The College of Southern Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada

1:09 P.M. PDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  (Laughter and applause.) 

Can we hear it for Pio?  (Applause.)

Oh, it’s good to be with everybody.  Please, let’s have a seat.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hi, friend.  (Laughs.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Hello, Madam Vice President Kamala Harris.  (Applause.)  Yeah.  Yes. 

Yo, the energy in this room.  Like, I have never seen so many beautiful, young faces who are so excited to show up for their democracy.  Like, this is — this is amazing.  I’m so proud of y’all for showing up.  Thank you so much.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  This is the College of Southern Nevada.  What do we expect?  (Applause.)  (Laughs.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I love you.  I love being with the leaders of our country.  I love — I just am so excited to be with everyone.  Thank you.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Oh, you are so brilliant.  Yes.  I — thank you.  First and foremost, thank you for having me here.  Thank you, guys, all for having me here.  I am so excited to be able to share space with you and ask you these brilliant questions. 

You know, I understand that you have been doing this “Fight for Our Freedoms” tour.  And this summer alone, you’ve traveled to over 17 different states —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — talking to climate leaders from Colorado, talking to gun violence advocates from Virginia.  And now you are on a college tour —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — going to over 12 different college campuses, including CSN — (applause) — yes — which are predominantly Hispanic- and AANHPI-serving institutions.  (Applause.)  And I know we are all excited to have you here.

Why embark on this tour?  Why the fight for our freedoms?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Well, let me just start by saying, Annie, thank you so very much for being with me yet again as we talk with the leaders of our country.

So, I decided to — to start this tour, “Fight for Our Freedoms,” for a number of reasons that have everything to do with who you are, the students who are here.  I truly believe that the future and the present of our country requires your leadership.

I am here because I want for you that you will be able to live your best life.  I want for you that you know the rights that you have and know that you are encouraged to fight for those rights and those freedoms.

When I look at who you are, in terms of your generation, for most who are here, I also am so aware of what you have uniquely experienced.  You are the generation that has only known the climate crisis.  You are a generation that saw George Floyd be murdered.  You are a generation that has witnessed the highest court in our land take a right that had been formally recognized, such that you will have fewer rights than your mothers or grandmothers.  You are a generation that grew up having active shooter drills.

The issues that are at stake in our country right now are not intellectual or academic for you.  These are lived experiences.  And what I know about you and your style of leadership is that you’re not having it.  You’re not waiting for other people to figure it out. 

You are leading, you are stepping out, and you are prepared to take control of these issues in a way that we uplift the — the life of the people, in a way that we protect freedoms, including just the freedom to be.

So, that’s why I’m doing this tour.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And because I also want you to know that in the midst of these challenges, in the midst of a moment where I do believe there is an intentional and full-on attack against so many hard-fought, hard-won fundamental freedoms and rights, I also want to remind you: It doesn’t have to be this way.  It does not have to be this way. 

And when you all start voting in your numbers, I know it won’t be.  And so, that’s why I’m here.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Amazing.  You know, I love your articulation around the future belongs to the youth and the present belongs to the youth.


MS. GONZALEZ:  And I believe we have a student here in the audience that needs to ask a question. 

Do I have Kia [ph] Williams?  (Applause.)  Kya, there she is.  Kya Williams.

Q    Hey, guys, my name is Kia Williams, and I am president of the Black Student Union here at CSN.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Let’s go.

Q    My question today is: How would you encourage someone who is not utilizing their right to vote to start taking that important step to vote?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Madam President.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yes, Madam President.  (Laughter and applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And thank you for your role of what I take as elected leadership in this body.  Congratulations.  (Laughter and applause.)

So, for all the leaders here, I know — you know, I’ve been reading about this student body.  I’ve been reading about how this exceptional educational institution thinks of you and nurtures you.  And — and so I will say this.  I — I am clear that you, on many different levels, will make a difference, not only in the state of Nevada, in our country, but in the world.

One of the ways of the many that you will make a difference is by voting. 

Elections matter.  You know, back in 2020, during the height of a pandemic, we had the highest rate of youth voting that we have seen — historic numbers.  I would like to see, in fact, a show of hands.  Can I see who voted in 2020 or 2022?  Right. 

Because you voted, Joe Biden is President of the United States and I am Vice President of the United States.  (Applause.)  Because you voted.  Because you voted. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We did it, Joe!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We did it, Joe.  (Laughter and applause.)  High five.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yes.  Yes.  (Laughter.)  I’ve got to give you a high five now.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We did it.  (Laughter.) 

But voting — and here’s the thing: You know, we will talk often about the importance of voting in the — the historical context of the fact that people marched, fought, shed blood, and died for the right to vote for so many of the people who are here. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, that’s a reason to vote: to honor the struggle and the sacrifices of those who imagine that you would be sitting here right now and we would be having this conversation, honoring that legacy that we have each inherited.

The other thing that we should know is that elections matter.  When you vote, you have the ability to determine the outcome of who will be making decisions on issues like we have discussed.  And there’s so many leaders surrounding issues like immigration, on issues like the climate crisis, on issues like what the President and I have been fighting for to reduce student loan debt — (applause) — on issues — 

On a variety of issues that we will discuss today, almost every one of them will ultimately be decided by the people who vote in their numbers on the issues they care about.  Right?

People don’t just get elected to these offices; they’re elected by the people.  So, voting is your way of determining who sits in those offices and who they see and who they think of when they’re making these important decisions that will impact all of us.

The other point I would make on this — because it’s very real, and we’re here to have real talk — there are powerful forces in our country that are trying to make it more difficult for you to vote. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Understand that.  You see how, in Georgia — you know, first of all, historic turnout in 2020, and you could almost map and see that — first of all, that scared a lot of people.  And then they started trying to pass laws to make it more difficult to vote. 

In Georgia, they passed a law that makes it illegal to give people who are standing in line to vote — make it illegal to give them food and water.  What happened to “love thy neighbor”? The hypocrisy abounds.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yep. Yep.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  States who are passing laws that will say — that make it more difficult for college students to vote, you who know how much is at stake.  States that are getting rid of ballot drop boxes, trying to eliminate or reduce early voting. 

You know who needs to do early voting?  People who work two and three jobs and can’t take off a day of work.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  The people who know that it’s important that we have paid family leave and paid sick leave and affordable childcare.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, see the connections.  And then, to the young leaders here, I’d say: Don’t ever let anybody silence you.  And understand when people are trying.

So, there are a lot of reasons to vote.  And, in particular, again, I will go back to what we saw in 2020 and 2022.  When people voted in their numbers, we saw how change can happen.  Again, the climate crisis.  Again, what we need to do on so many issues that impact young people, that impact people of every stage of life. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And, in particular, working people.  In particular, people who are in low-income communities, people — in particular, people who have been left out or overlooked.  Right?  So, I would urge everyone here — okay, now I’m going to be — I’m going to engage in a cliché.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I got a government website.  (Laughter.)  Please go on to, and it will tell you if you’re registered to vote, and it’ll help you register to vote and tell your family and friends.  But that’s a quick and easy way to do it.  And the earlier you register to vote, then you just know it’s done, and then we can take it to the next step.

     MS. GONZALEZ:  You know, you talking about how they are trying to silence us and — and make it more difficult for us to vote, I feel like it’s just showing that they understand how powerful we are. 


MS. GONZALEZ:  You know?  And — and you being here, I feel like, is a representation of — of reminding us yet again how powerful we are.  And we cannot be taken down if we come in numbers, if we come in unity, if we come in love.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  That’s the power of the people.

MS. GONZALEZ:  The people power the people, yep.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s the power of the people.  Yep.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Madam Vice President, this next topic, I know you are no stranger to.  We are in the beautiful state of Nevada, which — (applause) — yes, the most beautiful state of Nevada with you beautiful humans.  And, you know, there’s a pressing issue around gun violence.


MS. GONZALEZ:  And in Nevada, we have, in U.S. modern recorded history, one of the most deadly shootings that have happened here.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  One October.  Yeah.

MS. GONZALEZ:  One October. 

I know you are not a stranger to this topic.  You have been fighting for this throughout your whole career.  I know that you and President Joe Biden have created a historic legislation around gun violence safety —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — and the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yep, that’s right.  Which I’m heading.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Wow.  (Applause.)


MS. GONZALEZ:  Super congratulations.  I know we are all very proud of you and our democracy for fighting for that.  Thank you. 

Now, we also know that it is attacking predominantly Black, brown, and lower-income communities.  How can we fight to help prevent that?  What can we do to further help you and our democracy and our government?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, to your point, Annie, first of all, probably a lot of people here know, but as of today, the number one killer of children in America is gun violence.  Not some form of cancer, not car accidents — gun violence.  The number one killer of children in America today.

One in five people in our country have a family member who was killed by gun violence.  And then when you talk about the disproportionate impact on communities of color, the numbers most recently that I saw, I think, African Americans 10 percent more likely — 10 times more likely — excuse me; Latinos twice as likely. 

And, you know, we talk about mass shootings like One October, which we must never forget, but we also must remember that we must pay attention to everyday gun violence that is happening in communities around our country.  And those lives are as precious as any life.

And so, I have been working on this for a long time.  And I will tell you that, again, there — there — it’s not rocket science in terms of what we need to do.  Okay?  But you got a bunch of feckless people who lack courage, who are in the United States Congress, who are pushing a false choice, which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.  (Applause.) 

And it’s a false choice.  I’m in favor of the Second Amendment, but we need an assault weapons ban.  (Applause.)  We need universal background checks.  We need red flag laws.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to ask the students here — if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to ask you a question and ask you to raise your hand if this applies to you.  Who here between — and I’m going to ask you to hold up your hands.  Keep them up.  Who here between kindergarten and 12th grade had to, at school, have an active shooter drill?

I would ask the older adults to take a look.  I’d ask the media to take a look at all the hands that are up.  Okay.  You can put them down.

I’m going to tell you something: I don’t think these people who call themselves leaders understand what you guys have been through, that our children, that our young people, with the brilliance of their mind, are sitting in a classroom with some part of their brain being aware of the fact that somebody could bust in that classroom with a gun.

And what that has meant for our young people in terms of the trauma and the fear they are living with, even if they’ve not personally experienced gun violence —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  This is real.  And, again, I say to the young leaders here: It doesn’t have to be this way. 

You know, we once had an assault weapons ban.  It had a — it had a term on it — a shelf life.  It has since expired, but we once had an assault weapons ban.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  And let’s be clear, we’re only talking about a reasonable approach to a big problem. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  If Joe Biden were here, he might say, “BFD,” but I’m not going to say that.  (Laughter.)  But it’s kind of — it kind of is, right?

Think about this: It’s reasonable that you just might want to know before someone can buy a lethal weapon if they’ve been found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others.  You just might want to know.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right?  It’s — it’s reasonable to say that weapons of war, assault weapons, which were designed to kill a lot of people quickly, have no place on the streets of a civil society.  It’s just reasonable.

But, again, I take us back to the point that elections matter.  And it is critically important that we have courage and leadership to take on this issue and just have reasonable approaches to something that is affecting us in profound ways.

And, in fact, you know, there’s so many issues that also raise the — the other big issue that we don’t talk enough about, but that your generation — the students here — do have the courage to talk about, and that’s mental health.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You guys have the courage to talk about it.  And here’s what I’m going to issue.  I haven’t done this before, Annie, but —

MS. GONZALEZ:  I’m here for it.  Let’s do it

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — I’m about to make an official call to action as Vice President.  I am calling on the young leaders of today to enter the mental health professions and to take this — (applause) — take charge.  There are a variety of the types of work that you can do that is about culturally competent, peer-based support for each other and for our communities around this issue. 

Because the level, for so many reasons, of undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated trauma in our communities that —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — that must and can be addressed is profound.  And let’s understand: Exposure to violence is one of them.  You know what else is trauma inducing?  Poverty.  (Applause.)  Right?


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, when we talk about the levels of trauma that certain communities are experiencing, I really do believe that we need the young leaders who are here to really consider taking up your role of leadership in many ways, including considering entering mental health professions as part of your way of serving the community and the country.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I love — I love how you talk about how advocacy and — and fighting for our nation and our rights can look like so many different things.  It can be enrolling in college.  It can be showing up here.  It can be getting a family member or a friend registered to vote at — what’s the website again?


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Oh.  All right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Hey, I was just making sure y’all were listening.  Y’all are —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  (Laughs.)  That’s great.

MS. GONZALEZ:  I was just making sure we had a — we had a participatory audience, and I see here we do.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yes.  You know, it’s — it’s really powerful to hear that the democracy is in our hands, that the government is in our hands, that our vote matters.


MS. GONZALEZ:  I believe we have another student here in the audience that would love to ask you a question.  And their name is Rebecca Taylor.  (Applause.)

Q    Hi.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Where is Rebecca?  Wave your hand.

Q    Over here.  Hi, I’m Rebecca Taylor.  Over this way.  Yay.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Can’t see — oh, there you — okay.  Got it. 

Q    To your right.  (Laughter.)
Hi, I’m Rebecca Taylor, ASCSN Henderson Senator.  Vice President Harris, we know you are a champion for women’s reproductive rights.  (Applause.)  In your opinion, what can be done at the federal level to ensure that all women have fair and equal access to reproductive choice and that doctors and scientists remain free to —


Q    — practice best medicine independent of political agenda?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Rebecca.  (Applause.)

Q    Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Great question.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, as I mentioned earlier about this generation, we just, over a year ago, witnessed the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood Marshall and RBG — take a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America, and thereafter, in states around our country, laws being proposed and passed that would criminalize healthcare providers — some providing for very significant prison time — that would punish women and people who simply deserve to be able to make a decision for themselves about their life.

And I think it’s really important on this issue to agree: 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.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s her decision.  We respect her ability to be smart enough to know what is in her own best interest without a bunch of folks in the state capitol trying to tell her what to do.  (Applause.)

And by the way, in half these states where they’re passing these restrictions, I am clear that half of them don’t even know how a woman’s body works.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Okay.  (Applause.)  Let’s pull out a map of anatomy.


MS. GONZALEZ:  Listen.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And here’s — you know, we’re going to keep it real in this conversation.  Everybody is grown here.  And — and I would urge the students here to always remember — and I know your — your professors will teach this — but on any policy matter that you are hearing about, always ask yourself, “How will this impact a real person?”  Okay? 

Because, on this issue, some would try to make it, you know, “Oh, this is intellectual; this is, you know, political discussion.”  No, it’s very real.  There are people around our country who are silently suffering in a tremendous way.

You know, these laws being proposed and passed — and this is where there are difficult things to think and talk about on the subject but — but must be acknowledged if we’re going to keep it real.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Proposing and passing laws that make no exception for rape or incest.  Now, many of you know I started my career as a prosecutor, and I’m going to tell you one of the biggest reasons why.  When I was in high school, my best friend was being molested by her stepfather.  And I learned about it, and I said to her, “You got to come and stay and live with us.”  I called my mother.  My mother said, “Yes, she has to come and stay with us,” and she did.

And so, I decided I wanted to do the work that was about protecting women and children.  And I focused, then, on those kinds of crimes. 

Now, understand that these extremists are saying to someone who has survived an act of violence to their body, has survived a violation to their body, that that person does not have the right to make a decision about what happens to their body next.  That is immoral.  That is immoral.

And that’s what’s happening, Rebecca, on this issue.  It is a very real issue, not to mention how it disproportionately impacts low-income women.  You know, the va- — the majority of women who seek abortion care are mothers. 

And, hopefully — but we can’t take it for granted — that she has affordable childcare and paid family leave and has extra money in the bank to afford a bus ticket, a train ticket, or a plane ticket to leave the state where she is to go seek care in a state like Nevada, for example, which I thank the leaders of Nevada and the majority women on — women legislature for — (applause) — for keeping it real here.

But in surrounding states, where those working women — if she’s working two or three jobs, if she has a couple of kids, what that means.  Not to mention — and I’m — here again, I’m going to — let’s keep it real — what it means if you are faced with such a difficult personal decision.

And for those people who are in states that are restricting these rights, you have to go into an airport and go through TSA and get on a plane with a bunch of strangers to go to a strange place.  Can’t — you know, family members may not be able to afford to take that trip with you.  Just think about what this means to real people. 

And, again, elections matter.  Because back to your point, Joe Biden has been very clear.  When we have the majority of people in Congress who agree, by the way, simply that it’s not the government’s decision — no matter their personal believes, but that the government shouldn’t making this decision — should not be making this decision for people.  And if they, then, pass a law putting back in place the protections that the Court took away — the Court took these rights; Congress can put them back in place.  And Joe Biden has been clear, when they put the protections of Roe v. Wade back into law, he will sign that bill.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Amen.  You guys, we got to show up and vote.  We —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, elections matter.  Elections matter.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Elections matter.  They matter.  I mean, they matter either way, right?


MS. GONZALEZ:  I mean, Roe v. Wade being overturned — they matter.  So, we have to show up in droves so that they matter in our favor.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  We all come from women.  We have to honor them, as their body is their own. 

You know, speaking of fundamental rights —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — our freedom, it makes me think about my trans brothers and sisters —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — my trans people, my LGBTQI community.  (Applause.)


MS. GONZALEZ:  Yep.  And, like, what a beautiful community that y’all are that we come from, and it is so disheartening —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — how they are being disproportionately attacked.  I know you are an advocate and an ally and have been in the fight with them for a long time.  So, how — what can we do to help support and to show up and to be better allies and advocates?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You know, I love how you framed this.  Because at the root of that point is something I believe very strongly, which is nobody should be made to fight alone, especially when they are fighting for their rights to just be.  (Applause.)



     MS. GONZALEZ:  None of us are free until all of us are free.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s exactly right. 

And so, you know, my history on this issue includes, back in 2000- — and I’ll just offer this by way of contrast.  Back in 2004 — I know some of you weren’t even born then.  (Laughter.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yeah, me neither.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Back in the olden days of 2004 — (laughter) — I was proud to be one of the first elected officials in the country to perform same-sex marriages when I was in San Francisco.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, it wasn’t very politically popular at the time, but I didn’t care because this is a civil rights issue —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — as much as it is a human rights issue.  My parents met when they were active in the Civil Rights Movement back in the day.  This is fundamentally about justice, about equality — about equality under the law.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And what we are looking at now — so, I look at 2004 — so, next year, it’ll be 20 years ago — contrast with laws that are being pla- — passed in states like Florida, “Don’t Say Gay,” where I think about the young teachers who are in their 20s, who, if they are in a same-sex relationship, are afraid to put up a photograph of themselves and their partner for fear they may lose their job — a job that is one of the most noble professions, a job that is about a commitment to educate other people’s children.  (Applause.)

And, you know, as it is, we don’t pay them enough.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Speak on it.  (Applause.)


MS. GONZALEZ:  My mom is a teacher.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And this is how teachers are being treated for just being themselves.  Laws that are criminalizing and that are — that are also encouraging the — the judgment and the marginalizing of our LGBTQ+ friends.  And — and you cannot underestimate — you know this; we all here know this — the fear that it is striking in the community. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And — and with so many of these issues, the intent, I believe, to make people feel alone. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And when — when anyone is made to feel alone, it’s very disempowering.  And that’s why community is so important and coalition is so important.

So, here’s — here’s, I think, at this point, a well-known secret about me: I am — I love Venn diagrams.  I love Venn diagrams.  (Laughter.)  And whenever I am presented with kind of, like, this is complicated, I always wonder, “Is there a Venn diagram to figure this stuff out?”

MS. GONZALEZ:  And we love that about you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right?  Right?  So — so, I asked my team, “Let’s do a Venn diagram.  From which states are we seeing attacks on LGBTQ rights, attacks on voting rights, and attacks on reproductive freedom?”  And you would not be shocked to know there was a significant overlap.  Okay? 

But what that also presents is, ah, look at this opportunity to think about strengthening the coalition: bringing folks together who have been fighting for voting rights, bringing together folks who have been fighting for reproductive health rights, bringing together folks —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — who are fighting for LGBTQ+ rights.  (Applause.)  And building our coalition, remembering the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. 

And I would add another point.  I’m traveling our country.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I believe that part of the agenda that is at foot is to try and divide our nation —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — to pit people against each other based on just who they are, to divide and distract.  The antidote — the antidote that we have to that is to know how much we have in common and to build coalition and build community and fight back against those who would try to divide us as a nation.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Our unity is our strength.  Our diversity is our power.  There is no question about it.  It is a truth, period.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yes.  (Applause.)  Yes.

I love that.  Understanding that fear is universal, instead of that being something that divides us, instead use that to unify us.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Because, essentially, we are all fighting for basic human rights.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And dignity.  And, again, I just can’t stress it enough.  You know, it is — it is the freedom to make decisions about one’s own body.  It is the freedom to have access to the ballot box.  It is the freedom that one should have from fear, the freedom that one should have from hate and bigotry and bullying.

And, ultimately, it is just the freedom to be — to just be.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  To just be.  You know, that’s so much of what this is about.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And — but we can’t take any of these freedoms for granted.  And so — you know, but understand that we know what we are fighting for.  This is not fighting against something; it’s fighting for.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And — and what we are also fighting for are foundational principles of our country.  And in that way, it is important to remember this is a fight based on love of country.  This is a fight based on believing in the ideals upon which our country was founded and fighting for us to achieve those ideals. 

And what greater and more pure expression of love for our country can we have than believing in those ideals and fighting for us to attain them? 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s what this is.  And I believe that is a true form of patriotism.  Don’t anybody tell you otherwise.  Don’t anyone tell you otherwise.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  I really love and admire your use of language: not fighting against, fighting for.


MS. GONZALEZ:  Talking about the solution, because there is a problem.  Un- — like, this is our democracy.  This is our government. 


MS. GONZALEZ:  Taking it back.  I remember the first time I went to the White House, I heard it called the “People’s House.”


MS. GONZALEZ:  And that, for me, did a complete paradigm shift on how —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — I saw my government —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — and feel comfortable now to call it my government, my democracy. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Right.  Right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  So, thank you for that shift for us.  And I’m sure a lot of us in this room are going to go back and, you know, really fight for something and not against something. 


MS. GONZALEZ:  And you have been fighting for most of your life —


MS. GONZALEZ:  — with your family and with — with our government.  And what are some things that you are most proud of that you’ve been able to put into place thus far?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, I — one of the things that we — again, because people voted — again, I’m going to ask ev- — raise hands, who here has a family member who has diabetes?  Look around the room.  Okay.

How many years we’ve been hearing the stories, in particular, of our seniors who have had to make a terrible choice about whether they could either afford their insulin, taking it at the prescription a doctor gave them, versus paying their rent or being able to buy enough food to eat.  So many, for years and years and years.

One of the great accomplishments that we have made is we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month for seniors.  (Applause.)  

It’s huge.  It’s huge, especially when you know how many in communities of color, immigrant communities, the high rate of diabetes that exists and how this is going to be a game changer for our seniors.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud of the work that we are continuing to do to fight for student loan forgiveness.  We still have more to do there.  There — we know that — that we have a lot of students who, for example, are Pell Grant recipients and what we are doing to increase that grant, but also to bring down — we tried to do it so that Pell Grant recipients would get $20,000 in loan forgiveness. 

The Court undid what we did, but we’re still fighting.  And so, we’ve been dealing with debt relief.  But that’s something I’m very proud of. 

And then there’s the work that we are doing on climate.  You all have only known the climate crisis.  I mean, here in Nevada, they call it whiplash in terms of weather experiences, right?  Either there’s a drought or there’s a flood, right?  (Laughter.)  So, it’s like whiplash weather, right?

And — or you — I’ve been — you know, and I’m sure many here been to Lake Mead.  You know, we talked about the — the bath — the circle, the bath ring, because of how quickly the water receded in Lake Mead. 

And so, it is a big issue and what we have been doing on this is saying that, one, stop the denial, of which there was a whole lot.  We are saying that we’re very clear, extreme weather, which causes extraordinary damage, which is damage not only, in particular, to low-income communities who have a very difficult time recovering, but also just damage that is to our — this beautiful Earth that we are blessed to live on. 

But extreme weather connected to greenhouse gas emissions; greenhouse gas emissions connected to human behaviors.  It’s kind of a no-brainer.  And so, what we are doing is saying that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  We need to invest in renewable energy.  We need to invest in the clean energy economy, things like solar paneling, wind turbines, electric vehicles, the work that we can do to actually bring down the harm that we are doing to this planet.

And I’m very excited about that work, and I’m very proud of that work.  There — we have — our administration has invested — and this has been a total game changer — in the time we have been in office, we are now on track to invest $1 trillion in addressing the climate crisis around adaptation and resilience and investing in a clean energy economy.  (Applause.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Wow.  Wow.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I will tell you, we are making a particular effort to also acknowledge that while the climate crisis impacts everyone, it does not do so equally.  Because when you look at how the effects are on low-income communities, in history- — in communities that have been historically low income, and the — the damage to communities that they cannot recover from, it’s pretty significant.  And so, we are paying attention to what we are doing with those resources.

But, again, I will also say, like we talked about voting and some of these other issues, there is what we must do and where we must go with a sense of urgency.  But also understand, there are folks out there who trying to get in the way of the progress.  Understand that when we’re looking at Big Oil and what they’ve historically done in trying to slow — first, push the denial narrative and then slow down the progress in saying, “Oh, it’s going to — it’s going to be too difficult to tr- — to transition so quickly into a clean energy economy.”

You know, the same kind of people who will say, oh, it’s going to be so difficult for us — any of us — to do what we do. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yep.  Yep. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You know, those kinds of people who say, “Oh, nobody like you was ever done this before, so maybe it’s not possible.”

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s possible.  (Laughs.)

MS. GONZALEZ:  Yep.  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It’s possible. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  It’s possible.  We did it, Joe. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And on the issue of the climate crisis, it is very doable, and we are seeing the progress that we can make. 

But, again, also in terms of what is happening in the country, understand — on the issue of the climate crisis, let’s also have real conversations about the thing we call environmental justice, which is justice for all communities, understanding not everyone is impacted equally. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  If you look around the map of the country, some of the communities with the poorest air quality are communities of color, immigrant communities, low-income communities. 


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You look at it in terms of access to affordability for electric vehicles or charging stations.  You look at it in terms of, if there is a flood, who can recover because they have the — the assets, because they’re a homeowner —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — to actually repair the house versus who does not.  So, the environmental justice piece of this is extraordinarily important.  And I will, therefore, emphasize another point. 

There are some forces in our country that are trying to say that it is a bad term to talk about DEI.  They’re trying to do to “DEI” what they did with “woke.”  (Applause.)

And we got to pay attention to that.  They’re trying to suggest that it is somehow wrong to talk about DEI — diversity, equity, and inclusion — that it is somehow wrong to talk about the fact that when you look at, for example, the fact that I’m the first woman of color to be Vice President of the United States —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — that the piece about diversity is somehow not important. 

When we talk about equity, here’s the thing: It’s a very basic point.  We want that everyone has equal opportunity, right?

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, yes.  But it doesn’t mean that that will be achieved because everyone gets an equal amount, knowing that not everybody starts out on the same base.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Equity says, “Let’s take into account where do people start out.”  Because if you’re only talking about equal amount and people don’t start out in the same place, it’s just going to repeat itself.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, the concept of equity is about saying, “Let’s pay attention to that.”

Inclusion, it’s a simple point: who’s not in the room.  Pay attention to who’s not in the room, and let’s figure out how they can have an open door — much less, encouragement — to be in the room where important decisions are being made about all of us. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And so, EJ — environmental justice — takes into account things like equity.  But I, again, will emphasize: Understand what’s happening in our country where people who consider themselves very important leaders are trying to say it’s bad to talk about DEI.  They’re trying to put pressure on corporations to not invest in DEI.  They’re trying to undo corporations and other private sectors — sector industries who are paying attention to this. 

And we got to fight against this.  We have to fight against this because it will lead to very bad outcomes. 

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I say that because it is very clear: Diversity actually makes us stronger, both in terms of who we are socially and societally, but it also makes our economy stronger when we pay attention to these issues.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Mm-hmm.


MS. GONZALEZ:  DEI.  (Applause.)

It really is so important to see someone like yourself in this position.  The amount of people that you are inspiring to join office, to go to college, to pursue their dreams is — is so powerful.  And a lot of the times, I know we cannot become what we don’t see. 

So, y’all out there, keep fighting for your rights, fighting for your freedom, fighting — fighting for your mental health.  (Applause.)

And — and do as Madam Vice President said: Get into the mental health space.  We need more Black, brown, and POCs occupying those spaces.


MS. GONZALEZ:  Because what it does for our mental health to see that we don’t just inherit ancestral trauma, but we inherit the ancestral healing.  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  That’s right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  And we heal together.  (Applause.)

Wow, what — what a beautiful space that we’ve all been able to curate together.  This is co-created because you guys are so willing to listen and be responsive. 

And thank you so much, Madam Vice President for coming out on this tour for the “Fight for Our Freedoms” — (applause) — and understanding that the power is always in the people.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  That’s right.

MS. GONZALEZ:  Now, my last question or statement, observation, you know, I — this room is full of so many beautiful forward-thinkers and possible future world leaders.  What advice — though you’ve given so much today — but what advice would you like to leave us with today to keep us inspired and moving forward towards the goal?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, I’ll start with this.  For the students, in particular, who are here, you’ve already probably had — and I promise you, you will — in your life and career have a few, if not many, experiences where you are the only one like you in a room, be it a meeting room, a briefing room, a board room, a courtroom.  And what I want you to remember is that we are all in that room with you. 

I want you to remember that, when you walk in those rooms, you come with people and you carry the voice of people who are so proud of you and expect a lot of you — expect that when you walk in that room chin up, shoulders back, you will carry the voice that is your voice that represents so many.

I want that you will each remember that and remember a moment like this where there is collective pride for who you are and great expectations for what you will continue to do.  I want you to remember that, you know, you will hear many times, “Oh, that can’t be done.”  “Nobody like you has done that before.”  “Oh, you’re too young.”  And I want you to not listen.  (Laughter.)  Do not listen.  (Applause.)

Don’t hear “no.”  I eat “no” for breakfast.  Don’t hear “no.” (Laughter and applause.)

Always believe in what can be, unburdened by what has been.  That is what I want for you. 

And I will say this also.  You guys are at a very special point in your life.  And enjoy this moment.  You are sitting next to people who invariably may ask you to be godparent to their children, may ask you to be in their wedding, people who you may meet over the years.  So, create those bonds, which I promise you will be, for so many of you, lifelong.  And enjoy this moment and feed your brain.

And then, the last point, which is not advice, but more of a lecture.  (Laughter.)  So, I’m just going to end with this about this fight for our freedoms.  And this is a group of students and leaders who understand many things and many cultures and many languages and a lot about the world. 

So, here’s what I’m going to share with you.  As Vice President, I have now met with over 100 world leaders: presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.  When we walk in those rooms representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms with the self-appointed and earned authority to talk about the importance of democracy, rule of law, human rights.

But here’s the thing about being a role model.  Everybody here knows this.  When you’re a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. 

People around the world are watching what’s happening in our country right now.  And one of my greatest fears is that, for example, let’s say young women who are fighting against an autocrat or a dictator for their rights — their right to be educated, their right to be — and that dictator, that autocrat is looking at them and saying, “You want to point to the United States?  Well, look at what they’re doing.  You be quiet.” 

This fight for our freedoms is also a fight for our democracy.  And the outcome of this will impact not only the person you’re sitting next to but very likely will impact people around the world.  And therein lies your power — therein lies your power to potentially have an impact on people you may never meet, people who may never know your name but, because you chose to lead, will be benefited by your actions.

And so, I will leave you with that, which is: Know your power and use it.  And thank you all.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                       2:02 P.M. PDT

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