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Biden in Claremont: ‘Quite frankly, our standing in the world been diminished in the past few years’

  • Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to a crowd during a campaign stop in Claremont, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news —Jennifer Hauck

  • Joan Dickey, of Newbury, N.H., has her photo taken while former Vice President Joe Biden meets supporters behind her during a campaign stop in Claremont, N.H., on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • Long time supporter Frank Fahey, of Claremont, N.H., waves to former Vice President Joe Biden as he drives away after a campaign stop in Claremont on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Debbie Chrisman, of Sunapee, N.H., holds a Biden sign. She was also at the event. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2020 10:24:12 PM
Modified: 2/5/2020 12:56:54 PM

CLAREMONT — Former Vice President Joe Biden pitched himself on Friday as an experienced consensus builder who has what it takes to work with Republicans on major policy initiatives and restore America’s global standing.

“There’s going to be no time for on-the-job training, none,” Biden told a standing room only crowd inside the Common Man Inn in Claremont.

During a roughly 25-minute speech after which he took no questions, the 77-year-old Biden touted his foreign policy and Senate credentials.

His roughly 36-year tenure in Congress saw passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, 1994 assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act.

Biden also said he helped to secure the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement during his time in the Obama administration.

“We’re going to need a president who’s ready on day one to command the world stage, lead our armed forces be a commander in chief, rally our allies and once more make the United States, not only the physical leader but the moral leader of the free world,” he said.

Biden, who didn’t mention his Democratic opponents, took aim several times at President Donald Trump, claiming the Republican incumbent has led a “three-year assault on our American values.”

America’s allies are “talking about moving on without us” while enemies see the president as someone they can “bamboozle or ignore,” said Biden, who went on to accuse Trump of writing “love letters” to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

“Our moral authority has been sapped, our credibility has been shot and quite frankly, our standing in the world been diminished in the past few years,” he said.

Biden spent little time sharing his views on health care and the economy, major talking points for competitors such as Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Instead, he focu sed on how middle-class workers built the country and are being left behind.

“President Trump may think the economy’s doing great for the super-wealthy but he either simply doesn’t know or even care working women and men are still getting the short end of the stick,” said Biden, who made no mention of his support for a $15 minimum wage

Biden touted his work helping to pass the Affordable Care Act and cover Americans with preexisting conditions but also didn’t mention that he backs a public health care option.

Biden also acknowledged criticism of his pledge to reach across the aisle, saying people have called him naive or claimed he doesn’t understand the “new Republican Party” that would obstruct a Democratic president.

“I’ve been the object of the affection of this new Republican Party for a fair amount of time,” Biden said to laughter. He then addressed unproven claims that his son Hunter Biden acted improperly while serving on the board of Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.

Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to announce a corruption investigation into Hunter Biden, and subsequent withholding of military aid from the country, led to his impeachment and ongoing Senate trial.

“They’ve slandered me and my only surviving son,” Biden said. “But look, I can’t hold grudges. I mean that sincerely.”

While Biden’s comments “were very general,” Claremont resident Frank Fahey rated Biden’s appearance on Friday as “good.”

“I think he is the man we need back in the White House to hopefully steady us out as a country and get us back on track,” he said after the event.

Fahey, a former Claremont teacher and Newport school administrator, made campaign history when he asked then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden during the 1988 primary about which law school the candidate attended and where he placed in his class.

Biden’s now infamous answer started with the phrase “I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect.”

Fahey, who said in May he was voting for the former vice president, said the two have since run into each other at campaign events and Biden recognized him in the crowd on Friday.

Other voters at the Claremont event are still making up their minds before the Feb. 11 primary. The current Democratic field includes a “great group of candidates,” said Susan Williams, of Plainfield, who is still undecided.

Williams said electability is a key factor in her decision making, adding she’s enjoyed hearing from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg as well.

“I’m looking for a candidate who can go the distance, appeal to independents and moderate Republicans and do a better job focusing on what we as Americans have in common,” she said.

Claremont resident Donna Montenegro, who called Biden “likable,” said she also wanted to hear more from the candidate, adding Trump will likely continue to bring up Biden’s son as the campaign progresses.

“It’s obvious he’s done some important things in his career like the Brady bill and the assault weapon ban, but I’m concerned,” Montenegro said, adding she wanted to ask about climate change.

“I was hoping he’d have a question-and-answer session.”

Tim Camerato can be reached at or 603-727-3223.

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