Trump halting COVID stimulus talks ‘would not make sense’: Panetta

Trump halting COVID stimulus talks 'doesn't make sense': Panetta

This is a rush transcript from “Your World” October 6, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  All right, talks off and stocks off. And I mean way off.

No sooner, less than an hour ago, when we got word from the White House, that that’s it, the president has had it with no progress on these talks that he says are going nowhere, that he’s putting them off until after the election, at the soonest. And that depends, I would imagine, if he gets reelected himself.

For now, Wall Street heard that and tanked, and continued tanking, Boeing and airline-related stocks, particularly hoping to see some sort of deal that will give them flight again, now grounded, all grounded, and all on concerns that these talks are now done.

To John Roberts at the White House on whether this is a great negotiating tactic, or they really are done — John.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, not clear about that. I mean, it would seem, at least at the moment, that they’re done.

But this is going to have a big impact on businesses that we’re looking for more PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program, people who are looking for those

$1,200 checks to go into their bank account, as you mentioned, the airlines who are about to furlough tens of thousands of employees.

But the president tweeting out earlier today that he has instructed the chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Steven Mnuchin, to cease and desist from further negotiations until after the election in a long series of tweets here.

And I will read along. He says: “Nancy Pelosi is asking for $2.4 trillion to bail out poorly run high-crime Democrat states, money that is in no way related to COVID-19. We made a very generous offer of $1.6 trillion. And, as usual, she is not negotiating in good faith. I am rejecting their request and looking to the future of our country. I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election, when immediately after I win, we will pass a major stimulus bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and small businesses.”

He continues: “I have asked Mitch McConnell not to delay, but instead focus full-time on approving my outstanding nominee for the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. Our economy is doing very well. The stock market is at record levels” — well, it was — “jobs and unemployment also coming back in record numbers. We are leading the world in economic recovery,and the best is yet to come.”

Again, it really is difficult to tell if the president is serious about this, or if this is just a negotiating tactic. I mean, there’s not a lot of time left between now and the election.

Mark Meadows and Steven Mnuchin have been negotiating with Nancy Pelosi for weeks now. They have pretty much — and Chad Pergram was talking about this earlier this afternoon — reached a ceiling in terms of the Republicans, reached a floor in terms of the Democrats. There’s a gap of about $600 billion in there.

There’s no signs that Nancy Pelosi is willing to come down further, no sign that the White House is willing to go higher. So it could be, Neil, that until November the 4th, one way or the other, or who knows — because we do not know when we will find out who’s going to win this election because of the mail-in ballots and all of the leeway that these individual states are giving in county those mail-in ballots.

It may be some time before people who are really hurting get a little more money in their pockets. We will see — Neil.

CAVUTO:  No, you’re right. If that thing is delayed, so too getting these talks going again, if they get going again.

John Roberts, thank you very much.

ROBERTS:  Thanks, Neil.

CAVUTO:  Well, Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve weighed into this debate, before we knew the president put the kaput on the talks themselves, saying that stimulus is needed here, and better to err on the side of too much than risk offering too little.

Again, a moot point at this point.

To Susan Li on the fallout from all of this.

Hey, Susan.

SUSAN LI, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Neil, so the Dow dropped 400 points after President Trump put an end to stimulus talks, making the announcement via Twitter, as John Roberts pointed out.

So, Wall Street was hoping for something after some hopeful signs that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had several conversations over the past week, and also strong words, as you mentioned, from the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, today, predicting what he calls tragic risks for the U.S. economy if there wasn’t any extra stimulus.

There was a $600 billion gap between what the Republicans wanted and what the Democrats had passed. And the Democrats are proposing $600 more in extra weekly unemployment benefits. Compare that to the $400 for Republicans. More than $400 billion for local governments. That was twice as much as the GOP. And another round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

But this accelerated the heavy sell-off in technology names. Think of the Apples, Amazon, Microsoft, and even high flyer Tesla. Some of these tech names were already down big after reports that the House Judiciary Antitrust Committee was possibly recommending a breakup of some of these names and more oversight regulation of these tech companies that may have too much power and influence over American lives.

Now, Wall Street has also been on edge about a long-contested election coming off the worst September in nearly 10 years. And some say, if there is a blue wave in November, with Democrats in the White House and both chambers of Congress, that could actually increase the chances of a large fiscal spending package, but only in the new year, Neil.

CAVUTO:  Susan Li, thank you very, very much.

In the meantime here, well, hope denied and promises denied. So, what happens now?

To Chad Pergram on Capitol Hill with, I would imagine, some folks who were a tad surprised by this development — Chad.

CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, the first thing I heard from people here on Capitol Hill, people were starting to ask, why would they make that announcement while the markets were still open?

They started to question the wisdom of that. Also, I started to hear from Republicans saying, what about these vulnerable Republican senators facing these competitive reelection bids in swing states? How is this going to impact it?

Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has weighed in on what the president announced this afternoon. Here’s what she had to say, Pelosi: “Today, once again, President Trump showed his true colors, putting himself first, at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP members of Congress.”

She also said: “Clearly, the White House is in complete disarray. Sadly, they’re rejecting the urgent warnings of Fed Chairman Powell today. Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and for businesses.”

Now, keep in mind that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, they have been negotiating some in-person, mostly by phone of late, after the COVID outbreak here on Capitol Hill, to try to get a deal.

But, as John Roberts alluded to, those numbers, that $2.2 trillion to $1.4,

$1.6 trillion that Republicans were pushing, they have never really gotten any closer. And in some respects, even though they were talking on almost a daily basis here by telephone, these talks have not moved at all since May.

It intensified in the past couple of days, because you hit October 1.

That’s when all of these layoffs were starting to happen. And that kind of focused refocused these talks. Keep in mind that a lot of folks on Capitol Hill said that they thought that, after the president got sick, that that might augment this, maybe push the administration to get a deal, maybe have a win right before the election.

But that does not seem to be the case right now. And I heard from Dean Phillips. He’s a Republican — excuse me — a Democratic freshman from Minnesota. And here’s what he said. He’s been trying to work out a bipartisan agreement across the aisle for several weeks now.

He said: “It’s confounding and unconscionable that the president would suddenly order a cessation of negotiations. People cannot afford more delays.”

And, as John Roberts alluded to, more delays. They’re probably not going to get this done any time until after the election. And that was always the marker here, that, if things had not moved since May, the only time that things would move would be after the election.

Now, according to the president, the focus, at least in the Senate, is going to be on confirming Amy Coney Barrett. She goes before the Judiciary Committee next week — Neil.

CAVUTO:  You raised a good point about the timing of all those in the middle of a market day. The president must have known that it would have the reaction it did, and the markets would tank.

But you also get into the possibility here that a lot of the airlines, which were trying to hold off on layoffs, now will just go full-throttle, no pun intended, on continuing with them, because that’s at least 30 days away, if that.

PERGRAM:  Absolutely.

And that’s the concern from a lot of these members of Congress, because they thought there was a chance they could have something, maybe vote on it next week, week after that, do it right before the election.

But, again, the metric never really moved, Neil. That’s the inherent problem here. As I always say, it’s about the math. If the Democrats came down too low, they were going to lose Democratic votes. If Republicans came up too high, they were going to lose GOP votes, and they could never hit that sweet spot right in the middle.

That was the problem with these negotiations between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

CAVUTO:  No, you did say that from the outset.

I’m just wondering whether — and I was reading this with John, and it’s a crazy notion — as to whether this might be a negotiating tactic to get the two sides to speed something together. I have seen it in the China talks. I saw it in the Canada and the Mexico talks.

Could it be something like that? Or am I getting to inside the black helicopter crowd here?

PERGRAM:  Here’s the — here’s the main problem with that.

Under normal circumstances, if you had members of Congress here on a daily basis, that might amplify the pressure. You don’t have many members here.

The House of Representatives is out. Mitch McConnell canceled the Senate schedule, the floor schedule, until the 19th.

You will have — you won’t even have the full Judiciary Committee here next week for the Barrett hearings. And when you have members of Congress in the building, even during a pandemic, they talk, they get together, they trade horses, they trade ideas.

The fact that that does not exist right now probably diminishes the chances of getting a deal.

CAVUTO:  Chad Pergram, thank you very much, my friend.

On the right of your screen, you’re watching the former Vice President Joe Biden. He’s arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He will be making a speech there.

We got word as well that he has tested negative for the coronavirus. I believe this is the third time that we have got an indication of that, a little more than a week.

Again, we’re going to be following what he says. Will he have any response to these developments in the talks that were suddenly stopped by the president today?

In the meantime, I want to go to Leon Panetta, of course, former defense secretary, chief of staff, so much more, his view of these fast-moving developments on the Hill.

Leon, what do you make of the president pulling the rug out on these — on these talks? The two sides, I guess, were not as close as we thought. They were kind of in the same math position here, but at least they were talking. Now that’s gone. What do you think?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  I don’t see — I don’t think it makes a lot of sense, to be truthful.

You have got — you have got the economy in a recession. It’s going to go deeper in a recession, with all of these layoffs, all of that happening before the election. That can’t be good for the president.

You have got a situation where people are still concerned about COVID-19.

The president said, don’t be afraid of COVID-19. By his actions today, they’re going to be damn afraid of COVID-19, because there’s not going to be any assistance made available.

And, besides that, the negotiations, yes, they have gone on for a long period of time, but they had narrowed their differences. And, frankly, having negotiated those kinds of packages, you always wind up splitting the difference and going home.

And I think that was going to be probably the next step, if he had allowed these negotiations to go forward.

CAVUTO:  I’m just wondering, if it were to wait until after the election — and, of course, the president’s making the assumption he wins.

If the other guy wins, Joe Biden wins, he will want something decidedly more generous, something along the lines that Nancy Pelosi wanted, closer to $2.2 to $2.3 trillion. So he could be cutting off his nose and wrecking his whole face, couldn’t he?


PANETTA:  Well, yes.

I think the problem is, if Biden wins, there probably will not be a package that will be approved by the Congress. You will probably have to wait until the beginning of the year. And people are going to be hurting.

CAVUTO:  But it would be a much more expensive package, right?

And I think that’s the one thing I would think the president would want to avoid. But let’s say we don’t, Leon, get anything together. Is it your sense here that it’s a worthy subject for the vice presidential candidates to mention tomorrow, the response?

Because Republicans have always said, we have poured trillions into this.

The issue isn’t a lack of money. If anything, we poured maybe too much money, and it’s gone into areas we didn’t intend, but that it isn’t this deal that matters. It’s all the other spending that matters that has not yielded the results we thought.

What do you think?

PANETTA:  Well, Neil, having — having worked on budgets, and having worked on a budget that ultimately produced a balanced budget, I remain very concerned about the fact that the deficit is escalating to almost $3.7 trillion.

But we are in a crisis. We’re in an economic crisis, and we’re in a pandemic. This is an emergency situation. And we know what the consequences will be if we do nothing, which is that people will be laid off, people will be hurting, people are out of jobs, they won’t be getting any kind of aid.

I mean, this is not America. We have got to take the step — as the chairman of the Fed has said, we have got to take the necessary steps here to help our economy.

Yes, it’s going to cost money, but we all knew that that was going to be the case. And better to go ahead with a package that provides some relief to millions of Americans than to basically hold them hostage until after the election.

That doesn’t make any sense.

CAVUTO:  Would you recommend — when the president was diagnosed or tested positive for the virus, Leon, many Democrats were wishing him well, from Joe Biden to Kamala Harris, even President Barack Obama himself, saying their thoughts and prayers were with him.

It seems like all that’s gone now, that it’s back to war here.

PANETTA:  Well, I hope not. I mean, I think we all have to wish that the president gets well, as a result of this.

Look, when the president gets ill with COVID-19, my concern is that it raises national security implications, and that, now with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and other members of the Joint Chiefs going into quarantine because of COVID-19, what’s happening with the staff at the White House, here we are in a situation where we’re facing a number of crises, the pandemic, a recession.

We’re facing a polarized country. We’re facing the concern about election integrity. And now we have got the leadership of the country almost devastated. This is a vulnerable situation for the United States.

And this is the moment, very frankly, where we need leadership in order to be able to put us in the right direction.

CAVUTO:  All right, thank you very, very much, Leon Panetta. Good catching up with you.

Leon, of course, the former defense secretary, former CIA director, former White House chief of staff, so, so much more, former OMB director. I forgot about that.

Again, the collective stunned surprise out of those in both parties here that these talks have been stopped. Again, we will see how those in the financial community digest all of this.

Leon was also talking about some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff quarantining themselves, out of an abundance of caution, because of their proximity to some key figures who have since tested positive for the virus, including the president.

Anyway, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which includes the heads of the Army and the Navy and the Air Force, they have all tested negative for the virus.

So, there is that.

We will have more after this.


CAVUTO:  All right, Joe Biden is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

He will be making remarks there very shortly. Pennsylvania’s a must-win state. He wants to reverse that state from slipping away from Hillary Clinton four weeks ago — four years ago, I should say.

The latest Monmouth poll of the state has Biden up by about a dozen points at this moment.

Mark Meredith with more from Gettysburg.

Hey, Mark.


Any moment now, we do expect to hear from Joe Biden here. He just arrived in Gettysburg. He’s expected to deliver an address focused on unity. This is a speech he says he’s been working out for quite some time. And we have seen some of his supporters make their way out here. His motorcade just arrived.

As you can imagine, the Biden campaign putting a lot of time and resources into Pennsylvania, state the president one four years ago, but also a state that they think they have a real shot at winning this time around, as they have been going up against President Trump.

A new poll out today from Monmouth University shows registered voters supporting Biden by double digits, with 54 percent going for Biden. This survey was two survey was taken within the last few days. And it is a bit higher than the overall average that we have been seeing for the last several weeks here in Pennsylvania. Biden’s normally been leading by about six points.

Meantime, the Biden campaign is also relying on one of its most high- profile surrogates to get the base excited, to help get out the vote. I’m talking about former first lady Michelle Obama. She had put out a new video message in which she called on Americans to rally behind her husband’s former running mate.

And last night, while Biden was in Florida, it was interesting. He was telling the supporters that were out there, he considered calling President Trump while he was in the hospital with COVID, but decided not to do that, thinking it was going to be a little bit intrusive.

As for the speech that we’re going to be hearing from Joe Biden, it is a beautiful day here in Pennsylvania. But it is not going to be a big crowd in the audience. This instead is a speech that appears mostly to be for the cameras. His supporters that have been out here, very eager to see him as the motorcade drove by, but no indication, Neil, that they will be getting close to the candidate himself — Neil.

CAVUTO:  All right, Mark, thank you very, very much.

As Mark was wrapping up there, we’re getting confirmation from a subcommittee that’s looking into antitrust issues with some of the biggest tech names on the planet. And it’s corralled them all, with strong language here, saying right now that Amazon has monopoly over third-party sellers, and it’s engaged in extensive anti-competitive conduct of its own in the treatment of such sellers.

It has said the same right now about the social networking giant Facebook, saying that it has maintained dominance by identifying rivals and then copying and acquiring or killing them.

It has similar remarks to make about Apple and a host of other big tech players. The push has been on in the Democratic House right now to rein these guys in. Some have even said break them up.

As if it wasn’t tough enough for technology today, the Specter of this could make things worse.

Stay with us. You’re watching YOUR WORLD.


CAVUTO:  Here we go again.

Hurricane Delta is now a Category 4 storm. It could hit land as a Category 5, the governors of Louisiana and Alabama both declaring states of emergencies. This is the 25th big storm of the season.

More after this.


CAVUTO:  All right, the big vice presidential debate is on. We’re keeping an eye on that, as the candidates, the vice presidential candidates, get ready for that. Man, oh, man, talk about lots of things to talk about.

Also waiting on Joe Biden. He is in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He will no doubt be responding to these latest developments about canceled stimulus talks, where the president stands, the whole mask thing, whether the president is doing enough to address the COVID-19 issue.

Having said all of that, Hillary Vaughn with a sort of a prep on what they’re looking at for Salt Lake City tomorrow, the site of the big V.P.

debate — Hillary.


Well, this debate has extra safety precautions. And one of those will be a Plexiglas wall dividing Harris and Pence. We got an idea of what that will look like from Senator Lindsey Graham’s Senate race debate over the weekend.

Tomorrow night, the glass wall will divide Vice President Mike Pence and V.P. nominee Kamala Harris and keep them over 12 feet apart. Both candidates have been busy holding mock debates preparing for tomorrow night.

Axios reports, for the Harris team, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg is playing Pence. And for the Pence team, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is playing Harris.

Harris promised to prosecute the case against President Trump. But now that Trump is battling coronavirus, her strategy has shifted a bit. Her team is now planning on softening their attacks to make them less personal, according to Axios.

But debate prep partner Pete Buttigieg says today, one of her strategies will not be to fact-check Pence play by play.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA:  It’s an ability to deliver lines with a high degree of confidence, whether they’re true or not.

But, of course, saying something with a straight face doesn’t make it true.


VAUGHN:  Pence has been ramping up research on his candidate, the campaign telling Axios Pence has been reviewing mounds of material on Harris.

Part of the strategy to get through to voters will be putting Harris’

record on display.



2019 the most liberal member of the United States Senate, even to the left of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

So there is a wide divide between these two. And I expect Vice President Pence to particularly press her on some of her more radical ideas.


VAUGHN:  And, Neil, Biden today in a fund-raising e-mail looked back at his time participating in vice presidential debates, reminiscing about his debate against Paul Ryan in 2012 that he credits for coining his personal catchphrase, “That’s a bunch of malarkey.”

So, maybe Harris will take a cue from that, and use tomorrow night to come up with her own catchphrase — Neil.

CAVUTO:  All right, thank you very much, Hillary.

Of course, Joe Biden’s famous debate and the one that remains the highest rated vice presidential debate was his exchange with Sarah Palin back in 2008. The ticket went on, obviously, to win that year.

But a lot of people gave Sarah Palin high marks for her strong performance at that time. So, again, it gets a little bit more attention, given the fact that this is Kamala Harris part of this, the first woman to be in that role in a vice presidential debate role since Sarah Palin.

The fallout, what we’re likely to see and what our guests see as things that we could see, Emily Larsen of The Washington Examiner, Michael Starr Hopkins, Democratic strategist.

Michael, let’s begin with you and the pressure on Kamala Harris, of course, the first woman in that role of since Sarah Palin.

Now, I don’t know whether she will come out and say, “Can I call your Mike?” at the start of this. But I do want to get your take on the recent developments, particularly with the president’s positive testing for the coronavirus, whether that might dial things back a little bit.

What do you think?


And I think it’s — what it’s going to do even more so is draw a very distinct line between President Trump and Mike Pence.

Mike Pence, for all of my political differences with him, is very much a sobering character when you compare him to Donald Trump. I think that’s going to be amplified when you see him on the debate stage tomorrow.

I think he’s going to have to answer a lot of questions about Donald Trump’s behavior and Donald Trump’s decision to end the COVID discussions.

So, I think this goes back to being a referendum on Trump and, to some degree, allows Kamala Harris off the hook.

CAVUTO:  You know, Emily, on that point of the canceled discussions, there might be a strategy to it. There might be wisdom. Maybe the president group frustrated by the talks making no real progress. It’s hard to say.

But he’s handed a grenade to Vice President Pence tomorrow night. And I’m sure the vice president doesn’t welcome that. But how do you think this move is going to play out tomorrow night?

EMILY LARSEN, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:  Well, this is definitely something that Kamala Harris is going to point out, and not only that, but also the fact that President Trump got coronavirus, that gives her a perfect way to bring up the coronavirus issue.

I mean, I think that Kamala Harris is on the winning ticket right now. They are ahead in the polls. It looks like her task, because of that, is, she needs to deliver for the people who are hoping to see her aggressive style come in.

She’s going to be on the offense, but not so much that it backfires. And so, in the last debate, President Trump was frequently interrupting, so much to the point where that backfired on him. And that — she doesn’t want to fall into that same kind of trap and give President Trump and the Republicans a reason to call her nasty or some other kind of trope like that.

So — but I think, also, the fact that there’s going to be Plexiglas the stage, I talked to one strategist today who said that that is a perfect way for her not only to bring up the coronavirus issue, but it’s also a visually striking way to show the divide in the country and the two candidates.

CAVUTO:  All right, I’m rudely interrupting both of you fine folks.

I apologize for that, but Joe Biden is speaking in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

We will look into this for at least a little while.

Joe Biden.


JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  … perhaps the most consequential battle on American soil.

It took place here on this ground in Gettysburg, three days of violence, three days of carnage, 50,000 casualties wounded, captured, missing or dead over three days of fighting.

When the sun rose on that Independence Day, Lee would retreat. The war would go on for nearly two more years. But the back of the Confederacy had been broken. The Union would be saved. Slavery would be abolished.

Government by — of, by and for the people would not perish from the earth.

And freedom would be born anew in our land.

There is no more fitting place than here today in Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division, about how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe, in this moment, we must come together as a nation.

For President Lincoln, the Civil War was about the greatest of causes, the end of slavery, widening equality, pursuit of justice, the creation of opportunity, and the sanctity of freedom.

His words would live ever after. We hear them in our heads. We know them in our hearts. We draw on them when we see hope in hours of darkness.

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought fourth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all man are created equal.

Here, on this sacred ground, Abraham Lincoln reimagined America itself.

Here, a president of the United States spoke of the price of division and the meaning of sacrifice. He believed in the rescue, redemption, and rededication of the Union, all this in a time not just of ferocious division, but of widespread death, structural inequity, and fear of the future.

And he taught us this. A house divided could not stand. That is a great and timeless truth.

Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to have it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division.

As we stand here today, a century-and-a-half later after Gettysburg, we should consider again what can happen whether equal justice is denied, when anger and violence and division are left unchecked.

As I look across America today, I’m concerned. The country is in a dangerous place. Our trust in each other is ebbing. Hope seems elusive. Too many Americans see our public life not as an arena for mediation of our differences, but, rather, they see it as an occasion for total, unrelenting partisan warfare.

Instead of treating each other’s party as the opposition, we treat them as the enemy.

This must end. We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country, a spirit to being able to work with one another.

When I say that — and I have been saying it for two years now — I’m accused of being naive. I’m told maybe that is the way things used to work, Joe, but they can’t work that way anymore.

Well, I’m here to tell you, they can, and they must, if we are going to get anything done.

I’m running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I will work with Democrats and Republicans. I will work as hard for those who don’t support me as those who do.

That is the job of a president, the duty to care for everyone.

The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. It’s a choice we make. And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well.

That is the choice I will make as president.


BIDEN:  But there is something bigger going on in this nation than just our broken politics, something darker, something more dangerous.

And I’m not talking about ordinary differences of opinion. Competing viewpoints give life and vibrancy to our democracy.

No, I’m talking about something different, something deeper. Too many Americans seek not to overcome our divisions, but to deepen them. We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to have our fists clenched, but our arms open.

We have to seek not to tear each other apart, but seek to come together.

You don’t have to agree with me on everything or even on most things to see that — we are experiencing today is neither good nor normal.

I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville.

Close your eyes and remember what you saw, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK coming out of the fields with torches lighted, veins bulging, chanting the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ’30s.

It was hate on the march, in the open, in America. Hate never goes away. It only hides. And when it’s given oxygen, when it’s given an opportunity to spread, when it’s treated as normal and acceptable behavior, we have opened a door in this country that we must move quickly to close.

As president, that is just what I will do. I will send a clear, unequivocal message to the entire nation. There is no place for hate in America. I will be given — it will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It will be given no safe harbor.

In recent weeks and months, the country has been riled by instances of excessive police force, heart-wrenching cases of racial injustice and lives needlessly and senselessly lost, by peaceful protesters giving voice to the calls for justice, by examples of violence and looting and burning that cannot be tolerated.

I believe in law and order. I have never supported defunding the police, but I also believe injustice is real. It’s a product of a history that goes back 400 years, the moment when black, men, women, and children first were brought here in chains.

I do not believe we have to choose between law and order and racial justice in America. We can’t have both. This is a nation strong enough to both honestly face systemic racism and strong enough to provide safe streets for our families and small businesses that too often bear the brunt of this looting and burning.

We have no need for armed militias roaming America’s streets. And we should have no tolerance for extremist white supremacy groups menacing our communities.

If you say we should trust America’s law enforcement authorities to do the job, as I do, then let them do their job, without extremist groups acting as vigilantes.

If you say we have no need to face racial injustice in the country, you haven’t opened your eyes to the truth in America. There have been powerful voices for justice in recent weeks and months, George Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter who I met with, who looked at me and said, in her small child’s voice, “Daddy changed the world.”

Also, Jacob Blake’s mother was another, when she said, violence didn’t reflect her son, and this nation needed healing.

And Doc Rivers, the basketball coach, choking back tears when he said:

“We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We have been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

I think about that. I think about what it takes for a black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that has for far too long never been recognized.

What we need in America is leadership that seeks to de-escalate tensions, to open the lines of communications, to bring us together, to heal, to hope.

As president, that is precisely what I will do. We have paid a high price for allowing the deep divisions of this country to impact on how we deal with the coronavirus, 210,000 Americans dead, and the number is climbing.

It’s estimated that nearly another 210,000 Americans could lose their lives by the end of the year.

Enough. No more. Let’s just set partisanship aside. Let’s end the politics and follow the science.

Wearing a mask, wearing a mask is not a political statement. It’s a scientific recommendation. Social distancing isn’t a political statement.

It’s a scientific recommendation.

Testing, tracing, the development and ultimate approval and distribution of a vaccine isn’t a political statement. It is a science-based decision.

We can’t undo what has been done. We can’t go back. But we can do so much better. We can do better starting today. We can have a national strategy that puts politics aside and saves lives. We can have a national strategy that will make it possible for our schools and businesses to open safely.

We can have a national strategy that reflects the true values of this nation.

This pandemic is not a red state or a blue state issue. This virus doesn’t care whether you live or where you live or what political party you belong to. It infects us all. It will take anyone’s life. It’s a virus. It is not a political weapon.

There is another enduring division in America that we must end, the division in our economic life that gives opportunity only to the privileged few. America has to be about mobility. It has to be the kind of country where, in Abraham Lincoln, a child of the distant frontier, can rise to the highest office in the land.

America has to be about possibilities, the possibility of prosperity, not just for the privileged few, but for the many, for all of us. Working people and their kids deserve an opportunity. Lincoln knew this. He said that a country had to give people — and I quote — “an open field and a fair chance.”

An open field and a fair chance. That is what we are going to do in the America we are going to build together.

We fought a Civil War that would secure a Union, that would seek to fulfill the promise of equality for all. And, by fits and starts, our better angels have prevailed against, just enough, just enough, against our worst impulses to make a new and better nation.

And those better angels can prevail again now. They must prevail again now.

A hundred years after Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, the vice president, Lyndon B. Johnson, also came here. And here is what he said. He said, our nation found its soul and honor in these fields of Gettysburg. We must not lose that soul and dishonor now on the fields of hate.

Today, we’re engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation. The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down and holding us back. We must free ourselves of all of them.

As president, I will embrace hope, not fear, peace, not violence, generosity, not greed, and light, not darkness. I will be a president who appeals to the best of us, not the worst. I will be a president who pushes toward the future, not one who clings to the past.

I’m ready to fight for you and for our nation every day, without exception, without reservation, and with a full and devoted heart. We cannot and will not allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, to overturn the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores, to overturn the America that has been a haven and a home for everyone, no matter their background.

From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we are at our best when the promise of America is available to all. We cannot and we will not allow violence in the street to threaten the people of this nation. We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial justice in this country.

We cannot and will not continue to be stuck in the partisan politics that lets us — this virus thrive, while the public health of this nation suffers. We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who have already got it made. Everybody deserves a shot at prosperity.

BIDEN:  Folks.


BIDEN:  Thank you.


BIDEN:  Duty and history call presidents to provide for the common good.

And I will.

It won’t be easy. It won’t be easy. Our divisions today are longstanding.

Economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations.

But I give you my word, I give you my word, if I’m elected president, I will marshal the ingenuity and goodwill of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together, because I think people are looking for that.

We can disagree about how we move forward, but we must take the first steps. And it starts with how we treat one another, how we talk to one another, how we respect one another.

In his second inaugural, Lincoln said, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us drive on to finish the work we’re in to build up the nation’s wounds — bind up the nation’s wounds.

Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion. And so we, you and I, together, we press on even now.

After hearing the second inaugural address, Frederick Douglass told President Lincoln: “Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.”

We have to be dedicated to our own sacred effort. The promise of Gettysburg, that a new birth of freedom was at hand, I think it’s at risk.

Every generation that has followed Gettysburg has been faced with a moment when it must answer this question, whether it will allow the sacrifices made here to be in vain or be fulfilled.

This is our moment to answer this essential American question for ourselves and for our time. And my answer is this.

It cannot be that, after all this country has been through, after all that America has accomplished, after all the years we have stood as a beacon of light to the world, it cannot be that, here and now, in 2020, we will allow the government of the people, by the people and for the people to perish on this earth.

No, it cannot, and it must not. We have in our hands the ultimate power, the power to vote. It’s the noblest instrument ever devised to register our will in a peaceable and productive fashion.

And so we must. We must vote. We will vote, no matter how many obstacles are thrown in our way, because, once America votes, America will be heard.

Lincoln said, the nation is worth fighting for. So it was, and so it is.

Together, as one nation under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foe of injustice and inequality, hate and fear.

Let’s conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other, who love our country, who will not destroy, but will build. We owe it to the dead who are buried here at Gettysburg. We owe that to the living and the future generations yet to be born.

You and I are part of a covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and hope renewed.

If we do our part, if we stand together, if we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions our time will give way to the dreams of a brighter, better future.

This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission. We can end this era of division. We can end the hate and the fear. We can be what we are at our best, the United States of America.

God bless you all, and may God protect our troops.


BIDEN:  Thank you.

We can do this.


CAVUTO:  All right, Joe Biden not taking any questions, speaking on the ground that Abraham Lincoln spoke on more than 160 years ago, echoing the same theme of a nation that needs to come together.

Of course, in Lincoln’s time, it would be two more years before that opportunity would president itself with the end of the Civil War, talking about a spirit of bipartisanship that must take control in this country, and that he wants to be a president who sees the best in us, and not the worst.

Mark Meredith, who’s been following the vice president, he chose not to take questions. He wanted this to stand alone, ahead of the vice presidential debate.

But we learn all of this, as you know, Mark, with these negotiations on stimulus falling apart. The timing is rather unique, you know?

MEREDITH:  Absolutely, Neil.

And I felt like this was a speech that really wasn’t even geared to one particular party or a specific — specific group of people here in Pennsylvania. Usually, when you have these campaign stops, you’re trying to get a specific message across to a specific group.

Instead, this was a speech that really did appear to try to appeal to as many people as possible, talking about unity, talking about hope over fear, peace over violence.

And what’s interesting here in Pennsylvania, a state that the polls, if they are to be believed, shows Joe Biden doing very well, is how many times you will see billboards across this state, Neil — and I was driving through here yesterday — that show:  I am a Republican, I am a Christian, but I’m a Joe Biden supporter.

That’s the message that you’re seeing on some of these billboards around town, while, at the same time, this is a state that President Trump won four years ago. And the Trump supporters were out here as the Biden motorcade was pulling into this speech.

So, while the vice president may try to focus on unity, with less than a month to go until the election, both political parties realize this is all about trying to turn out their base, trying to get people out to the polls to pick a specific side, and look past just one specific issue.

I thought it was very interesting that the former vice president talked a lot about some of the same things that we heard in his debate performance last week, but obviously was able to talk a little bit longer. He was able to talk without additional questions or without being interrupted.

So it kind of felt like that. That was a chance for him to convey some of the similar messages he had a week ago, but this time doing it with the cameras focused solely on him.

I should mention there was not a large crowd out there as the vice president was — former vice president of speaking. Instead, it was a very small group, the press pool. But that was by design. The Biden campaign was not opening this up to massive ticket holders or anything like that.

But I also thought, Neil, it was very interesting to see if this is what we’re going to hear more of from Joe Biden going forward in these final days of the campaign. We know that they are — they’re trying to put every effort they can, just like both campaigns are, but maybe this is what we’re going to see more from Joe Biden, already looking past what will happen on November — in early November, looking ahead what the next year, what the next 10 years may look like — Neil.

CAVUTO:  Yes, that’s right. So their debate is still on, on the 15th, as is the vice presidential debate that is due tomorrow.

Thank you, Mark, very much. That’s a very good wrap-up, my friend. I appreciate it.

Want to go back to Capitol Hill right now, because the divisions are still there on the fallout from the president’s decision to sort of cancel the talks — not sort of — he did — has elicited a pretty varied response.

Chad, what are you hearing?

PERGRAM:  Hey there, Neil.

Well, here’s a couple of nuggets here. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, indicates that he agrees with the decision by the president to suspend these talks.

He says — quote — “They were not going to produce any sort of result anytime soon. And there’s going to be this focus trying to concentrate on confirming Amy Coney Barrett in the Senate the next couple of weeks here.

Also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she spoke with the secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, this afternoon about 3:30 just to confirm that the president had suspended the talks. And she expressed her disappointment and frustration with calling off those talks at this point.

Here’s the irony, Neil. You have so many members of Congress, both sides of the Capitol, both sides of — both sides of the aisle, saying, we have to get a deal done, but they could not get together in the middle.

There’s something in science called the Fermi Paradox, the Fermi Paradox.

And what that refers to is that, if the galaxy, the universe is so big, why can’t we find life someplace else?

Well, here we have another paradox. It’s kind of like the Fermi Paradox, the idea that there are so many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, who want to get something done, and they cannot find — they cannot find that sweet spot to get a coronavirus bill done. The math simply just does not work at this stage.

And the president put the kibosh on all of that today. That’s significant.

CAVUTO:  And the Problem Solvers, they’re bummed too, right? It is equal Republican and Democrats who thought they were close to something. Now they want the president to get back to the talks, but that’s not going to happen, right?

PERGRAM:  Yes, there was just a statement from the Problem Solvers Caucus a few minutes ago.

And they said: “We cannot afford more delays.”

They thought that a deal was within hand.


PERGRAM:  They proposed a deal now somewhere around $2.1 to $2.2 trillion.

And that kind of seemed to reignite these talks a couple of weeks ago here on Capitol Hill.

CAVUTO:  And that didn’t happen.

All right, Chad Pergram, thank you very much.

Again, we’re still looking at the fallout from the president nixing these talks. There might be some wisdom on it that maybe is getting passed. A lot of these critics are saying, now’s not the time to do that, or certainly myself, just wondering what the upside would be of that.

But the bottom line is, the talks are not happening. The president says they will have to wait until after the election. We shall see.

Here’s “THE FIVE.”

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