Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Campaign Event in San Francisco, California

March 11, 2024

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Please have a seat.  Please have a seat.

Is this on? It is on? Now it's on.

Good afternoon, everyone. It is good to be home, and it's good to be with so many friends. I lost my voice somewhere along the five states that I've been in the last five days. (Laughter.) But I intend to find it again, so don't worry. Otherwise, all is good.

Sheldon — where is he? There you are. Thank you. And Adrienne, thank you both and all of you for hosting us today and for the support.

You know, I was talking with the group and the host — and, again, I thank you all — outside. You know, there is so much about this movement, the environmental movement, that we proudly and rightly call our own in terms of those of us who are in the Bay Area — live in the Bay Area, were born in the Bay Area.

And the work that you all, then, are doing as a group and as individuals really is reflective of a movement that was borne out of a sense of urgency, a sense of understanding about what is at stake, but a movement that has really grown in an incredible way, that has incorporated all of the beauty of — of what we do in terms of a commitment to innovation; what we do in terms of rejecting the notions and the false choices that suggest that if we are going to be kind to our climate, that somehow that is contrary to strengthening our economy.

The work that you all are doing has been about innovation, about a commitment to our climate, and it has been about job creation and strengthening economies and creating new economies. I am so excited about the clean energy economy and the work that is happening right here in the Bay area and around our country that is spurring and encouraging and — and, in some way, inciting innovation around the world.

I've been traveling a lot, both within our country and — and internationally. Most recently, I was in Munich presenting at the Munich Security Conference. But I'll recall for you the last Munich Security Conference in `23.

And after I gave a presentation that was mostly about our concern about what Ru- — Russia has been doing in Ukraine, I was on the stage taking questions. And it was shortly after we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which we've talked about it and you all helped pass.

And there among our allies — because, of course, the Munich Security Conference is really about NATO and our commitment to a military alliance and our commitment to our allies around the world. But there on the stage in Munich at the Munich Security Conference, I was asked questions about the Inflation Reduction Act in a way that suggested that what we were doing as the United States of America was somehow contrary to our commitment to our partnerships around the world when we invest in American businesses and when we invest in a clean energy economy.

And I said, then — and I didn't have to do it again this year because it became clear. And I said, then: No, our commitment is about investing in our workforce, investing in innovation, investing in the businesses that will do this work, understanding and knowing and intending that it will benefit the entire world, both because of what you are modeling in terms of how these businesses work and can create opportunity and innovate and imagine what can be unburdened by what has been, but also what we are doing in terms of a commitment to innovation that we are then sharing with the world in a way that they can replicate and use to then build on that to create the next thing.

It's very exciting what is happening in our country in a way that is not only, again, about strengthening communities but also what we are doing as a model for the world. So, I'm very excited about what's happening.

And we, of course, have an election coming up. (Laughter.) And on this subject and so many others, I will tell you, there is a big, big difference in terms of how we think and approach this issue of addressing our climate, investing in our economies in a way that we create a thriving clean energy economy. There's a big difference.

Sadly, with the Inflation Reduction Act — sadly, not one Republican in Congress voted for it, because this has somehow become a partisan issue. When we look at where we are in terms of the contrast on issues about what we should do in terms of an investment in a way that we call out what historically has happened in terms of greenwashing, in terms of denial, in terms of delay, in smart and aggressive public policy on these issues, there's a big difference.

And so, when we think about this election on this and so many others, I challenge people always, you know, throw up the split screen. Because on the one hand, with our administration, the Biden-Harris administration, we are committed to and have shown our commitment to investing in what we know is actually for the best interest of our children and our grandchildren yet to come and is in the best interest of growing economies and is in the best interest of upskilling the workforce and training the workforce.

And on the other hand, you have a situation where there has been denial and delay and greenwashing on so many of these issues in terms of how we actually get the job done. So, I am thankful to all of you for the support that you are giving our reelection and the work that we are doing.

I also have to say that, as many of you know, we are also fighting on such a fundamental level for our democracy. You know, there is right now in our country a f- — an agenda, I believe, that is about a full-on attack on hard-won freedoms and rights.

And I do believe, in this election, that each of us are being called upon to make a decision that is an answer to the question: What kind of country do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a country that is guided by foundational principles that include the importance of freedom and liberty and justice and equality, or not?

Many of this is at stake. I was in Selma, Alabama, recently commemorating — commemorating Bloody Sunday, which was a day 59 years ago when a group of young civil rights leaders were trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to stand up and march for the right of people to have the freedom to have access to the ballot box, the freedom to vote.

In our country right now, there is a full-on attack against the freedom to vote. In states like Georgia, do you know they've passed a law that make it illegal to give people food and water if they are standing in line to vote? I was with a group of pastors recently, and I looked at them and I said, “What happened to ‘love thy neighbor'?” (Laughter.)

We look at what is happening in terms of our young people. And, you know, I have to tell you — I'll confess — I love Gen Z. I love Gen Z. I really do. (Laughter.) I know it's a difficult issue for some of us — (laughter) — but I do. And here's why: Because when I look at them — and I just did a college tour last fall, and I met over 15,000 college-age students. I actually did colleges and universities, and I did trade schools.

And here's the thing about that generation. And it's quite humbling, because, you know, if somebody is 18 today, you know what year they were born? 2006. (Laughter.) Think about that. (Laughs.) Think about that.

But theirs is a lived experience to only know the climate crisis. They've only known the climate crisis. They have coined a term “climate anxiety” to describe the anxiety they feel that causes them to question whether they should have children, whether they should ever aspire to buy a home for fear that some extreme weather will take it out. It's a lived experience for them, this issue.

It's a lived experience that from kindergarten to 12th grade — I would ask them when I would go to the schools — thousands of kids came. I'd ask them, “Raise your hand if, at any time between kindergarten and 12th grade, you had to endure an active shooter drill.” Almost every hand went up.

It's a lived experience for them that they are afraid of gun violence and want so desperately that we'd just do reasonable things, like pass an assault weapons ban, background checks, red flag laws.

It's a lived experience for them that during — you know, parents, it's difficult to hear this — but during the height of their reproductive years, that they saw the highest court in our land take a fundamental right from the people of America, from the women of America — the right to just make decisions about your own body and not have the government tell you what to do.

And I say all that to say, then, that there is a very real split screen in terms of where we are on so many of these fundamental issues and the other side.

The very likely nominee, the former President of the United States, on the last issue that I mentioned — not to mention the earlier issues — you know, he has said he is proud of the fact that he hand-selected three members of the United States Supreme Court with the intention that they would undo Roe v. Wade. He said he is proud of doing that.

Think about it. Proud of the fact that laws have been proposed and passed that criminalize healthcare providers — literally, in Texas, provide prison for life for a doctor or a nurse who administers care. Proud of the fact that people of this generation have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.

So, the split screen is real on so many issues. And then, just recently, on the issue of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. You know how many people in our country are seniors who live a whole, productive life and put money into Social Security, and now you're saying, “Oh, it could be on the table for cuts”? Medicare and Medicaid?

The split screen on this, we have just allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices for seniors so that finally their medication could be capped at $2,000 a year. You know how many of our seniors that I have met in my travels over the years who either would try and get on a bus to go to Canada to buy their mes- — medication or make real decisions about whether they will either fill a doctor's prescription or fill their refrigerator?

So, I say there's so much at stake in this election. And what you all are doing to support what I think is about standing for our democracy is very real.

And I'll en- — I'll end with one point, which is: I think there's a certain perversion that is happening right now to suggest that the measure of the sign of strength of a leader is based on who you beat down instead of what I think you all know, because I know your work — measured based on who you lift up.

And so, these are very real issues that we are being presented with in this election. And ultimately, again, I'll say: This is a moment where it is incumbent on each of us to decide what kind of country do we want to live in.

And with that, again, I thank you all, because I think I have an an- — a knowledge about your answer to that question. (Laughter.)

Thank you. (Applause.)

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Campaign Event in San Francisco, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/370751

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