AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Vice President Joe Biden addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday.

Biden praises Obama's 'courage to make the tough decisions'

Vice president Joe Biden accepted his party's nomination for a second term on Thursday. In his speech, he spoke of the respect he has for President Obama. He also reached out to working-class voters. 

Joe Biden stepped forward Thursday as Barack Obama's chief character witness, link to middle class voters and potentially the most biting critic of Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Speaking candidly about his front-row seat to Obama's presidency, Biden used his speech to Democrats' convention to paint his friend as a gutsy leader who helped the nation turn the corner on its dour economy. He pointed to the decisions to bail out Detroit's auto industry and to dispatch Navy SEALs into Pakistan for a fatal raid on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's compound.

"Conviction. Resolve. Barack Obama," Biden shouted to delegates watching in the convention hall and millions more watching at home.

Biden, the sometimes off-script but always fiery vice president, praised Obama's hardest decisions. He deviated from his prepared remarks at times to include some of his signature rhetorical flourishes but stayed focused on the arguments Obama needs him to make to white, working-class voters.

"This man has courage in his soul, compassion in his heart and steel in his spine," Biden said, drawing the crowd to its feet. "And because of all the actions he took, because of the calls he made, because of the grit and determination of American workers, and the unparalleled bravery of our special forces we can now proudly say what you've heard me say the last six months: Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive."

In the crowd, several delegates held up bumper stickers with versions of that slogan.

But with stubbornly high unemployment and the economy the driving factor in the presidential race, Biden acknowledged many Americans were not yet feeling things had improved since Obama won the White House in 2008. He asked for patience.

"Yes, the work of recovery is not yet complete, but we are on our way," Biden said. "The journey of hope is not yet finished, but we are on our way. The cause of change is not fully accomplished, but we are on our way. So I say to you tonight, with absolute confidence, America's best days are ahead, and, yes, we are on our way."

Biden also spoke plainly about the respect he has developed for Obama during the past 3 1/2 years, particularly the president's hands-on approach to foreign policy. The two sometimes have disagreed, but that has only increased Biden's standing with Obama, who appreciates discussion over dictating decisions. On days they are both on White House grounds, they spend some four hours together in meetings; Biden often is the last person Obama consults on major decisions.

"I want to take you inside the White House to see the president, as I see him every day," Biden said. "Because I don't see him in sound bites. I walk down the hall, 30 steps to into the Oval Office, and I see him, I watch him in action."

"He always has the courage to make the tough decisions," Biden added.

Biden has been an occasional headache for Obama, though. On the day Obama signed the Democrats' health care overhaul into law, Biden stole headlines by using an expletive in range of a live microphone. He forced Obama's hand on gay rights during an interview that sped up the president's endorsement of gay marriage. And more recently, to an African-American audience in Virginia, he said of Republicans, "They're going to put y'all back in chains."

Yet Biden has a knack for connecting with blue-collar workers that Obama simply does not. He can deliver scathing criticism through clenched grins in a way that Obama cannot. He can promote Obama's accomplishments that would sound like bragging if the president talked in the same way.

"Day after day, night after night, I sat beside him as he made one gutsy decision after another," he said.

Born in Scranton, Pa., and raised as a member of the working class, Biden speaks with credibility to voters' frustrations with Washington, despite having first won election to the Senate in 1972. He can move an audience with stories about coping with the death of his first wife and daughter in a car accident or seeing his father forced to move to Delaware to find work.

"When I was a young kid in third grade, I remember my dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop's house where we were living, sitting on the end of my bed, and saying, 'Joey, I'm going to have to leave for a while. Go down to Wilmington, Del., with Uncle Frank. There are good jobs down there honey, and in a little while, I will be able to send for you and mom and Jimmy and Val, and everything is going to be fine,'" Biden said. "For the rest of our lives, my dad never failed to remind us that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It is about your dignity. It's about respect. It's about your place in the community."

Plus, Biden has demonstrated a certain glee in eviscerating his rivals' proposals, especially their plans for seniors' health care. He said Romney's business experience helped his companies make "highest profits. But it's not the way to lead our country from its highest office."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Biden praises Obama's 'courage to make the tough decisions'
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today