Joe Biden made one of his final appearances as vice president at the Detroit School for Digital Technology on Tuesday.
Biden was the public face of the Obama administration’s limited efforts to help the city through its bankruptcy and aftermath.
Biden says that after eight years of slow but steady recovery, he’s confident the country remains a place that “will never bend, never break, and always go forward.”
“And Detroit is the single shining example, if you were to pick any one place in America, to demonstrate that’s who we are,” he said.
“This city, like the country, has come back over the last eight years,” Biden said, praising Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan for some post-bankruptcy improvements, like the city’s 65,000 new LED streetlights.
Biden noted how the Obama administration also didn’t give up on the U.S. auto industry, even when the idea of a government-backed bankruptcy to save them wasn’t popular.
He also mentioned the more than $300 million in federal investments in Detroit since 2011, and how the White House “sent a team like we do to foreign countries,” with experts from various federal agencies to work directly with the city.
But most of Biden’s speech was heartfelt, even flowery. He praised Detroit as an “iconic” city that remains a symbol of American endurance.
“Some argued that, let the market forces work,” Biden said of discussions about the auto and city bankruptcies. “But we never, never, never were going to abandon this city. And we bet on the industry. We bet on Detroit. We bet on the mayor. We bet on all of you.”
“Detroit, you don’t owe America. America owes you. For helping us get back our soul.”
Biden then had a private lunch with Duggan at the Manoogian Mansion, before heading to a quick tour of this year’s North American International Auto Show before leaving Detroit for the last time as vice president.