Biden's Speech in Iowa Was All About Donald Trump

By Susan Jones | June 12, 2019 | 6:03am EDT
Former Vice President and now a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event on June 11, 2019 in Ottumwa, Iowa. (Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

( - Former Vice President Joe Biden, now running for the Democrat presidential nomination, painted a gloomy picture of the United States under the leadership of President Donald Trump Tuesday night.

"I believe that Trump poses a fundamental threat to America," Biden told a gathering in Iowa. (In his prepared remarks, Biden called it an "existential threat.")

According to Biden, Trump is destroying the American auto industry; carelessly hurting farmers and businesses with his tariffs; and pursing an "erratic trade war" with China.

"He's an amazing guy, isn't he?" Biden ad-libbed. Then, admonishing himself, Biden said: "Joe, be kind. I keep thinking of my mother," he explained.

But throughout his speech, Biden kept his focus, negatively, on Donald Trump, calling him, among other things, a climate change denier: "If he was just another rich guy sitting in his gold-plated apartment in Manhattan tweeting about how those pointy-headed scientists don't know anything, it wouldn't matter. But he's president."

Biden warned that eight years of a Trump presidency will "forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation." (Notably, Biden never mentioned unchecked illegal immigration -- the one thing that could fundamentally alter the character of the nation.)

Instead, Biden explained how Trump poses a "fundamental threat":

"First, to our core values. What we stand for. What we believe. We saw it in Charlottesville....”

He mentioned the humanitarian crisis at the border, where Trump has taken “kids from their mothers and fathers, putting them literally in the equivalent of cages, thousands of them – what does that say?”

(The Obama-Biden administration also "detained large numbers of unaccompanied children inside chain link fences in 2014," the Associated Press reported. "Images that circulated online of children in cages during the height of Trump’s family separations controversy were actually from 2014 when Obama was in office.")

Biden continued:

"Everywhere we turn, it's clear that Trump is shredding what we believe in most. I believe we have to restore those basic values," Biden said.

Biden criticized Trump for his treatment of U.S. allies and for being the only American president who has ever threatened to leave NATO.

Biden praised Barack Obama as a "president of extraordinary character and decency,” saying he was a president our kids could look up to...And if you don't think we miss him, Trump just reminded us that we do.”

Biden slammed Trump’s insults, often flung out on Twitter:

“Look, Donald Trump a threat to the United States. Attacking private citizens using language like ‘total loser.’ Barack Obama would not do that. No president would do that. Most teenagers wouldn’t do that. You know, he’s setting a standard, the standard of crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing into our culture for real. It’s in our culture. It will take time to get rid of it, but we must. We must.  It is not who we are.”

Biden also accused Trump of "tearing down the guardrails of democracy."

"Tearing down the things that prevent the abuse of power," Biden said: "'Fake news.' 'Enemy of the people.' These aren't words to be laughed at or dismissed. Just look at what's happening around the world. Think of the dictators and tyrants using Trump's words to justify their own abuses of power in their countries...Trump's goal is simple -- discredit the news, discredit the free press -- and run over the American people...roughshod."

Biden also accused Trump of attacking the independence of the courts and "completely ignoring the legitimate authority of the Congress."

So what would Biden do as president? The text of his prepared remarks says, "I will look to work with the Congress. I will work across the aisle. I will seek to find consensus." But Biden did not say those things out loud on Tuesday night.

However, Biden made it clear that he would undo everything Trump has accomplished, including tax cuts (“gone,” Biden said). Biden would rejoin the international climate-change chorus; and he would protect the Affordable Care Act.

"The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself,” Biden concluded. “Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. No, I'm not joking, even the people who support him, they have no illusions about who he is and his character....We have to let them know who we Democrats  are. What we stand for. We have to let them know that we choose hope over fear. Unity over division. Truth over lies. And science over fiction.

“It's time for us to pick our heads up and remember who we are. This is United States of America. There's not a single thing -- not a single thing -- is beyond our capacity to do -- together."

Trump, also speaking in Iowa Tuesday night, sounded much more cheerful than Biden did.

Trump told his crowd:

"We put America first, we're putting America first again, folks. And this is truly an extraordinary time for our nation. America is thriving, optimism is booming, our people are prospering and our country is winning again. Winning, winning, winning, winning again, we are winning like never before and doing great and respected again all over the world -- they respect us again. They weren't so respectful for a long number of years, but they respect us again as a country. America’s economy is now the envy of the world....”

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