BALTIMORE, MD. — Vice President Biden is urging House Democrats to own President Obama's policy achievements as a route back to the lower-chamber majority.
Speaking to a large group of Democrats gathered in Baltimore for their annual issues conference, the vice president called on lawmakers to adopt an aggressive approach, suggesting they have been too timid in trumpeting their legislative values and victories.
“I am bullish on the possibilities for the House, as well as the Senate, and I really think the key is: Don't run away from what you've done.”
Biden, who decided against his own run for the White House after a drawn-out process last year, highlighted several Democratic priorities he feels will prove popular on the campaign trail, including expanded worker protections, universal access to pre-kindergarten programs and an increase in the child care tax credit.
He said the Republicans' legislative wishlist — as defined by the past budgets of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — has given the Democrats plenty of fodder to distinguish the parties' priorities.
“Paul Ryan's a lovely guy. He gave us such a gift, he passed the Ryan budget. … You guys don't have to make anything up. Just say exactly what they've done,” Biden said.
“We can make these cases in each of our districts and suit them to our districts. … Because right now in a lot of places Americans are so confused there's still basically this 'pox on both your houses' [sentiment]. We shouldn't apologize for what we're for, and we should point out what they're for.”
Biden said the Democrats may get another gift in this year's election, if either Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIntel Dem: Nunes 'sacrificed the good name' of committee with Trump briefing Report: Trump regrets backing health plan before pushing for tax reform Dem rep: 'We must pause the entire Trump agenda' until Russia investigation complete MORE or Ted Cruz wins the GOP presidential nomination.
“We may be given a gift from the lord in the presidential race here,” he said. “I don't know who to root for more. Cruz or — what's that guy's name? He's having a fundraiser tonight for veterans, I'm told.”
Biden also took a swipe at big business, accusing corporate America of putting shareholders' interests above those of local communities and their own employees.
“There used to be a basic bargain in this country. … And that was that if you contributed to the profitability of the enterprise you were engaged with, you got to share the benefits. … That has changed — that has fundamentally changed over the last three decades, and particularly the decade before we came to office,” he said. “Corporations have a responsibility to all of their shareholders … and that includes their employees, the communities that they live in.”
The Democrats have a steep hill to climb. The Republicans not only won control of the Senate in 2014, but they picked up 13 additional seats in the House, giving the GOP their largest lower-chamber majority in more than 80 years.
Biden was quick to acknowledge the challenge ahead.
“It's been a tough last couple of cycles. But we should get up, man. There's a real shot here; there's a real shot,” he said. “I'm confident we'll win back the Senate, and I think we can make great inroads — and maybe win back — the House when no one expects it now. … But we've got to make the case … about what we're for and what they are for.”
Biden offered to do whatever it takes to help the House Democrats in their quest to pick up seats.
“I'll come to your district and campaign for you or against you — whatever will help the most,” he said.