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Q-and-A with former vice president Joe Biden

Biden says he will visit Florida when it is safe to do so

JB:

I’ve spoken with the Jacob Blake family several times and my guess is I’ll be seeing them or speaking to them. I’m going to meet with the business community as well, hopefully, some law enforcement as well as some of the people who feel very grieved up there. I’ve spent my whole career trying to bring people together and I’ve been able to do that in the past. And so this is about unifying people, not dividing us.

What I’d do on day one is I would continue to bring folks together. I’ve done this my whole career. You know the vast majority of law enforcement officers, women, and men, are decent honorable people. When they put that shield on in the morning, they become targets as well. But there are some bad cops. And they want to get rid of bad cops as well as anyone else wants to get rid of bad cops. Protesting is a right and it should be curtailed. But protesting does not include burning or looting or shooting somebody. It should be prosecuted when it occurs.

It’s about bringing people together. I’m going to be meeting with some business people, folks in the community, religious leaders in the community, and do what you would do in any circumstance like this. I’ve done it before in my home city and other places. Bring all the parties together and say we can work this out. Let’s work this out peacefully and rationally, that’s what I’m going to try to do.

GG:

How will you know that the message is resonating? It seems like people hear what they want to hear, they’ve already made up their mind. How will you reach people over on both sides?

JB:

Well, I think the talk of people have made up their minds, if you notice since both conventions are over, we’ve made a significant movement with an awful lot of people who have an open mind. Because look, the question that was asked before years ago, are you better for office than you were four years ago, well the question is, is four more years of Donald Trump going to change anything?

Does anybody believe anything is going to change? That he’s possibly going to bring the country together? That he’s going to deal with the thing that people fear most, COVID? That people fear most about not being able to make it through in terms of their economic circumstance? There’s just been a total abdication of leadership here. So this is about trying to bring people together, and that’s what I’ve done my whole career as a senator, as a vice president, Democrats, and Republicans. You cannot govern the country without arriving at a consensus and that’s what we can do. We can. The possibilities in America are overwhelming the things we’re able to do. We not only can come back, but we can also come back better than we were before.

GG:

You speak about leadership and its import at this time because we are here in Central Florida the I4 corridor and we have had more than 600,000 cases and you just talked about reopening schools, we had a case of a school opening and then having to close down within days if not a week or so. What do you say needed to be done about reopening schools so the teachers feel safe, the students feel safe and the staff feels safe?

JB:

I laid out a detailed plan back in June and July, go to JoeBiden.com, but here’s the deal. In order to open, you have to be in a community where the infection rate is down, number one, not eliminated, but down. Number 2, you have to provide the school districts with the means to be able to open safely. With the PPE, with the equipment they need, with ventilation systems that in fact redistribute the air, making sure that there is social distancing, smaller classes requiring more faculty.

FEMA started off, the emergency management operations, started off providing funding for schools to be able to open. The superintendents nationwide point out they’ll need about 200 billion dollars to open safely. Why aren’t we doing that? This is a national emergency why aren’t we doing that? Mr. President, what one thing have you done, One thing you’ve done, to get schools open safely? And look at all the parents out there, I don’t know if you’re a parent or not but if you’re working if you are a parent and you’re wondering if your kids are going to go back to school if they can’t go back to school what are you going to do?

We should be dealing with letting daycare centers know what they have to do to be in a position they can open safely. Look at what’s happened. An enormous pressure put on the CDC not to put out the detailed guidelines. Enormous pressure being put on the FDA to say the following protocol will have a giant impact on COVID. All these things turn out not to be true, and when a president continues to mislead and lie. When we finally do, god willing, get a vaccine, who’s going to take the shot? Who’s going to take the shot? Are you going to be the first one to say sign me up? They now say it’s OK. I’m not being facetious.

Franklin Roosevelt said a different thing in the beginning of World War II, I’m going to paraphrase it, he said “things are going to get worse and worse and worse before they get better and better and better, but the American people are tough, you got to give it to them straight. Straight from the shoulder, they can handle anything.”

We should give it to the American people straight from the shoulder.

GG:

Are you coming to Orlando any time soon and will you come and see us?

JB:

That is my intention. What I’m going to do is follow the science though. Follow the science, and make sure what I do is consistent with making sure we deal with the one thing people are afraid of. They’re afraid of dying or getting ill from COVID. That is the responsibility of a leader to make sure you do it responsibly. That is my intention, to be in Orlando. My intention to be in Florida. Because look, in Florida, what’s happening in Florida? I mean you have a president of the United States that just introduced a proposal to wipe out social security. The head of the actuarial at the Department of Social Security said if his plan for social security goes forward, the entire fund will be depleted by the middle of 2023. There’s a lot I want to talk about and point out to the people in Florida, that they have to focus on to be able to make sure they are protected across the board in terms of their economy, their social security, their jobs, as well as their health. I’m looking forward to seeing you, I really am.

GG:

Mr. Vice President thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.