New York, New York

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Sit, whoever was sitting.  Fan yourselves.  Whatever it takes.  (Laughter.)

Let me just — as I have so many times in this beautiful apartment — thank you, Charles, for just all — I mean, he told you, it’s been years and years and years, through so many phases, that you’ve been on this journey with me in such an incredible way.  And we’ve had so many conversations over the years. 

And one thing that I — I just want to highlight about you and so many people in the room: You don’t have to do this.  None of you have to do this.  You have busy lives.  You have so many obligations.  And one of the things that makes me so excited and — and joyful about moments like this is that we are all under one roof together because we love our country — because we love our country.  And we believe in our country.  We know what is at stake, and we know that it’s worth fighting for.

And so you have always been that person.  You and I have had so many conversations in quiet moments about our aspirations and dreams for the people of our country and in the context of the world, as you have rightly said.  And so in front of all the friends, I want to thank you.

Charlotte, I’ve watched grow up.  (Laughter.)  She is now at Amherst.  She is going to rule the world.  And I just gave her a longer lecture than necessary about why I want her to take at least one coding class while she — (laughter) — 

So to both you, and Phil — where’s Phil?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Right there.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Phil, thank you.  Thank you.  Phil and I had some time to talk.  And he’s paying attention to every detail of everything — (laughter) — and with wonderful and helpful feedback but also with a sense of enthusiasm that is very infectious.  Thank you for the support.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, thank you.

So to everyone here — there are some longstanding friends, folks I’ve seen in this very apartment or around this town, and then — and then some new friends.  And I just want to thank everyone.

Listen, I think that there is so much about where we are and who we are that should give us all a sense of great optimism.  And without any question, we are also in a moment in time where we must be very clear-eyed about the challenges we face.

But part of the optimism I think that we have — because we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t — is based on empirical evidence of the fact that when we are engaged and when we fight for the ideals and the freedoms that are foundational principles in our country, we know we win.  Think about it. 

And I — so I want to start by saying: Thank you all for what you did in 2020.  Charles talked about it.  Let’s not forget, during the height of a pandemic — I don’t need to tell New Yorkers what I’m talking about — an extraordinary level of loss of life, of people’s livelihoods, of normalcy.  And the folks in this room didn’t give up, and encouraged your neighbors and your friends and your family members and your colleagues to say, “Hey, get involved, stay involved” — in spite of all that everyone was going through during the height of a pandemic.

And because of your work then, we tow- — turned out historic numbers in the 2020 election, historic numbers of young voters in the 2020 election.  And as a result of your optimism and your grit and your belief in the importance of never giving up, Joe Biden was elected President of the United States; I was elected Vice President of the United States.  And think about what that has meant. 

In just two and a half short years — I’ve been thinking about it in the context of before and after.  So let’s do that for a minute.  Will you indulge me?  (Laughter.)  Okay, so I’m starting to work with this.  Tell me how it sounds.  (Laughs.)  (Applause.) 

So, before: So jobs were going overseas.  Factories were closing.

After: We got elected.  We are now — and have created and have, as an accomplishment, created over 800,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States.  Before and after. 

Before: We were looking at historic levels of unemployment, even before the pandemic.

Now we are looking at some of the lowest unemployment levels in the history — in recent history in our country.  And we have created over 13 million new jobs.

Before: I would travel around our country, and grandparents and parents would talk about the fact that the children of their community were drinking water out of lead pipes.  They’ve been talking about it for generations.

After: We heard their stories.  We heard their cries.  We took it seriously.  We are on the path, because of the infrastructure law that we are responsible for helping get through — we are on the path to eliminate all lead pipes in our country over the next couple of years.

Before: The students, the young leaders, and the youngish leaders — (laughter) — talking about we must take seriously this climate crisis.  We must address it.  We have to stop going backward.  Remember the other guy pulled out of the Paris Agreement, all of the deniers?

And because of your work, now where are we?  We are about to drop, by my calculation, over $1 trillion over the next 10 years in a clean energy economy that will be about an investment in reduction of green — of greenhouse gas emissions, but also an investment in a clean energy economy, which is about jobs, and it is about clean air and clean water.

Before: Seniors around our country were having to make decisions, if they have diabetes, about whether they would fill the prescription a doctor prescribed because it would save their life, but in a position because it was so expensive to either decide to fill that prescription or put food in the fridge or keep a roof over their head.

After: Because of the work we did, we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for our seniors.  (Applause.)  And we are, for the first time, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices so that we will cap the cost of prescription medication for seniors at $2,000 a year.  This is transformative.

Before: By the way, before the pandemic, supply chain issues were a problem.  Some people know it.  And then all sudden, in the pandemic it became part of everyday language — “supply chain.”  But it’s always been an issue.

After: Because of the relationships we have and the investment in America that we have done, and the CHIPS and Science Act in particular, U.S.-based manufacturing of semiconductor chips, which will fuel so much of what we need to do when we have a vision about the future and where we should be. 

And I could go on and on with the before and after.  But the point is: The work you have done, the work you continue to do matters, and elections matter.

And so, our work is not over, because being clear-eyed about where we are, we know we have still many, many challenges we must address.  The Dobbs decision that came down a year ago in June.  Well, remember when that came down?  I remember exactly where I was.  I’m sure everyone here does, because that was a day that the highest court in our land, the court of Thurgood and RBG — the court of Thurgood and RBG — took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America.

But here’s the thing that also gives me optimism: After that happened, we had midterms, and you all, again, got engaged.  I want to say to the tri-state ladies in particular, I know — (applause) — (laughs) — I know how you guys organized.  And what did we do?  We organized.  We got there.

Remember in the midterms, the pundits were saying, “Oh there’s going to be a red wave”?  You guys got out there again.

You took to the streets.  We organized.  We said, “These are the things that’s at stake.” 

And in every state where reproductive freedom was on the ballot, where abortion was on the ballot — from Kansas to California — the voters voted in favor of freedoms, because we understood the crisis of the moment, and we did not give up and we were not deterred.

So I offer this again as empirical evidence of the fact that the work that we are doing and that you all are doing matters.  We elected more governors, including Kathy Hochul.  Remember how tight that was supposed to be?

All over the country, tight races, and we got out and we did not give up in the fight of understanding there are a lot of challenges, but when we participate, we make a difference.

And so we are where we are.  We’re at a point where we are dealing again with a Supreme Court that not only rendered the Dobbs decision, but then, just in the last couple of weeks, came down with decisions that were about denying access to opportunity, denying history; came down with decisions that essentially say that it is legal to discriminate against people

based on their status, be them LGBTQ+ or we know this opens up the door for pretty much anything else.

We look at a situation where we’ve got extremist so-called leaders who are part of what I believe is a national agenda to attack full on and unapologetically so many of the hard-fought and hard-won freedoms that we have achieved over the course of the progress — I said not “over the course of time”; I said “over the course of progress” — that our country has made.

But again, we are not and will not be deterred.  We rise to these moments of challenge, and that’s what we will continue to do.

So that is why at this, some would say, early stage, we are gearing up, because we know what we have to do.  We know we have to start early.  We know we have to remind each other that we’re all in this together.  And we know what is at stake.  And we know what we are fighting for: fundamental, foundational principles that make us proud to be Americans, understanding that the strength of our nation has always been a function of our willingness to fight to achieve our ideals.

So that’s how I think about this moment.  And I’ll put it in one further point of context. 

Charles, as Vice President now, in addition to some of the other stuff changing since I was last here, I’ve now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.  And I will tell you something: When we walk in those rooms representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms chin up, shoulders back, with the self-appointed and earned authority to then, in those rooms, talk about the importance of democracy, rule of law, human rights.

But here’s the thing about being a role model we all know: When you’re a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. 

And one of my greatest fears at this moment in the context of what is at stake is that there are autocrats and dictators in various places around the globe who are looking at their people, who are fighting for fundamental freedoms, and saying to them, “You want to hold out the United States?  Look what’s happening there.  You be quiet.”

So when we think about what is at stake, understand it is about our country and, by extension, potentially about people around the world. 

So the power of our work is not only about what’s in our backyard.  It will have global impact.  And again, understanding then the responsibility before us, we approach this with optimism and with joy.  Because, you know, my old moniker is: I — I have claimed myself to be a joyful warrior.  (Laughter.)  And you all have just been enlisted. 

Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.   


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