Biden Contemplates Offers to Cut a Deal
By Shailagh Murray
AMES, Iowa -- Bored with the Democratic front-runners? Another interesting battle in Iowa is for fourth place.
Sens. Joseph Biden (Del.) and Chris Dodd (Conn.) and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are barnstorming the state these final days, holding as many events as the big three as they vie for a credible finish in the lower tier. There is the small matter of keeping their dignity intact. But a fourth-place finish also guarantees a spot in the Democratic debate in New Hampshire on Saturday, keeping hope alive for one more state.
"My ultimate goal would be to try to come close enough to who ever's third that it's not distinguishable," Biden explained after a campaign event in Ames this afternoon.
There are two possible ways for Biden to grow his support. One is to peel off caucusgoers in rural and blue collar communities who are currently with former Sen. John Edwards, which explains Biden's biting critique of his onetime colleague's six-year legislative career.
"John doesn't have a record in the Senate. John's only passed four bills. They're all about post offices. I mean, literally," Biden said. He added, "most freshman senators don't get much done. Don't get much passed. Barack Obama hasn't passed any. There's not a major bill I know with Hillary's name on it."
Then he added, "I have a real live record. I've gotten things accomplished. I don't just talk. I get them done. And that doesn't mean that John can't get 'em done, there's no evidence that he has."
Another option would be to cut a deal with one of the top-tier candidates, for instance Sen. Barack Obama. Under one possible scenario, Biden could throw support to Obama in precincts where he isn't strong enough to be viable, while in precincts where Obama has more than enough support, some of the extra could be transferred to Biden. All front-runners are competing madly to become these-called "second choice" of caucus goers who support Biden, Richardson and Dodd. A more formal deal between campaigns, if only in particular areas, could maximize the benefits.
Asked whether he and Obama could be helpful to one another, Biden said, "probably."
As for the overall outcome, and how it would determine who survives, the Delaware senator said only this: "If you're below expectations, it's going to be a problem for you."
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