VP Joe Biden impresses local business owners with Tampa speech

By Dalia Dangerfield and Fallon Silcox, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 11, 2016, 6:10 PM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden addressed the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, speaking during an invitation-only event at the University of Tampa’s Fletcher Lounge.

Local figures said they were honored by his visit.

"When the White House calls, it gets your attention," said Bob Rohrlack, the president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. "It just shows the importance of this region, this economic hub and the diversity we have here and the importance of the White House to this market to succeed that they would want to be here."

Biden spoke with Bay area business leaders about trade and the future.

"Progress is possible," Biden said. "We've seen it."

His hour-long speech resonated with many in the crowd.

"As entrepreneurs, it's just really refreshing to know that the possibilities are there," said business owner Colette Glover-Hannah.

But Biden said the tone of this year's presidential race could destroy those possibilities with other countries.

"I understand what it means to compete in a heated election contest, but by insulting our partners throughout the hemisphere, by tarring all immigrants with a xenophobic brush, some leaders are actually undermining our security."

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn agreed. He said Tampa's port, a major international hub, could be impacted dramatically.

"I'm afraid that if that rhetoric continues, everything we've done for the last 25 years to strengthen that relationship with our Latin American neighbors will be absolutely undone by one election and one bad choice," Buckhorn said.

Biden's visit came just as Biden himself captured national headlines for saying he would be the best president. Biden decided not to run for President after his son's death.

Next the Vice President heads to Orlando where he'll attend the Invictus Games.