(DEERFIELD BEACH, FLA.) - Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden participated in a wide-ranging town hall this afternoon with senior citizens, fielding questions ranging from Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and Supreme Court justice picks, to looking into the legality of activities inside the Bush administration.
The event focused largely on Israel. Biden's Yiddish-flavored remarks were largely aimed at members of Florida's Jewish community, including anecdotes of his understanding of the Holocaust and Golda Meir.
"We're going to be mishpukah (family) before this all is over. I promise you," said Biden, who referred to himself as "the zadi" or grandfather.
Touting his foreign policy experience, Biden charged that the last two terms of President Bush's leadership has left Israel less secure.
"Eight years ago you did not have the legitimization of Hezbollah as part of the government in Lebanon," said Biden. "Eight years ago you didn't have Hamas occupying, you did not have Hamas occupying Gaza, continuing to lob shells into school yards and hospitals and homes. Eight years ago the president and the administration and my friend talks about freedom on the march, in Iran the only thing on the march is their march to get a nuclear weapon."
Biden recalled visiting Europe with his son to view the sights of Holocaust atrocities.
"I wanted him to see, because as every generation passes, it's harder and harder and harder to understand the enormity, the enormity, of the outrageous things that were committed. And even it's harder for people to understand that if we remain silent there is no guarantee it won't happen again."
When he turned the microphone over to the audience, the first question posed to the senator was about Palin's pregnant 17-year-old daughter. Biden said he had avoided the question so far with the press, but wanted to be honest with the woman who asked.
"Everything I know about her, there's no reason not to respect her and believe she's qualified to be the vice president. I'm not going to make that judgment. That's the people - for you all to make. I just simply, I'm being completely honest with you, I know people worry about Biden's style and answering the question, but the truth is, I simply don't know. And I take her on face value. She's the governor -- that's no mean feat -- and she seems to have a strong personal story."
"With regard to the stuff that you're talking about, I have a simple proposition: children are off limits. Children are off limits. And as my mom would say, we should treat each other, and in this case we've all been through things with our children, and it's about common decency. Just treat people with common decency. That's all I know that I can say. And I don't know any more. Quite frankly, I'm sure I'll know a lot more before it's over. But I don't know much more about her positions on the issues than I've heard."
Biden also warned the crowd not to listen to negative rumors being spread online about Barack Obama.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the reason I mention that, I know as we say, as they say in the Protestant churches of my state, this is like preaching to the choir. I know that. But the reason I say it is there's some scurrilous stuff going around in the internet, particularly in Florida. It's simply scurrilous. I, to the extent you trust me, and I don't mean that I'm anything that special, but the extent you trust me and understand where my heart is, I promise you, the stuff you're getting on the Internet is simply not true. That's the only reason I mention it."
Obama himself has made statements in Florida on the matter, addressing rumors that he is a Muslim which have spread through e-mail.
One rumor in particular Biden tried to quell was the idea that Michelle Obama is, as he called it, an "angry woman" -- telling the crowd to listen to her speech at the Democratic Convention.
"I don't know if you've observed it but there's real chemistry, this is not a joke. It's real. And between my wife Jill and Michelle. And by the way, the next Republican or right wing guy who tells me about 'Michelle is this angry woman', listen to that speech of hers."
Biden said his favorite line from the convention was when his granddaughters and Obama's two daughters asked to have a sleepover, which they were allowed in a hotel room.
In regards to abortion, Biden said he would help Obama choose Supreme Court justices unlike those nominated by President Bush. He said that Justice Alito in particular had "a very cabined view of the rights of women, the rights of individuals."
Biden also touched on congressional oversight of the Bush administration, telling the crowd that the Democrats will look into the legality of anything questionable.
"What they're doing is, they're doing the right thing. They're not making false accusations about anyone. They're not making ad hominem allegations. They're collecting data. They are subpoenaing records. They're building the file. And they're going through it, and will go through it with a fine toothed comb.
"If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued, not out of vengeance. Not out of retribution. Out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no one, no attorney general, no president, no one is above the law."