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Remarks: Joe Biden Addresses a Fundraising Event in Washington - October 27, 2023

  • Joe Biden
    Person
  • Note
    Person
Somewhat Negative

Note

Unknown
[Joe Biden delivered remarks at a campaign fundraiser held at the residence of Esther Coopersmith in Washington. While the press pool was in attendance, recordings of the event were not permitted. The following is the official transcript, as provided by The White House.] 1

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Please sit down. Sit down. My name is Joe Biden. I'm a friend of Esther Coopersmith's. [Laughter and applause] Esther has been helping me for a long, long, long time. 2

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
Shawn, thank you for that introduction, by the way. 3

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Esther, you've been a great friend for so long. I want to say in front of everybody, even though Jill's not here, I love you, kid. [Laughter and applause] No, I really do. She's been helping me for longer than she wants to admit. 4

Joe Biden

Very Positive
But -- and, Linda, thank you for your support. And I want to thank -- Kamala and I are incredibly, incredibly grateful to everyone here. You know, I wanted to acknowledge Virginia -- the Virginia House [DEL: Majority :DEL] [Minority] Leader, who is soon going to be the Speaker of the House. 5

Joe Biden

Unknown
Where are you, Mr. Speaker -- soon-to-be? [Audience member replies "Right here. Right here."] 6

Joe Biden

Unknown
There you are. [Applause] 7

Joe Biden

Neutral
I want you to know, you guys are sending me money, and I'm sending it to Virginia. [Laughter] 8

Joe Biden

Unknown
You know, many of you in this -- this yard are trial lawyers. I aspired to be a trial lawyer. I couldn't do it, so I decided to be a senator. [Laughter] 9

Joe Biden

Neutral
As I like to say, you're one of the few groups standing between us and the barbarians at the gate. And you -- you're the ones standing up to the tobacco industry, gun manufacturers, and other corporate -- corporations that need to be held accountable. And I really mean that. 10

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
Think of what would happen if we didn't have a trial bar. I'm not joking about that. Imagine if we hadn't succeeded with the tobacco industry. 11

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
You know, we need your help now to end immunity from liability for gun manufacturers. [Applause] [Inaudible] 12

Joe Biden

Very Negative
The only corporate entity in America, by law, exempted. It's got to stop. It's got to stop. 13

Joe Biden

Very Negative
You see what's happened recently up in -- anyway, I won't go into it. But it just -- it just is outrageous. You know, who the hell needs an assault weapon that can hold up to -- in some cases, up to a hundred rounds? You know, it's just -- there's no reason for those -- those AR-15s other than to kill people. They're not designed -- 14

Joe Biden

Very Negative
I -- when I was able, along with Dianne Feinstein, to [DEL: end :DEL] [pass] the assault weapons ban back years ago -- a [inaudible] where we could only do it for 10 years. Then Bush got elected, and he let it lapse. But, you know, mass murders dropped off considerably. Considerably. 15

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And I remember going through Delaware. In the southern part of the state, there's a lot of -- awful lot of duck hunting, a lot of hunters in the state. And I was going through, trying to make the case, because I was running, for banning assault weapons. 16

Joe Biden

Negative
And I had a guy -- so, I was walking through the swamp area -- for real -- and a guy is in there fishing, and he looked at me. He said, "Biden, you're going to take my damn guns away from me." 17

Joe Biden

Very Negative
I said, "I'm not going to take your guns away. I'm just going to take some." [Laughter] I said -- no, I'm serious. I said, "The Second Amendment doesn't say you can own a cannon. It doesn't say you can own a machine gun. It doesn't say... " -- I went down the list. 18

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And he said, "Well, I need it." And I said, "You a hunter?" And he said, "Yeah." I said, "You must be one hell of a lousy shot." [Laughter] No, I'm serious. And I said, "Most deer I know in Delaware aren't wearing Kevlar vests." [Laughter] 19

Joe Biden

Very Negative
At any rate, the bottom line is that, you know, it's -- it just is outrageous what's happening. And we need you. We need you badly. Not a joke. 20

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And I was proud to sign Ending Forced Arbitration for Sexual Assault and Harassment. We should ban forced arbitration. We're almost -- and other kinds of dispute as well. You know -- [Applause] 21

Joe Biden

Very Positive
You know, I -- you know, you share my belief in the importance of increasing -- increased diversity in the courts. When I got elected, I said a couple of things: Number one, I wanted my administration to look like America. And it does. [Applause] 22

Joe Biden

Negative
By the way, I was raised in -- by women and with -- women are a hell of a lot smarter than I am. So, we have more women in my Cabinet than men. Not a joke. [Applause] 23

Joe Biden

Positive
And I've been more focused on diversity backgrounds on the bench than any president in American history. Kamala and I have gotten 147 judges confirmed; two thirds are women, and two thirds are people of color. [Applause] 24

Joe Biden

Very Positive
We put the first Black woman on the Supreme Court. And guess what? She's smarter than the rest of them too. [Applause] I made a commitment I -- no, she's incredible. 25

Joe Biden

Unknown
And I've appointed more Black women in the federal circuit courts than every single president combined in American history. [Applause] 26

Joe Biden

Very Positive
I've gotten a heck of a lot done. I especially want to thank Kamala for her leadership on so many important issues. 27

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
You know, we're here tonight because we all believe the country faces a clear choice in November. We're -- we're the only nation -- the only nation in the world founded on an idea. Every other nation is founded on ethnicity, religion, or whatever, but not us. We're founded on -- only one in the world foun- -- and it's -- we don't focus on it enough -- on an idea. 28

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, endowed by... " We never lived up to it completely, but we've never walked away from it. We're the only one founded on an idea. 29

Joe Biden

Positive
And, you know, Trump and the MAGA Republicans, they -- they've walked away completely from the notion -- that notion. You know, we're not -- we're not going to walk away on my watch, and I need your help. 30

Joe Biden

Very Negative
You know, when I made -- you may remember when I ran in 2020 because you're the guys that got me elected. I'm not joking. [Applause] Along with a hell of a lot of labor unions. [Laughter] 31

Joe Biden

Very Negative
But, look, you know, when we ran, we said that -- I remember making a speech -- and you may remember it; it got a lot of criticism. And they asked me -- they asked why I was running. I said I was running for three reasons: One, to restore the soul of America, because over the last four -- the previous four years, it was basically lost; secondly, to build the country from the middle out and the bottom up, not from the top down; and, thirdly, to unite the country. 32

Joe Biden

Unknown
Well, you know, what happened was -- and then -- and then I making a speech -- I ended up making a couple of speeches, it turned out, on democracy, because I said democracy was at risk. 33

Joe Biden

Very Negative
My entire career, [DEL: derocracy :DEL] [democracy] has never been, since the Civil War, at risk. But it's at risk. And everybody thought that's an exaggeration. The columnists -- they don't do it anymore -- talked about, "Well, that's an exaggeration." 34

Joe Biden

Unknown
Except, you know what? Sixty-seven percent of the American people agreed with me that democracy was at risk. 35

Joe Biden

Very Negative
When I left the vice presidency at the end of the Obama-Biden administration, I had no intention of running for president or office again. I had just lost my son Beau to burn pits in -- in Iraq. He was there a year. And -- and Charlottesville -- then Charlottesville happened. 36

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And I don't know if you remember what happened -- people coming out of the woods, carrying torches -- out of fields literally carrying torches down in Charlottesville. Nazi swastikas accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists, and singing the same vicious, antisemitic bile that was sung in Germany in the '30s. And a young woman was killed. A young woman was killed. And I met her mom -- I spoke to her mom. And she was a bystander. 37

Joe Biden

Positive
And they asked my predecessor, the guy who may be my opponent this time, what he thought. Remember what he said? Not joking. He said, "There are very fine people on both sides." "Very fine people on both sides." 38

Joe Biden

Neutral
What president since the time going back to the Civil War has said anything like that? "Very fine people on both sides." 39

Joe Biden

Leans Positive
Well, let me tell you something: That's when I decided I should run. Because I'm the antithesis of this guy who held office. And I really wasn't going to run, I swear to God, because, as I said, I just lost my son. He's the one who should be standing here talking to you -- the attorney general and decorated war hero -- not me. 40

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
But I got a call from -- we have a tradition in my family that my dad started that any child -- and this is literally -- I mean, literal -- any child can ask for a family meeting, and it's taken seriously. And if they ask for a family meeting -- only 11 times that I can remember since I've been born that I remember it happening. 41

Joe Biden

Positive
And my granddaughters asked for a family meeting. It was on a Thursday. One was a senior at Columbia Law School; two or three were at Penn. Anyway, they're all bright kids. And they came down, and we met in my -- our house in Delaware. 42

Joe Biden

Unknown
And they said, "Pop, you've got to" -- they call me "Pop" -- "Pop, you've got to run." 43

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And I said, "It's going to be ugly, honey. I don't -- I'm not sure... " Because I wasn't sure I wanted to put them through it. Their whole lives, they had either had a father who was an attorney general or a -- a grandfather who was a senator or a vice president or a presi- -- or a vice president. 44

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And they said, "You got to run." They gave me all the reasons for wanting to -- why I should run. And my youngest one, who's now a senior in high school, named after -- he's my -- he's the son of my deceased son. His name is Hunter Biden. And Hunter said, "Pop, we know it's going to be ugly." 45

Joe Biden

Very Positive
And he took out his cell phone -- it's the truth -- took out his cell phone, and he opened it up -- not opened it. It wasn't open -- it wasn't a flip phone; it was a regular phone. [Laughter] And he showed me a photograph of me walking out of St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Delaware -- excuse me, St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Delaware with a military funeral with my hand on the casket, dra- -- flag-draped coffin with my son about to be buried, because he is -- he had won the Citizen -- the Bronze Star. Anyway -- 46

Joe Biden

Very Positive
And I had my hand on my little [DEL: son :DEL] [grandson] Hunter like I used to hold my son Beau in church, and I had my hand under his chin holding him. Know what the caption read? It said, "Biden molests another child." 47

Joe Biden

Unknown
As so, he said, "We know it's going to be mean, Pop, but you got to run." And that's when I decided to run. 48

Joe Biden

Somewhat Negative
And as I said, one of the reasons I did -- ran was to try to restore the soul of this country. We are not who that last guy was. We were in the battle for the soul of America. So, I ran because everything this country stood for, everything we believed in, everything that made America "America," even our very democracy, was at risk. 49

Joe Biden

Negative
I think people thought I was being hyperbolic when I said -- I'd get, "Joe, what do you mean democracy is a risk? What do you mean we're in a battle for the soul of America?" Have you noticed most presidential historians have now agreed with me? 50

Joe Biden

Neutral
Well, people don't say that anymore. I don't think anyone today doubts democracy was at stake in 2020. But I think it's still at stake in these upcoming el- -- elections. 51

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Listen to what they've been saying. Listen to what the MAGA Republicans are talking about. Listen to the language they use. Listen to who they say we are. Listen to say -- what they will do if they gain power. 52

Joe Biden

Very Positive
You know, that's why Kamala and I are running again, because we made progress, but our democracy is still at stake. Because, folks, the same man who thought there were, quote, "very fine people on both sides" in Charlottesville, who called Hezbollah "very smart" -- "Hezbollah is very smart" -- who recently on more than one occasion has made jokes about the assault on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband. 53

Joe Biden

Neutral
Now, there are a lot of reasons Donald Trump shouldn't be president, but this one may be the [DEL: rest :DEL] [best] reason of all. Folks, Kamala and I are asking the entire nation to join us in sending the strongest, clearest, most-powerful message possible that political violence is never, never, never, never, never acceptable in America. Never. Never. [Applause] 54

Joe Biden

Very Negative
And Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy this democracy. And while MAGA Republicans in the House have been fighting among themselves, struggling to elect a Speaker until just now, trying to shut down the government, sowing division at every turn, Kamala and I are always going to defend, protect, and fight for our democracy. That's why we're running. It's that basic. 55

Joe Biden

Very Negative
This country we live in is so special. Kamala and I don't believe America is a dark, negative nation of carnage, driven by anger, fear, and revenge like the other team does. 56

Joe Biden

Unknown
And think of what they say. Think of -- just listen to what they say. 57

Joe Biden

Unknown
And, by the way, I've been serving in the Congress for 270 years. You know, I've been around a long time. [Laughter] 58

Joe Biden

Positive
But all kidding aside, you know, there's a lot of -- this is not your father's Republican Party. 59

Joe Biden

Very Positive
Many of you know me well. I was known in the United States Senate for those 36 years as being able to bring people together and was able to do that. I got an award for doing that by the Congress when I was leaving -- by the Senate when I was leaving. 60

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
But this is a different breed of cat. These aren't the same guys. Donald Trump -- Donald Trump -- think of how he's been able to intimidate that party. 61

Joe Biden

Very Positive
I've had seven senior Republicans who I served with, in the Senate still, who have said to me -- and I gave my word I'd never mention who they were, and they don't even know who they are -- I mean, one another -- that -- they made it real clear, "Joe, I agree with you, but if I -- if I join you, I'll be defeated in a primary that Trump will put together." Not a -- not a lot of cour- -- profiles in courage, but it's a reflection of reality. You've seen it. 62

Joe Biden

Very Positive
To his supporters, he says things like, "I'm your retribution." "We're a failing... " -- these are quotes. "We're a fail- -- we're a failing nation." "Either they win, or we win. If we win -- if they win, we -- we no longer have a country." 63

Joe Biden

Unknown
Did you ever think you'd hear those words coming out of a sitting president's mouth or someone seeking that office? 64

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
Folks, that's what's at stake. Democracy is literally on the ballot. Kamala and I need you. You all -- and most of you, I look around here, don't know any better. You've helped me for a long time. [Laughter] 65

Joe Biden

Negative
The first time was your fault. [Laughter] 66

Joe Biden

Very Positive
No, but all -- all kidding aside. I mean, we can't tha- -- I can't thank you enough. We need every American who loves our democracy to join us again in 2024. And if we do, we'll have done something few successive generations have been able to do. We will have saved democracy in America. 67

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
And I've never been more optimistic about America's future. I really mean it. Think about the possibilities we have. 68

Joe Biden

Leans Negative
You know, when I wasn't going to run, I was going to write a book -- another book on the inflection points in American history. Almost all of the them have been affected by fundamental changes in technology. 69

Joe Biden

Unknown
Imagine had Gutenberg not invented the printing press. What would have happened in terms of the implication to Europe and to be able to communicate with one another? Go all the way through every single change that's occurred. 70

Joe Biden

Slightly Negative
We don't have -- we don't have the means to communicate like we used to because there's no editors anymore. You don't know what's -- you know, you don't know what to believe when you read it. There's no editors anymore. 71

Joe Biden

Very Positive
But, folks, we're in a situation where the world is changing, and what happens in the next four years and the last four, five, six years is going to determine what this country looks like for the next six to eight decades. For real. Just like the post-war period. 72

Joe Biden

Very Positive
We have an opportunity to unite the Middle East in a way we never thought. Saudi Arabia wants to deal with Israel. I've been working -- at the G20 in India, I got them to all agree and vote for building a railroad from Delhi all the way up to the -- the Mediterranean through the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all the way to Israel, and then across and pipeline it into Greece and then up. 73

Joe Biden

Slightly Positive
I mean -- because when people share a common economic need and con- -- and consistency, they tend to work together. 74

Joe Biden

Very Positive
So, look, you know, we just have to remember who we are. You know, we're the only country in the world, in my view -- and, I mean -- I challenge you who are historians to tell me where I'm wrong about this -- only country in the world that's come out of every crisis we've ever entered stronger than we went in -- stronger than -- we've had serious crises, but stronger and better organized than we went in. That's where we are today. 75

Joe Biden

Very Positive
And, you know, I was talking to somebody who came up to me -- and I'm not going to mention his name; don't want to embarrass him -- in the photo line, telling me he was talking to the U.N., and there was people saying, "Thank you for the United States." 76

Joe Biden

Unknown
Folks, I've spent my entire career dealing with American foreign policy, either as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee or doing it for Barack in his term or -- as -- as Vice President -- my term as Vice President, eight years, or now. 77

Joe Biden

Positive
One of the things I have learned: Madeleine Albright was right. We are the essential nation. That is not hyperbole. Not Joe Biden. We -- the President of the United States is the essent- -- leader of the essential nation. 78

Joe Biden

Neutral
And every single leader I talk to, they -- they almost come to -- kind of stand at attention. We pull the world together. We've kept NATO together. We've kept everybody together in terms of taking on Putin. We're organizing the world relative to the attack on Israel. We're doing -- I mean, we have an opportunity, but we also have enormous obligation. 79

Joe Biden

Positive
We're the United States of America, for God's sake. And there's nothing -- nothing beyond our capacity -- nothing -- I mean that -- when we do it together. 80

Joe Biden

Very Positive
So, my objective hasn't changed. I'm still running for the same reason: to continue to build a consensus about what democracy means, continue to try to restore the soul of this country, and to continue to work in a way that we can deal with the fact that a minority -- but a powerful minority -- on the other team doesn't try to bring us down, doesn't try to turn this into some -- like a circus. 81

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
So, I want to thank you all for giving me another shot. I didn't plan on doing this, either. [Laughter] But I tell you what, I'm sure in hell not going to walk over with Trump on the horizon. 82

Joe Biden

Somewhat Positive
Thank you all so very, very much [inaudible]. [Applause] 83