Biden “embarrassed as hell” about the BFD

Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Iowa Governor Chet Culver in Cedar Rapids over the noon-hour.  In the midst of his speech, Biden was talking about steps Culver had taken to spur the wind energy industry and he incorporated his new, um, catch phrase.

“Because of Chet Iowa is better positioned to withstand the economic ill winds that buffeted this state and this nation,” Biden said.  “Iowa, going into this god-awful recession, had the largest cash reserves in history.  Folks, folks that was a big deal — a big, big deal.”

The crowd had started to applaud when Biden said “folks” for the first time.  By the time he said, “big, big deal” they were laughing. 

“Thank God my mother wasn’t here to hear me whispering to Barack,” Biden continued.  The crowd laughed.

“I don’t know why everybody thinks it’s so darn funny.  I’m embarrassed as hell by it, but apparently we’re selling t-shirts and making hundreds of thousands of bucks,” Biden said, as he wound down on the topic. “I don’t know man. I’m sorry.”

Below is a “live” blog of the entire event.

Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge is first to speak to the lunchtime crowd gathered in a Cedar Rapids park.  “Some days we succeed,” Judge said of the Culver/Judge Administration’s first term.  “Some days we don’t but we keep trying.”

After Judge is through, an announcer introduces Biden, Governor Chet Culver and his wife, Mari, to the crowd.  A Bruce Springsteen song is pumped through the sound system.

Mari Culver is first to speak.  She mentions she’s from Cedar Rapids and that the governor’s grandparents on both sides lived in Cedar Rapids, including the grandparents who ran Culver Motors.

“The governor’s father was one who could pound a podium now and then…and I think it’s a trait that his son has inherited,” Mari Culver said, a reference to former US Senator John Culver.  “And some would say around the country that the Democrats are sitting on their hands this cycle in 2010, but they haven’t been to Iowa, have they?  Iowa Democrats are fired up and ready to go.”

The crowd cheered.  “As the governor’s father, Senator Culver, used to say, ‘If you’re not pumped now, you’re not pump-able,'” Mari Culver concluded.

Culver is behind the microphone by 12:19 p.m. He acknowledged Judge and his wife.  “She is the most effective first lady in America,” Culver said. 

At 12:20 p.m. Culver launched into what sounds like the condensed version of the speech text he delivered yesterday.

After a litany of the past three years:  “We have governed effectively. We have made tough decisions in tough times,” Culver said.  “…I declare my candidacy on a record of action, tested by fire…and (with) a clear vision for the future.”

Culver pledged his “top goal” in his second term would be flood recovery in places like Cedar Rapids.  “I say yes we will help you recover from the worst disaster in our state’s history,” he told the crowd, standing on ground that was deep underwater in June of 2008.

At 12:30 p.m. Culver began an introduction of Vice President Joe Biden, telling the crowd:  “He’s actually one of us.” 

At 12:33 p.m. Biden gets to the mic.  You can hear Culver say: “Thank you for being here.”

“I’m delighted to be here,” Biden replied as the two posed for the two-shot, then Biden repeated the sentence as the crowd continued to clap.

“I look out there and see so many good friends,  people I’ve know for years and people who were actually foolish enough to help me in the early days and I love you for it,” Biden said, a reference to his 1988 campaign for president. “…It’s great to be back in Iowa.  Every 20 years or so, like clockwork, I come back.  It provides sort of a second home for me and I thank you for that.”

Biden said “a lot of people” are “in real trouble” financially.  “It’s a depression for millions and millions of Americans, still,” he said. “You’re blessed here in Iowa.  Things are not nearly as bad here as they are in the rest of the country.”

Biden speaks of Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.  “We inherited a country that was facing the greatest economic test since the Great Depression,” Biden said. “…We were absolutely certain we could reverse this slide, to put America back on a path of being able to lead the world…but we knew to succeed we needed men and women of vision and courage and of experience to be able to work with us.”

This seems to be an homage to Democrats in congress, without mentioning Democrats in congress.  Biden praised leaders who had shown “the guts, the independent judgment, the straight-up common sense to do what was necessary even when it was initially unpopular to do it.”

Biden soon started talking about Culver.  “I’ve known Chet — I hate to admit this — since he was seven years old, sitting in my front lawn in Wilmington, Delaware with his dad and mom.  I know his dad well and I can say with absolutely certainty Chet Culver has the gumption to handle the job at this time.”

Biden said Culver was a bold, big thinker.  “This is no time for small bore solutions. The margins cannot be altered enough to change the outcome…I put a great deal of faith and trust in people whose instinct starts at the gut, moves to their heart and then to their intellect…Folks who live it, who smell it, who taste it, who know it — these are the ones when things get tough, who don’t walk away…(and) have the gumption to say, ‘I stand here.’…Chet’s that guy.  That’s why I’m here.  That’s why you’re here.”

According to Biden, Culver and every other governor in America had “inherited an economic firestorm not of their own making.”

Biden argued Iowa, under Culver’s leadership, is “better off than almost any other state in the nation at this point by any measure.  Iowa’s still moving forward, despite these headwinds….I’m preaching to the choir here.:

Biden addressed some of the Republican criticisms of Culver, namely the I-JOBS program which saw the state borrow millions to finance infrastructure projects. “It’s always hard to act.  It’s easier to sit back, let the other guy act, and then criticize,” Biden said, adding Culver had stopped “the bleeding” and had laid the foundation for Iowa’s economic future.

Biden talked specifically about the Iowa Power Fund which has given grants to companies investing in renewable energy.  “He was ahead of the curve,” Biden said, joking that Culver had on many occasions talked with him about renewable energy.

“Every time I’d see him, I’d think, ‘Oh God, here comes another lecture (about renewable energy),” Biden said. “…Because of Chet’s leadership, Iowa was better positioned to withstand the economic winds that buffeted this state and this nation.”

(This is the part of the speech in which Biden made the BFD reference.)

“The thing about the guy that I like, he knows you can’t recover by rebuilding the same old economy on top of the old one that collapsed.” Biden said specifically of Culver’s cultivation of the wind energy industry.

At 12:51 p.m., something on stage fell over and broke.  “I didn’t do that.”

At 12:52 p.m., Biden misspoke and called Culver “Chuck Culver” and 20 seconds later Biden started a litany that concluded with “it’s because of Governor Chet Culver.” 

Biden began to paint a word picture, apparently from the waist up: “This big guy with broad shoulders…Folks, if I’m going to paint a picture of Iowa…this guy is it…from belt-buckle to shoe sole, for all of you are famous for your heart, your inner strength…He is you.  He knew you all had the grit and capacity to overcome this great tragedy…He knows what it’s like and how he had to get you back and he knows what it’s like to move forward.”

“…Now, quite frankly it’s time for you to stand up and fight for Chet Culver to be reelected governor of this great state.”

Biden closed with a quote from Iowa native John Wayne. “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life, comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands and it hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

Biden suggests Iowa voters should put “Iowa’s tomorrows in Chet’s hands.”

“…Everything about him is strong.  Everything about this guy is real and the good news is he’s inherited his father’s brains as well as his father’s grit…Iowa’s in his blood…and all of you make sure you put him back (as governor).”

Biden concludes with the traditional ending of “God Bless you all and God bless our troops.”

Culver said: “Joe, thank you. Fantastic.”

The rally is over at 1 p.m. Iowa time.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


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