Biden: Election Will Be 'a Lot Closer' Than People Think
By Perry Bacon Jr.
LIMA, Ohio -- The surest sign of confidence from the Barack Obama campaign? Maybe allowing Sen. Joe Biden to take a dozen questions from reporters at a diner stop that turned into an impromptu press conference in which the senator from Delaware laid out his thoughts on the state of the race and how a Democratic administration would govern.
After greeting some employees and people eating at Kewpee, a burger joint here, Biden last night approached a group of reporters. When one asked Biden if he had been "muzzled" by the Obama campaign following a recent controversial remark, the Delaware senator said, "If I'm muzzled ... no one said anything to me about it." He then proved his point, speaking on a wide range of subjects for more than ten minutes.
But the most distinct sound was the silence of his traveling advisers, who usually shout, "Thanks guys," when Biden starts making unplanned remarks to reporters, hoping both to discourage reporters from continuing to ask questions and as a hint to Biden he should stop.
The Democratic vice-presidential nominee told reporters here that even if Democrats gained control of the White House, the Senate and the House in the election, they would seek to govern in a bipartisan way. He said one of his roles in an Obama administration would be serving as a liaison to both parties in Congress. Biden predicted he and McCain would work on things together, saying, "John and I are likely to be around, in one form or another, in one job or another. My hope is we can work together."
"It would be good for the country," Biden said of Democrats controlling the government. "Look, this is not the Democratic Party of 1970 and the early '80s, nor is it the Republican Party of back then. This is the Bush Republican Party that's continuing, and we have a very different notion, Barack and, I in terms of how we view this, this election.... We can't get this done with just Democrats -- even if we control, even if we're lucky enough to get to 60 senators.
"We're not going to be able to control and get these tough things done without reaching out," he said. "The value in my view of us doing very well in the Senate, whether we get 60 or not, that's going to free up a lot of Republicans. There's a half a dozen Republicans who want to vote and have wanted to vote different than the Bush-McCain position. And they felt that way a long time. And so I think you're going to see if we get close, the ability to be able to build some consensus."
He predicted the GOP would be "chastened by this election, win or lose."
"I think there is going to be a center that can generate some genuine, bipartisan consensus," he said. "Now will it be overwhelmingly Democrat? Yeah. But you can't get any of this done. You can't get a major energy policy unless you get buy-in from the Republicans. You can't get a major economic rescue policy."
But Biden said he was still worried about winning the election, even as polls show the Democratic ticket ahead in many key states.
"We've been down this road before," he said. "I felt awful good about this time, you know, in the Kerry campaign. And I felt good in the Gore campaign -- and so, so, this, that old joke, you know, it ain't over till it's over. I mean we feel good. We look good, but it's not over yet ... This election's going to be a lot closer than everybody thinks it is."
At the same time, Biden essentially declared the contest for Pennsylvania over, even with both McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin having made numerous appearances there over the last few weeks.
"I think it's going to be close in Florida. It's going to be close here. It's going to be close in Missouri.... I don't think it will be that close in Pennsylvania. I feel very good about Pennsylvania," he said. "Maybe because I know the state so well. Um, I'm not overconfident about it, but I feel real good there."
Posted at 10:20 AM ET on Nov 1, 2008
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