The clips of the conversation — which the White House framed as a modern-day version of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats — were brief, tightly-edited and organized around Biden’s longstanding campaign theme that many Americans derive their dignity and self-worth from their jobs.
On the campaign trail last year and as Barack Obama’s running mate, Biden sought an emotional connection with voters by telling the story countless times of what he learned from his own father’s struggle to find steady work. He has often reflected on the isolation and self-doubt that can come from losing a job. As often, he has highlighted the lesson his father taught him — that success can also be measured by one’s resilience, getting back up after being knocked down.
The video was also intended as a reminder that there are real people still suffering economically across the country who are far removed from partisan bickering in Washington over the deficit and the details of what will drive the economic recovery.
“I’ve been saying a long time — the idea that we think we can keep businesses open and moving and thriving without dealing with this pandemic is just a nonstarter,” Biden told Michele. “We’re putting together a plan that provides for emergency relief to people who are in desperate need now.”
“I’ll bet there’s not a family you know that doesn’t have somebody in their family that had a drug problem or an alcohol problem,” Biden told O’Donnell in the clip. “The honesty with which he stepped forward and talked about the problem…. It gave me hope reading it. I mean, it was like — my boy’s back. You know what I mean?” Biden said, becoming emotional as he discussed his son’s project. “Anyway, I’m sorry to get so personal.”
Biden’s economic pitch to coincide with impeachment
“I know some in Congress think we’ve already done enough to deal with the crisis in the country. Others think that things are getting better and we can afford to sit back and either do a little or do nothing at all. That’s not what I see,” he said Friday, arguing that “a lot of folks (are) reaching the breaking point.”
Noting that he has met with Republicans and hoped to be moving ahead with their support, he added, “They’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.”
“If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation,” he said, “that’s an easy choice. I’m going to help the American people who are hurting now.”
As the legislative work — which could stretch over the next month or longer — gets under way, the bipartisan group of House lawmakers known as the Problem Solvers Caucus is advocating for quicker passage of a $160 billion package focused exclusively on vaccine distribution as a more efficient way to get money where it’s needed most.
Rep. Tom Reed, a New York Republican who co-chairs the group, said in a statement Friday that “we simply do not have time to spare when the lives of the American people are at stake as new variants of the virus are emerging daily.”
“For the sake of protecting the lives of our fellow Americans, we must unite and act now in support of vaccines,” Reed said. “By quickly increasing federal funding for testing, vaccine distribution, and other key initiatives, we can get more shots in arms, safely reopen our economy, and finally defeat this virus.”
But Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, rejected the idea Saturday, arguing that would “slow the train down of getting something done.”
“We’re not going to hide behind some limited bill,” Casey told CNN’s Ana Cabrera on “Newsroom” Saturday. “We’ve got to get the whole bill out the door. … We’ve got to get this bill done no later than the early part of mid-March.”