Senator Biden's Jefferson Jackson Dinner Remarks as Delivered
It's great to be home, folks. Jill and Hunter and Ashley and I are delighted to be here, obviously this is an incredible moment for all of our family. And literally as I was backstage having some photographs taken with some folks, the phone rang and it was Beau Biden, my general, our general from Fort Bliss Texas saying dad, make sure you don't talk too long.
So I've been fortunate in my career to have such a great... loyal... and talented partner in Tom Carper. You know the truth of the matter is - what Tom says is true. I've never had anybody in my political life who has been more loyal to me and I hope I've been loyal too. Tommy, I love ya pal and thank you for all you've done for me.
And folks, I am also, I was also fortunate enough to know and know pretty well the man after whom this award is named. Rick Bayard's father - Lex Bayard - a man, that Henry Topel and a few others convinced me to go convince Lex Bayard, Rick's dad, as many of you old-timers know, I was sent to him to convince him to run for US Senate in 1972. He was a big, strong and powerful man, a man who I admired greatly. So this award is named after Lex Bayard and the Bayard family, and some of you may not even recall this - the Bayard family is truly the most prominent family in Delaware political history. And that's not hyperbole.
There have been more Bayards who have been U.S. Senators than any family in American history - five of them. Starting with James A. Bayard, who, as a congressman before he was a Senator, and he's the congressman among several who cast the deciding vote in 1800 to elect Thomas Jefferson President of the United States of America. He went from there on to become a US Senator.
To Thomas F. Bayard, who was President Pro Tem of the United States Senate and ran for President in 1884, he lost, but he became Secretary of State. Does that sound familiar? That ain't all bad when Delaware Senators run for President and lose - there's another life apparently. A career path I considered.
And Rick's grandfather, who was elected to the US Senate in 1922. What a family, ladies and gentlemen. What an incredible family.
You know, Senators, literally, we're like children. We actually carve our names into the desk drawers of the desks we have on the Senate floor.
And that my, my desk, has the name of two Bayards who were United States Senators. So I tell you what, it's a great, great legacy. A great legacy and a great honor to receive this award.
And, as I said, speaking of family - that's just how we Bidens, and the reason why I ask my family to stand with me for a few minutes, We Bidens think of the Delaware Democratic Party. Sounds corny. But we think of a lot of you folks who have been with me for so long As family.
You've been with me every moment of my adult life - since I joined the Democratic Party as a kid getting out of school.
You were there for me after the accident. You were literally, there for me, many of you, after the accident.
You took my two beautiful sons Hunter and Beau, and you took them into your hearts, and then you kept them there for the past 36 years.
And when Jill came into my life, to save my life, you were there, to welcome her. I will never forget the first democratic picnic, the table, I really, remember it housed many people. Going back to the women I love like Megan Landry and the very others who embraced her, who literally brought her in to the democratic family. And then when our Ashley was born, you embraced her as well.
Many of you were with me on that improbable night in 1972 at the Hotel DuPont.
And that awful night in 1987, when I dropped out of the Presidential race.
You looked out for me when I was hospitalized with an aneurysm that was supposed to be fatal back in February of '88.
And you are looking out for me- many of you, especially the candidates, are looking out for me this year. This year.
You are my support and you are my sustenance- and that is not an exaggeration. Beau, Jill, Hunter, Ashley and I we love you for everything you have done for our family and honest to god you have made a difference in our lives. Thank you.
Folks, Folks, ...I know you always have been. Folks, And what a political family, what a political family we have assembled here tonight, the Democratic party has running in the year 2008.
Jack Markell - a man of genuine dignity, intellect, and devotion who I believe will truly make a truly great governor.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Matt Denn - equally as bright, and maybe the hardest working candidate I've ever seen in my life with the possible exception of Tom Crawford.
And the Karens.
Karen Hartley-Nagle, our candidate for Congress.
And Karen Weldin-Stuart, our candidate for insurance commissioner.
And finally, finally, finally after all these years, I am going to be there, I am going to walk on to the floor of the house of representatives in Dover and address my friend who began with me in the same district the same year, who got me elected in 1970 to the county council, my friend, I am going to be happy to call Speaker Gilligan. Finally. Finally.
We are going to pick up 2 more seats in the house.
I'm going to walk onto the floor of the House of Representatives in Dover and address my friend, who began with me in the same district, in the same year, got me elected in 1970 [inaudible] county council, my friend, I'm going to be happy to call Speaker Gilligan. Finally. Finally. We are going to pick up 2 more seats in the house. And Bob Gilligan's going to be our next Speaker of the House. Mr. Speaker, let me be the first. And, and we're going to pick up two more seats in the Senate to cement the solid majority we already have. So Thurmond, you're going to have an additional cushion buddy, not that you ever needed a cushion. Ladies and gentlemen, with your help, we're also going to elect a United States Senator this time around to the United States Senate and just remember folks, I am on the ballot. Don't get carried away with this vice president stuff, I am on the ballot running for my seventh term, Nancy. So don't forget, don't stop at the top of that ticket, work your way down. You can vote twice for the first time in your life for the same guy and it would be legal. Former attorney general Dick Weir knows its legal now. Hey Dick, how are you buddy? I want to say to Ruth Ann Midder, who has been my friend since the day she, when Chairman Chipper got elected governor, the year I got elected to the United States Senate, and she was the secretary. From that moment on, the receptionist, from that moment on, Ruth Ann has been with me, been my friend, been loyal to me, and Ruth Ann I love you. Thank you for everything you have done for this state, and for me and my family. And Ruth Ann, there will be thousands of Delawarians who are going to end up with a college degree because of your incredible commitment to see to it that people could do what you did and get back in to school and just get themselves a C+ average and get a college degree. You will be remembered for that like Governor Terry's remembered for the community college system. It's a great legacy Ruth, Ruth Ann. And my friend, my friend who Tommy has spoken about, my friend John Carney, who worked with me. John, I can tell you without fear of hesitation, I promise you, your best days are ahead old buddy. You ain't seen, I guarantee you that, I guarantee you that. Ladies and gentlemen, there's some irony that today I started outside Dover, Dover, New Hamphire... and I concluded here in Dover, Delaware.
And so I again offer you my gratitude for your understanding of these unusual circumstances I find myself in.
As I travel around the nation, I'm struck by the fact that Delaware's challenges are our nation's challenges.
Barack Obama and I want to attack America's problems.
It appears that all Sarah Palin and John McCain want to do is attack us. We want to attack problems, they want to attack us.
In my debate with Governor Palin... at least I think it was a debate... I saw it on Saturday Night Live... damn I wish I had his hair. She brought up the length of my service. She said in the middle of that debate, and she's winking at y'all, she said she'd been listening to my speeches since she was in second grade.
Well I guess just like she can see Russia from Alaska, she can see Delaware from Alaska. She's got great eyesight. I was inclined to tell her in that debate, but I was trying to be a good boy, I know you all were surprised I was, weren't you? You were all surprised, you were Nancy, weren't you? Well I tell you what, when she looked over at me my way, she's a captivating candidate, she looked over at me, she said, well I was in second grade when Senator Biden got first elected. I was inclined to say yes Governor, but you were in sixth grade the last time Senator McCain had a good idea. I, you know, but I didn't. I didn't. Look, I'll be serious just for a moment here, ladies and gentlemen, John McCain and Barack Obama gave big speeches today. Both the campaigns said everybody look out, call the national presses here, that there's two major speeches going to be made today.
Each of them had a choice between a new economic policy and new attacks.
Barack Obama chose new economic policy, and he laid out clearly what we're going to do. John McCain chose more attacks. Look at his speech, they're full of attacks. Both on his character, as well as his positions
John McCain said, and I quote "We cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight - waiting for our luck to change." End quote.
The problem is that John McCain doesn't understand. He's my friend, but he doesn't understand.
The difference between what he's proposing... and what's been going on for the last eight years. There's virtually no difference.
John and Sarah, I don't call her, John McCain and Governor Palin, they call themselves mavericks, but to paraphrase a good friend, Senator Bob Casey from my birthplace of Scranton, Pennsylvania -- you can't call yourself a maverick when all you've been for the last 8 years is a sidekick.
Ladies and gentlemen, what John just doesn't understand is that for too many families, the economy didn't start collapsing yesterday or last week or a month ago or a year ago.
For too much long, families here at home and around the country have been questions as simple as they are profound:
Will I have a job next month?
Can I afford to go to the doctor?
Can we get mom that MRI she needs?
To fill the gas tank all the way up?
Is my house still worth what I paid for it or is the mortgage bigger than the value of my home?
Will I be able to send the kids back to college next semester? Can I get them in in the first place?
That's the conversations people are having in Elsmere and Topeka, Kansas. That's the conversation they're having in Dover, NH and Dover, DE. That's what real people are talking about around their kitchen tables, ladies and gentlemen.
These questions aren't going to be answered by the negative and scurrilous attacks by John McCain and Sarah Palin. And those viscous ads you see on television comparing Barack Obama to a terrorist.
That's why I think you're seeing the man I've known for many years, why you're seeing John McCain's campaign becoming so erratic... relying on political stunts instead of offering real solutions.
Look at how John McCain responded to the current economic crisis.
Literally, at 9:00 AM on Monday morning, September 15th, when the bottom was falling out, John McCain said for roughly the 20th time since that previous month and he repeated it on the 15th; he said the fundamentals of our economy are strong.
At 11:00 AM the same day, 2 hours later, he said there was a great economic crisis.
You guys know I'm a practicing catholic. That's what we call in my religion an epiphany.
Ladies and gentlemen, Presidents must provide steady leadership in times of challenge.
John didn't realize the economic crisis when he went from, did he recognize it from 9 o'clock to 11:00 that this economic crisis was the final verdict on the failure of the economic policy of the past 8 years.
John McCain didn't see the light in his epiphany, he saw the presidency receding from his grasp. That's what he saw.
People here at home and around the nation, people in all the states I've been into are worried and angry, and they have every right to be.
But folks, here's what I want to tell you tonight. And it will come as no surprise to you because you know me well.
The amazing thing to me is that after all these years I feel more passionate about the possibilities of this country, people say to me, literally, some of you have said it, Joe why can you be so passionate about this stuff when you've been doing this so long? I feel more passionate about the opportunities of this country today than I did when I was a 29 year old kid when I got elected the first time. Ladies and gentlemen, you've heard me say it before and I'll say it again since the first time I ran for US senate 1972, what I said at my announcement, I'll quote for you.
"Our failure... has not been the failure of the people to meet the challenges placed before them, but rather the failure of both our great political parties to place those challenges honestly and courageously before the people, and to trust the willingness of the people to do the things that really need to be done"
Ladies and gentlemen, I promise you as fervently as I believe in and trust in the willingness of the American people, Barack Obama feels the same way. I would not have joined this ticket, a lot of you know, I didn't want to be vice president. This is not a job I ever really sought. When I became convinced he felt as strongly about the possibilities and to really change the direction of the 21st century, when I became convinced he believed as I did, and I believed it with every fiber of my being, that he trusted the American people as much as I did, I said yes. Some of you heard the stories I would not say yes.
Ladies and gentlemen, the tools to resolve this crisis are available, we know which tools to use. As my brother Jimmy some of you would know would say, this is within our real house.
The only question for the American people is: into whose hands will we place these tools?
In the uncertain hands of a McCain Administration... clinging to the past and lurching from one really bad idea to the next without any further change being offered? I don't think so- I really do not think so. I believe there can be placed the steady hand. The steady hand of Barack Obama - unless you think I'm exaggerating. Unless you think I'm exaggerating . for this debate, for part of this next debate, do what I did for part of the last two debates. Literally, turn the sound off- I'm not joking here. Literally turn the sound off and just watch. Watch the body language of both men. You can sense it folks. You know it when there's a command presence. You know it when someone has the confidence and the servitude about himself and about what he believes in. Ladies and gentleman, Barack Obama has assembled the finest economic minds that both political parties have ever been sent. Former republican secretary of treasury, democratic secretary of treasury, famous people in both political parties gather up the biggest and best brain trust on the economy that has ever been assemble, including I would argue, during the Roosevelt administration. In an Obama-Biden Administration, we will know how to get this job done. Ladies and gentlemen we can not wait until, God willing we're inaugurated on January 20th. We can't wait that long. We believe and can and should act now. We will be- the congress will be called back in November after this election. And what you all know is the term lame duck session. During that time, I [inaudible] to Harry Reid of talking to leadership. We believe there's things we have to do right now. Right now to help the American people, the middle class whose struggling. We believe, as Barack pointed out today, there should be be a three month moratorium on foreclosures of anybody whose on the cusp of loosing their home. We believe that Small business- and many of you represent small businesses- that you should immediately in November when we go back get a $3,000 tax credit for every new employee you hire because small business grows this economy, not big business. We believe those of you who are struggling should be able to have fees waved and federal-the small business administration like like we did after 9/11. [inaudible] we believe, we believe every American's entitled to energy assistance. We think ever American should get $1000 rebate just like they do in Alaska by imposing a windfall profits tax on their oil companies now. Now. They make six hundred billion dollars in profit just since 2000. As is aid to Gov. Palin, what's good enough for Alaska ought to be good enough the lower 48. Ladies and gentlemen. We thing we have to pass now for those people who were fortunate enough to have [inaudible]$10,000 from your IRAs without penalty. Now, why? Because they need it just to move along. Ladies and Gentlemen, there's so much more. We have to capacity to do now. And when we're inaugurated, God willing, our entire focus and look me in the eye- you know me too well. I give you my word. Our entire focus will be on rebuilding the middle class, re-establishing our leadership in the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, we will leadership in the world when we begin by ending this war in Iraq. We will eng this war, responsibly, we will end this war. Ladies and gentlemen, at the end of the day, there's a fundamental basic disagreement between John McCain and Governor Palin and Joe Biden and Barack Obama- it's how we measure progress.
It's that basic. What's our measure of progress? We do not measure progress, we do not measure progress in terms of how many regulations we are able to cut. We do not measure progress in how much CEOs make. We measure progress like you've watched me do it and you've done it your whole life. We measure progress in terms of the amount of dignity and respect that's shown to the middle class, to working people. And we measure it by simple things, for simple, basic measures. It's not an ideology. It's about how we were raised. It's about whether or not you have a job. Progress is determined by whether you have the ability to care for your family with health care. It's about whether you can fill your gas tank, heat your home, send you r kid to college, it's about as my dad would say, whether you can look your child in the eye and say honey, I guarantee you it's going to be okay--- that's how we measure progress. And for those of you who wonder about Barack Obama, don't wonder.
I guarantee you he is feels as passionately about this as you do.
He has the same measure, the same respect. This is a guy who is the American dream. Raised by a white grandmom and grandpop from Kansas, a grandfather who fought with Patton's army, and grandmother who was a full on Rosie the Riveter, building aircrafts. A single mother, look folks I'm tired of this stuff about Barack Obama. I guarantee you I know the guy and I know his family and let me tell you something, this guy knows how much he owes this great country, and he knows it couldn't have happened anywhere else but the United States of America. So I don't want to hear about how different he is. He's like me. He's like me and all of you. We grew up, all of us in this room, we grew up in neighborhoods filled with mothers and fathers who literally, not figuratively, told us that if we worked hard, if we were honest, if we loved our country there wasn't a single thing we could not do. You know it and I know it, and we believed it and we did it. I'm running with Barack Obama for vice president of the United States with him as President because I am absolutely, positively certain we can restore that American dream again. I want neighborhoods whether it's Claymont or in Dover, wherever it is, filled once again with mothers and fathers that can look at their children and tell them and believe that it's a level playing field. That if you work hard, if you're honest, if you love your country there is nothing you cannot do. The way that's always been done, it's been done with leadership at the top.
Folks, many of you knew my dad, and God love you, many of you came to his funeral. My dad had an expression from the time I was a kid, grinding my hair my whole life. From the first time I got knocked out playing CYO football as kid in the fourth grade to the day he died. And the expression John, was just like you old buddy. When "when you get knocked down, get up. Just get up. Get up."
I've never seen a time when more Americans have been knocked down.
It's time for us, together as Americans, to get up.
My fellow Democrats, my fellow Delawarians, my family .
I guarantee you, if I know anything America is ready.
You are ready.
I am ready.
And Barack Obama is ready.
It is our time.
It is America's time.
So let's get up, and win this election and restore this nation
May God bless you all and may God protect our troops. I love you, get up. Take back this country.