Joe Biden took another swing at President Trump on Monday with tough talk at a stop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where his backers sat emotionless during his monotone, lifeless spiel.
Biden and his supporters closed their eyes in the quiet moderately sized conference room as the former vice president droned about his feud with Trump and promises to knock him out of the White House.
“So folks, um, but you know as much as he’s trying to destroy me and my family,” Biden said, “I hope I’ve demonstrated I can take a punch, and if I’m one nominee he’s going to understand what punches mean.”
The response from the crowd was silence.
Biden followed up the threat to retaliate with a peculiar proclamation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you know, look, presidents can’t hold grudges,” he said. “And it isn’t about me, what’s going on here. It’s all about you.”
In reality, it was all about Trump.
“Donald Trump believes the only way he can win is by continuing to divide the country,” Biden alleged. “As he came down that escalator as he announced his candidacy, he said, ‘I’m running to get rid of those Mexican rapists.’ He talks about way, no, bans on Muslim and additional nations. It just goes down the line. He’s just ripping us apart.”
Biden conflated legitimate questions about his son Hunter’s shady business arrangements in Ukraine, China and elsewhere with personal attacks on his family, and likened those attacks to an alleged Trump assault on America. Biden has refused to answer unscripted questions about Hunter Biden or virtually anything else in recent weeks, relying instead on prepared soundbites.
— Florida Chris (@chrislongview) January 27, 2020
At the Cedar Falls event, Biden ignored numerous questions from a gaggle of reporters as he arrived outside of the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, but stopped briefly to offer up a one-liner and peel off his shades, CSI: Miami-style.
“Let’s remember one thing,” Biden said as reporters shoved microphones and smart phones in his face, “why the man’s on trial, only the second guy, because he’s afraid to run against me.”
Biden relived the encounter for folks inside, where he raised his eyebrows and leaned in close to the crowd for dramatic effect.
The charade solicited no response.
While Biden’s subdued Cedar Rapids talk did receive some applause and a few laughs at the 77-year-old’s hokey jokes, the overall tone more resembled a funeral service than a campaign event.
And while Biden lulled supporters to sleep, it was a much different situation outside of the Wildwood Convention Center in the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey, where thousands of Trump supporters braved 40-degree temperatures to camp out two days ahead of his sold-out rally.
MIDNIGHT and 40 degrees
In Wildwood, NEW JERSEY
Nearly 24 HOURS BEFORE the @realDonaldTrump rally
And look at all these patriots chanting 4 more years!
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) January 28, 2020
Video outside at midnight showed MAGA warriors enthusiastically chanting “four more years” as they jumped up and down, whooping and hollering.
“The line had grown to more than 2,500 by 9 a.m. Only about 7,500 people are expected to be admitted inside this afternoon for the 7 p.m. event,” NJ.com reports.
“This is historic,” Karen Swann told the news site. “Even if you do not support Trump, this is a historical event. But I am a Trump fan, so this is awesome. I appreciate everything he has done for us.”
Event organizers set up massive screens in the venue’s parking lot and at a park across the street to accommodate the thousands of supporters who won’t make it inside. Many flew and drove from across the country days ahead of the event to secure their spots, including Michigan’s Saundra Kiczenski.
Kiczenski said “it was really cold” sleeping on the ground outside the convention center Monday, but it will be worth it tonight.
“He’s not a politician,” she told NJ.com. “He says what he thinks right out loud. He’s kept more promises than he has made.”