Vice President Joe Biden downplayed the chances his would be presidential campiagn could have emerged victorious with a more strident economic message than Hillary Clinton’s, saying Thursday that Republicans would “probably have eaten me alive” if he had decided to run.
But Biden said Thursday this year’s presidential campaign lacked a focus on improving the lives of working class voters, a flaw he suggested may have cost Clinton the presidency.
“There’s been a shift in focus now that we got the car out of the ditch and on the road and running, on really focusing on the real inequities that exist and still exist for working class, middle class people who are left behind. And what happened was that wasn’t a central part of the campaign moving forward in my view,” Biden told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview.
“I said at the convention when I introduced Hillary and praised her, I said we don’t show enough respect to that group that has been in fact left behind,” he went on.
Biden disputed characterizations of working class Americans as racist or sexist, insisting the groups who tilted toward Donald Trump, in many cases, share his own values.
“I mean these are good people man!” he said. “There’s a sense in some of our party that, wait a minute, we either have to tone down our progressive point of view and ramp up what we’re going to do for working folks or somehow talk less about working folks and ramp. … There is no conflict in the neighborhoods I come from. None. None at all.”
Biden made an anguished decision in October 2015 to forgo a run for president, saying he wasn’t ready to make the commitment following the death of his eldest son Beau four months earlier.
He said Thursday it’s impossible to know how he might have fared in a Democratic primary, or in a general election battle with Donald Trump.
“Who knows what would have happened?” he said. “I learned how to become popular. Once you’re not running for president I mean boom, you’re a popular guy out there.”