Remarks by President Biden at Campaign Event for Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe17 min read
Lubber Run Park
(July 23, 2021)
8:01 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Virginia! (Applause.) It’s so great to be back. First off, it goes without saying how much I appreciate your current governor, Ralph Northam, by the way. (Applause.) Because of the hard work of the American people, we’ve put ourselves in a position for us to control the virus instead of it controlling us.
Here in Virginia, COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are down 90 percent since January. (Applause.) Fifty-four percent of your population has been fully vaccinated, eighty-two percent of your seniors — both of which are above the national average. (Applause.)
But this pra- — this didn’t happen by itself. It’s due to the heroic vaccination program — one of the greatest and most complex operational challenges in American history.
It happens when we all work together — the federal government, states, cities, the private sector, and all of Americans.
Look, it happens when you have governors like Ralph who’ve been a key partner, coordinating FEMA and the National Guard to move personnel and resources around the state to get shots in arms. It happens when you’re honest with people.
You know, I know folks are watching the number of cases rising again and are wondering what it means for them. Well, here’s the truth: If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re safer with a higher degree of protection. But if you’re not vaccinated, you are not protected.
And now — (applause) — what we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And, by the way — you know the old expression — you notice a lot of our very conservative friends have finally had an “altar call.” (Laughter.) They’ve seen the Lord, whether it’s on Fox News or whether it’s the most conservative commentators or governors.
Thank God the governor of Arkansas — excuse me, of — of Alabama — had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country — is now — and I give — I’m genuinely complimenting her —
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Stop line three! Stop line three! Stop line three!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Joe!
THE PRESIDENT: That’s okay. That’s all right. That’s all right. No, no, no, no. Let — let him talk. No, let —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s okay. Look, this is not a Trump rally. Let them holler. No one is paying attention to them. (Applause.)
Look, here’s the point: Virtually all the COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are today among the unvaccinated people. And I know — I know this has gotten a bit politicized, but I hope it’s starting to change. It’s not about red states or blue states or guys like that hollering; it’s about life and it’s about death.
And I know Governor Northam is going to work like the devil to finish the job. (Applause.) Thank you, Gov.
Look — and, of course, it’s great to be with another great friend that’s been around — I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve — seldom do I get to campaign for someone who I’ve agreed with more on basically everything. We go back all the way to roots in Syracuse, New York. (Applause.)
I’m talking about — and before that, I’m actually talking about Dorothy. (Laughter.) Her roots don’t go there, but — look, she’s always been there for me and Jill when we’ve needed her most. She was an incredible First Lady of Virginia and she will be again. She is the very best. (Applause.)
And, Dorothy, speaking of First Ladies, I’m Jill’s husband. Jill wanted to be here tonight. But if you turn on your — if you turn on the Olympics and watch Team USA, you’ll see Jill Biden standing there, cheering with them. (Applause.)
The Japanese Prime Minister, who was — I invited him to be the first person to come to the White House — head of state — he made it real clear: He didn’t want me, he wanted her to go. (Laughter.) He is a man of incredible judgment.
Look, folks, now, of course, it’s great to be with my friend and your once and future governor, Terry McAuliffe. (Applause.)
I mean this — think about this —
AUDIENCE: Terry! Terry! Terry!
THE PRESIDENT: You got it. You’re not going to find anyone — I mean anyone — who knows how to get more done for Virginia than Terry. That’s a fact. You don’t have to wonder what kind of governor Terry will be; you know what kind of governor he was and what kind of governor he’ll be again.
He was a great governor of Virginia, and he’ll be even greater this time because he even has more going for him. And, Virginia, you got to elect him again. (Applause.) You got to elect him again.
And I mean this: not just for Virginia, but for the country. The country is looking. These off-year elections, the country is looking. This is a big deal.
Terry and I share a lot in common. I ran against Donald Trump, and so is Terry. (Laughter and applause.) And I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry. (Applause.)
I tell you what, the guy Terry is running against is an acolyte of Donald Trump, for real. I mean, it’s just like — I don’t know where these guys come from. (Laughter.) I really mean it.
But above all, Terry and I — Terry, we share the same vision about delivering results and, maybe most importantly, why we got involved in politics in the first place. The very wealthy — and I respect anybody who makes a lot of money; you should be able to be a millionaire or billionaire, whatever you want, as long as you pay your fair share. But here’s the deal — (applause) — they don’t need me to protect them.
I got involved in politics because the neighborhood I came from, the towns I came from — Scranton and Claymont, Delaware — little steel town — delivering results for hardworking people, who, if you just give them a chance — (applause) — just a chance, they never, never let the country down. (Applause.)
You know — I really mean that. That’s not — that’s not hyperbole. I really mean it. Just, look — I’ve been in office now for six months, as of a couple days ago. (Applause.) And I think — I think the administration has a lot to be proud of.
We’ve vaccinated over 160 million Americans. (Applause.) We’ve created over three million new jobs — more than any administration has in the first six months in entire presidential history. (Applause.) Never has it happened before.
We eliminated — what we’re on — we’re now estimated to be on track — the economy, not growing before the recession, before COVID, said the economy would grow — it would be three, three and a half percent. Now everything from the OECD to all Wall Street suggests that we’re going to grow this economy 7 percent just this year. (Applause.) That is the highest growth in more than four decades in America. In fact, it’s the best job growth in the world right now. (Applause.)
And in just the past few weeks, one of the biggest tax cuts in the history for families in American with kids went into effect this last week. (Applause.)
I’ve been saying — I really mean this — it’s about time ordinary, hardworking people get a tax break. (Applause.) Because that’s what it is. Parents should see that money going into their bank accounts right now. And let me tell you what it’s going to mean for Americans: We’re going to cut child poverty in half this year because of that. (Applause.)
Look, Terry and I share the same basic truth: Trickle-down economies never work. It’s time to build the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. That’s where we are. (Applause.)
And, by the way, the wealthy have never done poorly when the middle-class and the working-class people do well — they do well.
Look, Terry understands that it started with the American Rescue Plan that’s delivering immediate relief to the folks who needed it most — folks who were on the back of their — on heels, a lot of them knocked down.
Those rescue checks that went out to more than 80 percent of the adults and children in Virginia that provide a little extra breathing room for people.
My dad used to say — I really mean this — my dad used to say, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck; it’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about just having, Joey…” — and I mean this sincerely. When he left — lost everything in Scranton and we moved to Delaware, he said, “Joey, it’s about a little breathing room. That’s all people are asking for — just a little bit of breathing room, a little extra room.”
Look, aid for small businesses that helps them hire and reopen there doors. I’m looking — here it is. Excuse me. (Applause.)
Aid to cities and counties to keep their police officers and firefighters and first responders on the job, educators on the job. (Applause.)
The American Rescue Plan lowered health insurance premiums for those buying into the Affordable Care Act by 40 percent on average, saving people $600 a year. (Applause.)
And Terry knows the work continues — that healthcare should be right, just not a privilege, folks. (Applause.)
And as I said when I was running, with Terry and Dorothy’s help, it’s not enough to build back. I mean this sincerely. America is the only nation in the world, when it’s faced a crisis, has come back stronger than before the crisis — the only one. I’m not joking.
We have to build back and build back better. It’s amazing how that phrase has caught on around the world, isn’t it? (Applause.)
But Terry and I know, along with Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Don Beyer and Abby Spanberger — (applause) — who are working on this in Congress. It means modernizing our physical infrastructure.
Folks, we used to invest more than any country in the world in research and development. We had the number-one infrastructure in the world — the best roads, highways, airports, ports.
Infrastructure is about rebuilding roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes that are poisoning our kids and the water system; delivering high-speed Internet to every single Virginian, rural and urban — (applause); making sure “Buy American” — so when we invest in the jobs, when we purchase all this, that American workers are doing the work.
It’s not that complicated. It really isn’t if you fight for it.
Terry and I share the belief that building back better means investing also in our human infrastructure. You know, that’s my plan. It includes all the things Terry is fighting for. Terry and I believe that when we educate our children earlier, they do better. They do better. (Applause.) No matter what — no matter what background they come from, all the studies at the great universities in this state and others have — in the last eight years — have pointed out that if a kid goes to — not daycare, but preschool, beginning at age three, they increase, by 58 percent, the possibility of going all the way through school and on to community college. (Applause.)
That’s why we support universal pre-K for three- and four-year-olds. (Applause.) And, Terry, if I get it done, you all aren’t going to have to pay for it here in Virginia.
And, look, we believe 12 years of education is not enough to compete in the 21st century economy. That’s why I want to make two-year community college available to every single American. (Applause.) We can afford to do this.
I do have one concern. My wife Jill is teaching fulltime still as a community college professor and First Lady. (Applause.) But Terry is going to be her boss again. (Laughter.) Because she teaches at Vir- — anyway — Northern Virginia Community College. (Laughter.)
And, by the way, Terry, since the time she started working there, she’s never stopped teaching. When we got elected, she thought that she was going to continue to teach. She thought I might object. I strongly supported it. (Applause.) Teaching is not what my wife does; it’s who she is.
And, folks, look — look, the fact is that the idea that we are able to bring together people to give them great opportunities is totally within — you know, look — and we can afford to do this. We can afford to do this. If the very wealthy just start paying their fair share just a little bit. (Applause.)
Terry and I know — (applause) — how hard the pandemic has been on working families, especially women. About 2 million women are still unable to go back into the workforce during this pandemic due to things like not being able to afford childcare.
Look, when I got elected to the United States Senate, I was 29 years old. Between the time I got elected and before I was sworn in, there was an automobile accident. My wife and daughter were killed and my two boys almost died. And, by the way, I thank all firefighters. It took the Jaws of Life three hours to get them out on top of their dead mom and dead sister. You saved their lives.
And I needed help. I was a senator making $42,000 a year. I could no longer afford daycare and someone to take care of my kids (inaudible). And thank God I had a sister who is my friend, who — she and her husband, without my asking, moved in and helped me raise my kids. My mom and my brother as well. I got lucky.
But, look, the idea, as a single mom or a single dad, working and having young children — it’s awful hard. That’s why Terry and I want to expand paid leave and childcare in this country. (Applause.)
And, by the way, Terry, you and I have been talking about this for a long time. We’ve been talking about high drug prices — how incredibly high they are and how we keep getting ripped off. You know, we pay more for our drugs than any major country in the world.
But here’s the deal. There’s a way to do it: Let Medicare negotiate drug prices. (Applause.) And guess what? All of the prices are going to come down. And it will pay for itself. I promise you, I’m going to get that done. (Applause.)
Look — and here’s the deal, Terry and I know this can be paid for. Look, we support asking the wealthiest 1 percent who got that $2 trillion tax cut that, in fact — in fact, not a single penny was paid for — the so-called “Trump tax cut.”
And guess what? Just pay. Begin to pay their fair share. Corporate America — I come from the corporate capital of the world. More corporations are, in fact, registered in Delaware than every other state in the union combined. I got elected 36 years there because I was honest with them.
Look, fift- — right today, 50 of the biggest corporations in America of the Fortune 500 — 50 of them don’t pay — and this is not an exaggeration; check it out — not a single solitary penny in federal taxes. Not one. And they made over 40 —
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: No, but — no, but I’m not doing this to get — I just want to make it clear to you. (Laughter.)
Here’s the deal: They made over $40 billion. If they just paid a minimum tax of 15 percent, they’d raise the dollars — all we need to do all this education we’re talking about here.
Look, you know — (applause) — when I was Vice President, the President asked me to check out what the major corporations needed the most. Along with the Secretary of Commerce, we interviewed three hundred and, I think it was, fifty-six — it could have been forty-six — but over three hundred and fifty CEOs and major corporations.
You know what they all said? “I need a better-educated workforce.” Well, guess what? They’re not spending any money to educate the workforce.
But if we want to make sure America succeeds and runs the world again — economically runs and — be the most powerful economy in the world, we should make sure that they have a chance.
These millionaires and billionaires — I’m not one of these guys that say you shouldn’t be able to be a millionaire or billionaire. But just pay your fair share. (Applause.)
Look, all told, experts in the World Bank — outfits like Wall Street like Moody’s estimate that my plan will grow the economy and create $2 million more jobs over the $16 million they said in 10 years we’d create — good-paying jobs. Good-paying jobs. (Applause.)
A significant amount of these jobs will pay the prevailing wage of 30, 40, 50 bucks an hour. Ninety percent of the jobs in our infrastructure plan go to people without a college degree.
Folks, we’re proposing a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America — a once-in-a-generation investment in American jobs and families that’s going to position us to win the competition for the 21st century.
But we’ve got to get it done. And I need a partner like Terry who not only is respected in this state, but is respected by governors all across America, who knows how to get it done in the states.
Folks, on his watch as governor the last time, the Virginia economy boomed. Two hundred million — 200,000 jobs created. Unemployment went down in every single county, including rural Virginia, by nearly 50 percent.
He attracted major companies to this state. Look how your state grew. And by the way, any of you who are in the business know the first thing you try to attract a company to come to your city, your state, your town — the first thing they ask is, “What’s the highway system? Will I have access to interstate? Is the port available? Tell me whether or not I have broadband. Tell me whether or not…” All the things. All the things we’re going to build.
You know, look, Terry worked with Republicans to invest in education, transportation, and workforce development. And, by the way, Virginia has a whole bunch of veterans and active-duty military members — more than almost any state. (Applause.)
And guess what? The American Rescue Plan marked one of the biggest investments in veterans’ health in a long, long time. (Applause.) It will upgrade VA hospitals that are 50 years old, reduce the shortages of doctors and nurses.
No veteran — from my son who passed away on — should pick up a phone and say, or have a wife or husband call and say, “I need help,” and say, “We can’t see you for a while.” We owe them immediate action. (Applause.) Immediate. It’s a sacred obligation.
And I know no governor who stood up for our veterans and military families more than this guy, helping them apply their skills to good-paying civilian jobs — fields like cybersecurity and healthcare.
He also worked with the General Assembly to fund two new veteran care centers, including the first one in Hampton Roads region, which is hard to believe.
Terry understands. He knows — he knows also about crime prevention as a top priority.
He understands how important it is funding — to find funding — from the American Rescue Plan to provide law enforcement personnel with more resources, not fewer resources. (Applause.)
Look, we need to help in a lot of ways. We need to do away with chokeholds and all those things. I agree, but (inaudible) side of this is we need them to have more social workers, more veterans, more psychological help, more psychologists. (Applause.) And where it happens, it works. Personnel and resources, they keep communities safe.
And he has taken on the gun lobby to enact sensible gun safety measures without infringing on anybody’s Second Amendment right, including keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. (Applause.)
Here’s what else: Terry is going to guarantee he’s going to move to get a $15 minimum wage. Think about it, folks. Just think about it. And you — maybe some of you, maybe you know people.
Anybody working 40 hours a week making less than $15 an hour is, in fact, living in poverty as defined by poverty in America. It should not happen, period. Period. (Applause.)
An amazing number of American people who are struggling have rental costs and housing costs that are at least 30 to 35 percent of their total income. How do you do that? How do you make it, especially if you have a child? Look, folks, housing that’s affordable — everybody is going to be in the plan.
And, like me, when Terry thinks about the climate crisis, he thinks three things: jobs, jobs, jobs. (Applause.) It is the reason why we’re going to lead the world.
Let me close with this — and I’m sorry, I’m getting kind of wrapped up in this. (Laughter.) I need him. I need him. Look, in this election and in 2022, the question the American people are going to be asking is whether or not we’re helping them and their families — not giving them anything. Are we giving them a shot — just giving them an even shot? Do we understand what they’re going through? Can we deliver for them?
As Democrats, we have to show we do understand, and we’re delivering for them, and we’re keeping our promises. We just have to keep making the case — just as the Republican Party today offers nothing but fear, lies, and broken promises. (Applause.)
No, listen — I mean, think about it — turning on the television every day and seeing a replay of what happened on January 6th and saying, “I was told there were a lot of peaceful, wonderful people.”
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE PRESIDENT: God — no, I really mean it. Think about it. It is bizarre.
We have to keep cutting through the Republican fog that government is the problem and show that “We the People” are the solution. (Applause.) We’re the most unique country — think about this — we’re the most unique country in the history of the world. Not a joke. Every other country is put together based on race, religion, ethnicity, background, except the United States.
The United States is based on — the only country in the world based on the proposition that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women and men are created equal. Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.” Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. We’ve never met the test, but we’ve never walked away from it like the Republicans have. (Applause.)
We have never walked away. And we keep — every administration, we keep moving that needle further and further.
Look, folks, we’re going to have to go out and win — win this thing, win races up and down the ticket. We got to protect your majority in the House of Delegates. (Applause) We got to re-elect Mark as Attorney General. (Applause.) We got to re-elect Hala as your Lieutenant Governor. (Applause.)
We got to elect Terry back as Governor. (Applause.) He’s been here before. He knows what to do to. He knows how to get things done.
Virginia, we did it in 2020. In the battle for the soul of America, the people voted. (Applause.) Democracy prevailed. The Constitution held. We have to do this again. (Applause.)
I’ve said, time and again, no matter what, you can never stop the American people from voting. And they’re trying like hell. We have to decide. The power must always be with the people. (Applause.)
Fifty — I promise you this — fifty years from now — fifty years from now, our children and grandchildren will look back and know that it was at this moment America won the 21st century again. (Applause.)
And it starts now. Virginia, it starts with Terry. It starts with you. (Applause.)
God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
8:28 P.M. EDT