President Biden delivers remarks in Portland, Oregon
President Biden delivers remarks in Portland, Oregon (Photo courtesy of Governor Kate Brown's office)

The Unit­ed States is final­ly tak­ing mean­ing­ful steps to address its painful­ly deep infra­struc­ture deficit, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden declared today to a sup­port­ive crowd in Port­land dur­ing his first vis­it to the Beaver State as Commander-in-Chief.

“Ore­gon and Amer­i­ca have gone from being on the mend to being on the move.  We just go to get the hell out of our own way,” Biden told a gath­er­ing of elect­ed offi­cials and civic lead­ers in a hangar at the Port­land Air Nation­al Guard Base.

“When I was run­ning for office — I’m sure you’ve heard me say it a thou­sand times — I was going to build this econ­o­my from the bot­tom up and the mid­dle out,” Biden said. “Because when that hap­pens, every­body does well.”

“The wealthy do very, very well. The poor have a way up. And the mid­dle class can grow, as my dad would say, and just have a lit­tle bit of breath­ing room.”

“Just a lit­tle bit of breath­ing room. So we’re going to deal in the peo­ple and the places that have been left out and left behind.  We’re mak­ing progress.”

“Over the course of my pres­i­den­cy, our recov­ery has cre­at­ed 7.9 mil­lion jobs — more jobs cre­at­ed over the first 14 months of my pres­i­den­cy than any pres­i­den­cy in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Over 420,000 man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.”

“Who says we can’t man­u­fac­ture our way through all of this? We have the best work­ers in the world.  Not a joke. Unem­ploy­ment nation­wide is at 3.6 per­cent, down from 6.4 per­cent when I took office 19 months ago — the fastest decline in unem­ploy­ment at the start of a term of a Pres­i­dent ever recorded.”

“Ore­gon, you’ve just added 122,000 jobs, and unem­ploy­ment has dropped from 6.4 per­cent to 3.8 percent.”

The Pres­i­den­t’s full remarks can be streamed here.

Biden spoke for about twen­ty-five min­utes, after land­ing at 12:41 Pacif­ic and then tour­ing projects at the air­port, with his remarks often punc­tu­at­ed by applause.

On hand were all of Ore­gon’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Con­gress — Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Earl Blu­me­nauer, Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er, and Sen­a­tors Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley — along with Gov­er­nor Kate Brown, Port­land May­or Ted Wheel­er, and many oth­ers. Lau­ren Heitz­man, an appren­tice elec­tri­cian with Inter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Elec­tri­cal Work­ers, intro­duced the President.

Brown thanked Biden for pay­ing the state a visit.

​“I’d like to thank the Pres­i­dent for join­ing us today in Ore­gon to lift up the excit­ing and unprece­dent­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties the [Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act] will bring to our state,” said Gov­er­nor Brown.

“This his­toric invest­ment is tru­ly a game chang­er for Ore­gon, and our nation. I’m so hap­py you were able to see the Port­land airport’s mass tim­ber roof and the expan­sion efforts under­way, as it illus­trates the very best of Ore­gon val­ues — inno­va­tion, cre­ativ­i­ty, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and sustainability.”

“Equi­ty is embed­ded into every aspect of Oregon’s approach to imple­men­ta­tion of the [Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act]. In Ore­gon, we define infra­struc­ture as not only roads and bridges, but also the core com­po­nents to sup­port­ing the way Ore­go­ni­ans live, work, and play: access to high-speed broad­band, clean drink­ing water, and renew­able energy.”

“Mr. Pres­i­dent, we are grate­ful for your lead­er­ship as we work togeth­er to build a safer, more resilient, just, and equi­table Unit­ed States of America.”

“It’s always a good day when the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States vis­its Ore­gon and sees the inno­v­a­tive work our state is lead­ing to build Amer­i­ca back, stronger and green­er than ever before,” said Sen­a­tor Jeff Merkley.

“In this year’s fund­ing bill, I secured fund­ing for a com­mu­ni­ty ini­ti­at­ed project to help build a seis­mic resilient run­way at PDX to sur­vive a Cas­ca­dia Sub­duc­tion Zone earth­quake. Thanks to the [Infra­struc­ture Invest­ment and Jobs Act] , we are cre­at­ing jobs and invest­ing in a bet­ter future. And Ore­gon is lead­ing the way with cre­ativ­i­ty and enter­prise. The new mass tim­ber roof at PDX is a tes­ta­ment to a vision of the future filled with Amer­i­can inno­va­tion, Amer­i­can crafts­man­ship, and the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Amer­i­can work­ers and industries.”

“As we invest in infra­struc­ture, though, it’s crit­i­cal that we’re mov­ing toward the infra­struc­ture of the future. If we don’t con­front cli­mate chaos by tak­ing swift, bold action to end car­bon pol­lu­tion and invest in clean ener­gy, we aren’t liv­ing up to America’s great­est poten­tial. Dur­ing the President’s vis­it, I reit­er­at­ed to him that we need fur­ther cli­mate action like he has pro­posed and we need to seize the oppor­tu­ni­ties we have this year to write the next great chap­ter of the Amer­i­can sto­ry. That means no new fos­sil fuel infra­struc­ture and mov­ing as rapid­ly as pos­si­ble to 100% clean, renew­able ener­gy so we stop fund­ing our ene­mies, pol­lut­ing our air, and mort­gag­ing our future.”

“In Con­gress, I’ll nev­er stop fight­ing for Ore­gon and for the poli­cies that will move our state and our coun­try for­ward. By work­ing togeth­er, we can be inno­v­a­tive, more resilient, and stronger. I thank the Pres­i­dent for being a stead­fast part­ner in that work, and I encour­age him to come back and see the great work that’s hap­pen­ing in our beau­ti­ful state many times through­out his presidency.”

After the event at PDX, Biden and Brown head­ed to the Port­land Yacht Club for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee (DNC) event, the pro­ceeds of which are slat­ed for a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty fund intend­ed to ben­e­fit Biden’s 2024 reelec­tion cam­paign. The event, host­ed by Car­ol But­ler and Win McCor­ma­ck, was not open to the pub­lic, as is typ­i­cal of high dol­lar fundrais­ers, but was par­tial­ly observed by the reporter accom­pa­ny­ing the Pres­i­dent on behalf of the White House press corps.

The motor­cade left the air­port at 3:17 PM Pacif­ic arrived at the Yacht Club just nine min­utes lat­er, at 3:26 PM Pacif­ic Time, after pass­ing by a con­tin­gent of Trump fans, Biden sup­port­ers, and curi­ous onlookers.

Biden was intro­duced to event atten­dees at 3:35 PM by Joe Boyle of Colum­bia Sports­wear in a room dec­o­rat­ed with boat­ing flags and photos.

Audio of Biden’s com­ments is here.

After recount­ing how he end­ed up run­ning for Pres­i­dent in 2020, Biden piv­ot­ed to talk­ing about the cur­rent land­scape and the bat­tle for the soul of the country.

“This is not your father’s Repub­li­can Par­ty, by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion,” Biden told the assem­bly. “This is the MAGA Par­ty. Not a joke.”

“Think about it: This is a par­ty that’s owned whol­ly by guys like the sen­a­tor from Texas and oth­ers. I mean, real­ly and tru­ly, did you ever think we’d be in a cir­cum­stance where […] the head of the Sen­ate cam­paign com­mit­tee in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate and Repub­li­can Par­ty put out a plat­form that even Repub­li­cans have walked away from, some of them, say­ing — what? — that every five years we should recon­sid­er whether we keep Social Secu­ri­ty, Medicare…”

At that point, Biden was inter­rupt­ed by a sup­port­ive audi­ence member.

Respond­ing to laugh­ter, the Pres­i­dent said: “This is the God’s truth.  If you want a copy of it, I will send it to you. No, no, but this is what they’re run­ning on.”

“Here’s the deal, guys,” Biden added lat­er. “There’s so much we can do — so much we can do.  But what I real­ized is I’m mak­ing the same mis­take — and I mean this as a com­pli­ment because he’s still my best bud­dy — that — that we made when — in the Oba­ma-Biden administration.”

“I remem­ber say­ing to Barack after we passed the Afford­able Care Act, I said, ‘Let’s take a vic­to­ry lap.’ He said, ‘We don’t have time. We don’t have time.’ ”

“But guess what? No one knew what was in it. They did­n’t know why they had what they had. They did­n’t know why we were able to do the — peo­ple were cov­ered when they were nev­er cov­ered before.”

“Well, here’s what we — I have to do.  I’m not doing a very good job because so much — it’s like — you know, I used to say in Barack­’s admin­is­tra­tion, ‘Every­thing land­ed on his desk but locusts.’ Well, they land­ed on my desk.”

In mak­ing these obser­va­tions, Pres­i­dent Biden was acknowl­edg­ing a point made repeat­ed­ly here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate by NPI con­trib­u­tor Joel Con­nel­ly. Leg­isla­tive accom­plish­ments sim­ply don’t sell themselves.

Return­ing at the end of his remarks to his pre­vi­ous theme, Biden empha­sized that he thinks one of the rea­sons he’s been unable to get Con­gress to do more for the coun­try is that Repub­li­cans are unwill­ing to go against their mil­i­tant base.

“There are a num­ber of Repub­li­cans who know bet­ter, but they’re afraid,” Biden said. “I know — I won’t ask for names, but I’m sure my col­leagues can tell you from the Sen­ate at least six Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors have come to me and said, ‘I know — I know I should vote for this, Joe. But if I do, they’ll pri­ma­ry me and I’ll be out.’ It’s not very coura­geous, but… the Far Right has tak­en over that party.”

“And it’s not even con­ser­v­a­tive in a tra­di­tion­al sense of con­ser­v­a­tive,” Biden not­ed. “It’s mean. It’s ugly. It’s the way — look what’s hap­pen­ing down in Flori­da… They’re going after Mick­ey Mouse. I mean, seri­ous­ly, think about it.”

“As my friend used to say, “Who woul­da thunk it?’”

Biden fin­ished speak­ing at 4:07 PM and was back on the road at 4:25 PM, head­ed to Port­land Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. The return trip took only sev­en min­utes. Anoth­er sev­en min­utes after that, at 4:39 PM, Air Force One was rolling for Seat­tle, with local tele­vi­sion sta­tions like KGW livestream­ing the air­craft’s depar­ture.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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