Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President at a Campaign Reception in Houston, Texas

November 27, 2023

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everyone. (Applause.) The first Second Gentleman of the United States. (Applause.) (Laughs.) Thank you, Dougie.

Hi, everyone, and good evening. Good evening to everyone. Let me start by thanking Sima and Masoud and Dara for hosting us this evening.

Sima and I went to the same law school. And -- and we have been working together most recently on the issue of what we must do to fight for fundamental freedoms, including the right of people -- of women to make decisions about their own body and not have their government tell them what to do.

And so, on behalf of so many who you and your family have supported, I say thank you, because you really make it look easy, and I know it's not. So, can we please applaud our hosts for this evening? (Applause.)

And to the entire host committee and to everyone, to the elected leaders who are here, as Doug said, we were all together at a senior center in the district represented by Sylvia and -- and having a wonderful community conversation about the issues, the challenges, and the opportunities of this moment. And, Congresswoman Barrag√°n, I want to thank you for hosting us in Texas for that purpose.

And I also just want to give a shout-out to Judge Hidalgo who -- (applause). We can only cover so many important topics tonight in this one conversation, but one of the discussions that we had earlier this afternoon was about the importance of addressing mental health. And increasingly, a big, big issue for our young leaders and our young people -- in fact, one out of three young people describe and have reported they're concerned about their own mental health. And that's just what -- who has reported. And she's been a national leader on this issue. So, I thank you for that and all that you do. Thank you. (Applause.)

So, there's a lot to talk about, but let's start with this. And I think it's part of the theme of the evening. We love our country. We love our country.

And there is so much about this moment and, certainly, the next 11 months that will be about fighting for this country we love and fighting to make real the promise that we all hold so dear -- a promise that is based on fundamental, foundational ideals, freedoms -- the right of individuals to have a government and a nation protect their individual rights and their freedoms in such a foundational way.

This election is going to be about a fight for our democracy and all that we hold dear. And so, we all come together with, I think, a collective and a shared spirit of knowing that this is a fight borne out of love for something, not against anything.

And so, that's with that spirit that we join together tonight and understanding that we have to stay vigilant. And none of us -- and I'm preaching to the choir here -- none of us can afford to passively sit by and watch what we have been witnessing happen without being active and taking a stand to fight for all that we hold dear.

So, that's how I think about the moment that we are in. And it's not only about who we are as a nation as it relates to each other. This is also about our standing globally around the world.

Doug mentioned that last -- was it -- it was last week we were in San Francisco at APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Council, and -- and then a couple of weeks before that in the UK. And at those most recent meetings, just in the last few weeks, I saw global leaders who I've now come to know quite well as vice president.

I will tell you that, as vice president, I have now met with over 100 world leaders -- presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. And one of the things I can tell you is that when we walk in those rooms representing the United States of America, we walk in those rooms chin up, shoulders back, with the earned and self-appointed authority to talk about the importance of rule of law, democracies.

But here's the thing about being a role model: When you're a role model -- it's a group of role models -- people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say. And on so many of the important issues of the moment, then, the outcome of this election will be a statement in so many ways about who we are as a nation and our commitment to fundamental, foundational principles.

Like Doug said, you know, there's so many issues right now that are seeming as though they're binary when, in fact, they're anything but. But on this election, it's binary. There's a split screen. And everyone has got to just see it and understand they've got to take a stand.

Again, I am preaching to a whole group of folks who understand and have committed themselves to being active on this issue. So, when I think about where we are, it is foundation and fundamental principles that are at stake.

On the stage with the two Congress members, we talked just a couple hours ago now about a college tour that I started this year. So, during the summer, I said, "You know, I really want to get out and hang out with our Gen Z." (Laughter.) I love Gen Z. I'm just going to confess. I love Gen Z.

And it's -- it will be a very humbling thing for many to acknowledge that if someone is 18 today, they were born in 2005. (Laughter.) But when you think about who they are -- right? -- okay, so I told you, it's kind of -- you know, it's a little bit humbling, isn't it?

But what I love about that generation -- this generation, for so many of the foundational, fundamental issues that we're facing right now, for them it's a lived experience. They've only known the climate crisis. They have witnessed states, including this very state, take away voting rights, take away -- they saw the highest court take away a woman's right to make decisions about their own body. They witnessed the killing of George Floyd. They have endured active-shooter drills.

So, for them -- and doing this college tour, what I -- where I met over 15,000 young people, it is so clear that these issues are, for them, a lived experience. This is not some conceptual issue. This is not an academic issue. And they are prepared to step up in a way that they believe we also will step up.

And so, thinking, then, about these foundational and fundamental principles that are at stake, I will tell you: Traveling our country, I've also seen and I do believe there is an intent to -- to create a full-on attack against these rights -- be it, again, the right of a woman to make decisions about her own body; the freedom to have access to the ballot, unfettered; the freedom to love who you love openly and with pride; the freedom to live free of fear, be it gun violence or bigotry or Islamophobia or antisemitism or xenophobia; the freedom to just be.

These are the things that are at stake right now in our country.

However, I will also say, as I travel our country and meet with the friends like those who are here today, I am so clear that we are prepared to do what is necessary to fight for all that is good and right.

And I just have to reflect on a few things. I reflect on 2020 and I reflect on the midterms.

2020, in the height of a pandemic -- where there was extraordinary loss of life, people lost their jobs, a lo- -- loss of normalcy -- the people in this house never gave up and remained optimistic and were as engaged as you are now and as involved as you are now and talked with friends and neighbors and family members about why they should care and stay active, in the midst of an historic pandemic.

And because of the work you did in 2020, born out of optimism and what is possible, we had record voter turnout -- record young voter turnout.

Because of what you did in 2020, we took on so much, which resulted in transformative policies for the American people.

And, you know, on that point -- I know there's some press folks here -- I'll tell you -- so, you know -- (laughter) -- I know I -- I believe in the freedom of the press. I love the press. I love the press. (Laughter.) But my point is this -- my point is this: that, you know, the punditry, you know, on media, will -- they'll -- they'll often talk about, "Oh, you know, there's -- this is going to be a tough race. This is going to be a tough election." Well, of course, it is. We're talking about president of the United States in a reelection.

Of course, it's going to be tough, but we've got a lot of good material. (Applause.) We've got a lot of good material.

And I'll just rattle off a few things.

Think about the transformative nature of what we did with the infrastructure bill. You know, some people talked about "Infrastructure Week" forever; it never happened. We are now investing billions of dollars in upgrading America's infrastructure.

What we have done with the Inflation Reduction Act is an investment, by my estimate, of at least $1 trillion over the next 10 years in a clean energy economy, which will allow us as the United States of America to be a global leader in what nations can do to address one of the most existential crises we have ever faced.

What we are doing and what we have done -- (applause) -- to invest in the CHIPS and Science Act -- to invest in our capacity to engage in research and development, engage in the brilliance of someone like Dara, who is working in technology and just moved to San Francisco. (Applause.)

To create -- to create and to -- to do the work that is about innovation to heal people and to improve the quality of life of people around the world.

This is the work we have been doing as an administration because you all believed in 2020 in what is possible. And you showed up, in this house and many other places, knowing what can be, unburdened by what has been.

Not to mention what we have accomplished -- some people might think it's not a big deal, but I'll tell you a whole lot of people do -- we capped the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month. That's a big deal. (Applause.)

We are on track to get every American family access to an affordable high-speed Internet, including rural America -- I'm saying in Texas. (Applause.)

We are on track to get rid of every lead pipe in America -- lead pipes through which toxic water was coming that babies were drinking and having an impact on their health and their ability to learn. (Applause.)

This is the stuff we are doing because you all were so engaged and believed in what was possible.

And so, I say that to say we've got a lot of good material. And our challenge is just, then, to remind folks of who brung it to them. (Laughter.) Because people want to talk about the polls -- well, let me tell you: On every aspect of every issue that I have just quickly outlined -- incredibly popular with American people. These things are incredibly popular, what we have done. We just got to let people know who brung it to them.

And so, that's part of our challenge. And we've got 11 months, and we know how to get this done.

And so, I'll close by saying this. Again, this is about our nation. I mean, Sima, you said it so beautifully. This is about -- we thought 2020 was a fight for the soul of America. Joe Biden talks about that all the time -- our extraordinary president, who, by the way, because of his leadership -- (applause) -- has been able to bring nations together around some of the chal- -- most challenging issues of our time. This is fundamentally about a fight for our democracy.

And I'll close with just a simple point. You know, there's a duality to the nature of democracies. On the one hand, it is very -- it is very much about strength -- the strength that it gives individuals in terms of the protection of their rights and freedoms and liberties. When a democracy is intact, it is very strong in its capacity to lift the people up.

It is also very fragile. It is only as strong as our willingness to fight for it.

And so, fight we will; fight we must. And when we fight, we win. (Applause.)

So, thank you, all. Thank you, all. Thank you, all. Thank you, thank you.

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Campaign Reception in Houston, Texas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/368155

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