Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday described President Trump as the “neighborhood bully” while touting his own liberal credentials during a speech to Democratic lawmakers that appeared aimed at keeping his foot in the door for a potential 2020 run for president.
“Since when do we give hate safe harbor in America?” Biden said in a speech to Democrats at the Capitol. “Since when are we leaving so many people behind? Guys, this president is doing great damage.”
The former Democratic senator and vice president under former President Barack Obama accused Trump of pushing a “closed and clannish nationalism” and an “ugly and phony populism.” He also called out the president for his trademark derogatory nicknames to political critics.
“Don’t act like the neighborhood bully, talking down to ‘Little so and so’ or ‘Fat so and so,’” Biden said. “I mean, my God. He’s the president of the United States of America.”
He accused Trump of viewing everything through a selfish lens.
“We have a president who is consumed by his political survival,” Biden said. “It’s the beginning, the middle and the end. Everything is run through the filter of how it affects Donald Trump in Donald Trump’s mind.”
“Since when do we give hate safe harbor in America? Since when are we leaving so many people behind? Guys, this president is doing great damage.”
Biden also accused Trump of “shredding some of our core values” and cited the president’s attacks on the press.
“I mean there’s an all-out attack on the guys wearing the striped shirts: the press and the courts,” he said. “It is a technique that’s been used repeatedly throughout history by those who want to clear the field so they’re in a position to be able to abuse power.”
Biden unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 and 2008 but opted against a campaign in 2016. The 75-year-old, who has not ruled out a run in 2020, called for Democrats “to remain united as a party, and not be divided.”
“I will challenge any of you to put my progressive credentials of 36 years in the Senate up against any of you,” Biden said. “Any of you. I’ll also suggest that my commitment to growth of the middle class is as strong as any of you.”
Biden also pointed out how he and Obama won in places that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton lost during the 2016 election.
“By the way, you know, all these so-called racists who voted against us last time out?” Biden asked, telling Democrats to “remember a black man and an Irish Catholic kid” won in many of the places where Trump beat Clinton.
“But for 72,000 votes, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” he said. “72,000 votes.”