Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia
[As prepared for delivery]
Maya, thank you so much for that incredible introduction. It gives me so much hope and optimism for the future of our country to see inspiring young people like you helping create the change that you know is possible.
And of course, I know you have had an incredible role model in Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Mayor Bottoms is a powerhouse leader, and she has helped shape and support this campaign from its earliest days. So I want to thank you, Mayor Bottoms, for your vision, your partnership, and your commitment to this campaign and the people of Atlanta.
And thank you to Common and Offset for energizing and sharing your message of hope with all of us.
I also want to recognize all the elected officials joining us today. Representative Billy Mitchell, Representative Calvin Smyre, who have been with us from the beginnings of this campaign.
And we've got to send back to the United States House of Representatives Lucy McBath, Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop, and make sure they're joined by Nikema Williams and Carolyn Bourdeaux.
And folks, I can't tell you how important it is that we flip the United States Senate — and there's no state more consequential in that fight than Georgia. You have two competitive seats at stake and you have two great candidates who are going to need all of our support to get over the finish line — Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Let's give the people of Georgia two new Senators who will fight for your interests, not Donald Trump's.
Folks, it's Go-Time.
There's one week left.
Millions of Americans are already voting.
Millions more will vote by the end of this.
And I believe when you use your power, the power of the vote — we will change the course of this country, right here in Georgia — with all of you.
In these final days, keep that sense of empowerment with you. And that sense of optimism of what we can do, what we can overcome.
I've never been more optimistic about America or the American people.
But I know it's hard.
Over these past few months, there has been so much pain, so much suffering, so much loss in America.
More than 225,000 dead Americans because of COVID-19. More than 7,800 right here in Georgia.
Millions of people are out of work, on the edge — and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And Donald Trump has given up.
Over the weekend, the White House chief of staff said, "We're not going to control the pandemic."
At the debate last week, Donald Trump said, "we're rounding the corner... it's going away ... we're learning to live with it."
But we're not learning to live with it. We're learning to die with it.
Donald Trump has waved the white flag, abandoned our families, and surrendered to this virus.
But the American people don't give up. They don't give in. And they surely don't cower.
And neither will I.
I'll put in place a plan to deal with this pandemic responsibly: bringing the country together around testing, tracing, and masking.
It's estimated that if we just wore masks, over the next few months we'd save around 100,000 lives.
But still, Donald Trump refuses to listen to science.
We shouldn't be politicizing the race for a vaccine — we should be planning for its safe, equitable, and free distribution. Providing the funding for PPE and national standards for schools and businesses to reopen safely.
Bringing together Republicans and Democrats to deliver economic relief to working families, schools, and businesses.
As I said before, I'm not going to shut down the economy.
I'm not going to shut down the country.
I'm going to shut down the virus.
Donald Trump crashed the economy that Barack and I left him. But we can build back better with an economy that rewards work not wealth.
We can do it without raising taxes on the middle class.
If you make less than $400,000 a year, you won't pay a penny more in taxes. But we'll ask the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations — the 91 of the top companies that paid zero in federal income taxes — to pay their fair share.
That's who we'll deliver tax relief for: working families and the middle class, to help you buy your first home, pay for health care premiums, or for child care or care for an aging loved one.
Trump got his Supreme Court Justice so he can try to destroy the Affordable Care Act — again.
If they get their way, more than 20 million Americans could lose their coverage, including more than 340,000 Georgians.
100 million Americans will lose protections for preexisting conditions, including more than 4 million Georgians.
Complications from COVID-19 will become the next preexisting conditions, allowing insurers to jack up your premiums or deny you coverage, and women will again be charged more for their health care, just because they're women.
Donald Trump thinks health care is a privilege. I think it is your right.
And if we all get out and vote, we'll not only restore Obamacare, but strengthen it and build on it so you can keep your private insurance or choose a Medicare-like public option.
We'll increase subsidies to lower your premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket spending, and reduce prescription drug costs in this country by 60%. We'll make sure we keep the protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
I'll protect your Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has proposed a plan that the Social Security Actuary says will bankrupt Social Security by 2023.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump fails to condemn white supremacy, doesn't believe that systemic racism is a problem, and won't say that Black lives matter.
We know Black lives matter.
That's why a season of protest has broken out all across the nation. Protesting is not burning and looting and violence can never be a tactic or tolerated. And it won't.
But much of it is a cry for justice from communities that have long had the knee of injustice on their neck.
The names of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake will not soon be forgotten.
Not by me. Not by us. Not by this country.
They're going to inspire a new wave of justice in America.
But true justice is also about jobs, good-paying jobs with at least a $15 an hour minimum wage. Financial stability. Giving Black families a real shot to own a home, start a small business, send a child to college debt-free so they can build wealth and pass opportunity down through the generations.
Investing $70 billion in our HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions so students like Maya, studying at Howard, or the students at Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta University, and future generations of proud Black students continue to get the very best education.
You know, I have a chip on my shoulder when I read something about how if I'm elected president, I'll be the first president who didn't go to an Ivy League school in a long time.
Like somehow that meant I didn't belong.
You know Senator Harris would be the first HBCU graduate to serve as Vice President.
I say it's about time a state school and a HBCU graduate are in the White House.
Because if we're sitting there, you will be too.
I'm optimistic because I know that we can meet the challenge of the climate crisis by unleashing American ingenuity and manufacturing to create millions of new, high-paying union jobs.
Folks, this is all within our capacity. We can do this.
You know, there aren't a lot of pundits who would have guessed four years ago that the Democratic candidate for president in 2020 would be campaigning in Georgia one week before Election Day, or that we'd have such competitive Senate races in Georgia.
But we do — because something is happening.
Here in Georgia, and across the country, people of different races, backgrounds, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are coming together to transcend old divisions and to show what's possible.
In this most important election in any of our lifetimes, in this battle for the soul of America, we're showing who we are.
You and I, Reverend Warnock, and Jon Ossoff. All of us.
This country can't afford four more years of Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
We can't afford four more years of leaders who think they are only responsible for the people who vote for them.
Folks, I don't see America that way.
This has to change, and it will change with me.
Every American will be seen and heard and respected by me. If elected President, there will be no red or blue states. Only the United States.
I was reminded of that earlier this month, when I went to sacred ground at Gettysburg.
Abraham Lincoln taught us about the need to unite our nation.
I was reminded of that earlier today, when I was up in Warm Springs, reflecting on how Franklin Roosevelt taught us about the need to heal our nation.
Folks, I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president to unite and to heal, and I will work as hard for those who don't support me as for those who do.
That's the job of a president. It's a duty to care for everyone.
So in these final days, stay empowered, stay optimistic, stay united.
Because you too have a sacred duty. The duty to vote.
It matters. Georgia matters.
So please vote. Help get out the vote.
Early in-person voting in Georgia goes through October 30th.
If you are voting by mail, return your ballot as soon as possible — make sure everyone you know does the same.
Drop your ballot off at a ballot box.
Visit IWillVote.com/GA to find a location in your county.
And remember the final words left to us by your late Congressman, my friend, an American hero, John Lewis: "The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it."
You have the power to win this election. There's nothing beyond our capacity. There's no limit to America's future.
The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself.
Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. Let's show them who we are.
We choose hope over fear.
Unity over division.
Science over fiction.
And yes, truth over lies.
So it's time to stand up and take back our democracy.
May God bless you.
May God protect our troops.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Atlanta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347035