(SCRANTON, PA.) - For the second time since he was named Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, was mistakenly elevated to the top of the ticket.
"I will be back, I'll be back to campaign in earnest, but today is not the moment for me to campaign. Today is the moment for me as a United States senator running for president to put aside the national politics and focus on what's happening down there," he said, even though he is running for vice president.
During the Aug. 23 rally where Obama announced Biden as his running mate , Obama said, "So let me introduce to you the next president - the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden."
The slip-ups, while humorous, are understandable. In Biden's case, he's a two-time presidential candidate, most recently this year. And with Obama, he's heard that phrase - "the next president of the United States" - countless times over the course of his campaign.
Meantime, earlier today, Biden said he is not opposed to off-shore drilling for oil, as long as there are guarantees put in place for oil companies to give a fair price and make sure it goes to Americans only.
Despite making several announcements that today was not a day for national politics and canceling an appearance in Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade because of Hurricane Gustav, Biden still held a roundtable discussion in Scranton at his childhood home. Taking questions from local residents, Biden conversationally launched into an attack on 'his friend', John McCain, on what Biden sees as the problem with off-shore drilling without conditions.
"What has John proposed?" asked Biden. "John proposes to drill. Drill, drill, drill."
"I'm not opposed to drillin'. But I want to say to my friends on the other side, I'll prepare to support drillin' off shore and even take some risks with our environment if you guarantee me that that oil -- which by the way, is our oil. You own that oil. The American people own the Continental Shelf. The oil companies don't own it. We own that oil. We own that oil in Alaska. We own that oil in the gulf."
"So I have no problem -- go ahead and drill. Just guarantee me two things. One – all that oil is going to come to America. Virtually none of the oil from Alaska comes to America, it all goes to Japan. So guarantee me it all comes to America and guarantee me you're not going to charge me Saudi Arabian prices. You're not going to guarantee me, you're going to guarantee me you won't charge me OPEC prices. Everybody talks about our American oil companies. Our American oil companies are charging us the same money that Saudi Arabian oil companies are charging us. No difference. You don't walk into a gas station and say this is American oil, I pay a dollar less and this is foreign oil, I pay a dollar more."
"So guarantee me. Guarantee me you make a substantial profit, but you don't charge us cartel prices, which is a monopoly. If OPEC were an American operation, they'd be violating anti-trust laws. They're not allowed under our law to do this. And the third thing is at least, if you're going to take our oil out of the ground, we own it, then we're going to charge you a fair price for that oil. We're going to charge you a fair price to pump that oil. We own it."
"It's our oil, and what is John talking about? Senator McCain, talking about? He wants to give the oil companies another five billion dollar tax cut so they'll go out and drill for oil. They're gonna, first of all, we're not charging them the right amount for the leases we're giving them for our oil. And secondly, John says not only that, we're not going to charge them more for the leases, we're going to give them five billion dollars more money. They made six…hundred…billion…dollars in profits since 2000. Six…hundred…billion…dollars. And John wants to give them another five billion bucks? Because they don't have the money to explore? Come on, give me a break."
"In a nutshell, what we're going to do is two things. We're going to get a fair price for the American people for anything the American people own. If Exxon Mobile wants to pump our oil? Fair price. Number one. Number two, we're going to make sure although we continue to drill,that what we do is we provide an alternative to free us from the grip of oil. Folks, you know, it's like saying, when John says "drill, drill, drill," that's our way out – your problem isn't drilling, your problem is the cost of oil. Now what do you think happens, we drill two percent more oil in America, don't you think OPEC's going to reduce their output by two percent and the price is going to stay the same? You think we're going to get a deal from OPEC saying 'if you raise the total amount of oil in the world by two percent, we're going to cut it'? Come on folks. Come on."