University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
THE VICE PRESIDENT: UCLA! (Applause.) Oh, it’s good to be home. It’s good to be home. (Applause.)
All right, we’re here to work. Okay? We’re here to work. We’ve got a day and a half to see this through, get this done, and elect the next mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass. (Applause.)
Now, I’m back in L.A. because I do love L.A. and I know Karen Bass. I’ve worked with Karen Bass. When I was in Sacramento and she was in Sacramento, I saw how she would tirelessly fight for the people of this region, the people of our state, and the people of our nation. Karen Bass has a long history of always being on the side of the people, fighting for the people, fighting for the people whose voices aren’t in the room but must be present. That’s who Karen Bass has always been. It’s who she will always be. And that’s why she will be the next mayor of Los Angeles. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Vice President Kamala Harris!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We got a day and a half to see it through. We got a day and a half to see it through. (Applause.)
So, let’s look at where we are now. Because here we are, all of us, together.
(A protestor disruption can be heard.)
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I love our democracy. (Laughs.) I love our democracy. So —
(A protestor disruption can be heard.)
Hey, this is — we got a day and a half to get things done. And we’re not going to get distracted from the job in front of us. (Applause.) We’re not going to get distracted because there’s far too much at stake.
So, let’s think about where we are right now. We are a day and a half out from an election where we have all, so many of us fought —
(A protestor disruption can be heard.)
AUDIENCE: Kamala! Kamala! Kamala!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Karen Bass, we’re here for her. So, let’s talk about Karen Bass and what we’re here to do.
So, we have an election in a day and a half. How many people voted in 2020? (Applause.) Okay. So now we are here together for these next hours over this next day and half. And we’re here to rededicate ourselves to understanding the power of the vote.
And what we have asked all of you as leaders to do is to remind people about the power of their vote. We are here because we are organizing. We are emailing. We are texting. We are calling. We are knocking on doors, reminding people of the power of their vote.
And I want us to remember what happened in the last election so that we can remember exactly how that power plays out. Because you all are going to go out there, you’re going to leave here, and you’re going to go out with a charge to remind folks of what’s important. You’re going to leave here with the charge of going up to perfect strangers and, in their face, seeing a neighbor and a friend and asking them to vote.
And what happens every time we ask people to vote? For the most part, the response will be, “Why should I vote?” It’s a righteous question.
Well, let’s remember, in 2020, in the midst of a pandemic when there was extraordinary loss of life, people lost their jobs, a loss of normalcy — I don’t have to tell the students here what that meant, in terms of the experience that you were having and the burdens you were carrying. And yet, in the middle of a pandemic, we saw record voter turnout in America and record young voter turnout — one of the highest in history. (Applause.)
And the way I think about it is when folks went to vote in the last election, as it will be today and tomorrow, they put in their order. They put in their order. They said, “I’m going to vote because what I want from my country and its leaders that you will deal with the issue of child poverty in America.” And because you voted, we extended the Child Tax Credit so that in the first year, we reduced child poverty in America by over 40 percent. (Applause.) Because you voted.
You said, “You know what? We have too many parents who are trying to raise their kids, but it’s expensive out here.” And because you voted, we passed a child tax cut so that parents can deduct up to $8,000 of the cost of raising a child — the cost of food, medicine, school supplies. Because you voted. (Applause.)
Because you voted and said, “You know, when y’all were in office in 2008, and those years you did a good job reforming the healthcare system. But prescription medication is just still too expensive.” People said, “You know, Latinos are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Black Americans are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. And we have far too many of our seniors who are having to make a decision, on the one hand, whether they will fill a prescription for insulin, which a doctor prescribed to save their life, or pay for rent or food.” And we said, “That’s not right.” And because you voted, we have now capped insulin at $35 a month for those seniors. (Applause.)
People stood in line, filled out their ballots in the midst of all of that was going on, and said, “You know, it is just about time somebody deals with the fact that the pharmaceutical companies have been running a game for too long, jacking up the price of prescription medication.” (Applause.) And because you voted, we have now allowed Medicare to negotiate against the pharmaceutical companies on behalf of 60 million people. Because you voted. (Applause.)
Because you voted and said, “You know what? These roads and bridges, people driving on potholes and — you know, when I get a flat tire, car insurance doesn’t pay for that. We need to deal with it.” And because you voted, we passed an infrastructure law to the point that LAX is going to get $50 million more. L.A. trains and buses is going to get $200 million more. (Applause.)
And we’re going to get the lead out of these pipes and service lines which is causing our children to drink toxic water. (Applause.) Because you voted.
You stood in line. You filled out that ballot. And you said, “You know what? It’s about time we had a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court.” (Applause.) And because you voted, her name is Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)
Because you voted.
Because you voted, and said, “Hey, nobody should have to go to jail for smoking weed.” (Applause.) We’re now dealing with that because you voted.
Because you voted. Because you understood and so many people who are not in this front room right now understood there is power that we have and we’re not about to let anybody take our power from us. (Applause.)
We said, because we know: “Elections matter.” And the stakes remain high.
So, as Karen Bass talked about; as my husband, the first Second Gentleman of the United States, talked about — (applause) —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Doug!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I love him, too. (Laughter.)
But just think about this, the highest court in our land, the United States Supreme Court, the court of Thurgood, just took a constitutional right from the people of America.
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And here’s the thing that must be spoken. One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.
And after this decision came down — the Dobbs decision — you know, these so-called — I call them extremists, so-called leaders — they’d say, “Well, you know, we — we think that maybe the states should be making these decisions.” Right? And out of the same people’s mouth, they’re the same ones who are passing laws around our country making it more difficult for people to vote. Check that out.
Check out that Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud when he said what’s now at risk is your right to contraception, your right to marry the person you love. (Applause.)
Understand — understand where this is headed. Understand the connections that are at play here. Understand why no one should be made to fight alone on this. Because when we are looking at a situation where there is a full-on unapologetic attack on individual rights, we all have something to risk and lose. (Applause.)
This is where we are right now. Where we are right now is that our President, Joe Biden, said — (applause) — he will not let the filibuster get in the way of passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. (Applause.) We need two more senators to get it done. We got to hold on to the Democrats we have, and we need two more senators to get it done. And then we can sign into law the Women’s Health Protection Act. (Applause.)
Understand what passing that will mean. It will mean that we can undo and render null these laws that are being passed that are literally criminalizing healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, healthcare providers. They’re passing laws that literally allow for jail time for somebody who is simply providing reproductive healthcare. They are passing and proposing laws that would suggest there is no exception for rape or incest.
As you have heard, I, for a time, specialized in crimes against women and children, including child sexual assault. And let me tell you something: The idea that anyone pro- — would profess to be a leader who would pass a law suggesting that after an individual has survived one of the most violent acts — an act that is totally above violating another human being’s body — and then suggest that that person cannot make a decision about what happens to their body next, it is immoral. It is immoral. (Applause.)
But this is literally what we’re up against. This is literally what we’re up against. Elections matter. Elections matter. They are proposing to get rid of — and that it would be at stake — Social Security, Medicare. A nationwide abortion ban. Elections matter.
Who is your mayor will matter when they’re pushing this stuff to local governments.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Karen Bass!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Karen Bass. (Applause.) We need people who understand the power of their voice to speak for the power of the people. So, all of this is at stake.
Now, as Vice President, I will tell you: I have now met with, either directly or by phone, over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. And here’s the thing about the United States of America. When we walk in these rooms, we have, historically, had the ability to walk in chin up, shoulders back, professing to represent the greatest and strongest democracy in the world, imperfect though we may be. We have had that ability, which then gives us the ability to walk in those rooms talking about the importance of rule of law, human rights, freedom of the press.
But here’s the thing everyone here knows that is about the nature of being a role model: When you are a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. So, my greatest fear right now includes that there are dictators and autocrats around the world who are looking at their people, who are fighting for their rights, and saying to them, “Well, you want to hold out America? Look what’s happening in that country. You be quiet.”
And all of that to say everything we are doing right now not only directly affects the people of our country, it will invariably affect people around the world. (Applause.) Understand that. This is what we have at stake.
And so, understand when we talk about democracy is on the ballot, it is. And the nature of democracy is such that I think there’s a duality. On the one hand, there’s an incredible amount of strength when a democracy is intact, in terms of what it can give its people to protect and fight for their individual rights and freedoms. In that way, it can have great strength in lifting people up.
On the other hand, it is extremely fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it. And so, fight we will and fight we must. (Applause.) And over the next day and a half, fight we will every single minute, every single hour. We will remember: We define strength not based on who you beat down. Our strength is based on who we lift up. (Applause.)
And so, we will fight. And when we fight, we win. There you go. (Applause.)