Biden Lashes Back at Trump

Biden tries to put Trump on the defensive — but the president is sticking to his message. It’s Tuesday, and this is your politics tip sheet. Sign up here to get On Politics in your inbox every weekday.

Joe Biden carried pizzas during a visit yesterday to a firefighters’ union in Pittsburgh.

At last week’s Republican National Convention, President Trump and his allies tried to paint a picture of Joe Biden as weak on crime and captive to the left wing of the Democratic Party. They were not constrained by facts as they tried to implant that caricature in the minds of voters.

Yesterday, Biden confronted that portrayal head-on.

“You know me,” he said during his speech in Pittsburgh. “You know my heart. You know my story, my family’s story. Ask yourself: Do I look like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters? Really?”

In saying those words, Biden highlighted the precise challenge facing Trump and his fellow Republicans as they try to define the Democratic nominee.

Trump is not without some ammunition — Biden does, for instance, want to increase taxes by trillions of dollars (though not on the middle class), and he has promised a 100-day moratorium on deportations. And there are a number of prominent Democrats with unabashedly progressive views to whom Trump can try to tie Biden.

But Biden is not an up-and-coming figure who is little known across the country. He served 36 years in the Senate and two terms as vice president, with well-known roots as a son of Scranton, Pa., and a firm place in the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

His political positioning was only reinforced by the Democratic primary race, in which Biden took endless grief from progressives eager for sweeping, transformative change. Instead, Biden contended that people wanted “results, not a revolution.”

If Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had won the Democratic nomination, Trump’s playbook against him — a self-described democratic socialist — would have been obvious.

But Sanders lost. Trump is now trying to rebrand Biden as the kind of far-left Democrat he presumably would have preferred to run against. And with his speech yesterday, Biden offered a reminder of why Trump’s task is a difficult one.

New York Times Events

Does your ZIP code determine your destiny? From the quality of schools to the levels of pollution to the cost of housing, where we live shapes our prospects for the future. Meanwhile, economic segregation is eroding the capacity of cities to play their traditional role — as an engine of opportunity. What can be done? How can cities fulfill their promise? And what role can you as an individual play?

Join us today at 5 p.m. Eastern as the Times Opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo sits down with Julián Castro, the former housing secretary and recent 2020 Democratic presidential candidate; Raj Chetty, a professor of economics at Harvard; and Sonja Trauss, a Bay Area housing activist, to discuss their thoughts on fostering opportunity, fairness and invention.

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