Los Gatos, California
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Good afternoon, everyone. Good afternoon.
Let me first thank my husband for being such an incredible partner. And, also, really, he’s been doing an extraordinary job of —
(Referring to a handheld microphone.) I’m — this is — what’s happening here? There.
— of spending time traveling the country, talking about many of the issues. He has been particularly powerful on the issue of speaking out against hate and antisemitism. And I’d like to just acknowledge, in front of all of the friends, the work that you are doing as an incredible — (applause) — first Second Gentleman.
So, it’s good to see everyone. Listen, Doug said it well. I do believe everything is at stake in this election. I do believe — you know, many of us have talked — I’m going to just walk around. I hate being behind a podium. (Laughter.)
Many of us have been active for every election cycle. And
pretty much as far back as I can remember, we have, at one moment or another, referred to those election cycles as being existential, everything being at stake. This absolutely is existential.
When I think about what we are up against and full-on frontal attacks on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms and rights, a full-on agenda that is about taking us backward in such an unapologetic and clear way, I know that this is existential.
Doug mentioned traveling. I have now, as Vice President, met with over 150 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings — many of whom I’ve actually hosted at our temporary public housing in D.C. (Laughter.) But many of whom I’ve now met and talked with a number of times so that we’ve established relationships and friendships.
And the most recent international trips I took as Vice President, then, were at the end of last year. I went to the UK to talk about what we are doing in terms of AI and the — our host is a — is a leading authority on that issue. And so, I was there talking about how we are thinking, as America, about the safety issue as it relates to AI. And then, later — two weeks later — I went to Dubai to represent our country at COP28, the global convening on climate.
To a one, the world leaders that I saw, who are now friends and we have relationships — to a one, when they came up to me, the first point they made, “Hope you guys are going to be okay.”
And be clear, that was out of self-interest. Because what they know is what we know, which is why we are here.
And, Shannon, I cannot thank you for all that you have always done and continue to do — both of you and Kevin and Chloe and Coco. (Applause.) Right?
What we know is that when we are talking about this fight for our democracy, the nature of democracy is there’s a duality to it.
On the one hand, it’s very strong. When a democracy is intact, it is so strong in terms of what it does to empower its people through the protection and the respect of individual rights and liberties, what it does to give its people dignity. There is such strength in a democracy when it is intact.
And it is very fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.
So, when I see these world leaders or travel our country — right? — I started a college tour in the fall. And then now I’m on a — just started — second stop today on our “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” in a tour. What I know and I see around the world and in our own country is that there are so many of us who do understand that concept and understand that the trajectory of America en- — depends entirely on her people.
This election, yes, it is about the Biden-Harris ticket and it is about winning an election. But I would propose that what will happen in November will be a reflection of a question, which is: For us, as Americans, what kind of country do we want to live in? What kind of country do we want to live in?
And when I think about what is at stake, then, I would offer that, in November, there’s a split screen. Among the many big issues challenging our world and our country that are complex and not binary, November of ’24: binary.
So, just pull up the — the split screen. On the one hand, you have a former President who openly celebrates dictators and has professed and promised he will be a dictator on “day one”; openly and unapologetically expresses his intention to weaponize the United States Department of Justice; openly, brazenly talks about what he will do to exact revenge on his political enemies.
Recently, many — recently said, when asked about the Dobbs decision, which undid Roe v. Wade, said he was “proud”
of what he did, which, of course, was to handpick three justices with the full intention that it is they who would undo the protection of an individual’s right to make decisions about their own body. “Proud.”
Proud that right now in states like Texas — where is my friend from Texas? — right? — in states like Texas, they are providing for prison time for life for healthcare providers; punishing women; making no exception, in many cases around our country, for rape or incest.
And, you know, most of us, I think, can handle this conversation. Look, you guys know my background. Most of my career, I was a prosecutor. Started out, DA of San Francisco, first woman. I was Attorney General, reelected, first woman.
Well, what you may not know about my background is, when I was in high school, my best friend, I learned, was being molested by her stepfather. And when I found out, I said to her, “You have to come and stay with us.” Called my mother, my mother said, “Absolutely, she does.” And she did.
And I decided I wanted to do the work that was about protecting women and children from violence. The idea that these so-called leaders would be proposing that after someone has survived a crime of violence to their body, a violation to their body, that they would have no authority or right to make a decision about what happens to their body next — that’s immoral. And he’s proud of the suffering we’re seeing every day in our country?
Pull up the split screen.
On the other side of that screen, you see, in our President, Joe Biden, and the work we have done as an administration on some of the biggest challenges facing our world. Be it the first time there’s a war in Europe in over 70 years and bringing NATO together and strengthening NATO so now we have two additional members.
What we have accomplished in terms of — forever, administrations of both parties saying, “Hey, let’s deal with the…” — I’m looking at (inaudible). “Let’s deal with the fact that America’s infrastructure is over 150 years old, and it’s time we dealt with it.” And they’d talk about “Infrastructure Week” in that last administration. And we got it done, and now, by my estimate, looking at over a trillion dollars that’s going to American jobs to build back up our roads and bridges and sidewalks and airports.
This group of friends understands — and I say this as a proud Californian — the importance of investing in research and development and science. And we got the CHIPS and Science Act done, which is going to mean billions of dollars in investment, in technology, in our ability to see what’s possible and then go for it and allow our country to be a leader — a global leader. That happened under our administration.
Doing the work of understanding that, for generations, seniors have been struggling, if they have diabetes, to figure out how to either afford to fill their prescription or fill their refrigerator. And we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
We now — and Joe Biden — I just — it makes me sick when people criticize our President about questioning him, when he has been so bold in terms of understanding what is an investment in the future of our country and taking on, as we have, for example, the pharmaceutical companies saying: We’re going to, for the first time, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors and cap the annual cost of medication for seniors at $2,000. That’s a big deal.
And I could go on and on. Like Doug says — it’s so funny when you say that — it’s the CVS — (laughter) — it’s a CVS receipt. I could go on and on.
But the contrast. On the one hand, we’re looking at, at the very least, chaos — but actually, chaos leading to destruction around foundational, fundamental institutions and values. And on the other hand, competence and calm and clarity.
And I’ll — I’ll end my comments so I can come and walk around, but with a — with a basic point that I think also is something we have to acknowledge about what’s happening in our country right now.
There’s a — there’s a kind of perverse, I think, ideology that is being pushed around that suggests that the measure of a leader’s strength is based on who you beat down, instead of what we all know: The true measure of that strength is based on who you lift up. You know, this perverse notion that, somehow, it’s a sign of weakness to have compassion, care, when the real character trait of a real leader is someone who has some level of curiosity and concern and care for the suffering of other people and then does something about it to alleviate that suffering.
So, we got a fight in front of us. And I’ll tell you — I was saying to a couple of the friends — over the Christmas break, Doug and I left D.C. and came home to California. And, first of all, we slept. (Laughter.) We didn’t realize how tired we were. We just slept. And then Doug looked at me and was like, “Honey, I think we’re defrosting.” (Laughter.)
And I was in my happy place. I was cooking. I — let me tell you, I love your kitchen, by the way. I have — (laughter) — you have, like, an eight-burner stove. I love your kitchen.
MS. HUNT-SCOTT: You can come anytime. You should see the downstairs kitchen. It’s even better.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay. I want to see it. (Laughter.)
So, I was in my happy place and I was cooking. The kids were home. They — just it was all good. But because we knew, starting in January, this is no joke. And already in the last two and half weeks, I’ve been North Carolina, South Carolina twice, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada twice, New York, California, just in the first, like, two and a half weeks of this year.
And I know we’re all prepared to do something similar, in terms of each day, starting now, understanding what is at stake and understanding it’s going to take all of us.
We love our country. We love our country. We believe in our foundational principles. And it is incumbent on each one of us to do everything we can. And I know I’m preaching to the choir, because that’s why you guys are here.
And I thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)