Biden Stumbles in Interview

Thursday, October 25, 2007


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.

-- Shailagh Murray


McCain Chides Clinton in Ad

Sen. John McCain's latest campaign ad starts with a swirling, psychedelic pattern of colors and the Doors' "Light My Fire" playing in the background.

The ad, which began running today in New Hampshire, moves quickly to its real point: making fun of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) for seeking $1 million for a Woodstock concert museum in a Senate appropriations bill.

"Now my friends, I wasn't there," McCain (R-Ariz.) says in the ad, which is produced using video from the previous Republican debate. As the ad cuts to scenes of hippies at Woodstock, McCain says: "I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was, I was tied up at the time."

And that's the real point of the ad: to show what happened at the debate when McCain referenced being a prisoner of war in Hanoi during Woodstock.

The audience jumped to its feet.

"No one can be president of the United States that supports projects such as these," he concludes after showing the standing ovation. "I'm John McCain, and I approve this message."

-- Michael D. Shear


Tabs Sock Giuliani Over Sox

He must have known New Yorkers would react this way.

A day after former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) said he plans to root for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, two of the city's tabloids offered their response.

"TRAITOR!" screamed the New York Daily News. "C'mon Rudy, How Could You Root For the Red Sox in Series?"

"REDCOAT" blared the New York Post. "Yank Fan Rudy Pulls for Bosox."

Could it be that he is supporting the Red Sox because the team is so popular in neighboring New Hampshire, where, by the way, the nation's first primary will be held sometime in January -- or maybe even in December?

No, says Giuliani.

"I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team -- maybe with exception of the Mets," he said. "Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't, because I'm loyal to New York."

At least Giuliani made a choice. Sen. Hillary Clinton was asked during a recent debate what she would do if the Chicago Cubs played the New York Yankees in the World Series. Pressed by NBC's Tim Russert, she would only say that she "would have to alternate" her support, presumably from game to game.

And then there's Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who declared himself a Sox fan but not the right one. In Boston, campaigning with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) as the series was about to begin, Obama said, "I am a White Sox fan," eliciting some negative reaction. "You don't want somebody who pretends to be a Red Sox fan to be president of the United States."

-- Michael D. Shear

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company