NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden said Monday in Tennessee that eight years of a Donald Trump presidency would “fundamentally” change the character of the country, repeating his call to fellow Democrats for unity to oppose the Republican incumbent in 2020.
The message spelled out on a Nashville campaign fundraising stop evoked remarks the prominent presidential contender made days earlier in Philadelphia, arguing that the Democrats cannot win against Trump if they focus on selecting an angry nominee.
“I’m told by some political pundits that the only way you can go out there and win a nomination is rage. Rage against the night,” said Biden in Nashville, where he held a campaign fund raiser attended by the state’s leading Democrats. “I’m all about raging against the night and the dying light. But … This country is more united on every major issue we have a concern about.”
Biden added that he’s running on a pledge to restore the soul of the country, saying he believes people are more united than divided on major issues such as improving access to health care and addressing climate change.
The 76-year-old native of working-class Scranton, Pennsylvania, has climbed to the front of the crowded primary field, in part by ignoring his Democratic rivals and touting his ability to compete head-to-head with Trump if nominated. However, on Monday, Biden briefly took time out of his speech to praise the caliber of the group of more than 20 contenders as “great.”
“We have a great group of candidates running, all 307,” he jokingly said, in a nod to the ever-growing list of Democratic hopefuls. “They are really qualified people running for the nomination, but if we can’t fix the system, then none of this is going to work and I don’t think the American people are going to stand for it.”
Biden is one of the first Democratic presidential contenders to swing through Republican-dominant Tennessee. Another, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, made a stop in March, while former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro spoke at a Tennessee Democratic Party event on Sunday.