Friday, October 19, 2007

Biden Looks To Gain Ground On Richardson In Iowa

LOHRVILLE — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, now making some incremental gains in the polls, Thursday spent more than two hours in Lohrville campaigning with 25 people in that Calhoun County town’s library.

Biden, a veteran politician from Delaware and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sought to portray himself as a steady, experienced hand prepared to lead the nation in perilous times.

“A lot of us tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to know,” Biden said.

He urged people to consider experience in making their caucus decisions.

Calhoun County Democratic Party co-chair Faith Blaskovich, a teacher and long-time library advocate, said she is supporting Biden because he fits the true definition of a “statesman,” which she actually read from the dictionary in introducing Biden.

Blaskovich told Iowa Independent she thinks leading Democratic candidates are pandering to voters.

“That’s what I feel when I hear Hillary talk, when I hear Obama talk,” Blaskovich said, referenced U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Biden showed a command of old-school Iowa campaign tactics, approaching people and putting his hands on their shoulders and looking intently at them as he answered questions. Biden even got down on bended knee to answer a question from a woman who said she was undecided and would base her vote on Iraq. Using a blank wall as a backdrop Biden at one point pantomimed the history and geography of Iraq and its neighbors.

With the latest Des Moines Register poll showing Biden at 5 percent, up from 3 percent, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson falling from 10 percent to 8 percent in Iowa, a recent Biden campaign memo referenced Richardson twice. Clinton leads Iowa in that poll with 29 percent followed by former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, 23 percent, and Obama, 22 percent.

“All of them combined, including Richardson, do not have as much experience as me,” Biden said.

Biden mentioned Richardson several times Thursday in Lohrville, saying the New Mexican’s plan for troop withdrawal from Iraq was ill-conceived and unrealistic, and could leave Americans at risk in the exit strategy.

The Delaware senator also contended that he has deeper relationships with international leaders because of his years of foreign policy work in the Senate. Richardson, a former U.N. ambassador, frequently references his international credentials and claims they are superior to others in the Democratic field.

When asked by Iowa Independent if the many references to Richardson specifically in his speech and answers to questions from the Calhoun County audience revealed a strategy for moving into the key fourth spot in the polls — a place from which he could pull an Iowa upset — Biden said he and Richardson simply have a “friendly competition.”

“I have liked him for years,” Biden said.

Biden challenged Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s vote on a non-binding measure sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, a move some senators, like Virginia’s Jim Webb, see as setting a pretext for another war.

“The president, I think, is hell-bent on going to war with Iran,” Biden said.
He said the resolution gives President Bush an opening for military action with Iran.
“What do you think that does for George Bush?” Biden said. “Look how he bastardized a resolution we gave him to stop a war.”

For his part, Biden was successful recently in getting a plan passed in the Senate 75 to 23 that, according to the Baltimore Sun, requires the United States to work to support the division of Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, each governed locally by its dominant ethnic and religious factions, the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.

The regions would have dominion over police protection, jobs, utilities and other municipal functions, supported by a weaker federal government in Baghdad. All three regions would share in the country’s oil revenues, The Sun reported.

Biden’s Lohrville stop came after a long day of campaigning in western and central Iowa. He had appearances in Storm Lake, Laurens, Cherokee and Sheldon as well.
In Lohrville, Biden spent his time almost exclusively on foreign policy and Iraq.

He did make some references to the economy, expressing concerns that China is graduating more engineers than the United States and blasted Bush economics for creating more disparity in the income classes. Biden said the top 1 percent of income earners in the United States made 22 percent of the money last year.

“This economy is out of kilter,” Biden said. “The middle class is getting slaughtered.”

No comments: