Biden Asks Americans To "Imagine"

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(WASHINGTON) - Joe Biden spoke to the National Jewish Democratic Council tonight, making the focus of his speech a call for Americans to imagine a country different than it's been under eight years of President Bush.

He asked the crowd to imagine a country that believes in science, a president will put Supreme Court justices on the bench that respect civil and women's right, and a United States that once again "is respected around the world."

Biden started his speech with an old Jewish joke that was warmly received, saying the Yeshiva crew team realized Harvard's secret to winning was that they had only one person yelling while the rest of the team rowed. "That could be said about us Irish as well," said Biden to laughs from the Jewish audience. He likened it to the current political race for the White House.

"We need to ignore all of the malarkey, ignore all of the distractions, ignore the e-mails, and get behind Barack Obama," he insisted.

Biden's tone was calmer tonight. He had a small coughing fit, which he blamed on eating a handful of peanuts before he walked on stage, and took a sip of water.

While Biden said that "wealthy people are just as patriotic as poor folks," he added that the ExxonMobils of the world did not need or deserve a four billion dollar tax break to drill off-shore after a decade of record profits, which McCain has advocated.

He also attacked the McCain-Palin ticket on health care, saying they would tax health care costs on top of the average American's earned income.

In tax dollars, Biden said, "that will be a trillion dollars."

"It's not a bad economic theory, it's just a dumb economic theory," he added.

Biden said he only promised to be Obama's vice president if they agreed to trust that Americans could handle "fundamental change" in all aspects of the American way of life, from alternative energy to the politics of government.

"There are solutions to these problems but they are not beyond our reach," said Biden.