From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:
(TAMPA, FLA.) - Joe Biden let loose on the negative tone of John McCain's campaign this morning at a Florida rally, calling McCain himself "an angry man lurching from one position to another" and called McCain's strategy nothing but "a distraction."
Biden expressed disgust in the overtones of recent McCain and Palin political attacks and implied there might be deeper and disturbing connotations to statements by Sarah Palin that Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists" or the use of his middle name, Hussein, by a rally speaker.
"The one they have chosen is to appeal to fear with a veiled question: 'Who is the real Barack Obama?' Ladies and gentlemen, to have a vice presidential candidate raise the most outrageous inferences, the ones that John McCain's campaign is condoning is simply wrong," said Biden, who blamed McCain's Republican strategists - the ones that successfully deflated McCain's chances against George W. Bush in 2000 with sensational rumors and attacks.
"These same people, they're attacking Barack Obama in the ugliest of ways," said Biden. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is beyond disappointing, this is beyond disappointing. This is wrong."
A McCain spokesman, responding to Biden's statements, once again brought up what they call Obama's "radical associations."
"What Barack Obama and his running mate fundamentally lack is a record of making change or reform and in turn the credibility to call for it. John McCain challenged the president and advocated for the surge in Iraq that is succeeding today and has continued to fight against broken regulations, out of control government spending, and global climate change. During their combined 39 years in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama nor his running mate have ever challenged their own party. Their 'run with the herd' mentality, radical associations, and partisan proposals have made them the most liberal ticket in political history," said Ben Porritt, a McCain-Palin spokesman.
Biden also took a couple of jabs at Palin in his speech, something that would have been unheard of running up to last week's debate.
"Last week I had a debate, at least I think it was a debate, with Governor Palin," said Biden to huge roar from the crowd of three thousand.
Palin had less than a handful of mentions in the 35-minute speech, but Biden has never before taken a mocking tone with her.
"You can't change our approach to global warming if you think, as my opponent says, you're not quite sure of the cause," said Biden, who insists it is a man-made problem.
Biden said the McCain-Palin ticket's negative advertising and a shift to attacking Obama's character "is an attempt to get you to stop paying attention to what's going on in this country."
"I guess when you vote with George W. Bush 90% of the time, your best option is to attack your opponent 100% of the time," said Biden.
"Look to paraphrase a good friend of mine, Sen. Bob Casey from my home town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He says you can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick."
"Don't be distracted. Those attacks don't hurt Barack Obama or me. They hurt you," said Biden.
"Every single false charge or baseless accusation is an attempt to get you to stop paying attention to what's really going on in this country. Beyond the attacks, what's John McCain really offering?"
Interestingly, an analysis by the Wisconsin Advertising Project shows that during last week, 100% of McCain's TV ads were negative or contrast ads, while only a third of Obama's were. However, Obama spends three times as much on TV ads than McCain does.
Earlier, Biden was accidentally introduced as "The next vice president, Senator John McCain," by a former banker who had shifted his vote from McCain to Obama.
The event was the first in a day long bus tour of Florida, a trip that was cut short this week by the death of Biden's mother in law. He has not held an event in four days.
Biden campaigns later today in Fort Myers and Naples.