4:49 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. (Applause.) Hi, hi, hi. (Laughs.) Hi.
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And six for Tammy! And six years! (Applause.) Six more years.
AUDIENCE: Six more years! Six more years! Six more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Aww.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, MVP! We love you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) Aww. It’s so good to see everyone and be back here. Thank you all so very much.
First of all, let me just say, I — I just — you all know — I’ve met so many who are here over the years and — and a lot of it was hanging out with Tammy, traveling the state, talking about who we are as a country and what we know we can accomplish when we work together. And today was an example of that, because I was so honored to be with Senator Baldwin, with Senator Mark Kelly always.
But — but with Tammy — we were in Kenosha today to talk about the work that we have done as an administration because we have the partners in the United States Senate to put resources and, in fact, billions of dollars into investing in the people of America, investing in manufacturing in America. And I said at that event what I will say now: The backstory on it is that so much of what we talked about today and have been doing around the country in terms of putting money into factories, growing manufacturing, growing jobs — we’ve grown now 13 million new jobs as an administration. (Applause.)
So much of the work on the backstory, though, has been about your senator, Tammy Baldwin, in rooms when there are no cameras, rooms where there are cameras, talking about the importance of making it in America, investing in the workers of America. And so, I just want to say in front of all the friends: She’s an extraordinary leader and she has had a huge influence on our administration. Thank you. (Applause.) Truly, truly, truly, truly.
So with that, I — I just want to say thank you to all of the folks who are here. You guys are doing it. You are handling it. What you did with your supreme court — (applause) — it’s extraordinary. And people around the country were watching and hoping and praying and believing —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We did it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — that it could turn out well.
You did it. (Applause.) You did it. You did it.
And so, I’m here to thank you. I’m here to thank you for what you always do in standing up and believing in who we are as a country. This is a fight born out of love of a country and a belief in the foundational principles of who we are.
Ours is a fight that has always been about equality. It has always been about doing the right thing. It has always been about freedom and liberty and the ability of all people to just be and to be respected and to be treated with dignity. Our fight has always been about understanding that the true measure of strength is not based on who you beat down, but who you lift up. (Applause.) That’s who we are.
And so, I’ll start by thanking you for the work you did in 2020. (Applause.) It was and — and I know you’ll do it again. But let’s reflect for a moment what you did in 2020. Remember, it was the height of a pandemic, in the midst of extraordinary loss. You all, the leaders who are here, didn’t give up. You talked with your friends, your neighbors, your family members, and said, “You have got to be optimistic and know that you can make a difference when you vote.”
And because of the work that you all did in 2020 in believing in the importance of civic participation as part of the measure of strength of a democracy, we accomplished so much — because of what you all did in 2020.
Think about it: Before, we were selling jobs to countries all over the world and outsourcing jobs and sending jobs away from America. Because of what you all did in 2020, our administration — with your support, with the help of these senators — has created 13 million new jobs. (Applause.) Jobs were going overseas. We have now created 800,000 new manufacturing jobs. (Applause.)
You know, over 70 percent of the firms — the companies that actually do manufacturing in our country, do you know they employ 20 or fewer folks? They’re small businesses. We have grown — our administration, because of your work, has grown more small businesses in any two-year period of time than any administration ever. (Applause.) Before and after — big difference.
Think about the work that we did because of what you did in 2020. Before, we had seniors around our country who were making decisions — horrible decisions about either being able to fill their prescription or putting food on the table.
Think about diabetes. African Americans: 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Latinos: 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
The cost of insulin for many was in the hundreds of dollars a month. Because of what you did, we have now capped the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Because of what you did.
We’ve been talking about for years: Let Medicare negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies. We’re now doing that. We’re going to cap the l- — the annual cost of prescription medication for seniors at $2,000 — $2,000 a year. It’s going to make a huge difference in what we will do to erase medical debt, which is a big issue for so many people.
Before, we were talking about — well, some people were talking about “Infrastructure Week.” Remember that? (Laughter.) Now we are investing billions of dollars — the
Harris-Biden [Biden-Harris] administration, with your support and our senators, investing billions of dollars in repairing and upgrading America’s roads and bridges.
Part of what Senator Baldwin and I announced today was about what we are doing, because we are on track to now laying fiber-optic cable to ensure that every person in our country has access to high-speed Internet, to broadband. It is long overdue, but because of what you all did, we were able to make it possible. It’s going to impact millions of people.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Talk about children. So, before — before, we have been dealing, for generations, with grandparents and parents saying, “You got to get rid of those lead pipes — how our babies are drinking water that is toxic and having an impact on their health and their ability to learn.”
Because of what you all did, we have made an investment in getting rid of lead pipes. We are on track over the next eight years to get rid of all lead pipes in America. (Applause.) Because of what you did.
It’s what Democrats do. We get to work. We get to work.
And we also know, because we are clear-eyed, that when we are looking at — as we are now — a full-on attack against fundamental rights and freedoms and liberty, that we must organize and we must stand strong and stand united in the face of these attacks, to stand for what is right and the foundational principles of who we are as a country.
And by that, of course, I am referring, as an example, to what Senator Baldwin talked about in terms of the Dobbs decision.
Just think: Last year, the highest court in our land, the court of Thurgood and RBG, took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America. And thereafter, in state after state — here, invoking a law that was written before the elevator was invented — (laughter) — state after state putting in place laws to restrict the ability of women to make decisions about their own body.
And here’s the thing on that subject. It is very important to acknowledge: One does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do. (Applause.)
And so, this is a moment where we have to stand strong and understand that the Court took a right; Congress has the power to put it back in place. Our president, Joe Biden, has been very clear: You put back in place, through Congress, the protections of Roe v. Wade, Joe Biden will sign it. (Applause.) Elections matter.
When we are looking at the scourge of gun violence, do you know that it is now the leading cause of death of our children? More than a health issue. Gun violence is the leading cause of death of the children of America.
Right now, in our country, one in five Americans has a family member that was killed by gun violence. Yet we have these feckless, so-called leaders who don’t have the courage to agree that it’s a false choice to say you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.
I’m in favor of the Second Amendment, and we need to pass reasonable gun safety laws. (Applause.)
We need an assault weapons ban, universal background checks. (Applause.) Elections matter. Elections matter.
So, these are but two of many examples right now of what we are seeing. I’m traveling our country. And I’ll tell you, there is a — there is a national agenda afoot. There is a national agenda afoot. And every issue that we have just mentioned — from choice to the need for reasonable gun safety laws, not to mention the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, not what we — not to mention what we are saying in terms of the vilification of whole communities of people. There is a national agenda afoot.
And it is incumbent on us, in these moments in time, to stand strong and clear-eyed and, born out of our love of our country, fight for what is right.
And so, this is the moment we’re in. We’re about, I think, 17 months away from the election. And I’m — and I’m here in Wisconsin today because we can’t start a moment too soon.
We’ve got work to do. We’ve got work to do in registering our young voters to vote. We’ve got work to do to remind people that they are not alone, in spite of these — this bully culture that exists coming out of some people.
We’ve got work to do to stand together unified, knowing what we represent and believing in it.
We’ve got work to do, in terms of being that role model that we have been for the world and what it means to be a democracy.
On that point, I’ll share with you guys: As Vice President United States, I have now met with over 100 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. (Applause.)
So, here’s the thing. 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 talk about the importance of democracy, rule of law, human rights.
Well, here’s the thing. When you’re a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. So, understand, then, how what is happening in our country and the future of our country not only directly impacts the people of our country but, by extension, people around the world.
So, my final point is this: The nature of democracy is such that it’s — there’s kind of a duality. On the one hand, it’s very strong when it is intact. It is strong in terms of the strength it invests in its people, the protection and the preservation of individual rights and freedoms and liberty. There’s such strength in democracy. And it is very fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.
And so, fight we will. (Applause.) And when we fight, we win. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 5:05 P.M. CDT