EXETER — Joe Biden appeared in front of donors at the Fox Hill Country club Tuesday evening, only a few short miles from his original hometown of Scranton.
The presidential candidate’s focus was clear: saying how he plans to restore America’s dignity.
Around 200 of Biden’s supporters gathered for the fundraising event. The former vice president’s appearance comes a day before his public rally in Scranton on Wednesday morning in support of his bid to become the Democratic candidate for President in the 2020 election.
Speaking directly to the people of the area, Biden said that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre region is fundamental to his core beliefs of how America works.
“The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is where I learned everything there is to know about the basic values that animate this country,” Biden said. Those values, Biden explained, come down to the belief that everyone should be treated with dignity.
Biden suggests that this “basic value” is something President Donald Trump fails to understand, which is something that Biden said motivated him to seek the nomination.
Biden claimed he didn’t plan on seeking public office again, but changed his mind after the now-infamous 2017 Unite the Right rally held in in Charlottesville, Virginia, which saw clashes between white supremacists and progressive protesters, ultimately resulting in the death of Heather Heyer.
Trump afterward said there were “very fine people” on both sides of the debate, and Biden said on Tuesday that it was this comment that partially motivated his decision to run for president, saying no president had ever “said something like that.”
Biden: Trump embraces ‘mad men’
Biden pointed to Trump’s close relationships with foreign leaders that he characterized as “mad men.”
“Look at what he’s done; he’s embraced Kim Jong-un,” Biden said, before adding of Kim: “He’s a thug.”
Biden also had harsh criticism for Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling of a meeting he had with Putin.
“‘I look into your eyes,’” Biden claims he told Putin, ‘“and I don’t think you have a soul.’”
“Then we understand each other,” Biden claims the Russian leader replied.
Biden says he’s been the target of online misinformation campaigns led by Russia, using fake accounts on Facebook to spread falsehoods about his campaign.
“What I’ve learned is that Putin doesn’t want me to be president, and Trump doesn’t want me to be the nominee,” he said. “Because I will beat him like a drum.”
Critical of withdrawal
Biden criticized Trump’s recent decision to withdraw support for Kurdish allies in Syria, leaving a power vacuum in the Middle East that’s led to Turkish attacks on the Kurds and what some experts have suggested is the possibility for increasing Russian influence throughout the region.
“Russians are now going to occupy the very bases where we were,” he said. “What in God’s name is happening?”
Biden suggested Trump is becoming more erratic as the days wear on, claiming it’s plunged the nation into uncharted territory.
“Folks, we’ve never been here before,” he said. “Forget what’s happening domestically; we’ve never been here before.”
Biden said the country must act to save its own soul, painting a picture of a dire position for America in the event of a 2020 win for Trump.
“Folks, we can stand four years of Donald Trump…” Biden said “But eight years. Eight years of Donald Trump will fundamentally change the character of this country for generations.”
Focus on health, education
Biden said that, under his presidency, there would be an increased focus on making sure more Americans have both health insurance and adequate education. He said that both of these things are key to giving Americans their dignity back. Biden was critical of recent Republican-led tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, saying the country would have been better off if the focus had been placed on funding medical research and education. He said he also plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord within the first 100 days of his presidency.
“We’re the only country in the world, and that’s why we’re perceived as the ugly Americans, that truly believe we can do any damn thing,” Biden said.
Biden was also critical of his Democratic rivals for the nomination, suggesting some of them are too shortsighted when they suggest sweeping changes need to be made to the current system. He said some have suggested the time of reaching across the aisle is gone.
“If we can’t do that anymore, we’re dead,” he said. “The only way this country can run is by consensus.”
The former vice president ended his speech claiming he was the only Democratic candidate who can bring the change he claims America needs.
“I’m the only one running who knows how to do this because I’ve done it before,” he said. “And folks, I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited.”
Biden’s visit to the area came only a day after current Vice President Mike Pence toured SCHOTT North America Inc., a glass manufacturer in Duryea, making comments about the strength of the economy under Trump. Biden slammed Pence’s comments in a statement Monday, calling Pence a “complicit sidekick” to Trump’s trade wars, which Biden says hurt the American people.
Trump returns to the campaign trail Wednesday with a stop in Pittsburgh while Biden will make an appearance in his hometown of Scranton.
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with reporters following a town hall meeting in Spartanburg, S.C. in August. Biden addressed supporters Tuesday at Fox Hill Country Club in Exeter, and is scheduled to appear in Scranton today.