PHILADELPHIA — In a fiery speech during their retreat here, Vice President Joe Biden told House Democrats that they need to “double down” on the successes of the Obama administration and pitched himself as a middle-class warrior who will take on the “elites” in both parties.
The speech, which echoed President Obama’s the night before, was primarily meant to rally the party’s rank and file in light of strengthening economic news. But the speech was also an opportunity for Biden, who has often been overshadowed by Hillary Clinton as he contemplates a 2016 presidential run, to remind his party how he can strike a different tone from other politicians, including Clinton.
"I know that we've been a political heavy load to carry. But embrace us. Support it. We have turned the corner because of the sacrifices you made,” he told the House Democrats, whose already diminished ranks were further depleted in the November midterm elections thanks in part to their ties to the Obama administration.
But Biden said the administration had been vindicated in everything it did to save the economy, ticking off its major initiatives one by one and explaining how each had been successful despite the doubters.
Now, he continued, Democrats need more of the same. “Let’s resolve to double down. Let’s resolve to double down right now,” the vice president said. “Let’s not make any apologies for what we did. Explain why what we did worked … Stick with it. Own it.”
In a subtle contrast to Clinton, who has been accused of being out of touch, Biden portrayed himself as a middle-class everyman. Middle class issues, he explained, are "my wheelhouse."
“I know I’m middle-class Joe. And in Washington, that means you’re not sophisticated,” he said sarcastically. “But the middle class is not a number, it’s a value set.”
The fact that Republicans are now trying to claim credit for the economic recovery is further evidence that Obama administration was right, he continued. But GOP policies won’t help the middle class, he said, and he’s eager to make that case to the American people.
“I can hardly wait for this debate, man. I can hardly wait. It’s going to make the debate we had with [Mitt] Romney and [Paul] Ryan about their tax policies for the wealthy” look like nothing, he said, referring to the 2012 Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees.
Biden, who has run for president twice, confirmed last week that he's still thinking about a 2016 run. "To be blunt with you, I think I could do a good job. But that’s not my focus now,” he said on NBC's 'TODAY' show. Early polls show him trailing Clinton by as much as 50 percentage points.