The Note: Joe Biden pitches Trump country on unity

It’s a simple pitch for complicated times.

April 30, 2019, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It's a simple pitch for complicated times -- coming from a political figure with all manner of complications.

Former Vice President Joe Biden used an old-school campaign kick-off at a Teamsters hall in Pittsburgh to pitch himself as a candidate of unity and morality.

Joe Biden speaks with ABC News' Robin Roberts, April 29, 2019.
ABC News

He delivered a message directly to those he called the "backbone of America" and "hard-working, decent people." And he had a message to voters who supported President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

"What I'd say is, 'Did you get any benefit from the tax cut?'"Biden told ABC's Robin Roberts Monday, in an interview airing on "Good Morning America" Tuesday. "'Do your employers treat you with any more respect and dignity than they did before? What's the story?' Ask these folks."

Biden will be asking potential Democratic voters to stick with him despite any hesitations about his past and his record, and despite the energy generated by the company he has in the field.

His first tests come Tuesday, as he kicks off an extended campaign trip with two days in Iowa, where he will focus on "rebuilding the middle class," according to his campaign.

The size of the field aside, Biden is now the front-runner in a lane he may occupy virtually by himself. If he can get past himself and get beyond his past, that could remain the case for a while.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

At his rally in Pittsburgh, Biden stopped short of backing a Medicare-for-all, single-payer-style health insurance system that so many of his Democratic primary opponents have said they support.

He said his priority was protecting the current Affordable Care Act, which was one of former President Barack Obama's signature achievements. Biden was standing by Obama's side when it was signed into law.

President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, conducts a press conference in the East Room of the White House in response to the Iran Nuclear Deal, on July 14, 2015 in Washington, DC.
\Andrew Harnik/Getty Images, FILE

Biden said Monday that to "finish the job" on health care, a public, government insurance option should be made available for purchase as an alternative to private insurance.

That's fundamentally different than the kind of legislation, for example, that Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced, which would call on the government to provide health insurance to all Americans.

"Whether you're covering it through your employer or on your own or not, you all should have a choice to be able to buy into a public option plan for Medicare. Your choice. And if the insurance company is not doing the right thing by you, you should have another choice," Biden told the crowd at his kick-off rally.

House Democrats will hold their first hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill on a House version of Medicare for all. Health care continues to be a priority for Democrats, but also a point of division and debate.

The TIP with John Verhovek

Biden's campaign launch may feel to some like the final piece of the puzzle that is the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. But even as the field sits at 20 candidates, more announcements loom.

This week, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced that he has hired a new communications director, Galia Slayen, as he eyes a presidential announcement following the conclusion of the state's legislative session in May. The pragmatic red-state governor has earned bipartisan praise throughout his time in office and was able to pass Medicaid expansion through his GOP-controlled legislature. He has quietly made moves towards a presidential campaign over the last year.

PHOTO: Montana Governor Steve Bullock speaking after Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell  announced a two year moratorium on gold mining exploration on Department of Interior land along northern border of Yellowstone National Park, Nov.21, 2016.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock speaking after Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a two year moratorium on gold mining exploration on Department of Interior land along northern border of Yellowstone National Park, Nov.21, 2016.
William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

But he faces a steep challenge in breaking through the logjam of candidates, which already includes a former Democratic governor pitching himself as a unifier and prolific problem solver: Colorado's John Hickenlooper.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, who checks in from Joe Biden's first official campaign rally. ABC News White House correspondent Karen Travers tells us what to expect from Tuesday's infrastructure meeting between Democratic leadership and President Donald Trump. And ABC News Chief Global Affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz explains why the reemergence of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is so significant.

ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast. Former Trump campaign staffer Michael Caputo says he hasn't spoken to President Donald Trump since Inauguration Day, due to the investigations on Capitol Hill and by the special counsel. But after the Mueller report was released, Caputo's phone rang, and it was the president. He tells "The Investigation" about their Oval Office meeting, the president's feelings about impeachment and what most concerns him most about his former adviser Roger Stone's upcoming trial. "The Investigation" co-anchors Kyra Phillips and Chris Vlasto also sit down with former Congressional investigator and former Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who gives insight into all the nuts and bolts of a Congressional investigation, including the pending issue over access to Trump's tax returns.

FiveThirtyEight's "Politics Podcast." The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast team assesses how voters, the Democratic Party and the rest of the field are reacting to former Vice President Joe Biden's candidacy. They also ask to what extent Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are competing for the same voters, given their similar progressive economic policies. Lastly, they answer questions from listeners, including how many candidates we can expect to drop out of the race before the Iowa caucuses.

(All times local)

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden join Robin Roberts for a "Good Morning America" interview that airs at 7 a.m. Later, Biden heads to Iowa for stops in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, his first trip to the early-nominating state as a candidate.
  • President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with congressional Democrats at 10:30 a.m., then receive his intelligence briefing, then later in the afternoon meet with the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano.
  • Polls open for North Carolina's special primary election in the 3rd congressional district at 7 a.m.
  • Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke closes out his trip to California with a stop in San Diego for a town hall with voters at 10 a.m.
  • Former Maryland Congressman John Delaney delivers remarks on U.S. foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington at 4:30 p.m.
  • Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., addresses the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California at 5:30 p.m.
  • Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continue their speaking tour in Boston.

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