“I think that a lot of folks in the audience, my guess is, when the president was elected and the political people he gathered around him came into play, you kind of thought it was, well, maybe amusing or a little bit embarrassing sometimes,” Biden guessed about Colbert’s Late Show crowd.
“But it did not go to the heart of who we were,” he said. “But, I lay you 8-to-5 – how many of you are now worried about the stability of the republic? How many are now worried about this new phony nationalism and its ‘us against them’? How many are worried about this populism designed to essentially undermine the essence of the Bill of Rights?
“I think people are worried,” Biden continued. “And, by the way, it goes beyond President Trump, in my view.”
Colbert had opened the interview reminding Biden that last time he visited the show, after the election, he’d said we needed to give Trump an “even shot” at doing the job. “Have we given him enough of a shot at this point?” asked Trump’s sharpest late-night critic.
All bets were off after Charlottesville, Biden agreed.
“Charlottesville, for me, was a moment where I thought silence would be complicity,” he explained.
“The idea that you would see, in America….Nazis carrying flags, spouting the same bile about Jews that was spouted in Germany in the 30’s, and then these guys crawling out from under rocks, carrying torches, and to not have an outright flat condemnation of that – The silence was deafening,” Biden said of Trump’s reax.
“And then when the comparison was made to those who were protesting, I found it reprehensible,” Biden said, blasting Trump’s good-people-on-both-sides statement about the neo-Nazi rally in the town, in which a protester was mowed down by a white supremacist.
“It goes to the soul of the country.”
Biden’s December visit to Late Show had been his first talk-show appearance since the election. Back then, he told Colbert he did not regret his decision to stand down in the 2016 race, though he believed he was best prepared to lead the country at this time.
“What I regret was the circumstance that led me not to be able to run,” Biden had said.
Monday night, Biden returned to Late Show as he kicked off what he’s calling his American Promise Tour, promoting his new book, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose. It chronicles the year following his son Beau’s brain cancer diagnosis.
The 19-city book tour kick-off day had been more than a little aspiring-presidential-candidate-ish around the edges, starting with appearances across all four hours of NBC’s Today, where he got asked repeatedly if he’s running in 2020. After his Late Show taping, Biden was set to speak in New York at Lincoln Center, joined onstage by Colbert.