Joe Biden worked Monday to convince blue-collar and middle-class voters here that Donald Trump is their enemy, not their friend and champion.
“The phrase he’s most proud of: ‘You’re fired.’ Think about the phrase: ‘You’re fired,’ ” Biden said at a rally in his hometown of Scranton, his first campaign appearance with Hillary Clinton.
“How can there be pleasure in division and ‘you’re fired’? And he’s trying to tell us he cares about the middle class. Give me a break,” he said. “Such a bunch of malarkey. It makes no sense. None, none, none, none.”
Biden, who was born in Scranton, lived there as a child and still has family there, worked to eat away at Trump’s support in a part of Pennsylvania that’s up for grabs, particularly among white working-class voters who’ve responded favorably to Trump’s vow to improve jobs and paychecks.
Clinton is ahead 48-37 in Pennsylvania, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll.
Clinton, he said, is a child of the middle class herself and will look out for them.
“If you live in a neighborhood like I grew up in . . . if you worry about your job, getting decent pay, if you worry about your children’s education, if you’re taking care of an elderly parent after losing the other one, then there’s only one person in this election who will possibly help you, and that is Hillary Clinton.”
With a smiling Clinton looking on, he added, “Scranton has always had my back. We and in fact, all of us, will have your back, Hillary.”
But mostly, he hammered Trump as a candidate who is simply out of step with working people. He noted that Trump didn’t have to climb his way up, having inherited wealth.
“Someone who had nothing and makes $1 million is a real success,” he said. “Someone who inherits a million and makes $20 million, no, they’re not a bum, but they’re a mere success.” After the audience laughed, he added, “Some are bums, but not all.”
Biden and Clinton later stopped to visit Biden’s boyhood home at 2446 North Washington.
He took her into the small kitchen, and recalled a family talk there about whether a neighbor going to vote Republican, something apparently controversial in the Catholic Biden family.
“Johnny’s not switching,” Biden recalled his aunt saying.
“How the hell would you know, Gertrude?” he said his grandfather said.
“I saw him take communion this morning,” she said.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll last week showed Clinton ahead by large margins in parts of Pennsylvania, leading Trump 71-19 in Philadelphia, 52-26 in the Philadelphia suburbs, and 53-36 in western Pennsylvania.
The poll found her trailing 31-53 in central Pennsylvania and virtually tied, 42-41 in northeastern Pennsylvania, which includes Scranton. That makes Biden’s pitch important in cementing her already large statewide lead of 48-37, with a goal of shutting down Trump’s path to the White House.