The Anthem
Washington, D.C. 

6:20 P.M. EDT

SENATOR BOOKER:  Right.  All right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  (Applause.)

Hi, Cory.

SENATOR BOOKER:  Madam Vice President. 

Now, I want to just start off by — by telling the truth to this crowd, because we do not celebrate and talk about the truth enough.  In the history of the United States of America, no team like Kamala Harris and Joe Biden have invested in infrastructure more.  They’re the number one.  If you are — number one.  (Applause.)

If you are a geek and a nerd like us —


SENATOR BOOKER:  We’re — we’re Black nerds; we’re “Blerds,” I think is the official titles.  (Laughter.) 

No administration has invested more in science and technology than this administration.  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

SENATOR BOOKER:  There are so many issues in which they have distinguished themselves as the best president and vice president ever.  But this is a room full of environmentalists. 


SENATOR BOOKER:  This is an organization.  And so —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  God love you.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Everyone here. 

SENATOR BOOKER:  — you all are, by far — in my lifetime, there has never, ever been a vice president and a president who have done more for the environment, more for climate, more for environmental justice than this Vice President and our President of the United States.  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Along with LCV and all the climate warriors that are here, we have done this together.  We have all done this together.

SENATOR BOOKER:  Well, I — I appreciate it. 


SENATOR BOOKER:  But for every team, there are team leaders. 


SENATOR BOOKER:  For every success and every victory, there are the main people that get it done.  And it’s because of your leadership.

And so, I know that politicians, we are very soft spoken.  We don’t — we don’t tend to talk about —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Modest.  Very modest.  (Laughs.)

SENATOR BOOKER:  But I want you to try to just break character for a second — bring some swagger.  Can you tell us more about what the administration has accomplished and why, at this moment in human history, it is so vital?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, let me just start by saying it is a joy and honor to share the stage with one, Cory Booker.  I had the — (applause) — we are truly very dear friends.  And I have had the honor and pleasure of working with you in many of our various elected positions —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — including when we were in the United States Senate together. 

So, thank you, Cory.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And to everyone here at LCV, thank you for bringing us together.  To all of the climate leaders who are here, who’ve been doing this work tirelessly in such a selfless way for so many years, I — I tell you proudly and sincerely that the success that we have achieved — President Joe Biden and I and our administration — could not have happened without the work that the leaders here have been doing for years to be not only advocates, but to be relentless and to not have any patience and to understand the moment of opportunity that exists at a moment of crisis, and then to give us all of the momentum that we needed, one, to get elected in 2020, but then to do the work that we have achieved thus far, knowing there is more to do.

I also want to recognize Michael Regan for his leadership of the EPA — (applause) — because he’s been very bold in understanding that even though we exist in the bureaucracy of the federal government — I say as a devout public servant — (laughs) — there is a lot more that we can do.

So, yes, we have achieved a lot.  Carol was so wonderful in her introduction to — to list what could be — you know, my husband, Doug, says we — it’s like a CVS receipt.  (Laughter.)  You know, we could just go on and on with what we’ve got on the list. 

But I will say what everyone here knows: I do believe strongly that this is a very decisive decade that we’re in.  And the moment is now to be bold, unapologetic, ambitious —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — and have a sense of optimism, knowing what is possible. 

And the good thing about the success we have achieved thus far is all of that was the fuel behind the work that we’ve done as an administration.  And so, we have shown that it can be done. 

But the other piece of it is that we are showing that it works.  We’re showing that it works.  Together, what we are doing around the country — (applause) —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I mean, I think about — for example, Chispa is here; I saw one of the leaders from Chispa here.  (Applause.)  And your advocacy around electric vehicles — right? — and the work that we’re doing on electric vehicles — school buses and trucks.  I have visited the manufacturing plants.  We’re showing, one, that we have the expertise to understand how it can work, meaning the thing actually moves and it can transport people. 

And it is the intersection between what we are doing in terms of a reduction of — of emissions, but it is also about a public health issue and the fact that 25 million children a day go to school on school buses that are emitting toxic fumes.

And so, we’re showing, one, we’re going to create a new manufacturing base with jobs.  We’re going to partner with IBEW and those incredible apprenticeship programs that they have — (applause) — developing the skills to allow us to be competitive around a global economy and demand for these products and how we are reinvigorating the communities where we are doing the work.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I was in Dalton, Georgia.  Do you guys know who’s from Dalton, Georgia?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes, she is.  (Laughter.) 

And I loved being there.  I visited the place that has been known and — with great pride, for good reason, has been considered the “carpet capital of the world.”  And what they are now doing with their sense of — of industry, of creating and being proud in the work that they are doing, what they are doing in Dalton, Georgia, around solar manufacturing is incredible.

And it’s — and it’s among the layers of the benefit.  These — investing in a clean energy economy and doing it where we have been doing it around the country, including in — in communities that have been long forgotten, is we are also instilling and re-instilling in people a sense of pride in the fact that they are part of this movement that has always, as much as anything, been about innovation; a movement that has always been about the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been.

So, I’m — I’m really excited about our work.  (Laughter.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m very excited about our work, because we are showing that these were not just really good ideas.  We are demonstrating that when we have leadership in the highest offices in the land, including in the White House, who believe in what we can do and then, when we push to make it so, it allows other people whom perhaps before couldn’t imagine it to now see how it works. 

And we are building, then, the movement in such a substantial way, in terms of those who are coming into the rooms, to be a part of what we know is in the best interest of obviously our country but our world.

SENATOR BOOKER:  I mean, it is extraordinary.  (Applause.)  Yes, please.  Please.

And — and what’s extraordinary is county after county after county, there are tangible examples that are not just helping our environment but, you were saying, that were getting second- and third-order effects: local economies —


SENATOR BOOKER:  — jobs, opportunities, businesses. 

And — and you — I’ve known you for a very long time.  And what I love about your leadership, to me, is there’s a — there’s a truth that leadership is not a title or a position; leadership is action and example.  And you’ve been setting the example all throughout your life and showing the actions, doing what’s right.

On the international stage, under that definition of leadership, when it comes to climate, you and President Biden have been showing real leadership, showing the example, making sure that you’re taking actions to unite a larger and stronger coalition for climate.

Can you talk about that a little bit?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I will.  But can I just talk about you for a second?  Because — because —

SENATOR BOOKER:  I’m afraid.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Because there’s one more point that I wanted to share with this group.  We talked and Carol mentioned it in the introduction, which is our commitment to EJ — to environmental justice — and — (applause) — and, in spite of those who would have us not talk about equity and inclusion and diversity, our commitment to understanding why that is important. 

And it reminds me, then, of one of, I think, the first — it may have been one of the first events that I did as vice president in Newark, New Jersey —

SENATOR BOOKER:  Where?  Where?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — with this fellow — (laughter) — to unveil what we’re doing on lead pipes.




THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — being a leader in —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — removal of lead pipes and showing how that is consistent with everything that this movement fights for, which is, yes, about the right to have clean water — the right.  And then, understanding that, what we should all feel compelled to do to ensure that that right exists and is protected.

So, I just — I had to mention that, Cory, because you were with me.  And — and your pride in what you have done in New Jersey, including in Newark, really —

SENATOR BOOKER:  But let me double down, because this gets me frustrated.  I have to — now you’re — we’re way off script here, people.  We’re way off script.  (Laughter.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  It was bound to happen.

SENATOR BOOKER:  But I want to — I want to vent to you, because I go around America, and I say that the best president and vice president for Black people, period — I — by the way, I love Obama, and I miss her husband, too.  (Laughter and applause.)  I love him too.  But Michelle — Michelle. 

But the best president and vice president for — for Black communities — and I go through the economic data, which is unbelievable — lowest unemployment rate ever; new business starts and creations.  I can go through all of it. 

When it comes to the environment, what you all have done for urban communities and low-income communities: lead pipes out of the ground.  The largest investment in human history in tree planting —


SENATOR BOOKER:  — has been this administration.  (Applause.)  I could go on and on and on.

But here’s today’s EPA announcement from your administration, Vice President.  What — I was looking in the details.  One of the lines was, “It will save billions of dollars of healthcare costs.”

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s exactly right. 

SENATOR BOOKER:  And we know there — Black kids and white kids both get asthma, but a Black kid is 10 times more likely to die of asthma complications. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s exactly right.

SENATOR BOOKER:  So, that billions of dollars in healthcare equates to lives —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

SENATOR BOOKER:  — families, crises.  The power of your environmental justice agenda has been extraordinary. 

And what excites me, having just gotten back from East Africa — going to West Africa tomorrow —


SENATOR BOOKER:  — or next week, rather — is that when I look at the globe and I go to communities like that, most people don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to preserving rainforests against the outrageous assaults that are happening right now, what your administration is doing for helping for a lot of the environmental instability that’s causing migration and more. 


SENATOR BOOKER:  But you are acting as a catalyst globally for pulling international leaders together. 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  So, to your point about the continent of Africa — okay, first of all, I think everyone here may know, the median age on the continent of Africa: Nineteen.  The estimates are that by 2050, one out of four or five people occupying space on Mother Earth will be on the continent of Africa.

And when you think, then, about the opportunity that exists, given the talent that exist on that continent, to think about how we invest as partners — not as the benevolent ones who give aid —

SENATOR BOOKER:  Exactly.  Exactly.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — but partners.  I — so, I curated a trip to the continent.  And it was focused, in particular, on what we would do to help uplift communities around their main economy, which is an agricultural economy, and how we would — he would — we would combine that with an emphasis on investment around digital inclusion and clean energy industries.

And I purposely curated the trip so we would bring in women entrepreneurs who are farmers.  We brought in young people who are doing extraordinary work on the continent. 

I went to a place in Zambia called Panuka Farms.  If ever anyone visited Zambia, you must go see.  It — (picture on background screen display changes) — oh.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That — that’s — that’s Panuka Farms.  (Laughs).

SENATOR BOOKER:  I thought we were off script, but they’re keeping up.


And so — so, first of all — so, they — you can see the — the growing that’s happening — the horizontal.  And — and so, this fellow actually — he — we have it here.  They’re — it’s a smart tool, but basically an app where — so the combination of technology but we have to invest in their ability to have the technology. 

And you’ve all seen it, I’m sure.  An app that you just point it to a leaf, and the app will tell you that this — in terms of the fertilization, what it needs and doesn’t need; what it needs in terms of water, what it doesn’t need. 

So, think about what that means in terms of smart agriculture around minimizing what we are doing in terms of using these natural resources and only using them where they are necessary and at the amount that is needed and not overuse of diminishing resources.

And so, when I look at, for example, the work that we can do that is modeling on a global scale and — and investing in the talent that exists there, it is profound in terms of, again, the global impact.

I will also say this.  So, I was in Munich this — I presented at the Munich Security Conference just several weeks ago now — this year, though.  And I was there last year and presented then.

Last year, I spoke about, of course, the atrocity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  But after that, I was on a stage and did question-and-answer.  And it was — I was asked about the Inflation Reduction Act at Munich.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Because, you see, there was a — a buzz in the room among the allies: What does this mean in terms of whether we are now looking internally and not participating in terms of a global approach to addressing the climate crisis? 

And, of course, we had, by that time, already reentered the Paris Accords and Kigali and all of that.  But there was still a concern. 

And part of the point that I attempted to make on that stage was understand that a lot of what we intend as an administration to do around these investments is to then create the models that are ripe for replication. 

And with the — with what we’re doing with the — the Science Act — CHIPS and Science Act and our investment in research and development, in addition to the IRA, is intended to spur innovation.  We can claim now over $650 billion in private investment that have been spurred because of what we are doing in terms of our administration’s public investment in these innovations and approaches.

And, anyway — this is a very long way of making a very short point, which is that — (laughter) — that was the conversation last year. 

This year, no such conversation.  No such concern, because, already, they’re seeing how what we are doing — ag- — again, the example — one example being electric vehicles, what we are doing in terms of investing in solar, wind turbine, and — and a clean energy economy —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — doing it here in the way that we have approached it, because of a lot of advice that we’ve received from folks in this room is actually having global impact in terms of leading by example but also now having more authority to challenge other nations: Look, we’re putting up — what we’re putting up.  You do the same.

SENATOR BOOKER:  I mean, this — it’s power- — first of all, yes, please applaud that.  (Applause.)

Europe, Afri- — you are — you are crisscrossing the globe, quite literally, talking about that climate is a crisis, but never forget: It’s a danger and an opportunity — 


SENATOR BOOKER:  — and showing that there’s these win-wins; strengthening our partnerships, not condemning our — our alliances, but elevating our alliances.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, that’s right.

SENATOR BOOKER:  Not talking down to countries, but lifting them up.


SENATOR BOOKER:  It is a different way of governing.


SENATOR BOOKER:  But speaking of a different way of governing — and this is why I’ve always loved the League of Conservation Voters, ever since they gave you and I a 100 percent score when we were in the Senate together.  (Laughter.)  But that’s — that’s a self-interested love.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That worked out.  (Laughter.)

SENATOR BOOKER:  Yes.  That’s a self-interested love. 

But I love them because they understand the intersectionality of a lot of these issues.


SENATOR BOOKER:  They have prioritized democracy reform.  They have prioritor —


SENATOR BOOKER:  — prioritized voter rights.  (Applause.)

Before I do something really off script — and I want to see if the light- — lighting people are savvy enough to bring up the house lights when I tell them, but could you just — one second — speak to why, if you’re an environmentalist, you need to be focused on issues of democracy here at home?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yes, and I’ll — (applause) — I’ll add to your point about the role of leadership of LCV.  And you and I have both worked with the folks here a long time.

Also the commitment that everyone here has made to coalition building, which is vitally important at this moment in time.  You know, there are so many powerful forces that are trying to sow hate and division in our country.  And as we know, with any movement that has been about progress and an expansion of rights, the most successful have had as a critical ingredient the commitment to coalition.  And I appreciate that so about LCV. 

To your point, which it is about our movement as it relates to the environment, but we also have a commitment to freedom.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We have a commitment to equality, to the — the rights that all people are entitled, including their entitlement to dignity and the freedom to just be. 

And, yes, I’m traveling our country.  And my very well-informed perspective is: There is an agenda that is about a full-on attack against hard-fought, hard-won rights in our country.


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  You know, we’ve always defined our strength as — as being a — as being a function of the expansion of rights, not the restriction of rights. 

But what we are seeing now, in terms of intentional unapologetic attacks on — on the freedom to vote, the freedom to love who you love openly and with pride, the freedom to be free from the fear of gun violence, the freedom of a woman to make decisions about her own body —

SENATOR BOOKER:  Yes, yes, yes.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — and not have her government tell her what to do.  (Applause.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Freedom to have access to the ballot box — the “V” in LCV.  (Laughter.)


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I do, then, say that this is a moment where we who have always believed in the coalition and worked on it must, with vigor, especially in this environment, be very intentional about showing and reaching out based on the intersections between all of these movements. 

Because I actually think there’s a certain perversion that has happened over the last several years, and I could name who I think is one of the primary reasons for that.  But I will say this: What is — what is wrong about it is it’s — it is — there’s a suggestion that the measure of the strength of a leader is based on who you beat down instead of who you lift up.

There’s a suggestion that it’s a sign of weakness to have empathy.  When, in fact, we all here know that the strength of the character of an individual is often based on whether they have some level of curiosity, concern, or care about the suffering of other people and the well-being of other people — (applause) — and then take it upon themselves, like the people in this room, to do something about that.

This is a critical moment in our movement and in the history of this country.  And this election coming up in November, as much as anything else that is presenting an existential reality —


THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — it is, for each of us, a moment where we have to just decide: What kind of country do we want to live in?  That’s really what’s before us.

SENATOR BOOKER:  Right.  And they’re not going to be called to march like the suffragettes, not going to be called to do Freedom Rides like the Civil Rights Movements.  But this call –point of urgency is no greater. 

Now, I wa- — Ms. Madam Vice President, I’m going to see if this tech team is good enough, because I want you to be able to look these folks in the eye.  Can you raise the house lights so we can see the people on the floor?  Look at that.  Look at that.

Now, stand up for a second, Ms. Madam Vice President —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Okay, Cory.  (Laughter.)

SENATOR BOOKER:  — because these folks don’t understand — these folks don’t understand how important it is not to talk to each other, but to talk to the world outside.


SENATOR BOOKER:  Now, I don’t know if they’ve heard of something called social media — (laughter) — but I would like to record a video that we can try to make go viral about this gathering.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  He’s so good.  Okay, come on.

SENATOR BOOKER:  So, I want to do right now is pretend like we’re alone having an intimate conversation.


SENATOR BOOKER:  But then when we — when I say go —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  With microphones?

SENATOR BOOKER:  Oh, you’re right.


SENATOR BOOKER:  Okay.  (Laughter.)


SENATOR BOOKER:  And then — and then we’re going to turn around.  We’re going to go like this.  And then you all have to make some noise like you’re from New Jersey, okay?  (Laughter.) You’ve got to — you’ve got to be loud and proud.


SENATOR BOOKER:  Or Oakland.  Or Oakland.  Okay?  (Laughter.)

So, we’re going to pretend like we’re just having a little conversation here, Kamala, then we’re going to turn around.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Put your mic down.

(Vice President Harris and Senator Booker hold microphones behind their backs.)

SENATOR BOOKER:  Madam Vice President.


SENATOR BOOKER:  I — I am blown away that you and the President of the United States have made the greatest investment in environmental justice in the history of America and have the best climate record of any president and vice president ever.  It’s extraordinary.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you, Cory, and for your partnership.  Thank you.

SENATOR BOOKER:  Well, listen, I will tell you, we — there are a lot of other people that share our confidence, faith, and excitement about this administration.


SENATOR BOOKER:  Can we say hello to them?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Oh, yeah, let’s.

SENATOR BOOKER:  All right.  Here we go.

(Vice President Harris and Senator Booker turn around.)  (Applause.)

SENATOR BOOKER:  Thank you, thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  That was so good.  That was so good.  

Bye, everyone.  (Laughs.)  Oh, that was so smart.  That’s good, Cory.

END                6:44 P.M. EDT

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