Vice President Joe Biden took aim at GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney and a Republican Party that he blames for political gridlock at a get-out-the-vote event Tuesday in Sumter.
Speaking to a crowd of about 475 at Morris College, the Democrat ran through the gamut of Trump’s political stumbles.
Heads shook as Biden brought up a vulgar video in which Trump brags about groping women, the Republican nominee’s early-morning tweet encouraging his followers to “check out” a sex tape and Trump’s boast that he benefited from the housing collapse.
“This is a guy who says, ‘Putin, strong leader,’ ” Biden said. “He probably would have loved Saddam Hussein.”
Biden and S.C. Democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn of Columbia, urged the crowd Tuesday to turn out the vote for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. South Carolina long has been a Republican bastion, last voting for a Democrat for president in 1976. However, Clinton only was 4 percentage points behind Trump in South Carolina in late September, a Winthrop Poll found.
They also asked the crowd to support a former Biden aide’s bid for the 5th District congressional seat, which covers parts of Sumter County.
Democrat Fran Person, of Tega Cay, is running against Republican Mulvaney is what is likely South Carolina’s most competitive congressional race.
Biden — who has long courted South Carolina, delivering the eulogy at longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond’s funeral and vacationing regularly on the S.C. coast — recalled a bygone era when Republicans and Democrats could work together on solutions. He pegged Mulvaney, a member of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus, as part of the problem in Congress now.
The vice president touted former aide Person – “Franny” – as an answer to the partisanship that has stalled policy-making in Washington, D.C.
“Franny gets it,” Biden said. “The reason I love this man is he’s got a heart as big as his head. He understands.”
Person, who spoke earlier at the event, also stressed the need to work across party lines as he jabbed at Mulvaney.
“Everybody is scoring political points, like my opposition,” Person said. “He represents an ideology, and literally nothing gets done.”
Person said a strong turnout next Tuesday is crucial to electing Democrats, who will fix South Carolina’s problems, including crumbling roads and inadequate funding for schools among them.
“Everything we fight for is on that ballot,” Person said. “Education is on that ballot. Justice is on that ballot. Opportunity is on that ballot. Progress is on that ballot.”
Later Tuesday, Biden joined Person for a rally in Rock Hill.