After President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory in November, Joe Biden is joining other Democrats pleading the party to refocus its attention on a voting bloc with which they failed to connect in 2016: working-class voters.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times, Biden said he noticed issues with Hillary Clinton’s campaign early in the election. And when Trump seemed to strike a chord with voters a rally near his childhood home in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in October, he became unsettled.
“Son of a gun. We may lose this election,” Biden said.
“I believe that we were not letting an awful lot of people – high school-educated, mostly Caucasian, but also people of color – know that we understood their problems,” he added.
Following the results of the election, Clinton has faced criticism for not garnering enough support from working-class voters who were ultimately swayed by Trump’s economic appeals.
Biden said Trump preyed on the economic concerns of these voters rather than working to understand them.
“He at least acknowledged the pain. But he played to the prejudice. He played to the fear. He played to the desperation. There was nothing positive that I ascertained when he spoke to these folks that was uplifting,” Biden said.
With a reputation as a champion of the middle class, some political observers have speculated Biden would have fared better if he had run against Trump. As Biden considered running in 2015, a memo revealed the vice president’s platform would have centered on the economy and the advancement of the middle class, several points that critics argued were lost from Clinton’s campaign.
Biden seemed to get at the root of the issue Democrats are now faced with when he gave a speech addressing the concerns of Trump’s supporters at one of Clinton’s campaign rallies in Virginia.
“God willing, we’re going to win this, but there’s a lot of people who are going to vote for Donald Trump,” Biden told the crowd. “We’ve got to figure out why. What is eating at them? Some of it will be unacceptable. But some of it will be about hard truths about our country and about our economy. A lot of people do feel left out.”
As President Barack Obama and Biden are set to leave the White House on January 20, the vice president’s political plans are still unclear. Biden has already floated the idea of running in 2020 against Trump.