White House Pool Reporter Matt Viser from the Boston Globe filed this report from the Markey for Senate fundraiser. Full report is posted here
(Pool report below quotes extensively from Biden and Gore, who both spoke during a fundraiser for Ed Markey; there’s some newsy things here, with Biden being critical of the Republican Party; saying the Massachusetts special election might be hard to get “legions of African Americans and Latinos” out because Obama’s not on top of ticket; talking frustrations on gun control; remarking on Gore’s loss of the 2000 election. Meanwhile, Gore reminisces about starting in the House with Markey and running against Biden for president in 1988. Excuse the lengthy quotes; no transcript is going out so pooler wanted to make sure all had as much material and context as possible)
Vice President Joe Biden, at a fundraiser in Washington tonight for Representative Ed Markey, was highly critical of the Republican Party – saying it had become beholden to two freshman senators, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul – even as he praised Markey and implored supporters not to take the Massachusetts election for granted.
The Markey campaign said the fundraiser brought in about $250,000.
“Ed Markey in the Senate is not a single vote. Ed Markey in the Senate is part of a movement,” Biden said. “Ed Markey in the Senate will command respect and attention the moment he stands on the floor to speak for the first time.”
Biden also said that without the president at the top of the ticket, minority turnout in Massachusetts might be low.
“There’s a big difference in this race,” Biden said. “Barack Obama’s not at the head of the ticket. And that means those legions of African Americans and Latinos are not automatically going to come out. No one has energized them like Barack Obama. But he’s not on the ticket. So don’t take this one for granted.”
“This is an off-year, off-cycle, off-month election. He needs every solitary bit of financial help you can give to carry this home,” Biden said. “Please, don’t be asking yourself two months from now, ‘God why didn’t I do more?’”
During his remarks, Biden repeatedly praised Markey. But he saved some of his most biting rhetoric for the Republican Party.
“It’s a pretty simple proposition: The United States of America, and the state of Massachusetts, does not need another Republican in the Senate,” Biden said. “I’m being straight about this. This is not your father’s Republican Party. It really is a fundamentally different party. There’s never been as much distance, at least since I’ve been alive, distance between where the mainstream of the Republican congressional party is and the Democratic Party is. It’s a chasm. It’s a gigantic chasm.”
“I’m not talking about the character or even the quality of the minds of the people I’m going to mention. But the last thing in the world we need now is someone who will go down to the United States Senate and support Ted Cruz, support the new senator from Kentucky — or the old senator from Kentucky.”
“Think about this,” he said. “Have you ever seen a time when two freshman senators are able to cower the bulk of the Republican Party in the Senate? That is not hyperbole.”
“On the gun issue, I don’t care what your position is — I called 17 senators out, 9 of whom were Republicans,” he added. “Not one of offered an explanation on the merits of why they couldn’t vote for the background check. But almost to a person, they said, ‘I don’t want to take on Ted Cruz. I don’t want to take on Rand Paul. They’ll be in my district.’
“I actually said, ‘Are you kidding? These are two freshman,’” Biden added. “This is a different, party folks. They’re not bad guys, and they’re both very bright guys. And I’m not questioning their motive.”
Biden began his remarks joking about Al Gore, who spoke before him.
“I want to make a direct admission here,” Biden said to start. “I’ve been talking with Al for a while. I’m, quite frankly, just lobbying for a job when I leave with Al.”
He also remarked about the setting he was in, at the home of Ester Coopersmith. Biden said the Coopersmith and Gore families were instrumental in helping him launch his senate career. Connie Coopersmith convinced her mom “not figuratively, literally” to support him as “a 28-year-old kid running for the United States Senate.” Gore’s dad, Biden said, supported him and directly raised $89,000 of the $286,000 that Biden raised for his first campaign.
“Folks, Ed Markey has a distinct advantage over the rest of us: He has a psychiatrist for a wife,” Biden joked. “It’s not often noted, but it is very important. I can think of at least a half a dozen people who I wished had a psychiatrist for a wife.”
Biden then appeared to tell a story reference former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He recounted standing in line during the Clinton administration – it was Biden, Markey, and their wives – waiting to take a photograph with President Clinton.
“I won’t mention his name, but a very distinguished – not that, a very important congressman who was beating the living devil out of the president, it turned out he had an affair with one of his interns,” Biden said. “I turned to the doctor and I said, ‘Can you explain that to me?’ And she explained it to me. I find it amazing. I find it amazing how she knows human nature so well.”
Biden also remarked about Gore’s loss in the 2000 election.
“This man was elected president of the United States of America,” Biden said. “No, no, no. He was elected president of the United States of America. But for the good of the nation, when the bad decision in my view was made, he did the right thing for the nation.”
“I’ve served longer than all but 13 members of the United States Senate. I can’t think of very many who would put his country first like that, at a really, really, really difficult time. There’s an awful lot of folks Al and I both know who have run for president and still haven’t gotten over it.”
“Al, you set an example for this country that is going to live as long as recorded history, about the man who won by a decision that I think constitutional scholars now and in the future will conclude was an ill fated decision,” Biden said. “The way you stepped up, it was amazing.”
“We’re here to talk about Ed. Again, I don’t know anybody who’s worked with Ed that doesn’t respect Ed. I don’t know anybody…who’s ever doubted Ed’s word.”
“I don’t know there’s anybody who’s been able to say Ed Markey didn’t do exactly what he said he was going to do,” Biden said. “That is the coin of the realm.”
“He has a remarkable career,” he said. “As the doc will tell you (alluding to Markey’s wife, a doctor), I was encouraging him to seek this office. I was told I couldn’t get in a primary if there was one, I said I was going to do it anyway, as you’ll recall. I really, really, really think that Ed Markey moving to the Senate at this moment will have a potentially profound impact on the issues of the day — not just climate, not just the environment. This guy has a real conscience and an incredible, incredible capacity and skill.”
This is where Biden criticized Republicans for following two freshman, Cruz and Paul, and he looked at Senator Bill Nelson, the Florida Democrat, who was in attendance.
“And that whole thing about the tail wagging the dog – Bill, our old colleagues don’t want to take these guys on,” Biden said. “First and foremost, you don’t even have to get into the qualities of Ed, which are legion. Just think about what’s going to happen.”
“They’re not bad guys. They don’t get it!” Biden said. “But Ed does. In his gut, Ed gets it.”
“There’s a lot at stake. A single vote may very well determine who the next Supreme Court member is. A single vote in the Senate – a single vote in the Senate — may very well decide whether or not we go off the cliff and ruin the ultimate gold standard, our word, our making sure we pay all our debts. A single vote, a single vote, may determine the outcome the immigration bill. A single vote!”
“So folks, you know, we have huge battles coming down the pike,” Biden added. “I trust Ed Markey. I trust Ed Markey. And I trust the guy who I’m absolutely confident, no matter what the pressures — who vote his conscience, who has courage of his convictions, and acts on his convictions.”
“I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,” Biden added. “But few have the quality of character, and intellect, and emotional IQ that Ed Markey has.”
“I know I’m preaching to the choir,” Biden added. “But I’ve gotta tell ya. Don’t underestimate this race. Ed’s ahead, Ed should win. But this is a strange moment. There’s not a lot of people paying attention.”
He said Massachusetts residents were more concerned with the economy than the election
Biden arrived around 6:50pm, and the speakers went to a podium about 20 minutes later. The setting was a near-cloudless night in the backyard of the private home. There were plenty of trees, shrubs and flowers around. Down some steps was a swimming pool covered with a tarp.
Tables were set up, with a red and white tablecloth on each. Plastic red cups had red bandanas tucked inside. Each table also had different kinds of bbq sauces.
Senator Nelson walked by with a plate that contained the meal of choice: corn on the cob, slaw, salad, and chicken. It all seemed to be from Famous Dave’s BBQ (at least if the two workers sporting the restaurant’s logo were any indication).
Among the notables your pooler spotted: Cam Kerry, acting secretary of commerce; Ron Klain, who has been chief of staff to both Biden and Gore; and former CBS Sports commentator Lesley Visser (who shared Boston College ties with Markey)
Markey’s wife Susan Blumenthal was also at the fundraiser. Vicki Kennedy was one of the other hosts, along with Gore (Biden was billed as the special guest)
Coopersmith accidentally introduced Gore, when it was Kennedy’s turn to take the stage.
“Here I am, Al Gore,” Kennedy said. “No, no, Ester this is fantastic.”
Biden piped up from the side, saying, “Al Gore never looked so good.”
“Hi everybody, I’m Vicki Kennedy,” she continued.
She invoked her late husband, Ted Kennedy, a few times and she started by paying tribute to Coopersmith. She then turned to Biden (“Just one little world, Joe, if I could say: You are like EF Hutton in this town. When you speak, people listen. They really do”) and Gore (“In my house we still call him president”).
“Ed isn’t here tonight because he is debating Gabriel Gomez right now,” Kennedy said. “If you had a chance to watch the last debate…you know that Ed is doing a great job right now.”
When Gore took the microphone, he praised Kennedy.
“Vicki you are so wonderful, everybody here knows it,” he said. “The light that just filed Teddy with his love for you – it was incredible, just incredible. We miss him a lot and we love you so much.”
Gore turned his remarks to Markey.
“Ed is one of the most popular members of our national legislature ever,” Gore said. “There’s so many good pals of his here, and so many of you who have been helping him over the years and know his work.”
Gore recounted first meeting Markey when they were elected to the class of 1976, and they were assigned to the House Commerce Committee.
“When all of us would wait for our chance to ask questions or make the salient points, we’d just try desperately to get in before Ed,” Gore said. “Because Ed has such as quick wit and such an amazing way with words — I can’t even count the number of times where I walked out of the committee room shaking my head thinking, ‘Why can’t I think of things like that?’”
Gore ticked off a series of issues that they both find important — technology, communications, digital networks, the environment – -and claimed, “Ed has been for so many years one of the greatest leaders that we’ve ever had.”
“He is the only member of congress to write legislation to fight global warming that passed either the House or the Senate – God bless him for that!” Gore said.
He looked to Bill Nelson and said “the prospect of him joining the small but hardy band that Bill is very much a part of in the Senate.” Nelson folded his hands in prayer and looked skyward.
“We’ve got to do something about this, but don’t get me started,” Gore said.
“Preach!” someone yelled from the crowd.
“Preach preach!” Gore responded, but then said he would move on to talking about Biden.
“When Joe talks sometimes people just have to listen,” Gore said. “I’m going to get in trouble here…but you don’t really care.”
It appeared Gore was going to veer into an interesting tale, but then he pulled back.
“I’m just trying to remember the specifics, but I know there’s been a few times where Joe speaks and everybody says, ‘Ok, that’s what we’ll do then,’” Gore said. “I love that.”
Gore then turned to how long he has known Biden.
“We ran against each other in 1988 for president,” Gore said.
“And you didn’t even notice!” Biden responded from the side.
“Oh yeah? The hell I didn’t, the hell I didn’t,” Gore responded. “That was quite an educational experience for all of us, and a great campaign.”
Gore continued praising Biden.
“I probably know at least as much as anybody here about how hard his job is in ways that you might not recognize,” he said. “And I know the tremendous skill and grace with which he has pulled it off.”
He ended with a joke, saying there was one time he went on David Letterman and had to recount top 10 best things about being vice president.
“One of them I remember was that if you look at the great seal and close one eye and turn your eye just right it says president of the United States of America.”
“Nobody’s ever done it better than Joe Biden,” Gore said in closing. “He is my friend, and we are honored to have him.”
- Biden on Mass. election: Without Obama on ticket, minority turnout will be low (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Biden unchained: Vice president praises Rep. Markey’s ’emotional IQ,’ disses freshmen Cruz, Paul (twitchy.com)
- Biden: Gore Won the Presidency in 2000 (whitehousedossier.com)