Columbia Metropolitan Convention CenterColumbia, South Carolina
By: White House: Office of the Vice President
7:55 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello. (Applause.) Good afternoon. Good — or good evening. Good evening. Good evening, South Carolina. Good evening.
Can we please here it for Jaleel Johnson? (Applause.) I am so, so proud of him. I know we all are. When I see Jaleel and I see our young leaders, I tell you, I know the future of our country is so bright. And, you know, the last time — as I look — the last time I saw Jaleel, he had just graduated high school, and now here he is.
So, it is good to be with all of you. And, Trav Robertson, I want to thank you for your leadership and your support over the years. (Applause.) And it was such a joy to be with your father this evening and to — and to visit with him.
And, of course, it’s so good to be with so many friends and back to see you all here in the great Palmetto State.
I am honored to join you also on a night when you celebrate Governor Dick Riley — (applause) — a great leader for this state on public school education and diversity. For so long, he’s been fighting — fighting for our children. And, of course, that’s why then-President Clinton put him in as Secretary of Education and brought that commitment — is what he did — to our nation’s schools.
Of course, to think about South Carolina Democrats is to think about Majority Whip James Clyburn. (Applause.) Whip Clyburn, I have always appreciated your leadership and your friendship and your counsel over the years. And I have seen you in the halls of Congress, when the cameras are on and when they are off, and you are always — he is always fighting for the people of South Carolina and the people of our country. (Applause.)
So, as all of you know, I have spent a lot of time in this state — from upstate to the midlands, from Pee Dee to the Lowcountry. We have prayed together. We have celebrated birthdays together. We have shared home-cooked meals.
And of the many things, I’m going to tell you, that I do admire about the people of South Carolina — and there are many — of the many things that I admire: Whether you are debating mustard versus vinegar — (laughter) — or bragging about how the sweetest comes from your neighbor’s farm, you are serious about your food. (Laughter.)
And so, with that, I’m going to share with you a real quick story, and then I’m going to get on to my — my comments.
So, I was here — of the many visits, one of those visits was in late November of 2019. And I had just finished an event about the importance of mental health. We were in Goose Creek, and I was there with JA Moore and Charlamagne Tha God.
And — and I was about to head out of town to meet my family and cook for Thanksgiving. I won’t mention where I was going, but where I was going, I knew I was not going to be able to find the kind of greens there that I could get here. (Laughter.) And so, yes, that was me, in my suit and heels, walking through Charleston International Airport, carrying two big plastic bags full of fresh South Carolina collard greens. (Laughs.) (Applause.) It’s a true story.
And, yes, as I walked on the plane, there were a few people who gave me the look — (laughter) — and the nod. (Laughter.)
And, South Carolina, you are also serious about your politics. (Applause.) And so it is my honor tonight to share with you many thoughts, including a message direct from the President of the United States, who I just left in California to come here.
I was there for the Summit of the Americas where we actually brought together heads of state from around the world, civil society, and CEOs. And, in fact, I convened a smaller group of prime ministers and presidents from the Caribbean to talk about the issue of the climate crisis and how that is affecting those countries.
But we were there talking about the most pressing issues of our time. And as I was leaving, Joe asked me to pass on a message, and the message is, from both of us: South Carolina, we see you. We see — (applause) — we see how the power of South Carolina Democrats is felt all over our nation. We see how your state party leaders rise up to become national party leaders, from the dear and late Don Fowler to Jaime Harrison. (Applause.)
We see — we see how South Carolina brings critical representation to the presidential nominating process. And we see the great Jim Clyburn — his leadership in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
And we see — and we see how South Carolina Democrats set President Joe Biden and me on a path to the White House. (Applause.)
So, South Carolina Democrats, the President and I want you to know something else. We see all the work you did to help get us elected, and we heard you when you told us about the issues that matter to you most.
We heard you, South Carolina, when Jim Clyburn called broadband an issue of economic justice in America. (Applause.) And so we are making record investments to connect more people in rural communities to high-speed Internet.
We heard you, South Carolina, when you said the people of this state want more resources to go to some of the best schools in the world. So we are making historic investments in our HBCUs, including — (applause) — including $112 million to schools right here in the Palmetto State. (Applause.)
We heard you when you said you just wanted an opportunity for folks to be able to build wealth, not only for their family today, but for generations to come. So we are fighting to make sure Black farmers keep ownership of their land. (Applause.) And we are making billions of dollars in capital available for minority- and women-owned small businesses, businesses — (applause) — like the ones I visited right here in Columbia, on Lady Street.
We heard you when you said people wanted just a little more help to stand on their own two feet. So we are making healthcare more affordable and fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. (Applause.)
We heard you. We heard you. And because of your efforts to get us elected in 2020, we were able to issue an executive order to increase accountability and policing, including a ban on chokeholds for federal law enforcement. (Applause.)
For the first time in 122 years, lynching is finally a federal crime. (Applause.)
And, of course, an outstanding jurist by the name of Ketanji Brown Jackson will be on the highest court of our land. (Applause.) Fulfilling, by the way — I’m sure everyone here remembers — fulfilling, by the way, a promise that President Biden made right here in South Carolina.
And we are also proud to have appointed the most diverse group of judges in the history of the United States judiciary to the federal bench — (applause) — including South Carolina’s own phenomenal Michelle Childs. (Applause.)
So all of this to say: Thank you, South Carolina.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re welcome!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) And you’re always so polite and proper. (Laughter.)
So the President and I, we were sworn into office, as we all remember, at a time when our nation was facing a pandemic that was out of control, an economy that was in freefall, and questions about America’s leadership on the world stage.
But we were not deterred. We knew what you sent us to Washington to accomplish.
And what did we do? Well, hundreds of millions of Americans got vaccinated. (Applause.)
What did we do? Record job creation. Record decline in unemployment. Record increases in labor participation. And a historic rate of small-business creation.
We have made progress. And we know people are still hurting. There is no question we still face serious challenges. As we saw today, inflation is still too high. We are seeing higher prices at the store from supply chains that slowed down dramatically during the pandemic, and higher prices at the gas pump because of Putin’s war in Ukraine. Families across South Carolina and the nation are feeling the pinch.
And the President and I are using every tool at our disposal to lower costs. We are fighting every day to keep our country on the path towards stable, steady growth.
You know, the last time that I spoke at this convention, I spoke about my belief that the greatest strength that anyone has is measured in their ability to lift up other people. (Applause.) And I know we share that belief. I know we share that belief.
As Democrats, we are fueled by a common purpose: to help all people succeed and to achieve their own version of the American Dream.
Democrats stand for the fundamental principle that we are all created equal, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. We stand for unity. We stand for coalition building, guided by the knowledge that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. (Applause.)
And, friends, I believe when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. (Applause.) As Democrats, we fight for a future where working families can get ahead and stay ahead, where every child can reach their God-given potential, and where every community is safe and healthy.
We fight for a future where all people can live without fear. Because no 86-year-old grandmother should be afraid to go to the grocery store. (Applause.) No 41-year-old pastor should worry about welcoming a stranger to Bible study. No 9-year-old child should fear for her safety at school. And no 18-year-old should be able to buy a weapon of war. (Applause.)
As Democrats, we fight for a future where anyone can start and grow a business and where workers can earn a fair wage and are treated with respect; a future where all Americans can live and love without government interference, and, yes, where every woman has the liberty and freedom to make decisions about her own body. (Applause.)
These are the values Democrats stand for. And let’s be clear: And so much of this is what the Republican Party stands against. Think about it.
Think about it: So, since the last time we all gathered in the United States Senate, not one Republican voted to rescue our nation in the middle of a pandemic.
Think about it: Not one Republican voted to extend the Child Tax Credit, which lifted up to 40 percent of America’s children out of poverty. (Applause.)
Think about it: Not one Republican voted to protect women and keep their health decisions private.
And not one Republican voted to protect our most fundamental right: the right to vote. (Applause.) Not one.
The Republican Party wants to criminalize and punish women and their doctors for making healthcare decisions. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep people away from the ballot box, even passing laws that make it illegal to give folks food and water if they’re waiting in line. (Applause.)
And it doesn’t stop there. At every turn, Republican leaders have shown that they have no interest in making progress on the issues that matter most to the American people and that they would rather allow an epidemic of hate to accelerate than to sincerely work to heal our country. (Applause.)
They even reject the most modest reforms to address police misconduct. They want to end the guarantee of Social Security and Medicare in just five years that would devastate our seniors. And they continue to threaten our healthcare.
Some extremist leaders even promoted conspiracy theories that led to an attack on our nation’s capital — an attack that far too many elected Republicans still refuse to condemn. (Applause.)
As I’m sure most of us saw during last night’s hearing, what happened on January 6th was not just an assault on a building, it was an assault on the institution’s values and ideals that generations of Americans marched, picketed, and shed blood to establish and defend. (Applause.)
South Carolina, we are not going to let arsonists set a fire to our democracy. (Applause.) Our children, our nieces and nephews, our godchildren, our grandchildren, they deserve the future that Democrats can build — a future where every American can support their family; take care of their health; feel safe in their homes, in their churches, in their schools.
The task before us now is to fight for that future.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Fight!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Fight. (Applause.) That’s why the President and I need you. We need you. We need you for so many reasons. We need you to register people to vote. (Applause.) We need you to knock on doors and to talk with your neighbors and friends about what is at stake in November, because everything we have discussed tonight is at stake.
So I’m here to thank you and to ask that of you, and to ask you: Please send Jim Clyburn back to Washington, D.C., as the House Majority Whip. (Applause.)
Let us protect and increase our majority in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
Let us fight to get Democrats up and down state ballots in our country. (Applause.)
I look out this big room at all of you and I know who you are, and I know what you stand for. And this fall, we need you once again to show the nation that South Carolina Democrats know how to do it. (Applause.)
I promise you the President and I will be with you every step of the way. I thank you. I thank you. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all. Thank you. (Applause.)
END 8:15 P.M. EDT