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Excerpts of Senator Joe Biden’s Remarks (as prepared for delivery)
Friday, October 24, 2008
Hello, Charleston! Hello, West Virginia! It is so good to be here. In the last debate, John McCain felt the need to declare that he’s not President Bush. And just yesterday, John McCain actually went so far as to try to compare Barack Obama to George W. Bush. As my granddaughter says: Hello? John McCain is now attacking the Bush budget and fiscal policies. Folks, this is as crazy as the Sundance Kid attacking Butch Cassidy! They were in this together.
John McCain voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Until recently, he was bragging about it. He said these policies produced “great economic progress.” Look, I know Halloween is coming. But John McCain as the candidate of change? That’s one costume the American people aren’t going to buy. So I know we’re not running against President Bush. But we are running against the very Bush economic policies John McCain is promising to continue. John McCain and Sarah Palin call themselves mavericks… but to paraphrase your neighbor -- Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania -- you can’t call yourself a maverick when all you’ve been is a sidekick.
If you give Barack Obama and me the honor of serving as your President and Vice President, here is what we will do: We will commit ourselves – night and day – to two overriding goals. First, restore the middle class. Second, reclaim America’s respect in the world. And the first step in reclaiming that leadership is to end this war in Iraq. We will end this war in Iraq -- responsibly. Now, even President Bush is getting behind Barack’s plan to set a timeline for the withdrawal of our combat forces from Iraq. Only John McCain says no. He’s wrong. And Barack Obama is right.
To rebuild the middle class, we need to cut taxes for working people. We need an energy policy that frees us from the grip of foreign oil, with a firm commitment and a long-term investment in alternative energy – wind, solar, biofuels, and clean coal. And let me say on that subject: John McCain doesn’t believe clean coal is part of our energy future. Don’t take my word for it – take his. He said “…in a perfect world, we would like to transition away from coal entirely.” And now, he plans on giving the oil companies – who are recording the largest profits in the history of the United States another $4 billion in tax cuts. So make no mistake: the oil companies have placed their bet on Senator McCain. That’s why Appalachia can’t afford to.
Barack and I believe clean coal is part of our energy future. That’s why we supported adding $200 million in funding for carbon capture and sequestration technology. Instead of pouring our energy dollars into the sands of Saudi Arabia and the pockets of Venezuela, we should be exporting home-made technology – solving not only our own energy challenges, but the worlds. We need to make an investment in rebuilding America’s infrastructure – including broadband and the infrastructure of the future. Our plan that we estimate will create 12,000 jobs here in West Virginia alone. This is about jobs. But in a sense, it’s about even more than jobs. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about understanding what people are going through. When a job is lost or a house is foreclosed on, it’s not just an economic loss… it’s emotionally devastation. It’s about having to make that long walk up that short flight of stairs…That’s something I’ve experienced. At the end of the day, if we want to strengthen the middle class and regain our respect in the world, we have to do one thing more: We have to unite this country.
Recently, in North Carolina, Governor Palin said she was happy to be in a “pro-America” part of our country. I was just in North Carolina…and it is a deeply patriotic place. But every state has sent its sons and daughters to serve and die for this country. West Virginia is home to over 200,000 veterans. Nearly 1,500 West Virginians are currently deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. And 33 of these fallen angels have given their lives. We all love this country. We are all patriots. That’s why we have to end the scurrilous phone calls -- which lie about Barack Obama and question his character. We’re joined today by Chaylee Cole. Chaylee is a student at Fairmont State University who worked at a call center – where she was asked to make some of those attack calls.
She said no, and she was fired. But I want to read part of what Chaylee said when she was interviewed, “Democrat or Republican, I wouldn’t have done this.” Chaylee recognized that regardless of your personal politics, attacks like that don’t hurt Barack. They’re an attempt to further divide the country, and distract you from the things that really matter. Barack can take two eleven more days of these attacks. Our country can’t take four more years of Bush-McCain economic policies.
What we need is the type of leadership being provided by your Governor, Joe Manchin. We need the type of leadership provided by your Senator, and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller. There is nobody both as knowledgeable and as straightforward.
It’s time we’re all reminded that we are: One nation -- under God. We are, indivisible.
Great leaders have always reminded us of this. And in West Virginia, you have one of the greatest. Senator Robert C. Byrd. Senator Byrd is a man who came up the hard way. He literally married a coal miner’s daughter. He is the American dream. And he is a true friend. To learn about the ways of the Senate from Robert C. Byrd is like getting trumpet lessons from the Angel Gabriel.
Great presidents have always turned dire circumstances into real opportunities…by reminding Americans of what we’ve overcome in the past, and appealing to our better angels. And I believe Barack Obama will be a great president. My father always told me “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.”
I’ve never seen a time when more Americans have been knocked down. It’s time for us to get up, together, and bring the change we need…to the country we love. America is ready. You are ready. I am ready. And Barack Obama is ready. It is our time. It is America’s time. So let’s get up. God bless America. And may God protect our troops.