Sep 30, 2020
Joe Biden Train Tour Campaign Speech Transcript Johnstown, PA September 30: Night After Debate
Joe Biden visited Johnstown, Pennsylvania as the last stop on his ‘Whistle-Stop’ campaign tour on September 30. Read the transcript of his remarks here.
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Jill Biden: (00:00)
… still beats with kindness and courage. We don’t agree on everything and we know we don’t have to. We can still love and respect each other. We care more about people than politics. And we know we’re not fractured. We’re not broken. We’re just becoming something new. We just need steady leadership, to help us heal and move us forward. And didn’t you see that last night in the debate against Donald Trump? That’s my husband, Joe Biden, that steady, calm leader. He will be a president for all Americans and he has a plan for all Americans. He and Kamala Harris have the fortitude to lead us out of Donald Trump’s chaotic America. They have the character to help us heal, and the vision to rebuild for a future that is better than ever.
Jill Biden: (01:09)
But they can’t do it without you, because this is it, guys. This is it. There are no do-overs. We can’t sit back and just watch what happens. We have to decide what happens. Thank you. Cynics plague our fears. They tell us we can’t make a difference, because they don’t want us to try. They know that together, our voices are more powerful than they ever could be. And we have to show them our power. We have to believe that our communities are stronger than the challenges that we face, because you are. We have to believe that our votes matter because they do. We have to show up, right now, put our shoulders back and work like we’ve never worked before and fight for our country.
Jill Biden: (02:10)
So will you join us? Will you prove the cynics wrong? Will you help show us that our nation will never settle for less than our highest aspirations? Will you stand with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris? Because when you do, Pennsylvania, I know that we will win. So thank you for all that you do for your communities. Thank you for showing up now, when it matters the most. And most of all, thank you for your faith in an idea that’s bigger than any one of us. And that is, that we will build a better nation because we’re going to do this together. So thank you, Pennsylvania.
Thank you, Jill.
Jill Biden: (03:03)
So now, I think I’m supposed to introduce my husband. So, Joe, where are you. Oh, no I’m not? [crosstalk 00:03:21] Oh, okay. Maybe somebody else is. Thank you.
Thank you Jill. [crosstalk 00:03:38]
Speaker 1: (04:03)
Please welcome Brian Smith, a maintenance worker at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Brian Smith: (04:20)
Good evening. I’m Brian Smith, born and raised here in Johnstown, a place I’m proud to call home. I’m a proud union maintenance tech at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown for the last 20 years. Right on. I’m even more proud to represent our SEIU 32BJ members, on the job as a shop steward. My good union job has made me raising my family in the place that I love, where my family is. And possible, when I come home from six years active duty service with the Navy Seabees, at the end of the first Gulf war, I worked construction jobs. I was fortunate to find a union job in the local foundry as a steelworker.
Brian Smith: (05:03)
When the street left our area and those living wage, family, feeding middle-class jobs left our area, I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to make it on the social service jobs that were available. I felt so fortunate to find union work at UPJ, doing the work I love, in carpentry, electrical and plumbing. The wages and benefits provided by this job allow my wife and I stay here and grow our family, with the healthcare and medical leave that we needed to keep our family healthy and to be caregivers for my aging parents. Because of my good union job, our son graduated from UPJ and our daughter’s in her sophomore year. A benefit that not only provided their tuition, but will impact their success and earning potential throughout their lives.
Brian Smith: (05:50)
I’m proud to serve my members on the job every day and I’m proud of my wife’s and my military service. We come from a long family history of military reserves. We have the strongest military in the world, because we understand that our military is only as strong as our weakest link. The same goes for our unions, brothers and sisters. And we need a Commander in Chief that will strive that unity and strengthen our country, instead of creating division, only weakening our collective power. I know who will be that leader for working people and that is Vice President Biden. And I say welcome, to the great city of Johnstown. Thank you. (silence)
Vice President Joe Biden: (07:16)
Love Johnstown. It’s good to be back. It’s good to be back. Well, thank you. I tell you what, I first came to Johnstown and it was all Democrat. And guess what? Johnstown and this county’s going to be Democrat again after this election. [crosstalk 00:07:38] It’s good to be back, man. I’ll tell you what. It’s been an incredible day. We started this morning in Cleveland, Ohio, where just last night I had a truly unique experience of debating whatever his name was, Donald Trump.
Vice President Joe Biden: (08:02)
How was that, Joe?
Vice President Joe Biden: (08:06)
And from there, we’ve been to communities all across Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. We’re finishing up right here in Johnstown tonight. I want to thank the lieutenant governor, for being here. We call lieutenant governor’s wife [inaudible 00:08:20] governor. So, governor, thanks for being here and thank your wife as well and all the local elected officials and leaders for joining us today. And, Brian, thank you for your years of service and your wife’s service to our country, the United States Navy, and for sharing your stories with us. Last night, the President of the United States was reminded that he said that our veterans were losers and suckers.
Vice President Joe Biden: (09:35)
No, I’m serious about this. Like your family, my son spent a year in Iraq. It’s about ready. That’s a good thing. It’s still running. That’s a good thing. But wait, he came back decorated with the Bronze Star and the Conspicuous Service Medal. I thought it was despicable, that Donald Trump referred to everyone, from my friend and colleague and my competitor, John McCain, straight through to my son and others. It’s despicable. The man doesn’t deserve to be Commander in Chief of the world’s best military. But I want to thank the good people at Amtrak, who’ve been keeping me moving today. Quite frankly, my whole career. I started by taking the train, when I got elected as a 29 year old kid, to the United States Senate.
Vice President Joe Biden: (10:20)
I started going back and forth every single day, so I could be home in Wilmington every night with two young boys as a single dad after I lost my wife. Two hours each way, nearly 250 miles every day, so I could be there for breakfast with the boys. It wasn’t Ozzie and Harriet stuff, it was just sort of cornflakes. But at least I got to be there to play with my daughter, kiss them good morning, go home and kiss them goodnight. That train brought me back to my home base every single night, to my family. It kept me grounded. It kept me connected. It meant I always remembered what and who really mattered in my life. And riding that train all those miles every day, and I spent as the conductors informed me, over 2,100,000 miles on Amtrak.
Vice President Joe Biden: (11:21)
They said, “Biden, they named a station after you.” They should have named the whole damn road after me all those times. All kidding aside. But seriously, it’s a true story. I’d ride home at night after a debate with the United States Senate, about a fair tax policy, or about healthcare, or about unions that I was fighting for. And I look out… I really mean this. I look out like I did coming from Cleveland today. I look out at all those home I pass, those middle class neighborhoods like I was raised in. I was raised in, like a lot of you I expect, a three bedroom…
Vice President Joe Biden: (12:03)
I was raised, like a lot of you I expect, in a three-bedroom home, split level house, four kids, mom, dad and a grandpop living with us. I tell you what, I wonder if you’re having the same conversation that my mom and dad had when we were growing up, sitting there, wondering, “Honey, we need four new tires on the car. We can’t afford it. We’ve got to wait another couple months before we can get them.” Who’s going tell them, we might not have the money to help them go back to the university this semester? Who’s going to say it? Maybe we’re going to have to worry about whether or not they’re turning the electricity off because we’re behind on our bill because of job change, or I lost my health insurance.
Vice President Joe Biden: (12:58)
Those are conversations that people are having today. The fact of the matter is, the vast majority of people in the middle class, over 50% said if they got a bill for $400 and it was unexpected in one month, that they could either borrow money or sell something to pay it. I think about their struggles and their words. I think about their hopes and their dreams. I talked to the other passengers on the train, and I got pretty friendly with some of the conductors. I learned about their lives and their families. It was a constant reminder that every single person has their own unique story, their own journey. In my experience, everyone is just looking for a chance. It’s not a guarantee. It’s a chance to get ahead, just a fair shot, an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Vice President Joe Biden: (14:06)
That dream gets further and further out of reach for so many folks here in Johnstown, my hometown of Scranton, Claymont where I was raised. It’s getting harder and harder. That’s what I’ve seen today at every stop on that train, from the folks who join me on this trip. I’ve spent time with a dedicated school elementary teacher from Lawrencetown, Ohio, who spoke about how the GM Plant … Remember, the President said, “Don’t sell your homes. Everything’s going to be okay in Lawrencetown. Everything’s going to stay.” That GM plant closed and guess what? It devastated the whole community. About how her own husband had to accept a transfer to a plant in Kentucky, an eighth-hour drive each way, only home on the weekends, just in order to maintain his healthcare and his pension. Now, he drives 16 hours every weekend, just to see her and the kids.
Vice President Joe Biden: (15:08)
I listened to an incredible young woman, a mother of four at home, a heath aide and a nursing student. Talk about how worried she is that no one is looking out for the caregivers in this country, the people who, so many of them have literally risked and given their lives so that we’d be okay, especially during this pandemic. I saw steel workers and iron workers whose union brothers and sisters built Pittsburgh’s famous bridges, proud operating engineers who keep the engines of our economy pumping. I heard from union members who’ve gotten a raw deal so many times and so many more at every stop that I made, just hard working people like all of you, folks who played by the rules and paid their fair share their whole lives, folks who never asked for a single thing to be given to them, just a chance to earn it.
Vice President Joe Biden: (16:24)
Folks, it couldn’t be a more stark difference from what I saw last night on that debate stage, a self-entitled, self-serving President who thinks everything is about him. He thinks that, if he just yells louder and louder, throws out lie after lie after lie, he’ll get his way. He thinks you’ll forget. Well, he picked the wrong guy. I don’t forget. I don’t forget that in February, he’s on tape acknowledging he knew how serious this pandemic was. He knew how quickly it would spread, that thousands of people would be killed, but he forgot to say a single thing. He kept it secret. He was more worried about the stock market collapsing than about the over 205,000 people who’ve died.
Vice President Joe Biden: (17:39)
He didn’t say a word. What did he tell us? He said it’d be gone by Easter. It will go away in the warm weather. He told us it will just go away like a miracle, and then maybe if we injected bleach in our arm, we may be okay. He thinks we’ll forget about how badly he mismanaged this pandemic that cost us more so far than 205,000 lives and counting, almost 30 million people on unemployment insurance. He thinks we’ll forget the reason our businesses and our schools are closed is because he took no responsibility. He’s a complete failure. He didn’t get the people the PPE, the resources they need to be able to reopen safely. He didn’t speak to you or the American people about the concerns. Not even once last night did he say a word about anything.
Vice President Joe Biden: (18:49)
Seriously, think about it. Not once, because not only the trail of broken promises, lies he told communities like Johnstown and all across the industrial Midwest, it’s more than that. Just as I said last night, when he heard that 1,000 people a day were dying, what was his comment? He said, “It is what it is.” That’s because he is who he is. Then, when he ran, he told us how much he cared about people like my family and yours, the places we come from. His staff reported him saying, this is about three weeks ago, the truth is, he said that he in fact, thinks that we’re all losers. He doesn’t respect. No, behind closed doors, it’s been reported that he called his own supporters, working class folks that the Democrats along the way began to forget about, what he called them, his supporters, quote, “Disgusting.”
Vice President Joe Biden: (20:06)
He’s the same guy who lets you earn a couple bucks parking cars at his country club, but even if you had the money, he wouldn’t allow you to join. They look down the nose at working families trying to do it right. It’s been confirmed by multiple sources that he thinks that those of us who signed up and put our country, put our lives on the line, our veterans, as I mentioned earlier, are just suckers and losers. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. It’s absolutely despicable. I’ll tell you. By the way, six of his generals, who work for him, all say he’s not worthy of being President of the United States of America, his own generals.
Vice President Joe Biden: (20:54)
I’ll tell you right now, that’s not how I was raised. It’s not how you were raised. It’s not how the vast majority of Americans who break their neck every day just wanting to get a fair shake were raised. By the way, Donald Trump can only see the world from Park Avenue. He cares only what the super rich and connected thinks. He only sees value in stock portfolios. I don’t own a single share of stock. I have the dubious distinction, when I got elected … Maybe that’s why he doesn’t like me very much. I’ve been listed as the poorest man in Congress for 36 years. You think I’m joking? I’m not proud of it. It’s true. I think you’re supposed to earn money while you’re in politics.
Vice President Joe Biden: (21:51)
In addition to that, when I got elected to the Vice Presidency, the headline in the paper saying it’s probable no man has ever assumed the office of the Vice President with few assets than Joe Biden. I don’t think they were speaking intellectually. Guess what? His only metric is how the economy is doing, his Dow Jones. It doesn’t matter if communities like Johnstown are still hurting, and he doesn’t have a plan to help you or get back on your feet or deliver relief to the people who most need help. He’s too busy planning for his next big tax giveaway. It’s a true story. Billionaires made $300 billion more in this pandemic, fact, and now you know what his new tax plan is? He’s proposing another $30 billion tax cut for billionaires by reducing what they call capital gains to 15%. They’ll be making billions and paying a lower rate than a firefighter, a school teacher, a school teacher and a firefighter together, a lower rate. The 100 richest folks in this country, are in fact, own more wealth than about half the population. It’s time, when nearly 30 million people are on unemployment, 100 million people, he’s trying to take away your healthcare. 100 million people with pre-existing conditions, he’s going to court a week after the election to try to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
Vice President Joe Biden: (23:46)
By the way, if this, if I tried, if we made a movie about this, they’d think it’s just all fiction. It couldn’t be possible. In the middle of this pandemic, when you have seven million people infected, 40,000-
Vice President Joe Biden: (24:03)
… million people infected. 40,000 a day becoming infected. 750 to 1000 a day dying. And his one goal is to take away healthcare. Not a joke, not a joke. 10 million people have already lost the healthcare provided by their employers because their employers have gone out of business. 10 million, and 20 million people, if he gets his way, and I think it’s on November 7th, 8th, 9th, or 10th, I go to the Supreme Court.
Speaker 2: (24:41)
November 10th, Joe.
Vice President Joe Biden: (24:41)
They’ll lose, 20 million people will lose their health insurance.
Speaker 3: (24:47)
Doesn’t matter, Joe.
Vice President Joe Biden: (24:47)
More than a hundred million people with pre-existing conditions will in fact be charged more for their coverage. What’s going to happen is, in addition to that, when they eliminate the Affordable Care Act, we’re going to be able to charge women more money running from the same procedures men getting charged for. Not a joke. And that’s what the law he wants to eliminate will do. Pregnancy will become again, not a joke, a pre-existing condition that you can charge a great deal more for. Folks, we can’t let that happen. He’s too busy trying to salvage his foundering re-election campaign to understand that people don’t want a superficial temporary tax cut on their withholding tax because [inaudible 00:25:42] take it out of social security. You know what the social security actuary said? “If this plane goes through, social security will be totally bankrupt by 2023.”
Vice President Joe Biden: (25:56)
I know this sounds ridiculous. Remember I told you, Paul Ryan was there. They wanted to cut Medicaid and cut social security. That was in their budget. That’s what they want to do. I don’t know where these guys come from. Look, I’ve dealt with guys like Trump my whole life, guys who look down on us because they got them out of money, inherited it, guys who think they’re better than you, guys, who, as I said, might let you park the car at a country club they own but never let you join or come in, guys who inherited everything you’ve ever gotten and then squandered it. I see the world from where I grew up in Scranton. Not a joke. You see it from a different perspective of Johnstown or any time we stopped in today. It’s filled with people who are busting their necks to do right by their families every day. They aren’t worried about the stock market. They’re worried about putting food on the table every night. They’re worried about making the rent. 20 million people are worried they won’t be able to pay their mortgage payment this month. 20 million.
Vice President Joe Biden: (27:08)
My mom used to always say, Jean Finnegan Biden from Scranton, she said, “Joey, remember, look at me, Joey, nobody is better than you, but everyone is your equal.” He doesn’t get that. When my dad had to leave Scranton when there were no jobs and we moved to Wilmington, he didn’t have to commute like the woman I met today, her husband, eight hours each way, but he had to commute back and forth to Wilmington every weekend and that was only a three and a half hour drive each way. But when we got to Delaware and finally were able to buy a house three years later, my dad used to day, “Joe, the job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community.” That’s what was missing today. Providing dignity to the work do we.
Vice President Joe Biden: (28:06)
Those are the values that shaped my life, and when it gets down to it, I think this whole campaign gets down to Park Avenue versus Scranton. Park Avenue versus Johnstown. Trump may think there ought to be a different set of rules for him and his rich buddies, rules that get them out of taxes, get them out of responsibilities, get them out of consequences for every one of the mistakes they make. But I don’t think so. I think it’s about time to start rewarding work and not wealth. And I think it’s about time that families get a break and the super wealthy and corporate America start paying their fair share. We’re still going to do well, even if they pay their fair share. But here’s what I know. Donald Trump will never understand. Wall Street didn’t build this country, CEOs didn’t. The middle class built America and unions built the middle class.
Vice President Joe Biden: (29:14)
That’s why my plan is about helping communities like Johnstown and Scranton and Claymont, places I grew up, to build that better. I’m here today to say to you, I’ll do as President what Donald Trump hasn’t. I’ll fight for you. Not for the corporations. You, your jobs, your family. Now we’re going to build back better. It’s all about injecting life and capital back into places like Johnstown. It starts with a simple proposition. Buy American. The federal government spends $600 billion of your taxpayer’s money every single year on everything from military equipment to steel railings to buildings to highways, cars and trucks in federal fleets. While I’m President, we’re going to make sure that every one of those products, every single piece that goes into any of those contracts is made and built in America. I’m serious. We can do this. [inaudible 00:30:24] send jobs overseas. Any company in my administration that off shores jobs will pay a 10% penalty, and any company that brings jobs back or reopens the closed factories like those around Johnstown will get a 10% credit and an incentive to build back.
Vice President Joe Biden: (30:48)
We’re going to direct billions of dollars in revitalization funds and competitive grants to help places like Johnstown compete for new businesses and startups. We’re going to make four years of public education, two years of community college free for families making less than under 25 grand. We’re going to lower healthcare costs by increasing subsidies for your premiums so they’re lower, slashing the cost of prescription drugs by literally as much as 60%. And you say, “How do you do that, Joe?” Well, we’re going to do a system that sets up an expert panel of 25 people for every new drug that comes on the market. You have to go before that group of experts, they’ll set the price based on your investment, just like you do for your utility, and you cannot raise that price ever again beyond the cost of medical inflation.
Vice President Joe Biden: (31:46)
We’re going to take on the opioid crisis [inaudible 00:31:47] effective treatment, and for substance use disorders. We’re going to do it all without raising a penny in taxes for anybody who makes less than $400,000 a year. If you make more than $400,000, I’m going to raise your taxes. So raise your hand. No, maybe you didn’t believe me that I could do that without raising taxes on the middle class. But hat’s before you found out that the billionaire Donald Trump only paid $750 in income taxes. If Trump’s Park Avenue pals start paying their fair share we’ll have more than enough money to finally build an economy that works for everybody. So I promise you this. I see you. I hear you. I respect you. I grew up with you. And the families of those more than 200,000 Americans that have died in this pandemic will be heard and respected by me.
Vice President Joe Biden: (32:50)
I’ll work like crazy to get this pandemic under control so we can get our economy working again, for everyone to get back our lives. We’re a nation in incredible pain right now. So many empty chairs around the dining table at night because somebody’s been lost to the family. So many businesses closed, doors closed forever because the money that the Congress voted to get to small businesses went to his friends, his rich friends on Wall Street. So many proud people on unemployment for the first time in their lives, not able to get the kind of unemployment insurance that we initially passed in Congress. As my wife said, “This is not a partisan moment. This is an American moment.” No, I really mean it. We can’t afford to go on being divided. We can’t afford to have a leader who does nothing but throw gasoline on the anger and hatred that’s burning in this country.
Speaker 3: (33:54)
Stop the hate.
Vice President Joe Biden: (33:55)
We have to come together. Look, I promise you all this. I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will be an American President. [crosstalk 00:34:05] for those who support me as those who did not, I promise you this, I’ll fight for you. That’s what we need right now, a President who will try to bring us together, who will speak to what is best in all of us, rather than trying to divide us. Put that dog whistle out, and racism. Did you hear that he said last night? When he was asked by the Fox commentator, asked would he condemn White supremacy, which the FBI says is a serious threat to terrorism in America today, he said, “Well, of course, I’m against all bad news.” I said, “How about the Proud Boys?” “The Proud Boys,” he said, “Well, I’ll tell you what. Just tell them to stand down but stand by.” Go online. The Proud Boys now have a logo saying, “Stand down but stand by.”
Vice President Joe Biden: (35:13)
And they said in the newspaper today that [inaudible 00:35:18] was Vladimir Putin. Not a joke. In fact, threaten that if he doesn’t win, there’ll be violence. Look, we’ve got to stop pitting ourselves against one another. We’re one people. We’re one nation, one America. We need to remember who in God’s name we are. This is the United States of America. In our long history, there’s been nothing, nothing ever, think about this. In every crisis we’ve ever had, there’s not going to single thing we’ve been unable to overcome, nothing, when we act together, and we’ve done it together.
Vice President Joe Biden: (36:03)
… when we act together, we’ve done it together. Folks, I am so optimistic about what the country is ready to do. No, no, I really am. I think we’re ready to stand up, I think the blinders have been taken off the American people. They understand what’s at stake. We can own the 21st century. We are, as Madeleine Albright said, ” The essential country.” We can and must lead the world again. We’ve not only led the world by the example of our power, but the power of our example.
Vice President Joe Biden: (36:42)
Why does the rest of the whole follower us? Because of who we are, what we stand for, our example, and it’s being trashed all over the world. There was a recent Pew poll done in the major nations of the world, Donald Trump as president, this is not a joke. Check it online. Donald Trump is less respected than President Xi and Putin. Can you imagine that? So folks, look, as I said, this United States of America, we can do anything, and we’re about to do it. With your help, the grace of God and the goodwill of our neighbors, as my grandpa would say, “We’re coming back.” So God bless you all, and may God protect our troops. We are coming back this year. 30 something days. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you.