“The president and I have had a laser focus on one thing: raising up the middle class,” Biden said, adding, “The measure of success of our administration will be whether or not the middle class is growing and the things that allow it to grow, and allow it to feel some security, are able to be put in place again.”
Speaking in a state with a strong antiwar tradition and where opposition to the use of military force in Syria is overwhelming, Biden said it was Obama’s leadership and determination to act that produced this weekend’s agreement with Russia to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.
“The president’s vision is absolutely clear,” Biden said. “He, in fact, is the reason why the world community is facing up finally — finally — to this hideous prospect of the largest stockpile in the world of chemical weapons being confiscated and destroyed.”
Sunday’s steak fry was billed as a showcase for two generations of Democratic leaders, and it turned out that the younger generation, represented by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, sounded just as enthusiastic about the present course as Biden.
Castro embraced Democratic history from Franklin D. Roosevelt through Lyndon B. Johnson to Obama, saying he believes in the blueprint that combines individual effort with the support of government programs.
“Our friends across the other side of the aisle say their blueprint is this: that if everybody will just go on their own, we’ll all be fine — if everybody will just do their own thing and government just leaves everybody alone, everything will be great,” Castro said. “But I believe in a different blueprint.”
Seven years ago, Obama came to this event as a freshman senator and stoked speculation that he might become a presidential candidate. Biden arrived Sunday knowing that it would fuel speculation about his political future, and he basked in his decades of relationships with Democratic activists in Iowa.
As he flipped steaks with Harkin and Castro, he enthusiastically embraced one person after another, prompting Harkin to say, “This is old home week for him.”
Biden arrived in Iowa — which holds the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses — with expectations and questions about whether he will be a candidate in 2016, especially if former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton enters the race, as her allies hope and expect.
In his 35-minute speech at the Warren County Fairgrounds, Biden made no mention of Clinton. He did, however, single out her successor, John F. Kerry, as “one of the best secretaries of state so far in the history of the United States of America.”