Remarks by the Vice President at a Get Out the Vote Event with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Wes Moore in Baltimore, Maryland
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Baltimore! (Applause.) It's good to be back. (Applause.) Well, hello, Baltimore. Hello, Maryland. It is good to see all of you. (Applause.) All right.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I love you. I love you for everything you have done for Chris Van Hollen. I love everything you have done for Wes Moore. I love what you're going do over the next 10 days and what we are going to do to restore a sense of honor, a sense of purpose to these offices, knowing that we have exceptional people who are prepared to lead in a way that is reflective of the needs and the desires and the will of the people. I am so happy to see all of you. (Applause.) I am so happy to see you.
So, let me -- let me tell you a bit about Chris Van Hollen. So, he and I are classmates. Did you all know that? And I'll tell you why. We're classmates because we entered the United States Senate on the same day. (Applause.)
And I have served with Chris and I have seen him in these rooms when the cameras are on and when the cameras are off. And he is always fighting for the people in Maryland, always fighting for the people of Maryland. (Applause.)
You know, in the United States Senate, we have these caucus meetings. And when I was there, we were in the minority, so it was in the LBJ room. And they're all these big, round tables. And it's only the senators who are in the room.
And every single time -- you know, and people eating their lunch during -- during the meeting -- whenever Chris Van Hollen would stand to speak, people would put their forks and knives down and listen.
And Chris would talk about working people. Chris would talk about the need to remember the priorities that we have as Democrats. Chris would talk about the work that he has done to say that we need to make sure everyone pays their fair share and that we don't try to put everything on the backs of working people -- shouldn't corporations be required to pay their fair share? And he has been a leader on all of these issues.
So, I'm here to thank you for sending him to the United States Senate those years ago and to thank you for returning him to the United States Senate. (Applause.)
Then you got Aruna Miller, who is going to be extraordinary as the next lieutenant governor of the great state of Maryland. She has been a proven leader. She is a partner to Wes Moore. And the two of them will be a dynamic duo in the work that they will accomplish in the state house. (Applause.)
And then, of course, you've got Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who can preach as well as any pastor I know -- (laughter) -- and who has been just the voice of courage and consistency in the United States Congress. There's Steny. Over -- just when we have been in the majority, when we have been in the minority, you are such a fighter and really a conscience for who we are as Democrats and what we stand for. And it is so good to be with you today in Baltimore, Steny. Thank you. (Applause.)
And I also want to mention a daughter of Baltimore, Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- (applause) -- and her husband, Paul. And I know we are all sending our prayers to their family for Paul's speedy recovery.
I know that folks on the stage today have mentioned it, but, you know, what's happening in our country right now -- and I've been traveling our country -- there's some scary stuff happening. We got to speak truth about that.
You know, there was a time when we appreciated and understood the importance to a democracy of vigorous debate, where we appreciated that it is the diversity of opinions that will lead us to progress, to smart decisions.
But something has been happening in our country where powerful people -- so-called leaders -- have been using the bully pulpit that they were given by the people in a way that is about the preservation of their personal power and is being used to divide our country.
They're using the bully pulpit in a way that is promulgating hate. And so, this is one of those moments that requires all good people to make our voices louder, as a true reflection of who we are as a nation, to say, "We will not stand for that. We will require that we speak truth. We will require that we engage in civil discourse. We will require that so-called leaders actually lead, understanding that the true sign of strength is not based on who you beat down, it's based on who you lift up." (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Ten days!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ten days. We got a lot of work to do. And so, I know who's here. And I know this is a room of leaders who, every election cycle, show up and remind our neighbors and our friends and the perfect strangers we see -- but in their face, we see a neighbor and a friend -- we ask them to vote.
And during an election season and these next 10 days, we will then continue to ask people to vote. And what we know is that they will then ask us a very righteous question: "Why should I vote?"
But here's the thing, Baltimore: We got some really good material. (Applause.) We got some really good material.
So, when they ask us that question, the first thing we're going to do is say, "Well, first, I just want to thank you. Because in 2020, when you last voted, you voted during the height of a pandemic where there was untold loss of life." People lost their jobs, a loss of normalcy. Parents with school-aged children, trying to figure out how you're going to keep your child engaged with their process of education. And in the height of a pandemic, we had record turnout of voting -- record turnout -- record turnout of young voters.
And the way I see it is: In 2020, people stood in those lines, took time out of all of the burdens of their everyday life to fill out a ballot, to drop it off. And in so doing, they put in their order. They said, "This is what I want from my government and my country." And they put in their order.
And so, they stood in those lines, they took that time out, and they said, "We want you to deal finally with the issue of child poverty in America."
And because they stood in those lines, we extended the child tax credit, which, in its first year, reduced child poverty in America by over 40 percent. (Applause.)
They said, "When I'm standing in this line, when I'm taking the time to vote, I want you to deal with the fact that it's expensive to raise children and we need some help."
And so, because they stood in those lines and because they voted Joe Biden and me into the White House and voted Chris Van Hollen's colleagues and Democrats into the Senate and Steny's colleagues into the House -- because they stood in those lines, we passed a tax cut where people parenting children will get up to 8,000 more dollars in their pocket for the cost of medicine and school supplies and food to help them in raising their children. Because they stood in line and they voted. (Applause.)
Because they voted and said, "You know, you all did a really good job back in 2008 with reforming that healthcare system. And let's build on that, because prescription medication is still expensive and because I got a lot of people in my family who have diabetes." (Applause.) "Because Black folks in America are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, Latinos are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. And because we have, in particular, seniors around our country who, on a daily basis, are deciding whether they fill a prescription that a doctor recommended because it will save their life versus paying for their rent or food. I'm going stand in this line to vote, but I want you all to handle that."
And because they voted, we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month. (Applause.)
They said, "I'm going to take time out to vote. But you really need to deal with the fact that, for too long, the pharmaceutical companies have been running this system around the cost of prescription medication."
And because they voted, because you all organized, we now are going to have, for the first time, Medicare be able to negotiate against the pharmaceutical companies on behalf of 60 million Americans. (Applause.)
And I see all my friends in labor, SEIU -- everybody here. You know what I'm talking about when you're at that negotiation table. Collective bargaining works. (Applause.)
Because they voted and said, "You all need to fix the fact that the infrastructure in America is about 150 years old, and these roads and bridges need to be handled. Because, by the way, when I drive over these potholes and these broken roads and bridges, I get a flat tire, which my insurance doesn't cover."
And so, while others had been talking about "Infrastructure Week" forever, folks took the time out to vote, and we passed an infrastructure bill into law -- (applause) -- so that BWI is going to get 25 million more dollars. (Applause.) So that Penn Station will get 26 million more dollars. And the Chesapeake Bay restoration 238 million more dollars. (Applause.) Because you voted and you organized and you reminded people that when they vote, things can happen.
People put in their order in 2020. They said, "You know what?" Now, this really resonates here in Baltimore. "It's about time we have a black woman on the United States Supreme Court." (Applause.) The home of Thurgood. (Applause.)
And because they voted, there is now Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.) Because they voted.
So, we've got a lot of good material to remind folks that the power is with the people and voting matters. And now we are 10 days away from an election where the stakes are equally as high.
So, think about it. The United States Supreme Court -- the Court previously of Thurgood Marshall -- just took a constitutional right that had been recognized from the people of America, from the women of America.
And by the way, on the subject, one does not have to abandon your faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body. (Applause.)
And you know, the thing about it is you look at the decision that came out of the Supreme Court. It's called the Dobbs decision. The proponents of the decision said, "Well, you know, we -- we think that this should now -- this is an issue that should go to the states and the voters can decide." Right?
But look at who's talking. Because out of those same mouths, you will see people who are across our country pushing laws, making it intentionally more difficult for people to vote.
This is happening in our country right now. You look at what they're doing: pushing laws, proposing laws, passing laws that would criminalize doctors and nurses and healthcare providers; make no exception for acts that are some of the most violent and violative of a person's body.
And on that point, just consider these extremist, so-called leaders saying no exception when there's been that kind of violation and then to -- to take away from that individual the ability of self-determination to make a decision about what happens to their body next. It's immoral. It's immoral. (Applause.)
These things are at stake. These so-called leaders are openly talking about how they will go after Social Security and Medicare, not to mention a national ban.
On the Supreme Court, you know, Clarence Thomas said the quiet part out loud -- that what's at risk now is your right to contraception, your right to marry the person you love. These are the things that are at stake. There is so much at stake in this election.
And, you know, one of the things that has been very clear to our President Joe Biden and me and our administration: All of the accomplishments that we have gained terms of that list that we talked about at the beginning, none of them would be real if it weren't for our ability to have a Governor Wes Moore and a senator in Chris Van Hollen.
Because here's the thing: The job isn't done just when you pass a bill. The job is done when it hits the streets. And that's why these elections are so important.
So, here's how I see it, in terms of where we are. We got 10 days to go. And, Maryland, you are always a leader in understanding what's at stake and fighting for our democracy. (Applause.)
And we need you. We really need you. We need you to be here. We need you to talk to your cousins and your play cousins in other states -- (laughter and applause) -- and remind them of what's at stake and remind them of what they got the last time we asked them. Because we really do have a lot of good material.
And so, let's make sure that we take care of home base here in Maryland. And that's going to be about the governor's race.
It's going to be about Anthony Brown and making sure he is the next attorney general of the great state of Maryland. (Applause.) There he is.
It's going be about Aruna Miller. It'll be about Wes Moore. It'll be about David Trone and flipping that seat. (Applause.)
And I think victory is ours to have if we work for it. Because what we know every time is we only make gains when we are prepared to fight for them.
And here's what I'll say as a -- just a conclusion to these points. As Vice President, I have now -- I have now -- my team has told me, I -- they've counted -- I have met with 100 -- over 100 world leaders -- presidents, prime ministers, chancellors and kings. (Applause.) Okay?
Here's the thing. The United States of America, we have always been able to walk in these rooms -- chin up, shoulders back -- talking about the importance of democracies, the importance of the strength of democracies.
And so, we have had the authority, then, to walk in these rooms and talk about rule of law, human rights. And in that way, we have held ourselves out to and have been considered a role model of the greatest democracy in the world, flawed though we may be.
But this is a room full of role models, so I'll tell you what you already know. When you are a role model, people watch what you do to see if it matches what you say.
And leaders around the world and people around the world are watching what is happening in our country. And I'll tell you, Chris, Wes, one of my greatest fears is that autocrats, dictators around the world can now look at their people who are fighting for rights and say to them, "You want to hold up the United States? Well, look what they're doing. You be quiet."
So, the stakes are high because it's reasonable to believe that what we are doing now will not only affect the people of Maryland but could very well affect people around the world. The stakes are high.
And here's the thing about the nature of democracies, in terms of the way I see it. I think there's a duality.
So, on the one hand, when democracies are intact, there's an incredible strength about it, in terms of what it gives its people when it fights for and defends individual rights; defends equality, justice. It's incredibly strong in terms of what it does to strengthen its people.
On the other hand, democracy is very fragile. It is only as strong is our willingness to fight for it. (Applause.) It is only as strong as the willingness of the people to fight for it.
And so, fight we will! All of the progress we have made as a nation has been about understanding: We got to march. We got to shout. We got to organize. We got to vote.
We know what to do, Baltimore. And when we fight, we win! Thank you. (Applause.)
Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President at a Get Out the Vote Event with Senator Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Wes Moore in Baltimore, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/358576