Biden on GOP White House race: It’s a ‘gift from the Lord’

BALTIMORE (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday likened the Republican presidential race to a “gift from the Lord” for Democrats trying to win control of the House and Senate.

Biden joked to House Democrats at their annual retreat in Baltimore that he doesn’t know who he should root for among Republicans though he didn’t refer to any by name. Many Republicans are worried that front-runner Donald Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could be a drag on other Republicans on the ballot in a general election.

Democrats say a Trump or Cruz candidacy could be a windfall in their uphill battle to regain control of the House, where their numbers are the lowest since the Truman administration in the late 1940s.

“And by the way, we may be given a gift from the Lord in the presidential race here. I don’t know who to root for more,” Biden told House Democrats.

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The vice president, who considered and then decided against another presidential bid, urged Democrats to run on the accomplishments of the Obama administration, citing the improving economy and gains against Islamic State radicals, as well as proposals for free community college and increasing a tax credit for child care costs.

“The best way to win is to run on what we’ve done and what we’re for,” Biden said. “And we should point out what they’re for.”

Biden steered clear of the divisive Democratic nomination struggle between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Biden said the fight against ISIS is going better than is commonly appreciated. He predicted rebels would be defeated in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq this year, mirroring recent gains in Ramadi, Iraq. He said part of the reason is that Obama got European allies “to pony up.”

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“The idea that they’re gaining and not losing is just not accurate,” Biden said.

On the political front, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California announced Thursday that she raised $40 million for House Democrats last year, including $30.4 million for the campaign committee. A prodigious fundraiser, Pelosi held 205 fundraisers in 35 cities.

Pelosi became a member of the Democratic leadership in 2002 and since then, has raised $468.9 million for Democrats.

President Barack Obama plans to address the meeting Thursday evening.