Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Democrat Conor Lamb in his race to represent PA-18, amped up the buzz for Biden’s possible 2020 campaign, and provided Democrats with an eloquent, heartfelt rhetorical template for appealing to white working-class voters across the Rust Belt.
Speaking at Robert Morris University Yorktown Hall in Moon Township, PA, Biden showed how Dems that there is a way to reach both blue collar workers and college students with the same appeal. As J.D. Prose writes at the Beaver County Times:
After rallying union workers at the Carpenters Training Center in Collier Township, Biden and Lamb, a Mount Lebanon resident, joined about 750 people packed into a banquet room inside Robert Morris University’s Yorktown Hall residence building on University Boulevard.
“My name is Joe Biden and I’m from Scranton, Pennsylvania … and I work for Conor Lamb,” Biden told the crowd shortly after taking the stage just past 7 p.m.
With a week to go before the March 13 special election, Biden hammered home that Lamb, a former federal prosecutor and Marine veteran, understands western Pennsylvania, middle-class values and would fight to protect the social safety net that Republicans have chipped away at under President Donald Trump.
Saying that Lamb reminds him of his late son Beau, Biden said it is because both served in the military and care about helping people. “It’s always been about the other guy with Conor,” Biden said.
Pointing out that Lamb’s Republican opponent was primed to cut Social Security and Medicare in line with GOP speaker Paul Ryan’s agenda, Biden said Lamb would “throw himself in front of a train before he allows that to happen.”
Calling Lamb a candidate “with real character” and a leader who brings “selfless integrity to public service,” Biden said Lamb reminded him of his late son, “He reminds me of my Beau because with Beau and with Conor, it’s about the other guy,” Biden said,” notes Daniel Uria in his report for U.P.I. “He believes in hard work, he believes in labor. He’s not afraid to say the word ‘union.”
Lamb also connected with Biden, hailing the former V.P. and native of Scanton, PA as “a leader that everybody likes…who “knows in his bones the struggles” of workers.”
“Biden commended Lamb for withstanding “one of the biggest barrages of negative campaign advertising,” notes Uria. “Why are they so afraid of him?,” asked Biden. “Do you think they’re spending all this money … because they’re fearful he’s going to hurt the middle class? Do you think they give a damn about that?”
Biden also noted a critically-important benefit of a Conor Lamb victory on March 13th:
He also said a win for Lamb –the first Democrat to run in the district since 2012– could cause multiple Republicans to retire….”The impact would be profound. I promise if you if he wins you’re going to see probably another half a dozen Republicans say they’re not running again.”
Republicans who hope to hold Rust Belt seats in the House and Senate have a lot to worry about when Joe Biden shows up for Democrats. The former Veep not only helps individual Democratic campaigns; he shows his party how to connect effectively with working-class voters with heartfelt appeals to their sense of fairness, as well as self-interest. Democratic candidates should pay close attention.