Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Joe Biden assures Florida Democrats they can recover from Trump's triumph

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses Florida Democrats on Saturday night in Hollywood, Fla. (Miami Herald)

Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses Florida Democrats on Saturday night in Hollywood, Fla. (Miami Herald)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Still recovering from a crushing November loss, Florida Democrats turned to the 2018 election cycle Saturday with the help of the man who remains their party's biggest cheerleader: former Vice President Joe Biden.

Without ever mentioning President Donald Trump, Biden rejected the new president's rhetoric and assured Democrats there is a way for them to recover their political standing.

"The state the nation is today will not be sustained by the American people," Biden said. "We are better than this."

At times funny, at times so serious he was whispering, Biden spoke to Democratic activists in Hollywood for more than 50 minutes, sounding like a potential candidate for president in 2020 — or at least like one of the party's most impassioned messengers for 2018. Biden created a new political action committee, American Possibilities, last month, fueling speculation that he is considering a presidential bid.

Though he discussed making community college free and narrowing the wage gap — the sort of issues that make up Democratic presidential platforms — Biden made no reference to the PAC or 2020, when he will be 77 and Trump will be 74.

Instead, Biden began by making a case for the re-election of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who will likely face his biggest challenger yet next year in Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Florida Democrats have struggled to win in non-presidential years, when fewer of their voters have shown up to the polls.

"No one, no one, no one has ever questioned his word when he's given it, and no one, no one that I've met in my entire time in the Senate and eight years as vice president doesn't respect Bill for his moral courage and his physical courage," Biden said. "Bill, I'll come back to Florida as many times as you want — to campaign for you or against you, whichever helps more."

The annual Leadership Blue fundraiser, held at the Diplomat Beach Resort, gave Florida Democrats their first chance to regroup in a festive environment since Trump won the state last November. Some 1,300 people attended, according to the party, which boasted raising more than $1 million to expand grassroots community engagement ahead of 2018.

The event was the first under Party Chairman Stephen Bittel, who took the reins in January after a contentious internal campaign, and under new Party President Sally Boynton Brown, the former administrator of the Idaho Democratic Party. Earlier Saturday, the party's progressive caucus hosted a forum for the three candidates running for governor, who avoided clashing with each other and instead criticized Trump.

Democrats across the country have spent months grappling with how best to react to Trump's triumph. Biden implored the party to stop thinking it can't appeal to Trump's working-class base without spurning progressive values.

"We can't get bogged down — and I hope I don't offend anyone here — in this phony debate in the Democratic Party," he said, likening the false choice to saving your soul by cutting out your heart. "There is no need to choose. They are not inconsistent."

Working people elected him for decades, Biden noted. "They voted for a black man named Barack Obama!"

"We didn't talk much to those people lately," he said. "We have to let them know we understand their fears, their concerns and that we have some real answers."

Joe Biden assures Florida Democrats they can recover from Trump's triumph 06/17/17 [Last modified: Saturday, June 17, 2017 10:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.