Joe Biden brought his presidential bid to Greenwood 100 days before the South Carolina Democratic primary. Ahead of his scheduled town hall, Biden spoke candidly about how County Councilwoman Edith Childs has influenced him, his resolution to end gun violence, his plan to rebuild lower-income households and how he hopes to convince Republicans in Greenwood to vote for him.
Childs, a Democrat, is responsible for coining Barack Obama’s campaign slogan — “Fired up! Ready to Go!” — during the 2008 presidential primary. Obama returned the favor by inviting Childs to the White House for the holiday celebration in 2009. Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, admitted he was eager to talk to her, but she’s not the reason he campaigned in Greenwood.
“Greenwood kind of got left behind economically. You have everything from a housing crisis out here to affordable housing (and) healthcare — the things that I care about,” Biden said.
Biden posed solutions to Greenwood’s economic issues, including high-speed broadband, educational help within Title 1 schools, ensuring there’s an ample amount of preschools and teachers and the inclusion of Medicaid.
“Your state unfortunately did not, in fact, reach and take care of those who qualify for Medicaid, and so I’m here to let people know that if, in fact, I’m elected, whether they do or not, there’s going to be a Medicaid option in the Biden health care plan,” Biden said.
In his proposed Medicaid option, eligible recipients will be automatically enrolled if the state doesn’t offer it.
Greenwood, and South Carolina as a state, predominately elect Republicans, so the odds here aren’t in Biden’s favor. He joked that telling the truth would be how he defies the odds and convinces South Carolina voters to support him. He then mentioned unfulfilled promises by President Trump and how he’s made it hard for Greenwood residents to get a mortgage, find housing and receive health care.
“He (President Trump) said he went out and he was going to take care of the forgotten man. He got elected and forgot the forgotten man,” Biden said. “There has been very little he’s done that’s done anything to help working-class and middle-class people in this country.”
Biden’s campaign focuses on restoring the middle class, but what about low-income households? He elaborated on his plan to bring low-income households up — and he noted that it starts with increasing students’ prospects for education. He said he would triple the money for Title 1 schools and high-poverty school districts, and he would pay teachers a competitive salary to persuade them to stay in the profession.
“We’re 105,000 teachers short nationally now,” Biden said. “It’s going to exceed a half a million soon. That’s going put more pressure on communities that, in fact, have low-income bases, low tax bases.”
He also wants students ages 3-5 to start full-day school. He noted how researchers have attributed starting regular school early to increasing students’ prospects of succeeding. Biden doesn’t want to underestimate students’ learning capacity despite if they come from a low-income background.
Free community college is another solution he offered to rebuild low-income communities.
Gun violence has been an issue in Greenwood, particularly in low-income areas, so Biden divulged his plan to combat “certain vehicles of death”. He wants universal background checks so people who can’t legally own a gun, such as felons, don’t have one. He also wants to eliminate assault weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
“We protect ducks and geese more than we do people. You can only have three shells in a shotgun if you’re out there hunting for geese,” Biden said.
He’s also been working with experts in Silicon Valley, and they’ve constructed a gun that uses biometric markers, such as fingerprint scanners, face recognition and voice recognition. A couple of pistols were sold, but the NRA boycotted the outlet stores carrying them and they were taken off shelves. Biden also wants gun owners to be liable if their gun is stolen or taken and used for malicious purposes.
“Why shouldn’t you be required to have to safely store your guns? What does that have anything to do with the Second Amendment,” Biden asked.
Biden thinks he knows the concerns and said the public should be aware that he’s brought people together before to solve big problems. He brought up the Violence Against Women Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“I’ve been able to put Democrats and Republicans together,” Biden said. “There’s a lot of things I think that we can do together, and, when we can’t, we go and fight it out in their districts and argue.”
Biden is currently leading in the national and South Carolina polls in the Democratic primary, although polls this far out have mixed luck predicting nominees.
“People know if I say I’m going to do something, I do it, and I mean what I say. I hope the folks in this county will take a good look at me. If not, then vote for the other guy, but give me a look,” Biden said.