Joe Biden Returns to Scranton to Outline Economic Policy

The New York Times Politics 3 weeks ago

As President Trump heads to Pittsburgh to deliver a speech on Wednesday, Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be on the other side of the state seeking to draw sharp contrasts with the president on economic policy and biography, and to make overtures to the longtime Democrats who voted for Mr. Trump, helping him to win Pennsylvania in 2016.

Mr. Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pa., is expected to give an address on Wednesday morning on the middle class in the northeastern Pennsylvania city where he has maintained close ties. President Obama won the state in 2012, but in 2016, many working-class, more culturally conservative Democrats there embraced Mr. Trump’s message of economic populism, his hard-line approach to immigration and his disdain for the political class in Washington, reflecting a broader national trend that helped deliver him the White House.

Democrats have been arguing ever since about how to recapture those voters, and how much to focus on them.

In a statement released ahead of the speech, Mr. Biden painted the president as a corrupt and entitled member of the elite and argued that the president’s policies, like his tax measure, don’t help working people.

“Donald Trump has had everything given to him and spent his entire life and presidency enriching himself,” he said.

In the statement, he said that as president he would “increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and ensure that workers are paid fairly for the long hours they work and get the overtime they have earned.”

“Donald Trump doesn’t know what it means to be a part of the middle class,” the statement said. “I do.”

Mr. Biden, one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates who has referred to himself as “Middle Class Joe,” has pointed to his personal experience as well as policy proposals to argue that he can connect with those voters, though it remains an open question how many voters who chose Mr. Trump in 2016 are willing to swing back to the Democrats in 2020.

The split-screen moment in Pennsylvania comes after weeks of clashes between the Trump and Biden camps, as Mr. Trump has repeatedly made unfounded accusations against Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, with a focus on the younger Biden’s overseas business dealings.

In the last month, Mr. Biden has faced concerns from some Democrats over whether he was responding quickly and aggressively enough to Mr. Trump’s attacks. His campaign has settled on a strategy of frequently criticizing Mr. Trump and seeking to discredit his messages, while also focusing on policy matters — health care in particular.

Mr. Trump’s urging of the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens helped trigger the impeachment inquiry he now faces in the House.

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