(MANASSAS, VA.) - After Sarah Palin's stinging speech filled with put-downs and mockery of Barack Obama, you might think that his pick for No. 2 would have his back today.
But that's not the type of response Joe Biden had today, instead choosing to express respect for Palin instead of reflecting the anger many Democrats express for McCain's choosing of her as his running-mate. Biden would only criticize "what was not heard" from Palin, pointing to a void he saw in the Republican's speech last night.
"I didn't hear the phrase health insurance mentioned once," he said. "I didn't hear, I didn't hear one time any reference to education. I didn't hear a single syllable about how hard it is for middle class folks to get to their kids to college. I didn't hear anything concrete about jobs and what's going to be done about stopping the export of our jobs."
But Biden also made what could have been either a slip of the tongue or a political prod at Palin when he spoke to supporters in here, referring only to Palin as a "lieutenant governor."
"I heard a very - by the way I mean this sincerely - a very strong and a very good political speech from a lieutenant governor of Alaska who I think is going to be very formidable, very formidable not only in the campaign but in the debate," said Biden.
Palin has been governor of Alaska since 2006, and before that was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996-2002.
Biden's town hall events have been full of Democrats who want to know more about how he will treat Palin going forward, and many of them express sinister suspicions they have for McCain in choosing a woman.
"I just want to let you know that I'm really tired of the Republican pandering to women voters," Jennifer Halpin told Biden during a question and answer forum today on the economy. "I've been supporting Barack Obama from day one. I also really respect and admire Hillary Clinton. And I think it's preposterous for Republicans to think that just because they add any woman to their ticket that we are going to be dumb enough to turn into Stepford wives and vote [for McCain]."
Biden responded by saying, "Spoken like my wife, daughter and sister."
He has tried to project the image that he is in the dark about Palin, saying "I don't know much about her," and even played the underdog part to Palin's one-liners at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.
"I will be unrelenting in my debate with governor, the governor of Alaska in terms of the positions she has taken," Biden said early this morning in Virginia Beach. "But I will not do what she is able to do so well, and many others--not bad. I am not good at the one-line zingers that go at, you know, that's not my deal. So if that is going to be the measure of how these debates go, then I'm not going to do very well."
An African American woman asked Biden, "I know it's difficult to have to debate women according to what the media and everyone else says. But as a woman, given what Sarah Palin stands for, and what she intends to do for programs for education, given what her record is in Alaska, would you please promise us that you will go at her the same way?"
Biden told the woman he was impressed with and respected Palin as a leader, promising that he would debate Palin on issues.
"And I'm going to say something outrageous, but I think if you check, and the press is all here, it's a dangerous thing to say in front of the national press, you check. I have never once in my career attacked the motive or the character or the personality or the style of anyone."