Biden ramps up contrasts with Trump during Labor Day speech in Philadelphia

President Joe Biden laced a Labor Day speech Monday with several pointed attacks at former President Donald Trump, casting him as the worst jobs president since the Great Depression and mocking his reputation as a real estate mogul.

“The guy who held this job before me was just one of two presidents in history … who left office with fewer jobs in America than when he got elected to office,” Biden said while addressing union workers before a parade in Philadelphia. “By the way, you know who the other one was? Herbert Hoover. Isn’t that kind of coincidental?”

Minutes later, the Democratic incumbent bragged about his bipartisan infrastructure deal, taking a victory lap for an achievement that eluded the Republican Trump during his term in office.

“Guess what? The great real estate builder, the last guy, he didn’t build a damn thing,” Biden said. “Under my predecessor, infrastructure week became a punchline. On my watch, infrastructure has been a decade and it’s a headline.”

Biden never mentioned Trump by name, though his target was obvious. Audience members booed at one point when he referred to “the last guy.” The president’s remarks offered a glimpse at a new strategy that one adviser has told NBC News will involve a more “direct contrast” with Trump post-Labor Day.

Image: President Joe Biden speaks during Labor Day celebrations in Philadelphia on Sept. 4, 2023. (Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images)

Image: President Joe Biden speaks during Labor Day celebrations in Philadelphia on Sept. 4, 2023. (Jim Watson / AFP – Getty Images)

“When the last guy was here, we were shipping jobs to China,” Biden said Monday. “Now we’re bringing jobs home from China. When the last guy was here, your pensions were at risk. We helped save millions of pensions with your help. When the last guy was here, he looked at the world from Park Avenue. I look at it from Scranton, Pennsylvania, I look at it from Claymont, Delaware.”

Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, fired back with a defense of the former president’s record.

“President Trump produced a booming economic recovery, and record low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and women,” Cheung said. “Joe Biden is the destroyer of America’s jobs and continues to fuel runaway inflation with reckless big government spending. President Trump’s vision for America’s economic revival is lower taxes, bigger paychecks and more jobs for American workers.”

Recent polls of a hypothetical 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump have shown an effective tie between the two. Both hold wide leads over declared primary rivals.

Biden’s remarks Monday focused heavily on economics and kitchen-table issues, repurposing lines common to his 2020 campaign speeches while running down what he sees as the achievements of his first term.

“All I hear from my friends on the other side is what they say is wrong with America,” Biden said. “They keep telling us America’s failing. They’re wrong. I’ve got news for them: America has the strongest economy in the world right now, today.”

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