Private Residence

Oakland, California

12:37 P.M. PDT

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

Thank you, everyone.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.  Please have a seat.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Let me first thank Smita and Aki for just hosting us in your beautiful home.  When I came in, I said, “I know this is a whole situation to do this.”  (Laughter.)  You know, I kind of — I — I travel with people these days.  (Laughter.)  And so, I just want to thank you guys for — your home is beautiful — but all that you do with so much love — (applause) — with so much love.  It really means more than I can express.  So, thank you.

And where is Kiran?  Where is she?  Al- — always in the back of the room — (laughter) — but always in the front of the room in terms of everything she is doing.  Kiran and Shilen and the girls, many of you may know that I rightly take full credit for their existence as a couple — (laughter and applause) — and for the existence of their three daughters because, but for me, they would not exist — those children.  (Laughter.)  And I take full credit — (laughter) — as any good auntie should do.  (Laughter and applause.)

So — but really, you guys have been a part of my journey since the very beginning, and it means the world to me.

It’s so good to be home.  Thank you all very much for all of this.  And, you know, I’ll just get right into it.

I think that among the many things that we all have in common, one of those is we believe in the promise of America.  We believe in the promise of America.  In fact, I will speak for myself, but I can speak for most of us here: I am empirical evidence of the promise of America.  (Applause.)

As many of you know, my mother arrived here in the Bay Area at the age of — from India at the age of 19 by herself.  She was the daughter of a father — my beloved grandfather — who when she, as the eldest — and we all know culturally what that means — (laughter) — and I am the eldest, too, by the way, which may explain part of my personality.  (Laughter.)

She went to my father — my grandfather in the late 1950s and sh- — what I learned later was that she had secretly applied to Berkeley — UC Berkeley for graduate school because she wanted to cure cancer.  She wanted to be a scientist.  She did her research and learned and dec- — and decided that UC Berkeley was one of the best teaching — ed- — educational institutions around science. 

So, she applied, didn’t tell my grandfather, got accepted, and then went to him, “Appa, I’ve been accepted.  I want to go.”  My grandfather, being the progressive dude he was — (laughter) — said to his daughter, his eldest child, “You feel passionate about this, you go.”

And so, my mother took the voyage — a transcontinental flight wasn’t done in those days — never had been to America, and came by herself at the age of 19 to study at UC Berkeley. 

And when — so, I say all that to say that many of us have a similar kind of story which has reinforced, as a lived experience for us each, the importance of believing in the promise of America and then fighting for America to fully achieve that promise. 

And when I think about what is at stake in this election, I absolutely believe that we are each being confronted with a question — which we have the power, each of us, to answer — which is: What kind of country do we want to live in?  As much as anything, that is what is at stake right now.

And, you know, many of you may know, but as Vice President now, I have met with over 150 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings — many now multiple times to the point we’re on a first-name basis; many of whom I have hosted at our home in Washington, D.C., which I refer to as our “temporary public housing” — (laughter and applause) — which it is. 

And I will tell you, just from my last three international trips — just the last three, which were, at the end of last year, Dubai, where I presented on the position that we, as the United States, have taken in — in the context of a global conversation on climate, COP28.  I presented there.  I was in the UK — Rishi Sunak actually asked me to join him to — to give my perspective on behalf of our country on the future of AI and safety in AI.  And then this year, at the beginning of this year, I was in Munich to present on behalf of our country at the Munich Security Conference.  Just the last three trips.

Almost to a one, world leaders came up to me.  “Kamala,” they said — we’re on first-name basis — “I hope you guys are going to be okay in this election.”  And understand, when they raise the point, it was purely out of self-interest, because, you see, people around the globe fully understand the consequence of this election to their own countries, much less to us.

And I share that to just put a fine point on the consequences and the permeations that will result from this election.  Everything is at stake.  Everything is at stake.

And I think about it also in the context of, yes, what we must do to recognize what’s at play in terms of a full-on, dare I say, intentional agenda to attack hard-won, hard-fought freedoms and rights.  I’ll talk in a bit about what that means in terms of reproductive freedom, but I am also thinking and talking about it in the context of the freedom to have access to the ballot box.

You know, in states like Georgia — in that state, they passed a law that makes it i- — illegal to give people food and water for standing in line to vote. 

I’m talking about the freedom to be who you are, love who you love openly with pride, in a state like Florida that passed this “Don’t Say Gay” law, such that I think about it — Kiran, where is your teacher? 

MS. JAIN:  Ms. Chase.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Ms. Chase, a sixth grade teacher who is here — (applause) — Kiran’s sixth grade teacher — (laughter) — who I shared with that my first grade teacher — God rest her soul — Mrs. Frances Wilson, who was my first grade teacher at Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley, California — (applause) — who attended my law school graduation — 

PARTICIPANT:  Oh, really?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  And so, this “Don’t Say Gay” law, I think about it in the context of many lived experiences, including who our teachers are; including the fact that I was very proud, with the support of everyone here, to be one of the first people in our country to perform same-sex marriages — Valentine’s weekend 2004. 

I think about a “Don’t Say Gay” law right now and what that means for some young teacher who is in their 20s — I performed those marriages 20 years ago — and what that young teacher is afraid of doing in terms of maybe putting up a photograph of themselves and their partner for fear they could lose their job.  For doing what?  Doing God’s work, teaching other people’s children.

Full-on attacks against hard-fought, hard-won freedoms: bans on books in this year of our Lord, 2024; attacks on the freedom to learn America’s full history; attacks on individual groups of people to incite and create fear and division.  All of this at stake in this election in terms of understanding what we are up against. 

And I’m always in this moment, then, reminded of the saying of Coretta Scott King, which I paraphrase and quote all the time.  And many of you have heard me say it 5,000 times; you’re going to hear 5,001.  (Laughter.)  And it’s this. 

She famously said the fight for civil rights — which is the fight for equality, the fight for justice — the fight for civil rights, which is also the fight for freedom, must be fought and won with each generation, she said.

And I think she had two points.  One being it is the very nature of these fights that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent unless we are vigilant.  And the second point, then, naturally being, understanding it’s the nature of it all: Do not despair.  This is not a time to despair and throw up our hands.  This is a time to roll up our sleeves.

And we have 153 days left to get this done.  And we are up for it.  And we are up for it.  (Applause.)  And we — and we are going to win.  (Applause.)  And we are going to win.

And we may have bloody knuckles at the end of it — (laughter) — but we are going to win.  Because it’s not going to be easy.  It’s not going to be easy.  And one of the most important things that we can do right now is to remind all the people we know — friends, family, coworkers, neighbors — let’s remind them of the power of the people.

This, after all, imperfect though it may be, is a democracy.  And the thing about democracy — and I’ll close with this — is I do believe there’s a duality in terms of its nature.  On the one hand, democracies, when intact — oh, the strength — the strength it gives its people by protecting their rights and their liberties.  Strength.

On the other hand, democracy — very fragile.  It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.  And so, fight we will.

And I thank you all.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                 12:49 P.M. PDT

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