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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — At a speech at Miami-Dade College Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden referred to himself as “the White House optimist.”
Whether he’s optimistic about a possible White House run remains a secret – as closely guarded as a Miami home which Biden attended for a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser Wednesday night.
During the event at MDC, the Vice President spoke about the importance of STEM programs across the country, and the value of federal support for community colleges.
“My wife has two sayings…the best kept secret in America is community colleges and the second one is any country that will out educate us will compete against us… We have got to let the secret out and we have got to get into the business of letting people change their lives,” said Biden.
Biden said a strong vibrant middle class, a growing middle has provided stability for the country but that is not necessarily the case at this moment.
“The middle class in American is no longer the wealthiest middle class in the world,” said Biden. “We can’t let that stand.”
Biden said there needs to be a restoration of the U.S. dream where where if you work and contribute to society, you can reap the benefits.
“We can’t have this disparity,” said Biden. “The greatest threat to growth and stability is income inequality.”
But he says there is hope.
“To take full advantage of this opportunity and this moment in history, we have to do two things. One is that we have to have the most modern infrastructure in the world and we don’t,” said Biden.
He also said education is key to becoming a stronger nation economically.
“We need the best educated public in the world so that as the new technologies are brought back home and stay here, we can have those jobs,” said Biden.“In the economy of the future 12 years of education is not enough…for a passway to the middle class,” said Biden.
He said more education is needed to fill positions in IT, nursing and manufacturing in the next decade and focused on the relationship between colleges and businesses.
“The bottom line is connecting companies in need of workers with workers in need of work who want to get the skills to get a job in that company,” said Biden.
If the college qualifies and the student maintains a 2.5 minimum GPA, they will be able to get the free education, under the proposal.
As for how to pay for it, Biden said there are billions of dollars in tax expenditures that can be used to pay for the education program.
For everything he talked about, he left the question of whether he’d run for the presidency unanswered.
The latest Quinnipiac Poll of Democrats and democratic leaning voters shows the Vice President trailing Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, should he choose to seek the nomination. Eighteen percent of those polled say they’d support Biden.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump continues to lead the pack in many polls, while throwing jabs at his opponents.
On Tuesday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush got in one of his own.
“The man is not conservative,” Bush said in Spanish.
His campaign followed that up with a quiz posted on social media, asking “Which candidate are you?” Bush aides say the questions underscore the contrasts between Trump and Bush.
Trump fired back in an interview saying Bush was a quote “nice man” but he should speak English in the United States.
“He should do something. He’s gotta fight back because he’s way down in the polls,” Trump said.
In fact, an ABC News-Washington Post poll shows both men struggling in the popularity department, with 59 percent of voters saying they view Trump unfavorably, compared to 55 percent who view Bush unfavorably.
The same poll reveals 46 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of Vice President Biden.
Biden is set to speak at an event at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center in Davie Thursday morning.
On Thursday, the vice president is scheduled to meet with Jewish community leaders in Miami and discuss the nuclear deal reached with Iran.
In response to the news of his visit, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) issued a statement last week saying in part, “I’m looking forward to the Vice President’s trip to South Florida next week. There are a number of questions and concerns that I have, along with my constituents and community leaders, about the agreement negotiated with the P5+1 nations and Iran, and given his extensive experience in the foreign policy arena and his intimate knowledge of the negotiations, I believe Vice President Biden can be an effective representative to respond to those questions.”
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