Former Vice President Joe Biden is declaring a radically different theme to his campaign than most other candidate. It is a theme of unity and pushing back on those who may urge Democratic presidential candidates to be “angry” in their bid to take on President Trump.
Biden is preparing to hold a campaign event Saturday in Philadelphia to officially kick off his White House bid and he is portraying himself as a unifier in a crucial swing state that split its popular vote nearly evenly between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
“Some say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity. That they are angry – and the angrier you are – the better. That’s what they are saying [you] have to do to win the Democratic nomination,” Biden will say, according to excerpts circulated of his speech.
“Well, I don’t believe it. I believe Democrats want to unify this nation. That’s what we’ve always been about. Unity,” Biden is expected to say.
Biden is keeping the emphasis unity, and he is also keeping up the pressure on Trump, bashing him as a ruler with a “hard heart.”
“If the American people want a president to add to our division, to lead with a clenched fist, closed hand and a hard heart, to demonize the opponents and spew hatred – they don’t need me. The already have a president who does just that,” Biden will say.
“I am running to offer our country – Democrats, Republicans and Independents – a different path.”
Biden has emerged as the frontrunner in the crowded Democratic presidential field of 23. He is at the top of every national poll since he announced his White House bid last month and hauling in millions of dollars in donations.
But the former VP remains dogged by criticism from some on the left over issues such as criminal justice reform and handling of sexual harassment, with many from the party’s progressive wing questioning whether he is the right candidate to lead an increasingly diverse and liberal party.
Biden appears set to aim his campaign’s appeal to white working-class voters who traditionally voted Democrat but supported Trump in 2016. He wants to win back Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Biden, a Scranton native, is also basing his campaign in Philadelphia. He has repeatedly played up his Pennsylvania roots and nickname “Middle-Class Joe” to suggest he understands the struggles of America’s blue-collar workers.