N2K Presidential: Biden's Comments Draw More Heat Than Light

National Journal

The presidential campaign took a turn for the shrill on Sunday as discussion of Vice President Joe Biden’s controversial remarks dominated the talk shows, drawing sharp words from both campaigns and their surrogates.

At the core of the clash were comments Biden made on Tuesday before a diverse audience in Virginia, when he said that Romney wanted to repeal Wall Street regulations. “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street!” Biden said, adding, “They’re going to put y'all back in chains.”

Republicans pounced on the remark, saying the vice president's comments—made before an audience that included many African Americans—conjured up unfair racial stereotypes.

Despite several calls for an apology—including one from The Boston Globe’s editorial page—the Obama campaign said on Sunday that none would be forthcoming. Several Democrats defended the campaign, including Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. “Governor Romney’s the sort of guy ... that you’d never want to play pickup basketball with,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s always fouling and he’s always crying foul.”

Meanwhile, Republican surrogates rushed to attack, with none more aggressive than former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Joe is a laugh line on Jay Leno, he’s not a vice president,” Giuliani said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s a joke.”

While there’s no doubt Biden’s comments were controversial—and arguably worthy of debate—the campaigns will have many firefights like this before the election is through. Most will generate more heat than light, and come at the expense of talk about Medicare, Social Security and other meaty issues. That is perhaps the joke behind modern campaigns. It’s just not funny. Read more

Glen Justice

NATIONAL JOURNAL
’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT


Ryan Makes An Emotional Medicare Push in Florida

[National Journal, 8/18/12] Rep. Paul Ryan’s mother, 78-year-old Betty Douglas, appeared on stage with him as he made a highly emotional appeal for Medicare reforms. He told Floridians how both his mother and grandmother relied on Medicare, and slammed President Obama for his "raid" of the popular entitlement program.

Editorial: Truth and Lies About Medicare

[New York Times, 8/18/12] The Times’s editorial board offers a scathing critique of the attacks by Mitt Romney and Ryan on Obama over Medicare, saying that both have “twisted themselves into knots to distance themselves from previous positions, so that voters can no longer believe anything they say.”

Obama Camp: No Apology for Biden Comments

[National Journal, 8/19/12] An Obama campaign official said that the campaign would not apologize for Vice President Joe Biden’s “back in chains” comment, despite calls from Republicans and a Boston Globe editorial to do so.

Ted Cruz on Presidential Race: GOP Wins on Economy, Loses on Personality

[National Journal, 8/19/12] Ted Cruz, the GOP candidate for Senate in Texas, said the Republican Party needs to focus on economic issues in order to win the presidential race. “If it’s a battle of personalities, Republicans will lose,” he said.

Giuliani Refuses to Back Down on Biden Criticism

[National Journal, 8/19/12] Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani refused to back down on his scathing criticism of Biden’s “back in chains” remark, calling it a “blatant appeal to racism” that he regards as “disgusting” and something that appears to be “vicious pandering.”

‘We Can’t Wait’ Offensive Continues

[National Journal, 8/19/12] Obama‘s team hasn't given up on its “We Can’t Wait” offensive, established after the debt-ceiling fight to grow jobs without Congressional help.

Dems Slam Ryan Over Social Security Privatization

[Associated Press, 8/19/12] Ryan’s 2010 “Road Map for America’s Future” would have allowed younger workers to divert more than one-third of their Social Security taxes into private accounts. Although Romney has not embraced the proposal, Democrats hope to capitalize on the issue.

Ryan’s Fiscal Conservative Credentials Get More Scrutiny

[National Journal, 8/19/12] News organizations examining Ryan’s background have highlighted issues that could complicate his efforts to drive home his reputation as a fiscal conservative.

Ryan and Romney Don’t See Eye to Eye on Auto Bailout
[Reuters, 8/19/12] Ryan broke with his party to vote in Congress for a $15 billion federal bailout for GM and Chrysler as they teetered on the edge of insolvency. Supporters say Ryan’s actions reveal a practical streak – as well as a willingness to take an unpopular stand – that will bode well for him if the Romney-Ryan ticket gets elected.

Ryan Fought to Bail Out GM Plan in Wisconsin District
[Los Angeles Times, 8/18/12] In 2008, Ryan was closely involved in trying to save a failing General Motors plant in his hometown, a position that may clash with his image today as a staunch defender of fiscal austerity.

Opinion: Romney and Ryan Build a Bridge to the 20th Century

[Baltimore Sun, 8/19/12] The Sun’s David Horsey writes that it is clear the GOP wants a return to the good old days of McKinley and Taft – a time when businessmen were free of government meddling and all citizens were expected to fend for themselves.

The Courtship Before Ryan Elevated Romney

[New York Times, 8/18/12] Romney and Ryan’s relationship began in 2007, when what was supposed to be a 15-minute meeting turned into an hour as the two men traded policy theories. As Romney emerged as the GOP presidential nominee, he began to rely on more frequent consultations with Ryan.

Saying Goodbye to the Tie

[Boston Globe, 8/19/12] Ryan may not succeed in ending Medicare as we know it, but he might be the death knell for the necktie. The Globe’s Tom Keane takes a look at the tie’s disappearing act.

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