Great Falls, Virginia
(September 14, 2021)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Applause.) Yay. Terry McAuliffe! (Laughs.) Terry and Dorothy, I’m so glad to be with you guys today. You know, I have been — over the years, whether I was DA of San Francisco, Attorney General of California, or a senator representing the state of California, I have — some of the most enjoyable and insightful conversations I’ve ever had with an American leader have been with Terry. Truly, I mean that.
And then I’ll tell you why: He has that combination of life experience and vision and perspective and heart and soul that make him uniquely able to see a moment for what it is, both in terms of the work that needs to be done and the fight that might need to be waged, but also the potential of that moment in terms of the opportunity that it can present to lift up the condition and the wellbeing of the people — all the people. That’s who Terry is. That’s truly who he is.
And in an election that is as important as this, for governor of Virginia, you want to know who the person is. And it’s not just about someone who might give a good speech; you also want to know who the person is by looking at what they’ve done. Right? It’s an old saying, you know, “Do they — do they walk their talk?” Well, Terry does. Like, literally, Terry does.
I will repeat some of what he and Dorothy have talked about: lifting children out of poverty. Terry has a background in business that allows him to understand the economy in a way that is not just about soundbites; he actually understands the levers. Combine that with a lifelong dedication to public service, he understands how economies work, the incentives that can be created, the moral imperative, dare I say, in terms of what we must do to not only strengthen an economy, but strengthen families and working people, and all people. He has the capacity, based on experience, to get that stuff.
And so then I put the context as this: That is the human being, and then this is the moment. And I would offer to you that I really do believe we are embarking on a new era in our country and in the world, which is presenting extraordinary challenges and extraordinary opportunities, which means we need our best and our brightest and our most capable on the field to lead in this moment, to see what is possible, to see what can be unburdened by what has been.
And the other thing that we all know about Terry: He is unburdened by so many things — (laughter) — but, in particular, by any perspective that says, “It can’t be done.” Terry knows when things can be done, and he just does them.
So I’m very proud to stand here, on behalf of myself and President Biden, in support of him for governor.
And let’s be also clear about what it means in terms of this Commonwealth of Virginia. So, first of all, Virginia has always, every four years, probably been the most — certainly one of the most; I’d say the most — hotly contested governor’s races in the country. Every four years, the most hotly contested.
I say that to remind you of what you already know: This ain’t going to be easy. This will not be easy.
And it is this way because of the second point: What happens here in Virginia is — it is a bellwether for what will happen in the rest of the country, which means that each of you, with the incredible generosity of spirit and friendship and patriotism that you have shown by what you have done tonight, are doing this work on behalf of people you may never meet.
People who may never know your name.
Because what happens here in the state of Virginia will have an impact on what happens around the country, certainly in terms of the politics of our country, and politics leads to policy, policy influences politics.
But let’s talk about how it all works. It matters who is the governor of a state and the Commonwealth of Virginia to determine if a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body and not to have her government or anybody else interfere with the decisions that she alone is equipped and has a right to make. (Applause.)
It matters who the governor is. Take a look at what’s happening in Texas. Can you believe that stuff? (Laughter.)
We’re looking at a situation where, literally, in that state led by a governor with the bully pulpit, with the power that comes uniquely with being a governor, is passing and signing off a bill that then becomes law — because that’s what governors do — that will create bounty hunters, essentially, that is engaged in, literally, abolishing a constitutional right for the women of that state. That’s the power a governor has.
And here, back to the earlier point — well, you might say, “Well, why are you talking about what’s happening in Texas? What does that happen — have to do with us as Virginians?” Well, because the reality is that when they think that they can get away with something in one state, they then try to come to other states to get it done.
They’ll try that here in Virginia. We already know who Terry’s opponent is.
Let’s look at what is happening around the country on the issue of voting rights. Our children and our grandchildren are going to look back at this moment, and if we don’t prevail in this fight to retain one of the most important pillars of a democracy, our children and our grandchildren are going to say, “What were you doing? That was the moment at which the country stopped being everything that it said it stood for.” (Applause.)
And part of what they can look back at is this race for governor of Virginia — to say, “What happened with that?” This is an inflection point, this race.
Let’s look at the issue of workers in America. Are we going to say and agree, “We can lift up the economy, we can strengthen the economy, and we can also pay attention to the rights of workers”? We can pay attention to things like affordable childcare. We can pay attention to things like family leave, because we know it is in the best interest of individuals and the best interest of humanity and in the best interests of our economy.
It matters who is the governor, to be a leader on an issue like that — an issue which was highlighted during this pandemic.
Terry talked about LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights. We all know the mood that has been taking place and the vitriol and the viciousness and the hate. We need leaders who stand up against it and have the courage to do it and know how to do it. That’s Terry.
So these are some of the important issues that are before us right now. And I am here then to ask you to keep doing what you’ve been doing and to know this race, again, is going to be tight. It is not going to be easy. We cannot take anything about this election for granted.
Let’s not forget some past election cycles when we thought, “It’s so obvious. It’s so obvious. Everything is going to be fine. I’ll do my little part — which is big — but I’ll do my part and everything’s going to be fine.”
This time, do everything you can and assume nothing is going to be okay unless you do a little bit more. (Applause.)
And what I’m seeing around the country — I promise you, as your Vice President — tells me everything that I’ve just shared with you about why this election is, yes, about the people of Virginia, and it is about the rest of the country.
If they think they can win here in Virginia, you better just be prepared for what we’re going to see take place if they think they can beat somebody like Terry McAuliffe, what they are going to do around the country. This is a national election.
This is about the Commonwealth of Virginia, and this is about the United States of America. This is about our democracy. This is about rule of law. This is about whether we uphold the tenets of the Constitution of the United States. It is about whether we protect the ideals of our country that we believe so much in, knowing that we have yet to fully achieve them. But we need leaders on the ground and in place to get us to where we aspire to be and to protect who we know ourselves to be.
So, I thank you all for everything you are doing. Do as much as you can, and then let us look forward to a celebration after the hard work.