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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Democratic National Convention
Aired September 6, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Now CNN turns the spotlight on one of the biggest platforms in American politics. This is the Democratic National Convention. This is Barack Obama and Joe Biden's night.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believed in you. I bet on you. I'll make that bet any day of the week. That bet is paying off for America.
ANNOUNCER: This is America's choice.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world to this, the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. We'll be hearing from Vice President Joe Biden in just a few moments. Then comes the moment these thousands and thousands of delegates have been waiting for all week.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And the hall is packed. Barack Obama, President Obama will enter this convention hall and make his case to voters on why he should get a second term.
And we're learning more details tonight about his acceptance speech. He'll identify priorities for the next four years and try to reconnect to those supporters who may be disenchanted from 2008.
BLITZER: The arena is so crowded, get this, the doors to the building are now closed. The fire department is restricting access to VIPs only.
Our CNN correspondents Brianna Keilar, Soledad O'Brien and Kate Bolduan, they are down on the arena floor. Candy Crowley is stationed above the speaker's podium where the president and the vice president will give their speeches.
Candy, tell us a little bit more about what we expect to hear.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know we will hear from President Obama what will be an outlining of some goals. Not specific ways to get to those goals but at least what he wants to accomplish in the next four years.
Part of an excerpt that they gave us, "Our problems can be solved," he'll say. "Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder but it leads to a better place. And I'm asking you to choose that future. I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country. Goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit. A real achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation. That's what we can do in the next four years. And that's why I'm running for a second term as president of the United States."
Of course, the big chore for the president will be to convince those folks, those Democrats who are discouraged, those swing voters who are thinking about going elsewhere, that in fact we are on the right path. The country is on the right path. And that these things are achievable because, as you know, Wolf, the Republicans have said, listen, he makes great speeches and he makes a lot promises but they don't come true -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Candy, thanks.
Brianna Keilar is getting some information on the whereabouts right now of the president and the first lady.
Brianna, what are you learning?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He's rolling here, Wolf, as we understand from pool reports. He's on his way to the Time Warner Cable arena. And I'm here in front of the first lady's box. If you come with me, I just want to give you a sense of -- she's actually in the box and I want to give you a sense of the view that she's going to be having right here in front of the stage where she'll be watching President Obama.
She is there, standing up as you can see. She's joined -- I see Valerie Jarrett there as well. Perhaps the Bidens will be joining them.
Pretty good seats, Wolf, I suppose, if you're the first lady you get a very good view of President Obama giving his acceptance speech.
BLITZER: Brianna, thanks.
Kate Bolduan has some more VIPs. A little bit higher up.
Who are you seeing there, Kate?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly right, Wolf. We've gotten information coming from a Democratic official that some of the other VIPs who are in a very special box, a little up -- up a little higher, we probably won't even be able to give you a great shot of it, includes Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, and Caroline Kennedy and her husband. You heard Caroline spoke very passionately for President Obama this evening.
Also in the box we're told is Penny Pritzker and John Rogers, both friends and big donors to President Obama, along with James and Kim Taylor. We interviewed and spoke to James Taylor. The Grammy Award-winning and, you know, music star James Taylor. He performed here earlier this evening and is a longtime vocal supporter of President Obama as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kate, thanks.
Soledad O'Brien is getting some new information on security here in Charlotte.
What are you learning?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, ANCHOR, STARTING POINT: Yes, it's absolutely packed, Wolf. Yes, it absolutely jammed, Wolf. I mean, completely jammed with people. And of course what we know now is that the fire department has put everything on lockdown. They're not really letting people to go in and out from the perimeter into the arena itself. Into the floor. All of that has stopped.
We know that there are some people who are stuck outside who actually were able to get those passes when they moved tonight's speech here into the arena out from the stadium but they're even having problems coming in because there are just too many people inside. You can see how packed this arena is. Much more crowded than we've seen over the last couple of days.
So the issue really is the Secret Service, which has clamped things down. Obviously we're expecting to hear from the president in just a little bit. But also it's unsafe to have too many people in. Some VIPs we're told have been able to get through the perimeter under certain circumstances. The fire department, the fire marshal, calling things very fluid at this moment, but we know that there are people who are stuck outside and who are not able to make their way in -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Soledad, thanks very much.
Anderson, you know, this was supposed to be taking place at the Bank of America Stadium. A huge outdoor football stadium. But bad weather prevented that. That's why all of us are inside. A lot fewer than 65,000 people, probably 20,000 or 25,000 inside here.
COOPER: Yes, that's for sure. And it is packed, as you've been saying. I'm joined by our panelists. Democrats, Republicans, reporters, folks who worked on both sides of the aisle. David Gergen is with us, Alex Castellanos, Republican consultant, Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, Gloria Borger and CNN's John King.
Let's talk a little bit about the relationship, the working relationship between Joe Biden and President Obama. How close are they? What role has Joe Biden played?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, there's no question, there's been tension from time to time. There's no question, the White House has had to clean up some things the vice president had said that have made them unhappy. But like past presidents the vice president they lunch weekly. This vice president spent 36 years on Capitol Hill. He has been a liaison.
Sometimes not as much as people had expected cutting deals, negotiating. In part because there haven't been deals to cut. The greatest asset, they believe, if you go back to the 2008 primaries, where was President Obama, then Senator Obama, weakest, blue-collar areas Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden is from. He's an emissary to union halls, he's an emissary to blue-collar workers. Unlike the president, he's a bit more comfortable staying in an Irish pub or VFW hall tipping back a beer.
They view him as an asset on the campaign. Sure, they have a little bit of an asterisk here that every now and then, his tongue gets ahead of the brain.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But you know, he's also -- he's a real ambassador to Capitol Hill. And, you know, when you talk to people who work for Joe Biden, who were very close, saying, you know, that is one of his key jobs which is to keep in touch with leadership on Capitol Hill.
Also, very important in Senate races. He's been out there for lots of Democratic Senate candidates where they think he can -- he can make a big difference.
COOPER: You see people with signs saying "thank you." Let's listen in. This is a tribute to veterans. And we've seen First Lady Michelle Obama on her feet as well. Let's listen.
ADM. JOHN NATHMAN (RET.), U.S. NAVY: My parents. My parents were members of the greatest generation. My dad joined the Army Air Corps in 1940 as an enlisted man fixing bombers in World War II. He served a career in the Strategic Air Command.
My mother was a volunteer for the USO. And later as a widow she raised five children. In the years since, I've been privileged to lead and serve with members of this next great generation. I see in them tough bright courageous inspiring men and women. I see this country's future leaders.
These service members had been to some of the bleakest corners of the globe. They know how good this country is. They know firsthand what America means to the world. And they're going to bring to us the next great moment in our nation's history. Because the president is standing with them.
Tonight, we are standing here with them.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Tonight we are standing with our president. The men and women on this stage are only a small sample of this amazing generation. Americans from Texas, from Virginia, from Florida, from Oregon, Maine, New York, Hawaii, North Carolina. All across this great country. And so for them, and so for them, they -- and what they represent, please stand with me in saying thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: The crowd here obviously on their feet. Thanking these veterans who have been on the stage. We are just a few minutes away from Joe Biden taking this stage. We'll continue here with our panel. As we watch the crowd give their appreciation to those veterans on the stage and all those who have served and are currently serving around the world right now.
The relationship between Joe and the president, what do you see, how close?
DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I'm often called over to the White House and -- you know, Vice President Biden liked to call you into the office, have lunch, and what are you hearing, Donna, or what are they saying out there, how are people feeling?
I mean, he's the person inside the White House that really keeps in touch with the broad group of Democrats across the country, whether organized labor, you know, women on Capitol Hill, civil rights leaders.
Everyone knows Joe Biden. Joe Biden has been so much a part of the Democratic family. He's a leader. He's someone who understands the issues, the values. And I just want to say on a personal note, I mean, Joe Biden care about American military families. And I'm not surprised tonight that we've spent time not only with a video but also this emotional tribute to our military family. That's why (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: David, you knew somebody on the stage tonight.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: One of my students is on the stage, Mara Sullivan, she was a Marine in Iraq. And she had a cover -- she had a picture in the cover of "Fortune" magazine as one of the rising group of young leaders who are going into corporate America actually and really doing terrifically well.
But I will say this. This is a generation that offers an enormous amount of promise, especially these veterans who are coming home.
BRAZILE: And one other initiative, as you well know, is the Obama administration is putting a lot of emphasis on hiring veterans especially when they come back from combat. To make sure they have the skills and the training that they need in order to get back into the workforce.
COOPER: There had been some talk among sort of the chattering class about Hillary Clinton as a possible vice president instead of Biden.
BORGER: Yes. Yes. No.
COOPER: Was that ever really -- you're all shaking your heads no. BORGER: No, I don't -- I don't think it was ever real. And believe me, I was reporting out that story. And it was -- it was never going to happen. And, you know, there was some sense among the Biden people that maybe some of the Hillary staff was sort of winking and promoting that. Hillary's staff said of course not. They weren't doing that. The truth of the matter is that Joe Biden is personally close to President Obama.
He may drive President Obama crazy at times because he's so different from the president. But they have established a very good working relationship in which Joe Biden gives the president his unvarnished advice. And the president doesn't always take it. He did not take it, for example, on the surge. And he did not take it on the Osama bin Laden raid.
GERGEN: Yes, but -- can I just say there's a mystery here? And let's put it on the table. They do have a very close relationship. But every convention I can remember, the vice president has had a featured speech in one of the most important hours in the convention.
GERGEN: And in this case, it's 10 to 11:00. We're here, nobody else -- everybody is here at 10 to 11:00. This is the first time I can remember that a vice president has been relegated off that hour.
KING: It's the first time they've had a three-day convention. The Democrats went to a three-day convention.
GERGEN: First three-day convention.
GERGEN: And they went for Bill Clinton.
KING: Right. They went for Bill Clinton.
BORGER: Well, who would you go for?
GERGEN: Well, it was a --
BORGER: Who would you go for? Yes.
GERGEN: But if I were Joe Biden, I'd feel a little wounded.
COOPER: Jill Biden is going to be --
BORGER: He's a big boy.
COOPER: Is going to be introducing her husband momentarily. Let's just quickly check in with our Jessica Yellin who has some reporting on what Joe Biden is going to be talking about tonight.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
Tonight in the speech, the vice president's goal is to try -- he will use anecdotes about his time with the president. Seeing him in office. Making major decisions. And use that to make a point about the kind of leader he is and the kind of character he has. Sort of as only a work wife could.
If Michelle Obama testified to what he's like as the husband, he's testifying to what the president is like as the, quote, "work wife," if you will.
Also, I'm told, Wolf, that he'll draw contrasts with Romney. But -- as we said earlier, in a gentle way, not a blistering attack. The idea here is so that he can set the stage so then President Obama can come up and talk about the future.
BLITZER: Because on the campaign stump, he has been blistering at times going after Mitt Romney and the Republicans.
BLITZER: Tonight will be a softer Joe Biden.
YELLIN: That's right, he is usually the attack dog. Today, it will focus much more on what he's seen in the White House with the president.
BLITZER: And by all accounts, and you probably -- you're our chief White House correspondent, they do have an excellent relationship, the president and the vice president. There doesn't seem to be any significant tension, although they disagree on policy from time to time.
YELLIN: That's right. And there are moments -- I think Jill Biden is coming out, his wife.
BLITZER: I was going to -- there she is, Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president. She's going to introduce him and get this convention going.
The vice president will speak and, later, the president of the United States. So there she is, Jill Biden.
JILL BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN'S WIFE: Hello. What a night, what a crowd. Thank you, Angie. I'm so proud how far you've come.
I'm so proud to stand before you tonight. Not only as the wife of our vice president but as a full-time teacher and a military mom.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I'm here for our son, Beau, and for all of our troops, veterans and military families. Four years ago, Beau stood on this stage to introduce his father. And soon afterward, he deployed to Iraq for a year with the Delaware Army National Guard.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Tonight, thanks to the leadership of President Obama and my husband Joe, the war in Iraq is over.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I'm also here tonight for my students, students like Angie, who work so hard to create a better life for themselves and their families. I've been a teacher for more than 30 years and to this day I continue to teach full time at a community college in northern Virginia.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Not long -- not long after Joe was elected vice president, people started questioning whether I could keep teaching. Not Joe. He was there standing by my side, saying, of course you should. It's who you are, Jill.
For me, being a teacher isn't just what I do. It's who I am.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
These issues are personal to me. And for the more than 37 years that I've known Joe, I've seen firsthand just how personal they are to him, too. Joe often tells people that I didn't agree to marry him until the fifth time he asked me.
The truth is, I loved him from the start. I saw in him then the same character that I see in him today. I've seen Joe's character in his optimism. For families who have lost a loved one, kids struggling to find their way. Workers out of a job. Joe always worked to give people a sense of hope.
I've also seen Joe's character in his determination. Two decades ago, when Joe started working on the Violence against Women Act, domestic violence --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Was often treated as a private family matter rather than the crime it is. But Joe knew that he had to bring this issue out into the open. And in the year since that bill has passed, I've had women tell me that their sisters or their friends wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for Joe.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
Finally, I've seen Joe's character in his heart. When I first met him, Joe had already seen just how fragile life could be. When he was 29 years old, Joe lost his first wife and baby daughter in a tragic car accident while they were out getting their Christmas tree. And their boys were critically injured. Joe's life was shattered. But through his strong Catholic faith and his fierce love for our boys, Joe found the strength to get back up.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
That optimism. That determination. That big strong heart that drives him forward every day. It's what he learned as a young boy growing up with two hard working parents in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
It's what makes him such a loving and supportive father of our three children, Beau, Hunter and Ashley. And it's what drives him today as he and President Obama fight to strengthen the middle class they grew up in.
For as long as I've known him, Joe has never given up, never failed to see the possibilities, and never had any doubt about who he's fighting for. And as long as he has the privilege of serving this nation, I know from the bottom of my heart that he will continue to fight for you every day.
Thank you, God bless our troops, and God bless our military families. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: I like best about this country the people. There isn't anything we can't do. There still is that feeling in America. That's the part I love about it.
My mother thought the most important virtue was courage. She thought everything else flowed from that. And she said, bravery lies in every heart and some day it's likely to be summoned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the last four years, Americans have summoned the bravery that lives in our hearts. One by one. Family by family. Community by community. Fighting through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Proving once again there is just no quit in America.
Joe Biden understands this. It's what you learn growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. In Claymont, Delaware.
J. BIDEN: It was a neat place to grow up. I mean we thought it was -- and still do think it's completely normal. Four kids. Three bedrooms. Mom and dad. And of the probably 16 years I lived in that house, there was a relative at least 14 of those years living with us full time.
My parents never doubted for a second I could be president or vice president. Well, there's this notion that nobody is better than you. You're no better than anyone else. But nobody's better than you, and in this country, you can be anything you want to be.
JILL BIDEN: And I think that sense of optimism is what he feels for America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His parents taught him the fundamental truths that make this country special. Basic beliefs that have defined what it is meant to be middle class for generations.
J. BIDEN: Middle class wasn't a number. It wasn't your net worth. It was more a value set. It's the idea. That everyone in this country who works at it can do well. Who can own a home. Not rent it. Be able to live in a safe neighborhood. Send their kid to school. Help take care of their parents. Maybe save enough that they can -- they can take care of themselves and not to rely on their children. That's what this is all about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But for too many middle class families, this dream is falling out of reach. The pain of the great recession has cut deep.
J. BIDEN: The longest walk a parent can make is up a short flight of stairs, up to their child's bedroom, to sit at the edge of the bed and say, honey, I'm sorry, but you can't plan a little league team this summer. Or you can't sing in St. Anne's choir. Or you can't, you know, go to Roosevelt High School. I lost my job. We've got to move.
My dad made that walk. Think how many people have made some version of that walk all across America. And they're not looking for a handout. They're just looking for a shot. Just a shot to get back in the game. And I think we own that shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving the middle class a shot has been the cause of this White House. From the moment they took the oath of office, the challenges have been enormous. For this president and vice president, it has been a partnership forged in fire.
J. BIDEN: It's turned out to be a singular opportunity to be able to work with a guy like Barack Obama. Because we trust each other. It's a completely candid relationship. I asked him why he wanted me. And he said to help him govern. And so it's been very rewarding but it's been most rewarding watching him.
This guy has an incredible amount of character. Has a backbone like a ram rod. He makes his judgments based upon what he thinks is good for the country. The last questions he asks are the political consequences of it.
OBAMA: Joe has been a great partner and a great vice president. He cares about the middle class. He knows what it's like to struggle. And he's carried that passion to the White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every step of the way, they have met the challenge. Preventing an economic collapse. Rescuing the auto industry. Passing historic health care reform. Eliminating bin Laden. Ending the war in Iraq. And through it all, they have put the interests of the nation first.
J. BIDEN: Really and truly, Barack and I are about growing this economy from the middle out. Because when you do it that way, everybody does well. Poor folks have a ladder up. There's a way into the middle class. Those who are striving to get in the middle class and the wealthy do very well. Because the middle class have money in their pockets. They can go out and purchase things that make the economy grow.
And not only is sort of the American way, it's also economically the best way to grow a country. Give them a tax system that's basically fair. Give their kids an opportunity for an education. Provide an environment where they can flourish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it's because he's never for gotten where he came from that he's never lost sight of where we need to go.
JILL BIDEN: He has such a sense of justice and fairness to him. And I think that makes him fight even harder for people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it's because he's known loss and pain in his own life that he's never been blind to the suffering of others.
JILL BIDEN: I think that's one of the things that Joe has that a lot of the people don't have. This sense of intuition. He intuitively feels someone's pain. He did know what it feels like to lose a wife. And then -- and then the unspeakable, to lose a child. And I think that's why people connect with him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's always shown that he's been a man that supports the working class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He really cares for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's absolutely here for us. He's listening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here, Roger.
J. BIDEN: Hi, Rog, this is Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biden, Biden, Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it's because he's never doubted the American people that he's never doubted America's future.
J. BIDEN: It's never been a safe bet to bet against America. I know, I get criticized for saying that to foreign leaders. But I will not stop saying that. It's never been a good bet to bet against America.
OBAMA: We're going to fight for the middle class. And there's nobody I'd rather have in that fight with me than Joe Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the husband of a teacher who knows teachers should be lifted up, not torn down. He's the son of an auto man who never doubted the American auto industry would once again roar. He's the author of the Violence Against Women Act. Who's had the courage to stand against the abuse of power his whole career.
He's the father of an Iraq war veteran who believes our one sacred obligation is to take care of those who have served this nation.
J. BIDEN: I can say with absolute certainty I am more optimistic about America's chances today than I have been my entire life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grit. Determination. Resilience. Optimism. That's been the story of America. The story of ordinary people with extraordinary courage overcoming extraordinary obstacles and always, always moving towards a better day.
Joe Biden knows that story. He's lived it. Our vice president, Joe Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BIDEN: Hello, my fellow Democrats!
And my favorite Democrat. Jilly (ph), I want you to know that Beau and Hunt and Ashton and I we're so incredibly proud of you.
BIDEN: You know, we admire the way with every single solitary young person, and they're not all young, walking to your classroom. You not only to them, you give them confidence. You give me confidence. And the passion -- the passion she brings trying to ease the burden on the families of our warriors. Jilly, they know you understand them, and that makes a gigantic difference.
And folks, I tell you what. It was worth the trip to hear my wife said what I've never heard her say before. She's always loved me.
(APPLAUSE) If that's the case, why did it take five times of asking you? And that is true. Five times. I don't know what I would have done, kiddo if you on that fifth time said no. I love you. Your the love of my life and the life of my love.
We've got three incredible kids. And Beau, I want to thank you for putting my name in nomination to be vice president of the United States. I accept. I accept.
With great honor and pleasure, I accept.
Thank you, my fellow Democrats.
And I say to my fellow Americans -- my fellow Americans, four years ago, a battered nation turned away from the failed policies of the past, and turned to a leader who they would know what lift our nation out of the crisis. A journey -- a journey we haven't finished yet. We know we still have more to do.
BIDEN: But today, I say to my fellow citizens, in the face of the deepest economic crisis in our lifetime, this generation of Americans has proven itself as worthy as any generation before us.
For we posses that same grit, that same determination, that, that same courage that has always defined what it means to be an American, has always defined all of you. Together, we're on a mission -- we're on a mission to move this nation forward. From doubt and downturn to promise and prosperity. A mission I guarantee you we will complete. A mission we will complete.
Folks, but tonight, what I really want to do is tell you about my friend Barack Obama.
No one could tell it as well or as eloquently as Michelle. As you did last night -- on Monday night. But I know him. To state the obvious from a different perspective. I know him, and I want to show you -- I want to show you the character of leader that had what it took when the American people who literally stood on the brink of a new depression. A leader that has what it takes to lead us over the next four years to a future as great as our people.
I want to take you inside the White House to see the president as I see him every day. Because I don't see him in sound bites. I walk 30 paces down the hall into the Oval Office and I see him, I watch him in action.
BIDEN: Four years ago, the middle class was already losing ground. And then, the bottom fell out. The financial crisis hit like a sledgehammer. On all the people I grew up with. You remember the headlines. You saw some of them in the previews. Highlight: highest job losses in 60 years. Headlines: "Economy on the brink." "Markets, plummet worldwide."
From the very moment President Obama sat behind the desk, resolute in the Oval Office, he knew -- he knew he had not only to restore the confidence of a nation, but he had to restore the confidence of the whole world.
And he also knew --, he also knew that one -- one false move could bring a run on the banks or credit collapse, to put another several million people out of work. America and the world needed a strong president with a steady hand, and with the judgment and vision to see us through.
Day after day, night after night, I sat beside him as he made one gutsy decision after the other to stop the slide and reverse. I watched him stand up to intense pressure and stared down enormous -- enormous challenges, the consequences of which were awesome. But most of all, I got to see firsthand what drove this man. His profound concern for the average American. He knew -- he knew that no matter how tough this decisions he had to make were in that Oval Office, he knew that families all over America sitting at their kitchen tables were literally making decisions for their family that were equally as consequential.
You know, Barack and I, we have been through a lot together these four years. And we learned about one another. A lot about one another. One of the things I learned is the enormity of his heart and I think he learned about me, the depth of my loyalty to him.
And there's another thing -- another thing that bound us together the past four years. We had a pretty good idea of where all those families -- all you Americans in trouble were going through. In part because our own families had gone through similar struggles.
Barack, as a young man, they had to sit at the end of his mother's hospital bed, and watch her fight with their insurance company at the very same time that she was fighting for her life. When I was a young kid in third grade, I remember my Dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop's house where we were living, sitting on the end of my bed, and saying, "Joey, I'm going to have to leave for a while. Go down to Wilmington, Delaware with Uncle Frank, there are good jobs down there honey, and in a little while, I will be able to send for you and mom and Jimmy and Val, and everything is going to be fine."
For the rest of our lives, my sister and my brothers -- for the rest of our lives, my dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It is about your dignity. It's about respect. It's about your place in the community.
It's about being able to look your child in the eye and say, "Honey, it's going to be OK", and mean it and know it's true.
When Barack and I -- when Barack and I were growing up, there was an implicit understanding in America. That if you took responsibility, you would get a fair shot at a better life. And the values behind that bargain, were the values that have shaped both of us and many of you. And today those same values are Barack's guiding star.
BIDEN: Folks, I've watched him. He has never wavered, he never, never backs down. He always steps up and he always asks in every one of those critical meetings the same fundamental question, "How is this going to affect the average American? How is this going to affect people's lives? That's what is inside this man. That's what makes him tick.
That's who he is.
And folks, because of the decisions he's made, and the incredible strength of the American people, America has turned a corner. The worst job loss since the Great Depression, we've since created 4.5 million private-sector jobs in the last 29 months.
Look though, president -- President Obama and Governor Romney, they're both -- they're both loving husbands, they're both devoted fathers. But let's be straight, they bring a vastly different vision and a vastly different values set for the job.
And tonight -- tonight, although you've heard people talk about it, I'm going to talk about two things from a slightly different perspective. From my perspective. I like to focus on to crises and show you -- show you the character of leadership that each man will bring to this job. Because as I've said, I have had a ringside seat.
The first of these, A lot has been talked about and God love Jennifer Branham. Wasn't she great?
Wasn't she great? I love Jennifer.
But the first story I want to talk to you about is the rescue of the automobile industry. And let me tell you let me tell you, from this man's ringside seat, let me tell you about how Barack Obama saved more than a million American jobs. In the first -- in the first days, literally, the first days that we took office, General Motors and Chrysler were literally on the verge of liquidation. If the president didn't act -- if he didn't act immediately, there wouldn't be any industry left to save. So we sat hour after hour in the oval office. Michelle remembers how it must of -- what he must have thought when he came back upstairs. We sat, hour after hour. We listened to Senators, Congressmen, outside advisers, even some of our own adviser, we listen to them to say some of the following things. They said, well we shouldn't step up. The risks -- the risks were too high. The outcome was too uncertain.
And the president, he patiently sat there and he listened. But he didn't see it the way they did. He understood something they didn't get, and one of the reasons I love him. He understood that this wasn't just about cars, it was about the people that built and made those cars.
And about the America that those people built. In those meetings -- in those meetings -- in those meetings, I often thought about my dad. My dad was an automobile man. He would have been one of those guys all the way down the line, not on the factory floor, not along the supply chain, but one of those guys selling American cars to American people.
I thought about -- I thought about what this crisis would have meant for the mechanics and the secretaries and the salespeople who my dad managed for over 35 years. And I know for certain -- I know for certain that my dad, were here today, he'd be fighting like heck for the president, because the president fought to save the jobs of those people my dad cared so much about.
Ladies and gentlemen, my dad -- my dad respected Barack Obama -- would have respected Barack Obama had he been around, for having had the guts to stand up for the automobile industry when so many others just were prepared to walk away.
BIDEN: You know, when I look back -- when I look back now -- when I look back on the president's decision, I think of another son of another automobile man. Mitt Romney -- no, no-- Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney grew up in Detroit. My dad managed, his dad owned -- well his dad ran an entire automobile company, American Motors. Yes, what I don't understand -- and in spite of that, he was willing to let Detroit go bankrupt. I don't think he's a bad guy. No -- no, no, I don't think he's a bad guy. I am sure he grew up loving cars as much as I did. But what I don't understand -- what I don't think he understood -- I don't think he understood that saving the automobile worker, saving the industry, what it meant all of America, not just autoworkers.
I think he saw it the Bain way -- I mean this sincerely. I think he saw it in terms of balance sheets and write offs. Folks, the Bain way may bring your firm the highest profits, but it is not the way to lead our country from the highest office.
When things -- when things -- when things hung in the balance -- when things hung in the balance, I mean literally hung in the balance, the president understood this was about a lot more hope than the automobile industry. This was about restoring America's pride. He understood -- he understood in his gut what it would mean to leave a million people without hope or work if he didn't act. And he also knew -- he also knew, he intuitively understood the message that it would have sent around the world if the United States gave up on an industry that helped put America on the map in the first place.
Conviction. Resolve. Barack Obama. That is what saved the automobile industry.
Conviction. Resolve. Barack Obama. Look, you heard my friend John Kerry. This president -- this president has shown the same result, the same steady hand in his role as commander in chief. Look -- which brings me to the next illustration. The next crisis he had to face.
In 2008, before he was president, Barack Obama made a promise to the American people. He said, "If I have -- if we have bin Laden in our sights, we will -- we will take him out." He went on to say -- he went on to say, "That has to be our biggest national security priority." Look, Barack understood that the search for Bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about more than that. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong. Literally, it was about healing an unbearable wound -- a nearly unbearable wound in America's heart. And he also knew -- he also knew the message we had to send around the world. If you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the end of the earth!
Look, most of all, President Obama had an unyielding faith in the capacity and the capability of our special forces. Literally, the finest warriors in the history of the world.
The finest warriors in the history of the world. So we sat -- we sat originally only five of us. We sat in the situation room beginning in the fall of the year before.
BIDEN: We listened, we talked, we heard, and he listened, to the risk and reservations about the raid.
He asked again the tough questions, he listened to the doubts that were expressed. But when Admiral Mcraven looked him in the eye and said, "sir, we can get this job done". I sit next to him and I looked at your husband. And I knew, at that moment, he had made his decision. And his response was decisive. He said, "do it", and justice was done.
Folks -- folks, Governor Romney didn't see things that way. When he was asked about Bin Laden in 2007 here's what he said, he said, "it is not worth moving heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just to catch one person".
(AUDIENCE MEMBERS): Boo.
BIDEN: But he was wrong. He was wrong. Because if you understood that America's heart had to be healed, you would have done exactly what the president dead and you would move heaven and Earth to hunt him down and to bring him to justice.
Look, four years ago -- four years ago -- only thing missing at this convention is my mom. Four years ago, my mom was still with us, sitting up in the stadium in Denver. I quoted -- I quoted her one of her favorite expressions. She used to say to all children, she said, "Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and the time will come when it must be summoned".
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you what I think you already know. I watch it up close. Bravery reside in the heart of Barack Obama. And time and time again, I witnessed him some and its. This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart, and a spine of steel.
And because -- because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made, because of the determination of American workers, and the unparalleled bravery of our special forces, we can proudly say what you've heard me say the last six months: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. (APPLAUSE)
That's right. One man.
Folks, we know -- we know we have more work to do. We know we're not there yet. But not a day has gone by in the last four years when I haven't been grateful, as an American, that Barack Obama is our president because he has the courage to make the tough decisions.
Speaking of tough decisions -- speaking of tough calls, last week, we heard at the Republican convention, we heard our opponents, we heard them pledge that they, too, had the courage to make the tough calls. That's what they said.
(LAUGHTER) But folks, in case you didn't notice, I say to my fellow Americans, in case you didn't notice, they didn't have the courage to tell you what calls they'd make. They never mentioned any of that.
Mrs. Robinson, you -- watched from home, I guess. You heard them talk about how they cared so much about Medicare. How much they wanted to preserve it. That's what they told you.
BIDEN: Let's look at what they didn't tell you. What they didn't tell you is that the plan to have already put down on paper would immediately cut benefits for more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare. What they didn't tell you -- what they didn't tell you is the plan they are proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016 and what they really didn't tell you is, they -- if you want to know -- if you want to know, they're not for preserving Medicare at all. They're for a new plan. It's called voucher care.
BIDEN: Look folks, that's not courage. That's not even truthful. That's not even truthful. In Tampa they talked with great urgency about the nation's debt and the need to act, to act now. But not once -- not one single time did they tell you that they rejected every plan put forward by us, by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission they referenced or by any other respected group. To reduce the national debt not for any of them. Why? Because they're not prepared to do anything about the debt if it contained even one dollar -- I'm not exaggerating, even one dollar or one cent in new taxes for millionaires. Folks, that's not courage. And that's not fair.
Look -- look...
...in a sense this can be reduced to a single notion. The two men seeking to lead this country over the next four years. As I said at the outset, fundamentally visions and got completely different values. Governor Romney believes in this global economy, it doesn't matter much where American companies invest and put their money, or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, in his budget proposal -- in his tax proposal he calls for a new tax. It's called a territorial tax, which the experts have looked at and they acknowledged it will create 800,000 new jobs. All of them overseas. All of them.
BIDEN: And what I found -- what I found fascinating, the most fascinating thing I found last week was when Governor Romney said that as president, he would take a jobs tour. Well with his support for outsourcing, it would have to be a foreign trip.
It will. Look, President Obama knows that creating jobs in America, keeping jobs in America, bringing jobs back to America is what the president's job is all about. That's what presidents do, or at least supposed to do.
Folks, Governor Romney believes it's OK to raise taxes on middle- class by $2,000.00 in order to pay for another -- literally another trillion dollar tax cut for the very wealthy. President Obama knows that there's nothing decent or fair about asking people with more to do less and with less to do more. Governor Romney believes, he believes that kids -- kids like our Dreamers, those immigrant children -- those immigrant children who were brought to America's shores through no fault of their own, he thinks they're a drag on the American economy.
President Obama believes that even those Dreamers, those kids didn't choose to come here, they have chosen to do right by America and it's right for us to do right by them.
Governor Romney -- Governor Romney looks at the notion of equal pay in terms of a company's bottom line. President Obama, he knows that making sure that our daughters get the same pay for the same jobs as our sons is every father's bottom line.
I kind of expected all that from him, but one thing truly perplexed me a their convention, the thing that perplexed me most was this idea they kept talking about, about the culture of dependency. They seem to think you create a culture of dependency when you provide a bright, young, qualified kid from a working-class family, a loan to get to college. Or, when you provide a job training program in a new industry for a dad who lost his job because it was outsourced. Folks -- folks, that's not how we look at it. That's not how America's ever looked at it. What he doesn't understand is that all these men and women are looking for is a chance, just a chance to acquire the skills to be able to provide for their families so they can once again hold their heads high and lead independent lives with dignity. That's all they are looking for. Look.
And it literally amazes me they do not understand that. You know, I told you at the outset the choice is stark. Two different visions, two different value sets. But at its core, the difference is ably reduced to be a fundamental difference. You see, we, most Americans have incredible faith in the decency and hard work of the American people, and we know what has made this country. It's the American people. As I mentioned at the outset, four years ago we were hit hard. You saw -- you saw your retirement accounts drained, the equity in your homes vanish, jobs lost or on the line. But what did you do as Americans? What you've always done. You didn't lose faith, you fought back. You didn't give up, you got up. You're the ones. The American people -- you're the reason why we are still better positioned than any country in the world to lead the 21st century. You'd never quit on America, and you deserve a president who will never quit on you.
Folks, there is one more thing -- one more thing that our Republican opponents are just dead wrong about. America is not in decline. America is not in decline. I've got news for Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan. Gentlemen, never, ever -- it never makes sense, it's never been a good bet to bet against the American people. Never.
My fellow Americans, America is coming back, and we're not going back. And we have no intention of downsizing the American dream.
Never. Never a good bet. Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment we are going to hear from a man whose whole life is a testament to the power of that dream and whose presidency is the best hope to secure that dream for our children.
For you see -- we see a future -- we really honest to god do we see a future, where everyone, rich and poor does their part and has a part. A future where we depend more on clean energy from home, and less on oil from abroad. A future where we're number one in the world again in college graduation. A future where we promote the private sector, not the privileged sector.
And a future where women once again control their own choices, their destiny, and their own health care.
Ladies and gentlemen, Barack and I see a future, it's in our DNA, where no one -- no one is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance.
Folks, we see a future where America leads not only by power of our -- the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
BIDEN: Where we bring our troops home from Afghanistan just as we proudly did from Iraq.
A future where we fulfill the only truly sacred obligation we have as a nation -- the only truly sacred obligation we have is to prepare those who we send to war and care for them when they come home from war. And tonight -- tonight I want to acknowledge -- I want to acknowledge as we should every night the incredible debt we owe to the family of those 6,473 fallen angels, and those 49,746 wounded. Thousands critically. Thousands who will need our help for the rest of their lives. Folks, we never -- we must never ever forget their sacrifice, and always keep them in our care and in our prayers.
My fellow Americans, we now -- we now find ourselves at the hinge of history. And the direction we turn is not figuratively, is literally in your hands. It has been a truly great honor to serve you and to serve with Barack who has always stood up with you for the past four years.
I have seen him tested and I know his strength, his commands, his faith. I also know his incredible confidence he has in all of you. I know this man. Yes, the worker recovery is not yet complete, but we are on our way. The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. And the cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on the our way. So I say to you tonight, with absolute confidence, America's best days are ahead and, yes, we are on our way.
And in light of that horizon, for the values that define us, for the ideals that inspire us, there is only one choice. That choice is to move forward -- morally forward, and finish the job and re-elect President Barack Obama.
God bless you all, and may god protect our troops. God bless you. Thank you.