Above Photo: Joe Biden at CCU Town Hall
By V. Susan Hutchinson
Former Vice President and current 2020 Presidential candidate Joe Biden returned to the Myrtle Beach area Thursday night as part of his drive to win South Carolina, considered critical to his hopes for the Democratic nomination.
Biden, is currently running behind Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg after primaries and caucuses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, but late polls showed he has a commanding lead going into the South Carolina primary Saturday, February 29.
SC state Rep. Roger Kirby (Lake City) whipped up the audience, reminding them that in South Carolina “We know Joe and Joe knows us”. Actress Vivica A. Fox, who also assisted with a Q & A session, stepped up to introduce Joe Biden.
Biden first expressed gratitude to Rep James Clyburn (D-SC) for his endorsement on Wednesday and repeated Clyburn’s comments that “we are at an inflection point,” and if change doesn’t happen now it may be a long time coming.
Biden’s talk was a mixture of anecdotes from his long career in public service and his positions on policy. He noted that when he was a public defender, he would meet his clients on a train platform in Delaware, and then years later he found himself waiting on that same platform to meet up with Barack Obama so they could travel together to Washington D.C. as President and Vice President of the United States.
Donald Trump’s name came up several times as Biden remarked about Trump’s hateful language, asking the crowd if there are times when they pull their children away from the televisions when Trump starts talking. After hearing Trump’s remarks about white supremacists being “very fine people” following the Charlottesville white power demonstration that resulted in the death of a young woman, his thoughts were that “America is going to lose it’s soul.” Our nation must bring decency back, he asserted, because “our children are listening”.
The CCU auditorium where the event was held was packed and because of fire regulations, many people were turned away at the door.
As Biden was entering the building, he stopped to greet those who could not get in, including a young man wearing a Make America Great Again hat. The man said he wanted to come in, but was refused. Biden told the crowd that was too bad, because he wants to talk to everyone – to try to unite this country – including Trump supporters – and he doesn’t want to exclude anyone from his rallies.
Because so many people were turned away, Horry County Democratic Party Chair Don Kohn issued an apology, although HCDP had no control over that. A similar situation occurred Wednesday evening at a Tom Steyer-sponsored event at a restaurant in The Market Common.
I apologize to anyone who was not able to gain access to see the candidate of their choice,” said Kohn. “In many cases, we cannot discern how many people will turn out to these events, when it is advertised broadly and we must always abide by fire codes set for every venue.
I urge you to keep following the candidates and the primaries, this is the most consequential election of our life time. It is critical that you vote Saturday, February 29 and on June 9 for the South Carolina primary and November 3 for the general election.
With patience and understanding we can move forward to a successful outcome in November.”
On the Issues
On the economy, Biden blasted Trump for attempting to hijack the work done by the Obama administration. Barack Obama, he declared, is responsible for the current economy, not Donald Trump. Biden joked with the crowd, asking how many benefitted from Trump’s large tax cut, and said he is proud of his nickname “Middle Class Joe,” because he fights for the middle class. Biden believes that a fair tax code is needed for all Americans.
Biden then took a jab at Trump by joking that if you like to play golf, you shouldn’t run for president – unless, that is, you happen to own a fancy golf resort where you can spend half your time playing golf instead of doing your job.
Regarding the Second Amendment, Biden noted that he, and his sons, own rifles and shotguns for sport, but that no one needs an assault weapon with 1000 rounds of ammunition. The Second Amendment does not mean anyone can own any type of weapon they want, he said, adding that there has to be sensible limits.
Biden said he supports effective background checks and closing the gun show loophole. He also decried federal law, passed years ago at the behest of the National Rifle Association and the gun industry, which exempts gun manufacturers from being sued by people who have been the victims of gun violence.
The Paris Climate Accord, from which Trump withdrew the U.S., was drafted with the assistance of Joe Biden, he said, expressing concern that as nations are affected by droughts or flooding the result will be civil wars, such as occurred in Africa during drought. One of Biden’s promises is to enter into international relations with countries like Brazil, where “being smart” will lead to a global solution to climate change.
On education, Biden told how he mortgaged his house three times to pay for college for his children. As a result, his tax returns, which he always made public, showed that he was the poorest man in the Senate. He now supports free community college.
Following Biden’s remarks, he opened the floor to questions. He was asked what to do about Trump supporters if he, Biden, is elected, Biden said we need to listen to all people no matter who they support and even if we disagree. The key to unity is to understand how they feel so we can address their concerns.
Biden went on to talk about how Trump is so disrespectful of our allies while cuddling up to dictators. Biden said there are three things to know: Putin doesn’t want him as president, North Korea has ads comparing him to a rabid dog, and Trump “risked impeachment” to try to keep him from being on the ballot.
One audience member asked Biden if he was going to ask Michelle Obama to be his running mate. “In a heartbeat,” he said, adding, with a grin, that he didn’t think Michelle would do it, adding that he feels the Obamas “find it liberating” to be out of the White House. He described how his daughter and granddaughters are great friends with Michelle and her daughters and take skiing trips together, to which neither he or the former president are invited.
As the event ended, a chant, “We Know Joe!” went up as supporters and those who came to check him out, headed for the exits and prepared to vote on Saturday.