Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., received a substantial amount of media attention this week, but much of it left the impression that — despite his considerable experience — Biden continues to lag behind the frontrunners.
The big event this week was the CNN/YouTube debate on July 23 in Charleston, S.C., where candidates answered questions on gun control, education and Iraq.
At the same time, as Time magazine’s Joe Klein wrote the magazine’s July 30 edition, “this, sadly, is Biden’s substantive liability…Democrats want to hear only one sentence about Iraq: I’ll get out as soon as possible. They’re not so interested in the nuances of partition plans and mine-resistant vehicles. They are, as always, besotted with domesticity.”
Nevertheless, Klein concluded, “Biden’s message-that foreign policy is complicated, that Iraq and its consequences can’t just be wished away, that a supple alternative to Republican overseas bullying must be found-is the most important of 2008. And it is the reason Joe Biden still adds real value to this campaign.
A day before the event, CNBC’s John Harwood took an inside look at Biden’s pre-debate strategy session in Charleston, as an example of how “second-tier” candidates, such as Biden, try to stand out from the pack.
Harwood reported that such nationally-televised debates allowed Biden to take the stage as “an equal with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,” and presented a “rare opportunity” for all candidates to send their message to voters and impress potential donors.
A campaign staffer, not surprisingly, said Biden generally received positive appraisals of his debate performance, chiefly for his candidness. The National Review’s Jim Geraghty declared Biden the “Surprising Big Winner,” for his advocacy of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles and having a post-withdrawal plan for Iraq.
Geraghty summarily described Biden’s style, which was similarly observed by other bloggers and commentators:
“During these debates I feel like Biden is standing in for those of us who can smell a rehearsed talking point a mile away, who know that the easiest thing for every candidate is to promise exactly what the questioner wants to hear, whose instinctive reaction to every grandiose, generic pie-in-the-sky pledge is an incredulous, wincing, “oh, get real!,” Geraghty wrote on July 23.
Following the CNN/YouTube debate, Biden returned to Washington, D.C. after the debate, while his family carried on the campaign.
On Wednesday, July 25, Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, traveled from South Carolina to Iowa. Several Biden family members joined 10,000 bike riders the fourth day of The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, a 472-mile bike ride across the state. They attended a reception with Lance Armstrong at Cedar Falls’ UNI Dome.
And, Valerie Biden, Biden’s sister, plans to return to Iowa on Friday, July 27 for an extended visit. The senator’s son, Beau Biden, attorney general of Delaware, will travel to New Hampshire on Saturday, July 28.