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Biden focuses on Trump in Philadelphia speech

With 23 Democrats in the race for their party’s presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden is the most recognizable name. But Biden used a campaign kick-off speech in Philadelphia to focus on President Trump and not on his Democratic rivals. NewsHour’s digital politics editor and senior writer, Daniel Bush, who covered the speech, talks with Hari Sreenivasan about Biden’s strategy.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    With 23 candidates now in the race for the Democratic nomination for president one of the most recognized names is former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally in Philadelphia today. He promised not to speak ill of other Democrats in the contest making clear he will focus his political fire on President Trump.

  • Joe Biden:

    The single most important thing we have to accomplish.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Listing priorities from infrastructure to climate change policy. Biden still came back to the president

  • Joe Biden:

    As long as Donald Trump's in the White House along with Donald Trump's the White House. None of these things these critical things are gonna get done right. So you want to know what the first and most important plank in my climate proposal is. Beat Trump.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    NewsHour's digital politics editor and senior writer, Daniel Bush, is covering the rally and the speech today and he joins us via Skype from Philadelphia. What's the tone that he's trying to set, the first rally of many that we're likely to see from him?

  • Daniel Bush:

    So the Biden campaign really tried to use this kickoff to follow some of the themes that the former vice president has already had on since announcing his presidential campaign a couple weeks to unity and restoring integrity to the country. He said that our politics are so mean so crossing the divider in chief. So he was trying to drive the message home that he would bring back in more civil tone to politics to work across the aisle with Republicans on Capitol Hill to get things done if elected president.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what about the policy prescriptions. What about the things that he might do that would be perhaps different from Barack Obama?

  • Daniel Bush:

    So, I, he touched on a broad number of issues from health care to the economy to climate change talked about boosting renewable energy talked about free community college tuition, but he didn't miss this if you didn't offer how he would pay for some of these initiatives unlike some of his other candidates in the race who have put out already several different pretty specific policy proposals and I asked Democrats after the speech whether or not they were concerned that Biden wasn't getting specific enough. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware and an early backer of Biden's said there's about five hundred days to flesh it out meaning listen you know you should keep that a little bit. But Vice President Biden still has a lot of time to sort of figure it out. And Hari, I also spoke to Samone Sanders a senior adviser on the Biden campaign and she said we just got into this race but you can expect to see policy very soon. Sanders pointed to the upcoming Democratic debates which kick off next month in Florida. And she said that we know you can't get on the debate stage with platitude and broad brush strokes. So the Biden campaign seems to be signaling that they're going to get down into the weeds on some of these policy issues pretty soon.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what about the fact that relatively speaking there are already so many candidates that have made their policies clear on a wide range of things and they're all now trying to compete for attention? He has certainly name brand recognition but it is still a long way to go.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Well, Hari. This very much look like a general election rally with a sweeping backdrop of the city of Philadelphia in the background. And Biden did not mention a single one of his primary candidates by name not once. So he is really running with a focus on the president and trying to cement his front runner status. And we see to a certain extent that it is working before he entered the race. He was leading in polls a little bit ahead of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the last couple of weeks that lead has jumped out in some cases 10 even 20 points. Biden is now polling in the high 40s at times. Now of course we have to take those polls with a grain of salt given that voters aren't going to start to go to the polls for another six seven eight months the beginning of next year. But still it does show that his approach of focusing on the president at least right now is paying off.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Alright. NewsHour's Daniel Bush joining us via Skype from Philadelphia tonight. Thanks so much. Thank you.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Thank you.

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