WASHINGTON--John McCain is going after Joe Biden on Tuesday for remarks Biden made Sunday at a Seattle fund-raiser about how Barack Obama, 47, will be tested by "the world" to see if he is tough enough. This off message message from Biden came during a long discussion about Obama. Click for the pool report with the entire transcript.
Lynn: here's that pool report -- notice that this comment is setting up his description of why Obama is the guy to deal with tough times:
Subject: Biden Seattle fundraiser pool report (#2 of 2)
Seattle, WA fundraiser (#2 of 2)
Sunday, October 19, 2008
*** I have audio if anyone needs it.
For his second Seattle fundraiser of the evening, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., spoke in a smaller ballroom at the downtown Sheraton Hotel, following the introduction of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash..
The estimated total haul for Biden's fundraisers in the Emerald City this evening: a cool million bucks.
"I'm losing my voice, which would make everybody in the Senate very happy," said Biden at the outset of money-pitch part deux.
But despite his cold, the senator pressed on, speaking for about 15 minutes.
"You should have told me about your prowess," he told the Obama supporters about their fundraising skills.
"I just wasted a whole year hanging out waiting for something to happen," he joked about his own failed presidential bid.
Biden then implored the audience of organizers to help re-elect Gov. Chris Gregoire.
"It is almost as important that you re-elect the governor as it is that you elect the next president," he said.
But back to the Obama/Biden campaign...
"One of the things we're trying to do in this race is not just change the agenda, but we're trying to change the chessboard here. We're trying to change the way politicians have played, the divisive politics."
"Clinton was such an incredibly talented, incredibly talented president and politician, he was able to run upstream," Biden noted. "The truth of the matter was that if you noticed, even in those days, it was not a direct confrontation of the agenda. What we had to do was a little jujitsu."
"That was what drove the Republicans crazy - he took their playbook and he turned it on them."
As he has in the past, Biden described how the nation is at "an inflection point", one of "maybe five times in American history since the founding".
"The next four years are going to determine what it looks like 25 years from now because we either get this right internationally or we're in trouble," he said, citing the Korean peninsula and Pakistan as potential hot-spots.
He then talked about the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
"It's where al Qaeda lives. It's there. It's real. We focus so much on the bad policy on Iraq, we sometimes seem to think that somehow there isn't a real problem. Our CIA has pointed out that bin Laden is alive and well, Iraq, excuse me, in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He's getting (inaudible) and support from those tribal areas. You have, folks, the Taliban is coming back. We're on the verge of finding ourselves in a position to see the regression occurring in Pakistan.
Biden emphasized the importance of injecting economic assistance to build hospitals, roads, and schools.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee warned that unless people there have "a reason to look to Islamabad instead of looking to the tribally-controlled areas, then in fact we got no hope, folks."
"Bin Laden is alive and well," he cautioned. "Our own agencies have pointed out that we have created more terrorists than we have dissuaded and destroyed as a consequence of shredding the constitution, keeping Guantanamo open."
"We talk about Iran getting a nuclear weapon and threatening Israel and us. Let me tell ya something, Pakistan already is bristling with nuclear weapons, all of which can hit Israel right now, all of which can strike the Mediterranean and well into the Indian Ocean."
Biden recalled when his helicopter came down in a snowstorm at 10,500 feet in the middle of the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
"You literally can see what these kids are up against, our kids in that region. The place is crawling with al Qaeda. And it's real."
"My generic point is you can't win it militarily," he said. "You gotta go beyond that."
He showered praise on Cantwell for her work in foreign affairs before referencing an article by the "most enlightened conservative columnist in America", David Brooks.
"David Brooks wrote a piece basically endorsing Barack Obama last week in the New York Times. You should get it. And I think it best summarizes why Barack is the right guy at the right moment for this job, that he understands, like Maria does, he looks at this from a very different perspective. This is the 21st century. We do not have the military capacity, nor have we ever, quite frankly, in the last 20 years, to dictate outcomes. It's so much more important than that. It's so much more complicated than that. And Barack gets it."
So why was Biden saying this to the crowd of supporters? He'll tell ya why...
"We're gonna find ourselves in real trouble when we get elected. This is gonna be really hard. This is gonna be really, really, really hard. We're gonna have the largest systemic deficit in modern - not modern - in the history of the world. Literally. Literally. We're gonna find ourselves inheriting a debt, yearly debt this year, that may approach three-quarters of a trillion dollars. You hear me? We left this guy with a $232 billion surplus. At a minimum when we take office - God willing - we're gonna have a $450 billion deficit. And the way the economy is tanking the way it is now it may be as high as $750 billion."
"28 states are in serious trouble and they're about to contribute to the economic downward spiral because what are they doing? Cutting services, laying people off as they lose their tax base. So there are going to be a lot of tough decisions Barack's gonna have to make, a lot of tough decisions, including on foreign policy."
"And here's the point I want to make. Mark my words. Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy. And he's gonna have to make some really tough - I don't know what the decision's gonna be, but I promise you it will occur. As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it's gonna happen. I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate. And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you, not financially to help him, we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right. Because all these decisions, all these decisions, once they're made if they work, then they weren't viewed as a crisis. If they don't work, it's viewed as you didn't make the right decision, a little bit like how we hesitated so long dealing with Bosnia and dealing with Kosovo, and consequently 200,000 people lost their lives that maybe didn't have to lose lives. It's how we made a mistake in Iraq. We made a mistake in Somalia. So there's gonna be some tough decisions. They may emanate from the Middle East. They may emanate from the sub-continent. They may emanate from Russia's newly-emboldened position because they're floating in a sea of oil."
After again touting Cantwell's judgment, Biden told the crowd to "gird your loins."
"Only thing I'm asking you is, you know, gird your loins. We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride. This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task. It's like cleaning the Aegean stables, man. This is more than just, this is more than - think about it, literally, think about it - this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets, this is a systemic problem we have with this economy."
As he did last week in Missouri, Biden then touted Obama's team of economic advisers.
"I have great respect and have had great respect for a long time for Barack Obama, but I've never, I never thought that I'd have the kind of respect I have after watching him assemble probably the finest economic team that's been put together in the history of this country, Democrats and Republicans. You should see him orchestrate these meetings we have with 18 of the best minds in the world, from both parties. There's no doubt about who's charge, Gov. There's no doubt. There's no doubt about how incisive his questions are. What he asks of this group is stunning in terms of there responses. They kind of go, 'whoa, whoa!' This guy has an ability to move to the quick of things like anybody I've ever served with, at least this up close. So I think we're gonna put our hands, take this ship (inaudible) in the right hands. I think we got this ticket right. I think we got it in the right balance here."
After a round of applause, Biden continued.
"I've forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I'm not being falsely humble with you. I think I can be value added, but this guy has it. This guy has it. But he's gonna need your help. Because I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going 'oh my God, why are they there in the polls, why is the polling so down, why is this thing so tough? We're gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now, I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you're going to have to reinforce us."
Noting that he's a practicing Irish-Catholic, the Delaware lawmaker said, "Let's not be, for those of a different faith remember St. Peter denied Christ thrice, you know? We don't need anybody denying us, this is gonna be tough. There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go 'whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don't know about that decision.' Because if you think the decision is sound when they're made, which I believe you will when they're made, they're not likely to be as popular as they are sound. Because if they're popular, they're probably not sound."
While the crowd laughed, Biden noticed your pooler in the back of the room pounding away at his keyboard.
"I probably shouldn't have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here," the senator said.
"All kidding aside, these guys have left us in a God-awful place. We have the ability to straighten it out. It's gonna take a little bit of time, so I ask you to stay with us. Stay with us."
And with that, he handed the mic back to Cantwell.