Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Tampa, Florida
[As prepared for delivery]
Thank you so much, Chloe, for sharing your story and for all that you do.
You know, we often say that a person ‘contributes to their community,' but how many people can you name who have done more for a city and its people than Chloe?
Turning abandoned buildings and dangerous lots into places of life and hope, bringing the community together to build homes for local families, to help young people around Tampa learn job skills, to instill pride and purpose in neighborhoods that had been left behind.
Laying the groundwork for economic opportunity that endures through the generations.
That's the sort of work that changes the world. So thank you, Chloe.
And I want to thank all of the speakers you heard earlier, including your remarkable mayor — Jane Castor.
My friends — Congressman Charlie Crist and Congresswoman Kathy Castor.
Alan Cohn — who we've got to send to Congress.
And one of the finest people I know — Senator Bill Nelson.
I served with a lot of people in the U.S. Senate, but I haven't served with anyone with more character, courage, and decency than Bill Nelson.
Five days left, folks.
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 for generations to come, both at home and abroad, right here in Florida — with all of you.
You're the ones who built this country.
Wall Street didn't build it — YOU did.
The middle class did. And unions built the middle class.
You're the ones who are going to save it.
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.
And on November 3rd, we're going to unite this country and show the world who we really are.
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 Americans dead because of COVID-19.
More than 16,000 here in Florida.
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, as I told him, 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.
Donald Trump's super-spreader events are spreading more than just the coronavirus.
They're spreading division and discord.
We need a president who will bring us together, not pull us apart.
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 by the leading doctors in America, including Trump's own CDC director and Dr. Fauci, who called for a mask mandate last week that if we just wore masks, over the next few months we'd save around 100,000 lives.
It's not a political statement.
It's a patriotic duty, for God's sake.
But still Donald Trump refuses to listen to science.
And 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 already passed in the Democratic House of Representatives to working families, schools, and businesses.
As I've 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 inherited a strong economy from Barack and me, just like he inherited everything else in his life.
Now, he's squandered that economy, just like he squandered everything else.
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 working families.
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 Fortune 500 companies that paid zero in federal taxes — to pay their fair share for a change.
Why should a firefighter, an educator, or a nurse pay a higher tax rate than the super-wealthy?
Why should YOU pay more in taxes than Donald Trump?
We're going to 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, or college debt.
Trump got his Supreme Court Justice.
They'll try to destroy the Affordable Care Act — again.
If they get their way, 100 million Americans will lose protections for preexisting conditions, including more than 8.4 million here in Florida.
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, we will strengthen 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 by 60 percent.
We'll make sure we keep the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and we will protect Social Security and Medicare.
Meanwhile, the Social Security Actuary says a plan like Donald Trump's will bankrupt Social Security by 2023.
Tell that to your parents or grandparents.
We have to vote for our military families.
Folks, of all the offensive things Donald Trump has said, nothing is worse than the way he has spoken about those who've served in uniform.
"Losers" and "suckers."
My son Beau served for a year in Iraq.
He wasn't a "loser" or a "sucker." He was a patriot.
Just like your sons and daughters. Your parents and grandparents.
We have to vote for their dignity — the respect they are due.
And we have to vote because while Donald Trump fails to condemn white supremacy, we can deliver racial justice.
Donald Trump doesn't believe that systemic racism is a problem. He won't say that Black lives matter.
We know that 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 must never be a tactic or tolerated.
And it won't.
But these protests are a cry for justice.
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 economic justice: schools, housing, access to capital, good-paying jobs with at least a $15 an hour minimum wage, financial stability.
Giving families of color 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.
We have to vote to ensure the full promise of this country, and we have to vote to meet the challenge of the climate crisis.
You all have seen the impact more than most.
Devastating hurricanes that lay waste to whole communities.
The economic toll is astounding — it grows every year.
But the human toll is worse: lost lives, lost homes, small businesses shuttered, first responders put at risk.
Donald Trump thinks it's all a hoax.
He says we should detonate a nuclear bomb to stop a hurricane.
His answer to families in Puerto Rico struggling through Hurricane Maria was to toss rolls of paper towels at them.
He doesn't have any real answers.
But we know that we can do something about it, that combating climate change means jobs.
We can unleash American ingenuity and manufacturing to build a stronger and more climate-resilient nation, creating millions of new, high-paying union jobs.
We can change the path we're on.
But we've got to act now.
This country can't afford four more years of Donald Trump, who thinks he's only responsible for the people who voted for him.
I don't see the presidency that way.
I don't see America that way.
In 2008 and 2012 you placed your trust in me and Barack Obama, and each day we were in office, we worked for you and the entire country.
It was never about Red States or Blue States.
It was always about the United States of America.
I was reminded of that earlier this month, when I visited the sacred ground of Gettysburg.
Abraham Lincoln taught us that we need to unite our nation — that a house divided cannot stand.
I was reminded of it earlier this week, when I was in Warm Springs, Georgia, reflecting on how Franklin Roosevelt taught us about the need to heal our nation.
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 of care for everyone.
And you, too, have a sacred duty — the duty to vote.
It matters. Florida matters.
So in these final days, stay empowered, stay optimistic, stay united.
Make a plan.
Help get out the vote.
Return your ballot today if you haven't done so yet.
Or, you can still vote early in person through November 1st.
But you've got to get it done — and make sure everyone you know votes, too.
I'll never forget what President Kennedy said when he promised to send us to the moon.
He said he "refused to postpone."
I refuse to postpone the work America must do.
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.
A President like Trump — appealing to our fears.
A President who pours gasoline on every flame.
A person who knows the only way he can win is if he divides us — on race, national origins, gender.
Everybody knows who Donald Trump is.
Let's keep showing 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.
We can do this.
We can be better than what we've been.
We can be who we are at our best.
The United States of America.
May God bless you.
May God protect our troops.
Joseph R. Biden, Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden in Tampa, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347051