Anna Staver, The Denver Post via Tribune Content Agency
Vice President Joe Biden laid at least part of the blame for the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas at the feet of President Donald Trump during a private fundraiser Saturday in Denver.
“I’m not saying Trump pulled the trigger,” Biden told the crowd of about 200 Democrats gathered at the Phipps Mansion. “What I’m saying is he set the atmosphere.”
Biden, who is the front runner for the Democratic nomination, explained that he thinks the way Trump describes people who enter the United States illegally gives voice to what he called “hidden hate” by preying on people’s legitimate fears about a disappearing middle class and the loss of certain jobs to automation and the rise of Internet giants like Amazon.
“The best thing this president decided to do was to prey on that and say, ‘The reason you lost your job is because of the Other. The reason you lost your job is because of the invasion that’s coming up from the central American countries through Mexico,'” Biden said “It’s not a far cry from that to the young man in El Paso, Texas, who used an assault weapon in a parking lot gunning down innocent people saying ‘I did this because I want to stop the Hispanic invasion.’”
The mansion, which was once owned by the University of Denver, is now the private residence of Tim Gill and his husband, Scott Miller. The couple are supporting Biden in the Democratic primary, and Gill told the crowd that part of the reason why was a 2012 interview Biden gave to “Meet the Press” where he came out for marriage equality.
“Many people were shocked because America was evolving. And for us that was a start, but perhaps that was the beginning of the end of the struggle for acceptance and recognition … ,” Gill said. “That exchange changed the conversation in the country, and it made us love this family.”
Biden thanked Gill for his support, but said, “I get more credit for marriage equality than I deserve.”
He recalled a moment with his father when he was a senior in high school and the two saw a gay couple kissing on a street corner.
“I turned and looked at my Dad, and he turned and looked at me and said, ‘Joey, it’s simple. They love each other. It’s simple.’ And it is simple, but this president is doing everything to push progress back,” Biden said.
Biden never mentioned the other Democrats he’s running against for the Democratic nomination, including Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, but the former vice president did take a swipe at some of the more left wing policies being put forth by candidates like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
He told the crowd that he’d like to eliminate certain tax credits for high income earners and use them to make community college free. He said it would cost about $6 billion. In contrast, Sanders has proposed making all public universities free and erasing about $1.6 trillion in student loan debt.
“There’s so much we can to make this all work,” Biden said.