SCRANTON, Pa. (CN) – Addressing supporters in his hometown of Scranton on Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden leaned heavily on his family’s ties to northeast Pennsylvania and said President Donald Trump is on the brink of squandering the strong economy he inherited from the Obama administration.
Former President Barack Obama, with the Scranton-born Biden at his side in 2012, won both Scranton’s hub, Lackawanna County, and Luzerne County – where the next biggest town, Wilkes-Barre, is located – by 26,753 votes and 5,982 votes, respectively.
However, in 2016, while Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Trump narrowly in Lackawanna County by 3,599 votes, she lost by an overwhelming 26,237 votes in Luzerne County.
In an attempt to win back voters who chose Trump in the last presidential election, Biden told stories to the crowd at the Scranton Cultural Center about his parents and grandparents and how he lived in Scranton until he was 9 years old.
“My dad was a white collar salesperson, but there was not a lot of work up here,” the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said, explaining his family’s decision to move 157 miles away to Claymont, Delaware.
But Scranton, he maintained, is where he built his foundation.
“This is where I learned about loyalty. This is where I learned about patriotism. This is where I learned about what friendship means, where I learned about family and faith. Faith that helped me get through a lot of tough times in my life,” Biden told the crowd.
“That’s how we were raised and my guess is that’s how the bulk of you were raised here in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre,” he continued.
Biden told the crowd that Trump had inherited a strong economy from the Obama administration.
“And just like everything else he’s inherited, he’s in the midst of squandering it,” Biden told the crowd, emphasizing that he wanted to build an economy that rewards working people, not wealth.
The former vice president said everyone wants a “fair shot” and “peace of mind when someone gets sick.”
“With all due respect, I don’t think Donald Trump is capable of understanding that — he doesn’t seem to have a sense of empathy at all,” Biden continued.
Running through his list of campaign points, Biden pitched the audience his health care plan, which would allow people to opt to keep private insurance or sign up for a government-funded plan. He also said he would prioritize rebuilding the country’s education system.
“My wife says it best,” Biden said of Dr. Jill Biden, who has taught English and writing in high schools and colleges. “‘Any country that outeducates us will outcompete us.’”
He outlined his plan to implement universal preschool education across the country and make community college free to those who qualify. His student debt repayment plan, he added, would cut payments for people paying on an income-based repayment system in half, and would allow those making $25,000 a year or less not to pay anything back initially.
Biden also said that he would plan to rejoin the Paris agreement on climate change, which Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2017, as soon as he entered office.