Pledging to strengthen access to quality, high-speed Internet and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, Former Vice President Joe Biden says more needs to be done to address the issues facing rural Americans. KUNR’s Paul Boger reports.
It was standing-room only at the Western Folklife Center in Elko over the weekend as hundreds crowded into the museum to hear from Biden ahead of Nevada's Democratic Caucus in February.
Speaking for about 90 minutes, Biden touted his experience working with both Congress and world leaders, highlighting his ability to negotiate across party lines to get things done.
It’s something he says is lacking in current politics, much to the detriment of the middle class.
“Twenty percent of Americans live in rural America, but you have an outsized impact on the success of the nation, so when young adults and families are forced to leave, that’s a warning sign that the central promise that you can make it no matter where you are if you work hard, that promise gets broken. I’m committed to restoring that promise to the middle class in rural America, now. Not later--now.”
One way to do that, Biden suggests, is by increasing access to quality, high-speed Internet that would help make rural areas more economically competitive, as well as help solve problems associated with the lack of access to healthcare.
He says evening the playing field between rural and urban areas would help rebuild the middle class.
“I don’t have to tell anybody in this room, the middle class is actually shrinking--not growing--shrinking. Over 56 percent of the middle class says that their children will never have the same opportunities that they had. That’s what they believe. Look, the fact is that it’s about time we started [to] reward work and not wealth.”
Biden is not the first Democratic candidate to visit Elko. Earlier this year, former Obama-era Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro made a swing through the heart of Northeastern Nevada.