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Vice President Joe Biden Gives Policy Speech In Tampa

The second highest elected leader in the nation was in Tampa Wednesday to deliver wide-ranging remarks about American policy in Latin America.

Vice President Joe Biden addressed local business leaders and elected officials at an invitation-only event at the University of Tampa.

In his nearly hour long speech, Biden spoke of increasing trade opportunities and the importance of investing in infrastructure like Port Tampa Bay and Tampa International Airport. 

And while Biden did not call out anyone by name, he did say that the rhetoric of "certain leaders" was actively endangering America's security and prosperity.

“And that's true when it comes to talk of building walls or rolling back engagement with Cuba," he said. "It’s true of policies that alienate more than 55 million Americans of Hispanic descent. More than 4 million, the vast majority of whom are citizens here in the state of Florida.”

Biden called Ybor City a "shining example" of the contributions of immigrants to America. And he said the Tampa business community was central to supporting more open relations with Cuba. 

The VP also stressed that America's future is tied to growing opportunities in the Western Hemisphere. 

In his speech, Biden hit on several themes from trade to climate change.

The common thread was his assertion that opportunities and relations with Latin America have never been better.

Biden also called on Congress to fund infrastructure projects to support increased trade opportunities.

"That's why the Port of Tampa invested in two new cranes last year: to accommodate increased capacity," he said. "Our government accounting office suggests we're going to need 100 new ships just to meet the demand for exports of liquefied natural gas."

Biden also joked that Florida's weather may come in to play in a few months when he's looking for a new job.

The VP was hosted by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Guests included Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

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