Below is the video and transcript of the speech by former President Barack Obama in Orlando, Florida on October 27, 2020, in which he lets loose on President Donald Trump.
“…you’ve got a president right now, he wants full credit for an economy that he inherited, he wants zero blame for the pandemic he ignored. But you know what? The job doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be responsible 24/7. You’ve got to pay attention 24/7. Tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Watching TV all day doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t fix things. You’ve got to have a plan if you want to make people’s lives better…”
Hello, Orlando. This is a good-looking crowd here. Can everybody give Lorden a big round of applause for that great introduction. What an outstanding young man.
Now, it is good to be back here in Florida. I don’t know if we’ve got any Tampa Bay Rays fans here in Orlando? Big game tonight. It’s do-or-die time. Now, the last time the Rays were in the world series in 2008, Florida sent me to the White House. The Rays fell just a bit short then. But here in Florida, Democrats fell a little bit short in 2016 also. Over the next couple of weeks, Florida, you’ve got the chance to fix two mistakes. You’ve got the chance to set two things right. You can bring a World Series championship to the Sunshine State and you can send Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House. We’ve got one week, Orlando. One week.
One week until the most important election of our lifetimes. You don’t have to wait until next Tuesday to cast your ballot, you’ve got two ways to vote right now. Number one, you can vote early in person right now. Number two, you can vote from home with a mail-in ballot. Don’t wait. Put it in the mail or drop it off at a drop-box location today. Don’t take any chances, just get it done. Just go to IWillVote.com to find out where you can early vote in person or drop off your ballot. How many of you have already voted? If you’ve already voted, then your job is to go help your friends and family make a plan to vote because this election requires every single one of us. What we do this week will matter for decades to come.
Now I’ve sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who were running for president. Just in case you couldn’t tell, they’re very different people. I didn’t think that Donald Trump would embrace my vision or my policies, but I did hope for the country’s sake that he might show some interest in taking the job seriously. But he didn’t. He hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself and his friends or treating the presidency as anything more than a reality show that can give him the attention that he craves, and he does crave attention. This week with everything that’s happening, you know what he brought up? He was fussing about the crowd size at the inauguration again, saying his was bigger. Who is thinking about that right now? Nobody except him. But the rest of us have had to live with the consequences: More than 225,000 people in this country are dead, more than 100,000 small businesses have closed, half a million jobs are gone in Florida alone. Think about that.
What’s his closing argument? That people are too focused on COVID. He said this at one of rallies. “COVID, COVID, COVID,” he’s complaining. He’s jealous of COVID’s media coverage. If he had been focused on COVID from the beginning, cases wouldn’t be reaching new record highs across the country this week. If we were focused on COVID now, the White House wouldn’t be having its second outbreak in a month. The White House. Let me say this, I lived in the White House for a while. It’s a controlled environment. You can take some preventative measures in the White House to avoid getting sick, except this guy can’t seem to do it. He’s turned the White House into a hot zone. Some of the places he holds rallies have seen new spikes right after he leaves town. And over the weekend, his chief of staff said, and I’m quoting here, I’m not making this up, his chief of staff on a news program says, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.” He just said this.
Yes, he did. And yes, we noticed you’re not going to control the pandemic.
Listen, winter is coming. They’re waving the white flag of surrender. Florida, we can’t afford four more years of this. That’s why we’ve got to send Joe Biden to the White House, because we cannot afford this kind of incompetence and disinterest.
Choosing Joe Biden
Twelve years ago when I chose a vice-president, I didn’t know Joe all that well. We served in the Senate together. I notice, by the way, one of my great friends, Ben Nelson. Bill Nelson. See, I haven’t seen Bill in a while, so that’s why. Plus, he’s wearing a mask. But one of the great senators from Florida, and Joe and I served together with him. I had a lot of friends in the Senate, but Joe and I weren’t the closest. He and I came from different places, we came from different generations, but I quickly came to admire Joe as a man who learned early to treat everybody he meets with dignity and respect. Bill will testify to this, Joe is somebody who lives by the words his parents taught him: “No one’s better than you, Joe, but you’re better than nobody.” He believes everybody counts. He believes everybody’s important. And that empathy, that decency, that belief in other people, that’s who Joe is, and that’s who he’ll be.
I can tell you the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are. Joe, time and time again, has shown himself to be a man of principle and character and he’s going to be a great president. For eight years, Joe was the last one in the room. Whenever I faced a big decision. He made me a better president, and he’s got the character and the experience to make us a better country. He and Kamala are going to be in the fight not for themselves but for every single one of us.
Watching TV all day doesn’t fix things
Listen, you’ve got a president right now, he wants full credit for an economy that he inherited, he wants zero blame for the pandemic he ignored. But you know what? The job doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to be responsible 24/7. You’ve got to pay attention 24/7. Tweeting at the TV doesn’t fix things. Watching TV all day doesn’t fix things. Making stuff up doesn’t fix things. You’ve got to have a plan if you want to make people’s lives better. You’ve got to put in the work if you want to make people’s lives better. Along with the experience to get things done, Joe Biden has concrete plans and he’s got concrete policies that will turn our vision of a better fairer, stronger country into a reality.
Our government hasn’t been doing its job
Look, here’s the truth: The pandemic would have been challenging for any president, but this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this thing up is nonsense. South Korea had its first case of COVID at the same time, the same week as the United States. Do you know that their per capita death rate is just 1.3% of what ours is? Think about that statistic. I’ve given this statistic a couple of times and people haven’t really focused on it. The number of people in Korea who have died of COVID per capita is less than 1.5%. What our death rate is. That’s thousands and thousands of people, if we had been as effective and responsible, whose lives would have been saved in this country. Just across the border in Canada, the death rate per capita is 39% what ours here is in the United States. We are the largest, the wealthiest, most powerful country on earth and we cannot somehow get a grip on this because our government hasn’t been doing its job.
Last week when Trump was asked if he’d do anything differently, you know what he said? He said, “Not much. Not much.” Really? Not much? You can’t think of anything that you might be doing differently, like maybe you shouldn’t have gotten on TV and suggested we might inject bleach to cure COVID? That’s not something you said ‘maybe I shouldn’t have said that’? Not much. Think about how hard the tourism industry has been hit right here in Orlando, right here in Florida. You lost one spring training season already, and he can’t think of doing anything differently?
Joe will get this pandemic under control
Joe takes this seriously. He knows the emotional toll-
He knows the emotional toll on grandparents when they can’t see and hug their grandkids. He’s not going to screw up testing. He’s not going to call scientists idiots. He’s not going to host super spreader events at the White House, and then take it on a tour all across the country. Joe will get this pandemic under control with a plan to make testing free and widely available. He’s going to get a vaccine to every American cost-free, and he’s going to make sure our frontline heroes never have to ask other countries for the equipment that they need to keep themselves safe. His plan will guarantee paid sick leave for workers and parents affected by the pandemic. He’s going to make sure that small businesses that hold our communities together and employ millions of Americans can reopen safely.
And he understands that we’re not going to rebuild the economy and put people back to work until we get this pandemic under control. It’s not that complicated.
Donald Trump screwed up the economy, just like everything else he inherited
Donald Trump likes to claim he built this economy, but I just want to remind you that America created 1.5 million more jobs in the last three years of the Obama Biden administration than in the first three years of the Trump Pence administration. That’s a fact. Look it up. And that was before Trump could blame the pandemic. He, in fact, inherited the longest streak of job growth in American history. But just like everything else he inherited, he screwed it up.
And the economic damage that he inflicted by botching the pandemic response means he will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to actually lose jobs, first president since Herbert Hoover, back in the thirties. That’s a long time people. That’s almost a hundred years ago. He loves to talk about Black unemployment. Look how low Black unemployment … Well, you know what? Unemployment was really high when I came in, and we brought that unemployment low, and it kept on going low, and he wants to take credit for it. Says he’s the best president for Black folks since Abe Lincoln? Man! Now his advisors are out there saying, including his son-in-law. His son-in-law says Black folks have to want to be successful, that’s the problem. Who are these folks? What history books do they read? Who do they talk to? Don’t read? Is that what is going on?
Black unemployment hit almost 17% during the great recession 10 years ago, and through a lot of hard work, Joe Biden and I helped get it down, and it kept on going down, not because Trump did anything. And then this year, because they screwed up the pandemic response, it’s soared back up to above 17% here in Florida. But it doesn’t have to be that way, Florida, if you go out and vote.
Si se puede. Yes we can. Listen, the only people truly better off than they were four years ago are the billionaires that got Trump’s tax cuts. In the meantime, he has not been able to manage extending relief to millions of families who can’t pay the rent right now, can’t put food on the table right now. Got no plan to reopen schools that need reopening or protecting teachers in the process. I don’t understand how it is that he cannot organize Republicans in Congress to do the right thing. And it’s not like it’s his money that we’re asking him to pay because he doesn’t pay taxes. Barely pays income tax.
We know he’s got a secret Chinese bank account, so he may be paying taxes to the Chinese, but he’s not paying taxes here. First year in the White House, only paid $750 in taxes, in federal income taxes. $750. Can you imagine that? I mean, teachers pay more than that. Social workers pay more than that in taxes. Huh? Soldiers. Folks in uniform pay more in taxes than that. So how are you living large, and you’re not willing to do the right thing to make sure that we’re able to pay for quality schools for our kids, to provide veterans benefits for those who’ve earned them.
Joe Biden has a plan
Joe Biden has a plan to create 10 million good clean energy jobs right here in America. It’s part of his plan to protect Florida from climate change and secure environmental justice, and he’s going to pay for it by rolling back those tax cuts to billionaires. And the thing is, Joe doesn’t just want to get back to where we were. He finally wants to make some long overdue changes so that our economy actually makes life a little easier for everybody. The waitress trying to raise a kid on her own, the student trying to figure out how to pay for next semester’s classes, the shift worker who’s worried about maybe being laid off, the cancer survivor who’s worried that her preexisting conditions might prevent her from being able to get coverage.
Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act 60 times
And speaking of healthcare, by the way, you may have noticed Republicans love saying right before an election how they’re going to protect people who have preexisting conditions. Have you noticed that? Well, you know what? Joe and I actually protected them 10 years ago with the Affordable Care Act. And you know those same Republicans who say they’re going to protect them, somehow they have tried to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act more than 60 times. And each time they try to repeal it, they say, “Oh, we’ve got a great replacement. It’s coming.” Everybody’s a little young here, but you guys remember Popeye? And remember that guy who always needed to borrow some money for a hamburger? He said, “Don’t worry. I’m going to be paying you back sometime soon.”
That’s like Republicans with healthcare. They always say, “It’s coming soon. We’re going to be paying you back with a great replacement plan.” But that two weeks has been 10 years coming now. For the last 10 years, every two weeks, they say, “We’re going to have a great healthcare plan.” You know where it is? Because I don’t. The reason they don’t have a plan is because a plan doesn’t exist. They’ve never had one. They’ve instead attacked the Affordable Care Act at every turn, driving up costs, driving up the uninsured.
Don’t boo. Vote.
Now they’re trying to get the Supreme Court to take away your healthcare, right now, as quickly as they can, in the middle of a pandemic with nothing but empty promises to take its place. Think about what that would do to families right here in Florida. Florida has the highest enrollment under the Affordable Care Act of any state in America. Last week, Trump flat-out said he hopes the Supreme Court takes your health insurance away. Said it out loud. Don’t boo. Vote. And last night, he installed the Supreme Court justice who he hopes will help him do it. Don’t boo. Vote. Florida, this is serious. And Joe and Kamala will protect your healthcare. They will expand Medicare. They’ll make insurance more affordable for everybody.
Because Joe knows that a president’s first job is to keep us safe from all threats, foreign, domestic, and microscopic. When the daily intelligence briefings flash warning lights about a virus, the president can’t ignore it, can’t be too lazy to read the briefing. When Russia puts bounties on the heads of our soldiers in Afghanistan, the commander in chief can’t be MIA, missing in action. Joe Biden would never call the men and women of our military suckers or losers because they were willing to sacrifice their lives on behalf of the American people. Joe Biden understands those troops are somebody’s kids, somebody’s dad, somebody’s mom, somebody’s husband, somebody’s wife, somebody’s father or mother.
And Joe Biden understands that there is glory and goodness in being willing to sacrifice on behalf of others, something that apparently this administration just doesn’t comprehend.
Trump brags about support from bullies
Our current president, he whines that 60 Minutes is too tough. You think he’s going to stand up to dictators? He thinks Leslie Stahl’s a bully. Just yesterday, just yesterday, he said that Putin of Russia, Xi of China, and Kim Jong-Un of North Korea want him to win. We know! We know because you’ve been giving them whatever they want for the last four years. Of course they want you to win.
That’s not a good thing. You shouldn’t brag about the fact that some of our greatest adversaries think they’d be better off with you in office. Of course they do. What does that say about you? I mean, think about that. Why are you bragging about that? Come on. And that doesn’t make any sense. Joe Biden wouldn’t coddle dictators. He’ll promote human rights around the world, including in Cuba. Joe will restore our battered standing around the world because he knows our true strength comes from setting an example that the world wants to follow. A nation that stands with democracy, not dictators, a nation that can inspire and mobilize others to overcome threats like climate change and terrorism and poverty and disease.
No crazy with Joe and Kamala
And here’s one other thing. Joe and Kamala, when they are in office, they’re not going to have… You’re not going to have to think about them every single day. You’re not going to have to worry about what crazy things they’re going to say, what they’re going to tweet. They’re just going to be too busy doing the work. It just won’t be so exhausting. You’ll be able to go about your lives, knowing that the President’s not going to retweet conspiracy theories about secret cabals running the world or suggest, I mean, listen, our President of the United States retweeted a post that claimed that the Navy SEALs didn’t actually kill bin Laden. Think about that. And we act like, well, okay. It’s not okay. We’re not going to have a President when Joe Biden’s in office, that goes out of his way to insult people just because they don’t support him. He’ll be a President for all people, including people who didn’t vote for him because he knows that’s the job of being President.
Even ‘Florida Man” wouldn’t act like Trump
I mean, we’ve gotten so numb to what is bizarre behavior. We have a President right now who lies multiple times a day, and this is not my claim. Even Fox News sometimes says, well, what he says, isn’t really true, he didn’t mean it. It’s not normal behavior. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a coworker. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a football coach. We wouldn’t tolerate it from a high school principal. I mean, we might have to put up with it if it was a family member, but we talk about them afterwards. Even “Florida man” wouldn’t be doing some of this stuff. Why would we accept it from President of the United States? And you know what I mean? Sometimes it’s almost too easy to make fun of it, but it’s serious. There are consequences to his actions.
If he was just on Jerry Springer or something, you’d say well… But this is the most powerful office on earth. And when people see the President doing things like that, it emboldens other people to be mean and cruel and divisive and racist and it frays the fabric of our lives. It affects the way our children see things. When we tell our children to tell the truth, and then we have the person in the highest office in the land who doesn’t seem capable of doing so, that undermines our society. It affects the way our families get along. It affects the way the world looks at America and it distracts from the truly destructive actions that his cronies are doing all across the government as we speak, actions that affect your lives.
A government by destructive cronies
You got the Environmental Protection Agency that’s supposed to protect our air and our water. It’s run by an energy lobbyist that gives polluters free rein to dump unlimited poison into our air and our water. It’s not right. It ain’t right. The Labor Department, that’s supposed to protect workers. It’s run by a corporate lobbyist who’s declared war on workers, trying to gut protections to keep essential folks safe during a pandemic, making it easier for big corporations to steal their wages. The Interior Department, that’s supposed to protect our public lands, our wilderness, the Everglades, it’s run by an oil lobbyist who’s just fine with selling them to the highest bidder.
You’ve got an education department run by a billionaire who has gutted rules designed to protect students from getting ripped off by for-profit colleges. And then is stiff arming students looking for loan relief in the middle of an economic collapse. You’ve got the person who runs Medicaid, trying not to get more people on the Medicaid so they’ve got better healthcare, but to kick more people off of Medicaid. Come one. It ain’t right.
Joe and Kamala care
So what are you going to do about it? You got to vote. You got to vote. When Joe and Kamala are in charge, they’re not going to surround themselves with hacks and lobbyists. They’re going to surround themselves with qualified public service, who actually are serious about doing their job, who are looking out for you, for your job, your family, your health, your communities, your planet, and that more than anything is what separates them from their opponents.
They actually care about you. They actually care about every American and they’re going to be fighting on your behalf every single day. They’re not going to get everything right every time. They’re not going to solve every problem right away, but they’re going to be working on it every single day to see how can I make sure this little brand new baby right here is inheriting a better world. That’s what they care about. I will say that I miss kissing babies during pandemic. I can’t do it, but I look at that little bundle right there, brand new. It’s got the new baby smell. Congratulations. But Joe and Kamala, they care deeply about people and they care about our democracy. They believe that in a democracy, the right to vote is sacred. We shouldn’t be making people wait in line for hours. We should be making it easier for everybody to vote, not harder.
They believe that no one, especially the President, is above the law. They understand that protest isn’t un-American. This country was founded on protesting against injustice. And we don’t threaten to throw our political opponents in jail just because we disagree with them. That’s what happens in dictatorship. That doesn’t happen in the United States of America. Joe and Kamala understand that our ability to work together to solve big problems like the pandemic depends on more than just photo ops. It depends on applying facts and logic and science and not making things up, not flooding the internet with misinformation. These should not be Republican or Democratic values.
We have to reclaim American values
They’re what we grew up learning from our parents and grandparents. They’re not white or black or Hispanic or Asian or Native American values, they’re supposed to be American values. And we have to reclaim them right now. And how are we going to do that? By voting. We’ve got to turn out like never before Orlando. We have to leave no doubt. We can’t be complacent. We were complacent last time. Folks got a little lazy. Folks took things for granted. And look what happened. Not this time, not in this election. I understand there’s some Americans who get frustrated by government. They feel like, oh, it doesn’t make enough of a difference. My vote won’t make a difference. Listen, the government’s not perfect, it’s not going to solve every problem, but a good government can make things better.
Things were better when I left office, than when I started. They weren’t perfect, but they were better. A President shouldn’t make things worse. A President by himself can’t solve every challenge facing our economy. But if we elect a President who cares and we elect a House and a Senate and a State House and a State Senate that are focused on working people and getting you the help you need, it can make a difference. A President by himself can’t eliminate all racial bias in our criminal justice system. But if we elect District Attorneys and State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs and Police Chiefs focused on equality and justice, it can make things better. And that’s what voting is about. Not making things perfect, but making them better. It’s about putting us on track so that a generation from now we can look back and say, hey, things started getting better. It’s about using the power we have and pulling it together, to make-
More people voting would transform America
It’s about using the power we have and pulling it together to make sure that we have a government that’s more concerned, more responsive, more focused on you. And you know what? When I hear people say, well, I don’t know, I voted last time. Things didn’t change as much as I thought. Listen, we’ve never come close to seeing what it would be like if everybody voted. In 2008, that was the highest voting rate in modern presidential history. You know what? We only got to 61%. That means 39% of the folks didn’t vote who were eligible to vote. What would happen if suddenly we started getting 70% voting rates? What would happen if we got 60, 70% of the people voting instead of 55% of people voting?
The country would be transformed. Imagine. Imagine January 20th and we swear in a president and a vice-president who have a plan to deal with this pandemic effectively, who believe in science, who have a plan to protect this planet for our children, who care about working Americans, who have a plan to help you start getting ahead, who believe in racial equality, who are willing to do the work to bring us closer to the ideal that no matter what you look like, where you come from, who you love, how much money you got, you can make it here in America. You’ll be treated with respect, and dignity and justice here in America.
Imagine a president when Puerto Rico gets hit by a hurricane, doesn’t respond just by throwing paper towels, but says, those are Americans and we’ve got to make sure that we get in the help they need as quickly as possible. That’s what you should expect from a president. And if you’re not getting that, then you have to go out there and vote to make it happen.
America is a good and decent place that we must fight for
All of that is possible. All of that is within our reach. For all the times these past four years when we’ve seen our worst impulses revealed, the good news is we’ve also seen our best impulses revealed. We’ve seen folks of every age and background pack city centers and town squares so that families wouldn’t be separated. I’ve got a friend, Jose Andress, great restaurateur, took it upon himself, went down to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, organized thousands of meals just on his own because he was seeing that the response wasn’t quick enough. Just did it on his own. That is America. We saw people out on the streets saying, we’re not going to have our classrooms shut up anymore. We’ve seen people activated to make sure our kids don’t grow up on an uninhabitable planet. We’ve seen healthcare workers, so many of them all across the country, risk their lives every single day just to save somebody else’s loved ones. We’ve seen people contribute and volunteer to neighbors that have been hit hard. We’ve seen Americans of all races joining together to declare in the face of injustice and brutality at the hands of the state that black lives matter no more, but no less, for that no child in this country should feel the continuing sting of racism. That’s true in Orlando, it’s true in Florida, it’s true all across this country.
America is a good and decent place, but we’ve just seen so much noise, and nonsense and distortion, and sometimes it’s hard for us to remember. But Orlando, I’m asking you to remember what this country can be, what it should be, what it must be. I’m asking you to believe in Joe’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times, to help us build it back better. Don’t abandon those who are hurting right now. We can’t abandon the kids who aren’t getting the education they need right now. We can’t abandon all those young people who are out on the streets who inspire. We’ve got to channel their activism into action.
We can’t just dream for a better future, we got to fight for a better future. We got to out hustle the other side. We’ve got to vote like never before and leave no doubt. So make a plan, vote as early as you can, grab your friends and your family, get them to vote all the way up and down the ticket.
And if we pour all our efforts into this final week, if we vote like never before, then we will elect Joe Biden President of the United States. We’ll elect Kamala Harris Vice President of the United States. We will establish once again what this country stands for, what our values are, who we are as a people. Let’s get to work, Florida. Let’s bring it home. I love you, Orlando. I love you Florida. Honk if you’re fired up. Honk if you’re ready to go. Are you fired up? Are you ready to go? I’m fired up. Let’s go do this thing. Let’s bring it home. Thank you.