January 24, 2019 / 3:29 PM / 3 months ago

Former U.S. Vice President Biden calls for national unity

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is weighing a run for president in 2020, called for national unity amid political divisiveness in a speech on Thursday to local elected officials.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the United States Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Speaking steps away from the White House, Biden spoke about the importance of investment in infrastructure and addressing climate change, delivering veiled criticism of President Donald Trump, who is a Republican.

“Folks we’re walking around with our heads down,” Biden, 76, said in the speech at the U.S Conference of Mayors. “We are in trouble, but we were in so much more trouble in the past. The American people are capable of doing anything.”

He did not refer to Trump by name, but criticized the administration for withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

“The administration has walked away but there is no reason we can’t pull us back on the path,” Biden said.

He made no reference to whether he will seek the Democratic nomination for president. Those close to him say he is considering whether or not to run.

More than two dozen Democrats could ultimately opt to run for president in 2020, setting up a crowded field hoping to challenge Trump. Biden, who served two terms as vice president after decades in the U.S. Senate, would have the advantage of name recognition should he enter the race.

Should he enter the race, Biden would become the center of a debate among Democrats about whether their party will best be led in the November 2020 election by a political newcomer or a seasoned veteran.

He encouraged the mayors at the conference to push back against the administration on issues such as clean energy development.

“I’m telling you that help is on the way, this position cannot be sustained, but you are the key to keeping it from sliding back,” Biden said.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Susan Thomas

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