Former Vice President Joe Biden sought to rally House Democrats on Wednesday by forcefully attacking President Donald Trump while urging his own party to stay united.
“The President is looking out for himself only. The Republican Party seems to only be looking out for the President,” Biden said in an auditorium at the Capitol, delivering the keynote address at a Democratic retreat. “And so it’s our job to remind the American people that we’re looking out for them.”
Focusing much of his half-hour-long remarks on Trump, Biden hit the President as a narcissistic, divisive force that threatens the “moral fabric” of America.
“Who in God’s name would have thought we would be here at this moment with this President? We have a President who is consumed by his political survival,” he said. “Everything is run through the filter of how it affects Donald Trump in Donald Trump’s mind.”
With “his closed and clannish nationalism” and “ugly and phony populism,” Biden argued, Trump was shredding “decency” and “honesty.”
“Don’t act like the neighborhood bully talking down to ‘Little so-and-so, fat so-and-so.’ My God, he’s the President of the United States of America,” Biden said, referencing Trump’s attacks on various leaders at home and abroad.
“Since when do we give hate safe harbor in America?” he added.
Pushing a theme of unity, Biden also sought to bridge the divide between progressive and working class Democrats, calling the split a “false debate.”
“I will challenge any of you to put my progressive credentials of 36 years in the Senate up against any of you,” he said. “I will also suggest that my commitment to growth in the middle class is as strong as any of you. I never found a single solitary conflict between the two. I never figured we had to choose between our heart and our soul.”
Biden recalled a campaign event in Iowa that he had attended for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in which he called for equal pay for women while standing before workers at a Ford motor plant. “They went nuts,” he said, saying they were supportive of the idea.
He attempted to remind the audience that many of the districts Trump won in 2016 were formerly won by Democrats and argued they can be reclaimed.
“You know all these so-called racists who voted against us last time out? Remember a black man and an Irish Catholic kid won in all of those places,” he said, referring to himself and President Barack Obama. “Let’s not rip ourselves apart in a debate that is irrelevant.”
While Biden tried to keep his message focused on the 2018 midterm elections, there were underpinnings of 2020. “Run, Joe, run,” one member of the audience yelled out when Biden took the stage.
Biden, staying consistent with his recent comments on a potential White House bid, said he plans to spend his time “making sure we win back that House.”
He argued that Democrats could take the Senate, as well. “It’s a little bit more of a climb, but it’s real,” he told members. “Sometimes you can just feel it, you can taste it. There’s something out there.”