DNC 2012: Joe Biden’s speech to the Democratic National Convention (Prepared remarks)
Below are the full remarks of Vice President Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention, as prepared for delivery:
My fellow Democrats, and my favorite Democrat.
Jilly, I want you to know that Beau, Hunt, Ashley, and I are so proud of you. We admire the way you treat every single student who walks into your classroom. You not only teach them. You give them confidence. And the passion you bring to easing the burden on the families of our warriors. They know you understand what they're going through. It makes a difference. And I'm grateful. So grateful that you said Yes on that fifth try.
And Beau, thank you for placing my name in nomination to be Vice President of the United States. I accept.
My fellow Americans, four years ago, a battered nation turned away from the failed policies of the past—and turned to a leader—who they knew, could lift our nation out of crisis. Our journey isn’t finished. We still have more to do. But today, I say to you, my fellow citizens: In the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetimes-- this nation proved itself. We're as worthy as any generation that has gone before us. The same grit, the same determination, the same courage, that has always defined what it’s meant to be an American—is in you.
We're on a mission to move this nation forward—from doubt and downturn, to promise and prosperity. A mission we will continue and a mission we will complete.
Folks, tonight, I want to tell you about Barack Obama. The Barack Obama I’ve come to know. I want to show you the character of a leader—who had what it took, when the American people stood at the brink of a new Depression. A leader who has what it takes to lead us over the next four years--to a future as great as our people.
I want to take you inside the White House to see the President, as I see him every day. Because I don’t see him in sound bites. I walk down the hall, 30 steps to the Oval Office, and I see him in action.
Four years ago, middle class incomes were already falling. Then the bottom fell out. The financial crisis hit. You remember the headlines: “Markets Plummet Worldwide”, “Highest Job Losses in 60 Years”, and “Economy on the Brink”
From the moment President Obama sat behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, he knew he had to restore the confidence not only of the nation-- but the whole world. He knew, that one false move could bring a run on the banks, or a credit collapse, that could throw millions out of work. America and the world needed a strong president with a steady hand, with the judgment and vision to see us through.
Day after day, night after night, I sat beside him, as he made one gutsy decision after another--to stop the slide and reverse it. I watched him stand up to intense pressure and stare down choices of enormous consequence. Most of all, I saw what drove him: His profound concern for the American people.
He knew, that no matter how tough the decisions he had to make in the Oval Office were, families all over America had to make decisions every bit as tough for them—as they sat around their kitchen tables. Barack and I have been through a lot together. And we’ve learned a lot about each other. I learned of the enormity of his heart. And he learned of the depth of my loyalty. And there was another thing that bound us. We both had a pretty good idea what these families were going through--in part because our own families had gone through similar struggles.
Barack had to sit at the end of his mom's hospital bed and watch her fight cancer and fight her insurance companies at the same time. I was a kid, but I can remember the day that my dad sat at the end of my bed, and said, things are going to be tough for a while. I have to go to Delaware to get a new job. But it's going to be better for us. The rest of my life, my dad never failed to remind me--that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your children in the eye—and say honey, it’s going to be okay, and believe it was going to be okay. When Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding. If you took responsibility, you’d get a fair shot at a better deal. The values behind that deal--were the values that shaped us both. And today, they are Barack’s guiding star.
Folks, I’ve watched him. He never wavers. He steps up. He asks the same thing over and over again: How is this going to work for ordinary families? Will it help them? And because of the decisions he’s made, and the strength the American people have demonstrated every day, America has turned the corner. After the worst job loss since the Great Depression, we’ve created 4.5 million private sector jobs in the past 29 months.
President Obama and Governor Romney are both loving husbands and devoted fathers. But they bring vastly different values and visions to the job. Tonight I’d like to focus on two crises--that show the character of the leadership each man will bring to the job. The first is the rescue of the automobile industry.
Let me tell you about how Barack saved more than 1 million American jobs. In our first days in office, General Motors and Chrysler were on the verge of liquidation. If the President didn’t act immediately, there wouldn’t be an industry left to save.
We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisors, even some of our own advisors say--we shouldn’t step in, the risks were too high, the outcome too uncertain. The President patiently listened. But he didn’t see it their way. He understood something they didn’t. He understood that this wasn’t just about cars. It was about the Americans who built those cars and the America they built.
In those meetings, I often thought about my dad. My dad was an automobile man. He would have been one of those guys—all the way down the line—not in the factory—not along the supply chain—but one of those guys selling American cars to the American people. I thought about what this crisis would have meant for the mechanics, the secretaries, the sales people who he managed. And I know for certain, that if my dad were here today, he would be fighting for this President, who fought to save all those jobs, his job, and the jobs of all the people he cared about. He would respect Barack Obama for having the guts to stand up for the automobile industry, when others walked away.
When I look back now on the President’s decision, I also think of another son of an automobile man--Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. His father ran American Motors. Yet he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. I’m sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. I just don’t think he understood—I just don’t think he understood what saving the automobile industry meant-to all of America. I think he saw it the Bain way. Balance sheets. Write-offs.
Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profit. But it’s not the way to lead your country from its highest office.
When things hung in the balance, the President understood it was about a lot more than the automobile industry. It was about restoring America’s pride. He knew what it would mean to leave 1 million people without hope or work if we didn’t act. He knew the message it would have sent to the rest of the world if the United States of America gave up on the industry that helped put America on the map. Conviction. Resolve.
Barack Obama. This President has shown that same resolve, that same steady hand, in his role as Commander in Chief. Which brings me to the second crisis.
In 2008, Barack Obama made a promise to the American people. He said, “If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights, we will take him out. That has to be our biggest national security priority.” Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong, healing a nearly unbearable wound in America’s heart. He also knew the message we had to send to terrorists around the world—if you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. Most of all, the President had faith in our special forces--the finest warriors the world has ever known.
We sat for days in the Situation Room. He listened to the risks and reservations about the raid. And he asked the tough questions. But when Admiral McRaven looked him in the eye and said-- “Sir, we can get this done,” I knew at that moment Barack had made his decision. His response was decisive. He said do it. And justice was done.
But Governor Romney didn’t see things that way. When he was asked about bin Laden in 2007, he said, and I quote, “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, and spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person.”
He was wrong. If you understood that America’s heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the President did. And you too would have moved heaven and earth--to hunt down bin Laden, and bring him to justice.
Four years ago, when my mom was still with us, sitting in the stadium in Denver, I quoted one of her favorite expressions. She used to say, Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and the time will come, when it must be summoned.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, bravery resides in the heart of Barack Obama. And time and time again, I witnessed him summon it. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and steel in his spine. And because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made--and because of the grit and determination of American workers--and the unparalled bravery of our special forces--we can now proudly say—
Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.
Folks, we know we have more work to do. We know we’re not there yet. But not a day has gone by, in the last four years when I haven’t been grateful that Barack Obama is our President. Because he has always had the courage to make the tough calls.
Speaking of tough calls, last week at their convention, our opponents pledged that they too had the courage to make tough calls. But in case you didn’t notice, they didn’t have the courage to tell you what calls they would make. They talked about how much they cared about Medicare. How much they wanted to preserve it. That’s what they told you.
But what they didn’t tell you, is that their plan would immediately cut benefits to more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare. What they didn’t tell you is what they’re proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016. And what they really didn’t tell you is, they’re not for preserving Medicare. They’re for a whole new plan. They’re for Vouchercare. That’s not courage. That’s not even truthful.
In Tampa, they talked with great urgency about the national debt. The need to act, to act now. But not once, not once, did they tell you they’ve rejected every plan put forward by us--by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission—by other respected outside groups—to reduce our national debt if it contained even one dollar—one cent—in new taxes for millionaires. That’s not courage. And that’s not fair.
Let’s just say it straight: The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years have fundamentally different visions, and a completely different value set.
Governor Romney believes that in the global economy, it doesn’t much matter where American companies put their money or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, he has a new tax proposal -- the territorial tax -- that experts say will create 800,000 jobs, all of them overseas.
I found it fascinating last week--when Governor Romney said, that as President, he’d take a jobs tour. Well with all his support for outsourcing, it’s going to have to be a foreign trip. Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America--keeping jobs in America--and bringing jobs back to America--is what being President is all about. That’s the President's job.
Governor Romney believes that it’s okay to raise taxes on the middle class by $2,000 in order to pay for over a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the very wealthy. President Obama knows that there is nothing decent or fair about asking more of those with less--and less--of those with more.
Governor Romney believes that kids-the kids we call DREAMers—those immigrant children who were brought to America at a very young age, through no fault of their own—he thinks they’re a drag on America.
President Obama believes that even though these DREAMERs—these kids—didn’t choose to come to America-they’ve chosen to do right by America and we should do right by them. Governor Romney looks at the notion of equal pay for equal work in terms of a company’s bottom line.
President Obama knows--that making sure our daughters are paid the same as our sons for the same job must be every father’s bottom line. But I must tell you--one thing that perplexed me the most at their convention was this idea of a culture of dependency. They seem to think you create a culture of dependency when you provide a bright, qualified child from a working family a loan to get to college, or when you provide job training in a new industry, for a dad who lost his job, because it was outsourced.
Folks, that’s not how we look at it. Americans have never looked at it that way. These men and women aren’t looking for a handout. They’re just looking for a chance to acquire the tools and the skills to provide for their families—so they can hold their heads high and lead independent lives with dignity. I told you the choice is stark. Two different visions. Two different value sets. And at its core, the difference is, we have incredible faith in the decency, and the hard work of the American people. And we know what has made this country great--its people.
As I mentioned at the outset folks--four years ago, Americans we were hit hard. You saw your retirement accounts drained, the equity in your homes vanish, and your jobs lost or on the line. But you did what Americans have always done. You didn’t lose faith. You fought back. You didn’t give up. You got up. You’re the ones bringing America back. You’re the reason why we’re still better positioned-- than any country in the world--to lead the 21st century.
You never quit on America. And you deserve a President who will never quit on you. And one more thing that our opponents are dead wrong about: America is NOT in decline.
I’ve got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan, it has never, never, ever, been a good bet to bet against the American people.
My fellow Americans, America is coming back and we’re not going back! And we have no intention of downsizing the American Dream.
In a moment you’re going to hear from a man, whose whole life is a testament to the power of that dream. And whose Presidency is the best hope to secure that dream, for our children.
We see a future where everyone rich or poor does their part and has a part.
A future where we depend more on clean energy from home and less on oil from abroad.
A future where we’re #1 in the world again in college graduation.
A future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector.
And a future where women control their own choices, health, and destiny.
A future where no one—no one—is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance.
We see a future where America leads not only by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. Where we bring our troops home from Afghanistan, just as we brought them home from Iraq.
And a future where we fulfill the only truly, sacred obligation we have as a nation--to equip those we send to war and care for them when they come home from war.
Where we acknowledge the incredible debt we owe to the families of the 6,473 fallen angels and the 49,746 wounded. Thousands, critically wounded.
We must never forget their sacrifice and always keep them in our care and our prayers.
My fellow Americans, we now find ourselves at the hinge of history. And the direction we turn is in your hands. It has been an honor to serve you, and to serve with a President who has always stood up for you.
As I’ve said, I’ve seen him tested. I know his strength, his command, his faith.
I also know, the incredible confidence he has in all of you. I know this man. Yes, the work of recovery is not yet complete, but we are on our way.
The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. The cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on our way. So I say to you tonight, with absolute confidence,
America’s best days are ahead of us, and, yes, we are on our way.
In the light of that horizon, for the values that define us, for the ideas that inspire us, there is only one choice.
The choice is to move forward, boldly forward. Finish the job we started and re-elect President Barack Obama.
God bless you and may God protect our troops.