Former Vice President Joe Biden attacks Trump over tariffs in Ottumwa
Des Moines Register
OTTUMWA, Ia. — Former Vice President Joe Biden, returning to campaign in Iowa on the same day President Donald Trump was in the state, took some hard whacks at the president he hopes to defeat in November 2020.
“President Trump is in Iowa today, and I hope his presence here will be a clarifying event,” Biden said Tuesday afternoon in Ottumwa. “Because Iowa farmers have been crushed by his tariff war with China, and no one knows better than the folks in Iowa. He thinks that being tough is great. Well, it’s really easy to be tough when someone else absorbs the pain.”
Trump has targeted Biden out of the massive presidential field, and Biden responded forcefully.
“I believe that this president is literally an existential threat to America,” Biden said to a crowd of 250 in Ottumwa, the first stop during his two-day trip. “He’s a threat to our core values, and he’s a threat to our standing in the world.”
Before Trump even left the White House, the president blasted the Democratic presidential candidate, telling reporters: “I like running against people who are weak mentally.” When Trump arrived in Iowa for an afternoon speech about E15, he also took time to dismiss Biden as ‘Sleepy Joe.’
Joe Biden addresses changing stance on the Hyde Amendment
Zachary Boyden-Holmes, DesMoines
“Trump doesn’t get the basics,” the former vice president was expected to say Tuesday night during a stop in Davenport.
Biden joked about Trump’s nicknames for him at his stop in Mount Pleasant, where he spoke to more than 150 people.
“Apparently, he had my speech on in Air Force One. I guess he’s really fascinated with me,” he said. “I find it fascinating.”
Biden addresses his changed abortion stances
In Iowa, the former vice president also explained his switched positions on abortion, particularly on the Hyde Amendment. The 1976 Hyde Amendment bans federal funding from paying for most abortions. Biden had said last week that he supported it but then reversed himself, saying he no longer does.
“I still believe if there were, in fact, a means by which poor women would be able to access their constitutional right, and it was able to be paid for without taxpayers money, it should be done,” Biden told reporters in Mount Pleasant.
But there are fewer options than in prior years for low-income women to access abortions because of funding cuts and “attacks on Roe v. Wade,” Biden said, which is why he now disapproves of the Hyde Amendment.
“The elimination of access to clinics in all those southern states — a number of them have one or no clinics, so that’s the reason I changed my position,” he said.
MORE FROM BIDEN, TRUMP IN IOWA
‘Adult in the room,’ or has his time passed?
Biden is currently leading among respondents of a recent Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll. Twenty-four percent of Iowa’s likely Democratic caucus participants say the former vice president is their first choice for president. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator, is the first choice for 16% of poll respondents, while Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, are at 15% and 14%, respectively. No other candidate cracked double digits.
Some attendees at his Iowa events said Biden’s experience makes him the most credible candidate in the race.
“He’s the adult in the room,” said Dennis Olson, a 65-year-old Biden supporter who drove from Urbandale to see the candidate. “I realize he’s similar in age to the president, and stuff like that, and some would say that that might be too old, but I believe the experience way outweighs that.”
According to the latest Iowa Poll, 52% of Democrats who are likely to caucus in person said a candidate with years of experience in Washington, D.C., would have an advantage in facing Trump; just 1% said it would be an advantage for a candidate to be older than 70. Biden is 76, and Trump will turn 73 on Friday.
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Lesley Green, 32, of Ottumwa, makes a point of seeing every presidential candidate who comes to town. She said she thinks Biden did a great job as vice president for former President Barack Obama, but she’s committed to caucusing for Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
“I think he’s a great guy, but I think his time has passed,” Green said of Biden. “I think there are other candidates that are exciting the base a lot more. There are several good candidates out there that, I think, would get people out to volunteer, get them out to vote.”
Green, who attended Biden’s Ottumwa event, said she’s concerned about the former vice president’s decades of past positions and votes for which he will have to answer on the campaign trail.
“I don’t want to have to deal with all that baggage when I’m going door-to-door trying to convince people to vote for somebody,” she said.
Whomever the Democrats nominate, they need to unite when the primary process is over, said Cindy Drost, 58, who farms in rural New Sharon with her husband.
Drost said her first choice is former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, but she’s considering switching to Biden.
“To be honest with you, (O’Rourke is) not doing real well in the polls right now,” Drost said. “So we are starting to look at Joe Biden. We think that some of the other candidates need to start dropping out. Either that, or start doing better in the polls.”
O’Rourke registered 2% support in the latest Iowa Poll. Nearly three out of four respondents to that poll said several (47%) or most (27%) of the 23 candidates should drop out of the race.
“It’s a high priority of mine that we beat Donald Trump, and we’re not going to do that if we are all for different candidates,” Drost said.
Biden is scheduled to appear in Clinton on Wednesday.
USA Today contributed to this report
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