THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you.
Okay. Let’s get to the business at hand. (Laughter.) Enough of that.
(Referring to a handheld microphone.) Is this working? Okay.
It’s good to be home. It’s really good to be home.
Mr. Speaker, Madam Senate pro Tem, I want to thank you. I was talking with Robert Garcia, the Congressman, and Congresswoman Doris Matsui, and we’ve been working together in D.C., and we just love our home state and thought, “Well, let’s try and figure out a way to get to Sacramento,” so I could hang out with you all for minute. (Applause.) And that’s why we’re here. And that’s why we’re here.
And I just want to start by thanking all of you.
And — and, McGuire, where are you? I know you’re coming in as Sen- — where is he? Where is — he’s back there in the ba- — okay. Not your time yet to be in the front of the room, right? (Laughter.) Congratulations to you as well.
And, of course, to our Governor, who is in South Carolina right now on behalf of our administration. So, let’s applaud his work and his leadership. (Applause.)
So, I just wanted to — to visit with everyone, to come back home. And, you know, I know the press is here, but the rumor mill among those of us who have worked in Sacramento is this building is haunted. (Laughter.) And I’m sure some of us have had haunting experiences in this building.
But it is certainly good to be back home and to be in a place that really is a heartbeat of so much that happens in our beautiful state but has happened around the country historically and today. And so, first and foremost, I want to thank you all for your leadership.
And, as many of you know, I have served in local government as DA, served in the state government and here in Sacramento as AG and then Senate, and now as Vice President. And I know the work that you all do. And I know how committed you are. And I have had the pleasure and the joy and the good fortune of working with most of you to see how you do what you do. And it’s extraordinary.
We have a state with a population of over 40 million people, and we take great pride in what we know we can have in terms of impact — for each of you, for your constituents directly, but by extension, the impact you have on our state, and, therefore, on the rest of the country. And you take that work very seriously.
And, you know, I, maybe with a bit of bravado, will repeat what I think we all say: So goes California, goes the nation. So, I start by saying thank you.
And I wanted to come and visit with you to also highlight that this is going to be an extraordinary year of extraordinary consequence. And I know you know that. We are looking at an election that is coming up that is, without any question, existential in terms of where we go as a country and, by extension, where we go as a world.
So, as Vice President, I will tell you, I have now met with over 150 world leaders: presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. In fact, hosted a number of them at my new temporary public housing in Washington, D.C. (Laughter.) But I have met with many of them now many times and have formed relationships with them.
So, the last international trips that I took were actually to Dubai to represent our country at COP28 — and, of course, California has had a profound impact on the discussions that have happened at COP over the years — and then I was also in the United Kingdom, in London, to represent our perspective on what should be the future of the safety of AI for the world. And, of course, California has and continues to have an outsized impact on what that will mean.
But all of that being said, being there, then, to a one, the leaders of nations around the world — and, in particular, our allies — came up to me, and the first point they made is, “I hope you guys are going to be okay.”
And when they ask that question, it is absolutely for them out of self-interest. Because understand, when we walk in those rooms around the world representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms, historically, chin up, shoulders back, with the self-appointed and earned authority to talk about the significance of democracies, rule of law.
But the thing — I say to a room of role models — about being a role model is people watch what you do to see if it lines up with what you say. And best believe that then the outcome of this November will have a profound impact on whether we will either remain in a position to walk around and in those rooms with allies and adversaries alike, talking about the strength that democracies give to its people and talk about it by example, or not.
The impact of this upcoming election is, without any question, global in its reach. And then let us talk about what it means for your constituents, for our neighbors, for our family members, and for our friends.
You know, New Hampshire this week made it pretty clear where this is going to go. Okay? The process is still unfolding. But I would offer that in the midst of so much that is weighted and — and complex about what is happening in our world and, therefore, not binary — November of ’24: binary.
I’d ask us to just put up a split screen. On the one side, you’ve got a former President who openly applauds dictators and has pretty explicitly suggested that that’s the role that he intends to take on if reelected, who openly has talked about an intention to weaponize the Department of Justice to exact consequence to those who he has determined are his political enemies.
Split screen. On the other side, you have, in Joe Biden and what we have accomplished as an administration, competence, compassion, skill, and performance. Because of the support and, in so many ways, the role modeling of people in this room, our administration has been able to accomplish transformative work.
On the issue of climate, California has always been a leader. It has been leadership coming right out of this town — Sacramento. And because of the way that we know we should think about the future, our administration has been able to now, by my calculation, invest over $1 trillion in the next 10 years on addressing the climate crisis — (applause) — around resilience, adaptation, and a clean energy economy. Competence.
You know, they talked for years — in administrations of — of, you know, both parties — about what we need to do around America’s infrastructure, which, by many calculations, is 150 years old. We got it done.
California is going to get $33 billion out of that infrastructure bill — (applause) — to upgrade our roads and bridges and sidewalks. Talk to any parent, a mom or a dad, trying to push a stroller on those broken sidewalks. Of great consequence, the work that we have achieved.
An investment in the CHIPS and Science Act, which is an investment in R&D, a lot of the work that started right here in our state — (applause) — so that we will be competitive and a leader globally on the trajection, on the future of this work.
As many of you know, my mother, in her last years, ran a lab at UC Berkeley. She was a breast cancer specialist. We take great pride out of UC and — and the community colleges for the work that we’ve done in California — (applause) — in terms of our investment in semiconductor and science and — and advancement.
Think about the work that we have done that has been about saying we got to have compassion and understand, for too long, our seniors have been having to make a choice of whether they could fill their refrigerator or fill a doctor’s prescription. And we finally got it so that Medicare can finally negotiate drug prices for our seniors and cap that cost at $2,000 a year. (Applause.)
Cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month — African Americans, 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes; Latinos, 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
So, let’s just pull up the split screen to see. It’s really quite binary in terms of what we’re looking at and what’s at stake.
And so, I’m here to talk with the leaders who are here to, most of all, just ask you to always do and continue to do what you do so well. Because I know you, and I know how you do what you do.
And so, it is about, in the midst of an environment that is, frankly, I think, a bit perverse in terms of what it is suggesting leaders look like — you know, this environment that suggests you measure a leader based on who they beat down, instead of what we know is the real measure of the strength of a leader, based on who you lift up; this environment that suggests it’s a sign of weakness to have compassion, when we know the true quality and character of a real leader is one who has a level of concern and care and curiosity for the suffering of other people and then does something about lifting them up and alleviating that suffering.
So, right now, your leadership is so important. This California legislature and you each individually make such a difference. And I know you, and I know what I’m saying.
I’ve been traveling our country. I mean, just in the last two and a half weeks, I’ve been to Georgia and North Carolina, South Carolina twice, Wisconsin — what did I leave out? — New York, Nevada, came home to Sacramento. (Applause.)
You guys will make a difference. And so, here’s what I am here to ask of you. I’m here to ask you to do what you know how to do and do so well and to just remind you that it’s really important and it makes a difference. And it’s going to make a difference for our state. And, by extension, it’s going to make a difference for our nation.
And so, what does that work look like? Well, one, you know, one of the challenges that we’re going to have in this reelect is not that we don’t have a lot of good material, because we do; we just need to let folks know who brung it to them.
It is shocking — maybe not for this group — to know that you go to some states, and people who voted against what we’ve accomplished are now taking credit for it. (Laughter.) But we know how this stuff works.
Okay. That’s fine. (Laughter.) Let’s just — right? We know how this works.
So, let’s get out there and use the skills that we have — of communication, of organizing, of touching people, of understanding who they are, of seeing them, of listening to them — to remind people that we’re all in this together. In the midst of an environment that is trying to distract and divide our nation, let’s do what we do to build community and coalition around all of these issues.
And so, I’m here to ask that of you. I’ve asked Buffy to follow up and kind of be a liaison, along with whoever else wants to raise their hand, to do that work, to work with us around what we can do to spread the message not only in our home state but as we have done, historically, in Nevada, in Arizona, and wherever else.
I know we’ve got folks here who have relations in Wisconsin. Where are you? Right? Exactly. (Laughs.) Right?
But let’s — let’s hustle and get that wo- —
I — I — you know, I’ll tell you on a personal level: So, Doug and I — I was working right up until Christmas Eve, so we stayed in D.C. in — and then — because I knew I could not get back to L.A., which is where I now live, in time to get a tree and some poinsettias. (Laughs.) Like, I just knew it wasn’t going to happen, right? And I would have just been sad.
So, we stayed in D.C. for Christmas and came back to L.A. on the 26th. And we slept. (Laughter.) I mean, you guys know what that’s like. We slept. Like, Doug looked at me — he’s like, “Honey, we’re defrosting.” (Laughter.)
And I — I cooked, which is my happy place, and the kids and family, friends came over. But did all that knowing that starting the first of this year, we got to be on the road full time and hustle. And every day is going to matter.
So, again, I thank you all for everything that you are, everything that you represent. It is so good to be home and be with so many longstanding friends and colleagues.
And I’ll end where I started, by saying thank you.