Biden hopes Mikulski has coattails, finds silver lining in tea party wins
By Paul West
Sep 23, 2010 at 7:20 AM
Vice President Joe Biden's press office released the following report this morning. Under VP office rules, one reporter is allowed to attend his fundraising events and write up a report that other members of the White House press corps are free to use.
Here is the lowdown:
Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Thursday morning at the home of Stewart W. Bainum Jr. and Sandra Bainum in Chevy Chase, Md.
Stewart Bainum is the chairman of the board of Choice Hotels International, based in Silver Spring, and the former head of Manor Care, Inc. He is also a former member of the Maryland state House and state Senate. The Bainums are longtime donors to Democratic candidates, committees and causes.
The event was held in the Bainums' backyard. Roughly 40 people were in attendance, including Mikulski's fellow Maryland senator, Benjamin Cardin (D). The breakfast buffet menu included eggs, yogurt, fruit, muffins and bagels.
Mikulski is running for her fifth term, considered the favorite in her race against Queen Anne's County Commissioner Eric Wargotz (R). Biden and Mikulski served together in the Senate for more than two decades.
Biden began his remarks by saying he had done events for a lot of Democrats, and "[t]here's not a single one I'm more proud to be associated with" than Mikulski.
"If this were like Fantasy Football" for Democrats, Biden asked, "who would be among the first two or three people you would pick?"
Mikulski would be among the first selected in his draft, Biden confirmed, because "I love her gumption. I love her passion.""Name me someone you think would be more tenacious and more effective" in Congress, Biden said.
Biden added that Mikulski is known for her "power" and longtime Senate service, but "the thing that everybody underestimates … is how damn smart she is."
"Barbara's the only person who ever calls me 'Biden,'" he said, drawing laughter. "'Biden, come here.' So much for this malarkey about [how] I lead her around. No one, I won't let anyone but my sister call me 'Biden.'"
Biden then turned to politics and Mikulski's reelection race.
"There's an awful lot of talk this year about the demise of the Democratic party. Now I know no one is talking about the demise of Barbara," Biden said, but added that Republicans are "trying to keep Barbara on defense when she should be on offense."
Biden said, as he has before, that he was bullish about Democrats' chances of retaining power.
"I guarantee you we're going to have a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate. I absolutely believe that," he said.
Biden said Democrats "have a heck of a record, a heck of a positive record to run on," but he understood that the economy was still a source of anxiety for voters.
"They're angry, and they're angry against whoever is in power …" Biden said. "Maybe the best thing to happen to us lately is the tea party wins. Maybe it'll shake some of our constituency out of their lethargy."
Biden referenced an oft-cited quote by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) on "Meet the Press" to make the point that if Republicans win, "They'll reinstate the exact same agenda." He also mentioned the House GOP's unveiling of its legislative agenda Thursday, and said Democrats need to paint "a stark contrast. Ladies and gentlemen, they don't want to do anything different from what they did before."
Biden mentioned a recent Gallup poll of the generic ballot that showed Democrats roughly tied with Republicans as evidence that voters were starting to pay attention to the issues and the two parties' messages.
Turning back to Mikulski, Biden reiterated that attendees should help her win by a wide margin: "We not only need her to win this race, we need her to win more races in this state. … It will matter to the rest of the ticket. … Elect her, reelect her, but don't do it on the margins -- do it big enough that her coattails are going to have some real impact."