Biden Calls For Unity, End To "Ugly" Campaigning

(CBS)
From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro:

(GREENVILLE, N.C.) - Joe Biden spoke to college supporters of Barack Obama this morning in North Carolina, calling for an end to the "ugly" campaigning and pointing to the attacks on great presidents of the past as they sought the presidency of the United States.

Speaking outside on the campus of East Carolina University, Biden began the last full week of the election season by telling voters, "Now it's up to you."

"You saw the debates, you've heard the policy positions of both the teams. You've seen me and Barack in North Carolina ten times since the last convention, and lord knows, you've seen enough television commercials. And now it's time to choose," said Biden.

He made the offer to voters in "choosing to tap into the oldest, the oldest American belief of all. That we do not have to accept things the way they are."

Nearby, a sheet with the words "Pirates 4 Change Obama 2008" – a reference to the local college mascot - waved in the wind. Biden pointed to a crowd member, saying "There's a man of foresight. He's holding up a '08 Obama North Carolina license plate. There's a man who knew what to do. Hopefully we're going to make that worth a lot for you, sir."

Reflecting on the past eight years under President Bush, Biden said "the answer to the question is not are we better off. Everyone knows we're not better off. The real question is, how can we be better off four years from now…and who will get us there?"

Harkening back on the attacks that some of the most well known presidents faced while running for office, Biden recounted that they all had faced negative attacks in their day as candidates face now.

"They said Thomas Jefferson…wasn't a real Christian. That was the essence of the campaign against him. Well does that sound familiar? Ladies and gentlemen, they said Abraham Lincoln, they said he wanted to take away individual rights. Ladies and gentlemen, they said Franklin Roosevelt would destroy the American system of life. Sound familiar? And ladies and gentlemen, they said That John F. Kennedy was, quote, 'a dangerous choice in difficult times.' That's what they said, they said John F. Kennedy was a dangerous choice in difficult times. Sound familiar?"

"Well ladies and gentlemen," he concluded, "new ideas and new leaders are often met with new attacks and almost always negative attacks built on lies which are the last resort of those who have nothing new to offer."

Further condemning what he called "the politics of division," Biden linked "scurrilous phone calls" made by the McCain campaign to being as damaging as questions he felt were biased that he received during an interview with WFTV-TV in Orlando, Fla., last week.

"This has been a pretty mean campaign. I was on a television station the other day doing a satellite feed to a major network in, in Florida and the anchor quotes Karl Marx and says, in a sense, isn't Barack Obama Karl Marx? You know, I mean, folks, this stuff you're hearing in this campaign, some of it is pretty ugly and some of the innuendo is pretty ugly. But ladies and gentlemen, those of you who support us, when this is over, if God willing we win, we have to reach out to those folks. We have to bring this country together."

Shortly after, McCain spokesman Ben Porritt sent out an e-mail labeling the candidate as "Angry Joe Biden" and writing "After cutting off his press corps, Joe Biden is leveling attacks on local reporters who ask challenging questions. FYI, Senator McCain sat down with Barbara West today, the same reporter that Biden is now criticizing."

Meanwhile, Biden praised Obama's character throughout the campaign.

"In a turbulent economy, Barack Obama has demonstrated a steady hand. In a dangerous world Barack Obama has demonstrated sound judgment. To a nation desperate for a better day, he offers new ideas, new leadership and real hope ladies and gentlemen," said Biden.

"Look, our problems, our problems are too big and for too long our politics has been too small. Barack Obama knows that we need to bring people together. Remind them, remind them of what we've overcome in the past and appeal to their better angels."

Speaking to the "37,500 jobs" lost in North Carolina and pointing to the area's textile industry, Biden said it had been "killed" because America has yet to "stand up to China" and demand trade policies that give American workers a "fighting chance."

Biden travels to Greensboro, N.C., later this morning, followed by an evening event in New Port Richey, Florida. Biden will spend the next two days campaigning in that state, which like North Carolina, is a battleground this year.