“I believe I’m going to beat Trump,” Biden said, adding “The words presidents say matter. They can divide a nation. They can lift a nation… I mean, and all this guy [Trump] has done has been to just drag the nation down.”
He continued, “In the eyes of the world — I don’t know how many of you have traveled around for business or other reasons — we are a laughing stock right now.”
In his first sit-down interview since the New Hampshire primary, the former VP said he is the candidate who can incite change, because his campaign is centered on “moving forward.”
When the hosts pressed him on whether Iowa or New Hampshire should lose their first-in-the-nation status following the meltdown in Iowa, and what Sunny Hostin called a lack of diversity, Biden didn’t fully answer.
“I don’t know. We’ll have to see how this works out,” he said. “This is my last dance in terms of what’s going on … If I win the nomination and get elected president, I think that changes things a lot. It’s about moving forward.”
Biden further criticized the Republican’s attempts to require his testimony in the Senate impeachment trial against Trump, saying it was only meant to serve as a distraction — a tactic Biden predicted would continue no matter which candidate becomes the nominee.
“Look — I really mean it. This goes way, way, way over the top,” he said, talking specifically about comments from conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh on former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg’s sexual orientation. “Whomever the candidate is, you see it’s happening already. Now that Pete’s got some traction, they’re going after Pete for being gay. They’re going to go after whomever [the nominee] is the same way,”
He added, “People know me. They know who I am. They know I’ve never been accused of doing anything.”
Biden was joined by his wife, Jill Biden, who said regardless of the attacks on her husband, ending up in the White House would make it worth it.
“It’s ugly but I can take a little bit of ugly if it means Joe’s going to be president,” she said.
What they were unprepared for, Biden said, were the attacks on their son, Hunter, who became part of the focus during the impeachment inquiry.
“I mean, to hear your son attacked, you know, I expected that Joe would be attacked, but not your children,” Biden told the co-hosts.
Despite the attacks, they said their son is doing well, with Biden saying that he talks to his son “almost every day.”
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Asked by co-host Meghan McCain, the daughter of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, if he still feels the presence of his late son Beau on the campaign trail, Biden called him his “soul,” and recounted the promise he made to him to stay engaged in the political process.
“Beau was [Hunter’s] 13th rib, and Beau was my soul and [Hunter’s] my heart … As I said before and I wasn’t trying to be nice, I mean, Beau should be the guy running for president,” Biden said, getting emotional. “But you know, you can’t stand by though and let a guy like Trump, who’s the antithesis of everything we have stood for in our family and this country, [stay], you can’t let it happen.”
As the presidential race moves towards states with more diverse electorates, Biden is also contending with the rise of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose near-unlimited ability to self-fund his campaign has allowed him to blanket states that vote on Super Tuesday and encompass a large portion of the delegates needed to win the party’s nomination.
Biden criticized Bloomberg on Thursday, adding the he believes he is the only candidate who has been “totally vetted” due to his long record.
“I don’t think you can buy an election … Look, one of the advantages and disadvantages, I’ve been the only guy through this process so far, a person that’s been totally vetted,” Biden said. “I’ve had a target on my back since I got in.”
His advisers have labeled Bloomberg as “untested” and say a chance to debate the billionaire in Nevada will offer an opportunity for Biden to draw an effective contrast.
“We’re going to compete in Super Tuesday states. Bloomberg is spending an awful lot of money but he’s also not had his turn in the barrel, he has not been on the debate stage,” Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, the Biden campaign’s national co-chair, told reporters on Thursday, adding “He’s untested, and so we look forward to drawing the comparison.”
When asked specifically about his reaction to newly released audio of Bloomberg defending his controversial “stop and frisk” policy, Biden reiterated his belief that other candidates still required vetting.
“It’s amazing how every single thing I’ve said for the last 40 years has come up and I’ve answered them all. We’re just now getting into the place where we’re looking at other people’s records,” Biden said, indicating he is looked forward to drawing a contrast with Bloomberg.
He continued to insist that the long race shouldn’t be decided until communities of color have weighed in.
Recognizing the likelihood of defeat in the state of New Hampshire, Biden left the state on the day of the primary to head to South Carolina, a state his campaign has long insisted represents a protective firewall, owed in large part to the candidate’s grip on the support of African-American voters, who comprise more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in the Palmetto State.
“I want y’all to think of a number, 99.9 percent. That’s the percentage of African-American voters who have not yet had a chance to vote in America. One more number, 99.8 — that’s the percent of Latino voters who haven’t had a chance to vote. So, when you hear all these pundits and experts…talk about the race, tell them “It ain’t over, man. We’re just getting started,” Biden told supporters Tuesday night at a rally in Columbia, South Carolina.
Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign senior adviser, echoed Biden’s remarks reminded reporters not to write Biden off just yet.
“It would be a mistake to try to write Vice President Biden off and our campaign off before people of color have had their say in this election,” Sanders told reporters on a state of the race call on Wednesday.
Biden heads next to the state of Nevada, whose caucus later this month also affords him the opportunity to show his strength in a state significantly more diverse than the first-in-the-nation states.
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