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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
GOP Members Choose Joe Biden Over Donald Trump; Democrats In Full Support For Joe Biden And Kamala Harris; The Democratic National Convention Kicks Off With Speeches From Across The County; Sen. Bernie Sanders And Former First Lady Michelle Obama Deliver Sharp Political Messages. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 17, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(MAGGIE ROGERS PERFORMING)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, all I could think about were my students and families.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the suffering and pain and death that really didn't have to be this way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we are leadership in place that would have taken this pandemic seriously in the beginning, we would not be in the situation we are in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still at this time don't have the necessary PPE.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I am very worried about what is in front of us. We're going to have classrooms that maybe have not been sanitized properly because we don't have the money for that kind of equipment. We're going to have classrooms packed with students and so the virus is going to be hard to contain. So, this very dangerous for the safety of our kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that the new leadership takes American lives seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know Joe Biden understands that the only way to keep people safe and our economy strong is to follow the recommendations of doctors. And we want to do everything we can to get Joe Biden elected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): Hello, America. I'm Governor Gretchen Whitmer, or as Donald Trump calls me, that woman from Michigan.
Tonight, I'm here at UAW Local 652 in Lansing, Michigan. Autoworkers in this union and across our state could have lost their jobs if not for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In 20 -- in 2009, the Obama/Biden administration inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the auto industry on the brink of collapse. A million jobs at stake. But President Obama and Vice President Biden didn't waste time blaming anyone else or shirking the responsibility. They got to work.
They brought together a union members, companies and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And they saved the auto industry. And when you know, just a few months ago as our nation began battling COVID-19, autoworkers across Michigan sprang into action. They started making protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front line.
Let me break it down. President Obama and Vice President Biden saved these autoworkers livelihoods. And these workers did their part to save American lives. That's the story of this great nation. Action begets action. Progress begets progress. And when we work together, we can accomplish anything. After all, democracy is a team sport, especially now.
It's crucial that we rally together to fight the virus and build our economy back better. From the jump, we took this pandemic seriously in Michigan. We listened to medical experts. We planned.
And with a lot of work from the autoworkers and too little help from the White House, we executed our plan. We saved thousands of lives.
Just imagine if we had a national strategy. So, everyone who needs it gets one for free. So, everyone has access to a safe vaccine. So, our kids and educators have the resources they need to safely get back to school.
With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we will. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will lead by example. It will be science not politics or ego that will drive their decisions. They know the health of the people goes hand in hand with the strength of our economy. They know action begets action.
Over the past few months, we have learned what's essential, rising to the challenge. Not denying it. We've learned who is essential too. Not just the wealthiest among us. Not a president who fights his fellow Americans rather than fight the virus that's killing us and the economy.
It's the people who put their own health at risk to care for the rest of us. They are the MVPs, the nurses and the doctors, the utility workers, truck drivers and grocery clerks. The child care workers, the parents, the teachers, the mail carriers and the autoworkers.
So many of these essential workers have lost their lives to COVID. Nearly a thousand healthcare workers, more than 170,000 people across America. Including a five-year-old girl named Skylar from Detroit whose mom is a police officer and dad is a firefighter. Generation after generation our nation has been defined by what we do
or what we fail to do. So, for Skylar, for her parents and in the memory of all those we've lost, let us act. Let us heal as one nation. Let us find strength to do the work.
EVA LONGORIA BASTON, ACTRESS & CONVENTION MODERATOR: We, the people, means all the people. Even those with whom we might not agree. Even those we might not expect to see at a Democratic convention.
But Joe Biden is a guy who has earned the respect he commends across the world and across the aisle. The stakes in this election call for that kind of leadership. We have to think about more than one party. We have to think about the very core of our democracy. And that's why you're about to hear from some unexpected voices.
FMR. GOV. CHRISTINE WHITMAN (R-NJ): I'm Governor Christine Todd Whitman. What am I doing here? I'm a lifelong Republican. My parents were introduced at Republican National Convention by their parents. That's how far it goes.
But this isn't about Republican or Democrat. It's about a person. A person decent enough, stable enough and strong enough to get our economy back on track, a person who can work with anyone, Democrats and Republicans to get things done. Donald Trump isn't that person. Joe Biden is.
MEG WHITMAN, CEO, QUIBI: I'm Meg Whitman. a long time Republican and a long time CEO. And let me tell you Donald Trump has no clue how to run a business, let alone an economy.
Joe Biden on the other hand has a plan that will strengthen our economy for working people and small business owners. For me, the choice is simple. I'm with Joe.
FMR. REP. SUSAN MOLINARI (R-NY): Hi. I'm Susan Molinari. I'm a former Republican member of Congress from New York City. And I've known Donald Trump for most of my political career, so disappointing and lately so disturbing.
Now I've also gotten to know and work with Joe Biden on issues related to women that are so important to all of us, women in business, violence against women.
That's why I'm so proud to call him my friend and honored to join and supporting his candidacy for president. He's a really good man. And he's exactly what this nation needs at this time.
Now I'm delighted and honored to introduce a former colleague of mine. The former congressman from Ohio, the former governor of Ohio, John Kasich.
FMR. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH): America is in a crossroads. Sometimes elections represent a real choice. A choice we make as individuals, and as a nation, about which path we want to take when we've come to challenging times. America is at that crossroads today.
The stakes in this election are greater than any other in modern times. Many of us have been deeply concerned about the current path we've been following for the past four years. It's a path that led to division, dysfunction, irresponsibility and growing vitriol between our citizens.
Continuing to follow that path will have consequences for America's soul. Because we're being taken down the wrong road by a president who is pitted one against the other. He's unlike all of our best leaders before him who worked to unite us to bridge our differences and lead us to a united America.
I'm a lifelong Republican. But that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to country. That's why I've chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times something like this would probably never happen. But these are not normal times.
I'm proud of my Republican heritage. It's the party of Lincoln who reflected its founding principles of unity and a higher purpose. But what I have witnessed these past four years belies those principles.
Many of us can't imagine four more years going down this path. And that's why I'm asking you to join with me in choosing a better way forward. I believe the best of America lies ahead. But only when we rediscover our shared belief in the United States of America for our children's future which can be bright, hopeful and inspired if we choose to make it so.
I've known Joe Biden for 30 years. I know his story of profound grief that is so deeply affected his character. I know Joe is a good man, a man of faith, a unifier, someone who understands the hopes and dreams of the common man and the common woman, a man who can help us to see the humanity in each other.
He knows that the path to a restored and rejuvenated America lies in respect and unity and a common purpose for everyone. Yes, there are areas where Joe and I absolutely disagree. But that's OK because that's America.
Because whatever our differences we respect one another as human beings, each of us searching for justice and for purpose. We can all see what's going on in our country today. And all the questions that are facing us and no one person or party has all the answers. But what we do know is we can do better than what we have been seeing today for sure.
And I know that Joe Biden with his experience and his wisdom and his decency can bring us together to help us find that better way.
I'm sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn't imagine crossing over to support a Democrat. They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don't believe that because I know the measure of the man. It's reasonable, faithful, respectful, you know, no one pushes Joe around.
Joe Biden is a man for our times, times that call for all of us to take off our partisan hats and put our nation first for ourselves and of course for our children. When America chooses the right path and pulls together like we've done so many times before, we can dream big dreams. And we can see the top of the mountain as a United States of America with a soul that is beacon of freedom to the entire world.
TERRY WILLIAMS: Hello. My name is I'm Terry Williams. And I've been a Republican for all my adult life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lifelong Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: a lifelong Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been a long-standing Republican. And I'm telling you, you got to vote for Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have voted for and campaigned for Republicans since the Reagan years. But I won't be voting for Donald Trump in November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm supporting Joe Biden for president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need a positive leader, someone who can work with both sides, Republican and the Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we can deal with the type of person we have in the White House any longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vote, America. That's the only way to get out of this. And Joe Biden is just the person to ensure we get our lives back to normal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden is a decent man with a long history of public service to America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will restore order and integrity to the executive branch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would strongly encourage all of us to come together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And hopefully return our country's political discourse back to some measure of normalcy and decency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure, I'm absolutely sure he's going to help us bring this country together once again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, from Alabama, Senator Doug Jones.
SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): I'm Senator Doug Jones from the great state of Alabama.
Growing up in the south meant growing up in the midst of stark divisions. But it was here in Alabama where Rosa Parks help to ignite a movement by refusing to give up her seat on the bus where freedom riders came together and pursued of equality.
And it was here in Alabama where John Lewis marched across a bridge toward freedom. From a young age I knew the hope that come from seeing good people worked to heal our divisions. It's what led me to become the United States attorney where I convicted two clansmen who murdered four young black girls in a 1964 Birmingham church bombing and delivered long overdue justice.
I'm standing in front of an exhibit dedicated to their memory. Alabama has shown me that even our deepest divisions can be overcome because each of us want the same thing. To be treated fairly and given the same opportunities and freedom to live with dignity and respect.
Now some politicians try to pit us against each other. But I believe that Americans have more in common than what divides us. And in November we have a chance to elect a president who believes that too.
I've known Joe for more than 40 years. I met him as a wide-eyed law student. And he's been my friend and champion ever since. The Joe I know is exactly the leader our country needs right now. He can bring people together to find common ground while standing up for what he believes is right. After years of bitter partisanship, he can unite our country and get things done for working families and everyone looking for a better future.
Because it's not about what side of the aisle we're on, it's about whether or not we're on the side of the people. The great John Lewis would often quote the old African proverb. When you pray, move your feet. And then challenge us to do just that.
As a nation he said, if we care for the beloved community, we must move our feet, our hands and resources, to build and not tear down, to reconcile and not to divide, to love and not to hate, to heal and not to kill. In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house, the American house, the American family. Vice President Biden understands that. And he is who we need as our next president.
BASTON: Here we are on a Monday night in 2020. And we need to talk about the post office, the U.S. Postal Service. It is central to so much of our lives. Veterans count on the post office to get their prescriptions. Social security beneficiaries count on the post office to get their checks.
Grandparents depend on the post office to send birthday cards to their grandkids. Small businesses need the post office to do business. And guess what? The post office is also one of the ways we cast our votes.
To find out how to exercise that right this November whether by mail or in person, text vote, v-o-t-e to 30330. And here to say more is the first Latina elected to the United States Senate, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. SEN. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO (D-NV): Hello. I'm Senator Catherine
Cortez Masto from Nevada.
This year, more Americans than ever before are going to vote from rooms just like this. Marking their ballots at the kitchen table and exercising one of our most fundamental rights from home.
But despite what the president says, voting by mail has been a secure proven option for decades. In 2016, 33 million Americans voted by mail. Even Donald Trump has requested an absentee ballot twice this year. This fall some Americans will choose to vote in a voting booth with a mask on, while many of us will choose to vote by mail.
My home state took the advice of scientists and medical experts and listened to the people of Nevada to put in place a vote by mail system so voters have a lot of options this fall.
But Donald Trump is trying to divide us by undermining that right. He has threatened to withhold federal funding to Nevada because of our vote by mail system. That's funding our schools and seniors rely on.
He has challenged us in court with a meritless lawsuit, one that our Republican secretary of state has asked the judge to dismiss. And now, he is putting the lives of Nevada seniors at risk by trying to defund the post office.
Here's what that means. Seniors won't be able to get prescriptions because he wants to win an election. Well, Mr. President, Nevada is not intimidated by you. America is not intimidated by you. We are united by shared values, shared history and shared rights including our fundamental right to vote. And this fall, we will send Joe Biden to the White House and we'll flip the U.S. Senate.
With Mitch McConnell out of power, and a Democratic majority in the Senate, we will expand voting access and protect voting rights. To do this, America, we need you on our side. So, go to joebiden.com right now to chip in. And then head over to flipthesenate.com to help us take back the Senate.
Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell know how to divide. But we know how to stand together and turn this country around.
BASTON: This year we had an historic field of presidential candidates and historic number of women including our vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, more candidates of color than any primary ever, and the first openly gay man to win a caucus.
This party, the Democratic Party welcomes everyone. Encourages everyone to lead and invites everyone's ideas to ensure this country builds back better.
This is what our next speaker believes, too. Senator Amy Klobuchar.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Hello, America. Like my friend Catherine, I believe that the right to vote is fundamental and the post office is essential.
You know, the president may hate the post office, but he's still going to have to send them a change of address card come January. Donald Trump just happens to be in my state today trying to divide people instead of responding to the pandemic and the significant needs of our economy.
But Democrats, independents and yes, many Republicans have had enough of his divisiveness. Tonight, my friends in contrast, we've heard a lot about how we can unite as Americans, about our shared values, our shared dreams. How we've come together in the face of crisis.
But I want to be clear, unity isn't about settling. It's about striving for something more. It isn't the end. It's the means. It's how to get stuff done. Unity is about reaching up towards a higher purpose, a better future for all of us, E pluribus unum, out of many, one. It is more than a motto. It is the north star for our democracy.
Now more than ever we need a president who will unite this country. We need a president who in George Floyd's memory instead of using the bible as a prop will heed its words, to act justly.
We need a president for the workers who've lost their jobs because this administration is selling American workers out when we need to buy American. For the farmers and manufacturers and the people of rural America who are sick and tired of reaping what he has sewn.
We need a president who will look out for the seniors like my dad. Whose families now visit them through glass windows never knowing if it will be the last time they see them.
We need a president for all of America. I come from the middle of this country where we believe in people joining together to solve problems. We seek common ground to reach higher ground.
That's been Joe Biden's life work. He's a man of scrappy working-class roots. A man whose own hardships have only made him more determined to lift up those who have been left out. He understands redemption, and he know resilience.
Joe Biden is a man of deep experience. Barack Obama better known tonight as Michelle's husband, he leaned on Joe Biden for hi
You know, most candidates when they end their campaign that day is a hard one. For me, it was a moment filled with great joy because the day I ended my presidential campaign was also the day I endorsed Joe Biden. Joe ran for the same reasons I did when I announced my campaign in the middle of that blizzard on the banks of the Mississippi River.
To cross the river of our divides, to bring this nation together, to be a president for all of America. As I said the day I endorsed him, if you feel stuck in the middle of the extremes in our politics, if you are tired of the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me and you have a home with Joe Biden. That's why I was so proud to stand with him then and across this great
country. That's why we are all now standing united behind Joe and my friend Kamala.
Our nations motto is out of many, one. And as you're about to see, it's also the story of the Democratic primary. Thank you, America.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all ran for president, motivated by the same reason.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): As I watched President Trump divide this country more and more, I thought to myself what are you willing to do to stop him?
FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX): You had the most destructive, hateful, racist president in the history of this country who is literally tearing apart the fabric of the United States of America.
FMR. GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-CO): Donald Trump is a failed business person and desperate failed us a president.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We will run.
I ran for president because I think it's urgent that we heal the division in this nation.
ANDREW YANG, FOUNDER, VENTURE FOR AMERICA: We are still in control of our own future. And we need to provide millions of Americans a real path forward.
GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA): A green jobs program.
KLOBUCHAR: Increasing the minimum wage.
GILLIBRAND: Passing the national paid leave bill.
YANG: Student loan debt.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Mental health starting with our veterans.
HARRIS: Reproductive justice.
TOM STEYER (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Economic justice.
BOOKER: Racial justice.
KLOBUCHAR: And there is so much a new president can do to bring us together.
BIDEN: It's time to get up.
MOULTON: Starting a presidential campaign is daunting. I mean, you have to reach hundreds of millions of people.
BOOKER: You have these incredibly long days, often capped off by these evening events that go on for hours and hours. O'ROURKE: Your challenge as a candidate is to be true to yourself and
true to why you ran in the first place.
That is something by the way, that I really admire about Joe Biden. He really is his own man. He knows who he is.
GILLIBRAND: Joe Biden is somebody who deeply cares about people. People who are marginalized who are being left behind who are being ignored.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a DACA recipient. And I owe you everything. Thank you so much.
BIDEN: And you're staying, man.
INSLEE: You know, he's had some hard times in his life. He's had some losses in his life. And I think that is something that people relate to.
BIDEN: Are you doing OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Fifteen, close to 15 years cancer free.
BIDEN: God love you.
INSLEE: I was at a service for four fallen Afghanistan soldiers and I saw those families who were so comforted by Joe Biden. When they walked out, they knew someone cared for them, someone could relate to their own pain they were having. We need that in the White House.
BOOKER: I still remember standing side by side with him on the debate stage. And we were having a go of it. But what was remarkable to me was in the commercial break he puts his arm around me and starts telling me how good my ideas are. And next, you know, I feel like he's giving me a pep talk. And literally telling me how important it is, how really important it is that I'm on that stage.
YANG: Joe called me the night I suspended and was extraordinarily gracious and comforting and he told me I should be proud of myself, said that I did myself and my family a real service, and the country a service. And that meant a lot coming from Joe.
INSLEE: Look, it's not easy to unite the Democratic Party. We are a ram bungs group. Joe Biden has pulled that off.
YANG: He wants to get the best ideas on the table so we can move forward in the best pay possible.
GILLIBRAND: He's included my family bill of rights.
INSLEE: He's unified our group around a clean energy strategy.
HARRIS: The domestic workers bill of rights. I'm very excited that that's in there.
O'ROURKE: He's the kind of leader that brings other leaders in. BOOKER: This is a guy that's going to walk into the Oval Office and
not find his way around but he will actually walk in and have already sort of home the instincts you need to lead the most powerful nation on earth through the crisis.
HARRIS: On the other side, Donald Trump does not understand who we are as Americans. He really doesn't.
KLOBUCHAR: This is a guy that blames everyone for everything, you know. He blames the city of Baltimore. He blames the country of Denmark. He blames the prime minister of Canada for cutting him out of the Canadian version of "Home Alone 2. Who does that?
O'ROURKE: There are no sidelines. There is no sitting this one out. There's no hoping that someone else is going to come in and save the day. There is no cavalry. We are the cavalry.
STEYER: The moment has found the person.
TOM STEYER, AMERICAN PHILANTHROPIST: That person is Joe Biden.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): Joe has my vote because he will bring decency and dignity back to the White House.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): We got one shot to make Donald Trump a one- term president, and that shot is right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Joe time! It's Joe time!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president is right here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASTON: We understand that things are tough right now economically, but if we're going to beat Donald Trump in November, we need your help.
If you're able to go to joebiden.com and chip in five, $10, whatever you can, to fund the change we need to save our democracy, because every bit matters, and it is going to take all of us to make this happen.
No one knows that more than our next speaker, the Biden-Harris campaign's co-chair, Representative Cedric Richmond, from New Orleans, Louisiana.
REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Think about the places that make your neighborhood feel like home: the barber shop where you can catch up on the latest neighborhood news while you get your haircut, the restaurant where they know your order by heart, or this art studio where creative guy with a great idea and a ton of hustle turned an abandoned building into a second home for the entire community. You know, economists will tell you that small businesses like this one are critically important to our recovery. But they are also just plain important. Without them, the places we call "home" just wouldn't be the same. That's the thing Joe Biden understands, that Donald Trump never has and never will.
When we talk about the economy, it's not just about the stock market. It's about whether you can find work that really means something to you, instead of feeling like you're supposed to be grateful just to get a paycheck.
It is about whether people, who didn't inherit millions from their parents, can build a business from the ground up and have a real chance to compete. And it's about whether in the richest country on earth, everyone, including women and people of color, feel included and empowered.
Economists will also tell you that Joe Biden's plan to rebuild our economy will create millions of jobs. But Joe will tell you that his plan is about more than that, because he has seen the world from a different perspective than most politicians.
He knows what it it's like to live in a real neighborhood, not just penthouse apartments. He knows what it is like to take the train to work, not just a chauffeured limousine. That is why he looks at our economic challenges the same way working people do. He'll solve them in a way that puts working people first.
Joe Biden respects America's workers because he understands the dignity of work.
GREGG WEAVER, AMTRAK CONDUCTOR(voice-over): You know, it was mostly a small talk when we first met. When I would collect his ticket and time went on, I learned more and more about him as our friendship grew. I think he's most comfortable around every day working class people. Just always makes you feel like you belong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): For more than 30 years, Joe Biden took the train to work. As a single dad, he promised to be home to kiss the boys every night, and then make them breakfast in the morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): When he got on the train, everyone seemed equal to him. He had time for everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Joe was a regular. He bought rounds of coffee for fellow passengers and crew, and he got to know the people he travelled with.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): These guys broke their necks. They're always rocky, keeping their balance, collecting tickets, help people with their bags heavy as hell, and they're doing this for hours. They became really good friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): He was very interested in my life, my children, as time went on my grandchildren. People don't do that today. People don't even take time out to say "hello" or nod their head to the average working person. They look at us like we're important people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He would treat the conductor the same as he would the president of the United States. That is what dad taught us, that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): After Joe became vice president, he cut down on his commute, but he kept in touch. When Gregg Weaver had a heart attack, he got a phone call.
WEAVER (voice-over): I was in a barber shop in New York City and the phone rings. And sure enough, it was Vice President Biden asking me how I'm doing. He wanted to know the whole story.
It is kind of funny, you're talking to the vice president of the United States, but if I would have told to people in the barber shop, I don't think they would have believed me. I am not saying it like it was me and I was anything special.
WEAVER (voice-over): Everybody was special to him. We have heroes all over this country and a lot of the essential workers out there that we don't even see. They're behind the scenes. They are keeping this country going. He understands that. The average guy is important to him. The average guy is important to him.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Good evening. Our great nation is now living in an unprecedented moment. We are facing the worst public health crisis in 100 years and the worst economic collapse since the great depression. We are confronting systemic racism and the enormous threat to our planet of climate change.
And in the midst of all of this, we have a president who is not only incapable of addressing these crises, but is leading us down the path of authoritarianism.
This selection is the most important in the modern history of this country. In response to the unprecedented crisis we face, we need an unprecedented response, a movement like never before of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency and against greed, oligarchy and bigotry. And we need Joe Biden as our next president.
Let me take this opportunity to say a word to the millions of people who supported my campaign this year and in 2016. My friends, thank you for your trust, your support and the love you showed Jane, me, and our family.
Together, we have moved this country in a bold, new direction, showing that all of us, black and white, Latino, Native American, Asian American, gay and straight, native born and immigrant, yearn for a nation based on the principles of justice, love, and compassion.
Our campaign ended several months ago. But our movement continues and is getting stronger every day. Many of the ideas we fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream.
But let us be clear, if Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy. And it's most basic. This election is about preserving our democracy.
During this president's term, the unthinkable has become normal. He has tried to prevent people from voting, undermine the U.S. Postal Service, deployed the military and federal agents against peaceful protesters, threatened to delay the election, and suggested that he will not leave office if he loses.
This is not normal, and we must never treat it like it is. Under this administration, authoritarianism has taken root in our country. I and my family, and many of yours, know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency, and humanity.
As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates, and yes, with conservatives, to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.
This president is not just the threat to our democracy, but by rejecting science, he has put our lives and health in jeopardy. Trump has attacked doctors and scientists, trying to protect us from the pandemic, while refusing to take strong action to produce the gowns and gloves our health care workers desperately need.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs. His actions fanned this pandemic, resulting in over 170,000 deaths, and a nation still unprepared to protect its people.
Furthermore, Trump's negligence has exacerbated the economic crisis we are now experiencing. Since this pandemic began, over 30 million people have lost their jobs and many have lost their health insurance.
SANDERS: Millions of working families are wondering how they will feed their kids, and they're worried that they will be evicted from their homes.
And how has Trump responded? Instead of maintaining the $600 a week unemployment supplement that workers were receiving and the $1,200 emergency checks that many of you received, instead of helping small businesses, Trump concocted fraudulent executive orders that do virtually nothing to address the crisis while threatening the very future of social security and Medicare. But the truth is that even before Trump's negligent response to this pandemic, too many hard working families have been caught on an economic treadmill with no hope of ever getting ahead.
Together, we must build a nation that is more equitable, more compassionate, and more inclusive. I know that Joe Biden will begin that fight on day one.
Let me offer you just a few examples of how Joe will move us forward. Joe supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This will give 40 million workers a pay raise and push the wage scale up for everyone else.
Joe will make it easier for workers to join unions, create 12 weeks of paid family leave, fund universal pre-K for three and four-year-olds, and make child care affordable for millions of families.
Joe will rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and fight the threat of climate change by transitioning us to 100 percent clean electricity over the next 15 years. These initiatives will create millions of good paying jobs all across our country.
As you know, we are the only industrialized nation not to guarantee health care for all people. While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the cost of prescription drugs. Further, he will lower the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 down to 60.
To help reform our broken criminal justice system, Joe will end private prisons and detention centers, cash bail, and the school to prison pipeline.
And to heal the soul of our nation, Joe Biden will end the hate and division Trump has created. He will stop the demonization of immigrants, the cuddling of white nationalists, the racist dog whistling, the religious bigotry, and the ugly attacks on women.
My friends, I say to you, to everyone who supported other candidates in the primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election, the future of our democracy is at stake, the future of our economy is at stake, the future of our planet is at stake.
We must come together to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine. Thank you.
ANNE S., WISCONSIN RESIDENT: My American dream is to have an America where we have people in affordable housing.
THELMA S., WISCONSIN RESIDENT: For every human being in this country to have access to health care and economic means to care for themselves and family.
KORI F., CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Access to equality and equitable education.
PAUL Y., FLORIDA RESIDENT: A system of government that protects the workers and their families.
RYAN W., CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Joe Biden throughout his career has focussed on rebuilding the middle class.
RUSS, PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENT: We need a leader who actually supports our unions for our hardworking people.
ANDREW L., CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: Real leadership that shows genuine support for small businesses during this downturn due to the COVID crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe Joe Biden has the experience, the platform, and the empathy to build America back better.
LAURA H.: He wants good things for all Americans, not just a select few.
BASTON: The voices we long to hear right now are the ones that speak with courage and kindness, strength and wisdom, love and compassion.
They're unafraid to speak the truth and talk about their own uncertainties and struggles. They make us feel seen and inspire us to become the best versions of ourselves.
Our next speaker is that for all of us. It is my honor and privilege to introduce the former first lady, Michelle Obama.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening, everyone. It is a hard time and everyone is feeling it in different ways. And I know a lot of folks are reluctant to tune in a political convention right now or the politics in general. Believe me, I get that.
But I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting. I have met so many of you. I have heard your stories. And through you, I have seen this country's promise. And thanks to so many who came before me. Thanks to their toil and sweat and blood. I have been able to live that promise myself.
That's the story of America. All those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much in their own times because they wanted something more, something better for their kids. There's a lot of beauty in that story. There's a lot of pain in it, too. A lot of struggle and injustice, and work left to do.
And who we choose as our president in this election will determine whether or not we honor that struggle and chip away at that injustice, and keep alive the very possibility of finishing that work.
I am one of the handfuls of people living today who have seen first- hand the immense weight and awesome power of the presidency. And let me once again tell you this, the job is hard. It requires clear-headed judgment, a mastery of complex and competing issues, a devotion to facts and history, a moral compass and an ability to listen, and an abiding belief that each of the 330 million lives in this country has meaning and worth.
A president's words have the power to move markets. They can start wars or broker peace. They can summon our better angels or awaken our worst instincts. You simply cannot fake your way through this job. As I have said before, being president doesn't change who you are. It reveals who you are.
Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too. And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn't matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn't be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly three million votes.
In one of the states that determined the outcome, the winning margin averaged out to just two votes per precinct, two votes. And we have all been living with the consequences.
When my husband left office with Joe Biden at his side, we had a record breaking stretch of job creation. We secured the right to health care for 20 million people. We were respected around the world rallying our allies to confront climate change. And our leaders had worked hand-in-hand with scientists to help prevent an Ebola outbreak from becoming a global pandemic.
Four years later, the state of this nation is very different. More than 150,000 people have died and our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long.
OBAMA: It has left millions of people jobless. Too many have lost their health care. Too many are struggling to take care of basic necessities like food and rent. Too many communities have been left in the lurch to grapple with whether and how to open our schools safely.
Internationally, we turned our back, not just on agreements forged by my husband, but on alliances champion by presidents like Reagan and Eisenhower.
And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered, stating the simple fact that a black life matters is still met with derision from the nation' highest office, because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.
Empathy, that's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. The ability to walk in someone else's shoes, the recognition that someone else's experience has value, too. Most of us practice this without a second thought. If we see someone suffering or struggling, we don't stand in judgment, we reach out, because there but for the grace of God go I. It is not a hard concept to grasp. It's what we teach our children.
And like so many of you, Barack and I have tried our best to instil in our girls a strong moral foundation, to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us.
But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They're looking around wondering if we've been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value. They see people shouting in grocery stores, unwilling to wear a mask to keep us all safe.
They see people calling the police on folks minding their own business just because of the color of their skin. They see an entitlement that says only certain people belong here, that greed is good and winning is everything, because as long as you come out on top, it doesn't matter what happens to everyone else.
And they see what happens when that lack of empathy is ginned up into outright disdain. They see our leaders labelling fellow citizens enemies of the state while emboldening, torch bearing white supremacists. They watch in horror as children are torn from their families and thrown into cages and pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protesters for a photo op.
Sadly, this is the America that is on display for the next generation, a nation that's underperforming not simply on matters of policy, but on matters of character. And that's not just disappointing. It's downright infuriating, because I know the goodness and the grace that is out there in households and neighborhoods all across this nation.
And I know that regardless of our race, age, religion or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what's going on in this country is just not right. This is not who we want to be.
So what do we do now? What's our strategy? Over the past four years, a lot of people have asked me. When others are going so low, does going high still really work? My answer, going high is the only thing that works, because when we go low, when we use those same tactics of degrading and dehumanizing others, we just become part of the ugly noise that's drowning out everything else. We degrade ourselves. We degrade the very causes for which we fight.
[22:55:00] OBAMA: But let's be clear. Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountaintop.
Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we've got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences. And going high means walking the shackles of lies and mistrust with the only thing that can truly set us free, the cold hard truth.
So, let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.
Now, I understand that my message won't be heard by some people. We live in a nation that is deeply divided, and I am a black woman speaking at the democratic convention. But enough of you know me by now. You know that I tell you exactly what I'm feeling. You know I hate politics. But you also know that I care about this nation. You know how much I care about all of our children.
So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this. If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can and they will if we don't make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.
I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who has lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.
When he was a kid, Joe's father lost his job. When he was a young senator, Joe lost his wife and his baby daughter. And when he was vice president, he lost his beloved son. So Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents.
Joe knows what it's like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own. His life is a testament to getting back up, and he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up, to help us heal and guide us forward.
Now, Joe is not perfect, and he'd be the first to tell you that. But there is no perfect candidate, no perfect president. And his ability to learn and grow, we find in that the kind of humility and maturity that so many of us yearn for right now, because Joe Biden has served this nation his entire life without ever losing sight of who he is.
More than that, he has never lost sight of who we are, all of us. Joe Biden wants all of our kids to go to a good school, see a doctor when they're sick, live on a healthy planet. And he's got plans to make all of that happen. Joe Biden wants all of our kids no matter what they look like to be able to walk out the door without worrying about being harassed or arrested or killed.
He wants all of our kids to be able to go to a movie or a math class without being afraid of getting shot. He wants all our kids to grow up with leaders who won't just serve themselves and their wealthy peers, but will provide a safety net for people facing hard times.
And if we want a chance to pursue any of these goals, any of these most basic ---