Joe Biden: Rich Americans should not be 'demonized'

Former Vice President Joe Biden took to defending the nation’s wealthy at a fundraising event on Tuesday night, putting him in opposition to a number of fellow Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in 2020.

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During a speech in New York, Biden suggested that being rich doesn’t mean you love the U.S. any less.

“What I’ve found is rich people are just as patriotic as poor people,” he said, as reported by a number of media outlets. “Not a joke. I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money.”

The 2020 hopeful continued on to say that “nobody has to be punished.”

Biden’s campaign did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.

It is not the first time Biden has expressed similar sentiments, which stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric from many of his top Democratic opponents. Prior to declaring his candidacy last year, Biden said he was “not [independent Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders,” because he didn’t think “500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble.”

“The folks at the top are not bad guys,” he added. “I get in trouble in my party when I say wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks.”

He has noted, however, that a widening income gap was dividing the country.

Meanwhile, as previously reported by FOX Business’ Charlie Gasparino, Biden has been turning to some wealthy friends for support. On Monday he held a fundraiser at the Manhattan townhouse of famous short seller Jim Chanos, where he raised more than $500,000. That would be a record for a single candidate at a Manhattan residence fundraiser. The event was attended by donors from both sides of the aisle.

Some members of the 2020 field of Democrats, unlike Biden, have squarely criticized the rich over their greed and for exacerbating inequality.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said “no one deserves to have a billion dollars,” during an interview with The New York Times. Former Texas lawmaker Beto O’Rourke made similar comments during a separate interview with the publication: “I don’t know that anybody deserves to have a billion dollars,” he said.

Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have focused their campaigns on targeting greed among the wealthy and the business community. Both candidates have proposed raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to fund social programs, like student debt relief.

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While Biden doesn’t necessarily believe in chastising the country’s wealthiest residents, he has gone after some of the biggest corporations for not paying their fair share. Recently, he stirred trouble with e-commerce giant Amazon after he said “they should pay a few taxes.”

Amazon hit back, saying Biden’s problem might not be with them, but rather with the U.S. tax code.