The Cable

Biden Slams Trump on National Security: ‘His Shame Has No Limits’

The vice president singles out Trump’s friendliness toward Russia and his claim that Obama “founded” ISIS as evidence the GOP nominee is “already making our country less safe.”

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, August 15, 2016, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER        (Photo credit should read )
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, August 15, 2016, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. / AFP / DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read )

Vice President Joe Biden used his first rally with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to slam Republican rival Donald Trump’s controversial national security pronouncements.

“No major party nominee in the history of the United States has known less or been less prepared to deal with our national security than Donald Trump,” Biden said during the speech in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. “And what absolutely amazes me is that he doesn’t seem to want to learn it.”

Referring to the GOP nominee’s comments encouraging Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, he said, “This guy’s shame has no limits.”

“Even if he were joking — which he isn’t,” Biden continued, responding to Trump’s pattern of making controversial statements then later responding they were sarcastic or taken out of context, “what an outrageous thing to say.”

Biden’s takedown Monday came hours after a New York Times story giving the strongest evidence to date of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s ties to pro-Russian business and political interests in Ukraine. The story gave ready ammunition to Biden and other Clinton supporters just ahead of what Trump aides billed as a major foreign policy speech later Monday in Youngstown, Ohio.

Speaking ahead of Biden, Clinton focused her Scranton remarks on the economy, tailoring her message to blue-collar voters the Democrats worry will back Trump and his anti-free trade message. She also took a few swipes at Trump before handing off the podium to the vice president, whom she served with as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state.

“So we’ll wait and see what he says today but you know sometimes he says he won’t tell anyone what he’ll do because he wants to keep his plan secret,” she quipped. “And then it turns out the secret is he has no plan.”

This won’t be the last time the Clinton campaign trots out the vice president to speak to blue-collar voters, especially crucial in swing states like Pennsylvania. The Democratic nominee has strong leads in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and other states whose economies were once dependent heavily on manufacturing. Some polls show her running even, or slightly ahead, in traditionally red states like Georgia and North Carolina.

Clinton is benefiting from a series of self-inflicted wounds by her GOP rival. The Times’ story on Manafort has already inspired new scrutiny for Trump’s stated friendliness toward Russia. Beyond the hacking remarks, the mogul has claimed Russia did not invade Ukraine and suggested Syria — where the U.S. has clashed with Russia in an attempt to find a political resolution for the conflict — should simply be left as a “free zone” for the Islamic State.

Biden noted he was headed immediately from the Scranton rally to a four-day swing to Turkey, Latvia and other Baltic states, in part to reassure them of America’s commitment in the wake of Trump’s suggestions he’d consider pulling the U.S. out of NATO and unravelling a broader system of international security alliances.

“Every president since Harry Truman has looked toward a Europe whole, free and at peace,” he said. “And one of the most consequential people trying to undo that,” he said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “is a man Donald Trump has said he admires.”

Taking on Trump’s admiring comments of former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein, he quipped, “This guy would’ve loved Stalin.”  

At one point in the speech, Biden, with his own characteristic unpredictability, pointed off-camera to presumably a secret service agent who he said was protecting the nuclear codes that travel with the vice president.

Trump suggests other countries develop nuclear weapons “as if if nuclear war is some trivial affair,” he said.

Biden said Trump could not be trusted to determine the fate of U.S. troops such as his recently deceased son Beau.

“Had Donald Trump been president,” he said. “I would’ve thrown my body in front of him to keep him from going if the judgement was based on Trump’s decision.”

Biden finished by pointing to recent comments from the leader of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, praising Trump’s claims that Obama — and Clinton — ”founded” ISIS.

“This American candidate, who speaks in the name of the American Republican Party, has facts,” to back up claims the president created the group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Saturday, according to a transcript published by Al Manar TV.

Biden accused Trump of playing into the hands of Islamist militants in his calls for banning Muslim immigrants, promoting the idea of a clash between Islam and the West.

“Trump is giving them exactly what they want,” said Biden.

There’s only one choice in 2016, he argued.

“Hillary has forgotten more about American foreign policy,” he said, “than Trump and his entire team will ever understand.”

Photo credit: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

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