Former Vice President Joe Biden Saturday night told the audience at the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner that he wished he trashed President Trump sooner.
“Barack and I agreed we would be quiet for the first year to let the new administration get up and running,” Biden said. “God forgive me,” he said, making the sign of the cross over his chest.
He also said he wished he had shown support for gay marriage earlier in his political career.
“It was very late. It was very late,” Biden said.
Biden, 75, said that when he sat down with “the team” for then Sen. Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign to discuss joining the ticket he agreed. “I would not affirmatively make the case [for gay marriage], but if I was asked, I would not remain silent,” he said.
In May 2012, Biden appeared on “Meet the Press” and signaled support for marriage equality, prompting Obama to do the same.
Biden recalled that not everyone on the campaign – Obama was running against Republican Mitt Romney – was happy about his show of support. He told a campaign operative, “I’ll make you a bet,” arguing that the “American people were already ahead of us.”
They were, he recalled, with polls saying 57 percent of the country supported same-sex marriage.
He made a similar point over and over again as he addressed the crowd of around 3,000 at the Washington Convention Center.
Speaking of laws that allow gay people and trans people to be fired he said, “And here’s what I want to remind you all, the American people are better than this. They will not support it.”
He did, however, warn of the dangers a Trump administration posed.
Biden said it was Trump’s Charlottesville response last August that made him stop holding his tongue.
“You can boo if you want, but no clapping,” he instructed the crowd, as he talked about the “goons” that showed up in the Virginia town, spitting the same “anti-Semitic vile” that was expressed in Nazi Germany.
When the audience did start booing he told them to stop.
“Look, get serious guys, so hush up,” he said. “This is deadly earnest, we are in a fight for America’s soul.
“What has become of us? Our children are listening and our silence is complicit,” he said.
Both Biden and his wife Jill, who introduced the former veep, characterized Trump as a bully.
“The president uses the White House as a literal bully pulpit,” Biden said at one point.
Biden appeared at the dinner as speculation heats up that he’ll run for president in 2020. He has another big event in D.C. next week for his Biden Cancer Initiative, and is also expected to campaign for Democrats through the fall.
Not to be outdone, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), another likely 2020 Democratic hopeful, showed up early to the dinner and was the first person to walk the event’s white carpet. Booker grabbed a mic and gave a brief pep talk. A short while later, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), another rising Democratic star, walked the carpet, beaming as a super fan yelled “I love you!” at the California senator.
Celebrities attending were eager to hear Biden’s remarks.
“I’m a huge Joe Biden fan,” said Awkwafina of “Crazy Rich Asians fame.” “I’m kind of nervous,” the rapper and actress admitted about the possibility of meeting the ex-vice president.
Figure skater Adam Rippon also said he was excited to see Biden as they both came from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Andrew Gillum, the progressive candidate who won the Democrats’ gubernatorial nomination in Florida, said he looked forward to Biden’s speech, but wasn’t ready to endorse a 2020 run.
“Well, I support him as a person that he is,” Gillum told The Post. “I think he has served our country well. I look forward to his next move.”