Remarks by Vice President Harris at the Democratic National Committee’s 100 Days Out Grassroots Event
By: White House Press Office
|2:07 P.M. EDTTHE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Well, can we give it up for the first Second Gentlemen of the United States of America? (Applause.) |
But listen — let me just — I wanted to talk about my husband for a second. My husband — I love my husband.
AUDIENCE: Awww —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But let me tell you, one of the things that has been so wonderful to see about who we are as Democrats and who Joe Biden is — when he said, “I know that a woman can be Vice President” — right? — is that with that came another history-making event, which is there is now not a second lady, but a second gentlemen. And what that means — let’s think about it because I’m going to talk for a moment — in a moment about what we stand for as Democrats. And a lot of what we stand for — if you want to step back and think about it — is, as Joe Biden often says, “the possibilities.” We as Democrats having an ability to see what is possible, what can be, unburdened by what has been.
And so when I’m talking about my husband, part of that is about saying that a man can be successful and be very successful in supporting his wife, and women in positions of leadership (inaudible). (Applause.)
Well, what’s up, Democrats? How’s everybody doing? (Applause.)
Well, we’ve got 100 days before midterms, and we got a lot of work to do. And I’ll tell you, I’ve been thinking about it: I have campaigned for so many years, for myself and for other people, and I know what you all have been doing, what you are prepared to do. And I can’t thank you enough, because the details of the work really matter.
You know, I was reminded — and I was talking with some of my team.
Oh, wait — okay, so who campaigned in ’08? Okay. Oh, okay, just a few. (Laughter.) Nobody else was born. (Laughter.) Well, I’m going to go back to the olden days and talk to you a little bit about ’08 for a second.
In ’08, of course, it was Barack Obama and Joe Biden running as the Democratic nominee for President and Vice President. And I was actually a surrogate for that campaign. I was attorney general at the time — well, actually, I was DA, then I was attorney general.
And ’08, so — the night of the election in ‘08 was in Chicago because, of course, our nominee, now President and former-President Barack Obama was from Chicago. So it was at a place called Grant Park. And there was a big night, and there were tents everywhere. All the volunteers, all the supporters flew into town, drove into town, ran into town to be there for what we expected would be a great celebration.
So I got into town after doing campaigning in various places. And it was the day of the election. And everybody was getting all ready for the parties. And I was like, “Well, the polls are still open. Wait, what’s happening? The polls are still open.” And so then I went over to the campaign headquarters, and I said, “What’s going on in various parts of the country? Like, what do we need to do?” And they said, “Well, ma’am, you know, we really need to turn out some folks in Gary, Indiana.”
So I grabbed a couple of friends. We rented a car, and we drove to Gary, Indiana, that day to go work the polls and to remind people to vote hours before the polls were going to close, because until the very last minutes, everything we do matters. From the 100 day out to seconds before the polls close, everything we do matters.
And what is it we do? We see people. We hear people. We love people. We engage with folks. We listen. We embrace. We remind folks that we live in a community of people who care about one another, who are invested together, who are all in this together. Who, no matter the seeming differences, know that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.
And so, all the folks who are here virtually and in person, this is what we’re doing. We’re here 100 days out saying, “We know everything we are doing right now matters because of what we stand for and because of the work that we put in that is truly in its process — not only about winning an election, but lifting our country around that kind of engagement.” Right?
So that’s the power of what everyone here — virtually and in person, that’s the power of what you’re doing.
I will say, the way to measure the strength of a person — it’s not based on flexing. You want to see the real strength of who you are, lift somebody up, help somebody and you will see how strong you are. It is extraordinary what each of us has the power to do, to lift somebody up.
So that’s what this process is about. It has meaning every single day.
In 2020, our volunteers, all of you, collectively made 300 million texts, 300 million calls, knocked on doors. Remember, we had to do all those — those drive-ins because of COVID? But we got people there, and helped people organize and drive in, and engage them under some very difficult circumstances. Because the nature of who we are is we like hanging out with each other — right? — in person.
But we were not deterred, because we understood what was at stake in 2020.
And as a result of your hard work, we turned out more voters than ever before at an historic level, including — at a historic level — younger voters.
So I am reminding us of all of this to, first and foremost, on behalf of the President and myself, to say thank you. But also because I know our power collectively — starting right now and every day for these next 100 days — to do what we know how to do.
And let’s think about it. So when we go out and we call people and we’re going to phonebank and we’re going to knock on doors, and we’re going to do what we do. One of the things that voters are always going to ask us, because they are right to ask us — you know, they’re going to ask us, “Why should I vote?” They’re going to say — (baby cries) — “What did I get for voting before?”
Well, let’s listen to the voices of the children, because one of the things that folks got is — they said when they voted — I think sometimes of voting as you just putting in your order. This is what you want. So when people stood in those lines for hours, when they sat at their kitchen table for hours figuring out how they were going to fill out their ballot to vote by mail, when they drove by those drop boxes with their kids in the backseat patiently waiting to drop off that ballot: They were putting in an order.
And one of the things that they said they want was that we would focus on the children. So what ended up happening? We won — all of us — and extended the Child Tax Credit in America with the effect of, in the first year, bringing down child poverty in America by 40 percent. We did that. (Applause.) We did that.
Focusing on the children — understanding if you want to help the children, help the family in which that child is being raised. We said, “You want to talk about tax cuts, how about a tax cut for families raising children?” And so we put in place a tax cut where families raising children can deduct the cost of food and medicine and school supplies of up to $8,000, which is 8,000 more dollars in their back pocket to take care of their essential needs. People said they wanted it, and that’s what they got for the time they took to put in their order and vote.
People said, “We want to know that you’re going to focus on things like maternal mortality,” which we have, as an administration, put on the stage of the White House to say, “Not in America should we have a situation where we have one of the highest rates of maternal mortality of any so-called “developed or financially advanced country.” We said, it is not okay that Black women are three times more likely to die in connection with childbirth; Native women, one and a half times more likely to die in connection with childbirth — twice as likely actually; and rural women, one and a half times likely. So we put that on the front burner, and we said, “We need to deal with it.”
Including, if you say you care about children, let’s understand — again, help the child in the context of the family that is raising that child, including understanding that we need a new system, which this administration has pushed for postpartum care for women and saying, “No, states, instead of two months of Medicaid coverage for postpartum, we want twelve months coverage for postpartum because she just gave birth to a human being and needs to be able to have the kind of care that is truly about supporting her.”
People put in their order. They said, “Through this pandemic, it became very clear a number of disparities, including who has access to or can afford high-speed broadband.” So we passed an infrastructure law where we’re putting billions of dollars to make sure everyone will have access and can afford broadband, including giving folks $30 a month off of what they would pay, including saying they’ll get $100 credit to buy the technology so that when it comes time, if necessary for the child to learn online, much less for you to run a small business or for seniors to have access to telemedicine if they don’t have a hospital nearby. And this is the kind of work that should happen. That’s what we did because people put in their order.
People went and voted because we said to them, “We hear you when you say it is time to have a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court.” (Applause.) And so, folks elected Joe Biden, knowing that — remember? — in South Carolina, he said, “I will put a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court. They put in that order, and that’s what they got because they stood in line to vote.
People said, “We live in communities, in particular poor communities or communities of color, where our children are having to drink toxic water out of lead pipes. We want to know that that’s going to be addressed once and for all.” So what are we in the process of doing? Eliminated those lead service lines in communities across our country, hearing what the grandfathers and grandmothers and teachers in those communities have been saying for years about the consequence of drinking that poisoned water, to the development and wellbeing of the children of those communities.
People put in their order. They said, “We want to restore the relationships between the United States and our Allies and partners around the world. We want to know that you will work with our partners around the world.” And as a result, you are now seeing not only did we bring together NATO in what many would agree was a historic alliance because of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. But in addition, because of the leadership —
And I’ve been traveling around the world. I have had direct conversations — probably at least 100 — with prime ministers, presidents, and kings. And almost every time at the beginning of those conversations, they say, “Thank you,” to us, “for restoring some sensibility and reason in terms of America’s posture around the world,” including what is now happening with two new countries about to join NATO — unheard of before. (Applause.)
And we can’t talk about our success without also being clear about when people go to vote, what’s on the other side. So I will tell you, not one Republican in the United States Senate, since our administration came in, voted for the Child Tax Credit or for that tax cut or voting.
We are seeing extremist so-called leaders around the country — at a local, state, and federal level — who are pushing an agenda that is about the restriction of rights instead of what we are supposed to stand for, which is about progress and the expansion of rights.
The United States Supreme Court just talk a constitutional right that had been recognized — took it from the American people, from the women of America.
And around the country now, so-called leaders — extremist so-called leaders are passing laws to criminalize healthcare providers to punish women. Elections matter. What we are seeing around the country includes attacks on women and their right to make decisions about their own bodies.
And we are seeing — you will not be surprised because I have constructed a Venn diagram on this. Remember those three circles — how they overlap? (Laughter.) So I constructed a Venn diagram because I was really curious. I want to see one circle from where are we seeing attacks on a woman’s right to make decisions about her body — reproductive healthcare. Where are we seeing attacks on voting rights? Where are we seeing attacks on the LGBTQ+ rights? Well, you all would not be surprised to know there’s a significant overlap.
This is what we are seeing around the country. Elections matter. Because, be clear: These laws will empower local officials like prosecutors, where they are punishing and criminalizing conduct to exercise their discretion on whether someone gets prosecuted. Understand, on the voting rights issue, it’s state elections, in terms of secretaries of state, governors, attorneys general.
And then, of course, we know what we need in terms of a pro-choice Congress, which is why there is so much at stake, because elections matter. We need to hold our numbers in the United States Senate, and we need two or more pro-choice Democrats in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
To be clear, Joe Biden has said he will not allow the filibuster, which is a tool that has been used for obstruction of good ideas — he will not allow the filibuster to stand in the way of passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act and the Women’s Health Act. (Applause.)
Two more senators. We need two more senators.
So there’s a lot at stake, guys. And I’ll tell you something: What’s also at stake is the very heart and core of our democracy.
So when I first came into office, and — so the Second Gentleman and I live in a place called the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory. And one of the first foreign dignitaries, heads of state that I received and invited to come over for breakfast was then-Chancellor Angela Merkel. And so we’re sitting at the table, and we talked about a lot of things from Russia, to China, to (inaudible). And then at one point, she leaned across the table and she said, “Tell me what’s going on in your country with voting? What’s up with these attacks? What’s happening there?”
You look at what’s happening in terms of what we thought were settled principles on LGBTQ rights, which now are at risk because Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud, so we know what’s up.
You look at what we thought was settled in terms of Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions.
I bring this up to say, in meeting with all of the foreign heads of state that I’ve met with, we must put in context the fact that America has always held ourselves out to be a model of a democracy. To walk in these rooms with our chin up and our shoulders back, talking about issues like human rights, civil rights, rule of law, democracies.
All of these countries are watching what’s happening right now, which calls into question our standing on some fundamental issues, as it relates not only to what is happening in our own country, but our ability to then weigh in, in terms of what’s happening around the world.
Democracy is on the ballot as much as everything else that affects us all on a daily basis.
So I say all of this to say to you, our extraordinary leaders of our party who are gathered today, everything you are prepared to do matters. It really matters. And the challenge this election time is because the stakes are so high.
We always say that, but I mean, the stuff that we felt was well settled is now clearly being debated and challenged and attacked.
I say this because the challenge of this election cycle is also: We are coming off of a pandemic, and we’re asking people to engage and to get out there. Right? People who have suffered loss of life, jobs, normalcy. People who we literally asked to isolate, and now we are asking them to congregate.
So the challenge is in front of us. But I will remind everyone, it was a big old challenge in 2020 and we rose to it with joy and vigor and purpose and commitment and optimism, because we understand what we stand for, so we know what to fight for. (Applause.)
And so that’s what we are doing. And today is a day to prepare for our fight. (Laughter.)
And so, again, I want to — you know, 100 days is going to pass quickly. We can’t get any one of these days back. But you all know that. That’s why you’re here on a Saturday when there are 10,000 other things each of you could be doing, and you’re here fighting for the best of who we are. And so I thank you.
There are people who are going to benefit from this work that you will never meet, people who will never know your name or my name, but who are going to forever be benefited because of the work you’re putting in.
So I thank you. Everyone, thank you. (Applause.)
END 2:31 P.M. EDT