Former Vice President Joe Biden told an enthusiastic crowd of 2,100 here Friday that the 2018 election is unlike any other election they’ve known, an election which will determine what kind of country the United States will be.
He was here to help Democrat Amy McGrath, the retired U.S. Marine Lt. Colonel and fighter pilot, who is challenging three-term Republican Congressman Andy Barr in the Nov. 6 election.
Biden and McGrath described a country which has lost its way, governed by those who put personal interest or party ahead of the good of the country.
Biden sharply criticized President Donald Trump for his comments about “good people on both sides” of the Charlottesville march by white nationalists; of “exchanging love letters” with a brutal dictator like Kim Jung Un; and for trusting Russian President Vladimir Putin over the country’s intelligence agencies. He criticized the administration’s immigration policies which separates children from their parents at the border.
“So, the question is not who Donald Trump is” Biden said. “America knows who he is. The question is who are we?” Biden said.
He said he’s talked with heads of state who wonder what America has become and what it’s doing; he described former Republican colleagues in the Senate who won’t stand up to Trump for fear of facing well-funded primary challengers.
“The world is watching us,” Biden said. “They see a president who has debased our values and ceded world leadership to tyrants and thugs.”
That’s why, Biden told the crowd, they need to send McGrath to Congress, describing her as someone of proven courage, character and integrity, someone who will stand up for values like those of Bath County.
Trump will appear at a rally on behalf of Barr Saturday evening at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.
McGrath told the crowd she’s running “because we desperately need a change in our politics in our country.” She talked about the negative ads against her that Barr has aired and promised she won’t respond in kind.
“I trust the voters to see through this sad, worn-out tactic of negativity,” she said. “It’s easier to demonize your opponent but I have chosen not to do that.”
“The incivility, the lies, the fake news, it needs to stop,” McGrath said. “But it won’t stop until we have leaders willing to stand up and not be part of it.”
She countered some of the claims in those Barr ads, saying she will work to improve the Affordable Care Act rather than support a single-pay healthcare system.
She repeated her campaign promise to work across the aisle, “to put country before party,” noting that her husband is a Republican yet they’ve “made our marriage work.”
She said she’s determined to represent all 19 counties of the Sixth District, to stand up to special interests or the president when he’s wrong.
“I will never forget who I work for — ever!” McGrath told a cheering audience. “It’s you. I will work for the people of the Sixth District and the country.”
Then McGrath described sitting in a fast-food restaurant with her young children the day after her primary victory when her cell phone rang. It was Biden asking what he could do to help.
“I’m so honored that he came down here to Kentucky and give us the push over the finish line,” she said.
When Biden stepped to the microphone, he said, ‘My name is Joe Biden and I used to work for Wendell Ford,” the one time Democratic Whip from Owensboro with whom Biden served in the Senate.
He compared Bath County to his home county in Delaware, echoing the McGrath campaign’s determination to win votes in the rural parts of the district which stretches from Franklin and Fayette counties in the west to Bath and Powell counties in the east.
The 75-year-old who has been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2020 was greeted by chants of “Run Joe run. Run, Joe, run.”
He recounted McGrath’s military history, her time in combat and said if she’s elected she will “level the playing field for the people of Bath County, for the people of Kentucky for so many people who have been left behind.”
He ended by urging the crowd to go to the polls and vote for McGrath.
“This is America, so get out and take it back,” he said. “It’s time.”