In a perfect world, Vice President Joe Biden would headline fundraisers every day. Since he doesn’t, we can take comfort when he does, like on Tuesday night when he joined former Vice President Al Gore and Vicki Kennedy in a fundraiser at Esther Coopersmith’s Washington home for Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey, vying this month to fill the open Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Here are the highlights:
1. Democrats are worried about minority turnout in the special election two weeks from now. ““There’s a big difference in this race,” Biden said. “Barack Obama’s not at the head of the ticket. And that means those legions of African Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out. No one has energized them like Barack Obama. But he’s not on the ticket. So don’t take this one for granted.”
2. In the wake of the gun vote, Biden considers Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) two of the most powerful Republican senators. “Think about this,” he said. “Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”
“On the gun issue, I don’t care what your position is — I called 17 senators out, 9 of whom were Republicans,” he added. “Not one of them offered an explanation on the merits of why they couldn’t vote for the background check. But almost to a person, they said, ‘I don’t want to take on Ted Cruz. I don’t want to take on Rand Paul. They’ll be in my district.’
“I actually said, ‘Are you kidding? These are two freshman,’” Biden added. “This is a different, party folks. They’re not bad guys, and they’re both very bright guys. And I’m not questioning their motive.”
3. The vice president is no fan of the GOP in general. “It’s a pretty simple proposition: The United States of America, and the state of Massachusetts, does not need another Republican in the Senate,” Biden said. “I’m being straight about this. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance, at least since I’ve been alive, distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm.”
4. What’s one of Markey’s best selling points from Biden’s perspective? The fact that he’s married to Rear Admiral Susan J. Blumenthal, a psychiatrist. “Folks, Ed Markey has a distinct advantage over the rest of us: He has a psychiatrist for a wife,” he joked. “It’s not often noted, but it is very important. I can think of at least a half a dozen people who I wished had a psychiatrist for a wife.”
5. Blumenthal’s expertise came in handy when Biden was looking for insight into the behavior of prominent Republicans, including — presumably — former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). The vice president described how he, Markey and their wives were standing in line waiting to take a photograph with President Clinton.
“I won’t mention his name, but a very distinguished – not that, a very important congressman who was beating the living devil out of the president, it turned out he had an affair with one of his interns,” Biden said. “I turned to the doctor and I said, ‘Can you explain that to me?’ And she explained it to me. I find it amazing. I find it amazing how she knows human nature so well.”
Note: Gingrich’s second wife Marianne Gingrich has said he had an affair with then-House staffer (not intern) Callista Bisek, who is now his third wife.
6. Biden thinks Gore didn’t pay attention to him during the 1988 presidential campaign. When Gore remarked, “We ran against each other in 1988 for president,” Biden called out, “And you didn’t even notice!” from the side.
“Oh yeah? The hell I didn’t, the hell I didn’t,” Gore responded. “That was quite an educational experience for all of us, and a great campaign.”
7. That said, Biden thinks Vicki Kennedy is cuter than Al Gore. After Coopersmith accidentally introduced Gore when it was Kennedy’s turn to take the stage, Kennedy played it up for laughs. “Here I am, Al Gore,” she said.
“Al Gore never looked so good,” Biden quipped in response.
In short, Biden needs to hit the trail again tomorrow—surely the fundraiser’s roughly $250,000 take wasn’t enough, right?