Biden begins to shore up Obama's defensive line
His speech Wednesday night at the Democratic convention revealed his tasks: attack McCain's positions and appeal to blue-collar white voters.
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Biden drew on his own foreign policy experience to attack the "Bush-McCain" foreign policy. He slammed the administration for failing to face "the biggest forces shaping this century," such as the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food, and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.Skip to next paragraph
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"I've been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms: This administration's policy has been an abject failure. America cannot afford four more years of this," he said.
The capacity crowd in Denver warmed to the tone of the attack, but applause fell off considerably when Biden proposed anything like more US involvement overseas. The line "We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we'll help the people of Georgia rebuild" sent the decibel level in the Pepsi Center markedly south.
Delegates also reacted coolly to this line of attack: "Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, 'Afghanistan, we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded'? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?" At the mention of deployment of additional US troops, the hall nearly went silent.
Democratic strategists are also looking to Biden to help the ticket shore up support among so-called Reagan Democrats – white working-class men who have doubts about Obama. Born in Scranton, Pa., Biden refers often to the Catholic, working-class neighborhoods of his youth and the lessons they taught.
"Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story," Biden said. "Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware, with a dad who fell on hard times but who always told me: 'Champ, when you get knocked down, get up.' "
Recent polling by Democracy Corps signals that Obama is winning about 75 to 80 percent of voters in most conservative Democratic subgroups, well below the 85 percent and higher that Senator Kerry achieved in 2006. "He is underperforming Kerry by a net of 12 [percentage] points among white noncollege Democrats and 9 points among white Democratic men," concludes an Aug. 4 report, "The New Electorate." If Obama can bring his support closer to historic Democratic levels, "big gains are possible."