give you my all resolve to stop. I’ll deal with the virus, I’ll deal with the economic crisis, and I’ll work to bring a quality and opportunity to everyone. We’ve arrived at a moment in this campaign, we all know, including the press in front of me, knew we’d get to. The moment when Donald Trump would be so desperate, he’d do anything to hold onto power. Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years. Poisoning how we talk to one another, poisoning how we treat one another, poisoning the values this nation has always held dear, poisoning our very democracy. Now, in just a little over 60 days, we have a decision to make. Will we rid ourselves of this toxin or will we make it a permanent part of our nation’s character?
Joe Biden: (21:05)
As Americans, I’m confident we believe in honesty and decency, treating everyone with dignity and respect, giving everyone a fair shot, leaving no one behind, giving hate no safe harbor, and demonizing no one. We, up to now, always recognize there’s something bigger than ourselves, that’s what we’re about. Trump doesn’t seem to believe in any of that. Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, America is an idea. It’s the most powerful idea in the history of the world. And I believe it beats in the hearts of the people of this country. All men and women are created equal and they deserve to be treated equally.
Joe Biden: (21:59)
Trump has sought to remake this nation in his image. Selfish, angry, dark, and divisive. This is not who we are. At her best, america’s always been, and if I have anything to do it, it will be again, generous, confident, an optimistic nation full of hope and resolve. Donald Trump is determined to instill fear in America. That’s what his entire campaign for the president has come down to, fear. But I believe Americans are stronger than that. I believe we’ll be guided by the words of Pope John Paul II, words drawn from the scriptures. Be not afraid, be not afraid. Fear never builds the future, but hope does. And building the future is what America does, what we’ve always done. In fact, it’s what we have done best and continue to do best. This is the United States of America. There’s not a single thing beyond our capacity when we decide to do it together. So let’s get together. I want to thank you all. May God bless you, and may God protect our troops.