Voters from Knoxville and the surrounding areas filled the Knoxville High School commons on Saturday afternoon to hear former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden speak.
Biden was introduced by former Iowa Governor and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his wife, Christie. Vilsack served as Secretary of Agriculture under the Obama administration while Biden was Vice President.
“I’m confident today as I stand here that Joe Biden has what it takes not just to be a good president, but a great president,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack went on to say that Biden has a progressive and realistic vision for moving the country forward, and has the experience and relationships to get it done.
Following Vilsack’s introduction, Biden discussed his reason for running with the audience. He says one of his primary reasons is to restore the character of the country.
“I think we’ve pretty well gone astray,” Biden stated. “So many things have happened that have hurt out reputation and our security around the world. … I think the next president of the United States has to be able to pull the nation together, to unite the nation.”
Biden also emphasized the importance of the middle class and reestablishing the “fundamental values of decency” in the United States. He believes the middle class is “getting clobbered right now” and that middle class values have been lost.
“I know who built this country. Wall Street didn’t build America. The middle class built America,” Biden said. “Farmers, union workers, they’re the ones that built America. … We’ve got to start paying attention to where we’ve come from.”
Biden also took questions from constituents in the audience, with topics including his plan for rural hospitals and healthcare, gun violence and what he looks for in a Vice President.
Biden’s wife, Jill, joined him on his visit to Knoxville.
Overall, members of the audience found Biden’s town hall to be informative.
“I’m glad I get the opportunity to come see everybody and then make up my mind,“ said Pam Prichard, of Knoxville. Prichard has yet to choose which candidate she is going to support. Going forward, Prichard says she is looking at a candidate’s character when choosing who to support.
“Character counts for me,” Prichard said.
Ron Sterling, of Pella, is planning on caucusing in February, but has yet to make a decision on which candidate he supports. Although Sterling has not decided on which candidate to support, he says it was a good experience listening to Biden.
Randy Morse, of Knoxville, on the other hand, has chosen which candidate he is going to support. Morse plans to caucus for Amy Klobuchar, saying he wants to support a candidate from the middle of the country and would like to see a woman president. However, after hearing Biden speak, Morse looks more favorably upon the candidate than before.
“I liked him, more after I saw him than I did before I came,” Morse said. “He definitely made an impression on me.”
Morse says that when election time comes around, he plans to support whichever democratic candidate is on the ballot.