Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized President Trump’s “Salute to America” Fourth of July Spectacle on Thursday - saying the event “misses the point” of the holiday.
Speaking to a few hundred working-class supporters in Marshalltown, Iowa, the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner laid into Trump’s Fourth of July extravaganza and argued that it was “designed more to stroke his ego” than celebrate American independence.
"I wonder what Donald Trump will say this evening, when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals,” Biden said.
Earlier, the 76-year-old Biden, in well-worn running shoes, zigzagged across a parade route in Independence, Iowa, often jogging from curb to curb, sometimes trotting backward.
Clearly in his element as a hand-to-hand politician, Biden posed for innumerable photos with supporters, such as Elizabeth Washburn, who traveled with her husband and son more than an hour from Iowa City to see Biden.
Trump’s “Salute to America” has drawn widespread condemnation from Democrats, who argue that he is using federal government to put on what they say is a glorified campaign rally.
“President Trump’s efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation’s history is extremely alarming,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement last month. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his proposed event.”
Hoyer is among several House Democrats who wrote a letter to Trump on June 6 asking him to abandon his plans, saying they worry it will “create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.” In asking the president to reconsider, Democrats accused him of wanting to make the event about himself.
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., who is among the lawmakers overseeing the Interior Department, which has jurisdiction over the National Mall and federal parks, said it was "absolutely outrageous" that the administration will use park money to help defray Thursday's event costs. The National Park Service plans to use nearly $2.5 million intended to help improve parks nationwide, The Washington Post reported late Tuesday, citing anonymous sources.
"These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will," McCollum said in a statement. She promised a congressional hearing.
Trump defended the cost of the event on Wednesday, tweeting that cost "will be very little compared to what it is worth."
"We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel," he said, referring to Maryland's Joint Base Andrews, home for some of the planes that are to fly over the Mall on Thursday. "We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.