“We choose hope over fear. We choose science, science over fiction. We choose unity over division. And we choose truth over lies. We're the United States of America.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Community Event
Hiatt Middle School
Des Moines, Iowa
February 2, 2020


[MUSIC: Jackie Wilson "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"]

JILL BIDEN: Thank you. Joe and I are so proud to be here with our families, so I'm going to ask them to stand up and embarrass them.  Come on guys, stand up.

During these past few months, I've been inspired by the teachers from ISEA, fighting for collective bargaining rights, students at the Des Moines Area Community College like Mandy, working to build a better future for herself and her son. I've had heart to hearts with farmers and military veterans. I've seen the incredible effect of innovation like the Forge, igniting a generation of change in Jefferson. I've seen how in one of the most divisive times, people coming together to lift up one another. Thank you, Iowa, for trusting me with your stories. It has reminded me of what we're fighting for and why Joe Biden is running to be our next president.

Because that's what's at stake right now: the very soul of who we are. We also know what Donald Trump loves. Himself. Nothing more and nothing less. Donald Trump wants us to believe that hubris, abuse of power and personal gain are the qualities we want in a president.

But, Iowa, you showed me what you love, reflecting the character of Americans across this country. We love justice. We want our neighbors to be safe. We love democracy. We want our voices to count. We love fairness, kindness, opportunity for everyone.

We know that the presidency isn't about winning some self-serving game. It's about leading from the heart. It's about letting the things we love bind us together and inspire us to rise to our highest ambitions. Iowa's values are Joe's values. He's spent his entire career serving this nation from the heart. He has unshakable faith, not in himself, but in the people who make this nation great. He knows how to bring us together and be at our best. Joe doesn't make promises he can't keep and he never backs down from a bully in a fight.

What Joe loves is making this country better for others, taking the best of our past and turning it into a better future for everyone. So many people have come up to me these past few months and said, Jill, I hate what I see in the news, the division, the hatred, the bigotry. I want to change this, but I'm just one person, what can I do? Well, if there's any place that has the answer to that question, it's right here in Iowa. Where you are making phone calls to your neighbors every night.  Where you are braving the God-awful cold and walking through the snow to knock on your neighbors' doors.

What can one person do? Well one phone call can change a vote. One voice can sway a caucus room. One ballot can win an election.

There is something magical happening right now. Our country at this moment is beginning to shift.  Iowa, its starts here and it starts now.

This is the moment when we show our character, when we decide what kind of future that we want, and each action we take, everything we do becomes part of something bigger than ourselves. It only takes one person to stand up for what's right. Will you be that person? Will you stand up right now? Will you caucus for Joe Biden?  Because if you do, if we all make that promise today, then I know that Joe Biden will win right here in Iowa and we will win November.

Iowans, thank you for your love and kindness, thank you for the hope and the love that will heal this country, and thank you for your faith in an idea that's bigger than any one of us: And that is that we can build a better nation if we do this together. May God bless our troops and their families. Now please welcome me in joining—please join me in welcoming my husband Joe Biden, our next President.

JOE BIDEN: Hello, hello, hello, Iowa. Hello, Des Moines.  Hi, how are you. My name's Joe Biden. I'm Jill Biden's husband and Valerie Biden's brother. I'll tell you what. I'm lucky for it, I tell you. You know Valerie's been riding on my handlebar since she's been three years old. That's God's truth. Three years old. We've been inseperable all through school. Difference is, like Jill, she went on and she was homecoming queen and she graduated with honors like Jill, and Jill went on and got doctor's degrees and I had trouble getting a date when I graduated. But I'm smart enough to be surrounded by an incredible group of women and men in my family and I want to thank them very much.

There's a lot of people out here, there's a lot of people out here, but I'm not going to take the time because you're standing, that I want to recognize. But I want to thank a couple of people right off the bat. And that is that people have done an incredible job for me traveling all through this state and around this state with me, and no one's done more for me nationally than Cedric Richmond, from down Louisiana way, and Howard Schaitberger [IAFF president], he has been there from the very, very, very, very beginning. The fire fighters have been with me my entire career, from the time I started off. We have—I tell Chris Dodd there are three parties in Delaware, Democrats, Republicans and fire fighters. I love the fire figthers. And also, a guy who's been a friend of mine a long, long time, a guy who should have been president of the United States of America, a guy who I've come to not only be friends with, but [inaud.] since we've know each other. John Kerry. John, stand up. John, you've been incredible. John has given up so much of his time here in Iowa, in New Hampshire, all around the country, all around the country. I want to thank you, pal. And Tom [Miller], I'll tell you what. My son, our son Beau, was an attorney general of Delaware. And he admired Tom Miller more than you know, Tom. And thank you for all you've been doing here. Enormous integrity.

The other thing, I probably shouldn't start it but I can't help it. I also want you to know that you have two of the most dynamic new congresspersons in the United States Congress. Not a joke. Not a joke. To start off with I want to thank, I want to thank, right off the bat I want to thank Cindy Axne, Cindy for allowing me to be in your district. Thank you for the passport and I'll tell you what, they've travelled with me, she travelled with me. And Abby Finkenauer. She, God love her. I'll tell you what. I just hope both of them when they're running the world remember me. That's all. But they're really among the most qualified—like a lot of us that I've just mentioned, we've campaigned for a lot of Democrats over the years, and I can say without fear of contradiction, they're among the most talented and the most competent people I have ever, ever, ever campaigned for.

And folks, there's somebody I want you to know, if you haven't already met her; she is incredible; she, she may be one of the two most influential people in the state of Nevada because everybody looks up to her. She has great, great, great, great, great respect across the board, and she was willing to endorse me and God love her, she's come out here to campaign for me, I want you to meet Dina Titus, congresswoman from Nevada. Thank you, Dina.

And Texas is in the house too. Fil Vela [U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville)] Where are you, Fil? Fil took Jill, my wife, across the border to provide Christmas dinner for those people seeking asylum that we're forcing to be in squalor on the other side of the riv—on the other side of the border. Never before have people seeking asylum not been allowed to seek it in their, in the United States of America. Fil, thank you for your support, thank you for all you do, and thank you for taking care of Jill; I appreciate it. 

And the Republican who's closest to me of anybody in the whole world [inaud.], my co-father-in-law, raise your hand, Don. This guy here [inaud.] he used to be a conservative Republican, and then met, he became Beau's father-in-law and everyone changed. And I just want to—thanks for being here old buddy, thanks.

And by the way, Pennsylvania's in the house. Brendan Boyle, where are you Brendan? Brendan, thank you. Runs up the Middle Class Caucus, a great, great friend, organizing parts of Pennsylvania for me and Philadelphia. Brendan you're the best. Thank you pal, thanks for being out here.

And a guy, who if you're in a foxhole you want him with you, Tim Ryan from Ohio. Where are you, Tim? Tim's here somewhere. Tim, you're hiding all the way back there. I'll tell you what. Union, Tim, right? We know how to spell union, and say it. Thank you, Tim, you're a great friend. Thank you for all you've done for me.

Folks, I'm sorry to do that to you all but I wanted you to see some of the really fine people that have been helping me. Look, but none finer than Tom and Christie Vilsack. Your governor's been outstanding. And appointing Tom to the cabinet was one of Barack Obama's smartest decisions he made. Thank you Tom for all you do. And Tom, like me, married way above his station. Christie, you've been wonderful; you've travelled thousands of miles, literally several thousand miles for me all across the state. You're  incredible, and what you did when you were with us in the administration, travelling around the world promoting opportunity, it was incredible. You've done it here in Iowa, you've done it all over the world. I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Look folks, you know the fact is that we're in a situation where every four years democracy starts here in the state of Iowa, and it starts here in the state of Iowa. And it starts with you. And you know you set the nation on a path to determine who their choices are to be president of the United States of America. You whittle it down; you narrow the choice in both parties when we don't have a sitting president.

And it's always a big responsibility. But I respectfully suggest, not because I'm running, but because the man who's president, you've never had a greater responsibility than you have today, no matter how many caucuses you have attended. We can turn four years of Donald Trump into an aberration, historical aberration, but eight years he'll change the country in a way we can't tolerate. We need you, we need you, we need you.

You know when I announced a few months ago, I got criticized for saying why I was running. I said I was running because we had to save the soul of the nation. I was being literal; I wasn't being anything other than literal.

You know close your eyes and remember what you saw when those folks came out of the fields carrying torches in Virginia, carrying torches, their veins bulging, coming out of Charlottesville in the fields. Literally. Close your eyes and remember what you saw. Their veins bulging, anger, hatred, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile that was chanted in the streets of Germany in the early 30s. Literally the same. Accompanied by the Ku Klux Klan and white supramicists. And one young woman was killed, saying not in my town. And what happened? The president of the United States got asked, what do you think, Mr. President? He said, I think there are very fine people on both sides. No president— No, I really mean it. No president has ever said anything like that. It stunned the world and shocked the nation. I really mean it. You had foreign leaders saying out loud, what is happening to the United States of America. Folks, as my dad would say, our children are listening; they're listening. They hear this. And it's just gotten worse with this gentleman. I use the term really loosely.

Oh gosh, anyway. But look. This is the commander in chief, commander in chief of the United States military. He's continued his pattern. We learned a little while ago that at the Pentagon in a room with our flag officers and generals, he looked them in the eye and referred to them as losers, dopes and babies. Who in God's name does he think he is talking to our people like that? These are our— no think about this. I don't think there's ever, ever been a president, ever, ever, who's presumed to think these brave women and men, that he could look them in the eye and say you're a loser. Speaking of losers, my God. No, I really mean it.

And then we learn, after he predictably almost started a war with Iran that was full-blown, when the Iranian missiles struck Iraq, the al-Asad air base, where my son had been [inaud.], a good man, Bronze Star, conspicuous service medal, other awards. I don't know what I would have done. I talked over this with John when we were riding along. What would we have done if I had a son that was still. And what happened? All of the sudden we find out that there were people hurt. First we heard it was 34, now 64 people, confirmed with traumatic brain injury. What did the president say? He said headaches. My God. Think about it. Any of you have sons or daughters, brothers or sisters in harm's way, you can't do this. We can't let this be sustained. Folks, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW—I don't remember anybody doing this before—called on the president to apologize to our warriors, to apologize. I haven't heard a word yet. I haven't heard a word yet.

Look, several hundred thousand of our troops have received, suffer from traumatic brain injury over the last 12 years, now 14 years, in the wars, because of new weapons, IEDs and missiles and things that did not, were not prevalent. To state the obvious, this commander-in-chief, not only doesn't understand it, if he does, he's the most callous son of a gun we've ever had as president.

And ladies and gentlemen, to state the obvious, the next president's going to inherit a country divided and a world in disarray. There will be no time for on-the-job training. We need a president who's going to be ready on day one, who can command the world stage, lead our armed forces, repair our relationships with our allies, which are being crushed right now both in Asia as well as in Europe. Once more make America not only the envy of the world, but the leader of the free world. The world is not self organizing. When we step off the stage, the vacuum gets filled and not by good guys; the vacuum will be filled. America must lead, for our own safety's sake.

We also need to do something else. We need a president who can begin to rebuild the backbone of the middle class, the backbone of the country, the middle class; hard-working people. A president who understands that Wall Street bankers and CEOs did not build America; hard-working Americans toiling every day, the middle class, they built America. They did. And guess what? Unions built the middle class.

Folks, I just, it just stuns me the things he says and does. Look, we need a president who can bring us together, unite our party when this nomination is all over, unite the country. We're a democracy. I get criticized for saying we can unite the country. Well folks, we're a democracy. Democracies depend on consensus. And there's no way to govern, to progress if we can't reach consensus in America. We have to be able to pull Democrats, independents and Republicans together. We have to be able to do that. Several of my competitors in the race for the nomination, they say that well Joe, used to be able to do that back in the days when Chris and I were working on the chemical weapons treaty and got it passed and the Violence Against Women Act and I can name—or the Recovery Act, $900 billion, kept us from a depression. They say oh that was the old days. Yeah three years ago. That was the old days. [inaud.] They say it's naive. I refuse to believe that the other side is our enemy, not our competitor. When we make it an enemy, we get nothing done. Folks, here's the deal; here's the deal. If you think about it, the idea that we're— I refuse to accept the notion, refuse to accept the notion we're going to be in total chaos and war with the other side, because we're done if that's true.

But here's what also I know. They say to me, Joe, they say, that Biden doesn't understand the new Republican party. Oh I understand it. I've been the object of their affection for a long time now. I don't think any president, anybody's ever spent so much money on trying to besmirch me and my family, over $12-15 million so far; mainstream media haven't even covered most of it. And then along comes—

And by the way you have a great senator. What's her name now? Whatever it is. You know, Senator, I think it's Joni Ernst, well God love her, I tell you what, what did she say the other day? She said that quote, Iowa caucus-goers this next Monday, and I'm really interested to see how this discussion today—meaning when they were going after me on the floor of the Senate with lies, that mainstream media has pointed out are lies, that their own sworn testimony from their administration said they're lies—this discussion today informs Iowa caucusgoers, will they be supporting VP Biden at this point? Well. She's awfully subtle isn't she. And this is all about how the president didn't try to get a foreign power to, which they would not do, say something negative about me.

I'm told she was on CNN this morning. I didn't see it, but here's the quote I was told. She said quote, just pointing out that Iowa voters are very smart, so why don't they all show Joni Ernst just how smart y'all are by caucusing for me. You know you've got to admit there's got to be some reason why they are so intent on not wanting me to be the nominee.

[Interruption from audience]

Don't worry about that; [inaud.] not going to take any money from fossil fuel.

Look, by causing—

Well I'll tell you what man. It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. [chants: We want Joe.] It's not a Trump rally. No, that's okay. This is the very thing that I refuse to get engaged in in the Democratic primary. I'm not going to attack another Democrat, particularly for things that aren't true. And that's what I'm not going to do. We can't do that.

And so, but folks look. You know the fact is that we find ourselves now where, you know, when you have a chance for a two-fer tomorrow. You can ruin Donald Trump's night, and Joni Ernst's night at the same time.

Folks, I promise you, if you stand with me, we will end Trump's reign of hatred and division and unite this country.

Folks, you 've been standing a long time, and let me cut to the chase here. You know I refuse to believe we're a country that thinks it's all right to put kids in cages. I refuse to believe we're a country that can coddle white supremacists. I refuse to believe that we're a country that in fact thinks that it's okay, okay to just flat out lie to the American people. I refuse to believe we're a nation that bows down to Vladamir Putin, because I will not. I refuse to believe we're a nation that lacks the courage to take on the NRA, where we have to send off our kids in grade school to learn how to duck and cover and run zigzag down the hall. That is moral bankruptcy when you allow that to happen.

Folks, look. Look. You know when I look at Donald Trump, what he stands for, what he says, how he behaves, what he's done, my response has been the same. We're so much better than this. It's not who we are. I believe, David, David Brooks of the New York Times, a conservative columnist, said it best. He said there's an invisible moral code that holds up societies. And it's made up of honor, decency, treating everyone with respect, giving hate no safe harbor, leaving no one behind, realizing there's something bigger than just ourselves. It's a code, it's a code; it's the American code. And it's a code that this president doesn't seem to subscribe to in any way. And folks—

And by the way [interjection from audience] He's okay.

And look, look. Here's the deal; here's the deal. We're in a situation now where everyone knows who Donald Trump is; we have to know who we are. We choose hope over fear. We choose science, science over fiction. We choose unity over division. And we choose truth over lies. We're the United States of America. There's not a single thing we can't do as Tom says.

Ladies and gentlemen in Joe Biden's America the president's tax returns won't be secret, political self-dealing will end, and the next president, the next president of the United States, not even he or she will be above the law, period.

God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

[MUSIC: Jackie Wilson "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"]



Observations: Former Vice President Joe
Biden wrapped up his Iowa campaign with a "Soul of the Nation" bus tour that took him to 20 cities over seven days. This event on Sunday afternoon was his last scheduled event before Caucus Day. After a long procession of introductory speakers, Joe and Jill Biden took the stage. Jill Biden spoke for about six and a half minutes, and Biden then spoke for about 23 minutes. Although he said he would not take the time to recognize key supporters, Biden went on to devote the first third of his speech to thanking various supporters. The rest of the speech largely focused on Trump's deficiences. Biden spoke from text, and took no questions. Towards the end of the event, a protestor interrupted his remarks.