Sep 26, 2020
Joe Biden Remarks Transcript September 26: US Conference of Mayors
Joe Biden addressed the virtual US Conference of Mayors on September 26. “If I get elected president, I’m not going to be the Democratic president, I’m going to be an American president,” Biden said. Read the transcript of his speech here.
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Keisha Bottoms: (01:02)
Just yesterday President Trump paid a visit to Atlanta. Somehow my invitation was lost in the mail, but a fellow mayor asked me why was I missing yesterday when people greeted him at the airport and I told him, “I had scheduled an appointment to have my toenails removed one by one,” jokingly of course, but I think it really speaks to how I and so many mayors feel based on the challenges that we are facing under this administration. Someone comes to town, the President comes to town, not to help, but to continue to divide us. And so that is why before I get to removing my fingernails, one by one, I’m excited about Joe Biden being the next president of the United States. And I know my good friend, Eric Garcetti can tell you even more.
Eric Garcetti: (01:52)
Well, thank you, Keisha and thank you, Greg Fischer, Nan Whaley, the entire board for all of your leadership and what’s been an exceptional few days. I remember what it was like to have that partnership in the White House. When I got elected as mayor, it was 2013 and a group of us, the whole class of 2013 were invited into the Roosevelt Room in our nation’s Capitol at the White House, and Barack Obama and Joe Biden didn’t just want to have a photo op with the new mayors, they wanted to listen.
Eric Garcetti: (02:20)
For two hours, they went around the country, listening to the needs, the challenges, the hopes, and the dreams of America’s cities, and then followed up by visiting our cities and being those partners. I remember when Joe Biden came out to my city, Los Angeles to help us become the largest city in America, to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, when his secret weapon, Dr. Joe Biden came out to help us make community college free also the largest city in America to do so and helped us boost our college attendance from public school graduates by 50%. When he came out before Paris held the largest climate accord in the world between Chinese and US mayors in Los Angeles and helped us bring the summer games home back to America.
Eric Garcetti: (03:03)
You see a partnership with Joe Biden is just that. It’s friendship, he doesn’t ask for anything. He just believes in a better America and he knows as a former local official that it starts in local communities. That power doesn’t come from Washington to America, it comes from America and our 19,000 local communities to Washington DC.
Eric Garcetti: (03:21)
Keisha Bottoms: (03:23)
So it’s my pleasure to introduce the next president of the United States, Joe Biden.
Eric Garcetti: (03:31)
Joe Biden: (03:33)
Hello everybody. Very great to be back with all of you and Keisha, thank you for your friendship and Eric yours as well. And you’re both been doing a heck of a job. Look, I want to thank everything you’re doing and for the faith you’ve placed in may so early on, but look, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to this body many, many times over the years from the time I was a senator and as Vice President, and I’ve always had enormous respect for just how tough your jobs are. I’m not being solicitous. I used to be a county councilman in Delaware. I only ran for the United States Senate because I realized how hard local office is. I kiddingly say that I did it because, I ran for the Senate because it was easier.
Joe Biden: (04:14)
But the quality of people’s lives is so much more in your hands and on your shoulders than anyone else. Making sure people feel safe walking down the street, making sure the garbage gets collected, making sure the schools are safe and open. All the concrete things that make everyday life or break everyday life. They’re not partisan things. They’re just practical things. People look to you, Democrats and Republicans. You’re also on the front lines of emergencies. From fires to floods, to school shootings, to public health issues, helping save lives as well as livelihoods. That’s why I’ve made it a priority of my entire career to work closely with you.
Joe Biden: (04:54)
From the time I got to the senate 180 years ago, as well as my tenure, as vice president. You know, if I have the honor of becoming your president, I make this commitment to you. You’re going to have an access directly to the White House. I’m going to be right there with you, helping you and your communities based on what you think you need and the challenge you’re facing because the president, the mayor pointed out that it is about all from the bottom up. It doesn’t go from the top down. We’re dealing with four historic crises all at once. A once in a century pandemic that has claimed over 200,000 American lives, a devastating economic recession, a long overdue reckoning on racial justice and a change in climate that’s ravaging communities all across the country.
Joe Biden: (05:43)
I need not tell that to Eric and the mayors in California and Oregon and Washington state. Not one of those crises should have a partisan dimension. I really mean that. Not one single one. If I get elected president, I’m not going to be the Democratic president, I’m going to be an American president. Whether you voted for me or against me, whether your city is red or blue, I’m going to be there. I promise you. Frankly, we should be able to address each one of these the same way mayors solve problems, by leading with the facts and with reality, putting the wellbeing of our constituents first, uniting people around solutions that work for everybody, but tragically, that isn’t how this current administration is wired.
Joe Biden: (06:25)
The only problems that matter to this president seem to be problems that affect him personally. He defines everything in a red and blue, blue states, red states, Democratic cities, Republican cities. I think that’s explains why one day before we hit 200,000 deaths, the president held a campaign rally and insisted that the virus was, “Affects virtually nobody.” Then he went on to say, “except elderly people with heart conditions and problems.” Ask the folks in their communities how they feel about that. Their parents that are being referred to by the president as nobodies. Ask their families of that empty seat at kitchen table this morning, if that’s true they’re nobodies. Kids who lost their teachers. Parents, and grandparents, friends or coworkers, sisters or brothers, never going to see again.
Joe Biden: (07:17)
The problems we’re facing affects all of us, every one of us in every community. I think this may be the toughest time in a long time to be a mayor, especially a big city mayor, but that’s not true across the board. Mayors have faced adversity before. Some of you remember back in 2008, the economy was in free fall. We were losing 700,000 jobs a month because of the recession we inherited. Families lost, and I know you remember this, families lost more than $16 trillion, families, in personal wealth. People who had never missed a mortgage payment, all of a sudden were underwater, being foreclosed on because of the number of foreclosures that occurred on their streets significantly reducing the value of their home.
Joe Biden: (08:05)
Was devastated. We didn’t solve it by saying, “You’re on your own. It’s what it is.” We came together. With your leadership, we passed and implemented the Recovery Act. We provided $140 billion in state and local fiscal relief, keeping law enforcement and firefighters on the job. We sent more than $50 billion to your school districts saving more than 300,000 education jobs. We provided the Middle Class Tax Relief, helping families send their kids to college, to buy their first home. We invested in the future. We put $48 billion in infrastructure projects building 42,000 miles of roads, nearly 27,000 bridges to go along with the biggest clean energy investment in all of our history, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Joe Biden: (08:58)
And I said then and I say again, you should be able to make the decisions of what your city most needs. It shouldn’t have to go through your state legislatures all the time. You should have an opportunity. Even conservative economist acknowledge that what we did saved us from a depression. When the president gave me the honor of leading the recovery effort, first thing I did, I went to the mayors. Some of you were still around then. I spoke with over 200 mayors. Because of you, we came through the moment together. I really mean it. I spoke on the phone constantly. That’s the same approach we should be taking today.
Joe Biden: (09:37)
It starts with your budgets. You have to balance your budgets. You’re getting squeezed like never before. Local services are getting pared back, municipal jobs are falling by the wayside, furloughs and layoffs, compounding the devastation. We still have no effective of national standard for curbing the virus, which is infuriating because scientists insist we can save 110,000… They expect close to 200,000 more lives to be lost between now and January. They insist we can save 110,000 by the end of the year by simply wearing masks, and that’s straightening your budget even more because it keeps businesses from opening, opening back up. It keeps emergency rooms full and holds down your cities from springing back to life.
Joe Biden: (10:30)
There is no reason, none, why we can’t work together, we can’t work together again to overcome these challenges. You all know the House passed the Heroes Act, which should provide $915 billion in local and state government. It’s collecting dust right now on the Senate. Majority leader who I know well says, “Let the states go bankrupt.” [inaudible 00:10:58] having a local emergency fund that drives resources straight to you, expand your health infrastructure, reimburses overtime pay for the essential workers and first responders. Whatever your community needs the most, it isn’t all about resources though.
Joe Biden: (11:20)
The time when people are crying out for justice, exercising the right to peacefully protest, it’s falling on you to keep the peace and god, it’s a tough job on any circumstances. It’s nearly impossible where the president scapegoats his mayors and fans the flame of division. We can work together to build trust and accountability between police and communities, to condemn all violence, while still addressing the pain and injustice that they’re feeling and rooting out systemic racism. And as you all deal with the effects of extreme weather, fires, floods, superstorms where it’s like we’ve never seen.
Joe Biden: (12:00)
We can work together to invest in our communities to make them more resilient to climate change. The problems are different in every… Some places it’s about flooding, some places it’s about being wiped out by storms along the coast where I live. Sometimes it’s about being safe, just keeping people safe from fires, but it also is about being able to create millions of jobs, modernizing your buildings and your transportation system, making your community stronger, greener, better position to seize the opportunities in the years ahead. That’s what I plan on doing to get to you. That’s what we did when I was vice-president. That’s what we’ll do if I have the honor of becoming your president.
Joe Biden: (12:40)
What we can’t do though, is divide ourselves into pieces. That’s the only strategy this president seems to know, but it doesn’t work. It can distract you from a problem. It can create a new problem that occupy your attention, but it can’t actually solve anything. You all know better than anyone, dividing ourselves gets us nowhere. We have to work together in good faith, competently, efficiently leading with the facts. We can disagree on policies but we have to cooperate. It’s only the way we’re going to come out of these crises and ensure that our best days are still ahead, which I firmly believe they are.
Joe Biden: (13:22)
That’s what we’ve done, tried to do in this campaign and that’s what I’ll do as president. Work with all of you. Democrats, Republicans, independents. As I said, if I’m elected president, I’m not going to be a democratic president, I’m going to be an American president. Blue cities, red cities it does not matter to me. I promise you. Every American community deserves the full support of an American president.
Joe Biden: (13:46)
Look, being a mayor and you know I’m not kidding about this, is hard under the best of circumstances, but the worst thing a president can do is to drive wedges and make your job tougher because he thinks it benefits him or stirs up chaos in your communities. You deserve a partner who’ll listen to you, who’ll work with you, work on your priorities. Someone who gets your back and saves your back, works to cover your back no matter what you are and no matter what challenge you’re facing.
Joe Biden: (14:22)
This moment we’re facing now, isn’t a partisan moment. It’s an American moment. It sounds corny, doesn’t it? But it’s true, it’s an American moment. It’s a chance for us to overcome anger and division that has hold us back of late for far too long. We can emerge from these crises. We can do what we’re best at doing, unite, work together. And it starts with the mayors. And I really mean that. It starts with all of you. I promise you. If I’m elected, you will have direct access to the White House. I want to thank you all because we need you to build back better. You are the foundation stone, not a joke. You’re the ones leading away. And what people don’t realize is over the last six years more young people are moving into cities than out of cities.
Joe Biden: (15:21)
There’s so many possibilities. We got to stop the hate and the division now, we got to stop pouring flames on the fire, we got to start talking straight to the American people. That’s what you all do. You do it every day. I want to make it clear to you, I’ve never been more optimistic and I’ve been doing this a long time about the prospects for this country than I am today. The blinders have been taken off the American people. They understand what’s going on now. They understand. They understand it’s about all of us. They want to get things done. And so it’s going to start with you. I promise you I’ll have your back. I mean that sincerely. Look in my record, I have, and I want to make sure that your ideas are the ones that are funneled up. They don’t have to go through a state legislature, go through a governor. They can go straight to the federal government, straight to me. I really mean it. So God bless you. May God protect our troops and thank you for what you do. Your job is too hard for me.