Biden: paging Senator Harkins

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden declared himself an "evangelist" for education today during a speech in the library at Des Moines East High School.  Read the details here.

Biden was asked a question about special needs kids, and in his answer he praised an Iowa Senator — Tom Harkin.  Only Biden called him "Harkins" three times.  It’s a mistake many DC-types make, according to the Des Moines Register’s Jane Norman who is based in DC.  She told me a few years ago there’s a big, DC-based construction firm named "Harkins" that has construction sites — and signs — all over the district.  I found several construction companies on-line with the Harkins name including this one based in Maryland.  Others are based in Florida and Wyoming. 

I turned my recording off after 58 minutes of Biden behind the lectern.  He started strolling around the crowd and that’s when the three radio reporters in the room yanked their microphones, packed up and dashed back to try to get the story on for mid-day newscasts.

Biden started his appearance by trying to appeal to the students in the room — who left about 25 minutes later to go on a field trip, I guess, as Biden said they had to get on "the bus." 

Here is a sample of Biden’s "appeal" to the kids as he started his speech: 

"I was just trying to think what I would be thinkin’ if I were in 10th, 11th or 12th grade and some guy from out of town was going to come into my library which I didn’t like hanging out in anyway to tell you about education.  I’d be thinking, ‘Oh my Lord!  How long is this going to last?’ And I’d be wonderin’ — "What in the Lord’s name does this have to do with me?  I’ve got a bus to catch. I got a game to play.  I got a class to go to.’ And you know folks, I’ll tell you the students here that you got all these fancy press folks here and a lot of people of my, well, there’s no one my age, but there’s some people my age here and we’re in a school and you’re sitting up there and I’m about to talk about my education policy and you’re trying to figure out, I suspect, what that has to do with anything because when I was a junior in high school the last thing I needed someone talking to me about was education policy.  I wanted to figure out how I got through my physics class. I wanted to figure out how to get through my French class.  I got to figure out how to get through my math class, but the reason I’m here, folks, is, um, and by the way I’m glad because this is my second trip here.  The first time I was here it was 22 years ago and I was in the gymnasium and I was had announced that I was going to take a shot at running for president back then and I was telling the principal this and I walked in and my crack advance staff had all the people there and it was wonderful and I walked in and the first thing they did was half court flip me the ball.  All the cameras were there and I was supposed to take a shot and I was thinking, ‘I’m going to fire the guy who did this.’ and you know I knew it was going to be good luck because I took the shot and I made the shot from half court and then I thought, ‘God, I’ve dodged a bullet and I’m outta here,’ and then we’re about to leave after I give my speech — true story — and all of a sudden the Judo team comes out.  True.  The Judo team and they go through a little thing and I’m applauding like everybody else and then all of a sudden the Judo coach whispers something to two kids about 15 years old.  They come over to me and one kid stands there and with two blocks of wood he demonstrates how he’s going to split the blocks of wood and I thought that’s impressive.  Now, the national cameras are on me and now they turn and put the wood in front of me.  That’s when I fired my staff.  I broke it, but I nearly broke my wrist so I’m delighted that the only test you’re giving me here today is being able to determine whether or not I can speak in front of a microphone."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Omigod! Can he blather more? Nice guy and reasonably smart on Iraq, but he can’t seem to shut up.