Vice President Joseph R. Biden said Tuesday that the first presidential debate showed Republican Donald Trump lacks the “moral center” to lead the nation.
Speaking at a rally for Democrat Hillary Clinton at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden told students that Mr. Trump showed his callousness by boasting about not paying taxes and profiting from the housing crisis.
“He acknowledged that he didn’t pay taxes because he said he’s ‘smart,’ ” Mr. Biden said, seething. “Tell that to the janitor here who’s paying taxes. Tell that to your mothers and fathers who are breaking their necks to send you here and are paying their taxes. It angers me.”
Referring to the possibility of Mr. Trump becoming president, Mr. Biden said, “We can’t let this happen to America.”
The vice president criticized Mr. Trump for bragging about profiting off of people who lost their homes or equity during the recession. Mr. Biden said it was the middle class “who built this damn country.”
“What does it say about this man?” Mr. Biden asked. “He wants to be president of the United States of America. He does not have the basic, fundamental sensibilities and values that almost every American politician — left, right and center — I know, have.”
Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state, and recent polls show the candidates essentially tied, with Mrs. Clinton having lost a sizable lead. The campaigns are battling especially hard for voters in the Philadelphia suburbs, and for young voters who Mrs. Clinton has yet to win over.
In appealing for college students to register and vote, Mr. Biden acknowledged that the Democratic nominee isn’t generating enough enthusiasm with a key part of her base.
“I know a lot of students on campus are frustrated,” Mr. Biden said. “I know they’re not overjoyed about the choices. I know think that Hillary didn’t do A, B, C or D. But my Lord, my Lord, what are we going to do?”
He said Mrs. Clinton showed in the debate that “she’s a leader, she has courage.” And he suggested a way for the government to pay for Mrs. Clinton’s proposal for free college tuition.
“The way we do it is to get guys like Donald Trump to pay their taxes,” he said.
Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump, who claims the political system is “rigged,” is himself benefiting from a rigged banking system. He questioned why the Republican nominee has been able to secure business loans while his companies have declared bankruptcy five times.
“He brags about gaming the system and bankruptcy, leaving hard-working people holding the bag. How many people has he stiffed?” Mr. Biden said. “That’s the rigged system. He is part of the rigged system.”