CARROLL, DENISON: National Democratic oval office front-runner Joe Biden woke up in Carroll Sunday, attended Mass at St. Lawrence Catholic Church and filled up on oatmeal at Queen Beans Coffee House before continuing a barnstorming tour of Iowa in which the former vice president is making the case that he’s the Democrat best positioned to oust President Trump from the White House.
Accompanied by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, Biden campaigned in Council Bluffs and Denison Saturday before overnighting in Carroll and starting the next day with a national media gaggle in Queen Beans and an appearance before more than 100 people at the Moose Lodge in Carroll.
“The first job is to get the man in the White House out of office,” Biden said before about 200 people at Boulders Conference Center in Denison. “That’s the first job. And I promise you this: If you give me a chance to be your nominee, I will beat him. I will beat him like a drum.”
Biden said Trump is ripping the “soul” out of America and polluting the public square with toxic language and policy.
“Our children are listening,” Biden said. “They’re listening, and our silence is complicity.”
On Sunday, at the Moose Lodge, Biden, after outlining plans for rural resurgence and a boost to American agriculture, said Trump is diminishing the United States’ standing internationally.
“He’s spouting lies about conspiracy theories with every breath he takes,” Biden said.
Take a look at Trump’s attack on Biden’s campaign and family, the former vice president said. Such tactics are evidence Trump doesn’t want to face him as the Democratic nominee, Biden said, adding that autocrats abroad are concerned about Biden becoming president as well.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin has no illusions about whether I know him or not,” Biden said.
Biden’s eight-day, 18-county “No Malarkey” tour is designed to present the veteran Delaware Democrat, a fixture on the national stage before he became vice president in 2009, as a no-nonsense candidate for a no-nonsense election cycle with President Trump portrayed as an existential threat to the nation he now leads.
“In God’s name, it’s time to remember who we are,” Biden said.
After the Carroll stop, Joe Biden headed for Storm Lake and his wife, Jill, moved on to an event in Jefferson.
Some of the more poignant moments in both Carroll and Denison came as the Vilsacks, who in 2017 lost a 6-year-old grandchild to a sudden illness, described Biden’s ability to channel pain from the loss of his own wife and daughter in a car accident, and later a son to cancer, into public service and connectedness with Americans.
“I want my president to have empathy and compassion and heart,” Tom Vilsack said.
Christie Vilsack went further.
“I want my president to know suffering,” she said.
The Vilsacks made a closing argument for Biden on trust and electability. Tom Vilsack pointed to polls in the Rust Belt and battleground states showing Biden with the strongest numbers of any Democrat in a match-up with Trump.
“We need someone who can appeal to broad spectrum of voters,” Vilsack said.
In Carroll, Jim Ulveling, a former mayor of Breda, and his son, Dr. Kyle Ulveling, a Carroll cardiologist, took in the Biden speech. Both said they remain undecided but are considering Biden in the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.
“This is the best thing you can do right now, working the line, one on one, talking to people individually,” Kyle Ulveling said.
Kyle Ulveling, 40, said Biden is wise to highlight his own record in campaign stops and not tear down other Democrats seeking the nomination.
Jim Ulveling, 82, and now living in Carroll, said Biden has the resume to bring the nation together.
“It’s going to take somebody who understands how important that is,” he said.
In Jefferson, after listening to Jill Biden, Barbara Nash, 70, who is white and was married to an African-American man, the late Harold Nash, said she thinks Biden is the Democratic candidate who can win both white working-class voters and minorities in urban areas.
“He was real personable with Harold, and it was wonderful,” Nash said of interactions the couple had in previous campaigns with Biden. She added that she remains undecided with 64 days until the caucuses.
Coming later this week…
— The Carroll Times Herald’s Douglas Burns sat down with former Vice President Joe Biden at Queen Beans Coffeehouse. Read about their discussion on foreign policy and local issues.
— Read Burns’ account of an interview with former Gov. Tom Vilsack on the presidential campaign.
— Watch a video of the Times Herald’s interview with Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.