Much has been made of Vice President Joe Biden’s well-known gaffes and low energy levels exhibited in his presidential run.
But during a Sept. 25 community meeting at Pasadena City College, as House Democrats continued moving toward impeaching President Donald Trump, the 76-year-old Biden was witty, animated, engaged and quick on his feet.
“It’s probably the president,” Biden said to applause after an audience member’s phone started ringing.
“Tell him I’m talking about him,” Biden quipped.
As Biden spoke to area residents, Trump was facing increased scrutiny amidst an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives prompted by a phone call that he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy last July, just one day after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified about his report, which found Trump had obstructed justice but did not collude with Russian operatives to rig the 2016 election, as alleged.
According to a five-page summary of that 30-minute call, Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favor” before repeatedly urging him to look into an energy company for which Biden’s son Hunter previously worked.
On Sunday, Sept. 29, Trump tweeted Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) should be arrested for treason after Schiff delivered a parody of the call as a classic mob shakedown during his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff chairs.
“If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal,” Trump tweeted.
In the 2016 presidential election, Trump was accused of asking the Russians to dig up dirt on Hillary Clinton, his opponent, but a nearly two-year investigation turned up no evidence of collusion.
“This ain’t your father’s Republican Party,” Biden said before the crowd of roughly 200 people at PCC. “There are still a lot of decent men there, and women. But they’re being intimidated by a guy who will go after them like he tried to go after me.”
The Sept. 25 fundraiser at the college was hosted by Lena L. Kennedy, founder of Women in Leadership — Vital Voices, a women’s empowerment group.
Biden was introduced by Kennedy’s brother, Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy.
Biden is locked in a tough battle with US Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts for the lead in the Democratic primary race. The former vice president was a frontrunner even before getting into the race, with polls consistently showing that not only do most Democrats consider him their top choice to go head to head with Trump but also believe that he can beat the president in November 2020.
“We need more of the exciting message that we are hearing from Vice President Biden,” said John Kennedy. “It would appear that Democrats, Republicans and Independents are coalescing around Biden. I am encouraging the campaign to go full throttle after 17 to 35 year olds. This age group is critically important because they are opinion leaders and can convince other demographics to vote.”
The District 3 councilman hosted Biden at his home for a fundraiser on July 19. Hunter Biden attended that event with his father but was not present for the fundraiser at PCC.
Along with Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand have all made stops in Pasadena. Julian Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have also visited the Crown City.
The trips to California by the candidates have been prompted by an earlier election in California. The primary date has been moved up from June to March 3, 2020. The earlier date — after only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — will ensure that California voters and the state’s nearly 500 delegates play a decisive role in determining the eventual nominee, who will be chosen at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July.
President Barack Obama, Biden’s former boss and a Pasadena resident while attending Occidental College in the early 1980s, and Clinton both held fundraisers in Pasadena during the 2008 presidential race.
Biden, a native of Pennsylvania who later represented Delaware in the Senate, won his Senate seat when he was just 29 and refers to himself as “Middle Class Joe.”
Biden had no problem mocking Trump’s efforts to connect him to corruption, something which has been already been investigated and dismissed, according to multiple national news outlets.
“Turns out not a syllable or scintilla of what was said was true,” Biden said of Trump’s claims. “Every major publication pointed it out, et cetera. And he’s not going to let foreigners interfere with our election? As we say in my church, ‘Bless me father for I have sinned.’” A staunch Roman Catholic, Biden made the sign of the cross as the crowd laughed.
Biden spoke for an hour, looking relaxed as he paced with a microphone in hand while in front of the friendly crowd.
While addressing economic inequality, Biden said of rolling back Trump’s tax cut: “I get in trouble with Bernie [Sanders] when I say this, but I believe wealthy people are as patriotic as poor people. They know they don’t deserve this additional tax cut. But here’s the deal; when someone says ‘we’ll give you a tax break,’ ‘[you don’t say] no don’t give it, I don’t want it.’ Well, we can get this changed. If you make $250 million you’re not getting a tax cut from me. You’re not getting it if you make $250,000 a year either.”