- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2019

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden signaled this week that he could be rethinking his theory that the GOP will have an epiphany about bipartisanship once President Trump leaves the White House, as Republicans, including some of his old friends, joined the White House’s counteroffensive against him and his son Hunter.

Mr. Biden entered the presidential race touting his ability to cut through partisanship in Washington and promoting the idea that he could do it again if elected president.

But the 76-year-old changed his tune, albeit briefly, at a campaign stop this week, broadening his critique of Mr. Trump to include Republicans who have piled onto the “smear” campaign against him and his family.

“His party fans out to carry the smear, are blanketing the airwaves — paid for by the special interests so well served by his presidency,” Mr. Biden said this week in Nevada. “Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me: I’m not going anywhere.”

Before that, Mr. Biden had been training most of his fire on Mr. Trump and glossing over the fact that nearly every congressional Republican has stuck behind the president in the Ukraine whistleblower saga and run with the White House’s assertion that the real evildoers in the caper are the Bidens.

Jim Manley, a Democratic consultant, said the Biden epiphany theory is aging “very poorly” in the 2020 campaign.

“It was a bad idea in the beginning when he first said it and after the last couple weeks it is a worse idea now,” Mr. Manley said. “No one — I repeat, no one — could possibly think if we get Trump out of office that the GOP is going to change and Sen. Mitch McConnell is going to become a master dealmaker in addressing the pressing needs of the American public.”

While the pressure Mr. Trump put on Ukraine’s president to investigate the Bidens’ business dealings has made some lawmakers uncomfortable and has opened the door for his starry-eyed primary rivals to back impeachment, Republican leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers are publicly keeping a unified front inside the halls of Congress.

They’re swatting away the anti-Trump attacks and echoing the president’s claim that Mr. Biden shielded his son from a corruption investigation by pushing for the resignation of a Ukraine prosecutor.

The guardians of the Trump galaxy include swing-vote lawmakers such as Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who is up for reelection and faces a primary challenge.

He told WXII 12 Winston-Salem on Thursday that Democrats are too fixated on their desire to reverse the results of the 2016 election and said Congress should consider investigating the allegations against Mr. Biden.

The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, the remarks Mr. Biden delivered Wednesday in Nevada are a far cry from the bipartisan vision he sketched out in May during his first campaign swing through New Hampshire.

“The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke,” Mr. Biden told reporters at the time. “You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends.”

One of those GOP friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said over the weekend he “loves Joe Biden,” and then called for a special investigation into the role Mr. Biden played in the dismissal of a Ukranian prosecutor investigating the energy company where his son was a board member making $50,000 a month.

“The guy’s on the board being investigated for corruption and the guy doing the investigation is asked to be fired by Biden — I don’t know what happened,” Mr. Graham said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “It smells to high heaven.”

Mr. Trump raised the stakes Wednesday by calling on Ukrainian and Chinese officials to investigate the “crooked” Bidens.

“I think Biden is going down,” Mr. Trump told reporters at The White House. “Now you may very well find that there are many other countries they scammed just like they scammed China and Ukraine.”

The Biden campaign said Mr. Trump is “flailing and melting down on national television.” It also celebrated reports that CNN refused to run a Trump 2020 campaign television ad that included the Biden-Ukraine allegations, saying it included falsehoods and attacks against the network’s employees.

That followed a Politico report over the weekend that said team Biden was demanding television networks stop booking former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Gulliani, saying the president’s attorney has “demonstrated that he will knowingly and willingly lie in order to advance his own narrative.”

Neil Sroka, of Democracy for America, a liberal group, said Mr. Biden’s “epiphany” theory has proven to be more “delusional” than it was when he introduced it months ago and said the GOP has no interest in playing nice.

Mr. Sroka likened Mr. Biden’s reluctance to take a firmer stand against Republicans to the “Peanuts” comic strip, where Lucy repeatedly pulls the football away from Charlie Brown before he can kick it.

“It is like he is playing the role of Charlie Brown, but Lucy is not even putting the ball down,” Mr. Sroka said. “It is mind-boggling.”

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