Joe Biden took a familiar tone on Wednesday when asked whether, as a presidential candidate, he offered any appeal for Trump's strongest supporters.
"His base? Probably not," Biden said with a laugh during a virtual fundraiser. Biden's next words evoked a similar tone struck by Hillary Clinton during her 2016 bid for the White House, which severed any connection to a large portion of the population.
"There are people who support the president because they like the fact that he is engaged in the politics of division," Biden said. "They really support the notion that, you know, all Mexicans are rapists and all Muslims are bad and ... dividing this nation based on ethnicity, race. This is the one of the few presidents who succeeded by deliberately trying to divide the country, not unite the country."
Hillary Clinton drew ire four years ago when, during a campaign speech just two months before the general election, she referred to American citizens supporting Donald Trump as "a basket of deplorables."
"You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables ... right?" Clinton said during an "LGBT for Hillary" fundraiser. "They're racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic – Islamophobic – you name it."
Clinton's remarks were poorly received from people of all political stripes, including many in the media who were known for supporting her. The waves caused by her broad insult to Americans whom she hoped to govern as president did not subside by the time she lost the election in November.
Despite Clinton's failure at using harsh rhetoric against millions of fellow citizens as a way to win the White House, however, Biden followed close suit on Wednesday. His remarks, which hailed the presidents' supporters of acute racism and enthusiasm for dividing the country, followed a seemingly amicable conversation with Trump just last week. The call, in which Biden shared his opinions about how to go forward in governing a country gripped by disease and economic collapse, was characterized by Trump as a "really wonderful, warm conversation."
In addition to the bitter, unsubstantiated remarks about Trump's base, Biden is also facing the looming crisis of a sexual assault allegation that has been badly bungled by the media. The New York Times, in an attempt to assuage Biden's campaign team, stealth edited an article about Biden's accuser Tara Reade to dismiss her as uncredible.
On Wednesday, Biden characterized those who supported Trump as feeling like "the forgotten man." He asserted that they were likely "white working-class, high-school educated people," who had been experiencing "a really difficult transition" when they voted for Trump in 2016. Though Biden dismissed being able to excite Trump's strongest base, he offered an alternative for any Republican voters who might not want to vote for Trump again.
"The people who voted Republican last time…who don't want to vote for Trump — whether they want to vote for me or not is a different story — but they don't want to vote for Trump, they're looking for an alternative and I think, I hope to God, I can provide that alternative…I really mean it. I think there's a chance," he said.