University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
2:13 P.M. PST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, everyone. Listen, I wanted to join you just to say thank you. I see all these incredible leaders — I see all your faces on the screen. And I just want to thank you for everything that you are doing. You are turning folks out in Pennsylvania, in Georgia, in Nevada, and Arizona. We got a day and a half to go, and I know we’re going to see this through. I know we’re going to get it done.
And, you know, when I think about where we are right now, everything is at stake. And so many of you were the people who, because of your leadership, because of your organizing, because of your work, were responsible for Joe Biden becoming President of the United States and me becoming Vice President of the United States.
You guys did that work. We know how to do it. We know how to get it done. You all did the work of reminding people of what’s at stake and reminding people of their power and the importance of not letting anybody take your power from you.
And that’s especially important now when we have these extremist so-called leaders that have got this really absurd kind of definition of what strength looks like. Right?
They think strength is based on who you beat down. But we know that strength is based on who you lift up.
And that’s who you all stand for. That’s who we, together, stand for. We stand for coalition building. We stand for organizing. We stand for — for lifting up the power of the people through their voice.
And so let’s just do it again — in 2020, in the height of a pandemic. And I don’t need to tell so many of the folks who are on this call what that was. Unite Here was, you know, right on the frontlines. And in the midst of all the burdens that people were going through in terms of their personal life, in terms of their job — you organized. And we had one of the largest turnout ever in a presidential election. The largest number — a historically large number of young voters turned out.
And the way I think about it is people stood in those lines, they took the time to fill out those ballots, and they put in their order. And they said, “Look, we want our leaders and our government to deal with issues like child poverty in America.” And because people stood in those lines, because they voted, we extended the Child Tax Credit so, in the first year, we reduced child poverty in America by over 40 percent.
People said, “Help take care of the fact that parents are trying to parent kids, but it’s expensive and people need help.” And so we, because they voted, passed a tax cut that gives people parenting children up to $8,000 more in their pocket for the cost of food and medicine and school supplies for their children.
People put in their order and said, “Latinos are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. Black Americans are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. And the cost of insulin is too high. Too many of our seniors are making decisions about whether they fill a prescription a doctor gave them to save their life, or be able to pay their rent or buy food.” And because people voted, we have now capped the cost of insulin at $35 a month.
These are the kinds of things that happen when the people exercise their power through their vote at election time. And I’m telling you all what you already know.
But, you know, we all know — all of us who’ve worked on these campaigns year after year — when we ask people to vote, they’re going to ask us why should they vote. And the good thing is we got a lot of good material.
And so let’s get out there and remind them they are not alone. There’s so much about these past many months that have made people feel not only tired, but, you know, feeling a bit alone.
And part of the work that we do in organizing is to remind people that they are not alone; they are part of a community, and we stand with them, and we stand by them. And there’s great power in that as well.
So thank you all. It’s going to be a long day and a half. It’s going to be well worth it. And I do believe we’re going to see victory, but it will not be easy. But then it never has been in the fights that we have always engaged in that has been about uplifting the people and expanding rights. It is never easy, and it is always worth it.
So thank you, thank you, thank you, each and every one of you. I thank your families. I thank all of the folks who are not having this time with you because you’re out there fighting for our democracy. Thank you.
PARTICIPANT: Thank you, Vice President Harris, and to take your time with us today.
We had a couple additional canvassers who wanted to ask you some questions. So I wanted to kick it over to Nevada, where canvasser Brian Villa del Vasquez (ph) has the first question.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, Brian.
MR. VASQUEZ: Hey there. So my name is Brian Villa del Vasquez. I’m a (inaudible) bartender over at Aria Resorts and Casino. I’m a first-generation American, born to Mexican immigrants, so my family can’t vote. So when I vote, I’m the voice for my family.
The reason I’m out here canvassing, knocking on doors — one of the things I’m fighting for is housing and education. You know, I want to elect leaders who will keep on fighting for affordable housing and to fund public schools.
So, Madam Vice President, my question to you is: Republicans running seem to have no real plans while the Biden and Harris administration is working to continue lowering costs for working families. Can you speak on what the stakes are in this election?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. It’s great. Well, first of all, thank you for your leadership. And the point that you’re making about housing is such an important one.
You know, the President appointed as the Secretary of HUD — Housing and Urban Development — Marcia Fudge, who’s been doing some really extraordinary work around affordable housing. And — and so we can follow up on that. Let’s get past the election. But it has been a real priority. It’s one of the biggest issues in our country right now. And we need to, frankly, give it a lot more attention.
In terms of — you know, the thing about Republicans that we’ve been seeing — the Republican Party — the Republican Party — is, you know, they define their strength based on who they beat down. I mean, look at how — what we’ve been seeing in terms of the cruelty, you know, in terms of the use of language and the — and the suggestions they’re making about what’s important and what’s not; the efforts to divide our country.
And we as Democrats — you know, we stand for unifying. We stand for coalitions. We stand for the belief that we all have more in common than what separates us. And we stand for democracy. We stand for the protection of rights. We stand for the fact that the progress of our country is based on an expansion of rights, not a restriction of rights, which is what they’re doing on everything from a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body to voting rights and you name it.
And — and so there is that, in terms of the difference. There is the fact that we stand for working people. You know, the Child Tax Credit — up to 40 percent of children in the first year, lifting out of poverty, helping parents with the cost of raising their kids.
What we have done in terms of the cost of insulin, what we have done to take on the pharmaceutical companies because we agree that it’s been too long that the pharmaceutical companies have been running the game and jacking up prices for prescription drugs that make it almost unaffordable for working people.
And we’re finally — we had the ability, because everybody voted, to say, “We’re going to let Medicare negotiate on behalf of 60 million people in our country.” And I don’t need to tell all of our labor leaders that — the power of collective bargaining, right?
So these are the kinds of things we do when we’re in power. We focus on fixing roads and bridges with the infrastructure law. We — we focus on getting lead out of pipes because too many of our children have been drinking toxic water, which causes them to have asthma, much less — not to mention what it does in terms of affecting their learning ability.
This is the kind of work we do. And meanwhile, they — you know, they — they make jokes about people being hurt. They — they — they vilify people. They try to marginalize people. And, you know, so not only is it a big difference in terms of the tone, but also just the vision and also solutions.
We’re providing solutions. We have invested $370 billion in the climate crisis, which has been — as Joe Biden says, “When he thinks climate, he thinks jobs.” It’s been about the creation of jobs, right?
This is the kind of work we do. And we just have to remind people elections matter. And especially in this election cycle, what you’re seeing in terms of the programs, the policy, and the rhetoric from the two parties, it couldn’t be more different in terms of a vision for America. So much at stake.
PARTICIPANT: Thank you. And thank you, Brian. And now I want to just move around to Arizona and introduce canvasser Maggie Acosta.
MS. ACOSTA: Hi, I’m Maggie Acosta. I’m a cancer survivor and a proud member of UNITE HERE Local 11 in Arizona. I remember speaking to you in 2020 and sharing with you how the pandemic nearly killed my son.
I remember you tell — you told me that real leadership is not about leading when life is easy or convenient, and about your plan to get the pandemic under control.
What you told me in 2020 really moved me, and I still carry that message when I’m canvassing. I talked to many young woman voters and canvassers over the several months who are devastated by the loss of rights under Roe vs. Wade. And Arizona is a state where women will lose the right to choose depending on who becomes governor in a few days.
My question to you is: What would you say to those young women to inspire them to keep fighting?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. It’s good to see you again. How are you doing?
MS. ACOSTA: I am doing well, thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, good. You look strong. Thank you. Thank you.
What I’d say to them is, look, there has been — nothing we have achieved as a nation has been without a good fight. (Laughs.) Any progress that we’ve had has been because we organized, because we march, because we speak up and talk about what we believe gets us to the ideals of our country. And that includes the fact that our progress has, in large part, been defined by the progress we have made in terms of an expansion of rights, not a restriction of rights.
When the Court just did what I did in the Dobbs decision –- think about this –- it literally took a constitutional right, that had been recognized, from the people of America, from the women of America. And I think it’s important to note one does not have to abandon their faith or deeply held beliefs to agree the government should not be telling her what to do with her body.
And so, it’s time for everyone to stand up and — and also recognize Clarence Thomas — Justice Clarence Thomas, on the Court, took — he said the quiet part out loud. He said, in that decision, at risk now is your right to access contraception, your right to marry the person you love.
I had my team look at from which states are we seeing attacks on women’s reproductive care and seeing attacks on voting rights and attacks on LGBTQ rights. And you would not be surprised to know that there was an overlap. Right?
So, let’s see what’s at play here. There is an, I think, a real effort by some to be on the path of restricting hard-fought rights in a way that, frankly, is going to harm our country and certainly harm our democracy. And so, this is a time for all good people to stand and know their power.
And to these young women you speak of, I say: Know your power. So many of our movements that have been about progress have been led by young leaders, and we need them now. We need them to lead.
PARTICIPANT: Thank you. Thank you. Those are great words, I think, to send us off our — our young people.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Maggie. Thank you again.
PARTICIPANT: Yeah. We need them to lead, and we need them to lead in the economic fight that we are out here swinging on every day. It was great to hear you talk about all of the different ways that the Democrats and the administration are out there swinging.
I mean, people like to pretend that this economic crisis somehow started now. You inherited this crisis, and you’re out there fighting it. And we’re out there on the doors telling people every day, “This is the team you want at your back to protect our democracy, protect our rights, and fight for the economic future that we all deserve.”
END 2:28 P.M. PST