Democratic presidential-nomination hopeful Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., visited Iowa City on Monday afternoon, speaking at two different events related to foreign policy and campaign financing.
At the first event, held by the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council at the Iowa City Public Library, Biden denounced a possible war with Iran.
"If you're part of the reality-based community, it should worry you," he said at the event, which was also sponsored by the UI's Honors Program and both the UI Democrats and College Republicans. "War with Iran is not just a bad idea, war with Iran at this point in the [United States'] history would be a disaster."
Five minutes before Biden was scheduled to speak, empty seats were scarce, and a number of the 150 people who showed up to the event were forced to stand.
Directing his speech to the interests of his Foreign Relations Council hosts, Biden rarely drifted off foreign policy, breaking from that topic only in the question-and-answer session when he spoke on his Violence Against Women Act.
He rejected a war against Iran as detrimental to American interests, instead arguing that the United States should pursue diplomatic solutions, as well as economic sanctions against the country.
Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also blasted the Bush administration for pursuing policies that, he said, directly hurt America's image abroad.
To change this, he said, current policy needs to be "turned on its head." He stressed the need to appeal to Iran's people and moderates in the region, denounce torture, and shut down the Guantánamo Bay prison, and cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"We need to end our dependence on not the 'axis of evil' but the 'axis of oil,' " said Biden, who also urged action on ending the genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
And he also did a little bit of selling his candidacy.
"A lot of people say I'd be a good secretary of State," he said. "But are you prepared to vote for anyone for president who wouldn't be a good secretary of State?"
UI senior Joe Traw said the speech just cemented his thoughts on Biden and the presidential field.
"I thought it kind of reaffirmed what I already thought: that he has the most extensive knowledge of foreign policy of any of the other presidential candidates," he said, who listed foreign policy as his No. 1 issue and is supporting Biden.
At the second event, Biden emphasized one important presidential character trait: authenticity.
"I can only promise you this: You'll never have to worry if there is a difference between what I say and what I do," he said to the crowd of about 140.
This, he asserted, was the main way America could increase participation in the democratic process. The senator also pointed to publicly financed elections as a way to reduce the need for great amounts of money to run for political office.
Additionally, Biden rejected negative campaigning, arguing that it unnecessarily produces cynicism and said he's never run a negative ad in his 30-plus years as a senator.
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