From: Sarah Wheaton [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2015 03:17 PM
To: Lance, Kirsten
Subject: VPOTUS pool 2a - speech highlights
As noted previously, Biden began speaking at 2:05 pm and continued for 14 minutes. His remarks were translated simultaneously into for those wearing headsets. He spoke from notes on the podium, which had U.S. and Beninese flags behind it.
“The president wishes he were here,” Biden said, adding “The president is in Michigan, with my wife.”
Biden talked about the youth of Africa and the importance of giving them oppportunities.
“Nothing good comes from hanging on a corner,” he recalled his mother telling him as a child.
He also reflected on how the U.S. approach to Africa has changed since he was a “young senator” on the Africa subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“It’s no longer, when we speak to heads of state and leaders of commerce, it’s no longer ‘What can we do for you?' It is, ‘What can we do with you?’”
Biden reflected on how FDR had also spoken from the Indian Treaty Room when he announced creating the Tennessee Valley Authority and tied that to the Power Africa initiative.
“Giving people hope is sometimes more consequential than giving them help. In this case we do both,” Biden said.
He repeatedly expressed optimism about Benin’s future and urged it to be an example for the rest of Africa through good governance and fighting corruption. Toward the end of the speech, Biden leaned forward on the podium and lowered his voice almost to a stage whisper:
“Democracy is difficult to sustain in a country where there’s not economic growth, where there’s not promise.”
He concluded to a standing ovation.
Yayi’s speech also had an interesting moment: He began his remarks by noting that he had recently heard about Beau Biden’s death (he did not mention Biden’s son by name).
“Everything that touches you, touches us as well,” Yayi said, according to a simultaneous translation from French. “We hope great courage for you Mr. Vice President,” he said, and called for a moment of silence.
People stood for about 10 seconds (unfortunately blocking your pooler’s view of the VP).
Biden listened to the rest of the speech with his face resting in a frown, looking slightly downward. Sometimes he nodded along to what Yayi was saying, other times rubbing his chin and mouth.
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White House Reporter