Biden Talks to Working Families

Sen. Joe Biden tells voters in Woodbridge, Va. to "imagine a country" with the Obama/Biden economic and government policies. Video by News Channel 8
By Kristen Mack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. told supporters in Northern Virginia yesterday that he and Sen. Barack Obama will do more to turn the economy around than their Republican rival, saying that Sen. John McCain was "profoundly out of touch" with the worries of working families.

"His economic policy is as bankrupt as Lehman Brothers," Biden said to a crowd of a few hundred people in Prince William County who took part in a "community gathering" designed to appeal to families who are struggling.

The event comes after two weeks of turmoil on Wall Street and a recent Washington Post-ABC News polls that suggests that the economy is the most important issue for Virginia voters. The polls showed Obama and McCain locked in a spirited battle for Virginia's 13 electoral votes, with the Democratic senator from Illinois holding a substantial advantage among voters as the candidate who would best handle the economy. McCain, who represents Arizona in the Senate, is seen as a stronger commander in chief.

Biden's visit yesterday to the Veterans Memorial Park Community Center in Woodbridge was his third trip in five days to this battleground state. He joked to the audience that he's "almost been in Virginia enough to earn residency."

The Post poll shows a split in the state, with 59 percent of Northern Virginians supporting Obama, and McCain leading by a wide margin in western Virginia and with a narrow lead in Richmond and eastern parts of the state. Prince William falls on the dividing line.

President Bush won Prince William with 52 percent of the vote in the 2004 general election. Every major intersection along Prince William Parkway, the main thoroughfare that connects the eastern and western ends of the county, has signs that say "Virginia is McCain Country."

Yet Democrats remain hopeful about their chances here after the victories of Virginia Democrats -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in 2005 and Sen. James Webb in 2006.

Biden has worked small crowds at community gatherings and town hall settings on behalf of the Democratic ticket. He spoke in Loudoun County on Friday, and on Saturday attended a United Mine Workers union fish fry in Russell County, the heart of Virginia's coal country.

Yesterday's invitation-only event was a strictly Prince William affair. Kathy Cohenour of Manassas introduced Biden, relaying her personal tale as a stay-at-home mother who takes care of her special-needs 30-year-old daughter. Her 25-year-old son has moved back home because his tips as a waiter were not enough to make ends meet.

"Like you, I'm feeling the pinch in my pocketbook," she told the crowd, adding that she knows another blow is coming. "We just don't know when or how hard the punch is going to be."

An Obama-Biden administration would fight against a "culture in Washington where few have a seat at the table and everyone else is on the menu," said the senator from Delaware. Biden also said that Obama will cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans and will keep jobs in the United States by investing in new energy technology.

"Imagine a country that once again believes in science, that invests in government and builds infrastructure. Imagine a country that does not take our men and women to war unless it's absolutely necessary," Biden said to a standing ovation. "Obama will be that bridge between what we can imagine and what we can achieve."

Kimberly Harris, 32, attended yesterday's rally with her husband, Rickey, and their 2-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter, all of them wearing "Obama 08" T-shirts. "I used to think Prince William was strictly Republican," said Harris, who has lived in Woodbridge for three years. "But I've noticed people like me coming out."

Most of the people who attended the rally, which was organized quickly Monday evening, took long lunch breaks. Judy Mastrangeli took a half-day off.

"It's still a Republican state," she said. "But it's winnable. Democrats have a chance."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company