Ladies and gentlemen, eight years ago, I stood on the stage in Denver. And I accepted your nomination to be Vice President of the United States. And every single day since then, it has been the honour of our lives for Jill and me. Every day we have been grateful for Barack and Michelle for asking us to join them on the incredible journey. A journey that can only happen in America. But we not only have worked together, as it becomes pretty obvious, we have become friends. We’re now family. We’re family.
Folks, you’ve all seen over the last eight years what President Obama means to this country. He is the embodiment of honour, resolve and character. One of the finest presidents we have ever had. This is a man of character. He has become a brother to Jill and me. And Michelle, I don’t know where you are kid, but you’re incredible. You are incrdible.
I was talking to Barack today — it is no longer ‘who will give the best speech?’ We know who did that. You were incredible Monday night. The Delaware delegation, as they say, Barack and I married way up. As I stand here tonight, I see so many friends and colleagues like my buddy Chris Dodd from the Connecticut delegation. So many people here. I see the faces of those who have placed their belief in Barack and me. So many faces.
But one, this is kind of a bittersweet moment for Jill and me and our family. In 2008, when he was about to deploy to Iraq again in 2012, our son Beau introduced me to the country and placed my name into nomination. You got a glimpse—and I know I sound like a dad—you got a glimpse of what an incredibly fine young man Beau was. Thank you.
Thank you. His wife and his two kids are here tonight. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, many are strong in the broken places.” I’ve been made strong at the broken places by my love with Jill, by my heart and son Hunter and the love of my life, my Ashley. By all of you, and I mean this sincerely, those who have been through this, you know I mean what I say — by all of you, your love and prayers and support. But you know what, we talk about, we think about the countless other people who suffered so much more than we have, with so much less support. So much less reason to go on. But they get up every morning, every day. They put one foot in front of the other, they keep going. That is the unbreakable spirit of the people of America. That is who we are. That is who we are. Don’t forget it.
Like the people in the neighbourhood that Jill and I grew up in, she in Willow Grove, and mine down in Wilmington and Claymont, the kid in Claymont with the most courage, who always jumped in when you were double teamed or your back was against the wall. Who became a cop because he always wanted to help people. The middle daughter of three daughters, who always made her mother smile, who is a hero to her sisters, now was a major in the United States Marine Corps because, Mr. President, I wanted to serve my country. The teachers who Jill knows who take money out of their own pockets to buy pencils and notebooks for their students who can’t afford them. Why? Why? Because being a teacher is not what they do, it is who they are. You know what I know, for real. These are the people that are the heart and soul of this country. It is the America that I know. The America that Hillary knows and Tim Kaine knows.
You know, I’ve known Hillary for well over 30 years, before she was first lady of the United States, when she became first lady. We served together in the United States Senate and during her years as secretary of state, once a week we had breakfast in my home, the vice president’s residence.
Everybody knows she is smart. Everyone knows she is tough. But I know what she is passionate about. I know Hillary. Hillary understands. Hillary gets it. She understands the college loans are about a lot more than getting a qualified student education. It is about saving mom and dad from the indignity of having to look at their child and say, “I’m sorry, the bank would not lend us the money. I can’t help you get to school.”
I know that about Hillary. Hillary understood that for years, millions of people went to bed staring at the ceiling thinking, “What if I get breast cancer? Or he has a heart attack? I will lose everything. What will we do then?” I know about Hillary Clinton.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all understand what it will mean for our daughters and granddaughters when Hillary Clinton walks into the Oval Office as president of the United States of America. It will change their lives. My daughter and granddaughters can do anything any son or grandson can do and she will prove it, Mr. Mayor.
Let me say this as clearly as I can, if you live in the neighborhoods like the ones Jill and I grew up in, if you worry about your job and getting a decent pay, if you worry about your children’s education, if you are taking care of an elderly parent, then there is only one person in this election who will help you, only one person in this race who will be there, who has always been there for you, and that is Hillary Clinton’s life story. Not just who she is, it is her life story. She is always there. She has always been there. And so has Tim Kaine.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s state the obvious, and I’m not trying to be a wise guy here, I really mean it: that is not Donald Trump’s story. Just listen to me a second without booing or cheering. I mean this sincerely, we should really think about this. His cynicism is unbounded. His lack of empathy and compassion can be summed up in that phrase he is most proud of making famous: “You’re fired.” I mean really, I’m not joking. Think about that. Think about that. Think about everything you learned as a child. No matter where you were raised, how can there be pleasure in saying, “You’re fired?
He is trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break. That’s a bunch of malarkey.
Whatever he thinks, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart—I know I’m called middle-class Joe and in Washington, that is not meant as a compliment. It means you are not sophisticated. I know why we are strong, I know why we are held together, I know why we are united, it is because there has always been a growing middle class. This guy does not have a clue about the middle class. Not a clue. Because folks, when the middle class does well, the rich do very well and the poor have hope. They have a way up. He has no clue about what makes America great. Actually, he has no clue, period.
But folks, let me say, let me say something that has nothing to do with politics. Let me talk about something that I’m deadly serious about. This is a complicated and uncertain world we live in. The threats are too great, the times are too uncertain, to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States. Let me finish: no major party, no major party nominee in the history of this nation has ever known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security.
We cannot elect a man who exploits our fears of ISIS and other terrorists, who has no plan whatsoever to make us safer. A man who embraces the tactics of our enemies—torture, religious intolerance, you all know. All the Republicans know, that’s not who we are. It betrays our values. It alienates those who we need in the fight against ISIS. Donald Trump, with all his rhetoric, would literally make us less safe. We cannot elect a man who belittles our closest allies while embracing dictators like Vladimir Putin. No, I mean it.
A man who seeks to sow division in America for his own gain and disorder around the world. A man who confuses bluster with strength. We simply cannot let that happen as Americans. Period.
Folks, have no doubt that I mean what I say. But sometimes I say all that I mean. Let me tell you what I literally tell every leader I’ve met with — and I’ve met them all. It has never, never, never been a good bet to bet against America.
We have the finest fighting force in the world. Not only do we have the largest economy in the world, we have the strongest economy in the world. We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot—given a fair chance—Americans have never, ever, ever, ever, ever let the country down. Never!
Ordinary people like us, who do extraordinary things, we’ve had candidates before who’ve attempted to get elected by appealing to our fears, but they’ve never succeeded because we do not scare easily. We never bow, we never bend, we never break, when confronted with crisis. No, we endure! We overcome! And we always, always move forward. That’s why I can say, with absolute conviction, I am more optimistic about our chances today than when I was elected as a 29-year-old kid to the senate.
The 21st century is going to be the American century. Because we lead not only by example of our power, but by the power of our example. That is the history of the journey of America. And God willing, Hillary Clinton will write the next chapter in that journey.
We are America, second to none, and we own the finish line! Don’t forget it! God bless you all and may God protect our troops.
Come on! We’re America!