7:19 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Tom. Thanks for that introduction and for your generous support. And I want to thank you all. And, Jaime, for your support as well and being willing to take on the chairmanship.
You know, I didn’t have it like you did, but I remember when my dad — when things died up in Scranton; the coal dried up. He wasn’t a coalminer; my great grandfather was. But he wasn’t a coalminer, but everything else dried up. And he said — I remember him going home to my grandpop, who had four sons and a daughter, and asking him is it okay if his wife — my mother, Jean — and the three kids move in with him for a year or so until they got straightened away down in northern Delaware — a little town called Claymont.
And so that — and he said — I’ll never forget it. He said, “I’ll come home every weekend, Joey. Every weekend. There’s only 147 — 157 miles.” And I thought, “My God, that’s a million miles.” I was going — I was in third grade, going into fourth. And you know, it’s a —
They used to have an expression — and that’s never — and this is the God’s truth. We got down to Delaware, as he worked his way through, after five years, being able to buy a small three-bedroom home. He used to say, “Joey, a job is a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about — it’s about your pride. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about your ability to look your kids in the eye. It’s about your dignity.” And so it’s much — so much more.
And so, you know, when I ran with your help — and I couldn’t have made it — with all the help of people on this line — you know — you know, we are part of something special because you allowed me to compete.
We — I think we put together one of the most consequential campaigns in modern history. Because it really was, in my view, a battle for the soul of the nation: basic decency, building the middle class form the bottom up and the middle out, rather than waiting for everything to trickle down.
And a lot of you are very successful people on the line, but you shared that view and you gave me the money and contributions to be able to complete — you know, I say — I should say “compete.”
And so, we’re bound together in one of the most consequential first six months in the history of this country not because of me — it’s about the country; it’s about people stepping up.
Think about the last six months. The American Rescue Plan.
We delivered shots in arms of millions and millions of people. Checks in pockets to hundreds of millions of Americans. And maybe the thing that I’m proudest of: We got the biggest middle-class tax cut of all time with the help of the — cutting the child poverty in half through the childcare — the Child Tax Credit.
And 165 million Americans are fully vaccinated. You got over 190 that have at least one shot — one shot.
It’s the fastest job growth in the first four months of any previous presidency. Period.
And a projected economic growth at nearly 7 percent — the highest in four decades.
And last week, they — the infrastructure plan that I introduced when I was running and put together with a bipartisan group — I had to make some compromises, but it’s going to make a gigantic difference.
For example, it’s going to transform the economy. It’s over — over a trillion dollars. It’s going to eliminate all lead pipes in America so people have decent drinking water. Build roads up to — up to snuff so we build them back to, you know, making sure that they are where the environment is now — not — we have to build them back better. Childcare. The caring economy. The eldercare. The things that the American public wants most.
Man, look — and delivering high-speed Internet to every American. Delivering clean water, as I said, to every American.
Building more resilient power grids. Installing electric vehicle charging stations– over 500,000. The largest investment in public transit in rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.
But it’s all about, as my dad’s notion, it’s about creating good-paying American jobs for millions of middle-class people and the working-class people. And it’s about our economic competitiveness.
You know, as a — as the Democratic Party, I think we’re going to be able to say, going into these off-year elections, as the chairman said, that we can deliver. We can deliver for the American people. We can bring the country together. We can make a difference in their lives.
And, you know, it’s about including everyone this time around — Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American communities — because I said the administration and our efforts would reflect what the country looked like.
And as I said, we’re in the race for the 21st century economy and the rest of the world is not hanging around and waiting. We have to move fast.
And the bottom line, for me, is this: that we’re signaling — we’re signaling to the rest of the world and to ourselves that we can function, we can deliver, we can do significant things. And we’ve got a lot more to do as we invest in physical infrastructure, also invest in human infrastructure, childcare, paid leave, universal pre-K through two years of — and two years of community college.
When I hear about, “Well, you know, that’s not — that’s not investing” — well, let me tell you, when I was Vice President, I was asked to do a survey along the Secretary of Commerce of the 500 CEOs of the five — Fortune 500 to see what their greatest needs are. We got the 340-some. You know what they said, almost to a person? They said, “We need a better-educated public.” Well, they’re not educating the public. And so, what are we going to do?
If I said to you tomorrow, “We can maintain exorbitant tax cuts for the super wealthy” — and many of you are — “or we can make sure that every kid, starting at age three, four, and five, is in preschool, not daycare, and they have access to community college so we’re the best-educated public in the world,” which do you think is going to best promote the country’s growth? You know what it is.
So, look, let me close. I’m — I’m taking too much time. I want to meet each one of you. But, look, we need — the single-most important thing that we have to do is we have to protect the voting system, protect the sacred right to vote. It’s under assault in ways I haven’t seen in my entire career. And I was the guy who was able to get the Voting Rights exten- — Act extended 25 years before, when I was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And it wasn’t until the Supreme Court came along and said, “No, no, don’t need it anymore.”
It’s about who gets to vote and whether the vote counts, and who gets to count that vote. We have a system that does both those things with independence and integrity. But what Republicans want to do is say a political party gets to decide if a vote counts. It’s outrageous. We’re going to fight like hell so that doesn’t happen. That’s one of the most important things we can do.
There’s a lot of work ahead. It’s not going to be easy. But I’m going to need you to do it. The DNC is going to need you. And because — here’s the deal: We won in 2020 as a unified party. As we look to 2022, we need to stay unified. The question the American people are going to be asking is whether we’re helping them and their families, and do we understand what they’re going through; do we understand their problem; can we deliver for them.
You know, as Democrats, we have to show that we understand, number one; we’re delivering, number two; and we’re keeping our promise. We just have to keep making our case — just as the Republican party today offers nothing but fear, lies, and broken promises. We have to keep cutting through the Republican fog –that the government isn’t the problem, and show that we, the people — we, the people, are always the solution.
We’re the most unique country in the history of the world. You’ve heard me say this before. We’re the only country that’s organized based on an ide- — on an idea, not religion, ethnicity, geography — on an idea that we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are critical equal, endowed — you know the rest.
But you have to be able to vote. It’s the single-most important thing we could do. And we’re going to have to win races up and down the ticket.
You know, in 2018, I was out of office, but I campaigned in 58 districts — congressional districts they said we couldn’t win. We won back the United States Congress.
And, look, if we make the right decision in the next few years, in 50 years people are going to look back and say, “This was the moment that America won the 21st century.” I really believe that. But we can’t do it without you. You know, we have to prove that democracies can work.
I’ll conclude by saying — and the press on the line has heard me say this before — that Xi Jinping, and — who I met hours and hours with — over 25 hours — 24 hours alone. When I won, he called me to congratulate me. We spent two hours and, I think, almost 25 minutes on the phone.
He believes, along with other autocrats, that in the modern world, things are changing so rapidly, so quickly that democracies can’t get their acts together and unite to compete with — with autocratic governments. He truly believes that. And he’s decided that they’re going to be the most powerful military force in the world, and the largest economy and the most organized economy in the world by 2045.
We’ve got to demonstrate that democracies can work and protect. And I think it’s going to impact on our influence around the world more than anything.
That’s why we have to do some of this stuff together with others to get it done — get it done. And I’m convinced there’s not much we can’t do. I think the country is ready. And because of you, I think we’re going to be able to get it done.
But I want to thank you all. Thank you for everything you’ve done. And, you know, we got to prove we can make democracy work again. That’s what it’s about.
So, God bless you all for what you’ve done and going — going to do. And may God protect our troops.
7:29 P.M. EDT