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Biden Stumbles in Interview

Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate from Texas, sits and smiles after filing his declaration of candidacy to run in the state presidential primary with New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, left, at the statehouse in Concord, N.H.
Ron Paul, a Republican presidential candidate from Texas, sits and smiles after filing his declaration of candidacy to run in the state presidential primary with New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, left, at the statehouse in Concord, N.H. (By Jim Cole -- Associated Press)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

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Biden Stumbles in Interview

In an interview with The Washington Post's editorial board, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) asserted that he is more prepared to be president than any other candidate, disputed the notion that governors are better suited for the White House than senators and warned that Pakistan is a potentially bigger threat than Iran.

Biden also stumbled through a discourse on race and education, leaving the impression that he believes one reason that so many District of Columbia schools fail is the city's high minority population. His campaign quickly issued a statement saying he meant to indicate that the disadvantages were based on economic status, not race.

After a lengthy critique of Bush administration education policies, Biden attempted to explain why some schools perform better than others -- in Iowa, for instance, compared with the District. "There's less than 1 percent of the population of Iowa that is African American. There is probably less than 4 or 5 percent that are minorities. What is in Washington? So look, it goes back to what you start off with, what you're dealing with," Biden said. He went on to discuss the importance of parental involvement in reading to children and how "half this education gap exists before the kid steps foot in the classroom."

The Biden campaign moved quickly to clarify the senator's remarks in a statement: "This was not a race-based distinction, but a discussion of the problems kids face who don't have the same socio-economic support system (and all that implies -- nutrition, pre K, etc.) entering grade school and the impact of those disadvantages on outcomes."

The veteran senator and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee said he was buoyed by a recent Des Moines Register poll suggesting that his support is creeping upward -- although merely to 5 percent, from 3 percent in May. "My road to success is Iowa," Biden said. "It's the only level playing field left out there.

"The bottom line is that no one in the country knows me. They know Joe Biden if they watch Sunday morning shows or occasionally turn on C-SPAN. But absent that, they don't know much about me at all."

Biden added: "If I were able to raise 50, 60, 70 million dollars, then things would be different."

But he argued that he is ready for the job "more than anyone in either political party."

"I believe that," he said. "The question is, can I get others to believe it?"

On foreign policy, his area of expertise, he said, "I'm a hell of a lot more worried about Pakistan," which already has nuclear weapons, as opposed to Iran, which is still working on nuclear enrichment, a possible step on the way to developing them. "I wish we'd pay as much attention to Pakistan as the saber rattling we're doing with Iran," Biden said.


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