New York, New York
7:32 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much. If you have a seat, please take it. I got in trouble, as the press will tell you, a couple of years ago. I said, “Why don’t you all sit down.” No one had chairs. (Laughter.) And so, I got to be very careful this time around. Anyway.
You’re still hanging out with him, huh? (Laughter.) Good.
Well, look, there’s a lot to talk about, and I’m not going to take a long, long time doing it, but this election is of some real consequence.
And we say that all the time, but the truth of the matter is — is this a — this is not your father’s Republican Party. There’s a lot of really fine Republicans in the Senate and House that I disagree with, but they are mainstream, conservative Republicans, and you can deal with them.
But there’s also a group that is — just decided that they don’t like the system the way it is. Now, if you think about it, there’s — I would argue there is a pretty — how can I say it? — assault on all the institutions, whether it’s the Supreme Court, whether it’s the Congress, or whether it’s the White House.
And — and so, there’s a lot at stake this time around. We — you know, the Senate is evenly split 50/50, which means that we have the Vice President making decisions. I kid her — I said, “I guarantee you, if you come and be Vice President, every time you vote, you’ll win.” (Laughter.)
And — but all kidding aside, it means we got 50 presidents, and everything is razor’s edge. And there’s only a majority of how many in the House now? We have — I think it’s — I think it’s like 9, 10 — something like that.
But I feel pretty good about where we are relative to the Senate, although I think it’s premature to make any judgments about how this election is going to turn out for sure. And the House is a different story because of gerrymandering that has occurred.
And — but there’s a couple of things that are different than any time that I’ve been engaged in an off-year election. And that is that we’re now in a situation where much is at stake: the whole issue of not just choice but the issue of privacy. The Supreme Court — is there a right to privacy that exists in the Constitution.
It’s not merely whether or not, you know, you have a circumstance where the — Alito said, you know, in the change on Roe v. Wade to
Dodd [Dobbs], the — Dobbs — that said, you know, but women have a right to vote; they can determine outcomes if they want — meaning that every state, a judgment is being made individually as to what kind of freedom a woman has to choose, as well as other freedoms that exist that Clarence Thomas indicated that he thought should be up for — up for grabs.
The ability of people to use contraception. I know that sounds bizarre, but there used to be a law in Connecticut and — that said you couldn’t — married couples couldn’t use contraception, until it was overruled by the Court.
And — and whether or not you can marry the person you love. A lot of things are — are in play.
Also in play is the issue of whether or not you’re going — we’re in a position to deal with issues relating to the environment.
The biggest thing that the — right now, we’re talking about it — that we were able to pass the legislation adding 600 — or actually $368 billion for climate abatement, climate change.
And but it really is — Credit Suisse just did a report, we were talking to one of you about, that said that the — a lot of that is tax incentives. And it means that — with those investments by the federal government, it’s going to take off the sidelines a total of — a total amount of — private and public — of $1.7 trillion. And it’s a big deal. I know you’re doing a lot in that area. And we have a chance to really make some significant changes and literally save the planet.
I know that sounds like hyperbole. But if we pass the 1.5 degrees Celsius and we don’t keep under that now, we’re in a different world — a literally different world.
The one thing that’s changed is — I’ve had an opportunity to be at every major climate disaster, unfortunately, in the last year and a half. And for example, out west, more territory has been burned to the ground and homes lost and buildings lost, et cetera, than the entire square miles of the state of New Jersey. A lot. A whole hell of a lot. The Colorado River has a bit of a canal now; it’s not a raging river. We’re in a situation where you have reservoirs out west dropping over 150 feet.
There’s a whole range of things that are changing. I just got back from Sanibel Island and — down in Florida. It’s — it’s a pure disaster.
In Kentucky, tornadoes ripping apart entire communities, et cetera.
So the one thing has happened is I think that there’s not many — publicly, at least — many climate deniers any longer. It’s real. People are figuring it out. And if we don’t move, we’re going to be in a real problem.
And the first thing that the admin- — the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives said — the first thing he wants to do is to get rid of the legislation that provided that money. They want to eliminate it. They want to eliminate the ability to deal with lowering prescription drug costs.
For the elderly, we have a provision we passed in the Inflation Reduction Act that says no senior on Medicare will have to pay more than $2,000 a year for their prescriptions. A lot of them, as you well know — I’ve been very involved in cancer research issues — are paying $15-, $16,000 a year for their prescriptions. And they’re — to reduce it — I mean, that’s just one disease. So it’s a — it’s a life-changer for millions of Americans.
We’re in a situation where we were able to pass, in that same legislation, the ability that anyone who has — needs insulin for Type I or Type II diabetes is not going to have to pay more than $35 for their prescription. Right now, it costs 30 to 60 times, depending on where you are, that cost for that prescription. If you don’t have insurance, you’re in real, real trouble.
Well, you know, we’ve — we passed it for not just those on Medicare, but for everybody. And the Republicans are able to knock out the provision relating to anyone other than the elderly.
And so, you have a lot of parents — I was down in Virginia doing an event and — with a family. A woman stood up and said, “My kids have Type II diabetes and we have to share the prescription. I can’t afford it.” Because their prescriptions for the insulin was $570 a month, and they had no insurance. They couldn’t do it.
So my generic — and for example, the Republican leadership now in the Senate — our colleague from Wisconsin and our colleague from South Carolina — excuse me, from Florida — Scott and Johnson — have said that they think that Medicare should be up for grabs.
In the case of the senator heading up their Senate Campaign Committee like my colleague here is, he says that it should be every five years. But the senator from Wisconsin says, “No, every year.”
So every single year, you’d have to re-vote on whether or not Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants — all those issues — would, in fact, continue — continue. If you don’t vote for them, they’re gone.
Now, it’s going to come as a real shock to a lot of middle-class people who paid their whole life since they’ve been 16 years old with their job into Social Security that they could — it will be cut. It may not be eliminated, but this is — that’s the agenda.
It’s a different agenda. There’s an old expression, “This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.” You know, this is a different deal. And so, there’s a lot of stake.
There’s a lot at stake in American foreign policy as well, where I spend most of my time and my — my career, I should say.
And we have some real difficult decisions to make, relative to what’s going on in Ukraine, and we’re going to continue to support them. But first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat of the use of the nuclear weapon if, in fact, things continue down the path they’ve been going. That’s — that’s a different deal. That’s a different deal.
And, you know, we’re trying to figure out: What — what is Putin’s off-ramp? Where — where does he get off? Where does he find a way out? Where does he find himself in a position that he does not not only lose face, but lose significant power within Russia?
So I guess what I’m saying is that we have to keep the Senate because two years of — of chaos is going to create a lot of changes around the world as well. I’ve spent the bulk of my time — not a joke; and I don’t think any of you would think it’s an exaggeration — I’ve spent a couple hundred hours so far just trying to hold NATO together so we’re all in the same spot.
Everybody is united in Europe, relative to what we do in Ukraine and relative to Russia. We find ourselves in positions that we’ve been able to get significant support from the Quad — from Australia, India, and Japan — relative to China and the South China Sea.
There’s a lot of changes going on — a whole lot that I’d like to talk about with you if you want to talk about them in the question-and-answer period.
But the bottom line is this: If you take a look at what’s happened, we have over — I know no one thought we could get any of this done. But from the very beginning, I introduced legislation relating to the — the infrastructure of this country. We used to be, in the United States — have the best infrastructure in the world. Now we rank in the low 20s in terms of the quality of our infrastructure.
We’re in a situation where — you know, you all are successful, most of you, business people. If you’re going to invest where you can get your product to market, where you have ports that you can function out of, where you have highways and bridges that function.
And so, you know, we used to be — for example, in terms of investment of research and development, we used to be number two in the world. Now we’re number nine. China used to be number eight. Now they’re number two.
We’re finally investing in research and development, which is generating an awful lot of ingenuity. Things are happening in a big way. For example, I was just upstate. We — you all know what’s going on in terms of semiconductors. And, you know, we’re in a position now where there’s investments that are occurring that are going to exceed probably $3- to $400 billion over the next five years, employing an awful lot of people, putting us in position, once again, to lead the world.
We invented the computer chip. We invented it here in the United States. We used to have — just 30 years ago, we had 40 percent of the market. Now we have virtually no percent of the market, and we’re in a situation where we, in fact, don’t have the ability, up to now, to deal with so- — very sophisticated computer chips.
We did all that technology. Well, it’s about time we take it back, and we’re doing that now. As I said, we’re talking about investments that are consequential but generating an awful lot of investment off the sidelines from all of you people around the wo- — the United States.
And the thing is we- — in Upstate New York, in Poughkeepsie and — and up in Syracuse. And you’re — you know, there going to be billions of dollars invested.
And here’s the deal: It’s all made in America. It’s made in America. It’s about time we control the — the idea of access, instead of we have pandemic and you find out you can’t — there — they stopped production in Lat- — excuse me, in the Far East or in the Pacific. And guess what? We don’t have —
One of the reasons why inflation was so high last year was the lack of semiconductors to build automobiles. That was one of — 30 percent of all the inflation that occurred.
And so, there’s a whole lot that we have an opportunity to deal with. And I know — I’m got to short-circuit this in the interest of time for all of you. But the deal is that I’m more optimistic about America’s prospects. We’re better positioned than any na- — any major nation in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century. And we re- — we really are.
Since I’ve become President, with the help a lot of you, we’ve created 10 million new jobs — 10 million new jobs. We’ve created 685,000 manufacturing jobs.
Where is it written to say we can’t be the manufacturing capital of the world again? Where does it say that? I don’t know — I didn’t read that anywhere.
And I’m also encouraged because we talked about — see this handsome young man here, who’s going to be going to college next year? I’m encouraged because of his generation and those people between 30 years of age and his year. And I’m — I’m not joking. Because they’re the best-educated, the best-informed, the least prejudiced, and the most engaged
administration [generation] in American history — I mean, generation.
So, we got a lot to look forward to — a whole hell of a lot to look forward to, but we got to focus on it. We’ve got to focus. We can’t walk away from the opportunity that exists.
And I will say very respectfully, we’re the only nation in the world, in my view, that has come out of cri- — every crisis we’ve faced, we’ve come out of it stronger than we went in — stronger than we went in. I know I get kidded about saying “build back better,” but I mean what I’m saying, that we have to build back better. We’re at a real inflection point in American history, in world history.
I mean, you know, so much has changed and not just because of any particular leader. It happens every four to six generations.
If you’re Putin, you got eight time zones and the tundra is melting and methane is leaking and it’s four times as consequential. It’s not going to — the permafrost is not going to again freeze.
I mean, you know, you look around the world at all the things that are changing. And so, we have an opportunity not only to help ourselves but once again lead the world in a way that makes sense for the rest of the world.
You have most of Africa, over a billion people — you have people all over the world that need help and can generate economic growth. And we can be an engine to allow all that — all of that.
So I guess — I said I was not going to talk very long; I’ve already talked too long. But — but there’s a lot going on in terms — both domestically and in terms of foreign policy. And it’s a very —
Let me put it this way. Think about it: We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We’ve got a guy I know fairly well; his name is Vladimir Putin. I spent a fair amount of time with him. He is not joking when he talks about the potential use of tactical and nuclear weapons, or biological or chemical weapons, because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.
It’s part of Russian doctrine that they will not — they will not — if the motherland is threatened, they’ll use whatever force they need, including nuclear weapons.
I don’t think there’s any such thing as an ability to easily lose a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.
So there’s a lot at stake — a lot at stake. And we — I guess I’ll conclude by saying this. I knew — I spent most of my career dealing with criminal justice issues in the Supreme Court and foreign policy. I was chairman of those committees as a senator for 360 years. (Laughter.) 36 years. I was Vice President for eight years, where the President asked me to be Vice President because he wanted me to deal with a lot of foreign policy pieces.
And now — and I — I didn’t realize how much — and you all travel the world and know the world. I didn’t realize how much serious damage the last administration did to our relationships around the world. The America First policies put us basically last.
I’ll end with a quote. I showed up at the first G7 meeting in England, in February after I was elected. And I’m sitting there with the NATO heads of state, sitting between Macron and the new Chancellor of Germany, Scholz. And I said, “America is back.” You know what the response was? “For how long?” Not a joke. “For how long?”
And then one said — and I will not say who it was — but one of those heads of state looked at me and said, “What would you say, Mr. President, if you went back to your hotel room and on the television here in Britain, there was showing — there was a showing that you had a group of armed people going down the halls of Parliament breaking down the doors to stop the succession of the parliamentary process and who would be the prime minister? What would you say about Great Britain? What would you say if the same thing happened in the Bundestag?”
Folks, don’t underestimate what the rest of the world is looking at and wondering about: Are we still the United States of America? Are we still that democracy that they look to?
And one of the things I realize — and I’ve been — as I said, I’ve known every major head of state in the last 30 years and dealt with them face to face. What I didn’t realize — and I knew America was critical, but I didn’t realize when you walk into a foreign leaders’ conference, and you’re the President of the United States — it’s not me; you’re President of the United States — they all look to you. Look to you. “How stable is your country? What are you going to do? What’s going to happen?” And there’s a great deal of doubt around the world right now, and there need not be.
We can turn this into an enormous asset, enormous prospects for the United States if we do the right thing. But we can’t do it if we lose control of the House and the Senate.
And so what you’re doing here, particularly we’re talking about the Senate, is a big, big deal.
So I’m going to hand the microphone to — back over to the senator. And then I’ll — and then I’ll do whatever I’m told. (Laughter and applause.)
7:50 P.M. EDT