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Dem frontrunner Biden hits Chicago for fundraising: ‘I ain’t counting on anything’

Frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock - polling 1% or less - brought their presidential campaigns to Chicago on Wednesday.

Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Clinton Community College on June 12, 2019 in Clinton, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden hit Chicago for a fundraiser on the Gold Coast Wednesday evening — and with many jabs to President Donald Trump, urged his supporters to “stand for hope over fear” and “ for truth over lies.”

After a two-day visit to Iowa, the former vice president paid a visit to the home of Bob Wislow, the chairman of CBRE Chicago, a commercial real estate firm, and his wife, Susan, in a Gold Coast high-rise. The fundraiser was also hosted by William Singer, an attorney and longtime friend.

The 56th-floor residence, in part, had a sweeping view of the Trump Tower — and the president was mentioned many times during Biden’s more than 30 minutes of remarks. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Chicago Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) and former Chicago Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) were among the guests.

Most Illinois politicians haven’t picked sides in the crowded race. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday told reporters she’s taking a “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to backing a Democratic candidate.

Mentioning the criticism he received for skipping the Iowa Democrats’ annual Hall of Fame Dinner in Cedar Rapids, where 19 Democratic presidential candidates attended, Biden said he was at his granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Joe Biden
Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks to supporters at a Gold Coast fundraiser Wednesday evening.
Tina Sfondeles

“I started thinking about how lopsided our values are,” he said, adding he was with the Obamas and four other families “of all the young woman that had grown up together.”

“I watched the response for the kids who didn’t really know the president very well. The difference is this was a president that everybody could look up to, that our kids could look up to,” Biden said of Obama.

He pivoted to Trump, saying his remarks on the Charlottesville attack are “what really changed my mind about whether I was going to do it this year.” Trump said there were “very fine people” on both sides at a white supremacy march.

“No president. No president, period, has ever said anything like that, Democrat or Republican,” Biden said. “And it goes back to our kids. Our kids are listening. They hear this. What presidents say and what they do matters. People listen. And silence is complicity. Literally our silence is complicity.”

Biden said “everyone knows who Donald Trump is,” but “we’ve got to let them know what we stand for.”

“And we stand for hope over fear. That’s not a joke. We stand for science over fiction. And most importantly, we stand for truth over lies,” Biden said. “We’ve got to step up.”

Of the many criticisms Trump has launched at Biden, he said he’s “resisted” responding — for fear the campaign will become focused on name-calling and not the issues, like what happened with Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“I’ve been able to control my Irish,” Biden said. “So far.”

And speaking to the many wealthy businessmen and women in the room, Biden said the middle class needs to be rebuild, saying they need “just a little bit of breathing room.”

“Things have changed in a way that needs to be turned around. And it doesn’t require socialism and it doesn’t require some fundamental shift. It requires a sort of reordering capitalism to make capitalism work and save it,” Biden said.

Making light of the many polls that show him as the frontrunner, Biden said to laughter, “the good news is for me right now is that I look pretty good right now.”

But he warned: “I ain’t counting on anything. This is a marathon, man,” Biden said. “This is a marathon.”

Biden, at the top of every survey so far, was in Chicago on the same day when another 2020 hopeful was in the city, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, polling at one percent or less.

BULLOCK: “Disappointed” did not make first debate

Bullock said he was “disappointed” he did not make the cut for the first Democratic debate at the end of June, but it is not a major setback.

Rather it’s “a bump,” Bullock told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock
Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock speaks during the Iowa Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame Celebration, Sunday, June 9, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. File Photo.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Bullock jumped in the contest a month ago, getting in late because he needed to remain in Montana because the legislature, which only meets for 90 days every two years, was in session.

His claim in the crowded field is that his election as governor in a state voting for President Donald Trump in 2016 gives him the edge needed to flip swing states to Democrats.

“I certainly think I offer something unique to that field,” Bullock said.

Under rules set by the Democratic National Committee, a candidate needed to get at least one percent in three polls in order to qualify for the first debate, June 26 and 27 in Miami. Because there are 24 contenders for the 2020 nomination, the DNC imposed criteria to allow only 20 to debate over the two nights.

With the first presidential vote not until next February in Iowa, Bullock said, “I think there’s a lot of time there.”

Contributing: Lynn Sweet