N2K Presidential: Biden's Comments Draw More Heat Than Light

National Journal Staff
National Journal

The presidential campaign took a turn for the shrill on Sunday as discussion of Vice President Joe Biden’s controversial remarks dominated the talk shows, drawing sharp words from both campaigns and their surrogates.

At the core of the clash were comments Biden made on Tuesday before a diverse audience in Virginia, when he said that Romney wanted to repeal Wall Street regulations. “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street!” Biden said, adding, “They’re going to put y'all back in chains.”

Republicans pounced on the remark, saying the vice president's comments—made before an audience that included many African Americans—conjured up unfair racial stereotypes.

Despite several calls for an apology—including one from The Boston Globe’s editorial page—the Obama campaign said on Sunday that none would be forthcoming. Several Democrats defended the campaign, including Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. “Governor Romney’s the sort of guy ... that you’d never want to play pickup basketball with,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s always fouling and he’s always crying foul.”

Meanwhile, Republican surrogates rushed to attack, with none more aggressive than former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “Joe is a laugh line on Jay Leno, he’s not a vice president,” Giuliani said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s a joke.”

While there’s no doubt Biden’s comments were controversial—and arguably worthy of debate—the campaigns will have many firefights like this before the election is through. Most will generate more heat than light, and come at the expense of talk about Medicare, Social Security and other meaty issues. That is perhaps the joke behind modern campaigns. It’s just not funny. Read more

Glen Justice


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