The Swearing-in of USTR Ron Kirk

Remarks by Vice President Biden at the Swearing-in of United States Representative Ron Kirk

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Hey, folks, how are you? In the tradition I come from, you go to the power center immediately –that’s mom. (Laughter.) Congratulations, Mom, and thank you. Please all sit down — please all sit down. Thank you so much for being here.

I’m flattered you’re all here. And let me start off by saying to you as we gather here today to swear in a new leader, it’s worth considering just how important, and what a significant part the mission of the U.S. Trade Representative is in our future. And it’s a big deal.

Ron is going to have the responsibility of working toward opening markets throughout the world to create new opportunities and higher living standards for our families, our farmers, our manufacturers, our workers, our consumers, our businesses. That old joke they used to tell about Willie Sutton. They said, “Why do you rob banks?” He said, “Because that’s where the money is.” Why do we need trade? That’s where the customers are.

We start off with a premise: We have the most talented workers in the world, we have the most talented entrepreneurs in the world, and we need access for those products. And so if we do this right, we should have — the mission for everyone in this administration is the same as Ron’s, and that is: How do we raise the standard of living for middle class people?

Everyone — everyone is seeking to lift us out of these difficult times in this administration and in the Congress. And it’s not just to lift us out, but it’s to send us all on our way to a much brighter future. This administration is about improving lives everywhere, plain and simple. And the U.S. Trade Representative, that’s pretty much his job description in a nutshell, improving the lives everywhere.

In Ron Kirk, we have — we found a leader who has shown time and again that he is the man for this job. He’s a man who has defied the odds, and continues to defy the odds; a man who can take very complex problems and find necessary, practical solutions everybody understands; a man who can make a real difference in the lives of American families, and create real opportunities for those who need it most.

Ron has blazed a trail everywhere he’s gone. He’s the first African American mayor in Dallas. He’s the first African American to hold this critical position. And he’s the first guy who headed up — was the grand marshal of an Irish event in Dallas where he got the mayor of Cork and the mayor of Belfast to sit down together. I mean, that warrants a Nobel Prize all by itself. (Laughter.) So, Ron, I’m now convinced you can do anything. As an Irishman, that says a lot to me.

And now he has to blaze a trail beyond our borders. He has to be — come up with innovative ways for

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