LOS ANGELES (CN) – Former Vice President Joe Biden told a crowd of supporters at a Los Angeles community college Thursday that if elected in 2020, he will support citizenship for undocumented Americans, boost the middle class and strengthen global alliances.
Speaking at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, Biden first acknowledged the shooting earlier in the day at a high school about 40 miles northeast of LA where a 16-year old boy shot and killed two of his classmates and wounded three others before shooting himself.
The 2020 contender said he was “tired” of people offering prayers to families of victims of gun violence and said he would abolish the influence of pro-gun lobby organizations like the National Rifle Association.
“It’s sickening,” Biden said of the shooting. “When I talk about soul of America, look at all the children we send off to school and the first thing they learn to do is duck and cover. What does that say about our soul? What does it say about who we are?”
The former Delaware senator has consistently led in national polling, with supporters rallying behind his message of being the candidate most fit to lead the nation on day one.
“The next president won’t have the chance for on-the-job training,” Biden told the crowd of nearly 150 people. “Eight years of Trump will change the character of who we are as a nation and we can’t let that happen.”
LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis endorsed that message Thursday and told the crowd that Biden would be a “champion” for working class communities.
“He’s here to unite and doesn’t have to be tested on day one,” said Solis, who served as Labor secretary in the Obama administration. “It won’t take him 100 days to know what to do. He will repair the image of our great country and show the world where we belong.”
Biden pledged Thursday to invest $1.3 trillion in the U.S. economy over 10 years to make it more “competitive” in the global economy, according to a statement from his campaign.
A large chunk of the investment will go towards infrastructure and funding the Highway Trust Fund, with at least $50 billion being immediately spent on repairs for U.S. bridges, roads and highways, the statement said.
Under Biden’s plan, a $400 billion investment over ten years will also fund research to develop clean energy technology, biofuels and more efficient engines for the hauling industry.
The pledge is part of Biden’s goal of moving the nation to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, ensuring access to high-speed internet for all Americans and a commitment to uplift the economies of small towns and rural communities, the statement said.
Biden told the crowd he would pay for the investment by taxing the “super-wealthy and corporations” who have not paid their fair share in taxes as the economy has grown increasingly inequitable.
The former vice president also said he would raise revenue through the reversal of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts and by shutting down tax havens and other tax evasion schemes.
“The middle class is getting killed and we have a president who is pitting us against each other,” Biden said, referring to Trump. He noted the country’s leadership position in global politics has fallen during Trump’s administration.
“When I stand on the world stage, no one will have to wonder about who I’m for or what I’m against,” he said.
Biden didn’t mention this week’s start of public hearings into the Trump impeachment probe.
LA resident Leo Sarmiento attended the rally and said Biden’s message makes him the leading contender among Democrats.
“What it comes down to is being a stabilizing influence internationally because god knows we are in trouble,” Sarmiento said. “Whether it be the environment, DACA or other issues, he’s the person to pause, slow things down and put us in the right direction.”
Sarmiento said he attended the rally as a Biden supporter but will back the candidate selected Democrats’ 2020 convention.
“I’m actually very open to anyone,” Sarmiento said. “Anyone who’s blue, anyone who’s a Democrat is a much better choice than what we have in the White House.”