Vice President Joe Biden today kept up his drumbeat against the US Chamber of Commerce and outside interest groups that he said are raising millions of dollars for negative campaign ads without disclosing the donors and funding sources.
"Just tell us where the money's coming from," he told ABC News' Nightline anchor Terry Moran in an exclusive interview after a campaign event in Des Moines. "Why can't the Chamber say, 'These are where the contributions are coming from?' Why can't Karl Rove tell us where the contributions are coming from? Because that's where the base in which people make judgments."
President Obama, Biden and top White House officials have in recent days made the Chamber and Rove, a former top strategist for former President George W. Bush, prime targets in campaign appearances by administration officials.
While the president seems to have backed off his charges against these outside groups, Biden continued with his calls for disclosure and said it was not a desperate argument.
"If you have folks contributing who say they want to maintain the tax credits and ship jobs overseas, well, then, you know, when you got a guy out there saying, 'No, no, I want to build jobs in America,' and he's being supported by the guy who says, 'No, I want to … keep the tax breaks overseas,' it gives new insight," the vice president said. "It's just disclosure. Just tell us where. Show me. Show me."
Biden said there is no evidence that these outside groups have broken any laws, but said that's precisely the issue. "They can give money without disclosing."
"I mean, there's nothing really complicated about this. You know that movie "Jerry Maguire," where the guy says 'Show me the money'? Show me the contributors," he said. "What's wrong? Why are you unwilling to tell the American people who is contributing the money? I'm a little suspect."
Biden: Hillary and I Won't Switch Jobs
Asked if this is really what Americans want to hear, as they struggle economy and high unemployment, Biden said that the charges against the Chamber and the outside groups are just one small piece of his overall message on the campaign trail.
In a wide-ranging interview, Biden reiterated that Democrats will keep control of Congress, dismissed suggestions that a joint appearance with President Obama in his home state of Delaware means the Democratic candidate there is in trouble, and weighed in on the impact of the Tea Party movement on the Republican Party. Biden laughed off the latest Beltway chatter about him switching jobs with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and said it was "not in the cards."
"I have breakfast with Hillary almost every Tuesday mornin' when we're both in the country, and I assure you, she's not interested in switchin', nor am I," he said. "Nor is the president."
Biden has been aggressive on the campaign trail in recent months, holding over 100 events for congressional and gubernatorial candidates and delivering some tough love to the Democratic Party.
Last month he told Democrats they needed to "get in gear, man," and take serious the challenge from the Tea Party.
He also urged Democrats to "remind our base constituency to stop whining and get out there and look at the alternatives." (
Biden: Too Hard on Left Wing
Today he seemed to walk back some of this recent chastising, saying it was not helpful in revving up Democratic voters and it was a "mistake" to go after the base.
"It does get frustrating, I have to admit," Biden said of the criticisms from the left wing of the Democratic Party. "But, I also admit that my going out and telling them to knock it off, that's not a very positive way to get them engaged."
As he has done in countless fundraisers in recent weeks, Biden once again expressed confidence that Democrats will keep the majority in Congress despite a tough political climate that has many incumbents on the ropes.
"I feel very strongly they're going to … maintain control of the senate, and I think we're going to control the house as well," he said. Though he admitted that his party will lose seats, he declined to pinpoint a specific number.
"I think we're going to take some losses. A lot of people are hurting," he said. "There's millions of out of work, and people are upset."
He said the key will be whether the base comes out to vote. "I think they will."
The vice president even went so far as to put a wager on the line, based on his strong feeling that Democrats are just now starting to "come home."
"The experts are going to be saying, you know, sometime around Thanksgiving, 'You know, voters took longer to make up their minds this election than almost any time.' Cause, yes, this is the time," he said.
Biden dismissed the notion that Democratic candidates would rather have him campaign in their district instead of Obama and chalked up that idea to the fact that Democrats "get a little skittish when … things look like they're kind of tough."
"They said the same thing during the campaign," he said. "Every place I go, they'd be happy to have the president come in and bring out 15, 20, 30 thousand people for them to generate the base. Biden said that Obama is able to draw massive crowds like no other Democrat and that is how he connects with voters. "His style is very different," he said.
Biden: Take Christine O'Donnell Seriously
Biden said that his appearance at a fundraiser on Friday with Obama in Delaware is not a sign that Democrats are worried about Chris Coons' chances against Republican Christine O'Donnell, who is backed by the Tea Party. Rather, he said, it is about making sure that Coons has the money he needs to counter O'Donnell's negative ads.
But he insisted that Democrats are not counting this race as in the bag. "We take Christine O'Donnell seriously," he said. The vice president said there is an "interesting marriage" within the Tea Party between some "wealthy, wealthy people" who don't share the same views as "some of the Tea Party folks who are just angry and frustrated."
Biden said that marriage will make a difference in what the Republican Party looks like after this election.
"I don't know enough to know, but my guess is, if the Tea Party candidates were to win in significant numbers, I think that pretty well changes the character of the Republican Party," he said.
The vice president launched a familiar but strong defense of the Obama Administration's record and insisted that he and the president are not trying to run against the Bush Administration. Then he immediately compared the Obama record against the Bush record.
"We have created 860,000 private sector jobs since January. That's more jobs than the entire Bush eight years," he said. "All eight years. We created more jobs in the last nine months."