Private Residence

Ann Arbor, Michigan

4:05 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  Please have a seat.

Can we please applaud the extraordinary Octavia Spencer?  (Applause.)

You know, I ran into her in L.A. many weeks ago, and — and the first thing she did when she saw me, she came up to me and she said, “How can I help?”  It’s the first thing she said. 

And I — I cannot help but really applaud someone like Ms. Spencer who has an extraordinary talent and gift that we have all witnessed and seen on the big screen.  We have seen and heard how she does the work of expression of the various characters.  Ashley, you were talking about that.

But it takes a lot for someone of that type of celebrity to also put themselves out to weigh in on issues like that.  It ta- — this — like what we are talking about today and what she just talked about — takes a lot of courage, because it’s not without risk. 

And so, I, again, want to applaud you, Octavia, for having the courage to be so committed to our country and for giving us that gift that you have to support this campaign and in this fight for our country.  Again, can we please applaud her?  (Applause.)

I want to thank Ashley and Jon.  So, they came over to our house for dinner recently — actually, last summer, I think it was, when I think about it.  Time has passed so quickly.  And I think one of the things that many of us may know about our hosts: They love our country, and they work so hard. 

We sat at the dining table and talked extensively about what is wrong and what is right.  They talked about how they’re prepared to go wherever to do the work that is about helping folks to organize, giving people the resources they need, reminding people of community and unity. 

And you guys are so selfless and so sincere in the way that you do that work.  And as nice and as just incredible as they are, they are tough.  They are tough.  (Laughter.)  They are not taking “no” for an answer to anything.  They see a path, and they push right through — the success that we’ve seen in Ohio; they have been part of the success here in Michigan.  And they’re committed to doing so much more.  They’re just relentless.

And I just, again, in front of everybody now, want to thank the two of you for all that you do.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Really.  Really.

Because, I mean, folks like our incredible Senator Debbie Stabenow can tell you — (applause) — that the work that can be done in these offices — and I — I’ve served in the United States Senate with Debbie Stabenow, so I’m going to tell you — I think you all know — she is a fighter to her core.  And Debbie knows the kind of work that we get done in places like that can’t be without the support of our host and everyone here.

But, Debbie, in front of everybody, I just want to thank you, because I know this is part of your core base.  And I thank you all for sending her back to Washington, D.C., for the years that you have.  (Applause.)  I’ve been in rooms with her — I’ll — I’ll talk a little about you tonight at the Democratic dinner — Michigan Democratic Party dinner. 

But Debbie is — she is always supporting other people — in particular, women.  And she does it in a way that doesn’t require any acknowledgment.  She does it quietly, often, but in a way that really is very powerful.  And so, I thank you for who you are, Debbie Stabenow.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Marseille — there you are.  (Laughs.)  Marseille, I — you know, Marseille, talk about a power horse.  I remember the first time I met Marseille, because you never forget the first time you met Marseille.  (Laughter.)  But thank you and Jasmine for — for what you have done to be — where is she? — to be so supportive of this event and of me and the President.  I thank you for that.

And to all the co-hosts, thank you. 

Debbie Dingell is here, I believe.  Where is she?  She — she is — she was here.  (Laughter.)  She met me on the tarmac.  I want to thank her. 

The mayor is here.  I want to thank him.  (Applause.)  Every time I come anywhere near, he is always there to greet me and my husband.  And I thank you, Mayor, for your leadership and also your enthusiasm for what is this fight and what we need to accomplish. 

And Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist is right there — (applause) — with his wife.  I want to thank you both for everything.  So — and to all the co-hosts: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Okay, look.  We’re going to win this election.  (Applause.)  We’re winning.  We are going to win this election. 

And I will tell you, momentum is on our side.  And so, let’s see it — Congressman, thank you for being here as well — let’s see it for what it is.  Okay? 

Think about it.  So, in the midterms, you remember how all the pundits would talk about, “Oh, there’s going to be a red wave; there’s going to be a red wave,” and everyone was supposed to shutter?  And then what do we see?  A red drip.  (Laughter.) 

When you think about the elections that took place in the midterms, the special elections here in Michigan, what you all have done — a trifecta — look at what the people are saying about what they want for their country.  In so-called red and blue states, during the midterms, in any special elections — especially since the Dobbs decision came down — from Kentucky to California, Ohio, Virginia, when freedom — Ashley, you talked about freedom; Octavia talked about freedom — when freedom was on the ballot, the American people voted for freedom. 

And I think what some of these extremists don’t fully understand is that we, as Americans — we really do fundamentally believe in the promise of America.  We haven’t fully achieved it yet.  We’re clear-eyed about that.  But we do believe in the promise of America.  I am empirical evidence of the promise of America.  (Applause.)

And we, then, believe in fighting for that promise.  It’s in our DNA.  It’s who we are.  We know and heard what Coretta Scott King said years ago.  And I’ll paraphrase, as I often do, her words: The fight for civil rights, which is the fight for justice and freedom and equality, must be fought and won with each generation.  We know that. 

We know that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent unless we are vigilant.  We know that, which is why we’re all here on this beautiful afternoon in this beautiful home when we could be doing 5,000 other things, because we’re prepared to fight for the promise of America.  And we know, as she — as she admonished us, we must be vigilant.  We know these are not the time to throw up our hands; this is the time to roll up our sleeves.  That’s where we are. And I have to tell you, Joe Biden and I, our administration, supported by all of you, we know and believe in the promise of America, which is why, Octavia, as you mentioned, history will show, even if the punditry doesn’t right now, transformative work that has happened because of what Michigan and all of you did to help us in 2020 and what we’re going to do in 2024. 

Now, I’m not going to go through the list of accomplishments because as my husband, Doug, has said to me recently — he was like, “Honey, here’s the part of the problem.”  (Laughter.)  He said, “Part of the problem is, you see, the list of accomplishments, it’s like a CVS receipt.”  (Laughter and applause.)  “It just keeps going and going and going.”  Right?  (Laughs.)  “You got to narrow that stuff down,” he says.

But the accomplishments are profound, and I’ll speak to just a couple of them.  I’ll be speaking later, again, for — for — I think it’s going to be 1,000 people there tonight, Debbie.  And the accomplishments in terms of — think about it: We have created over 15,000 new jobs in America, over 800,000 new manufacturing jobs; what we are doing to invest, as Michigan has always done, in transformation around transportation; and now what Michigan is on the verge of doing as it relates to a clean energy economy and investment in EV — (applause); what we are doing around batteries. 

Think about our accomplishments.  Think about the fact that we paid attention to issues like everyday pocketbook concerns for folks as it relates, for example, to healthcare and how expensive it is.  We capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month — (applause) — for our seniors.  Black folks are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes; Latinos, 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. 

When I go into these big rooms around our country — and let me tell you, I’ve been in these streets, okay? — when I travel our country, and I will sometimes ask people, “Raise your hand if you have a relative who has diabetes.”  The number of hands that go up of people who know how, for too long, our seniors had to decide whether they could fill their prescription or fill their refrigerator. 

What we have done to finally take on Big Pharma and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices against Big Pharma. 

Think about what we have done on an issue that relates to gun violence.  I talked with a couple of people about that earlier.  You know, I started a college tour last fall because — by the way, I love Gen Z.  (Laughs.)  I love Gen Z.  I know it’s complicated if you have some in your life.  (Laughter.)  But I’m going to tell you, I love Gen Z. 

I mean, think about them.  And here’s the humbling point for many of us: You know how — what year someone was born in if they are 18 today?  2006.  Okay.  So, just deal with that.  (Laughter.)  Just deal with that. 

But here’s the thing: For that generation of leaders, the biggest issues we’re facing right now are lived experiences.  They’ve only known the climate crisis.  In fact, they’ve coined a term — “climate anxiety” — to describe their fear of thinking about potentially buying a home because it could be wiped out by extreme weather, starting a family because what will the future hold.

These young leaders, they witnessed the killing of George Floyd.  They witnessed a pandemic.  We — I just talked with our Yale student, who is studying health, and what it means in terms of thinking about global public health policy and the interconnection and interdependence between nations on so many levels, including health. 

It’s a lived experience.  I would ask them every time I go — over 15,000 students, I met — always packed to overflow rooms.  And I’d say, “Raise your hand if at any point between kindergarten and 12th grade, you had to do — endure an active shooter drill.”  Bone chilling.  Almost every hand went up. 

These are lived experiences for our young leaders.  And then during the height of their reproductive years, the highest court in our land took a constitutional right that had been recognized. 

So, I bring that back to say, listen, when we think about what we are now fighting for and who’s coming up behind and the path we are creating for them and the path they are creating for themselves, we have so many reasons to be optimistic and understand the momentum that we’ve got that’s on our side. 

The transformative accomplishments — I’m going to just talk for a minute about one in particular because I know there are a lot of people here who care about and are fighters for our climate and our environment.  Our administration — you know, and it just — it — it really — it — I’m going to use a word — I’m not going to use the word that I want to use, but it just really makes me upset.  (Laughter.) 

I’ve been doing a little too much of that recently.  (Laughter.)  These words are just kind of coming out sometimes.  I got to watch myself. 

But it does make me upset and concerned that — you know, when people will criticize our administration, and they’ll talk about things in terms of age, without looking at what — what is the age of — of an individual in terms of their ability to be bold and to be innovative and to see what can be, unburdened by what has been.

Take, for example, the accomplishment of our administration on climate.  By my calculation, we are in the midst of dropping about a trillion dollars over the next 10 years on the streets of America in an investment on climate adaptation, resilience, and a clean energy economy.  (Applause.)

What we are doing through the Inflation Reduction Act coupled with the CHIPS and Science Act and a profound investment in research and development and technology to the point that we are a global leader and we have the ability, when I travel around our world, to challenge our allies and adversaries alike, “Look what we’re doing; you step up too on this global issue” — it’s extraordinary. 

And, look, the contrast on every issue that we’ve already discussed is clear in November.  Whereas there are so many issues that confront us domestically and globally that are nuanced and complex, November: binary.  Binary.

On the issue of climate, many of you may have heard or read about how the former President was in a room full of rich folks talking about how he would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, which was the — the vehicle through which we’ve done our climate work.  He would give credits to the Big Oil companies if they gave him a billion dollars. 

That’s but one example of a profound contrast being presented to the voters in 150 days. 

So, I’m going to end with just a couple points.  One is this.  As your Vice President, I have now met with over 150 world leaders — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings.  Many of them I’ve met with now multiple times to the point we are on a first-name basis. 

The last three international trips I took were, at the end of last year, I was in Dubai presenting America’s perspective at the COP28 conference, the global climate conference; I was in the UK at the — the request of the Prime Minister to present on my theory on behalf of our country on the future of AI and safety; and then, this year, I was in Munich at the Munich Security Conference to present on America’s position in terms of our commitment to our allies, such as Ukraine, and our commitment to international rules and norms, including sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

All that to say this: Just the last three trips I took — and, in fact, next week, I’m going to Switzerland to go to the peace conference hosted by President Zelenskyy to represent our country. 

Those last three trips I took, almost to a one, world leaders who I’ve come to know now came up to me, “Kamala” — we’re on a first-name basis — “Kamala, I hope you guys are going to be okay.”  And understand, they present that purely out of self-interest, because, you see, people around the world are acutely aware of the impact and significance that we have to the rest of the world.  And I say that to emphasize the stakes are so high. 

And we are fighting based on our love of our country and our knowledge of the responsibility we have.  We are fighting, understanding that the nature of democracy is — to some extent, there’s a duality to it.  On the one hand, strength; when intact, oh, how streng- — and how strong it is in terms of how it protects and fights for the individual rights and freedoms and liberty of its people.  Such strength when intact. 

And it’s very fragile.  It’s only as strong as our willingness to fight for it. 

And so, fight we will.  (Applause.)  And when we fight, we win.  There you are. 

Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you all very much.

END                      4:25 P.M. EDT

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