(May 9, 2022)
7:01 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Applause.)
Well, I think now is the time I should probably leave. (Laughter.) You’re all very gracious. Thank you. Thank you very much.
You know, I was — I came in and I saw two really important people I shook hands with. Because everybody knows I like kids better than people. (Laughter.) Thank you guys for being here.
Mom and Dad owe you a big prize for having to put up with this. (Laughter.)
CHILD: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Folks — (laughter) — folks, you know, one of the things that I think is important is that we kind of remember who in God’s name we are.
You know, you get to the point — I’ve been around the Senate for a while — a year or two — and the Vice President for a while, and now President of the United States.
And, you know, I want to thank Dave and June for hosting this. You know, he — his biggest operation, he tells me, is up in Claymont, Delaware, where I went to — I went to school in Claymont, Delaware. It’s a — it’s a — it used to be a steel town and a working-class town.
And I went to — there was a place called Archmere Academy, and across the street an old John Jakob Raskob estate turned into a school. And — the little school called Holy Rosary.
And up in Claymont, it’s real simple: They know — they know that — when you say something, whether you mean it or not. And it’s pretty important that I think the Democrats communicate what we mean, as we’ve been doing here toni- — as they’ve been doing here tonight.
You know, the fact is that, you know — you know, Anthony is going to be a hell of an attorney general. Where are you, Anthony? (Applause.)
By the way, he won his House in spite of the fact that I campaigned for him. (Laughter.)
And Dutch — where are you, Dutch? There you go, Dutch. I can’t — good to see you, pal. (Applause.) Dutch is my kind of guy.
And Ben — Ben Cardin has been a good friend for a long, long time now. (Applause.)
I — you know, the fact is that I’m proud of the progress we’ve made because of the folks I just named, including my host.
You know, we went from having 2 million people with shots when we came into office — for COVID shots — to 220 million people being fully vaccinated. We moved from — (applause) —
The jobs report: We had 428,000 new jobs this month, and 8.2 million since we came to office, more than — more than any time — in 15 months.
The deficit is down $350 billion last year. (Applause.) Republicans talked about it, but we actually brought the deficit down $350 billion. And we’re on target to reduce the deficit by the end of this fiscal year by 1 trillion 500 billion dollars. (Applause.) And that’s a fact.
And we’ve made historic investments in solar and wind and battery storage — a whole range of things.
And we appointed the first African American woman to the Supreme Court. (Applause.) But equally important, we’ve appointed more African American Circuit Court judges than any time than all other Presidents combined. (Applause.)
Here’s the point: I made a commitment when I ran. I said, “I want my administration to look like America.” And it is. It’s looking like America, across the board, from every — you cannot look at any part of our administration — from the appointees, to those requiring Senate confirmation, to members of my Cabinet — you can’t look anywhere and not see America. Because that’s who we are. That’s our strength. We talked about that strength. (Applause.)
And, folks, you know, the fact is that we — we rallied the world as well — and I wish we hadn’t had to do it — to keep Putin in place.
The fact is, what I’ve spent most of my time doing — and I’ve spent now well over 150 hours trying to keep the other heads of state on the same page and keep us together, constantly making sure we’re on the same page.
Because I’m confident Putin believed — (applause) — I’m confident Putin believed that he could break up NATO. I’m confident he believed he could break up the European Union, that we couldn’t hold it together. But we’re doing it. It’s not easy, and a lot of other countries have to make greater or lesser sacrifices than we. But it’s not easy.
But it’s critically important because Putin is a — I’ve known him for a while. I’ve spent time with him. He is a very, very, very calculating man. And the problem I worry about now is that he doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to figure out what we do about that. But that’s a different story.
But here’s the deal: In the meantime, you sometimes — you know, we — we generated greater economic growth than any President has in their first 14 months, 15 months, but we also ran into some international crises, and they’re consequential and they’re really consequential.
Inflation. You know, we — the fact is that we stopped investing in ourselves about 20 years ago in any big way. We used to invest in the United States of America. We used to invest 2 percent — our government — 2 percent of our GDP was in research and development. It’s less than 1 percent now. And it’s been that way for a long time.
We used to be number one in the world; now we’re number eight. China used to be number eight; now they’re number two.
The generic point is we have to invest in ourselves, invest in our people, so that we can, in fact, continue to lead the world on all the things that are so — there are so many incredible opportunities for not only us but for the rest of the world.
And so what we’re doing here is we find ourselves in inflation being a incredibly difficult problem.
For example, last year, because we lacked the ability to find the computer chips to build automobiles, we — we invented the computer chip here in America, we refined it here in America, and we stopped making it here in America, as my colleagues can tell you. We’re now changing that.
But the point is that the reason 30 percent of all the inflation was because of the cost of automobiles last year. This year, it’s — well, it’s — this year, we have a similar problem, but it’s because of energy because of Putin’s gas tax, the gas tax of him causing such a disruption in oil markets around the world.
And so we got a lot to do. But here’s the point: I think that the fact is that I think we can, in fact — we can, in fact, grab hold of this issue and once again reassert ourselves as the lead country in the world across the board. And — (applause) — no, I — it’s not hyperbole.
But what I don’t want to do is go too long here. But, you know, look, if you take a look at, you know, the Supreme Court, when the — remember, I’m the guy that led the fight to keep Robert Bork off the Court. Because Robert Bork refused to acknowledge that there was anything remotely approaching a right to privacy and/or the Ninth Amendment. I don’t want to get into a constitutional — my problem was I taught constitutional law for 18 years.
But here’s the deal: The fact of the matter is it’s not just about choice that’s at stake here. So much more is at stake — everything from contraception. There used to be a law on the books in Connecticut — Griswold vs. Connecticut — that said a married couple could not — it was a crime to purchase contraceptives using the privacy of their own bedroom.
There are a whole range of other issues that are susceptible if the reasoning of the Court opinion that was leaked ends up being what the Court opinion is. And it’s not certain of that yet.
There’s a lot at stake. A whole lot at stake.
And, folks, you know, we’re also coming — coming for the — you know, they’re coming for the right to vote. I’ve never seen — I got involved in politics because my state of Delaware, not unlike Maryland, has the eighth-largest Black population in America as a percent of population. That’s what got me involved as a kid in civil rights and as public defender.
And the fact is that I’ve never seen such an onslaught. I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee for years in the Senate as well as Foreign Relations Committee. And I was — thought I really had made it when I was able to extend the Voting Rights Act for 24 years and got Strom Thurmond to vote for it. Not a joke. (Applause.) I thought we — thought we’d lose.
Look, for some people, it never changes. They’ve never, ever given up.
And, you know, if you take a look at what’s at stake — I’m going to cut to the chase so I can get some questions here. But here’s the deal: If you take a look at where these guys are, this is not your father’s Republican Party. Did you ever think in the year that we’re in at this moment, 2022, there’d be governors and others banning books — banning books in schools?
Did you ever think you’d be in a situation where we found that — you were in a position where they talk about how we should make Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid up for grabs every fo- — five years? Because that’s what they’re doing. This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a MAGA party. This is the MAGA party.
And the head of their Republican campaign committee, Senator Rick Scott — the Ultra-MAGA Agenda he put forward, he raises taxes on 70 million people who make less than — well less than $100,000.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No!
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s a fact. Not a joke. And that’s 98 percent of the families earning less than $1,000 [$100,000], because he says everybody should pay taxes.
Secondly, he requires Congress, every five years, to vote to whether or not to keep Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: No.
THE PRESIDENT: Every — that’s their platform. I’m not joking. We got to start talking more about what these guys are about. That’s literally their platform.
And so, folks, we need to control the House and Senate, which I wa- — listening to others people speak, you know the whole deal there. And we can do it.
Right now, when you have a 50-50 Senate and your president — and, fortunately, we have a Democratic Vice President. Every time she votes, we win.
But the point is this: You got 51 presidents. Any one member can be — and 48 percent — 48 Democrats vote with me on — literally 95 percent of the time; two change their mind. It just takes one to change their mind and you can’t get the 50 votes needed.
And so there’s a lot at stake here — a whole bunch at stake. And I think there are at least four seats that are up for grabs that we could pick up in the Senate — two with almost certainty if we do the right thing.
And we’re going to keep the House. Because if we don’t, just let me remind you: Just look at — what I always ask people when the press ask me, I say, “Can you tell me what the Republican Party stands for today? What are they for?” Not a joke. Tell me anything they are for, as a party. There’s good Republicans.
I had a reputation, when I was a senator, of being able to walk across the — work across the aisle as well as anybody. I passed significant amounts of bipartisan legislation in those 36 years.
But today, if you look at the leaders of the Republican Party, what is their agenda? It’s not a conservative agenda. It’s not an agenda. They have no agenda; to stop what we’re doing.
And, folks, so there’s a whole bunch at stake here. And that’s why I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you, not only for helping me, but so many of you helped other members of the party who are seeking office and will be seeking office this off year. Because if we win, we have an opportunity to do such great things for this country on the environment, on matters relating to healthcare, on matters relating to mental health, on matters relating to the criminal justice system — a whole range of things that are within our reach to do.
We have the votes to do it if we pick up these — at least two seats here. And I think we can do it.
With that, why don’t I, as my mother — if she were here, she’d say, “Joey, hush up and take the questions.” (Laughter.)
So, thank you for listening, and I’m prepared to — (applause) —
7:15 P.M. EDT