Behind The Scenes With Joe Biden

katie couric interviews vice presidential nominee joe biden sept. 2008 CBS

He's the close-talking, free-wheeling, ice-cream loving Democratic nominee for vice president.

Sen. Joe Biden is not holding back, CBS News anchor Katie Couric reports.

"You say what's on your mind. Have you found that you have to be uber-careful and disciplined in terms of being out there on the campaign trail?" Couric asked.

"No. I feel passionate about what I'm doing and saying. I know the Republicans are going to take anything I say, no matter what it would be or anybody, and take it out of context," Biden said. "They are going to take any piece and if I have to parse through every single thing I'm going to say, then I'm not me."

On the trail, Biden is unmistakably himself, from occasionally cursing to getting emotional, as he did in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

CBS News was with him last Thursday during one of the rockiest weeks in history for the U.S. economy, something that wasn't lost on the six-term senator.

"Part of what being a leader does is to instill confidence is to demonstrate what he or she knows what they are talking about and to communicating to people ... this is how we can fix this," Biden said. "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'look, here's what happened.'"

Relating to the fears of working-class Americans is one of Biden's strong suits, as he did before union members in Akron, Ohio.

That's something that comes easily for this son of a car salesman from Scranton, Pa.

"What was it about what he said that really resonated with you?" Couric asked some members of the audience.

"I think he expressed what most people feel at the moment. He seems to relate to our pain," said Bob Wise.

"This is true middle class Akron, Ohio," said Tim O'Daniel.

"I want him in office because I think he'll do things for women," said Yvonne Marzik.

In fact, women, who usually lean Democratic, have suddenly become one of the most coveted voting blocs of this election.

"Polls show that Sen. McCain and Sarah Palin are making inroads among white female voters who are less educated," Couric told the candidate.

"I don't believe that," Biden said. "Every election people are making up their minds later and later because there's more and more at stake. Everyone should just be a little patient here. Eventually Sarah Palin is gonna have to let everyone know what she thinks, what her record is."

Couric asked: "How is it preparing for the debates?"

"Well it's kind of hard to prepare, because I don't know what she thinks. There's been no - I just don't know a lot about her, so therefore I'm assuming; I have to assume for purposes of the debate, that she agrees with John on everything," Biden said.

"Are you worried that you're going to have to pull your punches a bit because of her gender and you don't want to seem like you're bullying her? It's a different dynamic when it's a male/female thing, isn't it?" Couric asked.

"I don't know, is it? We're sitting here doing it right now, aren't we? Look, all kidding aside," Biden said. "So maybe it's a generational thing but I don't start this thing thinking 'Oh my God, this is a woman, I had better treat her differently.'"

But the way the campaigns are treating each other is raising some eyebrows - especially coming from two candidates who pledged to take the high road.

Couric asked: "Are you disappointed with the tone of the campaign? The 'lipstick on the pig' stuff, and some of the ads - you guys haven't been completely guilt-free making fun of John McCain's inability to use a computer."

"I thought that was terrible by the way," Biden said.

"Why did you do it then?" Couric asked.

"I didn't know we did it and if I had anything to do with it, we would have never done it," Biden said. "And I don't think Barack, you know. I just think that was …"

Did Obama approve that ad?

"The answer is I don't think there was anything intentional about that," Biden said. "They were trying to make another point. That's very different than deliberately taking a vote Barack Obama had to teach children about how to deal with child-predators and saying he was teaching them sex education in kindergarten. Very different in degree."



Update: Late Monday, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton released the following statement from Biden:

"I was asked about an ad I'd never seen, reacting merely to press reports. As I said right then, I knew there was nothing intentionally personal in the criticism of Senator McCain's views which look backwards not forwards and are out of touch with the new economic challenges we face today. Having now reviewed the ad, it is even more clear to me that given the disgraceful tenor of Senator McCain's ads and their persistent falsehoods, his campaign is in no position to criticize, especially when they continue to distort Barack's votes on an issue as personal as keeping kids safe from sexual predators," said Joe Biden.
  • Katie Couric

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