The Cowles Center
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Governor Tim Walz. (Applause.) Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. (Applause.) DFLers. (Applause.)
Hi, everybody. It’s hard to see you, but sit down. Sit. Sit.
Oh, it’s so great to be with all of you. And I just want to thank you DFLers for what you have been doing, what you continue to do, and what you will do over these next 17 days. Everything is hanging in the balance. Everything is hanging in the balance.
Governor and Lieutenant Governor, it has been great to be with you today. And, you know, before I arrived, of course, the President and I have talked about your leadership and what it means to our country and to our administration. Because, truly, the governor talked about so much of what we have accomplished as an administration, but, one, it would not have been possible were it not for the work that everyone here did in 2020, but it also would not be possible if we didn’t have leadership in the states, like your governor and lieutenant governor, who can make real what we do in Washington, D.C.
Because, truly, the work should not be measured based on passing a bill as much as it should be when it hits the streets. And that’s where your governor and your lieutenant governor come in. That’s where your secretary of state comes in. That’s where your attorney general comes in — up and down the ticket — to reinforce all that we know is important for the people of our nation and, especially, right now.
So, I do want to congratulate and commend the governor and lieutenant governor for all you’ve done. We talked about it, and everybody around the country knows: 2 percent unemployment, literally. This is a — this is — this is really something that must be noticed and applauded, because it takes hard work to do that. It takes hard work to do the work that the governor and the lieutenant governor have done in terms of getting a tax cut for middle class folks in the state.
It takes work and commitment to fund public education and to honor our teachers for the extraordinary lives that they have chosen to live that is about raising and helping us raise the next generation and, in particular, over the last two years, the kind of personal sacrifice that required. And all of that work is happening in your statehouse because you have phenomenal leaders here. And I am here just to say thank you to all of you for doing everything in your power to support them and, by extension, their work. I thank you. I thank you for all you have done.
And I know who’s here. So, we’re, all of us, folks, that kind of show up every election cycle, don’t we? (Laughs.) Because we love our country. We love our country.
And one of the things then that we know happens every election cycle — as it is right now, because Minnesotans are voting right now — is that we will ask people to vote. We will knock on doors. We will walk up to perfect strangers and, in their face, we will see a friend. We talk to folks at the grocery store. We email. We text. We call. We do whatever is necessary to remind people to vote. We remind people: Your voice is your vote; your vote is your voice.
And every time those folks will then look at us with a very righteous question. They will ask us, “Why should I vote?” Every time. And it is the right question. They have a right to ask it.
And here’s the thing: We got a lot of good material. (Laughter.) We got a lot of good material. Because think about what we did in 2020. Just reflect on that for a moment.
In the 2020 Election, we were in the height of a pandemic. So much loss — loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of normalcy. People were overwhelmed. And in 2020, because of your work, they turned out in record numbers to vote. We had historic high-record numbers of young voters.
In the midst of all of that, they stood in line. In the midst of all of the burdens that they were carrying, they filled out a ballot. And they put in their order — that’s how I think about it. They put in their order. They said, “There are certain things that I want.”
And so when we go to talk with them about why they should vote over the next 17 days and they ask that question, we will remind them — after we thank them for the last time — we will remind them: You put in an order. You said, “I want to see an administration and my government prioritize children and, in particular, children who are in poverty in America.” And so we extended the Child Tax Credit to the point — (applause) — that we reduced child poverty in America by over 40 percent in the first year. (Applause.)
They put in their order. They said, “Support people who are parenting children, because it’s tough out here.” And so we passed a tax cut, putting up to $8,000 more in the pocket of people who are parenting children to help with the cost of medicine and food and school supplies. Because folks said that’s what they want. And because they stood in line, because they made the effort to vote, it’s what they got.
Folks said, as the governor mentioned, “We really need to deal with the infrastructure of our country across the board. It’s like 150 years old, right?” They said that, “That I-35 bridge collapse — we don’t want that to happen again.” Right?
They said, “We want to make sure that, for example, MSP gets $21 million” — which is what’s going to happen in our infrastructure bill. (Applause.)
They want a bus lane on Lake Street. (Applause.) They want I-494 bridge repairs. (Applause.)
And so, because they stood in line and voted in 2020, we passed one of the most significant investments in America’s infrastructure in history. (Applause.)
Because they voted for so many communities in America — they said when they voted, “You’ve got to get that lead out of the service lines and pipes because too many children in America are drinking that toxic water, which is having a direct impact on their health and their ability to learn,” and because of that infrastructure bill, we will be able to, by the next 10 years, remove all lead pipes in service lines in America. (Applause.) Because they voted. Because they voted.
Because they made the effort to vote and told us, “Hey, we like what you did with healthcare, starting in 2008, but there’s still some more work we’d like to see get done because it’s still really expensive,” and because they voted and they put in that order, we were able to pass the Inflation Reduction Act and cap insulin at $35 a month. (Applause.) Because they voted.
Because they voted and said, “You know what? We’re kind of sick and tired of the pharmaceutical companies dictating the price of prescription drugs to the point that we’ve got too many seniors that have got to decide either they’re going to fill their prescription or pay their rent, or get food to put in their fridge,” and because they voted, we, for the first time, will allow Medicare to negotiate against the pharmaceutical companies for drug prices for 60 million people. (Applause.)
And, you know, on those two points, not one Republican in Congress voted for them. Not one. Because they voted and told us when they put in their order, “It’s about time we have a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court” — (applause) — that now we have Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
Because they voted. Because they stood in line.
They spent hours around our country in the height of a pandemic and said, “This is what we want from our country.”
And the beauty of it all, in addition to the accomplishments and what it will mean for real people in our country — for working people; for people who are just trying to get through not only the end of the month, the end of the day — but what it also demonstrates is it demonstrates that the people have a right to respect certain things from their government. It reminds them that it is not unreasonable to expect that your government and its leaders would hear and see you and act on the struggles and the problems that people are experiencing. And so, in that way, what we did in 2020, yes, it is about real, real accomplishments, real product we can point to, but it is also about uplifting the people of our nation to remember their voice really does matter — their voice really does matter.
So when I look at where we are, we have a lot of good material to talk about. We have so much more at stake.
The governor talked about the Dobbs decision. So, here’s what happened: The highest court in our land, the United States Supreme Court, just took a constitutional right that was recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.
And they basically said, “Well, the government is in a better desi- — position to decide what’s in her best interest than she is.” How dare they? How dare they?
And on this issue, I think it really bears noting: One does not have to abandon one’s faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be making this decision for her. (Applause.)
And in the decision — let’s be clear — Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud: At risk now is the right to contraception, the right to marry the person you love.
In a nation that is committed to progress — as defined in many ways, including the expansion of rights — we are now witnessing and restriction of rights.
And look at what’s happening in so many of these states. You know, the court said in Dobbs, “We’ll let the states decide.” Well — and all of the proponents of that theory and approach said, “Yeah, let the states decide.”
But check this out: Those same proponents saying, “Let the states decide,” so many of them are the same ones who are restricting voting rights across our country. Let the states decide?
So when I think about this issue, we all know how much is at stake right now. Because every day in the life of someone affected by this decision, it’s a very long time. Every one of those days.
And here in Minnesota, you are fortunate to have a state leadership that is committed to this issue. In so many ways, you are an oasis in this neighborhood and a model of what should be done and how leaders should comport themselves on this issue. And for that reason, we need you to retain that standing — (applause) — so that we can go to places like Texas and Florida, and point to what you’re doing here as the way things should be if you really do care about some of the foundational principles upon which our country was created, including the principle of freedom and liberty. (Applause.)
But these are some of the issues that are at stake. Because be clear: Who the governor is, who the lieutenant governor is, who the secretary of state is, who the attorney general is matters.
If any one of those individuals on this slate in this state is not there in the new year, life here will change on this issue.
Seventeen days. And these are, what, four-year terms? I mean, women are getting pregnant every day in America. (Laughter.) Four years is a very long time.
Seventeen days. Seventeen days to remind people of what their role in our nation is, which is the power of the people and the ability of the people and the right of the people to determine the trajectory and the future of their country.
So I am here to say thank you. I’m here to also remind you this is not an issue here, because thank you for Amy and Tina and sending them to the United States Senate. (Applause.) I worked with them. They’re powerhouses, both of them. Powerhouses. They really are. (Applause.)
And so — so it’s not an issue here, but I will also, while I’m visiting with you, just remind you of what’s at stake around the nation on this issue since the Dobbs decision. Because now that the court — right? — three independent coequal branches of government — now the court has taken the right, we need Congress to put it back.
So, there’s a bill — the Women’s Health Protection Act. We just need two more senators on top of what we have. Two more senators and the President can sign it into law.
And our dear President Joe Biden has said — and remember, he comes from the Senate, he is respectful of the traditions. And Joe Biden, our President, has said, “I’m done. Not going to let the filibuster get in the way of signing the Women’s Health Protection Act.” (Applause.)
Two more senators is what we need. And by signing that into law if we get two more senators, it means that in all the states that are criminalizing doctors and nurses and healthcare providers — I mean, can you imagine literally proposing and passing laws that would put them in jail that are making no exception when someone has endured an act of violence and violation — making no exception for her?
By passing that law, all of those other laws that they’re doing right now to punish and to criminalize would be rendered null. (Applause.)
Two more senators. Two more senators. And the President has said that with two more senators, he will also not let the filibuster get in the way of signing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. (Applause.)
Two more senators, and hold on to the House. So that’s where we are.
And so, I’ll close with just a couple final points. So as your Vice President, I have now, since we’ve been in office, met with — my team has told me — one hund- — either in person or by phone, one hundred world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.
And here’s the thing about those interactions: When we, representing the United States of America, walk in those rooms, we walk in those rooms chin up, shoulders back with the authority to talk about the importance of democracies, with the authority to talk about the importance of rule of law, human rights, a free press. And in that way, we have been perceived and have held ourselves out to be a role model of democracy — the best model of democracy.
But this is a group of role models and so I will say what we all know: The thing about being a role model is people watch what you do to see if it matches up with what you say.
So, let us fully appreciate — and it is one of my greatest fears, frankly — that autocrats, dictators around the world could say to their people, “You want to talk about America? Look what they’re doing.” “You want to talk about your rights and compare it to America? Well, look what they’re doing.”
And in that way then by extension, everything that is happening now will not only impact the people of our country, it will potentially impact people around the world. That is the magnitude of what is at stake.
And so the final point I’ll make is this: I believe that the nature of a democracy — I think there’s — there’s a duality. On the one hand, democracies, when they are intact, are extremely strong and powerful in the way that they will preserve and protect individual rights and freedoms. A great strength that comes out of it, in terms of investing in its people. On the other hand, democracies are very fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.
And so, fight we will. Because when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. And we know what we stand for. We stand for working families. We stand for the children. We stand for public education. We stand for unions. We stand for addressing the climate crisis. We stand for holding corporations accountable. We stand for lifting up the economy of our country, understanding the way you do that best is to lift up the status of working people and middle-class folks in America. (Applause.)
We know what we stand for, so we know what to fight for. And we got 17 days. And what I know about this group is that when we fight, we win.
Thank you all.