The Chapel

San Francisco, California

2:17 P.M. PDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Hi, everybody.  Hi.  (Applause.) 

Can we give it up for Manny?  Let’s give it up for Manny.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Well, it is so good to be home.  And it is so good to see you all.  And thank you.

I see so — oh, my goodness.  I see people in this room who have been on this journey with me from the very beginning.  My God, I could name each of you.  Oh, it is so good to see everyone.

You — do you realize I pulled papers to run for DA of San Francisco in November of 2002?  (Applause.)  So, that’s how long some of you have been riding on this journey with me, and I thank you.  And we all look really good.  (Laughs.) 

But I just — first of all, I want to just thank you all.  Look, we have all been involved with these four-year cycles, many of us, many times together.  And we have almost every time talked about “This is the one.”  Well, this here is the one.  (Laughter.)  And everything is at stake in this election. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And I could spend hours right now talking about the various issues that are important at this moment.  And I —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Why do you support genocide?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And everyone has a right to be heard.  Everyone has a right to be heard.  But —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)  You are giving him the election.  You are giving him the election.  Why do you support genocide? 

AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, all.  Thank you, all.

Everyone has a right — listen, emotions are running hot, and we all know why.  And it is important that we all agree that there is so much happening in the world and, in particular, in the Middle East right now that causes all of us — and, most importantly, the people in that region — an extraordinary amount of pain. 

The suffering that has happened, starting with October 7th, when 1,200 people were massacred, including young people attending a concert; women violently raped; what we have seen in Gaza, where far too many innocent civilians have been killed; humanitarian aid being denied in many cases.

The President and I have been very clear: This war must end.  We need a ceasefire.  We need the hostages out.  We need aid going in.  And we need to be committed to a two-state solution and the day after.  (Applause.)

So, there are a lot of things to talk about, but a number of friends that I’ve seen earlier asked me to focus on one issue in particular, which I will today, which is the issue of reproductive freedoms.  But I want to talk about that in the context of a larger point, which is, you know, I’ve been traveling our country for the last three years.  And I will tell you, I am convinced that there is an intentional, full-on attack against hard-won freedoms and rights across our country.

When we think about it, the attack that has been against the freedom that each person should have to love who they love openly and with pride.  And what we see in a state like Florida, where they pass a “Don’t Say Gay” law.  Many of you were there: I was proud to be one of the first people in the country — Valentine’s weekend 2004 — to perfirm — perform some of the first same-sex marriages. 

And — (applause) — and when I think about the fact — we just celebrated the 20th anniversary of that weekend — and that there are some young teachers in Florida who are in their 20s who are afraid to put up a photograph of themselves and their partner for fear they could be fired.  For doing what kind of work?  God’s work, teaching other people’s children.  And God knows we don’t pay them enough as it is.

Full-on attacks against hard-fought, hard-won freedoms.  Book bans in this year of our Lord, 2024 — are you kidding me?  Attacks on the freedom to learn America’s full history.  Attacks on access to the ballot box.  You know, in Georgia, they passed a law that makes it il- — illegal to give people food and water for standing in line to exercise their civic responsibility to vote? 

Attacks — intentional attacks on fundamental freedoms.

And then we look at what happened almost two years ago, when the highest court in our land — the court of Thurgood and RBG — took a constitutional right from the people of America, from the women of America.  And thereafter, in state after state, extremists passing laws that would criminalize healthcare providers — in Texas, prison for life — passing laws to punish women, to make no exception even for rape or incest.

All of you know I started my career as a prosecutor.  What many of you may not know — and I’ve started to talk more about it publicly — is one of the reasons why.  So, when I was in high school, I learned that one of my best friends was being molested by her stepfather.  And I said to her then, “You have to come and live with us.”  Many of you may remember my mother.  I called up my mother, and I told her what was going on.  And she said, “Of course, she has to come live with us.”  And she did.

So, early in my life, I decided I wanted to take on harms against women and children.  (Applause.)  And I will say, then, the — the fact that they’re saying no exception even for rape or incest, so you’re saying to a survivor of a crime of violation to their body that they don’t have the right to make a decision about what happens to their body next.  That’s immoral.

And this is what we’re seeing happen in our country: a full-on attack on fundamental freedoms and rights.  And on this issue, as I travel the country, you will be happy to know most people agree and we must all 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.)  It’s that fundamental.

And so, when I travel and talk about this issue and when I think about this issue, it is, yes, the notion that such a fundamental right — as I like to call it, the right each individual should have to make decisions about heart and home — that it has been taken. 

And I think about it in the context of the harm — the real harm that has taken place every day since that decision came down — just the stories that we know. 

A young woman, Amanda, in Texas, she was one of the first at the beginning of this phase of this movement to speak publicly about the fact that she and her husband were trying to get pregnant, she got pregnant, and then she was going through a miscarriage.  She went to the emergency room, denied care.  Why?  Because the folks working in that hospital were worried they could be put in prison for giving her care.  Went back, denied again.  It’s only when she developed sepsis that they treated her.

I think about this issue in the context of how I always think about policy and public policy, which is one must ask themselves, it — beyond the lofty, you know, words that one may use about good policy: How does it affect a real person? 

So, think about this.  The majority of women who receive abortion care in America are mothers.  Think of it this way: The majority of Black woman in America live in the South.  The only state in the South that does not have an abortion ban is Virginia.  In the states with the highest rate of maternal mortality and Black maternal mortality, they all have abortion bans.  The hypocrisy abounds.

Think of it another way.  So, that woman who lives in a state with a ban, God help her if she has paid family leave to go to another state to seek care.  God help her if she has affordable childcare.  God help her if he has — she has just a little bit of extra savings to pay for that bus, train, or plane ticket to get where she goes. 

And then imagine what her experience is: going to an airport, standing in line at TSA, sitting on a plane next to a perfect stranger because her best friend can’t come with her because best friend is back taking care of the kids; to go to a city she’s never been to receive treatment and needs to get back right away; to get back on a plane after receiving that treatment to go home. 

This is what’s happening in America right now.  And we will not stand for it.  (Applause.)  And we will not stand for it. 

The stakes are high.  You all have heard me paraphrase Coretta Scott King a number of times over the years.  And remember what she reminded us, which is that the fight for civil rights — which is the fight for equality and the fight for freedom and the fight for justice — that that fight must be fought and won with each generation. 

She had two points.  One, it is the nature of it all that whatever gains we make in this fight, they will not be permanent unless we are vigilant.  And the second point, then, is if you understand the nature of it all, enough with this.  Enough with the despair.  This is not a time to throw up our hands; it’s a time to roll up our sleeves. 

Because the bottom line is this: We, especially from this community in this place in the world — we believe in the promise of America.  We do.  And we are willing to fight for America to then achieve that promise.  I’m empirical evidence of the promise of America.  (Applause.)  We believe in it.  And so, that’s what this fight is for. 

And I’ve now met, as Vice President, over 150 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings — many of them multiple times.  Many of them I’ve received in the place we live in D.C. that I refer to accurately as our “temporary public housing.”  (Laughter.)  And I’ll tell you —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  For four more years.

And I will tell you, in my last three international trips, which were — at the end of last year, I went to Dubai for COP28, the global climate conference; I was in the UK to talk about the safety — safety in AI — both situations representing our country, of course; and then this year, I — I presented at the Munich Security Conference and, again, speaking about America’s position on concepts like sovereignty and territorial integrity.

I’ve now met so many of these world leaders multiple times.  We’re on a first-name basis.  And to a one, they came up to me, “Kamala, hope you guys are going to be okay.”  And be sure, when they raised the point, it was purely out of self-interest, because what they understand is what we here know: The impact and consequence of this election profoundly impacts the people of our nation and people around the world.

It is all at stake.  And the beauty of it all is this: The issue being presented to us is what kind of country do we want to live in.  And the answer to that is within the power of each of us.  We each have the power to answer that question.  And it will be because we remain active and vigilant.  We continue to do, as only San Francisco knows how, to build community, to build coalitions, to remind people of a basic principle that nobody should be made to fight alone. 

We are all in this together.  And what we all know is when we fight, we win.

Thank you, all.  (Applause.)

END                       2:31 P.M. PDT

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