FULLERTON, Calif. (CNS) – Former Vice President Joe Biden stumped for California Democrats at a campaign rally Thursday, saying victories in GOP-held congressional districts this November can help stop President Donald Trump’s “assault” on immigrants, women and working class families.
Biden, a potential candidate for the 2020 presidential election, told hundreds of campaign volunteers at California State University, Fullerton that the election represents the “battle for America’s soul” and a chance to restore the nation’s “moral compass.”
The former vice president chided the Republicans’ tax plan and statements Trump has made drawing a moral equivalence between white supremacists and antiracism protesters at the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and descriptions of news media as “fake news.”
He blasted Republicans in Congress for “choosing party over country” by refusing to challenge the president.
“The truth is thrown aside in favor of cultish devotion to the whims of one man,” Biden said. “The American story is being assailed. The fabric that has held us together is being shredded.”
With less than five weeks before the midterm elections, party leaders are building up the Democratic “blue wave” they hope will see them claim the 23 seats needed to regain control of the House of Representatives.
California Democratic Party chair Eric Bauman said in an interview that seven congressional seats are targeted by candidates who have the backing of hundreds of on-the-ground volunteers and over 80 state party staff members.
Bauman called the up-for-grab districts “ground zero for what is going to put the gavel in Nancy Pelosi’s hands” and said Democrats’ chances are bolstered by thousands of newly registered voters and Biden’s star power.
“Everybody loves ‘Uncle Joe,’” Bauman said.
The five California Democrats who joined Biden on stage – TJ Cox (District 21), Gil Cisneros (District 39), Katie Porter (District 45), Harley Rouda (District 48) and Mike Levin (District 49) – are challenging Republicans in districts that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential race.
The former first lady and secretary of state was the first Democrat to carry Orange County in a presidential election since 1936. The GOP’s once-tight grip on “Orange Curtain” congressional seats has loosened and Democrats smell blood in the water.
A University of California, Berkeley, poll of 5,000 likely voters in eight congressional districts in California found Democratic candidates are well positioned to capture those seats.
Orange County Democrat Mike Levin holds the largest lead among the candidates with 55 percent of votes in the 49th District – where Republican incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring – compared to 41 percent captured by his Republican opponent Diane Harkey.
Harkey won the June primary with 25 percent of the vote. This week, she picked up an endorsement from Trump.
In the 45th District, also in Orange County, Democrat and University of California, Irvine, law professor Katie Porter leads Republican incumbent Mimi Walters 52 percent to 45 percent.
Porter, who was endorsed by her former Harvard Law School professor Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told the crowd Thursday that Democrats are “on the cusp of flipping the House.”
Congressman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, also spoke Thursday, saying he agreed the House could be taken back. He added he looks “forward to working with a Congress that actually has a spine.”
The poll – which has a 4 to 6 percent margin of error – shows Democrat Gil Cisneros with a slight lead, 49 percent, over Republican Young Kim, 48 percent.
Kim is a businesswoman and former state legislator. If she wins in November, she would be the first Korean American elected to Congress.
Cisneros, a Navy veteran turned millionaire philanthropist, berated Kim’s high ratings from the National Rifle Association, drawing boos from the crowd, and called her “a rubber stamp for the Republican agenda.”
In an interview, Cisneros said that if elected, he would support immigration reform, increased education funding and expanded investigations into Russian meddling in U.S elections.
He also said he would call for deeper investigations of alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In their speeches Thursday, Biden and several candidates derided Kavanaugh’s behavior during his confirmation hearing and criticized the GOP’s handling of the process.
Bauman described Kavanaugh’s temperament with senators as “disgraceful behavior” that will only further inflame women who may already see their vote in November as a chance to scuttle Trump’s agenda.
The poll found a direct relationship between opinions on Trump’s performance in office and votes for congressional candidates.
“In the four districts where Democratic candidates are leading or hold the advantage, the proportions of voters who disapprove of Trump outnumber those who approve by 10 points or more,” a Berkeley statement said Thursday.
In his speech, Bauman said “shutting down Trump’s agenda” could only happen if volunteers doubled their efforts to get out the vote in November.
“Democracy does not come cheap,” Bauman told the crowd. “Money won’t win this election. It will take hard work, calling neighbors, walking precincts, eating cold pizza and drinking cold coffee.”