Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

Biden's Fighting Words

Aug. 27, 2008

"When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me — and this is the God's truth — she sent me back out and said, 'Bloody their nose so you can walk down the street the next day.' And that's what I did."

Sen. Joe Biden, Democratic National Convention

It may have been his race, his Ivy League education, his years in far-off Hawaii and Indonesia, or his taste for gourmet eats like arugula and protein bars. For whatever reason, Obama had trouble throughout the campaign winning over white working-class voters. (A problem not exactly helped by his boneheaded gaffe about rural voters clinging to guns and religion). In the primaries, these crucial voters in places like Scranton, Pennsylvania overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton, and many Democrats worried that they could prevent Obama from winning the big prize in November. That concern was surely a factor when Obama tapped as his running mate a guy who hailed originally from — where else — Scranton. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden may have been equally valued for his experience in Washington and foreign policy credentials, but Biden's main job on the campaign trail was to win the support of regular Joes. Biden often spoke of the scrappy toughness and dignity to be found in places like northeastern Pennsylvania, perhaps most memorably at the Democratic convention, when he recounted how his mother instructed him as a child to punch back against bullies in the neighborhood. Sitting in the audience, 90-year-old Catherine Biden nodded approvingly. More importantly, no doubt many other men and women in struggling towns across the midwest felt the same way.