Obama, Biden Address Group of Mayors
Friday, February 20, 2009; 11:24 AM
VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: Well, thank you all for being here today. And welcome back to the White House. (LAUGHTER)
Mr. Mayor, my mayor in the city of Wilmington, Jim Baker, when I got elected, he assumed that he got an office in the West Wing, but -- but he has a telephone number that is accessible.
Hi, Jim. How are you?
Thank you all for being here. It's great to be with so many -- so many leaders who are -- literally, to use that shopworn phrase, on the front lines, where -- where the economy lives and dies and where people are struggling. And you have to deal with it every day.
You know, in a long career in politics, there's one overwhelming reason why I never ran for mayor, which is, it's too hard.
They have got your phone number, and they know where you live, and they come and they use it. Well, President Obama and I are turning that around. We want you to know, you can have our phone number, and you know where we live, and...
... and we expect you to use it. Already, we've met with you and the Conference of Mayors over a half-a-dozen times. Too often in the past, America's cities have been neglected and our mayors haven't had -- haven't been able to be heard on the questions of national policy. That's a story you all understand and know very well.
But we know how important cities are. Sixty-five percent of our nation's population, as you all know, live in our cities. Our cities are the home of 7 out of 10 American jobs. And when you're talking about the knowledge economy jobs, the number rises to 8 in 10, 8 out of 10.
Cities are vital to our economy, essential to our recovery, and haven't been paid much attention to. Our economy can never reach, in our view, its full potential if we have people who are living blocks away, but worlds away from the bustling downtowns full of opportunity.
Our poor transportation system don't provide mobility when people need to get to the job or -- or there aren't enough police or firefighters in the communities to keep the communities safe.