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In N.H., Joe Biden says GOP isn’t the enemy

The former vice president unveiled his plan to tackle climate change, saying it would create millions of jobs.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

CONCORD, N.H. — Former vice president Joe Biden hit back Tuesday against two of his chief rivals on the left, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, for recent criticism they’ve leveled at him for saying he would try to work with congressional Republicans if he wins the White House.

Warren and Sanders lobbed thinly veiled critiques at Biden’s moderate pitch during the state convention in California this past weekend. “Some say that if we just calm down, the Republicans will come to their senses. But our country is in a crisis. The time for small ideas is over,” Warren said in her speech, which was widely interpreted as a jab at Biden.

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Biden referred to Warren, of Massachusetts, and Sanders, of Vermont, as “your next door neighbors who are running, both south and west,” who say “I’m being naïve.”

“Well guess what, Republicans aren’t my enemy. They’re my opposition. And if we treat everyone like an enemy, how in God’s name are we going to get anything done in America?”

With a solid lead in the polls in New Hampshire and around the country, the 76-year-old Biden is pitching voters that his experience, feel for working people, and more-moderate bent can deliver the White House, and the nation, from President Trump.

He added a new plank to that case Tuesday, unveiling a $1.7 trillion plan to tackle climate change. Climate change, Biden said, “is a genuine existential threat to the environment,” but he said his plan would also protect national security and create millions of new jobs for the struggling middle class. “Someone has to make these things,” he said.

Under his plan, Biden said, the US economy would transition to 100 percent clean energy and net zero emissions by 2050 — a date that some on the left say is not soon enough to forestall the worst effects of climate change.

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“This is not beyond our capacity,” Biden said.

He struck a slightly defensive note as he discussed the proposal, noting that he’d been criticized for not having a plan, but “I got involved in this thing way back in 1986,” introducing a proposal that, he said, Politifact later decreed “the beginning of a game changer.”

On Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to visit Boston, where he’ll meet with Mayor Martin J. Walsh about the city’s climate initiative.

While in New Hampshire, Biden also said that if Trump doesn’t start cooperating with congressional investigations soon, House Democrats will have no option but to start an impeachment inquiry, even though he fears it would be “a giant distraction.”

“My job is to impeach him a different way: beat him,” Biden told a crowd of several hundred jammed into a local IBEW hall.

Biden worked to demonstrate his populist authenticity, at times funny, at others sentimental as he stressed the dignity of work.

“We have to start rewarding work, not just wealth,” he said. Biden said he could pay for his plans to bolster the middle class by closing “trillions of dollars in loopholes” in the tax code.

Biden has a long track record of verbal stumbles and other gaffes, and his daylong swing through New Hampshire was no exception. Critics pounced on several passages of Biden’s climate change plan that used identical language as documents previously published by climate advocacy groups. The Biden campaign later said it was an error that citations for the copied passages were left out of the 22-page document.

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Biden also drew criticism for joking about the accusations women have leveled at him about inappropriate touching, during an event earlier in the day in Berlin, N.H. A woman at the event whispered in his ear, and Biden announced, “I want the press to know, she pulled me close.”


Victoria McGrane can be reached at victoria.mcgrane@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.