CBSN

Biden Brings Out The Tough Talk

From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.) - "I have a reputation for being blunt, and I don't know how to curb that," says Joe Biden before a crowd of over a thousand Floridians who have come to hear him speak on sultry Palm Beach evening.

"I have never in all my years as a United States Senator – and this is not hyperbole -- I have never seen so many people get knocked down, and Washington do so little, so little to get them back up."

The senator has worked his way down from Pennsylvania, where he spent yesterday visiting his childhood home in Scranton, recalling when his mother giving him the go-ahead as a kid to punch the neighborhood bullies in the nose. Now, his fight is against a political rival who Biden has had over to his home at stood with for decades on the floor of the Senate. He takes a moment to express the value of his thirty year friendship with Senator John McCain, but says the he does not see eye to eye on the issues of this campaign season with the Republican who will be named nominee of his party for president by the week's end.

"If John McCain picked up the phone today and said, Joe, I need you to get in a plane and fly out to Missoula, I can't tell you why, I'd get in a plane and I'd go. And I believe he'd do it for me. But folks, John doesn't get this part of what we're talking about."

"When we talk about the measure of whether or not where middle class is, and you say well it's anybody making less than $5 million dollars a year," says Biden, with the crowd erupting in laughter. "I don't know why the hell I didn't marry middle class."

"But all kidding aside, think about it."

Biden, who tends to speak loosely and colloquially in public and often without omitting "hell" and "damn" from his vernacular, took to challenging anyone who disputes his record on such matters as protecting the state of Israel.

"As a young kid in the United States Senate I led the fight against the sale of the AWAC and the F-15. As a guy who did the Palestinian act to make sure that we not be able to negotiate with the Palestinians until they renounced violence and began to recognize Israel; as a guy who in fact defended Israel when it moved into Lebanon the first time. As a person who in fact has gone after the Arab states for failure to step up to the ball.

"Look, I have a record on Israel, and I'm going to say it bluntly with the national press here, unsurpassed by anybody. Anybody serving in the United States Congress. Anybody."

"And I want to tell you one more thing. And I mean this. He doesn't need me to verify this. But I would not have joined this ticket, I would not have joined this ticket unless I was absolutely thoroughly, totally convinced beyond his voting record that Barack Obama's support for Israel like mine started here."

Biden turned his attacks at times to the Bush administration, saying "We will not have an Attorney General who blatantly breaks the law. We will not have a president who doesn't understand the Constitution. And I will not be a vice president who thinks he's not part of any of the three branches of government."

A former marine, who said he would salute Barack Obama as president, asked a question about the Bush administration that prompted Biden to tell the audience he wanted them to refrain from reacting while he gave his thoughts.

"One of the things that I think is that the biggest thing we lost in this administration, and by the way, I'm not—please don't respond, because I want to get this thought out. George Bush and his administration are going to be judged harshly by history. Not for the mistakes they made but for the opportunities to unite America and the world they squandered."

He said instead of asking Americans to fly planes and go shopping, the current president could have promised to end dependency on foreign oil and told the country to sacrifice while moving towards being energy independent.

Asked what he planned to do about the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, the group that successfully had a hand in distracting and derailing John Kerry's supporters in 2004 and rallied the conservative base behind President Bush, Biden invited them to the boxing ring.

"A straight left and a right hook, hey baby, I want to tell ya'. We ain't laying down. We are not going to lay down. Period. If you know anything about me, that's what worries people. We are not going to lay down."

"If Barack Obama had grown up in my neighborhood, he would have been the same guy he is now. I've got to tell you, I'm tired. Let me tell you. If you're looking for a very sophisticated, Harvard graduate who went to Columbia undergrad and was president of the Law Review, he's totally intellectual. Baby you ain't seen nothing yet. This guy is steel. This guy is steel, and I assure you that."

His question to Barack Obama when he accepted the nomination for vice president was the same, he said, as what he tells candidates from his state of Delaware who ask for advice when running for office.

"There's only one question you have to figure out. Have you figured out what it's worth losing over? Let me say that again. Have you figured out what it's worth losing over?"