NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Former Vice President Joe Biden said five weeks before the 2016 presidential election he knew Donald Trump would win and he even quarreled with then-President-Barack Obama over his prediction. He also said he knew that Trump never expected to win the presidency and wasn’t prepared to take office.
The remarks were made Tuesday evening before a packed auditorium at Vanderbilt University.
Biden blamed a lack of focus on the issues important to people who were struggling and worried about their jobs.
“Barack and I used to argue about it,” Biden said of his belief that Trump would win. “And the reason was there was not any enthusiasm out there. We just didn’t focus on what people were concerned about.”
He largely ignored Trump during his talk, with the exception of calling out the president for not forcefully condemning white supremacists who descended on Charlottesville last year who clashed with counter-protesters.
Much of the criticism was for members of Congress.
Biden said the system as it is now is broken compared than when he first became a member of the U.S. Senate, even though the country was much more ideologically divided on issues like the Vietnam War. But something had changed where politicians on both sides of the aisle can’t even socialize anymore and resort to seeing the other side as the enemy.
“We’d have these terrible debates and we’d end up going down and having lunch together,” Biden said of his early days in Congress. “The political system was not broken. The political system functioned. People played by the basic rules.”
He blamed gerrymandering and unlimited campaign contributions for causing both parties to take extreme positions. He also said that he believed that many in Congress are sick of it and just want to leave.
When asked by Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos whether he planned to run for president, Biden said he didn’t know. However, he said he remained committed to helping Democrats get elected to Congress. Earlier in the day, Biden attended a fundraiser for former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate.