Former Vice-President Joe Biden spoke about the importance of next month’s midterm elections in operatic terms and touched on the pipe bomb discovered addressed to him just the day before while endorsing Democratic congressional nominee Antonio Delgado in Kingston Friday.
Delgado, running to unseat Republican John Faso, talked of hoping to bring the augustness and values Biden exemplified to his own political career.
Two themes ran through the remarks by Biden, Delgado, and several other speakers at Kingston’s historic Senate Garage: the legacy of former Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey, and the possibility of cuts to healthcare and Social Security, which the speakers said Republicans were concocting to offset their Tax Bill.
Hinchey, who died less than a year ago, represented Kingston for 20 years in Congress with his populist, progressive, environmentalist views. After his last term in office expired in 2012, New York went through redistricting, and Kingston became part of the 19th District, which has been controlled by Republicans ever since, first by Chris Gibson, then John Faso.
Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko said Hinchey’s “spirit still guides us,” during the event.
“What a bold voice for the environment, what a bold voice for the Hudson Valley,” he said.
Hinchey’s daughter, Michelle, said her father “would be whole-heartedly for Antonio” as part of her remarks during the event.
Delgado had integrity and would vote for economic equality and “the same ideals my father fought for in over 38 years of public office,” she said.
Delgado and Tonko mentioned Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — his name elicited boos from the crowd — and comments McConnell made about “Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid” being the “real drivers of the debt,” during an interview with Bloomberg News. Faso made similar comments in January to business leaders in Kingston.
McConnell went on to say any adjustments to the programs would only happen with a bi-partisan agreement, comments reflected in an interview with Reuters.
The federal deficit increased $113 Billion in fiscal year 2018 to $779 Billion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
The cuts, which permanently slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and temporarily applied a more modest cut to income taxes “didn’t reach the reach middle-income American, didn’t reach the working poor, didn’t reach the poor,” said Tonko.
The tax cuts don’t allow the U.S. to invest in the future and would continue the trend of disinvestment in public schools, which Delgado attended before going to Colgate College and Harvard Law he said.
“We’re stripping the bone away — the bone. And for what? I think it’s just greed,” Delgado said, touching on a subject of other campaign stops.
The Bomb Meant for Biden
Biden was one of 13 high-profile Democrats and Trump critics sent what U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called “IEDs” earlier this week. News broke of the capture of a suspect in the attempted bombings during Friday’s event.
Biden came down on divisions in the country he suggested led to the attempted assassinations while simultaneously placing the blame for such divisions on President Trump.
“We don’t yet know all the facts behind [the attempts], but the country has to come together,” Biden said. “The division, the hatred, this ugliness, it really has to end — and words matter,
He quoted part of W.B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming,” which paints an apocalyptic picture of the future, including the line “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity,” a line the crowd appeared to appreciate.
“Folks, that is how you can look at it, but I don’t think it reflects who you are, it reflects who some of these folks out there are,” he said. “Our political opponents, though, are not our enemies; the press is not the enemy.”
The suspect, Cesar Altieri Sayoc Jr., was arrested Friday in Florida, according to the U.S. Justice Department, and is currently facing five federal charges that could result in an effective lifetime sentence for the 56-year-old.
In his talks with international leaders since Trump took office, Biden has seen the U.S.’s standing in the world diminish, he said.
“The rest of the world is looking at us, like, ‘what’s happened?’” he said, and are asking if America’s traditional diplomatic ties still hold, “questions that I never thought would be asked of me.”
“Basic American values are being shredded, they’re being shredded by the alt-right, they’re being shredded by people in the (Trump) administration who are putting their own interests before these ideals,” he said, adding the G.O.P was “choosing party over country.”
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” he added.
Biden was seen exiting the Senate Garage about 45 minutes after the event but did not take questions from the gathered press.
Delgado’s Final Word
After describing his childhood growing up in Schenectady as the child of two middle-class General Electric employees, Delgado said he recently came to a conclusion garnered from his experience as a first-time candidate.
“As I started to try to unpack that, it became clear to me: maybe this whole concept of divisiveness and nastiness is really just a distraction — maybe that’s really the objective…to make us get caught up in all this personal nasty stuff and not deal with the things that need dealing with,” such as wage stagnation, schools and healthcare, he said.
Delgado mentioned a “certain nobility” that should come with being an elected official, a trait he said Biden exemplified, and one he hoped to bring to Congress if elected.
The latest 19th District poll has John Faso ahead of Delgado by one point, 43-44, well within the poll’s margin or]f error, with six percent opting for a third-party candidate and seven percent still undecided.
The election is Nov. 6.