Nation & World

In Iowa, Biden to highlight Trump's threat to American democracy

Democrat, Republican touring on opposite sides of the state

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden, shown at an event May 1 at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City, is campaigning today in three Iowa cities. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden, shown at an event May 1 at Big Grove Brewery & Taproom in Iowa City, is campaigning today in three Iowa cities. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Vice President Joe Biden said he hadn’t planned on being in Iowa the same day as President Donald Trump, but hoped the presence of the two leading 2020 candidates for president would be a “clarifying event.”

Biden, making just his second 2020 campaign trip to Iowa, warned that Trump is “tearing down guardrails of democracy” and spoke of three threats the president poses to the country.

Trump will visit a southwest Iowa ethanol plant and speak at a Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser in West Des Moines. Biden, who is campaigning in Ottumwa, Mount Pleasant and Davenport today, charged Trump doesn’t reflect what America stands for.

“Honesty. Decency. Treating everyone with dignity. Demonizing no one — not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant, the other. Giving hate no safe harbor. Understanding that as Americans, we are part of something bigger than ourselves,” Biden will say, according to his prepared remarks. “Does anyone in this room think Donald Trump understands that?”

Biden also will attack the president’s character — his “stunning display of childishness for the whole world to see” by social media attacks on Bette Midler, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“But it wasn’t just world leaders that are watching,” according to Biden. “It’s our children. The behavior, the character of a president matters.”

Finally, Trump’s abuse of power and lack of respect for the rule of law put democracy at risk, according to Biden.

“I never thought I would say those words. But it’s true,” Biden will say.

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The challenge for Democrats in 2020, according to Biden, is not to “ram through what we can when we get power” as some of his rivals for the nomination have suggested, but clearly and firmly reject Trump’s view of the presidency.

“We’re at a moment when we need to reset constitutional norms in this country,” according to Biden. “The presidency is not without limits. The Congress is a coequal branch of government.”

Biden will wrap up his remarks with his optimistic view that the United States is better-positioned to lead the 21st century than any nation.

“We have the strongest military in the world. We have led not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” he’ll say. “No other nation in the world can match us. The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself.”

But, he’ll add, “There’s not a single thing we can’t do — together.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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