Former Vice President Joe Biden hosted his first-ever Hamptons fundraiser on Saturday, August 24. Held at the Water Mill home of artist Bonnie Lautenberg, who has known Biden since 1987 when he served in the Senate with her late husband, Frank Lautenberg, the evening brought out nearly 250 supporters, including Governor Jon Corzine, Ambassador Donald Blinken, and his wife Vera, former Congressman Steve Israel, Tony Blinken, who was the Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, and two candidates running for Congress, Perry Gershon and Jackie Gordon.
After enjoying hor d’oeuvres, attendees gathered in Lautenberg’s lush backyard, ready to hear from the presidential candidate. As Lautenberg and Biden walked out to the podium side by side, they were met with a standing ovation from the eager audience.
“Wow! What a great crowd,” Lautenberg stated. “This is an amazing crowd for former Vice President Biden.”
“He has the dignity, experience, competency and knowledge of how government works and how to govern this country. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and privilege to introduce the person I hope will be the next president of the United States,” Lautenberg said as she welcomed the presidential candidate to the podium.
Biden spoke for just under 30 minutes, and began by joking, “My name is Joe Biden and I’m Jill Biden’s husband.” His wife, who is still teaching full time, didn’t make the trip to the Hamptons because she was down in South Carolina campaigning for her husband.
Biden touched upon many topics during his speech, including diplomatic relations. “Today, I want to focus on where I intend to lead the nation if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president. The G-7 is a reminder of how important alliances are to America and around the world. The fact of the matter is I spent, and with the help of Tony Blinken as National Security Advisor, I spent my entire career dealing with American foreign policy,” he noted. “I’ve had the honor and the privilege and sometimes the difficulty of meeting virtually every major world leader in the last 35 years.”
“I believe strongly that we’re going to have a lot of work to do, the next president of the United States, to repair our alliances,” he added. “If I’m elected president, one of my most important tasks will be to send a signal that America is no longer going alone.”
As for climate change, while Biden’s plan would involve the U.S. achieving a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050, he noted that to truly make an impact, we have to work together with the rest of the world, especially those that are part of the Paris Agreement. “We’re in a situation now where the United States makes up 15 percent of all the emissions that are causing our climate to be in the state in which it is. I have a very extensive climate change plan, and even if every single bit of it is put in place, and it all works, we still have, unless we get the rest of the world to cooperate, 85 percent of the problem that exists beyond our shores,” he explained. “The first thing I will do as president of the United States is call a conference for all those nations of the world to up the ante.”
Biden expressed that the nation has a “a serious problem” when it comes to gun control and the country’s “irrational gun policy.” Biden relayed, “I’m the only one in the United States that has ever, in fact, beat the NRA flat out, eliminating assault riffles.” Biden continued, “There is no rationale for us to have these assault weapons. Who needs a clip that can hold 100 rounds?”
He believes that healthcare, which is one of the greatest concerns of voters, according to polling data, “Should be a right, not a privilege. I think the easiest way to get there, and remain the most extensive coverage we could get and cover everyone is to expand on Obamacare.”
“So many middle class people are in real trouble. The bottom is falling out for them. How can you maintain your dignity if you look at your child, who has a pre-existing condition, and there’s not a thing you can do about it?” he asked.
One of the final topics Biden spoke about was his desire to bolster advanced research and technology focused on dealing with new drugs and alternatives.
“If we don’t do something about Alzheimer’s, for example, within 20 years every single solitary hospital bed in America will be filled with an Alzheimer’s patient. The ones that exist today will cost us an estimated 260 billion dollars a year,” he explained. “Imagine what we could do if we focused all our energy, just like the Defense Department did on defense, on disease.”
In conclusion, he told an anecdote about his grandparents. “Every time I would walk away, my grandfather would say, ‘Joey, keep the faith.’ And my grandmother would say, ‘No, Joey. Spread it.'”