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Pool Report

Joe Biden for President

Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed some 90 people on a lush lawn near Sun Valley, Idaho, during a fundraiser on Monday night, singling out hate and white supremacy as the chief issues facing America — while bashing Donald Trump’s "divisive" presidency — following two days of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

The event was hosted at the home of Alan Blinken, a Clinton-era ambassador to Belgium and prominent local Democrat. Buoyed by tourism and second homes, Blaine County—particularly its northern towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley — is a rarity in Idaho, a blue droplet in a reliably Republican state. It’s also one of the richest areas in the region, well-evidenced by the ambassador’s grand home, set in an aspen glade along the Big Wood River. Biden’s the second democratic hopeful to stop by Sun Valley on his campaign trail; Washington Governor Jay Inslee held a fundraiser of his own here on July 21.   

At $2,800 a ticket, the fundraiser drew a pair of low-key protesters up the road. But inside the tented dining room, the mood was upbeat.  

"I’d like to welcome everybody here so we can elect the next president of the United States,” Blinken said, before introducing Dr. Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife.

In the wake of the weekend shootings, both Bidens recalled the events that occurred almost two years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a rally of white supremacist and other far-right groups turned violent, killing one counter-protester and wounding 19 more.  

“We didn’t really intend on going on this journey,” Jill Biden said of the 2020 run. “But when it came down to it, too many people were saying, ‘Joe has to run.’ ‘Joe has to run.’ They kept coming up to me on the street, in the airport. And then Charlottesville happened, and the drumbeat got louder, and louder.  

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“It was our grandchildren, who said, to a child, ‘Pop has to run.’ Our kids know what’s going on. They know we need someone in the White House who has integrity, who has strength of character. We cannot have four more years of Donald Trump. And Joe is the one man who can bring people together.”  

Joe Biden grabbed a wireless mic and milled around the lawn’s ten round tables during his 20-minute address, seizing on his wife’s message.   

“What really changed our mind to actually run was Charlottesville,” he said. “I come out of it as a kid of the civil rights movement. I never thought we’d see in my life I’d ever see what we saw in Charlottesville in 2017. People coming out of fields, carrying torches with contorted faces. Singing and chanting the same exact anti-Semitic bile that was chanted all throughout Nuremberg, Berlin, all throughout Germany in the 1930s, accompanied by white supremacists, members of the Klu Klux Klan. And when the president was asked to comment, he said something that no president in history has every said. He said, ‘There were very fine people in both groups.’ And, it hasn’t stopped since then. He has been divisive, and characterless as he was then.”  

Shootings in El Paso and Dayton echo the Charlottesville tragedy, Biden said.   

“The American people may have run out of tears but thank god they haven’t run out of commitment to do something about this. Enough from Washington about these people were madmen. This is about anger, white nationalism, unadulterated hate. It has to be rooted out — just ripped out. And the fact of the matter is, it’s not happening. It’s not happening at all.”  

It won’t, he said, under another term of Donald Trump.  

“Eight years of this man will fundamentally change the nature of who we are as a nation,” he said. “We’re acting like this is somehow just a momentary aberration. He’s changing the nature of we are ... This is serious, serious, serious business. Everyone knows who Donald Trump is. Even his supporters know who he is. They have no illusions about him. We gotta let him know who the hell we are.”  

“This is the United states of America—there's not a damn thing we can’t do,” he added. “We have to remember who we are. This is a country, and idea. And the only thing that can bring it down is America itself. As I’ve said, we have always led by the power of our example, not the example of our power. This guy [Donald Trump] just doesn’t get it.”