Biden's Closing Argument

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(WILMINGTON, DEL.) - This morning, Joe Biden woke up at his home in Wilmington, knowing that after thirty five years, it could be the last time that he'll only hold the title of senator.

By Tuesday night, he might just be the Vice President-elect.

Biden made his closing argument last night to voters on why they should vote for an Obama presidency in South Philadelphia, where he stood alongside his wife and World Series champion Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies, a man who knows a little something about victory this week.

Biden fervently raced through his speech, his voice loud and adamant.

"I believe, I believe with greater confidence than ever before that we're on the cusp of a new era in American leadership, ladies and gentlemen."

"This election is not about Barack, it's not about me, it's not about Sarah Palin or John McCain, it's about you and now it's up to you. It's up to you to take back this country."

"It's in your hands. In less than 24 hours, we'll know who the next leader of the free world is and ladies and gentlemen, I know. I know, America knows, that Pennsylvania is going to decide the next President of the United States of America. It's gonna be Barack Obama!"

Earlier in the day, he told reporters on the plane he felt confident in Pennsylvania voting for Obama.

"If I had to I'd bet you on Pennsylvania. I don't want to bet you on Ohio or Missouri…Indiana I don't want to bet you on either. I mean I think we can win all three. Am I ready to bet my daughter's graduate school tuition on it? Nope."

Stopping at a campaign office in New Philadelphia, Ohio, Biden told supporters how he sees Obama can win the majority of state electoral votes.

"We don't have to win every place. All we gotta do is win big where we should and cut the margins down where they have won big in the past."

"It's just how it feels. Again, you know, I've been doing this for a while. I got elected when I was 29 years old. And after a while you sort of get a feeling in your fingertips, you know? And I kind of got that feeling. Sounds corny to say it but I know you know it - this is the most important election any of us have voted in."

In the last two months, Biden has traveled the country with a dozen staffers, a mob of Secret Service agents, and a tattered pack of roving reporters.

Referred to by his spokesperson David Wade as "The Defender-in-Chief," Biden has served as Obama's shield from attacks by John McCain and Sarah Palin. Biden, unafraid to call McCain by his first name, has deconstructed what he sees as McCain's thought process and political philosophy, based on two decades of personal friendship and political reciprocity, calling him "fundamentally wrong" on economic matters and "disappointing" in the way he has run, or been run by, his campaign.

Biden made clear his sincerity of admiring McCain as a war hero and said he felt much like the Americans who support McCain because of that chapter in his life.

"There is this shining piece of John. And there really is. I mean, how can you possibly not appreciate the guy's personal courage?"

But Biden said that ultimately, when it came to reclaiming the reputation of the United States as a respected world leader, he felt McCain's attitude regarding leadership was not the right one for these times.

"John's basically a go-it-alone guy. You know. It is John's fervent, and I admire it, fervent belief in sort of American exceptionalism, I mean, you know, 'We're just gonna…we just go out and do it.'"

"John is the guy who lectures our European friends, you know what I mean, and says 'Hey, let me tell you…' you know, and so diplomacy isn't a big piece of John."

Biden said McCain has chosen the times in his career to be for or against an issue not because of his political party, but because of his sense of decency.

"John sort of idiosyncratically, if there's such a phrase, is a bit of a maverick in the sense that…there are certain things that offend his sense of equity, his sense of fairness, his sense of honor, and when they do…there's not an ideological consistency about them."

The Obama campaign has used Biden to drum up support and convince voters to become "comfortable" with the idea of an Obama presidency in battleground states, spending the most time in Ohio, followed by Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Biden's poll numbers have steadily climbed since he was announced as Obama's running mate, and nearly three quarters of Americans believe he would be prepared to take over the presidency.

One of the more interesting parts of the Irish Catholic senator's life that became evident over the past months of scrutinizing and studying by reporters is that he is a genuine family man.

Nearly every event is attended by his second wife, Jill Biden, a teacher, or one of his two grown sons, Beau and Hunter. His daughter, Ashley, is the only child Biden and Jill had. His sons are from his first marriage to Neilia Biden, who, along with his daughter Naomi, was killed in a car crash just days before Biden was first sworn in as Senator.

Biden watched Beau head off to Iraq earlier this month where Beau, the Delaware Attorney General and oldest of Biden's boys, will serve for a year in the military courts. His son Hunter, who recently left his job as a lobbyist, has been seen at Biden's events with his own daughter, also named Naomi.

But the most famous of Biden's grandchildren, Finnegan, has been with her "Pop" at nearly every event – if not in person, she is mentioned by Biden almost daily in his speeches.

"John McCain says he and George Bush share a common philosophy," said Biden in Missouri this week. "As my granddaughter Finnegan would say, HELLO!"

Both Republicans and the media have paid a lot less attention to Biden than to his Republican counterpart, Sarah Palin, but his opponents often have been quick to jump on so-called "gaffes" or misconstrued statements that have been used to make Biden sound foolish.

Regardless of what Republicans have said, Biden told reporters Monday on a flight to Ohio that he didn't think he has had a major political mess-up, such as calling Hillary Clinton qualified to be vice president or predicting Obama will be tested with an international crisis, since accepting the nomination.

"I don't think there have been any real gaffes. I mean I don't see anything in your polling data demonstrating any of that stuff you guys love to write about," said Biden.

Tapped by Obama for his knowledge of foreign policy, his ability to work with Republicans, and an appeal to working class voters who favored Hillary Clinton, Biden saw turnouts of around a thousand supporters at his events – crowds the same size as McCain saw before Palin joined his ticket.

And to a degree unlike other major candidates seen this election year, Biden spends time talking to most supporters he meets individually, hugging and kissing many of them, gripping hands, and whispering personal messages into their ears.

What Biden has said he was assured of is that, if Obama wis, he will be an adviser in his role as vice president. When accepting the job, which he said he initially did not want, Biden says he was told he would be able to make his case on any of the important issues that an Obama administration would have to decide upon.

Biden votes this morning in Wilmington before heading to Richmond, Va., to greet voters as they cast their ballots. Afterwards, he will join Barack Obama in Chicago where Biden and his family will watch return numbers flow in and wait to see what comes next.
  • Ryan Corsaro

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