POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Biden emphasizes ‘American values’ at Sherrill campaign rally

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

New Jersey’s shaping up as a battleground state in the midterm elections. National Democrats hoping to take control of Congress deployed the party’s power hitter, former Vice President Biden, who expended political capital campaigning for Mikie Sherrill in a congressional district held for decades by Republicans.

The 11th Congressional District is one the Democrats think they can flip. Their candidate, Mikie Sherrill, has gotten a lot of attention this year. Her opponent is Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber, running to replace incumbent Republican Rodney Frelinghuysen who’s retiring. Wednesday, Sherrill has former Vice President Joe Biden in at a rally at Montclair State University. Biden spoke at length about American values and lambasted Republicans for wanting to cut Medicare, he said, by $650 billion.

“These guys keep the Congress and he stays in office. Do you realize that 70 percent of all the people in a nursing home are women, and the only reason most of those women are there, they lived middle class lives, they were not poor, they had to sell everything they had when their family died, when their husband died, to be able to stay there and the only thing that keeps them there is Medicare. What happens when you cut that? What happens to all those people? What happens to their lives? What happens when insurance runs out? And you sit there and watch, like I and others, to have your son die of cancer, only not being in a position to keep him there. What are we doing? Why? What is the justification? It not only doesn’t make America healthier, it doesn’t make it wealthier either. But it’s lets one tenth of one percent become wealthier. What has become of us? And my Republican colleagues, they know better, but they’re silent — they’re afraid. I said I got there when I was 29 years old as a senator. I was there with Watergate. You know who brought down Nixon? Barry Goldwater went to the White House and said enough; Bill Cohen, a Republican from Maine; Howard Baker, one of my close friends. Republicans, they stood up and they said enough is enough, is enough, is enough. This is not who we are as a country,” Biden said.

Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, talked about the stakes in this year’s election.

“We have a duty, as citizens of our democracy, to fight for what we know is true. To fight for what we know our country stands for because as the vice president reminded us this weekend, while John McCain was a great hero, this country actually wasn’t build by heroes. This country was build by ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” she said.

Gov. Phil Murphy was at the rally and revved up the crowd.

“Now, more than ever, with a president who holds our values in contempt and a Congress too scared to push back, we need leaders with steel in their spines to lead us forward,” Murphy said. “We need leaders who put us before party, and values before politics. We need leaders who will roll up their sleeves and get to work, who won’t take that ‘It isn’t my job’ or ‘It’s fine the way it is’ answer. We need leaders who talk with us one-on-one and don’t tweet at us.”

Webber has current Vice President Mike Pence in for a fundraiser a few weeks ago. That visit was closed to the press. The Webber campaign put out a statement Wednesday saying that Sherrill is beholden to Democrat bosses, like Biden, and called her the candidate of elites. From here, Sherrill and Biden went to their own fundraiser at a private residence in Montclair.