PHILADELPHIA — Joe Biden's presidential rollout wasn't anything like a Donald Trump event. Or even a Bernie Sanders rally.
There weren't the thousands of passionate supporters. The crowd looked closer to the hundreds than the 6,000 that the campaign estimated.
There also wasn't the anger aimed at the rich, or corporations, or whole groups of people. And that was Biden’s point. The anger was kept on a tight beam aimed at one person -- Trump, who Biden said likes to brag about an economy that was handed to him by the previous White House. "Just look at the facts -- not the alternative facts. President Trump inherited an economy," Biden said. "And just like everything else he's been given in his life, he's in the process of squandering that as well." But Biden insisted the anger, insults and division that he said are too prevalent now was not the way forward, casting himself the the best candidate in the field to heal the country. "Our politicians, our politics today traffics in division, and our president is the divider in chief," he said.
And Democrats have to stop it, he said. "I know some of the really smart folks say Democrats don’t want to hear about unity. They say Democrats are so angry that the angrier a candidate can be – the better chance he or she has to win the Democratic nomination," Biden said. "Well, I don't believe it. I really don't." "If the American people want a president to add to our division, lead with a clenched fist, a closed hand, a hard heart, to demonize your opponent, to spew hatred -- they don’t need me. They've got President Donald Trump," Biden said. While the audience might not have been as impassioned as some in current politics, and even if they were not yet sold on Biden, they were inclined to his message. "I don't dislike Biden. I don't love Biden," said Brian Schwartz, who came because he happened to be in town from Maryland. "I feel like it's a good platform to run on, to try and bring not just the party back together, but be everybody's president, not just your base's president," Schwartz said. "It's definitely something I'd like to see more of, a commander in chief of the whole country country, not just half of it." "A return to decency would be fantastic," said John Enckler, of Philadelphia, who remains undecided. "You have a massive partisan divide in the country that you need to heal somehow. How do you do it? I think Joe Biden is a fantastic candidate to do that." Amanda and Andrew MacDonald, of Collingswood, N.J., said they were looking for change, but a change back to stability. Biden could be the person who does that for them, they said, but we're not sure. "It's an interesting dynamic because stability and change don't usually go together but here, that applies," said Andrew. Which doesn't mean they don't think a little righteous rage isn't warranted. "I don't think there's anything wrong with being a little bit angry because what's happened, especially in the last 18 months to two years, I think is just bigger and far worse than any of us ever thought," said Amanda.