President Joe Biden Delivers Remarks After Midterm Elections [Transcript]

Note: This speech was transcribed and proofread by SpeakWrite professionals . As with all SpeakWrite transcripts, no AI was utilized to transcribe this speech.

President Joe Biden:   Well, we had an election yesterday and it was a good day, I think, for democracy and I think it was good day for America.  Excuse me, I’m a little hoarse.  Our democracy has been tested in recent years but with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are.  The states across the country saw record voter turnout and the heart and soul of our democracy, the voters, the poll workers, the election officials; they did their job and they fulfilled their duty and apparently without much interference at all, without any interference it looks like, and that’s a testament, I think, to the American people.  While we don’t know all the results yet, at least I don’t know them all yet, here’s what we do know.  While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen, and I know you were somewhat miffed by my obsessive optimism but I felt good during the whole process; I felt we were going to do fine.  While any seat lost is painful – some good Democrats didn’t win last night – Democrats had a strong night and we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic president’s first midterm election in the last 40 years and we had the best midterm for governors since 1986, and another thing that we know is that voters spoke clearly about their concerns about raising costs or the rising costs that they’re in and the need to get inflation down; there’s still a lot of people hurting, they’re very concerned, and it’s about crime and public safety, and they sent a clear and unmistakable message that they want to preserve our democracy and protect the right to choose in this country, and I especially want to thank the young people of this nation whom I’m told, I haven’t seen the numbers, voted historic numbers again and just as they did 2 years ago.  They voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and the student debt relief.  Last night, I was pleased to call Maxwell Frost, a 25-year-old who got elected, I guess the youngest man ever elected to the United States Congress, and I told him that I was first elected, the second-youngest person ever elected in the United States Senate at 29, that I have no doubt he’s off to an incredible start in what I’m sure will be a long distinguished career, and when he’s president and they say Joe Biden’s out in the outer office, I don’t want him to say Joe who.  But the voters were also clear that they are still frustrated; I get it.  I understand it’s been a really tough few years in this country for so many people.  When I came to office, we inherited a nation with a pandemic raging and an economy that was reeling and we acted quickly and boldly to vaccinate the country and to create a stable and sustained growth in our economy, long-term investment to rebuild America itself; our roads, our bridges, our ports, our airports, clean water systems, high-speed internet and we’re just getting started.  The interesting thing is that this is all going to really come into clear view for people in the months of January, February, March of next year; it’s just getting underway, so I’m optimistic about how the public could even be more embracive with what we’ve done.  Historic investments are leading companies to invest literally hundreds of billions of dollars combined to build semi-conductor factories and other advanced manufacturing here in America.  It’s going to create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, and by the way, a significant number of those jobs are going to be jobs that pay an average of a $126,000.00, $127,000.00 and you don’t need a college degree to get those jobs.  We’re dealing with global inflation as a result of the pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine.  We’re also handling better than most other advanced nations in the world.  We’re lowering gas prices, we’re looking, we’re taking on powerful interests, lower prescription drug costs, health insurance premiums, and energy bills.  After 20 months of hard work, the pandemic no longer controls our lives; it’s still a concern but no longer controls our lives.  Our economic policies created a record ten million new jobs since I came into office.  Unemployment rate is down from 6.4 when I was sworn in to 3.7 percent near a 50-year low, and we’ve done all this while lowering the federal deficit in the 2 years by 1.7 trillion dollars.  Let me say it again; 1.7 trillion dollars.  No administration has ever cut the deficit that much, and reducing the federal deficit is one of the best things we can do to lower inflation but while we made real progress as a nation, I know it’s hard for folks to see that project, that progress in our everyday lives and it’s hard to see the results from actions that we took that we have to implement what we’ve done, but I believe we took the right steps for the country and for the American people.  In fact, if you look at the polls, overwhelming majority – I don’t look at them much anymore because I’m not quite sure how to read them anymore, I hope you are uncertain as well but overwhelming majority of the American people support the elements of my economic agenda from me building America’s roads and bridges to lowering prescription drug costs, historic investment, and tackling the climate crisis to making sure that large corporations begin to pay their fair share in taxes.  I’m confident these policies are working and that we’re on the right path and we need to stick with them.  All these initiatives take hold as they do from lead pipes being removed from schools and homes to new factories being built in communities with resurgence of American manufacturers.  It’s already created, by the way, 700,000 brand new manufacturing jobs.  You’ve heard me say it at ad nauseam I don’t know where it’s written that says we can’t be the manufacturing capital of the world.  We are now exporting product, not jobs, around the world.  People across the country are going to see even more clearly the positive effects on their day-to-day lives but I still understand why they’re hurting right now so many people are concerned.  As I have throughout my career, I’m going to continue to work across the aisle to deliver for the American people and it’s not always easy but we did it the first term and I’ll be surprised a lot of people but we signed over 210 bipartisan laws since I’ve become President and we’re revitalizing American manufacturing, gun safety, we did it together and dozens of laws positively impacting on our veterans.  Now let me say this.  Regardless, regardless of what the final tally in these elections show, and there’s still some counting going on, I’m prepared to work with my Republican colleagues.  The American people have made clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me, as well.  In the area of foreign policy, I hope we’ll continue this bipartisan approach of confronting Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.  When I return from the G20 meetings in Indonesia with other world leaders, I’m going to invite the leaders of both political parties, as I’ve done in the past in my foreign trips, to the White House to discuss how we can work together for the remainder of this year and into the next Congress to advance the economic and national security priorities of the United States, and I’m open to any good ideas.  I want to be very clear.  I’m not going to support any Republican proposal that’s going to make inflation worse.  For example, the voters don’t want to pay higher prescription costs for drugs.  We’ve cut that now; we’re going to kick into gear next year, the next calendar year, and I’m not going to walk away from the historic commitments we just made to take on the climate crisis.  They’re not compromisable issues to me, and I won’t let it happen.  The voters don’t want more taxes for the super, tax cuts for the super wealthy and biggest corporations, and I’m going to continue to focus on cost cutting for working and middle-class families and building an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.  I know you’re tired of hearing me say that, but I genuinely mean it.  That’s what makes America grow.  The wealthy do very well when the middle class is doing well, and the poor have a way up, and why I’ll continue to bring down the federal deficit.  You know, as we look at tax cuts, we should be looking at tax cuts for working people and middle-class people, not the very wealthy; they’re fine.  I, I, look.  I, if you can go out and be a multimillionaire, that’s great.  Just, just pay your fair share; that’s all.  That’s all; just pay your fair share.  It’s like those 55 corporations in 2000 that made $40 billion and didn’t pay a penny in federal taxes.  It’s not right.  Everybody has an obligation, so now they have to pay a staggering 15 percent.  You all pay more than that for your taxes, so I’m gonna keep my commitment that no one, no one earning less than $400,000.00 a year, and that’s a lot of money where I come from, are going to see their federal taxes go up.  And I want to be very clear.  Under no circumstances will I support the proposal put forward by Senators Johnson and the senator from down in Florida to cut or make fundamental changes to Social Security and Medicare.  That’s not on the table.  I will not do that.  I will veto any attempt to pass a national ban on abortion, but I’m ready to compromise with Republicans where it makes sense on many other issues, and I’ll always put the needs and interests of the American people first, so let me close with this.  On this election season, the American people made it clear.  They don’t want every day going forward to be a constant political battle.  There’s too much that, of that going on.  There’s too much that we have to do.  The future of America is too promising, too promising to be trapped in an endless political warfare.  And I really mean it.  You’ve heard me say it time and again for the last 20 months or so.  I am so optimistic about the prospects for America.  We need to be looking to the future, not fixated on the past, and that future is bright as can be.  We, we’re the only nation in the world to come out of every crisis stronger than we went into the crisis, and that’s a fact.  I mean, I mean, literally mean that.  We’ve come out stronger than we’ve gone in.  And I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today.  You know, I, particularly because of all those young people I talk about, 18 to 30.  They’re showing up.  They’re the best-educated generation in American history.  They’re the least prejudiced generation in American history, the most engaged generation in American history, and the most involved.  Look.  After a long campaign season, I still believe what I always have:  This is a great nation and we’re a great people, and it’s never been a good bet to bet against America.  Never been a good bet to bet against America.  There’s nothing, nothing beyond our capacity if we work together.  We just need to remember who the hell we are.  We’re the United States of America, the United States of America, and there’s nothing beyond our capacity, and I’m pretty well convinced that we’re going to be able to get a lot done.  Now, I’ve been given a list of  ten people that I’m supposed to call on, and you’re all supposed to ask me one question but I’m sure you’ll ask me more, and so let me start off with the list I’ve been given.  Zeke Miller, Associated Press.


Zeke Miller:     Thank you, Mr. President.  I have two questions for you.  As you mentioned, um, as you mentioned, uh, bur –


President Joe Biden:   How come we never hold you guys to the same standard you hold us to?  But anyway, go ahead.


Zeke Miller:     **** –


President Joe Biden:   I’m –


Zeke Miller:     – that’s what–


President Joe Biden:   – tease, –


Zeke Miller:     – you said.


President Joe Biden:   – teasin’, I’m teasin’, I’m teasin’.


Zeke Miller:     You mentioned that, uh, Americans are frustrated and in fact, 75 percent of voters say the country is heading into the wrong direction despite the results of last night.  What in the next 2 years do you intend to do differently, uh, to change people’s, uh, opinion of the direction of the country, particularly as you contemplate a run for president in 2024?


President Joe Biden:   Nothing, because they’re just c, finding out what we’re doin’ .  The more they know about what we’re doin’, the more support there is.  Do you know anybody who wants us to get rid of the change we made on prescription drug prices and raise prices again?  Do you know anybody who wants us to walk away from building those roads and bridges and, and the Internet and, uh, s, so on?  I don’t, I, I don’t know any.  I think that w, the problem is the major piece of legislation we passed, and some of it bipartisan, takes time to be recognized.  For example, you got, you got over a trillion dollars’ worth of infrastructure money but ha, not that many spades have been put in the ground.  It’s taking time.  For example, I was on the phone congratulating a Californian recently and then someone in, uh, uh, uh, up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the congressman that got elected.  He said can you help us make sure we are able to have r, h, high-speed rail serv, rai, rai, rai, rail service from Scranton to New York, New York City.  I said yeah, we can.  We can.  First of all, it’ll make it a lot easier, take a lot of vehicles off the road, and we have more money in the, in the pot now already, already out there – we voted for it – than the entire m, money we spent on Amtrak to begin with.  And it’s the same way.  For example, I talked about through the campaign that we’re l, gonna limit the cost of insulin for seniors to, t, to, uh, $35.00 a month instead of 400 a month.  Well, it doesn’t take effect ’til next year, so there’s a lotta things that are just c, starting to kick in, and the same way with what we’ve done in terms of the environmental stuff.  It takes time to get it movin’.  So I, I’m not gonna change.  A matter of fact, you know, there’s some things I wanna change and add to.  For example, we had passed the most bipartisan, we passed the most extensive gun legislation, anti, you know, rational gun policy in 30 years, and, but we didn’t ban assault weapons.  I’m gonna ban assault weapons or gonna try like the devil, so I’m not gonna change the direction.  I said I ran for three reasons.  I’m gonna continue to stay where my know.  I fully understand the legitimate concern that what I’m sayin’ is wrong, okay?  One is that I said we’re gonna restore the soul of the country, begin to treat each other with decency, honor, and integrity.  And it’s starting to happen; people are sta, eh, eh, the, the, the conversations are becoming more normal, becoming more, more – how can I say it – uh, um, m, decent.  Second thing I said was I wanna build a country from the middle out and the bottom up, and that way, everybody does fine.  I’m tired of trickle down.  Not a whole lot trickles down when you trickle down to hardworkin’ folks.  And the third thing, I know, is still very hard.  I’m gonna do everything in my power to see it through to reunite the country.  It’s hard to sustain yourself as the leading democracy in the world if you can’t j, j, j, uh, can’t generate some unity, so, uh, I’m not gonna change anything in any fundamental way.


Zeke Miller:     And just on a different topic, Mr. President, uh, Russia today claimed that it had, uh, evacuated, uh, the be, uh, the Kherson region and the Kherson City.  Do you believe that this is potentially an inflection point, um, in that conflict, and do you believe that Ukraine now has the leverage it needs to begin peace negotiations with Moscow?


President Joe Biden:   Uh, first of all, I found it interesting they waited ’til after the election to make that judgment, and, uh, which we knew for some time that they were gonna be doing, and it’s evidenced in the fact that they have some real problems, Russian, the Russian military, um, number one.  Number two, whether or not that leads to, at a minimum, it will lead to, uh, time for everyone to rena, recalibrate their positions over the winter’s period, and it remains to be seen whether or not there will be a judgment made, um, as to, uh, um, whether or not Ukraine is prepared to, uh, compromise with Russia.  I’m going to be going to the G20.  I’m told that President Putin is not likely to be there, but other world leaders are gonna be there in Indonesia, and we’re gonna have an opportunity to see, uh, what, uh, what the next steps may be.  Um, Nancy, CBS, Nancy Cordes.


Nancy Cordes:   Thank you, Mr. President.  I have a few questions.  Been –


President Joe Biden:   Okay.


Nancy Cordes:     – saving them up.  Uh, first of all, uh, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said last night that it is clear we are going to take the house back.  Do you think he’s probably right about that?


President Joe Biden:   Well, based on what we know as, uh, as of today, we’ve, uh, we’ve lost very few seats for certain.  Uh, we still have a possibility of, uh, of keeping the House, but it’s gonna be close, and, for example, in, uh, in, in, in Nevada, we won all three o’ those seats, contested seats.  I went out for each and I spoke with each, for each o’ those folks, but, um, we won them all.  I didn’t know that last night, so it, it, it’s a movin’ target right now, but it’s gonna be very close.


Nancy Cordes:   Can you, can you describe your relationship with Mr. McCarthy?  How often do you speak to him?  What do you think of him?


President Joe Biden:   I think he’s a Republican leader and, uh, I haven’t had much of occasion to talk to him, but I will be talking to him.  I think, uh, s, I think I’m talkin’ to him d, later today.


Nancy Cordes:    When it comes to your legislative agenda, when you were vice president, your legislative agenda basically ran into a brick wall 2 years in when Republicans took control of the House, and that lasted for the rest of the Obama presidency.  Is there any way for you to prevent that same fate from happening this time around?


President Joe Biden:   Yes.


Nancy Cordes:    If Republicans take control of the House.


President Joe Biden:   Yes, uh, because it’s gonna be much closer if they take control, if they catch – look.  The predictions were, and, again, I’m not being critical of anybody who made the prediction.  I got it, okay?  There’s s’posed to be a red wave.  You guys, you were talkin’ about us losin’ 30 to 50 seats and this was gonna – we’re nowhere near, that’s not gonna happen.  And so there’s always enough people in the, on the other team, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, that the opposite party can make an appeal to and maybe pick them off to get the help, and, uh, and so it remains to be seen, but look.  I, I, I doubt whether or not, uh, for example, all the talk, uh, I’d ask the rhetor – I don’t expect you to answer, but the rhetorical question, um, do you think that, uh, um, you know, uh, Senator Johnson is going to move to cut Medicare and Social Security, and if he does, how many Republicans do you think are gonna vote for it.  So it depends.


Nancy Cordes:    And then my, my final question:  Um, Republicans have made it clear that if they do take control of the House that they want to launch, uh, a raft of investigations on Day 1 into your handling of Afghanistan, the border.  Uh, they want to look into some of your cabinet officials.  They want to investigate you.  They may even want to investigate your son.  What’s your message to Republicans who are considering investigating your family and, particularly, your son Hunter’s business dealings?


President Joe Biden:   Lots o’ luck in your senior year, as my coach used to say.  Look.  Um, I think the American public want us to move on and get things done for them, and, uh, you know, I heard that there were, uh, it was reported – whether it’s accurate or not I’m not sure, but it was reported many times that Republicans were sayin’ and the former president said how many times you gonna impeach Biden.  You know, uh, impeachment proceeding against Bi – I mean I think the Re, I think the American people will look at all of that for what it is.  It’s just, um, almost comedy.  I mean it’s, uh, but, you know, look, I can’t control what they’re gonna do.  All I can do is continue to try to make life better for the American people.  Okay.  Phil, Phil Mattingly, CNN.


Phil Mattingly:            Thank you, Mr. President.  I have 37 que – okay.  Uh, um, sir, at a fundraiser last month, you said, quote, the rest o’ the world is looking at this election, both the good guys and the bad guys.  You noted you’re going to the G20 in a couple days.  You’ll come face to face with many of those leaders the same moment that your predecessor is considering launching his reelection effort.  How should those world leaders, both good guys and bad guys, view this moment both for America and for your presidency?


President Joe Biden:   Well, first of all, these world leaders know we’re doin’ better than anybody else in the world as a practical matter.  Notwithstanding the difficulties, we have our economies growing.  You saw the last report.  We’re still growing at 2.6 percent, we’re creating jobs, we’re still in a solid position, and there’s not many other counties in the world that are in that position.  And I promise you, from the telephone calls I still have and from the meetings I have with other heads of state, they’re lookin’ to the United States and sayin’ how ya doin’ and what are ya doin’; what can we do together; how, so I think that the vast majority of my colleagues, at least those colleagues who are NATO members, European Union, Japan, South Korea, etc., I think they’re lookin’ to cooperate and wanting to know how, how we can help one another.  Um, and what was that other question?


Phil Mattingly:     Oh, I, I haven’t asked it yet.


President Joe Biden:   Oh, I’m sorry.


Phil Mattingly:    No, no, no.  Sir, I, I think the, one way to follow up on that is you, you noted that you felt like there was a shift in terms of, uh, people being willing to share more decency in this m, moment.  You’ve often talked about breaking the fever or kind of a transition from this moment that we’ve faced over the last several years.  Do you feel like the election is what represents that?  Er, do you feel like the fever is broken, I guess?


President Joe Biden:   Well, I, I’m not, I, I, I don’t think we’re gonna break the fever for the super mega MAGA Republicans, I mean, but I think they’re a minority of the Republican Party.  I think the vast majority of the members of the Republican Party we disagree strongly on issues, but they’re decent, honorable people.  We have d, d, dific, eh, of, differences of agreement on, on issues, but they, uh, you know, I, I, I, I work with a lotta these folks in the Senate and the House for a long time, and, uh, you know, they, they’re, they’re honest and they’re, and, and they’re straightforward.  They’re different than mine, but they’re, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re decent folks, and so I think that the rest o’ the world – and a lot of you covered other parts o’ the world and you know.  The rest o’ the world is lookin’ to the United States.  I guess the best way to say this is to, is to repeat what you’ve, uh, suh, some o’ you heard me say before.  The first, um, G7 meeting for, uh, public, that’s the, the seven largest democracies, when I went to, uh, right after we got elected in February after I got w, sworn in in January, and I sat down at a table, a roundtable with the six other world leaders from the European Union and United, and, uh, and Canada, etc. and said, uh, America’s back, and one o’ them turned to me and said for how long.  For how long?  It was a deadly earnest question.  For how long?  And I looked at them, and then another went on to say, and I’m not gonna name them, went on to say what would you say, Joe, if in fact you went, we went to bed tonight here in, in England, woke up the next morning, and found out that thousand people had stormed the Parliament of, of Great Britain, gone down the hall, broken down the doors, c, two cops ended up dying, number o’ people injured, and they tried to stop the c, the c, confirmation of an election.  It’s not the same situation, obviously, as we have.  And they said what would you think.  And what – I ask the rhetorical question what would you all think.  You’d thinking it was really in trouble.  You’d think democracy was on the edge if that happened in Great Britain.  And so that’s the w, way people were looking at us; like when’s this gonna stop.  Nothin’ like this has happened since the Civil War.  I don’t wanna exaggerate, but, literally, nothin’ like this has happened since the Civil War.  And so what I find is that they wanna know is the United States stable.  Do we know what we’re about?  Are we the same democracy we’ve always been?  Because look, the rest o’ the world looks to us.  I don’t mean that we’re alway, like, we’re always right, but if the United States tomorrow were to, quote, withdraw from the world, a lot of things would change around the world.  A whole lot would change.  And so they’re very concerned that we are still the open democracy we’ve been and that we have rules and the institutions matter, and that’s the context in which, I think, that they’re looking at are we back to a place where we are gonna accept decisions made by the court, by the Congress, by the government, etc.


Phil Mattingly:   It’s just the entire genesis of that G7 conversation was tied to your predecessor, who is about to launch another campaign, so how do you reassure them, if that is the reason for their questioning, that the former president will not return, that his political movement, which is still very strong, uh, will not –


President Joe Biden:   Oh, yeah?


Phil Mattingly:   – once again take power in the United States?


President Joe Biden:   Well, um, we just have to demonstrate that he will not take power, um, by, uh, if we, uh, if he does run, uh, making sure he, uh, under legitimate efforts of, uh, our Constitution, does not become the next president again.  Um, Steve, Reuters.  I’m sorry.  Steve Holland.


Steve Holland: Thank you, sir.  Uh, how do you t, interpret last night’s results in terms of deciding whether you want to seek another term?  Is, is it now more likely that you will run?  And what’s gonna be your timeline for consideration?


President Joe Biden:   Well, first of all, uh, Jill and I have – and by the way, this is my wife, Jill – um, uh, um, ’cause hell of lot more popular than I am in the Democratic Party, too, but any rate, um, all kiddin’ aside, uh, w, our, our intention is to run again.  That’s been our intention, regardless o’ what the outcome o’ this election was.  Um, and, uh, the fact that we won – we.  I didn’t reh, run.  The fact that the Democratic Party outperformed anything anyone expected and did better than any b, uh, off-year presidency since John Kennedy is one that gives everybody like whoof, sigh o’ relief that the mega Republicans are not taking over the government again, etc., and, uh, so, uh, my judgment of running when I announce, if I ann – now, my intention is that I r, ruh, run again, but I’m a great respecter of fate, and, uh, this is ultimately a family decision.  I think everybody wants me to run, but they’re, we’re gonna have discussions about it, and I don’t feel any, any hurry one way or another what, t, t, t, to make that judgment or today, tomorrow, whenever, eh, no, no matter what the, the the, my predecessor does.


Steve Holland:    **** year or early next year or what’s your, –


President Joe Biden:   Well, I, I, –


Steve Holland: – what’s your thinking?


President Joe Biden:   – my guess is I hope Jill and I get a little time to actually sneak away for a week around, between Christmas and Thanksgiving, and my guess is it’d be early next year we make that judgment.  But it is my plan to do it now, I mean but, you know.  Okay.  Uh, I’m sorry.  Uh, Karen.  Karen, eh, eh, eh, eh, Travers of ABC Radio.


Karen Travers:     Uh, thank you, Mr. President.  Uh, WNBA star Brittney Griner today was moved to a Russian penal colony to serve out her 9-year sentence.  Do you have an update right now on her condition, what do you know about that, and does this mark a new phase in negotiations with the Russians to secure her release?  Can the U.S. now fully engage in talks on a prisoner swap?  With –


President Joe Biden:   Well, –


Karen Travers:     – a –


President Joe Biden:   – we’ve  been, –


Karen Travers:   – follow up, if I can.


President Joe Biden:   – we’ve been engaging, uh, on a r, regular basis.  I’ve been, I’ve been s, spending a fair amount o’ time with, with her wife, uh, about what’s going on with, uh, her, and, uh, my guess is, my hope is that now that the election is over that, uh, Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about prisoner exchange.  That is my intention.  My intention is to get her home, and, uh, we’ve had a number of discussions so far, and, uh, I am hopeful that now that our election is over, there is a willingness to, uh, to negotiate more specifically with us.  Thank you.


Karen Travers:   Uh, and if I can, um, your press secretary had said that the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that significant offer but also had proposed alternative potential ways forward with the Russians.  Can you tell us what those alternative ways forward are and how Russia has responded to those?


President Joe Biden:   Yes, I can, but I won’t.  Okay.  I can’t.  I mean, you know, it, it would, it would not be a wise thing to do in order to see if they would move forward.  But it is my, uh – I, I’m tellin’ you I am determined to get her home and get her home safely.  Along with others, I might add.  Um, April Ryan.


April Ryan:  Of TheGrio.


President Joe Biden:   Of TheGrio.  ‘Scuse me.  I’m, I beg your pardon.


April Ryan:     Thank you, sir.


President Joe Biden:   I got it right last time we did this.


April Ryan:     Yes, you did.  Yes, you did.  Uh, Mr. President, I have a couple of questions on several issues.  One, the Supreme Court.  As you know, the Supreme Court has before it, uh, the issue of college admissions and affirmative action.  What can and are you  planning in case of a rollback that is expected?  There are legal analysts that say that there will be drastic implications, there are tentacles from this, and they even say that this could impact Brown v. Board, the decision from Brown v. Board.


President Joe Biden:   Well, you know, first of all, I asked our Justice Department to defend the present policy before the Supreme Court, and like a lot o’ pundits, I’m not prepared to believe that the Supreme Court is going to overrule the preev, the existing decision.  That’s far from certain, and I don’t bel, I don’t believe that.  But number one, so number one, what I’d do to try to change it is object to it before the Supreme Court of the United States, our administration.  Number two, um, I, uh, there are a number of things that we can and must do to make it – and by the way, this is a case involving, uh, an Asian American, uh, in terms of getting into, uh, school, and, uh, whether there is affirmative action makes sense at all from the standpoint of those who are arguing against it.  Um, but, you know, the fact is that we’re, we’re also in a circumstance where there’s a lot that we can do in the meantime to make sure that there’s an access to good education across the board, and that is by doing things that relate to starting education at age 3, formal schooling at age 3, which increases not daycare but school.  All the studies over 10 years show that that increases the prospect of someone making it through 12 years without any difficulty, no matter what the background they come from, by 56 percent, and I also think that we should be making sure that we have the ability to, uh, provide for 2 years of education beyond that, whether it’s apprenticeships or community colleges.  And w, we also are in a situation where I think that, for example, I wanna make sure we, a lot of it has to do with finances, as well, and we make sure that we have help for people who come from modest means to be able to get to school.  You know, the cost of college education has increased fourfold, and it used to be that a Pell Grant would cover somethin’ like 70 percent of the college tuition.  Now, it covers significantly less than that, so I wanna increase the Pell Grants, as well.  But let’s see what the Supreme Court decides, and I’m, I am hopeful and, uh, our team and our, th, the lawyers that argued for us are not nearly as certain as the people you’ve quoted as sayin’ it’s gonna be overruled.


April Ryan:     Next question, sir.  The issue, um, is inflation.  TheGrio and KFF conducted a study of black voters that said inflation was the number one issue, and we saw it in this midterm election.  What can you promise concretely in these next 2 years that will help turn the pocketbook for the better, uh, in the midst of staving off a recession?


President Joe Biden:   Well, a number of things.  First of all, un, black unemployment is almost cut in half under my administration just since I began.  More black businesses have opened up, small businesses, than ever before.  We’re now in a situation where we’re providing, uh, through the Small Business Administration, n, down payments for people buying homes, because most people accumulate wealth in the value o’ their home, most middle-class families like mine.  My dad bought a home, didn’t have a, eh, to scrape together to get a home.  By the time he, uh, was able to retire, he was, uh, he had built up equity in the home.  That’s how most people do that.  Um, and so, um, but what I can’t do is I can’t guarantee that, um, we’re going to be able to, uh, get rid of inflation, but I do think we can.  We’ve brought, we’ve already brought down the price of gasoline about a dollar twenty a gallon across the board, and I think that the, the uh, the, uh, the oil companies are really doing the nation a real disservice.  They have made, six of ’em made over a hundred billion dollars in the last quarter in profit, a hundred billion dollars.  In the past, if they had done the two things that they have done before, one, invest in more refineries and producing more product and/or passing on the rebates to the gas stations that are, you know, they sell the oil at a cheaper rate than they have to s, than they are selling it now, not taking advantage, and that lowers the price of the total b, gallon o’ gas because that gets passed on, so there, there’s a whole lot of things that we can do, uh, that are, that are difficult to do, but we’re gonna continue to push to do them.  And, uh, the other thing is that one o’ the things that makes a gigantic difference is what are the costs that exist in the average family then, and average black community.  One, prescription drug costs.  Well, we’re driving those down precipitously beginning next year, and h, you know, I’ll bet you know a lotta people in African-American and, and, and Caucasian community that, that need to take insulin for diabetes.  Well, we’re gonna be reducin’ that cost; they’re not gonna pay more than $35.00 for the insulin instead of 4, average of $400.00, and I can go down the list of the things that – my dad used to say it a different way.  At the end o’ the month, the things you have to pay for from your mortgage to food on the table to gasoline in the automobile, do you have enough money to do it, and when it’s done, do you have anything left over?  And medical bills are a big piece of that, particularly in the African-American community and the poor, and poorer communities.  They need help.  And so with driving down all of those costs, and we’ve already passed the legislation to do that; it’s just taking effect, so there’s a lot o’ things we can do to effect the things that people need on a monthly basis to reduce their inflation, their cost of living, and, and so, but I am optimistic because we continue to grow and at a rational pace, we are not anywhere near a recession right now in terms of the growth, but I think we can have what they’re, most economists call a soft landing.  I’m convinced that we’re gonna be able to gradually bring down prices so that they in fact end up with us not having to move into a recession to be able to get control of inflation.


April Ryan:     Mr. President, last question is on humanity, and, uh, everybody else got ta.  Um, last –


Other Speaker:      ****.


April Ryan:     Well, you’re coming.


President Joe Biden:   Okay.  Good.


April Ryan:     Um, last question, um, on humanity.  Sir, you can’t legislate and you can’t executive order out the issue of empathy or the lack thereof in the midst of this rhetoric, this heated political rhetoric.  What’s next?


President Joe Biden:   Part of what I think leadership requires, and I hope I meet the standard, is letting people know you understand their problem.  Again, my dad used to have an expression.  He said I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect them to at least know what they are, understand them.  And, um, like a lot of you, we have been very fortunate as a family, but we’ve also been through a lotta fairly tough times.  And it’s not, and I’ve had the great advantage of having a family to get through them.  When my first wife and daughter were killed when a tractor-trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and killed my, my first wife and killed my daughter, and my two boys were expected to die; they were in, uh, it took the Jaws o’ Life 3 hours to get them out there on top of their dead mother and dead sister.  I understand what that pain is like.  And when Jill and I lost Beau after a year in Iraq, winning the Bronze Star of the Secret Service medal, a major in the United States military, came home with Stage 4 glioblastoma because he lived about 205, between 2 and 500 yards from a burn pit that’s 10 feet deep and, eh, big as a football field burning every toxic waste you could find.  You know, I think that we, uh, we understand what it’s like to lose family members, uh, mothers, fathers.  Again, we, all of you went through that kinda thing.  We’ve been fortunate, though.  We’ve had each other.  We’ve had strong families; Jill’s sisters; my brothers; my sister.  And so what we can do to deal with that empathy is make sure there’s help available.  Make sure there’s people who are there to help, whether they are psychologists or whether they’re medical doctors or whether they’re social workers; be there to help, to help just hold a hand.  And, for example, we can do an awful lot for a lot of families, the families you’re talkin’ about, if we, uh, r, re, restate this child tax credit.  It cut child poverty by 40 percent, eh, when, when it was in place.  I couldn’t get it passed the second time around.  So there’s a lot we can do, and the empathy is not just talking about it, it’s communicating to people you genuinely understand, and I hope a lot of people don’t understand because, uh, they, I, I don’t want people havin’ to know the pain.  But the second piece of that is let them know that you are there to help; you’re there to help.  And one o’ the things I’ve talked with Veh, Vivek Murthy about – and a lot of you have written about it and you’ve written, eh, well about it – is the need for mental health care in America.  You know, when we got elected, there were something like, I don’t know, 2, 3, 5 million people who’d gotten their sh, their, their COVID shots.  Well, in the meantime, I, I got over 220 million people, oo, all three shots, but in the meantime, what happened?  We lost over a million dead.  A million dead.  I read one study that for those million people, they had nine people who were, each one had averaged nine people close to them, a relative, uh, suh, someone they’re married to, a child, uh, someone close.  The impact has been profound; been profound.  Think of all the people.  Think of all your children and your grandchildren who didn’t have that senior prom or didn’t have that graduation party or didn’t have all the things we had that we took for granted, and impact on their psyche.  So there’s a lot we have to do.  And empathy reflects itself not just in what a person demonstrates they understand of knowing what people need and helping to make it happen.  And we’re trying to do that.  And a lot o’ Republicans tryin’ to do it, too.  I don’t mean this as a partisan thing.  A lot o’ people are tryin’ to do it, ’cause they know we got a problem.  Um, okay.  ‘Scuse me.  These ten questions are really goin’ quickly.


Other Speaker:            ****.


President Joe Biden:   Well, I’ve gotta meet with some of my, uh, folks and some o’ the Republican leadership soon, but any rate.  Um, Jenny Leonard, Bloomberg.


Jenny Leonard:           Thank you, Mr. President.  Two questions.  Uh, one, shifting back to your, uh, trip to the m, uh, to Asia, when you meet with President Xi Jinping of China, will you tell him that you’re committed to defending Taiwan militarily, and what are you hoping to get out of this meeting that will make it a success?  Are you willing to make any concessions to him?


President Joe Biden:   Well, look, I’m not may, I’m not willing to make any fundamental concessions because what I have, what I told him in the beginning, and this is, we’ve, I’ve spent over ss, 78, I think they told me, hours with him so far, 67, 7 in person when I was vice president.  Um, um, President Obama knew he couldn’t spend time with the vice president of another country, so I s, traveled 17,000 miles with him in China and around and the United States, I s, met with him many times, and I told him I’m looking for competition, not, not, uh, c, uh, not conflict, and so what I wanna do with him when we talk is lay out what the, what, what, what kind of, each of our red lines are, understand what he believes to be in the critical national interest of China, what I th, know to be the critical interest of the United States, and determine whether or not they conflict with one another, and if they do, how to resolve, uh, and how to work it out, and so, and Taiwan doctrine has not changed at all from the very beginning, the very beginning, so I’m sure we’ll discuss China, uh, uh, uh,  the, uh – excuse me – Taiwan and I’m sure we’ll discuss a number of other issues including fair trade and, uh, and ray, r, and relationships relating to his relationship with other countries in the region, and, uh, and s, so any rate, so, so there’s a lot we’re, we’ll have to discuss.  You, you want –


Jenny Leonard:           And –


President Joe Biden:   – another –


Jenny Leonard:           Yes.


President Joe Biden:   question?


Jenny Leonard:           And –


President Joe Biden:   Everybody –


Jenny Leonard:           – one other –


President Joe Biden:   – else got one.


Jenny Leonard:           C, eh, eh, you didn’t –


President Joe Biden:   Or two or –


Jenny Leonard:           – say –


President Joe Biden:   – three.


Jenny Leonard:           – if you will, uh, tell Xi Jinping personally that you are committed to defending Taiwan.


President Joe Biden:   I’m gonna have that conversation with him.


Jenny Leonard:           That wasn’t my second one.  Sorry.  Sorry.  I ha, I actually have an, uh, uh, an unrelated question, too.  Um, Mr. President, do you think Elon Musk is a threat to U.S. national security, and should the U.S., and with the tools you have, investigate his joint acquisition of Twitter with foreign governments, which include the Saudis?


President Joe Biden:   I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries, uh, is worthy of being looked at.  Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that.  I’m suggesting that it worths, worth being looked at, um, and, uh, um, an, and, uh, but that’s all I’ll say.


Other Speaker:            How?


President Joe Biden:   There’s a lot o’ ways.  Uh, all right.  Um, Kristen, Kristen Welker.


Kristen Welker:           Thank you so much, Mr. President.  I appreciate it.  I wanna follow up with you on working with Republicans.  Leader McCarthy again suggested that he is not prepared to write what he has called a blank check to Ukraine, and yet you expressed optimism that funding for Ukraine would continue, that the policies toward Ukraine would continue.  Why should the people of Ukraine and this country have confidence in that given the comments by Leader McCarthy?  And just to follow up with you on your comments to Zeke, you said you don’t need to do anything differently.  If Republicans control the House, don’t you need to recalibrate to some extent to try to work across the aisle with a Republican-led house?


President Joe Biden:   Well, lemme put it this way:  What I meant was I don’t have to change any o’ the policies; they’ve already passed.  That’s what they said they wanna go after.  And so what I have, a simple proposition; I have a pen that can veto.  Okay?  So that’s what I mean.  I don’t have to recalibrate whether or not I’m gonna continue to, you know, fund the, uh, we’re gonna continue to fund the, uh, the infrastructure bill or we’re gonna continue to fund the environment, etc.  Why d, we have ta, I, I hope – I think there is a growing pressure on the part of the American people expecting both parties and all elements of both parties to, uh, um, to work out their substantive differences and not just I’m not gonna do that because it would benefit that party just make it, by makin’ it personal, so I, I, I, I d, and, you know, it remains to be seen what the makeup o’ the, of the House will be, um, but, uh, I’m hopeful that, uh, Kevin and I can, uh, work out a modus vivendi as to how we’ll proceed with one another.


Kristen Welker:           So will aid to Ukraine continue uninterrupted?


President Joe Biden:   That is my expectation; it’ll be – and by the way, we’ve not given Ukraine a blank check.  There’s a lot o’ things that Ukraine wants we didn’t, we didn’t do.  For example, I was asked very much whether we’d prefer, we, we’d provide American aircraft ta guarantee the skies over Ukraine.  Said no, we’re not gonna do that.  We’re not gonna get into a third world war taking on Russian aircraft and directly engage, but would we provide them with the, uh, all the, the rational ability to, to defend themselves?  Yes.  We provided those HIMARS.  Well, the HIMARS, there’s two kinds of, uh, w, w, eh, eh, but, and the average person’s Parlance rockets you can drop in those, one that goes over 600 miles and one that goes, oh, about 160 miles.  We didn’t give ’em any ones that go to 600 miles because I’m not lookin’ for them to start bombing Russian territory, and so we wanna make sure that there’s a relationship, that they’re able to defend themselves, and take on what is purely a, a, uh, the ugliest aggression that’s occurred since World War II on a sca, a massive scale on the part of Putin within Ukraine, and there’s so much at stake, so I, I, I, I, I would be surprised if, if Leader McCarthy even has a majority of his Republican colleagues who say they’re not gonna fund the legitimate defensive needs of Ukraine.


Kristen Welker:           And just a quick one.  Um, obviously, a lot of attention on 2024 now that the votes, uh, have been cast in the midterms.  Two thirds of Americans in exit polls say that they don’t think you should run for reelection.  What is your message to them?  And how does that factor into your final decision about whether or not to run for reelection?


President Joe Biden:   It doesn’t.


Kristen Welker:           What’s your message to them, to those two thirds of Amer –


President Joe Biden:   Watch me.


Kristen Welker:           Okay.  One more.


Other Speaker:            Come on, ****.


Kristen Welker:           Uh, uh, wha, very, very quickly.  Um, we saw Governor Ron DeSantis with a resounding victory in Florida, uh, last night.  Who do you think would be the tougher competitor, Ron DeSantis or Former President Trump, and how is that factoring into your decision?


President Joe Biden:   It’d be fun watching them take on each other.  All right.  David Senner.


David Senner: Thank you, Mr. President.  I also have a question for you about, um, China, but before I do, I just wanted ta follow up on something you said earlier when you said it remains to be seen whether the Ukraine government is prepared to compromise with Russia.  Previously, you’ve told us the only thing for the Russians to do is get completely out of Ukraine, go back to the, the lines that existed prior to February 24.  Are you suggesting with the word compromise that you think that there is room for territorial compromise now, that –?


President Joe Biden:   No, I’m not.  See, uh, that’s up to the Ukrainians.  Nothin’ about Ukraine without Ukraine.


David Senner: But what kind of compromise do you have in mind?


President Joe Biden:   I didn’t have any in mind.  Uh, you av, asked the question whether or not, if my recall, whether or not, what would happen if in fact after the, this, uh, I, I think the context is that whether or not the pulling back from Fallujah and the, I mean from the, the, –


David Senner: Kherson.


President Joe Biden:   – Kherson, the, the City of Kherson, and they’re coming back across the river to the eastern side of the river, the Russian forces, and I said what’s gonna happen is they’re gonna both lick their wounds, decide whether, what they’re gonna do over the winter, and decide whether or not they’re gonna compromise.  That’s, that’s what’s gonna happen, whether or not.  I don’t know what they’re gonna do.  And, but I do know one thing:  We’re not gonna tell ’em what they have to do.


David Senner: You were asked before about, uh, your meeting with President Xi.  Um, at this point, the Chinese government by the estimate of The Pentagon is getting ready ta, um, bring their force of nuclear weapons up to over 1,000 weapons, significant, uh, increase from what they’ve had for many decades.  Um, you’ve seen the threats from, uh, President Putin about the use of his nuclear missiles.


President Joe Biden:   Do you remember how you all went after me when I said that was real?


David Senner: Uh, and what, what, in your view, happened?  Do you think he, he backed off because of that –


President Joe Biden:   No, no.


David Senner: – **** –


President Joe Biden:   I’m –


David Senner: – statement?


President Joe Biden:   – just sayin’ I just, I just found it interesting that, uh, Biden’s bein’ apopol, uh, apoc, uh, c, apot, a coppa, phew, Biden’s bein’ an extremist, um, and, uh, and it turns out you all are writin’ about it now.  Kinda fascinating.


David Senner: So my question is do you think that they are putting together a real alliance, the Chinese and the Russians?  And do you believe that, uh, you need to s, begin speaking with President Xi about some form of arms control if he’s going to get up to a level of weapons similar to what the United States and Russia have right now?


President Joe Biden:   No and yes.  No, I don’t think there’s a lot of respect that China has for Russia or for Putin.  I don’t think they look at that as a, a particular alliance.  Uh, matter of fact, uh, they’ve been sorta keeping their distance a little bit.  I do think that, uh, and may, remains to be seen whether Xi Jinping has decided that or backed off of his initial judgment that he wanted Ukrai, uh – ‘scuse me – China to have the most powerful military in the world as well as, uh, the largest economy, and, uh, but he’s a long way from both, um, but I think it, I think talk about nuclear weapons and l, location and number of them and access is important to discuss.  Thank you all so very, very much.


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