Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a room of about 200 people on Wednesday about rebuilding international relationships.
Biden spoke to students, community members and Iowa residents in the Memorial Union. Some Iowa State students attending the event said they came to learn more about Biden’s campaign.
“I am a Republican but I would consider supporting Joe Biden in the general election over Trump,” said Jacob Schrader, junior in political science and economics. “I don’t think that Trump has any morality and I think that Biden is moderate enough that he wouldn’t ruin the country.”
During the event, Biden said he wanted to unify the political parties within the United States.
“I know there are a lot of good people trying to seek the nomination to represent the Democratic Party and I mean that sincerely,” Biden said. “We have so many people who have such great talent but folks one of the things I was originally criticized was for early on was when the third thing I said I wanted to unify America.”
Joe Biden, along with his wife, is currently on an eight-day, 18-county “No Malarkey” bus tour around Iowa. Jill Biden, was not at the event due to a work commitment, though she will be hosting some solo and joint events with her husband in the Hawkeye state.
Biden's tour stop at the Memorial Union attracted supporters from candidates who had previously dropped out of the race.
“I actually was one of the campus organizers for the Kamala Harris campaign,” said Ryan Ford, senior in political science. “So now I’m kind of in this spot of ‘where to next?’”
Sen. Kamala Harris had qualified for the next presidential debate but dropped out of the presidential race Tuesday.
“Well [Biden] was the first one to come on campus since Kamala,” Ford said. “I mean I’ve seen [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, I’ve seen [Sen.] Bernie [Sanders] – I mean I’ve seen them all but taking another glance at them all is I think a good idea.”
Biden has already qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate scheduled for Dec. 19. He is expected to be joined by Warren, Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and businessman Tom Steyer.
At the event, Biden spoke about providing universal health care and building on policies he created alongside former President Barack Obama. Biden said his plan includes finding ways to rekindle foreign relationships as well as create a climate action plan.
“Global warming is the existential threat to humanity, something I talked about dating back into 1986 when I introduced the first global warming legislation,” Biden said. “The fact is that rural America is the key to making sure [global warming is] the first operation in America.”
Biden said he wants to use rural areas to help regulate the climate and bring the U.S. closer to zero emissions.
Ananda Boyd, freshman in world languages and cultures, said she wanted to learn more about politics and the Democratic candidates.
“I really appreciated how all of his concerns were towards benefitting the people,” Boyd said. “Joe Biden really sticks out to me for the fact that he’s a very genuine person. For example, although he is a former vice president he is like one of us [...] as in he doesn't act as if he’s above everyone but rather a friendly peer almost.”
While answering questions, Joan Bolin-Betts, an Ames resident and former deputy treasurer of Iowa, asked Biden how he plans on strengthening the international relationships. Bolin-Betts previously endorsed former presidential candidate and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and has since endorsed Sen. Michael Bennet.
“[Biden’s] international experience is the most important thing to me,” Bolin-Betts said. “Right now I consider us in much greater risk than we realize in terms of stability in Europe [...] He recognizes that damage has been done internationally by Trump, he also has reminded us that he knows the leaders of NATO, the leaders of Europe, and he would be able to work with them immediately – that they know him and he will be trusted.”
The former vice president struggles to garner the same levels of support among student-aged voters as his opponents, earning just 2 percent support among likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers ages 18-34, according to a poll conducted by Iowa State in November.
Biden said he plans on coming back to Iowa in January.
Reporting contributed by Trevor Babcock