Welcome to our trip to Cincinnati, Ohio -- also known as the birthplace of my husband. So, a special place in my heart. A couple of announcements for you at the top: Today, Treasury released new data on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which showed that more than $1.5 billion in assistance was delivered to eligible households in the month of June -- more than what was provided in the previous three reporting periods combined. The number of households served in June grew by about 85 percent over the previous month and nearly tripled since April. The data demonstrates that the administration has heard from states and localities over the past months that ERA is helping develop a new national infrastructure for rental assistance and eviction prevention that did not previously exist. I would also note that also today, as a part of this effort, the White House is hosting a second virtual convening on eviction prevention with over 2,000 participants from cities and states across the country, including the 46 cities that were the focus of the first summit on January 30th. That is virtual; everyone can tune in. Also, on August 25th, the President and members of his national security team and across the administration will hold a meeting with private sector leaders to discuss how we work together to collectively improve the nation's cybersecurity. So that is a continuation of his effort to work in close partnership with the private sector. Finally, I also wanted to note that, according to a new report from Moody's this morning, the President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and Build Back Better agenda will add almost 2 million jobs per year, on average, across the whole decade while accelerating America's path to full employment and increasing labor force participation. The Moody's report also confirms that the -- what the President said on Monday: that these sorts of investments in making our economy more productive will keep prices stable and decrease inflationary pressure. With that, where should we start? Two questions off the top, on the debt limit. Mitch McConnell said today that Democrats should basically pass a hike in the debt limit on their own; that Republicans would not vote for that. What's the White House response? And does the White House believe that Democrats should pass a standalone debt limit hike and sort of leave it up to Republicans? Or would you be open to including it in a reconciliation bill, or eliminating the debt limit altogether? Well, we expect Congress to act in a timely manner to raise or suspend the debt ceiling as they did three times on a broad bipartisan basis during the last administration. As you all know, raising or suspending the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending; it merely allows Treasury to meet obligations that Congresses have already approved. I would also note that Republicans raised the debt ceiling throughout the Trump administration, including after putting exorbitant deficit and debt -- debt-hoaking [sic] tax breaks -- debt-hiking -- sorry -- tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations on the country's credit card. So that's what we expect them to do. To follow up on a part that Alex just asked about at the end: Would the administration be open to, whether now or in the coming weeks and months, talking about fully eliminating the debt ceiling so that we don't have these crises -- crisis moments every so often? I'm not making a projection of that. We are fully expecting Congress will raise the debt ceiling as they have numerous times over the last couple of years. But you want it to continue to exist? Quick question on travel restrictions. The airlines have been lobbying the administration to ease travel restrictions on European travel. What's the status of those conversations? Are you moving closer to that point? There are ongoing discussions between the working groups and, of course, updates and briefings with our health and medical experts about when it is safe to do that. We will be guided by the science. And I don't have any prediction of what the timeline looks like. The President said a few days ago that he would have something more to say within a few days on the travel restrictions. Can you at least give us a sense of the timing for when you think there may be some easing or loosening? Or is it -- is the upsurge in Delta variants, in cases involving Delta, pushing that off? He gets regular updates from his COVID team; that's what he was referring to. But he is going to be guided by their recommendations on when we should ease travel restrictions, which are based on a range of criteria. Just on Nord Stream. So, today there's been announcements about an agreement reached with Germany. There were lots of signals about this already last week. There's widespread criticism of this among Republican lawmakers who feel that the administration isn't actually acting on the laws that they have passed -- that have been passed by Congress. Are you -- In what way? Because of the waiving of the sanctions. But then there are other sanctions or other laws that haven't -- where sanctions haven't been fully implemented. Are you concerned that you may be sending a wrong signal to Russia about this pipeline? Well, first, let me say on part of your question: We're committed to following the law and continuing to examine entities that have engaged in potentially-sanctioning behavior, as would be abiding by the law. That has not changed. This announcement today follows, of course, the meeting the President had with Chancellor Merkel last week, where they said that they would be asking their teams to look at practical measures we could take together to address what our root issues are here, which we have voiced many times in the past. So even though the pipeline was 90 percent built when the President took office, what our objective is, is to prevent or reduce the geopolitical impact that it was going to have. So I know these have been announced; I think a lot of you are following them. But for the purpose of the full context, these measures, in our view, represent a significant impact by Germany, supported by the United States, to push back against the Kremlin's harmful activities and to advance a more secure and sustainable energy future for Ukraine and other frontline NATO and EU countries. So, yes, it was 90 percent built. We feel confident about the impact of these measures. And, of course, we'll continue to abide by the law, which includes using sanction authority as needed. Can you say how much U.S. money will flow into this billion-dollar Green Fund for Ukraine energy independence? It's a great question, Andrea. Let me -- it's really a State Department announcement that we're making today. I'll see if there's more details I can get back to you. Quickly, I have a follow-up on Nord Stream. Is the Zelenskyy visit a part of that deal in terms of, you know, giving them a visit as part of the concessions to Ukraine? No. No. They're unrelated. We have long been in touch with the Ukrainians about scheduling a visit. And then, one other thing on the borders, please. The reports today that DHS has extended the restrictions on the Canadian and the Mexican border: Can you give any explanation as to why, especially given the recent announcement from Canada about vaccinated travelers? We rely on the health -- the guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries. And does the White House -- is there concern, though, about repercussions about, like, easing restrictions at one border and not the other? We created these working groups so that we could have an open line of communication about what the criteria looked like, what measures needed to be met. Those are ongoing, and, of course, we are continuing to be briefed internally as well. Could you say something about infrastructure and, sort of, the progress on the Hill and -- Yep. -- you know, the Republicans, potentially this group of 10 or 11 lawmakers, supporting a vote next week to move forward on the bill? And then, kind of related to that, on reconciliation: It seems like the Democrats in the Senate are still a far way off from a real agreement on that. Would you be concerned if that gets pushed later into August, into September, and this whole process continues to drag on? Well, first, the President is enormously grateful to the work of Republican senators who have poured so much good work -- and Democratic senators, of course -- and vision into the bipartisan infrastructure deal; is eager to deliver these economic benefits that Americans in red states and blue states have deserved for so long. So, we certainly -- we were encouraged to see the comments of Senator Romney this morning, and we understand this is a legislative process, and it's ongoing. In terms of the reconciliation process, of course, we're working in close coordination with Leader Schumer. We are grateful to his efforts. He has conveyed his interest in moving this forward in July, and we're -- we're looking forward to supporting that effort. On the infrastructure, what -- to the Republicans' criticism about the shell bill vote that's being held today: Essentially, what is the harm in waiting until Monday, like the GOP negotiators on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework wish to do? Well, I would first note that this is just a vote on a motion to proceed, so a motion to debate. This is not a vote on a final package. And this is the same procedure that the Senate used as it related to the AAPI Hate Crimes bill and as it related to a number of pieces of legislation already this Congress. So, it is par for the course and normal operations up there on the Senate side. This is merely a motion to proceed, and certainly we were encouraged, again, by Senator Romney's comments this morning. And sticking with some Congress news here, the select committee for January 6: The White House statement that was released just before we took off -- among the things that was listed in this statement was that they're confident in Speaker Pelosi's ability to proceed with an investigation that is full, investigative, and transparent. The word "bipartisan" was not included in there. And I'm wondering, is the White House disappointed that Speaker Pelosi's investigation, as it will proceed, will be technically bipartisan because of Liz Cheney's involvement, but not truly bipartisan? First, we stated at the time our disappointment that there wasn't bipartisan support for a select committee when there was an opportunity to vote for that. And we also have long stated our support for Speaker Pelosi in getting to the bottom of what happened on January 6 -- a dark day in our democracy -- and we support her efforts for moving forward on that initiative. And, Jen, are you concerned that no matter what product comes from Speaker Pelosi's investigation or Leader McCarthy's separate investigation -- that no matter what comes of it, the result is always going to be perceived as partisan, based on what happened today? I think many Americans across the country, regardless of their political affiliation, look at the events of January 6 as a dark day in our democracy. The President strongly supports taking steps to get to the bottom of what happened so we can prevent it from happening in the future. Jen, on the visit to Ohio today, the White House put out a comprehensive list of what it says it's going to be doing for the people of Ohio, but notable in the absence in that list was anything about fentanyl, the opioid epidemic. Has that been deprioritized? Where -- is it still a priority? And what do you say to the people of Ohio and the country with -- there's still a plateau and tens of thousands of people dying? Absolutely, it's a top priority, and there's no question it is an issue that has impacted people across Ohio and continues to. Any health expert will tell you that the most important thing we could do is make sure people have access to healthcare coverage. That's something the President has taken a number of steps to ensure more people have access to, including opening up the Special Enrollment Period, including pushing for tax cuts to incentivize more people to get access to healthcare. That is the best way, but certainly this remains a priority and will continue to be and he may even talk about it today in the town hall. We'll see what questions come up. Another question on behalf of the radio pool: Are you encouraged by the shift in messaging by Republicans and Fox News now overtly talking positively about vaccines? Well, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to designate it around one individual or one network or one social media platform. I will say that our view is that we are at war with the virus; we are not at war with a social media platform or with a network. And so anyone who goes out there and shares accurate information about the effectiveness of the vaccine, about the fact that it can save lives, is a positive step in our view, and hopefully it continues. Jen, can I ask you another question on inflation? Yeah. The signs seem to be -- there was a -- there was a hope, I think, that the prices would peak over the summer months. Now it looks like that may continue and slip into the fall. Are you concerned by this sort of sustained, you know, increase in prices and this sort of -- like the fact that it's not coming down, or there are no indications yet? Well, we take inflation very seriously. Obviously, it's the purview of the Federal Reserve, and I would point you to their projections about inflation coming down in 2022. That's also in line with a number of outside economists. But we do take it incredibly seriously. I would also note that there are a number of impacts, including the economy turning back on; steps that we're taking in addition to getting more money in the hands of the American people, including the Child Tax Credit that just started going out a few weeks ago, to make sure they have extra assistance in this time, even as we're seeing prices go back up, some to pre-pandemic levels. But we're also working to get important initiatives across the finish line. I would, again, return to where I started, which was the Moody's analysis that conveyed that this would help address inflation in the future by providing more supply out there. A COVID question, Jen. If Axios hadn't learned about the positive case at the White House, would the White House have informed the public about it? Well, let me give you a little bit of an update here. One moment. I just want to do this completely accurately. Sorry. And sort of related to that, just -- you know, is -- are there any discussions happening within the White House about potentially, you know, direct- -- or encouraging, if not requiring, mask wearing again on the White House grounds or anything like that? We've seen -- I think people are, on the Hill and at the White House, are wearing masks a little bit more today than they might have been a week ago. Well, first, I would say on that: We abide by public health guidance by the CDC. The CDC guidelines currently are: If you are vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you should wear a mask. That's the guidelines we continue to give to members of the White House staff. Now, if individuals decide to wear masks for whatever reason, we support that, and that's their personal choice -- and individuals do for a variety of reasons. So, let me just give you a little bit of an update to some of the questions that were asked yesterday. There are approximately 2,000 people on the White House campus each day. So, statistically speaking, COVID cases among vaccinated people will occur, just like they occur across the country. They have occurred; they will continue to occur. We're prepared for that. So, as the instance yesterday shows, cases in vaccinated individuals are typically mild or asymptomatic. There's -- this is more -- this is one more reminder of the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against severe illness or hospitalization. Because of our commitment to transparency, what we're going to be providing are up- -- moving forward -- are updates on any White House official who tests positive for COVID-19 that the White House medical unit deems as having had close contact with the President, Vice President, First Lady, or Second Gentleman. That will up to -- be up to the White House medical unit, based on the criteria of the CDC. And this criteria, again, is up to the CDC. At no point has the President been required to change his behavior or self-quarantine due to a close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID. I'd also note that, today, an email from our COVID-19 operations protocol team has been sent to White House staff informing them of the official policy that if you are in close contact with a principal and test positive for COVID-19, your case will be disclosed to press, along with any other relevant details, and that we will share the name of the staffer if that individual agrees to do so. Of course, we respect their privacy. So, that is our policy moving forward. Can I ask one follow-up on that? For July 4th, anyone coming to the White House lawn who was not vaccinated was asked to wear a mask. Should we take that policy to mean that the athletes who were unmasked at the White House yesterday were all vaccinated? Was that confirmed? The policy that we continue to convey with public events is the CDC policy: If you are vaccinated, you don't need to wear a mask. If you are not vaccinated, you should wear a mask. Is that the same for outdoors, though? You're saying, outdoors, if you are unvaccinated, you need to be wearing a mask if you're at the White House? It is -- we -- our guidelines are not different from what CDC guidelines are. What guidance is the First Lady following as she heads to Tokyo for the Olympics? And is there still confidence that she'll be kept safe, as we're seeing some breakout infections? Yeah -- so, I would say: One, we have consulted. The First Lady is on her way -- proceeding to Tokyo -- and that has been done in consultation with, of course, our White House medical unit, with staff about what protocols she and the delegation should abide by. I would note that while she is leading this delegation -- because it was important to the President and the First Lady that we cheer on our athletes and show support for the United States at the highest level -- it is a delegation of two, and usually it is a much larger delegation. They will have limited public interaction, and they will be taking every precaution throughout the course of their trip. Can you say another word about this cybersecurity meeting that you're hosting -- Sure. -- or that the President will host on August 25th? Can you say what private-sector leaders are going to be participating, and whether -- We're not quite there yet. Yeah, I mean, it's more than a month away. No, I understand. Yeah. But you -- you know, you've had a focal point on ransomware. Yeah. You've been having regular meetings on ransomware. Is that going to be a big focus for that meeting -- ransomware? Or is it, you know, cybersecurity writ large? Sure. I think we're not quite there on the agenda for the meeting. What I would note is that the President felt it was important to use the White House as a forum for bringing together private sector leaders to have a discussion about both how we can work together and also what best practices are, which is including them taking -- hardening their own cybersecurity protections and also what the U.S. government can do. And, as you know, there have been ongoing considerations, from a policy perspective, of what we can stake [sic] -- take -- what steps we can take. As you also know from covering this closely, ransomware attacks have increased over the last 18 months. There's no question it's a big issue and factor for private sector companies. I think there's no question it will be a part of the agenda at this meeting, but in terms of what the day looks like, we're not quite there yet. Will the Milwaukee Bucks come to the White House? Has the President invited them? He did tweet about them today -- Yeah, I saw [inaudible]. -- congratulating them. I'm sure we will invite them to the White House. We don't have a scheduled meeting quite yet. I'm sure they're celebrating on their own today. About Iraq, if I may: When the Prime Minister comes to the White House, should we expect announcements regarding U.S. troops or maybe a timeline, anything? I'm not going to get ah- -- quite ahead of the meeting. Obviously, it's an important meeting to discuss our relationship with Iraq and with the Prime Minister, and certainly our presence on the ground and their role moving forward. Jen, the State Department officials who were briefing earlier on the Nord Stream deal made the point that getting this issue off the table with Ukraine will allow a broader discussion of security issues with Ukraine. There's been a lot of interest, of course, in terms of supporting Ukraine vis-? -vis Russia and its aggression. Are you -- are there any new initiatives that you can talk about in terms of bolstering Ukraine security or the security of the Eastern Flank allies? Well, there's a couple of things that were in the package that, I think, will benefit Ukraine, so let me highlight some of those. Germany will help to preserve gas transit revenues for Ukraine and buy time for Ukraine to eliminate its dependence on Russian gas and transit fees, as it has long sought to do, including with U.S. support. Germany will do this by committing to appoint a special envoy to use all its available leverage to negotiate an extension to Ukraine's gas transit agreement with Russia. There's no question that the impact, in what we're trying to address here, is the impact on the Eastern Flank countries of this pipeline. And so that is part of our effort as we, you know, work to finalize the deal announced today. So, I mean, the President of Ukraine will be coming here to visit with the President -- Yeah. -- at the White House. What -- you know, what is your vision at this point -- I realize it's still a month off -- but for that meeting? I mean, what do you hope to get out of that meeting? I don't think we're in a position to preview it quite yet. We will, as I -- as we get closer to the meeting. Should the Ukrainians feel a little disappointed about the Nord Stream final decision going through? And they've been kind of bracing for it since May, when the U.S. said they would waive sanctions. But given the announcement today of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's visit later, based on the decision that's coming, do they have a right to feel a little disappointed? I think, again, part of the objective here, as the President said last week, was to work to address the geopolitical impact of this pipeline -- a pipeline that was 90 percent built when the President took office. And Ukraine and the impact on their energy security is certainly part of that, and there are initiatives in this that help to address that. Just something quickly on -- Yeah. -- on the statement that came in from the bipartisan group of lawmakers working on the infrastructure deal: They say that they've made significant progress and are close to a final agreement. I don't know if you were aware of that before you came back here, or if there's anything else, sort of, on the progress here beyond what you said before. That certainly is a positive sign. I will check more on that and see if there's more to report from our end. But we've been encouraged and grateful -- encouraged by the progress and grateful to the work of both the Democrats and Republicans involved. Okay. Thanks, everyone. Is there going to be ice cream in Cincinnati? Graeter's ice cream? Raspberry chip? I -- I don't think so, but we'll have to -- I don't know. [Laughter] Now I really want -- I'm sure he's aware of it. And so, it is -- I sincerely mean this: Prices are up now, and they're up in -- for example, you're in a position where you're trying to build a house, trying to find two-by-fours and lumber. Well, guess what? People stopped working cutting lumber. They stopped doing it because they -- the unemployment was so down. Now, all of a sudden, there's this need because people are coming back. And guess what? Instead of paying 10 cents, you're paying 20. But you understand what I'm saying. Yeah. It relates to what, in fact, is now needed because we're growing. I don't know anybody, including Larry Summers -- who's a friend of mine -- who's worried about inflation, is suggesting that there's any long-term march here if we do the things we're going to do. For example, if we get this build on that I've been -- put together a long time ago -- and, by the way, I want to say, I'm in his territory. You know, there's -- Portman is a good man. Portman is a congressman from this area. I talked to him before I got -- and I really mean it. He's a decent, honorable man, and he and I are working on trying to get this -- this infrastructure bill passed. But you're -- you're talking about Senator Rob Portman of Ohio? Yeah, I'm sorry. I -- No, but -- I thought that [inaudible]. I apologize. Yeah, but -- no, since you -- you mention that infrastructure, the bipartisan infrastructure deal failed the procedural vote today. Right? But -- no -- In the Senate today. Yeah, it did. But that's irrelevant. Go on. Okay. In the Senate, negotiators say that they need more time. Yeah. Okay. So, then -- but they're expected to vote again on Monday, but how much time do you think that they need to get this done? Until Monday. [Laughter] Look -- no, I'm not being facetious. I'm not being facetious. You had up to 20 Republicans sign a letter saying, "We think we need this deal. We think we need this deal." And so I think there'll be -- by the way, the reason we're talking this way: We need 60 votes to get something moving. And what's going to happen is, I believe -- because I take my Republican colleagues at my -- at their word when you shake. I come from a tradition in the Senate: You shake your hand. That's it. You keep your word. And I found Rob Portman does that. I found that -- you know, your governor is a good man. You shake his hand, it's done. [Applause] No, I really mean that. I'm not -- I'm not being falsely complimentary. Do you think it's going to move forward in the Senate on Monday? I do. Here's what I think: What happens is, the vote on Monday is a motion to be able to proceed to this issue. Then they're going to debate the issue of the elements -- the individual elements of this plan to sake [sic] sure we're going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into Kentucky. [Applause] No, I'm serious. We're going to talk about that bridge in just a moment. We asked [inaudible] about that bridge. Anyway. But I think it's going to get done. You may find in the amendments that take place on the detail -- the detail of whether or not -- and I'm the guy that wrote this bill to begin with, and so I've had to compromise to make changes in the bill. When I say "I," I campaigned on this. I mean, everybody thought I was a little nuts when I talked about there are three reasons why I was running: one, to restore the soul of this country and bring back some decency; two, to build back the middle class because they've been getting really knocked around a long time. They're the backbone that unite the country. And one of the big issues was dealing with infrastructure. Remember, the last four years we had "Infrastructure Week" every week. We didn't do a thing. But it's necessary. [Laughter] No, I really mean it. It's going to not only increase job opportunities, it's going to increase commerce. It's going to -- it's a good thing, and I think we're going to get it done. A lot of this stuff you're going need -- you need bipartisan support. So, let's -- let's talk about that. Our next question comes from Cindy Peebles. She's a financial executive and a Democrat. Go ahead, Cindy. Hello, Mr. President. I am dismayed at how often Democratic plans for stabilizing the economy or shoring up new strains of the virus are held hostage by the utopian need to gain bipartisan support. It appears, at every turn, the Democratic plan is weakened and still secures zero Republican votes. Sometimes the opposition is just wrong, and working to get them to agree with you is fruitless. Why is the strategy to abandon the need for bipartisanship not the right answer? Well, look, I may be the wrong guy to talk to because I spent a lot of time as a Senator and Vice President, and I'm going to say something outrageous: I don't know you'll find any Republican I've ever worked with who says I ever broke my word, didn't do exactly what I said I would do and keep my word. And I was able to get an awful lot of compromises put together to do really good things, to change things. And I still believe that's possible. But the well has been so poisoned over the last four years. And even now, there's still this lingering effort. A lot of my Republican friends -- and I'm not talking about Portman; I'm not talking about your governor -- a lot of my Republican friends say, "Joe, I -- I know you're right, but if I do this, I'll get primaried and I'll lose my primary. I'll be in trouble." But I think that's all beginning to move. I don't mean overnight. Don't get me wrong, I'm not playing out some panacea here. But I think people are figuring out that if we want to -- I've always found you get rewarded for doing what you think at the time is the right thing, and people really believe you believe it's the right thing to do. Yeah. And so I think you're seeing it coming together. And, by the way, the compromises are -- you know, are real -- compromise within my own party between the far left and the center and some of the folks who are more conservative. That's coming together. They said that would never happen, but if you notice, it has happened. Well, let's talk a little bit more about bipartisanship. You know, the Republicans removed all their picks today for the January 6 committee -- the select committee. Nancy Pelosi rejected two of them. The first thing I want to ask you is, what's your reaction to that? But number two, if Republicans and Democrats can't come together -- right? -- to investigate the biggest attack on our Capitol in 200 years, what makes you think that they can come together on anything? These people. [Applause] No, I mean it. I'm not being facetious. Democrats and Republicans. I don't care if you think I'm Satan reincarnated. [Laughter] The fact is, you can't look at that television and say, "Nothing happened on the 6th." You can't listen to people who say this was a "peaceful march." No, I'm serious. Think about it. Think of the things being said. I've been through the other end of this when the Democrats, 35 years ago, were way off to the other side. Think about it. But what you can do, though -- what they can do is try to change the narrative and say, "Well, why wasn't Nancy Pelosi prepared? Why weren't the Democrats prepared for that to happen?" Well, no, they can say that, and you can make honest judgments about it. I have -- Look, I sometimes get myself in trouble for what I'm about to say -- [laughter] -- not that I ever get in trouble. [Laughs] As you've heard me say before: No one ever doubts I mean what I say; the problem is I sometimes say all that I mean. And -- [laughter]. But all kidding aside, I have faith in the American people -- I really do -- to ultimately get to the right place. And, by the way, many times Republicans are in the right place. I don't mean that the Repub- -- that it's always the Democratic point of view. But some of the stuff -- I mean, QAnon: The idea that the Democrats or that Biden is hiding people and sucking the blood of children and -- no, I'm serious. That's -- Now, you may not like me, and that's your right. Look, it's a simple thing. You can walk out and say, "I just don't like the way that guy wears his tie. I'm voting against him." You have a right to do that. You have a right to do that. But the kinds of things that are being said of late, I think you're beginning to see some of the -- and both -- and by Democrats as well -- sort of the venom get -- sort of -- sort of leak out a lot of it. We got to get beyond this. What do you say to your grandchildren or you children about what's happening? Do you ever remember a time like this before, in the entire history, whether you're Democrat or Republican? This is not who we are. And I'll say one last thing -- and you're going to -- I've had a lot of experience internationally. And I mean that -- not good or bad, just I have; I've chaired the Foreign Relations Committee. I've been deeply involved. I did national security for the -- our last -- the -- the -- the administration with Barack. But, folks, the rest of the world is wondering about us. Those of you who travel abroad -- not a joke, not a joke -- you ask -- you know, when I went to this G7, all the major democracies -- I walked in -- and I know a lot of them because of my role in the past. And they walk in and I said, "America is back." And they go -- I'm serious, heads of state -- I give you my word as a Biden -- said, "Are you really back? I mean, how can I -- we believe you, Joe, but will the country ever get it together?" I talked to Xi -- Xi Jinping in China, who I know well. We don't agree on a lot of things. He's a bright and really tough guy. He truly believes that the 21st century will be determined by oligarchs, by -- and I'm not -- not a joke. Democracies cannot function in the 21st century -- the argument is -- because things are moving so rapidly -- so, so rapidly that you can't pull together a nation that is divided to get a consensus on acting quickly. So, autocrats -- autocracies -- I had a long meeting with Putin, and I continued -- I know him well. These guys actually are betting -- betting -- I'm not joking -- on autocracies. Democracy has to stand up and demonstrate it can get something done. It's not just important that we are -- [applause] -- no, I really mean it. Mr. President, we're just getting started. We got a lot to talk about. I'm sorry. No, no, no. You're good. We're going to take a quick break, and we're going to come back with more questions for the President of the United States right after this. [Applause] [Commercial break begins] [Commercial break ends] Welcome back, everyone. We are live at a CNN Town Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the President of the United States. Straight to the audience for a question. This is John Lanni. He is the owner and co-founder of a restaurant group with 39 restaurants across the country, Mr. President. He is a Republican. John. Hi there, Mr. President. Hey, John. Hi. Thank you for taking my question tonight. We employ hundreds of hard-working team members throughout the state of Ohio and across the country. And we're looking to hire more every day as we try to restart our restaurant business. The entire industry, amongst other industries, continue to struggle to find employees. How do you and the Biden administration plan to incentivize those that haven't returned to work yet? Hiring is our top priority right now. Well, two things. One, if you notice, we kept you open. We spent billions of dollars to make sure restaurants could stay open. And -- and a lot of people who now -- who work as waiters and waitresses decided that they don't want to do that anymore because there's other opportunities and higher wages, because there's a lot of openings now in jobs. And people are beginning to move -- beginning to move. There's some evidence that maintaining the ability to continue not -- to not have your -- have to pay your rent so you don't get thrown out, and being able to provide for unemployment insurance, has kept people from going back to work. There's no -- not much distinction between not going back to work in a restaurant and not going back to work at a -- at a factory. So people are looking to change opportunities, change what they're doing. My -- my deceased wife's father-in-law was a restauranteur up in -- up in Syracuse, New York. And, by the way, he tried to con- -- he had a -- had a restaurant that was in a town called Auburn, about 20,000 people, which was at a flagship 24-hour-a-day restaurant that -- and he offered it to me, which I would have been making five times what I would in law school to try to keep me in Syracuse. But I spent too many times at home hearing a -- in his home, hearing a phone call: "The cook didn't come in? He's in a fight with his wife? What -- what's going on?" Exactly. So I would -- God love you doing what you do. It's tough. But all kidding aside, I think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things. And there is a shortage of employees. People are looking to make more money and to bargain. And so I think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a -- in a bind for a little while. And one of the things -- we're ending all those things that are the things keeping people back from going back to work, et cetera. It'll be interesting to see what happens, but my gut tells me -- my gut tells me that part of it relates to -- you know, you can make a good salary as a waiter or waitress. One of my sister-in-laws is -- of five sisters -- makes a very good salary. She works in Atlantic City. That's where she's -- she's from. But it is -- there's a lot of people who -- who are looking to change their -- their occupation, I think. But I could be wrong. Well, let me ask you, because he's -- John is looking to hire people. He's got 39 restaurants across the country. Yeah. Is there anything you can do to help him out? I mean, he's -- he's got to get people in. Well, John -- first of all, I -- you know, the thing we did to help John and the Johns out is provide billions of dollars to make sure they could stay open. Number one. So you all contributed to making sure John could stay in business. [Applause] And we should. We should have done that, as we did for other industries. But secondly, John, my guess is that people being $7, $8 an hour, plus tips, that -- that's -- I think, John, you're going to be finding -- [applause] -- 15 bucks an hour or more now. You know what I mean? But you may pay that already. You may pay that already. Well, let me -- let me ask you, because everywhere I go, there isn't pretty much a shop in my town, a restaurant or whatever, where there isn't a "for hire" sign. We were trying to check into the hotel; they couldn't get the rooms cleaned fast enough because they can't find staff. You mentioned something -- you said, "We're going to end the things that may be keeping people back." You think that's the unemployment benefits expanded? Well, that was the argument it was. I -- I -- I don't think it did much. But the point is, it's argued that because the extended unemployment benefits kept people --they'd rather stay home and not work -- than go to work. You don't think it hurt? Did that? I see no evidence it had any serious impact on it. But you can argue -- let's assume it did. It's coming to an end, so it's not like we're in a situation where -- if that was it and it ends, then we're going to see John is going to have no problem. But what I think is happening, folks, is, look, if you make less than fift- -- and I'm not saying, John, your folks make less than 15 -- you had good restaurants; that means their tips are good, people make a lot more than just what the -- what the minimum wage -- what the wage is being paid on with the -- put tips on top of it. But, folks, look, here's the deal. Think about it: You know, if you have an -- we -- for example, I want to be able to -- one of my programs is to make sure that we have four more years of school that's free -- two years for three-year-olds and four-year-olds, because it's demonstrated that that -- [applause] -- increases significantly success, and community college. Yeah. Well, those folks are not likely to want to go and be waiters. There's nothing wrong being a waiter or waitress. My family has been engaged in that business. But the folks is -- And, lastly, if you make less than 15 bucks an hour working 40 hours a week, you're living below the poverty level. You're living below the poverty level. [Applause] I want to continue on and talk about -- this has to do with infrastructure, because you got applause when you mentioned the bridge earlier -- [laughs] -- and -- By the way, your congressman wants that bridge too. [Laughter] Todd Michael is here. He's a union electrician and a Democrat. He has a question about something that a lot of people in Cincinnati are concerned about. Todd, take it away. As Mr. Lemon said, you have already touched on the subject of my question. The two most recent presidents -- past presidents -- had both campaigned using this region's Interstate 75 Bridge -- the Brent Spence Bridge that crosses the Iowa River -- as backdrops with a promise of an infrastructure bill that would help with the replacement. President Biden, is it possible to bring Congress together to pass an infrastructure bill that builds a bridge that does not just benefit this region, but the entire I-75 corridor, from Michigan all the way to Florida? The answer is absolutely, positively yes. [Applause] I'm not just saying that. I'm not just saying that. And if you take a look at Ohio and Kentucky combined, there's well over -- there's thousands of bridges that need repair. Thousands. Thousands of bridges. And we should be looking at it this way: It increases commerce, number one. But guess what? They're good-paying union jobs. Union. [Applause] Union jobs. And -- and -- and, by the way, can you ever think of a time -- those of you who are economists, who are -- who teach here, economics -- can you think of any time when the middle class did better, the wealthy didn't do really well? I'm not being facetious now. I'm being deadly earnest. Can you think of any time that's occurred when the middle class does better? I'm tired of trickle down. I come from the corporate state of America. [Applause] And, by the way, I think you should be able to go out and make a billion dollars or a hundred million dollars if you have the capacity to do it. But I ask one thing: Pay your fair share. [Applause] Just pay your fair share. I really mean it. And if you know anything about me, check it out: We have more corporations registered in Delaware than all the rest of America combined. Combined. Combined. I represented it for 36 years. I've never seen a time when we have the middle class growing that the wealthy didn't do very, very, very well. Yeah. So, that's what we have to do: Build it out and up, not just down. Yeah. So that people like our next guest -- who just graduated from law school, by the way -- his name is Cory Marcum. He's a graduate from the University of Cincinnati Law School. And he -- He's a graduate, huh? Excuse me, he's heading to law school -- I'm wrong -- in the fall. Yes. [Laughs] So, Cory, good luck in law school. And what's your question? Your first year -- you wish you had already graduated. [Laughter] I know. I -- me too. Yeah. [Laughs] So, my question is: Last week, regarding the GOP's efforts to restrict voting rights, you said those efforts were, quote, "the most dangerous threat to voting and the integrity of free and fair elections in our history," end quote. While you have condemned these attacks, you and congressional members of your party have done little to actually stop these assaults. If these efforts are really the most dangerous in our history, isn't it logical to get rid of the filibuster so we can protect our democracy and secure the right to vote? [Applause] I stand by what I said. Never before has there been an attempt by state legislatures to take over the ability to determine who won. Not count the votes -- determine who won. We have election officials across the board that they're deciding to push out of the way. And if, in fact, tomorrow -- let's say we're running last time and we're -- these laws had been in effect that are -- these changes. In Georgia, the Georgia legislature -- you know, Biden won by multiple thousand votes; they could say, "We don't think it was legit." And the state legislature votes, "We're going send electors up to Congress to vote for Trump, not Biden." That's never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever been tried before. This is Jim Crow on steroids what we're talking about. And so, it takes -- to go to your second point, I've been saying for a long, long time: The abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming. When I got to the United States Senate at a time when we had guys like Jim Eastland and Strom Thurmond and Robert F. Byrd and a whole range of people who were very, very, very, very, very, very conservative on race, to say the least -- even then, if you were to filibuster, you had to stand on the floor and hold the floor. And that's why Strom, I think, set the record at 24 straight hours or something. Don't hold me to the number. But, you know, so you had to take -- there were significantly fewer filibusters in those days. In the middle of the civil rights movement. But let me -- let me talk to you about that. Well, let me finish my answer, because I'll tell you what I'd do. I would go back to that where you have to maintain the floor. You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor. [Applause] You can't just say that now. I understand that. But what difference is that if you hold the floor for, you know, a day or a year? What difference does it make? Here's the thing for me: You talked about people -- and this is important for people who look like me. My grandmother would sit around when I was a kid, fifth grade -- [applause] -- had a fifth-grade education. I learned that she couldn't read when I was doing my homework. And she would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jellybeans in the jar or the soap. And so why is protecting the filibuster -- is that more important than protecting voting rights, especially for people who fought and died for that? [Applause] No. It's not. I want to see the United States Congress, the United States Senate, pass S.1 and S.4, the John Lewis Act, and get it on my desk so I can sign it. [Applause] But here's the deal: What I also want to do -- I want to make sure we bring along not just all the Democrats; we bring along Republicans, who I know know better. They know better than this. And what I don't want to do is get wrapped up, right now, in the argument of whether or not this is all about the filibuster or -- Look, the American public, you can't stop them from voting. You tried last time. More people voted last time than any time in American history, in the middle of the worst pandemic in American history. More people did. [Applause] And they showed up. They're going to show up again. They're going to do it again. But what I want to do is I'm trying to bring the country together. And I don't want the debate to only be about whether or not we have a filibuster or exceptions to the filibuster or the -- going back to the way the filibuster had to be used before. But isn't that the only way you're going to get it done right now? No, I don't believe that. I think we can get it done. If you -- if you -- you agree with the former president; he has called -- as you call him, your "old boss" -- that it's "a relic of Jim Crow." It is. If it's a relic of Jim Crow, it's been used to fight against civil rights legislation historically, why protect it? There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done. Right. Nothing at all will get done. And there's a lot at stake. The most important one is the right to vote. That's the single most important one. And your vote counted, and counted by someone who honestly counts it. But it goes beyond that. For example, wouldn't -- wouldn't my friends on the other side love to have a debate about the filibuster instead of passing the recovery act? Or wouldn't they love doing it instead of being in a position where we provide for -- how many of you have children under the age of 17? Raise your hand. Guess what? You're getting a lot of money in a monthly check now, aren't you? [Applause] No, you deserve -- [applause] -- no, no, no, I really mean it. Republicans used to fight for it as well. It's called the Child Tax Credit. If you have a child under the age of seven, you get 300 bucks a month -- 350 bucks a month. If you have a child under -- between 7 and 17, you get a total of 200 bucks a month. And guess what? It's cutting child poverty in half. In half. [Applause] Mr. President, I want to talk about something else that affects people a lot, and to children as well. The next question -- and it's about gun violence. This is from a paralegal and she's an advocate. Her name is Andrea Solis Canto. She's a Democrat. Andrea, go ahead. I used to be a public defender, kid. Thanks for what you're doing. [Laughs] Thank you. So, gun violence has been on the rise across the country, and as a recent student and young professional living in Over-the-Rhine, I've seen this firsthand. Gun violence has taken the lives of so many young students and young people. I'm tired, and I want to see change that's going to make our cities, like Cincinnati, safer. So, how will you address gun violence, from a federal point of view, to actually bring about change and make our local cities safer? Now, I'm not being a wise guy. There's no reason you should -- have you seen my gun violence legislation I've introduced? As you know -- because you're so involved -- actually, crime is down; gun violence and murder rates are up. Guns. I'm the only guy that ever got passed legislation, when I was a senator, that made sure we eliminated assault weapons. The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon -- whether it's a -- whether it's a 9-millimeter pistol or whether it's a rifle -- is ridiculous. I'm continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things, but I'm not likely to get that done in the near term. So here's what I've done: The people who, in fact, are using those weapons are acquiring them illegally -- illegally. And so what happens is, I've gotten ATF -- Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms -- I have them increase their budget and increase their capacity, along with the Justice Department, to go after the gun shops that are not abiding by the law of doing background checks. [Applause] For real. That's number one. Number two -- number two, we're in a position where you -- most of the cities -- and I don't know enough -- I think you've had a lot of gun violence here in Cincinnati. I think it was up to -- what? -- how many -- how many how dead? Five hundred over a period. Don't hold me to the number -- whatever it was. But my point is, all across the country. And it's not because the gun shops in the cities are selling these guns. They are either shadow gun dealers and/or gun shops that are not abiding by the law. So, we're going to do major investigations and shut those guys down and put some of them in jail and -- for what they're doing: selling these weapons. There's also a thing called "ghost guns" that are being sold now and being used. And so -- but in addition to that, what we have to do is we have to deal with a larger problem of the whole issue of law enforcement, generally. We're in a situation where, as much as we need to pass the Floyd Act and all that -- but here's the deal: Cops are having real trouble. They're not all bad guys; there's a lot of good guys. We need more policemen, not fewer policemen. But we need them involved in community policing. Community policing. [Applause] And when we did that, violent crime went down. All the criticism about the original crime bill -- well, guess what? Crime went down until we stopped doing community policing. So it's about getting -- we have availability now of over billion -- lots of money for cops to be able to hire psychologists, psychiatrists, as well as social workers to be engaged in the process. [Applause] Mr. President, we're going to put a period, maybe a comma right here because we have more to come. We got to take a quick break. We'll be right back. More from President Joe Biden right after this. [Applause] [Commercial break begins] [Commercial break ends] Welcome back to our CNN Town Hall with the President of the United States, Joe Biden. I just -- I said we were going to put a comma on it because I want to continue this conversation. You said that you need -- we need more police, right? Your words. So then, how do you respond to Republicans who try to paint you and your party as anti-police? They're lying. [Applause] No, look, never once -- we have to change police conduct. We have to have rules where things are open. We have to have rules where you can be able to determine what the background -- how many times a cop has violated the rules and be able to have access to what's going on in police departments, or the Justice Department can get involved in whether or not they have to change their pattern and practices. I've always said that. But what about defunding the police though? Because there's a "Defund the Police." No, I've never -- never, never said defunding the police. Look, I don't know any community, particularly the communities that are in the most need and the poorest and the most at risk, that don't want police. They want police, though, to look at them as equals. [Applause] They want police to treat them in a way. They don't want police abusing. And what happened was we got in the position where -- we used to have community policing where the cop -- my deceased son was the attorney general of the state of Delaware. And what we did when that original bill got passed was he would go down in the tough neighborhoods in my -- in my state -- in my city of Wilmington, which is overwhelming a minority city, and he'd go where the -- everybody can tell me where the best basketball is played in a playground here in this city. You know where it is; you know who the best ballplayers are; you know where they are. He'd go down and sit there on the bench with his son, my -- my grandson, who's now 16, when he was 5 and 6 years old, and let them know he was there. He'd go over and knock on the window of the local cop, who was sitting there by himself in a squad car. I'd say, "Get out of the car. Meet people." Because what used to happen was cops used to -- when first community policing came about -- they'd go in and they knew who the minister was in the church, they knew who owned the local liquor store, the local drugstore, the local grocery store. And they'd walk in and say, "Look, I'm Joe Biden, and I'm going to be in this beat. Here's my cell number. You have a problem, call me. Here's my cell number." You said it's tough right now. You said police are up against -- well, they're up against the narrative that, you know, the country is anti-police, Democrats are anti-police, Joe Biden is anti-police. And then you have -- They aren't saying Joe Biden is anti-police. Cops are not saying that about Joe Biden. They know me, period. [Applause] Go on. They're not saying. Republicans are saying it on the far -- I'm not going to -- anyway, it doesn't matter. No, you can -- no, I want you to talk about this, because -- I mean -- No, look -- -- it's an important narrative. There is no more important issue, I think, right now than safety. You can rebuild a home. You can, you know, get a lot of things back. But, Mr. President, you cannot get back a life. And it -- That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Yeah. And if police aren't doing their jobs, that increases -- Okay -- no, if police aren't doing their job, they should be held accountable. They should be fired if they're not doing their job. They should -- [applause] -- I have no -- I make no excuses for that. We should have, for example, the George Floyd Act, where chokeholds are against the law, where a whole lot of things that are laid out in that legislation. And, by the way, I grew up in a neighborhood where you became a cop, a firefighter, or a priest. I wasn't qualified for any one of them, so here I am. [Laughter] But all kidding aside -- I'm not joking -- the guys that grew up in Scranton and Claymont, Delaware -- a steel town -- that's what we did. That's what they did. It's what my friends did. And here's the point: The point is that they -- it doesn't justify maltreating the public. You have no right to do that. None. But now what's happening is, because they've become -- it's become so tough across the spectrum, we've actually cut down on a number of police, unrelated to anybody asking for it. The towns and cities aren't spending as much money on it. There is not as much federal money to hire police. And now, what's happening is police are not wanting to be a cop. Raise your hand if you want to be a cop now. What do you think, huh? So what we got to do is we got to give them the help they need to be better at their job. The idea that you have someone sitting on a ledge, saying they're going to jump off a ledge, and you call the cop, and sending a guy or a woman who's a law enforcement officer, has a criminal justice degree, when you could send with him or her -- you could send with them a psychologist or a social worker, or somebody who can talk to them. Yes! No, I mean it. [Applause] I'm serious. Mr. President, I want to get to more questions now. I'm going to bring in Lynne Miller. She's an attorney and a Democrat. Lynne, what's your question? Mr. President, the opioid crisis continues, and in this part of the country, it remains a huge problem. While the over-prescription of opioids is part of that problem, the drugs available in the black market are a growing issue as many of these contain fentanyl. That took the life of our son. How can your administration combat the issue of illegal opiates, many of which our young people buy online? Someone should bear responsibility for delivering death through the mail. They should bear responsibility. You may or may not be aware: Even in the period when I was out of office, I was railing against the fact that drug companies were selling on the open market. There was one case -- what's really got me was you had two drugstores in small town in West Virginia having something like prescription for 4,000 pills. And it was obviously drug trafficking. That's what was going on. So what we did was -- what they did was, they went after it. They just settled with Johnson & -- some of the drug companies who make opioids for twenty-si- -- was it $26 billion or 27. Today, if I'm not mistaken, the settlement took place. But here's the deal: In addition to that, you have the Chinese sending fentanyl to Mexico, in large part, that's being mixed with opioids and/or heroin and other drugs, which is a dead-set killer of people. And so, what we have to do -- I've had this encounter with China, and we're going to continue it. But we've also increased the number of DEA agents -- what we're doing at the border -- and how we're going to deal with ex- -- the intercepting that drug trade. In addition to that, the Justice Department is moving on dealing with the whole opioid issue by increasing significantly the number -- the number of people in Justice Department working on this issue. And so, there's much more to say about it, but it is incredibly, incredibly dangerous. Mr. President, I believe there's no better way to speak about this than -- [Inaudible] -- -- from experience. I don't think there's probably a family in this room who hasn't been affected by addiction. You've been very open about your son Hunter's problems with addiction. This is personal for you. And listen, I've dealt with it in -- within my own family. Every family deals with it. But this is personal for you. Yes. And I'm so damn proud of my son. My son just wrote a book about how he overcame being addicted. And he did it, and he's doing it, and he is in good shape, thank God. Here's the thing: We don't have nearly enough people involved in mental health and drug addiction services -- number one. [Applause] Number one. Number two -- number two, we shouldn't be sending people to jail for use; we should be sending them to mandatory rehabilitation. [Applause] Mandatory rehabilitation. Number three, when people are in fact in jail, they should be getting -- if that's not the main crime, but they also did -- they should be getting treatment while they are in jail. Fourth, when people get out of jail -- whether it's for drug addiction or any other crime -- if they've served their time, they should have full access to everything from Pell Grants, to public housing, to -- to the like. [Applause] And, by the way -- and, by the way, folks, it's not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing for us to do. Because what happens? Years ago, there was a guy named Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania. He and I introduced legislation that was a second chance. It would -- meant that, right now, when you get out of jail in most prisons in the states around the country -- what happens? -- you get a bus ticket and 25 bucks. You end up under the bridge, just like you did before. You're almost -- almost guaranteed to get back in -- in whatever -- whatever your problem was before. So, they should have access to drug treatment. They should have access to housing. They should have access to whatever they qualify based on their income. And we should, in prisons as well, be training people differently. But the mi- -- the big thing here is: We have to deal with the idea of addiction by providing for what we all know -- it's a disease of the brain. Yeah. It's a disease of the brain and has to be treated as such. I think it's -- I think addiction and mental health issues have to be dealt with, just as if you break your arm and go to the doctor. We should be able to talk. There should be -- I agree. -- there shouldn't be a stigma about it. I want to bring in now Madeena Nolan. Madeena Nolan is a writer and editor. She's a Democrat. Madeena, what's your question? Hi, Madeena. Good evening, Mr. President. Vice President Harris said to Guatemalans, "Don't come." Recently, you have indicated you are in favor of refugees coming to this country. Could you please explain your administration's basic stance on immigration? Yes. They should not come. What we're trying to set up is, in the countries like in -- and particularly in the Northern Triangle -- Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, et cetera -- we are setting up in those countries: If you seek asylum in the United States, you can seek it from the country, from your -- in place. You can seek it from an American embassy. You can go in and seek and see whether or not you qualify. We've significantly increased the number of officers who can hear cases as to whether or not you qualify under the law for being here as a refugee. That is -- that's what we've done. Thirdly, we have enabled a move, significantly, to change the number -- there were thousands of people in -- in custody with the Border Patrol. It's now cut by 90 percent, where there -- it's considerably down. What I -- what I do say is: The one place you may heard that I'm talking about more immigrants coming in are those folks from Afghanistan who helped the American soldiers, who will be -- they and their family will be victimized very badly as a consequence of what happens if they're left behind. And so, we're providing for them to be able to see whether they qualify to meet this special requirement to be able to come to the United States as a refugee and as, ultimately, earning citizenship here. It seems to me it's the only decent thing that we can do. In the meantime, we're going to send people to American bases, where they're not going to be able to leave the base while their cases are being determined -- whether they qualify -- and also other bases. I want to talk to you about DACA. I got two questions on immigration. They're quick questions I want to ask you about. Because just last week, there was a federal judge who ruled the program unlawful, blocked it from accepting new applications. What do you say to DREAMers who are really worried about their futures here in the United States? I'm not letting this go. Look, guys, let's just put it -- [applause] -- let's just put this -- you know, we talk about DREAMers sort of generically. Let's think about it now, what it really means: You're five years old. You're nine years old. Your mom or your dad says, "I'm going to take you across the Rio Grande and we're going to illegally going to go into the United States." What are you supposed to say? "Not me. That's against the law"? I'm --no, I'm being -- I'm being deadly earnest. What can a kid say? What could they do? They come here with really no choice. And they're here, and they're good, good people. They've done well. [Applause] Ten thousand of them were first-line workers. [Applause] These are kids who've done well. And so, what we're going to do is, first of all, appeal the case -- number one. But number two, we're going to make sure that -- a number of my Republican colleagues say they support the right of DREAMers to come. Let's call the question. They should be able to stay in the United States of America when a child comes [inaudible]. [Applause] Mr. President, you've been the big guy for six months now in the White House. Can you take us behind the scenes -- something that was extraordinary or unusual that happened that stands out to you? Yeah. "Mr. President, you didn't close the door. Mr. President, what the hell are you going out at this time for?" You know. [Laughter] You know, it's -- it's a wonderful honor. As you can tell, I hope I have very good manners, but I'm not very hung up on protocol. [Laughter] And I -- and the Secret Service is wonderful. And because things are so -- [applause] -- and because things are so crazy out there, it is very hard to get comfortable like I would ordinarily be. For example, I think all of the -- all the help that's there, providing meals and all the rest -- I think they love us. We can say, "Don't come in for breakfast. We can get our own breakfast." Because I like to walk out in my robe and go in. [Laughter] No, no, I'm not -- you think I'm joking. I'm not. You know what I mean? And so it's just a -- you know, the only place I have felt like what the office connotes is when I went to Europe and watched the rest of the heads of state react to me -- not me, because I'm the President of the United States of America -- the United States of America. And here's what happened: It's the first time I ever felt like -- you always hear say "leader of the free world." Well, I realize, when I'm sitting across from Putin, who I know, he knows who I am; I know who he is. He knows I mean what I say and can do what I say. He understands. It doesn't mean he will do it or not do it. But the point is it's the first time I've ever felt the notion that I am in the office that is the leader of the free world. And we must be the leader of the free world. If we don't do it, nobody good is likely to do it or has the capacity to do it. I really mean it. I genuinely mean it. So, it's the thing, Don, that is the only time -- and, by the way, the first time I walked downstairs and they played "Hail to the Chief," I wondered, "Where is he?" [Laughter] No, you think I'm kidding. I'm not kidding. You know, I mean -- It's a great tune, isn't it? It's a great tune, but I -- you know, you feel a little self-conscious. [Laughter] But you think I'm kidding. I'm not. But I am -- I am not at all self-conscious about the power that goes with the office as it relates to resolving issues. These are issues that I've dealt with my whole life. Whether I'm good or bad, I have more experience coming to the office than anyone who's ever held that office. I have done -- I've -- I've been deeply steeped in foreign policy, the justice system, the econo- -- not that I'm right. I don't mean that. But nothing has come before me where I've gone, "Oh, my God, I never -- I never thought... " You know, what the difference is -- I used to kid Barack -- he's a good friend -- President Obama. And, you know, at one point, I'd always be the -- I was always the last guy in the room, for real. On every important decision, I got to give my advice. I'd give it all away, but I'd be the last guy before I walked out. And one day, he thanked me. And I said, "Mr. President, here's the deal: I should be paying you, not you me, because I get to give the advice, and then I get to leave." [Laughter] No, I'm serious. Think about it. The one thing that is real, that is different -- I don't -- and I feel comfortable with it -- but is you're the last guy in the room. Yeah. You decide, "Is the decision I'm about to make, will that cause war? Will that cause conflict? The decision I'm about to make, is that going to hurt people? Is it going to help people?" That's the part that is different. But the living conditions, I mean, it's such a great, great honor to live in the White House. But, quite frankly -- I kid the Vice President -- like, one day, Barack came over to NAVOBS -- it's called Naval Operations [sic] -- the Vice President's Residence -- which is on about, I guess, 80, 90 acres. And it's a beautiful, beautiful spot. And there's a fence around the whole property. I bet you miss that, don't you? I do. [Laughter] And Barack came over and he said, "This is great." And I said, "I'll tell you... " And I said, "Trade you only if the power goes with it." But the point is that, there, it was totally different. You could walk out in your shorts -- with a short-sleeve shirt on, and you can walk around and there wasn't anybody there. You can't walk out anywhere now. [Laughter] But I'm not complaining. I'm trying to answer your question as honestly as I can. Yeah. I just -- it's the greatest honor, I think, could ever be bestowed on an American that a majority of American citizens said, "I want you to lead the country." And it's a great honor -- a great honor when you have presidents and prime ministers and the rest of the world saying, "You know, what does the United States think?" You're the leader of the free world. I was able to go to the G7 and change their mind about a whole range of things. They never once had included China in any criticism on what was going on. They're very reluctant to be able to be in a position -- you and I have talked about this -- about whether or not they're going to do business with China in a way that, you know, pushes America aside. All of a sudden, if you notice, we're getting a great deal -- not because of me, but because of the administration I put together. And America is back; traditional America is more back. And they're willing to follow us, I think. [Applause] Well, Mr. President -- Mr. President, here's the deal. Mr. President, here's the deal: I'm the last guy that gets to ask you questions tonight. Uh-oh. Yeah. And then I get to leave. [Laughter] Thank you. Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Appreciate it. [Applause] We're so glad that you guys are here and that you got to ask questions to the President of the United States. Thank you so much. Thank you to our audience, for everyone, for being here taking questions. Of course, thank you to the President of the United States. And we want to thank Mount St. Joseph University right here in Cincinnati, Ohio -- right? -- [applause] -- for housing us.