Joe Biden stumps in Aspen, calls for an end to hate

Former Vice President Joe Biden formally launches his 2020 presidential campaign during a rally May 18 at Eakins Oval in Philadelphia.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden rubbed elbows with some of Aspen’s most well-heeled Democrats at a private fundraiser Tuesday before declaring that America’s soul is at stake with Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

“I never had the expectation that President Trump would be a good president, but I had no idea that he would be as banal, mean and as bad as he is,” Biden told the crowd assembled at the home of Jane and Marc Nathanson.

In a fiery 26-minute speech, Biden said white supremacy, white nationalism and bigotry are dividing the country under Trump’s leadership. He originally referred to Sunday’s massacre as having taken place in San Diego, but later corrected himself, near the conclusion of his remarks, to note it was actually in El Paso where a gunman killed 21 people. The shooter, authorities have said, faces potential hate crimes based on his alleged online comments that he was targeting Hispanics.

“It’s about hate, hate, hate,” Biden said. “We have to rip it out. We have to rip it up. Because if we don’t, it will fundamentally change who we are. Who we are. The president is the face of America. Our children are listening. They know, they know it’s happening. He’s changing the whole dynamic about us, at home and abroad.

“I never thought I’d say this about a president, but he’s fomenting hatred, and he’s dividing us based on ethnicity, religion, color, background. We can’t sustain ourselves that way. You can’t define what freedom in America is, based on any of those criteria.”

Biden’s wife, Jill, introduced him to the audience members who paid from $1,000 to $2,800 to attend the campaign fundraiser.

“Here we are, in another campaign,” she said. “Over the last two years, so many people have come up to me on the street, in the pharmacy, at the supermarket, and said the same thing: ‘Tell Joe he has to run.’”

Saying the “social fabric in this country is being ripped apart,” Joe Biden said, “We better damn well stitch it back together pretty quickly, because eight years of this man, eight years of him — and this is not hyperbole — eight years of this man will fundamentally change who we are.”

As the country’s global stature crumbles under Trump, Biden argued, the president makes overtures with such rogue leaders as Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin.

“And internationally, there will be no NATO, I promise you,” he said. “We will not have any alliances. We embrace Kim Jong Un. My God. I’ve spent as much time with Putin as any other world leader. My Lord, this guy is not a good guy. He’s a kleptomaniac, he’s a bad guy, he’s a dictator. There’s nothing really good about him except he’s pretty damn smart.”

Biden voiced support for America’s middle class, but said it’s in a fragile state because of advances in technology.

“Those people are scared. We’ve got to speak to them. We’ve got to let them know there are answers without having to punish anybody,” he said. “So, folks, I think if you think about it, my dad’s expression was, ‘You know, Joey, a job is a lot more than a paycheck; it’s about decency. It’s about your place in the community; it’s about respect. It’s then about dignity.’ Then how in the hell can a family have dignity when they have a child with a pre-existing condition and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it?”

Biden said his $6 billion plan is to make the first two years of community college free for students.

“There are so many things we are able to do without damaging anybody’s situation,” he said.

The fundraiser was held at the Northstar Drive home of Jane and Marc Nathanson, who founded Falcon Cable and sold it for $3.7 billion in 1999.

Biden flew into Aspen from Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday. He was scheduled to leave Aspen on Wednesday for Iowa, where he will be attending the state fair, according to a campaign aide.

Biden, who served as vice president under Barack Obama, is the frontrunner in a crowded field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.

On Tuesday, Quinnipiac University released polling results showing that Biden held 32% support, down from 34% on July 29, while Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren strengthened her hold on the second position with an increase from 15% to 21%.