WASHINGTON--Vice President Biden on Thursday announced the appointment of Chicagoan Kareem Dale as Special assistant to the President for Disability
Dale, who is partly blind, was the Disability Vote Director for the Obama presidential campaign.
Biden announced the Dale appointment during his visit to the Special Olympics World
Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.
Dale flew with joined Biden on Air Force 2 from Washington to Boise. Said Dale: "I¹m just humbled and honored for the faith the president and vice president have shown in me and I look forward to working with them."
POOL REPORT #2 STARTS HERE.
Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday announced the appointment of named
Kareem Dale to a new post, Special assistant to the President for Disability
Biden made the announcement during his visit to the Special Olympics World
Dale, of Chicago, joined Biden on his trip on Air Force 2 from Washington
to Boise. Said Dale: ³I¹m just humbled and honored for the faith the
president and vice president have shown in me and I look forward to working
Biden said the new position is proof of the administration¹s commitment to
bettering conditions for persons with disabilities.
Biden said of Dale: ³He is going to have absolutely direct access to the
president. What we¹re trying to do is make sure that not only do we deal
with getting support for what you¹re seeing happeningŠat these Winter Games,
but also to make sure that persons with disabilities are in position to also
be in the work force, so they don¹t have to chose, like many have to do now,
between staying in a job that¹s a dead-end job that they don¹t like, or else
leaving a job that they like because it¹s the only way to get health care.²
Biden suggested President Obama would have attended the Games, but for the
stimulus legislation debate. ³Had we had a few things settled back in
Washington, he¹d of been here today,² Biden told Special Olympics athletes
and volunteers at Boise State University for a ³Healthy Athletes² event.
Biden said he¹d been involved with Special Olympics since shortly after he
joined the Senate in 1973, when founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver ³grabbed me
and said, ſYou¹re now involved.¹²
He said he was struck by the growth of Special Olympics and the
international participation --- 95 nations are represented at the Games.
³Look,² said Biden, ³this is a movement. What started off as an avenue and
an outlet and a recognition for athletes has turned into a worldwide
movement. This is about to change the attitude, change the attitude of
governments, change the attitude of individuals.
³It¹s a big deal. I started off in the civil rights movement. This is a
civil rights movement. This is a movement to make sure that we guarantee
that all peoples in the world have the opportunity to succeed to the degree
they are capable.²
Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics board and the son of Eunice
Shriver, praised Biden, the appointment of Kareem Dale, and the
administration¹s commitment to persons with disabilities.
Shriver: ³When this campaign came and hit the world stage, we felt that
finally someone was speaking our languageŠ.They¹ve been saying, ſLet¹s break
down all barriers. Let¹s find a new way to get along and work together.¹²
Shriver said 3 million athletes participate in 30,000 events worldwide. ³We
believe this represents the largest movement for tolerance and acceptance in
the world,² Shriver said.
To which Biden added: ³I think that¹s true.²
Shriver: ³Discrimination persists, people make mockery and
institutionalization persists. We have finally found a part of ourselves is
a little bit angry about it. We¹re attacking words like ſretard¹ that¹s a
After Shriver spoke, Biden was asked how policy changes would follow when
the Games have been largely uncovered by national media.
Biden: ³Let me tell you, if you notice, the fella I serve with has the
ability to bring focus on issues. And this is one of the areas were going to
Biden: ³There¹s a lot of barriers. We¹ve broken down barriers before. We¹re
going to break down more barriers.²
UPDATED FIRST POOL REPORT STARTS HERE
Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, to attend the
Special Olympics World Winter Games. Air Force 2 touched down at 1:50 p.m.
following a nearly four-hour delay due to high winds on the Eastern
Biden was greeted on the tarmac at Boise airport by Gov. Butch Otter, Lt.
Gov. Brad Little, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney Lawrence Wasden,
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.
Biden, who seemed to have been briefed about the governor¹s recent surgery
on his right shoulder, immediately reached to shake Otter¹s left hand.
Bieter, the lone Democrat among the greeters, had the longest conversation
with Biden, which lasted about 60 seconds before Biden waved to reporters
and climbed in a black limousine, which departed at 2:03 p.m. Biden then
headed to Qwest Arena downtown to attend figure skating at the Special
Olympics World Winter Games.
When Biden entered the arena at 2:25 p.m., he was applauded and spent
several minutes shaking hands. Before joining the crowd, he had donned a red
parka and a Special Olympics blue-and-white scarf. He was seated with
athlete Tim McConnell, who was draped with medals, and McConnell¹s mother,
Daphne. McConnell is a double-gold-medal speed skater from Enola,
Pennsylvania. Also with Biden were Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle
Kwan and Tim Shriver, board chairman of the Special Olympics and a son
Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Biden watched five pairs in Division 2 pairs freestyle figure-skating
perform, three from Chinese Taipei, one from Mexico and one from Germany.
The teams were: Chang/Sung, Hung/Lin and Pan/Wang of Taipei;
Monreal/Visiconty of Mexico and Werner/Ziebe of Germany.
Biden then awarded medals to the pairs, while Kwan handed them bouquets.
Gold medalists were Werner/Ziebe; silver medal pair was Pan/Wang; bronze was
Monreal/Visiconty. Fourth place went to Hung/Ling and fifth of Chang/Sung.
AFTER AWARDING THE MEDALS, BIDEN SPOKE FOR 2 MINUTES ON THE ICE AT QWEST:
³It¹s an honor to be here. And it¹s a particular honor to be here with such
³This fulfills a dream of mine to walk out on the ice with Michelle Kwan.
And a dream to see such fine athletes.
³You have over 2,000 athletes with hears on the line, here competing from
100 countries. And what lives in the hearts of every one of these young
athletes ⿹ as my mother would say, lives in every heart is bravery,
tenacity, grit and determination.²
³I bring greetings from President Obama, who wanted to be here today. I
assure you that his entire administration will focus on these fine athletes
and many, many others.²
Biden then headed to Boise State, where he met athletes and volunteers,
including medical personnel, at a ³Healthy Athletes² event. Also present
were U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Biden congratulated athletes including Brandon Timmerman of Knoxville,
Tenn., a triple gold medalist in speed skating. He signed autographs and
had his picture taken.
To one athlete wearing medals around his neck, Biden gave the man a hug and
said, ³Congratulations! Look at this. Look at this. I never won one of these
and I played for years and years and years.²
Learning about the Healthy Athletes eyeglass program, which provides new
glasses and sunglasses to athletes on the spot, Biden joked with Michael
Barantes, a floor hockey team member from Costa Rica. Barantes¹ team plays
for bronze on Friday.
He also said, ³This is incredible. Our own health care system can learn from
what¹s happening here.²
Earlier, as he arrived and stood on the tarmac, Biden introduced Idaho
schools chief Luna to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the pair
chatted briefly. Lt. Gov. Little, wearing a blue-and-white scarf that¹s been
a trademark of the Winter Games, removed it from his shoulders and presented
it to Susan Axelrod, president of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
and the wife of Obama senior advisor David Axelrod.
Members of Biden¹s delegation included Lisa Brown (red coat), Axelrod (red
wrap), Tim Shriver, Kareem Dale (short black trench coat), and Chester Finn,
president of the board of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered and a special
assistant in the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and
Developmental Disabilities (with cane for sight-impaired).
After leaving the arena, Biden was to head for a "Healthy Athletes" event at
Boise State University, a program that teaches people with intellectual
disabilities healthy eating and living habits. Volunteers have been
providing medical, dental, vision and podiatry screenings for athletes and
non-athletes during the Games.
One-third of Special Olympics athletes cannot see well and need new or
different eyeglasses; six percent have serious untreated eye diseases; more
than 30 percent fail hearing tests, six times the rate of the general
population; and 35 percent have obvious tooth decay in the molars, up to 50
percent have obvious gum infections and 15 percent require urgent care. A
woman dressed as the Tooth Fairy has been helping convey the need for proper
About 2,500 athletes from nearly 100 countries have been in Boise, McCall
and Sun Valley, Idaho for the games.
U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, was to have been on Air Force 2, but
decided to remain in Washington to vote on the stimulus package. Minnick was
one of 11 House Democrats to oppose the original House bill. A freshman and
the lone Democrat in the Idaho delegation, Minnick joined his GOP colleagues
in opposing the plan. He proposed a smaller stimulus bill of his own.
Minnick's office released this statement: ³I very much regret not being able
to attend the World Special Olympics Winter Games today with Vice President
Biden,² Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick said. ³My duties in the U.S. House of
Representatives kept me in Washington, D.C., but I¹m glad to know the visit
is shining even more positive attention on such a fantastic event. The Games
have been great for Idaho, and I am pleased that Vice President Biden will
today get to see great performances which are representative of so many
wonderful athletes, coaches and volunteers.²
Release below, from the Obama campaign in July, 2008....
Obama Campaign Hires New Disability Vote Director
Campaign Continues to Strengthen Constituency Vote Operation
Chicago, IL - Kareem Dale, founder and chief executive officer of The Dale Law Group (DLG) in Chicago, has been appointed as the Obama campaign's Disability Vote Director, effective July 14, 2008. Dale, partially blind, will help broaden the campaign's reach and involve even more voices in this coalition for change.
In his role as Disability Vote Director, Dale will be responsible for all disability outreach efforts for the campaign, including attending national conferences, coordinating grassroots efforts, speaking at events as a surrogate for the campaign, and ensuring that campaign locations are accessible for all Americans with disabilities.
"Throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has insisted that we can change our politics and involve new voters in the process if we focus on our common hopes as Americans," Campaign Manager David Plouffe said. "Kareem Dale shares Barack Obama's fundamental commitment to building a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination, and we're excited he's a part of this campaign."
Fifty-four million Americans - roughly 1 in 6 - personally experience some form of disability. Senator Obama is committed to empowering people with disabilities so that they can fulfill the American dream and take full advantage of their talents and become independent, integrated members of society. "I look forward to encouraging all Americans with disabilities to support a candidate who is going to bring real change to their lives," Dale said.
Prior to his appointment as Disability Vote Director, Dale also served as a volunteer on the Disability Policy and the Arts Policy Committees for the Obama For America campaign.
Dale is a native Chicagoan and received his bachelor's degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated Cum Laude with a law degree and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May, 1999.
For Immediate Release
July 21, 2008
Obama Press Office; 312-819-2423