Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware may be lagging behind fellow White House hopefuls in both fund raising and public opinion polls, but the senator continues to attract attention for his tough words about President Bush.
Biden’s campaign expected to report it raised around $2.4 million for the second quarter, a campaign source said July 6 — a number far short of other Democrats, notably Sen. Barak Obama, Ill., who raised $32.5 million over the same period. Meanwhile, in recent presidential polls, Biden appears to barely register on voters’ radar.
What’s the campaign response? Biden is about ideas, not about poll numbers, or how much money he’s raised. And, as Biden continues to meet and talk with people around the country, more voters are bound to support him, a staffer said.
Biden had some critical words about President Bush and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney this week.
On the campaign trail in Iowa on July 4, Biden chastised President Bush for commuting the 30-month prison sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former aide, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, calling it “special treatment” and “a disregard for the rule of law.”
“This guy is brain dead,” he reportedly said at an event in Des Moines, evoking laughs from the audience. Having already garnered attention for some previous verbal gaffes, Biden added, “I know I’ll be quoted, I’ll be killed for that.”
The outspoken senator also took on the Republican presidential rivals, warning former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, “I can hardly wait to debate Rudy Giuliani if he is their nominee … because I will eat his lunch.”
Turning to another Republican front-runner, former Massachusetts Governor Romney, Biden said: “I found Romney’s statements yesterday profound — crazy — when he talked about going to war with Iran, why are we talking about going to war with Iran?”
He also received headlines — and applause — while speaking at an event in Iowa City on July 3. Biden compared the Bush administration to President Nixon’s, and said the next president would have to improve America’s credibility in the world and respect the law.
“This is an administration beyond redemption. I was there for Nixon. This guy’s worse,” Biden said.
“When the war is going to hell in a hand basket, when our leadership around the world is literally on the balls of its heels instead of engaging in any uniting effort to bring the country together what does he do? He takes one of the most controversial political stands he could do to enrage the country,” Biden said.
Similar to past campaign speeches, Biden focused most of his remarks on the war in Iraq, making his case on withdrawing American troops from the war-torn county by March 2008. The senator has called the Iraq war one of the most important issues for the 2008 presidential election.
But, given all his focus on foreign policy and Iraq, a woman in Iowa City asked why he had not yet talked about a universal health care plan. And, Biden — a 34-year veteran of the Senate — responded, “If I put it out now in the doldrums of the summer when I’m the guy that they’re saying may break out of the second tier, it’ll end up on page 7 of the New York Times … the game is being played where the money is.”
The senator then directly discussed the influence of money in the political “horserace.”
“If I raised $20 million tomorrow I would be in the top tier immediately,” Biden said. “I must tell you I find it obscene that you have to raise $35 million a quarter to be able to compete. … The truth of the matter is the folks with the money want to marginalize the early primaries and caucuses so you can go straight to wholesale politics, but I haven’t heard anybody in Iowa, and I’ve been around a lot, asking me about how much money do I have before you vote for me.
“You’re asking me about my ideas,” he said to applause.
As his campaign staff says: He’s about ideas. In a recent Iowa ad posted on YouTube, Biden said, “ideas trump money here in Iowa.”
On July 6, Biden went on a whirlwind tour of New Hampshire with stops in Manchester, Durham and Kensington. And, no doubt he’ll relish the battle in the Senate this week over the defense authorization bill and Iraq strategy.