Vice President Biden's Remarks to the IAFF

Remarks by the Vice President to the International Association of Firefighters at their 2009 Legislative Conference.


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Folks, thank you very, very much. Man, it's good to be with you. (Applause.) It's good to be with you. (Applause.) Please, thank you very, very much. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) It's good to be home with all of you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. I appreciate that warm welcome. And understand that the feeling is mutual.

Let me begin by thanking Harold. Harold was always an ally and a good acquaintance. But during the campaign, and since the campaign, we've become close personal friends. I want to tell you that I know of no labor leader, I know of no business leader, I know of no leader who bleeds more for the losses of his men and women, and who cares more about their physical and financial security than Harold Schaitberger. And, Harold, they're lucky to have you, and you're lucky to have them. It's a good marriage. (Applause.)

Now, about that bell. (Laughter.) I got two things about the same time: I got a bell, and a German Shepherd puppy. (Laughter.) And I got 13 acres that is fenced in, in the middle of 75 acres. I always voted for public housing -- I never knew it was going to be this good. (Laughter.) And guess what -- (applause) -- German Shepherd puppies respond to bells. (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we should start by -- I want to personally -- give a personal thank you. As they say, as the President says, a shout out to Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia for keeping those fire stations open. (Applause.) We did it. We did it. (Applause.) Five engine companies and two truck companies, and more importantly, all those jobs saved. It was one of the first pieces of the economic Recovery Act we were actually able to put to work, and put to work the way we want to see that money put to work. We want to see it -- put the money into saving jobs, but also, particularly saving jobs that are absolutely essential to the community, the safety and well-being of the community.

So I -- and I was in Philadelphia this morning. I'm there a lot. This morning my mom was operated on. She's 92 years old, and God love her, she came through. She broke her hip, and she came through the operation incredibly well. I told her that -- (applause) -- those of you who've met my mom, you know she's fairly politically astute -- (laughter) -- and she still runs the show. And so I said, "don't worry, Mom -- last night I went up to see her, and with, obviously, my brothers and my sister and my wife and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and my daughter and my -- everybody is up, because Mom-Mom runs the show. You think I'm joking -- I'm not. (Laughter.)

And I said, "Mom, don't worry, I'll be here when they take you up. And you were here for me, joking for every operation." My brother leaned down to her. He said, "Mom, you know how you always say, 'I'd rather be there than you?' He said, "Mom, I'm glad it's you instead of me." (Laughter.) And he has got this sense of humor, and he made her laugh.

But, I said, "I cleared my schedule tomorrow." She said, "Valerie said you were talking to the fire fighters." I said, "Yes, Mom, but I'll get a chance to talk to them again." She said, "Joey, talk to the fire fighters." Then she turned to my sister, "And, Valerie, you're still doing that St. Patrick's Day speech in Scranton , aren't you, tomorrow?

So, ladies and gentlemen, it's evidence -- and I'm not joking -- it's evidence that my family -- I always tell you about how I owe you and how much I care about you all. But my whole family does, because my family knows what you've done for me -- not just in my political life, what you've done for them. You know, I told you before I owe you all. I owe the fire fighters in my state.

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