Joe Biden focused his comments on restoring the character of America and restoring the rural economy when he brought his “No More Malarkey” tour to Boulders Conference Center in Denison on Saturday night.
The former vice president spoke about the fundamental values he was raised with – to treat everyone with respect.
But he added that so much hate and bile is being spread on the air waves.
“We have to restore the soul of America,” Biden said.
He added that those who grow up in rural America deserve the same opportunities to stay where they were raised if they want to.
He said rural communities, which represent 20 percent of America’s population, power the nation.
Biden charged that Donald Trump has waged a reckless and irresponsible trade war which is killing American agriculture.
“Worse yet is the harm he’s doing to our soul, our national character,” Biden added.
He added later, “The fact is that is best exemplified with the way he’s gone, he’s ruined our character. He’s trying to do it in rural America where decency, honor, treating people with respect is sort of a watchword.
“Use half the language the president uses, my mother would say, “Wash your mouth out with soap,’” Biden continued. “It sounds silly to even say that about a president. I’m even embarrassed to have to say that about a president.”
Biden claimed that Trump has spent his time not caring about the American creed but by “fanning the flames of hate - white supremacy, embracing murderous dictators like Putin and Kim Jong-un and other thugs around the world, poking his finger in the eye of our allies and our friends, separating families, ripping children from their mothers’ arms at the border and spouting lies and conspiracy theories with every breath he takes that no one, no one, even his own administration, will testify to be true.”
Biden said that Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, helped him develop his rural plan for the nation.
Biden said that Iowa farmers have pride and dignity, don’t want government to give them anything but do want the government to understand their problems.
“I don’t think this fellow (Trump) understands your problem,” he said.
“What’s happening in rural America, particularly in Iowa, is not looking for a payoff but an opportunity to do what they do better than anyone in the world,” Biden continued. “No one in the whole world has ever produced as much food and fiber with such alacrity.”
He said agricultural producers should be on the cutting edge on land conservation, to store carbon, converting waste into new materials, fabrics, fibers, chemicals, fuel and energy.
“We’ll invest in renewable energy biofuels in my administration, creating millions of new, good paying jobs,” Biden said. “Our ethanol plants provide good jobs. We can make sure that happens in a new wave of biomanufacturing as well.
“There’s so many opportunities if we just invest in the great resource we have, the people in rural America.”
He said an investment needs to be made in the education in rural America and an investment needs to be made in a modern, efficient infrastructure that creates jobs.
He explained that further, saying, “A lot of small communities access markets across the globe. That’s why we’re proposing a $20 billion investment in broadband to make sure that our kids have as much access to all information.
“Kids can do anything given an opportunity but how can they do it if they don’t have access to high speed broadband. Why should you have to make a decision whether or not you’re going to sell your product based on what an international ag organization tells you,” Biden added.
“You should be able to determine when and where and who and how and locally how to do it. There’s so much that we can do. No longer are families going to be faced with children and grandchildren believing the only opportunity they have has to be found away from home.”
Biden said the focus of his administration is going to be on building the middle class and creating opportunities for people to stay where they were raised, if they choose that.
In an interview with the Denison Bulletin and Review, Vilsack said that during the time Biden was vice president the nation had the highest farm income in history of the country.
“Today that’s not the case,” he said. “We had an administration that was supportive of ethanol, that didn’t support big oil waivers as the current administration has.”
He called Biden’s plan for agriculture a transformation and amazing new opportunity to increase revenue for farmers.
“As we sequester carbon, as we converted agricultural waste into a variety of products including fuel and energy and materials and chemicals, we can create new revenue opportunities for farmers,” Vilsack said.
“It’s doable, farmers are ready for it and they need it at a time when we see low income with the current administration,” he continued.
He said Biden understands trade policy and understands the need to go after China but added the Biden administration probably would have done it with other nations, which would have made it more difficult for the Chinese to put tariffs on American agricultural products.
“I think what he has is a very comprehensive vision to rebuild the rural economy and it’s more comprehensive and more progressive than I’ve seen in a long, long time, and he’s got the capacity and relationships in Congress to get it done,” Vilsack said.
He continued that Biden’s plan to rebuild the rural economy includes expanding infrastructure, providing access to health care, keeping health care facilities open and expanding mental health facilities.
Vilsack added the plan will help the beginning farmer loan program and will use a mechanism to encourage more capital investment into rural places.
“It’s creating an effort at the Department of Agriculture to provide business and industry support for this new effort. It’s creating markets for ecoystems services. It’s a whole incredible vision and it’s exactly what we need, particularly in the Midwest,” he said.
Vilsack said Biden’s plan for agriculture will create new markets.
“We’re taking, for example, manure and converting it into chemical that can be used in organic farming. We’re converting it into methane gas to converting to electric. We’re converting it into methane used in the truck to transport milk to the processor,” he explained. “We’re taking and producing chemicals and materials - those are all manufacturing processing jobs just like ethanol. It’s new income sources for farmers and new markets.”
Vilsack added later that Biden sees a need for a strong antitrust enforcement.
“He also understands and appreciates that if you create new products and you create new markets and you create new revenue streams, that that’s going to create a whole set of new entrepreneurial opportunities and small business opportunities,” he said, “which will create a lot of competition, so the combination of focusing on the antitrust and also creating new opportunities is a solid combination.”
Mario Gomez, an 18-year-old Denison High School student, said he has seen Beto O’Rouke and now Biden speak. He said it will be his first time to vote and he wanted to get involved and weigh all his options.
He said what struck him about Biden is his empathy, “how much he cares and has passion for the position and for the people that he’ll be representing.”
Jackie Ramos, a 2018 graduate of Denison High School and now a Briar Cliff University student, spent time talking with Biden as he shook hands after his speech. She said she told the former vice president that she’s really concerned about DACA and problems at the border.
Ramos said she wished Biden had spoken about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and immigration issues as have the other candidates she saw this week.
She said Biden brought up how many of his supporters are from the Latino and the African-American communities and that he brings forward the policies to unite the people and bring them into the spectrum.
She said she appreciated what he had to say about small communities and growing the middle class and growing jobs in rural communities.
“I really care about my Denison community and I still have family here,” Ramos said, “and I know they love it here but sometimes it’s just really hard staying around because there’s no jobs.”