Joe Biden, the Democratic favorite, clashed Monday with his main rivals to find out he was "naive" trying to defeat Republicans in a post-Donald Trump period.
When he appeared before another Democratic candidate for the first time in the 2020 race, Biden spoke at a forum in Washington organized by the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Renewal.
Reverend William Barber, co-chair of the campaign, urged the audience to refrain from cheering or applauding the nine candidates, but rather to focus on listening. "If you do not, the media will misinterpret and our problems will not be solved," he said. "The movement is bigger than any person."
Even in this case, some of those present could not help generating noise for Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, while the reaction to Biden was a little more cold.
Joy Reid, An MSNBC moderator who moderated the question and answer sessions, asked Biden how he would get his projects through a resisting congress, noting that, when he was vice president, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, considered everything that came from the White House. on arrival ".
Biden stared at the sitting Reid, got closer and leaned toward her. "Joy, I know you're one of those who think it's naïve to think we have to work together. In fact, if we can not reach consensus, all that happens is abuse of power on the part of the executive. Zero."
He acknowledged that "there are some things where a brass fight is needed," but said that a president must use the power of persuasion. "You must make the Republicans understand that you understand, on some points, a compromise."
Biden, who has repeatedly referred to Barack Obama in sneaky responses, added, "You can be ashamed that people do things right."
During the election campaign so far, the former vice president hinted that Trump was an aberration and that his defeat could herald a return to bipartisan cooperation he enjoyed in the Senate with John McCain. Other candidates, however, have suggested that Trump is a symptom of much deeper discomfort.
Warren, who wins over Biden in the opinion polls, told the forum, "Let's be clear, if we are in the majority and Mitch McConnell wants to block us on the needs of our country and those they elected me. and other people to adopt, so I am all to get rid of the filibuster.
"We can not let it block things as it did under the Obama administration. I was there when there was a set of rules when President Obama was president and now it's a different set of rules now that they have Trump in the White House. We can not do that as democrats. We must be ready to participate in this fight. "
The Senate buccaneer is a gift to the obstructionists, allowing a minority of senators to use the procedure to prevent a bill from being passed by the entire Senate by extending the debate.
In an energetic performance, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado also suggested a combative approach. "I would not want any of us to be as malicious or cynical as Mitch McConnell, but could we please be as strategic as him?"
Raising his left hand, Bennet almost shouted, "We have a climate clerk at the White House! The majority of Americans believe that climate change is real, that human beings are contributing to it and that we should face it urgently. But we have a climate denier that has proudly run on it and the Senate is also full of climate deniers. "
Rather than trying to convince them, the senator ruled in favor of their organization and the constitution of a coalition, including farmers, likely to defeat McConnell. "I do not think we can change all this into an election," he added. "I think it will take the rest of my life, election after election after election, starting with the defeat of Donald Trump."
The Campaign for the Poor released what it called a "moral budget," noting that 140 million people in the United States are considered poor or low-income, setting a plan for change and challenging "the lie scarcity ". It identifies annual military spending cuts of $ 350 billion that would strengthen national and global security, as well as an estimated $ 886 billion in annual revenue from fair taxes on the rich, corporate and Wall Street.
Barber said at the opening of the event: "We are here because in 2016 we went through the most expensive presidential campaign in US history without serious discussion or debate about systemic racism or poverty. . Twenty-six debates and not an hour. "
Barber has criticized the Democrats in past cycles for focusing on the middle class rather than the poor and embracing neoliberalism and the "republican-lite". He argued that although poverty is most concentrated among blacks, it is highest in gross numbers among whites.
He quizzed candidate on how they would deal with the "interlocking injustices" of systemic racism (eg, electoral repression), poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and "morality distortion" (for example, by the religious right), and if Democrats should hold a televised debate on the issue.
Sanders and Warren, both of whom responded in the affirmative, seemed most comfortable in defining visions of simultaneous struggle against injustices on many fronts. Sanders described the Republican governors who repress the votes as "political cowards" and earned applause by saying, "If you are an American citizen, you have the right to vote even if you are in prison."
The participants waved signs saying "Starve a child, it is violence", "A salary of poverty, it is violence" and "Drinking water, c & # 39; is violence.
Bobby Fields, 33, an African-American who earns $ 9.30 an hour at McDonald's in Tampa, Florida, said he had not yet decided which candidate to support. "Trump has never acted in our best interest. It makes things worse. I feel much better with all Democratic candidates than with the President.
Patricia Chadwick, 66, who works in communications for an international non-profit organization, voted for Sanders at the 2016 primary, but said, "I like him, but he's a little too old. I lean towards Elizabeth Warren. She has produced ideas and projects and the advantage is that she is a woman. I would not like [vote] for someone just because it's a woman, but I'd like to see a woman hold the position of president. "
As for Biden, Chadwick was not impressed. "I do not like him. It is a very traditional business. He is sexist. I did not like what he did at the hearing with Anita Hill. "