Bert Johnson & Mike Prevatt, KNPR
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden joined his rivals in a marathon of campaign stops in Nevada last Wednesday, beginning with a gun violence forum broadcast by MSNBC in Las Vegas and ending with a rally at Reno’s Truckee Meadows Community College.
During his speech, the former vice president responded to President Donald Trump effort to enlist the Ukrainian government in uncovering dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
“He did it because like every bully in history, he’s afraid,” Biden said.
CapRadio’s Bert Johnson sat down with Biden after the event for an interview. A partial transcript of their conversation is below, edited for clarity and length.
Bert Johnson: You're in Reno today. And in Reno, Las Vegas and across California, we're faced with a severe affordable housing shortage. Homelessness is rising quickly in our communities. What would you do as president to confront the affordable housing crisis?
Vice President Joe Biden: Well, first of all, I think you can tie the affordable housing crisis to the idea of having a performance-based green economy. Anything we do through the Department of Housing, HUD and any other vehicle. Because now you have Tesla here, there are thousands of jobs that are growing. They're making the batteries for vehicles that in fact, if God willing, we'll move to an entire electric vehicle market at some point.
In any housing that is built, you should make sure we're building green housing. Any new building that is built should be built green, so that they do not let heat or air conditioning escape, to save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil over time. And so there's a lot of things we can do.
For example, one of the things we should be doing while we're talking about batteries, there is new technology coming out now that you're going to be able to store energy that's generated through either wind or solar -- like is out here. And you'd be able to have them on call when you need them in terms of your own personal use at home. Well, there's a new company that is now developing those batteries. The battery technology is critically important.
So this county has an opportunity to make a gigantic contribution to a green economy. I think we could, by 2030, have over 500,000 recharging stations that are along every new highway we build in rural communities. That's the reason why people and the battery technology is getting better. It's getting cheaper, the cost is going down. And one of the things we have to do is focus on the whole notion of how many hundreds of millions of barrels of oil we can in fact save in terms of polluting the environment, with just dealing with that whole notion of looking to fortifying what we already have. Why shouldn't we be owning the electric vehicle market, creating millions of new jobs, like the thousands of jobs created here by Tesla?
The thing about the United States that has made us different, we've always looked at every problem as an opportunity. There's a gigantic opportunity here, from housing to the overall environment, by just making sure we restore the cuts that [President Trump] made and the things we did with regard to mileage. And you know, every new building should be built with a standard that it be a green building. And again, what this does, it also creates jobs, generates economic growth. And so I look at it as an opportunity. And this county in particular is on the cusp of that.
Johnson: It's been an eventful two weeks for you. The US House might investigate President Donald Trump for a call he made to the Ukrainian president asking to investigate you and your son. The president upped his rhetoric recently calling you and your son crooks. How do you respond to that?
Biden: Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. And I don't have to respond to anything. There's not a single outlet in the world that I'm aware of, that has done anything other than say, there's not a single solitary thing, either my son or I did wrong -- number one. Number two: this is about Donald Trump. He's the one who has to answer the questions. So I'm not gonna let him divert, and try to make this about me, when there's no basis for anything he said.
This is a guy who now is in a situation where the house has a major investigation. He is basically threatening people, as it appears, on all this coming out. He's basically acknowledged, in his own voice and his own tweets that he did make such a call. And so he has a lot of explaining to do and we're going to focus on -- whoever, you, the press, everybody's going to focus on -- did he violate the law? No one's asserted I violated law, including the Ukrainians. What I did was totally a policy of the entire western world, about getting rid of a prosecutor who was corrupt.
This had nothing to do with any anything other than Trump trying to basically, [it] appears, coerce a foreign leader who badly needs our help. Now look, the Russians are still invading Western Ukraine. A lot. You're a well informed reporter, I’m not being solicitous. But most people don't even know that. There's still a full blown war going on in eastern Ukraine, with the separatists, and what they call the little green men, people wearing green patches there, they are Russian soldiers.
And we put together, with our allies, a program where we're going to provide them military help to resist this. Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed and are continuing to be. I’m not even talking about Crimea now. And the only one who wins with all this is Putin. I mean, it's just outrageous.
But I'm going to spend time focusing on the reason why I think he shouldn't be president, again, relating to his policies.
Johnson: Just a final question about immigration, which is a never-ending issue in this country. But it's especially important in this region, in the American Southwest. The president wants to build a wall. You want to grant citizenship to Dreamers, though. So if you're president and Republicans still control the Senate, can you see a compromise to achieve some kind of reform?
Biden: I can. Because the single most important thing it has to be done for comprehensive immigration reform is defeat Trump. Not a joke. That doesn't solve it, but it gets us there. It gets us to a different place.
I mean, look what came out today or yesterday. He wants to build a moat, to put alligators and snakes in the moat. The question, ‘Is it okay to shoot immigrants coming across the border as long as you shoot him in the leg and just cripple them?’ I mean, what the hell’s with this guy? And what he doesn't understand, I don't think, is Asian Pacific people are a large number of the immigrants we're talking about. They're also Dreamers. They're also engaged in this.
And so I don't think we should have anything automatic. But there should be we should put together a immigration plan, which I'm going to send to the Congress. And I think we can get it done because already -- I'm not at liberty to tell you who -- but already several Republicans, I'm told from my friends in the Senate, [have approached to] say, well, maybe we can work something out on a path to citizenship, maybe we can work something out on the Dreamers, etc.
Because it's not who we are. This country, it’s not who we are. And the contribution being made is immense. And I’m told you have a lot of Asian Pacific Islanders here in this county, coming to work for Tesla. I'm not sure that's true, that's what someone told me today.
This is about who we are as a country. And it really is. I know I'm always saying it, but I mean it. It's about restoring America’s soul. Who we are. We've always led the world by the power of our example, not the example of our power. And we're losing influence around the world the way we're acting.