OWINGSVILLE, KY — Former Vice President Joe Biden lit into President Trump Friday for putting "his own interests before our values," and accusing Republican lawmakers of being complicit in their silence.
Campaigning in a rural Kentucky town with Democratic congressional hopeful Amy McGrath, Biden noted he had just returned from London where he said U.S. allies remain aghast at the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
"They genuinely don’t see America," Biden said. "The example we’re showing the rest of the world is sad. Our values are being shredded. Our democracy is under assault."
Biden made no specific reference to Saudi Arabia or the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But he said Trump’s fondness for autocratic leaders sent a dangerous signal.
"The world is watching us. They see a president who has debased our values and ceded global leadership to tyrants and thugs," he said. "Our reputation internationally is cratering. It’s not who we are."
Friday’s rally brought the former vice president as close as he’s been to direct political combat with Trump, who is scheduled to hold a rally with Barr across the district on Saturday.
Trump has taunted Biden at several of his recent political events, saying he relished the idea of a potential campaign against him and dismissing the longtime senator and two-term VP for his distant showing in the 2008 presidential primaries, the last time Biden was a candidate for president.
But an internal poll conducted for McGrath’s campaign showed Biden would narrowly beat Trump in the district, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Trump won Kentucky’s 6th congressional district with 54 percent of the vote in 2016, as Barr won 61 percent of the vote and a third term. Bath County, where Friday’s rally took place, was even more solidly Republican as Trump beat Hillary Clinton 67 percent to 30 percent.
Despite its GOP bent, McGrath has put the race squarely in the toss-up column, owing in part to her biography – she’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marines — and her strong fundraising. McGrath raised $3.65 million in the most recent fundraising quarter.
Initially national Democrats had preferred Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington and the party’s 2016 nominee for U.S. Senate, to run for the seat. But McGrath beat him in primary in part by running up the vote totals in rural areas like this.
In a private call two days after McGrath’s victory, Biden praised her approach as one the party should look to emulate in the future. McGrath, speaking before Biden, noted she had field offices open throughout the district.
She also defended her decision not to launch negative advertising to counteract Barr’s against her.
"The reason I have continued to run a race that is entirely focused on my values, on our values, and the issues is because first I trust the voters to see through this sad, worn out tactic," she said.