As Donald Trump sits back, tweets inciting calls to violence over overturning the 2020 election and makes threats as millions face eviction in the middle of winter and a raging pandemic; hunger; poverty (8 million have fallen into poverty just since July); the number of COVID-19 deaths surpass 330,000; every four days, a million more are infected (double the number just from Election Day, likely having much to do with Trump super-spreader rallies and forced in-person voting amid his sabotage of absentee voting); and Trump’s inaction or actual veto of bills that would provide COVID-19 relief and help fund vaccinations, and would cause the entire government to shut down, President-Elect Joe Biden is calling his refusal to sign the bill, passed with overwhelming and bipartisan majority, an “abdication of responsibility” that has “devastating consequences.” That’s an understatement. Here is Biden’s statement:
It is the day after Christmas, and millions of families don’t know if they’ll be able to make ends meet because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to sign an economic relief bill approved by Congress with an overwhelming and bipartisan majority.
This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences. Today, about 10 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance benefits. In just a few days, government funding will expire, putting vital services and paychecks for military personnel at risk. In less than a week, a moratorium on evictions expires, putting millions at risk of being forced from their homes over the holidays. Delay means more small businesses won’t survive this dark winter because they lack access to the lifeline they need, and Americans face further delays in getting the direct payments they deserve as quickly as possible to help deal with the economic devastation caused by COVID-19. And while there is hope with the vaccines, we need funding to be able to distribute and administer them to millions of Americans, including frontline health care workers.
This bill is critical. It needs to be signed into law now. But it is also a first step and down payment on more action that we’ll need to take early in the new year to revive the economy and contain the pandemic — including meeting the dire need for funding to distribute and administer the vaccine and to increase our testing capacity.
In November, the American people spoke clearly that now is a time for bipartisan action and compromise. I was heartened to see members of Congress heed that message, reach across the aisle, and work together. President Trump should join them, and make sure millions of Americans can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads in this holiday season.
Joe Biden officially became President-Elect with the conclusion of the Electoral College vote cementing Joe Biden’s victory with 306 votes to Donald Trump’s 232. After weeks of keeping silent as the Trump campaign brought 60 lawsuits in the hopes of the Supreme Court ultimately declaring Trump the winner, Biden delivered a rebuke of the efforts by Trump and the Republicans to overturn the election, as notable for the most votes cast in history and the most votes won by a candidate in history, by disenfranchising millions of voters, mostly Black, but declared democracy “resilient, true and strong.”
“In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them,” Biden declared.
He attacked the unprecedented, relentless but baseless court challenges, culminating in Texas seeking to overturn the results in four swing states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia to “wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.
“It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution. Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort…
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed. We the People voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.”
Here is a highlighted transcript of his remarks, as prepared for delivery:
Good evening, my fellow Americans.
Over the past few weeks, officials in each state, commonwealth, and district, without regard to party or political preference have certified their winning candidate.
Today, the members of the Electoral College representing the certified winner, cast their votes for President and Vice President of the United States in an act just as old as our nation itself.
And once again in America, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed.
Our democracy — pushed, tested, threatened — proved to be resilient, true, and strong.
The Electoral College votes which occurred today reflect the fact that even in the face of a public health crisis unlike anything we have experienced in our lifetimes, the people voted.
They voted in record numbers. More Americans voted this year than have ever voted in the history of the United States of America. Over 155 million Americans were determined to have their voices heard and their votes counted.
At the start of the pandemic crisis, many were wondering how many Americans would vote at all. But those fears proved to be unfounded.
We saw something very few predicted or even thought possible — the biggest voter turnout ever in the history of the United States of America.
Numbers so big that this election now ranks as the clearest demonstration of the true will of the American people — one of the most amazing demonstrations of civic duty we’ve ever seen in our country.
It should be celebrated, not attacked.
More than 81 million of those votes were cast for me and Vice President-elect Harris.
This too is a record number. More votes than any ticket has received in the history of America.
It represented a winning margin of more than 7 million votes over the number of votes cast for President Trump and Vice President Pence.
Altogether, Vice President-elect Harris and I earned 306 electoral votes — well exceeding the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory.
306 electoral votes is the same number of electoral votes Donald Trump and Mike Pence received in 2016.
At that time, President Trump called his Electoral College tally a landslide.
By his own standards, these numbers represented a clear victory then.
And I respectfully suggest they do so now.
If anyone didn’t know it before, they know it now.
What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this: Democracy.
The right to be heard.
To have your vote counted.
To choose the leaders of this nation.
To govern ourselves.
In America, politicians don’t take power — the people grant power to them.
The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame.
And as the people kept it aflame, so, too did courageous state and local officials and election workers.
American democracy works because Americans make it work at the local level.
One of the extraordinary things we saw this year was these everyday Americans — our friends and neighbors, often volunteers, Democrats and Republicans and Independents — demonstrating absolute courage. They showed a deep and unwavering faith in and a commitment to the law.
They did their duty in the face of a pandemic.
And then they could not and would not give credence to what they knew was not true.
They knew the elections they oversaw were honest and free and fair.
They saw it with their own eyes.
And they wouldn’t be bullied into saying anything different.
It was truly remarkable because so many of these patriotic Americans were subjected to so much: enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and even threats of physical violence.
While we all wish that our fellow Americans in these positions will always show such courage and commitment to free and fair elections, I hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election.
It is unconscionable.
We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude. They didn’t seek the spotlight, and our democracy survived because of them.
Which is proof once more that it’s the everyday American — infused with honor and character and decency — that is the heart of this nation.
And in this election, their integrity was matched by the strength, independence, and the integrity of our judicial system.
In America, when questions are raised about the legitimacy of any election, those questions are resolved through a legal process.
And that is precisely what happened here.
The Trump campaign brought dozens and dozens and dozens of legal challenges to test the results.
They were heard. And they were found to be without merit.
Time and again, President Trump’s lawyers presented their arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, twice.
They were heard by more than 80 judges across the country.
And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results.
A few states went to recounts. All of the counts were confirmed.
The results in Georgia were counted three times. It did not change the outcome.
The recount conducted in Wisconsin actually saw our margin grow.
The margin we had in Michigan was fourteen times the margin President Trump won the state by four years ago.
Our margin in Pennsylvania was nearly twice the size of President Trump’s margin four years ago.
And yet none of this has stopped baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results.
Even more stunning, 17 Republican Attorneys General and 126 Republican Members of Congress actually signed on to a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas. It asked the United States Supreme Court to reject the certified vote counts in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials in one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than twenty million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote, and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse.
It’s a position so extreme we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution.
Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort.
The Court sent a clear signal to President Trump and his allies that they would be no part of this unprecedented assault on our democracy.
Every avenue was made available to President Trump to contest the results.
He took full advantage of each and every one of these avenues.
President Trump was denied no course of action he wanted to take.
He took his case to Republican Governors and Republican Secretaries of State. To Republican state legislatures. To Republican-appointed judges at every level.
And in a case decided after the Supreme Court’s latest rejection, a judge appointed by President Trump wrote: “This court has allowed the plaintiff the chance to make his case, and he has lost on the merits.”
Even President Trump’s own cybersecurity chief overseeing our elections said it was the most secure in American history.
Let me say it again, his own cybersecurity chief overseeing this election said it was the most secure in American history.
Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy — even when we find those results hard to accept.
But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our Constitution.
Four years ago, as the sitting Vice President of the United States, it was my responsibility to announce the tally of the Electoral College votes that elected Donald Trump.
I did my job.
And I am pleased — but not surprised — that a number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate have acknowledged the results of the Electoral College.
I thank them. I am convinced we can work together for the good of the nation.
That is the duty owed to the people, to our Constitution, and to history.
In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed.
We the People voted.
Faith in our institutions held.
The integrity of our elections remains intact.
Now it is time to turn the page as we’ve done throughout our history.
To unite. To heal.
As I said through this campaign, I will be a president for all Americans.
I will work just as hard for those of you who didn’t vote for me, as I will for those who did.
There is urgent work in front of us all.
Getting the pandemic under control and getting the nation vaccinated against this virus.
Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today — and then building our economy back better than ever.
In doing so, we need to work together, give each other a chance, and lower the temperature.
And most of all, we need to stand in solidarity as fellow Americans. To see each other, our pains, our struggles, our hopes, our dreams.
We are a great nation.
We are a good people.
We may come from different places and hold different beliefs, but we share a love for this country. A belief in its limitless possibilities.
For we, the United States of America, have always set the example for the world for the peaceful transition of power.
We will do so again.
I know the task before us will not be easy.
It’s tempered by the pain so many of us are feeling.
Today, our nation passed a grim milestone, 300,000 deaths due to this virus.
My heart goes out to all of you in this dark winter of the pandemic about to spend the holidays and the new year with a black hole in your hearts and without the ones you love by your side.
My heart goes out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own, unable to sleep at night, weighed down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring for you and for your family.
But we have faced difficult times before in our history.
And I know we will get through this one, together.
And so, as we start the hard work to be done, may this moment give us the strength to rebuild this house of ours upon a rock that can never be washed away.
And as in the Prayer of St. Francis, for where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith, where there is darkness, light.
This is who we are as a nation.
This is the America we love.
And that is the America we will be.
May God bless you all.
May God protect our troops and all those who stand watch over our democracy.
Donald Trump, obscenely obsessive about being in the spotlight, fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in order to step on reporting of President-Elect Joe Biden’s remarks about actions he is taking to curb the potentially fatal COVID-19 pandemic, even before he takes the helm on January 20, 2021. But his remarks are crucial, and show up Trump for his most cynical failure of a remarkably failed occupation of the Oval Office: failing to develop a national strategy to mitigate the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, and bring Americans onboard in common cause and united purpose to contain the disease which has already infected 10 million and killed 240,000.
As Trump golfed over the weekend and Biden’s election totals hit the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes, there were new records in the number of infections set daily (120,000 a day) and 1,000 people a day dying so that it is forecast by Election Day another 100,000 could be dead under the Trump laissez-faire policy. Tens of thousands of lives could have been, should have been saved with a federal administration that organized PPE, ventilators, hospital beds and health personnel instead of letting states fend and even compete for themselves, and most importantly, if Trump promoted wearing masks, instead of holding super-spreader rallies and events and politicizing and demonizing mask-wearing.
Biden already has struck a dramatically different tone and taken actual actions to address the coronavirus pandemic, starting with giving a frank, science-based and realistic timetable and appointing a task force of experts to develop a plan of action. Even with the progress made toward a vaccine, it will take months before enough people can take the vaccine in order to achieve the “herd immunity” (that won’t come “magically” by washing over the general population and killing six million).
Here are President-elect Biden’s remarks as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware: — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Good afternoon, everyone.
As I said on Saturday, I am humbled by the trust and confidence that the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris.
And we are ready to get to work, addressing the needs of the American people.
Today that work begins.
It starts by doing everything possible to get COVID-19 under control so that we can reopen our businesses safely and sustainably, resume our lives, and put this pandemic behind us.
We’ve just received positive news in this fight with the announcement of progress toward a successful vaccine candidate.
Soon, the FDA will run a process of rigorous reviews and approvals.
That process must also be grounded in science and fully transparent, so that the American people can have confidence that any approved vaccine is safe and effective.
At the same time, it’s clear that this vaccine, even if it is approved, will not be widely available for many months yet to come.
The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing, and so is the need for bold action to fight this pandemic.
We are still facing a dark winter. There are now nearly 10 million COVID-19 cases in the United States.
Last week — we topped 120,000 new cases on multiple days.
Infection rates are going up. Hospitalizations are going up. Deaths are going up.
This crisis claims nearly a thousand American lives a day, nearly 240,000 deaths so far.
And projections still indicate we could lose 200,000 more lives in the coming months before a vaccine can be made available to everyone.
So we cannot forego the important work that needs to be done between now and then to get our country through the worst wave yet of this pandemic.
To reduce spread. To save lives.
That’s why, today I have named a COVID-19 Transition Advisory Board, comprised of distinguished public health experts, to help our transition team translate the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan into an action blueprintthat we can put into place as soon as Kamala and I are sworn into office on January 20, 2021.
And we will seek to add other members to this board who bring important perspectives and public health expertise throughout the transition.
This group will advise on detailed plans built on a bedrock of science, and that keep compassion, empathy, and care for every American at its core:
Making rapid testing widely available, and building a corps of contact tracers who will track and curb this disease while we prioritize getting vaccinations first to the most at risk populations.
Developing clear and detailed guidance and providing the necessary resources for small businesses, schools, and child-care centers to reopen and operate safely and effectively during the pandemic—protecting both workers and the public.
Last night, my public health advisors were informed of this excellent news. I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope. At the same time, it is also important to understand that the end of the battle against COVID-19 is still months away. This news follows a previously announced timeline by industry officials that forecast vaccine approval by late November. Even if that is achieved, and some Americans are vaccinated later this year, it will be many more months before there is widespread vaccination in this country. This is why the head of the CDC warned this fall that for the foreseeable future, a mask remains a more potent weapon against the virus than the vaccine. Today’s news does not change this urgent reality.
Americans will have to rely on masking, distancing, contact tracing, hand washing, and other measures to keep themselves safe well into next year. Today’s news is great news, but it doesn’t change that fact. America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and will continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate actions. That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. Today’s announcement promises the chance to change that next year, but the tasks before us now remain the same.
Biden urged Americans to wear a mask. “A mask is not a political statement,” he said. The goal of wearing a mask is to “give something back to all of us: a normal life.”
WASHINGTON, October 18 – Senate Democrats today released a report summarizing for the American people what to expect on Election Day, which may well mean in this unprecedented Election Year, not to expect a result on Election Night, They reinforced the Democrats’ call to encourage everyone to vote and to insure that every vote is counted, and is aimed at countering the months-long effort by President Trump to undermine the election and his repeated refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. With the general election already well underway in every state across the country, Senate Democrats have a clear message for the American people: Vote and cast your ballot as early as possible.
While expressing optimism that Election Day will go smoothly around the country, the report, jointly authored by Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), outlines the possibility that in some states, the outcome might not be known on November 3.
The last message from the report is to make absolutely clear that voter intimidation is illegal and that federal law prohibits coercing or threatening anyone in order to interfere with their right to vote.
“The American people must be prepared for an election that is unprecedented in our history due to the enormous increase in mail-in ballots that have been, and will be, cast as a result of the pandemic,” said Senator Sanders. No one should have to risk their health or their lives in order to vote, and that is why many millions are voting through mail-in ballots. One of the worst lies that Donald Trump is spreading is that there is a massive amount of voter fraud in this country. That is a total lie which no election official, Republican or Democrat, can support. What we are doing with this effort is ensuring that the American people understand that if American democracy means anything, it means that every vote must be counted—no matter how long it takes.”
“President Trump has for months now been laying the foundation to undermine the election and he has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Senate Democrats want to be clear to the American people that the most powerful defense against this type of autocratic behavior in our country is the will of the American people and that is why we are encouraging every American to vote and vote early,” said Leader Schumer.
“The election is well underway, and Americans are voting in droves because they know what is at stake. We must do everything we can to protect the right to vote, and uphold the integrity of the election process. That means pushing back on President Trump’s lies about mail-in ballots and his efforts to sow chaos. It also means making sure that Americans know that a record number of people are voting by mail this year, which could slow the reporting in some states. We should be prepared to reject misinformation and be patient about results in places where counting ballots may take longer. Americans should keep making their voices heard at the ballot box, the earlier the better,” said Senator Klobuchar.
“Despite what Donald Trump wants you to believe, the integrity of our election system is strong,” said Senator Murphy. Every American must vote—and vote early—in the upcoming presidential election, so we can make it clear to Trump and the world that America remains a democracy, the will of the people will always win out, and that any form of voter intimidation is illegal and will not be tolerated.”
“President Trump’s dangerous rhetoric threatens to further divide our country and sow real potential for violence. The most important thing each of us can do to combat disinformation and fear is to vote and vote early. There is little doubt that this is the most important election we will participate in in our lives. Our elections are the foundation of American democracy. Protecting them should be the top priority for everyone who cares about the future of our country. Election officials, courts, and elected leaders must be accountable for upholding that principle,” said Senator Heinrich.
“Despite Donald Trump’s lies and misinformation about nonexistent widespread voter fraud, the integrity of the American election system—our entire election process from voting by mail to voting in person—is strong. If voting by mail is safe and effective for our troops overseas and good enough for Trump and his family to use, then it’s safe, effective and good enough for the rest of America too,” said Senator Duckworth. No matter what Trump says—or even what he might prefer—Senate Democrats will never allow the greatest democracy the world has ever known to descend into authoritarianism. We will always be a government of, by and for the people.”
Vice President Joe Biden took to the sacred ground of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg to lay out his vision for the soul of America, why Charlottesville was the impetus for his run for the presidency, and set the stage for the final four weeks of the 2020 election campaign.
In stark contrast to the scowling Mussolini-esque “Covita” video stunt Trump pulled on arriving back at the White House from Walter Reed Hospital, when he immediately pulled off his face mask and summoned a photographer to come behind him for a better shot, Biden spoke to the concerns of Americans, in high anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic, economic hardship, civil unrest and climate crisis. Evoking Lincoln’s famous speech, he called for unity around the shared values of America, saying he was a proud Democrat but if elected President, he would be a President for all Americans, calling it, “Battle for the Soul of the Nation.”
Biden outlined the ways in which the nation, riven by partisan and tribal conflict, can heal, come together as Americans – indeed, after 244 years of upholding the revolutionary idea of government of, by, for the people, he declared, we must.
“It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth,” Biden declared.
“No. It cannot. It must not.
“We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
“And so we must.
“We must vote.
“And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.”
Biden declared, “Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear…
“You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
“If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.”
And Biden, acting and sounding like the president this country needs and deserves, pledged, “As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
“I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
“I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
“I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart….
“Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.”
Here are Vice President Biden’s highlighted remarks, as prepared for delivery — Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
On July 4, 1863, America woke to the remains of perhaps the most consequential battle ever fought on American soil. It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg.
Three days of violence, three days of carnage. 50,000 casualties wounded, captured, missing or dead. Over three days of fighting.
When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat.
The war would go on for nearly two more years, but the back of the Confederacy had been broken.
The Union would be saved, slavery would be abolished. Government of, by, and for the people would not perish from the earth, and freedom would be born anew in our land.
There is no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division — about how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment we must come together as a nation.
For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes: the end of slavery, the widening of equality, the pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.
His words here would live ever after.
We hear them in our heads, we know them in our hearts, we draw on them when we seek hope in the hours of darkness.
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Here, on this sacred ground Abraham Lincoln reimagined America itself. Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division and the meaning of sacrifice. He believed in the rescue, the redemption, and the rededication of the Union, all this in a time not just of ferocious division, but also widespread death, structural inequality, and fear of the future.
And he taught us this: A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth.
Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be.
We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.
As we stand here today, a century and a half after Gettysburg, we should consider again what can happen when equal justice is denied and when anger and violence and division are left unchecked.
As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope is elusive.
Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for the mediation of our differences. Rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare.
Instead of treating the other party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy.
This must end.
We need to revive a spirit of bipartisanship in this country, a spirit of being able to work with one another.
When I say that, I’m accused of being naïve.
I’m told maybe that’s the way things used to work, but they can’t any more.
Well, I’m here to say they can. And they must if we’re going to get anything done.
I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president.
I will work with Democrats and Republicans and I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as for those who do.
That’s the job of a president.
It’s a duty of care for everyone.
The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. A choice we make.
And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well.
That’s the choice I’ll make as president.
But there is something bigger going on in the nation than just our broken politics, something darker, something more dangerous.
I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion. Competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy.
No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper.
Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them.
We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to clench our fists, but to open our arms. We must seek not to tear each other apart, but to come together.
You don’t have to agree with me on everything — or even on most things — to see that what we’re experiencing today is neither good nor normal.
I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville.
Close your eyes. Remember what you saw.
Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK coming out of the fields with torches lit. Veins bulging. Chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the 1930s.
It was hate on the march, in the open. In America.
Hate never goes away. It only hides.
And when it is given oxygen, when it is given the opportunity to spread, when it is treated as normal and acceptable behavior we have opened a door in this country we must move quickly to close.
As President, I will do that.
I will send a clear, unequivocal message to the nation. There is no place for hate in America.
It will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It will be given no safe harbor.
In recent weeks and months, the country has been roiled by instances of excessive police force, by heart wrenching cases of racial injustice and lives needlessly and senselessly lost, by peaceful protests giving voice to the calls for justice, and by examples of violence and looting and burning that cannot be tolerated.
I believe in law and order. I have never supported defunding the police.
But I also believe injustice is real.
It’s the product of a history that goes back 400 years, to the moment when black men, women, and children were first brought here in chains.
I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America.
We can have both.
This nation is strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism, and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses that too often bear the brunt of this looting and burning.
We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets, and we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacist groups menacing our communities.
If you say we should trust America’s law enforcement authorities to do their jobs as I do, then let them do their job without extremist groups acting as vigilantes.
And if you say we have no need to face racial injustice in this country, you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America.
There have been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months.
George Floyd’s 6-year old daughter Gianna, who I met with, was one such voice when she said, “Daddy changed the world.”
Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another when she said violence didn’t reflect her son and that this nation needed healing.
And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot … We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”
Think about that. Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized.
What we need in America is leadership that seeks to deescalate tensions, to open lines of communication, and to bring us together.
To heal. And to hope.
As President, that is precisely what I will do.
We have paid a high price for allowing the deep divisions in this country to impact how we have dealt with the coronavirus. 210,000 Americans dead and the numbers climbing. It’s estimated that nearly another 210,000 Americans could lose their lives by the end of the year.
Enough. No more.
Let’s set the partisanship aside. Let’s end the politics. Let’s follow the science.
Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
Social distancing isn’t a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation.
Testing. Tracing. The development, ultimately approval and distribution of a vaccine isn’t a political statement. These are scientific-based decisions.
We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. But we can do better. We can do better starting today.
We can have a national strategy that puts the politics aside and saves lives.
We can have a national strategy that will make it possible for our schools and businesses to open safely.
We can have a national strategy that reflects the true values of this nation.
The pandemic is not a red state versus blue state issue. The virus doesn’t care where you live or what political party you belong to.
It infects us all. It will take anyone’s life. It is a virus — not a political weapon.
There’s another enduring division in America that we must end: The divisions in our economic life that give opportunity only to the privileged few.
America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where an Abraham Lincoln – a child of the distant frontier, can rise to our highest office.
America has to be about the possibilities. The possibilities of prosperity.
Not just for the privileged few. But for the many — for all of us.
Working people and their kids deserve an opportunity.
Lincoln knew this. He said that the country had to give people “an open field and a fair chance.”
And that’s what we’re going to do in the America we’re going to build — together.
We fought a Civil War that would secure a Union that would seek to fulfill the promise of equality for all.
And by fits and starts — our better angels have prevailed just enough against our worst impulses to make a new and better nation.
And those better angels can prevail again — now. They must prevail again — now. A hundred years after Lincoln spoke here at Gettysburg then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson also came here and said: “Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg … We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.”
Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation.
The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down, and holding us back.
We must free ourselves of all of them.
As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness.
I will be a president who appeals to the best in us. Not the worst.
I will be a president who pushes towards the future. Not one who clings to the past.
I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart.
We cannot — and will not — allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
To overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores.
To overturn the America that’s been a haven and a home for everyone no matter their background.
From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all.
We cannot and will not allow violence in the streets to threaten the people of this nation.
We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial justice in the country.
We cannot and will not continue to be stuck in a partisan politics that lets this virus thrive while the public health of this nation suffers.
We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who’ve already got it made.
Everybody deserves a shot at prosperity.
Duty and history call presidents to provide for the common good. And I will.
It won’t be easy. Our divisions today are of long standing. Economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations.
But I give you my word: If I am elected President, I will marshal the ingenuity and good will of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together.
We can disagree about how to move forward, but we must take the first step.
And it starts with how we treat one another, how we talk to one another, how we respect one another.
In his Second Inaugural, Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion.
And so we — you and I, together — press on, even now.
After hearing the Second Inaugural Address, Frederick Douglass told the president:
“Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.”
We must be dedicated now to our own sacred effort.
The promise of Gettysburg, that a new birth of freedom was at hand, is at risk.
Every generation that has followed Gettysburg has been faced with a moment — when it must answer this question — whether it will allow the sacrifices made here to be in vain.
This is our moment to answer this essential American question for ourselves and for our time.
And my answer is this:
It cannot be that after all this country has been through. After all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that here and now, in 2020, we will allow government of the people, by the people, and for the people to perish from this earth.
No. It cannot. It must not.
We have in our hands the ultimate power: the power of the vote. It is the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.
And so we must.
We must vote.
And we will vote no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way. Because once America votes, America will be heard.
Lincoln said: “The nation is worth fighting for.”
So it was. So it is.
Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear.
Let us conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other — who love our country and who will not destroy, but will build.
We owe that to the dead who are buried here at Gettysburg.
And we owe that to the living and to future generations yet to be born.
You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed.
If we do our part. If we stand together. If we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.
This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke out on Trump’s unprecedented nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court in the middle of an election. Here is a highlighted transcript of his speech as prepared for delivery in Wilmington, Delaware:
On Friday, Jill and I had the honor of paying our respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first woman in the history of our nation to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Though it should not have taken nearly this long to bestow that honor on a woman, it nevertheless speaks to the unique and powerful impact Justice Ginsburg made on our society and to her enduring legacy of equal rights and equal justice under law.
Shortly before Justice Ginsburg passed, she told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
It wasn’t a personal request. It wasn’t a favor being asked for. It was the last act in a long, unflinching career of standing up for American democracy.
Never before in our nation’s history has a Supreme Court Justice been nominated and installed while a presidential election is already underway. It defies every precedent and every expectation of a nation where the people are sovereign and the rule of law reigns.
But yesterday, before Justice Ginsburg could be laid to rest, and after hundreds of thousands of Americans have already cast their ballots, the President nominated a successor to her seat.
There is no mystery about what’s happening here.
President Trump has been trying to throw out the Affordable Care Act for four years. The Republican Party has been trying to eliminate it for a decade. Twice already the Supreme Court has upheld the law. And the Congress, expressing the popular will of the American people, has rejected President Trump’s efforts as well.
Now, all of a sudden this Administration believes they’ve found a loophole in the tragedy of Justice Ginsburg’s death.
It doesn’t matter to them that Republicans set the precedent just four years ago when they denied even the courtesy of a hearing to President Obama’s nominee after Justice Scalia passed away nine months prior to Election Day.
It doesn’t matter to them that millions of Americans are already voting on a new President and a new Congress. They see an opportunity to overturn the Affordable Care Act on their way out the door.
As we speak, we are still in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century — a crisis that has already taken more than 200,000 American lives.
And yet, the Trump Administration is asking the Supreme Court right now to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Administration filed a brief with the Court that concludes: “The entire ACA thus must fall.”
President Trump can claim all he wants that he’s going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but the fact is, he’s actively fighting to take those protections away as we speak.
If he has his way, more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer could once again be denied coverage.
Complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of pre-existing conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions.
Women could once again be charged higher premiums just because they are women.
And seniors would see their prescription drug prices go up and funding for Medicare go down.
It doesn’t matter what the American people want. President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission to steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, and the lives of those they love.
It should come as no surprise that President Trump would nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
She has a written track record, disagreeing adamantly with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA.
In fact, she publicly criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion upholding the law eight years ago.
The American people understand the urgency of this moment.
They are already voting in droves because they know that their health care hangs in the balance. They understand that if Donald Trump gets his way, they could lose their right to vote, their right to clean air and clean water, their right to equal pay for equal work.
Workers could lose their collective bargaining rights.
DREAMers could be thrown out of the only country they’ve ever known.
Women could lose the bedrock rights enshrined by Roe v. Wade, which has safeguarded their autonomy for nearly half a century.
People are voting right now because they know that the very soul of our country is at stake and because they know that the decisions of the Supreme Court affect their everyday lives.
Their voices may not matter to Donald Trump.
They may not matter to Mitch McConnell.
But there are Senate Republicans out there who know in their hearts that if you shut out the voice of the people during an election, you are closing the door on American democracy thereafter.
That is where the power of this nation resides: in the people, and in the rule of law, and in the precedents we abide by.
To subvert both so openly, so needlessly, even as Americans cast their votes would be an irreversible step toward the brink.
And a betrayal of the singular quality that America was born and built on—that the people decide.
The Senate must stand strong for our democracy.
They should not act on this nomination until the American people finish the process they’ve already begun of selecting their President and their Congress.
As I’ve said before, if the people choose Donald Trump, then the Senate should give his nominee a hearing and a vote.
But if the people choose me, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
And my nominee, chosen by the President who was chosen by the people, should get a fair hearing and a vote on confirmation.
The U.S. Constitution provides one chance, one for Americans to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court, who makes those big decisions about their health care, their civil rights, and so much else.
That chance is now.
That moment is now.
The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard.
I urge the American people to keep voting and to let your current Senators know that you want to be heard before they vote to confirm a new Justice.
And I urge every Senator to take a step back from the brink — to take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment — and stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold.
This is the time to de-escalate, to put an end to the shattering of precedents that has thrown our nation into chaos.
Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to do right by the American people.
Uphold your constitutional duty. Summon your conscience.
Stand up for the people. Stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.
Americans are watching. Americans are voting. We must listen to them now.
We must allow them to exercise their sacred power.
God bless the United States of America and may God protect our troops.
“Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.”
Today, nearly 500 retired top military and national security officials endorsed Joe Biden for President of the United States. In an open letter, the generals, admirals, ambassadors, and other former national security leaders pointed to Joe Biden’s empathy, honesty, experience and leadership as necessary traits required to navigate America through a painful time. The leaders, including Democrats, Republicans and Independents, also cited Donald Trump’s failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other monumental crises facing the nation.
We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States. We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors, and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven America needs principled, wise, and responsible leadership. America needs a President who understands, as President Harry S. Truman said, that “the buck stops here.”
We the undersigned endorse Joe Biden to be the next President of the United States. He is the leader our nation needs. We believe that Joe Biden is, above all, a good man with a strong sense of right and wrong. He is guided by the principles that have long made America great: democracy is a hard-won right we must defend and support at home and abroad; America’s power and influence stem as much from her moral authority as it does from her economic and military power; America’s free press is invaluable, not an enemy of the people; those who sacrifice or give their lives in service of our nation deserve our respect and eternal gratitude; and America’s citizens benefit most when the United States engages with the world. Joe Biden will always put the nation’s needs before his own.
Those who have served know empathy is a vital leadership quality – you cannot do what is best for those you lead if you do not know their challenges. Joe Biden has empathy born of his humble roots, family tragedies and personal loss. When Americans are struggling, Joe Biden understands their pain and takes it upon himself to help.
We believe America’s president must be honest, and we find Joe Biden’s honesty and integrity indisputable. He believes a nation’s word is her bond. He believes we must stand by the allies who have stood by us. He remembers how America’s NATO allies rushed to her side after 9/11; how the Kurds fought by our side to defeat ISIS; and how Japan and South Korea have been steadfast partners in countering North Korean and Chinese provocations. Joe Biden would never sell out our allies to placate despots or because he dislikes an allied leader.
While some of us may have different opinions on particular policy matters, we trust Joe Biden’s positions are rooted in sound judgment, thorough understanding, and fundamental values.
We know Joe Biden has the experience and wisdom necessary to navigate America through a painful time. He has grappled with America’s most difficult foreign policy challenges for decades, learning what works – and what does not – in a dangerous world. He is knowledgeable, but he also knows that listening to diverse and dissenting views is essential, particularly when making tough decisions concerning our national security. Many of us have briefed Joe Biden on matters of national security, and we know he demands a thorough understanding of any issue before making a decision – as any American president should.
Finally, Joe Biden believes in personal responsibility. Over his long career, he has learned hard lessons and grown as a leader who can take positive action to unite and heal our country. It is unthinkable that he would ever utter the phrase “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
The next president will inherit a nation – and a world – in turmoil. The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program. The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.
Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), in remarks at George Washington University regarding the “unprecedented and dangerous moment we are in because of Trump’s unique threats to our democracy” called for unprecedented voter turnout, warning that Trump may well declare victory in Election Night, before the millions of mail-in-ballots are counted, confiscate the ballots to prevent them from being counted, and even instruct Republican legislators to disregard the popular vote and select Trump electors to vote in the Electoral College. If all that, including impeding delivery of mail-in-ballots, calling out thugs to intimidate voters who come to the polls, Trump says he is counting on the Supreme Court, with his third pick already on the court, to hand him the election. Only then, he says, will there be a “peaceful transfer” because there won’t be a transfer at all, but a continuation of power. – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Here are Senator Sanders’ remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery:
Saving American Democracy
This country faces an unprecedented set of crises. We are struggling with a pandemic that has already cost us over 200,000 lives.
We have an economy in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, where the middle class is being decimated, where millions of workers have lost their jobs and half of our people continue to work paycheck to paycheck — many for starvation wages.
We are living in the moment when climate change is ravaging this planet, leading to massive fires on the West Coast, drought and unprecedented levels of extreme weather disturbances all across the globe.
We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people as a right, over 90 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, and we pay by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.
All of these issues, and others, are enormously important and should be the issues that are being debated in this campaign. But, today, I’m not going to talk about any of them.
What I am going to talk about is something that, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would be discussing. And that is the need to make certain that the President of the United States, if he loses this election, will abide by the will of the voters and leave office peacefully.
What I will be discussing today is the danger that this country faces from a president who is a pathological liar, who has strong authoritarian tendencies, who neither understands nor respects our constitution and who is prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power.
With less than 6 weeks left to go in this campaign it is my fervent hope that all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, independents, progressives, moderates, conservatives — come together to defend American democracy, our constitution and the rule of law. We must ensure, in this unprecedented moment in American history that this is an election that is free and fair, an election in which voters are not intimidated, an election in which all votes are counted and an election in which the loser accepts the results.
This is not just an election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy – and democracy must win.
The United States is the oldest continuous democracy in the modern world. We held elections in the middle of a Civil War in 1864. We held free and fair elections during World War I, during the Great Depression, and during World War II. After all of those elections, held in extremely difficult circumstances, the loser acknowledged defeat and the winner was inaugurated and took office. That is what America is all about. That’s what democracy is all about.
But today, under Donald Trump, we have a president who has little respect for our constitution or the rule of law. Today, that peaceful transition of power, the bedrock of American democracy, is being threatened like never before.
I am not in the habit of quoting former President Ronald Reagan, but I think something that he said in his first inaugural address makes the point about how important — how precious — is this part of our heritage. I quote: “The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place as it has for almost two centuries and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” Unquote.
Protecting this “orderly transfer of authority” as President Reagan characterized it, this miracle, is absolutely essential if we together — all of us, Republicans, Democrats, Independents — want to keep faith with the American ideals we hold so dear and with the sacrifices that so many made in order to protect our democracy.
And in that regard I think it is terribly important that we actually listen to, and take seriously, what Donald Trump is saying.
Several weeks ago, speaking at the Republican National Convention, Trump said, and I quote, “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.” What is remarkable about that statement is that he made it at a time when almost every national poll had him behind and when he was trailing in polls in most battleground states.
Think about what that statement means. What he is saying is that if he wins the election, that’s great. But if he loses, it’s rigged, because the only way, the only way, he can lose is if it’s rigged. And if it’s rigged, then he is not leaving office. Heads I win. Tails you lose. In other words, in Trump’s mind, there is no conceivable way that he should leave office.
And just last night Donald Trump went even further down the path of authoritarianism by being the first president in the history of this country to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the election.
When asked by a reporter in the White House briefing room: “Win, lose or draw in this election, will you commit here today for a peaceful transferal of power after the election?” Trump responded:
“We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster. We want to get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”
That’s not his choice. That’s for the American people to determine. Let us be very clear. There is nothing in our constitution or in our laws that give Donald Trump the privilege of deciding whether or not he will step aside if he loses. In the United States the president does not determine who can or cannot vote and what ballots will be counted. That may be what his friend Putin does in Russia. It may be what is done in other authoritarian countries. But it is not and will not be done in America. This is a democracy.
I do understand that Donald Trump is a billionaire, or so he says. I do understand that he was born to a very wealthy family and, from his earliest days, was able to get anything he wanted because his family was rich and his family was powerful. I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you don’t have to pay taxes like ordinary people and that it’s easy for you to avoid the military draft. I do understand that when you’re rich and you’re powerful you can buy politicians and get hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare for your real estate empire.
But this I also understand. No matter how rich and powerful you may be, no matter how arrogant and narcissistic you may be, no matter how much you think you can get anything you want, let me make this clear to Donald Trump: Too many people have fought and died to defend American democracy. You are not going to destroy it. The American people will not allow that to happen.
Despite all of the evidence, Trump continues to be obsessed with the belief that there is massive voter fraud in this country.
In 2017, after he won the presidency, Trump insisted that he would have won the popular vote, which he lost by 3 million votes, if, quote “millions of illegal votes had not been cast.” There is absolutely no evidence of that being true. In fact, it is totally preposterous to believe that millions of votes, or any significant number of votes at all, were cast illegally. This is an assertion supported by no one. Not Democratic officials. Not Republican officials. No one. And yet that is what Trump said after he won.
There have been numerous studies done on the issue of voter fraud in our country. They have all concluded essentially the same thing. Voter fraud in the United States of America is extremely rare.
An article in the New York Times from December 18, 2016 stated: “In an election in which more than 137.7 million Americans cast ballots, election and law enforcement officials in 26 states and the District of Columbia — Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and in-between — said that so far they knew of no credible allegations of fraudulent voting. Officials in another eight states said they knew of only one allegation … In Georgia, where more than 4.1 million ballots were cast, officials said they had opened 25 inquiries into “suspicious voting or election-related activity.” But inquiries to all 50 states (every one but Kansas responded) found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud.”
A report by the Brennan Center for Justice reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. The report concluded that it is more likely that an American, quote, “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” unquote.
Even the conservative Heritage Foundation, which maintains a database on election fraud, could only find 143 criminal convictions of mail in voter fraud out of 250 million mail-in votes cast over the past 20 years, a rate of 0.00006%.
But you don’t have to trust me on this issue. Benjamin Ginsburg, one of the leading Republican experts on elections, a man who served as national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign, a man who played a major role for the Republican Party in the 2000 Florida recount, and who co-chaired the bipartisan 2013 Presidential Commission on Election Administration, recently wrote in the Washington Post, and I quote, “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged,” unquote.
Let me repeat from one of the Republican Party’s leading experts on elections: “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud. At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”
And if even the statement of Mr. Ginsburg is not good enough for you, here is what the Trump administration’s own voting integrity commission reported. According to an analysis of administration documents by the Associated Press, Trump’s commission uncovered, quote “no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud,” unquote, and disbanded in 2018.
Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tamped down concerns about mail-in ballots last month, saying, and I quote, “Many parts of our country vote by mail. Oregon, Washington and Colorado have voted by mail for years.”
And yet we have a president who calls mail in ballots “a hoax” and “a scam.”
Trump’s strategy to delegitimize this election and to stay in office if he loses is not complicated. Finding himself behind in many polls, he is attempting massive voter suppression. He and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it harder and harder for people to vote. In addition, he is sowing the seeds of chaos, confusion and conspiracy theories by casting doubt on the integrity of this election and, if he loses, justifying why he should remain in office.
In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump refused to say that he would leave office if he lost. Asked to give a direct answer on whether he would accept the election results, Trump refused. He said, quote, “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” Pretty much what he said yesterday.
In the middle of a pandemic Trump made clear that he wants to defund the Postal Service in order to limit the use of mail in ballots.In an interview on August 13, discussing a possible deal for a relief package that would have funded the post office, Trump let the cat out of the bag by admitting that, quote “If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting; they just can’t have it.”
In other words, what Trump is saying to tens of millions of Americans is that at a time when over 200,000 people have already died from the coronavirus, you have a choice: You can either risk your health or even your life by walking into a voting booth or you can’t vote. How disgusting is that?
Amazingly, at the very same time Trump is making completely baseless allegations about voter fraud, last month he urged his supporters in North Carolina to try voting twice, which is a felony.
In order to advance his plan for mass voter suppression, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Nevada, which fortunately was dismissed, challenging the state’s mail-in voting laws.
In July, Trump used false claims of voter fraud to propose delaying this year’s election, which he does not have the power to do. This was so outrageous that Steven Calabresi, the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society, wrote that it was, quote “grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate,” unquote.
Last week, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Nevada that he, quote, “was entitled” to serve a third term, which is obviously a violation of the Constitution’s 22nd Amendment.
On Saturday, Trump suggested to his supporters in North Carolina that he might sign an executive order to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.
Trump has also urged his supporters to become, quote, “poll watchers,” but what he is really saying is he wants his supporters, some of whom are members of armed militias, to intimidate voters. We’re already seeing this in Virginia, where early voters were confronted by Trump supporters, and election officials in Fairfax County said that some voters and polling staff felt intimidated.
On and on it goes. Every day, over and over again, Trump is making it harder for the American people to participate in the political process and is attempting to delegitimize the outcome of this election so that if he loses he can remain in office.
The concerns that I am raising today are not just mine alone, and are not just concerns shared by progressives and Democrats.
Miles Taylor, a lifelong Republican who previously served as chief of staff inside the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security, warned that there is nothing that Trump will not do or say to defeat Biden.
“Put nothing past Donald Trump,” Taylor told The Associated Press. “He will do anything to win. If that means climbing over other people, climbing over his own people, or climbing over U.S. law, he will do it. People are right to be concerned.”
Well, I agree with Mr. Taylor. I am concerned. I am very concerned.
Last week, my former Senate colleague Dan Coats, Trump’s own former Director of National Intelligence, published a piece in the New York Times calling for a high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election to reassure all Americans that it has been carried out fairly. Coats wrote, quote, “The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.”
I couldn’t agree more. I strongly second Director Coats’ call for this election commission.
Last week as well, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and I sent a letter to Senator McConnell urging him to hold hearings on the issue of election and post-election security. Senator Schumer and I stated, “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”
Majority Leader McConnell: Please respond to that letter. Please establish that bi-partisan committee.
And today I call on every elected official in America whether they be Republican, Democrat or Independent to vigorously oppose voter suppression and voter intimidation, to make sure that every vote is counted, and that no one is declared the winner until those votes are counted.
And to my Republican colleagues in the Congress please do not continue to tell the American people how much you love America if, at this critical moment, you are not prepared to stand up to defend American democracy and our way of life. Stop the hypocrisy.
With or without Donald Trump this election is unique in American history because it’s taking place during a pandemic and a public health crisis.
As a result, states all over America are taking the appropriate steps to ensure more Americans can safely vote by mail in their own homes instead of risking their health or their lives to vote in person.
The result is that this election will see, by far, the largest number of mail in ballots ever.
And let’s be clear. Despite what Donald Trump says, voting by mail is not a new or dangerous idea. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah conduct their elections almost entirely by mail. California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia and my state of Vermont have pledged to mail ballots to all registered voters for the upcoming election. And many other states are making it easier to vote by mail. Trump himself, as well as members of his administration, have repeatedly voted by mail. Members of the U.S. military have regularly voted by mail since the 1800s.
Given the significant increase in mail in ballots why, you might ask, are Trump and his allies trying to attack the integrity of our vote by mail system?
The answer is simple. A number of studies have shown that for, whatever reasons, Republicans are more likely to vote in person while Democrats are more likely to use mail in ballots.
In fact, one poll found that only about a quarter of Biden supporters would vote in person on Election Day while some two thirds of Trump voters planned to vote in person.
In other words, if Trump can undermine people’s confidence in the validity of votes cast by mail, he will be calling into question the validity of votes that may overwhelmingly support Joe Biden.
Let us consider the following scenario:
On election night, Trump is ahead in many battleground states based on the votes of those who voted in person on election day. All across the television screens people see Trump ahead before they turn in for the night. But as more and more mail in ballots are counted, Trump’s lead falls. Trump then announces, with no proof, that there has been massive mail in ballot fraud and that these votes should not be counted – and that he has won the election.
In other words, Trump may well announce that he has won the election before all of the votes are counted and that large numbers of mail in ballots should be discarded.
Furthermore, in states where Republicans control the legislature, it is possible that the election results will be ignored because of false accusations of voter fraud and that the legislature itself will use its power to appoint electors pledged to vote for Trump, overriding the will of the people.
And, in the midst of all of this, with the death of Justice Ginsburg, Trump is attempting to push through a Supreme Court Justice who may very well cast a vote in a case that will determine the outcome of this election. He is doing that at a time when early voting has already begun and millions of ballots will have already been cast.
In this unprecedented moment what can we as a people do in the struggle to preserve American democracy?
First, it is absolutely imperative that we have, by far, the largest voter turnout in American history and that people vote as early as possible.
As someone who is strongly supporting Joe Biden, let’s be clear: A landslide victory for Biden will make it virtually impossible for Trump to deny the results and is our best means for defending democracy.
Second, with the pandemic and a massive increase in mail in voting, state legislatures must take immediate action now to allow mail in votes to be counted before Election Day – as they come in.
In fact, 32 states allow for the counting or processing of absentee ballots – verifying signatures for example – before Election Day. All states should do the same. The faster all ballots are counted, the less window there is for chaos and conspiracy theories.
Third, the news media needs to prepare the American people to understand there is no longer a single election day and that it is very possible that we may not know the results on November 3rd.
Fourth, social media companies must finally get their act together and stop people from using their tools to spread disinformation and to threaten and harass election officials.
Fifth, in the Congress and in state legislatures hearings must be held as soon as possible to explain to the public how the election day process and the days that follow will be handled. As we count every vote, and prevent voter intimidation everything possible must be done to prevent chaos, disinformation, and even violence.
Lastly, and most importantly, the American people, no matter what their political persuasion, must make it clear that American democracy will not be destroyed. Our country from its inception and through the sacrifices of millions has been a model to the world with regard to representative government. In 1863, in the midst of the terrible Civil War, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg stated that this government “of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
That was true then. That is true today. Regardless of what Donald Trump wants the American people will preserve democracy in our country.
The hypocrisy and shamelessness of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to now move forward to fill the seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with someone who would completely undo all the progress she made toward equality and social justice in the midst of actual voting to replace the president and Congress is only matched by the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the self-professed conservative “originalist” Supreme Court justices who have the audacity to suggest they can fathom what the Founding Fathers meant and disregard all the changes since then, to actually make law. Five justices contradicting the 435 elected members of the House and 100 elected members of the Senate and the president, going further, reaching back into settled law and precedent to overturn women’s rights, civil rights, voting rights, workers rights, environmental protection, to re-form this nation as a Catholic theocracy, not much different than Islamic theocracy.
Just a reminder: McConnell invented this “rule” of not confirming – not even giving President Obama’s nominee a hearing – even though the election was 10 months away (and Scalia’s seat was vacant for 400 days) because it was an election year, and that Obama purposely looked for a moderate, not a progressive, and not someone who could conceivably serve for 50 years on the bench, in choosing Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. It really was a further demonstration of the disrespect he had for Obama, America’s first Black president, and, when Obama took office in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, McConnell said his first priority was not to help Americans seeing their lives come apart but to make Obama a “one-term president.” He stalled hundreds of judicial appointments so that he could fill them all – and hand Trump his only achievement Trump can crow about. B
McConnell’s does not necessarily see the swift filling of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat as energizing Republican turnout but because he expects to lose the White House and very possibly the Senate. Also, he wants a Supreme Court in Trump’s pocket to decide the dozens of outrageous court suits designed to suppress voting (the only way Trump can eke out a win in the Electoral College).
Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate for president, spoke out in Philadelphia, paying homage to Justice Ginsburg’s life and legacy and outrage over yet another theft of a Supreme Court seat that, despite the conservative minority in the country and majority’s rejection of their positions, will control the lives of every American for generations. Presidents may come and go, but these justices serve for life.
”This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now,” Biden declared. “To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.”
Here are Vice President’s remarks, highlighted, as prepared for delivery on September 20, 2020 in Philadelphia:
I attended mass earlier today and prayed for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family.
The nation lost an icon, but they lost a mother, a grandmother, and a matriarch.
We know how hard that is to watch a piece of your soul absorb the cruelty and pain of that dreadful disease of cancer.
But as I spoke with her daughter and granddaughter last night, they made clear that until the very end she displayed the character and courage we would expect of her. She held their hand and gave them strength and purpose to carry on.
It’s been noted that she passed away on Rosh Hashanah.
By tradition, a person who dies during the Jewish New Year is considered a soul of great righteousness.
That was Ruth Bader Ginsgburg. A righteous soul.
It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court.
Justice Ginsburg achieved a standing few justices do. She became a presence in the lives of so many Americans, a part of the culture.
Yes there was humor in the mentions of the “Notorious RBG” and her impressive exercise routines. But it was so much more. She was a trailblazer, a role model, a source of hope, and a powerful voice for justice.
She was proof that courage and conviction and moral clarity can change not just the law, but also the world.
And I believe in the days and months and years to follow, she will continue to inspire millions of Americans all across this country. And together, we can — and we will — continue to be voices for justice in her name.
Her granddaughter said her dying words were “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
As a nation, we should heed her final call to us — not as a personal service to her, but as a service to the country at a crossroads.
There is so much at stake — the right to health care, clean air and water, and equal pay for equal work. The rights of voters, immigrants, women, and workers.
And right now, our country faces a choice. A choice about whether we can come back from the brink.
That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
Within an hour of news of her passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg will receive a vote in the Senate.
The exact opposite of what he said when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia in 2016.
At that time, Majority Leader McConnell made up a rule based on the fiction that I somehow believed that there should be no nomination to the Court in an election year.
It’s ridiculous. The only rule I ever followed related to Supreme Court nominations was the Constitution’s obligation for Senators to provide advice and consent to the president on judicial nominees.
But he created a new one — the McConnell Rule: absolutely no hearing and no vote for a nominee in an election year.
Period. No caveats.
And many Republican Senators agreed. Including then-Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Including the current Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Who at the time said, and I quote verbatim:
“I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsay Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
That is what Republicans said when Justice Scalia passed away — about nine months before Election Day that year. Now, having lost Justice Ginsburg less than seven weeks before Election Day this year — after Americans have already begun to cast their votes — they cannot unring the bell.
Having made this their standard when it served their interest, they cannot, just four years later, change course when it doesn’t serve their ends. And I’m not being naive.
I’m not speaking to President Trump, who will do whatever he wants.
I’m not speaking to Mitch McConnell, who will do what he does.
I’m speaking to those Senate Republicans out there who know deep down what is right for the country — not just for their party.
I’m speaking for the millions of Americans out there, who are already voting in this election. Millions of Americans who are voting because they know their health care hangs in the balance.
In the middle of the worst global health crisis in living memory, Donald Trump is at the Supreme Court trying to strip health coverage away from tens of millions of families and to strip away the peace of mind from more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions.
If he succeeds, insurers could once again discriminate or drop coverage completely for people living with preexisting conditions like asthma, diabetes, and cancer.
And perhaps, most cruelly of all, if Donald Trump has his way, complications from COVID-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
Millions of Americans who are also voting because they don’t want nearly a half century of legal precedent to be overturned and lose their right to choose.
Millions of Americans who are at risk of losing their right to vote.
Millions of Dreamers who are at risk of being expelled from the only country they have ever known.
Millions of workers who are at risk of losing their collective bargaining rights.
Millions of Americans who are demanding that their voices be heard and that equal justice be guaranteed for all.
They know — we all know — what should happen now.
The voters of this country should be heard. Voting has already begun in some states.
And in just a few weeks, all the voters of this nation will be heard. They are the ones who should decide who has the power to make this appointment.
This appointment isn’t about the past. It’s about the future. And the people of this nation are choosing the future right now.
To jam this nomination through the Senate is just an exercise in raw political power.
I don’t believe the people of this nation will stand for it.
President Trump has already made it clear this is about power. Pure and simple.
Well, the voters should make it clear on this issue and so many others: the power in this nation resides with them — the people.
And even if President Trump wants to put forward a name now, the Senate should not act on it until after the American people select their next president and the next Congress.
If Donald Trump wins the election — then the Senate should move on his selection — and weigh that nominee fairly.
But if I win the election, President Trump’s nomination should be withdrawn.
As the new President, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg’s successor, a nominee who should get a fair hearing in the Senate before a confirmation vote.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’re passing 200,000 American deaths lost to this virus. Tens of millions of Americans are on unemployment.
Health care in this country hangs in the balance before the Court.
And now, in a raw political move – this president and the Republican leader have decided to jam a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through the United States Senate.
It’s the last thing we need in this moment.
Voters have already begun casting ballots in this country.
In just a few weeks, we are going to know who the voters of this nation have chosen to be their next president.
The United States Constitution was designed to give the voters one chance – to have their voice heard on who serves on the Court.
That moment is now — and their voice should be heard. And I believe voters are going to make it clear – they will not stand for this abuse of power.
There’s also discussion about what happens if the Senate confirms — on election eve – or in a lame duck after Donald Trump loses — a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
But that discussion assumes that we lose this effort to prevent the grave wrong that Trump and McConnell are pursuing here.
And I’m not going to assume failure at this point. I believe the voices of the American people should be heard.
This fight won’t be over until the Senate votes, if it does vote.
Winning that vote — if it happens — is everything.
Action and reaction. Anger and more anger. Sorrow and frustration at the way things are.
That’s the cycle that Republican Senators will continue to perpetuate if they go down this dangerous path they have put us on.
We need to de-escalate — not escalate.
So I appeal to those few Senate Republicans — the handful who will really decide what happens.
Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created.
Don’t go there.
Uphold your Constitutional duty — your conscience.
Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.
We can’t keep rewriting history, scrambling norms, and ignoring our cherished system of checks and balances.
That includes this whole business of releasing a list of potential nominees that I would put forward.
It’s no wonder the Trump campaign asked that I release a list only hours after Justice Ginsburg passed away.
It’s a game to them, a play to gin up emotions and anger.
There’s a reason why no Presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever done such a thing.
First, putting a judge’s name on a list like that -could influence that person’s decision-making as a judge — and that’s wrong.
Second, anyone put on a list like that under these circumstances – will be the subject of unrelenting political attacks.
And because any nominee I would select would not get a hearing until 2021 at the earliest – she would endure those attacks for months on end without being able to defend herself.
Third, and finally, and perhaps most importantly, if I win, I will make my choice for the Supreme Court — not as part of a partisan election campaign — but as prior Presidents did.
Only after consulting Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate – and seeking their advice before I ask for their consent.
As everyone knows – I have made it clear that my first choice for the Supreme Court will make history as the first African American woman Justice.
I will consult with Senators in both parties about that pick, as well as with legal and civic leaders. In the end, the choice will be mine and mine alone.
But it will be the product of a process that restores our finest traditions – not the extension of one that has torn this country apart.
I’ll conclude with this.
As I’ve said in this campaign, we are in the battle for the soul of this country.
We face four historic crises. A once-in-a-generation pandemic. A devastating economic recession. The rise of white supremacy unseen since the 1960’s, and a reckoning on race long overdue. And a changing climate that is ravaging our nation as we speak.
Supreme Court decisions touch every part of these crises — every part of our lives and our future.
The last thing we need is to add a constitutional crisis that plunges us deeper into the abyss – deeper into the darkness.
If we go down this path, it would cause irreversible damage.
The infection this president has unleashed on our democracy can be fatal. Enough.
We must come together as a nation. Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal, conservative. Everybody.
I’m not saying that we have to agree on everything. But we have to reason our way through to what ails us – as citizens, voters, and public servants. We have to act in good faith and mutual good will. In a spirit of conciliation, not confrontation.
This nation will continue to be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but we should be guided by her as well.
By her willingness to listen, to hear those she disagreed with, to respect other points of view.
Famously, Justice Ginsburg got along well with some of the most conservative justices on the Court.
And she did it without compromising her principles – or clouding her moral clarity – or losing her core principles.
If she could do this, so can we.
How we talk to one another matters. How we treat one another matters. Respecting others matters.
Justice Ginsburg proved it’s important to have a spine of steel, but it’s also important to offer an open hand — and not a closed fist — to those you disagree with.
This nation needs to come together.
I have said it many times in this election. We are the United States of America.
There’s nothing we cannot do if we do it together. Maybe Donald Trump wants to divide this nation between Red States and Blue States.
Between representing those states that vote for him and ignoring those that don’t.
I do not.
I cannot — and I will not — be that president.
I will be a president for the whole country.
For those who vote for me and those who don’t.
We need to rise to this moment, for the sake of our country we love.
It’s ridiculous, almost humorous – if not so tragic – to hear Trump complaining that Biden hasn’t been able to issue a nationwide mandate to wear masks, when he is ostensibly the president (he says so, “I’m president. Can you believe it?” and “I can do anything I want. I’m president.”) but has failed to serve in the function while abusing the power. Trump could have used his power to require Domestic Production of protective equipment like masks, gowns, gloves, and the all-important ventilators, rather than give out massive no-bid contracts to companies like Kodak that had no experience, or have his son-in-law Jared Kushner use political operatives to take calls from grifters who claimed to be able to procure PPE, while dismissing the need to set up testing or send out equipment to Blue States, because, well, they vote Democratic and have Democratic leadership. Trump (an anti-vaxxer) has contradicted his own medical advisers, politicized the once vaunted CDC, FDA, NIH, thrown out nearly $1 trillion in Operation War Speed, all the while sowing such doubt in the efficacy or safety of any vaccine that would be rushed through testing. And yet, Trump, who disbanded the Obama-era pandemic office, pulled out of the World Health Organization and international efforts to produce a vaccine, has actually blamed Biden for failing to have stockpiled testing and vaccines against a virus that didn’t exist until more than three years into his reign. The Trump Campaign is now chiding and misrepresenting and frankly lying about Biden’s proposals and position on coronavirus and vaccines.
Trump, who is now listening only to those health “experts” like radiologist Scott Atlas who confirm his own conveniences, now is embracing the “herd immunity” (he called it “herd mentality in the ABC Town Hall) approach – essentially doing nothing, telling people not to wear masks or socially distance, so that as many as possible will become infected until so many are infected or dead, the virus has no place to go. Problem with that is you would need 225 million out of the 330 million population to get the infection, out of which as many as 6 million would die. But there is actually no proof that there is immunity from COVID-19, or that immunity after infection does not last more than a few months, or whether the virus mutates (like flu viruses) so that it becomes a new disease all over again.
Actual medical experts, including CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield: “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” he said. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Dr. Redfield said as recently as this week, after Trump chided the use of masks, “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” Trump’s reaction? He rebuked Redfield, saying he had “made a mistake,” “misunderstood the question,” and had taken back his statement.
Estimates put the number of lives that could be saved between now and December- now forecast to be as high as 215,000 MORE deaths- at 100,000 and it is likely that had a nationwide mask order been imposed, 100,000 of the 200,000 who have already died could have been saved.About 1,000 Americans are dying each day.
And let’s be clear, New York State and the surrounding states became a hotspot because Trump’s intelligence network did not want to mention that the coronavirus was coming in from Europe. While everyone watched for the spread to come from the West Coast from China, 3 million people who came from infected areas of Europe had already come through New York’s airports. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was left to figure out on his own how to contain the virus before it completely overwhelmed the health care system. Now, Trump wants to dismiss the numbers of COVID-19 dead in Blue States – apparently, dead people in Blue States don’t matter – to make the absurd argument that the rates of death in the United States are somehow on par with the rest of the world (not).
Here are Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, after a vaccine briefing in Wilmington, Delaware, in which he outlined his own plan to get control of the coronavirus, save lives and restore the economy: testing and tracing, national protocols for mask-wearing and social distancing, an actual plan to distribute the vaccine free.
“So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either,” Biden said.
“If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today. “It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
“And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.”
– Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.
I just concluded an hour and a half long briefing with seven of our nation’s top public health experts on the state of the pandemic, the steps needed to curb the spread of the virus, and the challenge of distributing a safe and effective vaccine once we have identified one.
Before I turn to those issues, let me say a few words about the president’s comments last night.
Even after acknowledging to Bob Woodward on tape that he was fully informed on the gravity of the danger related to COVID-19. He refused to warn the American people. And again, last night, in a televised town hall, the President revealed in no uncertain terms the lack of seriousness with which he continues to take this pandemic.
Nearly eight months after this crisis on the doorstep of 200,000 American deaths, President Trump refused once again to take responsibility or to take action.
By his own admission he continued to lie about COVID-19. He doubled down on his catastrophic mistakes.
And, perhaps worst of all — he made clear that he still doesn’t have a plan to bring us out of this crisis.
He even said that quote — “a lot of people think that masks are not good” — undercutting the easiest and most effective means we have for reducing the spread of this disease. [Asked “who thought that?” Trump said “waiters.”]
This virus is still taking nearly a thousand lives each day.
And forecasts show that the numbers are likely to climb this winter.
But, incredibly, President Trump insists that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Not one thing.
Last Friday, we learned that another one thousand Americans died due to this virus.
On the very same day, Canada reported that not one person died of COVID-19.
And Trump wouldn’t have done anything differently?
If you’re a parent in America, preparing for another day that you can’t send your child to school, if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, if your small business can’t open or you can’t go back to work because the virus is still spreading in your community, how does it make you feel to hear the President say he wouldn’t have done anything differently?
And if he gets four more years, why should we expect anything to change?
All President Trump had to offer last night was the same weak and feckless inaction — the same lies and empty promises — that we’ve seen from the very beginning.
He still won’t accept responsibility. He still won’t offer a plan.
Last night, he repeated what he has said so many times before: That even if he continues to offer only failing indifference some day, the virus will go away like a miracle.
It won’t go away like a miracle. The fact is, even if we get a vaccine, it will not be available to most of the population until well into next year.
And we are heading into a dangerous autumn.
In fact, the University of Washington model — which the White House has previously touted — projects that cases and deaths are going to spike in November – and an additional 215,000 Americans will die by the end of the year.
That’s more than have already died.
We need leadership right now to prevent that from happening. That same University of Washington model shows that if there is universal masking, we could cut those deaths by more than half. We could save more than 100,000 lives.
Even Donald Trump’s own director of the CDC told us that wearing a mask is the single most important step we can take to curb this virus. He said “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
I spoke with the experts today about additional steps we can take to prevent needless deaths and suffering.
Uniform national guidance – and standards on social distancing – that can be applied to the particular circumstances of states and communities.
More effective approaches on testing and tracing.
If we do these things between now and January – we could save even more lives.
Last night, Donald Trump indicated he has no interest in doing these things.
A president’s first responsibility is to protect the American people.
And he won’t.
That is utterly disqualifying.
I also spoke with the experts about the paramount importance of preparing now for the swift, organized, and free distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
I am profoundly grateful to the scientists and researchers working tirelessly to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine becomes a reality as soon as possible.
They carry the hopes of our entire nation and the entire world.
And when their work comes to fruition – and it will — they will no doubt save countless lives.
But scientific breakthroughs don’t care about calendars any more than the virus does.
They certainly don’t adhere to election cycles.
And their timing, their approval, and their distribution should never, ever be distorted by political considerations. They should be determined by science and safety alone.
A vaccine would offer a way back to normalcy and a path forward to better days for all of us.
It won’t happen overnight. It will take months to distribute it to the entire population.
But I’m more hopeful than ever in the power of science to get us there.
One thing is certain, we cannot allow politics to interfere with a vaccine in any way.
Americans have had to endure President Trump’s incompetence and dishonesty when it came to testing and personal protective equipment.
We cannot afford a repeat of those fiascos when it comes to a vaccine. The stakes are too high American families have already suffered and sacrificed far too much.
So let me be clear, I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump — and the American people can’t either.
Last week, Senator Harris and I laid out three questions this Administration must answer — to assure the American people that politics will play no role whatsoever in the vaccine process.
If Donald Trump can give honest answers to these questions — the American people should have the confidence and transparency they need to trust a vaccine and adopt it in numbers that make a difference.
First, what criteria will be used to ensure that a vaccine meets the scientific standard of safety and effectiveness?
Second, if the Administration greenlights a vaccine — who will validate that the decision was driven by science rather than politics?
Third, how can we be sure that the distribution of the vaccine will take place — safely, cost-free, and without a hint of favoritism?
The fact of the matter is developing a vaccine is only part of the battle.
Distributing a vaccine to the entire population is as complex and challenging as the most sensitive military operation.
I’ve been calling for an effective distribution plan for months.
If I am elected president, I will begin implementing an effective distribution plan from the minute I take office. That is what I discussed with the experts in the briefing today.
It will include: a detailed timeline for when people will get the vaccine, a clear delineation of priority populations, the specific means and mechanisms of shipping and storage at appropriate temperatures, the division of responsibility at every level of government.
And I will provide the leadership necessary to carry this plan out. I will level with the American people. I will take responsibility. I will support rather than tear down the experts responsible for day-to-day execution. I will follow the science.
With satisfactory answers to the three questions I laid out — every American— including me and my family — can have confidence in a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives.
It’s about getting back to our loved ones and our friends.
It’s about getting our economy back on its feet.
Getting back to the movie theater, to the restaurant, to the ballpark.
It’s about getting back to our lives — and getting America up off the mat.
We can, and we must, be united in that pursuit.
No matter when that breakthrough emerges — no matter when that hope bears fruit.
That’s America at our best.
God bless our scientists and researchers — and frontline workers.