Biden: Midterm elections 'bigger than politics'

Biden: Midterm elections 'bigger than politics'
© Greg Nash

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Castro swears off donations from oil, gas, coal executives Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE on Sunday called the upcoming midterm elections "bigger than politics," asking voters to see them as a test of "the core values that built this nation." 

"Folks, this election is bigger than politics," Biden said during a speech for the Rhode Island Democratic Party. "That’s not hyperbole. The core values that built this nation are at risk — that invisible moral fabric that holds up a society, a democracy, is being shredded." 


"Our institutions are under assault," he continued. 

Biden for the first part of the speech stumped for Rhode Island Democrats, boasting he has campaigned for 62 House and Senate candidates this election cycle. 

His tone grew more serious as he addressed the topic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE and the GOP, sharply criticizing Republicans for their silence and complicity in the president's agenda.

"We can’t be the generation that let the core values of our institutions and this nation and our standing in the world be destroyed," Biden said. "Here’s the thing -- these guys, our Republican colleagues, are complicit by their silence."

"Folks, this is not your father’s Republican Party," Biden said. "This is a different deal." 

The former vice president, who has not yet announced if he will run in 2020, has been a vocal opponent of the president since last year. 

He hit the GOP over its handling of the multiple sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying that when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI investigations were "automatic." 

"Just last week, we witnessed from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee a degree of invective, blind rage and brute partisanship that threatens not only the Senate and the Supreme Court -  it threatens the basic faith the American people have in our institutions," Biden said, doubling down on his support for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified before the committee last week about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982.

Biden himself has faced criticism for his role in the Anita Hill hearing in the 1990s, in which he downplayed the importance of an FBI investigation. A video of him calling a FBI investigation into sexual misconduct allegations "inconclusive" went viral as calls grew last week for the bureau to look into Ford's allegations.

The Senate called to open an FBI investigation into the allegations only after Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSen. Coons examines Amazon's privacy and data security practices for Alexa devices Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax The Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget MORE (R-Ariz.) last week called for an investigation, saying he would not vote for Kavanaugh without one. 

Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for years, also hit Trump over foreign policy positions, including his warmth towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and antagonism towards NATO.

Biden described receiving calls from world leaders who he said ask him, "'What’s happened, Joe? What’s happened? What’s going on? What happened to that shining city on the hill?'"

"I understand the president said in West that he loves the president of North Korea because they’ve exchanged letters," he said, referring to Trump's remarks on Saturday that he and Kim have fallen "in love." 

"Look, I’m not looking for a war but I’m looking for some reality," Biden said. 

Later in the speech, he described Trump as "acting more like one of Putin’s poodles than the leader of the free world," referring to the president's welcoming stance towards Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 

"Folks, this is not who we are, the world is watching, our kids are listening and our silence is complicity," he said. 

He ended the speech with a discussion of the middle class and healthcare, then rallied the crowd with another call to vote in the midterms. 

"I've had enough," he said to cheers. "You've had enough."