DOVER, NH – Former Vice President Joe Biden faced a protest Friday during a campaign event by a small group of demonstrators angry over the stepped-up deportation of undocumented immigrants during President Barack Obama’s administration.
The disturbance came at the end of a campaign event in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire, where Biden -- the current front-runner in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination -- chided some of his 2020 rivals for forming “a circular firing squad” and lamented that he’s “getting skewered by the new Democratic Party.”
As the former vice president was shaking hands and taking selfies with supporters after delivering a 30-minute speech, he was briefly confronted by protesters holding signs reading “Biden we haven’t forgotten 3 million deportations.” They also chanted “apologize now.”
Biden briefly attempted to talk with one of the demonstrators.
A spokesperson for the protesters said they belonged to the New Hampshire Youth Movement and added that they were allied with Movimiento Cosecha, which describes itself as a “nonviolent movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all immigrants.”
The spokesperson, who said her name was Quincy, explained that “we’re here because we do not find many of Joe Biden’s actions acceptable, in terms of his record on immigration under the Obama administration.”
She added that “we need a person who’s going to champion issues like Medicare for all, free college for all, and the Green New Deal, that are going to save my generation’s life and we don’t believe Joe Biden is the person to do that.”
While the Obama administration – with Biden as vice president – is praised by many Democrats for implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2014, it’s criticized by many immigration advocates for the increase in deportations.
Later, Biden told reporters "I think the policy of the boarding felons makes sense."
He explained that the Obama administration was under orders that required the deportations but that the president made sure "to only deport people who were, in fact, committing a felony."
Biden remains the front-runner in the Democratic nomination race, but he’s seen his big lead in the national and early primary and caucus voting state polls slip in the wake of last month’s first round of primary debates when he was cold-cocked by Sen. Kamala Harris.
The California Democrat’s breakthrough debate moment came as she criticized recent comments by Biden spotlighting his ability to find common ground during the 1970s with segregationist senators with whom he disagreed, and over his opposition decades ago to federally mandated school busing.
Biden told the crowd in Dover that “the good news about being a front runner is that you’re a front runner. The bad news about being a front runner is everyone’s behind you, they’re looking. You know what I mean.”
And he warned his rivals that the last thing the Democratic White House hopefuls need to do is “fall in a circular firing squad here.”
“I’m getting skewered by the new Democrat party and I respect them, by the way,” he emphasized.
And he said he was getting attacked by some of his rivals for preaching about his ability to work with Republicans across the aisle to get things accomplished.
“Somehow the idea we are able to cooperate with the other side is considered naïve,” he lamented.
Biden also repeatedly took aim at Republican President Donald Trump, saying he’s “embracing these oligarchs, embracing these thugs, poking his finger in the eye of NATO, the single most consequential alliance we’ve ever had. Folks, it is incredibly dangerous.”
And he emphasized that “we’ve got to stop this guy. We’ve got to keep him from having a second term.”
The former vice president told the audience “I hope you’ll vote for me,” but also highlighted that if he doesn’t win the nomination, “whoever our nominee is, I’m going to break my neck to make sure they get elected.”
Biden arrived in the Granite State a few days after he released his tax returns, which showed he made $15 million in the two years after leaving office.
Asked by Fox News' Peter Doocy if he can still call himself "Middle-Class Joe," Biden touted he was raised with "middle-class values."
"The fact of the matter is that the money that I made I made because I got hired as a full professor at the University of Pennsylvania. And I wrote a book that was number one on the best sellers for a long long time," he noted.
The stop in Dover kicked off a two-day swing by the Biden as he makes his third trip to New Hampshire since launching his campaign in late April.
Hours earlier, rival Pete Buttigieg held a large rally a few blocks away. City officials estimated that more than 800 people attended the South Bend, Indiana mayor's event.
That crowd was significantly larger than the one gathered for Biden.
But New Hampshire attorney and former ambassador Terry Shumaker, a top Granite State supporter and surrogate for Biden, dismissed talk of a lack of enthusiasm for the former vice president.
"People are coming up to me on the street and self-identifying themselves as Biden supporter," he noted.
Shumaker explained the most people are "interested in some of the newer names and what the excitement is and they want to go see them. But literally everybody I know is still shopping. Nobody’s buying yet."