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Former Vice President Speaks At Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition In Chicago. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 28, 2019 - 14:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I've given you so many opportunities to say that you disagree with Joe Biden and you haven't taken them. I look at the candidate that you're a surrogate for who delivered this tough shot against him, right? She did not pull a punch. This was -- she zeroed in on Joe Biden and --

LEE: No, but let me just say, I disagree totally with what not only he said, but his record.

KEILAR: I guess --

LEE: And I'd want to clarify that I think it's extremely important to --

KEILAR: Sure. You said the record is there. I just think you're very polite in how you're doing it. So my question is, do you have a concern about the circular firing squad when it comes to this field? As you look with an aim to defeat President Trump, even as you've chosen a side?

LEE: Well, I think it's important for any candidate and as a surrogate and co-chair of Senator Harris's campaign in California, I think it's more important that the candidate put out their agenda, who they are, their record, and I think she proved last night. And she dominated the stage, and she proved that she was the toughest candidate to take on President Trump.

And I think the way she responded to Vice President Biden was clear, it was the appropriate response. And again, working with segregationist on an anti-busing agenda is very, very scary in a lot of ways, in terms of what the public really can understand about his record.

And that's why I say, they need to check his record to clarify the facts and the public will see exactly what she was talking about.

KEILAR: And you have taken issue with them. In your own way, I will say. We have to leave it there Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you so much. That does it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, thank you. Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thanks for being with me. Today, many of the Democrats who are running for President are back out on the campaign trail, leaving the bright lights of the debate stage far behind. And for Joe Biden, it may be a welcome break.

The former Vice President is set to speak any moment now to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition there in Chicago, a speech that comes as Biden finds himself in the middle of yet another firestorm over his record on the issue of race. I see him there at the podium. Shall we go? Let's go.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... Joe Biden running to become President of the United States, my granddaughter Finnegan Biden from Chicago. If anybody makes it, this one will.

By the way, I lost a daughter. I have one daughter that survived, and I have four granddaughters. And let me tell you, they are incredible.

How many of you, men and women, have a granddaughter out there? And how many of you have had a daughter as well? Well, here is the deal -- daughters always are wonderful. As a matter of fact, we always have an expression, a son is a son until he gets a wife, a daughter is a daughter the rest of your life.

But here's the deal when your daughter is about 12 and a half years old, you put this little butterfly in bed and you kiss her good night, the next morning you walk in, there is a snake in the bed.


BIDEN: "Daddy, drop me at the corner. Daddy don't -- that is lot of my games. Daddy, Daddy."

When they all come back between 19 and 21, my granddaughter -- a congresswoman comes in says, "You're not hydrating enough. I have got to take care of you, dad." She's a social worker with a Master's Degree. But here's the deal -- here's the deal, granddaughters not only always love you, but they always like you -- always like you.


BIDEN: And by the way, she's in college. We're walking down to campus, she goes, "Can we hold hands, pop?" Can your daughters -- imagine saying that to your dad? "I love you, kid."

And by the way --


BIDEN: Her mommy is in the south side. Her other set of grandparents live here in Chicago and she's a Chicago girl I am -- anyway, thank you very much for indulging me, Reverend.

And I always thank you for remembering my son, Beau. He was a friend of yours and you took care of him, too. So thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Members of the clergy, Mayor, I thank you for the passport into town. I appreciate it. Congresswoman Kelly is a great friend and a great Congresswoman, and all the labor leaders here. There's an expression in parts of South Philly, "Y'all are the ones that brung me to the dance," the African-American community and labor and I'm not joking.

Jesse knows my state very, very well. He knows that when I say I've got raised in the black church, he knows I'm not kidding, because before we'd organize, you're going to sit in Reverend Herring's church and sit there before we go out and try to change things when I was a kid college and in high school.

[14:05:13] BIDEN: But look, before I start, I'd like to say something about the debate we had last night. And I -- I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris.

But you know, we all know that 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights.

I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice, including busing. I never, never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing. And that's a program that Senator Harris participated in and it made a difference in her life.

I did support Federal action to address the root cause of segregation in our schools and our communities, including taking on the banks and redlining and trying to change the way in which neighborhoods were segregated.

I've always been in favor of using Federal authority to overcome state initiated segregation. In fact, I cast a deciding vote in 1974 against an amendment called a Gurney Amendment, which would have banned the right of the Federal Courts to be able to use busing as a remedy.

And you might guess, in the middle of the most extensive busing order in American history, my city and my state -- it wasn't what you'd call the most popular vote in the country at the time.

So Reverend Jackson, we spent a lot of time working together over the years on a lot of issues that matter. And I know -- I know and you know, I fought my heart out to ensure the civil rights and voting rights, equal rights are enforced everywhere.

These rights are not up to the states to decide. They are our Federal government's duty to decide. It's a constitutional question to protect the civil rights of every single American. And that's always been my position. And so, that's why I ran for Federal office in the first place.

As Reverend Jackson may be one of the few people who knows, my city was the only city, after Dr. King was assassinated, that was almost burned to the ground -- 20 percent of it. The only city in the United States of America since reconstruction that was occupied by the National Guard with drawn bayonets on almost every corner for 10 months.

I came home from law school that year. And I only had two political heroes, Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy and they were both assassinated the year I graduated. And I came home and I had a job with a very -- one of the oldest law firms in the state, a prestigious firm.

And after five months, I decided I couldn't do it. And I ended up leaving and becoming a public defender.

When I was elected, one of the first things I did is to go on a committee to try to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

I co-sponsored Equal Rights Amendment. I supported it making the Equity Act in law and make the law of the land today. I voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1990 to ban employment discrimination.

I wrote the law -- the provision of the law that allows the Attorney General to pursue cases involving, quote, "a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers in violation of constitutional Federal rights."

I wrote that law and I used that power during the Obama-Biden administration. Our Department of Justice investigated police discrimination and abuse, including Ferguson.

By the way, we worked like the devil to make sure that you should not allow police departments to buy excess military vehicles like up- armored Humvees and armored personnel carrier. You don't go into a neighborhood and police going in an up-armored Humvee or a personnel carrier.

Our criminal justice reforms as President and Vice President reduced the Federal population by 38,000 people.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the Obama-Biden administration, we commuted more sentences than the Presidents did -- than the 13 previous Presidents combined.

We passed the supporter --


BIDEN: By the way, with all due respect, I say to Chicagoans and everyone. My President gets much too little credit for all that he did. He was one of the great Presidents of the United States of America. And I'm tired of hearing about what he didn't do.

(Cheering and Applause)

BIDEN: This man had a backbone like a ramrod. He had a backbone like a ramrod. Do you want to know what a man and a woman is made of? Watch them under incredible pressure.

He got elected, as we were about to fall off a cliff. We went out and we had to pass -- we had to pass an act that was the Recovery Act, $800 billion. And guess what?

Remember he stood up on -- he loved it on the State of the Union, he turned and surprised me. He didn't tell me. He said, "Sheriff Joe is going to enforce the act." Thanks a lot, Mr. President. $800 billion, but we did it without -- less than two percent of waste, fraud, or abuse in that act, but here's what he did.

[14:10:10] BIDEN: Everything that landed on his desk, I watched him. I watched him. I sat with him every single morning. And I watched him for hundreds of hours in that -- in the so-called -- the Situation Room -- it's not where Wolf Blitzer lives, the real Situation Room. I watched him. And I want to tell you, Chicago, you had a great, great man out here. And he's still a great man and he still has a lot to offer.


BIDEN: We're in an office, we passed the Supportive Discipline Initiative to start to break the school to prison pipeline.

Folks, the discussion in this race today shouldn't be about the past. We should be talking about how we can do better, how we can move forward, how we can give every child in America the opportunity for success stories. These aren't somebody else's children. They are our children. They are all our children, not a joke. They are all our children.

And they're the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft. We have to make people realize what you all are doing. What you're doing is, every single child in America has enormous potential. Every single child has enormous potential. But it means you have to have good schools in every neighborhood.

No child's future should be determined by their zip code. That's why I propose tripling funding for Title One schools to eliminate disparities between rich and poor school districts. We're going to increase teachers' pay, we're going to make Pre-K absolutely a requirement across the board.

Ladies and gentlemen, these teachers, they walk into school every day, like my wife. She taught in a public school system and now she teaches in a Community College. She's never stopped teaching by the way. She's the only second lady I ever know who has got a full-time job teaching 15 credits a semester.


BIDEN: By the way, I'm known as Jill Biden's husband and I'm proud of that. But I earned it. I had asked her five times to marry me before she did it. I don't know how that happened. Thank you, Lord. Anyway.


BIDEN: But look, those of you who are teachers in here, you know, you're expected to teach the kids to read, write, add, and subtract. But guess what? Kids come to school with the burdens and problems.

We have too few school psychologists. We have too few social workers. We have too few people who are in there, doing what needs to be done to give kids a chance. And we're going to do that under my proposal.


BIDEN: Look, we're going to reinstate the policies pushed during our administration, to finish the work of desegregating our schools because we have a national interest in creating diverse school bodies. That's what I believe. We have to make sure that we're moving closer to the idea of America's founding.

You know, we all learn in school, we hold these too self-evident that all men and women are created equal. Or we the people. We've never lived up to that. We've never lived up to that.

This is the 400th Anniversary of the first African-American being brought to the shores of the United States enslaves. That's the original sin of this nation.

But we've never walked away from it either. We've never walked away from the expectation. All of you in this room have never walked away from it. And look, there's only one President I know that's actually deliberately walked away from it. And that is Donald Trump.


BIDEN: Not a joke. Think about this. I don't know about you, Jess. But I never thought that after all the progress had been made, I'd see people marching out of fields carrying torches, contorted faces, anger and hate -- accompanied by white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, met by decent honorable people who said, "We don't hate here." And what happened? Clash ensued, a young woman died. And what did he say?

When asked about it he said, quote, no President has ever said this. "There are very fine people in both groups." He is yet to apologize or criticize -- criticize -- the Ku Klux Klan and the white supremacists.

Look, we have a President who promotes hate and division, has encouraged the poison of white supremacy. Our children are watching. Barack was a President, our kids not only could, but did look up to him.

Look, what President says matters. It matters. And by the way when we stay silent. Our silence is complicity. That's what I learned from my dad. "Your silence is complicity."

[14:15:10] BIDEN: You know, I promise you. If I get elected President, I will be a President who stands against racism, the forces of inclusion, and intolerance everywhere in our society, and our institutions and our voting booths, and in our hearts, it matters what we say.

And since we had a labor luncheon, it is important to stand by and start by recognizing black, Hispanic, Asian-American workers and Native American workers, and the communities of color all across the nation.

They have driven and strengthened the labor movement from its beginnings as you spoke about Mr. President a moment ago. From the Atlanta Washerwoman Strike in 1880, to the Delano Grape

Strike and boycott in the 1960s, from Bill Lucy and Byard Reston ini Chicago's own, Abby White and Jacqueline Vaughn, black and brown power have always been an integral part of fighting for the right to organize, demanding equal pay, fair treatment, basic work as protector. As my dad would say, some dignity.

Taking on the fight of all workers, from farm workers to domestic workers, to tearing down systematic racism along the way, we owe them -- we owe them big, we owe you.

And if I'm elected President, I want you to know, labor will have an absolute full partner in the White House and I think labor knows that from me.


BIDEN: Folks, a lot has changed very badly since we were out of office here. And this President, and some members of the corporate community believe that I want to make it clear to them, Wall Street did not build America. Stockbrokers and hedge fund managers did not build this country.

You built this country, the great American middle class, the unions built the middle class, that's why it exists.


BIDEN: We need to rebuild it. But this time, we have to bring everybody along. No matter their race, their gender, their ethnicity, their religion, who they love, where they live, or where they have a disability.

You know, my dad used to have an expression, he said, "Joe your job is about a lot more than a paycheck." And he meant it, when he had to leave Scranton to go find work.

He said, "Joe, it's about your dignity. It's about respecting a community. It's about being able to look your child in the eye and say, 'Honey, it's going to be okay.'" And mean it.

Too few people have been referenced today, too few people think they can say that anymore. A vast majority for the first time in about 80 years, the vast majority of middle class people are shrinking. They no longer believe their children will have the responsibility.

Mr. President you talked about how your dad persisted and changed things. They don't think there. And today's corporate culture and this administration, they don't care about your dignity. Instead of investing back into your workers and record profits, record profits.

Instead of investing back in research and development to create more opportunities, corporate profits are going to pay dividends to shareholders and blockbuster executive compensation.

Ladies and gentlemen, they're squeezing the life out of workers today. And by the way, they're making it harder to meet very basic needs, stripping you of your personal dignity along the way.

You know, there's long been a war on labor unions. And as pointed out today, Mr. Chairman, you all are coming back. But here's the deal.

There's been another war going on that hadn't been noticed very much on the ability of individuals to be able to bargain for their self- worth.

Forty percent of workers today have to sign a non-compete agreement. Now, it's one thing you have access to secrets of a great technical organization. You sign, "I won't compete." One day, you're going to have a business, I'm going to sell up and I'm not going to open up next door when I sell it to you.

But a significant portion of these people are hourly workers. Up until I started hollering about this, if you worked for Jimmy Johns, you had to sign a non-compete agreement, so you wouldn't walk across town and try to get 10 cents more from McDonalds. What's this all about?

It's only one purpose, is to hold down the ability of individuals even to bargain for their own self-worth, is to keep wages low. And it's wrong.

Too many companies today classify their workers as managers. When labor fought to make sure that if you're an hourly worker, you had to be paid overtime. What did they do? If you're the person stacking spaghetti cans on top of a shelf in a supermarket but you control the person who runs the forklift to bring it out. They say you're now manager.

[14:20:04] BIDEN: Ladies and gentlemen, it costs more than four million hourly workers $1.2 billion last year. Where did it go? It went back in the pocket of corporate America, back into so called the job creators.

Since when -- since when the autoworkers in my state have made all those automobiles that are gone. They're gone now. Since when were they not job creators?

Today, the only people Mr. Chairman, they think are job creators are stockholders. It's ridiculous.

Now look, speaking over time, it is long past time we have a $15.00 Federal minimum wage, long past time.


BIDEN: Folks -- no it really is. And we'll get it done around the country. Folks, we need to build an economy that rewards work, not just wages, not just wealth, wages have to be rewarded.

Wages -- do you realize that people who are multimillionaires and pay only capital gains, they pay the lower tax rate than any of you all do? Look, if I'm elected President, I will immediately repeal the tax cuts

for the super wealthy in Mr. Trump's administration. And you know, we have $1.6 trillion in loopholes that exists in the law now -- $1.6 trillion. You can't justify the vast majority of that.

And so folks, look, what I'm going to do is use the money to invest in America's future. There's an incredibly long list of policies, I don't have time, nor do you have an inclination to listen to me go through.

But let me tell you something, we need an inclusive economy, from better access to capital for black owned small businesses, to reducing the decline in black homeownership, to making sure homes in black communities are valued fairly.

Do you realize the same home -- I know you do -- same home in a predominantly black neighborhood, the same exact home and one in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood in the black neighborhood, it's valued at significantly less. Limiting your ability to borrow against it and limiting your ability to do much about it. And guess what? You pay a higher insurance rate, too for it, even though it's less.

Look, we need to reform the criminal justice to make sure black mothers feel confident when they send their child -- their son out on the streets. Is he going to be safe?

We have got to recognize -- we have got to recognize that kid wearing a hoodie, may very well be the next Poet Laureate and not a gang banger.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are too many black men and I might add women in prison.

And we started to study that problem in our administration. We need to pass -- I just met with Bobby Scott. You know, Bobby well, Congresswoman. I just met with Bobby Scott from Virginia, his SAFE Justice Act, it needs to be passed, but he acknowledged, we need to do more.

No more minimum mandatory prison sentence "period." The end of private prisons which Barack and I talked about.


BIDEN: Funding, there is a law I wrote, drug courts, at least $400 million in your bail reform. No one should be in bail because they don't -- in jail because they don't have the money to pay their bail.

No juveniles in adult prisons. Mandatory treatment not jail for those who are affected by and struggling with addiction. It makes no sense to put people in jail. Put them in treatment and keep them there while they are going through treatment.

Decriminalize marijuana -- automatically expunge marijuana convictions. Look, folks.


BIDEN: And finally -- do what I've been trying to do for 15 years end the crack powdered cocaine disparity, so it's one to one no difference. Too many African-Americans have been put in jail for it and prisons.

Look, in prisons, what I don't get -- and we just have got to make the case. If you make it with ordinary people, they figure it out. In prison, you should receive an education, not how to be a better criminal, but you should learn how to read and write. There should be job programs in there. We should be training people. We should be training them.

There should be automatic restoration of their rights once their sentences is served, including all rights to go to school -- Pell Grants. Not only right to vote, not only the right to participate, but get -- it's always, it's overwhelmingly, the interest of the United States of America and every citizen, black, or white, or Hispanic, that you reeducate people, give them a chance.

Folks, look, we can do all of these things and so much more. We have to start by uniting the country. I know I get criticized for saying we can unite the country. But ladies and gentlemen, I refuse to accept the status quo. The status quo of this miserable ugly politics we have today. Guarantees will continue to do the same -- it guarantees it.

[14:25:06] BIDEN: We can't do it and we can do without ever compromising on our principles.

You know, I know how the labor leaders' movement has moved for decades. That's how we're going to win in 2020. And we're going to win together when we defeat Donald Trump.


BIDEN: Folks. Reverend, I've never been more optimistic about America's future and I mean it. I mean it. You know, there's a -- excuse me for quoting an Irish poet, my colleagues are always kidding me. A guy named Seamus Heaney, he wrote a poem called "The Cure at Troy" about the suppression of Catholics in Ireland, he wrote a poem and he said, "We're taught never to hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in the lifetime, that longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, and hope in history win."

Folks, were in a position now, where the American people have seen the very dark side of America. Every generation is saying enough. We have a chance -- a real chance. We have a chance to stand up and remember who we are.

This is the United States of America. There's nothing we've not been able to do if we're united in it. You know, all those lines, everybody remembers from John Kennedy's speeches about going to the moon. He said this is a challenge we are willing to accept.

But the line I love most, he said, "We are unwilling to postpone." We are unwilling to postpone. I am unwilling to postpone any longer to deal with the incredible opportunities that we have.

So ladies, gentlemen, we have to remember who we are. Pick our heads up, work together and God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.


BALDWIN: Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States, speaking there. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH coalition in Chicago, not even 24 hours after that debate in that bruising moment that he had with California Senator Kamala Harris over his record on busing.

And so first, just the news off the top there, as of course, he reminds everyone, you know, he got into politics because of civil rights and everything he's done and everything on his record.

This is what he said off the top quote, "My position, I never opposed voluntary busing." But the facts are as follows, that he was a vocal opponent of Federally-mandated busing in order to integrate the nation's school system.

Let me just read two quotes, and then we'll bring in a bunch of amazing voices. Number one, this is an interview of Senator Biden in 1975. "I oppose busing, it is an asinine concept, the utility of which has never been proven to me. The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever, in each school, that to me is the most racist concept you can come up with."

And 1977, this is writing to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, "Mr. Chairman," he writes, "I want you to know that I very much appreciate your help during this week's committee meeting in attempting to bring my anti-busing legislation to a vote."

Two examples of Joe Biden in the 70s, on the record, opposing busing. So let's talk about why this is so significant, beginning with CNN national political reporter, Maeve Reston.

You just listened to the former Vice President. How did he do and what does that even mean?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I mean, obviously, there was so much clean up that he was trying to go through here. But basically, what he's saying is somewhat irrelevant to the debate last night, as you just pointed out.

I mean, the point that Kamala Harris was trying to make in that fascinating exchange between the two of them, was the fact that he opposed government mandated busing. It wasn't -- the discussion wasn't about ...

BALDWIN: City councils or --

RESTON: ... cities deciding, you know, whether they wanted to bus children or not. And I think that, that's going to sort of make his job even trickier

today, if he is sort of splitting hairs along those lines. But it's very hard for him to explain those quotes back in the day, other than the fact that, you know, as we've been pointing out all day, other Americans agreed with him.

Some Americans agreed with him at the time -- some of his constituents, and that was why he took that position, but it doesn't make the exchange any less devastating for him.

BALDWIN: Tiffany Cross, co-founder, managing editor of "The Beat DC," what do you think?

TIFFANY CROSS, CO-FOUNDER, MANAGING EDITOR OF "THE BEAT DC": So, I think this is a really big misstep for Vice President Biden. Look, Josh and I talked about this a little bit last hour and it really would have been -- the most appropriate step would have been, look, I am embarrassed, I'll be judged for being on the wrong side of history.