Apr 13, 2020
Transcript: Bernie Sanders Endorses Joe Biden in Livestream Meeting
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders held an online livestream video conference in which Bernie Sanders endorsed Joe Biden for president. Read the full transcript of their virtual meeting here.
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Joe Biden: (03:25)
We all have to know the clock is ticking. We don’t have a moment to waste in combating the climate crisis. It’s an existential threat to us. In short, we need to build a fair, more inclusive and more resilient America. And with that in mind, I’d like to welcome to this conversation a leader who shares those values and has been an outspoken advocate for that vision for a long time. My friend, Senator Bernie Sanders. Bernie, welcome.
Bernie Sanders: (03:55)
Joe, thank you very much for your remarks and thank you for welcoming me to your livestream here. As you’ve indicated, we are living in an unbelievably unprecedented moment. You and I were chatting a few months ago, not in a million years would we have believed that we would be talking to each other in our respective homes, that we could not do rallies, that we could not get out of the house. We would not have believed that we’d be looking not only at a pandemic, which as you indicated has taken over 20,000 lives in our country. Half a million people infected but has cost us 16 million jobs and that’s probably a conservative number. The real number is probably higher than that. So, we are in a terrible moment, an unprecedented moment. And I know we share the understanding that we’ve got to go forward right now and out of this in an unprecedented way to address the terrible pain that so many of our fellow Americans are feeling.
Bernie Sanders: (05:07)
So today I am asking all Americans, I’m asking every Democrat, I’m asking every independent, I’m asking a lot of Republicans to come together in this campaign to support your candidacy, which I endorse to make certain that we defeat somebody who I believe, and I’m just speaking just for myself now, is the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country. A president, and you made this point who downplayed this pandemic, who ignored the advice that some of his people were giving him, who has not used the Defense Production Act early on so that we could produce the masks, the gowns, the gloves, the ventilators that our medical personnel desperately need. Who today, because I understand that he is threatening to fire Dr. Fauci, who has been an unbelievable, I mean it is… Who has been day after day, the voice of science to the American people trying to explain how we go forward in this crisis and he’s threatening to fire him.
Bernie Sanders: (06:20)
So to me, for all of those reasons and so many more, a president who doesn’t apparently has never read the constitution of the United States who believes he’s above the law. A president who lies all of the time, a president who has at least shown me that he is a racist and a sexist and a homophobe and a xenophobe and a religious bigot. I mean, for all of those reasons or more, we’ve got to make Trump a one term president and we need you in the White House. So I will do all that I can to see that happens, Joe. And I know that there is an enormous responsibility on your shoulders right now and it’s imperative that all of us work together to do what has to be done not only in this moment but beyond this moment in the future of this country.
Bernie Sanders: (07:13)
And in that regard I have been very pleased that your staff and my staff have been working together over the last several weeks to coming up with a number of task forces. These are task forces that will look at some of the most important issues facing this country, the economy, how we create an economy that works for all, not just a few. Education, how we create the best educational system in the world for all of our people. How we deal with climate change, which as you indicated is an existential threat to the planet. How we deal with criminal justice because we don’t want to continue having more people in jail than any other country on earth. How we deal with immigration reform and how we have a healthcare system that is so much better than what we have right now. Now, it’s no great secret out there, Joe, that you and I have our differences and we’re not going to paper them over. That’s real. But I hope that these task forces will come together utilizing the best minds and people in your campaign and in my campaign to work out real solutions to these very, very important problems. So look forward to working with you and bringing some great people into those task forces.
Joe Biden: (08:46)
Well, Bernie I want to thank you for that. It’s a big deal. And I think that your endorsement means a great deal. It means a great deal to me. I think people are going to be surprised that we are apart on some issues, but we’re awfully close to on a whole bunch of others. And, and I think you’ve made… If I am the nominee, which looks like now you just made me, I’m going to need you not just to win the campaign but to govern. And so did you have any questions for me, Bernie at all?
Bernie Sanders: (09:26)
I did Joe. Just let’s talk about some of the areas that I think we are actually fairly close. There are some areas where we disagree, but somewhere we are fairly close. Let’s talk about the economy and above and beyond the crisis that we’re in right now, you know very well that millions of our people are working for starvation wages. And one of the fights that I’ve been waging for a number of years now is to raise that minimum wage to at least 15 bucks an hour. Is that something Joe-
Bernie Sanders: (10:02)
… to at least 15 bucks an hour. Is that something Joe, that you are supportive of?
Joe Biden: (10:05)
Bernie, I’m extremely supportive of that and I thank you for leading on it, I thank you for your endorsement, your support. But look, it means a great deal to me personally, as I said in my statement, when you suspended your campaign, I want to thank you for being the powerful voice and you’ve been the most powerful voice for a fair and more just America. It’s a voice like yours that refuses to allow us just to accept what is. You’ve refused to accept that we can’t change what’s wrong in our nation. You refused to accept that health and wellbeing of our fellow citizens and our planet is the responsibility of somebody else. It’s our responsibility [inaudible 00:10:41] and you don’t get enough credit, Bernie, for being the voice that forces us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Have we done enough,” and we haven’t.
Joe Biden: (10:51)
One issue you’ve led in the past is making sure that every single solitary thing we can do to keep workers whole during this crisis is a part of it. It goes well beyond the $15 an hour, as I said, more than 16 million, and you’re right, it’s probably significantly more than 16 million Americans have lost their jobs because that’s a lagging indicator. And Congress has appropriated more than $2.2 trillion in this last round of so called CARES Act. And my concern is the Trump administration is going to continue to do what it’s always done and that is, it’s going to make sure the response in a way that the structural benefits go to the wealthy and the well-connected. And that’s been your cry for a long time, Bernie. Basically, they’re helping their friends. It isn’t about the legislation, the legislation’s been good, it’s about how it’s being implemented. The biggest, best connected firms are getting assistance as fast as they can ask for it. Oversight and few conditions from Treasury and the Fed had been sort of wiped away. We should be imposing much stricter conditions on these big firms. Tell them they only get the relief if they keep workers on their payroll, keep their jobs, make a commitment they won’t buy back their stock, pay out dividends, enrich their executives.
Joe Biden: (12:06)
In fact, Donald Trump and his team are trying to gut the whole oversight of the Corporate Loan Program now. Trump fired the Inspector General … I know you know this … who was put in place to police corporate corruption and what’s he trying to hide? Congress should demand answers and I know you will. Meanwhile, the little guy, the mom and pop shops, the men and women and minority owned businesses, they’re have the fewest resources to fall back on in this crisis and they’re facing obstacles and delays the threaten their very existence of their businesses. And but no one in Donald Trump’s White House or Treasury is taking the kind of bold action required to make sure that those without prior wealth, without prior wealth or prior connections get a priority.
Joe Biden: (12:51)
We should insist that the Trump White House and the Treasury Department move more aggressively to get those grants and loans to small businesses now when they really need it. And if the banks won’t do it, to go back to your point, they won’t process the loans for small business regardless of their size, then the Federal Government should use their wartime authority to compel them to do so because otherwise in six months we’re going to look back and see this crisis has only made inequity worse in America.
Joe Biden: (13:21)
And I’ve said it from the beginning of our conversation, we just can’t think about building back to the way things were before. That is not good enough. We need to build for a better future and that’s exactly what these task forces, your team in mine, have put together to focus on.
Joe Biden: (13:37)
I’ll have a lot more to say about that as you will too, but first I want to thank you for your question and Bernie, if I don’t mind Bernie, how do we over the long haul, if I may ask, make sure we strengthen the economy to work for all people and beyond the $15 minimum wage high, what else should we be doing, Bernie?
Bernie Sanders: (13:57)
Well, Joe, thanks for your answer to the previous question because you’re absolutely right and I want everybody to hear and understand what Joe always just said. Among many of the provisions we put it in there wasn’t my first priority by any means, $450 billion for large corporations. So a lot of money and what Trump now wants to do is to spend that money without telling us who gets it.
Joe Biden: (14:26)
Bernie Sanders: (14:26)
Can you believe that? I mean it is beyond comprehension and that issue of transparency, if you receive money from the Federal Government, I’m sorry, we are going to know who you are, we’re going to know the nature of the contract that was established, et cetera, et cetera. But we need, as you indicated, absolute transparency.
Bernie Sanders: (14:47)
The other thing Joe, I think we have to deal with right now is with so many folks unemployed and underemployed, we’ve got to make sure that the government comes up with a continued set up policies that protect those workers. And the pain all over the country is now horrific. You have seen, as I have, these lines of cars of people in the United States of America, of folks who have just lost their jobs, who have no food in the pantry, they are lining up to get food.
Bernie Sanders: (15:23)
So we’ve got to do everything that we can as rapidly as we can to make sure that nobody in America goes hungry, that nobody in America during this crisis, in my view, lacks healthcare, that nobody in America in this crisis is evicted from their homes, evicted from their apartments, loses their homes. There’s an enormous amount of work that has to be done to protect workers in this country, in this crisis right now.
Bernie Sanders: (15:50)
But the question you ask as I understand it, is where do we go from here? I mean, hopefully sooner than later, God willing, this crisis ends and how do we create a more just and fair society? I think that was your question, yeah?
Joe Biden: (16:04)
Bernie Sanders: (16:05)
All right. So I think you and I understand the problems. We may disagree a little bit on the issues, but first of all, it seems to me to be obvious that people should not be working-
Joe Biden: (16:16)
Bernie Sanders: (16:17)
… in the richest country in the history of the world at starvation wages.
Joe Biden: (16:22)
Well, I’ll tell you …
Bernie Sanders: (16:23)
Go ahead, Joe.
Joe Biden: (16:24)
You know, Bernie, you and I’ve always shared a profound conviction as long as we’ve both been in politics. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street. It wasn’t built by CEOs and hedge fund managers. It was built by workers. The great American middle class was built by American labor unions. Unions, and yes, unions, that’s the story of America. Ordinary people from the neighborhoods you and I grew up in doing extraordinary things given half a chance. Millions of people all across this nation who get up every day and go to work, raise their families, pay their taxes, volunteer in their communities and make this country work. We’re watching them, they’re the people making it work now. And people understand that being middle class isn’t a number, it’s a value set. It’s about being able to own your own home and not have to rent it, if that’s what you choose.
Joe Biden: (17:12)
It’s about being able to live in a neighborhood where you can send your kids to the park and they’re going to come home safely. Or being able to send your kids to a good high school or good school, public school, where they’ll do well enough that they can go on to trade school or college or community college, whatever suits them well. And it’s about being able to take care, take care of your geriatric mom when your dad passes, or about being able to put money aside so your kids won’t have to take care of you when you haven’t been able to save for retirement.
Joe Biden: (17:44)
And at the turn of the 20th Century, our labor movement built the middle class out of factory workers, and now two decades later, the 21st Century, our labor moment is trying to build that by including not just factory workers, but service workers too. Healthcare and home care workers, you’ve been fighting for them for a long time. Childcare workers, janitors, garbage truck drivers, grocery store clerks, fast food workers. In short, people on the front lines of this crisis.
Joe Biden: (18:15)
Here’s what I’m hoping, Bernie. I’m hoping that the American people are going to get a fresh look at really who makes the country run. I really mean it. We’re seeing the country restore … it’s the soul of America, we’re seeing a little bit of it. These people coming forward doing extraordinary things when they don’t have to. And I want Donald Trump to look at these people in the eye and tell them after they put their lives on the line for the rest of us, that they don’t deserve a living wage, that they don’t deserve healthcare, that they don’t deserve to be able to send their kids to college or community college or trade school, that they don’t deserve to make equal pay for equal work.
Joe Biden: (18:50)
I want him to look them in the eye and tell them that they don’t deserve to be able to organize, to fight for what they deserve, to bargain with dignity, to demand their employers give them their due. I want him to look them in the eye and tell them that the scientists are wrong, that climate change is not an existential crisis demanding worldwide domestic and international responses. And I want him to tell all the moms and dads across the country that their children and grandchildren don’t have the right to clean air and water.
Joe Biden: (19:22)
Look, the United States has no choice but to seize this opportunity and create millions, millions of great paying jobs that your Energy Plan has suggested and mine as well. An energy infrastructure of tomorrow, not going back to anything that was before. Tomorrow. And we take a back seat to no one when it comes to fighting climate change or when it comes to creating good paying jobs, middle-class jobs, union jobs. I led the Recovery Act, which was the single greatest investment in clean energy in American history. We could do more, we should do more. As President, I’ll put pipe fitters, iron workers, steel workers, electricians, and other trades to building the infrastructure over the clean energy future. American workers should build American infrastructure and-
Joe Biden: (20:03)
Future. American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacturer all the materials that go into it, and all the workers must have an option to join a union. When they came up with the Fair Labor Standards Act, they didn’t say, “It’s okay to have a union.” It said, “We should encourage the formation of the unions.” When unions are doing well, everybody’s doing well. And Bernie, you and I have spent our careers fighting for these folks, and I look forward to working with you. And I’m going to need you badly because what leads me to another important issue in my view.
Joe Biden: (20:33)
Bernie, you have been maybe the most powerful voice for every generation of Americans, but I want to talk to you a moment about the people who are going to get hit the hardest by this crisis. And you and I both know it’s not folks who our age and just younger. It’s generation Z. People in their teens in their 20s. These are the people who are going to begin their careers, people working their way through college or trade school. They’re going to have student loans. They’re going to come into the economy, an economy in turmoil. We’re going to be worse than we are. The predictions are it’s going to be like Roosevelt, what he faced and worse. We saw it with the millennials after the 2008 crash. They’re still struggling to catch up. So what politics and what policies do we need to address for the concerns of these young people? Because I do think they’ve been put behind the eight ball more than our generation was or any generation in recent history.
Bernie Sanders: (21:28)
Oh, that’s absolutely true, Joe. And I’m glad you’re prepared to focus on that issue. It’s the right thing to do. And that is a generation of young people who are experiencing crisis after crisis. So let me start off by saying that in my view, if we believe in a strong democracy, which you do and I do. We have actually read the Constitution of the United States unlike the current president. If we understand that in a competitive global economy, we’re going to need the best educated workforce in the world. I think you understand and I understand that free public education has got to go beyond 12th grade right now, that we need to make public colleges and universities tuition free and that we have to move very aggressively.
Bernie Sanders: (22:18)
The dealing with the reality that so many of our people, young and not so young, are struggling with this outrageous level of student debt. I have outlined a program, Joe. Why don’t you tell us how you think we can best address this issue of making college open to all people regardless of income, dealing with student debt?
Joe Biden: (22:42)
Well look, Bernie, my deceased son, we’re still paying off his loan. We’re now paying it off. Now he went to a private university but still paying off his loan. My daughter is still paying off her loans and look, we need to think about what we can do to address these concerns. Look, you’ve been a leader on the student debt issue and affordability of higher education. I’ve been saying for a long time, you’ve probably heard me say in the past, one of the reasons why we jumped ahead and stay … One of the reasons why we jumped ahead of the rest of the world back in the turn of the 20th century, we were the first nation in the world to come along and say, “We have universal education for 12 years.” If it hadn’t been done and we were just doing it for the first time in 2020 would anybody think 12 years is enough to be able to compete in the 21st century?
Joe Biden: (23:36)
I think not, but one of the things that I’ve changed my mind on, I propose to forgive debt for low income and middle-class individuals for community colleges and the like, but here’s the deal. If you’re attending a public university, college university, as well as a private HBCU historic black college or minority serving institutions, I’ve already called for immediate canceling of a minimum of $10,000 of their student loan debt now under this crisis and allow them to borrow so they can cope with this crisis. Look, I proposed and aggressively canceling student debt for those who were abused and misled by private for profit colleges. So have you. You’re way ahead. And those are folks with some of the highest debt burdens. As I’ve said earlier, as we deal with the immediate crisis response, we can’t lose sight of the longer term. When we come out of this, we can’t just go back to business as usual. We need to build a better, stronger foundation for America. In 2021 our whole country will have to take a hard look and ask how do we fix what’s deeply broken?
Joe Biden: (24:48)
Here’s my pledge. I will make an educator an education that in fact, Jill, my wife is a professor at a community college, says any country that out competes us, Joe, out educates is going to out compete us and so we’ll make education or community college free for all. And here’s the thing that has changed with this crisis. At our public colleges and universities make them free for all lower income and middle class families and middle class families. Because look, they’re going to face an enormous burden. Where are they going to get the money to go even to our state universities or borrow that money? We have to lower the cost of private historic black colleges universities, and minority serving institutions as well and ease the burden of student debt. And we’ll address the existential climate change as well.
Joe Biden: (25:39)
Look, in terms of student debt, anybody who is making less than $125,000 who in fact has a debt having gone to a community college in their family, I mean, assuming you’ve gone to a state university, they should be able to get debt forgiveness as well instead of in addition to just being able to go free to community college because they’ve been so badly banged since 2008. We got to build a green, resilient, sustainable infrastructure that will power generations of inclusive growth while saving our planet. Look, and we’re going to confront income and equity in this nation, build a social safety net that gives all Americans the dignity and security they deserve. And we’re going to make sure health care, and this is your signature issue, is made affordable and accessible to every American and build a public health system that can prevent future pandemics. I want to talk to you about this. I really think we should be thinking about having a new office, a new cabinet office, on pandemics in the United States, but that’s another issue.
Joe Biden: (26:43)
But we’re going to finally achieve comprehensive immigration reform as well putting millions of citizens on a pathway to citizenship, including so many who are on the front lines right now. The number of undocumented who are out there now risking their lives…risking their lives! One of the things I had the greatest pleasure of doing when I was vice president is going to one of Sadam Hussein’s, on of my multiple visits to Iraq, and swearing in well over, I think it was 180 undocumented people who were joined the United States military. They had won bronze stars, silver stars. They had purple hearts. These are people who have demonstrated, they’re prepared, they’re in a sense many are more Americans than a lot of Americans. We’re going to address this structural racism in our country as well. It’s going to take not just a criminal justice reform, but it’s also going to require the inequities that have led to this God awful situation in which African Americans, Latinos suffer at the hands of the coronavirus to a much greater extent than others.
Joe Biden: (27:55)
And look, I know we share the same goals with many of these things. What we’ve had different ideas how to accomplish them, but on some issues we’re going to continue to disagree respectfully but not on any substance of way. I believe there’s a great opportunity, a great opportunity to work together to deploy policy approaches that can take us closer to our shared goals. So I’m pleased to announce that Bernie and I have agreed to establish, as we said, we already talked about it, six policy working groups, one on the economy, one on education, one on criminal justice. It should be reform, not punishment. One on immigration, climate change and the economy. These groups are made up of thoughtful leaders that will work with Bernie and some of whom have supported me as well. And the task is for them to develop creative new ideas and proposals and we’re looking forward to turning that work into positive change for the country.
Joe Biden: (28:53)
So Bernie, I think it’s time we let these folk get going and I just want to say to you, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done during all this time when people are surprised about, you and I have been friends. We’ve disagreed but we’ve been friends. We go all the way back to your first run and I appreciate your friendship and I promise you I will not let you down, but I understand you may have a closing statement to make Bernie or anything else. Anything you want to do. It doesn’t have to be closing, but anything at all.
Bernie Sanders: (29:30)
Well I thought we’d play some chess. What do you think?
Joe Biden: (29:32)
I’d like to play chess. I’ve been playing on my cell phone. That’s about it. I got a beautiful chess board upstairs and I haven’t gotten anybody to play with. I see the one behind you.
Bernie Sanders: (29:41)
[crosstalk 00:29:41] everybody. Yeah, I got one right here. We’ll bore everybody for a few hours. Well, look, Joe, in all seriousness, in this terrible moment in our history and given the enormous challenges that we face in the future, but we don’t have a choice. We’re going to have to come together, bring the best minds, bring-
Bernie Sanders: (30:03)
They have to come together, bring the best minds, bring all of our people together to work our way out of this crisis. We are, and I’ve said this a million times, so let me say it a million and one. We’re the richest country in the history of the world. You know that? We should not have a half a million people who are homeless. We should not have half of our workers living paycheck to paycheck. We should not have more people in jail than any other country, disproportionately African American and Latino.
Bernie Sanders: (30:32)
You made the point about undocumented workers. The ugly irony is those people today in America are putting their lives on the line, and you know what? They’re not even eligible for the benefits that we have appropriated in the Senate. Imagine that. They can’t get that $1,200 check. They can’t get unemployment. So we got a lot of work to do to make this country the kind of nation that I know you want to see, that I want to see and the vast majority of the American people want to see.
Bernie Sanders: (31:03)
We got to deal with incoming wealth inequality. We’ve got to deal with a healthcare system that is broken in so many ways. You mentioned the issue of climate change. Man, we don’t have a choice there. Future of the planet determines, demands that we are bold in transforming our energy system. And as you’ve indicated, we can create millions of jobs doing that.
Bernie Sanders: (31:27)
So there’s a lot of work to do. Let’s go forward together in doing that. And I know you are the kind of guy who is going to be inclusive. You want to bring people in, even people who disagree with you. You want to hear what they have to say. We can argue it out. It’s called democracy. You believe in democracy. So do I. Let’s respect each other. Let’s address the challenges we face right now and in the future. And in that regard, Joe, I very much look forward to working with you.
Joe Biden: (31:55)
Well, Bernie, thank you. And look, one of the things that I think as a student of history, as you are, American history, out of every crisis Americans faced from the Civil War straight through to today, we have come out of it stronger. We’ve come out of it and fixed things that were institutionally, structurally wrong beforehand. We haven’t fixed them all. But look what happened with the Great Depression. We got everything from social security to right… a whole range of things.
Joe Biden: (32:24)
Well, this is a time, and I think what’s happened is the American public have seen, as I said earlier, I’ve said it may be a million times, I’m going to say a million and one, kind of rip the bandaid off, exposed how the substructure of this economy is so, so damaged by what’s going on. And the idea we’re still arguing about whether healthcare is a right is bizarre. The idea that we continue to think that the way to deal with the criminal justice system now that we’ve known so much and learned so much is to punish instead of rehabilitate. The idea we put someone in jail for a drug abuse, and we don’t put them in a mandatory rehabilitation as opposed to prison. The idea, we have people in prison who can’t read and don’t have any skill that we don’t train them so when they get out, you don’t give them a bus ticket and 25 bucks and put them underneath a bridge.
Joe Biden: (33:19)
But I’d like to close by saying, Bernie, as Jill and I told you and Jane, we’re deeply grateful to both of you. You’ve put the interest of this nation and the need to beat Donald Trump above all else. And for that, Jill and I are grateful. And we know we have enormous responsibility to meet that expectation.
Joe Biden: (33:40)
We also want you to know, I’m excited to do the work with you in the months and years ahead. As you say, not me, us. Not me, us. That’s your phrase, pal. And your supporters and I are going to make the same commitment. I see you. I tell your supporters, I see you. I hear you. I understand the urgency of what it is that we have to get done in this country. And I hope you’ll join us. The more, the merrier. We need to come together. We need to defeat Donald Trump.
Joe Biden: (34:12)
As I’ve said for a long time, when we do that, we’ll not only do the hard work of rebuilding this nation, we can transform this nation. We can transform it so that it goes down in history with your help, Bernie, as one of the most progressive administrations since Roosevelt. And I really believe, I think it’s doable because the whole world has changed. It’s not just us. The whole world has changed. We’re in the middle of a fourth industrial revolution. The question is, will there be a middle class left based on all that’s happening? We have to address it. It’s not just our concern. If we, the wealthiest country in the world, can’t address it and provide more equity and opportunity, we’re going to continue to see the kind of shifts you see in Europe.
Joe Biden: (34:58)
So anyway, I’m looking forward to working with you, pal. I really genuinely mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being such a gentlemen. Thank you for being so generous. And I give you my word. I’ll try my best not to let you all down.
Bernie Sanders: (35:11)
Thank you very much, Joe.
Joe Biden: (35:12)
Bernie Sanders: (35:13)
Jane and I say hello to Jill as well.
Joe Biden: (35:16)