Mention of Biden’s Dead Son Settles Heckler

     CLEVELAND (CN) – Diffusing an angry heckler with aplomb, Vice President Joe Biden’s control of a rally Thursday for Hillary Clinton posed a stark contrast to Republican events of late.
     Biden had been addressing several hundred Democratic supporters at a United Auto Workers hall in Parma, Ohio, when a young man in the audience began shouting for answers about military policy — referring apparently to a U.S.-backed offensive in the Syrian city of Manbij.
     As the crowd tried to drown out the interruption — chanting “Hil-lar-y, Hil-lar-y” — Biden spoke to the heckler directly.
     “Because the deal was,” Biden explained calmly, “to get them into Manbij, and to work, was they’d go back across the Euphrates so we could have Special Forces moved in. That’s why.”
     When the explanation did little to quiet the heckler — “My friends died,” he shouted repeatedly — Biden called off the audience’s help a second time.
     Inviting the heckler to speak with him in private after the rally, the vice president reminded the crowd of the death of his eldest son last year. A veteran of the Iraq War and former attorney general of Delaware, Beau Biden, 46, died in May 2015 of brain cancer.
     “Will you listen?” Biden asked. “So did my son, OK? Let me ask you a question. Come back afterward and talk to me about this, OK? You have my permission.”
     The respectful exchange stood out in a presidential election season where Republican nominee Donald Trump has nearly trademarked his brash style of ejecting protesters at his rallies.
     Showing the divide is more than superficial, the vice president went on in his address to criticize Republican policies that give tax breaks to millionaires at the expense of those in the middle class.
     Likening Trump’s economic-policy proposals to those that led to the Great Recession, Biden next took aim at the Republican incumbent U.S. senator from Ohio.
     Sen. Rob Portman’s race against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has become a focal point both for Republicans seeking to retain a Senate majority and Democrats hoping that Trump’s low approval numbers will help them retake the control of the Senate.
     At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland earlier this summer, Portman’s absence fueled rumors of the party’s reluctant embrace of Trump.
     Biden urged voters to see through the theatrics.
     “Now true, Portman won’t stand, I’m told, on the stage with Trump,” Biden said. “But these guys are cut from the same cloth in one regard. Rob Portman was the architect of George W. Bush’s economic policy.”
     “Why they hell did we end up in this Great Recession?” Biden asked the crowd. “It happened because of a budget and a philosophy of the Republican party.”
     Recent polling data collected by Real Clear Politics shows that Portman holds a comfortable lead over Strickland, but Democrats are hoping that Portman’s failure to explicitly disavow Trump will open the door for a Strickland victory.
     Portman has also sparked criticism joining the Republican Senate’s unprecedented stonewalling of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
     In the audience Thursday, retired teacher Mary Ellen Murray praised Clinton’s leadership skills and experience, saying they are more important than her likability.
Murray challenged discomfort over Clinton’s history in politics. “Well, guess what,” the Wadsworth, Ohio, voter said. “We have a democracy that has three branches of government that you have to know and understand.”
     Clinton’s reputation in the world and her global outreach are vital attributes for Murray. “We can’t isolate ourselves,” she said. “It’s not the 1930s.”
     On the other hand, Jerry Dragon, a retired truck driver from Middleburg Heights and a lifelong Democrat, said he cannot find a reason to vote for Clinton.
     “The things that [Donald Trump] has said, I don’t agree with,” Dragon said. “But the things that Hillary has lied about hurts people.”

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