Joe Biden Attacks Trump's Use of Power During LGBTQ Dinner Speech

CNN/ Newswire | 9/21/2018, 9:31 a.m.
When Joe Biden addressed the national dinner for the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday night, he found himself at a ...
Former Vice President Joe Biden

When Joe Biden addressed the national dinner for the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday night, he found himself at a familiar juncture.

Speaking at the same dinner three years ago, he was grappling with a decision to make a late entrance in the 2016 presidential race mere months after the passing of his son Beau.

The circumstances are different this time around (it's earlier in the process), but he is still mulling whether a third run for the White House could be the charm as he starts a campaign blitz for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.

Biden, who ran failed bids in 1988 and 2008, has publicly said he'll decide about 2020 by January, a time frame that sources close to the former vice president say mirrors his private discussions. But as he travels across the country, including to key presidential battleground states, his longtime network of loyal donors and operatives are watching and waiting for signs that he is inching toward a presidential run.

"He certainly feels the push from people who want him to run, so of course it's there," one Biden adviser said. "But in terms of the nuts and bolts of planning his time and thinking of what he's doing, he's focused on how he can be of most help to the Democratic Party."

Biden took direct aim at President Donald Trump on Saturday night, noting that "forces of intolerance remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress you have made."

"Instead of using the full might of the executive branch to secure justice, dignity, and safety for all, the President uses the White House as a literal, literal bully pulpit, callously exerting his power over those who have little or none," he said.

A third run for President?

Headlining the dinner for the country's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights group on Saturday gave Biden, the first vice president to back same-sex marriage, a chance to stay connected to a key portion of the Democratic base. As the former vice president started his speech, a few people in the crowd yelled "Run Joe!" He responded, "Thank you."

Biden has said that after the midterms he'll engage in an "altar call" to gauge whether the support exists for a run, and the final verdict about whether he'll launch a bid will boil down to a family decision.

Biden's brain trust includes longtime strategist Mike Donilon; former chief of staff and the managing director of the Penn Biden Center Steve Ricchetti; former Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware; executive director of the American Possibilities PAC Greg Schultz; and former communications director Kate Bedingfield. His sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who managed each of his campaigns, remains a trusted confidante.

Should he decide to launch a 2020 bid, Biden could tap into a network of supporters, donors and aides that spans decades.

"As far as any candidate that I think has shown an interest, Joe would be by and far the one person that I would get out and support wholeheartedly," said Bruce Hunter, an Iowa state representative who's a longtime supporter of Biden's.

"We are asking and he's saying, 'I'm not even going to contemplate that till after the midterms,' " said George Tsunis, an Obama bundler who wanted Biden to run in 2016. "I would be very excited for the country if he were to do that. I think he's very, very capable."

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