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Biden Fans Ask: Why Not Take on Rivals 'Head On'?

Biden fans, urging the senator to put up a fight. (AP).

ALLISON, Iowa -- It was an unusual moment for anyone who knows Sen. Joseph Biden Jr. The man was speechless.

Midway through a 90-minute session in the library of this small farming town, J. R. Ackley, who owns an insurance business in Marble Rock, noted that the top three Democrats in the field - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards - have mighty short Senate resumes compared to Biden, who was elected in 1972.

"It's like three witches sitting around arguing about who's ugliest," Ackley said. "Hillary Clinton, her claim to fame is she's spent time in the White House. Why haven't you taken these guys on head on? I understand it's hard, but the disparity of experience and ability is so great, it's not even funny. And yet they're the ones getting all the press."

Most Democrats at the back of the '08 pack, Biden included, have avoided taking shots at the front-runners. As Ackley, wearing a Biden t-shirt, egged on his candidate, Biden stood at the front of the room, head lowered in his hands, face reddening.

"Thank you for your assessment of my capabilities," he responded. "I admit I've been reluctant. My career in public life and the way I've run all the time is, I've run based on what I am and what I can do, not what the other guy is or isn't."

But there are a few mild discrepancies.

"For instance, Sen. Clinton has done really good work. She points out she's been working for people for 35 years. And she has. It's true...But while she was doing that work, I was passing laws," said Biden, noting several legislative victories related to child welfare, a Clinton priority since her law school days.

He moved on to Obama. "Sen. Obama [is] talking about experience and change. He's a great guy...I was a public defender. I spent times in the projects. That's where I come from. That was my experience. I would suggest I probably have as much experience working with minority people as anybody running for president, just based on my resume and my record. But when you do that, it comes off I think in the press, as somehow criticizing them, rather than laying out who you are."

Next came Edwards' turn.

"John, I love John. John talks about how supportive of labor he is. And he is supportive of labor. But when John was the senator from North Carolina he didn't walk any picket lines." North Carolina is not a labor state, Biden noted. Delaware, his home state, most certainly is, and he mentioned a few prominent strikes during the 1970s "that cost me dearly politically."

Biden continued, "I walked picket lines. People don't have to wonder whether under pressure I will do the right thing. But when you do that, it makes it sound like John is not pro labor. John is pro labor. He's not as pro labor as I am. Because I have the scars on my back to show you."

He concluded on a more personal note, recalling the death of his wife and baby daughter in a car accident shortly after his first Senate election, and later, the two major brain surgeries that nearly cost Biden his life. Political advisors have urged to him to speak more of his struggles on the campaign trail.

But Biden told the crowd, "I'm not good at talking about it. I acknowledge it. I don't like to talk about it. You talk about it, you relive it." The crowd was frozen. "The neighborhood where I come from, a lot of people had a lot of tough things happen to them. At the end of the day, I think people will know who I am."

As for the negative stuff, "I'm just not personally comfortable with it."

--Shailagh Murray

By Washington Post editors  |  November 27, 2007; 7:40 PM ET
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My cousin is part of a national polling program this political season and he inferred last weekend that Biden's increased dramatically as the second choice prior to the Iowa caucus.

Posted by: tomcady | December 6, 2007 7:16 AM | Report abuse

He's a good man.

Posted by: soonerthought | November 28, 2007 11:20 PM | Report abuse

I think Senator Biden has what it takes. I also think he could use funds to make a splash by advertising. I think Iowa and NH are doable, tho NH has expensive Boston ad market to contend with. Not sure about SC, but the ads are GREAT!

Those who care should help him get his excellent ads out. ('Joe is Right' is fabulous , both written and TV.)

Posted by: EllenBedlington | November 28, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

OBRINE-Bad News!

Posted by: rat-the | November 28, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Joe Biden epitomizes the idealism of our Democratic Party, which puts country and people FIRST, unlike the degenerates of the GOP. Maybe he talks too much, but there's a lot to be said and done to put this country back on the right track...

And Joe is right on Iraq, it'll take partitioning to restore any sense of order there. The Brits created the present boundaries that were arbitrary, so why NOT make that adjustment humanitarianly?

Posted by: Hub2 | November 28, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't THIS on CNN? Joe Biden has 35 years of experience in the senate, extensive foreign policy experience and a proven track record of intelligent, tjhoughtful decisions. He does not pander to lobbyists and consequently has a net worth of $170,000. He is a wonderful speaker without notes of any kind and his words demonstrate his cognitive thinking. best of all, he ALWAYS gives a straight answer. Sadly, money will prevail over common sense as always.

Posted by: squarerig1 | November 28, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

In these troubled and dire time we live in, Joe Biden, to me, encompasses all that we desperately need for our nation:

1) Intelligence
2) Experience in ALL phases of government
3) Strength
4) Respect from world leaders
5) Diplomacy
6) Command of issues
7) Solutions to problems that face our nation
8) Honesty
9) Integrity
10) Respect and trust from his peers
11) Respect and trust from the people who follow him
12) an EXPERT in foreign policy

Joe Biden certainly meets ALL of the criteria above.

I pray and hope every day that Mr. & Mrs. America, the people of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina know in their hearts, that if we lose Joe Biden, we'll have lost one of the best Presidents our nation will ever have.

Please watch a video I produced to show my support for Senator Biden. If you support him, please send the link below to family and friends, and ask them to do the same.

Posted by: kad7777 | November 28, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Joe Biden has made more sense about this mess in Iraq than anyone and longer than anyone. Not only why it was a mistake but also about how to deal with it in bringing about the positives needed to make it a success. He is the most qualified of anyone running with the exception of McCain and most certainly has and has had a better insight on Iraq than McCain.

Biden must get more aggressive in his campaign although I do agree with him with regard to tatics we are seeing from Obama and Edwards. Edwards has already turned me off with his game plan. When he couldn't sell John Edwards he decided to try character assination. Obama much less so but still in the same flow. I don't need Edwards or Obama tell me how bad Hillary is, I can decide that for myself. I want them to sell me on what they have to offer but that's not happening. Again I believe in being aggressive but there's a right way and a wrong way. Biden needs to find that way. He has a good message to sell but he much get people to listen.

Posted by: 1ken | November 28, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

no one ON or near planet Earth
I meant.

Posted by: obrine | November 28, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Rat-the, I'm not going to respond in anger, because I'm so sure you are joking. No one or near planet Earth could possibly be making the Richardson-benefits-Mexico argument with a straight face. So thanks for the laugh, you jokester.

Posted by: obrine | November 28, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

A candidate should run based on their experience and ability, not on trashing the other candidates as we see happening with the top 3 Dems. Joe Biden can run on his record. I don't know why more women don't support him since he is responsible for the Violence Against Women Act. He is our best hope for America. Even some Republicans know that, so why don't more Democrats!

Posted by: swilson1 | November 28, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Like most others here, I am bewildered by Biden's lack of traction. If Clinton, Obama or Edwards wins the democratic nomination, then the Democrats will have introduced a real possibility of defeat in the general election. I realize that the prospect of a woman or an African-American as President is exciting and romantic but after the past eight years, the country is in dire need of intelligence, balance, experience and common sense. I am not saying that a Clinton or Obama presidency would be a failure - I am troubled that they may not be electable.

If Biden is the nominee, it is hard to imagine what the Republican nominee will say in a debate that would convince very many that Biden is wrong for the country. Other than the utterly exhausted "he'll raise your taxes!" what else will they say?

Please dear voters in Iowa, think through this and choose the candidate that is a deadlock winner in the general election, the candidate that more than any other will attract the independent voter - vote Biden.

Posted by: calbob1 | November 28, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I learned more about Joe Biden reading this article than I've learned from any of the media in the past 11 months of presidential campaign news. Wow. I think Joe is a good and decent man who could do a lot to help this country, but I think he had some missteps early that the media never let him recover from. It's a shame that we as Americans can't get the whole story about all the candidates from the people who are supposed to be reporting on them. What a disservice. I hope that when the dust settles, whoever the next Dem President is will make Biden our next Sec of State, if he's not already the VP.

And to the poster who said that none of the front runners can beat Guiliani or Romney, I beg to differ. Edwards or Obama can. Clinton is the only one that will put us in danger of losing to the Repubs. again.

Posted by: skpedersen | November 28, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Pahleezz!

Why does he not just get a white stetson?

Can you say VP contender?

But, at the end of the day, all the Lawyers need to look at themselves and do a Reality Check. They belong where they are!

To put any of them in the Exectutive Seat, is to abolish the seperation of Powers.

Then, sadly, the only Statesman they have, should have been running against Presidente Cabrone, Oops, darn, did it Again!-Calderon!

My bad!

Just how is it, we can Have a Mexican run for President, and deny someone Married to American Royalty, who has invested in America as much as the Governator has, CAN'T?

A Richardson Presidency, would be the biggest Victory Mexico could ever achieve!

The Governator would not improve Austria's power base here one Iota!

Posted by: rat-the | November 28, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

On balance Joe Biden is both competent and capable. Juxtaposed to his competitors he is one of the only GROWN-UPS on stage.
Unfortunately, Joe Biden is first and foremost a Liberal Democrat - and the thought of chopping-up this coterie of light-weights would be a substantial hit on the DEMS. Altruism - Nonsense.

Posted by: cegallup | November 28, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

D987789 writes
"Give the guy what he merits. Vote Biden."

Forget what he merits. Give us what WE merit. I caught a few minutes of a Biden interview on the Newshour (PBS) last night. He certainly makes a strong case for having the judgement & foreign policy creds we need right now. What is wrong with the Dem party that his candidacy hasn't caught on?

Posted by: bsimon | November 28, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I wish Biden would get back to work doing what he is supposed to be doing; representing the people of Delaware. Recent polls have him at 3%, maybe 4% at best. It is just as likely that I will be nominated as the Democratic candidate for President. GEEZ. . . .

Posted by: BobBoyer | November 28, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I think Biden is reluctant to go on the attack because of the idea that Iowans penalize negative campaigners. This may be one reason why Edwards seems to be fading. Biden doesn't have to say "CLINTON WILL RAISE YOUR TAXES" or "OBAMA WILL GET US ALL KILLED" or something else out of the GOP playbook, but I think it would be in his best interest to directly confront some of these candidates on their supposed "experiment" and "judgment" because he has the record and the credibility to beat them on almost every argument. Obama may remind Biden that he voted for the Iraq War, but Biden could remind Obama that Obama voted to cut off the war's funding and essentially penalize the soldiers fighting there.

I expect the winner of the Biden-Richardson-Dodd race to snag the third ticket out of Iowa. You can read more here:

Posted by: theseventen | November 28, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I am a 47 year old, lifelong big "D" Democrat and I have never been as convinced as I am now that Sen. Joe Biden is the one person from both parties who can unite this country and get America moving again. Joe Biden is the real deal in all respects and demonstrates integrity, intellect, ability and a wonderful, refreshing honesty. He connects well with the vast majority of Americans and is best poised to take on the Republicans in '08 and win.

This election is the Democrats' to lose, but lose we will if we nominate any of the 3 "frontrunners." Not a one of them can stand toe-to-toe against a Guiliani or a Romney and win. Joe Biden can!!! If you've ever watched him on Meet The Press you know what I mean.

Posted by: lisatheirl | November 28, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

I like Biden the best of all the candidates, and I'd like to think he'll rise to win the Democratic nomination. While that looks unlikely at this time, I hope his classiness catches on with the other candidates, who are already starting to throw mud around. I don't have much respect for those who try to raise themselves up by belittling others. VOTE BIDEN!

Posted by: melfntrl12 | November 28, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

It does come off as aggressive and tactless when a candidate puts his resume next to the one of the belittled other. The gross comparisons, it is our job as voters, to pose them. We are not doing it. We are either lazy or spoiled.

Give the guy what he merits. Vote Biden.

Posted by: D987789 | November 28, 2007 1:39 AM | Report abuse

Mark, seems like we're reading the same articles on WaPo.

I imagine Shailagh Murray meant "dumbfounded."

I wish Biden's campaign would see movement. I think he's one of the really good guys. I just don't get why he doesn't get more traction.

Posted by: femalenick | November 27, 2007 9:16 PM | Report abuse

"The crowd was frozen."

Do you mean "riveted", or do you mean "turned off"? Or wa it just a cold night?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 27, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

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