tv Joe Biden CNN Presidential Town Hall CNN July 21, 2021 8:00pm-9:15pm PDT
president biden is facing a critical moment in his agenda. nearly half of the u.s. population is fully vaccinated against covid-19 but the pace of the vaccination is at the lowest point since january and the highly infectious delta variant is driving a new covid surge in all 50 states. virtually all covid hospitalizations and deaths are now among the unvaccinated so tonight we are here in ohio taking questions from a live audience as the president works to keep the pandemic in check and his goal of an infrastructure deal on track. it is really a critical moment for his agenda. we will take questions from some who voted for the president and some who did not vote for president biden. the president and myself and everyone here in our audience, we are all fully vaccinated so without further adieu, everyone, let's welcome the 46th president of the united states, joe biden. [ applause ] >> hi there, don. good to see you. how have you been? >> well.
very well. it's good to see you. >> good to be back to see you. >> you as well. listen, i want to get to the audience. you don't want to sit down. you'd rather -- >> no, i'm going to go out into the audience. >> i have a couple of questions i want to ask you because you know the pandemic is a big concern for everyone. >> sure. >> especially around america. new cases are up three times since last month, right? the pandemic is a big concern. hospitalizations, death
rising. so you said last month that this -- that the virus is in retreat. do you still feel that way? >> look, it's real simple. we have a pandemic for those who haven't gotten a vaccination. its that he basic. that simple. 10,000 people have recently died.
9,950 of them, thereabouts, are people who hadn't been vaccinated. this is simple, basic proposition. if you're vaccinated, you're
not going to be hospitalized. you're not going to be in an icu unit. and you are not going to die. so it's gigantically important we all act like americans who care about our fellow americans. there's legitimate questions people can ask if they worry about getting vaccinated but the question should be asked, answered and people should get vaccinated but this is not a pandemic. we've made sure that since i got in office we've inoculated over 160 million people. 85% of people over the age of 50. it's frustrating. >> what do you say to people who are worried about a new round of restrictions and mask mandates and so forth? >> i'm saying, look, it's a little bit like when i got elected, you know?
this pandemic was out of control. we've lost more people in the united states, over 630 some thousand people than any major war we've ever fought in the united states of america and that's come to a screeching halt for those who have been vaccinated.
it really has. not a joke. this is overwhelming evidence to sustain that and so what i say to people who are worried about a new pandemic is get vaccinated. if you're vaccinated, even if you do catch the virus, quote, unquote, like people talk about it in normal terms, you're -- not many people do. if you do, you're not likely to get sick. you're probably going to be symptomless. you won't be in a position where your life is in danger. so it's really kind of basic. >> let's get to questions. >> okay. >> i want to introduce you to
andrea ginari. she's a democrat currently running for her local school board. >> god love you. the most important, thankless job in the world being on a school board. >> thank you. here in hamilton county the vaccination rate remains at about 50%. you talked about the virus that's spreading. masks are seen less and less and as you know children under age 12 still are not eligible to be vaccinated. schools are working with all of this information as they think about reopening next month. as a school employee and as a parent to children under age 12, what i -- i am really concerned. what is your message to those parents, educators and school districts? >> i understand your concern, i really do. my children are grown but my grandchildren, i have one that's only 1 1/2 years old. i understand. number one, my message is, one
of the reasons why you remember the criticism i got initially saying teachers should get vaccinated, get in line first. the vast majority of teachers are vaccinated, number one. number two, the cdc is going to say that what you should do is everyone under the age of 12 should probably be wearing masks in school. that's probably what's going to happen. secondly, those over the age of 12 who are able to get vaccinated, if you're vaccinated you shouldn't wear a mask. if you aren't vaccinated, you should be wearing a mask. it's going to get tight about mom or dad being honest that johnny did or didn't get vaccinated. that's going to raise questions. what's going to happen is you will see this work out in ways that people are going to know in the community. everybody knows in a community whether or not johnny really did
get the vaccination when he's 15 or 17 years old. so it's going to -- i think it's a matter of community responsibility and i think you're going to see it work through. >> let me ask you -- let me follow up on that question and ask you when will children under 12 be able to get vaccinated? >> soon, i believe. one of the things i committed to do when i got elected, i said -- >> how soon is soon, mr. president? >> let me finish the question -- the answer. soon in the sense that i do not tell any scientist what to do. so they are doing the examinations now, the testing now and making the decision now. when they are ready, when they've done all the scientific information that needs to be done, children 5, 6, 7, 8 they all have different makeups. they're developing. they're trying to figure out whether or not there's a vaccination that affects one child at such and such an age and not another child. that's underway. just like the other question that's logical. i've heard you speak about it. i'm not being solicitous. you're always straight up about what you're doing and the question is whether or not we should be in a position where you are why can't the experts
say we know that this virus is, in fact -- is going to be -- excuse me, we know why all the drugs are not temporarily approved, but are permanently approved. that's underway. >> you mean for the fda? >> for the fda. federal drug administration. >> you are talking to scientists. what are they telling you? >> let us decide. do it the way we would ordinarily do it. for example, everybody talks about how, you know, this virus came, this -- the drugs that are designed to kill the virus came along so quickly. they've been working on it for two decades. there's nothing quick about this.
it's been over two decades so people say, i'm not taking a drug that was approved so quickly. it's been two decades. the truth is, we haven't said it enough to people to allay their fears. this is nothing that just happened yesterday and we said, let's take a shot on this. and there's a process. usually the process takes the better part of a year or more to get some of these things decided, but the expectation, they're not promising me any specific date, but my expectation talking to the group of scientists we put together, over 20 of them plus others
in the field, is that sometime maybe in the beginning of the school year, at the end of august, beginning of september, october they'll get a final approval saying the fda said, no, this is it. it's good. but, again, one last thing. we don't talk enough to you about this, i don't think.
one last thing that's really important
is we're not in a position where we think that any virus, including the delta virus, which is much more transmissible and more deadly in terms of non-vaccinated people, the various shots that people are getting now cover that. they're okay. you're not going to get covid if you have these vaccinations. >> yeah. i want to stay on the subject. i want to get to dr. nicole baldwin, a pediatrician and a republican. dr. baldwin, go ahead. >> doc, how are you? >> hi. thank you for taking my question, mr. president. i am a pediatrician who utilizes social media to educate about health and i am very concerned about the rise in misinformation from the antivaccine community that is eroding trust in life saving vaccines. spread of this misinformation and declining vaccination rates could leave americans vulnerable to vaccine preventible diseases
in the future. so what i want to know is what is the white house doing to combat
medical misinformation and to restore america's faith in science? >> what we're doing is, number one, restore america's faith in science is listen to the scientists. i'm not joking. i mean, literally listening to the scientists and not interfere. not rush anything, just make -- let the scientists proceed. they desperately want to get this right, number one. number two, you may have heard, i never get myself in trouble as you know politically, but you may have heard that i was critical of some of the things that were on facebook and i was attacking facebook. i wasn't attacking facebook. there was a report out saying that something like 45% of the
overwhelming disinformation on facebook comes from 12 individuals. i said they're killing people. those 12 individuals, that misinformation is going to kill people. not a joke. not a joke. just like telling your kid, i tell you what, 4 years old, when you see a red light, cross the street. i mean, come on. so what we're trying to do is use every avenue we can, public, private, government, non-government to try to get the facts out, what they really are. and one of the things, doc, that's happening that i'm feeling better about, i'm not being a wise guy now, you know, one of those other networks is not a big fan of mine, one you talk about a lot, but if you notice, as they say in the southern part of my state, they've had an altar call, some of those guys. all of a sudden they're out there saying, let's get vaccinated. let's get vaccinated. the very people before this were saying -- i shouldn't make fun of it. that's good. it's good. it's good. we just have to keep telling the truth. that's why, for example, my wife just flew to alaska today to do an event in alaska about making sure people understand and get vaccinated, talking about covid, etc. so it's -- you know, by the way,
there's pockets. if you notice, there's about, what, four or five states that have close to 45%. don't hold me to exact numbers. >> my home state of louisiana is 36% and there are other southern states. >> no, but i mean of all the cases, all the cases, a very overwhelming majority of those cases are in four or five states. >> yeah. >> and it's just not -- there's nothing political about this. there's no blue or red. >> let's bring in christian oliver who is a democrat. he works for the insurance industry. christian, what's your question? >> my wife stephanie and i are newlyweds as of this past saturday. >> i'd brag if i were you too. as they say when they look at me and my wife, you married up, kid. >> thank you. we required all of our guests and vendors to be vaccinated to ensure safety. we are african-american and in many of our communities many are against the vaccine. a reason that stood out the most in regards to our guests is they
don't see the vaccine being as safe as the cdc puts it out to be. how are you working towards convincing those in these communities? >> in african-american communities there's less of an up take. number one, there's a reason for that. you know, you go back to even world war ii, african-americans were used as experimental. almost like guinea pigs. they were -- anyway, and your mom and dad remember that and your grandparents remember that. and so there's a reason for people to think that, i don't know, i'm he not sure i trust. i'm not sure i trust this. plus a lot of disinformation on top of it. one of the things though we're doing is -- what i've done -- we've done, excuse me, my team has done is we provided the ability to put in african-american communities the vaccine and those that are in fact able to administer the vaccine and people who are respected in the community in
those areas, particularly in areas where you have public health centers where you, in fact, have people who are the folks who are really at the low end of the economic scale, don't have much access to anything. so we've taken literally mobile vans and people to the communities, to the hardest hit communities and it's beginning to have some impact. but we have to talk about it more. for example, i was just with -- i get in trouble because my wife is a philly girl and a philly fan and eagles fan. i just hosted the tampa bay buccaneers and there's a guy, there's a quarterback there. what's his name? anyway, all kidding aside, you know, what we're doing is getting people of consequence who are respected in the community, whether they're athletes, whether they're well respected. one of the things i've been able
to get done, i have overwhelming support from the african-american clergy that i come from in my circle of support. they are opening up their churches for vaccination centers. >> can i ask you something, mr. president? because, you know -- by the way, you got -- i don't know if you heard that, you got applause when you corrected the i for the we. >> it is we. >> that's a commendable attribute. i haven't seen my mom for a year and a half except for two weeks ago. even within my own family here i am on television every night there is ambivalence, there's misinformation and there's also mistrust in the system. how do you fix that? >>
well, i think you're going to -- it's going to seem like a non-answer to start with. one of the things i said when i ran for office, not a democrat/republican is we've got
to restore faith in government. you've got to get people to the point where they trust government. i made a commitment that when i made a mistake, i'd tell you. i've made mistakes. when i think i got it right, i'll say it. but i'll take responsibility for what i do and say. part of it is just genuinely -- no, i -- part of it is generally raising confidence in elected officials. raising confidence. i know this is going to sound like a non-answer to you, but part of this is that, you know -- you know because you're one of the most informed journalists in the country. you know the
criticism i got when i said i want to unite the country. you can't unite the country.
if you can't unite the country, we can never get some of these problems solved and that goes to trust. why can't you unite the country? why isn't there a willingness to trust? government trust was at an incredibly low ebb. it's coming up some. so with regard to your family in particular, part of it is not just that they see you on television and trust you, the people who seem to have the most impact are -- you know, for that 17-year-old kid, the kid he or she plays ball with. you got the vaccination? are you -- are you okay? i mean, you seem -- no, it works. or, you know, the mom and dad or the neighbor or when you go to church or when you're -- now i really mean it. there are trusted interlocutors. if your kid wanted to find out whether or not there were -- there's a man on the moon or whatever, you know, something, whether those aliens are here or not? who are the people they talk to beyond the kids who love talking about it? they go to people they respect.
as i said, more people have died than all our major wars combined. think about that. if i had told you that or you had told me that two years ago,
i'd say, come on, that's not going to happen in america, but it happened. it happened. and people are unfortunately some more slowly than others -- by the way, remember when i first got elected the issue was when i said i was going to do 1 million shots a week, people said, biden can't do that. the biden team can't do that. then it was 2 million. we had trouble getting enough people -- people who wanted to get vaccinated. we were opening up stadiums. we were getting 100,000 people coming through. so the vast majority of the american people said i understand. i want to get this vaccination. but now when it's phased off, either i'm invincible. i'm young. i'm not going to get sick. it won't happen to me. whatever the reason. now they're looking around. they're saying, whoa. boy, in the community i live in, there are very few people that have gotten the vaccination. this covid is much more transmissible. it's really rising. i'd better get some -- so i think it's gradually changing and you've got a great dog there, kid. >> by the way, that is danielle
lippy. she's a student at the university. she's a republican. >> your dog's a democrat, i can tell. i'm teasing. i'm teasing. i'm a big dog person. i'm sorry. >> her name is wonder. so my question is the economy is picking up significantly as it reopens from the pandemic. are you concerned about the higher inflation prices especially as we see gasoline, automotive and food prices increase rapidly? what is your administration doing to prevent the economy from over heating such as the poor and middle class are
not hurt by the higher prices of goods in the long run? >> first of all, good news is the economy is picking up significantly. it's rational. when you think about it, the cost of an automobile is kind of back to what it was before the pandemic. we compare what the prices were for the last year in the pandemic and they are up.
they're up because, in fact, there was not much call for it. for example, automobiles. you had the rental car companies selling off their entire stock. you found
yourself in the same way with automobile dealers. now it's coming back. we're going to grow at 7% it's expected. we created more jobs in the first six months of our administration than any time in american history. no president has created as many jobs as -- i don't say it -- but it goes to the legitimate question being asked about the concern about inflation. the vast majority of the experts, including wall street, are suggesting that it's highly unlikely that it's going to be long-term inflation that's going to get out of hand. there will be near-term inflation because everything is now trying to be picked back up. and by the way, that's one of the reasons why i also signed an executive order dealing with the
whole idea of competition. you know, the idea that we're in a situation where there are so many companies who are keeping people out of the competition. for example, you have over 600,000 people out there signing -- 6 million people signing -- i better check the number. signing non-compete agreements. not because they have any secret but because they will work for one fast food restaurant and they're told they can't get 10 cents more going across town going to the other fast food restaurant. why? to keep wages down. and so what's happening now is all of a sudden people are having choices. you know, i always thought the free market system was not only that there's competition among companies but guess what? companies should have to compete for workers. guess what, maybe they'll pay more money. >> you seem pretty confident that inflation is temporary, but they're pumping all of this money into the economy, couldn't that add to --
>> no. look, here's the deal. moody's today, wall street firm, not some liberal think tank, said if we pass the other two things i'm trying to get done, we will, in fact, reduce inflation. reduce inflation. reduce inflation. because we're going to be providing good opportunities and jobs for people who, in fact, are going to be reinvesting that money back in all the things we're talking about. driving down prices, not raising prices. and so it is -- i sincerely mean this. prices are up now and they're up -- for example, you're in a position where you're trying to build a house. try to find 2x4s and lumber. guess what? people stopped working, cutting lumber, they stopped doing it because unemployment was so down. now all of a sudden there's this need because people are coming back and guess what? instead of paying 10 cents, you're paying 20. you understand what i'm saying? >> yeah.
>> it relates to what in fact is now needed because we're growing. i don't know anybody, including larry somers who's a friend of mine who's worried about inflation, is suggesting that there's any long-term march here if we do the things we're going to do. for example, if we get this bill done that i've put together a long time ago -- and by the way, i want to say, i'm in this territory. there's -- portman is a good man. portman is a congressman from this area. i talked to him before -- and i really mean it. he's a decent, honorable man. he and i are working on trying to get this infrastructure bill. >> you're talking about senator ron portman. >> yeah, i'm sorry. >> the idea failed, the procedural vote today, right? >> yeah, it did. that's irrelevant. >> go on. negotiators said they need more time. >> yeah.
>> they expect to vote on monday. how much time do you think they need to get this done? >> till monday. look, no, i'm not being facetious. you had up to 20 republicans sign the letter saying we think we need this deal. we think we need this deal. so i think there will be -- by the way, the reason we're talking this way, we need 60 votes to get something moving. what's going to happen is i believe because i take my republican colleagues -- i come from a tradition in the senate, you shake your hand, that's it. you keep your word. and i've found rob portman does that. i've found that your governor is a good man. shake his hand. i really mean it. i'm not -- i'm not -- >> you think it's going to move forward in the senate on monday? >> i do. here's what i think. what happens is the vote on monday is a motion to be able to proceed to this issue. then they're going to debate the issue of the individual elements
of this plan to say, sure, are we going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into kentucky. no, i'm serious. >> we're going to talk about that bridge in just a moment. >> anyway -- but i think it's going to get done. you may find in amendments that take place on the detail, the detail of whether or not -- and i'm the guy that wrote this bill to begin with and so i've had to compromise to make changes in the bill. i said, i campaigned on this. everybody thought i was a little nuts when i talked about there are three reasons why i was running, one to restore the soul of this country, bring back some decency, two to build back the middle class because they had been getting mucked around a long time and the backbone to unite the country. one of the big issue was infrastructure. last year we had infrastructure
week every week, we didn't do a thing. but it's necessary. i really mean it. it's going to not only increase job opportunities, it will increase commerce. it's a good thing and i think we're going to get it done. >> a lot of this you need bipartisan support. our next question comes from cindy peeble. go ahead, cindy. >> hello, mr. president. i am dismayed at how often democratic plans for stabilizing the economy, for shoring up new strains are held hostage by the utopian need to gain bipartisan support. it appears at every turn the democratic plan is weakened and still secures zero republican votes. sometimes the opposition is just wrong and working to get them to agree with you is fruitless. why is the strategy to abandon the need for bipartisanship not the right answer? >> well, look, i may be the wrong guy to talk to because i spent a lot of time as a senator and vice president, i'm going to say something outrageous. i don't know you'll find any republican i ever worked with
who says i ever broke my word, didn't do exactly what i said i would do and keep my word. and i was able to get an awful lot of compromises put together to do really good things, to change things. and i still believe that's possible, but the well has been so poisoned over the last four years and even now there's still this lingering effort. a lot of my republican friends, and i'm not talking about portman, i'm not talking about your governor, a lot of my republican friends say, joe, i know you're right, but if i do this i'll get primaried and i'll lose my primary. i'll be in trouble. but i think that's all beginning to move. i don't mean overnight. don't get me wrong, i'm not playing out some panacea here, but i think people are figuring out that if we want to -- i've always found you get rewarded for doing what you think at the time is the right thing and
people really believe you believe it's the right thing to do. >> yeah. >> so i think you're seeing it coming together. by the way, the compromises are -- you know, are real. compromises in my own party between the far left and the center and some of the folks who are more conservative. that's coming together. they said that would never happen. but if you notice, it has happened. >> well, let's talk a little bit more about bipartisanship. you know the republicans removed all their picks today for the january 6th select committee. nancy pelosi rejected two of them. the first thing i want to ask you, what's your reaction to that? number two, if republicans and democrats can't come together to investigate the biggest attack on our capitol in 200 years, what makes you think they can come together on anything? >> these people. no, i mean it.
i'm not being facetious. democrats and republicans. i don't care if you think i'm satin reincarnated, the fact is you can't look at that television and say nothing happened on the 6th. you can't listen to people who say this was a peaceful march. no, i'm serious. think about it. think of the things being said. i've been through the other end of this when the democrats 35 years ago were way off on the other side. think about it. >> but what you can do, what they can do is try to change the narrative and say, well, why wasn't nancy pelosi prepared? why weren't the democrats prepared? >> they can say that and you can make honest judgments about it. look, i sometimes get myself in trouble for what i'm about to say, not that i've ever got in trouble. as you heard me say no one ever doubts the and mean what i say but sometimes i mean what i say. i have faith in the american people, i do, to ultimately get to the right place. many times republicans are in the right place. i don't mean it's always
democratic point of view but some of the stuff. i mean, qanon, the idea that the democrats or the biden is hiding people and sucking the blood of children and -- no, i'm serious. that's -- now you may not like me, and that's your right. look, it's a simple thing. you can walk out and say i tonight like the way that guy wears his tie. i'm voting against him. you have a right to do that. you have a right to do that. but the kinds of things that are being said of late, i think you're beginning to see some of the -- and both -- and democrats as well. sort of a venom starting to leak out of a lot of it. we've got to get beyond this. what do you say to your
grandchildren or your children about what's happening? do you ever remember a time like this before in the entire history, whether you're a democrat or a republican? this is not who we are. and i'll say one last thing, you're going to -- i've had a lot of experience internationally and i mean not good or bad, just i have. i chaired the foreign relations committee, i've been deeply involved. i did national security for our last -- the administration with barack but, folks, the rest of the world's wondering about us. those of you who travel abroad, it's not a joke. not a joke. ask -- you know, when i went to this g7, all the major democracies. i walked in and go, america's back. i'm serious, heads of state.
i give you my word as a biden. they said, are you really back? how can i -- we believe you, joe, but will the country ever get it together? i talked to xi jinping in china, who i know well. we don't agree on a lot of things. he's a bright and really tough guy. he truly believes that the 21st century will be determined by oligarchs. things are moving so rapidly, so, so rapidly that you can't pull together a nation that is divided to get the consensus on acting quickly. so autocrats, autocracies. i had a long meeting with putin. i continue. i know him well. these guys are betting, i'm not joking, on autocracies. democracy has to stand up to get something done. it's not just important that -- i really mean it. >> mr. president, we're just getting started. we have a lot to talk about. we're going to take a quick
this is john lanni. he is the owner and co-founder of a restaurant group with 39 restaurants across the country, mr. president. he is a republican. >> hi, john. >> thank you for taking my question tonight. we employ hundreds of hard-working team members throughout the state of ohio and throughout the country. we're looking to hire more every day as we try to restart our restaurant business. the entire industry, amongst other industries, continue to struggle to find employees. how do you and the pied den administration plan to incentive advise those who haven't returned to work yet? hiring is our top priority right now. >> two things, one, if you notice, we kept you open. we spent billions of dollars to make sure restaurants could stay open and a lot of people who now work as waiters, waitresses decided that they don't want to do that anymore because there
was other opportunities at higher wages because there was a lot of openings now in jobs and people are beginning to move. beginning to move. there's some evidence that maintaining the ability to continue to not have your -- have to pay your rent so you don't get thrown out and being able to provide for unemployment insurance has kept people from going back to work. there's no -- not much distinction between not going back to work in a restaurant and not going back to work at a factory. so people are looking to change opportunities, change what they're doing. my deceased wife's father-in-law was a restauranteur up in syracuse, new york. by the way, he tried to commit -- he had a restaurant that was in a town called auburn, 20,000 people. it was a flagship 24-hour a day restaurant. he offered it to me which i
would have been making five times what i would in law school. i spent too many times in his home the cook didn't come in? what's going on. >> exactly. >> god love you, doing what you do. but all kidding aside, i think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things and there's a shortage of employees, people looking to make more money and to bargain. so i think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while. we're ending all of those things keeping people from going back to work, et cetera. it will be interesting to see what happens, but my gut tells me, my gut tells me that part of it relates to, you know, you can make a good salary as a waiter or waitress. one of my sister in laws, five
sisters makes a very good salary. she works in atlantic city, that's where she's from, but there's a lot of people who are looking to change their occupation. i could be wrong. >> let me ask you because john is looking to hire people. he's got 39 restaurants across the country. is there anything you can do to help him out? he's got to get people in. >> john, first of all, the thing we did to help john and the johns out is provide billions of dollars to make sure they could stay open, number one. so you all contributed to making sure john could stay in business. and we should. we should have done that, as we did for other industries. but secondly, john, my guess is that people being 7, $8 an hour plus tips, that's -- i think, john, you're going to be finding 15 bucks an hour or more now. but you may pay that already.
you may pay that already. >> let me ask you because everywhere i go, there's pretty much a shop in my town, there's a for hire sign. we tried to check into the hotel they couldn't get the rooms cleaned fast enough because they can't find staff. we're going to end the things that may be keeping people back. >> i don't think it did much. it's argued that because extended unemployment benefits kept people at home. >> you don't think it did that? >> i see no evidence it had any serious evidence on it. you can argue it. let's assume it did. it's coming to an end. it's not like we're in a situation where if that was it and it ends, then we're going to see -- john's going to have no problem, but what i think has happened, folks, is, look, if you make less than -- i'm not saying, john, your folks made
less than $15 -- that means the tips are good, people make a lot more than what the minimum wage -- what the wage is being paid. put tips on top. but, folks, look, here's the deal. think about it. if you have -- for example, i want to be able to -- one of my programs is make sure that we have four more years of school that's free, two years for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds because it's demonstrated that increases significantly success and community college. those folks are not likely to want to go and be waiters. nothing wrong with being a waiter or waitress, my family's been involved in that business. lastly, if you make less than 15 bucks an hour working 40 hours a week, you're living below the poverty level. you're living below the poverty level. >> i want to continue on and talk about -- this has to do with infrastructure because you got applause when you mentioned the bridge earlier. >> your congressman wants that
bridge too. >> todd michael is here. he's a union electrician and a democrat. he has a question about something a lot of people in cincinnati are concerned about. todd, take it away. >> as mr. lemon said, you have already touched on the subject of my question. the two most recent past presidents have both campaigned using this region's interstate 75 bridge, the bridge that crosses the ohio river as backdrops with the promise of an infrastructure bill that would help with replacement. president biden, is it possible to bring congress together to build a bridge that does not just benefit this region but the entire i-75 corridor from michigan to florida? >> the answer is absolutely, positively yes. i'm not just saying that. i'm not just saying that. you take a look at ohio and kentucky combined. there's well over -- there's thousands of bridges that need repair, thousands. thousands of bridges. and we should be looking at it
this way, it increases commerce, number one, but guess what? they're good paying union jobs. union. union jobs. and by the way, can you ever think of a time, those of you who are economists, who teach here economics, can you think of any time when the middle class did better, the wealthy didn't do really well? i'm not being facetious. i'm being deadly ernest. can you think of any time that's occurred when the middle class does better? i'm tired of trickle down. i come from the corporate state of america. and by the way, i think you should be able to go out and make a billion dollars, $100 million to do it if you have the capacity to do it but i ask just one thing.
pay your fair share. pay your fair share. we have more corporations registered in delaware than all the rest of america combined. combined. combined. i represented them for 36 years. i've never seen a time when we have the middle class growing that the wealthy didn't do very, very, very well. so that's what we have to do, build it out and up, not just down. >> so the people like our next guest who just graduated from law school by the way, his name is cory markham. graduate from the university of cincinnati -- he's heading to law school, i'm wrong, in the fall. cory, good luck in law school. >> freshman year you'll wish you had already graduated. i know, me too. >> so my question is last week regarding the gop's efforts to restrict voting rights you said
those efforts were, quote, the most dangerous threat to voting in the integrity of free and fair elections in our history, end quote. while you have condemned these attacks, you and congressional members of your party have done little to actually stop these assaults. if these efforts are really the most dangerous in our history, isn't it logical to get rid of the filibuster so we can protect our democracy and secure the right to vote? >> i stand by what i said. never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. not count the votes, determine who won. election officials across the board that they're deciding to push out of the way and if, in fact, tomorrow -- let's say
we're running last time, these laws have been in effect, these changes, in georgia, georgia's legislature biden won by multiple thousand votes, they can say we don't think it was legit and the state legislature votes. we're going to send electors up to congress to vote for trump, not biden. that's never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever been tried before. this is jim crow on steroids, what we're talking about. and so it takes -- go to your second point. i've been saying for a long, long time the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming. when i got to the united states senate at a time when we had guys like strom thurman, robert f. bird and a whole range of people who were very, very, very, very, very, very
conservative on race to say the least, even then if you were to filibuster, you had to stand on the floor and hold the floor, and that's why strom i think set the record at 24 straight hours or something. don't hold me to the number but -- you know? so you had to take -- there were significantly fewer filibusters in those days. in the middle of the civil rights movement. >> let me talk to you about that. this is important for people who look like me. my grandmother would sit around as a kid. had a 5th grade education. i learned that she couldn't read when i was doing my homework. she would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jelly beans in the jar. >> yep. >> or the soap and -- so, why is protecting the filibuster -- is that more important than protecting voting right?
especially, for people who fought and died for that? >> no. [ applause ] it's not. i want to see united states congress, the united states senate, pass s.1 and s. 4, the john lewis act, get to my desk so i can sign it. but here is the deal. what i, also, want to do. i want to make sure we bring along not just all the democrats, we bring along republicans, who i know, know better. they know better than this. and what i don't want to do is get wrapped up, right now, in the argument whether or not this is all about the filibuster. or all -- look. the american public. you can't stop them from voting. you tried last time. more people voted, last time, than any time in american history in the middle of the worst pandemic in american history. more people did. and they showed up. they're going to show up, again. they're going to do it, again. but what i want to do is i'm trying to bring the country together.
and i don't want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster. or the going back to the way the filibuster had to be used, before. >> but isn't that the only way you are going to get it done right now? >> no, i don't believe that. i think we can get it done. >> if you -- if you -- you agree with the former president. he has called your -- your -- as you called him, your old boss. that it's a relic of jim crow. >> it is. >> if it's a relic of jim crow, it's been used to fight against civil rights legislation, historically. why protect it? >> there's no reason to protect it, other than you're going to throw the entire congress into chaos and nothing will get done. >> all right. >> nothing, at all, will get done. and there's a lot at stake. most important one is the right to vote. that's the single-most important one and your vote counted, and counted by someone who honestly counts it. but it goes beyond that. for example, wouldn't -- wouldn't my friend from the other side love to have a debate about the filibuster, instead of passing the recovery act?
or wouldn't they love doing it, instead of being in a position where we provide for -- how many of you have children under the age of 17? raise your hand. guess what? you're getting a lot of money in a monthly check, now, aren't ya? no, you
deserve -- no, no, no, i really mean it. republicans used to fight for it, as well. it's called a child-tax credit. if you have a child under the age of 7, you get 300 bucks a month. 350 bucks a month. if you have a child under or between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month. and guess what? it's cutting child poverty in half. in half. >> mr. president, i want to talk about something else that affects people a lot. children as well. the next question, and it's about gun violence, this is from a paralegal. she is a democrat. andrea, go ahead. >> thanks for what you are
doing. >> thank you. so gun violence has been on the rise across the country. and as a recent student request young professional living in -- i have seen this firsthand. gun violence has taken the lives of so many young students and young people. i am tired and i want to see change that's going to make our cities, like cincinnati, safer. so, how will you address gun violence, from a federal point of view, to actually bring about change and make our local cities safer? >> now, i'm not being a wise guy. there's no reason you should. have you seen my gun-violence legislation i have introduced? as you know, because you're so involved, actually, crime is down. gun violence and murder rates are up. guns. i'm the only guy that ever got passed legislation, when i was a senator, that makes sure we eliminated assault weapons. the idea, you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that we
weapon. whether it's a -- whether it's a 9 millimeter pistol or whether it's a rifle. it is ridiculous. i'm continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things. but i'm not likely to get that done, in the near term. so here's what i have done. the people who, in fact, are using those weapons are acquiring them illegally. illegally. and so, what happens is, i've got an atf, alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. i have them increase their budget and increase their capacity, along with the justice department. to go after the gun shops that are not abiding by the law of doing background checks. that's number one. number two. number two. we're in a position where you -- most of the cities, and i don't know enough. i think you've had a lot of gun violence here, in cincinnati. i think there was up to, what, how many -- how many dead? 500 over a period -- don't hold
me to the number, whatever it was. but my point is all across the country and it's not because the gun shops in the cities are selling these guns. they are, either, shadow-gun dealers and/or gun shops that are not abiding by the law. so, we are going do major investigations and shut those guys down, and put some of 'em in jail. and for what they're doing. selling these weapons. there's, also, a thing called ghost guns that are being sold, now, and being used. and so -- but, in addition to that, what we have to do is we have to deal with the larger problem of the whole issue of law enforcement, generally. we're in a situation where, as much as the -- we need to pass the -- you know, the -- the floyd act and all that. but here's the deal. cops are having real trouble. they're not all bad guys. there are a lot of good guys. we need more policemen, not fewer policemen. but we need them involved in community policing.
community policing. and when we did that, violent crime went down. all the criticism about the original crime bill. guess what? >> yeah. >> crime went down, until we stopped doing community policing. so it's about getting -- we have availability, now, of over billion -- lots of money for cops to be able to hire psychologists, psychiatrists, as well as social workers to be engaged in the process. >> mr. president, we are going to put a period. maybe, a comma right here because we have more to come. we got to take a quick break. we'll be right back. more from president joe biden, right after this. ice, andrew. very nice. good job. next, apparently carvana doesn't have any "bogus" fees. bogus?! now we work hard for those fees. no hundred-dollar fuel fee? pumping gas makes me woozy. thank you. no $600 doc fee? ugh, the printing, the organizing. no $200 cleaning fees. microfiber, that chaps my hands.
age-related macular degeneration may lead to severe vision loss. so the national eye institute did 20 years of clinical studies on a formula only found in preservision. if it were my vision, i'd ask my doctor about preservision. it's the most studied eye vitamin brand. if it were my vision, i'd look into preservision. only preservision areds2 contains the exact nutrient formula recommended by the nei to help reduce the risk of moderate to advanced amd progression. i have amd. it is my vision so my plan includes preservision.
welcome back to our "cnn town hall" with the president of the united states joe biden. i just said we were going to put a comma on it because i want to continue this conversation. you said that we need more police, right? your words. so then, how do you respond to republicans, who try to paint you and your party as anti-police? >> they're lying. no, look. never once. we have to change police conduct. we have to have rules where things are open. we have to have rules, where you can be able to determine what the background, how many times a cop has violated the rules.
and be able to have access to what's going on in police departments, so the justice department can get involved in whether or not they have to change the pattern and practices. i've always said that. >> what about defunding the police, though? >> no, i never, never, never said defunding the police. look. i don't know any community, particularly the communities that are in the most need and the poorest and the most at risk, that don't want police. they want police, though, to look at them as equals. they want police to treat them, in a way. they don't want police abusing. and what happened was we got in the position where we -- we used to have community policing where the cop -- my -- my deceased son was the attorney general of the state of delaware. and what we did, when the -- the original bill got passed was he would go down into tough neighborhoods in my -- in my state and my city of wilmington, which is overwhelming-minority city. and he'd go with -- every --
everybody can tell me where the best basketball is played in the playground here, in this city. you know where it is. you know who the best ball players are. you know where they are. he would go down there and sit there on the bench with his son, my grandson, who is now 16, when he was 5 and 6 years old. and let them know he was there. he'd go over, and knock on the window of the local cop who was sitting there, by himself, in a squad car. and say get out of the car. meet people. because what used to happen was cops used to, when it first -- community policing came about -- they'd go in. they knew who the minister was in the church. they new who owned the local-liquor store and the local drugstore. the -- the local-grocery store. and they'd walk in and say, look, i'm joe biden. here is my cell number. you have a problem, call me. here is my cell number. >> you said it's tough right now. you said police are up against -- well, they're up against the narrative that, you know, the country's anti-police. democrats are anti-police. joe biden is anti-police. and then, you have -- >> they aren't saying joe biden is anti-police. cops are not saying that about
joe biden. they know me. period. >> go on. >> they're not saying it. republicans are saying it on the far -- i'm not -- anyway -- >> no, i want you to talk about this because i mean it's an important narrative. there is no more important issue, i think, right now, than safety. you can -- you can rebuild a home. you can, you know, get a lot of things back. but, mr. president, you cannot get back a life. >> that's exactly right. >> yeah. and if police aren't doing their jobs, that increases. >> no. if police aren't doing their job, they should be held accountable. they should be fired if they're not doing their job. they should -- i -- i have no -- i make no excuses for that. we should have, for example, george floyd act where choke holds are against the law. where a whole lot of things that are laid out in that legislation. and by the way, i grew up in a neighborhood where you became a cop, a firefighter, or a priest. i wasn't qualified for any one of them. so, here i am. all kidding aside, i'm not joking. the guys that go up in scranton
and delaware, steel town, that's what we did. that's what they did. that's what my friends did. and here's the point. the point is that they -- it doesn't justify maltreating the public. you have no right to do that. none. but now, what's happening is because they've become -- it's become so tough across the -- the -- the -- the spectrum. we have actually cut down on the number of police, unrelated to anybody asking for it. the towns and cities aren't spending as much money on it. there's not as much federal money to hire police. and now, what's happening is, police are not wanting to be a cop. raise your hand, if you want to be a cop now. what do you think? huh? so, what we got to do is we've got to give them the help they need to be better at their job. the idea that you have someone sitting on a ledge saying they're going to jump off a ledge, and you call the cop. and sending a guy or a woman who is a law-enforcement officer, has a criminal-justice degree.
when you could send, with him or her, you could send with 'em, a psychologist or a social worker. somebody can talk to them. no, i mean it. i'm serious. >> mr. president, i want to get to more questions, now. i want to bring in lynn miller. she is an attorney and a democrat. lynn, what's your question? >> mr. president, the opioid crisis continues. and in this part of the country, it remains a huge problem. while the overprescription of opiates is part of that problem, the drugs available in the black market are a growing issue. as many of these contain fentanyl. that took the life of our son. how can your administration combat the issue of illegal opiates, many of which our young people buy online? someone should bear responsibility for delivering death through the mail. >> they should bear responsibility. you may or may not be aware. even in the period when i was out of office, i was railing against the fact that drug companies were selling on the open market. there was one case, which really
got me was you had two drugstores in a small town in west virginia having something, like, prescription for 4,000 pills. and there was, obviously, drug trafficking. that's what was going on. so, what we did -- what they did was they went after -- they just settled with johnson & johnson. some of the drug companies, who make opioids, for 26 -- is it 26 billion? or 27 today if i'm not mistaken, the settlement took place. but here is the deal. in addition to that, you have the chinese sending fentanyl to mexico, in large part, that's being mixed with opioids and/or heroin and other drugs. which is a dead-set killer of people. and so, what we have to do. i've had this encounter with china and we're going to continue it. but we have also increased the number of dea agents, what we're doing at the border. and how we're going to deal with the -- the intercepting that drug trade. in addition to that, the justice department is moving on dealing
with the whole opioid issue, by increasing, significantly, the number -- the number of people in justice department working on this issue. and so, there -- there's much more to say about it. but it is incredibly, incredibly dangerous. >> mr. president, i believe there's no better way to speak about this than from experience. um, i don't think there's probably a family in this room who hasn't been affected by addiction. you've been very open about your son, hunter's problems with addiction. this is personal, for you. listen, i have dealt with it in -- in my own family. every family deals with it but this is personal for you. >> yes. and i'm so damn proud of my son. my son just wrote a book about how he overcame being addicted. and he did it, and he is doing it. and he is in good shape, thank god. here is the thing. we don't have nearly enough people involved in mental-health and drug-addiction services, number one. number one.
[ applause ] number two. we shouldn't be sending people to jail for use. we should be sending them to mandatory rehabilitation. mandatory rehabilitation. number three. when people are, in fact, in jail, they should be getting -- if that's not the main crime but also -- they should be getting treatment, while they are in jail. fourth. when people get out of jail, whether it's for drug addiction or any, other crime. if they have served their time, they should have full access to everything from pell grants to public housing to -- to the likes. and by the way, by the way, folks, it's not just the right thing to do. it's the smart thing for us to do because what happens? years ago, there was a guy named arlen specter from pennsylvania. he and i introduced legislation that was the second chance act. meant that right now, you get out of jail and most prisons in the states around the country what happens? you get a bus ticket and 25
bucks. you end up under the bridge, just like you did before. you're almost -- almost guaranteed to get back in -- in -- in whatever -- whatever your problem was, before. so, they should have access to drug treatment. they should have access to housing. they should have access to whatever they qualify, based on their income. and we should, in prisons as well, be training people differently. but the big thing here is we have to deal with the idea of addiction by providing for we all know. it's a disease of the brain. >> yeah. >> it's a disease of the brain. and has to be treated as such. >> i think it's -- i think addiction and mental-health issues have to be dealt with, just as if you break your arm and go to the doctor. we should be able to talk. there shouldn't be a stigma about it. i want to bring in, now, medina nolan. she is a writer and editor. medina, what is your question? >> hi, medina. >> good evening, mr. president. vice president harris said to guatemalans, don't come. recently, you have indicated you are in favor of refugees coming
to this country. could you, please, explain your administration's basic stance on immigration? >> yes. they should not come. what we're trying to set up is, in the countries like, in particular, guatemala, honduras, el salvador, et cetera. we are setting up, in those countries, if you seek asylum in the united states, you can seek it from the country. from your -- in place. you can seek it from an american embassy. you can go in and seek, and see whether or not you qualify. we've significantly increased the number of officers who can hear cases as to whether or not you qualify under the law for being here, as a refugee. that is -- that's what we've done. thirdly, we have been able to move, significantly, to change the number. there were thousands of people in -- in -- in -- in custody with the border patrol. it's now cut by 90%.
where there -- it's considerably down. what i -- what i do say is the one place you may heard that i am talking about more immigrants coming in are those folks from afghanistan. who helped the american soldiers. who will be -- they and their family will be victimized, very badly, as a consequence of what happens, if they're left behind. and so, we're providing for them to be able to see whether they qualify to meet the special requirement to be able to come to the united states, as a refugee and as, ultimately, earning citizenship here. it seems, to me, it's the only decent thing that we can do. in the meantime, we're going to send people to american bases. where they are not going to be able to leave the base while their cases are being determined, whether they qualify. and also, other bases. >> i want to talk to you about daca. i got two questions on immigration. quick questions i want to ask you about. because just last week, there was a federal judge he ruled a
program unlawful. blocked it from accepting new applications. what do you say to dreamers, who are really worried about their futures here in the united states? >> i'm not letting this go. look, guys. let's just put it -- [ applause ] -- let's just put this -- you know, we talked about dreamers, sort of, generically. let's think about it, now, what it really means. you are 5 years old. you're 9 years old. your mom and your dad says i'm going to take you across the rio grande and we are going to illegally go into the united states. what are you supposed to say? not me, that's against the law. no, no, i'm being deadly honest. what could a kid say? what could they do? they come here with, really, no choice. and they're here, and they're good, good people. they've done well. 10,000 of them were first-line workers. these are kids who have done
well. and so, what we're going to do is, first of all, appeal the case, number one. but number two, we're going to make sure that a number of my republican colleagues say they support the right of dreamers to come. let's call the question. they should be able to stay in the united states of america. when a child comes like that. >> mr. president, you have been the big guy for six months, now, in the white house. can you take us behind the scenes? something that was extraordinary? or unusual that happened that stands out to you? >> yeah, mr. president, you didn't close the door, mr. president. what the hell you going out this time for, you know? it's -- it's -- it's a wonderful honor. as you can tell, i hope i have very good manners. but i'm not very hung up on protocol. and uh, i -- and the secret
service is wonderful. and because things are so -- [ applause ] -- and because things are -- are so crazy out there, um, it is very hard to get comfortable, like i would ordinarily be. for example, i think all of the -- all -- all the help that's there providing meals and all the rest. i think they love us. say, don't come in for breakfast. we can get our own breakfast because i like to walk out in my robe and go in. no, no, i'm not -- you think i'm joking. i -- i -- i'm not. you know what i mean? and so, it's just a -- you know, the only place i have felt lik