After this week, one would think that the White House would have given Joe Biden a time-out in the secret vice president’s bunker that he made not-so-secret in a 2009 gaffe.
There was the Monday night fundraiser for Sen. Robert Menendez (D) in New Jersey, where Biden made military historians the world over scream with his assessment of where the Abbottabad operation stood in historical significance.
“You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan,” Biden said. “Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48% probability that he was there.”
When asked by a reporter if the operation was more audacious than, say, storming the beaches of Normandy, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the vice president didn’t misspeak.
Then there was the Tuesday breakfast to welcome visiting Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, where the the foreign pool reporter from the Irish Times wryly noted that “VPOTUS seems to have an inexhaustible supply of Irish sayings.”
Biden capped off the event, though, with KY humor. “With these two folks that you’re about to meet, if you haven’t already, there’s no doubt about them staying oiled and lubricated here. Ladies and gentlemen, now, for you who are not full Irish in this room, lubricating has a different meaning for us all.”
Not only did the White House not lock him up, but they sent him to a swing state today for a triple-header of campaign events.
On March 15, Biden gave a full-throated defense of the auto bailout at a United Auto Workers hall in Toledo, Ohio, in what he termed “the first of four speeches I’ll be making on behalf of the president and me in the coming weeks, laying out what we believe are clear, stark differences between us and our opponents and what’s at stake for the middle class, because it is the middle class that’s at stake in this election.”
The 69-year-old Biden’s first stop today, the Wynmoor Village retirement community in Coconut Creek, Fla., was his second major speech, he told the crowd of seniors.
Aptly timed after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveiled plans this week to reform Medicare, and after the House voted to repeal the ObamaCare provision that establishes a 15-member Medicare panel, the vice president told the seniors that the Republican path wasn’t embracing the elder generation’s “dignity.”
“Look, folks, the vast majority of the American people — whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, or independents — know there is a fundamental difference between us and the Republicans on this issue,” Biden said. “We believe in strengthening Medicare, they don’t. Make no mistake about it, if the Republicans in Congress — and their amen corner of Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich — if any one of them gets their hands on the White House, the keys of the White House, I promise you will see Medicare ended as you know it.”
“…These guys want to repeal all that and, in the process, I would argue they’ll be repealing that sense of dignity, which is an incredible part of what this is all about.”
He spent much of his address telling family stories about his elderly mother and how he and his siblings secretly fed money into her checking account to cover doctor visits and the like.
He charged that “cut, cap and balance” spending reform pushed by Republicans would cut the seniors’ Social Security benefits.
“See, the thing that I get angry about — they look at people like you and me, and they think all we care about — after all you’ve done for the nation is that all we care about is ourselves after a lifetime — a lifetime — of you not only caring for yourselves, but caring for all those people you love, caring for your community,” Biden said. “And they turn around and say, no, no — as long as we tell you, you won’t be cut, you won’t mind if your children, you won’t mind if your grandchildren, you won’t mind if your younger neighbors and friends end up having to pay. They don’t understand us.”
There were also more direct attacks on Mitt Romney than the other candidates, a trend noticed in recent campaign speeches that the White House is considering the former Massachusetts governor to be the presumptive Republican nominee.
“Governor Romney supports cut, cap, and balance, which is yet another demonstration that there is no daylight between Governor Romney and the Republican leaders on the most important issues facing this country,” Biden said. “And not even Romney’s Etch A Sketch can change that.”
“They’re making it even harder for the middle class at a time when we know if we were — if we want our economy to be strong, the middle class has to be strong. They’re tearing the bonds that connect us, generation to generation at the very moment we should be strengthening those bonds.”
He joked to the crowd about not wanting to use the word “elderly” anymore.
“I mean for years I used to rip up the AARP bulletins I got,” he said to laughter. “But I’m not ripping up my Social Security checks, you know what I mean? But I don’t like elderly — those of us who are more mature. Those of us who are more mature.”
Even though Biden’s campaign series promises to focus on four different subjects and unique target audiences, the campaign theme of President Obama’s fairness doctrine promises to run through every one.
“Look, we’re not asking anybody very wealthy to change their standard of living. We’re not — no, serious. We’re not asking them to do anything they can’t do now,” the vice president said. “On $3.1 million, you don’t need another $100,000 to maintain your home, to drive the vehicle you drive, to vacation where you want to vacation. But when we ask you to take a 20 percent cut or a 30 percent cut in your Medicare or your Social Security or your children, that changes the standard of living.”
He concluded: “If you like what you see, vote for me. If not, vote for the other guy. But look us over, and look into your heart. Look into your heart, and ask yourself the question after all the speeches are done: Who do you believe? Who do you believe is genuinely committed to preserving the dignity of people in terms of their health care and their basic, basic ability to live?”
The vice president capped off the day with two more campaign events in Hollywood, Fla.
Next Friday, it’s Obama’s turn to hit the campaign trail again. The White House announced today that he’ll fly to events in Burlington, Vt., and Portland, Maine, and return to Washington that evening.