OWINGSVILLE (Kentucky) • Former United States vice-president Joe Biden, in some of his harshest criticism of Mr Donald Trump to date, has said that the President is "trashing American values" and undermining institutions to "amass power", appealing to his party to not give up on winning the votes of the white working class.
Campaigning in rural Kentucky last Friday for a Democrat running in one of the nation's most watched House races, Mr Biden appeared to be testing themes for a potential 2020 campaign to unseat Mr Trump.
"He is just trashing American values, the way he talks about people, the way he makes fun of people, the way he denigrates folks," Mr Biden said. "I got to tell you, I think there is a method to his madness because he wants you to get down in the mosh pit with him."
Last Friday, Mr Biden came to Owingsville, a town of 1,500, to campaign for Ms Amy McGrath, a retired Marine combat aviator, in a district where Democrats' fortunes have profoundly eroded.
The President was yesterday scheduled to campaign in another Republican stronghold in the district for her opponent, Representative Andy Barr.
Mr Biden is one of the few national Democrats thought to be able to connect with white rural voters, ancestral members of the party who have abandoned it to help form the bulwark of the President's electoral coalition.
In an interview after the rally, Mr Biden did not hold back on his criticism of the President, saying that his attack on everything from federal courts to Republicans in Congress is about "amassing power".
Mr Trump's approach has been particularly effective among the white working class in rural America, Mr Biden acknowledged, but Democrats need to try to win back that vote.
In this midterm election cycle, Mr Biden has campaigned for more than two dozen Democratic candidates. But the open question is whether he can effectively counter the President.
"The President fires up the base unlike anybody else on the Republican side," said Mr Billy Piper, a Republican consultant and former top aide to Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, adding: "To the extent that he can help energise that part of the electorate, that helps Andy a lot."