During a day-long visit to the Charlotte area Monday, Vice President Joe Biden talked up community colleges, vouched for Hillary Clinton’s overall health and told reporters that Clinton should focus more on how she would grow the economy and less on rival Donald Trump’s deficiencies.
Biden’s first stop was at a new Clinton campaign field office in west Charlotte, where he delivered a box of doughnuts and assured staffers and volunteers that antibiotics and bed rest would restore Clinton. Her doctor said she had pneumonia after a video Sunday showed the candidate stagger, then fall, as she tried to get in a van.
“She’s been transparent about her health. ... So we’re in good shape,” Biden said. “ And I’m encouraging her – if the doctor says take three days off, take six days off.”
Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, left a 9/11 memorial service early Sunday in New York and appeared faint. Later her doctor issued a statement saying she’d been diagnosed with pneumonia Friday and had become dehydrated at the ceremony.
Later Monday, after schmoozing with patrons at the Five and Dine restaurant in Rock Hill, Biden amended his earlier transparency comment, saying the Clinton campaign knows they “screwed up” by not announcing her pneumonia the same day it was diagnosed.
Biden also reported that he’d talked to the Clinton campaign Monday afternoon and was told they planned to “put out even more information” about Clinton’s health. “And they’re going to make the doctors available to talk to you guys,” he added, referring to the press.
Biden said Clinton, who is 68, isn’t the first politician to get sick by pushing herself too hard. “Look, when you run the schedule we run – 14, 15 hours a day – I’ve had walking pneumonia, last year,” he said. “And you know what it takes? It takes antibiotics and it takes getting through a thick skull like Hillary’s and mine to slow down.”
Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Trump, 70, has released only a short letter from his doctor that said his patient would be the healthiest president ever. The doctor later acknowledged he wrote it in five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside.
Biden, who is 73, said, smiling, that he’d “sure like to see (Trump’s) health report. I’d like to jog with him. I don’t think he could keep up.”
Biden’s official reason for coming to Charlotte was to speak at Central Piedmont Community College about the increasing value of community colleges in a changing economy.
Speaking to an invitation-only audience at CPCC, Biden praised the school as well as other community colleges. His wife, Jill Biden, teaches at Northern Virginia Community College.
“We have to have the best-educated and the highest-skilled workforce in the world,” he said. “Any nation that out-educates us will out-compete us.”
His speech focused on ways to improve the economy, which Biden said includes investing in infrastructure and education.
He said the Obama administration – and the Democrats who hope to build on its legacy – want to improve access to early childhood education and make college more affordable. And they would pay for it, he said, by cutting tax loopholes that benefit the rich.
At CPCC, Biden did not mention Trump, but did criticize the views of today’s GOP.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” Biden said. “Republicans used to be leaders in investment in infrastructure, in transportation, ports, canals – all the things that made us who we are.”
Biden did take aim at Trump during his visit to the Clinton campaign office.
As he travels the globe, Biden said, world leaders quiz him about Trump. He suggested they regard him as a celebrity who has little understanding of international issues. “It’s almost like, ‘Please, God, tell me about Trump.’ ”
Last week, Trump defended his qualifications during an NBC forum on national security issues. The businessman, who has never held public office, said he had “great experience dealing on an international basis.”
Asked what he had done to prepare himself to send men and women in harm’s way, Trump said, “I have great judgment.”
On Monday, Biden bemoaned a presidential campaign that has become a contest of the two sides beating each other up instead of promoting themselves and what they’d do if elected.
“One of the things that the Republicans have done very successfully so far is raise doubt about our candidate. There’s overwhelming doubt (about Trump),” he told the campaign workers. “I want people to understand the Hillary I know. I want them to know the woman I have known for over 35 years. I want them to understand the woman who understands it’s more than economics. It’s about peoples’ lives.”
Asked during his Rock Hill stop what he’d tell Clinton if he were her coach for the upcoming debates, Biden said he’d urge her to sell herself and her vision to voters.
“I think what we should be focusing on is what Hillary is going to do, what she’s about. Everybody already knows that there’s a side of (Trump) that is not serious. You talk about Hillary’s negatives – his negatives are even higher,” he said. “We should be talking about how she is going to keep the economy growing. She knows exactly what she wants to do.”
During his visit, Biden also spoke at a fundraiser in Fort Mill, S.C., for Democrat Fran Person. Person is a former Biden aide who is running this year in hopes of unseating U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.
The vice president ended the day in Raleigh, where he was scheduled to attend an event for N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, and the Democratic Governors Association.