Former Vice President Joe Biden went on the offense against President Donald Trump in Iowa on Tuesday in a speech that tore into everything from Trump’s trade war with China to his behavior on Twitter.
“Let’s make America America again,” Biden declared before an applauding crowd in Davenport, putting a spin on his political opponent’s campaign slogan.
“I believe that the president is literally an existential threat to America,” Biden told his audience.
Trump also traveled to Iowa on Tuesday and plans to speak in Council Bluffs and then at an Iowa Republican Party dinner in West Des Moines. The same-state visit was a coincidence, Biden told his audience, adding that he hopes Trump’s presence here “will be a clarifying event.”
Trump, responding to reporters’ questions about Biden on Tuesday, called his Democratic competitor a “loser” and a “dummy.”
“I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody. I think he’s the weakest mentally. And I like running against people that are weak mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here,” he said, pointing to his head.
Biden told a room full of donors and lobbyists in Washington on Monday that Republicans “know better” and will cooperate with Democrats after the end of Trump’s presidency ― optimistic comments seemingly contradicted by eight years of lockstep GOP opposition during Barack Obama’s two terms.
Here are some of the attacks on Trump in Biden’s prepared Iowa speech:
Biden torched Trump for mishandling the U.S. relationship with China, busying himself with social media name-calling while the Asian nation makes advancements in technology, infrastructure and renewable energy.
“We are in a competition with China. We need to get tough with China. They are a serious challenge to us, and in some areas a real threat. And every single step that Donald Trump is taking is only exacerbating the challenge,” Biden’s planned remarks say.
“While Trump is tweeting, China is making massive investments in technologies of the future. While Trump is name-calling, China is building roads, bridges, and high-speed rail. While Trump is pursuing a damaging and erratic trade war, without any real strategy, China is positioning itself to lead the world in renewable energy. While Trump is attacking our friends, China is pressing its advantage all over the world. So you bet I’m worried about China ― if we keep following Trump’s path.”
Iowa’s farmers have been among the hardest hit by Trump’s trade war with China. Biden plans to make sure they know it.
“How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he’s doing to America’s farmers?” Biden asks in the speech text. “Here’s the answer: Just as many as he had when he stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers who built his hotels and casinos. Zero.”
“Trump doesn’t get the basics. He thinks his tariffs are being paid by China. Any beginning econ student at Iowa or Iowa State could tell you that the American people are paying his tariffs.
“And how about manufacturing? Trump’s tariffs and trade wars are hitting a lot of American manufacturing ― especially the American automobile industry ―
Choking it to within an inch of its life.”
Biden’s planned remarks mocked Trump’s rejection of climate change science and his confusion between climate and weather.
“What did he tell Piers Morgan in that interview? ‘Well, the weather goes both ways,’” Biden jabs, mentioning Trump’s recent interview in London.
“It reminds me of when he tweeted in the winter that since it was cold outside there was no climate warming. Or how about when he said the way to deal with California’s fires was to rake the leaves? It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.”
“If I become the nominee of this party, I’m going to give Trump a thrashing every day on health care,” Biden planned to say.
He will defend the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama that Trump has unsuccessfully vowed to repeal. Biden touts the law’s mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26.
“I’m not going to let the American people forget that it’s because of the Affordable Care Act that millions of people gained health coverage,” he planned to say.
Biden slammed Trump for tax cuts for the wealthy and says they will be “gone” once he’s president.
“When I’m president we’re going to have a fairer tax code. We’re going to get rid of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax loopholes that have no economic or societal rationale,” he planned to say. “We’re going to build an economy that doesn’t just reward wealth; we’re going to build an economy that rewards work. We’re going to build an economy that works for everyone.”
Biden highlighted Trump’s antics on Twitter as a world leader, particularly fights he picks not with the nation’s adversaries, like Russian President Vladimir Putin or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but with Americans and its allies.
“He gets up in the middle of the night to attack Bette Midler. He attacks the mayor of London. He attacks the American Speaker of the House,” Biden planned to say, pointing to Trump’s recent behavior while in London. “It was a stunning display of childishness for the whole world to see.”
“This president is setting a standard for crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing deep into this culture ― and it’s going to take a long time to get rid of it.”
This president is setting a standard for crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing deep into this culture – and it’s going to take a long time to get rid of it."
Threats to America
Biden ticked off “fundamental threats” that Trump poses to America’s democracy, core values and standing in the world. He mentioned Trump’s response to the deadly 2017 Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when the president defended white supremacists, saying there were “very fine people on both sides.” He also attacked Trump’s treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biden also expressed concern for America’s diminished world standing by pointing to his recent attack of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a Fox News interview at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
“No president has ever ... threatened to leave NATO,” he told his crowd. “Never gone after our allies, embracing dictators and thugs, from Putin to Kim Jong Un, calling them ‘my friends’ while he’s sticking, poking his finger in the eye of our allies. What’s going on here? This is really dangerous stuff.”
Biden further called Trump a threat to democracy by pointing out that the president once challenged a judge’s credibility because of his Mexican ancestry, defied the authority of Congress, trash-talked law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and called the media and its First Amendment protections enemies of the people.
“Trump’s goal is simple ― discredit the news, discredit the free press ― and he gets to run roughshod over America,” he planned to say.
This story has been updated with additional comments from Trump and Biden on Tuesday.