Former Vice President Joe Biden was welcomed Wednesday by Democrats on Capitol Hill with chants of “Run Joe Run!” — signaling there is an appetite in the party for the 75-year-old to make a splash in 2020 presidential race.
Delivering a keynote address to the House Democratic Caucus, Mr. Biden said the party must stick together against President Trump because Republicans refuse to do so.
“Look, to put it in the simplest, starkest terms, the president is looking out for himself only and the Republican Party seems only to be looking out for the president,” Mr. Biden said. “So it is our job to remind the American people that we are looking out for them.”
“That requires us in my view to remain united as a party and not be divided,” he said.
Mr. Biden said the stakes have never been so high, claiming the Trump administration has undermined Democratic institutions, damaged the nation’s moral fabric and tarnished its image across the globe, jeopardizing the safety of the nation over the long haul.
“Who is God’s name would have thought we would be here at this moment with this president?” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump has empowered Neo-Nazis and white nationalists —accusing him of pushing “closed and clanish nationalism and ugly and phony populism.”
Mr. Biden said GOP leaders are laying the groundwork to cut Social Security and Medicare and criticized elected leaders for using young illegal immigrants, known as Dreamers, that were brought into the United States by their parents as “bargaining chips.”
“What the hell have we become?” he said.
Mr. Biden remains one of the more popular Democrats in the party and that was made clear when he was met with chants urging him to consider a presidential run.
Mr. Biden downplayed the suggestion and said he plans to do everything in his power to help Democrats flip control of the House in the midterm elections.
The 75-year-old, though, has left the door open to a White House run, and on Wednesday reminded lawmakers that he and Mr. Obama — “a black man and an Irish Catholic kid” — won over many of the places that are now being derided as racist for helping Mr. Trump win in 2016.
Mr. Biden said Democrats must remind voters that the party believes that everyone is entitled to dignity and respect.
“I think we are having a debate about a false choice between our progressive values and the concerns of high school educated white and black working people,” Mr. Biden said. “I don’t think that’s a choice.”
“I will challenge any of you to put my progressive credentials of 36 years in the Senate up against any of you, any of you,” he said. “I will also suggest that my commitment to the growth of the middle class is as strong as any of you. I have never found a single solitary conflict between the two. I never figured we had to choose between our heart and our soul. It is a false debate we are having among ourselves in my humble opinion.”
• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at email@example.com.
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